Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

I have a “Keeper Box”, maybe you have one too. I actually have more than one and every now and then I look through my keeper boxes. It’s for special things…you know…like special pictures, funny notes, childish drawings, a macaroni necklace, and plaster of paris hand prints. I looked especially at those plaster of paris hand prints because every hand print is different and they remind me that we are all, “fearfully and wonderfully made”*

I did a little research on the history of hand prints and found that hand prints were used long ago for identification purposes even though they didn’t know, at that time, how important the prints were to become. It is said that British scientist Sir Francis Galton discovered the uniqueness of fingerprints, but there were others that knew of this too. In the 1800s, William Herschel, a British magistrate in India, had native Indians make a “hand-print signature” on contracts he made with them. His intention was to prevent them from denying that they had signed the contract. I guess instead of “if the shoe fits, wear it” it was, “if the hand print matches, you signed it”. After some time, the magistrate had several contracts with hand-print signatures and that was when he began to notice the differences. Each hand print was indeed unique.

Everyone knows that for many years fingerprinting has been a way of identifying criminals and even some notorious criminals have tried to alter their fingerprints. As they say, “crime doesn’t pay” because they were usually caught anyway and some even charged with obstructing justice for trying to change their fingerprints. Besides there is now DNA testing that has aided law enforcement to a great degree. Fingerprinting is also used for many good purposes, such as identifying missing people and finding children that have been abducted.

What is really surprising about fingerprints is the way they are formed on our fingers in the first place. Fingerprints are formed in the womb before we are even born. Fingerprints are formed by the pressure of the baby’s hands touching their surroundings in the womb. Other factors are genetics, location in the womb, and the density and flow of the amniotic fluid. All of this creates what is called “friction ridges” that causes the fingerprints on the baby’s hands. Fingerprints are fully formed on a baby several months before they are born! It is also amazing that identical twins do not share the same fingerprints even though they have the same genetic code. We truly are “Fearfully and wonderfully made”.*

The next time you’re feeling unimportant or that you life doesn’t matter, look at you fingers and remember everyone has different finger prints, even identical twins. You are unique, “fearfully and wonderfully made”,* and loved by God.

*Psalm 139:14-16

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place,

when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;

all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

By

Pamela Perry Blaine

May 2021

My Piano Teacher

My Piano Teacher

There was a time when lots of children took private piano lessons. The piano was not only a musical instrument but a lovely piece of furniture that adorned many homes and it was thought that it was important for children to learn the basics of music so piano lessons were popular. At that time, pianos were acoustic, made of the best woods, and were often very ornate.

My Daddy never seemed to meet an instrument that he couldn’t play, yet he could not read a note of music. He still taught my brother and I a lot by teaching us what he knew. He wanted us to learn to read music so Mama made arrangements for piano lessons with Mrs. Krueger.

Mrs. Krueger was a widow in her 80s when I began taking piano lessons from her for 75 cents for a 45 minute lesson. She was an excellent teacher and taught only classical music. She dressed and wore her hair much like the Baldwin sisters did on the television show, The Waltons. She wore straight skirts that came midway between her knees and ankles, sensible leather dress shoes, and usually a white, long sleeved blouse with a high neck. Some people called her “Miss Susie” but I always called her Mrs. Krueger because she was so respected and special to me.

Mrs. Krueger’s brick house on Second Street in Edina was meticulously kept and had steps that led up to two doors. The one on the right went into her living room and the one on the left went to her music room. The music room had a small bookcase filled with music books and the rest of the room was filled by her majestic grand piano with busts of Bach and Mozart sitting nearby. It was the first grand piano I had ever seen and its sound was amazing.

Mrs. Krueger taught me to sit properly at the piano and to play with my fingertips, and she threatened to get out her scissors if my fingernails were too long. As Mrs. Krueger taught she would end many of her sentences with, “Don’t you see.” It was not a question but the stating of facts. “You must not slump your shoulders at the piano but sit up straight, don’t you see.”

“Some people say I am hard boiled” and she explained that meant she was firm in her beliefs and teaching. Mrs. Krueger was kind but she expected my best effort. Music was to be played as it was written and when I attempted an embellishment, she said, “Don’t try to improve on the composer”. I didn’t try that again, after all, there was Bach and Mozart sitting on the piano watching me. Mrs. Krueger often encouraged me saying, “You have a nice touch” or “I’m putting an “Excellent” sticker on this music because you played it well, don’t you see.”

