Monday, October 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Comes First

I don't know about you, but I get tired of seeing Christmas merchandise in stores before Halloween. Granted, Halloween has become almost as decoration intensive as Christmas, so retail owners don't want to short one money filled holiday to advertise another. But Thanksgiving? You cannot find it mixed in with Halloween and Christmas. There are a few "Harvest" decorations in stores, but harvest is not completely what Thanksgiving is all about. Yes, the harvest had come in for the Pilgrims and they were celebrating - but they were celebrating God's care of them by thanking Him en masse for all His provision.

So let's concentrate on Thanksgiving first, not just for the holiday, but in our lives every day as well.

Go to this site to sign up and to carry the Thanksgiving First message on your blog:

Sunday, October 26, 2008


This lovely lady so generously passed on the Friendship award to me and my blog:

I love the design of this award, the different mug designs, the warm cocoa or coffee or tea that I imagine to be in each cup. In a virtual kind of way, each day, I share a hot, comforting beverage with many of the bloggers on my side panel listing. We may not sit at the same table, or even at a table. Some of us are in our jammies and some of us might be at work. Some sit at a desk or in an easy chair with a laptop. But, in the spiritual realm, we meet and extend the hand of friendship and caring for each other. I know of some who have transcended the virtual world of blogging and have either met their blogfriends physically, or they have read of a need and clicked on a Paypal button to donate, or have sent thoughtful, caring gifts by mail. The internet has extended the world of friendship in a wonderful way. Where there used to be penpals, now there are blogpals, and my life is so much richer because of this. Thank you Cathy - and all of the blogfriends I have out there in blogland.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Chapter 2 - Sassie and Ninnie

I'm sharing a portion of the book, "From Scenes Like These, Life in a Christian Family", by Ethel Wallace, copyright 1945. To read from the beginning, go here.

Now for Chapter 2, called, "Sassie and Ninnie."

Mother and Sassie and Ninnie had always lived together and felt toward each other as sisters, in spite of the great difference in their ages. Sassie and Ninnie were the eldest children of Grandma's eldest sister, Aunt Mary, who with a large family even for those days, was called on by her husband to leave their home in the East and go to the "wild and woolly" state of Ohio. As traveling was rough and life there difficult, she left her two oldest girls to be raised and educated by her sister. Many were the tales which came from Aunt Mary of pioneer hardships - of terrifying visits from Indians who would leave only after they had been given a chicken or a side of ham or something to wear. To the young woman raised in Philadelphia, it was a trying experience.

Aunt Mary had named the eldest daughter, Sarah Jane, after two of her sisters, and the second daughter, Virginia Isabel, the first name after a heroine of one of her favorite novels, the second after her husband's first wife. When we children were learning to talk we changed the names "Cousin Sallie and Jennie" into "Sassie and Ninnie" which nicknames were their delight, although it was often suggested by others that they were neither appropriate nor complimentary. But so they remained, and were used by all the children of the community.

Sassie and Ninnie lived on the third floor, their rooms filled with heavy Colonial and Victorian furniture. Ninnie's room, much smaller than Sassie's, was crowded by a huge wardrobe where her few dresses hung almost lost in the vastness. On her walls were framed prints, one of Saint Cecilia being visited by angels, the other of Evangeline dreaming of her lost lover.

Ninnie was "a lady" in everything she said or did and inspired in us awe as well as affection. She had enormous gray eyes much too large for her frail delicate face. Tall and painfully thin, she carried herself with a dignity becoming a queen. Such slenderness was considered a detriment in those days so she always wore ruffs and starched things to make her stick out here and there in the right places as she swept through the rooms in her long dresses. Her clothes and person were always immaculate although a new dress was such a rarity with her that I can only recall three. When she went out, even if it were just to the corner, she wore gloves and a bonnet tied under her pointed chin.

It was a period when delicate ladies were very much in style, and almost every family could boast of one who was in a state of decline. All our family even to the distant relatives were filled with anxiety and solicitude for Ninnie. She could eat scarcely anything and do nothing in the way of housework except see to Sassie's and her rooms. Occasionally when she was feeling at her best she would make some sugar cookies which she worried over as she mixed them and guarded carefully when baked, counting them out one by one. She never could go anywhere because she was always laid low with a sick headache the very day she had expected to start. Yet she lived to be seventy-three and as far as I can remember never had a severe illness although a prolonged coughing period in the early morning was part of her daily routine. I sometimes wonder whether if she had lived today when sickness no longer seems attractive and women do so much hard work in the world, she could not have done her share.

