Sunday, May 31, 2009

Week - end Update

Friday night after Specialis Procer Lodge seven of us went to Dos Rios for dinner. I enjoyed myself and the meal I had was wonderful. Trevor is here from New York so he went with us. (He got carded.)

Saturday the "boys and I" put in some deck time. I love my deck. I have a wren in the neighborhood. (It may be living in the wren house in the middle of Jon's garden) -
Max is beautiful.

Bailey likes to sit on the table. He wasn't up to posing.

Today I went to the Ames Public Library. The sky and the day were both perfect.

The program was the Dixieland Jazz Band the Dixie Slicks and it was "an afternoon of Dixieland jazz, blues and swing music favorites." It was sponsored by the Friends of the Ames Public Library. The seven men and one woman were from Ames, Maxwell, Cambridge, Huxley and Ankeny. I heard sentimental favorites, toe-tapping tunes and great old time music. They played for an hour and a half straight. I was disappointed in the size of the crowd but not in the music. Video below.
On the way home I took a picture of these peonies. They are in full bloom all over town (Except for mine) - Have I mentioned how much I love this time of year.
And the sky was still beautiful. I went to the grocery store and on a whim decided to gamble and for a change I won. $53 on a scratch ticket. I was hoping for more but I am satisfied with that and I still have my original investment. I think I will get a new shirt with it. Thanks for stopping by. Hope your week-end was as pleasant as mine. ARTYAL. Hugs. j

Tin Roof Blues

Oh and one more thing. Susan Boyle did not win Britain's Got Talent. She came in second. Here is her last performance.

Sunday Wisdom

From One Mountain, Many Paths
An American Freemason Speaks Out for Peace
by Dr. Patrick Swift
Click book or here to go to the page and buy it for yourself,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:9

The man who is not hostile amongst the hostile, who is peaceful amongst the violent, not seizing upon anything amongst those that seize upon everything, him I call wise.

Sutta Nipata 630 Adapted

Do you know anyone like this? I have known some people like this. Peace just surrounds them and people seem to seek them out to be close to. I sometimes wonder how anyone can be that peaceful but it is something to strive for. Have a peaceful week.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Fifty Years Ago

In 1959 I graduated (along with 16 others) from Gilbert High School. Gilbert is a very small town about 5 miles north of Ames. We had worked very hard the previous two years to raise funds to pay for our Class Trip. We took a school bus into Chicago and then a train to Washington, D.C. from there we took another train to New York City. It was a wonderful trip and about 4 years ago I had the slides which I had taken on the trip to digital and I share them with you below. The camera I used was one given to my by my great uncle Carol Underwood when I was in California the previous summer.

Here are the pictures. Sorry they are not in order.

We have no plans that I have heard of for having a 50 year class reunion. I have no contact with any of them. About 4 years ago we were all invited over to Jerry and Judy Smith's place near the Ledges and had a nice reunion. Not everyone was there but I saw some of them. Unfortunately most of them were Republicans and I was (at that time a Democrat) - If that parenthetical surprises you I think you should know that I have decided to become an Independant. Both parties have lost their appeal to me. The Republicans are the party of no and blame and the Democrats refuse to stand up to them and I am very upset with them for not keeping promises. Anyway I have decided I cannot support either of them at this time.

Thanks for stopping by. Hugs, j-bear.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Think About It!


As always click on the button to see the guidelines.
And don't forget to go to Raven's Nest to see all the others.

This Week's Ten Word Challenge: parasite, meals on wheels, crows, it's my fault, everything but the kitchen sink, on sale, patriotism, the love of my life, library card, common sense

And for the mini: blackmail, California, stethoscope, postage, crank

"Oh, Wise Phrog", said Sallyie, "What are we going to do? The Albino Aardvark has escaped. I was getting my pills for the awful tapeworm parasite that I got from eating the meals on wheels delivered by the Crows. (That horrible family). It's my fault he escaped. I was looking through my purse (You know it has everything but the kitchen sink in it. (I got it on sale) and it has a theme of patriotism. I am not really sorry for he was the love of my life and I did not want to have to sacrifice him. All I found in the purse was an underused library card. I was blinded by the colors and he just eacaped. Common sense would tell me that I should have telephoned the security but I was afraid of blackmail."