Mrs. Krueger must have spent hours preparing theory books of homework for me to complete. People did not have printers or copy machines in their homes at that time so she wrote it all out by hand. Even as a child I thought about what a long time that must have taken her because I was only one of many students that she taught. I learned to draw treble and bass clefts, name notes, and much more. Mrs. Kruger taught me the different kinds of notes by drawing pies. She would draw a circle and say, “This is a whole pie, just like a whole note, it gets 4 counts. If I cut the pie in half, it’s like a half note, getting 2 counts, don’t you see.” She wrote out all the major and minor scales for me to practice every day at home and I was taught history of the great composers, even how to pronounce names properly. “Bach must end with a throat clearing sound, don’t you see.”

Mrs. Krueger was an accomplished pianist and also played the pipe organ at the Methodist Church. I would often ask her to play something for me because I loved to hear her play. I think she could probably play almost anything. She was a stickler about teaching only classical music and one day she said, “I know you hear songs on the radio like this…(and she played a rousing rendition of a 1950s piano song called Nola)…but I only teach classical music.” I sometimes asked her to play The Wedding March (by Wagner) because she played it so beautifully. She laughed when I asked her if she would play it at my wedding someday, probably because she thought she wouldn’t be around for that event but she did live to be past 90. I thought you would like to know the story of Mrs. Krueger. She was a lovely lady and I miss her, don’t you see.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

Let’s Keep It!

Let’s Keep It

I once did volunteer work with a lovely lady whose name was Maria and we became good friends. One day she was excited to tell me that she was planning a trip because she had gotten permission to go to Cuba, and then she told me her story:

Maria was a young child when she and her parents came to the United States from Cuba and settled in Florida. She had relatives in Cuba but had never been back there. Maria’s grandmother was elderly and she wanted to see her Grandmother before she died.

Maria said there were only two times that a family member had visited from Cuba. It was difficult to get permission or money to come but her uncle came and one day he went with them to the grocery store. He looked around the large supermarket filled with so many groceries that he fought tears because the choices were overwhelming to him. He didn’t want to see anything more, and he went home depressed.

Later, a second relative came to visit and they hesitated to take her to the stores because of the effect it had on their uncle so they asked her what she would like to see while she was in the USA. Her reply was, “Everything, I want to see and experience everything!” She had determined that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and she wanted to see and do as much as she could and savor experiences, even though she knew she was going back to a place where life was difficult.

It was interesting for me to hear the two different responses from Maria’s relatives but she explained to me that the stores in Cuba did not have so many items. Instead of various kinds of breads, there might be only one kind or maybe no bread at all that day. There were only a few items and no choices. People were only allowed certain things and a predetermined amount of food. Most things were monitored, even telephones, and there was only one telephone in her village, centrally located, and people needed permission to use it.

I asked Maria about her plans to go to Cuba and what it would be like for her. She said she was taking as much luggage as allowed so she could take things to her relatives. I had to laugh when she told me her idea. Maria planned to wear lots of clothing. She would wear several skirts, blouses, socks, belts, and a man’s hat that she knew her uncle needed. Maria was determined to do all she could for her family even if she looked 20 pounds heavier. She said she felt a little selfish because she was taking some paper products for herself because where she was going they cut up rags to use for toilet paper and feminine needs and then they were washed and reused. Maria was also taking some medications. Her grandmother was only allowed two or three aspirins a month because she only received what the authorities decided she needed.

I inquired about why some people I heard about had stayed in a hotel in Cuba said it was a good experience. Maria said that when tourists or visitors were allowed in the country, they were shown the best hotels, restaurants, and beautiful places but they weren’t shown the everyday lives of the people. They didn’t know the limited choices and freedoms that many people endured. Maria said that Cuba is a beautiful place with white sand beaches, island music, and the people are wonderful. It was obvious that Maria loved her birthplace and her family’s homeland.

Maria was an inspiration to me. She didn’t take freedom for granted and Maria made me proud. She loved the place of her birth and her family but when the opportunity came, she chose freedom and she chose to become an American citizen.

