Saturday, October 21, 2017

Saturday 9: Voices Carry

Saturday 9: Voices Carry (1985)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

This song was chosen because October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Please share this link to The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Let's spread the word that there's help out there.

1) In this song, a woman is "hushed" by her lover. When were you last told to "keep it down?"

A. I can't recall. I am not a very loud person and I live in the country where my little noise doesn't carry far.

2) Her lover tells her tears are something to hide. Researchers tell us that crying can be good for us, because by releasing emotional stress, it lessens physical stress on the cardiovascular system. Are you comfortable crying in front of other people?

A. No.

3) In this video, the woman makes a scene by speaking up in a theater. Today theater goers are more likely to be disturbed by a cell phone ringing or its screen illuminating. Are you careful to turn your phone off in the theater, church, etc.?

A. I am still figuring this out. I have finally gotten a smart phone (yay, I can text!) and I am still trying to understand how people carry the thing with them constantly. It makes my pocketbook heavy and I don't wear a belt. How do women deal with these things?

4) When this group, Til Tuesday, was still struggling, Cyndi Lauper was already a star. Cyndi offered to record this song, which would have brought the group some fast cash, but only if they agreed not to record it themselves. Obviously they didn't take the deal. Tell us about a time you took a risk on yourself, and it paid off.

A. I suppose that would have been when I decided to start freelancing full time, which was a very long time ago. I did well with it until the recession and suddenly everyone was doing the "gig" economy. Between an onrush of unanticipated competition (every out of work journalist in the nation) and the lack of people paying for writing, it became less of a good idea. Another time might have been when I decided to put myself through college and when I earned my masters' degree at the age of 49.

5) Til Tuesday's lead singer, Aimee Mann, went to Open High School in Richmond, Virginia. This charter high school is dedicated to helping students become "self-determined thinkers and learners." Do you recall your high school as permissive or regimented?

A. It was permissive when I began but we had a new principal come in my senior year, and he was  a tyrant. He wanted everything done by the book. Our school ended up in the newspapers nationwide because we had a big food fight and he called in the police over it. Up until then you rarely saw a cop on a school campus.

6) Aimee has been on the road through 2017 and, like most artists, sells tour merchandise. Her line includes reusable tote bags. Do you bring your own bag to the grocery store?

A. I do a bit of both. I used to use my own bags more but they fill them so full I can hardly carry them, even if I ask them not to.

7) Aimee has tried her hand at acting and appeared on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. From Dracula to Barnabas Collins to Lestat, vampires are a popular culture staple (especially in October). What do you suppose accounts for their enduring popularity?

A. Because everyone wants to live forever and we do not like to think we must die. It would be better to be a soul-less vampire than a memory.

8) In 1985, when this song was popular, Bruce Springsteen was at the top of the charts with Born in the USA. A massive commercial success, Born in the USA has sold more than 15,000,000 copies in the United States alone. Is it in your collection?

A. I don't think so. It might be in my husband's, though. We haven't looked at our vinyl in years.

9) Random question: In which race would you do better -- the Iditarod, with sled dogs in Nome, or speeding in a car at 200+ mph at the Indianapolis 500?

A. The speeding car. I tend to drive fast anyway. Plus I'm allergic to dogs.

I encourage you to visit other participants in
Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however.

Friday, October 20, 2017


You might remember some time ago - well, actually, August of last year - I wrote about my little firefighter statue that ended up broken.

He had a whole in his head and in his helmet after my husband accidentally knocked him from the shelf.

I had the statue made and painted for my husband in our first year of marriage. A friend of mine who lives in Eagle Rock, Dee Dee, crafted and painted him up for me.

He looked like this:


And then he hurt his head:

Ow! I have a headache!
My pal Dreama Kattenbraker, one of our famous local artists, fixed him up for me. Now he looks like this:

Repaired! 2017

No more hole in my head!

She used some kind of dry clay to fix him up, since he is made of ceramic. I don't know all the steps involved or anything. She was not happy because his hat is a little rough, but my husband said firefighter's hats aren't neat and clean anyway, so it just makes him look a bit more authentic.

