A Christmas Memory – December 3, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Many years ago, Monday after Thanksgiving  was traditionally the day we began rehearsing the Christmas program we pupils in my one-room schoolhouse, supervised by our teacher, presented on Christmas Eve in our church. Our teacher had no computer or typewriter and laboriously wrote each Bible verse and presented to us what we were to memorize and recite in church, telling the story of the birth of Jesus. On Christmas Eve we arose and turned to face the congregation, with one hand behind our back (to keep from fidgeting) and in a loud voice recite our piece.

The story always began: “And it came to pass…” Recitations were interspersed with singing Christmas hymns in front of the altar. We were told to sing loud even it we did not sing well. I tried very hard and screwed up my face as I sang. People laughed at the little girl in the front row as she sang her heart out! Later when I saw my first movie, I could not understand how a woman singing had such a pleasant look on her face! At the end of the hour-long program, ushers retrieved paper bags filled by the local merchants for each of us.

Each bag contained an assortment of unshelled nuts and peanuts, mixed hard Christmas candy, an apple and an orange, plus my favorite and best gift of all: a blue-lined writing tablet and No.2 pencil. I could hardly wait until after the holidays to write to a cousin or friend, telling them of my joy over this bounty. We had little in the way of gifts back then, but the less we had, the greater our appreciation.

We had no fireplace so upon arrival home, we found on our front porch a cardboard carton filled with our gifts from Santa Claus who always came while we were at church.

We didn’t always get what we wished for, and usually there were practical gifts like long underwear to fend off the wintry wind in our Minnesota climate. The warmth of flannel nightwear erased our disappointment in not receiving some frivolous items we thought we wanted. I have no regrets and we felt our parents did all they could during the Depression, unlike the little boy preparing to write thank you notes after Christmas asked his mother, “How do  you spell disappointed?” We were grateful.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The Telephone Endures, But Its Use Continues to Evolve – November 19, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Have you recently telephoned a business and a live person answered your call? I started to write “dialed.” But some younger people may not understand what it means to “dial.”

Another term has become obsolete, and that is to “hang up” the phone. Remember what fun it used to be to slam the phone down on a telemarketing call? Now if you receive an unwanted call, you merely tap the phone screen to cancel the call.

I recently ordered a prescription refill by telephone. This is usually accomplished by punching the numbers on the phone without speaking. There was a question regarding it this time, and an automated voice told me to wait for an operator to take my call.

I can’t tell you what joy it was to speak to a real person.

It brought to mind a phone call my late husband made back in the ‘80’s to our bank regarding a problem with our checking account. This was our first experience with automation. He told me how impressed he was by how quickly it was all taken care of without speaking to a “real person.“

I recalled a television interview with the late Dr. Margaret Mead, the famous cultural anthropologist. During the interview, the subject of our increasing population came up. Someone suggested we not worry about it as there was plenty of room on earth for everyone.

Dr.Mead said that was not the cause to be alarmed about, but that there is an increasing problem with the breakdown in services. That certainly has come true.

When calling a business firm, doctor, or dentist, we are often given a list of options to get a matter resolved, an appointment made, or other information.

Remember the TV show, “Laugh-In” that aired from January 1968 to March 1973? Among other bits, Lily Tomlin portrayed Geraldine the telephone operator. I wonder what she could do with that bit now?

The telephone is a marvelous invention but I prefer email when keeping in touch. There is no argument about the immediacy of resolving and confirming matters by phone, but email just comes and sits there and waits for you to read at your convenience. I realize, of course, the importance of the telephone in emergencies.

There is a saying that goes,”Nothing exceeds in interest a knock on the door.” That once was true of a telephone call. Sadly, no longer true.

Time to Forget about Daylight Saving Time – November 6, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

By now we should have changed all our clocks and started to adjust to the extra hour that was returned this past weekend and was taken away last spring.  It’s a lot easier changing our watches and clocks than our mind set and bodies.  We all have an inner clock and that takes more time.

