As my daughter, Amy Royce’s birthday approached, I found myself looking back on her childhood. While Amy was my bigger baby, 7 pounds as opposed to her older sister, Corrie Petersen, who weighed 6 pounds 2½ ounces, it turned out that she had put all her effort into her pre-birth weight, and she slowed down after that…only reaching 4 feet 10 inches by adulthood. She might be little…a midget if you ask her husband, Travis, but Amy is feisty, She always has been. I think it was self defense, from her toddler years when the other kids thought she was a baby doll, and wanted to pick her up an carry her around. Of course they only tried once. The blood curdling screams that came out of my girl were enough to cure those kids of any desire to carry Amy ever again. The funny thing is that, while she had a temper, Amy was also a very happy toddler…most of the time. Just don’t assume that you could pick her up, hahaha!! As long as she felt safe, Amy was a bubbly little girl, who rarely walked, but rather somersaulted or cartwheeled around the room. Walking was just too boring, I guess.
Amy and Corrie spent lots of time together as little girls, because we lived in the country. What I saw through that time was two little girls who were best friends. While there were little fights, they would also protect each other no matter what. Their closeness is harder these days, because they live so far apart, but they love each other very much. Many people commented to me when they were little, that they got along so well. They just couldn’t believe that sibling love my girls had. I am so proud of their relationship, then and now.
As I look at the life Amy has built now, I am very proud of her. Amy is a peace-loving person, and her lifestyle notes that very well. Amy loves the rainforest area of Washington state, and the beaches that go along with it. The area she lives in just feels peaceful, especially when she and Travis head out to Birch Bay to watch the sunset. Even now, while they are required to stick closer to home, their back yard has become a sanctuary for them. Amy has roses, calla lilies, and a variety of other gorgeous flowers, enhancing the beauty of her back yard as well as the fragrant smells. Travis loves yard work too, especially mowing the lawn, and so their grass is beautiful. The built a patio and set up a table and chairs with an umbrella, and a fire pit, to enhance the relaxing effect of their yard. It makes me very happy to know that she and her family have such a beautiful place to relax and reconnect with friends and family. Bob and I love to go for visits, because it give us a chance to enjoy the area that has drawn Amy’s family to its beauty.
Amy is on vacation this week, and so is home relaxing. She is an account manager for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. She, like so many people, worked from home through much of the pandemic, but now she is back at the office. At home or at the office, Amy is a hard working insurance agent, and she stayed very busy. Today is Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As long has there have been road trips with children, there have been bored children, asking, “When do we get there?” They don’t understand that one of the best parts of a road trip is the time spent on the road. The destination is the end of the adventure, not necessarily the adventure itself. Invariably, after the ten time that those precious little ones ask that dreaded question, tempers begin to flare. These days, cars come with built in DVD players to occupy the kids on the road trip, but back when I was a kid, those things didn’t exist.
Somewhere along the way, someone…probably a frustrated parent…came up with the idea of allowing the kids to participate in the trip by giving them a steering wheel of their own, so they could help their parents drive. I do know that in January of 1955, a man named Jack Fletcher of West Covina, California installed a plastic windshield and three miniature steering wheels in the back seat of his car to entertain his children, Janie, Johnny and Ricky, who were 3 years, 21 months, and 21 months respectively. Apparently, it was a good idea, at least for those children, because, the idea has hung around ever since. In fact, for Christmas, we got our great granddaughter a version that can sit on the floor in front of her, or even on her highchair tray. Now she can “help” her daddy drive too. As children get older, I’m sure that the novelty of a steering wheel wore off, but if you got a year or so of peace in the car, it’s worth the effort.
Of course, when I was a kid, there were mo car seats, and it wasn’t illegal to drive with your child on your lap. Many a child, me and my sisters included, learned to steer the car while seated on our daddy’s lap. It was great fun, and a memory we will always have. I suppose that today’s drivers, police officers, and child safety advocates would cringe at the thought of a child on the lap of the driver, and maybe it wasn’t the safest way to do things, but I don’t recall hearing about dozens of children dying in that manner either, so maybe the parents of yesteryear weren’t so careless after all. All I know, is that we had a great time on those road trips.
