Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things I Truely Love

The world is a carousel of color
Wonderful, wonderful color

-Walt Disney's Wonderful World Of Color

Used with the permission of the photographer Vincent Cotnoir

Small Town Life

Today I:

1. Watched a minutes-old newborn calf try and stand up.This upset mom so much she mooed loudly three times causing her baby to stop struggling and lie still.

2. Found out the grocery store is closed because state revenue agents and members of the county sheriffs department came in this afternoon and ordered it closed for nonpayment of taxes.

Monday, January 30, 2012

A Song Of Occupations

A song for occupations!
In the labor of engines and trades and the labor of fields I find
the developments,
And find the eternal meanings.

-Walt Whitman

I have been lost in the past again, spending my days online at ancestry.com. I discovered an amazing source of information that, for me, is more fascinating than the government censuses. My family on my father's side is from Peoria, Illinois and ancestry.com has city directories for Peoria starting with the late 1800's up to the late 1940's. These city directories give you a trove of information. As with a phone book, city directories give you name and address but they also give you the listee's occupation.


And the custom at the turn of the 19th century in Peoria was to put a listing in the directory once you had a job. That means you can tell if the John Smith you found is your John Smith just by looking to see if he is living at the same address as his father, mother, sisters or brothers. I found my great-uncle this way. At age 15 he had a job as a driver for a grocery store. He was living with his father, my great-grandfather, who worked as a laborer. At the same time his brother was working as a fireman on the Toledo, Peoria, and Western Railway, and his sister was working as an Inspector for a large department store.

After pursuing many of the yearly Peoria City Directory listings for my great-grandfather's family I see that I come from people who worked with their hands in what are known as blue collar jobs. This makes sense as Peoria was an industrial town with many factories. What I did not expect were the numerous positions my relatives held throughout the years. In addition to the above jobs my relatives worked as:

Apprentice (Occupation unknown)


Clerk (Department store)
Clerk (Furniture store)
Clerk (Meat Market)
Clerk (Peoria Gas & Electric)
Clerk (Tailor and Dry Cleaners)


Commercial Traveler

Debt Collector


Driver (Bus & Baggage Company)
Driver (Department store)
Driver (Grocery store)

Detective (Peoria & Pekin Union Railway)

Electrician (Peoria & Pekin Union Railway)

Harness Maker

Helper (Boiler Manufacturer)

Insurance Agent

Laborer (Farm Implements Company)
Laborer (General)

Mechanic (Gas Tractor)

Pipe fitter

Repairman (Peoria Gas & Electric)



Shoe Repairman



Watchman (Peoria & Pekin Union Railway)

Quite a variety of jobs there. More impressive or disturbing is the fact that these are the occupations of four people- my great-grandfather and his three children. Only two these job titles belongs to my great-grandfather, Harness Maker and General Laborer, but I am sure there are many different jobs hiding behind the title General Laborer. Of all the jobs, there is only one that I am ashamed to see on the list and that would be Debt Collector. Great-uncle Chauncey, how could you?

I do wonder why they held so many different jobs. Was it dissatisfaction with one job and thinking another job would be better? Was it a search for better pay? Was it the economical times? Was it political, too much talk about unions? Was it the Irish disease (alcoholism) and therefore an inability to hold on to a job for very long? It might be a combination of all these reasons, I'll never know. If I could only go back in time.

Correction: This is a occupation list for five people; my grandfather and his four children. I forgot to include my own grandfather. He had three of the occupations on the list; barber, cobbler/shoemaker and shoe repairman. My great-aunt Anna was a domestic, inspector (I found out the department store made china.), and a seamstress. My great-uncle Guy had all the driving jobs and was the apprentice, the clerk in a meat market, and the waiter. All the other jobs were held my Great-Uncle Chauncey.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Visions of 1960's Teen Life in American Advertising 3

You can give you hair that Summer look
(All year long)
That Summer bright, sunny light, Summer look
(All year long)

With Summer Blonde
(The gentle hair lightener!)
By Clairol

Now your hair can have that Summer look
Get Summer Blonde!

