Archive for the Bird of Time Category

Words Tell IT All

Posted in Arts, Bird of Time, Culture, Education, Humor, nuance, nuance, Philosophy, poets, poets, The Arts, words on July 20, 2014 by bird of time

England. The English. English. A tiny island stuck on Winston Churchill’s back.

It shouldn’t be odd to me that the scrappy Churchill with his wonderful words should be the savior of this scrappy England. What a great pair, a great icon.

I’m a poet, a writer and I love words.It doesn’t matter what they say; it’s what they are. It’s the secrets they hold.The treasures they reveal. My high school English teacher, Jane Pavey later Stephans, gave me one of  my greatest gifts when she told us to look at the root of our words. Each word is a history book. Each word can tell stories of long boats and horned helmets, of the good ship Bounty (or not so good). and even ragtime and Beatles. It can tell if the old village was Saxon or Norman, tell its age by knowing that. It can sing and boast and weep:

“And Crispin Chrispian shall ne’er go by
But we in it shall be remembered
From this day to the ending of the world,
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;”
(Shakespeare, of course. Henry V)

We band of brothers. It isn’t quite what Shakespeare meant, but the tiny island is a brotherhood of men created by the Phoenicians, by old Greek gods, Caesar, the Picts and Franks and Saxons. They, like the Happy Few have left their mark on the language and the people.  England and English itself – a happy brand of brothers. A kinship of words.

They say the language is so difficult to learn because of all the nuances, because the same word can have entirely different meanings like junk, ship, and junk, trash. There are all those ghosts in the language. But It has a wealth of expression that is perhaps unmatched.

Even the sounds of the words are like a picnic in the United Nations. Harsh sounds, or soft, sometimes lilting sounds.  Good Night. I’d guess that is German from the gutteral sound of it. Actually, the dictionary said Anglo Saxon, Germanic, of course.  gòd niht. The German is Gute Nacht. I don’t know for sure as I don’t often hear them, but I think I hear a softer gutteral sound in Polish and the Balkan states.  In England I love to listen to the accents and try to figure out where in England they are from. Some of it sounds a bit like a foreign language.

The soft, gliding sounds: sibilant, a Latin hiss. That delights me: a Latin hiss. What a picture! In spite of how much I like English I think Italian is the most musical of all the languages – it rolls and spits and kisses and even laughs. If I had to give up English I’d go dancing in that wonderful Italian  barrel of grapes marked for the finest wines.

And then there is the meaning, the nuance that makes a Shakespeare, a Browning or an Emily Dickenson. Look at the sloop, a barge, a clipper and, of all things a junk. England, the land of The Navy. Almost all of English  history can be seen in its ships. The most beautiful,  the heart-stopping clipper ship: clip – race fast, Old Norse – who better with those wonderful long boats? What a vision.  Junk, the ugliest of the ship words (not helped by its twin, junk for trash.)  It is still the most romantic:  Malay – adjong. You never hear it any more, I suppose it is not PC, but when I was young every concert singer sang On The Road to Mandalay, where the flying fishes play. Where the dawn comes up like thunder out of China ‘cross the bay.  Strangely, the beautiful song came from a definitely un-PC poem by Kipling.

Everyone jokes about reading the dictionary as the most boring pastime in the world. But I love the words, I love to see where they are from, what they can tell me what is new or remind me of the old, the romantic. They are the tag lines of history. I think if there were a University of Words, we’d have a very educated, civilized society.

 

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Just a Little Tweaking, Here and There

Posted in Bird of Time, Congress, Constitution, Education, Free Speech, Humor, lies, Obama, Politics, truth on July 7, 2014 by bird of time

An artist or an author has a great deal of trouble knowing when to quit. He/she – actually, He. I am going to quit any of this pc baloney. Especially since I am a LOL – Little Old Lady. We get to say anything we want.

I both paint and write so it’s double trouble, I’m a compulsive tweaker. I enjoy palette knife paintings, and those are hard to mess with when dry. Writing? I never go anywhere near a piece of my writing, however old, without changing something: a comma, a misspelling? – been there, done that.

I have to assume most of it is because I get smarter with age rather than dumber. I think most people think stupidity happens automatically  when you turn sixty-five. I was playing bridge one night when one of the ladies complained about a question put to the mother of one of our presidents. “They’re just taking advantage of a Senior Citizen.”  Tell me who the dumb one was.

