Living In The Past – June 29, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

It’s normal for us elderly to live in the past for that is where the bulk of our lives exists – especially when the future looks so bleak now.   The isolation due to the virus sweeping the world makes us  remember better times.

My sympathies are with the young.  We older people had a good life with some having a better time growing up – especially if you were born and raised in a small town as I was.  I’m talking abou a time with no television and few of us had radios.

My 3 older brothers hung out at a Texaco Filling Station.   No self service and often run by the owner’s son.  The teen age boys would hang out there and visit.  We gals were not invited and knew nothing of their get togethers.

For the most part, they were not mischievous in their plans and did not get into trouble. There were no crime stories to relate to that they saw nightly on  television or movies.  It was a very innocent time.  The biggest trouble they got into was at Halloween when they’d go out and instead of Trick or Treats, they’d upset someone’s outhouse.

It’s hard to imagine anyone doing such a mischievous thing today with all the technology available with which they might amuse themselves,  and, of course, there are  no more outhouses!

We young gals played hop scotch, tiddly winks, pushed our dolls around the block in miniature doll buggies and had tea parties.

I don’t remember when it all changed but I suppose WWII intervened and we lost our serene lifestyles and were never the same as we saw our brothers and fathers get drafted and sent overseas to fight for our freedom on distant shores.

Some of us were luckier than others and saw them return. They were amazed at the change in us while they were gone and our young brothers were gone too and returned as young men.

Each succeeding war took more innocence and youth away never to return as so many young men who might have become president or fulfill their destiny and make the world a better place in which to marry and have children who would make a difference, did not return.

Their offspring might have been able to foresee the pandemic and avoid it.

We’ll never know.

Isolation – May 7, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

Having been born and raised in the Midwest, I find the involuntary isolation due to the risk of the corona virus, nothing new.

We often had severe winter storms of snow and ice that kept us house-bound for days and some times weeks.  Back then there was no fleet of salt trucks and snow plows opening the roads and streets.

As children, we reveled in the fact of no school. Early mornings my father would come into our bedroom and announce we would not be going to school, so we’d jump out of bed and promptly be out in the yard, making snowmen, building tunnels in the snow, play fox and goose with neighborhood children.  It was an unexpected and delightful holiday!

Indoors we’d put jig saw puzzles together, play cards on the kitchen table, and other games we made up.  Not unlike what people are now doing with the exception we did not have computers, with Internet connections and education classes online, email, etc., to keep us happy and occupied.

My small town was without mail service as the mail came by truck from a distribution center in a neighboring town.  Telephone service was handled by a lone “Central” operator who placed our calls to rural friends, that is if the lines were not down because of the weight of snow on the lines.

It’s hard to believe all this happened so long ago but in a single lifetime.

People used to say back then that it tests our mettle.  As a child, I heard the word as “metal.”  Now I understand it means courage and fortitude.  To that, I would add patience in our isolation.

There is small comfort in the knowledge we are not alone with the inconvenience.

Viktor Frankl was an Austrian psychiatrist who was in a Nazi concentration camp for three years in solitary confinement when he wrote “Man’s Search for Meaning.”  He wrote “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing.  The last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s own way.— to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

How we deal with this solitary confinement will make us strong or weak, depending on our own resilience.

One final thought, “If you can’t stand being alone, remember — this is the person with whom you will spend your entire life .”

 

Trying Times – April 18, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

Never truer are these words by Thomas Paine, author and patriot during the Revolutionary War:

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”

With Easter Sunday ending the sad days of Lent and Good Friday we look to happier days.  In times past it meant attending sunrise service at our church where my daughter sings in the choir and my son works on Soundboard, followed by an Easter Brunch in the church basement where we visited with fellow parishioners

– a most joyous occasion after the sad days of denial during the Lenten season.

But not this year due to the recommended lockdown.

Throughout the excessive verbiage of the pandemic, I have not heard one word on radio or television about a talk on TED Talks by Bill Gates back in 2015.  The subject was “We did not Listen.”  He foretold this crisis then and it’s come to pass.

If you are not familiar with TED talks, they are available on the Internet.  These are talks on many subjects by many diverse people.  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design.

Even though it’s difficult to maintain a sense of humor we should try.  It’s man’s ability to cope…with jokes under stressful situations.  It is not mentioned when God created us that among the senses he endowed in us, He also created a sense of humor.   Locked down, we now have to entertain ourselves as we stay in our homes.  We are fortunate to live in our modern age when there are so many sources with which we can amuse ourselves, think of our early settlers with no radio, television, movies and other ways to find enjoyment.  How did they cope?  Of course, you cannot miss what you never had like email and telephones to stay in touch.

Blessed is he who can entertain himself, for he will always be amused.

Think of happier moments in your life.