Ninnie was a dreamer and romanticist and outside of the walls which she inhabited, her spirit soared in search of beauty and elegance. She and Mother were very close in their relation and would spend long hours in conversation, sometimes discussing things that had happened that day, oftener what had occurred years before. It was a relaxation for Mother and an inspiration for Ninnie, for her life was very confined and uninteresting it seemed to us children. The greatest excitement I ever remember her having was when she went to town one day before Christmas and had the bag in which she was carrying twenty-five dollars which she had saved up all year for Christmas presents for the family stolen by a pickpocket. She was a nervous wreck when she returned home, but was provided with a dramatic incident to relate again and again in years to come.

Ninnie had had one beau in her youth, she modestly boasted to us girls. She had met Thedy Eustick on one of her visits to cousins in the country. He was so shy that he hadn't come to see her, but when she returned to the city, he had written her a letter signed, "With love, Your Thedy."

It was thought dishonorable for a young lady to receive continued attentions from a young gentleman unless she expected to marry him. I can well remember Ninnie's horror-filled eyes as she listened to the gleeful account of numerous proposals and rejections by an attractive relative from the South where innocent flirtations have always been in vogue.

One of the incidents which Ninnie recalled oftenest was her visit to the stormy sessions of the General Assembly of our Church which met in Philadelphia at the start of the Civil War. When a group of Northerners insisted that the Southerners swear allegiance to the flag, the latter in a body left the Assembly and the Church. Although not at all in sympathy with the Southern position, Ninnie anonymously sent flowers to the offended commissioners, feeling that they had been treated in an ungracious manner.

Sassie's room was very large. In the center a marble-topped table on which was a big oil lamp topped by a white china shade, and a huge cookie jar set purposely in a conspicuous and handy position, and a small pile of books on top of which lay a shabby, much-read Bible. On the walls hung life-sized photographs in oval walnut frames of an old and well-loved pastor and of a niece who had died as a beautiful young girl. On top of the Sheraton bureau and sewing table were trinkets which we had brought her from our trips, marked conspicuously with the names of the places visited as was customary in souvenirs of those days. A blue and white Sheffield china pitcher and basin stood on a small wash-stand in an inconspicuous corner.

But the bed in Sassie's room was the most interesting of all her furniture - a huge old four-poster with a deep feather mattress. Every Friday night when small we girls would sleep with her. In anticipation of this visit, she would bring home five big round gingerbread cookies which we would either eat out of the bag or toast on the kerosene heater which warmed her room in very cold weather. Having disposed of this treat, we would all jump into bed and cuddle up in the feather mattress. And Sassie would tell us stories of her childhood or of the aunties' childhood, or repeat over and over again at our solicitation old rhymes which tickled our fancy such as

"Rory O'More courted Kathleen O'Brawn
She was mild as a doe and he bold as the dawn,
He tried every way his young Kathleen to please
But all he could do was to kiss and to tease."

Or we would whisper about a farm which she promised she would buy when she retired out of the gold she was saving in a bag. And as we were to go there every week-end to visit her we would discuss at length what animals we would want. (The farm was never bought and the gold pieces - $140 - were found in a little bag among her valuables after her death.)

In the morning Sassie would rise and be gone before we had unclosed our heavy eyes. She worked in a religious publishing house for fifty dollars a month from the time she was eighteen until the day of her death. She started to the train with such regularity in the mornings that some of our neighbors said they set their watches by her passing.

Sassie was rosy and well formed, with small hands and feet. She wore her hair piled high in bands around her head with spit curls on her forehead. She was animated at home and even in her later years could sing like a lark. She always dressed in black and was unassuming in her manner as befitted a woman earning her living in those days when this was considered a misfortune if not a disgrace.

