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.

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A rocket ship called ‘Schaft-Nik’ that didn’t work – June 21, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Whenever I see a well-kept lawn and flowerbed. I think of one of my late brothers.

He was a carpenter by trade but his hobby was meticulously tending to his garden and flowers.

Remember back in 1957 when the Russians launched the first space ship, “Sputnik”? This inspired my brother to erect a fake rocket ship in his own back yard.

He called it “Schaft-nik.” German spelling would be Schaft-nicht but he wanted the name to sound like Sputnik, the Russian spaceship name. It means “doesn’t work” in German.

The purpose of his rocket ship was to fill it in the morning with water from a garden hose and let the warm sunshine heat it during the day, and then use it when watering his flower garden.

He believed his flowers and lawn would fare better with warm water than cold. I reminded him that rain water is not warm either but he went ahead and constructed it nevertheless. I can’t tell you if his theory was ever proven.

His rocket ship was made up of three 30-gallon drums, from which he removed the top and bottom and soldered them together to resemble a rocket ship. Upending it, he placed it in his yard the following spring.

He dressed the tank up a bit, by having a cone-shaped top made. Four sturdy fins kept the tall tank upright. It stood 14 feet tall and was painted a bright orange with a checkerboard trim near the top. In black letters are the words. “Schaft-nik.”

He was very meticulous with the lawn and garden to the point where a passerby once stopped to chide him, saying that he had detected one blade of grass that was turned the opposite direction of the rest.

He is gone now and so is his rocket ship, but I still have the newspaper clipping of the rocket ship that “doesn’t work.”

Mothers can influence history. If sons would only listen. – May 15, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Mothers can influence history. If sons would only listen. Mothers’ Day has come and gone. I got to thinking what an impact they could be on our lives. An old saying goes:  The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world. Through the ages, men have attributed their success to their mothers even if they did not always take their advice

Here are some imaginary talks that may have occurred in history.

Ferdinand Magellan told Mom: “I’m going to sail around the world.”
Mom:  “Don’t be silly.  You can’t sail around the world. It’s flat and if you get too close to the edge, you could fall off.”

Columbus:  “Hi, Mom, I’m going to find a new route to the East and I’m going to sail west.”
Mom: “Are you nuts?  It won’t work.”

After Columbus got here, the land was settled and soon there were thirteen colonies. They got disgusted with all the taxes the British were imposing and in a rage, they dumped a lot of tea in Boston Harbor. Their mothers chided them for wasting perfectly good tea that way. Did they listen? No, they went on to declare their independence and the Revolution  resulted.

History tells us of many mistakes men made and all because they did not listen to good old Mom.

I bet Ben Franklin’s Mom tried to get him inside instead of flying a kite during a thunderstorm but did he listen?

Harry Truman’s Mom might have told him to stick to men’s Haberdashery and stay clear of politics.

More recently, Richard Nixon mentioned his Mom during his tearful resignation from the presidency and said she was a saint. But he did not listen to her either when she said, ”Don’t record all those conversations in your office. They can only spell trouble.”

Now we hear talk about building a wall to keep people out of our country. Remember the wall they built in Europe trying to keep people IN? Didn’t work either. I bet they didn’t listen to Mom either.

Paul Revere’s mom:  “No you can’t go riding at Midnight.  Your Pa needs the horse.  Go to bed.”

There was once a program on television called “Father Knows best.”

Should have had one called “Mother knows best.”

 

Remember When the “Parlor Furnace” was Key to Warmth – April 12, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

I recently came across a bit of nostalgia from my youth that I had not thought of in years.  It was a small kerosene space heater.  We did not have a central heating system back then as other people also did not.

We had what was called a ”parlor” furnace.  Living rooms were named parlors by some.  As you might surmise, it only heated the room in which it was located and our bedrooms were unheated.  On excessively cold winter nights my father lit and placed the kerosene space heater in our bedroom.  My three brothers and I slept in one bedroom in our small home.

Sometime during the night, as we slept, our father tiptoed into the room and turned it off for safety reasons.  After that we relied on a feather tick and heavy quilts for warmth.   Toward morning, it became quite chilly and when we arose, we’d race to the living room to finish dressing behind the parlor furnace, jockeying for space.

A wood-burning cooking range in the kitchen also fortified the warming because our mother opened the oven door for extra warmth, thus ruining the temperature indicator and it never worked after that.  Yet she learned to time roasts, the best cinnamon rolls and bread to perfection each week.