Friday was July 4th. 238 years. I don’t know at which age you begin asking yourself, how many years have I got left? An individual can wind up his motor and get down to finishing his dreams. A country has to ask itself how is the old dream? Better or worse? Or is it lost altogether? Is there time to catch the falling star? Does anyone believe in the star any more? Shall I tweak it or really take a go at it?

It rather looks these days as though someone has licked the icing from our cake. It is a ragged cake with a president who is voted the worst since WWII. For myself I’d say the worst ever in the history of our country.

He is like a child who believes his charm can so fill the eyes of his audience they do not notice he is a Svengali intent on owning their spirit. It is only his ineptness that has kept him from completely doing so. If he were as smart as Bill Clinton, with his own disposition, we would be in big trouble.

Adolph Hitler was the smartest of the tyrants we have known in the last century. Stalin was a bull in the china shop, knocking over his country’s treasures. Mao did the same thing. Mussolini made a good start at making things work in Italy, but as big as his stomach was, his eyes were bigger.

If you look at Hitler’s planning, his deviousness, his political smarts, he was a true Machiavellian. By promising the people what they wanted to hear, he wormed his way into the government – legally. He pretended at each step that his actions were legal. He got the German people to swallow his formula for a Greater Germany.

It is in this political planning that Obama resembles Hitler. Perhaps there is a kinship with ego-maniacs who want to make their dream the world power. Ego prevents true wisdom. It activates the crazed part of our being.

Germans did nothing to stop their hero.

What are we doing to stop our little tyrant?

The progressives (most democrats) have been working on their plans for years. Since Teddy Roosevelt at least. When they could not do it voting, they went for the Hitler deal. Call the present government names. Hitler used traitors, Jews and Communists. His weapon, of course, propaganda. We, of course are thieves and killers and destroyers.

Obama has a much easier time of it. Since he is part African-American, all he needs to say is “Racist.” Then he has a newspaper industry who loves it and makes that their password. As Saul Alinsky says, to destroy the opposition, ridicule it. Don’t argue. That seldom changes minds but ridicule stirs the emotions and closes the conversation. The man in the street, doesn’t have to be knowledgeable then. He can be a clever debater by shouting a name.

The smartest thing the progressives have done is to take over the universities and education. They have  eliminated History from the schools so that students have no argument to make against the rewriting of it. In a way, it is amusing to watch those candid questions on TV asking about history. Recently some College students could not name the founding fathers. One thought Lincoln was the first president. Another had no real clue who George Washington was or did. College kids.

If you asked them about the Bill of Rights, what those rights were, I’m sure the girls would say the right to have the government pay for their contraceptives.

Of course, they have a good example in the White House – a man who didn’t know what language Austrians spoke. How much history can you know without knowing of the German-Austrian  connections? I wonder if Obama knows that the German Hitler was born in Austria. Or cares? How bad is it when the president who has gone to Harvard doesn’t know history?

My only hope is that Obama has at last shown himself for what he is and perhaps Americans are waking up to the real McCoy. As he gleefully oversteps his bounds, time after time, the Americans will, I hope begin to realize how important the Constitution is, and how right the founding fathers were.

If they ever learn what a founding father is, of course, and who and what they were. Some of those kids thought we fought the Revolution with France. One said Russia, most hadn’t a clue. Only one girl knew it was England.

As the old radio show, Fibber McGee and Molly said (well, Molly always said it). “Taint  Funny, McGee.” By the way, Fibber and Molly were delightfully Irish and no one complained.

For myself, I’d like to see Obama deposed from his throne for: Fast and Furious; Failure to do anything about the Marine in a Mexican jail, supposedly in Obama’s  politics,  because he had a gun; Benghazi – again failure to protect our citizens – gross negligence and lying; The IRS scandal – using them as a political too; Failure to carry out the laws passed by Congress – i.e. changing them illegally or only carrying out the parts he wanted to; Failure to see that the Justice Department is doing it’s sworn duty; Lying to the American people deliberately and willingly; Failure to carry out his duties for Veterans as their Commander in Chief, letting them die while he goes out campaigning; Failure to follow the Constitution. Lying. Lying. Lying. And now, deliberately, knowingly and with planning  using children as immigrants to destroy the Immigration Department and our country.