At Christmas time her room gradually became a veritable sweet shop filled with the choicest candy in elaborate boxes given to her by her customer friends. A week or two before Christmas the first question we would ask when she arrived home was: "Did you get any presents today?" and she would answer, "Come up to my room after dinner." So we would run up there three steps at a time and help her untie the beautiful packages and gaze long and covetously at the contents before succeeding in making our choice. And then the box was laid out open on the bureau to be joined by others which kept arriving up to the very day before Christmas.

On Christmas Day Ninnie would untie her presents delicately, smelling the fragrant salts or smoothing out the fine handkershiefs we had given her. But Sassie would open each package with little screeches of joy, and hold the homemade carrot-shaped pincushion or the lacquered box up for all to admire while she expatiated beamingly on its merits. I say it now although many years have passed since our last Christmas together that Sassie's enthusiasm and joy at that time is one of the most fragrant impressions I have of childhood.

My husband just pointed out that I can scan the pages of this book. Duh. What a dummy I am - I've been typing all this out and getting a sore wrist. Tomorrow, for the next chapter, I will be scanning!!! Hope you are enjoying this book.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Part I - The Grown-Ups

Poem excerpt at the beginning of the chapter:

My boast is not that I deduce my birth
From loins enthroned and rulers of the earth,
But higher far my proud pretensions rise,-
The child of parents passed into the skies.
William Cowper

The name of the first chapter is "The Grown-Ups". I cannot type the whole chapter - it is far too long, but I can type a portion of it:

"The home of my childhood was in the suburbs of Philadelphia, readily accessible by train to the city, but in those days sparsely settled and alluringly primitive. We lived in a big house with long flights of stairs which led from one part to the others. A cellar and attic with dark mysterious corners extended the length and width of the house below and above. A deep porch, in summer inviting with rocking chairs and low-swinging hammock and screened in by heavy masses of fragrant honeysuckle, stretched along the front and one side almost reaching another porch which in September was heavy with the scent of white clematis. The house was set in a wide lawn with rose bushes untidy in their profusion on either side of the entrance walk. Back of the house was a dark forest - too far away to cast the shadows of its great trees on our lawn yet near enough to be an important part of the landscape and of our daily lives.

It was a large family that lived there - Father and Mother, and five of us children, and Grandma, and two cousins of Mother's who were nearly as old as Grandma, and Great-Aunt Lizzie who was paralyzed and required a trained nurse. In spite of their size, families then seemed to get along together better than they do today. There were no two-room apartments or old people's institutions to which parents and grandparents were consigned so that young couples could have their homes to themselves. Nearly all of our little friends had grandmas and grandpas living with them - indeed a family without one didn't seem complete at all. It was a wonderful training in learning how to get along with people. We were taught to have the greatest respect and consideration for all the older members. Even if we would on occasions disobey Mother, we would never think of disobeying them.

My only recollection of Great-Aunt Lizzie is an old lady dressed in a long black dress always seated in a wheel chair who, on our visits to her room, would show us her poor crippled hand and ask if we didn't thin it opened more than it had when we were there before. She was a godly woman and had been for many years a city missionary. But a stroke had paralyzed one side of her body and brain, and although she could talk beautifully about many things, yet at times she would swear most dreadfully. the profanity she had heard so often in her work among drunkards and libertines had evidently stuck in her subconsciousness and when her mind could not function properly, it came out - so it was explained. As a result, it was only occasionally that we were allowed to visit her for no one could tell when one of these fits of swearing would come upon her.

I remember so well the day when, through the carelessness of a hired girl who had set an oil lamp directly under a lace curtain, a fire broke out in the second story front room. as it was confined to that part of the house, we children were sent to Aunt Lizzie's rooms. Immediately upon arrival, as we were very young and thoughless, we announced excitedly that the house was on fire and she would burn up because she sat in a chair and oculdn't possibly run when it reached her room. Poor Aunt Lizzie! what a dreadful state she was in when Mother and the nurse returned. She did some swearing that day!

When the firemen had gone, and we had returned ot our rooms, we found them not only somewhat charred and disarranged by empty of a number of things. Among the things missing was a highly colored glass picture which had hung on one of the front windows reflecting all the brilliance of the sun in the rich robes of the figures, a picture which had always fascinated us. We learned that in the exdcitement the firemen had th4rown it and several other perishable and treasured things out of the windows, and had carried the pillows and rugs carefully down the stairs.

