Words and Their Uses

Yes, words matter. Words come from our lips–speak without thinking of the harm and hurt they may cause. Words spoken that show caring and love which may give peace to another.

Words written in truth or lies. They matter.

Be careful with your words. Know that you are giving the truth of a matter before repeating them.

Words written to

Wanderings of an Elusive Mind

I love words. I love playing with words. I respect words, and what they can do to uplift or bring down. Build or destroy. Comfort or agitate. Words should be treated with caution, I believe, because words are forever. Though invisible when spoken, they cling, worm their way into your subconscious. When written, they do the same, but they are more obvious, more readily reviewed in total, without variation.

Stating the obvious, I am now putting words on “paper” (digital though it may be), and those words will become part of me, part of my life, part of my identity. Because they are “out there”, for any who wish to read. To quote. To misquote. Which leads me to the purpose of this blog, my realization that words taken out of context, words distorted to represent what I want them to rather than the whole truth, pushes my buttons faster…

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When the Mind Opens . . .

All these thoughts make me smile because they are so familiar. Sadness too for all the people being hurt by Mother Nature in our world as well as the victims of hatred and meanness of leaders around the world.

Wanderings of an Elusive Mind

You never know what might pour out. There are a lot of daily duties in life that don’t require much thought, or any thought, or any thought that matters at least. It’s at those times I sometimes think my mind works the hardest – at going nowhere with any semblance of coherence, certainly, but go it does. At odd times like those, I think things like this:

Looking at the wardrobe I am accruing for fall/winter/spring – because I have grown weary of the costume for casual wear of jeans/t-shirts/sweatshirts that I have worn for oh so manner years – and because as I grow older, what becomes the most important thing is comfort of what I’m wearing. There are certain items of clothing we females have been taught we must wear that will never ever be truly comfortable, and we deal with those – but why not seek out…

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WINTER PREPARATION

This week I canned five jars of tomatoes and two of tomato juice. This is something I’ve done most of my life.

Simultaneously, I have been re-editing my children’s novel about life on a dairy farm during World War II. In it the protagonist realizes that summer is all about preparing for winter. The farmer puts hay in the barn to feed his animals. The farmer’s wife cans strawberries, makes jam, and gathers vegetables from the garden to can and store in the cellar. The ten-year-old girls are called to help inside and outside.

I’ve realized that while I can go to the grocery any day and buy tomatoes, fresh berries, and vegetables of all kinds—fresh, frozen, or canned—there is a part of me that finds comfort in having a supply of my own prepared food in my cupboards.

When I want to prepare a recipe, I may not have the exact ingredients but I always seem to have substitutes for whatever is called for. There is something about being prepared for whatever may arise that was built into my psychic that drives me.

“IT’S UNDER MY FINGERS”

Yesterday morning, I did something fun for myself. I sat and played written piano music instead of just playing a bunch of notes or chords as I passed by the piano.

After muddling through a couple of songs, I remembered I’d played the Prelude in C# Minor by Rachmaninoff for my piano kids recital about the last year I taught in Afton. The Prelude has a series of chords that require overlapping your hands. The first bars were terrible, but as I came to the repeat of those few measures my fingers remembered what they’ve been taught and played them without my thought.

It’s interesting to me that your fingers do remember. I didn’t have to read every note.

A concert pianist once told me he could play “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin anytime because “it’s under my fingers.”

I think each of us has something under our fingers. If you work at a computer as a writer, typist, or any job requiring reports, you do not think “I must press the little finger on my left hand for “a”. You see “a” as a word or in a phrase and your fingers remember.

I watched my accountant use his calculator at lightning speed. He sees a number and it is immediately appears on his screen.

No matter what keyboard you lay your fingers on, your fingers recognize what they do there. True sometimes they get confused and strike the wrong letter, number, or sour note, but they also immediately recognize their error.

What is that connection between the tips of your fingers and the brain that allows for this memory? I’m sure it’s been studied, but I don’t know the answer, do you?

 

AHUAS, HONDURAS

In the early summer of 2003, I saw an ad in our Reformed Church Magazine that said an elementary teacher was urgently needed in Honduras. I was an elementary teacher.

I went into my husband’s office and said, “Would you like to go to Honduras?”

“No.”

I wanted to go and gently persuaded and bribed Richard to agree. We left Syracuse on October 1 at six in the morning and arrived inHonduras’s third largest city, Le Ceiba (which is the name of a tree), about five in the afternoon. The airport there was closing and the person we expected to pick us up had not arrived. Finally, a kind taxi driver, who knew our contact, took us to her house and then us to the Hotel Paris in center city.

