Who? Us?

We are two disabled, oldish women who have been adventuring through life for years. We are talking about how disabilities, both visible and not, change the way we enjoy our retirement.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Filled with Hate

I am getting sick and tired of all the hate filled bigots in this world screaming their hatred  to the world.  "They" break natural laws, they say.  "They" are sinners- are going to hell.  "They" are evil and corrupt- or "They"  are dooming civilization. Who knew "They"  had such power!

And speaking of natural laws and the breaking thereof.  Who first started owning land instead of sharing it with other living creatures? Who committed genocide? From Native Americans in the US to the Spanish Inquisition to the holocaust to Darfur. Will it stop? I doubt it.  Seems like that violates natural law to me. Many more violations than loving someone.

Who first started building processing plants so we could eat our fellow citizens while keeping them captive under conditions that give new meaning to the word torture.  Animals are part of our natural world and we torture and kill them so people can make money. In the process, we ruin our lands, poison our air and water.  More violations of natural laws.

Who started paving the land to make streets, bridges, houses, shopping center and stealing land from the people who lived there before us? Now we shoot the creatures that we feel are intruding on our land and often we shoot them just for sport.  And feel that we must shoot to protect that bit of paving that supposedly belongs to us.  Seems like violating natural laws to me.

Who started organized religion and still subscribes to its hate-filled teachings. Now that's breaking natural law. Of course, they collect your money to assure your entrance to a nonexistent afterlife.  This ensures their leaders a money filled present life and they break all natural laws.

And who started making vehicles of war? Vehicles like guns and tanks and bombs so we can claim the land of others.  Killings and dyings considered necessary casualties.  Natural law?  I hardly think so.

People who defend gun ownership, war machinery, farms that offer dead animals for sale, pave land with concrete and poison.  They break natural laws.

And all of us who are hated homosexuals, that supposedly have the power to cause hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and probably even football team losses want to do is love someone without hearing hated being spewed.  “They” is us.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Donna Speaks: The MGM Lion


I was a rookie nun in the San Antonio convent I joined at 17 right outta high school. In addition to "religiously" studying Catholic and Divine Providence (the name of the order) doctrines, we were encouraged to perform community service. I chose to visit the "neglected" crazy incarcerated at the San Antonio State Hospital.  Evidently, the powers that be thought it therapeutic for all the patients who had few, if any, visitors be housed together.  I thought visiting them'd be fun.  (Remember, I was 17.) 

I didn't know that choice I made, back in 1964, was both intuitive as well as prophetic.

We religiously visited this lonely women's ward once a month.  We'd convene in the rec room.  Anyone who's been in a psych hospital knows what a rec room is, looks like, and smells like.  They're all the same.  

The nurse (Ratched-like, of course) would unlock the visitors' door, and six naive newbies'd file in.  Then she'd close and lock the door.  

Most of the women were sitting in chairs lined up against the wall all around the room.  A few were milling around.  All eyes turned to the six (plus one old-wise-nun-escort).  Idiots we were, between 17 and 19 years old, in weird all black costumes - except for a white Peter-Pan collar - there to comfort and console.  We were all full of shit to think we could give these women anything except fodder for their daytime fantasies and night time wet dreams.

We'd introduce ourselves and "work the room".  Mindless conversation about “How are you today?" How the hell did we think they were?  Buried in a psych ward, no visitors, and the only contact with the outside world a few hours of TV a day restricted to Lawrence Welk or Sally Field's The Singing Nun.

Then they'd put on some good-clean-music.  Ya know like 40's tunes, classics, Lawrence Welk and Glenn Miller.  And we'd dance with the ladies.  Yes, dance... sorta dance. After about 15 minutes of this "fun", we'd partake in refreshments: Kool-Aide and cheap store bought cookies.  After sufficient time milling around, we'd sit down and converse a bit more about what a lovely day it was or how bad the liver was in the dining room.

On our second or third visit, we had gone through the routine.  I approached a rather large (very large) young woman with a full head of short curly brown hair sitting, calmly staring.  She had a zombie-like affect. (Thorazine?)  She had an open chair on either side of her.  My one-must-always-be-courteous southern upbringing made me ask Curly, "May I sit here?", referring to the chair on her right. She replied with a low growl and no eye contact, "No... the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Lion is sitting there."  Not wanting to sit in the animals' lap, or go against Curly, I chose to sit in the chair on her left.  No problem.  We were both cool.

Then my friend and fellow newbie, Diane P., approached, heading straight for the MGM Lion's chair on Curly's right.  Now Diane was a Yankee, from Rochester, NY, no less.  She hadn't had that good ole southern politeness bred in her.  I warned her, I did.  "Diane, no.  Don't sit there!"  "Why not?" she asked.  And I told her why not. She guffawed and sat down in the chair.  "OMG!", I thought.  "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph pray for us!".

