First blog post

 

Getting to Know Myra – a Little

My childhood years were spent out in the country in Arkansas. We lived on a farm with our home beside a very dusty or muddy road, depending on the season. Summer was hot and humid, but we thought that was normal for any part of the country. We just lived with it, not knowing anything different.

I discovered the difference when traveling home for a visit from my college life in the desert country of Arizona where it was hot without humidity. By the time my friends and I drove into eastern Oklahoma humidity I became seriously educated. The humidity was smothering!

As a married senior-adult, my new home was in the White Mountains of Arizona. Snow and wind entered my life. There is a pioneer story which states the first people entering the area decided to “circle the wagons” till the wind stopped. It didn’t. They never left.

My husband took me back to my home state of Arkansas for a few years. I became re-acquainted with chiggers and ticks. In a play on words, I called them chiks and tiggers. That didn’t help me tolerate them any easier. I counted over 50 chigger bites on my feet and ankles once! Other than the critters, Arkansas never felt like the home I had left. Too many changes. Farmlands were not farms anymore. Friends had moved away.

Now, we have returned to to the White Mountains of Arizona. I will tell you more in later posts. Check back to learn about my heritage and how that has effected my life. Hint: a book in the writing.

MyraSaidIt

Dreams Into Stories

Like most people, I assume, I have had many night-time dreams which seemed so real that I awoke with strong impressions. It has been my thought that, if I could hold them in memory long enough, I could write them into stories.

Then, I remember “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” by James Thurber, written in 1939. No, I am not nearly that old, but the book was around in my high school years when I checked the book out from the school library.

It was first collected in his book My World and Welcome to It (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1942).

It has later reprinted in James Thurber: Writings and Drawings (The Library of America, 1996, ISBN 1-883011-22-1),

It is one of the most anthologized short stories in American literature.

The story is considered one of Thurber’s “acknowledged masterpieces”.

It was made into a 1947 movie of the same name.  Danny Kaye played the title role

Like many books turned into movies, the movie is very different from the original story. In a 2013 film, it is very different from the original.

The name Walter Mitty  appears as “Mittyesqu”, in the English language. It refers to an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams escaping the real world. Another definition is one who intentionally pretends he is something he isn’t.

So, could a writer take night-time dreams and turn them into a story? Could they possibly succeed as well and Mitty’s works?

Here goes:

I have no idea what created this dream. I do not remember any discussion in my high school language arts classroom that fed my imagination. Perhaps there was something in the news about someone held captive south of the border. However….

I found myself in Mexico south of the Arizona border. I didn’t speak the Spanish language which did nothing to increase my feelings of safety. In fact, I was hiding, on the run, sneaking into abandoned buildings. I ran through dark alleys, worrying about voices that meant danger.

Suddenly, of course, one of my students appeared around a corner. He spoke Spanish, of course. With pieces missing in my dream, he rescued me from the bad guys and I awoke.

Dreams into stories, anyone?

MyraSaidIt

Writing Books About Parenting

I have been entertaining myself with a Reader’s Digest book titled Fun and Laughter. It was published back in 1967 and still brings many chuckles.

They shared a cute story on pages 90-91 which writers of books about children would enjoy. It was titled Ingenious Folk, shared by Mrs. Ralph Crossan in Family Weekly. It emphasizes the cleverness of children which adults could remember.

Here it is:

I sometimes think that books on how to raise children should be written by children. Waiting in line at an ice-cream stand I noticed two boys, about seven and two. The older was holding tightly to his little brother, who was announcing emphatically to all the world, “I want vanilla. I want vanilla.”

Unfortunately the vanilla machine had broken down. Knowing how my two-year-old would react to a crisis like that, I wondered how the older boy would handle the situation.

Without flinching, he ordered two strawberry cones and handed one to his little brother. “Here you are,” he said cheerfully. “Pink vanilla!”

I remember a time when I was driving for a public school. I was actually able to use cleverness to convince a mentally handicapped student to enter the station wagon I drove for this particular group of children. Sometimes we give responses that surprise even us.

I was sitting in the vehicle as my passengers climbed in for their trip home. She decided she did not want to get into the car with the rest of the students. She stood there, adamant about not doing so with her hands pressed against the top of the car. She was a large and strong girl. Even if I were allowed to use physical force, she could have easily resisted.

