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Poison Oak
Clyde Pack

Trix are for kids

The old cereal commercial with the flop-earred rabbit says, “Trix are for kids.” While that may be true, “trick or treat” is not. I’ve pretty much decided it’s for mommies.
I came to that conclusion quite by accident last week after Wilma Jean and I parked ourselves at a table in the Ashland Town Center food court between two 20-something moms, each escorted by a youngster.
As we enjoyed some Asian cuisine, we couldn’t avoid hearing their brief conversation. As they talked to each other, their words had to cross our table, so it wasn’t like we were eavesdropping. Actually, they were no more than ten feet apart, with us in the middle. I was facing one of the women, the other was directly behind me.
The young mommy in front was accompanied by a little boy, who could possibly have been perhaps 4. Behind me, a little blond-haired girl, who Wilma Jean said looked to have been a bit younger, sat with her mommy and nibbled on a French fry. “You guys ready to trick or treat? Ms. Behind Me asked.
“Oh yeah,” Ms. In Front answered.
“What’s ya going to be, Mason?” Ms. Behind Me asked the little boy,   who, as he sipped a drink through a straw, seemed to completely ignore the question… and the questioner.
Instead, his mommy answered. “I want him to be a shark, but he was a Ninja Turtle last year, and he wants to wear that again. Makes me so mad. He won’t even talk about it. So, right now, we just don’t know.”
“Do you guys go out to that new subdivision out toward Ironville?” Ms. Behind Me asked.
“Oh yeah,” Ms. In Front answered. “They really give out good stuff. Last year we had enough candy bars to last for months, and we just went down that one main street.  ‘Course Mason  won’t eat chocolate, but Lee and I do.” I assumed that Lee was Ms. In Front’s husband.
“I’m going to be a Fairy Princess,” Ms. Behind Me’s little girl spoke up.
“No, you’re not, Honey. You were a Fairy Princess last year.” Then to Ms. In Front, she said, “I’m sure not going to post the same pictures I did last year,” obviously referring to Facebook.
“Be sure to send them to me,” Ms. In Front said.
“Oh, I will,” Ms. Behind Me answered.
Still sipping his drink, Mason muttered something not quite audible about Ninja Turtles. Ms. In Front smiled at him and said, “No you’re not, Honey. We’ll see.”
I would have loved to have heard more, but we had finished eating and had a few more stores to hit. But I couldn’t help but think as I left the table, how this little bit of Halloween fun was once for kids; when the costume didn’t matter; when mommies didn’t find it absolutely necessary to post cute pictures of cute children in cute costumes on Facebook … but never the same costumes two years in a row.

Smile Awhile
Sara Blair

Things women endure

After years (and I do means years) of getting annual pelvic exams, the association of Obstetrics and Gynecologists is saying that getting a yearly exam might not be necessary for women who are past a certain age. That’s right, ladies. That angst you get when you see that scary date scheduled on your calendar that is proudly displayed on your refrigerator, may not be an issue anymore.
I heard this exciting bit of information from my sister who accompanied me to my first examination when I was 17 years old. That may seem like an early age to have one of these procedures, but I was married and knew exactly what I was doing --- sort of.
Aside from telling my parents that I had eloped, having the pelvic exam was the most embarrassing thing I had done in my life at that point. (In the following years I embarrassed myself more times than I can mention). But, not only did my sister accompany me, she held a coat over my head during the entire procedure. I remember I was crying the whole time and at one point I thought she was going to smother me.
For some reason, I don’t think men have to endure such a humiliating experience, at least not on a yearly basis. Oh, I know that on occasion they might be asked to bend over and cough, but that procedure is less invasive than the “Southern exposure” women are subjected to. In fact, I don’t think they could do it. At least men don’t have to face their physician. Although women don’t, “face” their physicians either, you can see them arch their eyebrows.
However, according to this new study, if you’re past your child-bearing years, you need to consult your OB/GYN to see if you might be able to skip having to expose yourself on a yearly basis.
There was quite a few years where I went to male doctors and to, “break the ice” while I was on the table. I would say, “Well, I’m dilated to meet you.” Sometimes that got a laugh, but most of the time I got no response. I thought a little levity in this situation was necessary, but I wasn’t always right.
I think if a survey was conducted, you would find that pelvic exams would rank right up there with root canals when it comes to what women dread most. According to my sources, childbirth is more physically painful, but pelvic exams are emotionally debilitating. At least with childbirth, you have a gratifying conclusion.
But this new evidence isn’t conclusive. Women should still consult their doctors to see if a pelvic exam is warranted for them, particularly if you have any risk factors like cervical or ovarian cancer in your family history.
I know women my age who have never had a PAP smear. That tells one of two things, that they never used birth control, and/or they didn’t want an exam. You see, in order to purchase birth control pills, you had to have an exam. But if women had been able to purchase birth control pills without an exam, the birth rate would have plummeted.
My mother once told me, if there had been better methods of birth control when she was of child-bearing age, my sister, Melinda, might have been an only child. My mother was so modest; I can understand why PAP smears weren’t her forte. (We’re talking about a woman who was too embarrassed to buy a bra).
Since October is breast cancer awareness month, I encourage all women to have their annual breast exams. Many of my friends have had breast cancer and the exams have saved their lives in most cases. It’s also a dreaded procedure but the ends justify the means. While we are talking of “ends”, get an annual PAP smear until your doctor tells you otherwise.
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!

