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Education and Common Sense
Year number 91 was exciting

August 13, 2016, my 91st birthday, was a wonderful day. Cathy, Marvin, Patti and I went to Bardstown to see “The Stephen Foster Story.” The girls and I remembered seeing it once when they were small. We think it was before Steve was born.
The next week I went to the hospital for four days with a UTI that ran into sepsis. I was in danger of dying. All of my children and grandchildren came to see me. I got out of the hospital for a week or so and then had to go back for four more days. When I got out, my G.P. Dr. Wright, told me, “Keep drinking LOTS of water.” I have been doing that all year and so far the UTI has not recurred.
I had a lovely Christmas, with Cathy, Steve, and Steve’s daughter, Shelby, spending the week after Christmas with Patti at her cabin on Barren River Lake. We did not know that Steve was having heart pains from a defective heart valve during his and his sisters’ nature walks. I shudder to think of what could have happened at that time if his condition had got any worse!
By February, Steve’s cardiologist said he did not have time to wait until school was out to get an aortic heart valve replacement.  He had a bovine valve replacement the middle of February. That helped my prayer life considerably. We all prayed for a successful valve replacement: our family, my friends who read my column, my church family-both here and east Kentucky, my Facebook friends, his West Potomac band parents, and who knows who else prayed. The operation was successful.
Daughter Patti, who had retired from teaching the previous year, was able to go spend two weeks with her brother in order to help him get better. She walked with him, walked the dog, Boo, and encouraged Steve as his heart began to go “thump, thump” rather than the previous “whoosh, whoosh” it had been saying for a very long time.
Our family is rejoicing that Steve’s heart is doing fine and he was able to go back to his high school band director position in two months. He is still doing his daily walking and looks the picture of health! I praise God that I did not have to bury my son last year!
Cathy, Patti, and I got to go back to Alexandria, Va., and see Steve’s daughter, Shelby, graduate from high school in June. I remember when she was born and had a cleft lip and cleft palate, we were afraid that the doctors could not repair that, but she is a beautiful 18-year-old, with not a vestige of a scar on her face; she can sing, speak clearly, and play the flute. She will be joining the marching band at West Virginia University in Morgantown, WV, right away. She plans to become a nurse. I am so proud of the beautiful, diligent worker she has become. She has been a lifeguard and a nurse’s aid (worked two jobs) all summer.
Last week, Patti, my daughter who has always found something wrong with every boy she ever dated, came up with an announcement that astounded everybody. I won’t say how old she is, but the students who were in her class are telling on Facebook that they have been married 41 years!
When she retired last year she joshed that if the love of her life was going to appear, he would have to come to Scottsville!
Not long after she got back from Steve’s, a friend she had served with at Hillvue Heights Baptist Church in Bowling Green, where they were both in college, whose wife had died, came fishing in Allen County. He remembered that Patti lived near there and asked her to dinner. She went, and they talked for hours. He has been a pastor and is a retired Denominational Executive in a neighboring state. They have found so many beliefs and likes and dislikes in common, and she says she has found the love of her life!
They are planning a small private wedding in November at Hillvue Heights Baptist Church with the man who was their pastor when they served together officiating. If they didn’t make it very small they would be sure to leave out someone who would be hurt. Their friends and relative are all over the United States, and logistics would be impossible. Also, both of them have so many friends that are preachers, the preacher that was the one they had in common is the diplomatic choice.
I am sure that Patti will be a wonderful preacher’s wife, as she loves Jesus, loves people, and does personal witnessing. I am sure God has a job for both of them in the coming years.
Her sweetie gave her some waders, a hat and a fishing rod for her birthday last week. She’s looking forward to learning to fly fish!
She is happier than I have ever seen her, though she seemed happy enough as a single.
So my ninety-first year was full of blessings. I am going Sarah, Abraham’s wife, one better. At ninety-two, I am getting a new son, and he is already grown and educated! Looking forward to year Ninety-Two!


