Thursday, May 27, 2010

Watch out for that rooster!

Went home Wed. noon to visit with mom. This morning we went out for breakfast and after ordering I asked mom if she'd like to share the eggs I ordered and she said 'I don't want any eggs, thank you. Every time I think of eggs I think of an old rooster that used to peck anyone that gathered eggs. One morning before her father left for work as he sat down to eat breakfast my grandma told him if he wanted eggs he'd have to get them, she was tired of getting pecked by that old rooster. Grandpa thought that was funny and said he'd go fetch some eggs. Now Grandpa had never gathered eggs and thought is hilarious when Grandma and mom would complain about the rooster. It has been quite some time since Grandpa had been gone and Grandma was beginning to get a little nervous, when in came Grandpa with two eggs in one hand and a dressed chicken in the other - the rooster had pecked him, and Grandpa had proceeded to prepare for two meals, right there in the chicken lot ................ so Grandpa had two eggs for breakfast and fried chicken for supper! Mom said they got a new rooster, one that didn't mind people gathering eggs.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Corner of Bitter and Sweet

This story takes place near the beginning of WWII after Pearl Harbor. It is a story of how even though America was the land of the free, it was also the land of divisions as fierce hatreds and passoniate, oft-misguided patriotism faced off against each other. This novel is about how a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl, both forced to attend a white school by their parents come to enjoy each other's company. As the government disbands the Japanese neighborhoods in Seattle, WA and sends little Keiko and her family to an internment camp, her friend Henry, against his father's strong admonitions, still finds ways to see her and her family. Later convinced that he will never see Keiko again, after she has not written him back and one day he gets a letter 'return to sender' Henry marries a good Chinese woman. Before Henry marries Ethel though, the Japanese families are allowed to return home, and Henry goes to the park where he and Keiko always met, for remembrance sake [here is one of my favorite paragraphs in the whole book] 'It was during this stolen moment, this spot of quiet melancholy, that Henry saw what he most wanted, and most feared. Standing across the street, staring directly at him, were a pair of beautiful chestnut brown eyes. What did he see in them? He couldn't tell. Sadness and joy? Or was he projecting what was in his own heart? She stood motionless. Taller now - her hair much longer as it drifted away from her shoulders in the direction of the cool summer breeze. Henry rubbed his eyes and she was gone, lost in the celebrating crowds that still flooded the streets. But it couldn't have been Keiko. She'd have written.'[p.261] I won't tell you how the story continues and then concludes. I think you would be mildly surprised. It is a story that not only again challenges us to look at an event in history that we would dismiss; and yet in Henry and Keiko's relationship we find that love that crosses boundaries. Its a story that would fit for every parent to relate to their own kids and grandkids! ENJOY
Jamie Ford, 'Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet' [A historical novel]BAllantine Books, 2009 ISBN: 9780345505347

Friday, May 21, 2010

HUNTing Witches!

Just yesterday as I was leaving a fast food place, after getting my morning sausage burrito, two ladies opened doors for me. As the second lady was opening the second door for me, she smiled and said, 'I'll bet its been a long time since two ladies opened two doors for you in the same day.' ... my response was 'never!' It was a neat experience.

I've just found out that a long - distance ancestor, and it is a stretch, probably only about a 1% chance of dna, was a part of this story. It would seem that this ancestor, when she was 8 or 9 yrs old, had a father who was constable in the town of Andover, MA. His brother Joseph's wife became ill, and showed many of the same signs the ladies in Salem, [only a few miles away] convicted of being witches showed. So Josephs brother John [my ancestors father] called the women who were pointing out witches in Salem to come to Andover. To make a long story short they began accusing people in Andover of witchcraft, and a number of people were hung there too. The similiarities of the illnesses is no coincidence for as we now know, the people in MA. who suffered these signs of illness truly were ill from a fungus that grew on the wheat, rye in the area. But when the weather cleared the illnesses stopped and so did the witch trials. So constable John's daughter Rebeccah grew up and married one of my ancestors. I've also learned that an equally distant ancestor was husband to Martha Moore, who wrote a diary; and it was made into a movie and book 'A Midwife's Tale,' and has been featured on PBS. I guess my motto is becoming 'if you can't be famous, keep searching till you find an ancestor that was;' what they are famous for doesn't matter! Oh the desperate webs we weave.

