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October 20, 2014
10:11pm EDT

Rated: 13+ | Book | Cultural | #1437803
My blog. I'm opionated and I just want to sound off.
  It's a collection of editorials or even mini-sermons. I know it's wrong to give unwanted advice if you want to have a few friends. But I can't fight the urge that I know better than they what they should or shouldn't do. I have all this wisdom and experience and it's such a shame not to share it!
Our culture needs some sound advice and I'm just the one to give it.
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October 19, 2014 at 8:37pm
October 19, 2014 at 8:37pm
Learning To Ride A Bike
         I think I was 7 when I got my first bike without training wheels. I was scared to death. My parents couldn't get me to ride it. The teenager up the street got me to ride it. He was determined I would do it. I remember being excited when I did it by myself. He ran alongside. I was terrified, but felt wonderful once I had my first solo ride.

         Now my niece's daughter is learning to ride. She's 5! She'll be six the end of January. She's been on training wheels since Christmas. They decided it was time. They brought her to my house because I have a long level driveway for practicing. As long as her daddy held on, she was fine. When he let go, she was terrified. She cried, but they kept forcing her to try. I suggested that falling wasn't that bad. So her daddy put her on the grass and let her have some practice falls, so she could see that she wouldn't be hurt. He told her how to stop. Even though she managed for a few seconds on her own, she ended up on the ground bawling, begging not to ride anymore. She wanted to go in and eat.

         So after they all had dinner and played with a huge stuffed chicken, I suggested we go out, just the two of us and have a look at the bike. We got jackets and went out. She asked that I not let go until she felt like she could do it. So I never let go. I just let her pedal downhill and back up in the grass, and then go in circles around the driveway. I figured it's supposed to be fun. She's still young. I'll let her just build up her confidence and enjoy it. One day she'll go out and just do it.

         I think we push kids too early these days. We want them to have nice things, but we set high expectations. Pushing a 7 year old is different from pushing a 5 year old. I would have guessed this kid to be fearless, but I would have been wrong. Every child has a different pace. She'll be doing it soon enough all by herself. Meanwhile, we can use the exercise holding on.
October 17, 2014 at 10:45pm
October 17, 2014 at 10:45pm
First Person Stories
         I sympathize with people who write in the first person. It's so much harder than writing from the all powerful insightful third party observer. You can't read the other person's mind. You cannot explain why he does the things he does or what he's feeling. You can only talk about the narrator's feelings or thoughts. Other characters can grow only in the eyes of the narrator whose view may be very biased.

         The advantage of first person is that, even though it's fiction, you invest so much of yourself in it emotionally. You own that piece because you've imagined yourself in the story. You haven't just seen it in your mind's eye; you've lived it in your mind. You become that narrator. As the third party, you remain aloof, apart from the drama. You're not one of the characters.

         I've been fascinated with Flannery O'Connor's style of writing. She writes in the third party, but is like a camera or recorder. She never comments or adds insights. She reports actions and conversations only. I've tried my hand at it, but it's hard. A lot gets left out. You have to exercise a lot of restraint, much more than the first person.
October 16, 2014 at 10:45pm
October 16, 2014 at 10:45pm
When A Friend Makes Big Mistakes
         I have a friend, more like a good acquaintance, a lovely lady with a nice home and a well behaved child. She has made a terrible mistake. It might have seemed minor at first, but she let it go on for years. She is a public employee, and what she did was a violation of the public trust. She has been suspended from her job, and pending the court outcome, may lose it permanently. Worse, she is suffering humiliation and shame. She suffers because she was always a "good girl", beyond suspicion, honorable, and moral. She taught children at her church.

         She's afraid to face her old friends and acquaintances. She was scared to tell her feeble elderly mother. Her image of herself did not allow for shady dealings. Many make excuses for her. "All public officials cheat." Others just want to forgive her and sweep it under the rug because they love her. It's very hard for a lot of people, unbelievable for some. Most are trying not to discuss the details because it has to be decided in court. At worst, she can face jail time. That's not predicted. She has more or less admitted complicity and paid back expenses involved (she did not steal money).

         We don't want to shame her or shun her. I don't know anyone who wants to make her pay further humiliation, jail time, or probation. But we can't overlook her wrongdoing. She knew better. She didn't have to look the other way. She could have come clean before it was discovered and claimed it was an oversight. No, she knew what she was doing, what she was letting someone else coerce her into doing. She knew what she owed the citizens. We have a right to be angry, to be disappointed in someone we believed in.