We had not heard of future homes where one simply turned up the thermostat for more heat.

         I used to accompany my father when he went to a nearby service station to buy kerosene. One memorable time in particular was in December.  The station was also heated with a wood-burning stove.    The owner was an amateur ventriloquist and he could throw his voice.  He asked me if I had written to Santa Claus.   I told him I could not read or write so he said I could talk to Santa who was up in the chimney of that stove.  He opened the stove’s front door and told me to speak into the flames and I heard Santa’s voice asking what I wanted for Christmas.   Most likely I asked for my heart’s desire — a doll and doll buggy.  Neither item appeared.

I lived in hope until Christmas though and told all my playmates I had talked to and heard Santa, ignoring the older children’s derision and laughter.

But hope is also a wonderful gift. Without hope life is very bleak.

Have you ever been fired? – March 28, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

Have you ever been fired?

I once read a stat that stated the reason some people lose their job is because of their inability to get along with fellow workers, not poor performance.
Sometimes at work we are thrown together by happenstance with people we may not choose as friends or companions. Sort of like with birth. It is chance that makes brothers, but it is hearts that makes friends.
When I retired from the workforce, what I missed most was the camaraderie with coworkers. (To be honest, I also missed access to a copy machine.)
Some people are easier to be around than others. You are not going to like everyone you meet, and not everyone is going to care for us either. We should not spread ourselves too thin by trying to be a friend to everyone. Always remember, a friend of everyone is a friend of no one.

I don’t consider everyone a friend – some are just acquaintances. There has to be a certain bonding for someone to be classified as a friend. Everyone should have at least two friends. One to speak ill of you and the other to tell you what he said.

I like my solitude, and don’t mind being alone at times. If we can’t stand to be alone, we’d better shape up because that is someone with whom we will spend the rest of our lives.
The philosophy Charles Schultz, creator of the comic strip “Peanuts”, depicted in his little people can hit home: One time one of his little people said, I love mankind, it’s people I can’t stand.
I love the irony of this statement as only he could demonstrate. Sometimes we deal with people who are easier to be around than others. I remember an anecdote about two men shopping together and came across a rude clerk. But the man who was making the purchase was very polite and courteous throughout the transaction.
As they left the store, the other man asked him why he was so kind to the rude clerk. He replied, I am not going to allow someone else determine what my temperament will be.
Always remember, He who angers you, controls you.
If you are dealing with a grouch, keep in mind that everyone has a piece of burnt toast for breakfast now and then. Be kind.

Don’t Make up Hour Lost all at Once – March 14, 2019 – Daily Chronicle 

If you’re thinking of making up the hour you lose this weekend when we set our clocks ahead an hour, think again.

I just saw a headline that read, “If you use the weekend to catch up on your sleep it’s unhealthy as it may increase your waistline.”

It reminded me to change my clocks before retiring Saturday night.

Do you remember when we started this custom and why?
You may have noticed (just as I did) that the sun pays no attention and comes up as usual and pays no heed to what we do.
Do you ever think of the really old, old days when man used sun dials to tell time?  Man could not change sun dials then!

The custom of changing our clocks in spring and fall brought to mind something else and I wondered why we do certain things.

As a man watched his wife prepare a ham for their Sunday dinner, he noticed she cut one end of the ham off before placing it into the roasting pan.  When he asked her why she did that, she replied, “I don’t really know why, but my mother always did that.”  So she asked her mother and was told because a whole ham did not fit into her roaster.

Maybe that’s why we change our clocks each fall and spring.  It’s because we’ve always done it.
It’s been said, “The times, they are a changing,” and that may be true but not the way we try to change them.

About twenty years ago I read in a “Reminisce” magazine about Daylight Savings Time and made a note of it.  A city slicker stopped for gas in a small western town where the grizzled old station attendant pumped gas for his customers.  Making small talk with him, the city slicker remarked, “I sure hate it when Daylight Savings Time comes in and we lose an hour by moving the time ahead.”  The old guy replied, “Well, out here it stays light until it gets dark so it doesn’t make much difference to us.”

I believe that pretty well sums it up, don’t you?

Don’t forget “Spring forward now, fall back Sunday, November 3.    You have all summer to decide what to do with the houyou are losing.  Don’t spend it sleeping, because you may find your clothing a wee bit tight.

 

A Person’s Age is not as Important as their Attitude – February 28, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

An old saying goes, “You’re only as old as you feel.”

Some days, that would make me 37!  But other days, not so much.