I’m not a huge fan of winter, but recently I saw something the mentioned how quiet it seems when it’s snowing, and I started thinking about the fact, that it really does seem quieter when it snows. I thought it must be some sort of illusion, or more likely, the lack of the Wyoming wind blowing, that made my world seem more quiet. Still, my curious mind had to find out exactly what the answer was. I’m not super into scientific experiments, but this seemed like a good one to check into. Maybe it was just me thinking about that, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe other people wondered about it too.
As it turns out, it wasn’t just me…and the world really is quieter when it snows. That isn’t something you really see when watching a blizzard on television, and maybe there are some exceptions to the rule, but the reality is that snow absorbs sound waves. When it’s snowing, there’s plenty of space between snowflakes, meaning that there is also less space for sound waves to bounce around…so I’m not imagining it. The world actually gets more quiet when it snows. Bernadette Woods Placky, a meteorologist and director of Climate Central’s Climate Matters program says, “When snow falls, it does absorb some of the sound waves.”
To further add to the quiet, as snowflakes stack up, there is more space left between them, compared to the surface of liquids like water. “With all that space, sound is unable to bounce off snow as easily as it would off water,” Woods Placky says. As a result, the sound gets absorbed, and somewhat like the way a soundproof room absorbs the sound, so you can’t hear what is going on inside, the snow pulls the sound into itself, and we don’t hear it very well. Of course, things like less people outside and on the road also account for the quiet. Traffic stalls tremendously during and after a snowstorm, due to icy roads and the dangers it presents to drivers. Many animals, especially birds, also aren’t out as much. They have to adapt to snowy weather that makes their environment colder and their food more difficult to find. They hunker down to conserve energy.
Whatever the reason for the quiet we hear during a snowstorm, I have always felt like it was a beautiful thing. I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like the icy roads, but just watching the snow, fall quietly to the ground, and listening to the quiet that it produces makes it would of those wonderful experiences that you have to slow down and take the time to notice, or you will never have the full peace that happens when the world gets quiet.
Over the years, many people have done all they could to create a world of peace, but is that really possible? I don’t believe it is. There is always a nation or group of people who have something they don’t like…whether it is politics, religion, boarders, or any number of other reasons. Periodically there are groups that try to find a way to promote peace. Some try to do so through protests against war, which is not very effective, because the protests are seldom peaceful themselves, but they do get publicity. Others try to appease the enemy, which also doesn’t work, because it is viewed as a show of weakness and compliance, causing the enemy to feel empowered.
When I was in high school, a singing group came to the school to perform for us. The group was called, “Up With People.” Their purpose was to unite the world through charity and song. It’s a noble effort, and in the Hippie Generation, of which I was a part, it all seemed possible. Of course, it wasn’t…not really. That effort ended, and another cause began, and failed as well. Oh, don’t get me wrong, people were helped, lives were changed, and everyone felt like they had made a difference. I suppose they did, but not in the area of world peace…which is, I believe, a myth. I think we as people traveling through life on earth, can help each other, donate funds, be kind, and reach out, but to make a world where there is no war…a world of peace on earth…no, I don’t think it is possible in this age…or any other.
I’m not against humanitarian groups that try to help those in need. I believe that we as humans should be compassionate and willing to help as needed, but the reality is that we must also understand that while we can help a current need, or even some in the future, we cannot stop the evil and hatred that exists in this world. There will not be peace on earth in the way that people think it can happen, because there are too many differences…differences of opinion, beliefs, rights, wrongs, and desire, not to mention agendas. No singing group, protest, or humanitarian effort will ever make it so. I guess that in the end, all we can do is try to create peace in our own little corner of the world and pray that it multiplies so that it affects those around us, and not get so upset when we can’t find a way to create world peace, because that is an impossible feat for the human race.
When Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives, died on December 10, 1896, he left a request in his will, that the bulk of his vast fortune be placed in a fund to finance an award to be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” He did not state why he wanted to make such a bequest, but it was believed that he did so out of moral regret over the increasingly lethal uses of his inventions in war. The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden, in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of Nobel’s death.
