Friday, May 29, 2009

More fun with the Spring Fever Post

Sarcasm and Humor

The genius of a Twain,

The marvel of a Benton,

Wouldn't it be something

to have just half those gifts.

But, they are gone away,

the genius and the marvel.

Yet feel I so golden,

they left their gifts behind.

And they left them all for me!

By the way I call the picture on the previous post "Toad Hall"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Spring Fever, Mark Twain, and Creativity

Years ago I read a line two, I thought it was a line or two, by Mark Twain. It was the perfect description of spring fever. I knew it was Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn but wasn't sure of the book.
I only remembered something about lying on a hill a beautiful sunny day while looking over the Mississippi River and wanting something but not knowing what it was you wanted. Well thank you Google, I found it without having to go through my Mark Twain books. It was wonderfully easy.

“...The frost was working out of the ground, and out of the air, too, and it was getting closer and closer onto barefoot time every day; and next it would be marble time, and next mumbletypeg, and next tops and hoops, and next kites, and then right away it would be summer and going in a-swimming. It just makes a boy homesick to look ahead like that and see how far off summer is. Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around, and there's something the matter with him, he don't know what. But anyway, he gets out by himself and mopes and thinks; and mostly he hunts for a lonesome place high up on the hill in the edge of the woods, and sets there and looks away off on the big Mississippi down there a-reaching miles and miles around the points where the timber looks smoky and dim it's so far off and still, and everything's so solemn it seems like everybody you've loved is dead and gone, and you 'most wish you was dead and gone too, and done with it all.

Don't you know what that is? It's spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you've got it, you want--oh, you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so! It seems to you that mainly what you want is to get away; get away from the same old tedious things you're so used to seeing and so tired of, and set something new. That is the idea; you want to go and be a wanderer; you want to go wandering far away to strange countries where everything is mysterious and wonderful and romantic. And if you can't do that, you'll put up with considerable less; you'll go anywhere you CAN go, just so as to get away, and be thankful of the chance, too. “( )

In particular I love the line, “Yes, and it sets him to sighing and saddening around, and there's something the matter with him, he don't know what. ...”and this line, “And when you've got it, you want--oh, you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!

What a writer. I am always drawn in and always in awe of the style of Mark Twain. Even some of his darker writings are wonderful. How does one get such talent. I, being from the S.W. Corner of Missouri, was raised admiring Mr. Clemons as well as the art of Thomas Hart Benton. It can't all have been indoctrination because we studied other “great writers” and “great artists” from our state. Yet I don't always remember their names and when I do I am not overcome with the desire to write, draw, or paint as I am when the two aforementioned artists come to mind.

I note that many in my own family and others from “that neck of the woods” love to write sarcasm and wit. Many of us paint, draw, knit, crochet, and we invariably change any pattern followed or instruction learned as we quickly get bored with this type of guided work. Yes we are “hard-headed” but that is not all there is to it. We also use what I call “make do”. If you don't have what the recipe calls for make do with what you have. If you truly learn the science behind the ingredients, you should be able to come up with something.

I often puzzle over this phenomenon, this yen to be creative. Is it genetic or is it that generations were so proud of these great men. My parents both encouraged creativity in the arts, more my mother, but my dad too. They more than encouraged education and thinking. They didn't get to finish even the eighth grade so there was no argument in our home about education. But why the arts? I really don't know. I just know the arts were important too. Not just “readin', writin' and 'rithmetic”. Did people understand that education is and should be about encouraging a “whole mind” thought process and that one thing aids the other, similar to the way “whole language” is used for some kids while others are taught by “sounding it out” phonics. In reality don't most of us use “all of the above”?

Perhaps where I come from creativity had to do with necessity being the mother of invention. You can get pretty creative when you need to do so. And that type of creativity may well lead to an attitude, an admiration, of creativity in most of its forms.

Anyway the weather the last few days here has given me fits. It has been so wonderful for me that I accomplish little because: “you don't quite know what it is you DO want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” I my case I want to do something, but I don't quite know what I want to do,but it fairly makes my heart ache. I stand at the window and look out at the wonders of our place and the world and feel frantic because I know these days can't last. So, I really haven't accomplished anything useful at all.

I know I will feel guilty soon. But I hope you can enjoy looking out your window as much as I do looking out ours and leave the guilt for another day and another time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The American Dream, Is It Gone?

I have been reading the NY Times again.

Yes, I wrote a comment on that one. I wasn't going to but after reading some of the get over it and pull yourself up types of comments I could not help myself.
Here is an extended comment on the blog.

As a child I lived in a box car and a cleaned out chicken house, more like a large coop. I lived in a cloud of coal dust. (Don't get me wrong. I was certainly happy but I was a child.) Because of opportunity and hope life improved. My parents worked hard to not only survive but help their kids seek a better life as their parents did for them.

My grandparents saw their kids lives improve. My parents saw their kids lives improve. They were able to give us a chance because there was opportunity. Even though we had little I was taught to share with those who had less perhaps allowing more to share the opportunities. Now my siblings and I are concerned about our adult children and their children. The opportunities to dream what I call the “log cabin dream” are at best limited.