It required some psychology.

Without forward thinking, I told her. “Ok. You can stay here if you want. But, you need to know, all the students are going home. In a little while the teachers will leave, too. The school doors will be locked. There will be no one left at the school but you. You will be left standing here on the sidewalk all alone, all night, until everyone returns tomorrow.”

“I’ll get in the car. I’ll get in the car.”

Whew! I won that time.

Psychology doesn’t always work on children. One time I thought I was using a clever approach on my young teenaged daughter. I was trying to convince her of may way of thinking about an issue. She replied to my efforts, “It won’t work Mom. I know you are trying to use reverse psychology.”

How did she know?

I remember that response even though I cannot remember the issue being discussed.

 

Theodore Roosevelt

I just finished a very thick book by Edmund Morris. It is a 940 page biography The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt. I tried to give up on it and stop reading many times, but the book kept beckoning me back. He had such a compelling story, I simply kept returning and reading more, until I reached the end. I am glad I did.

I learned a lot about the man and the early history of the United States. I had forgotten all I read about the Rough Riders in high school history so long ago. I didn’t remember his involvement with helping Cuba gain their freedom from Spain. Roosevelt led them in the battle with decisions that were not easy.

It is too bad they were given freedom and then gave it away. Look at Cuba’s condition now.

Roosevelt was a prolific reader and writer.

His health as a child was very poor but determination did a lot to change that. He loved everything about the natural world and history and more. His love of the outdoors led him to make crazy investments in a ranch and cattle. He struggled through all kinds of weather and financial upheavals. He was a real cowboy. He was also a hunter of all kinds of game, small to big. He hired a guide to escort him. The outdoor life is surely what rescued his health.

He loved a woman who had no interest in him. Like everything else he went after, he refused to give up. Eventually, he won her heart. He lost Alice in the birth of their only child, a daughter. He was heart-broken, but his drive kept him moving ahead. He left baby Lee  in the care of Bamie, his 30year old unmarried sister.

Roosevelt went into near-seclusion. His heartbreak included the loss of his mother. He put their memories in the back of his mind and refused to talk about them.

Eventually, he reunited his friendship with Edith and that led to a second marriage. That nearly caused another broken heart, that of his sister Bamie. He and his new wife claimed his daughter.

In politics as a young man, he drove everyone crazy. He was very forceful and commanded attention every time he opened his mouth. His personality grated on everyone’s nerves. He was either loved or hated, with no middle ground. He knew what he wanted and he expected to get it. He had no tolerance for dishonesty and wasn’t afraid to stand up for what he believed in.

He became the vice president to McKinley without choosing to do so. He wanted to remain the Governor of New York.  He did dream of being the US president, some day.

That someday came much sooner than he expected. His formal services as VP lasted exactly four days, from March 4th to March 8th, 1901. The senate adjourned until December and Roosevelt left town for the summer.

On Friday September 9, 1901, McKinley attended a luncheon of the Vermont Fish and Game League on Isle La Motte in Lake Champlain.

The president was shot! By Sept 10th. he seemed to he recovering completely.

Vice-President left that afternoon for a short vacation in the Adirondacks with his family waiting at a mountain cabin. All appeared to be well until……

Friday 13, 1901, at 1:25 PM, as Roosevelt sat eating sandwiched when he saw a ranger approaching, running with a yellow telegram in his hand. Instinctively, he “knew what message the man was bringing.”

 

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So, what is it about Friday the 13th?  Was it an unlucky day for both President McKinley and the Vice-president?  Was it a lucky day for Roosevelt because he got his dream, just a few years early.

Was it a lucky or unlucky day for the United States? I suppose it depends upon what the American citizens. Those who disliked either one would have their opinions and those who liked either one would have a differing opinion, as so it goes down through the history of the country. Look at the battle we have had in recent and now in the continuing years.

It’s All About Attitude

 

I met a lady yesterday. She is the same lady I met 20 years ago.  But, she’s not the same lady I met 20 years ago.

I hope I have your attention.

I’ll call her Susie-Q because that sounds like a cheerful, happy, upbeat kind of lady, which she is.  That’s not because she has no challenges, no worries, no troubles.