(It's easy to do. You just shampoo.
Lightens just a little like the sun does.)

(All year long)
Summer Blonde by Clairol!

BTW- I had a friend who used this. An example of the effect advertising has on thirteen-year-old girls.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Visions of 1960's Teen Life In American Advertising 2

Hey, meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger
Meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger

(It's more than a camera
It's almost alive
It's only nineteen dollars
And ninety-five)

Swing it up
(Yeah, yeah)
It says yes
(Yeah, yeah)
Take the shot
(Yeah, yeah)
Count it down
(Yeah, yeah)
Zip it off

Meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger
Meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger

Swing it up
(Yeah, yeah)
It says yes
(Yeah, yeah)
Take the shot
(Yeah, yeah)
Count it down
(Yeah, yeah)
Zip it off

Hey, meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger
Meet the Swinger
Polaroid Swinger

BTW- Yes, that girl is Ali McGraw and, yes, that is Barry Manilow singing.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Visions Of 1960's Teen Life In American Advertising

Any place can be a soda fountain now
With Great Shakes
New Great Shakes

Shake it up with milk
And make a great milkshake
New Great Shakes
New Great Shakes

(Just add milk to Great Shakes chocolate flavor shake mix.
Shake it, and you've got a great milkshake.
Tastes just like a soda fountain shake.)

Taste so go now
Oh so good now
It's so creamy
Smooth and dreamy

There's no more now
Better get more now
Go to the store and get
Great Shakes!

(You get four serving plus your own shaker.
Just add milk to Great Shakes shake mix and shake it.)

Any place can be a soda fountain now
With Great Shakes
New Great Shakes

So if you want your own soda fountain now
Go to the store and get
Great Shakes!

(What's the name of it?)


BTW- It taste nothing like a soda fountain shake.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Tale Of Two Congressmen

In a display of unprecedented disrespect the Republican Representative from Colorado Springs, Doug Lamborn, has said that even though he“respects the president personally, and the office of the president," he will boycott the President Obama's State of the Union Address since he does not respect Obama's policies. This petulant behavior has been described as a reaction to the fact that he is upset because someone had the audacity to run against him for "his" seat in Congress. “Why would someone want to knock off the most conservative member of Congress?,” he asked about his opponent.

Let's see...because you are an disingenuous, egotistical, self-absorbed, immature, jerk?

Meanwhile another Colorado politician, Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Udall, is asking Congressional members to use the bipartisan seating arrangement implemented after President Obama's first State of the Union speech was interrupted by South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson when he shouted out, "You lie!"

Udall has teamed up with Alaska's Republican Senator Lisa Murkowsk in this effort. The two Senators sent a letter to all Congressional leaders asking them to help make bipartisan seating during presidential State of the Union Address "a permanent tradition."

Political differences will always generate a healthy debate, but too often our dialogue impedes the progress demanded by the American people. Hyper-partisanship has frequently kept Congress from finding common-sense solutions that could spur economic growth or help our middle class. It’s little wonder that the American people have such a low regard for Congress and a lack of confidence in their governmental institutions.

So, now more than ever, we have the obligation to show that there is a place for civility on Capitol Hill and that civility can lead to problem-solving. As we saw last year, bipartisan seating reduced the division we had witnessed for decades at the annual State of the Union address, where Members traditionally took part in choreographed standing and clapping on one side of the Chamber while the other side sat in silent protest. That is an image unbecoming of our institution, especially when we should be striving for ways to put aside our differences and stand united.

I'm happy to learn there are at least two grown-ups out there in that Congressional sandbox we call the
Legislative Branch of our government.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Way You Were

My mother at maybe twenty years old in maybe the year 1948. The original copy of this photo is stained in places and I used a photo editor to clean it up as much as I could. As you can see she has been posed to conspicuously show her wedding ring. This makes me think the photo was taken soon after her marriage to my father but I may be wrong. This photo could have been taken as late as 1952. The ring my mother is wearing in this photo is the same ring that she is wearing on her right hand in the 1968 photo. My sister Tara has that ring now which pleases me.  Something my mother cherished has been passed down.