She also put him on a base so he wouldn't fall over. Before he stood on his own two feet but I suspect with the change in his head he was a bit off balance.

I brought him home the other night and presented him to my husband, who promptly placed him back on the shelf beside the fireplace.

"Maybe our luck will change, now that he is back where he belongs," he said.

I'm just glad I can look up there and see that big ol' smile and that yellow hat again.

Also I am very grateful to my friend for fixing him up for me.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Thursday Thirteen

On October 7, we spent the morning at Camp Bethel. Camp Bethel is a church camp run by the Church of the Brethren. They were having a Heritage Day, a 33-year-old festival that helps support the camp and I suppose the ministry of the church.

The camp, which began in 1927, is located on 470 acres in Botetourt County. It is open all year for conferences and events, many of which are open to the public.

The Church of the Brethren is a peaceful group, but unlike Amish or similar religious orders, the Church of the Brethren do not dress much differently from other people. My husband calls them "new order" Brethren, though they have been around hundreds of years. You can read a bit more about the religion here if you like. I find it an attractive religion because it is pacifist and it follows the word of Christ, not the Old Testament, and it has no formal creed or rules. "We simply try to do what Jesus would do," it says on the website.

Just an FYI, I was baptized into the Brethren church many years ago. My grandfather on my mother's side was also Brethren and baptized at the same church I was.

Anyway, here are 13 photos of the day.

Most of the items for sale were handmade, like these towels. I purchased a few because I like to hang them on the stove

A display of old wood-working tools held our interest for a very long time.

Building stuff was hard work back in the day.

This was a display of "script" used by farmers, particularly tomato growers, long ago. Each had their own
coin. This was new to me and I was particularly interested in it because it reflects how the agricultural
community worked long ago. At one time, our area was well-known for its tomatoes and other produce.

These are canning labels and original cans from around 1900 or so. The cans were put together by hand, not by machines,
using the tools on display.

More woodworking items.

How'd you like to make biscuits with those?

These gentlemen discovered that using a cross-cut two-man saw was no easy task.

Beautiful flowers and autumn decorations.

A nice crowd.

I thought these were lovely. Wouldn't they make a great centerpiece on a Thanksgiving table?

What's a festival without a little cotton candy?

A woman taking a quiet moment on the bridge over the ponds. The water was very low due to
our recent drought.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 522nd time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Suicide is Painless

Historians disagree on the real reason that the Roman empire collapsed. Was there an actual date? Many people, I suspect, think it died when Caesar was killed in 44 BC, because we all know about that, but said event did not end an empire.

The Roman empire continued for another 500 years. Its western half went to pieces in the year 476 AD, but its eastern half remained for another 1,000 years as the Byzantine empire.

Countries, empires, nations, states, towns - they come, they go. Here in my little county there are numerous little areas on the maps that once were populated communities. Lithia. Nace. Spec. Oriskany. Lignite. Haymakertown. Trinity. Horrytown. All gone, just names of areas now, a way to give someone a general idea of a specific location in a fairly large geographical area.

These places did not, as a rule, die overnight from one lethal blow. Most of the communities evaporated gradually as resources dried up, large companies turned their attention (and their accompanying fortunes) elsewhere, or some natural calamity occurred. Many of these communities produced iron ore before, during and after the Civil War, but when that no longer became a desired commodity, the little towns died away.

I fear, rightly or wrongly, that the United States is in the process of committing suicide. It will be a long, slow death, I imagine, and we may take down a good portion of the globe with us when we finally cease being the monstrous global demon that chomps on the resources of the world. We may already be eating our own tail.

In any event, I wanted to see what history might have to say about the fall of nations because we forget the lessons of the past. Many states have rose to power and died. I thought I'd look very far back.

Why did Rome fall?

The western half fell in 476 AD from an invasion by Germanic tribes. The Romans and the Goths and Vandals had long been at war, and that year Rome, Italy fell to a Germanic tribe. From then on, no ruler claimed dominion from Italy.