"Settle down Sallyie", said Phrog. "It will be all right. He did not escape. I let him go. I was going to tell you that I sent him to California, as the Grand Exalted Ruler of the Salamanders. He is flying there with a stethoscope and my sealed instructions to the California Salamanders. (Actually I would have mailed them but postage has gone up so much that it was cheaper to buy an airline ticket.) I also sent him the crank for the new motor they have purchased. So you see my dear, everything is under (my) control.

Next Week's Ten Word Challenge will be: swashbuckler, heads-up, dry martini, recovery, jungle gym, whiskers, bathing suit, spade, circular reasoning, abrasive

The Mini Challenge: butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, stagnation, chart, star crossed lovers, apricot brandy

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Found for Friday

So after landing my new job as a Wal-Mart greeter, a good find for many retirees, I lasted less than a day. About two hours into my first day on the job a very loud, unattractive, mean-acting woman walked into the store with her two kids, yelling obscenities at them all the way through the entrance.

As I had been instructed, I said pleasantly, 'Good morning and welcome to Wal-Mart. Nice children you have there. Are they twins?' The ugly woman stopped yelling long enough to say, 'Hell no, they ain't twins. The oldest one's 9, and the other one's 7. Why the hell would you think they're twins? Are you blind, or just stupid?'

So I replied, 'I'm neither blind nor stupid, Ma'am, I just couldn't believe someone slept with you twice. Have a good day and thank you for shopping at Wal-Mart.'

My supervisor said I probably wasn't cut out for this line of work.
I'll Feed You

One afternoon a lawyer was riding in his limousine when he saw two men along the roadside eating grass.

Disturbed, he ordered his driver to stop and he got out to investigate.

He asked one man, 'Why are you eating grass

'We don't have any money for food,' the poor man replied. 'We have to eat grass.'

'Well, then, you can come with me to my house and I'll feed you,' the lawyer said.

'But sir, I have a wife and two children with me. They are over there, under that tree.'

'Bring them along,' the lawyer replied.

Turning to the other poor man he stated, 'You come with us, also...'

The second man, in a pitiful voice, then said, 'But sir, I also have a wife and SIX children with me!'

'Bring them all, as well,' the lawyer answered.

They all entered the car, which was no easy task, even for a car as large as the limousine was.

Once underway, one of the poor fellows turned to the lawyer and said, 'Sir, you are too kind. Thank you for taking all of us with you.'

The lawyer replied, 'Glad to do it. You'll really love my place.

The grass is almost a foot high'

The 80 year old was amazed at his friend's stamina, and asked him what he did to have so much energy.

The 87 year old said, 'Well, I eat rye bread every day. It keeps your energy level high and you'll have great stamina with the ladies.

So, on the way home, the 80 year old stops at the bakery. As he was looking around, the lady asked if he needed any help. He said, 'Do you have any rye bread?'

She said, 'Yes, there's a whole shelf of it. Would you like some?'

He said, 'I want 5 loaves.'

She said, 'My goodness, 5 loaves. . . by the time you get to the 5th loaf, it'll be hard.'

He replied, 'I can't believe it, everybody in the world knows about this (sh--) stuff but me.'

Dog Pack Attacks Gator In Florida
At times nature can be cruel, but there is also a raw beauty, and even a certain justice manifested within that cruelty.

The alligator, one of the oldest and ultimate predators, normally considered the "apex predator", can still fall victim to implemented 'team work' strategy, made possible due to the tight knit social structure and "survival of the pack mentality" bred into the canines.

See the remarkable photograph below courtesy of Nature Magazine.

Note that the Alpha dog has a muzzle hold on the gator preventing it from breathing, while another dog has a hold on the tail to keep it from thrashing. The third dog attacks the soft underbelly of the gator.
_Remember when I told you that God has a sense of humor--and you doubted me :>)

Well, look what just happened!