America is not perfect and there are those who would like to destroy her but America has lasted for almost 245 years and people still want to come here. Why? Because, as the hymn says, “America, America, God shed His grace on Thee”* Let’s be grateful to God for His grace and the freedom He has given us.

After the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Benjamin Franklin was asked what kind of government do we have? Franklin replied, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

Let’s keep it!

By Pamela Perry Blaine

(c) April 2021

*America The Beautiful (Public Domain)

Grandma’s Parlor and the Big Piano

Grandma’s Parlor and the Big Piano

When I was a child my Grandmother’s parlor was a magical place because it was different from all the other rooms in her house. The few nicer pieces of furniture were in that room and it was used mostly for when someone came to visit. There was an area rug on the floor, a couch, chairs, a small table with a lamp, and a secretary with shelves that contained books.

The room seemed magical to me because it was beautiful and there was a sense of peace and tranquility there. I loved to be in that room all alone and it became my own special place. What made the room even more exceptional was the big piano that stood against the wall and I was drawn to it. The first time I climbed up on that piano bench I lifted the lid that covered the keys and traced the printing with my fingers that said, Hartford Cabinet Grand, Chicago. I opened the hymnal that sat on the piano and as if I knew what I was doing, I stretched my small fingers across the keys of the big piano and played them. I pretended to be a skillful pianist like my cousin, Linda, who played at church but I was disappointed that I didn’t sound like her but I kept trying and thinking it would suddenly happen. It was about this time that my Mother’s ears had just about enough of my playing and decided I should take piano lessons.

It was many years later, when I was an adult, that I found a slip of paper in a box of Grandma’s papers after she had passed away. It was a receipt for a monthly payment of $7.00 for the piano. It seemed Grandma had saved and made a down payment and paid the rest off in monthly installments. Grandma normally would not buy anything on credit so I was surprised to find that she made payments on the piano. She must have thought it important for my mother to learn to play the piano for her to do that. Although $7.00 a month doesn’t seem like much now, in the 1920s it was probably a large investment for my Grandma Laura. A good piano would have cost about $500.00 at that time.

My mother did learn to play the big piano and years later I learned to play it too. After I married and had my own home and family the big piano came to live in my house. I continued playing at home and at church and I still do. Both of my daughters learned to play the big piano too. My son played guitar and didn’t pursue piano but he loved Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and wanted to learn it so I taught him to play it on Grandma’s big piano.

The big piano was extremely heavy, so it was quite an ordeal to move it but it moved with our family several times. However, the last time we moved, we left the big piano with one of my daughters and we have a different piano where we live now. The big piano is now in the Wilkinson home in Pennsylvania and it sits in a room much like the parlor in my Grandma’s house. These days my granddaughters are learning to play the big piano and they recently played a duet on it for their piano recital.

The big piano is still filling rooms and our lives with music. I know I still feel drawn to it whenever we visit there. How many times has Moonlight Sonata, La Vie en Rose, and Amazing Grace been played on the big piano? How many hymn books have lain across the music board? How many little fingers have played the beginning piano books with songs like Sweetly Sings the Donkey, Hot Cross Buns, Ode to Joy, and Song of the Volga Boatmen?”

I know Grandma possibly gave up items for herself to purchase the big piano but I’m thankful she did because the big piano is still drawing new generations of children. I find myself hoping that somehow Grandma knows that children are still crawling up on that old piano bench, opening that hymnal, and playing music to the glory of God!

I play the notes as they are written but it is God who makes the music.” Johann Sebastian Bach

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

That’s Corny

That’s Corny!

Some people will remember the old Hee Haw television show or maybe have seen some reruns. It was a show based on music and comedy. The humor was very “corny” but it made us all laugh about the imaginary place called “Cornfield County” especially to those of us who live among the cornfields. The word “corny” usually means something that is over used, trite, or a joke that makes you groan. Although we live in a time where everyone seems to be offended about something. We were not offended by the humor presented about rural people. Why? Because we can laugh at ourselves. Sometimes it’s fun to be “corny” but we know who we really are. Most of the people I know here in our rural community are folks who believe in loving God, family, country, being a good neighbor, and aren’t afraid of hard work. If that’s corny, then it is a good thing.

