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random records of scattered thoughts

Two Things Even I Find Difficult to Believe
cat, monorail
Variability of Delaware Paratransit Bus "Service"

The following isn't new to Delaware Paratransit riders but they don't read my blog anyway. Other Delawareans --to say nothing of those of you in other states or countries-- may find this difficult to believe. Acquaintances, fellow church members, doctors and so on who live nearby typically see DE Paratransit busses on the road or perhaps see one picking up someone near their home or office. For most Delawareans, that "snapshot" is all they really know about DelDot and Dart's transportation service for disabled Delaware residents. Any observer who thinks about the service at all is probably gratified that our state government and the DART bus system regularly help these people get to destinations that they are unable to reach on their own.

Earlier today a friend & irreplaceable helper emailed me about our original plan to take me grocery-shopping on Dec 26,
"I can shop the Saturday after Christmas if you can't do [both] therapy and shop..."     [aka that Thursday].

I responded, "Succinctly, I don't dare promise than I can do both, not that I wouldn't want to."

It sounds weird, even to me after all these years, to admit the near-impossibility of combining a one hour appt & a two hour grocery shopping trip on a weekday where I have no other obligations. I suspect my friend might find this even more difficult to believe than I do. So I followed up the earlier part of my email to her with a pains-taking and very long explanation to support my claim. No way she would read that part of my email. Everything she needed to know for our schedule was above it.

But I hated to waste my true account of what Paratransit service is like for its users. I'm posting it here, so additional people will have the chance to not read it.    ;-P

"If it weren't for Paratransit's "help" it WOULD be possible for me to do both therapy & shopping on the 26th.

Here are the common Paratransit-related circumstances which, taken together, make it unlikely that I can do two not-at-home errands that day.

My Paratransit to/from therapy schedule typically goes like this.
(1) My therapy appt with Frank is 1pm-2pm.

(2) (A bit of background)
No sensible P-rider tells the truth about their actual appt times or when would be the real earliest time for pick-up after an appointment. In fact, Paratransit personnel regularly suggest lying about both these times. Consequently my P ride request to therapy always reads:
Therapy Appt=12:30PM. Pick-up time afterward=2:30PM

(3) Based on this input, P dispatchers respond with the standard warning: "Be Ready" by 11:10 AM and they promise a bus will pick me up afterwards somewhere between 2:15 and 3PM., so be visible to the bus driver.

(4) Riders are not allowed to call Paratransit dispatchers about bus ETA until no bus has shown up within 45 mins of a Be Ready or a promised pick-up time.

(5) if enough time passes so that a rider is finally permitted to call the dispatcher, the rider is given a revised ETA. This new ETA does not necessarily reflect reality--aka the bus may very well arrive later than the ETA given.  (Probably not earlier)

(6) Once the rider has been picked up, the rider should in no way expect a direct ride between point A and point B. Additional riders may be picked up or dropped off "en route".

(7)  "En route" is defined by Paratransit as anywhere within the geographical limits of northern New Castle County, i.e. the picked up & dropped off riders do not necessarily live anywhere along the straightest shot between the original rider's pick-up & the location of their home.
(In my experience as many as six other passaengers have been dropped off between my pick-up at the Newark Senior Center and my arrival at home)

(8)  Summarizing. On Thursday Dec 26th, I expect my typical "Be Ready" of 11:10AM. This translates into,
I may be picked up anywhere between 11AM--which gets to my therapy appt over an hour early, Or more rarely, my pick-up from home will be delayed until approx 12:30PM--which gets me to my appt 15 minutes late.

Or any time between those extremes. Since I must be prepared to board the bus immediately when it arrives and since I can't see the parking lot from my apartment, this requires that I perch on the edge of my bed with my head turned to the window, watching constantly for the approach of the bus.

(9) Returning. After getting on my P Pick-up bus to take me home---at equally semi-random times--- I may actually get home as early as a few minutes of 3PM or more likely as late as 5PM. Very occasionally I don't get home until even later than that. This may happen if my original Pick-Up bus never showed up & the P dispatchers have to send another bus.

(10) Bottom line: As bizarre and unlikely as it seems, I could conceivably be away from home for 7 hours (11AM to 6PM) for a one hour appartment in an office maybe 5 miles or a bit more, from where I live. Thank God, I've never experienced a 7 hour roundtrip day! The longest "roundtrip"  I can remember was just over 5 hours.


How Many Comments Does a Typical "Scribblings" Entry Receive?

Frankly, I didn't do the math. However I did spend part of yesterday evening & part of this morning, working from my most recent entry back as far as a Feb 2009 entry, vigilantly looking for for what LJ calls "suspicious comments" & what most of us probably think of as spam in the comments after any given blog.

During that mind-numbling exercise, I noticed that entries with zero comments were very common and that a very few entries sported as many as 10 comments. This "snapshot" was in no way bell curve-shaped. (Do you remember bell curves from either math or statistics?)

I discovered something else. Current spammers have gone back as far as 4 years and added one or more "suspicious comments" to my entries. What is the largest cluster of spammish comments for a single entry?
Make a guess.   ;-D

Scroll down.









Earthbow Update
Apr. 26th, 2009 at 5:34 PM
"( 10 comments — 225 suspicious comments — Leave a comment )"

(Anonymous) (
Jun. 18th, 2013 05:41 pm (local)
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I started to delete these but--since only about ten comments appear after the entry at a time--I decided I had better things to do for now.

Oh, former largest number of spammish comments after an entry was 98. In both cases, the comments were added from mid-2013 to the present.

I so wish I could receive a quarter as many legitimate comments for my blog entries or likes for my FB posts.
Guess reading about the vagaries of Paratransit service, nightmarish move-prep & moving, or about serial apartment floods doesn't inspire anyone to comment.

Much less finish reading an entry. Speaking of which, if you've reached this point, the following is for you.

A half-remembered Peanuts cartoon.

Someone is out in the snow making snowmen. I don't remember who it is--which is embarrassing--but possibly Linus or Snoopy.

He works for a long time until the yard is filled with dozens of mini-snowmen.

Last frame: "You're probably wondering why I called you all here."


Merry Christmas!
"Shadow Harper" in UnCONventional http://tinyurl.com/UnCONventional22
Narentan Tumults #1:   SEABIRD http://tinyurl.com/bl7kavr    
Narentan Tumults #2:  EARTHBOW: Vol.1 http://tinyurl.com/Earthbow1     
                          Vol.2 http://tinyurl.com/Earthbow2
LinkedIn     www.linkedin.com/pub/sherry-thompson/2b/220/a74/

I regret I had to revert to a higher level of security but I had no choice. Since June, some of my entries have gotten dozens of spammish comments!
If your response fails to appear, not to worry! It's being held for my approval. Please sign your name, the handle of your avatar, or whatever you've got. Thanks!

Nelson Mandela's Inaugural Speech (followed by Tom Smith's lyrical tribute
mandala, rings & grids
On May 10, 1994, Nelson Mandela delivered his inaugural address as president of South Africa in Pretoria.

Mandela's Inaugural address in full:

‘Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends:

Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world, confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.

Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.
Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change.
We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.
We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.

We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.
We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism, non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth, business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.

We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.
The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.
The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country, the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.
Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.
We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.
We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.
Let there be peace for all.
Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.
Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfil themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.
Let freedom reign.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!
God bless Africa!