Her lot in life would be enough to put many people into depression, deep depression, but not Susie-Q. Let me tell you about her and the many things that she will not let control her attitude.

She probably would not read this post because she is not able to read the second sentence without forgetting the first sentence. This means she cannot enjoy reading as a way to get though her difficult days.

Visiting can be a challenge because there is a speaking issue. Her thoughts do not match her spoken words. They are a phrase apart. She often wonders what she just said.

She cannot do stitchery because her left hand cannot grip a hoop. She cannot sit up straight without being propped.

She does not take herself shopping because her left hand cannot grip a steering wheel. And, her left less-mobile leg would interfere with putting her right her foot on a brake to stop at red lights and stop signs. And, she could not even climb into a vehicle.

She didn’t need to shop for an Easter dress, because she couldn’t get dressed up to go to church anyway.

The dress doesn’t matter. She cannot remember any of the clothes hanging in her closet so they all look new to her. Wouldn’t most husbands wish for that forgetfulness in their wives? Susie-Q can just go shopping in her closet.

Susie-Q is stuck in a 12ft x 12ft room, assisted-living facility, with the TV for company, where she expects to be always. She can manipulate her body to get into the wheelchair at her bedside and wheel down to a large, theater-size room filled with recliners to join other people in similar situations and watch TV with them.

She is younger than the whole group because her troubles hit her at a much younger age. She has teenage children. They have teenage grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Her husband, an alcoholic, played some really mean tricks  which left her destitute and separated her from the children and caused them to blame her many months for things that did not exist. I will not describe this in detail. I’ll leave this to your imagination. No, he did not beat her up physically. He did not even directly verbally abuse her. But she has no support from him in her current ordeal.

Now, I suppose you want to know what else put her into this situation.

First, she has a heart condition which forces her to be careful of everything. Stress can be an issue.

Second, the biggie, was at least one massive stroke. It destroyed the muscles in her left side which twisted her spine. Her spine now presses on all her internal organs. Her left arm and leg are mainly limp.  Simply put, this caused all the things described above except her x-husbands choices. He did those things because he is addicted to alcohol, which is another story.

Back to Susie-Q. During the hour my husband and I visited with her, she said not one complaining word. There was no “Oh, woe with me” comments. There was even no criticism of her, now former husband. It was just a ‘this is how it was’ statements of fact.

She had no frown on her face. She was all smiles and tiny laughter. She spoke words of gratitude. Gratitude for her blessings in the form of helping friends who rescued her when she collapsed from the stroke. Gratitude for a case worker she finally got after dozens of phone calls to different government offices asking for help. Gratitude for the lovely assisted living facility she now calls home. She chuckled about the tiny resident dog who protects her and others. (She described many undesirable facilities she saw during her work as a nurse.) Gratitude for love from her family and Heavenly Father. Gratitude for peace given her though prayer.

Susie-Q said she could not undo what has happened, but she “can choose to be happy, to have joy”.

I thought we went there to cheer her up. She didn’t need that. We left uplifted by a lovely lady. What more needs to be said?

As for this story, Myra Said It

Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

I recently began reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. I am amazed by how interesting it is. There are 780 pages which include an epilogue. I took a peek at the last line of the epilogue and it made me want to read every word in those 780 pages, if I had not already decided that.

I do not remember any school history book telling me about his marvelous mind, education and multiple health challenges. I’ve learned much and I have only reached chapter two.

He is described as a man unconcerned with the constitution, but I find that hard to believe so far. It will be interesting to see how the biographer backs up that statement. He came from a patriotic family.

This biography begins with his ancestors, parents, siblings. It leads the reader to understand the makings of this man.

He supported the cause of the North during the Civil War even though his wife was from the South and led their children to support the southern cause.

He was responsible for a congressional bill which encouraged soldiers to send most of their paychecks home to their families.

Included are 140 more pages filled with acknowledgements , bibliography, notes, and index. Those pages will get cursory attention.

I posted this on Goodreads History because I want more people to know about this great book, a Pulitzer Prize winner, published back in 2001.

If I pass this book on to other readers, it will be with the requirement that it is returned to me. I consider it to be a keeper.

I suggest interested folks search Amazon and eBay for a copy.