I just finished the book 'The Forgotten Garden' by Kate Morton. This past Monday while taking a break and walking thru Walmart I stopped at the book stands, and after reading the front/back cover just knew I had to purchase the book. It tells the story of three generations searching for a 'family secret.' In the end the granddaughter solves the mystery, but it's after a little over 500 pages. It is a really good novel about generations of a family being held hostage to a secret that was never suppose to be discovered. I planned to read a few chapters that night, and continue reading in the days ahead. HOwever I got so involved in the novel, after two failed attempts to lay the book down and go to sleep, I just stayed up - read until 1:15pm and finished it! Every time I thought I had solved the mystery the author took another direction and I had added another red herring to my collection.
Morton, Kate. 'The Forgotten Garden' WAshington Square Press, Simon & Schuster,
ISBN: 9781416559556

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gram's home!

It sure seems like a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng time since I've written on the blog; but today was quite a day. Last night I went home to Ohio and stayed with mom, then this morning we had breakfast at a restaurant I literally haven't eaten at in a decade .... it was still there, 'Spokes' on route 20a. [The route runs parallel to the Ohio Turnpike, and many truckers use the two lane blacktop because they don't have to pay a toll or check in their weight] ... Spokes is kinda of a truck stop. My one aunt used to love to take her nephews/nieces there to eat. Breakfast was pretty good, and as we were paying the bill there was an older gentleman sitting at a table close by, smiling and starring at us, that was weird. AFter we paid the bill and were walking out I heard him ask the waitress if that was my mother, called her by name. I told mom that the gentlemen had said her name and so we went back, and sure enough, he had been their tv repairman and the one who always set up tv towers for them and their neighbors. He had graduated just a year before I did, and recognized me too. Later when mom checked in for her weekly hairdo thing I went to gram's house and my uncle/aunt were just bringing her home from Rehab - she'd been there nearly four weeks, and was so glad to get home. As I was related the story of our breakfast experience Gram said that she and grandpa had gone to the same restaurant many times before I was even born, and that back then it had a hard-packed dirt floor! We tried to guess how many owners had come and gone, and wondered if it was still in the family?? .. a piece of living history!! And of course the number of truckers who had eaten there probably will never be known, but its reputation is still in place and the trucks keep stopping there. That was a neat experience for me, especially when gram said she'd been there with grandpa before I was even dreamed of, before my dad and mom had any idea the other one existed.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sherlock Holmes, JOhn Amos and the Good Wife.

I never cease to be amazed at how my life instantly changes when my wife leaves town. Yesterday she left for a brief visit at my mom's before going home to visit with her parents and siblings for weekend [Thursday night included] - the whole weekend!! ........ so I tucked a 'Mothers-Wives-Day' card in her luggage. The house is so quiet. I don't mind cooking for myself, but is sure better to have someone to share it with. So rather than continue the routine we're in when she's here, I went out and rented a few movies, one for each night she's gone. My reasoning is that at least for 2hrs. the movie will distract me from the quietness of her absence; and besides there are no buttons to push. Last nights movie was Sherlock Holmes. Having always been a Holmes fan, it was a delightful movie. Wilson, unwisely introduces his girlfriend to Holmes, that was a disaster, although remarkably she doesn't desert Wilson. I won't tell you how that relationship develops throughout the movie, but its good. A former girlfriend/antagonist, which I didn't know Holmes had shows up at just the wrong times,and in the end Holmes has to make a difficult choice. This movie is full of action yet it does not fail to deliver on Holmes' brilliant deductive powers and Watson always timeless interventions. At the end of the movie, HOlmes is again confronted with another case, only this one with his eternal antagonist Professor Moriarity, who unbeknown to HOlmes has been in the background of the whole present case. Except for a couple brief nude scenes in which only a backside is shown, and absolutely no swear words, this was an excellent movie. The movie stars Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law, Rachel McAdams and Mark Strong. Its rated PG-13. ENJOY