Curly's angst became palatable.  I swore I saw steam coming outta her nose from the corner of my eye.  I dared not turn my head.  Then suddenly, with nary an utterance, Curly raised her quite sizable right arm straight out in front of her - Heil-Hitler-like.  With one fell swoop, she swept her arm stiffly and quickly to the right.  It caught Diane just under her chin.  I went from ejaculations (that's what those "Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" things are), to an out-loud, "Oh! Shit!".  

Diane slid down her chair to the floor and sat there like Raggedy Ann.  Curly assumed her previous position as she uttered and audible sigh. "Aaaahhhhh..."  

Oh course, all hell broke loose.  Curly compliantly got up when Nurse Ratched calmly asked her and left the room on the nurse's arm.  Our older and wiser escort had already bent down next to me as we examined Diane.  She had a red mark near her Adam's apple, was grasping her throat with her right hand, and gasping for air.  Otherwise, she seemed OK.  

Needless to say, the visit was over.  As we five newbies, one escort, and one bent-over, stumbling Diane left the room, we heard the crazy women in the rec room laughing their asses off.

I shoulda known, that day in 1964, that I was destined to work with "crazy people".  I was "taught" thirty years later what I knew back then: you gotta meet a client (patient, person, etc.) where they are, and believe what they tell you as their truth, their reality.  

Thanks, Curly.  And thanks to your MGM Lion.

Have a good one, Miss Althea!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

How Would You Have Handled the Spring Valley Ohio School Incident?

I have been reading about the school girl in Spring Valley, Ohio School who refused to give up her cell phone and leave the classroom as asked by her teacher.

A cop arrived, called by the teacher. The cop tried to assist the offender in leaving the room by trying to pick her up and put her out. Obviously that didn’t work very well. Other students took videos of the incident (What were students doing with phones in the classroom? I guess that’s another story.). Anyway, the videos showed the officer trying to pick her up and in trying to get her up, ended up throwing both her and her desk across the room.  The cop has been fired. I don’t know what happened to the student.

Of course, I have an opinion, but I sure don’t have any real answers.

For one thing, this is a teenaged girl. We all were one of those once. Remember. And if you were not a teenaged girl, you were a teenaged boy and equally obnoxious. Oh, those days. I never want to live through them again and I’ll bet most of you don’t.

 Evidently, she had just lost her mother and entered the foster care system a few days before. I don’t know if the teacher or the cop was aware of this or even if it made any difference.  

So we have a young girl who was reportedly using a cell phone, against school rules. She was being a typical defiant teen who knows everything and is sure adults know nothing.

The first mistake the teacher made was to call a cop.  The girl didn’t need a cop. 

The first thing that should have happened is that the entire class except the cell phone user should have been sent to the library. Donna, who was a fifth-grade teacher years ago tells me that when those sorts of incidents occur, ya gotta get rid of the audience. So the teacher needed to call the librarian and say, “My class is on their way to your library, so watch out for them.”  

OK, then you are in a classroom with one student who is breaking the rules.  Do you still need a cop? Really? OK, if you think you do, then call one, but it seems to me that some school employee should be trained to deal with obnoxious and oppositional teens. After all, she can’t be the only one.  

Teachers out there, what would you have done? How would you handle it?  Would you have asked a cop to throw her out? 

Or could you have dealt with her one on one with no other students in the room?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Barns, Cows and Country Living

I love barns.  Old ones and new ones.  Barns seem not to exist everywhere like they did once.

When I was a kid. I think that there are fewer people who farm than there are now.
Growing up in a tourist town in Michigan, I didn’t see a barn until I was off to Michigan State University where they had a barn. MSU was not long away from being Michigan Agricultural College and it still had barns. Maybe MAC had barns, but this poor undergrad did not have a camera, so I have no pictures of any barns there or anywhere else for that matter.

But I have taken a few pics of barns while vacationing and a few around my new hometown of Mountain View AR. There are farmers here. In fact, our property is right next door to a cattle farm. And in this part of the world, free range cattle are normal.  Meeting cows in the front yard is not unusual.  

Or while driving to town, we have traffic slowdowns as we wait for cows to cross the road.

But back to barns.

This is a barn in Tennessee, found while vacationing near the Smokies.

The top of the barn seems to be where hay is stored, right? How do they get it up there?  And then how do they get it back down?

You can tell I grew up in a tourist town where rich people in boats from Milwaukee came to summer. People didn't have barns.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stupid Questions

Do I ever get stupid  questions while I am scootering around. Whether it be at home or out and about, I can’t even imagine how people think up the questions they ask.  

Most often the question is, “Why are you using that scooter?”  Ummm, cuz I can’t walk very well, not that it’s any of your damn business.”

“What did you do to yourself that you can’t walk anymore?”  Same answer as above. 

“Did you break your hip?”  What is it about having gray hair and being female that the world thinks you have a broken hip?  Where did that come from? I have never known a woman who broke a hip. Have you?

“Do you work.”  Again, is this your business? The only worry you have is if I can pay my bill when you are done working on my car, building my deck or mowing my yard.”  But mostly just to not call the person names I will answer, “No I am retired now, but I worked for myself for 45 years until I retired.”

