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Downhomer
Good Morning

I have always thought morning was the best part of any new day. Running a close second to this is bedtime. Between these two the day’s chores are finished (or not), the options and decisions that are a part of every day have been enacted, and night has come.
At the start of a day, I am always up early, at times earlier than I would like to be. I do like a slow leisurely morning. Walter and I tend to linger over our morning coffee, while I, in spite of myself, mentally plan the things that are to be accomplished that day. At day‘s end, as I linger on the edges of sleep, I invariably do a recap, wondering where all the hours went, and I do a meandering kind of measuring. I ask myself if I finished everything I had planned to do that day. Mostly, this is a resounding no! There doesn’t seem enough time in any day to get everything done, and I wonder why not!
After I have fretted a few moments that those tasks I had meant to do were still undone, I start to wonder how well I, that inner self that lives inside me, did. I begin to measure up the negatives and the pluses. Had I been kind to those I came in contact with; was I a blessing to someone. Did I let go of old grudges, did I forgive that one who spitefully used me and did I light just one little candle. It always pleases me if I can say yes to any of this mental questionings; am saddened when I have to say no. Then as I measure up the deeds I have done that day so quickly over, I know my good deeds and the not so good ones have become a part of yesterday’s record, and I can only hope there was more of the good than the bad.
It has nothing to do with getting my household chores done or not; how well I might have labored at those different tasks that are mine to do, nor how I reacted with others. These things matter most if I have done them all as unto God. If so, they would go into my positive accounting on the plus side.
On the negative side there is always this; I know how often I rail against some of my personal problems. In addition, I know how strongly I also rail against the pricks of the world’s troubles, and in fact often wholly disagree with the decisions of the powers that be. I question where my country, in fact where the world is heading; to better days or to the total destruction of our way of life.
I wonder then, if sometime soon, between the passing of a day or night, the Lord would come back. At times, I can almost sense that great return as the King of Kings slips across the invisible edges of no time, to the edges of those easily seen and troubled times of this world.
This doesn’t frighten me. I am glad that only God himself knows when this might happen and that no man has anything to do with it, else we’d screw it up as we have done everything else.
Even so, in that portion of my mind where God sometimes is, I do believe or else God tells me, that praying is the one thing any one could do in this sure to come event. So I pray not yet, Lord; not till I am sure that all of those I love and hold dear can have an assurance that all will be well between themselves and Thee. I pray thusly, in spite of knowing that my prayers are absolutely self-serving.
Imperfectly or not, even within my by now sleepy brain, I think the only thing that can hold back that day (or that night, whenever it might be) is the prayers of the Christian people who cry out for friends and family, and for this once great nation that has fallen so far from grace!
In the end, after night is over, and another new day has begun and God has not as yet come to rescue his people, I turn again to my own self-absorbed agenda’s. There is always laundry to do, meals to cook and dishes to do. There is also a column to write. In addition and foremost in it all, there is taking care of Walter.
Busy as I always seem to be, I am hard pressed to make time to pray, to read and study the Bible, to talk to the Lord in a two-way conversation. Mostly this turns out to be a one-way dialogue, because any time I don’t take time to listen for His input; I am just talking to myself. This is a habit, to rattle off in the mind and at the mouth without giving the Lord time to answer me when I talk to Him. I know the difference that it makes when I take time to listen, and I always know when some little prayer I have prayed is pleasing to my Lord, for I feel the quickening of the Holy Spirit. I wouldn’t trade any of my often imperfect reaching out to God my Savior for anything this world has to offer.
In addition to reading the Bible, praying and talking to the Lord, another thing that is helpful to my relationship with God is my first of the morning call to my prayer partner and friend Bradeleen Mollett. We pray together over the telephone, knowing well we need no such thing to get in touch with God; need only ourselves. Just the same, we do this first of the morning praying over the phone so that we two can start out the day saying together; “Good morning Father, good morning Jesus, good morning Holy Spirit.”