Homes that have pets and young babies might need a bit more time to adjust. My son’s dog was looking quizzically at him for a bit around meal times. Fortunately she adjusts well because she’s ready to eat at any time. She’s a good sport about making bathroom trips outside too.

I usually do not write about controversial subjects but this seems appropriate since we just returned to normal again. Daylight-saving was originally instituted to reduce electrical usage by extending daylight hours. By the way it is noy “savings” (plural) but singular).

The internet called it a stupid ritual and I agree, but I know there are people who like it. I believe one’s age may be a factor in whether we like it or not. Call me an old fuddy-duddy if you will.

The idea was first thought of by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, but was not adopted then. Great Britain went used daylight-saving time from 1914 to 1918.

If you have access to the internet you can read more about it, such as learning that President George W. Bush signed an energy policy act in 2005, extending the act to 2007. Arizona and Hawaii do not change their clocks, as well as some territories.

It is said about 70 countries worldwide observe this ritual.  But China and Japan do not, so you can imagine the confusion about arrivals and departures when traveling by air or rail.

This ritual disrupts our internal clock and drivers may experience drowsiness causing accidents with other vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. Deer are most active between dusk and 11 p.m. and run about more wildly than usual increasing chances of collisions with traffic.

Jesus said, “The poor ye will always have with you.” I guess unless someone starts a movement we will also always have daylight-saving time. Sort of like an unwanted and uninvited guest.

Mark Twain said it, “Fish and guests smell after 3 days.” That is my sentiment about daylight saving. Its departure is long overdue.

At the Movies, Then and Now – October 22, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” You’ve probably heard this Mark Twain quote before.

That quote came to mind the other day when I went to a movie in a theater after a long time.

When television was in its infancy, some people felt it would mean the demise of the movie industry. Some small town movie theaters did close, but movies are very successful today. I don’t know if this actually happened but I heard the following anecdote at the time. In the early days of television when people stayed home to watch it, a patron called to see when the movie started and the theater owner said, “What time can you get here?”

What a wonderful experience it was to see the movie.

As a teenager, I loved going to movies – especially to a Sunday matinee. They were shown in something, called Technicolor.

Things have changed. I felt like Rip Van Winkle when I saw what has happened in the years since my teens. I also felt like the first man on the Moon saying, “One small step for man and a giant leap for me.” I have gone to movies since my teens but this is about the changes since then and now.

Another surprise was the wonderful lounge chairs and wide aisles! Abundant snacks were available. This was a far cry from days of old. No snacks back then – too messy, you know. I’d sometimes sneak in a Mr. Holloway sucker keeping it out of sight until the lights were dimmed and bringing the wrapper home with me lest I the owner ban me forever.

This film was British and hard to understand. You know what they say, “Great Britain and the United States are two countries separated by a huge pond and a common language.”

The subtitles were not on the bottom of the huge screen, but on a tiny screen without pictures affixed to the arm of my seat. I kept looking at the bottom of the huge screen from force of habit forgetting to look at the tiny gizmo so conveniently placed next to me. What a grand experience! All synchronized perfectly with the movie. I couldn’t get past the modern technology and logistics to fully enjoy the movie. So I’ll have to go again.

 

Time Spent on Worry is Wasted – October 9, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Worrying is a waste of one’s imagination.

In these troubled times, it’s difficult not to worry about what the future holds for all of us.

I recently viewed a talk by a young, tearful teenager who expressed her concern and sadness that world leaders are not doing anything about climate change. It’s heartwarming to know that our youth take seriously a subject like this.

I confess that when I was a teenager my concerns centered more on having a date for the prom or earning money so I could purchase the latest Frank Sinatra album or some frivolous gee-gaw.

Of course we were not bombarded with world news 24/7 on TV and radio as we are today.  We lived in a microcosm.

My late mother never slept, but worried until she knew my three brothers and I were home.

I confess I do that now until I know my grown son and daughter are safe at home, much to their chagrin and they tell me how foolish I am. I always tell them that God put a special “worry” gene in all mothers’ makeup.