Thank you.’
Nelson Mandela

Metro UK links to articles & news re Nelson Mandela.

Video: Nelson Mandela’s inaugural address as South African president


In the 90’s Tom Smith, song-writer & filker,  wrote the following with regard to his celebratory “Mand​(​e​)​la” (from his album “Plugged”):

“This song was inspired by a moment of cosmic serendipity (or Serengheti, or something): thanks to a tape-delay feed, the local NPR station, WUOM-FM, broadcast Nelson Mandela's inaugural celebration (in May 1994) at the same time a near-total eclipse was painting a circle in the sky:                                  Mandela's mandala.

annular eclipse D

It fell into place after I saw the fine film version of the musical Sarafina! starring Whoopi Goldberg”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarafina!_(film)          http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0105316/

Mand(e)la Lyrics (by Tom Smith)

I saw a circle turning, shining in the sun.
The moon had got in front of it, and light and dark were one.
I had not seen it earlier, the time, it had not come,
But now I see that circle, surrounding everyone.
And the beauty of that circle was something to behold,
As if God made a wedding band of newly minted gold.

Life to the circle (Life to the circle),
Love to the circle (Love to the circle),
Shine, South Africa, shine.
Life to the circle (Life to the circle),
Love to the circle (Love to the circle),
Shine, South Africa, shine.
And the people say,
Viva! (Viva!)
Viva! (Viva!)
Shine, South Africa, shine.

I saw a diamond gleaming, shining in the sun,
With thirty million faces, a smile on everyone.
I hadn't seen it earlier, for blood had dried on dark,
But now the blood has flaked away, and now I see the spark.
And the beauty of that diamond was something fine and warm,
The colors of the rainbow, together past the storm.

Life to the diamond....

I heard a people singing, shining in the sun,
Thirty million voices that sounded all as one.
I hadn't heard them earlier, the guns were all too loud,
But now the guns are broken, and everyone is proud.
And the beauty of those people is calling out to me.
Now hear the joy inside them, for all of them are free.

Life to the people....

I saw an old man smiling, shining in the sun.
The circle shone above him, the two of them were one.
I hadn't seen it coming, I wish I had his eyes,
For they can see tomorrow with every new sunrise.

Life to the people....

from Plugged, released 24 May 1997
Backing vocals: Mark Bernstein, Sharon Brevoort, Karen Foran Underwood, Anne Schneider, Tom Underwood

To download the song directly from Tom Smith, go to Bandcamp
Buy Now  $1 USD or more   
Send as Gift     http://tomsmith.bandcamp.com/gift_tralbum



A Letter of thanks to the late Nelson Mandela

Chicago Tribune: Nelson Mandela Remembered

NYT’s Mandela Obituary article 

Mandela’s Death Leaves South Africa Without Its Moral Center (NYT)

ABC on Mandela:         http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/south-africa-begins-life-mandela-21124838

CNN: Nelson Mandela Death; examining the backlash

I regret I had to revert to a higher level of security but I had no choice. Since June, some of my entries have gotten dozens of spammish comments!
If your response fails to appear, not to worry! It's being held for my approval. Please sign your name, the handle of your avatar, or whatever you've got. Thanks!

Pre-Thanksgiving Post-Puritan Blog Post in Piecemeal Parts
Warning! I've got the letter "P" and I know how to use it!

BTW, "Piecemeal Parts" is in the title because I came up with like a d/o/z/e/n 16 things to talk about but not much to say about any of them. Except for the first few, where I blather on at great & boring length. Anywho...

Click here to read last year's LJ entry: "My Post-Thanksgiving Post"

First up is the traditional Tuesday-Wednesday turkey thaw. Back in the day, everyone "stuffed" their frozen turkeys into a brown foodstore bag in an effort to have the bird thaw evenly, so it was completely oven-ready by early Thanksgiving morning. (If you couldn't remove the neck & the little packet of giblets from inside the turkey in the morning, you knew you were in trouble)

Depending on the size of the turkey, you stuffed the bird into the bag maybe as early as Monday or Tuesday.
Turkey in a brown paper bag

The best way to play it safe in those days was prodding the turkey occasionally to feel for "give". Too much "give" too soon and the designated cook would open the bag & investigate further. In my memory, a bit of "give" was usually a false alarm. Back into the bag at least until the next prod. When I was a kid, everyone did their part re checking for "give". Consequently our turkeys came out of the bag with a "tenderized" breast

I don't know what people do these days re turkey prep. Is bag-thawing today a sure sign of salmonella poisoning tomorrow? Up until a few years ago, I still roasted a small turkey for Thanksgiving. Since it was only me, I would freeze at least half of it for later. Around here, paper foodstore bags have ceased to be, so I would use one of my largest canvas shopping bags for turkey sequestering.

A few years ago, I got a bit off kilter and nearly dropped the hot roasting pan as I was taking it out of the oven. (Turkey juices actually slopped over the pan edge & scorched my fingertips through the mitt.)  Now I'm much less ambitious. I'm roasting a small turkey breast this year. Yes, it's in a canvas bag but it has yet to show any give. But then I get up much later than most people, so it still has time to behave.

I would like to say I shun all plastic food store bags for environmental purposes. I'd like to, but I live with two cats, Khiva (scaredy-cat Siamese) and Vartha (friendly rescued black part Maine Coon). I maintain two litter boxes. "Dead litter" is placed in a plastic bag, knotted tight shut, then placed in a second bag, and finally in a third one. Well, at least the dead litter is biodegradeable.
(I take extra care when "insulating" dead litter & general garbage since I can't haul that stuff to the dumpster myself. I rely on visitors--mostly KB--to remove my garbage for me. This became a nightmarish problem in my previous apartment from the time I broke my ankle in Dec 2010 on. More about packing box removal etc further down.)

Second up? Two closely-related reasons to be grateful. One out of the whole two people reading this entry may remember that I needed to move from my old imploding apartment complex hastily & unexpectedly. It would have been impossible to meet my deadline without the constant & self-sacrificing help of Brandon Zinnato (from my church, St Philips Lutheran). I am so grateful for his friendship, his understanding, and his help! Brandon & I began months before the move. Poor Brandon nearly wore himself out helping me. He was very sick the day he drove me to the new apartment's office so I could sign the lease & get my keys. He should have been home in bed, but there was no one else to help me with the ever-lengthening critical tasks that had to be done at once on that nightmarish day. I so hated putting him through all those exhausting months yet I didn't dare beg him to stop. Both of us knew I would be lucky to be ready by moving day in late February 2012.

In fact, I missed my deadline. Yes I moved on the day I had intended--I had no choice--but I was far from ready. The last days before the move I was getting only about an hour's sleep a night. It's hardly surprising that I messed up royally. I had spent several days in what I called "the back bedroom" working my way through a mind-boggling array of items, sorting them into "to be packed" or "to be dumped". I ran out of time before I could pack the former stuff. Far, far, worse, I was so out of it by then, that I forgot to LABEL any of the items I had sorted. Every last bit of back bedroom stuph was carefully packed by helpers from church. Other helpers at this end toiled to deposit all those boxes wherever they could find a place. (Packing boxes were 3 and 4 high in the living room)

Much later, the vague image of me finishing my back bedroom sorting & wandering out of the room filtered back into my consciousness. I felt & feel -awful- about omitting those critical labels but I've refrained from explaining & apologizing to the people who helped. If I had been a volunteer mover, the only thing worse than helping someone with a needless project would be learning that much of the work had been needless.

