Sunday, December 28, 2008

3:54 a.m.

What do you do on your computer at 3:54 a.m. when you can't sleep? I play this mindless game called Bubble Golden Pack Deluxe. I am on Level 5 tonight, but it's my 9th game of the early morning hours already.

My sons think it is a very lame game. It doesn't at all compare to the World of Warcraft or whatever other rpg (roll-playing games) they are playing on-line. They say it is because I am old.

If I could just make it to Level 10, maybe I could move on to something more accomplished. Or at least move from the Easy mode to the Novice mode . . .

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Fa Ra Ra Ra Ra, Ra Ra Ra Ra

Christmas dinner is a time-honored tradition. Undoubtedly like most Americans, I can remember childhood Christmases where we gathered the whole family for a huge dinner, turkey, dressing, cranberries, potatoes, candied yams, green bean casserole, rolls, pumpkin pies, the whole nine yards. Sometimes at our home, but more often at my aunt and uncle's home in another county in my home state of Ohio. Both my aunt and uncle were wonderful cooks and there was always an abundance of mouth-watering holiday dishes.

As the years passed, and cousins and siblings went their separate ways with their own families, my family carried on as many of the traditions as we could. But our fesitivities were always much smaller as we were generally living far from our Ohio homeland and unable to do much traveling. Funny how we always seemed to make the same amount of food, though, despite the fact that we had far fewer people to feed.

Now that my children are grown, our holidays are much simpler but just as delightful. This year, my eldest son and daughter-in-law and my grandson visited us on Christmas Eve. My grandson Drake's first Christmas--he is 8 months old.

What a joy to watch him, entranced as he was by the ribbons and bows and lights...more on that later.

We had our big Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve since we would all be together, the three of them, my husband, myself, and my youngest son who still lives with us. Same traditional foods, but I did manage to force myself to make just a little less than I had done in Christmases past. We had a wonderful time.

Christmas Day was uneventful for the most part; our youngest spent the day with his girlfriend's family, which left dh and I to fend for ourselves. With no big dinner to prepare for the first time -- ever -- we decided to go out to dinner with our dear friend Inez. I don't know about other parts of the country, but here in East Tennessee, NOTHING is open on Christmas Day. We had a choice between the local Chinese Restaurant and a Waffle House. We chose the Chinese Restaurant.

Do you remember the movie "A Christmas Story," made in 1983 with Darren McGavin? It takes place in a 1940's fictitious town in Indiana (filmed primarily in Cleveland) and centers around little Ralphie Parker's desperate attempts to convince his parents, his teachers, and even Santa, that the Red Ryder BB Gun would be the best Christmas present in the whole wide world. It's a wonderful movie filled with many of the wholesome traditions we all remember (but mine are from the 50's and 60's, not the 40's), shopping for a Christmas tree, standing in line to see Santa, presents under the tree, staying up late to put them together, and getting up early to take them apart, and most of all, Christmas dinner!

Unfortunately, those folks didn't get to eat their Christmas turkey because a pack of neighborhood dogs somehow got to it first, and as Ralphie explains in the movie, "The heavenly aroma still hung in the house. But it was gone, all gone! No turkey! No turkey sandwiches! No turkey salad! No turkey gravy! Turkey Hash! Turkey a la King! Or gallons of turkey soup! Gone, ALL GONE!"

Our trip to the Chinese Restaurant, Peking Buffet, reminded me of the next scene where Mr. Parker packed the family off to their local China Palace for a Chinese Christmas Dinner. What is tradition, anyway, without family? The togetherness in the celebration was what made it special. As was ours. Our Chinese Buffet was excellent and we had a wonderful time of togetherness.

Oh, but no one sang "fa ra ra ra ra, ra ra ra ra." And, thank goodness, I didn't have to cope with a Major Award, and there is no leg lamp, broken or otherwise, in my front window.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

From Our Home to Yours - Christmas Blessings

Sharing with you the Glory,

the Wonder, the Miracle

of this Holy Season.

Have a Blessed Christmas and

a Truly Rich New Year!