I saw an interview on TV years ago with Sid Caesar, who was bemoaning the fact he had not heard from his agent in some time. He was worried and angry and decided to walk to his office to berate him for his lack of getting him an engagement.

When he arrived, his agent told him he had been trying to reach him by telephone saying he had a major engagement for him. All that worry and anger was for naught.

We should all try to emulate President Harry Truman. He was once asked if he regretted,  or worried about his decision to use the atomic bomb. He replied, “Once the decision was made, I thought no more about it and went to sleep.”

That must have been very difficult to do considering all the lives lost, but best once it’s out of one’s hands.

We all fret too much over what is done and we can no longer change it in most cases. If we can, then do it, but if we cannot change it, forget it.

As to worrying about the future, remember this: “It is folly to rake leaves before they fall from the trees.”

In closing, we needn’t worry about what people think of us because they seldom do.

 

Enduring Words and Those That Line the Birdcage – September 25, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

“The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”

These words from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address given at the dedication ceremony of the battlefield on Nov. 19, 1863, live on. How wrong he was about not remembering them. Others spoke much longer but who remembers the speakers or what they said? A few choice words often are better than long-winded, more colorful prose that is soon forgotten.

I know I will never forget those words. While others spoke much longer, I have learned he wrote these words on the back of an envelope and spoke only about two or three minutes. I often think of them when I write. My writings end up in some newspaper, lining the bottom of a birdcage or used to housebreak a new puppy in some household.

It would be rewarding to write something like Lincoln did, that lived on through the ages. Before the invention of typewriters and computers, writers had to write their novels in longhand.

I understand Mark Twain was the first author to use a typewriter. Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of “Little House on the Prairie,” must have had a burning desire to write as she did. She was not what I would consider a great writer, but her words have endured. I don’t compare myself with her or other early writers. I know my writing is not great literature, nor is that my intention. Not everyone understands some of the more lofty writings of the intellectuals.

There is a market for the so-so writers, too, who write letters to the editor. We have spawned a great number of writers with the ease with which we can express ourselves these days. This interesting tidbit may be applied to those of us who are non-professional writers. Our humble attempts don’t compare with the great writing of old. Bear with me about the following, but I think you will get my point:

Pity the mule who has no pride of ancestry nor hope for posterity. We may not “create” great literature that will endure like writers of old so have no hope for posterity. So we are the “mules” of the literary world. Remember brevity is the soul of wit and also best when giving a speech.

 

A Drive in the Country – September 10, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

On a beautiful summer day, my daughter took me for a drive in the country on roads surrounding the city of DeKalb.  It brought back memories of days not so long ago when people did this since there was little entertainment like television or events to attend like baseball or football games on a Sunday afternoon.

Did your father or grandfather now a days give slow aimless drivers the appellation,”Sunday  Drivers?”

It was common to take a Sunday afternoon drive with the whole family in the car.  We’d drive leisurely about the country side with no destination as our goal.  Before heading home, we’d stop in the local drugstore, sitting at the soda fountain and have a soda or Ice cream sundae.  We did not often have ice cream in our home because we had no refrigerator.  Sometimes we’d have home-made ice cream and we’d top it with home grown strawberries or raspberries.

Back to our present drive, the beautifully maintained farm homes and manicured lawns gave mute testimony to the occupant’s pride of ownership.    They looked like something out of a magazine called Better Homes and Gardens.    I wondered how they did it besides all the chores of farming.

There is a saying that goes:  “Man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done.”
I substitute the word “woman” and replace it with “farmer.”  I consider hard-working farmers the backbone of our country.

Laundry drying by solar power was stirring in a gentle breeze at one farm.  How wonderful to slip between aromatic sheets that night.  They haven’t duplicated that wonderful scent in laundry detergent or fabric softeners when drying skeet’s in a dryer.