Of course, the obvious problem side of uncrowning the king is that Biden will be president. Perhaps that is why he was picked – to make it harder to impeach Obama.  But I don’t think Biden can do much damage. He hasn’t the following. Although the press probably still won’t cover the news properly. They’ll just repeat Biden’s lip slips.

Well, I’ll settle for that. But I’ll wish for Biden a long and healthy life. The next one up is Pelosi. I think she is the most disliked person in Congress, although Harry Reid must be a contender. But, we need to get the establishment out of congress and the news away from Obama.

So, how many more good birthdays can the United States of America count on? It all depends upon you. We need more than just a  little tweaking.

Happy Birthday, United States of America – and many, many more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE EVIL ONE

Posted in Bird of Time, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2014 by bird of time

According to  an unadmirer (is that a word?) of my thoughts, the Evil one speaks again:

Sympathy cannot dictate policy.

Democrats have a fit (publicly) over amnesty. They claim anyone else is hard-hearted and cruel and drag up all the sad stories they can to prove that they are the saints and those who call for thoughtfulness are sinners, Evil, as they say.

But what they don’t see – refuse to see, is that every sad story has an opposite sad story.

The illegal immigrant struggles to make a living and because of circumstances, her child can’t go to college (not usually the case, these days). Well for that illegal immigrant there are probably two black citizen children who can’t go to college because their family wages are so low. Companies don’t hire the black woman or man because immigrants are cheaper or, if they are hired (the black man or woman) it too is at slave labor prices where the worker can barely exist. Believe it or not, there are even white children who can’t go to college.

     Then there is the tax that is taken from all citizen’s wages to pay for the illegal’s schooling, medical care, food, law enforcement.  And more taxes that our grandchildren are going to be burdened with.

Actually, I believe the present government is more than satisfied with this outcome because your grandchildren will be more like lemmings if they can only exist in a controlled world. They will become dependent on the government too.

     Politically, congress is stumped. It can’t get anything done because the bleeding hearts stand on their perceived holiness and refuse any realistic solution. Also they believe illegals will swell the number of  their party members

     Actions have consequences. When a woman enters the country illegally, she sets up her own problems. If a man shoots someone, he knows there is a possibility he will receive the death penalty. He, in fact, accepts that risk when he  shoots. But, when he faces the outcome, he cries “foul”.

     When the woman has the baby here in the US, she believes she is entitled to special consideration – all because she broke the law and relies on the bleeding hearts to rescue her from HER actions, choices.
Oh – I can hear you democrats accusing me of a hard heart, as my friend who calls me Evil said, I have no heart! I feel as much sympathy as he does for all those sad people who have no food, no work, no hope.

     The imigrants, instead of looking for someone to support them,should see that changes are made in THEIR government. Mexico, for instance had several revolutions – one from the church, one from European governments. They have given up. Let the U.S take care of it. They are so rich (they’ve got 20 trillion because they borrowed it from China. They should give some to us!)

     As for people with no food, no work, no hope – the bleeding hearts have done nothing for the blacks in our own country (the blacks are already in their voting block) . They have every bit as much despair as the Latin Americans in THEIR country.

     The democrats complain that big money is the enemy – well, maybe it is – it pays to bring alll these problems to us. It is they who want the slave labor, they responsible for the harm to our democracy. Not as the democrats claim by running the government but by using it to subvert democracy, bring in all these aliens guaranteed to vote democratic. That is the sin of big money – not someone working for democracy like the Koch brothers.

113 billion a year. The yearly  cost to us of illegal immigrants Soon to rise!

Your children and grandchildren will pay for the diplaced sympathy for immigrants. How about feeling sorry for your own offspring?

When the finances of our country collapse, will you still be so willing to feed the illegals? When our countrymen are literally fighting each other for food and existance, will you survive to feed your own family? When the government has no money to pay for social security, what will you do? Flee to Mexico for asylum?

Who will have your sympathy when we have chaos because our country’s finances have collapsed? If we only have inflation like Germany had where a loaf of bread will cost a million dollars, we’ll be lucky. This is not baloney. If we don’t do something about our economy soon, catastrophe is unavoidable. How much more can we borrow? How much of that are you willing to continue to pay for immigrants?

     What will happen to your sympathy for illegals  in the face of disaster? Whom will you want to save, your grandchildren or the illegal immigrant grandchildren?