. . .the Rathmell Family

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Today is Friday, November 28, 2008 - Many call it "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving. This causes one to wonder about the origination of the term "Black Friday," and why this particular day of all other days would be referred to as "Black Friday." (Of course, many don't care, but I was curious, so I did just the teensiest bit of research, and here's what I found:)

The earliest reference to "Black Friday" seems to have been precipitated by a failed attempt in 1869 to corner the gold market by gold speculators Jay Gould and James Fist, among others including President Grant's brother-in-law, Abel Rathbone Corbin. When government gold was released for sale to break up this conspiracy to drive the gold market by a few individuals, the premium plummeted within minutes and immediately ruined thousands of investors, including Corbin. (Isn't it interesting that Gould and Fist still managed to profit sizeably -- the rich get richer.) The date was Friday, September 24th, 1869. Since then, several other days of financial panic or any financial confusion or upheaval have been referred to as "black;" i.e., black Friday, black Monday, black Tuesday, etc.

Black Tuesday was October 29, 1929, when the stock market fell precipitously, causing the start of the Great Depression. Monday, October 19, 1987, when the stock market experienced the largest one-day drop (22%) in market history, has been referred to as "Black Monday."

A more interesting but debatable story involves a retail salesman by the name of Laurence H. Black who worked in the men's department of a large department store called Osberger’s Department Store. For over 30 years, he served the public proudly and with class, always wearing a black suit and a red carnation. He became well-known and well-respected over the years, and was often called upon to train new sellers in other store locations. Always the first to arrive and the last to leave, Mr. Black became a veritable fixture at Osberger's. But on November 27, 1964, the day after Thanksgiving, Mr. Black dropped dead of a heart attack. Mr. Osberger closed the store the next day (one day only).

The story goes that the following year, the day after Thanksgiving, all the employees at all Osberger's stores wore black suits or dresses with a single red carnation in honor of Mr. Black. Many other retailers supposedly followed suit, and so the day after Thanksgiving became known as "Black Friday." (By the way, it seems about fifteen mergers and acquisitions later, Osberger's becomes Macy's -- you've heard of them!)

Of course, there are now many more contemporary references to "Black Friday." I have heard that it is the busiest day of all for plumbers nationwide who receive the most service calls out of the entire year. The term "Black Friday" is also said to have originated in Philadelphia in reference to the heavy traffic on that day (traffic is always heavy in Philadelphia!)

But most Americans today now understand "Black Friday" to be the Friday after Thanksgiving, today! The official start of the Christmas shopping season. The busiest retail shopping day of the year. The day when retailers hope to see an drastic upswing in their financial picture, putting them "in the black" to close-out the year. (Before the days of Peachtree and QuickBooks, accountants used red and black ink on paper to keep their books--being "in the black" meant showing a profit.) The day when retailers do all sorts of magic tricks to manipulate consumers into their stores: price slashes, door-buster sales, midnight madness, free gift cards, coupons for percentages off, two-for-ones, media coverage, ads, ads, and more ads, and lots of pretty pictures for precocious and wide-eyed boys and girls to look at and dream about and pester parents about until they buy, Buy, BUY. Why else would someone line up in front of Circuit City at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday for a sale that starts at 4:00 a.m. on Friday? Why would someone have a sale at 4:00 a.m. on Friday, or go to a sale at 4:00 a.m. on Friday?

In essence, "Black Friday" is a day for retailers to make money and the general population to go bankrupt (fiscally and intellectually). I like the part about "being the black," though; so for me, I think I'll stay home today and keep my own books in the black.

Happy black Friday, one and all.

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Beauty is in the . . . Nose of the Beholder

Jessica Brown, who writes for Fitness, American Baby, and, reports that new research has revealed women can become more alluring or even “smell skinny” just by changing their perfume. It seems women can wear either cinnamon or lavender and be perceived by men as “more attractive, intelligent, successful, and trustworthy.” Both scents rather remind me of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

More interestingly, overweight women were perceived by men to be up to 12 pounds lighter when they wore spicy-floral fragrances. I’m not sure how quantity figures in the equation, but I have to tell you I don’t think I could fool anyone even if I doused myself in the stuff. Anyway, I’m allergic to all forms of perfume and cologne. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been able to lose weight, ya think?

Nothing fooled the women in the study, though. Guys with guts still looked like guys with guts, regardless of what they smelled like. I wonder if one of the scents used to test the attractiveness of men in the study was money.

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Stick

For all of you who are wondering just what to get your modern child for Christmas, here's a novel idea: Get him or her the wonderful, inventive, ingenious toy that was most recently inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame at the Strong National Museum of play -- the stick! Yes, that's right, the old-fashioned stick!

