Miscellaneous Characters in our Lives — May 13, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

Don’t you just love that word “miscellaneous”?  My dictionary describes it as made up of a variety of parts or ingredients.

As I was attempting to organize my copious files, I realized that without that category, I would not get very far. I also thought that we do that in filing people into categories, too.

We might think of one as fun to be with, another may complain a lot, so we’d file them under whiner. There are some people who are merely acquaintances, and they’d go into our mental miscellaneous folder.

That made me think, just what is a friend? I like what I read a long time ago, i.e., a friend is not necessarily someone we like for what they are, but what they make us see in ourselves.

Where do you think you’d be filed among your various acquaintances and friends?

Would you be filed under boring, helpful, or obnoxious, etc.? We might be surprised to learn that we may not find our name under the category we’d like.

Reading about the responders to the tornado victims, I felt such warmth toward them and can only imagine how the recipients of that kindness must have felt. Although they had not known them prior to this event, I am sure they ended up considering them friends.

Friendships often take years to solidify.  There is a bonding that occurs through sharing a tragedy as well as a happy event.

A group of young children were once asked to give their definition of a friend.

This is my favorite: A friend is someone who sticks up for you even when you are not there.

To me the gift of friendship tops all other gifts, and I treasure each and every one, even the ones who are just acquaintances.

Just as steel must be tempered by going through the fire, sometimes a good friendship has to be forged by going through turmoil or a misunderstanding.

Probably the best definition of a friend is this one: It is someone who knows all about you and still likes you.

Have you laughed yet today? – April 27, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

Does your dog ever laugh out loud?  Has your cat ever smiled at you?

Animals don’t have a sense of humor as we humans do. Oh sure, the dog wags its tail when it’s happy to see you and your cat purrs when it’s content and full of milk. But try telling either one of them a joke and neither will laugh.

What makes you laugh? Is it a pie in the face? Seeing someone slip on ice or a banana peel?

Personally, I enjoy the droll, dry wit of the British, like Winston Churchill. He once was quoted as saying ”There is nothing more exhilarating than to be shot at and missed.”

The late, great Robert Benchley is another favorite. When sent to Venice, Italy, on assignment, he was reported to have sent a telegram to his editor here in the U.S., saying “City under water, wire instructions.”

Through the years I have amassed a collection of jokes and anecdotes like that. They still provide a laugh for me even after hearing them often.

Granted, there is not much to laugh about these days with all the tragedies in the world. Certainly a terminally ill patient lying in a hospital bed won’t find much to laugh about. Doctors and nurses are known to have a good sense of humor, even though they face tragedy every day. A nurse once told me that you have to laugh to keep from crying at times.

A laugh or a smile is a wonderful day brightener. What is the first thing you do when encountering a baby? You try to make him or her smile, don’t you? And doesn’t it make you feel wonderful when they reward you with one?

I live by the old adage, “Laugh and the world laughs with you. Weep and you weep alone. For this sad old earth has need of your mirth, It has tears enough of its own.”

If you have not laughed yet today, make a funny face in front of a mirror and have a good laugh at yourself. It’s not nice to laugh about others, but OK to laugh at ourselves, for we will never run out of material.

I love to laugh and make others do the same.  In my archives I found this:

“He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh.”

A Disposable Society? I Think Not! – April 9, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

Reading Alvin Toffler’s book, “Future Shock,” circa 1970, I found some of the facts the author brought up were pretty mind-boggling and hard to believe they would actually occur.  The author suggested that we would become a “Throw-away Society.”

One only has to look at today’s trash barrels and see that he was correct as you view the styrofoam containers that once held take-away food items from restaurants and fast food drive-ins.  Use-it and-lose-it is the by-word these days.  When will we reach saturation at our garbage dumps when non-bio-degradable  items do not decompose or rot away?

Remember when milk came in re-usable glass bottles?  I know that some milk still does but it’s not the norm now.

The disposal of “things,” is also true of homes.  Is your parental home still in existence or has it been razed to make way for newer homes or road construction?

Historical buildings become too expensive to maintain and convert into useful museums or other uses.  No room for sentiment when progress rears its ugly head.

I also read years ago that hospitals were experimenting with paper gowns for doctors and nurses as well as bed linens for patients rather than cloth necessitating laundering and sterilization.    This, evidently was not practical because I don’t think it happened.

Toffler cited a boutique that featured a paper wedding gown.   After the honeymoon, the bride could make lace curtains out of what she wore down the church aisle.  I don’t think so.

