An Ode to America

We rarely get a chance to see another country's editorials

Read this excerpt from a Romanian Newspaper. The article was written by Mr. Cornel Nistorescu and published under the title 'C'ntarea Americii, meaning 'Ode To America ' in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentulzilei 'The Daily Event' or 'News of the Day'.
~An Ode to America ~

Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs.

On 9/ll, the American tragedy turned three hundred million people into a hand put on the heart. Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the Army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. 
Instead the Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.

After the first moments of panic, they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car a government official or the president was passing.
On every occasion, they started singing: 'God Bless

I watched the live broadcast and rerun after rerun for hours listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in a wheelchair without knowing who she was, or of the Californian hockey player, who gave his life fighting with the terrorists and prevented the plane from hitting a target that could have killed other hundreds or thousands of people.

How on earth were they able to respond united as one human being? Imperceptibly, with every word and musical note, the memory of some turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put into collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy. What on earth unites the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their history? Their economic Power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases with the risk of sounding commonplace, I thought things over, I reached but only one conclusion...Only
freedom can work such miracles.

Cornel Nistorescu

Crawdads, Crawfish & Mudbugs - spicy snacks!

When I was growing up in 1948 Nebraska, one of my favorite things to do on a Saturday morning was to go "crawdadding" with my dad and his friends.

Hmmm, you don't know what "crawdads" are....well, lets see, in the south they are called crawfish, the eastern United States folks call them crayfish and some parts of this great nation refer to them as mudbugs or yabbies. But in the central and western areas, they are just plain ole crawdads….miniature lobsters.

I loved to go with them. We’d hop into Dad’s old Model T Ford and the guys would discuss where the best spots would be. Dad had his favorite places, depending on how much rain we’d had. Since he was the driver, we’d usually go there.

Crawdaddin’ wasn’t involved, took absolutely no talent and was a great way for us kids to get wet and muddy without being yelled at for doing it. Mom would scold Dad for letting me come home covered with mud and smelly pond water but all she’d say to me was “don’t come into the house with those muddy clothes on”.

I can still remember the feel of the squishy mud between my toes and the prickly thrill that maybe we’d get our toes pinched by a wandering crawdad or some fish would "get" us. Occasionally a small water snake would be sunning itself on the shore and would slither into the pond… took a whole lot of persuading to get me into the water after seeing one.

Once we arrived at the right pond, dad would hang a piece of beef liver on a string tied to a piece of wood....then he'd toss it out into a pond or slough (a muddy body of water). They'd throw out 10 or more floating tidbits and wait for a few minutes for the smell to attract the crawdads. They hung out fairly close to shore, under debris hiding from fish, raccoons and other creatures that lived in the area. They were the favorite food of whatever fish happened to live in the pond and had learned the art of self-preservation.

The crawdads would swim up and grab the liver with their big claws. We (the kids) would wade out, pick up the wood and slip a homemade net under the crawdads and occasionally would find some 5 or 6 inchers....we'd really get excited if we happened to get those big ones! Then we would come back to shore and dump the net into a gunny sack.

Once we got enough, a whole sack full, we'd head for home and empty the sack into our old claw bathtub filled with salty water. (on Saturday nights, I also was dumped into that tub…after Mom had scrubbed it out)

I was between 8-10 years old and loved to play with the crawdads before they turned into lunch! I’d look for the biggest ones and tease them to get them to open their claws. Had my fingers pinched many, many times.
Once they were cleaned by the salty water and rinsed, Mom would cook batches of them in her big soup pot….she’d add spices and whatever else was necessary to give them a spicy flavor. They turned bright red and the smell wafted through the open windows and sooner or later the whole neighborhood would smell the spicy crawdads cooking, bring their beer and we'd have a party! (the kids didn't get beer...don't remember what we had)

Thanks for letting me share my memories…..

YOU CAN Win at Carnival Games

Try these hints on your next visit to the State Fair or traveling carnival.....up your chances against the carnival's odds!  You ARE aware that many of them are "fixed" in favor of the carnival......right?  They are there to make a profit....not to send you home happily carrying a stuffed animal or plastic bag with a live goldfish in it.

Balloon Dart Throw

The balloons are under-inflated, and the dart tips are dull. Don’t hurl the darts straight for the balloons, loft them in an arc for a better chance. Most people aim for the middle, so the game operators will often hide the "good prize" tags behind balloons on the outside edges.

Milk Bottle Throw

The bottles used in this carnival game are often made with leaded glasses making them very heavy. The secret to winning the milk bottle throw is to aim at the base of the bottom two containers rather then at the intersection of all three bottles.