The other interesting thing about this photo is that my aunt, my father's sister, turned this black and white print into a color print. Hand coloring photos was a big hobby in the 1940's and 1950's and it looks like my aunt got caught up in it.  We have some other photos that she hand colored including this one of me and this one of my father.

I love the bright red lipstick my aunt applied to my mother's lips in this photo but I wonder why she did not also color my mother's fingernails to match.  Maybe it was because she knew that doing just would not be a true statement of my mother's personality.  I don't remember my mother ever wearing nail polish and she certainly isn't wearing any in this photo.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Faster Than A Speeding Bullet

Back in the late eighties my husband and I were Racquetball players. There is something very satisfying about going into a confined space and whacking a small blue rubber ball around. One day we were playing a game and it was my turn to serve. My husband had positioned himself smack-dab in the center of the court about 15 feet in front of me. I dropped the ball to the floor, waited for it to bounce back up, and then hit it with my racquet as hard and as fast as I could. It zoomed forward and right into the center of the back of my husband's head, making a resounding THUNK as it bounced off. I can still see my husband standing there in a semi-crouch, legs spread wide so he could instantly move in any direction, arms cocked with his right elbow held higher that the left since that elbow was attached to the arm and hand that held his racquet. Time stood still as the sound of the ball hitting his head reverberated throughout the court. He seemed to be frozen in place. Then his head and upper body twisted around as he turned to look at me. He did not say a word. He did not have to as his face had a look of such great reproach I started laughing. The odds of me hitting him in the head like that were so high I knew I could never do again even if I tried to do so deliberately. I was also laughing because I thought it might be cosmic payback for cheating in our other games. According to Racquetball rules " the racquet frame must include a cord that must be securely attached to the player's wrist." You see my husband is ambidextrous and when we began playing together he left the cord hanging so he could switch hands as he played. Doing so gave him a subtle advantage since his reach was now greater and his reaction time quicker on what would have been backhanded strokes. I finally noticed what he was doing and called him on it. From that moment on he put the cord around his wrist.

Now flash forward to last week and a day when the outside temperature reached 70 degrees Fahrenheit/21.1 degrees Celsius. My husband had bought a new 28 gauge shotgun for bird hunting this year and was experimenting with different brands and load of shotgun shells and testing them by taking them up to the gun range and shooting clay targets. This day he as me if I wanted to go along and shoot his new gun and I said yes. He threw the clay targets using this:

Clay target thrower with clay target.

After I had shot at a few targets we switched places and I became the target thrower and he the shooter. Throwing clays with one of these things is a little tricky. As you can tell, you slide the clay into the thrower and then hold it by the handle. You then swing it back and then quickly swing it forward to release the target. The trick is getting the holder to release the clay. I have to hold the thrower with both hands and swing it forward like a baseball bat and then, when the thrower is just to the left of my body I stop the forward movement of the thrower the same way a batter checks his swing. I don't break my wrist to complete the swing. When the thrower stops moving the clay target does not and, if you do it correctly, it soars into the air.

Since you all know where this is heading let me set up the scene. I was holding the thrower in my right hand and standing with my back to my husband. He was standing about eight feet away and two feet ahead of me so he could see the target when I release it. And since he is left-handed the barrel of the gun was right next to his face as he looked in my direction.  It was the first time I used the thrower that day and I misjudged how strong the force and the weight of the clay would pull against my attempt to stop the thrower's forward motion. Instead of stopping where I wanted it to stop, just to the left of my body, the thrower pulled my arms around hard enough for me to break my wrists and complete my swing causing the clay to be released right at the point where it was heading straight at my husband. It was moving so quickly I didn't even see it hit the gun barrel. I only heard it hit and saw dust and smoke as it disintegrated on contact. My husband flinched as tiny bits of clay hit him in the face. I was frozen in place and horrified by what had just happened. My husband examined his gun, looked down at the ground in front of him, and then looked up at me saying, "It's the racquet ball all over again."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bread Day

Here is bread, which strengthens man's heart, and therefore is called the staff of Life.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Day

“If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter.”