It was only when we were grown that we appreciated Aunt Lizzie's great labors among the downtrodden before she was stricken. One of her helpers had been young "Sam" Gordon, later well known as S.D. Gordon, author of "Quiet Talks."

From Scenes Like These

I have a book on my bookshelf - an old friend - that I just happened to pick up this evening, having forgotten whether it was fiction or biography. I bought it in a shop in Mount Dora, FL., and, after having got it home, looked it up on Google. I found that it wasn't a well known book at all. Even now, look up "From Scenes Like These, Life In A Christian Family" by Ethel Wallace (copyright 1945 by Harper and Brothers) and you won't find much at all. I found, today, two copies of this title for sale, both about $29.00, a lot more than I paid at the little shop in Mount Dora. The most I paid is $1.00 or $2.00.

Tonight when I picked up the book anew, I saw that it is a series of vignettes from the life of a Christian family from the early 1900's - just the sort of fare we need in these dark days of economic woe and political fear. The book is also, I believe, out of copyright, so I'm going to give you a vignette a day. I love reading them and I think you will too.

Here is the dedication:

"To the Millions of Christians who in this day, as my parents in theirs, follow humbly in the footsteps of Him Who went about doing good. To them belongs the making of a better, freer world. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Here is the Foreward:

"Many are writing today about their families and the incidents of their childhood. This little book, differing from those which hold up relatives to ridicule, and resembling thousands that could be written, tells of the Christian home in which I was reared. The Bible does not omit the shortcomings of the saints, so I have written of the frailties as well as the virtues of my family. They were not angels, but sinners redeemed by the grace of God - a fact they would have been the first to acknowledge.

Several years ago a friend brought out for my inspection a recently finished patchwork quilt made up, as is the way of patchwork quilts, of squares, some gay colored, others dark, stitched together at random. As she spread it out on the bed, she said: "This is the patchwork of my life. Each square was once part of a dress which is associated with what was for me a momentous occasion. My mother cherished my childhood garments and preserved them. That white muslin with the tiny tucks was my very first dress, this china silk with the hand-embroidered pink roses was the robe in which I was baptized, that pale blue my first party frock, this heavy satin my wedding gown and my mother's, this was the last dress my darling Eva wore, this black velvet is the material out of which was cut the gown in which I christened the battleship last month. I shall hand the quilt down to my children's children." the following pages are my patchwork - squares some gay colored, others dark, happenings of long ago and of today, placed together at random.

As from the vantage point of years I view the world today, I see that it is a very different world from the one in which I grew up. We cannot return to the old world and in some ways we would not if we could. but in that day many more Americans lived close to the rudiments - to the Christian beliefs, principles, and inhibitions upon which this country was founded, which made it great, and which for a long time remained its very bone and fibre. If we return to them as individuals and as a nation, we shall be enabled to meet War and Peace, Death and Life, unafraid. "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them," said Jesus, "I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock."

I hope you enjoyed the very beginning of this book. Each day I will add another chapter, or vignette, so that you can also enjoy looking at life from a long time ago.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Emergency For A BlogFriend

This lady is about to be evicted from her apartment and she needs a donation. Any donation is better than no donation. Just click on her Paypal button and do what you can. I've been reading her blog for a few years now and as far as the eviction? There, but for the grace of God, go I. With the economy the way it is, who knows how many other people, including ourselves, will be in dire straits at some point, and needing a helping hand.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Japanese Sandman

This is a beautiful song from the early 1900's - I think 1922. The singer is Nora Bayes, a vaudeville star from the late 1800's to the early 1900's. She has a lovely voice, but I like the lyrics of this song most of all. Here they are (I'm only unsure of the "peaking on with the dew" part - but the rest of quite clear):

The Japanese Sandman

Won't you stretch your imagination for a moment and come with me....
Let us hasten to a nation lying over the Western Sea....
Hide behind the cherry blossoms, here's a sight that will please your eye:
There's a lady with a baby of Japan singing lullabies.

Here her as she sighs....

