Alone and Enjoying It – September 14, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

         Being alone, does not necessarily mean you are lonely or unfriendly.

We all need to be alone from time to time.  Some early risers prefer pre-dawn, or dawn, when the world is not upon us yet.  Everyone has a clean slate with yesterday gone — except in our Memory Bank.

The peace and tranquility of early morning is missed by late sleepers.

Birds chirping at the bird feeder, the cracking sound as they open sunflower seeds.  Sounds many city dwellers miss.

Rather than being alone, we sometimes desperately seek any kind of companionship and don’t find it.  One such early morning, I looked up various sayings about being alone and found this one:  “Better to live alone; with a fool there is no companionship.”

There are all sorts of lyrics to songs, poetry and quotes by famous people about preferring solitude and it is not a vice to wish to be alone,

Even the most gregarious person seeks solitude now and then – almost a luxury on our over-crowded planet.

And yet, I recall lines from John Donne’s  “No man is an island,”  in which he wrote, “All people are connected to other people and dependent on other people.”  Never more true than in our declining years.  Old friends, and devoted children are luxuries that some are not privileged to enjoy.

At times we may attend a movie with empty seats all around us, and someone thoughtlessly intrudes on our space by sitting very close to us. Or having someone sit next to us in a restaurant with room elsewhere. Perhaps they are lonely.

The animal world seeks companionship too as seen by elephants who travel in packs and our feathered friends, with a gaggle of geese in V-formation, the ones in back honking encouragement.

Alone time is good to gather our thoughts, shutting out the world. Sadly, solitude is often forced on us with the death of a spouse, so we must learn to adapt.

I ran across this meaningful definition of the difference between loneliness and solitude.  Loneliness is to express pain of being alone.  Andsolitude to express the glory of being alone.

Today we can be in instant touch with anyone anywhere, or simply disconnect for a time to enjoy our solitude.  Finding the right balance is the key.

 

Appreciation Day — June 25, 2016 — Daily Chronicle

        We set aside days to honor, (appreciate) certain professions and people, mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses, etc.

        I was wondering if there is a day set aside to just appreciate ordinary little things in our lives.   I could find no such listing.

        Not to be presumptuous but why don’t we set aside an Appreciation Day of our own just to appreciate the good things in our lives?

        As the old song put it, “Accentuate the positive.”

        True, there is much in life that is negative.  Newspapers get called to task for reporting so much bad news, but there are also good news items that perhaps you don’t find in the headlines.

        The human interest stories often escape our perusal on the inside pages of a newspaper.

        Someone stops traffic while a mother duck escorts her little ones across a busy street.  We can all appreciate and relate to that.

        There are times to truly appreciate something, when we have had to be without it.  We have to have been in darkness to appreciate the light. Think of a power outage and how we appreciate it once it’s restored.

        This is also true when it comes to being away from loved ones for a time.  We must endure the sorrow of being separated to appreciate the joy of reunion.

        When it’s cloudy and rainy, remember,  “A blind man would appreciate being able to look out on a day like this.”

        At some time we have had to be sad to appreciate joy.

        Maybe it’s due to my advanced years, that I appreciate so many little things.

        We took a pain-free day for granted in our youth.   Now we appreciate it.

        Think of the many things you have had to go without for a short period and how happy you are when it’s restored – a lost item found, a

 child wandering off and found safely, our appreciation mingling with anger at his wandering off in the first place.

        Small random acts of kindness – appreciate kindness —  a language the blind can see and the deaf can hear.

        One of my favorite hymns is “Let there be peace on earth.” Substitute “appreciation,” for peace.  The last line is “Let it begin with me.”

Enjoy June Days without Delay – June 4, 2016 – DeKalb Chronicle

 

During these first warm spring days, I’ll wager I’m not alone in thinking of James Russell Lowell’s poem, “What is so rare as a day in June?”

Not sharing my space on the balcony or patio with flying insects is such a pleasure since they have not had time to breed into epic populations. A calm breeze wafts through the trees.

These first days are most precious as we cast off winter’s heavy, drab colors in which we wrapped our freezing bodies to ward off the cold. No unsightly boots are necessary.

The diligent snowplow man does not awaken us at 4 a.m. as he did in winter, although, I often blessed his dedication and felt sympathy as he worked and I snuggled deeper under the warm blankets.

The lush greenery is everywhere, forsythia blooms, yellow daffodils splash amid the green while the Iris stands majestically nearby.

Reading on the balcony is such a delight – one we longed for during winter’s harshness.  How sad it was last fall when we put away the lawn furniture or covered it against the wind-driven snowstorms.