“Do you drive?”  This is usually as I am putting my scooter back on its lift on the back of my car.  “Umm, no, that guy sitting in my driver’s seat of my 09 Ford Escape with the chauffeur’s cap on is my driver.  Whaddya think? Of course, I drive.”

“And the best one of all and one I hear constantly. “Where is your husband?” 
I hear this one most of the time at home when I am interviewing someone to do some carpentry, electrical or plumbing work here at the house.  My answer every time is, “Gee, I knew I forgot something. I never got one.” I have had service workers leave if I don’t have a husband to hire them. Go figure.

“Then who takes care of you?”  Again, do I look like I need somebody to take care of me? Evidently to you I do. But trust me, I don’t. And once more, for the last time, stop it with your intrusive, obnoxious, unnecessary and prying questions.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Donna Speaks: A-One-Ringy-Dingy, A-Two-Ringy-Dingy

 I loved Lily Tomlin's character, Ernestine, the Telephone Operator, a regular on Laugh In of the late sixties and early seventies.  If you are unfortunate and have not seen Lily perform Ernestine,  Or click this link: here  It is a classic.  Anyway, Jan's mention of her family's first phone made me think of Ernestine and our family's first.

We had that Hang-On-the-Hall-Wall-Phone as our first phone.  It's range was three feet - the length of the cord.  Poor dad finally gave in to the whining of his four girls (two of whom were teenagers) and extended our roaming to six feet.  We could now go into the bedroom closest to the phone (thank goodness in was me and my sister's bedroom) and plop down on the bed and talk in private. 

Well, sorta private.  Our phone was a "party line". And it wasn't a "partee" line.  A party line meant we shared a phone line with two other families.  Let me count: our family - seven; my maternal uncle's family - four;  the other family - five.  So all told, we had one phone line for 16 people.  ONE PHONE LINE FOR 16 PEOPLE.  (And people say we didn't have any social media way back when.) I don't think Sprint, or Horizon, or even ATT could offer that kind of plan today. Especially not for the peanuts dad paid.  But what pre-teen, tweenie, or teen would tolerate sharing a phone with 15 other people now.  OMG!  

Ma Bell created a special ring-a-dingy for each of the three families.  No one knew when the phone would ring. Vigilance was paramount: listen for the magical ringy-dingy. With the first strident sound (no choices for ring-tones), all within earshot stopped dead in their tracks, intently listening. (Kinda like that old commercial, "when E.F. Hutton talks, people listen".)  When we didn't hear our ring, we'd all move again.  If it was our ring, everybody ran.  I'm sure the other families did the same.

Our ring was three short. My mom's brother's family was a long-short-long-ringy-dingy.  My uncle's wife was really nosey; she lived to gossip... and she was a uni-brow.  They lived a stone's throw from our house.  Sometimes, when we answered our ring, we knew she was listening. We could hear the background noise: unmistakably our cousins.  Dad told us not to be rude, just politely ask, "Whoever is listening in, please hang up."  We obliged but, I'm sure she could hear our teeth grinding.

The shared phone line also meant that sometimes we had to wait to make a phone call.  This was worse than the remoteless Admiral TV.  We'd walk to the phone, pick it up gently, listen, and someone from the other family was talking.  Put it down gently.  Sit down.  Get up. Pick up.  Listen.  Put down.  Repeat.  If "the other family" was on the line too long, we'd not so gently pick up and put down the phone.  And, sometimes we'd add a very audible, "Huff", "Puff", or "Harumph".  Finally, we'd pick up the phone and hear the buzz of an open line. Phew!  

Lotsa times, when mom or dad wanted to make a call, they'd appoint a phone monitor.  My two younger sisters l-o-v-e-d this job; my older sister and I hated it.  We'd hide. Or, ignore.  The Teenager Ignore.

Now, with the great (think Tony the Tiger G-R-E-A-T!) electronic revolution, my dad, who still lives in our family home, has two non-shared, one portable, land-line phones, and a cell phone.  I don't know why, but reception on his non-portable land line is full of static. He sounds like he's talking from the bottom of a well.  (He'd never be able to hear our aunt if she were listening.  But she's deceased now so...)  And, no, it's not the same phone we had sixty years ago. Though that one might be better.  It always got crystal- clear reception.     

And his cell phone.  Ma Bell, help us.  I don't know how many butt-calls my sisters and brother have received from dad.  I know I've gotten plenty.  Ya know, when you scream, "Hello!  Hello! Hello!" Then realize we're talking to someone's ass. Usually with dad, we hear the buzzes, bells and whistles, and tinkles - background noise of the casino, and know it's his butt.

And, of course, there's always the obligatory, "Can you hear me now?", yelled into the phone.  And the, "I thought I was still talkin' to you," when we've unknowingly lost the connection.  And, none of us pay "peanuts" for this incredible progress and wonderful inventions.

I personally think Ernestine needs to snort-snort and make a ringy-dingy-call to her boyfriend, Vito, the telephone repairman.  No, we need to hire him and Ernestine to man the phones. At least we'd get a laugh outta it.

