Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving - November 20, 2014

AS published in the White River Current - Thursday November 20, 2014

Last week, old man winter made an early visit to the Ozarks and most of the continental United States. Several low-temperature-for-this-date records were set in several locations.  There was a small rush on the milk and bread counters at the grocery stores when the S-word (snow) was mentioned.  I do not like cold weather especially when the north wind is blowing through my polyesters as I am scurrying about doing the chores that require me to be out of doors.  The only good thing is that it gives us something new to complain about.  We can’t complain much about the Summer and early Fall.  I do not remember the foliage being more beautiful.  I hope that I am not infringing on Megan’s territory (Megan is the official poet of this publication, sort of) when I refer to another of my favorite poems, When the Frost is on the Punkin.  This delightful bit of rhyme was penned by Indiana native, James Whitcomb Riley (1853-1916), over one-hundred years ago.  In the four stanzas of this poem, Riley describes, in a first-person sort of Hoosier dialect, rural life in the mid-west at about this time of the year, leaving the house, bareheaded, to go out to feed the stock.  The author wrote several books and poems, many for children, most in dialect form.  One of his best-loved poems was “The Raggedy Man” which inspired the creation of the Raggedy Ann doll.  Riley was buried in Indianapolis.  Changing the subject, but we were treated to another beautiful sunrise a few days ago.  I gave this one a rating of (6).  Nice but nothing like the one I mentioned in the last Ramblings which was definitely a (10+).  However, the Lord made up for it by providing us with a great sunset the same day.  I enjoy the sunsets but I am more emotionally touched with the sunrises.  Maybe it’s because it is a new day; the beginning, not the end; the start, not the finish.  Better not get too philosophical here.  Also referring to the last column, I made a batch of split-pea soup.  I gave up trying to prepare my own split peas and used a bag of the dried variety.  Turned out “pretty good” but I doubt if I will make it again.  Chili, next time.  We have had an election since the last issue.  As usual, I won some and lost some.  I’m too cynical to comment on the outcome, but I’m glad it’s over.  Now we get a reprieve for a few months from the political TV ads and phone calls requesting a donation or participation in a poll.  I was hoping that the third and fourth class junk mail that clogs my post office box would slow down but I believe it has increased.  Every imaginable 501C-3 or 501C-4 organization in the United States is after my hard-earned dollar.  Their requests have increased dramatically, many on a monthly basis.  Many send an unrequested supply of greeting cards or holiday gift wrap.  At last count, I have received twenty 2015 wall calendars.  Enclosed in their donation letters have been, on occasion, a nickel, a dime, a quarter, a postage stamp or (on 5 occasions) a dollar bill, all intended to “prime-the-wallet” to get me to respond positively to their requests.  Over the last few years, I have accumulated a huge supply of enclosed gifts, mainly note pads and enough return address labels, which, if placed end to end, could possibly reach to the moon and back.  Now, my tax accountant will tell you that I do more than my share of contributing to charities.  I have to prioritize my giving, as I’m sure you do.  I hope I am not coming through as a “scrooge.”  With the holiday seasons coming soon, catalogs and advertising flyers are appearing in an increasing number in our mail box.  I imagine most of these will decrease after the first of the year.  Speaking of holidays, the annual harvest supper will be tomorrow evening.  Hope you have purchased your ticket.  Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, is next Thursday.  For several years, starting when Steve and Brenda were pre-teens, we spent the holiday with Don and Maxine and their two daughters, Julie and Lisa, alternating from year to year from our home in Calico Rock and their home in Little Rock.  The memories of those times are contained in a special compartment in my brain (and heart).  I hope all you dear readers have a holiday this year that will make a lasting memory.  Happy Thanksgiving!!! (Note:  Check out all Riley’s poems on the internet).         

Thursday, November 6, 2014

An Ordinary Day - November 6, 2014

As published in the White River Current - Thursday November 6, 2014

It started out just like any ordinary fall day.  My internal alarm clock had awakened me at about six fifteen, a little earlier that I usually arise.  I rolled over and lay on my back for a few seconds, wide awake now.  I slowly swung my legs over the edge of the bed and gingerly stood up.  Thank goodness!  No dizziness.  I had been having a mild case of vertigo for the last few days, but maybe it is over.  I remember filling hundreds of prescriptions for Meclizine, the drug of choice (at the time) for this sometimes debilitating ailment, which, on rare occasions, may result in a stay in the hospital.  I have an episode of this aggravating malady once or twice a year.  I believe my ailment is caused by a problem in my middle ear, a common occurrence with we members of the mature population (OK, old folks).  Anyway I was up, not staggering, and made my way to the kitchen to make coffee.  It was still dark, but there was a small sliver of light on the eastern horizon.  I doctored up my first cup of the hot liquid and headed for my chair where I kicked back and applied an eye drop in each eye then kept my eyes closed for several seconds as directed.  I guess I must have dozed off for a few minutes because when I opened my eyes and looked out the window, the entire landscape had a pinkish glow.  I stepped outside onto the back porch and observed one of the most amazing sunrises that I have ever witnessed.  The entire eastern sky was ablaze with a deep pink hue.  I wondered if Bernice saw this.  She enjoys the sunrises and even called me early one morning to inquire if I was witnessing a beauty (I was).    Anyway, after a Cheerios breakfast (good for your heart, you know), a second cup of coffee, the other eye drop application and checking Anita’s I-pad for any new pictures of Ruby (she’s our great-granddaughter, you know),  I checked my watch and decided that I had time to go to the post office and grocery store before Gene came by for coffee.  I met Billy Gene coming out of the post office.  When I inquired how he was doing, he said (Mah-va-lus, just mavalus).  When I ask this question to others, I get replies like “about as well as common” or “feeling fit as a fiddle” or some other old saying.  I drove over to the grocery store and was parking when Larry pulled up beside me.  He wanted to show me the walking canes he bought at the Salvation Army store.  Maybe he collects them, I don’t know.  Larry’s a friendly guy who wanted to talk and inform me about his son who had come in second at the Special Olympics bowling tournament at Harrison and was heading for the state tourney in Little Rock.  We visited a few minutes, then I had to hurry with my grocery purchase and get home where I saw Gene had already arrived.  Gene, who will be 90 next January (but he certainly doesn’t look it), and I have coffee most weekday mornings.  He and Reva moved here from Iowa in 1989 and quickly became close friends with Anita and I.  For over seven years, Reva has been a resident of the local nursing home where Gene goes by twice daily to assist with feeding her noon and evening meals.  Today I tell Gene about the recipe for Split-Pea Soup that I am going to try, emphasizing my trouble trying to split the canned green peas.  After much thought, he suggests using frozen peas.  I am elated and decide the pill splitter from the pharmacy will be the perfect tool to complete the task.  I rush Gene off to the nursing home and Anita and I leave to meet Kay and Jack for lunch.  They live in Mountain Home where Jack has retired from his medical practice.  Kay is my cousin.  We catch up on all the kids and grandkids activities, agree we should do this more often and go our separate ways.  Running late, I don’t make it home in time to take Helen to her hairdresser appointment because Martha came to get her.  I’ll apologize when I see her.  There is a phone message from Dr. Campbell requiring a trip to the church.  Anita is dozing when I return so I read a chapter in my book.  After waking up from what was supposed to have been a short nap, I make my way to the kitchen and warm up some leftovers for supper.  Afterwards, after watching a recorded TV show and checking the I-Pad, we are both yawning.  Another drop in each eye and I turn off the bedroom light.  All days in Calico Rock are good (some are better than others).