Oct 26, 2016, 08:13

Singing my personal October song

From one week to the next one, the down-home landscape is changing. Just a short while ago, all the trees on our hillsides were the usual green of summer. Now splashes of color are spreading to engulf and phase out the green.
Some of us hate to see this happen and dread what comes next. Yet, we know you might as well try to hold back the tides rather than think anything of this world could delay the coming of one of God’s predetermined seasons. We know he promised us that as long as time endures, spring and summer would appear in their order. So as fall dwindles down, winter will inevitably come.
Since I’ve gotten older, I do dread winter. My bones shiver and shake in every vagrant breeze. I also hate it when the trees are bare-branched and skeletal looking. My negative attitude about this process has to be because it is a reminder that just as the autumn days pass, I also am approaching the winter of my life.
I know all things follow the pattern of coming and going, waxing and waning that happens to all life. Surely, he knows how we all react to our likes and dislikes of these cycles, well or not. Therefore, as he knows me, I think God understands when I say, I truly do not like winter.
I once did, back when I was younger, but not now! However, if I have learned one thing along my way through life, it is that it’s best for me not to rail against what must come. Who knows? This might be a very mild winter. If not, then I know God can send me the strength to bear it.
So I try to keep my soul in patience and be at peace when those things I don’t particularly like happen. True, I do not like winter, but I rejoice in the vivid colors of fall, regretting they only last for such a brief time. In a side effect of this process, when those red, gold, and crimson leaves fall to the earth, they change into a ground covering mash that is a hidey place for small burrowing animals. This always reminds me of how my children once loved to play in piled up mounds of leaves they raked up from our yard. Those years, they also delighted in the choosing of a perfect pumpkin to carve for a Halloween jack-o-lantern, and yes, it is that time again. So far, I haven’t bought the candy to fill up the bowl I keep just for that purpose. Of course, my kids are all grown, but even the grown-ups still like to dip into Mom’s candy bowl, with Walter being my number one frequent dipper. If I am lucky, some of my grandchildren or great grandchildren will come. Strange how old habits, old lifestyles continue to glide through our memories, and strange how those that are the most precious are always the most welcome.
One of the special things I remember from my children’s younger years, was of being outside with them, the cold weather being no hindrance to me. I can remember playing with them in the leaves of autumn; can remember skating and sliding and sledding in winter snows. Now if I tried to do any of those things, if I didn’t first freeze to death, I would probably fall and break a leg, or a hip! With the years, I have become more sedate and so have my children. Now our family pleasures are more along the line of an occasional get together, and those times when we have family dinner.
One of my grandsons once said that he wished we had a big barn we could fix up so that all of us could live in it together. This was his own fanciful idea of how he wished things to be.
Fanciful or not, I have often said that I envy the biblical Abraham because he had all of his family near him. Whatever problems they might have had, housing wasn’t one of them, because when the number of people increased beyond the limits of father Abraham’s home tent, they just pitched another tent. Of course it helped that they lived in an area more warm than cold. Realistically, I know this lifestyle would not be feasible for this time or place. If it was though, and if I could live like that, I’d probably be too old to enjoy it. Actually, I may moan and groan because my children are all grown and I might wish I could have them back under my roof again, but I do have to say how proud I am of the way they all turned out, and I thank the Lord for this.
I often think of that old song Margaret Fannin used to sing as her testimony which said, “My children are all grown. Some have family of their own. And I’m reminded of just how fast I’m growing old. My hair is turning silver gray. My body weakens each passing day, and I know that my time will soon be gone. And dear Lord, I’d like to thank you for the blessings I’ve received, and I thank you for my home, and my loving family. But I thank you for the wonders of this world my eyes have seen, but I thank you most for Jesus who shed his blood for me. Now though the years have swiftly gone, it seems like yesterday I was young, and I’d come running oh-so-fast, when Mama called. My feet are planted on solid ground, and I have hope that should He call, I’m glory bound!”
What a blessed assurance this is!"