 

Turn the World Around, Turn it Back to Yesterday – March 24, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

Do you recognize that hit recorded by Eddy Arnold some years ago?  It has been on my mind ever since this virus has come around.  I thought of all the little things, as well as the large ones, we so often take for granted until they are taken away from us.

Who could have foreseen this national crisis?  It’s a good thing we do not have the ability to see what is in store for anyone of us. What could we have done had we known?

We often hear about plane crashes where someone missed the flight and was grateful to have been spared or people working at the World Trade Center but something delayed or stopped them from going to work that day.

On a tour of New York City years ago we did not visit the WTC.  I often think what if we had been scheduled to visit it the day they were hit?

Hop in your car, turn on the ignition and we’re off for a visit to someone or an errand.  Push a button on the elevator and were whisked to the designated floor with nary a thought as to how it works.  That is, until we get stuck on that small cubicle when it does not do our bidding.

Now, in the midst of all the goods and services we are denied, do you think of them?

If you woke up refreshed from a good night’s sleep, do you ever think of what it was like when you had a stuffed nose or sore throat due to a cold, or other maladies?  No, we just take the good days for granted as our due.

We may not get hit with this virus, but there is no guarantee we will escape it either.

We should all be thankful if we are spared.

 

 

Pay Someone A Compliment Today – March 14, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

Browsing the Internet one time, I found a poem called “Do It Now.”   The gist of the poem was about praising someone while they are alive and not at their funeral or wake.

I can’t include the whole poem here but, to paraphrase, there is a short passage that goes “If you like someone, tell them now instead of when they’re dead. They won’t know how many teardrops you have shed for they cannot read their tombstone when they’re dead.”

It reminded me of President Gerald Ford. You may recall how he was often depicted as a bumbling fool. Remember when an errant golf shot of his beaned someone?  Or the time he bumped his head alighting from Air Force I?  Much was made of that and yet, he was a. very graceful person.  It was after his demise that so many wonderful tributes were heaped on him.

There is also a 2nd hand compliment.  A co-worker once told me he had a T.L. for me.  It stands for Trade Last.  When you hear something nice about someone you tell them, and they are supposed to do the same for them.

Why not give people all that wonderful praise while they are living?

I recently watched a documentary about talented actress Betty White.  She was portrayed as a wonderful person while she is still alive.  What a great idea.  I met her in person many years ago and she is a very down-to-earth person.

I was pleased someone made this documentary while she was living and could enjoy what they said about her.

Some people are embarrassed by too much praise.  I remember reading in a Garrison Keillor book (the title escapes me) an amusing story about a man who once nailed 95 reasons on the church door (ala Martin Luther) why he could not accept compliments gracefully was because of his strict religious upbringing.

How about we all take the time to compliment someone today while they are alive?

Do you know someone who might like to hear something good from you?  Tell the person now because once they are gone they won’t know how many teardrops you have shed for they cannot read their tombstone when they’re dead.

“DO IT NOW”

 

A Lexophile’s Nocturnal Thoughts – February 21, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

People moving to the United States often find the English language difficult to learn.  My parents were of German descent and my 3 brothers and I learned to speak German as young children. Somehow we learned English while playing with other children and in school.  I don’t recall it being all that difficult at the time.

There were times when I was laughed at when I referred to my hair in the plural sense as in German it is.

There were instances of convoluted sentences too as in “throw the cow over the fence some hay.”

During a sleepless night, I thought of words that might give foreigners a hard time to understand how to pronounce them when they rhyme but are spelled differently.

The words “sense,” “scents” and “cents” were 3 words that came to mind right away.  How do you explain that to a foreigner?
I also often conjure up poems, sayings and other trivia to lull myself back to the arms of Morpheus.

Word and bird were next to come to mind.

I “ heard” a farmer say his “herd” of cows had gotten loose and were roaming the countryside.

The pastor “conferred” the blessing before we left.

You may not get what someone “inferred” but still “concurred” with what was said.

Did Ferdinand Magellan’s close friends call him “Ferd” for short?

A toddler was told by his parents not to stray from their back yard and yet was “lured” away by another playmate.

The income tax preparer is a computer “nerd” who hoped he had not “erred” while filing the return

The breeze “stirred” the tree branches

“Gird” the lion in his den.

The batter was not “deterred” and made it to “third” base.

The cat “purred” in contentment by the fireplace.

I won’t even mention words like pneumonia and subtle that have useless letters of the alphabet inserted that we don’t pronounce.

Also who determined we dare not end a sentence with a proposition?

These are just a few thoughts that came to mind.  Why don’t you think of some?  There are many others so if you sometimes can’t sleep, why not think of your own list?  It’s fun!  Thanks for putting up with my bit of whimsy on a cold, sleepless February night.