Enlightened self interest. It’s an interesting thought. If it is enlightened, it isn’t selfish, it is sensible, reasonable, more than that often preferable. Why don’t we just give half our national wealth to, say, Mexico. It would solve some of their problems for a few weeks. But then, they have problems money cannot fix and those continue to wreck the country. In a month they could ask for more. But when we gave them half our income we destroyed our financial well-being and can’t care for ourselves, let alone help them again. So we all are in a mess. If, in the first place, we hadn’t given half our income, we could be in a position to do something reasonable to help.

So, refusing to yield to sympathetic impulses in the first place was not selfish, Evil, as my friend says. It was the better path. Enlightened self-interest.

     Wake up and be realistic for a change. Sympathy cannot rule good sense.

By the way, if I use Mexico as an example, it is because it is so close, has so many problems and we do have a sizeable population of them It is NOT because I hate Mexicans. So, please leave out your politically correct and prejudiced assumptions. They are just distractions from the truth.

 

The Flower Dies

Posted in Bird of Time with tags , , , , , on May 31, 2014 by bird of time

The flowers are pink, riotously shaded from almost white in the deep center where tall stamen burst out, to a slice of deep carmine at the tip. The flower is a circled row of aspen shaped petals. With them in the vase are white lillies scented with a bit of Heaven. They stand gloriously  eloquent for a week, then the white takes on a gray and the scent and petals fade.

The pinks ignore their jar-mates and keep their heads up for another few days, then one by one, like fall leaves, they litter the table.

I pick up one that is still soft and blushing, an icon for a short poem on life or love, perhaps life and love if you are very lucky. In that tiny petal the details of treasured moments are painted. Our world passes through a series of beautiful moments in time that will never stay, circling for a few days to form a perfect flower, then fall to be swept up. A metaphor for life.

Every day, time absorbs us, demands our attention. Like the old God,Cronos, it devours everything it creates. Yet, it creates.

In return for allowing him to love her,the Greek god, Apollo promised the Sibyl of Cumea anything she wished. She asked that Apollo love her for as many years as the number of the grains of sand she held. She forgot to ask for youth and as she aged, Apollo ceased to love her and forgot her. She faded away and only her voice remained. In my collection of poetry on Greek mythology, “The Gift of Lovely Song” she asks her fellow oracles, “Is the hour of love enough?”

In an old book, my grandmother had pressed a flower. I am a great-grandmother now and the flower has fallen apart but what piece of the world was in that flower? A kiss? Love itself? She married three times but loved only once. The flower was briefly held, or was it? Was this bit in the book, still that hour of love? I hope so.

He was my grandfather whom I never knew but am looking forward to seeing  what that icon held when I get to Heaven. At least, I hope to get to Heaven.

Perhaps it will depend upon whether or not, like Hansel and Gretals’ bread crumbs, I can leave a trail of flowers in this world.

 

 

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Saturday Night. Another World

Posted in Bird of Time, conservative, Constitution, Culture, Humor, Opinion, Philosophy, Politics, The Arts, wordpress with tags , , , , on May 21, 2014 by bird of time

A lady never tells her age. It just sneaks out when she isn’t looking:  her manners (or lack of them), the smile that a word might bring, even the swear word she might use when she is totally annoyed. I have no doubt that by the time this bit of whimsy is finished you can tell the month, the date and the year I was born.

Well,  almost.

Someone mentioned a poem they had written about a Saturday night.

Saturday night. Another world.

In this real world, well, the Old Grey Mare, she ain’t what she used to be. Saturday night now means ho, hum. There is nothing on television until Fox’s Bulls and Bears at eleven. Don’t know where the Brit Mysteries went, but since that station only has eight months of programs (four of appeals), there is no point in looking for them. Perhaps this is one of those gifts that keeps on giving.

Saturday Nights. How I loved them. As a kid, it meant a movie. And later, a movie with that good night kiss you sang to yourself about all week

i lived in Toledo, Ohio in my sort of single days. You know, that town that everyone makes fun of. Actually it wasn’t bad then. It has one of the world’s best art museums and the theaters still had wine velvet drapes with gold thread, small restaurants in a downtown that stayed open for the movie crowd, street cars that ran only on the hour after twelve and I think stopped totally at two. Several of the nicer restaurants had a dance floor and one of the stone quarries offered dancing under the stars. I’ll take that.