We’d left Syracuse on a large jet and after three plane changes, arrived on a thirty passenger plane.  Two mornings later we left LaCeiba on an eighteen passenger plane that was half filled is boxes and cases of things. We made an intermittent stop on a grassy field after buzzing it to make sure there were no cattle in the way. We were invited to get off the plane, while they unloaded stuff. Back on the plane we landed a short time later in Ahuas. We were greeted by one of the two doctors of the hospital.

As Richard stepped from the plane it was into a cowflop. Dr. Gerard walked us to our new home a hundred yards from the airport. Other men from the hospital compound had been there and grabbed our suitcases for us.

Our house and the doctors’ home formed a triangle  with about fifty-foot sides. At ten in the morning the heat was already building to be brought down later in the afternoon with a sudden shower.

The hospital is a mission of the Moravian church and the Reformed Church in America. I was there to teach the doctors’ son. Our home had a classroom, kitchen, dining area, living room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms and a wonderful screened porch the full length of its front. Sufficient, yes. Luxurious, no.

Looking across from the hospital were several cabins where relatives of patients stayed to care for them, such as providing the patients’ meals.

Two four-passenger airplanes flew up to twenty flights a day bringing and taking to and from the hospital. Both pilots were missionaries and assisted by local mechanics.

I taught three children, Peter and Hazel in first grade, and Toby in kindergarten. Having taught first grade seven years, I designed my own materials using whatever books were available. When six months had passed, Peter and Hazel could read, write, and do required math. Toby, whose parents were Norwegian missionaries, had learned all the English sounds and was well on his way to be a reader in English, as well as Norwegian.

 

FASHION: 1963

This picture of my husband and I standing in front of the Bloomington Reformed Church the year he was ordained shows a considerable change in clothing people wore to church.

We had lived in Bloomington (our first church) about three or four months when this was taken. Richard is still in his Genevan gown following service. I am wearing a suit I do not remember but would presume to be a neutral light brown, tan, or gray. My hat is red. In the 1960s a woman always wore a hat to church. I am not wearing gloves which were also demanded if you were to be “properly dressed.” I would guess this was taken after the congregation left, so they had been discarded. When I went to church I would also have carried a matching purse. Certainly a new minister’s wife was expected to be properly dressed.

A SALUTE TO MY DAD

I grew up on an upstate New York dairy farm in the 1940s. An only child, I have always been petite, a nice word for small. Dad certainly could have used a strapping young man to help him care for the herd of 50 to 60 large animals. He hired those men.
Still, no matter what I asked to do, Dad never said, “You can’t do that. You are a girl.” He did say on occasion, “You can try it, but I don’t think you can do that.” It was true, I couldn’t. I didn’t have the strength.
When I was about twelve, he taught me to drive the doodlebug, which was an old 1929 car, cut in half with no cab that he used for a tractor. Manufacturers who built tractors were turning out tanks during World War II. A standard shift and I had to learn to deal with the clutch and changing gears.
One day I asked to drive our pickup truck on the road. About a mile from home I went around a sharp right hand turn on two wheels. In a normal voice Dad said, “Next time, slow down before the corner.”
After the war, we acquired a tractor which was fun for me to drive. One day I was driving it with the hay wagon and hay loader attached, making it nearly the length of a semi. Twice the same day, I cut the corner in the hay field too short causing the hay loader to catch on the rigging of the wagon. The first time, he called, “Whoa.” The second time, Dad hollered, “Lord, girl, what in hell are you doing?” He fixed the problem and we finished loading the hay with me being more careful to swing wide on corners.
One day, the tractor was on the third story barn floor. I asked to back it out of the barn and down the stone ramp. I climbed on the tractor, started backwards. I had my foot on the clutch and it began rolling. Dad yelled, “Brake!” I slammed on the break just short of going over the side of the ramp. I think Dad took over at that point. But a short time later, we were back in the barn. Dad pointed to the tractor. “Get on.” He climbed up beside me. “Now, back up. Keep your foot off the clutch!”
I’ve driven many vehicles with a standard shift over the past years. Each time the words, “Keep your foot off the clutch!” have kept me from making dangerous moves.
When he had back surgery in 1952, the doctor told him he’d spend most of the remainder of his life in a wheelchair. His response, “To hell I will.” He was never without pain for the next 35 years of his life, and he almost never complained. He just kept moving.
Dad has always been my hero.