Rural Missouri, along with other rural states are called “The Bread Basket” for good reason. We live where the food is grown that feeds the whole country and some other countries too, as well as feeding livestock so how “corny” is that?

Right now it’s that exciting time of year in rural Missouri. The ice and snow are gone (we hope), the temperatures are rising, and farmers are beginning to move equipment as they begin preparing fields and planting crops.

The main crops that we see here in Northeast Missouri are corn, soybeans, and hay. According to an agriculture report that I saw, Missouri is the second leading state in the number of farms and in hay production. Although Iowa is number one in our nation for growing the most corn, we aren’t far behind. Missouri grew 463.4 million bushels of corn in 2020 so we are pretty corny in that respect.

Corn is the one crop that can be grown in all 50 states of America so it’s appropriate that the FFA (Future Farmers of America) emblem we see on the FFA student’s jackets is a cross section of an ear of corn. That emblem has been around since 1926. Corn is food for both humans and livestock as well as being used for many other purposes.

Just think of all the foods we enjoy such as corn on the cob (aka roastin’ ears), cornbread, cornflakes, and we use corn oil for cooking but there are many other uses for the corn we grow. Here are just a few:

1. Ethanol can be made from corn for fuel but corn derivatives are also used in some batteries in the form of bio-electricity. Cornstarch is often used as an electrical conductor.

2. Corn plastics are used in food containers, disposable dishware and even gift cards. These plastics are better for the environment because they are biodegradable.

3. Cornstarch is a common ingredient in many cosmetics, deodorants, and hand sanitizers.

4. Corn-based pellets can be used in pellet stoves to heat homes.

5. Many medications and vitamins contain corn products, particularly cornstarch. Cornstarch is used because it is a safe, natural, and easily digested by humans.

6. Corn is used to make textile products like the carpets that we walk on and also is found in colorings and dyes.

7. Glue and adhesives commonly contain cornmeal or cornstarch. Even that envelope you lick contains a cornstarch adhesive that becomes sticky when moistened.

Fun Facts

  • There is one silk for every kernel that grows on an ear of corn.
  • Corn comes in various colors such as purple, green, red, and white but yellow is the most common.
  • There can be anywhere from 500 to around 1,200 kernels per ear of corn and a typical ear contains 800 kernels in 16 rows.
  • It is estimated that 25 percent of grocery items probably contain some form of corn product.

Next time you see a farmer, and there are many in our area, remember to be thankful for each one because they are feeding the world.

I’ll leave you now and maybe I’ll go make some popcorn, but first, I did want to tell you that I once went into a corn maze but I felt like I was being stalked. It was earie!

Now that’s corny!

By Pamela Perry Blaine

April 2021

Reading the Newspaper

Reading the Newspaper

I’m sitting here reading the newspaper. Can you hear the sound of the paper as I turn the pages? I don’t know about you but I still like holding a real newspaper instead of scrolling on the internet. My newspaper is like a good friend that comes in my rural mailbox every week and tells me what’s happening in our community.

I know we live in a time where many small newspapers are closing up shop because electronic mail and other forms of communication seem to be taking over, yet, I think our small town newspapers are wonderful.

Our local paper may not have as many pages, as much news about other countries, or national news like big city newspapers but it has something important. It has the news about what is happening right here in the area where we live.

Just think of all the information that we get in our local newspaper. There’s something to interest everyone. We read about our local school activities, ballgames, band performances, and board meetings. We see what is happening with healthcare, law enforcement, clubs, and organizations in our area. We learn about blood drives, benefits, church activities, and new businesses. Stores advertise what they sell, what is on sale, and what new products they have to offer our community.

We live in a time like no other with information flowing like a constant flash flood. There’s news and information on radio, television, internet sites, social media, along with tweets and text messaging. On top of that we have E-Mail and regular mail from the post office. We get a lot of junk mail that causes us to wear out the delete button on computers and open postal mail over the trash can.

Information seems to have gotten more like that old game of Gossip that we used to play as we sat in a circle and whispered a sentence in our neighbor’s ear. By the time the information reached the last person in the circle, it had changed to the point that it was hardly recognizable from the first time it was whispered.

Today information is flowing fast and furious but is it true? Many of the people I talk to are so frustrated by this problem that they are just not listening to news anymore.

