Friday, August 26, 2016


This is how he'd like is hair to look - but that was 32 years go!

I love it! Frank has been pissin’ and moanin’ all week that this was the worst haircut he ever got. Then Rich was here to change the air filter on the car, and the first words out of his mouth were “Gee Dad, I like your haircut.”  That’s what I kept telling him – it looks great! – but curmudgeon that he is, he likes it longer. Oh, well. We'll think of it as a "summer cut" until it grows in.


Friday, August 19, 2016


NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CENTENNIAL – August 25, 2016 - and I wrote this article for our community magazine. Have you seen and heard the advertisement running for the National Parks Service? I love it! It's Happy Birthday, with each note of the song taken from a sound from the parks - from a chickadee's chirp to a lighthouse fog horn, from a floor polisher at the Smithsonian to the sound of the cast of a fly fishing lure. Very clever.  See and hear it here.

One hundred years ago this month, the National Park Service was created “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wildlife therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”  There are fifty-eight national parks in the National Park Service, the majority of them west of the Mississippi in the wide open spaces. As you would expect, the largest park, Wrangell-St. Elias, is in Alaska. Alaska boasts eight national parks. Hot Springs in Arkansas is the smallest, and is the only national park within an urban area. Arkansas, like South Carolina, has only one state park.  Many states have none.

Though this is the centennial month of the National Park Service, it is said that October is the best month to visit a state park. The crowds have thinned out and the weather is excellent. This is a good time to begin planning for a fall visit to a national park. There are only a dozen national parks east of the Mississippi. Nearby, just east of Columbia, our state boasts Congaree National Park, a temperate climate swamp, with some of the largest hardwood specimens in the country. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is just under three hours away from us in Sun City Carolina Lakes. Both are ideal destinations for autumn day trips.

Frank at South Carolina's only National Park  the swampy Congaree
Further exploration of any of our national parks will require more than a day trip. Shenandoah National Park is a drive of about five hours – you wouldn’t want to do that in a day, and Everglades National Park, the largest subtropical wilderness in our country, is at least eleven hours by car. A bit further south, historic Biscayne and Dry Tortugas National Parks, the latter accessible only by seaplane or boat, are home to marvelous marine areas for snorkeling, camping and other outdoor recreation.

Pit a pin in a map where Nevada and Colorado meet Idaho, and you will be surrounded by national parks out west: little ones like Great Basin in Nevada, and big ones like Death Valley, the largest in the contiguous states, and our first national park, Yosemite. You are almost spoiled for choices out there. West of the Mississippi, on the mainland, there are three dozen national parks. You are sure to be able to visit several of them in one well-planned trip.

Yellowstone's Old Faithful. Old Faithful was on my list of places to see,
and I'm happy to say experienced it. 

But more than overseeing the national parks, the National Park Service, under the Department of the Interior, is responsible for forts, battlefields, military parks, monuments, historic sites, and trails, be they large and small, in all fifty states. They see to places like Ellis Island and the Appalachian Trail, and Gettysburg and Kitty Hawk in the east, and Mesa Verde, Little Big Horn, Alcatraz and the Muir Woods in the west. A full state by state listing of the sites they administer, sites to which you might want to plan a trip, can be found at their website. Simple to remember:
Teddy Roosevelt's home, Sagamore Hill, was the closest National Park Service site
to where I lived on Long Island. I was always fascinated by the house and its furnishings
 - well, maybe not so much by all the animal trophies.
From my first visit there, I was always delighted to visit another old house, mansion, castle - anything that taught me how other people lived in times gone by throughout the world.

Friday, August 12, 2016



When we were much younger, there was a nice array of local shops to help us maintain our Sunday-best wardrobes. While we may fondly remember them and, on occasion, wish them back, today such shops are few and far between.

Do you remember the shoe maker, the cobbler, and getting your shoes resoled and heeled? Remember the unique aroma of shoe leather and polish? Did you ever go there just to get your shoes shined?  Did you ever go there to have your shoes made?

Do you remember the good drycleaner? A trip to the drycleaner was a weekly thing in many households. Many shops had a tailor on their staff, but sometimes a good tailor had his own shop. While there are still drycleaners round, with today’s large selection of clothing sizes, alterations are almost a thing of the past.

Do you remember the ladies dress shop with just one or two of the “latest numbers” in the window? Do you remember putting together an “ensemble” for Sunday-best? Do you remember the haberdasher? It was usually conservative, somber, and quiet in both activity and choice of colors. Even the ties were muted. Do you remember the shoe store?