Education and Common Sense

Time tested October recipes

Now that the frost is about to be on the pumpkin and the fodder’s about to be in the shock, it’s time to revisit some good old recipes from my time as “The World’s Oldest Teenager” as a youth leader in a little church in East Kentucky, Liberty Baptist Church.
The “Teenagers” that I shepherded around in the early 1990’s have all grown up and have children of their own, have graduated college and most are in the midst of distinguished careers. I am so proud of that group of good citizens.
One of the activities that group originated was the “Hobo Picnic” to celebrate Halloween. One of the group had researched the celebration, and had determined that the way we celebrate it was satanic. We decided to have our celebration outside in a picnic shelter (now occupied by a brick church.) We were to dress as Hoboes (Nobody had money for a costume) and have Hobo Stew as our refreshment.
I would bring a canner with two pounds of stewing beef already cooked tender, Each person brought something to go in the stew: cut up onion, cabbage, potatoes, a can of beans, or whatever would be good in the stew. No Hobo Stew was ever the same, but I believe it was always good. Some people brought desserts. We invited the whole church, and played games. such as “Cross Questions and Silly Answers” that had been popular in times past.
One of my favorite desserts was “Pecan Chess Squares.” which were easy little pecan pie-like cookies. This is the recipe:
PECAN CHESS SQUARES
(9’ x 13’ Pan)
CRUST: 3/4 c. butter; 1 1/2 c. flour; 3 T. sugar. Cream butter, flour, and sugar. Pat into bottom of pan. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
FILLING: 2 1/4 c. brown sugar; 3 whole eggs; 1/2 t. salt; 1/2 t. vanilla flavoring; 1 c. chopped pecans.
Beat eggs, add sugar, vanilla and salt and mix well. Fold in chopped pecans, Spread over hot crust. Return to hot oven and bake 20 minutes or until set. Dust with powdered sugar. When cool, cut into squares. Makes about 24 squares.
Another Hobo Picnic recipe I liked to bring was “Mexican Cornbread” which is sort of a quiche, but it is rich and filling for the teenage appetites.
MEXICAN CORNBREAD
I/2 pound of hot pork sausage, fried, crumbled, and the excess fat drained off. (I prefer Tennessee Pride brand, as it tastes like my mother’s homemade sausage.) 1 chopped onion; 1 chopped green pepper; 1 can green chilies (optional); 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese; 1 medium can of cream-style corn; 2 cups of self-rising white cornmeal; I cup of buttermilk; 2 eggs.
Mix meal, buttermilk, and eggs. Add other ingredients. Bake in a greased pan (9”x 13”) for about 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees.
If you add “Vinegar Slaw” to this, you have a somewhat balanced meal.
VINEGAR SLAW
3 cups chopped cabbage; 1/2 cup chopped carrots; 1/2 cup chopped green pepper; 1/2 c. chopped onion. DRESSING : 1/3 cup cider vinegar;1/3 cup sugar; 1/3 cup oil. Salt to taste (1/2 teaspoonful) Mix together. Refrigerate.
Have fun with your “June Rice October meal!”


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Isabella’s coat of many colors; a mere moth myth?

Some people call them woolly bears. Some refer to them as hedgehog caterpillars. Most folks in this part of the country, however, simply call them woolly worms and swear by their ability to predict the weather, especially “winter” weather.
Now let’s see if I have this woolly worm thing right. If the little feller wears a light-colored coat, the winter will be generally mild. If he wears black on both ends and brown in the middle, the winter will be cold at the beginning and end, but warm in the middle.
What’s got me worried, however, is the other day while going to my car, I ran across one scurrying across the driveway that was solid black. On top of that, his coat was as thick as my thumb is round. So, if the woolly wormers and the Old Farmer’s Almanac know of what they speak, looks as if it might be cold from start to finish and we’d better break out our old mackinaws and dig out the long johns because we’re in for it.
Anyway, whether or not you buy into any of that woolly worm stuff, a bit of research reveals the “woolly worm” is merely the common name for Pyrrharctia Isabella, the larval (caterpillar) stage of a family of tiger moths. They have thirteen bands of color that supposedly (according to folklorists) correspond with the thirteen weeks of winter from December to March. Scientists, however, (who are generally considered to be pretty smart and usually know what they’re talking about) pretty much agree that there’s not much to the fact that the little worms are really very accurate weather predictors. However, back in the 1950s, a Dr. C. H. Curran, former curator of insects at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, tested the woolly worm’s accuracy and found the fuzzy little guy to be about eighty percent right. In spite of that, though, since no other tests by anybody else could duplicate Dr. Curran’s, it’s still all considered to be nothing more than a myth.
But regardless of whether he can or whether he can’t tell us what to expect as the temperatures begin to drop, the woolly worm is popular enough to have several towns across the country holding festivals in his honor. So if you didn’t have your fill of festival fun last week here at home, you might want to travel over to Beattyville on the last full weekend of this month as they celebrate their woolly worm festival.  They’ve been doing that since 1988.
And if you want to travel a bit further, October also finds woolly worm festivals in Banner Elk, N.C., Lewisburg, Pa. and Vermillion, Ohio. Guess you don’t have to believe in the worm’s powers of predictability to enjoy a bit of fun in their honor just before winter sets in. Not that I necessarily believe all this wooly worm stuff, but I can’t keep from worrying a little, about that solid black, extremely fuzzy one I saw the other day.