But the empire was already in trouble. The economy was suffering from a wide and ever-growing gap between rich and poor. The nation-state had severe financial troubles. To avoid taxation, wealthy members fled and set up little fiefdoms. Trade and crafts were dependent largely on slave labor, and as expansion failed, so too did the availability of people to exploit. Commercial and agriculture production declined.

However, as the western portion of the empire declined, its eastern half, centered around Constantinople (Byzantium), grew. Constantinople tended to be well-fortified and well-guarded, but Italy - not so much. When Rome was taken, the Byzantium empire remained in power until the 1400s, when the Ottoman Empire overwhelmed it.

The Roman empire at its height, before the west fell, was vast. It stretched from the Atlantic Ocean to the Euphrates River in the Middle East. Communication was poor, and keeping troops in strange and far-away lands became problematic. Frontiers were constantly attacked, taken, and reclaimed. As the military ate up more funds, technological advancement slowed, and infrastructure declined and was not repaired.

Rome's other issue was ineffective and inconsistent leadership. Internal strife kept the empire in chaos. At one point, during the span of 75 years, there were more than 20 men who claimed the title of emperor, usually after the murder of their predecessor. The army began assassination and installing new leaders as they pleased - once they even auctioned off the spot to the highest bidder. The Roman Senate also was full of political foul play, with politicians who failed to halt the political rot that allowed the wealthy to take advantage of those who were less fortunate. The Roman Senate was full of corruption and incompetence. As things worsened, civic pride died and citizens lost faith in the government and its leadership.

Immigration is not a new problem. The Romans grudgingly allowed members of the Visigoth tribe to cross its borders in the 4th century, but they treated the intruders poorly and cruelly. According to some reports, the Romans even forced families to trade their children with slavers in exchange for dog meat to eat in order to keep from starving. This kind of brutal treatment created enemies and eventually the oppressed people rose in revolt.

Another issue was the rise of religion. Christianity began to move in and take the place of the polytheistic Roman religion. Before this, the emperor was considered a divine being and in a sense, worshipped. But Christianity shifted the emphasis from the glory of the state onto that of a solitary divinity. Additionally, popes and other church leaders took on more important roles in the lives of ordinary people and then began to have an increased role in political affairs. This complicated governance. Some scholars believe Christianity played a role in curbing Roman civic virtue, which led to the empire's decline.

Lastly, the Romans ended up with an army composed mostly of mercenaries and not people who were loyal to the country. As the empire grew in size, emperors were unable to recruit enough soldiers, so they hired Germanic tribes to help keep order, particularly in frontier areas. However, these groups had no loyalty to the government, and power-hungry generals were able to easily turn the men against Rome. In fact, many of the soldiers who eventually brought down Rome in 476 AD were, in fact, Roman soldiers.

These are some of the reasons historians cite for the decline of the western half of the Roman Empire. There are others and of course much disagreement about all of them and the roles they played.

However, how many of these reasons can we point to today and say, with not a little alarm, that the United States is in a similar predicament?

Are we being kind to immigrants and others who are not like ourselves?

Are we taking care of our infrastructure?

Do we not have a growing gap between rich and poor?

Has our manufacturing and job growth, theoretically speaking, stagnated, particularly in regions outside of large cities where technology jobs cannot be found? (Let's bring back coal . . . )

Is our nation too big, geographically? We extend from one ocean to another. Is it reasonable to think that such a large land area is going to work together for a common good?

Do the words "political rot" sound familiar?

Does religion have too much influence in government?

No, we are not an exact parallel to the Roman Empire, thank goodness. We have progressed as human beings, though sometimes I wonder just how much. I do think, though, that there are enough parallels there that it should bring pause to anyone who wants to see the United States thrive and stand as a world leader.

There are those who want the United States to fall. Maybe we deserve that. Maybe our government has interfered and badgered and cajoled other nations so much that we deserve the bad reputation we have in other arenas.