Hello, Miss Althea, are you there?  Have a great day.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

I Got This

Famous last words. I didn’t ‘got this’, and damn near killed myself trying. 

We have an above ground swimming pool, 14 x 28 feet. It’s huge. And it’s especially huge when it needs to be covered for the winter.  

We have a cover, but I wanted to keep the water off the top of the cover, so decided to build a tent/roof over the pool. Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?

The pool has a deck built on one end and a ramp down the side, so I can get my scooter up to the deck without going around the house to another ramp that leads to the same deck. Confused yet? 

Well, it matters not whether I can scooter up and down when my primary goal was to build a roof/tent.   I decided that I could make one side of the cover higher and make my roof like a lean-to.  Then the water could not collect on top of it; the acorns and leaves would just roll right off. Uh huh.

First I had to get the wet vac out from the shed to the pool because there was already lots of water on top of the cover.  Moving that wet vac while on the scooter is a feat in and of itself, but I got it done. 

Donna came out to help, but here’s where the wheels fell off. “That’s OK, honey, I got this.”

Got the wet vac in place and plugged it in. Had to get off the scooter to lift the wet vac, also to plug it in. Started the sucking process. The wet vac we have is only 5 gallons, so I knew I had a few vac fillings to get all the water out.  

Because our yard is on a slant, the pool is on its own pad. So to operate the wet vac, it must be hoisted about 16” into the air onto the pool pad.  And each time it fills up, the operator - that would be me - had to step up and back down to empty it. It only took me about three times up and down when I knew that “I got this.” was a huge mistake.

But I soldiered on and got all the water out, well almost all of it. I was breathing hard and pretty unsteady on my pitiful feet when pulling myself up on that pad for the 5th or 10th time. 

Then came the lean-to building.  I had the tools, had the necessary posts, because I am nothing if not prepared. To what end I don’t know.  I started placing posts next to the ramp preparing to raise that side to make the cover taut and unable to catch leaves or water.

No matter how high I raised it, the cover would not get taut and it was beginning to show signs of being pulled too tight. Uh oh.

My design was a failure. My body failed me at about the 3rd post.  I staggered to my scooter, hauled the wet vac back to the shed and abandoned my project. 

Nothing like a big failure on a relatively small project to bring home that what we could do ten years ago, we ain’t got a chance of doing that now.

No more, “Honey, I got this.” It was a hard lesson to learn.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Keeping your Word

 Didja ever wonder what happens around here when we are not writing posts for this blog?  Probably about the same things that happen at your house. 

We are both retired, so work doesn’t get in the way of anything anymore. Not that it ever did for me. I never did let work get in the way of what I wanted to do. I did love my job though. Seems like not that many people do. They complain about work and drudge their ways through 8 or so hours of what they hate. Then they realize that they have years before they can stop watching the clock. And they hope they will live until after retirement so they can then do what they have always wanted to do, but never did. 

One of the other things we do is wait for people to show up and work.  I have no idea why, but so many people will swear they are coming tomorrow morning first thing, to fix the…..??? And they do not show up. They do not call or show up.  In a town like this one, there’s often only one person who offers the service they offer, so here we are, their hostages. Two weeks ago, I called the local RV repair company. They promised me that they would arrive ‘first part of next week.’ That would have been this week. It’s Friday now. Has anyone been here?  What do you think?  I called them Wednesday and was promised by the owner that he would be here yesterday, first thing.  Right.  Never showed up, never called.  I got a call this morning from an employee saying they would be here when this morning’s rain stopped.  It’s supposed to rain through the weekend.  

Why?  I suppose they hate their jobs so much, they will do anything to not do them. I rather pity them that anyone would have to live like that. They are hated by their customers, cannot be trusted even to show up.  How very sad.  I could not stand it if that had happened to me.

I owned a service business until retirement, as you know.  I built and maintained garden ponds, designed landscapes and loved what I did. I am sure other companies built ponds or designed landscapes as well as I did, but why did they fail and I didn’t. I am positive it’s because I showed up when I said I was going to. Often, I would arrive on a job site, knock on the front door to let the homeowners know I was there and going to get started.  The homeowner would answer the door, wiping the sleep from her eyes or wrapped in a towel just from the shower and have such a questioning look on her face, I would have to explain who I was and why I was there.  I would answer, “I said I would be here at 8:00 today and here I am.” I would hear in reply, “But I never expected you would be.”

What does that say about us as service people and for that matter, us as human beings who keep their word and do what they said they were going to do, when they were going to do it.

I will never believe the owner of the RV repair place again. No matter what he says. About anything.

He showed up mid afternoon yesterday with no explanation at all about why he was a no-show Thursday.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The Admiral

Our first TV was an Admiral "portable" TV - which meant that it wasn't in a wood, or faux wood, box. The Admiral was a giant black, some-kind-of-metal, box with a big screen.  It sat on four metal legs attached to a swivel base.  He was very heavy. Very heavy, but it had a handle on top.  It took two grown men to move the Admiral; I guess that handle is what qualified a TV to be portable.

