Monday, July 31, 2017

So Much to Think About
Yesterday in Sunday school, our teacher was talking about fiscal responsibility and what the Bible says about finances. The claim for Socialism that some say is found in the Bible is much different to the actual meaning of Christ’s followers giving money into a communal collection for other persecuted and poverty-stricken believers. This act of voluntary kindness was done out of charity and not a forced confiscation and distribution of wealth by the government. The early Christians earned money, gave from their bounty, and yet were allowed to keep what they earned if they chose to do so.
The second thing we talked about was quality. When a person buys something that wears well and lasts a long time, it instills the notion of brand loyalty. Most often the travelling salesman selling snake-oil or other high-promise and low-quality products will not be welcome should he make a second round of the area.
When the subject wandered into long-lasting items, our teacher mentioned that the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for 40 years and their clothing and shoes didn’t wear out. Now, that’s quality. Then he said his wife still had clothing in the closet that has been there almost that long.
This leads me to say, I still have several articles of clothing that I bought as a sophomore in high school. I worked on a dairy farm one summer to earn money for school clothes. The one sweater that I bought has a zigzag design of charcoal, red, burgundy and grey that runs across the entire sweater. Because it is so soft and warm, I’ve kept it although it is worn through at the elbows. I only wear it under my hunting clothes for warmth. The fluffiness makes an excellent insulating layer.
I kidded my son that I was going to will it to him when I died. I gave it to him when he visited and immediately forgot that I had. It took two seasons of hunting and me complaining that I couldn’t find it when my son reminded me that I had given it to him. I was embarrassed when he returned it on a trip from his home in Amarillo, Texas. Sorry Andrew.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Off to the Races
I saw a dear friend’s post yesterday saying that it was becoming harder and harder to rise above her daily challenges as she aged. It was taking longer and longer to complete some of the simple things that she never before thought twice about doing. But I have begun to see things differently and my thoughts lead down another path.
Each day when I wake, I have met the minimal daily requirement. My heart is still beating and my lungs are taking in oxygen that I need to survive and allow my eyes to see another day. Everything after that is just icing on the cake.
I roll out of bed and survey the tasks in my schedule, making my plan of attack. That says my brain is still working and I can think. When chores become too difficult to do the way I once used to do, I change my method of dealing with it. I do what I can or work around the problem until I can find something else to fill the bill or I do without.
I can still run the race, albeit much slower than I once could, but I still manage to cross the finish line. My emotions stir as I see the goal getting closer and closer. The anticipation builds. The joy and excitement escapes when the job is done and behind me.
God never promised that the race He has planned for me would be easy. He has never asked me to be the first person to cross the finish line. He just asks that I start the race, continue pushing forward, and to run to the best of my ability. The rewards and crowns that God gives to us are for all those who finish the marathon and not just for those in first place.
In Philippians 3:14, the Apostle Paul writes, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He was looking ahead, saying he hadn’t reached the goal line, but he was still keeping on course.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Not the SAMA Old Evening
Last Friday evening was the launch of The Loyalhanna Review. It is an annual publication that collects and shares the talent of writers and photographers it its glossy pages. The magazine has been able to gather, spotlight, and focus attention on these skilled and gifted craftspeople of pen and camera. Each year, this magazine gains in prestige and distribution.
Friday’s gala event took place in the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art located just outside Ligonier, Pennsylvania. Ruth McDonald is the Editor in Chief of The Loyalhanna Review and was the emcee for the evening. Several of the writers were chosen then introduced to share their words of art with the gathered crowd. This year, as the reputation of the magazine spreads, so do the writers who enter. This year, we had a writer from Baltimore, Maryland submitted and was accepted for publication. She drove to join us at the event.
The stories and poetry of 30 page magazine is interspaced with colored photographs. Copies were distributed to the attendees, giving them first chance to hold the freshly printed literary collection. They were given the opportunity to see and later hear the offerings inside.
A tantalizing buffet of dainties filled one corner of the art gallery and as people mingled before and after the presentation and readings, sampling the varied foods and drink. The variety of foodstuffs was able to tempt the taste buds of the pickiest of palates.
The inside walls of the museum is lined with wonderfully beautiful paintings adding an air of formality to the affair.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Cogs Are Slipping
Because yesterday was another busy day, in my rush, I mistakenly drove to the wrong physician’s office. My appointment was for 1:30 and as usual I arrived early. As I got out of my car and started for the door of the Norwin health center in Irwin, Pennsylvania, I had the feeling something wasn’t right. I stopped and as the physician’s name popped into my head. The location of the office and the doctor’s name didn’t jive. It was now 1:05 p.m. and I was supposed to be in Greensburg for the 1:30 appointment.
