A New Year and a New Miracle Diet – January 9, 2017 – Daily Chronicle

          I once came across this quote:  Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.

          With a New Year beginning, how many diets were begun on January 2?  Only 8% of the population achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, according to statistics.

          Depressing when you think of the high hopes everyone began the year 2017. There’s something to be said about new beginnings.  The slate is clean.  There are 365 days in which we can do some self-improvement – not just in cutting back on food intake.  Do you enjoy gossip?  Give that up and say nice things about everyone.  Or nothing at all.  That’s another way toward self-improvement.

          That is easier to accomplish because it’s not necessary for life but eating is.

Our social lives are geared toward eating and drinking together.

          During my working days, it seemed there was always someone having a birthday, bringing cake or other goodies to the office.  It’s difficult to resist at those times especially when we’re hungry.  Plus risk offending the celebrant.  That’s the excuse I used.

          I’d bring some tasteless cardboard-like treat that most often ended up in the circular file and was replaced with the strawberry whipped cream concoction that was passed around.

          When we are stressed, we like to reward ourselves by indulging in a cigarette if we are trying to give up smoking or a dessert.   It’s no small coincidence that the word “stressed” can be re-arranged to spell desserts.

          If we resist that temptation, there is the constant one on television with a myriad of ads showing delectable burgers and fries, milk shakes from the fast food chains.

          Isn’t it amusing that right after seeing people gorging themselves with these gourmet delights, there is a commercial for a new miracle diet plan you can join?  Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?

          I joined a group diet plan one time and on the way home from the meeting, we stopped for a milk shake and other delights, despite the leader’s advice, “The diet starts TONIGHT.  Not tomorrow.”

          A parting cheery note:  The 2nd day of a new miracle diet is the easiest.  Because by that time, you are usually off of it.  So take heart and if you don’t succeed, Lent is coming up soon and you can begin anew.

          Good luck.

The One-room Schoolhouses of Yesteryear – December 25, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

While recuperating from a health issue, I discovered reruns of the TV series, “Little House on the Prairie,” stirring memories for me and some of my peers.

Most of us received our early education in a one-room schoolhouse where one teacher presided over our first eight years of formal education.

Located on the outskirts of the small town in Minnesota where I grew up, there were about 30 students in my Lutheran parochial school, including some from surrounding farms.

After Thanksgiving we began practicing for our Christmas Eve program in church. It was always such a relief for an unprepared student when the teacher announced we would begin practicing and to put away our books, pencils and writing tablets.

We were given a small scrap of paper on which he had written a Bible verse for each of us to memorize and recite at the program.

On Christmas Eve, we marched into the church singing “”Oh come all ye Faithful,”” on the way to our assigned seats.

The first Bible passage began, ““And it came to pass …”

We stood up from our front pews and turned to face the congregation as we recited the story of Christ’s birth. I remember fidgeting in my seat as I awaited my turn, so I could locate my parents in the back pews.

We were told not to turn around while seated, and most of us adhered to that command because we did not want to risk the wrath of our teacher. I had a deathly fear of him as he was a very stern taskmaster.

These recitations were interspersed with singing various Christmas hymns, accompanied by our teacher on the organ. At program’’s end, breathing a sigh of relief, we awaited the distribution of a paper bag filled with goodies from the local merchants for each of us.

An orange or an apple, some hard Christmas candy, peanuts in a shell and a few assorted nuts, and my favorite of all –a – writing tablet (remember those blue-lined tablets?) and a new No. 2 lead pencil.

Oh, the stories I planned to write! Letters to my cousin residing in a neighboring state.

Probably not good enough for a TV series such as “Little House on the Prairie,” but how I wish I could resurrect one of them.

What was on my young mind? I’’ll never know.

Merry Christmas.



Everyone Needs a Happy Place  – December 5, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

Most of us can remember a happy place (memory) that we can visit in our imagination.

When we are under stress or facing a crisis, if we think of a happy place or time, it may help us get through it.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a virile, athletic young man and an excellent dancer before he was stricken with polio. How difficult it must have been for him to adjust to relying on a wheelchair. He used a ritual while sleepless or under stress, imagining he was a youngster, accelerating his sled down a steep hill in the snow to a wooded bluff below.

Coincidentally, Bob Dole, in his autobiography, “One Soldier’s Story,” also used this device. As he lay wounded on the battlefield, awaiting a medic’s attention, he thought back to his boyhood in Kansas, where he was a track star.

Use your imagination to escape momentarily when you are in an unpleasant situation.