Saturday actually started on Friday nights. Hair, nails, iron our special dresses and shine the shoes – an evening routine that was the equal to any “I have to wash my hair” excuse.

Then the dressing up for Saturday deal. White gloves. Highest heels we had. The latest in hats (or not). Then downtown on the bus for lunch – for which my future sister-in-law, friend was always half an hour late. Our favorite lunch place was  the restaurant in our favorite store. Later I’d take my kids there for their birthday lunch.

At Christmas time the stores filled their windows with manger scenes and angels that left you gasping. My store had the best Santa in town.

My sister-in-law was a tiny thing and there were always great bargains on the racks for her. So we’d head for the dress sale racks. There was always a clerk to greet you and actually wait on you. She’d check your dressing room to see if everything was alright, see if she could find something for you, or get a different size. For a long time, she got a commission but that disappeared about the time the clerks disappeared.

After that we’d go to a smaller but pricier place to drool over their hats.  If only I had those lovely things today. big black and huge straw, sparkling white Scarlet O’Hara hats, little straws that actually did have cherries or tiny flowers and ribbons on them, a black Ingrid Bergman hat from Casablanca, a stacked straw, a glorious pink hat with big pink roses, a white fur that the Czars’ wife might have worn. Oh my.

If I could have some reminder of those days, I’d take the hats, plus maybe one wine velvet dress, one lavender cotton with big embroidered lilacs, and one pair of gold sandals.

it was like a gigantic treasure box. No bare shopping malls. Just “Downtown” where all the good things were. I wonder if New York City is still like it was when I visited th city with Macy’s and Sacs, a .small downtown  A mall just is not the same. No romance. No big deal.

The stores then had a book and a candy department, and a yard goods department. Big bolts of heavy Skinner satin and lovely soft Pendleton wools. Huge books of patterns for beautiful dresses and fuzzy pajamas. They had one of the prettiest leopard print furs I’ve ever seen. I don’t like most they look so artificial, but this was soft (fake furry) and beautiful.  I made a coat I loved for years. It was my signature coat.

I had my first two charge cards there, down town. My behavior was never so good again as it as with them!

And that was just the afternoon.

I don’t know what Saturday night is these days. Just another day to go out?

It really was the highlight of the week. If you were lucky, your date was a good dancer. If not it was movie night. The theaters were always packed. We didn’t usually bother with the first couple of weeks of a block buster, but settled for a good one in one of the smaller theaters. And yes, there were balconies and snuggling, but those weren’t our choice of seats if we could help it.

Then waffles and coffee in one of the small restaurants that catered to the movie crowd.

I look at the block malls and the tiny bare theaters and I’m glad I’m not a kid now. I guess maybe the screen  elements are worth the excitement of going to the movies, but I can’t think of trading that for the wonderful voice of Ronald Colman, or that lovely, deep French voice of Charles Boyer murmuring in your ear.

Those were the best of times, the worst of times. The worst only because they are gone forever Another world.

Why?

Posted in Bird of Time on May 18, 2014 by bird of time

Why ?

Prometheus watched the wretched man shiver and chew on the raw innards of that thing he had killed. The god wrinkled his nose and turned back to look at his own table, laden with delicacies: fruit from his own orchard, ambrosia, tender loins of gazelle and roasted unicorn, long loaves of golden bread with honey from Zeus’s hives, wine from Dionysus’ best vineyard.

He looked down again at the sad scene below. There was a woman now. She sat with the man and stitched at a rabbit skin. She was young and quite beautiful, a bit like Persephone, but her beauty would not stay. The world there was cold and cruel. She would not last.

And then she laughed and the god was enchanted, lost in the silver sound of it. The laughter in Olympus had not sounded so pure and fresh in a long time. He had forgotten.

Prometheus turned back to warm his wine. The fire sent out a flame, a finger of light toward him, and the god trembled. Yes. No, he mustn’t! But he wanted to give the man, the woman this gift. This one gift that would make their lives livable, perhaps even happy. And the girl? Perhaps she would stay pretty for a  few seasons longer. Yet did he dare?

Zeus would be furious, but the old lecher had gone hunting. If he were chasing a goddess, it would take a while.  Prometheus couldn’t resist the thought.  If he could be quick, Zeus might never know.

Below, a cold rain and the dark  stopped the work and the man and woman crawled into the cave to curl together under their animal skin and sleep. When he awoke, it was strangely warm, not at all like the cold at this season. He rose and went to look.

