Friday, January 30, 2015

Five Reasons Why You Should Still Write Letters

Yesterday, I saw a blog post asking "Is letter writing a fading art?"

It really made me think about all the things of my childhood that are now obsolete:

Mimeograph machines
Vacuum tubes
Rotary phones
Waiting for a letter in the mail.

When I was growing up, long distance telephone calls were expensive.  Adjusted for 2014 dollars, a 10 minute long distance call from New York to Los Angeles (east coast to west coast of our vast country) in 1950, two years before I was born, would have cost about $65.81.  (For those not in the United States = that's a lot of money). So, let me explain it another way for my foreign blog fans.  On this date in 1950, the minimum wage in the United States was $1.00 an hour.  If you made the minimum wage, that 10 minute phone call would have cost a lot of hours of work.

So, unless it was urgent, people wrote letters to each other.

I wrote so many letters in the first 30 or so years of my life. It was as natural as breathing for me. And, in the last 10 years, I've hardly written any.  Shame on me.

So, why should anyone care about the fine art of writing a letter?

1.  It's a way for young people to communicate with older generations.  I just got to thinking - bet my spouse's 103 year old aunt (yes, she turned 103 earlier this year) would be delighted to get a letter.  Which leads me to reason #2:

2.  It's a way to preserve history.  Can you imagine a collection of love texts bundled and tied by a lovely ribbon, to be found in a closet years later by a grandson or daughter?  I can't, either.

How about all those historic correspondences that historians depend on to get glimpses into history?

3.  It makes you stand out.  Who gets letters anymore?  Write letters, and you are sure to be noticed. Some newspapers even want to interview you.

4.  It brings out the artist in you.  When I was a teen, I decorated envelopes with cartoons, jokes, and so forth.  Last year, I got a gift from a blogger, and guess what? A decorated envelope.  Memories!  And, remember stationery?  I used to get such joy shopping for stationery.

5.  Pen pals? Anyone out there remember pen pals?  As an adult, I had a pen pal for a while who I found through a pen pal section of a country living magazine.  I sometimes wonder what happened to her.

There are even more reasons than the ones I can come up with.  I won't even blog about how cursive writing is dying out.  Soon, there will be few people even able to read it, meaning so many historical documents will be unreadable by the average man or woman.

Some things deserve to become obsolete - such as $65.81 phone calls.

Some things, such as writing letters, shouldn't become obsolete.  And I am just as guilty of enabling letter writing to die out as anyone of my generation that has abandoned the art.  Or not transmitted the art to their children. I didn't do that, either.

Do you still write letters?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Ten Things I Love About My Spouse

How about a link up where we show some blog love towards the one who loves us?

Bethany, over at Dandelion Pie, is sponsoring a linkup where she gives us permission to brag about the man (or woman, as the case may be) we are sharing our lives with.

Well, although my spouse does not read my blog, I am going to take Bethany up on this.  Why?  Because, dear reader, this is my 1900th published blog post.
Bring on the celebration!

What an excellent idea, to blog about the spouse whose patience makes my blogging possible, on this important occasion.  Thanks, Bethany.

Therefore, I present:  10 Things I Love About My Spouse But Not Necessarily In This Order

1.  He puts up with my snoring.  Of course, HIS snoring is much worse.  Sometimes, epic.  Well, maybe not that epic. But pretty bad.

2.  He cooks for me.  In fact, he's cooking for me right now!

3.  He puts up with my blogging.  Like when I'm blogging and dinner is ready, and I'm totally oblivious to that fact.  Or breakfast.  (Not lunch.  He doesn't do lunch.)

4.  He's been known to take me to work when the weather is really bad.

5.  He remembers birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

6.  He takes care of me when I am sick.

7.  He puts up with my bad moods.

8.  When I was addicted to FarmVille, he put up with that, too.

9.  He likes to do many of the same things as I do.  Not everything, mind you.  But that would be boring!

10.  He loves to travel with me, and I could not have a better travel companion.

Do you have a list to share?  Go over to Dandelion Pie, and post in the comments!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

It's Lump Day

Do you know what day it is?