When I have visitors from out of town, they pick up our local newspaper and say things like, “Wow! This is great.” When I ask what they like about it, it’s usually something about the hometown feel of the articles and stories. Where else can you read about what’s for lunch at the senior center, who got married, and who attended a birthday party?

We turn the page and there’s the listing of old time news with excerpts from the newspaper from ten, twenty, or even one hundred years ago.

I find it gratifying and amazing how our community comes together to raise money for worthy causes. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a fire department fundraising barbecue or a family experiencing a tragedy, everyone tries to help.

There are pictures and listings of anniversary celebrations and new babies that have arrived that bring us joy. As Carl Sandburg said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.”

Another special thing in our local newspaper is how they handle obituaries. There isn’t just a short paragraph like city papers that only have room for a few words. Our newspaper has full obituaries that tell life stories. We find out things that we didn’t know about people when we read their obituary in the newspaper. We see a list of relatives as well as learning about their occupation, hobbies, military service, organizations they were a part of, and church membership. All of this is important because, after all, an obituary is usually the last thing written about someone and it’s so nice to have this remembrance in the newspaper.

There is so much more to our local newspapers. We see articles and art work by local people and we also enjoy stories about our small towns back when they were teeming with stores and businesses. We also read about reflections on life, family, and friendship as well as humorous articles that make us laugh, and forget life’s problems for a while.

I know we can find news and even read newspapers, books, and magazines online as I often do. Yet, there’s just something special about the rattling sound of shaking the newspaper open and even the scent of the paper. And that’s why I’m sitting here, reading the newspaper.

By Pamela Perry Blaine

March 2021

Fun With Words

Fun With Words

Words can be fun and children often like to make up new words of their own. For instance the word supercalifragilisticexpialidocious was invented by brothers Richard and Robert Sherman. They simply thought back to their childhood and made up a word as they often did as children and eventually they came up with a word that they made into a song known as, supercalifragilisticexpialadocious which is a favorite song in the Mary Poppins movie of 1964.

Having fun with words seems to run in our family and it wasn’t unusual for us to make up funny words, arrange words differently, or change the pronunciation to make them sound amusing. My brother often offers me a “Coff of Cuppy” (Cup of Coffee). Daddy would tell Mom “Your birthday? Well, I’ll get you a “boo qwet” (bouquet) or maybe a “core sage”. Then there is my son-in-law who tells my daughter, the French teacher, “Mercy Bucket”, as she rolls her eyes. (Merci beau coup or thank you very much in French.)

My children loved to hear their Grandma Edna talk and tell stories because she used words and phrases that were unknown to them. A lot of her words were probably picked up from her own grandparents and older folks in her generation. She was also an English/Literature teacher so she probably used words and phrases from reading so much. We would laugh at her words and expressions because they were different and sometimes sounded as funny as their definitions. A few of the words used by Grandma Edna were:

Lollygag: wasting time

“He was always lollygagging around.”

Bumfuzzle: to be confused or perplexed.

“Well, I’ll be bumfuzzled!” (This is a regular occurrence for me.)

Bumbershoot: an umbrella

“Better get my bumbershoot, it looks like rain.”

Flibbertigibbet: a flighty person or one who talks incessantly

“That child is a flibbertigibbet.”

Malarkey: talk that is insincere, untrue, or foolish

“He’s full of malarkey.”

Persnickety: to be fussy about minor details

“She was very persnickety about how she dressed.”

Nincompoop: a silly or foolish person

“What a nincompoop!”

Whippersnapper: a young inexperienced and over confident person

“These young whippersnappers think they know everything.

Stringin’ Around: someone who is roaming around without purpose

“You don’t have any business stringin’ around town!”

If you are a persnickety flibbertigibbet and find yourself lollygagging or stringin’ around, take along your bumbershoot in case of rain but at least stop for a coff of cuppy. Remember to stay away from nincompoops and young whippersnappers because they are all full of malarkey and will cause you to be completely bumfuzzled.

by

Pamela Perry Blaine, a logomaniac

February 2021

SCUTTLEBUTT

Scuttlebutt

I stopped by the drink cooler at the grocery store the other day, and I was trying to decide between orange juice and ice tea when someone began talking to me about what was happening around town. As I grabbed a bottle of tea they said, “Well, that’s the latest scuttlebutt anyway.”