We lived "way out in the country" and only got one clear channel: KALB Channel 5.  After we got the Admiral, I could hardly wait to get home from school to watch Pinky Lee.  I'd plop down on the floor and sing with Pinky,

Yoo Hoo, it's me                                                          
My name is Pinky Lee                                                
I skip and run with lots of fun                                      
For every he and she

I loved Pinky Lee and his crazy antics so I was devastated when he collapsed on live TV.  He writhed on the floor and it took the camera men 10 minutes to realize it wasn't an act and poor Pinky was in pain.  People said he'd had a heart attack and died that September day in 1955. I did.  He didn't and lived until the 1990's.  Pinky's problem was was his proboscis: a sinus attack.  After he recovered, NBC just didn't want him back.

But there was Howdy Doody.  (HD went on the air in December 1947 - almost one year to date before I was born.)   Being a dummy, Doody couldn't die. His sidekick, Buffalo Bob, could have, but he didn't. Thank Goodness! If anything had happened to Howdy or Bob, this nine year would've cried her eyes out.  (Did you know that William Shatner played Ranger Bob on the show and Clarabelle the mute clown was later to gain fame as Captain Kangaroo?)

Saturday afternoons were filled with cowboys and Indians.  Roy Rogers and Trigger.  Hopalong Cassidy.  The Singing Cowboy, Gene Autry.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto.  I desperately wanted a cowboy hat, boots, and guns.  A horse woulda been nice, too.  But my parents got my older sister a horse and I got a doll.  Pooh!  The blonde beauty became a bad guy and I tied her up and hung her from the nearest bush 'cause she'd robbed the bank. After that, my sister knew her brunette was always in danger as the blonde's accomplice.  (The next Christmas, good friends of the family, Marsh and Eckie, gave me my coveted guns, and boots, and a cowboy hat.  I was their favorite.)

After we moved to our new house, on a good night could get another channel, but only if we adjusted the antenna just so.  This was a three person job: one to watch the TV, one to move the antenna around, and another to relay messages like, "left... no right... no left...a little more... slowly!".  Dad almost always monitored the TV, and, even if you were outside, you could understand his frustrated "goddamnedsonofabitch!".  He knew the best possible reception would still be snowy.  You remember snow.

I do not know how long we had this TV.  I know it was still around that Thanksgiving day in the late 50's.   That's when my younger sister, Jackie, got on the new riding lawn mower, even though dad told us not to.  A stick got stuck in the lawn mower's chain, and when she attempted to remove it, the index finger of her right hand was caught and the tip was ground off. She came in screaming and mom wrapped up the bloody finger and off they went to the emergency room.  That left me alone with my baby brother, James.  Dad was doing what all red-blooded American males do after the Thanksgiving meal: He was off duck hunting.  I comforted James, Jr., by sitting on the floor with him my lap as we watched Gorgeous George wrestle some other hulk on TV.   Jackie was OK, but her fingertip wasn't.

Sometime after we began getting the Liberace show on the Admiral, he began to fail. At first, the black and white wasn't so black and white.  Then the picture started getting smaller, shrinking, it was shrinking. Even the TV repairman admitted he couldn't save the Admiral.  As the picture got smaller and smaller, I sat closer and closer.  Everybody in the family sat closer and closer... all five of us.  It got pretty crowded 'round the TV.  Family members would vie for the best spot for viewing the teeny-tiny Liberace. The picture was so small, I couldn't sit on the couch and play the piano with Liberace anymore.

Then, one day, we turned on the TV, and the picture was gone.  The Admiral was gone.

I do not know what happened to The Admiral, but I salute that big black box for all the good times it gave and the bad times it soothed.  All Hail the Admiral!

Have a good day, Althea.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

You Light up my Life

I often think of how many things have changed in our pre-boomer lifetimes.  From a telephone that hung on the wall and to use it, you had to speak with a telephone operator to wireless telephones and even watches that are telephones – shades of Dick Tracy.

Something no one notices all that much is lights. Our lives are bombarded with lights.  Usually little lights. They crept up on us.

First, we got night lights that stayed lit all night so we would not be afraid of the dark.  I don’t even remember the first ones. Now that we are older, we have night lights, so we can stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night in relative safety.

Then we got electric clocks.  No more winding of clocks, now they are all plugged into the wall. They hang on our walls or sit on our nightstands shining or blinking and going dark when the power is out.  Then they do nothing.  Oh, and they tell us the time instead of us telling the time. Something is dreadfully wrong with that.

When we were youngsters, a TV set occupied a place of honor in the living room. And it lit up.  Then came remote controls and they made the TV light up when we pushed buttons that also lit up.  Then they came with boxes to hook up and the boxes had lights on them.  We paid for those boxes. We still do and call it the miracle of cable TV so we can find 500 channels of infomercials and porn.

Now we have modems and routers. They light up and blink. Constantly.  If they are not blinking, something is wrong and we must call the cable company and raise our blood pressure trying to talk to something called ‘customer service’ to fix it.  Those lights must blink or they are broken.

Our stove buttons light up. Is it to tell us that the stove is hot? How did we ever know that before the lights were there?