Second, Part Deux, the Sequel. I said I had 2 reasons to be grateful in connection with helpers from my church! Since my move twenty months ago (wow!), I've done my best to empty boxes, arrange the "keeper" items and slowly dump the items that should have been tossed 20 months ago. It's been snail's pace slow--partly due to my balance problem which requires I use a cane outside all the time & inside most of the time. Carrying a large box around is difficult using one hand and arm, while the other clutches a cane handle. Once boxes are emptied and "to be dumped" items have been re-identified, the best I can do is stow either item along one side of the hallway between the apt door & the living room. I need to use one hand to grip my cane & the other to hold on to the stair railing in order to negotiate steps safely, the first step on the way to the dumpsters. (No, I never learned how to balance so much as a book on my head.  ;-D )

When the limited hallway space is filled, opening new boxes and then shelving books, hanging clothes, re-weeding detritus, etc comes to a v/i/r/t/u/a/l complete standstill.

Enter my most esteemed superhero helpers over the last few months! Hurrah for ALL my helpers!

Courtesy of negotiations between my therapist (FrankM) and Pastor Patrick, Mike Berkheimer promised to dispose of my collected boxes & frue-frue whenever I contacted him & it would fit into his schedule. He has been out twice now--the second time Wednesday November 6. I watch, delighted & dumbfounded, as he whisks everything out of sight in minutes. Who was that unmasked man?

Mike Berkheimer shares award
When Mike leaves, I enjoy the neat hallway for a day or two, then open another box. Mike is holding the large framed picture, above. All my friends and helpers deserve l/a/r/g/e/ f/r/a/m/e/d/ p/i/c/t/u/r/e/s heartfelt awards for patiently helping me--to say nothing of just putting up with me! That includes my church's youth group, honored next in my "Gratitude Roll Call".

Sunday Nov 10 was this year's date for St Philip's youth group to help church members with chores around their homes. They turned up here not long after late service, and I was ready for them! Mike had "un-boxed" me only days earlier but no way was I about to inform the youth I had nothing for them to do! I even went so far as to unpack boxes in situ, placing the empties in my entry hall, leaving the wanted items where the box had been but carrying the unwanted stuph in shifts to the hallway.

I focused on the smaller 2nd bedroom--which I had optimistically called "The Study" before I moved in. Shelving was already in place, most of it still bearing packing boxes. A few more boxes were on the floor. With newly-freed entry hallway space to fill, I grabbed half of the books from each a box, squeezed them unto the shelving, lifted down the now lighter box & rested it on the floor, put the rest of the books in place & finally added another box to the hallway pile.

When the youth group arrived, they whisked the boxes outside, along with items headed for Goodwill & some accumulated trash. Next, to my utter amazement, they -lifted- the leaden computer table from its never-intended 20 month home (mostly in the dining but intruding into the living room) way up over my living room furniture, down the interior hallway and plunked it in its newly cleared spot.

Then they asked for more tasks--like hatchlings waiting to be fed. Piece. Of. Cake. :-D
I suggested the spice rack I'd put up a few months ago, only to have it fall down within an hour. Done!
My next "assignment" was helping me deal with the gardenia "bush-lette" that Demaris gave me last spring. She had advised then it would need to be brought inside before our first frost. Since she's a volunteer UD Master Gardener, I took her warning seriously. Even so,
I didn't get the bushlette inside quite in time--a couple leaves became black overnight. I'd replanted the gardenia mid-summer in something rather like a mini-washtub. All that extra dirt weighed it down to the point that I could barely lift it.
No problem for this crew! They plucked the plant, heavy pot and all, off of its rickety plant stand and arranged it just where it needed to be--as close as possible to the living room/balcony glass & a bit up off the floor to deter kitty sampling. Voila!

Then--like the best of dreams or the elves who helped the shoemaker--they were gone.

I've written way more than I expected so far. Wow!
Third up is the good news that Ocean City New Jersey's sister city, San Jose, on Occidental Mindoro, Phillippines is still on the map after typhoon Haiyan. From the Ocean City Gazette article, "With the death toll rising after Typhoon Haiyan devastated his home country earlier this month, Zaldy Patron, the deputy consul general for the Philippine Consulate in New York, met with Mayor Jay Gillian and other city officials at City Hall on Monday, Nov. 25. ... The long-standing relationship between Ocean City and the people of the Philippines was on his mind, he said, so he came to Ocean City to thank the community for its strong support and expressions of sympathy, and to provide an update. Ocean City’s sister city, he said, escaped the worst of the storm but was not unscathed. “It is still standing,” he said, of San Jose Occidental Mindoro. “It was heavily damaged, but compared to some of the other villages, which were wiped out completely, it was not so bad. Some were just obliterated, off the map." ...
“A lot of Filipino people live in our region,” Mayor Gillian said. Many of them, he said, have discovered the Jersey Shore and Ocean City in particular. Ocean City established close ties with Filipino representatives, hosting for the past several years a “Tribute to the Philippines,” where the former colony was celebrated over an early summer weekend. The event continues to grow, attracting a large Filipino contingency.
“We’ve been slowly building this relationship over the years, they’ve come down to visit a number of times,” said Soifer, adding that representatives made a special trip down to see the new bridge last spring. “So when the typhoon hit, of course we were very concerned, so we invited them to come down and see us again and give us an update. A lot of people have asked how they can help.”
Soifer said he was relieved that San Jose Occidental Mindoro did not take a direct hit. “We’ve had this relationship for years, we are glad that they were spared the worst, but they are still hurting..." He said the relief effort will involve local schools and other organizations. “It’s going to take them years to recover."

My Fourth topic is not so good. Partially thanks to the holiday, no one will be visiting me here in my apartment between Nov 24 & Dec 14. This doesn't mean that I won't see anyone at all. I visited my therapist yesterday & will see him again on Dec 10. Teri will drive me to church on Dec 1. Brandon & Karen will take me to church on the 8th and to our "Monday night small group" on Dec 2 and 9. My helper extraordinaire, KB, will whisk me away to that tropical paradise, the Pathmark food store on Thursdays Dec 5 and12. And boy will I need it! Finally, my oldest friend, Demaris will visit me here on Dec 14. (Shortly thereafter we will migrate to Middle-Earth.)

Being here alone can be boring but technically it means I can dress like a slob. Not interested. As a shameless & desperate opportunist, I'd far rather have someone to talk to ,,, who also might offer help with litter/garbage disposal. I love being with people! Yet I sometimes anticipate a visit both for companionship and--with luck--an offhand offer to dump something. (I never ask. Way too cringe-worthy.)
(BTW Two weeks = 4 garbage bags & 6 sm dead litter bags).

Number Five is my seasonal confession. I'm /a/ /s/u/c/k/e/r /f/o/r thankful for a number of foods that most stores & restaurants reserve for autumn through the Christmas season. Cranberries, various nuts (besides me), foods featuring nuts including, blush, pecan pie, egg nog (with a touch of Bailey's Cream), fruitcake (Yeah, really.), and especially foods & drinks flavored with near-magical "pumpkin spice". Panera's is always dangerous for me but especially late Oct to the end of December. With the holiday season on the horizon, Pumpkin Pie and Cranberry Walnut bagels appear in Panera's bins. Special breads are displayed on a small table just inside the door, frequently with samples on a plate. Employees ask leading questions like,"Would you like pumpkin spice coffee to go with that bagel?"