         Once we accept our anger, and she accepts fully her responsibility, it's time to forgive and move on. The community will need to wait out the court system fairly, then let her start her life over again with a clean slate.
October 15, 2014 at 11:40pm
October 15, 2014 at 11:40pm
Shopping Now
         I'm a bit childish. I'm so excited about the Christmas presents I'm buying and have bought. I hope they enjoy them as much as I have enjoyed thinking about giving them. I'm sticking to my plan for books for the adults and toys for children. If the others do the same as planned, we can all swap books in January and have more to read.

         I have to get the shopping done early, because of the short season between Christmas and Thanksgiving and more duties at work. And the insurance enrollment for next year comes in November instead of October due to many changes. That's always a bad time for me because I have so many employees, and they can't enroll themselves. Many barely speak English. Most of them can't understand insurance, and they all hate the changes going on. So that's a lot of hours, and some crazy shift work to accommodate all the shifts. Despite the hours, and the constant in-flow of people, I actually enjoy it. I feel like I'm helping people make the best decisions for their needs and pay check. And it gives me some quality time with each one of a very large staff. But that month blocks out shopping and other extracurricular activities.

         But shopping early, I can enjoy it, stress-free, no crowds, no going over budget, Last year I gave a lot of wine. That's gone so quickly, with nothing to show for it, and you never know if they really liked it, or used it! My crowd does love to read. It will be hard to go wrong there. The Christmas wrap is in the attic, however, so I will hold off on that part.

         Now about those "Frozen" dolls.

October 14, 2014 at 10:53pm
October 14, 2014 at 10:53pm
Old Songs
         I've always had an attachment to songs written before my time. When I was younger, I listened to Johnny Mathis by the hour, and I'm confident none of my friends did. Now I listen to Ella Fitzgerald, who made every song sound so easy and effortless, like she never had to rehearse. Of course, our parents influence us a little, maybe more than we'd like to admit.

         We kids could only listen to our music when Dad wasn't home. When he was there, it was country, which I hated until I passed 30 and went through some transformation in another town, or Bing Crosby, or Ed Ames. So today, I like Johnny Cash, Ed Ames, Bing, George Jones, Tom Jones, Glen Campbell, and Tom T Hall. I know they're a mix. But I also like Michael Buble, Dean Martin, and Andrea Vocelli. I like Robert Goulet, which definitely came more from my mother, Bette Midler, Boz Scaggs, Hoagie Carmichael, Louis Armstrong, and lots of 30's and 40's stuff. I never cared for Sinatra, and will still choose other people's versions of songs he did.

         So what do I sing around the house or to crying babies (softly, of course)? Fly Me To The Moon, or The Way You Look Tonight, It's Wonderful Wonderful, Misty, As Time Goes By, My Brown Eyes Blue, Side By Side, I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm, Would You Like To Swing On A Star?, etc. I throw in some Randy Newman for variety or a sad one sung by Bonnie Rait. I don't know any modern songs. Don't know the singers until they start doing commercials.

         Maybe the younger generations will turn to my music when they get older.
October 13, 2014 at 6:38pm
October 13, 2014 at 6:38pm
A Good Time in the Cold Rain
         I met with cousins and bothers and all the families involved yesterday to eat and catch up. We had a beautiful spot, but it was a cold, rainy day. A big area bike ride ended up in the park, so we had some race officials crash our party, but that was okay because of our excessive food displayed. We were bundled up and cheerful.

         My dad was the oldest, his brother-in-law the next. The youngest was one, and the next 20 months. We had recently lost a cousin after a long illness, and my brother has cancer which will definitely end his life, but not eminently. We had a good time, and told stories and enjoyed the early fall colors. The beach was fenced off and locked, so even if it wasn't so cold, there was no going in the water. The boat dock was still available.

         We took lots of pictures. For the big group picture, the babies started crying. They wanted to play not pose with the grown-ups. I started singing "E-I-E-I-O" which they like to sing, too. Soon, all the grown-ups were singing Old MacDonald, the babies were listening, and we got some great shots. No one would know we sounded like old nerds singing a children's song. We just looked happy. We cherished our moments together, and hugged good-bye, like we might never get another chance. It was one of the best rainy afternoons I've had in ages.
October 12, 2014 at 10:13pm
October 12, 2014 at 10:13pm
Family Histories and Myths
         It's a shame we wait until our grandparents or great aunts and uncles are gone before we get to the age that brings on a desire to know our roots. So many of the legends, the stories, and the facts die with them. Then it's too late to sort out the bits and pieces that we've heard or substantiate the ones we remember.