Rifles for Watie by Harold Keith

Here are several points about the book:

  • It is a historical novel based on much research using diaries, journals, and state historical collections.
  • During the Civil War, Stand Watie was an Indian leader of the Rebels. He entered this story toward the latter end on the book.
  • A sixteen-year-old boy. Jefferson Davis Bussey, enters the conflict on the Union side.
  • The plot is fictional.
  • Many characters are real characters in the war, but their stories were fictionalized when connected to the hero of the story.
  • There were Indian tribes fighting each other and tribes taking both North and South sides of the War.

The hero of the story is Jeff Bussey who is only 16 but joins the Union Volunteers and takes along a few of his friends.

One of them gets so homesick that he ran away from camp. His mother refused to allow him to stay at home. He became a successful soldier after  much struggle.

Jeff couldn’t wait to see conflict, but it didn’t turn out to be so glamorous when he saw many people die and when he faced hunger and severe weather.

Jeff had many other challenges when he became a spy in the Confederate army. His name was a plus in that situation.

Not the least of the challenges was when he became friends with those of the opposition and fell in love with a rebel girl. It was a struggle for him to remain faithful, in his heart, with the Union cause.

Many people believe the Civil War was all about slavery. That was only part of the conflict.

Another problem was economical. Cotton was a principal crop in the south. Cotton was sold to the factories in the north for low prices. Cotton became fabric and clothing which was sold back to the Southerners at high prices.

Also, the southern plantations depended on slave labor. If slaves were granted freedom, the plantation owners would suffer financially. The climate of the Southern states was more conducive to growing large crops of cotton and plantation owners felt they could not function without slaves.

Some say the cotton gin caused the Civil War

The original cotton gin was invented by Eli Whitney in 1793. Whitney began to work on this project after moving to Georgia in search of work. Catherine Greene provided Whitney with funding to create the first cotton gin.

Whitney created two cotton gins: a small hand-cranked model and a large one driven by a horse or water power. The amount of raw cotton yielded doubled each decade after 1800. The creation of the cotton gin also led to the creation of machines designed to spin and weave the fabric, which helped to expand the Industrial Revolution in Western Civilization. .

With the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, Southerners feared their world crumbling. They knew Lincoln’s anti-slavery stance, and they knew their present way of living was doomed if slavery was outlawed. The South decided to secede, and the Civil War became inevitable.

 

The following link can be copy-pasted in your search bar for a very interesting article about slavery, Gold Rush Days, cotton and the Civil War.

http://teachinghistory.org/history-content/beyond-the-textbook/23912

 

 

 

Going to Grandma’s House

This is a well-written book edited by Ken and Janice Tate, published by House of White Birches in 2006. It is a collection of stories told by people and their visits to their grandparents homes.

National Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labor Day in the United States. The idea originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. She wanted to support the cause of lonely elderly people in nursing homes.

President Jimmy Carter proclaimed the holiday in 1978.

The only grandparent I ever knew was my maternal grandmother who passed away when I was only 10 years old. I remember very little about visits to her house.

This book of nostalgia stories show me what I missed. Examples are Charley’s Bluff, The Long Bus Ride, Heaven at Granny’s, To Grandad’s by Train, Tater Bug Pie, and When Granny Was a Flapper. Tater Bug Pie is one of my favorites. If you get the book, you’ll see why. * See variation.

You should see the beautiful pictures. They are better than most books, full color and old-fashioned in subject, as you would expect for the topics included. One of my favorites is on pages 62-62. It is an old home with two rockers on the front porch. There is a clothes line with three patchwork quilts hanging to catch the spring air. I know it is springtime because the couple are wearing jackets and there are flowers blooming on the lawn.

There is not need to wait until September to share good times with our grandparents. My children have many memories for which I am grateful. I will share one which will share a page in the book I plan to write.

The family owned a 120 acre field outside of town. One area was sectioned off as a pasture. During Easter week, the pasture was just beginning to be green and welcoming. Grandmother boiled eggs and the children colored them for an egg hunt. The oldest grandchildren hid the eggs while the younger ones were at the house.

The whole group went to the field for the children to search for the hidden eggs. There were so many eggs, even the older children could not remember where they hid them.  When the baskets were filled and counted, a few were eaten right there in the field. Grandmother had salt and pepper shakers.