BasketBall Free-Throw

The basketball is over-inflated, the hoop is smaller than regulation size and often an oval shape rather than circular. The backboard is made of plywood and is very bouncy.   Do not try to rebound the shot. Use a high arc underhanded granny shot.  Ever wonder why so many kids end up with a prize?  Underhanded granny toss.
Milk Can Toss 
Aim for the back of the rim and toss the ball underhanded by gripping the ball on top. Give the ball some backspin as you release it give a little flick of the wrist so the ball starts spinning backwards in the air.  The ball will hit the back rim and the backspin will dump it into the milk can.
Test of Strength…the King of Carnival games 
The object is to hit a pad with a mallet and ring a bell.  To “win” aim for the center of the pad. Remember, the center of the pad is the sweet spot. Make sure the face of the mallet hits the pad squarely. Swing the mallet like you were splitting wood.  Have your strongest hand towards the head of the mallet and your weaker hand as close to the handle edge as possible.  Bring the mallet up and over your head and as you swing down your strong hand will slide down towards the end of the handle.  This gives you more control and balance.
Water Guns / Balloon Races 
First clue:  Some guns have better water flow then others, some targets are more sensitive then others, and some compressors have better airflow then others.  The only way to know for sure is to observe a lot of games and see which ones win more often.  
Second clue:  Make friends with  the carnival worker, he can almost assuredly tell you which stations were most likely to take home the prize.

How to Ruin a Car Thief's Day

A few precautions will make your vehicle less attractive to car thieves. It takes less time for a professional thief to break into your car, start it up and drive away as it does for you to walk into a store, buy candy bar, pay for it and watch as your car leaves the parking lot. Car thieves never pass up an opportunity to make a quick buck by stealing a car and they work weekends, nights and holidays.

The following tips can help your car become a less inviting target and slow down, discourage or actually prevent car theft.
1. Park in plain sight -Thieves prefer to work out of sight of people and electronic recording devices, so leave your car in a well-lit, populated area.
2. Take your keys---always - Car theft is often a crime of opportunity, so shut yours off and pocket your keys even if you're only ducking into a convenience store.
3. Don't hide your keys anywhere within or outside the car - Thieves know all the hiding places you do, and probably a few more. Those magnetic key holders are BAD ideas.
4. Use a variety of methods to slow would-be thieves - The more prevention methods you have the harder it will make a thief work to steal your car. Put on the emergency brake, turn your wheels hard to the left or right, set the car in "park" or in gear to make it more difficult to be quickly towed.
5. Disable your battery if parking long-term - A thief won't spend the time trying to start a car with a possible dead battery. Yank one of the cable wires to your battery if you're leaving your car parked at an airport or anywhere where it will sit unattended for more than a few days.
6. Sign valuable parts - Put the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the inside of your trunk, inside your doors, on your sound system components and any other pricey parts thieves like to chop.
With foresight and preventive measures that don't take much time, you can help ensure you'll never have to experience that unique nausea familiar to anyone finding a grease spot where their car was parked.

Where Did Our United States Jobs Go??????

This was sent to me by a friend who lost her job in August. She had worked at the same place for 15 years....but no longer. Her company could not compete with the foreign imports...many of which were actually American companies who chose to have their items made overseas.....cheaper? I suppose so.

But in a way, we, as comsumers are also to blame. We want the best bargain, i.e. cheapest, items we can find....who cares if John, Helen, Tom or Doreen, American citizens, will lose their jobs....obviously we don't.

Is this you?

John Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN ) for 6 am. While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG ). He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRILANKA ), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE ) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA).

After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA ) he sat down with his calculator (MADE IN MEXICO ) to see how much he could spend today. After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) turning off his radio (MADE IN INDIA ) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY ) filled it with gas (FROM SAUDI ARABIA) and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day of checking his computer (MADE IN MALAYSIA), John decided to relax for a while. He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL ) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE ) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA ), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in AMERICA.

Do you see anything WRONG with this story? You should.

The Jackalope (Midwest version)

Sooooo, have you ever heard of a jackalope? My dad, a determined rabbit hunter used to talk about them all the time. I think one of his never-fulfilled fantasies was to finally see one. They are most common, or at least were, in western Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming. As with many other of nature's oddities, they are nearly extinct.

Jackalopes are said to be a cross between an antelope and a they managed to procreate is still a mystery.

I haven't thought about them in a long time...but, yesterday my hubby and I had lunch at the Texas Road House in Omaha, NE (part of our "see Omaha between CWS baseball games plan). There, mounted on the wall was a big ole long-eared jackalope....6" antlers held high. Most of the jackalopes have small pointed antlers but occasionally one comes along with a full's mother probably had a liason with a white tail deer instead of an antelope. You can tell if its a true jackalope if it has long ears, probably 5 or 6 inches....

For the actual history and a drawing (very good likeness) of a pair of jackalopes, click on this link: Jackalopes..true or a hoax.

100 Years from legacy

..........................100 Years From Now.......

It will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or what kind of a car I drove, but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child...


Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force --- they're OUR songs

The Fourth of July is always a sad time for me......I remember when I was 8 years old , my brother was serving aboard the USS Fulton, a sub tender during World War II. We had a small flag with a blue star sewn on it hanging in our front window, although I didn't really know what it represented, I know my mom would get tears in her eyes whenever she looked at it. She said it was "for Bobby".....