I hopped back into my car and hustled back on Route 30. There were several red lights and some slow traffic, but I made it with 10 minutes to spare. I think I will have to plan my routes more carefully to prevent another slipped cog in the old mental machine. I was on time and able to get an injection into my right shoulder. It was feeling more comfortable within the hour and I think it even made my sore back somewhat less severe.
But this entire week has been hectic. I had a writers meeting later last evening at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library. And I must say, the roadway in town is almost like a battlefield with deep trenches, fox holes, and construction “soldiers” lining the streets guiding traffic and making more tank traps.
After the meeting was over many of the writers escaped to McCauley’s through the carnage of the streets. The soldier’s were gone, but the traps remained. On the Diamond, the Doughboy on his tall cylindrical perch was watching over us as we were on R & R and ate our rations.
I have the morning free to wash a load of clothing, then later today, I’ll attend the Southern Allegheny Museum of Art on the outskirts of Ligonier for the Launching of the 2017 The Loyalhanna Review magazine filled with photos and writings of local men and women. Short storied, poetry, and beautiful photographs fill glossy pages. It is always an interesting evening.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Another Day
After doing wood stacking, my back has been sore, especially painful when I get up from a sitting position. Monday as I was mowing my yard and my eighty plus year old neighbor’s yard, my riding mower threw a belt. I wasn’t able to get under it and called my local mower repairman and friend. He said that he would be out, but not on Monday. I knew that I would be away most of the day today and I left the garage door open for him.
I called him to see what the bill would be and usual he said we’d settle later. Not only had the belt kicked off, but it sheared a bolt the he also replaced. He’s reasonable, so I know he won’t break the bank. He asked if I had a chance to try it and said no. It was a busy day forme and I had no time for the evening meal, grabbing a sandwich.
I was up early and stopped at “Wally World” for a few groceries before heading to my daughter’s house. I was babysitting for my granddaughter Hannah Yoder. Today, she was a good kid. Some days she can be a little bit stubborn wanting her way. With my back so sore, we settled that problem early while her mom was still there. I placed a wooden spoon beside the couch and the groundwork was laid for good behavior.
I was freed from that duty just after 5 pm and hurried home to grab a bite then hopped back into the car and headed to Stahlstown for the monthly Chestnut Ridge Historical Society meeting, The speaker was from the National Park Services, explaining its history and some local attractions.
One busy day down and gearing up for the rest of the week. Sometimes it seems like retiring means being tired time after time. 

Monday, July 17, 2017

This and That
One of the wonderful treats that I could get was the foil-wrapped and brightly colored box of sweet, caramel-flavored peanut and popcorn snack Cracker Jacks. The delicious snack had buried deep inside the wax-coated flavor-keeping pack was a hidden treasure. It may have been a ring, a whistle, a metal-balled game, or plastic animal. Things have changed. The flavor is still there, but those prizes lack the lure and desire to claim them. The last time my yearning to visit this childhood memory caused me to actually buy and sample this concoction, I was disappointed. The flavor was the same. The popcorn still had the rich caramel coating, the peanuts still settled closer to the bottom, but the prize I found was a lick-em and stick-em tattoo. It wasn’t very exciting for an adult who had sampled the past buried treasures and regaled at the quest of finding these worthwhile little caches.
I often find myself purchasing a similar product fiddle-faddle. It has a buttery, sweet flavor of caramel or toffee and comes in a larger sized package, for my adult sized appetite. It has the peanuts that often sticks to the clusters of popcorn welded together by the toffee or caramel. To me, tasting the peanut embedded in the clump is the hidden treasure and I know that I won’t be disappointed. I know that there will not be some reward lying unclaimed at the bottom of the box.
The only disappointment that I may feel is that there is no more of this scrumptious snack left in the package and a feeling of guilt when I think that I ate the entire package and that I was unable to satisfy my appetite to just two or three of those luscious clumps. My heart and childhood memories of those hidden prizes still belong to Cracker Jack, but my adult appetite belongs to fiddle-faddle.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Choosing Weather or Not
The rain today and the storms last night caused me to think of how the weather we see and experience on the outdoors compares to the emotions that fill our bodies and how the weather on the outside affects the feelings we have inside us. It took many people’s observations and many years of insight to connect the two, but once the connection was made, it is easy for us to see why..
The storms we had last night raged with strong winds, pounding rain, sharp flashes of lightning and loud claps of thunder. They often mirror the confusion and strong upheaval in our lives.
The flashes of lightning may mimic our anger that sometimes causes devastating outcomes with those around us, destroying friendships and relationships that have taken years to build. It may blind others and not allow them to see who we really are.