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Bronco Maina

Everybody's Tebowing.

Thank God it should all be coming to an end tonight.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why Me?

April of last year I went to the health clinic to get my annual mammogram. The x-rays showed something they thought was unusual so they sent me on to the Regional Medical Center to get a closer look at it. After examining the new x-rays the Radiologist said he could not see anything definite but he wanted me to come back in six months for a recheck. That turned out to be just before Thanksgiving so I put it off until after the holidays because, I now realize, I was afraid of bad news and did not want my holiday ruined.

January 3rd I went back for the regular series of x-rays and was told by the technician that I would need two more as the ones she had just done showed a slight change from my previous x-rays. The Radiologist wanted her to x-ray a smaller area of my breast to get a better look at the change. I told her I had gone through this once before and it had turned out to be a cyst. The next step would probably be an ultrasound so I wasn't worried about it. I talked to my sister later in the week and she said I sounded calm and that if this was happening to her she would be worried to death. I admitted I was a bit worried as I seemed to be surrounded by cancer. I had read Kelly Corrigan's book The Middle Place a couple of months before, I had talked to a family member on my husband's side who was just finishing up her cancer treatment a week ago, I had just finished reading Meridith Baxter's book Untie, and I had read an article in the paper about a woman's change of getting breast cancer when there is no family history of it. I also had a growth removed from my face the day before I talked to my sister because I had been worried it may be pre-cancerous. My sister said I was just at that place you get when you are aware of what is on your mind. Like when you buy a new car and all of a sudden you see that model of car everywhere you look. I agreed and said I really wasn't that worried. I also told her that if I did not hear from my doctor by the end of the week I was calling the clinic myself the following Monday.

On Monday morning this week I called the clinic and found out my doctor had not received the mammogram results yet. The person I talked to said not to worry as she would call the Radiology Department at the hospital and find out what was going on. Later that day she called back to say the x-rays had not been read yet because there was only one Radiologist at the hospital. He would get to them by Friday. Friday? Friday? I wasn't sure I could wait that long. I hung up the phone as a spasm of fear shot through my body. My nonchalant attitude had just been blown away by the realization that I could have breast cancer. I had looked at the image of my breast at the hospital and what I saw looked nothing like the image of the cyst I had looked at years ago. My mind had blocked that out at the time. I wasn't ready to face it then and I wasn't ready now but I could no longer deny that cancer was a possibility. I thought, why me?, and in the next breath I thought, why not me? So what if there wasn't any breast cancer in my family. Women with no family history developed cancer all the time. It was just the luck of the draw, not a punishment, and most assuredly not something bad happening to a good person. It just was. I also saw that my deciding to get that small skin growth removed when I did was my way of asserting control over what was happening to me. My breast was figuratively in other hands until that report came in but my face was in my own. I would act with the speed and decisiveness needed to take care of the problem.

On Tuesday I went back to the clinic to have the two small stitches in my face removed. The weight of that missing report pressing heavy on my mind as I sat in the waiting room. A nurse called my name and when I stepped through the door that separated the waiting room from the clinic itself she handed me a copy of the Radiology report I had been expecting all week. I glanced at it and then at her. She was smiling but that did not registered in my brain. I began reading the report and the words BENIGN FINDINGS. I WOULD RECOMMEND A BILATERAL MAMMOGRAM AT THE TIME OF HER ANNUAL EXAMINATION WHICH APPARENTLY IS APRIL jumped out at me. Benign findings. My hands started shaking and I felt lightheaded. I don't have breast cancer. I don't have breast cancer. I looked back up at the nurse and saw she was still smiling at me. That smile is going to stay with me a long time.

