Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keep a Journal - Live Longer

"What is a diary as a rule? A document useful to the person who keeps it. Dull to the contemporary who reads it and invaluable to the student, centuries afterwards, who treasures it." ~Walter Scott

I can agree with Mr. Scott on that. I've made good use of several diaries when working on this or that book. But keeping a diary can be good in more ways than that. At Mom's yesterday, the television was on to some kind of doctor quiz show. One of the questions they asked the audience is what could make a person live longer and one of the choices was keeping a journal. As it turned out all the choices were right, but the keeping a journal answer got me thinking of how I should have a few years added onto my years if journal writing helps. 

I've been writing in a journal since I was a teen and now here I am writing in this on-line journal a couple of times a week. For fun I pulled out my old journal. Yes, of course I still have it. I don't throw away handwritten words! So here's a line from one of my first journal entries. "This is my fifteenth summer & so far it hasn't been much." But somehow for years I've found something to write about even if it wasn't much. According to these doctors, whether it was much or not, I was doing something healthy when I took pen in hand and started writing to myself.

Here's another bit I dipped into the old journal and found that made me smile. "When (and if) I get married, I'm going to keep my house where spring cleaning won't be necessary." I actually probably believed that when I was writing it. Some goal, huh? And one that I conveniently forgot for all these years. Of course, I forgot to spring clean too. Spring zooms by so fast I don't have time to get out the brooms and mops. I'm too busy writing in my journal.

That one made me smile but some of those early entries make me cringe now when I read them. I was so very young. The doctors didn't say it made you live longer to read what you wrote. LOL. So maybe it's better to write and then forget about what you've written the way I did about that keeping my house spic and span

Over the years, I'm sure I've written thousands of words - to myself. It's a great way to let off steam without burning anybody else. A journal is a good place to whine and complain without casting a pall over anybody else's world. But it's also a good place to rejoice and celebrate and remember. It's good to know it's healthy for me too. So now maybe I'll have extra years for filling up journals whether with important words or not. Here's another entry made after I did get married. Wasn't much "if" to that after all. "No, I have nothing extremely important to tell you, but sometimes it's more fun to just begin writing with no special thought."

I always imagined I was writing to someone when I wrote in my journals. And now here I am writing this to someone too - to you. Thanks for reading. By the way, I'm sending out a newsletter with a new giveaway chance tomorrow. Let me know if you'd like to be on my newsletter list if you aren't already. And keep journaling and blogging and we'll all be healthy forever.

When I was still in prep school - 14, 15 - I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things. ~John Irving

Monday, November 26, 2012

Roots of Love

Our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members. ~Pearl S. Buck

We just celebrated Thanksgiving and counted our blessings. I had plenty to count. Now we’re heading toward the Christmas holidays. Maybe you were one of those out hunting bargains this weekend. Maybe you were one of those who stayed home because you would rather watch football players pile into one another on television than take the chance of being tackled yourself as shoppers stormed into the stores to get those deals.
If you were fortunate, you probably gathered with family or are planning to gather with family at Christmas. The holidays can be such fun for youngsters. They can be very busy for those youngsters’ parents. Grandparents get caught up in the fun too while the kids are little, but then sometimes when the grandparents become great-grandparents and the years have piled on, they can’t do the things they used to do at Christmas. They begin to feel unneeded. Perhaps unwanted. No longer is it their house the younger relatives gather at for the celebration of whatever holiday.
Not long ago I did a library book talk. After my talk, I spoke with a lovely older lady and asked her about her family. She had children and grandchildren close by, but she said they didn’t have much time for her these days. She didn’t want to be “excess baggage.” Her words were spoken with a certain set to her chin and a determined look in her eyes that didn’t quite hide the sadness.
I am sure her children and grandchildren love her, but life can get so busy. The grandkids probably don’t think to call just to say hello. They probably intend to drop by and see their grandmother, but the weeks slide past, become months, and they don’t find the time. Maybe grandmother doesn’t hear as well as she used to and can’t handle the noise of a rowdy household. Maybe nobody asks her how to fix a favorite recipe anymore because they’ve found their own favorite recipes. Maybe they think grandmother doesn’t feel like helping with the cooking or whatever and insist she merely sit and watch. No one takes the time to listen to her even though she has great stories to tell if only the right questions were asked. And now she’s feeling like “excess baggage.” No longer needed by her family.
But we do need our older relatives. We need the strong roots of their love. I hope this lady’s family proves her wrong over the holidays by including her often in their celebrations. And with joy. I hope they will treasure her while she keeps her health and her memories. I miss that so much with Mom. Her memories of our times together. Sometimes she doesn’t remember she has children. Sometimes she thinks those children are still young and playing out in the yard. When she asked for Ann last week and I claimed to be me, she frowned and said she wanted the “young Ann.” Oh, to be that young Ann for her. To be able to take her home to see her mother. To walk with her back through the years while she still remembered them.
I did talk with her about her growing up years quite a bit while her memory was working, but not enough. There’s so much to a person’s life that no one can ever know it all. I do hope I never made her feel like “excess baggage.” And I hope if you have an elderly relative who might be lonesome over the holidays and missing the way things used to be for them, that you’ll call her up or go by and spend some time with her.
Time – often the very best gift we can give. Thanks for spending a little time here with me.
What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family. ~ Mother Theresa

