Tuesday, May 10, 2016

My arrival in Flagler, Colorado (August 1949)....population 800

1949    My goodness...that is 67 years ago.  Few people had telephones in their homes...in Flagler,  the phones were wind-up wall phones with about 8 other parties on the same line listening in on all conversations.  My teaching job was obtained by written communication (by mail) with a Western teaching agency.  There were no computers or TV's.  There were radios, however.

My arrival from the East was by train from Kingston, RI, via New York City to Chicago by New York Central.  Then, it was Chicago to Limon, Co., via the Rock Island Line, which was about 30 miles away.  Then by bus back to Flagler..drop-off at the cafe on 70.

Then one had to walk up the road past a tiny park and the huge grain silos before reaching Main St.  Actually, Main street was the only paved street in the tiny town!  I had to find the real estate office in order to meet with a school board member, who was to take me to a home, Mrs. Moore's, where I would board for the school year.  I believe I mentioned before that she was Robert Taylor's aunt.

Now back to my arrival or travel outfit.  I had worked the previous summer in New York City at a millinery shop so I was dressed in my best dress suit, which I had purchased in New York City to work at the millinery store..  In looking back at my arrival I break out in laughter at how I must have looked to the local town folks that morning!!

Please, close your eyes and imagine this. A black rayon suit with a slender straight skirt reaching about 4-6 inches above the ankles with a fitted, long sleeve jacket with peplum.   Crowning this outfit was my favorite hat..a black felt bonnet lined in black satin with a pink ostrich feather that curled under my chin.  Now this young lady, yours truly, was walking, as well as lugging, a huge suitcase...no wheels in those days...as well as a carry-on case, up the street.

Now, if you would, close your eyes again and try to picture this tiny Western, one paved street town.
It was in August and the temperature was quite warm that day.  Past the tiny park, past the huge grain silos, past a tiny two story hotel I went and then turned down Main Street.

Here on the left was the local male hangout, the pool hall,  with its usual members; the grocery store, the drug store, the bank, as  well as the small dry goods store, the newspaper office and finally the areal estate office where I would meet my school board member.  For the life of me, I can not recall his name at the moment.

Thankfully there were no cat calls or whistles.  People coming and going from the stores tactfully did not stare, but I am sure the telephone wires stated to hum once they got home.

Fashion magazines were certainly not part of the life in this Western wheat and cattle town.  I soon discovered that the male members of this society wore two types of clothes..wheat farmers preferred the bib overalls and the ranchers preferred tight jeans and cowboy boots. Most women were attired in cotton dresses, and often wore cotton bonnets with elongated sides to protect their faces from the brutal Western sun.

After being escorted to Mrs. Moore's home I changed into some comfortable clothes.  I knew that many interesting experiences lay ahead for me, and hopefully, I met the challenge.

East meets West!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sunday Musings

Today was an ordinary day in the life of this 89 year old lady.

I was up around 6 AM, let Elsa, my canine bed companion, out, while I make the bed and grab my clothes for the required 15 minute, AM bath tub soak, prior to dressing.   Elsa  stands guard, just to remind me that at its completion she is ready to eat.  So, we adjourn to the kitchen where I simultaneously prepare coffee, fix Elsa's dish as well as change her water, heat up my oatmeal with nuts and coconut or almond milk.

With food on a tray I snap on the internet to read and respond to email, as well as review what has occurred in the world overnight.  These days the news borders on insanity, whether it is Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, or the candidates running for reelection on both sides of the aisle.  The pendulum of political thought today ranges from the right, which is really off the map entirely, to Bernie, who probably holds the most promise of what should and could be done in this country to bring it up to the standard of the other civilized countries of the world.

My Pilate class does not begin until 8:15 on Sunday morning, but the rigors of the class probably are the reason that I still am able to function like a normal human being!

After class Elsa greets me as though I have been gone all day, even though my absence has been less than an hour and a half.  The weather has been so great this year in February, that the walk around the park is a delight for both of us.  Watching  the daffodils push their heads up around Ev and the family's tree at the park brings a smile to my lips.  Every Sunday two excellent soccer teams are energetically engaged in a battle there, too, as well as the  myriad of dogs and people nodding to one another.