Powerful devastating winds may push others away or damage lifelong projects in a short violent outburst of a tornado or the longer more persistent winds of a hurricane. Thunder can echo our rumbling complaints or loud rolling bravado. Thick gray clouds overhead can be veils of depression, sadness, or disappointment that hide the sunshine of hope and love.
Sometimes these storms cause flooding and overfill our souls with devastating effects. We cannot retain the rush of it all and our emotions overflow with sadness and weeping and we stand hopelessly by watching things we hold dear fall into rubble.
The coldness of the winter and winds are like bitterness. It stops us from becoming the persons we should be, allowing the fruits of envy, jealousy, and enmity to develop where friendships once grew, while the sunshine of happiness for friends and their achievements can quickly melt the seeds of those divisive fruits and not let them take root.
We can choose whether or not to allow the weather of our emotions to rule our lives and which feeling we allow to grow.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

When Men Were Men and We Were Just Boys
On a local sell or trade blog that is listed on Facebook, there was a listing to sell several round metal miners’ lunchboxes. Seeing the lunch buckets transported me back to my grandmother’s Rebecca Miner’s kitchen when I was just a young child. I saw the lunch pail many times on the countertop. The lunchbox was my grandfather Raymond Miner’s. He was a coal miner by night, working the farm during the day. His brass based carbide light was stored in the basement. My granddad never said much about the struggles that he and my grandmother had feeding and clothing seven children. In past blogs, I often mention my grandmother, sometimes overlooking my granddad. I learned a lot about him after his death. Stories from other family members filtered in adding layers of information about this small-statured, unimposing and quiet man. He was quick to smile with the grandchildren and sometimes all too tolerant as a parent.
I am not sure that I could be a coal miner delving deep underground, but my granddad did. One story that I was told about him made me angry. I didn’t find out until after my uncle’s death. My uncle worked in the coal mines with him and would sometimes sleep. My grandfather would cover for him, digging and loading the coal for two. I don’t see how my uncle could do that to his dad or why my grandfather allowed my uncle to do that and how Granddad could still have the strength and endurance to do the farm work too.
My brother and I would vie with each other to claim the coveted seat beside him when we would visit his house and eat at the granite red and white table. He most often reeked of the barn, but now the same smell has become perfume to my recollections.
When he died, Pastor Smith spoke at his funeral comparing my granddad to the biblical character Enoch. There isn’t much said about Enoch, but in Pastor Smith’s eulogy of my granddad, he described Enoch and my granddad as quiet men who walked closer and closer to God until they were no more. These are just a few of the memories stored inside of my brain of this good and Godly man, my granddad Raymond Miner. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Three More to Go
This year the Rugg family celebrated their 97th annual reunion, only three more to go to hit one hundred. The first one that I can recall was held at my great-grandfather Curtis Rugg farm in Mill Run, Pennsylvania. I have described the food laden sawhorse tables in the orchard and the 20 gallon crock of lemonade that was perched on an end table. My great-grandfather Curtis and my great uncle Wesley sitting on the front porch swing and the old water pump in the back yard.
After Curtis’ death, the next place for the clan to gather was my great-uncle George’s home. Curtis’ farm could be seen from the front yard. George’s back yard wasn’t as spacious as the farm, but there was room for tables and for us kids to run, play, and find things to get into.
When George died, the baton was again passed to the eldest living Rugg, which happened to be my grandmother, Rebecca Rugg Miner and the location shifted again to the picnic areas behind the Indian Head Community center. It was a little less homey and the trek to the restrooms was a little far for the older members. The consolation was there was a ball diamond for the folk to play games of softball.
With the death of my grandmother, the location shifts again. For the past several years, the reunion has met in Indian Head, Pennsylvania at Resh’s Park located behind the fire hall. The pavilions, the playground, and room for the kids to play make it an ideal place to gather. This year, we were able to rent a bouncy castle for the kids. The turnout was lighter this year, due to a recent death in the Rugg family.
It was still well attended and great to see cousins, see their kids, and grandkids. Sometimes names allude me, but seeing familiar faces and meeting new additions to the family is what reunions are about, securing the roots and seeing the new branches.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Grande Dames of Nursing
Wednesday afternoon I met with about twenty of retired nurses for our monthly luncheon. We gathered at a restaurant in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. While we waited to order and then for our food to arrive we talked, sharing memories and stories of our past. Sometimes we ask questions to keep facts straight in our aging minds.