But our people, on the whole, are not bad people, and I don't want anyone to suffer or for the United States to become a flailing and failing military power, the one that other nations point to with disgust - or at least, not with any more disgust than they already do. Believe it or not, we are not the most beloved nation in the world.

I don't want us to commit suicide. Suicide can be stopped. We don't have to jump off the bridge, use the knife, or step forward into quicksand. We can reevaluate, rethink, rework, and begin anew, if we must, to create something better and more humane than the nation we have. We can find a way to take care of our people - all of them - if we put emotion and dogma aside and use logic and reason to find answers to pressing questions.

Do we have it in us? Or is the suicide preordained?

You tell me. I'd like to know what you think.

*Thanks to for some of the information about the fall of the Roman Empire.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Sunday Stealing: Regular Ol' Questions to Me!

Sunday Stealing

1. What do you find hilarious, but most people don’t find funny?

A. The State of the Union. It is really very sad, but I think a lot of people are getting exactly what they asked for. I also think they will come to regret it.

The State of the Union
2. What was the best year of your life so far?

A. Probably somewhere around 2005-2006. I was working steady, I felt well, my nerves weren't on edge all the time, and the economy was doing okay.

3. What’s your favorite thing to do on the Internet?

A. Blog. Play video games.

The Dragonborn in Skyrim

4. What fad have you held on to even though it isn’t popular any more?

A pile of my blogs, bound in hard copy via blog2print.
A. We had a Saturday 9 question yesterday that reminded me that my AOL email isn't popular, even though I've had accounts with them for over 20 years. I also still write in a journal by hand sometimes. Blogging might also fit this category.

5. What do you spend most of your time doing?

A. Looking at this computer screen and laundry.

6. What do you spend way too much money on?

A. Chocolate.

7. What event, large or small, has changed the course of your life most?

A. Getting married.

The day that changed my life.

8. Who do you have a hard time taking seriously?

A. Any state or national level politician. (I give local politicians the benefit of the doubt, until they start climbing the political ladder.)

9. What do you judge people for most often?

A. I used to not judge people, or I tried not to, but I find now that I do more than I used to. It is usually over (a) religion or (b) politics, and generally it is because of something stupid said on Facebook. I am trying to stop using Facebook.

10. What was the most beautiful view you have ever experienced?

A. I look at a beautiful view every day.
Ain't it purty?

11. What is something you read or heard that has stuck with you for a long time?

A. When I was very young I read a story about a young boy who would sit in a field to frighten the birds. "Fly blackbird fly, or I'll make you into a pie!" he would call out. I don't remember anything else about the story, nor have I been able to find the story as an adult, but for some reason that has always stuck with me. I used to have nightmares are scarecrows and cornfields; for some reason I relate this story to those dreams.

12. What’s your favorite thing to shop for?  Why?

A. I love to shop for office supplies. They can be a cheap thrill - 50 cents for some little doohickey you don't need, and you've had your shopping therapy. Plus they smell new and offer the anticipation of productivity.

13. What’s the best compliment someone can receive?

A. That you are kind.

14. What’s something people go on and on about and you just can’t stand sitting through?

A. I can't think of anything. As a news reporter it was my job to listen to people and ask the right questions to turn the mundane into a story. I still do that.

15. What’s something you can do that most people can’t?

A. I don't know that I can do anything special in any department. I write well. I can roll my tongue (and my eyes). I'm more of a Jill-of-all-trades sort of girl. 

16. When was the last time you tried to look cool and ended in embarrassment?

A. I have no idea. I gave up trying to look cool a very long time ago.

17. What is the most ridiculous rule you have to follow?

A. All of them.

18. What country do you not know the location of, even though you should?

A. Good grief. I am not up on the current geography of African nations or some of the newer ones that sloughed off from the Soviet Union, so I suppose some of those.

19. What do you have a hard time with but most people find quite easy?

A. Directions. Not map reading directions, but just knowing which way is north, south, east, west. I am easily turned around.

20. What’s the most impressive skill you have?

A. I shall go with my writing skills. It is what I am best known for and what I have done and wanted to do for as long as I can remember.


I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them.