Back at home, a lot of the eggs were pealed and used in potato salad and deviled eggs and in sandwiched.

 

*  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/sunny-anderson/sunnys-tater-tot-pie

 

MyraSaidIt

Blizzard

And I am not talking about tasty treat.

It’s all about a weather blizzard and what to do if you are stuck in one. Watch the weather forecast and when you are warned heavy snow and high winds, it is hibernation time, not travelling time. You should have a tank of gas, though, because emergencies do not wait for sunshine.

And, for goodness sakes, don’t lose your keys or lock them inside your vehicle or house with you on the outside. My husband, the locksmith, is out right now on a rescue mission. In a blizzard. You guessed it. This topic entered my mind because I am hibernating.

So what will you do while you hibernate?

First, get prepared, of course. You knew that. It’s time to stock up on crackers and cheese, soup, water and juice, chips and salsa. cans of fruit with pop tops. sandwich fixings. Think easy to prepare.

Do you have a manual can opener? Supplies for the grill? Aluminum foil? Paper plates, etc.?

Books, oh yeah.  And magazines. Flashlights in case the power goes off. Plenty of blankets to cozy-up in.

Fabric scraps for a project, maybe one that uses finger sewing.

Is the iPhone charged. It’s a good time to visit with family and friends without feeling guilty.

My clock just reminded me to add battery powered clock and……a radio to my post. It reminded me what time it is. It has been dark for so many hours I lost track of the time. That explains why my eyes are crying for sleep.

I hope you’ll be ready when a blizzard comes to your house.

Have you heard the story about the new hired hand?

A man appeared at the farmer’s door to inquire about possible work. The farmer told him he did need a handy man who could help with repairs on the barn, fences, etc. and a man who could tend the animals. He asked the man, “why should I hire you”?

The answer was, “I can sleep when the wind blows.”

The farmer was puzzled by that response, but decided to give the man a try. He gave him a bunk in a separate section of the barn, fed him supper and said goodnight.

For a few days, the hired hand worked about the farm and the farmer was pleased.

In the middle of the night the wind became fierce and rattled the windows. Unexpected rain poured down. The farmer grabbed his hat and coat and dashed out into the storm and ran to the hired man’s door yelling, “Wake up. The cows need to be bought inside.”

The hired hand casually reassured the boss all was well. “I told you I could sleep when the wind blows. I watched the forecast and the cows are already inside the barn.”

Goodnight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can’t Read Just One

I suppose most people have heard the commercial for a popular potato chip, “You can’t eat just one. When books are the topic, “I can’t read just one. I always have two or three holding bookmarks.”

And, they are usually a wide variety.

Currently, these are the titles I am reading:

  • Jahanara Princess of Princesses   It is a Scholastic book, diary style, non-fiction I picked it up from a freebie rack. I expect to pass it on.
  • The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright. It was made into a movie with John Wayne. The book setting is the Ozark Mountains. I borrowed it from my sister who said it’s a keeper. That means I will return it to her.
  • Named in Stone and Sky an Arizona Anthology edited by Gregory McNamee borrowed from the library.

I’m curious about who has read any of these books. Liked? Not liked?  What are you reading this week?

I wonder if any of my readers do what I do.

Multiple books need multiple bookmarks. I have a bunch. Where do you get yours? Mine came from:

  • The library
  • gift from a friend
  • picture cut from a magazine
  • gift wrap
  • an envelope
  • patchwork

My patchwork bookmarks were homemade from fabric scraps. My pattern was in a magazine ages ago and used many small pieces. The article also included a heart door hanger. My patterns are stashed away in storage right now. I went online to find other patterns. Here are links to several, but there are more choices.

These can be made in different sizes to accommodate large or small books.

Look here for a really simple pattern:

http://makezine.com/2011/02/23/how-to_sew_a_fabric_patchwork/

These are cute and easy:

http://www.makeit-loveit.com/2014/04/15-diy-easy-and-super-cute-fabric-bookmarks.html

http://craftygeminicreates.com/patchwork-bookmark/

These have heart:

http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-scrappy-patchwork-bookmarks-with-a-heart-charm/2014/12/01/

After finding those links to share, I think I need to make a few. 🙂 How about you?