A couple of years ago, when I was down in New Orleans, I heard a conversation where some one asked if America would ever have a black President.

The answer, with laughter, was "When pigs fly!" Well, here Obama has been President for 100 days, and swine flu!

Coincidence? I think not!

A sign on the lawn at a drug rehab center said: 'Keep off the Grass.'

A small boy swallowed some coins and was taken to a hospital. When his grandmother telephoned to ask how he was, a nurse said, 'No change yet.'

A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion.

The short fortune-teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

The man who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.

A backward poet writes inverse.

In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count that votes.

When cannibals ate a missionary, they got a taste of religion.

Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!

Summer In Florida
Irving and Murray were sitting on the park bench one May day. "You know, Murray, I'm going to Miami Beach for the summer this year," Irving said.
"For the summer?" asked Murray. "Where are you going to stay?"
"The Horowitz-Carlton. They have good air conditioning. And it serves only kosher food."
"Sounds good. But is the food glatt kosher?"
"Yes, glatt kosher. I wouldn't eat anywhere else."
So Irving went to Miami Beach. After a few weeks, Murray became bored going to the park by himself, so he decided to surprise his friend by going down unannounced. He walked into the hotel and asked the desk clerk where he might be able to find his friend Irving.
"Right now he's in room 402 at the Sans Souci Hotel across the street," the clerk replied.
Murray hopped into a cab and headed for the Sans Souci. "I'm here to visit the person in room 402," he told the clerk.
"Do you mean Miss Murphy?" asked the clerk. "She's busy now."
"Uh, no, she's expecting me," Murray said, thinking quickly. He rushed up to room 402 and knocked on the door. A sparsely dressed redhead woman with a nice set of knockers opened it. And there was Irving, sitting at the edge of the bed in his underwear, in a bathrobe.
Murray was furious. "I'm shocked and I don't know what to say! A religious man like you! And you insisted you were going to stay at a kosher hotel!"
Irving looked at him as if he was crazy. "Why are you getting so excited? I don't eat here!"

FYI - Tweety Bird just turned 60.


After starting a new diet, I altered my drive to town to avoid passing my favorite bakery.

I accidentally drove by the bakery this morning and there in the window was a host of my favorite goodies.

I felt this was no accident, so I prayed, "Lord, it's up to you...if you want me to have any of those delicious goodies, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery."

And sure enough, He answered my prayer. On the eighth time around the block, there it was.

The Bell Ringer of Notre Dame

After Quasimodo's death, the bishop of the Cathedral of Notre Dame sent word through the streets of Paris that a new bell ringer was needed. The bishop decided that he would conduct the interviews personally and went up into the belfry to begin the screening process.

After observing several applicants demonstrate their skills, he had decided to call it a day. Just then, an armless man approached him and announced that he was there to apply for the bell ringer's job.

The bishop was incredulous. "You have no arms!"

"No matter," said the man "Observe!" And he began striking the bells with his face, producing a beautiful melody on the carillon.

The bishop listened in astonishment; convinced he had finally found a replacement for Quasimodo. But suddenly, rushing forward to strike a bell, the armless man tripped and plunged headlong out of the belfry window to his death in the street below.

The stunned bishop rushed to his side. When he reached the street, a crowd had gathered around the fallen figure, drawn by the beautiful music they had heard only moments before. As they silently parted to let the bishop through, one of them asked, "Bishop, who was this man?"

"I don't know his name," the bishop sadly replied, "but his face rings a bell."
The following day, despite the sadness that weighed heavily on his heart due to the unfortunate death of the armless campanologist, the bishop continued his interviews for the bell ringer of Notre Dame. The first man to approach him said, "Your Excellency, I am the brother of the poor armless wretch that fell to his death from this very belfry yesterday. I pray that you honor his life by allowing me to replace him in this duty."

The bishop agreed to give the man an audition, and, as the armless man's brother stooped to pick up a mallet to strike the first bell, he groaned, clutched at his chest, twirled around, and died on the spot.

Two monks, hearing the bishop's cries of grief at this second tragedy, rushed up the stairs to his side. "What has happened? Who is this man?" the first monk asked breathlessly.