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blessings by the Bushel

The unthankful heart …discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds iron, so it will find in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  ~ Henry Ward Beecher

I have so many blessings to count on Thanksgiving Day that it would take me a while if I tried to even name only the biggest blessings. And how can you give a size to blessings. All blessings are good and make our life better. Sometimes at our church we talk about the everyday blessings, and isn’t it great that we can count those blessings everyday. A couple of my everyday blessings in my bushel of blessings are sunshine and a beautiful place to live. It’s a blessing that I can walk on my farm and take pictures to remember the beauty of the day and to share with my friends here on the net. My Facebook friends like it when I post something I spot on my walks. I’ve put out photos of snakes and buzzards, flowers and trees, frogs and cows, mushrooms and rocks. I guess I could call all of them everyday blessings.  
Of course, a beautiful family is a blessing I’m glad to have in my bushel of blessings and especially the grandkids in the family. I’m thankful for children who can run and play. I’m thankful my great-niece is finished with her cancer treatments and can be with the other children to have a good time. I’m thankful for curious children who like to check out lady bugs and worms.
I’m thankful I can write stories that some of you like to read. I’ve always wanted to tell stories and I feel blessed that I’ve been able to follow that dream for all these years.
I’m thankful for my mother even though things are hard right now for her and for us. But so many great years we’ve had together. Family is such a great blessing. My church family and friends too.  And you. I’m thankful that you take the time to share my journal here. You are in my bushel of blessings.
So many great blessings. I’ll be counting for weeks, and I can hope for good health and good sense, too.
Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings. ~Publilius Syrus
Wishing you both in this Thanksgiving season. As always, thanks for reading, and I’d love to hear what you have in your bushel of blessings.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Celebrating an Anniversary

Family portrait after 15 or so anniversaries.  
A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance, and tenacity. The order varies for any given year. ~Paul Sweeney
 Forty-eight years ago I was spending my last night at home in my childhood bed. On the morrow I was getting married. Much too young. Only seventeen and barely that. My husband to be was a few years older, already twenty, but very young too. Our lives were getting ready to drastically change as we were set to begin our life together.
 I don’t remember exactly how I was feeling that night, but I’m sure I was nervous. Unsure of what to expect. Darrell may have been feeling the same. Both of us young, ignorant about the realities of adult life, but ready to be thrown into the marriage pond to see if we could swim. And somehow we stayed afloat in spite of our youth. In spite of having two kids before we’d been married three years. With the Lord's help, we kept our heads above the water as we struggled to make ends meet.
We farmed. We took care of the kids. We had loving family support. We made it year by year. The years keep piling on. Now sometimes people look at us as if being married to the same person that many years is an amazing wonder, not a normal part of living. You know the good advice about how to get older, don’t you? Keep breathing. So that’s the same with being married a lot of years. You just keep on keeping on. That’s what we’ve done the same as many other couples I know.
I once read a little story about a woman who had been married many years. When a new bride asked her advice on how to have a long and happy marriage, she told her that when she married she made a list of ten things she wouldn’t let upset her about her husband. When the younger woman asked her what those ten things where, the older woman said she didn’t remember. She simply assumed whatever came up to be friction between her and her husband was on the list and she refused to get mad about it. So perhaps she was the farmer’s wife the following quote is bragging on.
 Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots. ~Hoosier Farmer
Can’t say I’ve ever been quite that understanding although I have mopped up plenty of boot tracks in my time. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t singing a happy song while I was mopping. But we are still married. And there have been many happy songs over the years.

Good times. Blessed years. Neither of us is much like we were when we married. Life pushes us along a changing course and we are made stronger by the experiences that come our way. Even so, love and commitment doesn’t have to change. We’ll keep rolling along, trying to encourage one another, enjoying the children of our children. Feeling blessed.
 May God be with you and bless you. May you see your children's children. May you be poor in misfortune, rich in blessings. May you know nothing but joy. From this day forward. ~Irish Blessing
Thanks for reading and I hope you have a wonderful week of Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food and Family - Recipes for Fun

Thanksgiving is only a week away. It's almost time for us to start making all those favorite dishes. What are some of the dishes that you have to have on Thanksgiving? Here in Kentucky we have some favorites. Of course, it goes without saying that we love our turkey and dressing. My family never stuffed the turkey. We always made a separate dish of dressing from crumbled cornbread and biscuits. Add some sage, chopped onion and celery, an egg or two and moisten it all with lots of turkey broth. Shape into balls, put in a baking dish, pour more broth over them and bake in the oven. As the people used to say on HeeHaw "Yum! Yum!" There's something comforting about making dressing the same way as my mother made it. Well, almost the same. Actually, I took half her recipe and half my mother-in-law's recipe and made it just right for us. I do want cranberries to go with it and I like just cooking the fresh cranberries the way it says on the package. Add some other side dishes like corn pudding and green beans, maybe a fruit salad and homemade rolls and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. 