Department stores, malls, and on-line shopping have done away with most of these shops. Most of us no longer wear our shoes and clothes for years and years. Our things rarely wear out. We tire of them and pass them on to a charity. Now our closets are packed and our clothes have clothes, but it is just the way we are, not the way we wore were.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Easter Sunday Best in the 50's. My dress was dark pink my sister's was pale pink.
(I hated that dress!)(My brother doesn't look too happy here either.)
After church and the chocolate bunnies, Easter Sunday picture-taking
was one of my mother's rituals. 

On one recent morning, the staff of our community magazine were batting around ideas for our often-printed article theme of “Do You Remember…?” We got to talking about what we once wore for a plane trip, or to church, or to work. There were various levels of dress, from “just got out of bed” to “Sunday Best.”

Staff members remember the men in their families going off to work in suit and tie, or even in overalls, jacket, shirt and tie. And, bowler or fedora, they always wore a hat. Men’s hats seem to have gone out of favor when J.F.K. went around without one. Women’s hats stayed in favor longer because Jackie Kennedy wore them.

Not a hard hat to be seen!  You can be sure that this was in the 30's, long before OSHA

Sundays might have found women in a neat suit, but they usually wore dresses. House dresses, day dresses, Sunday-best dresses. And aprons too. Most of us can remember June Cleaver or Margaret Anderson, pertly and appropriately dressed, apron in place, and usually wearing high heels. Today we shake our heads at this style of dress. Just think of all the ironing! Just think of housekeeping in those high heels!

Thr caption on this one from Google was "retro vacuuming."  I'll say it's retro!
I'm glad that those days are long gone.

Adult men of all ages seem to have dressed similarly, but with women it was a different story. Mothers usually wore open shoes, be they high-heels or flats, and Grandmothers usually wore black lace-ups with chunky heels. Actually, some women of those years, thank you Kathryn Hepburn, did wear slacks every day. Grandmothers? Never.

Do you remember bobby sox, saddle shoes, penny loafers, poodle skirts, the craze for grey and pink? Do you remember, of course you do, miniskirts, bell bottoms, go-go boots, and Nehru jackets? Clothes seem to be less faddish these days.

Holey socks, you can still get poodle skirts!
I never had one, didn't miss it at all. 

“Sunday Best,” the dress code easily understood by all, was the thing to wear on most special occasions. We wore Sunday-best to go to anything a bit more special than what we did every day. We dressed up for a plane trip, with hats and gloves and matching luggage. Same for a long trip by car or train. We always dressed somberly for funerals. It was just what was “done.”

Today, what is “done” is frequently “anything goes.” It is still true that we are judged on our attire, however unconsciously and silently, by others. We still want to spruce up to go out to dinner, but the dress code is casual. But then, now we dine out much more casually and frequently than our parents did. We seniors may think that standards are slipping miserably, but then seniors in any era probably thought the same thing.

This one's from The People of Walmart.
Walmart's dress code is "Anything Goes." and you
know there are worse getups than this one.

Are we any worse, or any better, for these changes? No, we are status quo. Today’s social standards and mores have evolved and developed along with technology. We have a wider availability of goods and services and the money to pay for them, and, especially in wash-and-wear, a vast array of clothing choices.

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."
Mark Twain 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


The original Rocking Horse, made of maple from our own property.
hat's our oldest grandchild. She now has children of her own.

One morning recently, one of the bloggers I read each day wondered about a very old book of fables she’d purchased at the brocante. The little volume, recovered in fabric, was printed in 1803. It’s a wonderful pastime to wonder where such treasures have been all these years. Who touched them, took care of them, and passed them on.

A later version, this one made of cherry.
Our second brood of granddaughters have this one. 

I often wonder what will happen to some of things Frank and I have. I wonder what, in years to come, people will make of the monogram he burned into most of the wooden objects he made. It’s a J combined with a capital Å, for Åsgard. (In the 80’s, we moved to a place where there were no house numbers, so the folks there named their homes. We chose Åsgard, home of the gods. As in ye gods!?)

Katie again with her doll buggy and her scooter.

From small boxes to a grandfather clock, from kitchen utensils to Stickley or Shaker style furniture, of all the things he’s made, and we have albums full of pictures, the things I wonder most about are the toys. Yes, who will admire them and wonder who made them, who will touch them, play with them, cherish them, and pass them down to their own grandchildren as they will be passed down from us.

Katie's mom had some professional pictures done of her and her toys.
Who'd have thunk that the hay wagon would really ever hold hay?