As Paul Harvey used to preface his commentary, “Partly personal,” I just passed a milestone with my birthday in February.

I’m no spring chicken and have health issues, but I feel blessed.

Many years ago, when my son was about 4 years old, he asked, “Mommy, did they have cars when you were growing up?”

What prompted that question was because he remembered old anecdotes from my childhood such as one time when we were invited by an uncle and aunt who lived on a farm for a Thanksgiving dinner.  Due to a snowstorm, roads were impassable by auto and my uncle hitched up a horse to a sleigh to come into town and get us.

As a child I remember milk was delivered in a horse-drawn carriage and the horse knew when to stop at each home without being told “whoa.”

Electricity often failed during storms, but before it did, radio provided weather forecasts of impending storms but my father usually knew better when it was time to go down basement and wait until a storm had passed. He had shored up a small, cozy area in the basement for extra protection in case the house came down on top of us.

Our mother brought special treats to keep us happy while the thunder and wind roared above us. My father went upstairs to check as the storm prevailed until he said it was O.K. to return to the living quarters.

As a child of the Depression, I enjoy the reruns of The Walton’s, set fictionally during the Depression and WWII.  Olivia and John Walton had seven children and saw their four sons enter the military and my mother and father saw their 3 sons do the same.  Fortunately, (thankfully) all returned as did the Walton’s sons.

Not everyone is granted the privilege of living a long time.  If you are getting on in years, don’t decry it, but enjoy it.  Even if your step isn’t as spry as it once was and you suffer from various ailments, aren’t you glad to be around and see what comes next as new discoveries in medicine, science and technology are coming almost without precedent?  I am.

It’s not easy but I try to keep a positive attitude.

 

Reflections on Writing Letters to the Editor – February 14, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

            As I began this piece, I wondered who wrote the very first letter to an editor.

            Ever since early cave dwellers scratched pictures on cave walls, people have felt the urge to communicate with others or to leave a mark that they once existed.             

            I often think of how quickly the newspaper that contains our meager offering ends up being used to house-break puppies. 

            And yet, those of us who enjoy sharing our views keep at it.       

            My son and daughter saved my early submissions and I then continued saving them since 1982 when I began writing them.

            I guess we save them as a legacy for our children even though they may end up in the trash heap once we are gone.

            We might even include graffiti artists in the same category as writers or in the same category as early cave dwellers as they feel the need to express themselves and leave something behind.  I remember reading an example of graffiti a long time ago that said. “Tommy Smith likes grils.”  Beneath it, someone had added, ”That’s girls, stupid.”  Another entry below that went, “But what about us grils?”

            Coal miners trapped below in coal mines have left notes behind as they faced death.  When there is time, everyone wants to leave a legacy of some sort so people will know they were here at one time.  

            We might even include epitaphs on tombstones.  I can’t verify this but I remember reading that Oscar Levant, a noted hypochondriac, wanted this on his tombstone:  “I told you I was sick.”

            It had been reported that W. C. Fields’ tombstone reads, “On the whole, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.”

            What would you leave as your final words?

            I realize this is not great literature and won’t withstand the test of time as perhaps Lincoln’s short Gettysburg address in which he said, “The world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”  He could not have been more wrong. 

            Besides being used to house-break puppies or lining the bottom of a pet bird cage, everyone knows that a rolled-up newspaper makes an excellent fly swatter.

            How long will I keep writing letters?  I keep in mind a poem I read years ago about a preacher who wrote in the margin of his sermon,  “Oh Lord, fill my mouth with useful stuff and make me stop when I’ve said enough.”

Taking a Cruise with Unpleasant Ports of Call – January 31, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

When I was a senior in high school many years ago, I wrote a column for our high school newspaper.

I once wrote a similar piece to the one below as I recuperated from the flu.

I did not keep a copy, but I scratched a similar one together recently and am submitting it to see if you find it worthy.

It was submitted by my teacher to the International Honor Society for High School Journalists.

Did you ever hear of it? I was awarded a membership for it, and still have the lapel pin for it:

THE USS INFLUENZA

Before flu shots were available, we could count on coming down with a bout of the flu at least once each winter. Recuperating one time, I lay there thinking it was like going on a cruise. We’d set sail on the USS Influenza from the Port of Wellness and cruise for several days until we reached the shores of Queasy Stomach.