I had never attempted to make pumpkin spice coffee at home until Sunday Nov 17th. Demaris and I stopped at the local Shop-Rite food store the previous day when she was up for her monthly visit. I was minding my own business when I ran into (ouch) a display centered in the coffee aisle. Don't you hate those displays? Their chief purposes? a. Showing you something unappealing while b. preventing your cart and the oncoming one from passing each other.

This time I wanted the something on display! Small rectangular tins of Maxwell House International Pumpkin Spice Latte "also great as a creamer". I was ensnared despite my friend's warning that it probably cost $6.99 a can. Half in a trance, I answered, "Pumpkin spice!" I think she darkly muttered something like, "$8.99". Then she left me to my own devices.

I checked my receipt the next morning before preparing my treat. Vindicated, I emailed Demaris, "Hah! $3.99". Meanwhile my mug of water had reached a boil. I spooned some of the powder into the mug--where it proceeded to foam like a high school chemistry experiment gone wrong. A few minutes later it was cool enough to sip. I could barely taste or smell the spiciness. I added another spoonful of powder in hopes of making it better. Or, yeah, worse. Finally--like locking the barn door after the horses have bolted--I read the ingredients. Chemical, chemical, chemical, artificial this spice, artificial that spice, chemical...
Amazon's page for this "non-food" shows 200 reviews averaging 4 stars. Huh??? Do those people lack taste buds?

The following week, KB took me to Pathmark as usual. Bless her! She's been doing this for so long now that it's hard to recall my two or three times a week grocery-shopping journeys by Dart bus, with fun details like: missing the bus if the lines were too long, backpacking my way up the bus steps like a mountaineer, stashing everything as close to me as possible, losing control of a bag & watching it spill its guts into the aisle and of course the long walk home. And in heatwaves divesting myself of bags just inside the door, so I could lie down and cool off. KB saved me from all this. My gratitude for her quiet help is off the charts.

But back to the Pathmark trip. Since my impulse purchase in Shop-Rite, my thoughts had cleared and/or I had achieved the wisdom of experience. Didn't they sell the spices used in pumpkin pies mixed together in a single container? Yup. Good old McCormick had "Pumpkin Pie Spice" in their small shaker jars. In case you're curious, McCormick pumpkin pie  spice is a combination of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice. Shaken into a cup of hot brewed coffee, this provides virtually all the satisfaction of restaurant pumpkin spice coffee. Let's hear it for McCormick spices!

Number Six. When I started writing the previous entry I got wondering if the old McCormick spice factory still existed in Baltimore a block from the Inner Harbor between Light Street & Charles. I couldn't find anything about it but I did find a fascinating website with dozens of photos & renditions showing the evolution of the Inner Harbor spanning decades.
I went on the factory tour two or three decades ago. It was wonderful--all those scents and the last stop was in the McCormick tea room where we were served McCormick tea of course. I really hope the building is still there but at least I can cherish the experience.

Speaking of decades past, I learned in my teens that my great-grandfather owned a harness shop close to the harbor on Light Street. Not surprisingly, he went out of business when them durn horseless carriages started taking people's fancy. I assume he promptly sold the shop and the land, given that I wasn't born into a family of millionaires.

Number Seven. Ready-to-bake Frozen Marie Callendar pumpkin pie! Pumpkin pie is another seasonal indulgence and a reason for gratitude. (Do you see a pattern here?) I've bought & enjoyed Stouffers (?) ready-to-bake pumpkin pies for decades. But--last year and this--my store only offered their frozen already-baked pies. I bought one of those last Thanksgiving. Didn't much like it. At Christmas, I got a Parkmark bakery pie. Big mistake but not a total surprise--our local Pathmark has a terrible bakery. Maybe they all do. I hope that M.C.'s pumpkin pie will make me thankful for pumpkins. And spices.

Number Eight. I no longer buy cranberry sauce since I never finish it. I do buy cranberry juice & apple cider both at Thanksgiving & Christmas. I drink cranberry juice with calcium supplement when taking my breakfast meds. (Can't handle O,J.) Late on a chilly day, I sometimes heat a combination of the two juices, brew green tea in it first, reheat a bit and then add either Alpine's sugar-free Spiced Apple Cider mix or cinnamon & nutmeg to the brew. I stole the idea from the merchants at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. Maybe they still make it--I haven't visited the Faire in years.

Number Nine. Would it surprise you to learn that I'm grateful for C.S. Lewis? Well, it shouldn't. For proof, see my blog entries with the CS Lewis tag. I'm also grateful for prayer--one of God's bestest gifts to us! At St Philips, we just finished a small group lesson series on prayer a week and a half ago. Patrick used the consecutive parts of the Lord's Prayer as an outline for the course.

Since we're skipping a week between that series and the next ("feasts"), I thought it a great time to reread Lewis' "Letters to Malcolm; Chiefly on Prayer", published almost immediately after Lewis' death.
Letters to Malcolm cover C
I've only read a quarter of its 124 pages so far because I got tired of loose pages falling into my lap. Two days ago I carefully glued the pages in place. Just this morning I removed the three clamps holding the book together while the glue dried. I hope to get back to reading tomorrow. BTW, Lewis focuses on the Lord's Prayer in chapter five and he returns to the topic later.

Number Ten. Earlier today I was in the kitchen with a large (plastic) glass of water held in one hand while I debated whether I really wanted cold water or something warm like coffee or tea... I was so engrossed in my decision, that the glass slipped out of my hand. Water went everywhere but chiefly on the section of counter beginning at the stove, passing in front of the microwave, ironically bathing the bottom of both the coffee maker & coffee can, and finally creeping under the drainboard. It took some time to remove everything I could so I could begin sopping up the water. I was past the halfway point with that when I realized my feet were cold and wet. Half of the kitchen floor was covered in water, some of it likely dispersed when I walked back & forth clearing things off the counter. I'm trying to be grateful for having a much cleaner kitchen but it's not going well.

Number Eleven. In response to my recent glum email, my publisher (Dave at Gryphonwood) hinted that I should be grateful for the ongoing Earthbow Audible narration project. The project began in June when I provided an extensive pronuciation guide to the narrator. I've only "vetted" (?) this first four recorded chapters so far. "Vetting" as in listening for errors, swiftly pausing the recording, making a note of the exact time the error occurs in the mp3 file, and then writing a brief description of the problem. Finally hitting "play" and moving on. And so on.
The first four chapters took me about an hour & a half to vet. Earthbow is quite long, consisting of 63 chapters.
Seventeen errors have turned up so far.

I'm very grateful to be an actual published author, something I dreamed about when I began writing Seabird in 1979. But, as of this writing, I would be profoundly grateful if I could find some way to publicize the mere existence of Seabird and Earthbow (vol. 1 and vol. 2). Our stealth marketing has been a barricade to sales from the beginning. Generally if readers don't know that a book exists they tend not to buy it. ;-P The derth of essential PR is mostly my fault. Email sigs, casual mentions in conversation, marketing attempts at conferences--where I've never been a panelist, Scribblings blog entries, Facebook, Red Room, a three-part article at New Author Fellowship, an Amazon Author Page and an entry at LinkedIn have had no discernable effect on generating PR. (My old webpage died but I hope to rebuild it soon.)