Educated in private schools in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Nobel excelled in Swedish, Russian, French, English and German. His primary interests were in English literature and poetry as well as in chemistry and physics. His interest in literature and poetry, was upsetting to his father, who considered him an introvert. He wanted his sons to become engineers, and to join his enterprise. In an effort to redirect Alfred’s interests, his father sent him abroad for further training in chemical engineering. During a two year period Alfred Nobel visited Sweden, Germany, France and the United States. In Paris, the city he came to like best, he worked in the private laboratory of Professor T J Pelouze, a famous chemist. There he met the young Italian chemist Ascanio Sobrero who, three years earlier, had invented nitroglycerine, a highly explosive liquid. Alfred Nobel proved himself to be a brilliant chemist. When his father’s business faltered after the end of the Crimean War, Nobel returned to Sweden and set up a laboratory to experiment with explosives. In 1863, he invented a way to control the detonation of nitroglycerin, which was previously regarded as too dangerous for use. Two years later, Nobel invented the blasting cap, an improved detonator that brought about the modern use of high explosives. Previously, the most dependable explosive was black powder, a form of gunpowder. Nitroglycerin remained dangerous, however, and in 1864 Nobel’s nitroglycerin factory blew up, killing his younger brother and several other people. Searching for a safer explosive, Nobel discovered in 1867 that the combination of nitroglycerin and a porous substance called Kieselguhr produced a highly explosive mixture that was much safer to handle and use. Nobel called his invention “dynamite,” for the Greek word dynamis, meaning “power.” Securing patents on dynamite, Nobel acquired a fortune as humanity put his invention to use in construction and warfare. Over his lifetime Alfred Nobel earned 355 patents.
All his work, left little time for a social life. At 43 years of age, feeling lonely and old, he placed an add for a woman who might become a suitable mate for him. The only one who came close to being the one, was Countess Bertha Kinsky, unfortunately she returned home and married Count Arthur von Suttner, but she and Nobel remained friends and kept writing letters to each other for decades. Over the years Bertha von Suttner became increasingly critical of the arms race. She wrote a famous book, Lay Down Your Arms and became a prominent figure in the peace movement. No doubt this influenced Alfred Nobel when he wrote his final will which was to include a Prize for persons or organizations who promoted peace. Several years after the death of Alfred Nobel, the Norwegian Parliament decided to award the 1905 Nobel Peace Prize to Bertha von Suttner.
The first Nobel Prizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, and subsequent prizes are awarded each year on December 10, because it is the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. It is the perfect day for the awards to be given. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences decides the prizes in physics, chemistry, and economic science. The Swedish Royal Caroline Medico-Surgical Institute determines the physiology or medicine award. The Swedish Academy chooses literature, and a committee elected by the Norwegian parliament awards the peace prize. In 2006, each Nobel Prize carried a cash prize of nearly $1,400,000 and recipients also received a gold medal, as is the tradition. Some notable winners have included Marie Curie, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, George Bernard Shaw, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Martin Luther King Jr, the Dalai Lama, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Nelson Mandela. All made Nobel efforts in their field.
In times of war, and even in times of peace, there is a group of people who stand always at the ready…prepared to go at a moments notice, into battle to defend this country and the freedoms we enjoy. They are not always treated in the way they should be treated. It’s incomprehensible to me that we can ask these men and women to protect us in times of trouble, and then protest them when we don’t like the war they have been asked to fight. Today is Veterans Day. It is a day in which to honor all who served, in all wars, whether they were killed in action, died later, are retired or discharged from service, or are currently serving. So many veterans have served this country over the years. Without our soldiers, we would not be a free nation. In fact, were it not for our soldiers, we would probably still belong to England, or worse.
Our soldiers sacrifice everyday. In a post my nephew, Steve Spethman posted today, was a good explanation of just what a veteran really is, and I liked it. The saying went like this, “What is a veteran? A ‘Veteran’ – whether active duty, discharged, retired, or reserved – is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to, and including his life.’ That is honor. And there are way too many people in this country today, who no longer understand that fact.” That really says it all. We think about our soldiers going into war, and fighting the enemy. We even think about them losing their lives. We think about their loved ones back home worrying and praying for their safe return every day. We think about the irony and sometimes stupidity of war, and wonder why we can’t all just get along. People protest the wars, screaming at the soldiers because they did their duty and fought the war as they were ordered to do.