If you were a child prior to the electronic age, then you already know the power of the stick. Long before high-tech video games, computers, ipod's, and the like, there were cardboard boxes (also a toy inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2005) . . . and the stick. The only accessory needed was our imagination. The stick could be a slingshot or a pistol if it was shaped just right; almost any old stick could be used for a sword or a baton, or an imaginary horse to ride on, and a good, sturdy stick was perfect for a walk in the woods and made an excellent bat for baseball or playing stickball. Add pets, and you could spend hours playing fetch with the dog or dangling a rope of yarn before a cat. The possibilities were limitless. Even if it got left in the wash, no real harm was done, except perhaps a pull or two on better fabrics.

I have to admit, they weren't much fun to play with while just sitting on the sofa or lying on the bed (think "pet rock"). They required active play and beckoned one to come running, in sheer defiance to a mother's frantic cries of "don't run with that stick!" Marketed properly, it's the ideal toy for today's generation of inactive, unimaginative, overweight children (and adults).

That gives me an idea. It might make me famous, or at least rich . . . I'll get back to you.

Have a blessed day!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Thrifty Friday

For those of you who are into living frugally, you can probably appreciate saving 80% on your day's shopping as much as I can.

It all started with a $30 gift card I got a month or so ago for free from Rite Aid, my local neighborhood pharmacy. All I had to do was transfer a prescription from my former pharmacy to the RiteAid Pharmacy to earn this free gift card. It cost me absolutely nothing to do; the meds were the same price at both pharmacies, so this was found money in my estimation. Free money is almost always a good thing!

(If you're interested, RiteAid is continuing this promotion nationally until November 30, 2008. You can transfer up to 3 prescriptions and earn 3 gift cards, a total of $120 in free money. Well worth the effort, if you have 3 prescriptions. You are also entered in a weekly drawing for a chance to win a year's worth of free gas. Keep your transferred prescription with RiteAid and your name will be re-entered each week. Check it out here.)

Back to today's shopping trip: I saved the gift card, and combined that with today's specials on items I needed to purchase anyway, which included several buy-one-get-one-free specials and in-store promotions, and my total cash outlay today was only $12.o6 out of nearly $60 worth of merchandise. Why pay 100% when you can pay 20%? That's pretty frugal living.

Everyone's looking for ways to save today. If you have a tried and true method for trimming your monthly expenditures, post a comment and I'll add it to this blog. We'll call it "Thrifty Measures" or "Frugal Living," or some such thing.

Enjoy, and have a blessed day!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When the Frost is On the Punkin

Okay, no eloquent prose here. I love autumn. I think it's my favorite time of year. Some would see it as an ending and, indeed, it is. The winding down of long, leisurely summer days, vacations, heatwaves, activity; the preemptor to the coming winter when life lay frozen in its midst.

To me, it is comforting, like warm blankets on a cold night or a tender hug. I can almost feel it wrap its strong arms around me and hold me close. A dear friend coming again to visit for a season, reminding me of friends and family and special moments. Stirring in me a childlike glee as we marvel at the majesty unfolding before us. We walk in the crisp autumn air, kicking at piles of damp leaves ever growing at our feet, gazing wordlessly as the green of summer fades to the vibrancy of autumn hues: gold and red and orange, all shades in between. We dance as God would have us to do as we delight in His handiwork.

I woke this morning to greet my dear old friend, Keats' "season of mists and yellow fruitfulness," as our first frost lay lightly on the grass outside my window. The crisp air filled my nostrils, the leaves were at their glorious peak; my heart and spirit stirred. Autumn brings nature's last hurrah before the winter settles in. It calls us to gather as the squirrels their nuts, the farmers their harvest; we gather close family and friends, and memories, and we anticipate getting together again and all the things we love to do in the fall: sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and telling funny stories, lighting cozy, warm fireplaces and snuggling together, walking in the woods, kicking at the leaves, opening our homes to kin and guests, family all the same, giving thanks, and some would say football.

Fall is the most special season for entertaining human folk and, as James Whitcomb Riley surmised, angels.

"When the Frost is on the Punkin"

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best,
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!... I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me—
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

James Whitcomb Riley. 1853–1916
(Louis Untermeyer, ed.
(1885–1977). Modern American Poetry. 1919. )
Have a blessed day!

Wordless Wednesday - Evening Autumn Sky in East Tennessee

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vintage Cartoons

We found these vintage cartoon/poems among my late uncle's possessions as we sorted through the remnants of his and my aunt's estate. I've never seen anything like them before, and find them most interesting, if not entertaining.