Scuttlebutt? I had not heard that for a long time but I had heard the term before and knew what it meant, or so I thought, but where did that word come from anyway? What exactly is scuttlebutt? Well, according to Merriam-Webster it was originally a nautical term that was used in the 1800s aboard sailing ships.

A “butt” was a 126 gallon cask that was used to store fresh water aboard ships. It was hauled up on deck where sailors could get a drink when needed. After getting the butt up on deck, they would break the planks that sealed the top of the cask to “scuttle” the butt to get access to the water. A “scuttled butt” was what the drinking water came from but was later the cask was simply referred to as the scuttlebutt.

Sailors weren’t allowed to converse when they were on duty. There was work to be done so getting a drink from the scuttlebutt allowed a moment to exchange a few quick words with other sailors. Usually it was some useful information like, “Be careful there’s a storm a brewing” or “Watch out for the captain, he’s in a foul mood today.”

It’s easy to see how the word scuttlebutt evolved from a cask of water to talking around the water cooler in offices and businesses. Workers might not be aboard a ship surrounded by salt water but they still need a break and an occasional drink of water. While there is no cask these days, people still share the scuttlebutt.

Over the years the term scuttlebutt changed to include not just news or information but gossip and rumors so people began to know that what was said around the water cooler should be taken with a grain of salt, meaning whatever was said might not be true or it might be an exaggeration of the truth. And by the way, the phrase “to take something with a grain of salt” came from an ancient recommendation in 77 A.D. for taking a grain of salt as part of an antidote for poison. It kind of fits when thinking about words that are not completely true that can poison or hurt people. The idea in this phrase is that it would make it easier to swallow the distasteful antidote by adding a little salt to make it go down easier. The phase came to mean we should hold a degree of skepticism about whether something is true or not, so “take it with a grain of salt.”

It seems like there’s a lot of things hard to swallow these days and we might need more than a grain of salt so keep your salt shaker handy or better yet, search for the truth and stay away from the scuttlebutt.

Beware of the half truth…you may have gotten hold of the wrong half.”

-Anonymous

By Pamela Perry Blaine

March 2021

Comforting Things for Uncertain Times

Comforting Things for Uncertain Times

I don’t know why but it seems that everything is more scary at night. If there is a pain anywhere in the body or worry on the mind, it escalates at night. Then there are the things that go bump in the night that may have also bumped in the day but the sound is more sinister and mysterious at night.

At night when sleep doesn’t come and the mind races and thinks about problems, it helps to think of comforting things. One way to think this way, especially at night, is a way that my friend, Lois, shared with me. Sometimes at night when she can’t go to sleep right away, she uses her imagination and thinks of comforting things. She closes her eyes and imagines the house where she lived as a child. Although the house no longer exists today, she could still see every detail in her mind as she would slowly walk up the pathway and enter her house. I decided to try this for myself one night. Come along and see:

As I close my eyes, I can see my childhood home in front of me. I hear tiny pieces of gravel beneath my feet crunch as I leisurely walk toward the steps to the porch. I see the piece of sidewalk near the steps that has a deep crack and sits a little crooked. As I go up the steps, to my right there’s an old wagon wheel, painted white, with a pinkish white hibiscus flower growing around and through the spokes of the wheel. As I step up on the porch, I feel the coolness of the concrete beneath my bare feet. My dog, Gerty, is lying on an old rug near the porch swing and jumps up, wagging her tail, to greet me. I stop to pet her and then I walk over and open the screen door. I step into the house and I hear the sound of the screen door as it slams behind me. I smell vanilla and I know Mama is making vanilla pudding and it makes my mouth water as I hope there will be a banana to add to that pudding. I can see the kitchen off to my right from where I’m standing, and Mama is stirring the pudding as she moves it from the stove. She’s wearing a black summer dress with swirls of pink and white flowers on it, she looks beautiful to me. I put the books I have carried home from the bookmobile on the table to my left. I will read them later. Further in front of me and to the left is the radio. KIRX radio station is playing a song and the Everly Brothers are singing, “All I Have to Do is Dream,” and I sing along with the radio. Daddy walks in from the kitchen. He smiles and adds harmony to my melody then he reaches for Mama and dances with her.