I decry the disappearance of one particular paper product.  That is the personal hand written or typed letter that has been replaced with electronic mail. (Even though I am an e-mail addict.)

Thumbing through my high school year book, I enjoyed reading the sentiments expressed by my classmates as we bid adieu in our senior year.  (No, it was not a stone tablet or written on parchment.)   It was, however, pre-computer age and electronic wizardry.  I’m happy it pre-dated our “disposable age.”

Otherwise, another piece of Americana would be gone and I would not remember the boy who sat behind me in History class and constantly kicked my seat!

Every time you gain something, you lose something.  When the gain becomes less than the loss, will we revert back to the old ways?  I hope so.  At least in some instances.

Can Spring be Far Away? – February 22, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

The talk about the plight of Brian Williams has subsided while we moan about how cold it is and how much snow keeps falling in other parts of the country.

When I was growing up, we had no central heating.  A parlor furnace in the living room and a wood-burning range in the kitchen were our sources of heat.

We slept in upstairs bedrooms that were unheated except for the little heat that rose up through a register in the bedroom floor. The fire did not last the night, so in the morning we dressed very quickly, sometimes behind the parlor furnace that our fathers lit before we arose.

The kitchen was always the warmest room in the house and was the family room in those days. We played cards on the kitchen table, put jigsaw puzzles together there and popped corn on the kitchen range in an iron skillet over the open fire by removing the stove lid.

Someone once said that if it weren’t for the weather, 90 percent of the population could not start a conversation.

Those who pooh-pooh the thought of global warming are having a field day mocking the ones that believe we are heading to a warmer climate.

I checked my archives to see what more learned people than I had to say about the weather. Sinclair Lewis said Winter is not a season, it’s an occupation.

That last quote reminded me of potholes and the work they provides for those who fill them and the people who drive the snow plows.

We kept wishing for February to arrive and hoped it would be better than mean old January and look what we have.

Here is a variation of an old poem we learned as children,

Thirty days hath September,

April, June and November

All the rest have 31

Except February – which has 80.

From an old Readers Digest:

No winter lasts forever and no spring skips its turn.

Another one said:

Laziness has many disguises. Soon winter doldrums will become spring fever.

Tale heart. We move our clocks forward March 8, at 2 a.m.  If only we could do the same with our calendars.

But then, can spring be far behind?

Soon the roar of riding lawn mowers will replace the cacophony of the snowplows.  Then we can gripe about how hot it is and those pesky mosquitoes.



How did we get through winter without continuous reports? – February 6, 2015 – Chicago Tribune

I am retired and no longer have to battle the elements to get to work when the weather is bad, so I don’t mean to trivialize winter weather. But this is nothing new. We had cold weather when I was growing up. But we did not have hourly reports about wind chill, polar vortex, etc. We just knew it was cold out there.

When I was growing up, we had no central heating. A “parlor” furnace in the living room and a wood-burning range in the kitchen were our sources of heat. The kitchen was always the warmest room in the house and was the “family” room in those days. We played cards on the kitchen table, put puzzles together there and popped corn on the kitchen range in an iron skillet over the open fire by removing the stove lid. The walk to school with a northwest wind blowing into our scarf-covered faces was no picnic. We had not heard of the wind-chill factor although we most certainly were experiencing it.

How did we survive in the old days without the hourly reports of how cold we were?

What kind of tree are you? – February 6, 2015 – Daily Chronicle

A rumor has persisted that Barbara Walters once asked Katharine Hepburn, if she were a tree, which kind of tree would that be?
In Walters’ autobiography, ”Auditions,” she relates:
“I asked [Hepburn] why she thought she had become sort of a legend. She replied, ‘I’m like a tree,’”
So Walters asked her what kind of tree.
If I were asked that question, I would say, a pine tree, or any others commonly used at Christmas. Think of being brought inside a warm house and decorated with all those pretty lights and various keepsake ornaments. I’d be surrounded by happy, expectant children waiting for Santa and the gifts he would bring. I’d be a part of a very joyous occasion.
You might say, but that is short-lived.
But it won’t necessarily end there. A recent article stated that 93 percent of Christmas trees are recycled. They also may be used in gardens.
You also can decorate a growing tree outside your home. After Christmas, it would be a place for birds to build nests. You could hear their chirping all day long and then see the baby birds being sent out to fly for the first time.
The ubiquitous squirrels would be scampering among the branches the year round, too. You’d be providing a haven for many of God’s little creatures.
What tree would you like to be?