I would -love- it if we had sold twice as many books as we have so far, i.e. since 2008 for Seabird & since 2010 for Earthbow. Doubled sales of the latter during the last 3 years would be about 40 copies rather than 20. Almost better than doubled sales would be 200 - 300 people who know my books exist. Okay, maybe not. I remember being worried about dozens of terrible reviews appearing within weeks of publication, followed by a flood of book returns & letters complaining about this or that. Good reviews but only a few sales never occurred to me. Something to remember if you're currently writing a book.

Number Twelve. We had snow flurries mixed in with the rain around 2PM this afternoon. I am exceedingly grateful for their brief appearance. Not so much for my phone refusing to take a picture of them before they disappeared. What does it mean when the whole screen is pinkish in "camera mode"? Something not good?
Tonight the low is supposed to be 27. The evening weather report warned of black ice in the morning, courtesy of the abundant rain which pooled for lack of drainage, followed by freezing temps overnight. I am very grateful that I don't need to leave the apartment any time soon! I'm terrified of ice, not needing any extra help in falling.

Number Thirteen. I'm grateful I don't need to use heat here because we get sufficient warmth--for me--from the major hot water pipes that pass under parts of the study and across the hallway floor. Not having to pay for heat helps make up for high summer electric bills thanks to A/C.

Khiva and Vartha would doubtless like to be warmer but don't feel too sorry for them. Early in the day, they both bask in the warmth of sunlight shining through the balcony glass. They each have a cat bed very close together outside the study door & directly over the hot water pipe. This makes for a "hazard to navigation" for the human but humans don't count. When not drowsing on their beds, the pair frequently sleep curled around each other on a living room chair. Khiva's lighter fur and Vartha's black fur sometimes produce a yin-yang pattern.

The recliner in the living room is my warm spot if I choose to take a nap, have a headache or backache, or if I have insomnia, I settle in the chair & drape my white snap jacket across my legs. Sometimes, I'm favored with the added warmth of Khiva. Vartha doesn't do laps. She prefers to jump up on the "flat place" (my paper-littered tv tray next to my computer). If the flat place isn't so flat, I try to yell a warning before her eager leap makes stuff on the tv tray visit the floor. If the flat place is actually flat (empty) I am required to perform a full body massage until Vartha gets bored. Them's the rules.

Number Fourteen. Speaking of warmth reminds me of winter clothes, old style and new. I'm in the process of shifting winter clothes from the study closet into my bedroom closet.
I remember when all sweaters and most coats were wool, and moth balls were a necessity if you wanted clothes that were new last winter to still be wearable this winter. Now-a-days, we manage to be warm wearing cotton, ramie, polyester etc. Well, we have more efficient heating after all, and winters aren't as cold.
The warmest sweater I've ever owned is 55 percent ramie and 45 per cent cotton. It's also the heaviest garment I own--far heavier than my winter coat. If I had to guess I'd say it weighs more than five pounds. When I get it out, it all but asks, "Are you ready to go from freezing to roasting?"

Number Fifteen. "So, where's my "turtle" robe!?!?! And my snuggly red plush "jacket"?"
I've been asking myself these questions--especially the former--for several days until this morning. Guess what? They were already in the bedroom closet, sneaky critters!

What's a "turtle" robe? No, the fabric doesn't have a turtle pattern. (You may be thinking of Peace Frog t-shirts. Or not.) My turtle robe is pink not turtle green. It could be sky blue pink with yellow polka-dots for all I care. I love pulling the zipper up as far as it will go and then "turtling" down into the cowl-like neck opening right up to my nose, while drawing my hands completely out of sight into the sleeves. I'm very grateful I found my turtle robe a few hours ago.

Number Sixteen brings me back to not-so-grateful, I had two almost-falls & a "really big" s/h/o/w/  fall all within one week. The first almost-fall happened while leaving church after small group Monday a week and a half ago. The second almost fall intended to be a complete fall up until the moment when one of my living room bookcases stopped any further forward or downward movement. I am grateful that my forehead didn't hit tightly packed books much less the edge of a shelf. Thank God it (my head) slammed into the only spot that was safe: a shelf which holds just a large conch shell. My head pushed the shell to the back end of the shelf, by which point I was fresh out of forward momentum. I did bung a finger but I'll take that over a massive headache any day!

Finally, I fell all the way down--and pretty thunderously--exactly a week ago out in the building hallway, just minutes before KB arrived to take me to the food store. As is typical with my full falls, I landed first on my knees, threw out my hands to keep my head from hitting the floor, and ended up sprawled over a quarter acre of said floor.

A man from a first floor apt heard the crash on his way out. He ran up the steps, took one look, was all of a dither at the sight, and wanted to call an ambulance(!). Come on! It was just another fall. In the meantime, I'd retrieved my cane. With his help, I managed to get to my feet. I couldn't stop thanking him. If he hadn't come to the rescue, I would have had to crawl to my door and try to use the doorknob and my cane to haul myself upright. The cane alone isn't enough.

Shortly afterwards, KB arrived. When I told her she had missed all the excitement she asked me--as virtually everyone has for years--what caused the fall. For what felt like the ten hundredth and twenty-eighth time in my life, I answered with my usual, "I do that. There's no warning. I don't get dizzy. I just find myself at a 45 degree angle and going down."
Look out below!!!

And that's all she wrote. If you read this in time--or if you didn't--I hope that you have/had a pleasant and blessed Thanksgiving day, chock full of s/p/i/c/e/s/ many new and old reasons to be grateful! I'm grateful for YOU!

I regret I had to revert to a higher level of security but I had no choice. Since June, some of my entries have gotten dozens of spammish comments!
If your response fails to appear, not to worry! It's being held for my approval. Please sign your name, the handle of your avatar, or whatever you've got. Thanks!

Tributes to C.S. Lewis, who also died Nov 22 1963
Aslan, Aslan icon, king
Our local newspaper, the News Journal, published a large center-spread watercolor portrait of Lewis, surrounded by mini-articles and a column of Lewis quotations. Salwa Khoddam wrote the largest article, "Fifty Years After C. S. Lewis' Death", most of which is accurate. Once in her article and another time elsewhere in the spread, the "joy" Lewis writes about in his book "Surprised By Joy" is conflated with Joy Davidson, his wife--a woman he had yet to meet while he was writing most of the book, (1948-1955). We're told, "Works in each of these areas are still being read, as is his memoir “Surprised by Joy,” about his wife." * You will find my review of "Surprised by Joy" posted at Library Thing. (Scroll about halfway down. It begins, "With respect and apologies to Lewis.")

President Kennedy's death overshadowed the death of Lewis and Aldous Huxley's death all on the same day. I remember I was in high school art class when we were told, strangely, first that the Texas governor had been shot and, minutes later, that the president had been assassinated. If anyone had told me that CS Lewis just died, I would have made nothing of it. I had never heard of the man. Little did I know that almost exactly seven years later, I would read all of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia in just one week, much less that a day later--rather a night later I would attend a meeting on the Univ Delaware campus and would accept Jesus as my savior. I still didn't know that Lewis was dead. I was both bummed and frustrated when I found out. I would have liked to have written him a letter of gratitude.

For more about Lewis' huge impact on my post-1970 life, please go to my essay, "The Hound, the Lamp Post and the Seabird".