Here's a Japanese Sandman
Peaking on with the dew
Just an old second hand man
He'll buy your old days from you

He will take every sorrow
Of the day that is through
And he'll bring you tomorrow
Just to start life anew

Then you'll be a bit older
In the dawn when you wake
And you'll be a bit older
In the new day you'll take

There's a Japanese Sandman
Trading silver for gold

Just an old second hand man
Trading new days for old

Then you'll be a bit older
In the dawn when you wake
And you'll be a bit older
In the new day you'll take

There's a Japanese Sandman
Trading silver for gold

Just an old second hand man
Trading new days for old

These lyrics are so whimsical and gentle. The mental pictures I see are beautiful. Think of the magic phrase, "across the Western Sea"- sounds so mysterious and distant., and the idea of trading old days in and getting new ones is an allegorical picture for aging that is quaint and old fashioned.

SeeqPod - Playable Search

Saturday, October 4, 2008

My Daughter

My daughter is beautiful. Her smile, so like her father and so like myself - mini me - is, within the frame on my bookshelf, trying to convince, uncertain, wide and open, wanting to believe. Betrayed by her parent's divorce, unable to face the nastiness of life, she negotiates a path that won't offend anyone, that won't draw attention, for fear, just for fear. She is so smart, so incredibly deep emotionally and I'm a little afraid of her. I can't reach into the depths of her pain. I can't fix it and make it better. I'd plunge my hand into the midst of it if it would make the crooked straight.

If only she knew she could stand alone, stand alone with the Lord by her side. He is quiet, hard to discern, the small, still voice. I'm asking Him to take care of her.

She puts her face to the cold wind, finds no comfort, sees no beauty, has a piece of my soul but not my eyes. She doesn't trust beauty. She keeps walking the same path to heal the wound in her soul, but never quite finds the way.

I love her, Lord, and I ask you to forgive me for not being what I should have been for her. Please make up my lack, fill her need, help her to find her way, open her eyes to you and lead her soul to comfort.

No one who is beautiful, smart, funny, loving, humble, human and a part of my heart should have to try to put the pieces of this life together without a hint, without the answers, Lord. This is my prayer. You love her more deeply than I ever could, You charm her soul with warmth and love, be all that she needs and that I failed to be. Teach her the things she needs to know - and most of all, let her know that You Are, and that You love her.

Dream Vacation vs Practical Vacation

Every fall this northern soul misses her favorite season and the change of color and cool crisp air that goes with it....up north. Here in Florida, days don't stay dry until mid-October at least, and there is no real cool here unless a cold front of some magnitude comes through. Cold fronts don't normally occur until after October is over - sometimes not until December.
Last fall we visited my old home town in NY State. My husband had never been there and I wanted to show him where I grew up. It was SO wonderful for me.
This year we were going to go to Smoky Mountains Park as we've done in past years, but it just isn't feasible. The economy is too scary, there are gas shortages in the area we would be vacationing in, and - bottom line - we just don't have the money.
We have saved - for us - much more money than we have in the past - we have now amassed $5000.00, which is in a savings account at a local Credit Union - where I hope it is safe. Our monthly budget has absolutely no fat in it since we have way too much credit card debt, we owe on about 7 advance loans from my husband's retirement, and - the piece de resistance - our home mortgage is about $30,000 - $40,000 more than our home is actually worth - AND - our mortgage is an A.R.M that comes due for change in 3 years.
We would have to pile on more credit to go on vacation because I don't want to touch the cash savings we have. Plus we have about $3200. in a CD, but that is untouchable, I think.
So next week, we have already taken the time off - we're going to do some much needed work around our house and yard and we then will take a 2 or 3 day trip inside Florida. There are tons of beautiful places in Florida.
Both my husband and I are far more comfortable with the new plan, even though we would, of course, love to go to the Smokies. Actually, I'd give my right arm and a kidney to move to the Smokies, but that is another story. Besides, we couldn't sell this house in the market that exists now.
So - we've made some very stupid financial decisions over the years, some were necessary and unavoidable, but most were just dumb. God have mercy on us - and it is time we took charge of the fiasco and stopped the bleeding - and it will hurt, I must say.
We can still play the Lotto once a week - a dollar to buy a "quick pick". Meanwhile, I'll be thankful in these perilous times to hold on to my roof and enough to eat. Holding onto that roof may be a bit tricky in the next few years, and if one of us loses a job, the jig is up.