During the heat and humidity of summer, picture snow piled up higher than our heads when the snow plows cleared our parking lots and streets. Sounds simple, but it could help.

Conversely, during the winter’s frigid temperatures, picture construction workers perspiring in the blazing summer sun, or yourself sitting on the patio enjoying a glass of iced tea.

Just imagine yourself at another time or place. Such as when you met and fell in love with your significant other.  The joy at discovering that the other person felt the same way about you.

Remember how you wanted to stop strangers on the street and tell them how happy you were? Happiness is to share, but sorrow we often bear alone.

You may laugh at these simplistic measures but they actually can help see us through many trials.

If you can’t think of a happy place, go out there and create a happy memory (place) now with Christmas soon upon us. One you can visit in the months ahead when things aren’t going well.

Washington Irving (a 19th century author of the “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle”) said, “It is the divine attribute of the imagination that when the real world is shut out, it can create a world for itself.”

I had a chance to check out my theory recently due to health issues, and it does work.

Imagine that!

Being thankful for things often taken for granted – November 18, 2016 – Daily Chronicle

The Thanksgiving holiday is a wonderful time each year to pause from our helter-skelter lives to ponder all the things for which we are thankful.

No matter how few worldly goods we possess, most of us can be thankful for something.

We often say, “thank goodness,” or “thank heaven,” but do we really think about what it means?

Living in a civilized society, it is commonplace to say thank you to someone for a kind deed performed for us, be it to a friend or to a waiter in a restaurant. or a stranger holding the door open for us.

There are countless everyday things for which to be thankful.

Did you sleep well last night? Be thankful if you did. Many people are in too much pain or worried about a loved one to enjoy that luxury.

If we can no longer walk without the aid of a cane, walker or wheelchair, be thankful that such help is available.

Remember the story about the person who complained when he had no shoes? Then met someone who had no feet?

While waiting for an elevator one day, I was joined by a person in a wheelchair. Making conversation, I (thoughtlessly) said, “I hope it comes soon as I can’t stand too long because of my aching back.”

Imagine my remorse when he said, “I wish I could stand.”

Are you thankful you can read? We may need visual enhancement, but thankfully there are glasses and contact lenses.

The gift of hearing with or without aids is another wonderful blessing.

We can usually find someone who has more to be thankful for than we do, but many of us can find much for which to give thanks not just on this national holiday but every day.

No matter if we do not have a lot of earthly goods, just think, “What if I lost everything I now have?” and then if it were all restored, how thankful you would be?

Am I thankful for all the years with which I have been blessed? You bet I am.

Some people may not be happy with the outcome of our recent election, but thankfully it is finally over. How blessed it is to live in a country that gives us a voice in who will govern us.

God bless America. And Happy Thanksgiving.


The long, arduous trek to the White House – November 1, 2016 – Daily Chronicle


November 1, 2016          Daily Chronicle

Because this presidential campaign began so early last year, I wondered about other campaigns. Research revealed that as early as February 1983, Sen. Alan Cranston of California, announced he was running for president in the 1984 election (Source: “Everyone Is Entitled to My Opinion,” by David Brinkley).

Political campaigns are mental and physical endurance contests.

It takes a thick skin to handle all that is hurled at them. Intelligence, too. But, one would think that anyone intelligent enough to run the country would be too intelligent to seek the office.

Because we live in the age of television, we can easily see how the presidents age while in office.

Teddy Roosevelt referred to the presidency as “the arena.” It’s also referred to as a prison, living in the White House. Others have spoken of the loneliness of the presidency.

So why do they seek the office?

A question in a poll once asked: “Would you rather be president for four years or spend a week in jail?” Result was that 52 percent said they’d rather go to jail.

We in Illinois are familiar with the phrase, “Be sure to vote early and often”

The late Republican President Ronald Reagan (once a Democrat) said, “My whole family were Democrats. As a matter of fact, I had an uncle who won a medal for never having missed voting in an election for 15 years … …and he’d been dead for 14.”

The wry wit of David Brinkley was evident in his book mentioned above. when he wrote about an election in Texas. At one point he described President Lyndon Johnson and other politicians going through a cemetery to copy names off tombstones to add to voting rolls. One stone was covered with moss and hard to read, so they skipped it. But according to Brinkley, Johnson said, “You will not skip it. He’s got as much right to vote as anybody in this cemetery.”

You’re probably familiar with the question these days during a crisis, “What would Jesus do?” I am wondering what a Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, or FDR would think about today’s campaigning?

The quote below is from the biography of John Adams, by David McCullough.

“No man who ever held the office of president would congratulate a friend on obtaining it.”

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.