Not so long ago, I mentioned the grape salad the guys in my family love. And some of my Facebook friends said, please share the recipe. It's actually "Blueberry Salad." I got the recipe from my sister-in-law a long time ago and usually make it at Christmas time. A guy at church used to love it when I took it to church dinners. Mike was the kind of man you just enjoyed being around. Always smiling. Always embracing life. And he loved that blueberry salad, so I'd make it just for him. We have several dishes that way. Our pastor's wife brings stewed tomatoes every dinner for one of the other guys. But then Mike had a heart attack and died suddenly. For a while, it made me too sad to bring that salad to church dinners even though I know Mike's having a great time up in heaven. I missed him down here. He was one of only two people who ever bragged on my piano playing at church. For sure they were listening with their hearts and not their ears because I can barely plunk out a hymn on the piano. But he made me feel better than I was. He was an encourager.  

So here's the recipe: Blueberry Salad
2 small pkg (3 oz) grape jello 
2 C boiling water
1 can crushed pineapple, undrained (I use a regular size can)
1 can blueberry pie filling

Dissolve jello in boiling water, cool slightly. Add pineapple and blueberry pie filling. Let jell.
Topping: Beat 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese and 1/2 pint sour cream until smooth. Add 1/2 C confectioners' sugar. Mix well and smooth on top of jello mixture. Sprinkle with chopped pecans.

I also had a request for the recipe for what we jokingly call Mother-in-law pie around here. I should call it Son-in-law pie because he's the one who loves it. It was introduced to the family by the same sister-in-law who brought us Blueberry Salad. I guess you can tell she's a good cook. My pie never quite matches hers, but my sweet son-in-law claims to like mine best. My husband doesn't, but it's good that he's loyal to his sister's pie. Here's her recipe. 

Chocolate Chip Pie
Mix: 1 cup sugar
         1/2 cup self-rising flour
Add: 2 slightly beaten eggs
         1 stick softened margarine 
         1 cup chopped nuts (I use pecans but some use walnuts)
         1 cup chocolate chips
         1 tsp vanilla
Mix well and spread mixture in a 9 inch pie crust. Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.  

Hope you're looking forward to a blessed holiday with lots of great family recipes. We'll be having a Thanksgiving dinner Sunday at our church. But first I'll be walking in the St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk on Saturday morning. Not doing too well on the fund raising, but our Team Kaelyn is working hard to raise money to help keep St. Jude researching and finding ways to cure other kids the way they did Kaelyn. You can check out my St. Jude page here

What brings a smile to your face when you see the Thanksgiving feast on your table? 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembering Veterans

This wall holds the names of veterans in our community.

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. ~ Elmer Davis

Do you know why we celebrate veterans on November 11? I like finding out the history behind holidays, so I did a little research.

In 1921, an unknown World War I soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Similar ceremonies occurred in England and France, where an unknown soldier was buried at each nation’s highest place of honor. These memorial gestures all took place on November 11 in recognition to the celebrated ending of World War I fighting at 11 a.m., November 11, 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month). The day became known as“Armistice Day.”

The United States Congress officially recognized the end of World War I when it passed a concurrent resolution on June 4, 1926, with these words:

Whereas the 11th of November 1918, marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals and the resumption by the people of the United States of peaceful relations with other nations, which we hope may never again be severed, and

Whereas it is fitting that the recurring anniversary of this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving and prayer and exercises designed to perpetuate peace through good will and mutual understanding between nations; and

Whereas the legislatures of twenty-seven of our States have already declared November 11 to be a legal holiday: Therefore be it Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring), that the President of the United States is requested to issue a proclamation calling upon the officials to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on November 11 and inviting the people of the United States to observe the day in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies of friendly relations with all other peoples.

An act of Congress made Armistice Day a legal holiday in 1938. The men who fought in World War I thought it would be “the war to end all wars.” If that hope had been realized, November 11 might still be called Armistice Day, but only a few years after the holiday was proclaimed, war broke out in Europe. Over 16 million Americans eventually took part in World War II. 407,000 of them died in service, more than 292,000 in battle.

So at the request of veterans’ service organizations, the U.S. Congress amended the original 1938 act and changed the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. After President Eisenhower signed the legislation, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

In 1971, Veterans’ Day was changed to the fourth Monday in October. This met with such confusion and resistance that President Ford signed a law in 1975 to return the holiday to November 11. That date simply had too much historical and patriotic significance to be changed.

Today we recognized the veterans at our church as did many other churches. We have a couple of Vietnam War vets in our congregation. I overhead one of them thanking the other one, who was part of a helicopter crew, for his service. He said the helicopter guys had a special place in his heart. You can imagine how the helicopters coming to the aid of the ground forces might feel like the cavalry riding in to the rescue.

If you served in the armed forces, thank you.