The BLUE STAR FLAG was a symbol of love, pride, hope and grave concern. It also became a symbol of what Americans at home could do to increase a mother's chance of seeing her son's safe return: rationing, working in factories building needed materials, and even reminding all at home that "loose lips sink ships". The Blue Star Flag, visible from the windows of many houses up and down any given street in America, symbolized a pride in the commitment of America's youth and a reminder of the gravity of the entire war effort.

We prayed every night that Bobby would be safe and come home to us.....and he did.

Bob was my
oldest brother and my hero. I loved school...spelling was my forte. Every week we would have a spelling test, and I always proudly brought home my paper with a big 100% on it. Then each Saturday morning I would write a letter to Bobby and enclose my spelling test. I don't know how long it took for my letters to reach him, but they did. Bobby would send me a return letter(s) with a dollar bill reward for the 100% papers.

Our school Principal, Irma Grace Riley was a great believer in school assemblies. I went to Edward Rosewater School in Omaha, NE and every Friday the classes from kindergarten to 8th grade would assemble in the school's big hallway and together we would recite the Pledge of Allegiance and we would sing.

I know (and remember) every verse to The Star Spangled Banner, America the Beautiful, Over There, The Caissons Keep Rolling Along, and all the patriotic songs she could find. Many of my classmates and teachers had fathers, husbands or brothers stationed "over there" and we were honoring them in our own little way.

The Fourth of July reminds me of what our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers fought for.
...and I cry for those who died keeping us free. Listen to these songs.....listen to the pride in the voices and the determination in these words.


Bucket List Vacation in South Dakota

We just returned from our "bucket list" trip to South Dakota.  We have always talked about visiting the Black Hills, seeing Mount Rushmore and the 'in progress' making of the Crazy Horse monument.  Due to a heart attack which my husband Ken had the day before Easter, 2012 we decided that we will make the trip now.
We requested a South Dakota Vacation Guide booklet (saw a TV ad for it....FREE), and decided where to stay and what to do.  I had never considered South Dakota to be a "vacation spot" was totally unprepared for the many things, places and history that the state offers.  Ever heard of the Corn Place in Mitchell, SD?  I always thought it was a building full of corn-related items and couldn't figure out why anyone would want to visit a "corn palace"...Surprise, its an amazing building that changes every year.
Since we live in Omaha, NE, our trip started by taking Interstate I-29 to Sioux Falls, SD and then I-90 from Sioux Falls and driving West. Our first main stop (not counting interesting little towns and I-90 rest stops) was the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD.  The first Corn Palace was built in 1892 to celebrate the harvest and to stimulate economic growth in Mitchell. 
Early settlers displayed the fruits of their harvest on the building exterior in order to prove the fertility of South Dakota soil.  More than 3,000 bushels of corn are used to create the murals that decorate the exterior and interior of the Corn Palace.  In June of each year, the native grasses on the building are replaced and in August the old corn, sorghum and milo are taken down.  The murals, made of various colors of corn, are amazing.  Each year exterior decorations are completely stripped down and new murals are created.. The theme is selected by the Corn Palace Festival Committee and murals are designed by a local artist. 
 The Corn Palace is a working building....the surrounding schools use it for basketball tournaments, school functions, and city functions are held there.
So far, the only thing that was a tad annoying is the frequency of road repairs being done.  One of the SD natives told me that South Dakota has two seasons....winter season and road repair season!

Our Hawk Visitors...can you identify these birds?

This beautiful hawk and friend visited our garden yesterday morning.  When I looked out of our kitchen window, it was sitting on the back fence just looking around.  After a while, it dropped down into the grass, hopped around for a second or two and with a leap was back onto the top of the fence.  We watched this early morning display from our kitchen window … but somewhere between looking out the window and pouring myself a cup of tea, another bird appeared on the fence.  I don’t know if bird #2 was on the ground and #1 went down to give it moral support and encourage it come up and see the world from the fence top or if it flew in from somewhere else.

We don’t know what type of hawk this is and would like it identified if you know.  Thanks to images on Google we think it might be a Groshawk or possibly a red-tailed hawk.  Bird #2 seems to have a lot of fluffy feathers… may be a fledgling and is just learning to fly.  Bird #1 could be a parent or even a sibling.

We watched them for about 15 minutes and then decided to get closer for better photos.  I walked to about 15 feet from the fence and the smaller bird #2, took off.  It had very large wings, easily 3 feet or more from tip to tip.  It flapped it’s wings several times and glided to a tall tree in another yard.  Bird #1 sat patiently while I snapped a few more photos, then raised up, flapped it’s wings and took off, landing next to it’s friend on the neighboring tree. 

The next morning, I went out to get our newspaper, and there sat bird #1 on the fence again.  It stayed for a half hour or so, and then flew away….probably never to visit us again.  But we enjoyed the visit…and wonder if there is a nest (probably a really big one) somewhere in the neighborhood.    Also made a mental note to keep an eye on Fred, our cocker spaniel and Oakley, our granddaughter Jennifer’s little Westmoreland Terrier when we babysit her next week.  The birds may have a problem getting chunky ole Fred off the ground, but Oakley would be a prime target.