Our microwave ovens light up, beep and somehow through some strange process I will never understand, get our food hot.

Someone decided that every household needed smoke detectors. Of course, they came with lights.  Sometimes they blink and other times they do not blink. I have no idea what the significance of the blinking is when the house is not even close to being on fire.

Oh, the refrigerator has a light.  It’s always been there except at my grandma’s house when it was called an icebox and held ice. No light needed.

My dryer also has a light inside. Why? To find the orphan socks, maybe?

Our cameras light up when we turn them on. My Brownie box camera never lit up.

What did I miss?  In the door of my refrigerator is a water dispenser. It lights up. Why?

Oh lordy, my toothbrush lights up. Who thought of that?  Did they think I could not find my mouth?

I plugged my cellphone in to charge as it blinked good night.

And when I got up this morning, I noticed a light on the thermostat. Really?

This little light of mine is shining and shining and it looks like it shall never be dimmed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

A Year in the Life

The dogwood is changing colors.  The dogwood is always first to become red.

 The year-long drought has dimmed the colors this year and it also made for fewer flowers last spring.  

The dogwoods started great this year until the rain stopped

The birds eat the berries, so they will have slim pickings this fall. As soon as the leaves drop off, the bluebirds arrive and start to gorge on the berries Good thing there are several dogwoods on our 6 acres. 

                                          But until the leaves drop off, we have magnificent red colors outside the front windows.  The colors change as the light changes. The sun comes up over the mountain behind the house and hits the dogwood in front late on a fall morning.

Oh, and oak trees provide their own special colors in the fall.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Go to the Service Entrance

I saw an ad on FB for the Arkansas Craft Store. Interested, I clicked it and saw this pic:

I commented.

Sad that your building is not accessible for people who are in wheelchairs or use mobility scooters.

Got an answer back in moments.  Our conversation follows:

‪Arkansas Craft Gallery‬
‪in the back, there is parking next to the sidewalk to the door which has an inside ramp - but you do have to ask us to make sure the door is open.‬

‪Jan Goldfield ‬
‪Of course, we need to go in the back door and even ask permission first.‬

‪Arkansas Craft Gallery ‬
‪not exactly permission but the inside door to the gallery is usually locked - just a heads up. Call, if you can't make yourself known any other way. 870-269-4***‬

‪Jan Goldfield ‬
‪We must call first? Or somehow get someone's attention by screaming while sitting outside near the front door? Think about it. Would you go in your building if you had to go through that?‬

‪Arkansas Craft Gallery ‬
‪I'm afraid no one would hear you at the back door with loud noises - there are a couple of
rooms in between you and a clerk. We only have 1 person working at a time. I can tell you're angry, and I'm sorry, but we do want to accommodate everyone. The phone is handy, will be answered.‬

‪Jan Goldfield ‬
‪You are not alone. Only one or two buildings, places, ‬or ‪events in Mountain V‬i‪ew are accessible. No one here really cares about the ADA or being legal. We get used to being second class citizens, but don't like it at all. And if you sell anything, our dollars will not be spent in your store.‬

‪Arkansas Craft Gallery ‬
‪We built the ramp at the back door, and there is a sign to indicate handicapped accessible. I guess a doorbell would be a handy addition. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.‬

My observations:  So, if I want to go to the Arkansas Craft Gallery, first I have to unload my scooter and somehow get to the front window and make enough noise to get someone’s attention. When gotten, I have to reload my scooter on its lift, drive around the block to get to the back door, unload the scooter again, then hope against hope that the person who works there gets to the back door to let me in.  Then hope that the back rooms that I must ride through are not crowded with stock. I have never been in the store, so have no idea if the aisles are too narrow or not.

After all that, I really don’t see myself in a mood to look at anything the store stocks.

I might suggest that a ramp be built in the front, come out to the edge of the steps and then turn the corner and run parallel to the building to permit entrance through the front door like all the normal people. I’ve had it with being given the choice of no entry or the locked service entrance at the back.

Monday, October 19, 2015

What's in a Name?

My mother swore that she went to school with girl twins named "Ima" and "Ura" Hogg.  Really! What do you think those parents were thinking?  "Which one of our twins will get teased the most?  Yuk. Yuk", as, with gleaming eyes, they smiled their evil smiles.

I had a female student when I taught fifth grade named "Eureka".  Cruel, cruel parents. Of course, her classmates would taunt her every day. "Why'd ya mama named you after a vacuum cleaner?!"  Also, "Ya really have a 'suckie' name."

A friend of mine in grade school was named Orilla.  I really liked Orilla. I lost touch with her after eighth grade.  I wonder if she lived. I don't think anyone would be able to live through all those "Orilla the Go-rilla" jokes.

Mallory is a nice-sounding name.  But who would name their boy or girl "Mallory" if you knew it meant "unfortunate and unlucky". Or that Caleb is the Hebrew name for dog.

My maternal grandfather's first son died shortly after birth.  He'd named him "John Vallery, Jr."  Now, that didn't stop him from naming his next son, who lived a long life, "John Vallery, Jr.", too. Ya think maybe the second "John Vallery, Jr." had some problems in his life.  Yep.  But my grandfather would just laugh and laugh at "Junior".