"I don't know his name," sighed the distraught bishop, "but..
he's a dead ringer for his brother!!!"


This is Erica. She works at the Consistory. She is my nephew's cousin and her folks have the Firkin N' Fox Pub in Des Moines.

Last night I went to a meeting there for the Scottish Rite Membership. It was a good meeting and while I did not contribute much of anything worthwhile I did enjoy myself. Kurt's wife's car died so I picked him up so his wife could have his car while he and I went to the meeting.

Erica was there with her mother and a bunch of her friends. I took pictures.

This is Marsha. She is my ex-brother in law's sister and my nephew's aunt. I have always liked her and her family. It was really neat to see her and visit with her.

The group. Very pretty. They were having a lot of fun.

Shane and Kurt stopped by to say hello as we were leaving.

Now on to my news.

A couple of weeks ago I had a lot of work done on my car. Part of what was done was the fixing of the passengers side window which had stopped going up and down. Last night we rolled it down and when we parked it quit going up and down. So it had to be pulled up and we (Kurt) could not get it to go up.

So this morning I called Denny's Automotive and they had me bring the car in to be fixed. While it was there I had them look at the brakes. They were vibrating and I wanted to make sure they were all right before I drive to Oklahoma in June. It did not cost anything to have the window fixed. But the brakes which needed rotors and pads cost about $400. Fun!

Then at Lodge tonight it was a case of "suppose you gave a party and the guest of honor did not show up. The Brother who was to get his Fellowcraft Degree was called in to work overtime and he did not let us know about it so we were all at Lodge and no candidate. So we made lemonade and had a practice. It was a good thing. You can always count on Masons to enjoy the time they have together.

Tomorrow we have our Specialis Procer stated Meeting. I am looking forward to going down to be with my Brothers.

I cannot believe that it has been 50 years since I graduated from High School. I graduated in 1959 from Gilbert High School. There were only 17 of us in our graduating class. We went to New York City and Washington DC for our High School Trip. I will post pictures of the trip sometime.

Thanks for stopping by. ARTYAL. Hugs, J-bear

Think About it!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

An article in the Des Moines Register talks about Penmanship. When I was looking for illustrations for this mini-rant I discovered this from the Ames Historical Society.

It says in part:
Austin N. Palmer also wanted to be a fine penman. He worked at a variety of jobs to pay his tuition at a penmanship school in New Hampshire. He became a traveling teacher and in 1879, at the age of 22, he moved to Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Palmer spent two years working for a land company and an insurance company hand writing their documents, as was the practice in those days. His work experience taught him that people needed to be able to write quickly, legibly and without getting tired. He developed what became known as the Palmer Method of handwriting to meet those needs. (my bold)

Quickly, legibly and without getting tired - Wow, what a concept.

When I first started teaching there was not much emphasis on handwriting. Later that changed. The fourth grade teachers in my building decided that if they were going to spend time teaching cursive the rest of us should reinforce it. I, therefore took some time to discover a little bit about how to teach penmanship. Unfortunately by the time the students got to my classroom there were a lot of bad habits to be addressed. For one thing the students did not know how to hold the pen or which muscles to use while writing. The pen should be held as the man in the picture is holding his pen and it is the same if you are left or right handed.

The worst thing a left handed person can do is try to hid his or her left-handedness. After all "left handed people are right minded."

The advice under the picture says:
1. Sit in an upright and easy position. Keep both feet on the floor.
2. Hold the pen firmly, but not so tightly as to cramp the fingers.
3. Place the hand on the paper.

The other thing to do is to use the large muscles of the arm and not the small muscles of the hand to write with.

It is easy to spot the people who are doing it wrong. Their pens "bonce" up and down as they write. The ones who use the large muscles hold their pens in the same relationship to the hand and consequently do not "bounce"

I had a student who did not have the most legible penmanship who wrote to me as an adult wanting to improve his writing. I sent him a penmanship book and some instruction about how to hold his pen and which muscles to use. He was motivated and today his penmanship is
beautiful and easy to read.