I've tried to research their origin to no avail. I've seen similar cartoon pages, but nothing quite like these; and most of the ones I've run across have been printed in black-and-white, with or without poems, mostly without. They probably also pre-date these quite a bit, perhaps the early 20th century.

So, where did these cartoons come from? Some sort of book or magazine? When were they published? By whom, and who is the artist/poet?

Why did my uncle keep these (besides the fact that he apparently kept EVERYTHING, down to dime store receipts and operator manuals from appliances long since discarded)? Did he find them personally significant, some sort of commentary on his own life or emotions? Did he just find them humorous, nothing more? Could it have been my aunt who saved them, and not my uncle? If so, the same questions apply.

If anyone knows anything about the origination and history of these or similar cartoon pages, please comment. It's a mystery I would like to see unraveled.

Have a blessed day!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Freebies for the Thrifty-Minded

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Enjoy, and have a blessed day.

P.S. I'll be posting more to let you know about all my fabulous freebies and bargains I've received thus far, in only a few short weeks!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Your Kingdom for a Gallon of Gas

Most of you who know me know that I am only in my early-50's. I've worked hard to get here, and I am glad to be the age that I am. It comes with certain scars, but also with some degree of wisdom, experience, and grace borne simply from having maneuvered the seasons of my life thus far.

That being said, I am not anxious to rapidly advance in age; time moves all too quickly as it is. I'll patiently work with it and wait it out, even though there are still some perks ahead it seems. Well, I've already joined AARP, as its qualifying age was lowered to 50 many years ago, and one need not even be retired to join. Some restaurants offer senior discounts, most of which start at age 55 or 60, so this looms in my not-so-far-off future.

Many grocery stores, too, offer senior discounts. Kroger, for instance, offers seniors age 60 or older a 5% discount off their grocery bills every Wednesday. No ID required; no verification requested. None of the red tape in which I would assume one becomes entangled when applying for, say, Medicare. A happy event to be afforded an additional 5% off your grocery bill . . . unless you are without question or the raising of an eyebrow mistaken for 60.

Needless to say, I was a bit taken aback when I saw the senior discount ring up on my register receipt this morning. I am so far from 60! I didn't know whether to be insulted or grateful for the additional $4.14 discount. Obviously, the young man behind the register must have granted the discount to my husband who accompanied me on the shopping trip, and not to myself, for I have been told I don't look a day over 45.

Yes, I estimated, the discount was for my poor dh (who is 2 years my junior); he is surely the one who looks 60. I, therefore, accepted it without comment and with the poise of a barely early-50's woman. And although dh didn't mind the affront too much, he likened the aging of humanity to save a dollar to the trading one's kingdom for a gallon of gas!

Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Babies Don't Keep

Well, here I am "retired," 20 years too late, and now that I could do whatever I want with no time schedule, I find there is nothing to do, yet still so much to do. If this were 20 years ago, my dreams would have come true. I would be a stay-at-home mom, I would be there for my two young sons, they would be the priority of my life as it should be, I would see their first steps, hear their first words, watch their first everythings. Instead, I missed it all, left it to the hands and hearts and eyes and ears of strangers. Not because I wanted to; not because I was out there climbing some insignificant corporate ladder; not because I was trying to keep up with the Joneses, but because I had to. My circumstances forced me to.

So now, here I am, semi-retired, no schedule, no deadlines, no walls, no bosses, but it's all too little, too late. Nevertheless, I'll log my days, my hours, my unevents; maybe I'll see a pattern, maybe something good will develop, even though nothing could ever take the place of, make up for, all the time I've missed and all the time my boys have missed with me. I'll never get over it, I'll never get it back, I'll never replace it, I'll never forgive it, myself, my circumstances.

Most people look forward to retirement. Perhaps they don't have regrets. Perhaps they feel as though they've done their part, they've earned it. Perhaps retirement means more when you can move to Boca Raton, take a cruise, buy a condo, fly to Paris, I don't know. I still have too much to figure out. Too many things I wish I'd done differently, too many years I wish I could rewind and relive.

There's a timeless poem that reminds us "babies don't keep." I heard it many years ago, and it's been the lament of my soul since my children were small. The mother in this poem is not worried about the appearance of her home, her undone dishes, her unmade bed, laundry half-done; she has more important tasks at hand. She knows that in an instant her children will be gone--her boys, men; her daughters, grown. Her job is eternal, and her tenure fleeting.