Each time we meet, the names of nurses vary some only coming when they are able. We were blessed to have one of our retirees make a rare appearance. I worked with her when I claimed the emergency department as my home. I reminded her of the time that several of the emergency nurses and physicians ate at a Hawaiian restaurant in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. One of the items on the menu was called the Poo-poo platter. We chuckled at the name. One of the nurses went table hopping tasting other peoples drinks. She was so tipsy that she tried to drink from a paper umbrella garnish instead of the straw.
I reminded her of another incident that she was the center of attention. An elderly man came in to the hospital complaining of abdominal cramping and constipation. The doctor diagnosed the man as being definitely constipated. Dr. V. decided that it was time for someone to digitally manipulate and dislodge the impacted fecal blockage. The doc came out from behind the curtain and walked into the nursing station saying, “Hand check.”
We looked at each other with a puzzled look in our eyes, but we held out our hands for him to inspect.
“You,” Dr. V. called, pointing with his pen. “You with the long fingernails, there’s an old man who needs assistance with his impaction.”
The nurse he picked was a very prim and prim person who always dressed neatly and her make-up was always perfect.  Her nails were almost three quarter of an inch long. They were buffed and coated with several layers of clear fingernail polish. Rolling her eyes and giving a disgusted sigh, she disappeared behind the curtain to do her duty.
Later, she revealed that she’d doubled her exam gloves. She was afraid her nails might push through if she wore just one pair and that “just wouldn’t be good.” The patient left the emergency room happy, leaving behind several pounds of feces and one disgruntled nurse.
When she arrived at the hospital the next day, her nails were again impeccable, but they were only a quarter of an inch long. She trimmed them.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Lonesome Sad Mournful Sounds
What has my mind wandering down this path was the lonesome howl of a dog that misses its owner. Four thirty this morning, a dog at my neighbor’s boarding kennel began its wailing. It was overcome with the thought it was abandoned and left alone to be cared for by a stranger. Torn out of its loving and familiar home, it shared its misery and loneliness with the world and unfortunately me.
Another sound that resonates deeply with my emotion is the calling of the wild Canadian geese as they fly in their v-shaped formation, heading south for the winter. Somehow, their honking high overhead in the cobalt sky of autumn seems so much different and more sad than their calls when they fly north on their return trip to their breeding grounds.
Another sound that stirs my emotions is the far-off wail of a passing train. I remember as a child laying in my bed on a summer night and hearing the locomotive's warning call pour through my open bedroom window.
My grandmother Rebecca Miner said as she faced the grief of making arrangements to bury my uncle Ted, “No mother should have to bury their child.” Those mournful words nearly broke my heart. Hearing her say them with tears in her eyes and listening to her weep at the graveside are memories that even time cannot erase.
At this Independence Day, I think of all the mothers that have wept at the gravesides of their sons and daughters, children who gave their lives to protect our freedoms and our borders. Tied to that thought is the sound of Taps being bugled at the graveside ceremony of a soldier or sailor being laid to rest. Softly, sadly that mournful send-off tribute somehow seems little payment for their sacrifice.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Gone Are the Jingles
Gone are the catchy, cute, or silly jingles that marched across our televisions.  We no longer have Dinah Shore advising, “Drive a Chevrolet in the USA,” or Ethel Merman prodding, “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big, bright Texaco star.” We could look for direction and information, if we, “Let our fingers do the walking in the Yellow Pages.”
Many jingles gave us health tips, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” Focusing on the hair, “Halo, everybody, Halo,” or “Brylcream, a little dab will do you.” Upset stomach, “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is, Alka-seltzer.” If you got a boo-boo, “Stuck on Bandaid, ‘cause Bandaid is stuck on you.”
Food jingles seemed to be regulars that enticed you to the kitchen to eat. “I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, ‘cause everyone would be in love with me.” Armour company didn’t care if you were sick, because “Even kids with chicken pox, eats Armour hotdogs.” How about the “San Francisco treat, Rice-a-roni?” Does anyone remember, “Jolly, yo ho ho, Green Giant.” At breakfast time Kellogg’s wanted you to sing along with “Snap. Crackle, and Pop, Rice Krispies.”
Jingles lured us out of our homes with “Hold the pickle hold the lettuce. Special orders don’t upset us.” and “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, onion on a sesame seed bun.” Treats like “Dairy Queen with the curl on top” sounded great on a hot day. Candy like “B-O-N-O-M-o Bonomo, Turkish taffy,” or “Nestles, Nestles makes the very best…chocolate” certainly caught our attention between programs on Saturday mornings.
Toys like Slinky, Odd Ogg, Tippy Tumbles (Batteries not included), Sindy Doll, or Hasbros, “Charlie’s Angels caused kids to rewrite their Christmas list. Alas, the jingles have gone away, only to be replaced by abrasive and uninteresting ads without a catchy tune or phrase.