Published in the Rains County Leader on January 21, 2020:
Every year between October 15 and December 7, Medicare open enrollment rolls around. That’s the period when people who have Medicare coverage can reevaluate and/or change their plans. David has coverage through the VA, so when the helpful reminders from every insurance company known to man begin to arrive in the mail, they end up in my to-do paperwork. I’ve been pretty happy with my carriers, so I usually ignore the pile until the deadline has past and then file it in what Dad used to call File 13.
This year was different, though. My supplement, the plan that covers co-pays and other things Medicare doesn’t pay, went up a few dollars as it does every year due to my advancing age. But my prescription drug coverage that had doubled in the seven years since I became eligible had doubled again in just one year. It was time to do some insurance shopping. Read the rest of this entry »
Published in the Community Chronicle December 15, 2019:
Asking a child what he wants to be when he grows up can be very entertaining. I’m sure my son Christian went through the typical hero-worship phase, but the first career ambition I remember was when he began kindergarten. We lived within walking distance of the school, and I was a stay-at-home mom, so we got in some exercise as well as some together time when the weather permitted. We had to cross one major street, and Christian immediately fell in love with the kind man with the bright orange vest and bright red sign who greeted him every day and escorted him safely across the street. Forget the fireman, policeman, and even Spider Man – he wanted to be a crossing guard.
Christian showed great ambition through the years. He wrote his first story as soon as he could hold a pencil, and he created his first book out of samples our paper-salesman neighbor gave him. In the summer he carried lemonade around in his wagon, visiting the neighbors who were working in their yards instead of waiting for them to come to him, and in December he knocked on doors, offering bundles of mistletoe tied with red yarn for 50 cents each. Read the rest of this entry »
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 13, 2020:
Strong storms covered Rains County with torrential rains accompanied by lots of thunder and lightning Friday night. The winds were not as strong as predicted, but the forecasts had many residents talking about the weather all week. At the Senior Center on Wednesday, I heard a woman at the table behind me ask if anyone had a storm cellar. Only one of her lunch companions had one, but she said that, in the nine years she had lived in her home, she had never been into the dark hole in the ground with its rotting, shutter-style doors. I wasn’t surprised that no one else had a cellar. The shallow Texas bedrock makes the cost of digging prohibitive. But the conversation brought back memories of my very early days in west Texas.
I was born in a tiny town about twenty miles west of Abilene called Merkel. We moved
A picture of Merkel’s downtown we took around 2002.
from there to Snyder, about fifty miles further west, just shy of my fourth birthday, so my memories of Merkel are limited. I’m sure some of them are things I’ve been told rather than things I actually remember. I know that we lived in a rented house behind Miss Johnnie’s house, our landlady, but I don’t remember much about her. I remember eating pinto beans at her house once – they needed salt. I remember learning to brush my teeth with tooth powder. And I remember the storm cellar. Read the rest of this entry »
Published in the Rains County Leader on January 6, 2020:
Happy 2020 – a new year, a leap year, and the beginning of a new decade. One hundred years ago marked the beginning of the Roaring Twenties, a decade of economic growth and widespread prosperity, driven by postwar spending, a construction boom, and the rapid growth of consumer goods. The few forecasters I saw didn’t really commit on whether the 20’s will roar this time around, but apparently advertisers are jumping on the band wagon. One article showed a dozen or so Art Deco logos touting the Roaring 2020’s in upcoming ad campaigns. It remains to be seen whether the next ten years roar or whimper.
Chinese New Year is on January 25 and will begin the Year of the Rat. That sounds rather unpleasant if not downright disgusting to those of us with a Western mindset, but the Chinese characterize this zodiac animal as having spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility, and vitality. Nice traits but not ones that seem likely to produce much of a roar. On the other hand, there was quite an uproar (pun intended) in the 1950s when Leonard Wibberley wrote a novel called A Mouse that Roared. Read the rest of this entry »
Published by the Rains County Leader on December 24, 2019:
As a kid, December 24th and not the 21st seemed like the longest night of the year. The day was busy with running to the store for some forgotten item, wrapping just one more package, and cooking. The house was filled with holiday smells as Mom prepared her offerings for the Christmas Eve party at Aunt Fay’s house and Christmas dinner the next day.
Later on, when Aunt Fay’s five children were older and another sister and her family moved to town, the party rotated among the three homes. But in the early days, the number of presents for their large family required opening them on Christmas Eve to make room for Santa Claus, so we always gathered there. It was almost as exciting watching the chaos at their house as it was opening our presents the next morning. By the time we made it to bed, I was so revved up with cookies, candy, and excitement that I couldn’t sleep. In looking back, and knowing how sensitive a mother’s ears are, I wonder if my restlessness kept Mom awake. Read the rest of this entry »
Published in the Rains County Leader on December 17, 2019:
When I was a kid, December 26 was Granny Hagan’s birthday. Later on it became the day to return those what-were-you-thinking gifts and to stock up on Christmas supplies for next year. More recently I’ve heard it referred to by a specific name, especially on Facebook when greetings of “Happy Boxing Day” appear on the day after Christmas.
It turns out that Boxing Day began in Britain as a time when the rich boxed up gifts for the poor. I’m thinking it might have been a charitable way to get rid of the leftover turkey and those unsuitable gifts. It also became a day when servants were given the day off after receiving a Christmas box or gift from their employers. The servants in turn would go home and give Christmas boxes to their families.
Boxing Day isn’t widely celebrated in the U.S., but boxes certainly play a big part in the American Christmas season. Even though gift bags are probably more popular now than gift boxes, online shopping has resulted in an over-abundance of shipping cartons. And some traditionalists still like to wrap and tie bows on containers with square corners. Read the rest of this entry »