On Monday I finished the book 'GILEAD'by Marilynne Robinson, and it was every bit as good as Sage said it was - matter of fact it was even better. I really enjoyed this book as John Ames writes the story of his life to his young son whom he will never see grow into a young man because of his rapidly decreasing health. Perhaps loving family history also is a reason why I find the story so delightful; and I have a book on work desk called 'A Father's Legacy,' which from time to time I fill in so that my kids/grandkids can have answers to some questions that have never been told or asked ... although I am hoping that this blog will also fill that gap. The congregationalist preacher John Ames still struggles with spiritual issues that one might have thought a life-time in ministry would have long ago solved; and perhaps this is also a reason why I loved the book so much. For as I grow older, way toooo fast, I am beginning to have more spiritual questions that I've never had before, not questions like most at the beginning of life's journey have: 'is there a God?' 'what is my purpose in life?' 'If God loves then why is there so much suffering,' etc. .. questions of that sort, my faith is stronger today than ever before. And I am learning that the strength of my faith is also the peace that allows me to face spiritual issues many long ago many would have thought I'd worked through. I think they are questions of 'settledness;' perhaps not unlike those emotional questions one can only face when you realize your tenure here on earth is fading a lot quicker than you ever before imagined. In the book John Ames talkes a lot about his closest friend, next door neighbor the Presbyterian Rev. Robert Boughton. Robert appears to have his feet a lot closer to the grave than John; but is very often in John's thoughts when he contemplates those spiritual issues. Robert named his one son after his friend, John Ames Boughton. Robert's son is nicknamed Jack, and is the black sheep in the family, and his every appearance with the Rev. Ames causes the old preacher to make a choice between being graceful or judgemental. It's such a difficult choice for the Rev. Ames because he dearly loves Jack. The author has written a book, 'HOME', that takes a look into the dwindling health of Rev. Boughton and the reappearance of Jack to his father's house. I am eagerly awaiting a used copy from so that I can continue reading about these two families, who at times are so intertwined its easy to forget there are two families involved. ENJOY
GILEAD, by Marilynne Robinson, Picador Publishers, ISBN; 0312424404. Thanks again Sage for the excellent recommendation.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Some reflections on elections.

Despite my complaining, which must be quite aggravating, I do enjoy working as an election inspector. Its many benefits include usually having time to get some extra reading in, providing its not a presidential year or too heavily challenged primary. You get to say hi to neighbors/acquaintences you don't speak with very often. The honor of knowing you're a part of a free system, and often the recipients of honest compliments[mostly by those who are older]. ONe of the joys I really like is when parents bring their children in with them, we get to give the kids stickers, and when their parent's finished ballot is returned and finally placed in the couting machine, I often have the kids help me, this usually brings a big smile to their faces and thanks from their parents. And sometimes a horrified look from another poll worker or stern voter ... but who cares because so far the election clerk has smiled on the act. Now to yesterday's experience. There was only two people running for school board members, with no opposition because you had to vote for two; made me wish I had run for the position just to make people think a little more, no one would elect me because I'm not well known, and besides I wouldn't want to replace someone who was actually a benefit to the school board. The position receives no pay, but certainly often an extremely large amount of complaining; ... at this point I must admit I do get a small stipend for working the polls, and occasionally we'll get that upset voter, but nothing I am sure that school board members receive. Still I did serve as an election inspector where I came here from in Illinois for nine years and never received any pay for that ..and I would do it here even if there was no stipend .... Its an honor first! Also on the ballot was an issue about millage for a County Historical Park. The issue has come up before and been defeated, and so I didn't vote on it because I don't own any property so I felt it would be unethical [though not illegal] to raise someone else property tax for my pleasure; though if asked my opinion I certainly was for it.
By the way the millage passed and the park, which has museum, historic village, beach w/picnic area and recreational areas [a lot of re-enactments take place here]for the next seven years. I guess my major complaint is with the voting system. With only two people on the ballot and one millage issue, a lot of money was spent. Neither the city, the school or the county could afford that vote. Since the county attached the millage issue, the county had to pay for the vote. That meant innumerable ballots printed that will never be used; in our ward alone only about 190 people voted, but because there were 890 qualified to vote that's how many ballots there were, and that's just one example...and then the usage of the facilities were all the votes throughout the county took place, the stipends paid to each poll worker, the time of the city/county employees involved ..... a lot of costs. It seems to me that some elections could be made to run concurrent with other ones and millage issues would have to be decided at those times. But I guess that's just how the system goes - well, maybe someone in the future will change it so that its more efficient; yet I don't want the voting to be eliminated. As we were talking about the extremely low turnout an election inspector suggested that anyone who received an type of entitlement from the government, regardless of how small or large it was, should be required to vote and show proof before they received their next benefit - now that sounded right - you want to receive any loan, you want to recieve any entitlement, you want to use an government facility, to hold a government job,etc.... right on! All in all, another good day.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Poll Sitting

