THE BLOG ARCHIVES: Previous blogs are archived at the end of the row of pictures on the left. The date posted beneath each picture corresponds with a date in the archives. Unfortunately the pictures do not move up to the top along with the blog.
April 28, 2016
Research professor, Maja Djikie, at the University of Toronto found that those who read fiction, be it short story or novels, are not as likely to be close minded or rigid in their thinking, and are usually more comfortable with uncertainty. They are also inclined to be more insightful, less likely to make snap judgments, and are more creative thinkers. So it seems we could create a kinder, better world just by reading more fiction and encouraging others to do so as well. Maybe we should build more libraries and advertise them through billboards and TV ads as the antidote to terrorism, and also set a high level of importance in schools on reading fiction with contests and awards, get film makers excited about making horror movies based on a futuristic world of non-readers, and make book clubs for kids and adults the “in” thing. Does that sound far-fetched? Then consider the cults of the world where the many must give in to the demands of the few for the privilege of living in a world where reading matter must be restricted to insure dominance and the thinking brain shrivels and in large numbers can become a grave danger to the world. So in one hand the tolerant and on the other hand the intolerant. A no brainer there. (more…)
March 3, 2016
William Allen White, the editor of the Emporia Gazette, a newspaper in Emporia, Kansas, became the most quoted editorial writer in America and grew to be a world figure, even getting his name on a 3 cent postal stamp. His death was noted in newspapers throughout the world. He lived in Emporia his whole life, born there in February 1868 and dying there in January 1944. Yet, small town that he was, his character, his sense of fairness, his common sense, his likeability, his interest in world affairs, and his willingness to serve his state, his country, brought the world to him. Odd, then, that I should choose the gist of an editorial by his wife, Sallie White, for your reading pleasure. I was amazed and you will be too, that a man on the presidential campaign trail could come among you for a few days and have his privacy respected.
In 1912, former president, Theodore Roosevelt, was, after a hiatus, again seeking the Republican presidential nomination. During that campaign, he visited Emporia, lodging at the White’s home an entire weekend, a respite from the rigors of politics. (more…)
February 5, 2016
Ten or more years ago, I went with a friend, who trapped raccoons, bobcats, and other smaller animals, to check his trap line. I still carry the picture in my mind of the raccoon he caught that day. The raccoon had come upon the trap set on the bank of a small stream. Caught by his foot, it had struggled to escape, dragging the trap with it into the water. When it saw us approach, it shrank back a little and in its eyes was a look of total resignation. It knew. I saw in its eyes the knowledge and the acceptance of its fate. I can see it still, waiting, knowing, and I see my friend raise his pistol. I was thankful he had not used some other, more drawn out means of ending its life. (more…)
December 28, 2015
Whether we are Christians, Agnostics, Muslims, Atheists, Orthodox Jew, or something else, if we live in America, and in most other places in the world, we’ve heard of the baby born in Bethlehem and how his mother wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger.
So what the heck are swaddling clothes anyway? Some say those swaddling clothes were long strips of cloths used to wrap a dead body and that they forecast Jesus’ death on the cross, a kind of foreshadowing, like fiction writers use to set their reader up for what is to come later on in the story. In fact, I heard that explanation from the pulpit this past month. Some say it’s because he was illegitimate, as he was conceived before Mary and Joseph were married, and presumably, by someone other than Joseph, and some say it is possible he was born before Joseph and Mary were married. I always thought, swaddling clothes were just that, small size blankets, like receiving blanket, and Mary wrapped him snuggly to keep out the cold and to make him feel more secure and comfortable. And, by gosh, I was right. Well, at least according to my research. (more…)
December 2, 2015
Santa Claus comes in various disguises. In this story, the only way one could recognize this particular Santa, born Howard Barnard, was by his Santa Claus boots. But for many, he gave a gift that would last a lifetime.
The son of a wealthy Wall Street broker, Howard attended private schools, soaking up knowledge and developing a lifelong love of books. He might never have left New York, but at age 13, fate intervened in the form of a poster about the far off plains of Kansas, and from then on he wanted more than anything to become a cowboy and ride those Kansas plains. At age 20, in ill health and penniless, for although his father had died, his and the rest of his family’s inheritance was not to be received until many years later, he set out for Kansas to live his dream of being a cowboy.
In northwestern Rush County, he was hired to work cattle and he loved the work and the wide open prairie land. His health improved and he might have done this the rest of his working days, but his true calling began to emerge when he noted that the boys and girls in the area, instead of attending school, were spending their days herding their families’ cattle. So he gathered those kids into a classroom without walls and the sky for a roof, and he couldn’t have been happier. (more…)
November 3, 2015
My friend who lived many years in England wondered at an expression I used one day. I said I was flying low, meaning I was really, really busy. To her that meant I was a male and my pants were unzipped. Whoa! I’ve quit using that particular expression. I read in an old article that bluff, meaning the edge of a high piece of land, or cliff, was once an unknown word in England in that particular sense. You could bluff someone with a poker hand, but don’t stand there on the bluff, overlooking the land below.
Thomas Jefferson was said to have first used the verb belittle, thus creating a barrage of belittling accusations, including the London Review who trounced on him for the use of a word they said he should be ashamed to use and beseeched him not to do any further damage to the mother tongue. (more…)
September 3, 2015
When Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets , died at 53, he requested a happy funeral, with songs and laughter, and dance. And so it was. The thousands who filled the cathedral were given colorful butterflies on metal stems, to flutter and wave at different times throughout the upbeat service. Harry Belafonte called Henson a great artist, “But,” he added, “greater than his artistry was his humanity.” And his humanity and great capacity for love was reflected in his work and perhaps in the words his wife, Jane, (they were separated, but remained good friends) spoke at the service as she stood with their five children beside her. “He stayed with us long enough to give us certainly all we need, if we’re strong enough to carry on.” Jane died at age 78 of cancer. Jim Henson’s own words were read at his memorial service. They were: “Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.” (more…)
August 2, 2015
Two quotes by James Baldwin, we might all do well to ponder: “People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned.” And the same thought, but in other words: It’s a terrible and inexorable law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one’s own.
Sometimes it seems to me that “we” are becoming more critical, nastier in our view of others, and meaner in spirit than we used to be. Actually, though, I know that’s not true. (more…)
June 2, 2015
For years I’ve saved a story from a newsletter put out by the Centering Corporation of Omaha. Today, I ran across it again and it seemed to me now to be a good fit for this month’s blog. This is the story, paraphrased and reduced to fit my blog space, but hopefully has captured the essence of the words of the original writer listed on the story as Rainbow Rowell, a columnist for the Omaha World Herald. The Story: The boy was born in 1967 with Down Syndrome, (more…)
April 30, 2015
Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying, "All that I am I owe to my saintly mother." If mothers really understood the influence they have on their children, the world would either produce better mothers, or children would one day cease to exist. If mothers really knew, it could scare a good lot of them out of having children. And if that happened, it would cause a trend to be set and eventually, every woman would climb on board the "No baby Express" and that would be the end of humans.
Well, maybe not. But really my kids and many others would have had a better mother, if we'd only known. But as it is, most of us are pretty good mothers, for we love our children, generally, although not always, more than ourselves, and love, it is said, covers a multitude of sins.
This story is about one mother's love, a love as pure as the rarest of diamonds, a love perhaps equal in this sense to God's love. (more…)