At the entrance a beautiful bundle of light, with fingers of glowing red and yellow reached for him. He put out his hand. It was hot and he jumped away, then put out his hand again. If he got too close, the light hurt. Why? What was this? He took a long stick and poked at it. The flame captured the stick. It became one of  the burning fingers. Why? He took more sticks, some from the trees, some old ones from the ground and the old ones picked up the flame and made it brighter and warmer. Why?

Why?

Why is probably the most important word in the vocabulary of civilization. Why?

Man’s struggle to discover, to explain then use the things he found has built this world. If he could understand, he could conquer, possess and improve.

After he left the forest and settled into a home, grew his food, and wove his clothing, he built a university to answer his questions.  A place where learning was passed from hand to hand, mouth to mouth and even written down. A haven where the great could train the greater and civilization might be gathered like the wheat in the fields, and kept like the gold that tumbled in the river. A university. A place to learn to think.

Learn to think. To reason. This was the mantra of the old and famous schools. If one could think, one could divine and the colleges of Arts and Sciences were prestigious affairs. Some studies, like engineering  took the facts that thinkers picked from the why’s and put them to use. Remarkable, but not pure  thought. Things like that were only reason’s eggs, off springs.

My biology teacher said he gave a big percentage of his grades based upon the questions students asked. He said you could not ask an intelligent question  if you knew nothing about the subject.

Today, many (most?) universities do not have the basic requirements of a rounded education. If you don’t like math, or science, you can take women’s studies or African problems. History has become the tale of the woes of the world. The great wars that determined the shape of Europe and the Americas have become the story of monsters and the degradation of the peoples. According to the abbreviated view of mankind’s history, he is a greedy Goliath who needs mastering by the elite.

All this is very interesting, but it is lopsided, like an ice statue too near the candles from a warming dish. The substance melts and when the base is no longer there, the statue leans.

There is plenty of evidence that questions are no longer asked in many of our most prestigious universities. Recently, Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State, was invited to address the graduating class of Rutgers University. A professor and his students who did not agree with her politics, objected, made a scene, and she withdrew. A University, a place of learning, of the stored wisdom of the ages, protested against an illustrious and proven scholar, refused to hear her wisdom, because they disagreed with her. You might as well shut down the universities if the “why” is not debatable.

The young are nearly always idealists. As an exhibiting artist, I would wander through the show to check it out. In those days collages were popular, especially with young boys. The work nearly always was the product of the idealist in him.  His work was almost always some monstrous world.  When the boys became men, the art more often than not, became studies of life.

The young are perfect pigeons for the theorists of the useful. They can’t see why they should have a foundation in literature and history, physical geography, math and languages. Those are things they think they’ll never need in the revolution of thought and practical politics they are convinced will solve the future. The only reason for history is to see who is to blame.

Lyndon Johnson is a perfect illustration of what the lack of questioning can do.

He looked around and saw hungry people. He saw fatherless babies and slums and crime. He wanted to feed them, expecting then all the other things like crime and teen age mothers to go away. The direct route was for the government to give aid and Johnson was a practical man. Our congressmen too, mostly lawyers without the rounded education that makes the difference between a smart man and a  wise one.

If they fed the man, he wouldn’t make trouble.  The trouble with a dinner is that the next table is empty. Instead of a chicken, a man needs a shovel.

Our founding fathers were taught to think. They probably knew half as many facts as we do, but they knew how to find the real heart of the problem.

Why?

THE OLDEN, GOLDEN DAYS

Posted in Bird of Time on May 18, 2014 by bird of time

“It’s Quarter to Three.” I think that is the title of the song. Well, it is quarter to one and I was about to go to bed and dive back into Colleen McCullough’s Roman series. If you don’t know them, go find them. They are wonderful. The story of the Roman Empire from Gaius Marius (I didn’t know about him either – he’s great) about 110 BC – Before Christ, to the death of Julius Caesar. Great reading and fascinating history.

Which has little to do with what I am writing about except that I’d rather – oh, well – it happens all the time. Distractions. Delays. I’ve been watching the news. By the end of the evening my motor kicks in. I think about who I can send a post to, to persuade them not to vote for this disastrous health care drama they call a bill. One sure to cost  15 millions, or 30 billions or maybe trillions.