Today, all day, I will be an election official at the primaries - so enjoy the day.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Some more monday moments

Today I came across an article that both encouraged me, and surprised me that it would be a major media outlet: 'Almost a Thousand Major Scientists Dissent from Darwin!'[1] Well that add a bright spot to my day, although it doesn't change my beliefs. I've always thought that Darwin was a few cells short. I have never believed in evolution to the extent that my gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggreat uncle was a monkey, and so although its neat that so many scientists have stepped forward, its not a proof positive that I've ever searched for. Now I will agree that from time to time I run across an individual who seems to have skeletal similarities or intelligence somewhat lagging behind the apes, that hardly means they have to claim we're family. While we're on the subject of science, let me present you with another serious doubt that I have, [not being a scientist this probably doesn't carry any weight] 'carbon dating.' I've always been a skeptic of it and figure that probably one day we'll find out the whole process is messed up, or scientists in different places have high-jacked the process to say what they wanted it too.

Then I came across an article: 'Religion, prayer and government.' Now its always interesting to read about prayer and government, because we have such a difficult time with it, and we're such hypocrites. I like one of the first sentences in the piece, 'At the same time the framers of the Constitution were creating separation between the church and state, they were staring legislative meetings with religious invocations and allocating money for Christian missions to Native Americans.' This issue had never truthfully bothered me much; if there was prayer in school and the teacher had prayer before my children's classes, to be honest with you I would be somewhat concerned ........... who is offering the prayer? what are the words that are being prayed? I worry about such things because misguided prayer can be more harmful than no prayer - though I've never been a strict seperatist. Lately though as I've been delving into my spiritual roots I learned that the Anabaptist movement that I'm descended from was for seperation of church and state; and the more I become engaged in the controversy the more I am appreciating their point of view. America, as I view it, was established as a place where religion could be practiced freely, and we need to be careful with freedom. My freedom does not entitle me to step on yours, nor does yours entitle you to enfrenge on mine - but let both enjoy the same freedom in respect and peace. Perhaps what it really comes down to is that its not really a church vs. government issue, but more a church vs. religion issue?
Can the Christian, the Jew, the Muslim, etc. etc., enjoy, worship and live peacefully in the same state? I find it offensive to my soul, to my profession when anyone [Christian, Jew, Muslim, etc., etc.]abuses the privilege of praying before a government entity to preach or push their doctrinal agenda, and then when opposition crops up, our faith becomes a jihad. This is probably not a very popular stand, even in my own church ... but perhaps its time to stop complaining and just start living our beliefs. God doesn't need me to defend himself, he's done pretty well without me for quite some time, matter of fact inspite of what evolutionists think, since creation! So we'll continue to haggle over opening with prayer, rather we can manger scenes on our courtyards or crosses along the road on state owned land ... and who can and who can't do what, all in a clumsy search for who we are and why we're here.
I have a not-so-secret suspicion that the conflict is kept aflame by innocents being used as fodder; the parent who uses their child to complain to the school board, the outside how passes through town and sees a manger scene, the individual who has no faith offended because someone else does ......... when the Constitution writes about
'establishing a religion' I don't think our founding fathers thought voicing a prayer or singing a hymn quite qualified - oh, the trouble they'd saved us if they just taken a few more minutes to figure this out. ... but then again maybe its to our advantage they stopped where they did ...... I'm so confused. I'm sitting at my desk in my office, so perhaps I'm going to go close my blinds and prayer about it. [2]

[1] 'Almost a Thousand Major Scientists Dissent from Darwin!' Canada Free Press
[2] 'Religion, prayer and government' Los Angeles Times

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Home Run!

As everyone knows its a bit discouraging to read the headlines most days. Yesterday as I was reading an article on the current buzz about Arizona's new immigrant law again I was confronted with the fact that at least 19% of youth, between 12 -17yrs old, reported illicit drug use, and supposedly most of those drugs come from Mexican organizations. And those are just the teens who fess up. Later around 10:30pm I got a call from one of my younger grandsons, he was so excited. In his first little league game he hit a HOME-RUN ... and his team won 21-11! Now that is a headline for sure. Truthfully he didn't even sound that excited about winning the game, it was the home run that counted. I wish that often in the midst of adverse circumstances we could see the achievements of those who are trying with all their hearts, and applaud them, its good for the soul [their's and ours]. You go Southern Grandson, grams is cheering you on - even in those games when striking at air denies you a home run!