Below is the first part of Salwa Khoddam's article, "Fifty Years After C. S. Lewis' Death". Follow this link for the rest. You may also be able to see and read the article contents from the illos I've inserted.
Or not. I haven't inserted any illos into the blog yet.  ;-P

"They were both known as Jack. But while the world will focus this week on the death of President John F. Kennedy, it’s also the anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, the Irish-born writer who wrote some of the world’s best-loved fantasy books (“The Chronicles of Narnia”) and lucid explanations of faith founded on the life of Jesus (“Mere Christianity”).
"Lewis died on the same day as Kennedy, Nov. 22, 1963. He is being remembered this month by scholars and everyday admirers.
“Most people thought he would fade away. Lewis thought that himself,” says Alister McGrath, who has written the first full biography of the author in 20 years – “C.S. Lewis: A Life,” published by Tyndale House.

"...In truth, Lewis is more famous now than at the time of his death, and the 44 books listed in the index of McGrath’s biography have sold more than 100 million copies. ..."

Read the full article in PDF format, here.

Here's the (slightly cropped) artwork at the center of the News Journal's tribute to Lewis.

Lewis portrait in NewsJournal--mini

Lewis Quotes 1 and The Inklings

Lewis Quotes 2 and The Great Knock A

More CS Lewis resources!

Bashir: Remembering C.S. Lewis

Washington Post's beautiful, "The Two Jacks...Public and Private Faiths"

"In The Shadow of JFK's Death", published by the Independent

"Jack in Retrospect Monthly, November" (by Zach Kincaid)


*(Since its purchase by Gannett, our paper frequently provides less information on local topics than non-local news sources do but occasionally makes up for this with a higher percentage of errors.)

75th anniv omnibus of Lewis' "Space Trilogy" w/ Tolkien foreword
eclipse, corrider

I don't remember to what extent all two readers of “Scribblings” may be interested in Lewis' golden age science fiction novels, “Out of the Silent Planet”, “Perelandra”, & “That Hideous Strength” but I know some of you liked my earlier Tolkien entry and other like many of Lewis’ books. This entry involves both Tolkien and Lewis.

I just read HarperCollins’ announcement about their 75th anniversary publication of Lewis' "Space Trilogy" all gathered into one volume for the first time. HarperCollins even added a new foreword, written by Tolkien. Actually it’s compiled extracts relating to the space trilogy gleaned from Tolkien's "Letters".

Here's two things you may not know about the overlap between Lewis and Tolkien, besides their habit of joining other Inklings at the Bird and Baby for a pint and the reading of extracts from each author’s WIP. :

1.  The lead Earth character in the 1st two Space Trilogy books, Ransom, was based on Tolkien! Well, Lewis -did- hint in somewhere in "Out of the Silent Planet" that Ransom was a philologist, that his studies helped him learn and appreciate the Malacandran language.

Lewis old Space Trilogy covers mini 2

2.   Lewis and Tolkien discussed co-authoring a 4th SF volume.

To begin with, Lewis makes mention of Tolkien's work in his preface to the 1962 edition of "That Hideous Strength", (above)

"Those who would like to learn further about Numinor and the True West must (alas!) await the publication of much that still exists only in the MSS. of my friend, Professor J. R. R. Tolkien."

I heard once that their joint project would have involved time travel. Actually the 1949 paperback edition of “Out of the Silent Planet” (above) provided a clearer hint about the nature of their joint product. In that edition the passage may be found on page 159,

"More of this when you come. I am trying to read every old book on the subject that I can hear of. Now that "Weston" has shut the door, the way to the planets lies through the past; if there is to be any more space-travelling, it will have to be time-travelling as well ...   The End"

Tolkien, of course, never had time to follow through on their joint project, being immersed in his LotR universe & linguistic-related studies until he died. Some experts believe that Lewis' "The Dark Tower" fiction fragment* might have embodied his thoughts on the planned 4th book. In possible support of this theory, the title page for "That Hideous Strength" includes the following,

"The shadow of that hyddeous strength sax myle and more it is of length." taken from Sir David Lyndsay's "Ane Dialog", describing the Tower of Babel".

*"The Dark Tower & Other Stories", (pb) ed Walter Hooper, 1977, pp. 15-98 (in my edition).

Anyway, here's a description of the forthcoming Lewis Space Trilogy omnibus.

With thanks to the Tolkien Library website for the news!

All Saints Sunday
G Angel, Charge Over Thee
Traditionally, All Saints Day (November 1) is the day after halloween. For church-celebrating purposes we move it to the first Sunday after Nov.1.
Today in many churches, we remember our departed beloved by reading their names aloud during the service.
St Philips Lutheran, my new church (2008 to now) also reads a list of "new saints" aka babies born to church members this past year. Here, babies are called alpha saints. Those who have graduated to be with our Lord are called omega saints.

My departed family members include:
Guy (III), my baby brother who died on Easter Sunday 1954.
Gladys,my maternal grandmother, who died in Jan 1982.
Guy (II), my father who went into a coma in Jn-Jy & died in Oct 1985.
Audrey, my mother who went into a coma during Oct & died in Nov 2000.
David, my other brother who died in June 2001.

My grandmother used to read the Bible frequently during her last years here. One day, I came into her bedroom and asked what she was doing. She responded, "Studying for my finals."
MaMa smiling on MP jpg

May God bless them all.
family Jan66 w o MaMa

Do GrammoWriMo! Come-on! You know you want to!
mouse, hanging on by a leaf, Giggles
I've participated in "National Novel Writing Month" aka NaNoWriMo off and on since Nov 2003. It's fun, it's insane and yes it's exhausting. But, NaNoWriMo provided the social reinforcement & the much-needed structure for me to produce first drafts of works that might otherwise never have existed:
"Marooned" ("Narenta Tale #1.5");
An entire third of "The Gryphon & The Basilisk" (Narenta Tale #3);
"Life Tides" (my original title for a childhood/family memoir); and
"Da Boid, da Tree-Rat 'n' da Loser" (Narenta Tale #0)
I strongly support NaNoWriMo each year but I've stopped participating in the annual race to create a 50,000 word plus novel. Fine-tuning my previous NaNoWriMo-inspired novels and my NaNo 2012 effort aka the "Tree House Tales" anthology has to come first.

GrammoWriMo has pulled me back into the game. (Just call me Ripley.) How can anyone resist adding perhaps just 800 words to a wildly evolving novel? What's more fun than riffing off of dozens of someone else's settings, plots & original characters?

Have you never heard of that masterpiece, "Medea"? No, not that s/t/u/f/f/y/  stuff by Euripidis, whoever he was.

You know. MEDEA!   As in "Medea, Harlan’s World", envisioned at a graduate seminar and brought to fruition by the serial /m/u/r/d/e/r/e/r/ invention & writing efforts of Jack Williamson; Kelly Freas; Diane Duane; Harlan Ellison; Hal Clement; Larry Niven; Poul Anderson; Frederick Pohl; Frank Herbert; Thomas M. Disch; Robert Silverberg and Theodore Sturgeon.

Yeah. That one. Just think! Participate in GrammoWriMo and you could be the next Jack Williamson-Kelly Freas- Diane Duane-Harlan Ellison- Hal Clement-Larry Niven- Poul Anderson-Frederick Pohl- Frank Herbert-Thomas M. Disch-Robert Silverberg- Theodore Sturgeon !

