Civility and Kindness are alive and well in DeKalb – September 14, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

It seems like a mockery and unfair to be enjoying such beautiful fall weather here when others are being so devastated by hurricanes and other disasters.

Not to be insensitive, but I would like to change the subject for a little while.

We are truly blessed to be living here in DeKalb for many reasons.

I am not a native of DeKalb and am so thankful to be living here.  The citizens here are the friendliest and most thoughtful people I have ever met.

There is a lot of talk on radio and television about hate in America.  I beg to differ.  I find kindness and consideration every day from total strangers.  Civility and kindness is alive and well here.

When we dine out, it is a rarity to open a door ourselves.  Someone is always entering or leaving as we are and holds the door for us.  This kind gesture is combined with a friendly “hello” and “have a nice day.”   Not only from adults but from younger people, as well as the restaurant staff.

With the many stories of man’s inhumanity to man that fill the pages of newspapers and media reports, I like to concentrate on the fact that there is more good in the world than bad, even though the shooting rampages and other tragedies make headlines.

In the news business there is a slogan, “If it bleeds, it leads.”   But they are only giving the readers what they want so I am not blaming them.

We might miss a kind gesture shown us at times.  Our own attitude can define the kind of treatment we are accorded.  This anecdote may explain it better than I can.

Newcomers in a small Vermont town were asked by a shopkeeper why they left their previous town.    They replied that people were so rude and unfriendly,  they left.

The shopkeeper told them they would probably find that people were the same here.

They asked the same question of another couple, and they replied that they loved where they came from as people were wonderful and very friendly.

He replied in the same way he did to the other persons. This sounds like a contradiction but I believe you get the subtle point.

Our own attitude often defines the kind of people we encounter.  Friendliness is contagious.


School Days, School Days – August 15, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

With school beginning soon, it reminded me when I was young.

We used to refer to elementary school as grammar school, where we learned the three “R’s.”  No mention of grammar, but that was an all-pervasive subject. It was the bane of many students’’ existence.

We were taught never to end a sentence with a preposition, and had to memorize which words were prepositions.

If we abide with this rule and change the wording of, “This is a rule that I will not put up with,” to “This is a rule, up which I will not put,” it becomes rather awkward, don’t you think?

There are some silly rules about spelling and pronunciation too.

Why is there a “b” in the word subtle when we don’t pronounce it?

Why is Goethe pronounced “Gerta” when there is no “r”?

Email has replaced letter-writing for the most part.

Remember when we used to begin with “Dear Sir,” or “Dear Madam,” when we were not acquainted with the recipient?  They were not dear to us, were they?

TXTing and email have made us rather sloppy in writing and how we overuse acronyms like, LOL, laugh out loud, or TTYL, talk to you later, FYI, for your information, BRB, be right back, etc.

Emily Post, that doyenne of good manners and proper etiquette, must be rolling over in her grave. Formality has become passé and everything is much faster-paced than it used to be.

But I still appreciate a well-turned phrase and good writing.

Mike Royko had a great style. He wrote simply and to the point, but could also come up with some gems like the following:

In ““Boss,”” his biography of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, he wrote, “So when Daley slid sideways into a sentence, or didn’t exit from

the same paragraph he entered, it amused us. But it didn’t sound that different from the way most of us talk.”

Verbal communication has its own rules, too. When we meet people, a common greeting is “How are you?  The rule is not to answer by telling them about your indigestion.  We are told, it’s a greeting not a question.

In parting, we say, “Have a nice day.” That always warms my heart.

I hope you are doing well and that you have a nice day.

Now, let school begin.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac – 75  cents — July 24, 2017 — Daily Chronicle

          I came across The 184th Anniversary (1792-1976) Edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  It’s intriguing and a treasure trove of historic events, useful information and, of course, weather.  To me, it’s audacious to try to predict the weather a year in advance.

          As expected, signing of the Declaration of Independence and the 56 who signed was featured. Stephen Hopkins (69) of Rhode Island, though his hand trembled, stated “his heart was firm.”

          A Liberty Bell sketch was included and described as the “Bell That Never Rang.”

          In “The Economics of 1876” came the slogan, “Not Worth a Continental.”  If more money was needed to finance the Revolution, they just printed up some. One coin was engraved “Continental Currency 1776.” Simple, but it did not work.  Could we say this was the first counterfeit money?

          A helpful hint in “Cucumber and Beauty,” told how you could get rid of expensive cosmetics and make your own face cream.  It must not have caught on as the cosmetic industry is still going strong.  I’m keeping the recipe though if my favorite cosmetic company keeps discontinuing the products I like.