If asked, How Would you Describe Yourself? – January 27, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

Mark Twain said we are like the moon in that we have a dark side which we do not show to anyone. I disagree. I believe the word is private – not dark. Being a stay-at-home Mom was a very rewarding experience watching my son and daughter learning to walk and talk, but once they went to school, I became restless with just cooking, cleaning and shopping. My husband suggested I take classes at the local community college. I was able to attend classes while my son and daughter were in school and I’d be home when they were.

Among the subjects I chose was writing. Our first assignment was to step outside our bodies and describe ourselves. I failed to follow instructions and described myself as I imagined how I appeared to people I met, instead of my physical appearance. How does one describe themselves without sounding like an egotist? We don’t want to mention our flaws. TV mogul Ted Turner was reported to have said, “If only I had a little humility, I’d be perfect.” We are often described by something we say or do. I once heard two women discussing a third woman this way to someone who could not place her. ”Oh you must know her … she‘s the one who always brings the pale, undercooked chicken casserole to the church supper.” See what I mean? It isn’t a physical description, It’s what she does or a trait.

I used to color my prematurely gray hair. The hair-coloring firm’s slogan was “Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” I imagined my hairdresser saying about me “If she believes that, she better get in here more frequently.” My young son might have described me this way: “She makes the best French toast but not often enough.” My daughter, whose weekly chore was to dust, might have described me by saying “She collects way too many knickknacks that are such a pain when I do the weekly dusting.”

As you can see, I didn’t follow instructions by physically describing myself.

The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, wrote “O wad some Power the  giftie gie us, to see ourself as ithers see us.”

How true. By the way,  because I failed to follow instructions, I only I received a B- on my submission.

Reflections on Snow, Beautiful Snow – January 4, 2020 – Daily Chronicle

No white Christmas this year, but I remember one not so long ago.

We were blessed with a picturesque snowfall on the morning of Dec. 24 one year not so long ago. The kind that makes one think of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.” It depends on your point of view, of course, whether or not you think we were blessed. You might have been waiting for a plane or you may have been at the working end of a snow shovel or plow. That would greatly diminish your thrill.

It was beautiful, however, as I pictured angels in heaven, sifting flour from a giant sifter, making cookies for us mortals.

I thought about Bob Hope traveling millions of miles as he entertained our troops overseas during WWII. He often brought celebrities along. Pardon me as I momentarily digress. It’s that kind of morning, as I gazed out my window, watching the picturesque picture unfolding, turning the world into a Winter Wonderland,.

Marilyn Monroe once accompanied him. She related her experience to her then husband, Joe DiMaggio, saying, “Joe you can’t imagine what a thrill it was to hear 50,000 people cheering for you.”

I’m sure you get the irony of her statement as he was no stranger to cheering crowds himself.

I reminisced about another Christmas Eve when I walked to church with one of my 3 brothers who had just returned from military service.

There was little traffic and all was peaceful and serene as we walked through the pristine snow, unmarred by car traffic or footsteps. Church bells where ringing all over in our small town and all was peaceful and quiet.

I often wonder why we always expect a white Christmas. I don’t believe there was snow in Bethlehem on that epic night as shepherds watched over their grazing sheep.

Artists depicting Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem do not show snow anywhere. Is it just us northerners who think it’s not Christmas without a blanket of snow?

Snow does promote shopping as it puts one in the mood to shop. Church bells weren’t the only things ringing in days of old. (This will indicate my age.) But cash registers no longer ring as they once did.  It’s a silent electronic transaction now as we hand over a credit card

I hope you enjoyed Christmas without snow as I did.

Happy New Year.

Football vs. Ballet – December 17, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Watching television some years ago about this time of year, I switched channels a number of times because The Nutcracker ballet was being televised. My football team, which shall remain nameless, was not doing well. Watching them getting slaughtered, it was less tortuous to stick toothpicks under my fingernails.

About the ballet, someone once asked “Why don’t they just hire taller people?”

I did notice a lot of similarities in football and ballet.

The ballet dancers do not have their names or numbers on their back. It might be better for the football players to also have their identity not revealed for the world to see when they have a bad day as they were on this particular day and may end up being attacked by their loyal fans.

There is a lot of dancing and jumping around with both football and ballet. But, in the case of football, the team did it at the wrong time and were called for an offside penalty, setting them back even further.

Also some of the guys on the opposing team picked up the quarterback and slammed him down to the ground. In ballet, the lead dancer is also picked up but instead of being slammed to the ground, he or she is set down ever so gently and continues to pirouette on tippy toes.

I never understood why the quarterback never fights back or is there some sort of rule against defending himself? I would think his team mates would try to help but merely step around the fallen hero and start another play. Or they might try to get even by doing likewise to the other quarterback.

A football game lasts an hour with 15 minute per quarters but, with all the replays, timeouts and penalties, it takes three hours to view the game.

I skipped the postgame show after the football game as the coach of the losing team tried to explain what happened. Might have been easier to explain Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

I couldn’t help but think of the late Mike Royko’s definition of football: “It’s a barroom brawl with rules.”

 

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.