Oh, how my heart ached every day I had to go out to some office somewhere and leave my children behind. At night, I cried; not from the sheer exhaustion of it all, but because I had to do it over again the next day, drop my little boys off at some daycare center at what seemed like first light, not being able to pick them up again until dusk. It didn't seem fair.

They grew so fast. Now they are men, gone their separate ways, and the days I missed and the days they missed cannot be recovered. All the jobs I've ever had sooner or later went on without me, I never got richer, or more important, or more renowned, never got a bigger house, finer things, yet it's 20 years later and I'm left wondering where all the time went and what it was all for.

Because I had to work, I had no choice. I wonder.

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,
sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Have a blessed day.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Theresa Lillian Matthai

Just realized that my cousin Cathy submitted a new comment on a previous blog entry of mine which I wrote this past birthday. Noticing that I had referred to my mother as Theresa Lillian Matthai, Cathy stated she never knew her name was Theresa and asked why she had always been called "Lilly." My Uncle George, Cathy's father and my mother's brother, had also mentioned to me sometime back that he would like to see me write more about my mother since he felt he hardly knew her, at least in those early years of our lives as he was away in the Navy and she was so much older than he. It also occurred to me that perhaps Uncle George did not know my mother's first name was actually Theresa, so let me explain.

Indeed, mom had always been called Lil or Lilly, and for most of her life believed her first name to be Lillian and her middle name to be Theresa. That is what she had always been told and, of course, had no reason to doubt it. The story went, as she related it, that my grandmother loved the name "Lillian," but my grandfather, Karl, wanted mom to be named after his mother, Teresa, still in Germany. They couldn't agree so, mom was told, settled on the name "Lillian Theresa" (spelled with the "h").

Mom had always hated the name "Lillian;" and, in fact, while growing up and particularly in high school and her early adult years, refused to be called Lillian at all. She went by her "middle" name and all of her friends called her "Terry," short for Theresa, but not nearly as pretty. Somewhere along the way, she dropped the "Terry," and went back to Lillian, as I do not ever remember my father, grandmother, or aunt or uncle calling her anything but Lil or Lilly. Perhaps she outgrew the novelty of it all. (In my youth, I changed the spelling of my name from R-o-b-i-n to R-o-b-y-n because I thought it was cuter.....but, I digress.)

So, mom was Lillian to most of us and certainly to Grandma. Here's the twist: After Grandma passed away in 1977, mom found her own original birth certifiate among other of Grandma's important papers and personal effects. Apparently, mom had never had occasion to look at her birth certificate before because she was certainly surprised to find that her name was listed as "Theresa Lillian Matthai" on the birth certificate, not vice versa. It seems Grandpa Karl had had his way after all! Mom was a bit perturbed to say the least, as she spent all those years remaking herself into "Terry" when she was "Terry" all along.

I personally can't picture her as "Terry," or "Theresa" for that matter. She just seems like a Lillian to me. I miss her.

As an aside....did you know that Aunt Loraine was always adamant that her name was misspelled as well? I believe her name is "Lorraine Roselle Matthai." She always insisted that "Loraine" should be spelled "Lorain" (one (1) "r;" no "e"), but to compromise, she kept the "e" at the end of her name, although she refused to keep the two (2) "r's." Uncle George, did you happen to find HER birth certificate among all the paperwork you recently had to sort through?????????

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

This Week's Fabulous Finds...

This is a new weekly article I am going to post on my blog to--well--promote myself, and of course, my fabulous finds.

Look at these gorgeous handcrafted and mouth-blown exotic glass fish from Fitz & Floyd's "Glass Menagerie" Collection. They were very difficult to find as, I believe, they are all retired. They come in their original burgundy oval box.

They're just so pretty. You can find them in my Ebay store, The Whatsoever Shoppe, here:

Enjoy, and have a blessed day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When the Bee Stings....

When the dog bites,
when the bee stings,
when I’m feeling sad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
and then I don’t feel so bad.

This song was written for such a day as yesterday! Alas, Julie Andrews, or rather Maria VonTrapp, I am not; so I just cried.

I woke up feeling quite ill, and the nausea lasted for at least an hour. Managing to pull myself together and walk out the door at 8:30 a.m., already half an hour late for work, I picked up my very large traveling coffee mug by the lid--which to my dismay was not screwed on--and was splattered with 20 ounces of hot coffee, as was carpet. On to change....