Your creative juices are surging now, aren't they? Think about it! It's mid-November. You receive the secret Grammo-signal!

You're up next! Do you develop the previous contributor's lowly McD's cashier into an urban fantasy hero by night?

Or discover that the valiant commander of mankind's last hope against the Zombie Hoard is really "one of them"?
     Who am "them" anywho? And what are they hoarding? Well, maybe the GrammarWriMo volunteer after you will know.

Or is it up to you, armed only with your trusty keyboard, to warn future readers the Volgons are about to blow up Earth & only Ford Prefect, a few pints and a bag of peanuts will save you?

... Someone's already done that? Who'da thunk?


From: Grammarly@mail.vresp.com
date:       Thu, Oct 17, 2013
subject:  Help Grammarly spread the word? #GrammoWriMo

Sherry, hello.
I hope that all is well! Since we last spoke, my co-workers and I began planning a pretty cool writing project during the month of November that I think you'll have some interest in.

As you probably know, hundreds of thousands of writers sign up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each year -- essentially volunteering to write one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time. That's a lot of writing for authors who may want to participate in NaNoWriMo, but are running short on free time.

In November 2013, Grammarly will throw its hat into the ring -- but with a twist. We plan to organize the largest group of authors to ever collaborate on a novel; we’re calling the project #GrammoWriMo, and we've published a blog entry here * to provide additional information on participation.

Since you are probably working on your own project for NaNoWriMo, I wanted to ask you if you have some time to help the Grammarly team spread the word about #GrammoWriMo via social media or on your blog. Let me know if I can provide you with any additional information.

Thanks, in advance,

* (the blog entry)

#GrammoWriMo: Let’s Get Ready to Write!
by Allison VanNest • October 09, 2013

A 2002 survey confirms that 81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them ** — and that they should write it.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is as good a time as any to get started, and Grammarly wants to help.

We’re accepting submissions through October 25, 2013 from writers at all levels who would like to contribute to a community-written novel. Signing up with your email address will add you to the queue of authors planning to help write the novel, and Grammarly will notify you when it is your turn to contribute up to 800 words to your assigned chapter.

Don’t worry — we’ll provide CliffsNotes so you will always know what is happening!

WriteOn, Man

At the end of NaNoWriMo, Grammarly is aiming to publish a book that boasts the largest number of authors of any novel ever written. We want you to be one of the authors.

Sign up today. (http://www.grammarly.com/grammowrimo )
To help us decide the plot of this epic novel, you can also complete a short survey here.
At the end of October, we’ll contact you via email to provide additional information and next steps.
In the meantime, follow @GrammoWriMo on Twitter to receive updates.

Let’s get ready to write!
Related articles
**"81 percent of Americans feel they have a book in them."


Stock Up On These Immediately!
Cat on Caffeine

Vintage Children's Medicine Ads!

(I missed the comments to the right at first & had to backtrack. Not that you would be likely to. Just in case.)

The man in the Quaalude ad is scary!  Can we say "The Shining"?

Re the Canada Dry gingerale. My mom was a great believer in Canada Dry -golden- gingerale's ability to settle her stomach. Well, that and saltine crackers. She was quite put out when Canada Dry dropped the golden version of their gingerale but kept selling the "pale dry"--the only kind you see today.

Toward the end, for I don't remember which product, the commenter obviously didn't get that "toilet" once meant grooming before going out in public, aka, wash, brush teeth, comb hair etc.

The Medications They Missed

They missed traditional treatments that I remember very well as late as my teens. Okay, as late as college. So I'm old. Wanna make something of it?

We had several varieties of "tonics" to build up strength. At least one of these was to help with Spring Fever caused by the first warm weather after the thickening of blood during the winter. Stating the obvious maybe, the tonic for Spring Fever perked up the patient by thinning the blood. (Where was the Blood Bank when we needed them?) Later, I remember my mom or our doctor becoming all scientific about the cure. We would go get Vitamin B shots in the spring.

There may have been something to this. From a 2008 LA Times article on Spring Fever, "...Historians think the colonists coined the term spring fever to refer to the weakness, fatigue and irritability many felt after a long winter without fresh fruits or vegetables..."

Peragoric, which I've doubtless mispelled, was the sovereign solution for the runs. The dose was a teaspoonful in a small glass of warm water, drunk quickly. It tasted rather like unsweetened licorice or anise. Should the patient have a toothache, just get that bottle back out, pour a few drops on your finger and then swab the patient's bad tooth and gum. Twice daily doses would keep them going until there was money for the dentist or, better yet, the tooth fell out. Oh, you had to sign for the peragoric at the pharmacy since it was an opiate.

Mustard plasters for ???  (Maybe to be sadistic. If I remember correctly it got hot enough to burn skin.)

Cola syrup to settle a fussy tummy.

Quinine pills for colds, bronchitis, etc. Accompanying the quinine were camphor wafers for coughs.  They resembled those old-fashioned multi-colored Necco candy wafers. If that helps. I used to love them and sucked on them even when I wasn't coughing. Eventually I got concerned and asked a pharmacist if I should stop eating them. No. Not problem. Enjoy.

For the fun of it, I Googled "camphor wafer" and found a number of entries. If you have a minute, click on this one.

The Cincinnati Lancet & Observer

1870 - ‎Medicine
Gave an anodyne of camphor-wafer and morphia. Anodyne fomentations over the region of pain. Progress of the case. — Dec. 23; no cough, expectoration, ...

I saw "quinia" a few lines below "camphor". Perhaps quinia = quinine?

BTW, based on the next visible lines from the book, I gather the patient was not doing well at all. Wonder why.

Please add any you remember or have heard about somewhere!

Tree House Tales' Table of Contents
Oak Leaf

Tree House Tales cover-life size

For a larger image of the cover and a mock-up of the title page, go to http://tree-lady.livejournal.com/112470.html

Tree House Tales;
A Collection of short stories, artwork, nostalgia, nonsense, essays, poems & extracts from my novels

I’ve been working on a new book project titled, “TREE HOUSE TALES” which is nearing completion. As long as we don't define "nearing" or "completion". I still need to revise several entries & tweak some of the art.

THT contains samples from my work created over the past thirty-five years. The table of contents is in flux. I hope the current version will provide hints about the nature of my collection. And so here it is.


ORIGINAL ARTWORK Thumbnail images will appear throughout, each with a special link to my original artwork.

A Sailor’s Tale; Sisyphus; Circles; Street Chalk (a flash of horror); Luckiest Hunter Ever (story outline, with story-telling suggestions); Daisy & the Paper-Mice; The Windowed Door (a prose-poem); The Dragon’s Tail Tale; No Substitutions (flash fantasy); Winter’s Season; The Queen of the Tor Shee (poem); The Pumpkin Smasher; Gajit’s Research Expedition; The Last Quest; Dingle (a finish-the-story challenge).

Preteens, Horses and Aliens; Fandom 101; Sherry’s Cake is Hit at Coffee Hour! Film at 11!; Between Worlds (a poem about Ocean City, NJ); A Lesson in Mid-Atlantic Meteorology, Public Readings for the Naive & Fearless; Confessions (writing errors); Tis the Season to Be Typing; Beginnings and Endings and Dingles! Oh, My!; Developing Characters; NAF Blog guest entry; Libraries I Have Known and Loved; Surviving Hazel.