Education and Common Sense
Two recipes for cool October days

Summer seems to be hanging around a lot longer than usual this year, but, eventually, we are bound to run into some cool weather. I saw on Facebook that my former church, little Liberty Baptist Church at Denver, Kentucky, is having a “Hobo Picnic” sometime in late October.
That reminded me of the autumn in 1993 that I was leader of a very active youth group at that church. One of the girls had researched  “Halloween” and came to believe that its celebration was Satanic in origin.  We decided to have a fall celebration, but not a scary one. We would dress up as “Hoboes” (no money for costumes) and have “Hobo Stew” as our refreshments.
I brought to the picnic a canner containing a couple of pounds of stewing beef already cooked. Each person brought a can of something that would go in the stew, a cut-up onion, some peeled diced potatoes, a can of corn, tomatoes, whatever. No two hobo stews were ever alike, though we continued the Hobo picnics for several years.
I always brought a pan of Mexican Cornbread to eat with the stew, and it is a wonderful dish on a cool fall day. This is from my cookbook, COMMON SENSE COOKING (for the cook on the run) c, 2002.

1/2 pound of hot pork sausage, fried, crumbled and the excess fat drained off.  (I prefer Tennessee Pride brand). 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped green pepper, 1 can green chilies (optional), 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese, 1 medium can of cream-style corn, 2 cups of self-rising white cornmeal, 1 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs.
Mix meal, buttermilk and eggs. Add other ingredients. Bake in a greased pan for about 25-30 minutes at 425 degrees.
An easy dessert for a fall picnic is PECAN CHESS SQUARES (also from my cookbook.)
9”x 13” pan.
CRUST: 3/4 c. butter; 1 1/2 c, flour; 3 T. sugar; Cream butter, flour and sugar. Pat into pan. Bake 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
FILLING: 2 1/4 c. brown sugar; 3 whole eggs; 1/2 t. salt; 1/2 t. vanilla flavoring; 1 c. chopped pecans.
Beat eggs, sugar vanilla and salt together. Fold in chopped pecans. Spread over hot crust. Return to oven and bake 20 minutes or until set. Dust with powdered sugar. Cut into squares when cool. Makes about 24 squares.
I hope you enjoy these recipes as much as I have enjoyed remembering how much I enjoyed serving them to my friends.

Smile Awhile
Sara Blair


For some reason, the information that I heard on a news program last week was something I already suspected years ago --- that the way we look can affect how much money we make.
That’s right, folks! The way in which you are perceived by others affects your ability to make money. And most of the time we can’t do anything about it.
For example, the shorter you are the less money you can make. That’s right! The study showed that inch per inch, taller people made more money than their smaller counterparts. In fact, each inch meant you made $750 less than someone taller. I knew there was some validity to this since my elder sister, who is almost eight inches taller than I am, made much more money than I did.
The study also concluded that blondes made less money than darker haired people because blondes were perceived to be less intelligent. Another fact that prohibited me from “making the big bucks”. However, both my sisters are on the fair-headed side but they’re both much taller.
It’s sad, but if I had been any shorter, I would have had to pay my employer to hire me.
One fact that seemed to stay the same throughout the study was that most men made more money than women. But that’s been going on for ages. Just think if we’d had the other facts sooner! We short, fair-headed people could have been more paranoid years earlier.
To be fair, both my sisters have more education than I do, too. Not only are they taller, they’re smarter so that could be why they always made more money than I did. But since they’re women, they still earn less money than they could or should if they had been men.
But the coup d’état is,--- good-looking people make more money than anybody regardless of their height or hair color. The guy who concluded these things said that he felt certain that good-looking people were probably more self-confident; therefore, they approach their job with more assurance. Be that as it may (as all smart people say) I still think a tall, good-looking man with a lot of self-confidence will make more money than anyone even if he isn’t that smart.
But, friends, don’t lose faith. My sister told me that she knew plenty of unattractive, short people that were smart. They didn’t necessarily make lots of money, but they were friends with people who did make a lot of money and it seemed to keep them humble.
In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t heard these statistics because, even though I’m no longer in the work force, and it doesn’t matter how short and unattractive I might have been, now I’m aware of it.
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!

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