Love of Money — and Birds

Well, possibly my muse is awakening, but is still not interested in my novel. Instead, it (she?) is currently hard at work on a presentation I am going to give at my church on January 21 on “1,000 Years of English Money.” If you go back a thousand years from Elizabeth II, you come to Canute, who became King of England in 1016. I have long been endeavoring to collect a silver coin from each reign between the two. It’s not complete – I’m missing ten monarchs and the two Cromwells – but I have enough to give a pretty good overview of the coins and the history of the people they represent. And I’m also giving a very generalized history of the start of money, and connecting it to the Christian Sacrament of Baptism. All in forty-five minutes.

Driving home Monday morning from water exercise, I saw two small hawks (maybe peregrines?) sitting side by side on the same light standard, very cute. I was a little surprised, because hawks are territorial, each needing so many acres in order to find enough food to sustain himself. Then I thought, I bet they’re a breeding pair! Awwww, love in the air . . . But in January? Yes, because raptor birds feed their young on the young of other animals, and so need a head start in the laying of eggs, so their young are hatched in time for their parents to gather other animals’ eggs and young. Crows, for example, are also pairing up, seeking nest locations, in order to hatch their babies just in time for their main diet of newborn rabbits. It’s factoids like that that tone down my sentimental feelings about nature. Red in beak and claw indeed.

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Here’s Java!

No New Year’s Eve Penny Ante Poker Party – too many people were sick, including Ellen, so we had to cancel.

So it was a quiet ending to the year. I took the bottle of chilled champagne down to the party room to share with other residents, had some friendly conversation, then came back up to share the last of it with Ellen. Went to bed early, slept well, woke refreshed. Not a bad way to welcome 2018.

After months of off-and-on trying, I finally have a photograph of our cat Java that shows her curious profile, the shortened muzzle and rounded forehead.  When she yawns, her mouth splits her face almost back to her ears!


New year’s resolution: Re-awaken my muse so I can finally finish Tying the Knot.

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The Royal Flush of Seasons

Had a lovely Christmas!  Went to a family gathering (chaos among the children opening presents!) Christmas Eve, then another gathering among friends Christmas Day, and will have a light supper featuring an authentic Christmas pudding today.  And it’s not over yet. It is good to remember that there are twelve days of Christmas, that despite every trace of it vanishing from the commercial world (except for shopworn things in sale bins) on December 26, the Twelfth Day of Christmas is not until January 6. So my tree continues to twinkle, I’m going to a caroling party on the 29th, and the Three Magi don’t arrive at the Stable in my church until the 6th.

And we’re holding our annual Penny Ante Poker Party on New Year’s Eve. Its origins are lost in the mists of time. When we were young it would last nearly all night; nowadays it breaks up soon after we toast the New Year in. But it’s still great fun once we peruse the reminders I set out on the ranking of hands – most of us only play once a year, and can’t remember until reminded whether or not a straight beats a flush. I do remember that in all that time, I’ve had two natural royal flushes, the last one eight or nine years ago. My “poker face” got a real workout those times. Joke: A man was boasting that he’d taught his dog to play poker, but noted that he wasn’t a good player. “He wags his tail when he’s got a good hand.”

And thus reminded of this turning of the season, I offer my favorite toast: “Health, wealth, love, and time to enjoy them.

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Clap! Clap!

Two new characters in my Bethlehem display are a boy and a girl, each holding up a kitten, with another kitten at their feet. I have put them together in the town square with a little sign that reads “Free Kittens”. On Sunday one of the ushers said, “Shouldn’t that sign be in Hebrew? Or Aramaic?” Inspired, I searched the Internet that afternoon, fruitlessly. So I went to my Facepage and asked if anyone knew how to write the words. I got an immediate answer, almost immediately corrected by someone else who pointed out that the Hebrew words meant Free Puppies.  Which would have been hilarious. But now I’ve got it right (I hope) and have made a little sign I’ll put up later this week:

חתלתולים בחינם

Or, there’s this:

גּוּרִים חִִינָּם

Because someone else piped up and said, no, this one is correct. I don’t know which is correct, but it’s not desperately important so I’m not fussing about it. Still, if one of these is right and the other wrong – or if both are correct (or both wrong and I’m the victim of a hoax), let me know. And by the way, what does the first one sound like? (I have a description of the second.)