JANUARY BLAHS – January 19, 2015 – Chicago Tribune

Once Christmas and New Year observances are over, a let-down feeling sets in. Gone are the lovely multi-colored lights on the Christmas trees and various outdoor decorations. All the joy and anticipation of expected gifts and reunions are over, and we feel sad.

We should adjust our attitude and instead of sadness be happy about the memories we just created. Without our memories, life would be bleak.

What would it be like to suffer from amnesia? Just think of how it would be not to be able to remember your wedding day, the birth of a child, its first word or step. You can think of many other events and instances in your life that you like to relive over and over again in your mind.

So instead of being sad that something is over, be glad it happened at all.
While it is sad to think of the holiday season being over, concentrate instead on the new memories we will create in the coming months.

Fashion Repeat – January 7, 2015 – Chicago Tribune

I saw an ad in the Chicago Tribune recently for a pair of ladies’ hose with a seam down the back.

Stocking seams were always a problem to keep straight and made us look poorly-groomed when they shifted as we wore them. Younger women of today won’t know what I am talking about.

Back in the pre-panty hose days, we women wore two separate stockings that were kept on by attaching them to a girdle or garter belt with fasteners. During WWII when nylon was reserved for making parachutes, we sometimes wore leg makeup and painted the seams on the backs of legs to make them look like real stockings.

Don’t tell me, please, that we are going back to those days? What’s next? Hoop skirts?

There’s always an air of joyous anticipation during this season-December 23, 2014-Chicago Tribune

People my age have observed Christmas many, many times over the years. The gifts may have been meager at times during the Great Depression, but I still have fond memories.

Some Yuletides were happier than others. In 1941, with the recent bombing of Pearl Harbor on everyone’s minds, that was a very sad time. The following year was even sadder when my three brothers, like many young men throughout the U.S., had been drafted for military duty.

But that was offset by 1945, when my brothers were all back with us, alive and well.

Sometimes Christmas memories blend into others and we may remember two years as one and the same. I recall one constant though. My father always said, “Don’t buy me anything. I don’t need anything.” And yet, he was always the first to ask, “When are we going to open presents?”

No matter how mature and blasé we may try to appear, there is always an air of joyous anticipation during this season.

We in the older generation anticipate the joy in the eyes of the younger generation, finding more pleasure in giving than receiving after so many years.

There were lean years of great disappointment growing up in the Depression and my anticipation often was not realized. A wished-for toy was not there and a flannel nightie might be in that wrapped package instead.

This is not a “poor me” piece, though, as I look back with great fondness on the simpler joys back then.

We may not always get what we want. But then, think of it this way: We don’t always get what we deserve either — I mean a punishment for wrongdoing.

May you find peace, joy and appreciation under your tree this year.

Have a blessed Christmas everyone.

Memories of an old-fashioned Thanksgiving – November 21, 2014 – Daily Chronicle

I have reached an age where I am not expected to prepare the traditional feast on Thanksgiving Day. As a bride though, I remember the first time I did it with much fear and trepidation. I had a hard act to follow as my own mother and mother-in-law did it with such ease.
Knowing the safest way to thaw a frozen bird was always a problem and managing to pry the heart, gizzard and neck out of the carcass in order to cook them and add them to the dressing always gave me fits too.
I wondered how mothers were able to get everything ready at the same time. But we learn by doing.
One advantage they had was that there was no football or television. I have heard of mothers complaining they had to time serving the meal to coincide with halftime only to see the family gobble up in ten minutes what took hours to prepare. Pumpkin pie waited for them at the end of the game.
Years ago Thanksgiving conjured up a vision for me of a Norman Rockwell painting. Mom is shown entering the dining room, carrying a platter, containing a perfectly roasted turkey, ready for the man of the house to carve. The happy family is seated at the table with grins on their upturned faces awaiting a drumstick, wing or other favorite piece.
Now, like as not, my vision is of crowded airports as passengers await their flights or possible delays and even cancellation as they head “home for the holidays.”
Gone is the memory of “over the river and through the woods,” as we sang in my youth.
If you have an old-fashioned mother, be thankful as you arrive home and are met with the wonderful aroma of the various dishes being prepared.
The world is in turmoil but there is still much to be thankful for on this yearly holiday. No matter how bleak things seem to be at times, one can always find something positive if we just look for it.
I love this anecdote. A little girl having had her first turkey dinner was asked how she liked it. She said “I didn’t like the turkey too much but I loved the bread it ate.”
Happy Thanksgiving.


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