I'd like to say that this experience changed me in some profound way but it didn't. It has cause me to ponder my life so there was a tiny shift in my thinking. Of course if you are a proponent of the Butterfly Effect you would believe that tiny shift could cause big changes in my life. We will see. I myself am not a proponent of that theory or of the pop-philosophy that we should live our lives as if each day is our last. My miniscule brush with death did nothing to change that. If you are living your live as if each day is your last then you are not living it in the present. Part of the joy of life is stopping to smell the roses and I don't think that is possible if you are trying to grab all the gusto you can before you kick the bucket. I'd rather slow down and enjoy all those beautiful the roses.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tree At My Window

Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Vague dream-head lifted out of the ground,
And thing next most diffuse to cloud,
Not all your light tongues talking aloud
Could be profound.
But tree, I have seen you taken and tossed,
And if you have seen me when I slept,
You have seen me when I was taken and swept
And all but lost.
That day she put our heads together,
Fate had her imagination about her,
Your head so much concerned with outer,
Mine with inner, weather.

-Robert Frost

Friday, January 06, 2012

El Día de los Reyes Magos

Come, they told me
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Our newborn King to see
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum

Our finest gifts we bring
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
To lay before the King
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Rum, pa, pum, pum, rum, pa, pum, pum

So to honor Him
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
When we come

Baby Jesus
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
I am a poor boy too
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum

I have no gift to bring
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
That's fit to give a King
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Rum, pa, pum, pum, rum, pa, pum, pum

Shall I play for You
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
On my drum, on my drum

Mary nodded
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
The ox and lamb kept time
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum

I played my drum for Him
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
I played my best for Him
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Rum, pa, pum, pum, rum, pa, pum, pum

Then He smiled at me
Pa, rum, pa, pum, pum
Me and my drum

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My Neighbors House In Late Afternoon Winter Light

There's a certain slant of light,
On winter afternoons
That oppresses, like the weight
Of cathedral tunes.

Heavenly hurt it gives us;
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
Where the meanings are.

None may teach it anything,
'Tis the seal, despair,-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the air.

When it comes, the landscape listens,
Shadows hold their breath;
When it goes, 't is like the distance
On the look of death.

-Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa Swings Like A Pendulum Do

Mitt Romney "wins" the Iowa primary by 18 votes. EIGHTEEN VOTES! I can't get over it, only 18 votes separated him from second place Rick (I'm still stuck in the 1980's) Santorum. Maybe this is a sign that the Republican pendulum is swinging back toward center and away from the homophobic, anti-labor, pro-big businesses, screw-the-needy-and-working class, protect-the-rich, our-way-or-the-highway, anti-governmental-interference-unless-we-are-talking-about-abortion, war-mongering, racist, bigoted, anti-any-other-religious-sect, we-are-better-than-you-because-we-are-the-true-Christians,  Far-right.

Or...maybe he won because most Republicans think he can beat Obama and nothing had has changed.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sleeping In Sheer Content

It was his own, his only world,
And when with hunting spent,
Each night beside my bed he curled,
And slept in sheer content.

-From the Robert W. Service poem, My Dog.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Way You Were

My mother at age 17 somewhere in New York in the mid 1940's. In the first photo she is with her fiancee (the dashing young man on her left) and another man. I am sure she only wanted to get married at such a young age to get out of the house because one of the conditions of her engagement, which she accepted, was to learn to speak Lithuanian as her soon-to-be mother-in-law did not speak English. At some point she must have gotten cold feet or realized just how life would be with her soon to be husband's mother because she asked him why she had to learn Lithuanian when his mother had been in America for over twenty years and should have learned the language by now. She then refused to take any Lithuanian lessons. That put an end to their engagement.

The second photo shows my mother's love of stylish clothes. I don't know which is more stunning the suit or the purse. I also love the hat and the glove she is wearing on her right hand. Actually, I am assuming this is a photo of my mother at age 17 and that it was taken in New York. Is she somewhere in the Upper West Side of Manhattan or could this photo have been taken in Boston? Anyone out there recognize the church in the background or the park she is standing in?

As you can see both photos are not in the best condition and I have been searching for photo editing software that would allow me to clean these photos up. Does anyone have any recommendations?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Let's hope it's a good one, without any fear.
-John Lennon