          Did you know that President Taft, our heaviest president at 352 pounds, became wedged in his bathtub and had to summon help?

          In a piece called, “Cycles, Nature’s Incredible Time Clocks That Rule Our Lives,” I learned “One hundred years’ worth of records show that grasshoppers’ abundance rises and falls rhythmically every 9.2 years.”  Good to know in case you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy.

          Everyone knows about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  But, do you know much about the far more disastrous fire that same night in Peshtigo, Wisconsin?  That’s here too.

          You can use the clean lint from your dryer for stuffing homemade toys for children

          Another tidbit — vinegar is more effective than any hand lotion?  (I haven’t tried this, or the following):

          Add two teaspoons of cider vinegar to a half glass of water.  Drink it about a half hour before dining out to avert internal distress from greasy food and too much MSG.  Might save a trip to an internist.

          Finally, an ad for Arm & Hammer baking soda. Use to freshen combs and brushes to remove dirt, oils and sprays by soaking in 3 tablespoons of B.S. in warm water.  

          Sadly, I’ve run out of space.

Money Well-Spent Not Evil – July 9, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

I recently had a minor windfall. I found a quarter! It reminded me of another day when I walked to the hair salon where we used to live.

I heard mourning doves cooing under some bushes. Stepping off the sidewalk to investigate, I spied a quarter nearby. Eureka! Slipping it into my pocket, I continued walking, forgetting about the doves.

I passed a school playground. A dime was lying there under a swing set. Might have been milk money for some youngster, but I slipped it into my pocket without qualms. Maybe he’ll be more careful next time.

As I reached the hair salon parking lot, a nickel next to a parking meter caught my eye. Is there no end to my good fortune today?

Someone must have dropped it as he fed the meter and was either unaware of it or too proud to stoop for a measly nickel. Not I. As a child of the Depression, I had no such pride.

I now had 40 cents more than when I began my walk.

Sitting under the hair dryer, I contemplated what to do with my new found riches. Not nearly enough for a gratuity for the hair dresser.

I thought of the old maxim, “”money is the root of all evil.””

Was I an evil person?

Then I recalled a different version of that saying. The pursuit of money is the root of all evil.”

Since I had not pursued this new-found wealth, I was in the clear and felt no guilt.

Walking home, I stopped at a news agency for a newspaper. I found two pennies as I crossed the parking lot.

Will they discontinue minting the lowly penny? They report that it costs more to mint than it’s worth.

I hope not. What is to become of me with a name like mil (small ““m,” which is a tenth of cent)?

The pennies reminded me when I was a little girl. My mother tied three pennies in the corner of my hankie (no disposable tissues back then). They were for the collection plate on Sundays at church. How I wished I could have purchased a jawbreaker or a stick of gum instead, as I dutifully donated them.

I don’’t recall what became of my windfall but you know the old saying, “easy come, easy go.”

At least I still have the quarter I found.

Two Ordinary Fathers –                                  June 21, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Two males arrived (legally) in this country many years ago.

One was brought here as a toddler by his parents in 1888. Ellis Island was not processing immigrants at that time, so no record of his arrival exists.

The other arrived in 1918, processed at Ellis Island and was listed in the ship’s manifest as a single, 18-year old man.

The 18-year old came here looking for an opportunity – not entitlements. The toddler had no voice in the move.

New arrivals at the time sought the company of fellow immigrants and settled near them.

A common language bonded them, but they soon learned and adopted English and the culture here.

One settled in a metropolitan city, Chicago, and became a tool and die maker.

The other grew up in the Midwest on a small farm, where he and his siblings took up farming along with their father.

They found brides to whom they stayed married all their lives, had children who grew up to be useful citizens, just as they were. Their sons and daughters loved them dearly and respected them. They were successful in their chosen fields of work.

They grew up during the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s but did not have to experience that hardship personally.The Depression. Also wars, in which their ages precluded their service.

Neither brought fame or shame to their good name. Their names did not ever appear on a police blotter. The same is true of their offspring. They lived and died with no public note, other than obituaries in local newspapers.

Their lives may be described as ordinary. One might also say they were fortunate. They brought their offspring up well, instilling in them a Puritan work ethic.

Take these two men and multiply them by the millions who have immigrated to this country and you have what is the bedrock of our population that makes it the great country that it is.

If we build a wall to keep out those who come here illegally thinking it is a land of milk and honey, that seems fair to me. At least we don’t have to build walls to keep people here.

To paraphrase an old saying, “Immigration is the sincerest form of flattery.”

