Hello, Friends!

This week I must devote entirely to several speaking chores. So I thought you would enjoy viewing the introductions to my presentations. Here they are in their approximate final draft. Enjoy!

Managing Your Money



About sixty years ago, two sharecroppers laid their baby boy in a box that was really a dresser drawer, his first cradle. Nursed and blanketed carefully, he was as secure and warm in that box as in the finest crib.

They pumped all water by hand and heated it on a kitchen stove. Dishwater never went to waste. Once that water was hot, it did dishes, the stove, the countertops, the cabinet fronts, the tabletop, the chairs, and last, but not least, it did the floor.

Bathing happened once a week with “washing up” in cold water for other days.

Clothing, being almost all homemade, was divided and washed by use: undies, being all whites, went first, while the water was hot, with colored clothing next, followed by jeans and work clothing, all washed in the same water. Making soap, heating water, and hauling it away took too much time to waste a drop, so when all was done, the water proceeded to the garden, via siphon hose.

The soap was real, homemade, back then and not toxic.

And all had to dry on a line.

The baby boy grew and acquired a little sister. The two children played in the dirt at one end of the rows in a huge bean field, while the dad and mom walked the fields, pulling weeds for their living.

In time, their finances improved and they bought a farm. Almost all food for the next forty years came from the garden. Most was canned or pickled. Seldom was anything thrown away. Scraps went to the chickens. Children who did not like the food offered at the table still had to eat it. And no one got dessert until the plate was clean. The children grew up adaptable to almost any food.

Meanwhile, a city girl grew up only a bit more affluent, dressed in home-made clothing that was washed all in the same water and hung to dry. Climbing trees and building cities in the dust under them, she also had to clean her plate, no matter what, and it was garden food. Scraps went to her chickens, too.

Both families owned only one car, one small black and white T.V., and no computers. Both families mowed their own lawns with reel type mowers. The girls in both families went to bed in curlers and there was no hair dryer in either home, no beater bars on the vacuums, and no A.C.

When visitors came, someone slept on the floor. Soda pop happened once or twice a year.

The children grew up and wanted brand new store-bought clothing, so they got jobs and bought them. Only–the girls did the math and often bought patterns and fabric, instead.

When they went to college, the boy and the girl each recognized something about the other; he, her homemade clothing, and she, his homemade chessboard. They married and made two decisions:

  1. Mom would stay home, and,
  2. Everything would be homemade.

It was a simple step to move to home schooling.

That was about 28 years ago, and the little tree-climbing girl stands before you today to say:

It can be done. Go there.

Thanks to Your Grandfather

The work of your grandfather's hands.When I was only 8, my family took me to visit a park I remember fondly. It had fountains and rock formations that still exist today. Recently we returned to it and although improvements have appeared, much of it remains unchanged.

One beautiful part of this park is the thousands of rocks placed in formation to create retaining walls. These walls hold back soil and erosion, yes, but long ago, they held back something else, too: starvation. You see, all this rock work was done by the Works Projects Administration (WPA). For all its criticism, it performed two amazing feats: It provided sustenance for 3,000,000 families during the Great Depression, and it beat today’s common welfare to pieces. In fact, reducing common welfare—the dole—was one of the goals.

So during our excursions in this park, I marveled at the beautifully-laid rock work. The terraces and roadways were perfectly preserved from 80 years ago. The fountains and pools in the gardens, although coated with moss, obviously were the result of much pains taking. The warm, inviting craftsman style was perfectly suitable to a U.S. park.

I contemplated the beauty and imagined the men who worked on it. As they labored with this rock, did they cut their hands?  Were they engineers, that they could so beautifully work out the physics for these structures? Did they know what a lovely thing they were making? Could they look at it and realize they were vastly improving our nation? Could they see the vision for the finished project?

Did they live in camps and mail the money, or could they go home every night? And if they went home, did their pride rise as they walked through the front door with their paychecks in hand? Did they bask in their role as the family hero? Did their wives shed tiny tears of joy at the realization there would be food in the pantry again?

Did they ever guess someone like me would come along 80 years later and exclaim at the loveliness of the park? I touched the rocks with something like awe, knowing that once, long ago, someone else full of worry for the future, had handled each rock, knowing this was the only way his children could eat.

And did they dream my son would propose to his sweetheart while she sat on a bench they’d made?

My grandparents were farmers and preachers, so they always had enough.

But somewhere out there is a reader whose grandfather I wish I could thank.

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I Haven’t Made My Bed, Yet…

…No, my bed sits all a-jumble.

However, on a different topic, I found the most amazing thing while I was waiting for the bedding to make itself. 😉

I was just checking regular emails and discovered some news. In New York City, if you are very rich, you can get Special special education from the public schools. If you are poor, you cannot, no matter your need.

According to news writer Juan Gonzalez, if you can afford to sue the schools there, you can make them pay for the education your child really needs, as opposed to what the public schools there provide.

Just thought you’d like to know.

In the meantime, have you had snow yet?

If you are buried in snow, you might not be interested in this, but if you sit at the window longing for the first few flakes, take a look at this page,  and watch it snowing all over the world, as they call it. Fun.

And remember: In Alaska, Home’s Cooler! 😉