How can you fully appreciate the joy of spring if you have not endured the winter? Or the sun after a rainy day?

I recall an anecdote of a little old lady returning from a trip, saying, “I’m so glad to be home, I’m glad I went.”

Paraphrasing that, I say, “I’m so happy it’s spring, I’m glad I experienced winter.”

If you have not had to go without something, how can you fully appreciate something when it comes your way?

Attending a convention in New Mexico once, I met a woman living there who said they have 360 sunny days out of 365. I wasn’t the least bit envious as I thought, “Why, you poor thing, you can’t possibly know the joy of that first warm day in spring when your weather is always that nice.”

One summer, as I was sunbathing on our patio, luxuriating in the warm temperature, I heard a “thwuk!” sound on our front step.

It turned out to be the fall and winter JCPenney catalog (remember when they used to be delivered?) – a reminder of how ephemeral our summers are.

Do not delay that long walk or leisurely siesta on the patio. Time passes all too quickly.

 

Does a full moon affect our sleep? – May 19, 2016 – Daily Chronicle  

 Some people have poo-poo’d my theory that the moon has anything to do with our inability to sleep. It has been suggested that worry or pain, and too much caffeine may result in sleep deprivation.

We can all check our sleep patterns and see if there is any validity to what I believe about the subject during our next full moon, on Saturday.

I wonder what early man must have thought about that huge orb when it went through its various phases.

We have so much information available to us and yet it’s still a fascinating and mysterious subject.

Some planets have more than one moon (as we do here on earth).

Since July 1969 when man first walked on the moon, we have learned a lot more than we used to know when I went to school.

I learned from my research we have an internal clock that synchronizes with the moon and may be driven by lunar cycles. So it’s not my imagination that I don’t sleep well then.

I do not bay at the moon like a werewolf, but I feel restless during a full moon.  My son says his dog is often restless then also. Do farmers notice this with cattle?

A nurse, working in a maternity ward, told me that there are more births during a full moon than any other time.  The moon affects the tides, why not the water encased baby in the womb?

Thirty-three healthy volunteers, between ages 20 and 74, sleeping under strictly controlled conditions in a window-less laboratory were studied in Switzerland for 3-1/2 days.   They had no way of seeing the moon. It was found there was a 20-minute reduction of total sleep time.

Another interesting result of the study was people sleeping in the lab nearer to the day of a full moon also had lower evening levels of the hormone, melatonin.  This is important to circadian rhythm and drives the body’s cycles of day and night, thus it affects wakefulness and sleep.

As for me, I’’m taking a pain pill, drink no coffee at dinner, and plan not to worry and see how I sleep May 21, during this full moon.

I will … hope for the best.

 

A Present for Mom – May 3, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

It’s the thought that counts, my mother often said. Given with love, a fistful of dandelions means as much as a dozen roses.

Reading the above quote I thought of Mother’s Day and what the little ones do for us when very young.

At one time or another, I believe, many of us mothers have had dandelions brought to us that were clutched in little hands.

Also, what mother doesn’t have an outline of the little hand of one or more of their children that they traced while in kindergarten or a drawing that was proudly brought home and posted on our refrigerator?

I recall one year when mine were given permission to walk to a nearby store, to buy my Mother’s Day gift.

Upon their return, they furtively wrapped the gift out of sight of my prying eyes.  I confess I have forgotten what the item was back then, but not the pride with which it was presented to me, or the childish scrawl telling of their great love for me.

Another year I was treated to breakfast in bed. It consisted of burned toast, cold cereal, and re-heated coffee (under the supervision of their father).

I also recall a time during the Depression when I myself was allowed to go to the store alone in our small town. I bought my mother a 29-cent gift because that was all I had saved. Years later, I learned that the kindly store clerk had added some of her own money to mine so I could buy a bowl that I was sure Mom would love.

She had wrapped the bowl poorly in plain brown paper imprinted with “Our Own Hardware,” with nothing to protect it.

As I skipped merrily home, I tripped on a curb, and smashed the unprotected bowl to smithereens. I just picked it up and presented the tinkling package to my mother with a look of pride and love. My mother’s questioning look did not faze me. I could only see a look of appreciation with my young eyes.

Later, I overheard her telling one of my aunts about the gift and I could not figure what they were laughing about.

Even though the bowl was useless, all I could remember was that my mother often said, “It’s the thought that counts.”

Happy Mothers’ Day.