Some names, whether male or female, are spelled the same - Like Evelyn.  I have a female friend from High school named Evelyn.  There's a male British novelist whose name is Evelyn (Waugh).  The only difference is that his named is pronounced Eve (as in Adam and Eve) - lynn. 

A lot of folks don't know that if you are a guy, and your name is Francis, you spell it with an "i".  If you're a girl, it's Frances with an "e".

Other unisex names are Alex (my oldest grand daughter's name) and Aubry.  My sister in law's mother named her Aubrita when her dad's name, Aubry, woulda been fine.  Then there's Kiley and Kendall.  Which reminds me of my best friend, Chris (female "Chris").  She was obsessed with the letter "K".  No, I don't know why.  She named her three children Kim (female), Kyle (male), and Karina (female).  Her son, Kyle, decided to carry on the tradition and his three kids' first names also begin with a "K".  Kim had no kids and Karina didn't follow in mom's footsteps.

I always thought "Donna" was just a female name. As Gomer would say, "Su-prise!  Su-prise!"  When I was a Red Cross volunteer, I was checking in patients for a doctor.  I noticed that the next patient and I shared the same name.  When he  showed up, I said, "There must be a mistake... They have you down as "Donna"."  He said, "That is my name."  I replied, "...Donna?".  He repeated, "My name is Donna!"  Blush.  You just never know.

My son's names are Scot, Tod, and Jeffery.  I figured that Scot didn't need the extra "t", and Tod the extra "d".  Then we moved to Germany.  Berlin. No problem with Scot or Jeff.  But "Tod' in German means "death".  So, I realized early on, as I called my son to come in for supper, I was yelling, "Death! Death!  Where are you, Death!  It's time to come in, Death."  No wonder my German neighbors looked at me funny.  

Now the name Althea comes from the Greek verb "to heal".  The Greeks called marshmallows Altheas because of their healing powers.  No, no.  The Greeks did not sit around a campfire, in their togas, roasting marshmallows and makin' s'mores. Marshmallows are plants of the Hibiscus family. These beautiful plants do grow in marshy areas.

So parents, be careful what you name your kids.  

And, Althea, The Healer, have a good day. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Scootering at the Ozark Folk Center

Finding an accessible tourist attraction around here is difficult at best.  The Ozark Folk Center, spotlighting the way Ozark living was generations ago, is a living museum with real practitioners of their crafts like blacksmithing, printing, broom making, weaving and even coopering demonstrate their crafts daily.  The Folk Center is accessible to everyone. Someone has to open the doors for the scooter rider and getting around in the gift shop is close to impossible, but inside the park is easy, Paved, wide paths making seeing the exhibits a piece of cake.

One of the biggest reason for tourists to come to Mountain View is the Ozark Folk Center.  One of the events the Folk Center is famous for is their Heritage Herb Garden developed and maintained by Tina Wilcox, the head gardener.

The heritage Herb Garden
Photography by Donna Morse

 In 1986, Hillary Rodham Clinton said of the Ozark Folk Center herb garden, "It is not just a decorative garden, it is a repository of past knowledge"  

This 'repository of past knowledge' began humbly in 1977, when volunteers began to bring their own herbs and ideas to the Ozark Folk Center to start a dedicated herb garden. Volunteers transplanted seeds from their own garden and sowed the idea of the Heritage Herb Garden. 

 Elizabeth Warner, one of the first volunteers, was also instrumental in organizing The Committee of 100, which organizes fundraisers (the first in 1982) for apprenticeships, equipment, and authentic displays. To quote Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Warner's “...main objective" was "to create a garden that would become nationally recognized ... a center for study, workshops, and seminars, and thereby increase attendance to the Ozark Folk Center.”

Mrs. Warner and the center's other volunteers did, indeed, accomplish their objectives. A testimony to these achievements is the Heritage Herb Spring Extravaganza.  Each spring and fall, leading American herbalists spend a weekend in the Ozark Mountains to teach, share and learn.

Tina Marie Wilcox, herbalist at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, organizes workshops, invites speakers, sets up walks through the park, a luncheon for all and the participants come.
This event started in 1989 as the Garden Gala and has evolved into a gathering of renowned herbalists who come together to share knowledge both in the spring and in the fall.

Tina Marie Wilcox

Tina Marie Wilcox, hired as a gardener for the folk center in 1984, continued sowing seeds and ideas of these first volunteers. Today, the herb garden is a living, breathing, ever-growing repository of past knowledge, and a hands-on teaching and learning experience for all who come to the Ozark Folk Center.  
She has carefully organized the semi-annual fests to showcase the herb garden by opening it for the season with speakers, teachers, and general fellowship every year combined with fantastic food made from the very herbs picked fresh from the herb garden.

The event is the anchor for the Center's season opening and closing yearly. Herbalists from as far away as Maine, and as close as Izard County, Arkansas, students from Louisiana to Oklahoma and beyond, enjoy sharing their knowledge and experience, along with fellowship and food, every year.