The Downhomer
Dogs I have known

Back in the years when my kids were young, we occasionally had a puppy in the house, pets which we kept for one or another of the children. Those puppies supposedly were their pets, but we parents mostly had the raising of them. The thing about puppies is that in the process of time they always turn into grown up dogs, with a new set of needs for their care, and how do you ever get them out of the house?
By the time Little Lady and Pebbles had grown old and were both gone, the children were also grown. Then my own precious ones launched out on their own journey down the highway of life, and in spite of my empty nest syndrome, I knew then that I would never again want to have an indoor dog. In fact, this was a habit easy to fall out of since I really did not like having a canine in the house.
Even so, since that time we have always had what I refer to as yard dogs. I remember some of these with a great deal of fondness. However, what memories I have of those are never as vivid as the ones I have of Sheba, that lovely faithful dog that I raised from a puppy. The young man who gave her to me said that she probably had some timber wolf in her linage, and that she might be one of those rare, hardly ever seen wolf dogs.
I rather doubted this. Doubted it until that moon washed night when Sheba sat as still as a shadow on her haunches on the yard outside my window. Then Sheba lifted her nose heavenward. She sniffed the air as if she read messages that rafted to her on the wind. Then she turned her face to the nearby woods, to stare into them with a deep look of concentration, watching some invisible half seen half felt presence of creatures that she knew were moving through the forests of the night. Then lifting her head once more, she sent a call of the wild winging through the air. Safe in the enclosure of my bed I shivered at the sound as it echoed through the hills and gullies down home. And though I listened, I never did hear any answering call.
One of Sheba’s favorite games was to race our pick-up whenever we drove up the hillside road that led to our family commentary. She always took the short cut, straight up the hills to the top, so she always won the race. Once at the top, she always laid down under a shade tree to wait for us, and when we climbed out of the truck she would look over at us with a smug, self satisfied look that seemed to say ‘What kept you so long!’
Sheba lived almost ten years by human time, making her 70 years old in doggie years. By then she was suffering with arthritis, and a multitude of other age related problems. She hardly ever raced up the hills anymore, was seemingly content just to lie on the yard to be a reassuring presence to my daughter-in-law Billie Parrigin and that part of the family who lived there after Mom and I moved down the road to Walter’s house. Yet though all these many years that have passed, I have never forgotten Sheba. Since then, Walter being a fox hunter, and fox hunters loving to trade, there was always a lot of dogs coming and going at our place. These were either fox hounds or beagles, that when I got used to them, I never minded, this because they were outside and not in the house.
These days, we are down to just one dog, our yard dog Rambo. Actually to say that this mixed breed dog is a yard dog has to be the biggest of all misconceptions. For actually, Rambo is a porch dog, wouldn‘t be caught dead in a dog house. He is part German Shepherd from out of a dog belonging to daughter Grace, part squirrel dog from one that belonged to a neighbor.
The thing about Rambo is that he sleeps each night by the front door of our porch. In addition, he is close enough during the day that the minute I open the front door he is front and center, and just as Sheba always loved me, Rambo also loves me. One other fact is that this dog will not eat dog food.
Now here I am, 87 years old with a husband that won’t eat onions, no kind of soup, not many vegetables; just meat and potatoes, soup beans and corn bread. Then there is our porch dog that won’t eat dog food and not often any kinds of leftovers, except occasionally the meat and corn bread. Actually, what Rambo really likes is freshly prepared bacon and T-bone steak. I buy a lot of T-bone, which I broil for Walter so I can feed the bones to our porch dog!
Bottom line is that I have learned from all I have had to dump out that Rambo will not eat dog food! I tell him that bacon is to costly to use for dog food. Yet I can’t let this dog starve. I think I have bought all the different kinds of dog food that’s out there, all to no avail. That dog thinks he is human, and like Walter, will eat what he likes, turn away from the rest. I have thought about concocting home made dog food, except that I know it would be wasted effect. Rambo only eats the real McCoy, and never any hashed up substitutes. Lord help!


Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

We’re all in our places with bright shining faces

Here we are, slap in the middle of August, and by now most of the area schools are back in session. The time-honored, much-loved summer vacation has come to an end. One would be hard pressed to decide who dreads this time of year the most: the students or the teachers. Having been on both sides of that particular fence, my feeling is that those who feel the most pain are the older participants.
I ran across an interesting little item in the July 31 issue of Time, regarding how we came to have the summer break in the first place. I’ve always sort of bought into the idea that the three months off from classroom work was because in the old days, the students were needed at home for farm work and such. I’m sure that’s true, at least to an extent, but when you think about it, they’re really needed more in the spring and fall for planting and harvesting. Once summer rolls around, about all you can do for your crops is pray for rain.
Anyway, Time enlightened me a bit on the subject. “Summer vacation was born in the city,” it said. The article explained that calls for a break began in the mid-19th century when many urban schools, like those in Cleveland and Detroit, met year-round. I’m sure there were dozens of other reasons, but one that was mentioned was that since air-conditioning was still a thing of the future, sitting in a classroom on a hot summer day would not be exactly conducive to learning. It was also mentioned that some members of the medical profession were convinced that “too steady an application to literary pursuits led to a debilitated body.” Therefore, year-round school was finally done away with and the summer break was born.
But, as they say, what goes around, comes around. It seems there’s a movement afoot to do away with the beloved three-month break. Year-round school is once again being considered.
Apparently, many top educators feel that year-round school would produce more globally competitive students. And, of course, anybody who’s been paying attention knows that today’s college graduates are indeed competing for jobs on a worldwide basis. Proponents of year-long schools maintain that doing away with the three months of fun and games would prevent having to re-teach skills after summer vacation.
On the other hand, there are an equal number of those who do extensive study about things like this who like things just as they are. For one thing, and it’s really a pretty big thing at that, they argue that school systems can’t afford year-round sessions. Budget and staffing issues are too complex to even think of change.  
Both sides likely have valid arguments, and no doubt will be discussing the pros and cons of many years to come. But regardless of how one feels about the issue, summer vacation of 2017 is history. As we used to do every morning when I was in second grade, I can just imagine students across the country this week sitting with their hands folded on top of their desks singing, “We’re all in all places, with bright shining faces, good morning to you, good morning to you.” Year-round or nine months at a time, some things will never change.