By the way, those two male immigrants I mentioned above?

I’m proud to say they were my father-in-law and my father.


Do we have to leave Earth in order to survive? – June 8, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Stephen Hawking, the genius theoretical physicist, said we must gather our belongings and get out in the next century if we are to survive.

Hawking suggests we are at great risk of mass extinction if we don’t leave Mother Earth.

I’m not really starting to pack just yet, but it’s a scary prediction that at least has me thinking about it, and I’m looking for an overnight bag.

I’d also start thinking where I’d like to live should his prediction come true while I was still alive (doubtful).

Man has been searching the skies for signs of intelligent life on other planets for years with no success.

If there is life on other planets, they’re probably far too intelligent to want to reach us. If they ever do so, we’d probably end up being their pets, like a family dog or cat. Can you see yourself playing fetch in the backyard like Fido does now? Or being relegated to being a mouse exterminator as the family cat?

Hawking went on to cite the danger of artificial intelligence. In a Washington Post article by Peter Holley, Hawking said: “Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans who are limited by slow biological evolution couldn’t compete and would be superseded.”

Have you ever tried to overrule your computer? There are times when mine seems to have a mind of its own – when it won’t allow me to use “ain’t” when making a point, or certain cuss words. (I don’t say “ain’t” and I don’t really curse, but it’s just an example.)

Remember Hal, the computer in the film, 2001 Space Odyssey? How he (it) took over?

Following is a quote I read and jotted down many years ago, from American nuclear physicist Ralph Lapp: “We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches, leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine car and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose looking backward.”

You’ve probably heard that we’re looking for signs of intelligent life on Mars.

Considering the mess the world is in, it begs the question – is there intelligent life here?

Stay-at-home mom vs. career mom – May 18, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

Another Mother’s Day has come and gone. It got me thinking of the two types of modern mothers.

I admire women who combine motherhood with their ambitions for a career. The dual career is not for sissies.

When I was a child, few women worked outside the home until World War II. When young men went into the military, women filled the jobs that became available.

After that, women no longer were content to stay at home.

Women who stay at home are fortunate in being able to see their little ones take their first faltering steps and utter their first words.

It is not always possible, financially, for people to have this luxury. I have heard women, when asked what line of work they are in, reply: “Oh, I’m just a housewife.”

Excuse me? Just a housewife? That is an all-consuming role. Mothers are counselors, chauffeurs, nurses, dietitians, arbiters who settle small disputes among siblings, accountants who manage the limited budget of a single income, etc.

Later, when children leave home and head to college, mothers often resume working, because of the “empty nest” syndrome or find the need of more income to defray the cost of college tuition. Or increasing costs of living. Many women do not pine for a career, but simply find that they have to work.

Whether they stay at home raising children or combine work with motherhood, the rewards are wonderful. I salute all mothers.

Some day your little daughter may tell you she hopes when she grows up she will be just like you, or your toddler son climbs on your lap and tells you, “When I grow up I am going to marry you!”

Rearing children is a wonderful and rewarding experience. We need no license to do it and just blunder into the role, and do the best we can.

It’s a learn-as-you-go experience. We can only hope we did well.

In “First Mothers” by Bonnie Angelo, she profiled 11 recent presidents. The recurring theme throughout the book was how close they were to their mothers. She quoted from a book, “The Presidential Character,” by James David Barber, “Character building is placed squarely in the mother’s court.”

There is an old saying, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” I say, “Women who rock the cradles rock!”

Who knew we needed fidget spinners? –     May 3, 2017 – Daily Chronicle 

Am I the last person to learn about fidget spinners?

I like to think I am abreast of the times as I read the newspaper (at least the headlines) and catch the highlights of newscasts.

But this latest craze somehow escaped my detection.

I know a new version of the smartphone is just around the corner, although I don’t really understand what a smartphone does.

I am delighted to live in this technology era, even if much of it is beyond my comprehension. How do they come up with these things? To think that there is a need for so many items is a source of wonder to me.

I’m not quite on a par with the person who saw a Thermos bottle for the first time. When told it keeps hot things hot and cold things cold, he asked, “How does it know?”

Youth takes all this gadgetry in stride. While I am not exactly of the horse-and-buggy era, I have seen so many modern improvements, it never ceases to amaze me what the human mind can dream up.

A writer recently said, (and I quote), “”I must have spent the last month in a cave 500 miles from the nearest child.”

Granted, I am surrounded by elderly people my own age and considered out of the mainstream of life, but they are erudite retired college professors, teachers and people who still lead active lives.