 

An Amalgam of Nocturnal Ruminations – March 23, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

I’m a thinker and often engage in “wool gathering,”  i.e., to indulge in aimless reverie.  It sometimes occurs during  a sleepless night.

Perhaps I am just ill-informed but I think we don’t have any great thinkers or philosophers in modern times like we did centuries ago.   For examples, think of Plato, Aristotle, Goethe, Voltaire, to mention just a few.

They were great thinkers because they weren’t distracted by television, radio and film and were able to sit around thinking deep thoughts.

Remember Newton, the English scientist and mathematician back in the 17th century?   What if he’d been watching House of Cards or Downton Abbey instead of sitting under a tree, watching that apple fall to the ground?  Gravity might still be a deep mystery to us and the laws of motion may never have been explained.

How about our forefathers in the pre-television era?  Would anyone have taken the time to write the Declaration of Independence?

I wonder if they all had sleepless nights and that is when they came up with their ideas.  Seriously, I find night time the most conducive to thinking though.  The darkness, the quiet, and no distractions of any kind are very thought-provoking.

Unfortunately, by morning, any brilliant nocturnal thoughts have eluded me and are never recorded.

I do recall some of my thoughts like the expression “mad as a wet hen.”  What’s she so mad about? I know I’d be pretty upset if someone doused me right after I’d been at the hairdresser.

I thought of the expression when we came upon a rancid odor.  We’d say, “it smelled like a wet goat standing next to a fire.”  Did he get wet from standing too close to said hen?

I often think of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in the night too and their marvelous inventions like the Iphone, Ipad, text messaging, etc.

At the same time I do worry about the use of these inventions where the young seem to be so pre-occupied, using only their thumbs to communicate.  Will thumbs become obsolete from this over-use some day…their descendants thumb-less?

When Ma Bell controlled our telephone system, we let our fingers do the “walking.”  Now it’s thumbs that do our “talking.”

By the way, I didn’t say I was a GREAT thinker…only that I am a thinker.

 

Shopping, Then and Now – March 6, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

Waiting in the car as my daughter shopped, I people-watched in the store’s parking lot.

Vending machines, lined up outside the store, were doing a brisk business as people picked up and deposited rental movies.  Ice machines were not getting much play in the frigid temperatures.

I was pleased to see that containers provided for depositing litter were being used by the patrons. The parking lot was relatively free of litter, a testament to their diligence or could also be the result of the strong winds we were experiencing that blew away any carelessly tossed items.

My thoughts turned to how many transactions we now perform without human contact.  Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward catalogs were forerunners in merchandising in the early 20th century, which made it possible to shop from your home by using the U. S. Postal Service, and purchases were mailed to us, without person-to-person contact.

Watching the TV series “Selfridge,” I realized how radically things began to change. Buyers could now finger items to determine which item suited them as opposed to having someone reaching under the counter or behind them to show us things like gloves, scarves and hosiery, to mention a few.

Today, a housewife practically could wipe out the family’s fortune without setting foot outside the door, by the use of the telephone, computer and a credit card.  Perhaps that has happened more than we realize.

It may be difficult to believe in modern times when you can’t turn on your radio without hearing about a miracle pill to correct “E.D.”, that there once was a time when feminine hygiene items were discreetly wrapped in plain brown paper and hidden from sight.

As a young girl, I remember shopping and praying that a female clerk would wait on me.

A friend of mine, a young, naive girl, just out of high school and working in a drug store years ago, was approached by a young man asking for prophylactics in a hushed voice.  Unaware of what that was, she called out in a loud voice for all to hear, from the front of the store to the pharmacist in the back, “Do we sell prophylactics?”

The young man made a hasty exit without waiting for an answer or the item he was seeking.

Shopping and times certainly have changed.

Remembering Another Time – February 11, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

The saying “You can take the boy out of the country but not the country out of the boy,” is very true.  In my personal case, it’s “you can take the gal out of the small town but not the small town out of the gal.”

Like many young people, I moved to Minneapolis from the small town where I was born and raised.  Minneapolis was mecca to many young persons as they sought, not fame and fortune, but career opportunities that were lacking in home towns.

I did, however, have career opportunities locally.  Fortunately or wisely, I declined them.  I was offered a position as a linotype operator at the local newspaper office.  Lead, necessary for typesetting, was needed in the production of ammunition during WWII, so the position would not have lasted.

The local theater offered me a position to run the projector for movies.  With the arrival of television, I’d soon be out of a job there too as the theater closed.

Before dial telephones, all calls were placed through a “Central” operator.  Another job opportunity that would have gone by the wayside quickly.