At work, I am currently doing a large scanning project to close out our year-end files. Shortly into the day's scanning, a jam somehow caused the scanner drivers to disappear from my computer. The restore disk didn't work--oh NO! Some time-consuming web research finally led to a download link for new drivers. So, by 11:00 a.m., I was at last able to resume my work.

At least my husband picked me up on time. Unfortunately, though, unbeknownst to us, there was a large bee (or giant killer vampire wasp) in the van. I suddenly felt a little prick on my neck, then some severe itching, but saw nothing but a little red welt. Hmmm, where did that come from? As I brushed my hand against my neck, I was struck! The big, killer, vampire wasp of a bee stung my finger and sent flames of fire through my fingertips. DH stopped the van so I could jump out, and there it was--sitting on my shoulder. Quick as a fox he brushed it off and crushed it beneath his boot. Thank Heaven for steel-toed work boots! Oh, the pain....

A little benzocaine and a few tears, and the trauma subsided. I needed a rest.

I think I'll join my cousin Cathy in Australia.

Have a blessed day!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I Remember

I just now read the story my Uncle George wrote about "the olden days" called "How Many Remember This" (see his blog at I wish I'd read it sooner. It seemed to center on shopping in downtown Cincinnati and touched on the stores, the modes of transportation, where we ate, all fondly remembered by George, and many of us who read the article as well. I too remember most of the people, places, and things he mentioned, although I am quite a bit older than his daughter, Cathy, my cousin, who commented that she could recall such sites and experiences as well.

I particularly remember going downtown with grandma (Nora), and it was always an all-day excursion on the bus and back. We always went to Woolworth's and Neisner's and Shillitos. I do not remember elevators with elevator men (I assume they were all men), but I do remember what George mentioned last in his article, escalators. In those days they were very, very narrow and steep, a bit frightening to a little girl who thought she might get caught if she didn't jump off just right!

We always ate at the lunch counter at Woolworth's, one thing I dearly miss and recall very distinctly. We always sat in a booth as well. (I think Grandma was too short to sit on the bar stool.) I also remember the basement; we always went there as it was called the "bargain basement." Since Woolworth's and other such stores in those days were called "dime stores," I don't know how much more of a bargain there could possibly have been found there. I suppose they were akin to today's "dollar stores."

Stroll down Memory Lane for more history and pictures of Woolworth's at this blog:

An egg sandwich was $.30. Imagine that!

Cathy, I, too, remember the candy counter: we often were treated with candy necklaces--little candy "jewels" on elastic string--or candy strips--those wide pieces of paper with about 4 "dots" of colored candies neatly spaced in row upon row; or my brother's favorite, tiny wax "Coke" bottles, 4 to a tiny carton, with juice inside. One just had to bite off the top--and spit it out :) -- to take a drink. And what about the candy "cigarettes?" Sticks of pure sugar with a red-painted tip; we surely looked grown-up with those hanging out of our mouths!

Get it all here at Nostalgic

I was always most impressed, though, by the Tyler Davidson Fountain in Fountain Square. I know it's changed so much over the years, both the fountain and The Square, but it always stood out as a most amazing site! (Photo courtesy of

There was no air conditioning on the buses (do they have air conditioning today?), and the windows were always open in the summer. They only went down half-way as I recall; perhaps a safety feature? The buses were loud and hot and crowded, and they stopped at every block. We couldn't wait to pull the string when we were nearing our stop and always bickered over whose turn it was.

I still can't really say, "Those were the days," but there will always remain some fond memories. Thanks for the story, Uncle George!

Have a blessed day!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

1954: The Year in Review (Happy Birthday to Me)

In 1954, the movie “On the Waterfront” with Marlon Brando won the Academy Award for best picture. Also in Hollywood, Marilyn Monroe wed Joe DiMaggio. The first of the Godzilla series of movies was released in Japan.

The first color T.V. was manufactured by RCA in 1954. It cost $1000 for a 12” screen. We always had a black and white T.V. when I was growing up. It was in a great big console and had a small roundish screen. I believe we got our first color T.V. in the early-70’s. It was still in a large floor console, but it had a bigger screen. The first Miss America Pageant was aired on television. Seizing the opportunity of a lifetime, American Gerry Thomas invented the T.V. Dinner in 1954.

Bill Haley & His Comets recorded “Rock Around the Clock” in New York City. On July 7, 1954, WHBQ in Memphis became the first radio station to air an Elvis Presley record, and rock-n-roll was about to change the face of the American teenage culture.