Normally I would be attending mass, but more and more I find that my attendance at church has become an ordeal.  I have always enjoyed the mass; I have always enjoyed Gregorian chant; I have always loved the prayerful execution of it.......until now.  No longer does this beautiful prayer to God flow.  Now with the help I am sure of the bishops, they have extended it into a lengthy painful performance.  The layman's readings have to me become to me so painful, that I cannot watch them. Three different people, one at a time, arise from their seats in various parts of the church and walk as slowly as possible to the podium, where they open a book, discover the passage that they should read and read it as slowly as possible...then they pause and then slowly return to their seat.  Where upon the next two repeat what the first has done.  Parts of the mass that had been removed have now been restored.  What at one time took anywhere from 40 to 50 minutes now has moved to an hour and a quarter.Well, enough of my venting over the destruction of the mass.

Instead we try to meditate while we are walking.

Then we returned to Sunday's little activities.  It is water the plants day.  They enjoy the attention given them, I'm sure.  I always remember Sister.....oh, dear, I fear I have forgotten her name....but she did teach chemistry at St. Joseph College.  Anyhow, she always talked to the plants and flowers around the school.  Next it is refill the finches' feeder, which I have come to enjoy.  From the desk in the bedroom I have a front row seat to watch them.

Then we tackled some little tasks around the house, such as putting all the glassware in the dishwasher for Friday's art critique, which will be held at my house.  Putting the cleaning towels in the dryer; sorting out my Valentine flowers and putting them in a smaller vase, and washing one window were a few of the had-to-do things.  Checking out this week's calendar was next.

I went outside and chatted with several neighbor about the coming neighborhood watch meeting that I have organized to be held at my house in the near future with the help of a part time policeman friend.  Unfortunately there has been a rash of break ins very close to my townhouse, as well as prowlers with flashlights at night.  We need to become acquainted with our immediate neighbors and their absences, because both break ins occurred while they were on vacation.

I even had time to photograph Elsa when she curled up in the front room with her stuffed double, also a Schnauzer!

I did have time for a few Sudoku puzzles to try to sharpen this old brain that had trouble the other day trying to remember the word , "buckwheat."

Before dinner I took Elsa out for a brief walk.  Since I had already made a Lebanese soup of lentils and spinach yesterday, as well as some yummy carrot muffins I had little to do before Kathleen arrived for dinner.  I had microwaved some apples for dessert, so I was ready in jig time.    We enjoyed our meal, but Kathleen was nursing a bad cold, probably picked up on her return flight from Hawaii.  Elsa was the only one that suffered when she left early, because ordinarily Kathleen spends 10 minutes throwing balls to Elsa after the meal.

Before bedtime I find an Ian Ranking mystery to take to bed.  Thus ends my beautiful, sunny day with temperatures in the high 50's


Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Ordinary Human Being

This is the second meditation by Thomas Merton that I wanted to share with you...then, I promise, I shall return to my own original thoughts.  It is so prevalent for today's needs.

"True Christian "openness to the world" proceeds from a general respect for being and for man and man's natural and historical setting in the world.
 What is the good of exalting the "greatness of man" simply because the concerted efforts of technicians, soldiers, and politicians manage to put a man on the moon while four-fifths of the human race remain in abject misery, not properly clothed or fed, in lives subject to arbitrary and senseless manipulation by politicians or to violence at the hands of police, hoodlums, or revolutionaries?
 Certianly, the possibilities and the inherent nobility of man are stupendous; but it is small help to crow about it when the celebration of his theoretic greatness does nothing to help him find himself as an ordinary human being."
           Conjectures of a guilty bystander

Fantastic thoughts.  What wonders man could wrought, if he set his goals in a different manner!

New Mexico has had two beautiful 63-64 temperature days, and in January!  The weatherman is predicting rain or snow tomorrow.  We shall see.

A Need for Truth

Nightly I have been reading short meditations by the Cistercian monk, Thomas Merton.  I would like to share a few with you.  The following one has great thoughts about what should be an important topic this election year.  This certainly applies to our Congress.

"Man today has lost consciousness of his need for the truth.  What he seeks is power.  Truth is made to serve the ends of power.  Truth so of no value unless it is expedient, then it is manipulated and twisted to serve the aims of the powerful.  Objective truth is considered irrelevant.  It is derided by the powerful, who can change truth to suit themselves, and bend it this way and that for the sake of ambition and fortune."
                                      Seasons of Celebration

Thought for the day.

Today I saw the Met Opera's simulcast of Turandot by Puccini.  The movie house was packed...it appears opera will continue to live. Hallelujah!