Right now I can picture myself facing the first grade teacher with our little one-party wooden desks with an opening for an ink well in the upper right and twenty-thirty, perhaps more, names scrawled in the wood. We wouldn’t have known anything about millions or trillions but we would have known that thirty is more than fifteen. We could have figured that  if she wrote a trillion and a billion on the blackboard, one had a lot more zeroes.

I didn’t know it then but the country was in the middle of a great depression. I did know that I was in what was colloquially called an orphan’s home. You know, Little Orphan Annie and Little Annie Rooney whom you always see scrubbing floors.

To get off on a tangent (another one) – when my kids complained about chores, I naturally told them about the unfinished pine wood floors in the dormitory we scrubbed with Fels Naptha Soap, brushes  and hot water every Saturday morning. But then we had the rest of the day to play ‘Go Sheepy Go’ and Hide and Seek and I was neither hungry, nor cold, nor abused and we had clean floors.

Even Little Orphan Annie knew better than our congress that one couldn’t buy a leather bound book  with the five cents you managed for a “Little Book” on Sacajawea. If that were the only bad news for the day, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about the olden days when desks had ink wells.

And going from young to old, one of the online news magazine articles evoked a comment you often hear about social security from the young or younger, complaining about the cost of seniors. Not that I don’t think it is a problem and I can understand their anger at having a sizable chunk taken from their check to support people who are nothing to them. Nothing except the cartoonish hags and crones – what’s the name for an old man? An old man? Well, whatever. There are all these old people out there with their hand out demanding your money. After all, what did they do to deserve your charity?

Back in the good old days, those old crones were young mothers. It was a good time to be a young mother. The best. Not perfect, but when is life perfect? Even today those whose lives are better must sometimes wonder about the mess the world is in and having to grow up when sex and drugs and violence are the world’s nannies.

I think of slow dances with your head on the guys’ shoulder, a seven and seven that didn’t have a date rape drug in it. Of guys who took no for an answer. Of times when you worried if Dad would get home for dinner before or after you put the plates out. I used to kid my husband and tell him he had a nose like a hound dog. I could wait all evening and the minute I picked up the spoon to dish the food, there he was.

But getting back to social security or pensions, the unions were relatively young and strong in those days. The men got a good wage, a real pension to look forward to, and eventually he could have two cars so that his wife instead of himself, could take the kids to school. Bread was about thirty five cents a loaf, a four pack of papier a la toilet was thirty four and as big as a triple roll now. You could get a baby sitter for a couple of dollars and have a wiener roast where the biggest jerks only got drunk on beer.

It isn’t my intention to say, “well the unions did this and Khrushchev did that,” but to point out that life in the fifties was different. The outlook and dreams were different. We knew we would get old, but we were buying houses and feeding kids and looking forward to a great tomorrow. The war was over, times were good. We certainly never dreamed life would include five-dollar loaves of bread, nor fake giant-sized rolles de la toilet papier for twelve. Perhaps we would have not have stopped at that last drive-in  to see a re-run of Gone With the Wind.

I had a beautiful lavender cotton dress with embroidered lilacs (my favorite flower) on the skirt. Perhaps I could have resisted buying it. But I’m glad I didn’t in spite of disgusted looks these days from kids who think we think age is a license to steal. In case you believe we were all wastrels, I sewed almost all of my girls’ clothing, including Easter dresses and the coats they wore with their ruffled socks and patent leather shoes and brand new Easter hats and GLOVES!

It’s true that social security saves many a neck. There are many parents who actually do stand on their own with the help of that income. A lot of people would have to contribute more to their parents if not for social security. Or they might end up with mom and dad prematurely living with them. Wouldn’t that be a laugh? Social security gives freedom to the generations, young and old.

I often wonder about those who complain. Did their parents leave them in the closet and never feed them or clothe them or see that they had as good a life as they could give them? If the parents spent their money to buy the kids’ patent leather shoes, is it really so awful to think you might have to give back?  I would imagine the parents never wanted to ask anything from their children. I know we felt it was our job to support you, and many parents support their children well into the adult years.

Are these the ones who complain? I don’t know. I know they have a right to complain about the taxes – the whole business is shameful, but I really don’t understand the hatred for the seniors. And it is there.

So now, it is two o’clock and I think there is another old song “It’s Two O’clock in the Morning.” I am going to go read about the Romans who complained about their kids and their kids who complained about them.