         In some cases you can get three witnesses to make a legal claim. This helped when my grandmother needed proof of age. She never had a birth certificate, since she was born in 1905 at home in the country. Someone doing genealogical research found three older women who knew her mother and could attest in front of a notary public that she was born on a certain date in a definite place. That became a legal document not only for the family tree, but social security and insurance.

         Both sides of my family claim to have Cherokee Indian, at least 4 to 5 generations before me. But we can't prove it because birth certificates were not made for Indians in those days, and wedding licenses did not include the mother's name or other background. The old folks claiming these ties have passed away at least a decade or two ago.

         Then there are some stories that I heard that in my research I have disproved. The stories actually happened to relatives, but not the closer relatives in my state. They were my grandmother's cousins families in other states. Facts, prison records, and grave sites bear that out. It took some of the fun out of family story telling at gatherings. My relatives complained I burst their bubble with the truth. But some in-laws can still brag about their own bootleggers and bank robbers. Black sheep make life interesting, don't they?

         Then there was a tale of my own grandfather's grandfather who died in the Civil War. The real story was much more interesting than what some other genealogist printed in his book. I found the facts in the library of Congress for Civil War soldiers.It was a tragic story. I doubt his own family knew much of it. None of it was handed down.

         My advice to anyone, no matter how young you are, write down your grandparents' stories. They may not be interesting now, but some day they will be history. You will want to tell them to you children's children. You'll need to remember them and where to find the proof.
October 10, 2014 at 11:18pm
October 10, 2014 at 11:18pm
Telling People You Write
         If you write for a living, I guess it's easy to tell someone. When you do other things, you run into a variety of reactions.

         I don't generally volunteer the information. But when it comes up, I get reactions such as, "That's great. Keep working at it." to "You have a blog?" with a quizzical look that makes me regret saying it. "Poetry? What a waste." The people who say these things are surprising, too. The ones you'd expect to be narrow minded approve of creative expression. The ones you'd expect to be understanding or not need any explanation turn out to be the judgmental ones who act like you're an obsessive gambler or a moonshiner. Like there is a negative stigma to writing as a hobby.

         The ones I've encountered have creative hobbies like dancing, or playing piano, or gourmet cooking. But writing seems odd to them. Well, I move along and never mention it again to those folks. You can't live for what other people think.
October 9, 2014 at 10:55pm
October 9, 2014 at 10:55pm
I over committed!
         Despite my efforts to avoid over-committing for the season, I still did it for this week. I've got 3 major things this weekend that require my planning and organizing during the week, and one of them even requires cooking and shopping to pull it off. And I'm doing my best to stay with the October Prep for November's NaNoWriMo.

         So I'm not working any extra time and I can't have any visitors to my home until next week.

         My sick brother is living back at his own house now. He's healing, and is in a better state of mind.

         I have a few hours of reading and outlining to do.
October 8, 2014 at 10:16am
October 8, 2014 at 10:16am
Ebola Not A Threat To Everyone Yet
         It’s here, so we may as well talk about it. It’s a virus that originates with animals, but will infect humans and spread human to human. It damages the blood vessels through the entire body, causing rash, vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding.

         First, what not to fear. You cannot get it in a latent situation, like TB. In latent diseases,illness can be spread by a patient who doesn’t know he’s sick. Not so with ebola. The infecting person will have symptoms.

         Even with a sick person, it is not airborne, like TB or Chickenpox, which means a sneeze or a cough or a person’s laughter will not put the virus in the air for you to breath and get sick. Walking into the room with an Ebola patient or riding in a plane with him will not put you at risk.

         How do you get it? It is transmitted through contact with blood or other mucous membranes. That’s why the most vulnerable are family caregivers and medical personnel, including hospital housekeepers. A scratch on your skin will allow entry of blood or spit into your system. After hospital employees and caregivers, those who deal with the remains of the deceased are at great risk. Undertakers, coroners, and morticians are preparing to efficiently dispose of the remains, which continue to be contagious.

         Be wary of people who have traveled recently to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Nigeria, or the Congo (not all of West Africa, but that’s where these countries are). It takes about 5 days to 3 weeks for symptoms to appear. Once they have symptoms, they are very contagious. Avoid physical contact with these people, including handshakes. If you need to travel to these areas yourself, talk to your doctor first. It may be best to wait.

         The Centers for Disease Control have a website for the public:


High fever, Diarrhea,
Severe headache, Vomiting,
Muscle pain, Abdominal pain,
Weakness, Unexplained bruising or bleeding.

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