How NOT to hold the pen

Penmanship can and should be taught. The Register article says:

"Studies show troubles with grade-school handwriting can lead to problems later with spelling, grammar and punctuation."

A former Ames principal is quoted:

"I think schools feel pressure to cover more and more things, and I think the handwriting ... maybe it's something they've let slip a little bit," said Kevin Fangman, who oversees the state education department's preschool through 12th-grade division.
"When the actual production of the writing is slow and hard, you're focusing more on that than what you're trying to say," Fangman said.

We taught penmanship as part of our Language Arts Curriculum. (I used to get my students very upset with me by requiring that work be turned in in cursive. It was mandatory and when a student turned in a paper with manuscript rather than cursive and had to do it over they soon learned to "follow the rules." )

Good penmanship should be a requirement of the curriculum.

The article also says:

• Iowa Department of Education officials are pushing for a mandatory state writing test.

I am not sure these are the same thing. Writing tests do not rate penmanship. Writing tests rate a students ability to write. The ability to communicate thoughts on paper in a clear concise and (sometimes) beautiful way. Putting it down quickly, legibly and without getting tired
is another thing altogether. A mandatory state ____________test seems to be the panacea for all of educations ills. Ever since "No Child Left Behind" we seem to feel the need to "test" everything these days.

I would be more inclined to "monitor" things. Get principals into the classrooms to see what is going on. Make sure that the curriculum is being taught. Be sure that the teachers are trained and emphasize the importance of covering everything. Monitor and train the teachers. Make sure that they have time to teach everything. A writing test should show the ability write. A rubric is used to evaluate the ability to write. Whether or not you can read the penmanship is the "test" of good penmanship.

Thanks for stopping by. ARTYAL.

What will Grassley do

"It's time to make sure all judges receive a fair vote on the Senate floor."
Charles Grassley (four years ago)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Many years ago a teacher in Ames named Laverna Larson began a program of education that grew and became a "crown jewel" of the innovative Ames school program on Ecology Education. Sadly that program has been lost to us through years of diminishing resources and neglect. The environment became less important throughout the last years and the government (Federal and State) resources that supported it were withdrawn. Be that as it may be I want to tell you about the programs as they were.

For many years I taught sixth grade in the Ames Schools. We had a program which took place in the Spring of the year and every sixth grade student (and teachers) would plan for it and look forward to it all year long. It was sort of a culmination of the year. Mrs. Larson started the program and it was through her work and dedication and the dedication of the other teachers that we would pack up school and go to the 4-H camp near Luther, Iowa for an Overnight. It was work for the teachers and fun for the kids and they probably did not even know they were learning.

All year long a cadre of teachers would plan and work to arrange the day. Classes from every school (at that time there were 9 I believe) would attend the camp for two days each. Three classes would come in on a Monday for teacher planned activities and they would stay in the cabins overnight and then on Tuesday three more classes would come in for the Cadre planned activities with experts in some field of nature study and Ecology. It was a wonderful time and we went rain or shine.

Look carefully for the footbridge in the above picture.

You can see what the area is like from the accompanying pictures. The lush green forest and woods were exciting to be in. The area is near the Des Moines River and there are pretty deep canyons carved by a stream that was the perfect place to go and dig and get wet and discover nature. There was a bank of shale and the kids were always fascinated to dig in this material and find little crystals embedded. The hill was quite steep and some of our fatter kids (and me) had a little trouble climbing back up.

But we persevered and came home with our treasures intact. If it was raining we went anyway. To me there is nothing more beautiful that being out in the deeply wooded forest with a gentle rain coming down on us and washing away all of the cares and trials of the year.

As I said, there was one day when we as teachers planned the activities and another when the Cadre activities were planned for us. There were always "fun" activities also such as rappelling and trust walks and hikes in the woods. Experts would come in to share their knowledge with us. Iowa State University professors - geologists, botanists, zoologists - you name them we had them.

I do not like snakes but find them fascinating. Mike Peterson, a teacher at Ames High School, brought his snakes out for "show and tell" and the kids were allowed to hold and learn about these interesting animals. We went in a cabin for this activity. Mike did not want his rattlesnake to escape.