We think about and do so many things concerning war, but just how often to we really thing about the honor and integrity of the men and women who actually go into war, or even stand at the ready, just in case we need them. They know that every time they deploy with their unit, that it could easily end up being the last time they see their family, friends, or their country. They put their lives on hold, missing out on their children’s sporting events, school plays, holidays, birthdays, and even their birth, all to go out and put their lives on the line for people they don’t even know. Now, that’s honor!! Happy Veterans Day to all our veterans, and thank you all for your service. This nation and all it’s people owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. We honor you today. God bless you all.
For those who have lost a veteran, in war or in peace, every day is a day to remember them. We loved them and now they are gone. We will forever miss them. Brave soldiers all, went out to right a wrong…to make the sacrifice necessary to make our nation free, and to fight oppression in our world. Some came home after serving their country and somehow managing to stay alive…against all odds, but some did not, and instead paid the ultimate price…their lives. All were brave soldiers, who knew what was being asked of them, knew the possibilities, and yet they went anyway, knowing that when they left home to serve, they might not be returning. They felt a calling to serve, and they bravely answered the call. Without the brave soldiers who have answered that call over the years, evil would have completely overtaken our world. There is still much evil out there, but it is our prayers and our soldiers that help to keep it at bay.
I am one of the fortunate ones. My dad and other loved ones came home from their wars. I have never felt the sting of losing a soldier in battle, but I have known those who have, and it breaks my heart for them. Each of them bravely moves forward with their lives, carrying with them the memories of their loved one, lost in battle. Little routines like jewelry with their loved one’s name on it, a decal on their car, or a flag in their yard, remind them of their loved one…somehow keeping them close, even though they are gone. They visit the grave, some to talk to their loved one, others to simply sit and reminisce about the past, but all do the things they do for the same reason…to remember their brave soldier, so tragically lost to the ravages of war.
Whether we have lost someone in battle, or our soldier died after leading a long life, each day that is set aside to remember their service is a special day to us. It doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy the day off or have a barbeque…it just means that we really think about the reasons that we are free to do these things. My own dad loved barbeques, drives to the lake or the mountains, and camping on the long weekends, so why would we not do those things now that he is living in Heaven. Nevertheless, we also take flowers, spinners, wind chimes, and of course, a flag to place on my parents grave, as well as the graves of all our other loved ones. It is a tradition that keeps them in our remembrance, and after all, the most important part of Memorial Day is to remember those we have lost, especially our brave soldiers. So today, we salute all of our soldiers, living and dead. We thank you for your brave service. We will never forget. Happy Memorial Day to all.
Since time began, mothers have been trying to find a way to quiet a fussy baby, when there is work that needs to be done. Women have tried just about everything, probably even ear plugs in an effort to get some peace and quiet when they can’t just stop everything to hold the baby. From the need for peace, there came many inventions, such as the baby sling or the back/front pack, which we can credit to the Indians, who made one to hold their baby, or papoose. Yes, they have been modified but no one can claim the actual invention, except the Indians. This way of carrying your baby while you went about your daily chores has worked well for many a mother, myself included. With two daughters, 11 months apart in age, going to the store was hard, but with a front pack for my youngest, and a back pack for my oldest, I could go by myself to the store or anywhere else I wanted to go, and go I did. Those packs saved my days.
Of course, not all of our work can be easily done in a standing position. Scrubbing, making beds, and lots of other housework requires bending over…something that is difficult with a baby strapped to you. Cradles required someone to rock them, meaning that you have to be sitting. That is fine if you are reading or knitting, but doesn’t work very well if you need to be moving around. Something else would have to be done. Years ago, people used baby swings…of the outdoor version in an attempt to entertain and quiet their baby, but while that worked pretty well, and people could safely leave their babies outside for short amounts of time, it still didn’t work very well if the work that needed to be done, happened to be indoors. From the need to have a babysitter that could rock our babies to sleep, indoors, while we went about our work, came the invention of the modern wind up swing. Aw yes, necessity is the mother of invention.