A good friend of mine does. But before I go into the details of this special day for her, I need to backtrack a little.

Yesterday, I blogged about a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  The next step after the biopsy that diagnosed her was for her to have an MRI to stage her (to find out how far along the cancer was)  So, she had her "girl" MRI'd, and, let's just say, you don't have this test done with many clothes on.

Let me have her tell you (with her permission!) what happened next.

Of course, after it was over and I was standing in my little cubbyhole [not dressed enough for public display], the fire alarm went off. I finished dressing, peeked out and lights were flashing and the PA system said, “Code Red in Atrium”, but nobody was running away. The fire trucks were there, too, but guess it was a false alarm.

THEN I decided to hit the ladies’ before going out in the cold. Hung my coat on the door and placed my purse on the edge of the sink. While I was, let’s say, unable to jump up and run across the bathroom, my purse fell into the sink which activated the faucet. I dumped everything out when I got here and ran my heater on the inside  lining. Nothing got ruined.
 And you thought YOU had a bad day.

Well, when she saw the surgeon, he told her that her lumpectomy would have to be done on a Wednesday, because he only does lumpectomies on Wednesdays.
 For most people, this is what Wednesday is.  It's - well, let the camels tell the story.

For my friend, it's Lump Day.  Hopefully, the hospital won't have a fire alarm in the middle of her surgery.

My friend loves puns. And so, I'm busy trying to round up greeting cards with pun themes.  I've got one I will send out to her soon.

There is nothing funny about cancer, yet, her stories have a way of making me smile.

My friend reads my blog regularly, so those who left well wishes or offers of prayers yesterday will be read by her, and appreciated.  Thank you.

You, my readers, are the best.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Tale of Two....

Once upon a time, there were two friends.  They had been friends for over 16 years.

These two women, on paper, have little in common.  One is big city bred, one small town bred.  One an only child, the other with full and half siblings. Different religions.  Different life experiences.  An animal rescuer and a petless person.  One is an expert punner.  The other is her victim.

Yet, they had become friends.

One day, one confided in the other.  There was something wrong. A suspicious lump where no woman wants a lump.  She had had a mammogram and an ultrasound.  The results required a biopsy.  She was waiting for the results of the biopsy.

The other friend said, funny you should mention that.  On my recent exam, my gyn found a suspicious lump in my dense breasts. She showed me, and I felt it.   I had a mammogram and an ultrasound.  Negative, the other friend continued, but I just got a call from my gyn.  She felt something didn't add up between the results and what she (and I) had felt.  My gyn wants me to come in for a followup....

They hugged, and talked about what would happen if the results were positive. They would support each other.  In case treatment took their hair, they decided on the color of their wigs.

One friend's biopsy result: Positive.

The other friend's followup:  Negative. 

A good writer would write such a good, punny, ending to this, but, knowing my friend will be operated on tomorrow, I just can't.

I just know something about tomorrow is going to make me smile, because that is the kind of person my friend is.

And tomorrow, you are going to smile, too.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Our Home Library

No, I'm not doing a post about all the books in my house, although I should.  My son once joked I had a better selection than some booksales. Well, I think it was a joke.

Rather, I decided to blog about one of our local libraries.

Have you ever thought about how libraries are named?

My favorite library name of all time may be that of a library in a small town near Ithaca, New York.  It is called the Ulysses Philomathic Library (Philomathic means "love of learning").

But "Your Home Library" in Johnson City, New York is my second favorite.

Who wouldn't like to go to their home library?

Well, um, me.

We all take local buildings and institutions for granted.  After all, they are there, we pass them every day, and we take them for granted.  And I do pass this building five days a week, sometimes six.

We have several local libraries within a few miles radius of where I live.  As a result, I hadn't been in this library, which is the one nearest to my home, in many years.  I am a frequent visitor to the library near to where I work, in Binghamton, but had neglected my own home library.

Shame on me!

Saturday, I decided to change that.

This building was built partly in 1885 and partially in 1920.  It's a small library, but full of local history.  When you enter, in fact, there is a small display of local history - a portrait, newspaper clippings, and other memorabilia.