Smile Awhile
Technologically challenged

My husband, Ronnie, passed a milestone this past week when my sister, Amanda, gingerly coaxed him into the 21st century by teaching him how to use a computer for personal use.  Gingerly coaxing’ is probably not the correct term, kicking and screaming is probably more accurate, but she made great strides in pushing him forward, technologically speaking.
As a wedding/event videographer for the past 17 years, Ronnie has been using an Apple computer to make videos.  Mostly self-taught, Ronnie quickly learned how to make beautiful, well-transitioned photos into treasured possessions and that is an art.  But using a computer for his personal use was something he demonstratively avoided.
“Just write down the process and I’ll read your directions and learn it when I get home,” Ronnie told Amanda, as he continued watching his TV program.  But Amanda was persistent.
“No,” she said adamantly.  ‘This will only take a minute.  Pay attention!”
For the next 30 minutes, Amanda guided Ronnie through the process of using Word and how to access literally anything via a laptop.
At one point I heard Ronnie ask, “And that’s all you have to do?”
Amanda has probably created a monster because as soon as she showed him how to access the internet and Ronnie realized he could “pull up” any subject he desired he became insatiable.
“Did you know Tesla made Mark Twain poop his pants one time?” Ronnie queried to those of us assembled at “Ronnie’s technology coming out party” in Amanda’s living room.
“Just because you have learned how to access the universe, you don’t have to give us a run-down on trivial knowledge,” Amanda droned.
“But this is amazing” Ronnie exclaimed.  “I’ve got the world at my finger tips.”
Amanda had bought us several computers over the last couple of years and Ronnie (myself included) always resisted the urge to update ourselves on all the new technology that the rest of the world had become accustomed.  But she never gave up and her persistence was finally rewarded.
Amanda has our mother’s demeanor of always reminding you that you are better than you think you are if you simply don’t give up.  She has the ability to make you realize the endless possibilities that exist if you believe in yourself and that’s quite a gift, but since she is 10 years younger than me, taking direction from her has been difficult for this cranky, old lady.  Thankfully Amanda hasn’t given up on me either.
We came to Indianapolis to celebrate my sister, Melinda’s daughter, Mykee’s, 50th birthday party, but we are leaving Indianapolis smarter and wiser thanks to the never-ending support and love of my baby sister.
Have a great week and don’t forget to be grateful for what you have and Smile Awhile!


Education and Common Sense
Remembrance of Apple Days past

When this column sees the light of day, the city of Paintsville will be in the midst of celebrating Apple Day. Because I now live 185 miles west of Paintsville, and I can’t walk that far, I will not be able to attend the festivities. By this time the Prince and Princess  (of all ages) will have been selected; the Apple Baby is also chosen; and all the other contests have been won.
I have read on Facebook that Paintsville is a “Trail Town”, and the Trail Town committee has encouraged the businesses to paint their buildings and that the newly –painted structures are very attractive. I am so glad that everything is looking good!
I remember when Apple Day got started. An insurance man named Hatler Johnson, who had a program on WSIP thought the farmers in Johnson County should grow apples, and we should have a celebration each October to encourage the industry. I don’t think many people still grow apples, but the celebration is still going strong!
We used to have a football game between Johnson Central and Paintsville. Now that JC is 4A and Paintsville is 1A , that has gone by the wayside. The Johnson Central band and the Paintsville High School band used to alternate years leading the Apple Day parade. I remember one year when my son Steve, Bobbie Meek, and Gene Vance’s three trombones led the Apple Parade. Now Steve has over a hundred in his band in Alexandria, Virginia, and Gene is an officer in the Kentucky Law Association. Bobbie is living in Florida.
I wonder how may apple pies the Tom’s Creek Freewill Baptist Church ladies have made since Apple Day began? Surely they have made and sold over a million ready- to-bake frozen apple pies since the first Apple Day!
I always liked to buy a “Tiger Ear” and munch on it while I cruised the displays. I liked to buy a book from a local author—and sometimes I have had one to sell; I liked to check out the jewelry handmade by a vendor, and perhaps buy a beautiful purse made by local artist Flo Ann Newman.
The courthouse always had a contest or a local band playing. We had square dances in the street with master caller Ken Williams calling the action.
There was always a Ferris Wheel and other rides to add fun to the occasion.
My daughter Cathy said what she remembered about fun times was getting out of school for the Art Class to go paint store windows. Do they still do that?
Once my library club dressed up as book characters and rode in the back of a pickup truck in the parade, and somehow got stuck somewhere near the public library, and the whole parade went on without us. That was our last parade entry!
What was wonderful about the whole celebration was how well everybody behaved. We could turn a ten-year old child loose with his or her friends and let them roam and buy food, and come back to an appointed place at an appointed time, and not worry about them coming to any harm.  I don’t remember ever seeing bad behavior.
And the people who cleaned the streets! On Sunday morning there was not a sign that hundreds of people had invaded the town, eaten hundreds of corn dogs, fried apple pies, Tiger Ears and other wonderful eatables.
I hope the Apple Day crowd will have a good time this year while behaving themselves, as they have always done. If you were one of my library students between 1958 and 1990, please know that I remember you fondly, and you were a part of a wonderful school in a wonderful time!
Happy Apple Day to everyone!



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