Gamely, we’d go ashore and visit shops and partake of the local cuisine. The next day, as we again set sail, we’d alight at the next port of call Wobbly Knees. We were told not to miss the inactive volcano called Regurgitate, but the locals named it with the more common sobriquet that begins with the letter V.

Unfortunately, we were forced to go there, too.

We took a few days to get our strength back and then set sail for the twin peaks, Chills and Headache.

Two valleys below were called Achoo and Coughing Canyon. Some destinations were more fun than others, and we started longing for home but the cruise was not yet over.

Did I forget the one we skipped?

It was called Sore Throat, and that was next to Chills and Headache. Fever was very warm, and those of us used to northern climes did not care for it either.

Once we were homeward bound, we looked forward to getting past Myalgia to nurse our muscle tenderness, and we did not get off the ship to learn about its scenic splendor.

Being from the Midwest, we are landlubbers and do not take to the high seas very well.

Even if you don’t like needles, most of us are happy to take the shot in the arm, now, as it is the lesser of two evils and is over much more quickly and better than experiencing the ocean voyage. Coincidentally, I received a telemarketing call the other day saying I had won a Caribbean cruise (I did not register for it, as the caller implied).

I said, “No, thanks,” and hung up.

Random Acts of Kindness – January 24, 2019 – Daily Chronicle

When I recently opened my front door, I found a lovely rattan basket there with a note attached that read:  “I thought you might like this.”  It was signed by a person who is not what we would call “a bosom buddy,” but an acquaintance, I often meet and greet.   I was touched.

When I saw her later, I thanked her and asked for the reason for her kindness.   She had overheard a conversation I had with someone some time ago when I said I liked baskets.  I did not even recall the conversation!  How kind of her.

That made me recall another instance when I used to bowl years ago.  The bowling center provided free coffee to league bowlers.  One wintry January morning I arrived to find there was no coffee for us.  I remarked to no one in particular that I could not bowl without my “caffeine fix.”

As I was throwing a few practice balls, someone who had overheard me, handed me a cup of steaming hot black coffee she had picked up at a nearby restaurant.  Again, I was touched and decided then I would keep a record of all the small random acts of kindness shown me that year — as well as others I might witness or learn about.

I soon had to give it up — not because there was a dearth of such acts, but that there were so many.  The record became too unwieldy and lengthy, restoring my faith in humanity.

Someone holding a door open for me — just small acts of kindness.  I remembered a quote attributed to Yogi Berra:  “A person can observe a lot by just watching.”

With all the death and destruction that abounds, it’s easy to forget that kindness lives in the world and we do not have to look very far or hard to find examples.  I have a small, daily spiral note pad with a thought for each day.

A recent quote by F. F.  Jones, (I have no idea who he is) reads, “Love doesn’t make the world go round.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”   Just substitute the word, “love,” with “kindness.”

Keep in mind that “Kindness can be seen by the blind and heard by the deaf.”

Random Acts of Kindness

January 24, 2019               Daily Chronicle

When I recently opened my front door, I found a lovely rattan basket there with a note attached that read:  “I thought you might like this.”  It was signed by a person who is not what we would call “a bosom buddy,” but an acquaintance, I often meet and greet.   I was touched.

When I saw her later, I thanked her and asked for the reason for her kindness.   She had overheard a conversation I had with someone some time ago when I said I liked baskets.  I did not even recall the conversation!  How kind of her.

That made me recall another instance when I used to bowl years ago.  The bowling center provided free coffee to league bowlers.  One wintry January morning I arrived to find there was no coffee for us.  I remarked to no one in particular that I could not bowl without my “caffeine fix.”

As I was throwing a few practice balls, someone who had overheard me, handed me a cup of steaming hot black coffee she had picked up at a nearby restaurant.  Again, I was touched and decided then I would keep a record of all the small random acts of kindness shown me that year — as well as others I might witness or learn about.

I soon had to give it up — not because there was a dearth of such acts, but that there were so many.  The record became too unwieldy and lengthy, restoring my faith in humanity.

Someone holding a door open for me — just small acts of kindness.  I remembered a quote attributed to Yogi Berra:  “A person can observe a lot by just watching.”

With all the death and destruction that abounds, it’s easy to forget that kindness lives in the world and we do not have to look very far or hard to find examples.  I have a small, daily spiral note pad with a thought for each day.

A recent quote by F. F.  Jones, (I have no idea who he is) reads, “Love doesn’t make the world go round.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”   Just substitute the word, “love,” with “kindness.”

Keep in mind that “Kindness can be seen by the blind and heard by the deaf.”