The cornfields looked as if there would be a bountiful harvest.  We used to say “knee high by the 4th of July,” but I have learned that meant “knee high to a person on horseback,” — not someone standing on the ground.

When I was a teenager it meant gainful employment as some us took on the task of de-tasseling the crop and later found jobs in canning factories before the school year began.

My reminiscing about “good old days,” may sound like someone unwilling to forget the past.  Not true.  I love living in the present with all our modern conveniences and thankful we have them.  But I also relish the past.

 

Taking a Look at Why Leaves Change Color in Autumn – August 23, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Recently In early August, I was startled to see a brilliant red color mixed in with the green leaves in a red oak tree outside my window.  At first I thought it might be a kite fragment — sort of like Charlie Brown who has problems in the Peanuts comic strip with what he calls the kite eating tree.

Upon closer examination with binoculars, I found it was indeed several leaves that had already changed color.  Does this signify an early autumn?

I used to think that the first frost in fall was the reason for the colors to change.  I recalled making a note from a piece i read several years ago and after digging it out of my archives I noted it has nothing to do with frost.

It’s just the order of things as so many events are in Nature.

I made notes from the piece but unfortunately I did not write down the source so i cannot attribute what I discovered to the original writer or the publication.

I learned that the beautiful montage of colors with which we are blessed every autumn is present in the leaves but obscured by the green hue.  I am paraphrasing here:  It’s the chlorophyll combined with sunlight that gets it ready for dormancy in winter.
The following is a direct quote from the piece:  “Yellow coloring comes from Carotin and xanthophyll, shades of red and purple, come from tannin and anthoryannin, pigments also found in grapes and red berries.

I found this on the Internet:  “But in the fall, because of changes in the length of daylight and changes in temperature, the leaves stop their food-making process. The chlorophyll breaks down, the green  color  disappears, and the yellow to orange colors become visible and give the leaves part of their fall splendor.”

I hope this clears it up for you why the leaves change color in autumn.

No writer worth his salt would ever pass any writing off as his own without attribution to the person who originated it.   There is a definition that says if you steal from one person, it’s called plagiarism and if you steal from several.  It’s called research. This is a combination of research and originality.

 

Nature’s Air Conditioning vs. Man-Made – July 30, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

“Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” Or “90% of the population could not start a conversation if it weren’t for the weather.”

 

Plan for Tomorrow, But Live for Today – July 10, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

With my head bent down, deep in thought, while out walking recently, I saw a dime just inches ahead of me on the ground.  I’m not too proud about stooping down and picking up a penny so the dime was soon in my grasp. It’s not a fortune, to be sure.  We can’t even buy a first-class postage stamp with it as we could years ago.

Growing up, we used to chant the following little ditty:  See a penny and pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck.

I can’t say I had good luck, but I didn’t have bad luck either so I keep stooping to pick up any and all coins.  I did not fall or have anything ill befall me so maybe the little ditty came true.

We once lived 12 blocks from a news agency.   So, we cancelled our newspaper subscription and walked each morning to buy one, thinking a daily walk was good for us.  It gives one more motivation if there is a destination or purpose to walk.

When we reached the parking lot, I often spotted some small change on the ground.    My husband would tease me for stooping to retrieve something as small as a penny, nickel or dime.

Once when I had collected a dollar in small change, I bought a Lottery ticket with it.  I’d like to say I became an instant millionaire, but alas, this is not a fairy tale.

Back to the dime, I would have not seen it if I had I been looking ahead.  It made me think how often we think of the future and miss something directly in front of us.  We all may be guilty of looking too far ahead instead of enjoying a pleasant event immediately coming up.

I’m not saying we should not keep our eye on the distant horizon.  I believe you get my point.   We also should not fret too much about the present, as in the following poem:

Why do we greet the fleeting day?

With so much pain and sorrow?

It’s in its nature not to stay

For today is always gone tomorrow.

Author unknown

Plan for tomorrow but live for today.

It’s always a good plan to think of the future because, after all, that is where we will spend the rest of our lives.