Smile Awhile
What’s in a name?

Two men were traveling through the State of Kentucky when they stopped at a fast food restaurant in Versailles.  As they were eating their lunch they began talking about the correct pronunciation of the town.
“I think the town uses the French pronunciation of Versailles (Ver-sigh),”.one man said.
“The other man immediately said, “No, I think it’s pronounced Versailles (Ver-sails).”
This discussion continued for quite some time until one of the men said, “Let’s settle this once and for all and ask the waitress.  Ma’am, pronounce where we are and say it real slow.”
Wide-eyed the waitress slowly replied, “Bur-ger Queen.”
That is one of my favorite jokes, but I really think it must have happened at one time or another.  However, what really intrigues me is how many towns in Kentucky are named  for places in the Old World where many of our forefathers originated.
In fact, every state in our country has many towns named for places in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Russia, etc.  in Kentucky we have Glasgow, London, Versailles, Paris, Athens, Florence, Verona, and Cambridge just to name a few.
A couple of weeks ago my husband told me that Hylo Brown had once recorded a song called “Knoxville Girl”.  I immediately thought he was talking about Knoxville, Tenn., but Ronnie said it was about a girl from Knoxville, England.
I can remember the first time I mentioned the town of Sitka, Kentucky, to someone who lived in California.  They corrected my pronunciation of Sitka and gave me a History lesson on how it was named from a town in Alaska pronounced Sit-Ka.  I indignantly informed her that I knew the correct pronunciation but locals referred to it as Sickie.
While most states have similar names of towns. I would venture to say that Kentucky has more of their fair share of unique and unusual places.  For example, Frog Onery, Puncheon, Foxtail. Blue Moon, Beauty and Lovely just to name a few.  The origins of these places are probably interesting and I’m sure you can fill a book with their meanings. That could be a book in itself and I’m sure someone has already written it.
When I think of how our ancestors came to a New World to escape political and religious persecution and establish their own government, I am amazed and in awe of the strength and courage of these brave men and women, so giving a name to the places they settled was, no doubt, the least of their concerns.
I love the different names of the cities, towns, Villes, and bergs that make up our great Commonwealth, but I could almost bet that no other state can lay claim to the names of such areas as Dwarf and Rowdy which are two of my personal favorites.
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Education and Common Sense
Aging is mandatory; learning is optional

As I approach my ninety-second birthday the thirteenth of this month, I suddenly realized that if we keep on living, we get old. Getting old is not a choice. Whether we learn anything while we are living to old age is our choice.  I have been reading through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy recently, and I suddenly realized that Moses wrote all that when he was 120 years old!
Of course, God was dictating it all, but I think if I had to copy the first five books of the Old Testament at my age (and I still have a firm handwriting) it would be a formidable task.
But I digress. Actually, that is one new idea that has just occurred to recently. I decided to list some of the things I have learned while I have been alive on this blue ball that is spinning around the sun turning completely around in twenty-four hours and going around the sun in 365 1/4 days.
Of course I learned to walk and talk. I learned to return the love that my family showered me with. I learned my letters and numbers before I went to school and learned to read almost magically. I have never been bored since I learned to read.
I loved learning as a child—even arithmetic. Back before we had little machines to do basic math for us, we had to use our brains to recall addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication facts. We memorized history dates and geography facts, as well as learning to spell words.
Besides what I learned at school I learned lots of other useful ways to make life easier for me, such as:
It is more fun to make friends than to make enemies.
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. (Be nice to people. Don’t insult them.)
It is better for you to have your boss like and trust you.
If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to keep telling another one to cover the first one.
God’s Ten Commandments will keep you out of trouble if you obey them.
It is important to work enough to have enough money to live on.
Pay off your credit card in full every month.
Save up the money to buy the things you want but do not need immediately.
Our children are our most precious possessions. See that they are cared for properly.
Our decision to trust Jesus to save us is the most important decision we make in our lifetime.
I could go on and on with things I have known for a long time, but here are three that I have learned most recently:
I learned that if the Brookdale cooks don’t use the Brookdale recipes when fixing our food, someone from corporate headquarters will fire our head chef, no matter if the recipe used tastes better than Brookdale’s.
I have learned from the recently hired young servers that “No problem” and “My pleasure” are acceptable answers to “Thank you” as well as the traditional, “You’re welcome.”
But the most painful lesson I have learned lately is that if I have an opinion or vote for someone that my friend does not believe or is against, that person who disagrees with me hates me and is no longer my friend. The death of friendship if I do not think like my friend does is a heartbreaking lesson to learn in my old age.
But I hope to keep on learning as long as I live.



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