 The Heritage Herb Extravaganzas, not your ordinary workshop, is two days of celebration, of reconnecting with nature, of sharing the unique knowledge of herbalists from the folk center and across the country, and of experiencing this ‘repository of past knowledge’ in the present day. 

At a recent year's extravaganza,  well-known herbalists, Rosemary Gladstar, Steven Foster, Sasha Daucus, Susan Belsinger, Kathleen Cannole and Jennifer Blankenship joined Tina Marie Wilcox in the quest to carry out Hillary Clinton's aims.  For two days they educated and entertained their eager audience of almost 200 as they wandered around the Ozark Folk Center gardens. Attendees were ‘mixed and matched" in groups and all had the opportunity to learn from each herbalist in a more intimate setting

Susan Belsinger
Exchanges of knowledge and experience, and question and answer sessions, spiced up their wanderings and laughter was not in short supply
"Here's some henbit," she pointed out.  And, further along, "Chew on this", she invited, as she agilely stretched and grabbed a handful of Chickweed and said, "Pass it around."  The crowd happily chewed as Susan explained, "These and other 'weeds' are usually mowed down... but they can be valuable as medicinal teas or poultices, and many are delicious in salads and cooked dishes."  

These culinary herbalists used these "weeds", and many others herbs, in planning and, with the help of the dedicated staff at The Skillet, a restaurant attached to the Ozark Folk Center in executing a scrumptious lunch for workshop speakers and participants.  Second helpings were common and no one knows how many absconded with the delicious herbal biscuits as they reluctantly departed the restaurant.

Tina Marie Wilcox proudly informs that, at her urging, the restaurant at the Folk Center, The Skillet, now uses only recyclable take out containers.

Not far from Susan, the folk center's gardener of almost 30 years, Tina Marie Wilcox, enthusiastically gesticulated and firmly stomped the now fertile soil emphasizing,
"Use everything you can think of to 'make your garden grow'. Compost veggie and fruit waste put that newspaper down to discourage weeds, don't burn those fallen leaves; use 'em for mulch. 

And shred those fallen limbs for use on paths." Wilcox believes that almost 100% of what most consider 'garbage' can be used, not discarded to fill up more landfills.


Steven Foster, (seen below) who became interested in herbs in 1974 in Maine, bussed one group to Mountain View's city park to view thousands of blooming wildflowers, but upon arrival, discovered that all plants had been mowed down.  Undaunted, the laid-back Foster, whose mentor was Rosemary Gladstar, went on with the show.

Steven Foster
This Eureka Springs, AR, author, photographer, and Chairman of the American Botanical Council, truly enlightened, informed, and entertained.

He baited his audience with claims of                      "aliens in our  midst" and explained that at least  2/3rds of all plants in the U.S. were "alien", i.e., brought here, knowingly 
or accidentally, by scientists and sailors, gardeners and gauchos.

Foster invited his audience to 
introduce themselves, share if they desired and ask questions of each other and/or of him.

Rosemary Gladstar

The diminutive Rosemary Gladstar, the author of nine books including "Herbal Healing for Women", has mentored more herbalists than she can count.  As a youngster, Steven Foster was mentored by Gladstar. She is the founder and director of Sage Mountain Herbal Retreat Center and Botanical Sanctuary in her home state of Maine. The ultimate professional, Rosemary shared her philosophies and herbal practices while competing with a jackhammer doing renovations in the park.

Jennifer Blankenship, a pharmacist, farm owner and supplier of Townsend Spice and Supply, spoke to participants in the cool of the center's auditorium. 
Ms. Blankenship encouraged blending herbal and traditional medicine, pointing out that herbal remedies will become increasingly more important as the costs of traditional medicines skyrocket. "Your knowledge of the use of herbs for medicinal purposes will be very important." Ms. Blankenship will soon chair The Committee of One Hundred and continue to lead the volunteers in their fund raising activities for the Herb Garden.
Sasha Daucus, a master herbalist and energy healer has been in practice since 1984 and is the owner of The Golden Light Center in the Missouri Ozarks.  Sasha and her groups traipsed through wooded areas - from the folk center to Mt. View's city park - stopping here and there to examine medicinal plants and discuss their uses.  Laughing, one participant was overheard saying, "Sasha is gonna have to give me an 'energy treatment' after this hike.” 

Kathleen Cannole, the Ozark Folk Center's nursery specialist and artistic gardener, lead groups around inside the center, explaining the genesis of the pond and waterfall, as well as how to best grow some of the herbs native to the Ozark area.  Ms. Connole earned a BS in Plant Science and Ornamental Horticulture, "after my kids were grown".   She, however, admits that her knowledge has grown in leaps and bounds since apprenticing with Tina Marie Wilcox and beginning work at the center. 

The Herbal Workshop is presented every spring and fall by The Ozark Folk Center.  Attendance has grown every year and will continue to do so. This event is a semi-yearly highlight of the Folk Center and makes it a destination for anyone interested in using herbs medicinally.