There is evidence of an earlier era wherever you turn in the small rooms.  It is not an easy library to use, I'll admit.  The Binghamton library (built in 2000) is modern and spacious.  But this building has character.  And fireplaces.

Here's another one of the fireplaces.

And one more view of the building.

Local public libraries face many challenges today.  Their funds are constantly being cut.  People are loathe to vote in the tax increases they need to survive.  But these libraries are, increasingly, so much more than a place where you can walk in with a card and walk out with one or more books to read.  They provide internet access, wi-fi,  computers for those who don't own one, job hunting services, e books, CDs and DVDs, magazines, free tax preparation done by volunteers, free databases, and so much more. One of our local libraries even features yoga classes on Fridays.

What is your local library worth to you? 

Do you use your local library? 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Civil War Sunday - The Years Ahead

If I blog every Sunday about the United States Civil War, I will only be blogging for the next three or so months.  But the ending of the war in April, 1865 (that isn't technically true as the last battle was fought in May of 1865, but that's a story for another time) didn't mean that history stopped.

I fear that blogging about the 150th anniversary of the war that made the United States what it is today may not interest my many foreign readers, but history has so many lessons to teach all of us.

150 years ago, as I mentioned, the Civil War was entering its final months.

In January of 1865, we got a sneak preview of what the ending of the war would bring for the slave population of the United States, courtesy of none other than Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

His is another story of how convoluted the story and study of history can be.

General Sherman was concerned about winning the war for the North. On the other hand, he wasn't too concerned about the slave population of the Confederate territories he and his armies had pillaged and occupied.  It may (or may not) surprise you to learn that Sherman, along with most other whites of his day (even those who opposed slavery), was a racist.  His interest was winning the war for the United States, not in doing anything for the slaves in the areas he was fighting in.

But thousands and thousands of slaves, freed as Sherman destroyed the plantations where they were enslaved, started to follow his armies.  Some tragic things happened to those slaves, especially at a location in Georgia called Ebenezer Creek.

On January 16, 1861, Sherman issued Special Order 15, which is worth reading all the way through, although it is a long document, just for a historic flavor.

St. Johns River, Florida, photo taken from Auto Train by AM
Sherman formulated a plan after meeting in Savannah, Georgia (which he had conquered right before Christmas of 1864) with black ministers and the U.S. Secretary of War. Sherman had a vision of resettling these freed slaves on a strip of confiscated land between of Charleston, South Carolina and the St. Johns River in Florida.  This would serve a number of military objectives for Sherman.

Would the idea of reserving land to freed slaves-40 acres of tillable land in parts of Georgia and Florida- have worked?  (Many know the plan as "40 acres and a mule" but the mule was more intended as a loan than a gift.) We'll never know, because the plan only lasted until the fall of 1865.  At that point, the war over and a new President in charge of the post-war United States, the land reverted back to its former owners. The freed slaves faced many, many years of misery ahead of them.

Another sad chapter in the history of the Civil War was about to begin.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Local Saturday - Italian Seeds

A snowy morning in upstate New York.

It's time for some seed daydreaming.

One of the catalogs we ordered was called Seeds from Italy

It advertises itself as "Heirloom Italian Garden Seeds" and, since my husband's ethnic background is Italian, we thought it would be interesting to see what an Italian seed catalog contained.
Some of the seeds are organic ("biologica").  Most, not all, are open pollinated.  Many of the veggies are familiar to those of us in the United States, but others are not a familiar part of our gardens.

Like capers. ("cappero")

Or a zucchini bred to produce mostly flowers.

Or parsley root, a parsley that produces a root that is also edible.  (It is not the same thing as parsnips).  Years ago, I grew parsley root. A supermarket here sells it seasonally in November and December.

This is the fun part of gardening - the dreaming, and the ordering.  I don't know if we will order any of these Italian seeds, but their Italian soaps are interesting, too.

The hard part of gardening is yet to come.  With the ground frozen, there is still plenty of time to dream.

Do you garden?