That’s all I remember before I fell asleep but my friend was right. It was very comforting to think about those things. Whether your thoughts go to your home place or to your favorite fishing hole, it’s worth thinking about good things that brought us comfort in the past, especially during trying times.

One of my most comforting childhood memories is lying in bed after prayers and hearing the comforting sounds around me. Sometimes Daddy was still up, walking around the house playing the accordion and I was lulled to sleep by songs like Sentimental Journey. Other comforting things before falling asleep were the sounds of evening. Sounds such as dishes being put away in the kitchen, doors being shut for the night, a horse neighing in the pasture, and the comforting sound of the lonesome train whistle in the distance. To feel safe and secure in the sameness of life and knowing my family was near was a blessing. I think Robert Browning captures this thought with his line, “God’s in His Heaven and all is right with the world.” Comforting words that tell us that in this uncertain world, we can know peace.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.

But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

Pippa’s Song

by Robert Browning

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearl’d;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in His heaven,
All’s right with the world!

By Pamela Perry Blaine

January 2021

Nostalgia

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past.” It is usually a pleasurable, bittersweet experience or a feeling of homesickness for a time in the past that held significance or good memories. I often write articles about what people would call nostalgia. I call it nostalgizing, although I don’t know if that is a word or not.

I didn’t think of my writings as nostalgic because when I first began to write, it was because I wanted to pass on family history to my children and grandchildren. I wanted them to know and remember the special relatives and friends that were here before them that they never had the opportunity to meet personally. Although most of those friends and relatives are now gone from this earth, they shaped our lives and helped make us who we are today and writing it down is a way of hoping future generations will know more about them and love them too.

Lately, I began thinking that maybe I should quit writing these stories. I wondered if they were helpful to others at all because it seemed to be looking backward instead of forward and we all need to think about the future and what we can do to make a difference for good in our world today.

When I looked up the word “nostalgia” I found that in the original language it is a compound word that means “homecoming” and “pain”. Then I happened to read an article that said that in the late 1600s, nostalgia was thought to be a neurological disease or disorder. I thought, “Oh great, what have I done?” However, as I read on, doctors later found that nostalgia was a good thing because nostalgia gives people roots and a sense of belonging. Nostalgia supplies strength to move forward and they also found that it counteracted loneliness, boredom, and anxiety.

Nostalgic stories often tell us about hard times and may sound depressing at first but a person nostalgizing may review a story from the past and be given hope. That grandfather or other relative who lived through a hard time like The Great Depression, a bankruptcy, or a terrible disaster gives us hope that situations can change. Maybe our own story of how we struggled through a catastrophe of our own will give someone else the hope of getting through a tough time. In other words, we can be an example to others by coping well through our own hard times. Studies have shown that soldiers who are away from home, people in nursing homes, or people who are home bound, benefit from remembering better times. This kind of nostalgia causes them to look forward to better times and they even begin to smile and laugh as past times are remembered.

If you think about it, there will come a time when future generations will be nostalgizing about us so perhaps a good way to help them when we are gone is to be making memories now. It’s not really something that you have to work at doing because children remember things you would not expect. I onece asked my children what they remembered from their childhood and I got answers like:

“I remember playing in the hayloft and using a rope to pass things up and down from the loft.”

“I remember coming home and you had made brownies!”

“Did you know I buried your steak knives in the woods?”

“I remember when we painted my room purple”

“I remember being Lazarus at church and Jesus raised me from the dead”

“I remember on road trips it always rained caramels in the van”

“ I remember playing fox and geese in the snow.”

These memories told me that it isn’t some big gift they remember or even a trip to a theme park that costs a lot of time and money. It’s the little day to day memories and being with family that is important to them. Oh yes, sometimes they throw a fit about having to take part in a required family outing or activity but when told that it was a family event and they were part of the family, the fit thrower who balked in the beginning ended up having the best time of all.

Do you ever do any nostalgizing? What do you remember?

I suppose I’ll keep nostalgizing and writing about it now and then. After all I don’t think I’ve told you about when Grandma Laura was 80 something and that big white rooster attacked her. Let’s just say he never bothered her again after being bonked on the head with her walking stick.

Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past.

Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.”

Deuteronomy 32:7

By Pamela Perry Blaine

January 2021