See what happens when you just ask?

Our Christmas tree, an artificial one about four feet tall, sits on a little antique table near the border between our living room and kitchen, above an outlet. It’s been put there for years, never a problem until lately, when my bad knee and arthritis make it difficult to keep going under that table to plug in and unplug the lights. There’s been a commercial on television for a product I remember from almost as far back as my first television set: The Clapper. You plug something into it, plug it into an outlet and clap your hands and it turns on the current. And three days ago I finally bought one. I can’t tell you how odd it felt to buy the thing, as if I were finally falling for an old prank. But by golly, it works. Clap, clap and the lights come on. I guess it’s an old peoples’ device, like a cane. Your hair turns white and you find yourself needing a cane. And The Clapper.

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Chicken Soup for my Psyche

People – ordinary people – can be kind and cooperative. Someone in the upper levels at a Houston Astros game dropped her hat and it was caught several levels down. And very determinedly, with overwhelming cooperation, the hat was returned:

Yesterday we broke a high-temperature record for December 4, at fifty-seven degrees. This morning there is snow on the ground and we hope to have a high of twenty-four. Out in northwest Minnesota there’s a huge blizzard. Amazing weather.

I’ve been going out a lot, physical therapy, doctor’s appointments, setting up the Bethlehem display at my church, Christmas shopping, etc., etc.  I am going to declare today a Sunday and stay in, writing, stitching, exploring a research subject on the Internet, cooking a special dinner.  Restoring my soul.

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We had a terrific Thanksgiving. The “spatchcocked” turkey was really good – Google “spatchcocked turkey” to see how it’s done. Roast at 450 degrees for eighty minutes, which sounds insane, but it works. Ate the last of the leftovers yesterday.

Decorated the balcony with faux evergreens and lights and it looks pretty good. The weather has been very mild which was helpful in getting it done.

I’m trying hard to work on Tying the Knot, without much success. Weird how the impulse to write is there, the plot is strengthening, but the simple ability to put one sentence after another is missing.  Maybe my author lift is running on empty.

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Okay, it’s officially the Christmas Season. I just heard that tv commercial in which Hershey kisses are being rung like handbells playing, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”

My surgeon told me a few days ago that I am his “star patient” because I am healing so swiftly. My knee goes almost straight out front and I can bend it about 117 degrees.   But I still can’t kneel in church. I’ve been treated by a “Healer,” a woman in my building who lays her hands on me.  I think it’s helping.

I hope all of you have a very pleasant Thanksgiving and, if you take a minute or two to name the things you’re grateful for, I hope that’s not enough time to list them all.

Meanwhile, this: It was about this time of year in 1962. I had survived boot camp and a few months of “General Duty” (cleaning the barracks) every new WAVE was assigned to, and was just settling in to work in the Public Affairs office, striking for the job of journalist at Naval Air Station Alameda, California, when the phone rang. The chief grabbed it and he listened so intently a silence fell as we waited to hear what news he was getting. He threw the receiver into its cradle and announced, “They just shot the president!”

Another silence fell, this one shocked and alarmed. The president, we knew, was in Texas. Out in the open, not safe in the White House. There was tension between the US and Russia over Cuba. Were we at war? Suddenly the fact that I was in the military became exceedingly relevant to me.

The president was alive, he was in a hospital, he was seriously wounded, there were others also shot, Mrs. Kennedy was not injured, it happened during a parade – we turned on the radio to listen as meager facts came dribbling in. I was sent to lunch. The talk there was excited, sad, frightened, full of rumors. He was dead, he was only wounded, it was the Russians, it was the Cubans, we were going to bomb them back to the stone age, they were going to bomb us. I don’t remember what I ate.  I was walking back when a loudspeaker blew the trumpet call for Attention. It was a pretty day, cool and sunny. I and the other sailors out of doors halted where we were and faced the Admin Building, where the flag was. Taps began to blow, we saluted, and one solid fact was known: the president was dead.  A young sailor near me began speaking softly, obscenities, over and over.  I was nineteen years old and too scared to cry.

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