Parents were always involved in the activities as chaperons and group leaders. If we had a parent in the class with expertise in some area of Nature study she or he would be drafted to teach a group. Others would do "night duty" and sleep in the cabins with the kids. (I only did that once)

At night there would be a campfire and meal brought over from the food service. The kids had to bring their own noon lunches and always, always take all of their trash back with them. Leave nothing behind. Pick nothing.

I remember one year when Mrs. Schmidt and I were out there some of the kids decided to pick Morel Mushrooms that they found in the park. Now the rule was NO PICKING. NO. So they were confiscated. Rather than let them go to waste we cooked them and ate them after the kids went to bed. I believe they were the best mushrooms I have ever eaten.
The kids would stay up late and we would have cranky parents the next day but they knew it was their own fault and were usually pretty good about it. Parents would volunteer for this activity in September when school was just starting. There were always a few parents and presenters that I would try to line up early to go with us. One of the ISU guys brought his "bugs" and he was extremely interesting.

After I went to fifth grade to teach we had a different program. As the Sixth grade program waned another program grew out of it.

This was the ECO program. It was set up so that every first, third, fifth and eighth grade would go out in the field three times during the year. The student would have experiences in the field. There was a teacher hired to coordinate the program and she and the classroom teacher (and a few parents) were responsible for the days activities. This innovative program was funded through grants and because of those grants there were semi-trailer truck labs which were placed at various locations and the school also had an Eco Bus which was equipped with equipment for study of nature. The ECO teacher was also the bus driver and would pick us up at school and drive us to the location for the day. Nancy Kurrle
was the last ECO teacher and is now teaching in the Middle School. She brought here expertise with her and she knew a lot.

The things I learned from her on our many (three a year - no matter what the weather) ECO trips are invaluable. As I drive back to Ames from the Ledges or the 4-H camp I still remember Nancy stopping the bus on a little hill and pointing out the Iowa Divide. On the West side of the Divide the water that falls on the ground flows into the Des Moines River. That which falls on the East Side flows into the Skunk River. Both rivers flow through our state and into the Mississippi River.

Nancy pointed out that the settlers who came to Iowa would follow the Iowa Divide in their travels through the state because they did not have to ford the creeks and streams that cover the state.

Every aspect of nature was covered through this program and it took us out to the woods in the middle of the winter. We would measure the temperature of the air and then take the temperature at the top, middle and bottom of the snow bank. We would study and learn everything we could. We went to the 4-H camp, the Izzac Walton League, the McFarland Park,
Hendrickson's Marsh, anyplace there was something to learn

Usually the ECO trailer was there and we devised projects that we wanted to learn and would go out and collect things to bring back and look at under the microscope. There were always pots of things to learn about there. It was endlessly fascinating and there was always a "teachable moment."

I probably did not enjoy the winter trips as much as I did the other and the Spring trips were always my favorite. Probably because they reminded me of those wonderful overnights that we had when I first started teaching in Ames.

I think it is sad that these programs have gone. I would get into a political screed about it but you don't really want to hear it. It was wonderful and for thirty some years the students who went

through the Ames Schools had a wonderful, exciting, out-of -the-walled- classroom experience. It took a lot of people who were working together to make the school the best experience for the students that they could have.

Sadly that seems to be lacking today. Hopefully someone like Mrs. Larson will start something again and the funds will be found and a new generation of students can have this wonderful ECO (Environmental Curriculum Opportunity) experience.

This is the screened in area where we would sometimes have our lunches

The pony was grazing as I left the area.

This gives you an idea of the terrain of the area. I understand that Jessie James spent the winter here after the great Northfield Minnesota robbery. There were also places where there were stills to hide from the "revenuers" - Many many stories about the area.

This is an old house still heated by fireplaces near the camp. There is a great pile of chopped wood. It was build in the 1800's - I have always loved driving past this little spot of Iowa's past.

Thanks for stopping by on this trip down memory lane. ARTYAL. Hugs. j