When my granddaughter, Shai was a little girl, she was…well, a Drama Queen, as I think I have told you before. Many teenaged girls turn into Drama Queens for a time, but this was pretty much instantaneous for Shai. If you startled her, she came unglued. If you put her to bed, she came unglued. She had to be rocked to sleep, in order for Amy to get any peace during the day. Now, this wasn’t totally her fault, as some babies just startle easier than others, and of course, rocking her to sleep was so wonderful, that we all spoiled her in that arena, as well as plenty of rocking for her cousin Christopher.
Nevertheless, like her Grandma, Miss Shai did not like bugs…of any kind!!! With the possible exception of the lady bug. So, if she was playing, and she happened to see a bug, her instant reaction was to scream, “Budge…budge!!!”” This was her pronunciation of the word bug. I can understand her reaction, as I have been known to freak out about a bug my self. Even the tiniest spider, has the ability to make me cringe, as both my husband and my boss can tell you. Killing bugs…is simply not in my job description at home or at work!!! And I don’t think it is in Shai’s job description to this day either.
It’s funny that certain bugs don’t seem to bother us quite as much as others. I don’t mind Lady Bugs, and I don’t think Shai does either, and in the arena of other animals or insects, I love butterflies, but they really need to keep their distance, and yet I don’t mind if a Hummingbird tries to dive bomb me. Odd, I know, but that is just the way it is. I think that is another area that Shai and I agree on. One day she had a Hummingbird fly up to her shirt that happened to have a great big pink flower on it. She didn’t seem to be bothered by this little bird who obviously thought she was Hummingbird Feeder. She simply stood there until he realized that he was trying to eat from the wrong flower, and flew away, which of course took only a matter of seconds. I’m not sure what she would have done if he took longer. My guess is that she would have started screaming, “Budge!!! Budge!!”, and Amy would have had to rescue her from the horrible monster that she thought was her friend. I’m glad that was not the case. By the time she realized that the Hummingbird was that close, he was already gone.
Bob and I had always felt that our kids didn’t really need a phone in their room, and for the early years, they didn’t have one. But, when our girls reached the pre-teen years, we decided that since the phone was always for them, and having them talk, talk, talking in the living room made it really hard to watch television, maybe having a phone in their rooms wasn’t such a horrible idea after all. The constant chatter and loud laughter was hard to ignore…not to mention having the girls constantly telling everyone not to listen!!
So, along about the time they were 11 or 12, we decided that Christmas would bring a rather unexpected gift for our girls. We were going to get them phones for their rooms. Of course, there would not be a separate line, but there would be some peace and quiet in the living room. For the most part it brought peace to our home…sort of. There were times when one or the other of the girls took too long in their turn on the phone, and then we would have a few fights. Still, the moments of fighting were a small sacrifice compared to the hours of peace that fell in between. I will never forget the look on my girls’ faces that Christmas morning. They couldn’t believe that they could talk in their bedrooms and not have everyone listening to every word they said.
Much has changed since those days. Pretty much every child has their own cell phone these days…and their own phone number…and it is more important than many people would like to think. A cell phone can be a life line if their car breaks down, or they missed their bus, etc. I know of many parents who don’t think their child needs a cell phone, and that they are a distraction. In some ways, that is right…especially if they are using it during class, but a child walking home alone, who gets lost or is being followed…needs a phone…now!!
I am grateful that my girls have continued the tradition and that their children each have a cell phone. It’s nice to be able to get a hold of my grandchildren whenever I want to. Of course, today things are different. Phones are used in a completely different way…texting. And if you want to keep up, you have to be able to text. I personally like texting, because it allows you to go on doing what you were doing while you are waiting to hear back. And cameras on the phone can be fun and functional too.
Yes, much has changed since my girls’ first phones, but kids haven’t changed. They still get excited about that new phone, and just the fact that it is theirs. They still want the latest and the greatest technology. And what is cool today, will be old news tomorrow. As excited as my girls were with their new phones that Christmas morning so many years ago, today they would wonder if I had lost my mind, because I would be giving them an antique that would be viewed as worthless.