Yes, we need to rethink. Yes, I am sorry to say, there are many in the world in much worse shape. I heard the phrase about starving children who would love to have that meal I didn't like or want but it didn't make me want to eat it.

This family is feeling guilty because even though we tried to plan and save and use little credit, our son's opportunities are few. Sometimes he just wants to give up. Telling him to “suck-it-up and move on” is not going to help. What we do tell him is learn from this mess and let us think about how to improve, not just his lot, but help others improve theirs.

We know it won't be easy but we must try.

However, there are many in our extended family that have no hope. They do live the day to day. They didn't buy SUV's, they couldn't. They didn't all buy houses with any kind of mortgage they couldn't . The jobs they have pay less or cut their hours. They did know better than some of the deals offered but now they can't even pay the rent and the bills. There are times food is scarce so the family shares.

It is hard to watch children going backwards. It is hard to see kids you know with little to eat. It is hard to see them eat starches to stretch the dollars they do have. You know it is unhealthy but what do they do?

I remember the TV show The Waltons. How happy they were and how well they pooled their resources but once you have lived with more it is hard to admit defeat and move back home. Does it matter whether you were seduced by the Consume and Use Credit culture or not? It is hard to give up independence and the feeling you were getting ahead.

Is what makes humans different than other animals the knowledge of a future? If there is no future, why shouldn't people just sit down and quit.

Americans need hope and opportunity to improve. It has been built into us. James T. Adams wrote a book about this very history, The Epic of America(1933). He wrote about the American Dream as opportunity for all to be “all that they can be”without regard to their beginnings.

Of course the American Dream is not just about what we can buy but for many years now many of our younger people have been convinced it is. So now what do they do? Didn't we have a President tell us after 9/11 to go shopping? They have consumed and tasted that version of the American Dream. Now they are in trouble, now they must try to go home, literally. (if they have someone, a home. Many don't.)

So let those of us, who can hang-on, not judge those who feel they cannot. For whatever reason they are in trouble, they need opportunities not criticism.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dove Wars

My sister likes birds but not up close and personal.

She has been keeping me up to date on her version of “squirrel wars”. She has lots of company at her house, actually I call her front door her revolving door. She has children and grandchildren living very near. The children feel that because they were raised in that house it is still their house and they should be able to raise their children there for the most part. Now that doesn't mean my sister should guide the upbringing of the grandchildren-that is interfering but she should be very happy to have any and all there night or day. But I digress...

A pair of mourning doves moved onto the front porch. They built the first nest in an empty flowerpot right near the “revolving” front door. Every time some person came near the door, whether from inside or outside, the doves would fly up. Who knows who was the most startled the unsuspecting people or the doves.

Now that was the first excuse to get those doves off the porch. So the nest was tossed out. The doves then tried to move into the new hanging plants. My sister then put Popsicle sticks in the tops of the plants. The doves then built right on the bare plant stand right back near the front door.

I told her to give them a place and take pictures of the couple, any eggs, and hatchlings that might result. Nope, she didn't want them there at all. I am not real sure why except to say that my sister thinks she might be able to rule that roost. Her excuses, just war justifications, now are “They will give me a heart attack.” or “They are nasty.” Those of us who know her know that it is really will against will. Nothing anyone says will get her to let those poor doves alone.

Here are her emails and photos taken by one of the grandkids concerning the takeover of her territory.

"This stupid dove decided to build a nest in the flower pot on my plant stand on the front porch. Every time anyone went in or out of the front door, it would fly away, startling you. I had one of my grandchildren move the flower pot. So it was just sitting on the metal plant stand. I put a plant on the plant stand. It spooked the dove but then it decided to build a nest on the plant stand. Again any time anyone went in or out of the front door, it would fly away, startling you. It became very bold. It would just sit there and look at me while I walked up to my plant stand. I would have to shake my finger at it and tell it I did not want it and to go away. Then it would fly away. I did not want this bird on my plant stand laying eggs and making a nasty mess. I did what any self respecting person would do. I destroyed the nest. I looked across the street at one point during our ongoing battle and saw both of the doves walking along the curb but I did not care. Still that dove came back. It decided to try my new bridal veil plant. I chased it off and put in a reliable help, corn dog sticks. This hopefully would keep it out of the plant. Seemed to work. Then the persistent dove went back to the plant stand and started another nest. I again being even more persistent than the dove, destroyed it. It came back again yesterday and I chased it off. It sat in a tree in the front yard with its mate for some time. However, we had company and sat on the porch and visited. It finally gave up and left. I have not seen it this morning but am at work."

And this email the next day:

"Me thinks I spoke too soon. When I left for work after talking to you, guess what flew off from my plant stand on my front porch."

Four days later:

"I thought for sure they were gone. Did not see them this weekend while it was rainy. However today they were back. I destroyed the beginnings of a nest and they came back and started over while we went to the store. They didn't come back after we came home. It's like they just do this to aggravate me. "

What can we say about people and animals-we are just locked in battles. Just Wars over territory!

Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock and Daphne Du Maurier right after all. Who can forget those crows silently gliding onto the playground while Tippi Hedren sits unaware waiting for school to let out.
As I recall, an Ornithologist made a rather scary remark about how we might not stand a chance if all the different birds began to band together.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Letter to the President of the United States

Actually I emailed the following to the White House this morning after reading an article about the Credit Card Legislation as it passed the Senate and is headed to the House.

I hope you will take time to read this article but if not at least look at the picture of Sen. Coburn found along side the article.

I would like to mention that Congressman Raul Grjalva, the Subcommittee Chair, did hold a news conference stating his strong opposition to the added provision mentioned.

Here is my letter to the President.

“Instead of fine print that hides the truth, we need credit card forms and statements that have plain language in plain sight, ...”
“There is no time for delay. We need a durable and successful flow of credit in our economy, but we can’t tolerate profits that depend upon misleading working families. Those days are over.”

“We can’t prosper by putting off hard choices, or by protecting the profits of the few at the expense of the middle class...”
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Washington, D.C.
SATURDAY, MAY 10, 2009
WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls on Congress to Pass Credit Card Reform Bill (


If they travel to a National Park or refuge, the American consumer may not need protection from credit card companies. I ask you: If you were not the President of the United States, would you take your family to a wildlife refuge under the new legislation?

I give you the quotations from your own address to consider.

When I read the quotations above, I think how it applies to the credit card legislation the Senate passed. But not in the way you would hope.

“Instead of fine print that hides the truth...” Doesn't hiding the truth apply to adding the “loaded and concealed weapons” provision to the credit card legislation.

“...depend upon misleading working families.” Congress has been using these tactics for years. I wonder how many American families know that the Chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources, Nick J. Rahall II, is a life member of the NRA as proudly listed in the biography section of his website. How many of these families know Congressman Rahall received a grade of “A” from the NRA in 2008. I wish “Those days are over.” But I see they are not.

“...We can't prosper by putting off hard choices...” Please, Mr. President make a hard choice. As much as many Americans need credit card regulations, do not let congress high jack the legislation with uncalled for and dangerous “concealed and loaded” provision. Show the strength and patience you have shown so much already.

Please, VETO this legislation; send it back. Stand up to Congress! Use your skills as a diplomat if need be but don't let this idiocy go into law.

Sometimes I just get frustrated at the way OUR government works, or doesn't work.
All I can do is write and encourage others to do so too.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Couples and Cancer

I miss you friend.

OK the Edwards' mess is back in the public eye again. Why Elizabeth Edwards would bring all her wounds to the scrutiny again is up for question. Perhaps it is her way to punish her husband. Perhaps it is just about book sales, do they really need more money? Put that aside though and let us think about the initial wrong.

No excuses for him but I really wonder. I recently lost a friend to breast cancer. She had been fighting the illness for years. By the way, why do we talk about people fighting cancer? This friend made it once to the 5-year mark and thought she was done with the fight. I should tell you she was a fighter about so many things. If she felt she was right and you were wrong about her priorities, she let you know in no uncertain terms.

Cancer didn't know about the magic of 5-years so it showed up again and again and it spread. There were positive times for her and there were depressions. She took responsibility for her family. She was married and had children and grandchildren, though she was just in her late 40's to early 50's. She felt guilt when she grew tired or depressed. She felt guilty about the costs involved. She told me of several times in her last two years that she was in the hospital enduring some wearing therapy when the family would scold her for even thinking about quiting. She was not one to think of quiting often anyway but once in a great while she had the audacity to say how tired she was. She kept working outside the home until her brain function was involved.

I knew her husband of many years. He was not my kind of guy but he was fairly normal as far as I knew. But as that disease was coming on strong again he got rather mean to her. They had always argued but now sometimes he seemed especially cruel. For instance, she got a little dog, after their old dog died, and he gave it away one day while she was gone. No discussions, no reasons, he just gave it away. Outside of him and the adult children she had only a brother. Her husband acted as though he was jealous when her brother visited or called. He, the husband, often complained about her temper and he complained about her slowness in cooking meals or doing laundry.

Then there were all of his ailments. He would have some sickness or the other and she felt so sorry for him. They went to a therapist but he quit because the therapist told him once or twice that he was wrong. I realize that he was worried about money and her temperamental outbursts but the way he acted really didn't seem helpful.

They both would blame the other for temper or unfairness. They both had stories to tell about the other one being childish. She was the one though that would generally mention the stress he felt. I know, we all know, many couples probably do not handle the stresses in the way my friend and her husband did nor as the Edwards' do but I'm sure there is more to learn about the subject.

So today when the “media” was squaring off at both of the Edwards', I decided to see what information I could find about couples dealing with cancer. I include links for you below. It turns out that these couples do follow certain patterns. So who knows about the Edwards' problems but is it really our business. I guess you can justify some of the hoopla because Ms. Edwards is bringing it back up again, but who made these news show, pundits, psychiatrists? If they really want to make all of this meaningful, let them do a series or at least 3 minutes on the stress of couples with cancer.

Here are some links on the subject just in case the “media” decides to just keep doing what they do best, harp on the surface of the story.