We have kept up on some of the technological inventions such as computers, iPads, cellphones, etc.

We are part of the generation who fought wars, built factories and highways when the horse-and-buggy days ended, and there was a need for better highways and other improvements that are taken for granted now.

We may not fully understand a lot of the devices we use and appreciate.

But fidget spinners? Come on! What happened to just twiddling our thumbs?

Please bear in mind that this was written by an elderly female curmudgeon who thought they’d never improve on the Edison phonograph. (Just kidding, of course)

Bring on the new smartphone. I’ll be first in line to buy one if it will screen all telemarketing, surveys and other nuisance calls.

Is anyone working on ridding us of all the bleeping commercials on television and radio besides the mute button? That would be real progress.

A Less-Than-Awesome Start to a Career – April 14, 2017 – Daily Chronicle


April 26, now called Administrative Professionals Day, was previously called National Secretaries Day.

Years ago, before I retired, the nomenclature changed, but the duties remained the same – dictation, typing, filing, etc.

In high school, I decided I wanted to be a secretary upon graduation.

After taking stenography and typing, I became a secretary in the high school superintendent’s office during study periods.

Other gals also worked for him, but the superintendent appointed me his No. 1 secretary. It was a no-pay job, and we earned extracurricular points for performing clerical duties.

I shared the outer office with a football player who had broken his leg in football and could not navigate the stairs to the study hall.

When the superintendent announced that I was to be his No. 1 secretary, he said one of my duties would be to dust his desk each day. (Whoopee.) I was just 17.

I eagerly leaped to the task, knocking his Parker 51 pen off his desk! I can still see it stuck in the oak floor!

I picked it up and replaced it in its holder (although the point was now ruined); snickering was heard from the football player.

Next, the superintendent asked me to add up the figures he called out to me. The adding machine (pre-modern calculators) was an old relic that had a total button that you depressed while pulling the lever toward you to clear the machine. The lever came off and fell clattering to the floor; more chuckling from the football player.

Next, the superintendent dictated a letter that I took down in shorthand. Preparing to transcribe my notes, I twirled paper into the typewriter. When I hit the carriage return, (no automatic wraparounds back then) the typewriter plate sailed across the room.

More snickering. By now, my embarrassment was total.

Upon graduation, the football player presented me his photo, upon which he wrote “I’ll never forget you, the pen, the adding machine or the typewriter.”

I learned later he was responsible for the pranks, loosening the screws that held the adding machine lever and the typewriter plate on.

I confronted him at a high school reunion years later. Ironically, he did not recognize or remember me. But I never forgot him!

I’m happy to report, my secretarial career became a reality, despite the rocky beginning.

Happy Secretaries Day!

(Sorry, it will always be that to me.)

Great Thoughts about Little Things – April 4, 2017 – DeKalb Chronicle

            I’m taking a break from today’s more serious problems of the world, and offering  something superficial.  These are my own personal observations, in no particular order.             I hope they take your mind off of more serious current  events.

             Picture yourself lying on your back on a grassy hill watching white puffy clouds floating by against an azure sky. Let your mind wander.

            A radio commercial asks if we would like to have our personal debt cancelled.  A phone number is provided for further details.  The first thought in my head is, what about those who pay their debts promptly? How do they feel about this?

            Another scenario is a mother and daughter being told they look like sisters!  The mother beams. But how about the daughter who in all likelihood is at least about eighteen years younger than her mother.  How does she feel about the comparison?

            While carrying a full cup of coffee across the room to my computer, I find that if I look at it, I spill a little, but if I don’t look at it — no spill.  Why is that?

            If you speak to someone in a whisper, in all likelihood, they will also whisper.  In high school I had a sore throat and could not speak above a whisper.  I whispered to the teacher, “May I be excused today?”   He whispered back, ”Why?”

            Why hasn’t anyone invented a shoulder strap for handbags that stays on our shoulder?  Same about bra straps.

            Try this:    Ask a woman what color lipstick she is wearing and note, she will lick her lips before answering.

            When I can’t hear someone speaking to me, I raise my voice.  How does that help?

            When calling the theater asking for the start time of a movie, the time is not accurate because we are subjected to an endless showing of advertisements that go on and on long before the actual movie starts.

            We elderly tell the history of a piece of jewelry or garment we are wearing when someone compliments us on it.  Why do we do that?

            When someone asks “how are you?” we seniors reply by telling them more than necessary. Remember, “How are you” is a greeting.  Don’t tell them about your indigestion.   It’s a greeting,  Not a question.

            These are examples of things that puzzle me.  How about you?  Space constraints prevent adding more.