In the medical realm, the first mass vaccination of children against polio began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I remember polio vaccinations, and the day my brother and sister and I first received ours. It seems to me they used a needle that rather scraped the vaccine into your skin; I don’t think it hurt but all children are afraid of “shots.” It was the initial polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. Salk’s vaccine was a “killed” vaccine that prevented most of the complications of polio, but did not prevent it altogether. (I still have the scar!) Later, probably in the early-to-mid-60’s, we received an oral vaccine as well, developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, a renowned medical researcher. I vaguely remember my mother having personally known Dr. Sabin due to his affiliation as head of Pediatric Research at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital and his association with my mother’s boss, Joseph Kanter. I must have thought this familiarity quite impressive at the time, as I can still recall it. During that same year, the first kidney transplants were done in Boston and Paris.

The Nobel Prize for Physics was won by Max Born & Walther Bothe; for Chemistry by Linus Carl Pauling; for Physiology or Medicine by John Franklin Enders, Thomas Huckle Weller, & Frederick Chapman Robbins; for Literature by Ernest Hemingway; and for peace by The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Vietnam War was brewing, and President Dwight D. Eisenhower authorized the creation of the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. On Flag Day, June 14, 1954, the words “Under God” are added to the “Pledge of Allegiance.” Most people think these words were always in the Pledge. I have always known them, that’s for sure!

Sports Illustrated was published for the very first time. I wonder if they had a “swimsuit issue,” and what parts of the anatomy those swimsuits covered? Roger Bannister of England was the first man to break the 4-minute mile. West Germany won the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, defeating Hungary. Radio was giving way to T.V. as the last new episode of "The Lone Ranger" was aired after 2,956 episodes over a period of 21 years. The first transistor radio was developed for the public and cost around $49.95 ($300 in today’s money). They dropped significantly in price when they became more popular and mass-produced in the 60’s.

Nash and Hudson merged to form the American Motors Corporation (AMC). And who didn’t want a 1954 Chevrolet Corvette or a Lincoln?

As I recall, we didn’t even have a car till the late 60’s when my mother learned to drive. It was a 1960 white Rambler, something like this:

A chapter in American History closed in November, 1954, when the main immigration port-of-entry in New York Harbor at Ellis Island closed. The U.S. sent back to Mexico almost 4 million illegal immigrants. Brown vs. Board of Education made segregation in U.S. public schools unconstitutional. Rosa Parks' arrest in Montgomery, Alabama, set the American Civil Rights Movement in motion. The Boy Scouts of America desegregated on the basis of race.
The first Hyatt Hotel opened in December, 1954. It was the Hyatt House of Los Angeles, and was the first hotel built outside of an airport.

Average prices in 1954?
  • House - $22,00

  • Average Income - $3,960

  • Ford Car - $1528 - $2415

  • Milk - $.92

  • Gas - $.21 (yes, per gallon!)

  • Bread - $.17

  • Postage Stamp - $.03

  • Swiss Cheese - $.69 a pound

  • American Cheese - $.55 a pound

  • T-bone Steak - $.95 a pound

  • DelMonte Catsup- (2) 14-oz. bottles $.25

  • Post Grape Nuts Cereal - 10 oz. package $.19

  • Clorox Bleach - 1/2 gallon $.19

  • 20 Gallon Gas Water Heater - $75

  • Semi-automatic Kenmore Washer - $154.95

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at an all-time high of 382.74.

Not so notable: Howard Stern was born on January 12th, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on January 17th, Oprah Winfrey, January 20th, Bill Mumy, John Travolta, and Christie Brinkley in February. Patty Hearst, American heiress and kidnapping victim, was born on February 20th. Ron Howard, Jackie Chan, Dennis Quaid, and Jerry Seinfeld, were all born between March and April. Other births in 1954 were Freddie Prinz, James Belushi, Barry Williams, and Scott Bakula, and Al Sharpton, American politician and minister. Chris Noth, most notably from the Law and Order series, was born in November, and in December, Stone Phillips, American television journalist, and my favorite actor, Denzel Washington.

And on April 11, 1954, I was born. Robin Ann Roach to Theresa Lillian Matthai Roach and John Joseph Roach of Cincinnati, Ohio. 3rd of 7 children. Happy Birthday to me. I’m 54!

Have a blessed day.