Catzis (with cat illustrations); Squirrelsiz; Crabsiz; Khiva’s Story; “Don’t Blame Me” (filk lyrics as written by a cat); Me-Ow! aka My Turn to Post!; Never Wager More Bunnies Than You Own; The Smashed Faerie Song Cycle.

Introduction to Dreaming; Dream With Joey; A Micro Dream; A Dream With Bowling; Hexa-Lyrica; A Dream With KB & Then Without Her; Diving for Treasure.

(including samples from each of three unpublished Narenta novels)
“Seabird, Narenta # 1”; “Earthbow, Narenta # 2”; “The Gryphon & the Basilisk”, Narenta # 3; “Marooned”, Narenta # 1.5(?); "Da Boid, Da Tree-Rat 'N' Da Loser", Narenta # -1.

I may possibly insert a Narenta novel extract between each of the sections listed here. If I place them all at the end--as originally planned, prospective readers may stop when they finish the stories and come face to face with novel extracts. On the other hand, s/h/e/ w/o/r/e/ /a/ /g/l/o/v/e, I suppose it's entirely possible the readers--responding to the alternate arrangement--will jump past each sample to get to the next mini-collection of stories. Thoughts?

Postlogue: "The Hound, the Lamp Post, and the Seabird"

Appendix: Author notes for “Between Worlds”; anything else that insists it belongs here.

Length: 65,000 - 70,000 words

A minimum of 25 thumbnails of my art. Each of these will have a link to a copy of the original.

(details still to be worked out)

Again, if you have any idea at all, please post them here, or email me. Many Thanks and Blessings!

The BEST Thing About Your State?
21, happy mouse, contented
Patience, dear friends!  You will be given a chance to wax poetic about your own dear state in a moment.
First a public service announcement! Certain nefarious statistician types have assembled data on each State's most embarrassing statistic. Oh, nasty unscrupulous statisticians! Shame! Shame!

Brace yourself and read what they found. But don't fall into despair just yet, proud resident of (your state)!!!

Once you get over the shock of reading about your dear State's secret shame--And have done a bit of gleeful finger-pointing at the neighboring State (home of your favorite team's chief rival)--Scroll to the bottom of this entry for a chance to vindicate yourself, your place of birth, and your place of ... house!

Weather.com shared, "The Worst Thing About Your State"

Their information was actually "stolen" fromleaning house

's "What is your state worst at?"

Rationale and statistics:
Most stats taken from America's Health Rankings and the U.S. Census unless otherwise noted. (Note - data varies and is not based on 2013 numbers)

1. Alabama: highest rate of stroke (3.8%) (tied with Oklahoma)

2. Alaska: highest suicide rate (23.6 suicides per 100,000 people in 2004)

3. Arizona: highest rate of alcoholism

4. Arkansas: worst average credit score (636) Source.

5. California: most air pollution (15.2 micrograms per cubic meter)

6. Colorado: highest rate of cocaine use per capita (3.9% total population)

7. Connecticut: highest rate of breast cancer Source.

8. Delaware: highest abortion rate (27 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44)

9. Florida: highest rate of identity theft (122.3 reports per 100,000 people)

10. Georgia: sickly based on highest rate of influenza

11. Hawaii –highest cost of living (tied with California) Source.

12. Idaho – lowest level of Congressional clout Source.

13. Illinois: highest rate of robbery (284.7 incidences per 100,000 people)

14. Indiana: rated the most environmentally unfriendly by NMI solutions Source.

15. Iowa: highest percentage of people age 85 and older (1.8 percent) (tied with three other states) Source.

16. Kansas: poorest health based on highest average number of limited activity days per month (3.5 days) Source.

17. Kentucky: most cancer deaths (227 per 100,000 people) (BONUS fact: Kentucky also has the highest rate of tobacco smokers – 25.6%)

18. Louisiana: highest rate of gonorrhea (264.4 reported cases per 100,000 people) Source.

19. Maine: dumbest state claim based on lowest average SAT score (1389) Source.

20. Maryland: highest rate of AIDS diagnosis (27.6 people per 100,000 people) Source.

21. Massachusetts: worst drivers claim based on highest rate of auto accidents Source.

22. Michigan: highest unemployment rate (13.6%)

23. Minnesota: highest number of reported tornadoes (123 in 2010) Source.

24. Mississippi: highest rate of obesity (35.3% of total population)
      BONUS facts: Mississippi ranks poorly in the most number of categories. These include highest rate of child poverty (31.9%), highest rate of infant mortality (1.01%), lowest median household income ($35,078), highest teen birth rate (71.9 per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19) and highest overall rate of STDs.

25. Missouri: highest rate of bankruptcy (700 out of every 100,000 people) Source.

26. Montana: highest rate of drunk driving deaths (1.12 deaths per 100 million miles driven) Source.

27. Nebraska: Map creator does not provide a source.

28. Nevada: highest rate violent crime (702.2 offenses per 100,000 people). BONUS fact: Nevada also has the highest rate of foreclosure (one in 99 houses).

29. New Hampshire: highest rate of corporate taxes Source.

30. New Jersey: highest rate of citizen taxation (11.8%) Source.

31. New Mexico: antisocial claim based on lowest ranking in social health policies Source.

32. New York: longest average daily commute (30.6 minutes) Source.

33. North Carolina: among the lowest average teacher salary Source.

34. North Dakota: ranked last in ugliest residents report as chosen by The Daily Beast. Source.

35. Ohio: nerdiest state claim based on highest number of library visits per capita (6.9) Source.

36. Oklahoma: highest rate of female incarceration

37. Oregon: highest rate of long-term homeless people

38. Pennsylvania: highest rate of arson deaths (55.56 annually) Source.

39. Rhode Island: highest rate of illicit drug use (12.5% of population) Source.

40. South Carolina: highest percentage of mobile homes (18.8%) Source.

41. South Dakota: highest rate of forcible rape 76.5 per 100,000

42. Tennessee: chosen most corrupt state by The Daily Beast. Source.

43. Texas: lowest high school graduation rate (78.3%) Source.

44. Utah: highest rate of of online porn subscriptions Source.

45. Vermont: infertility claim based on lowest birth rate of any state (10.6 births per 1,000) (tied with Maine) Source.

46. Virginia: highest number of alcohol-related motorcyle deaths Source.

47. Washington: most cases of bestiality (4 reported in 2010) Source.

48. West Virginia: highest rate of heart attack (6.5 percent of population)

49. Wisconsin: highest rate of binge drinking (23.2 percent of population)

50. Wyoming: highest rate of deadly car crashes (24.6 deaths per 100,000) Source.

If every American had a chance to read this list, quite a few of us might start fibbing about where we were born or where we live.

Oh, by the way, I can't imagine who started those allegations that I was born in MD & live in DE.
Actually, I was born in Ohio & have lived here all my life.   ;-P
Yeah, sometimes people glimpse me in DE but that's because I commute.

But seriously here's your chance to set the record straight!
Choose either or both*:
1.  The best thing about my birth state is...
2.  I chose to live in ... because it's home of the finest ...

*Those of you born in any other country or residing in another country may substitute their country.

With that accomplished,
let us sing along with Lou & Peter Berryman to that most heartfelt of State Anthems,
"Your State's Name Here".  
(name's of countries also work)

This will lift your Stately pride to a stately level!
And give you something to smile about the rest of the day.
(Though that might be gas from eating your State's most famous food)