So I was fortunate in declining these and similar offers.

It was often said “Minneapolis is the largest small town in America,” because it was comprised of many persons like myself.

Because of my small town heritage, I love living in DeKalb, although it is much larger in population than mine was and is.

That is also why I like watching some of the reruns of TV programs like Mary Tyler Moore and Andy Griffith.  The Mary Tyler Moore show did not mirror my experience as she had a much more glamorous career than I had as a secretary.

The Andy Griffith show reminds me of my home town though and, call me a simpleton if you will, but I enjoy the homespun plots.

The folksy way Andy Griffith deals with problems, mostly caused by Barney, played so skillfully and annoyingly by the late Don Knotts, reminds me of the folksy people I knew back then.

My experience is not unique and was repeated by many others who forsook their small town upbringing but not their values.  I find the warmth and neighborliness here in DeKalb to be much the same as I knew back then.

Take a look at these old programs.  I think they will be uplifting and remind you of a simpler time.

 

This year we all get a bonus day – January 12, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

We have 366 days this year because of the leap year. It takes the Earth 365.2422 days to orbit around the sun according to the Internet. We can thank Julius Caesar who in A.D. 45 stipulated that an extra day be added in February every four years to make this adjustment.

What to do with this bonus day?

How many women propose to men as was the custom years ago? We could resolve to improve something in our lives like we do when we make New Year’s resolutions. I did not make any though because like most of us, I don’t do well with them.  It’s sort of like going on a diet.  They say the second day of a diet is the easiest because by that time, we are off of it.

There is plenty of time for us to think of doing something we’ve never done before.  Sort of like Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman in the movie “The Bucket List.” They meet in a hospital with each having a terminal illness.

They do all sorts of things, before “kicking the bucket.” One of the things they do is skydive, but that’s not for me. The thought of stepping out into the wild blue yonder at 30,000 feet would paralyze me even more than being strapped in a metal tube for the flight.  Claustrophobia, you know.

Then there is painting, as Grandma Moses did in her advanced years, but I can’t even draw a stick man.  So that’s out, too.

How about self-improvement. But we usually do that during Lent.  So I will save that for then.

I’ve always envied tap dancers.  But my arthritic knees could not tolerate that.

When I was a little girl, my father would sometimes give me a nickel for being good, with the admonition, “Now don’t spend it all at once.”

That extra day is like winning the lottery, or that nickel. It begs to be spent on something frivolous. But there is a finite quality when it comes to time, so we should not spend it recklessly as I did that nickel (most likely on a candy bar or jawbreakers).

I could work on my autobiography. So far, I’ve only written the title, “Mil’s Grim Progress.”   Remember “The Pilgrim’s Progress” that we read in school? Think it would sell?

Nah, too dull. Who’d read it?

Of Simple Christmases Past – December 24, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

The Christmas season is once again upon us, …too soon for adults and not soon enough for the young.

Some greet this wonderful holiday with sadness as they remember those who are no longer with us. I recall Christmases with joy, gratitude and blessed to experience so many.

During the Depression, if Santa came at all, he did so while we were in church on Christmas Eve, telling the story of Jesus’ birth in song and Bible verses.

I shudder when I think of the few times we had a Christmas tree. We decorated it with lighted candles (what a fire hazard that was). Of course, the trees were not shipped from the north in September, so were not as dry as today’s trees. No fancy store-bought globes or electric lights. No artificial trees, either. So we were able to enjoy the pine scent from a freshly cut tree.

Popcorn was used to decorate the tree – that is, if there was enough left over and we did not eat it all before we strung it together.

The lean years stand out when Santa did not come to our house. But you can’t miss what you never had, so most of the time we did not feel underprivileged. Hardships are character builders.

If there were gifts at all, there was nothing lavish. I doubt today’s youngsters are any happier with their gifts than we were with our rare, paltry ones, although often disappointed with long underwear, socks or other practical items. Frivolous items in the Wish Books (Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs) were not forthcoming.

But one Christmas was more memorable and especially happy, when we received two little kittens. What enjoyment to watch them frolic! Better entertainment than anything on television now.

We were not aware or dazzled by all the toys and games advertised on TV now. Many parents did not have the wherewithal to purchase them anyway. Disappointing, true – but parents did the best they could.

Christmas used to have a special meaning that seems lacking in modern times. How sad that we have lost so much with the rampant commercialism now. “Happy Holidays” does not do it for me, and I always respond with the more meaningful “Merry Christmas.”

A simple, blessed Christmas to everyone and I hope this one stands out for you from all the rest.