Family is Always Welcome


(Old English wilcuma ‘a person whose coming is pleasing,’ wilcumian (verb), from wil- ‘desire, pleasure’ + cuman ‘come’ The first element was later changed to wel- ‘well,’ influenced by Old French bien venu or Old Norse velkominn .)


This month, I’ve had pleasure of saying welcome to my son and his family who live in Germany.  We haven’t seen them in 2 1/2 years.  While they were here for two weeks, Janan and Victoria (daughter-in-law and granddaughter) pretty much took over my kitchen and I’ve been completely spoiled.  Doesn’t happen often, so it was a real pleasure.

They left here to celebrate Janan’s parents’ 50th anniversary, and they all came back on Tuesday night, late.  Yesterday, my grandson Kyle, who lives in South Dakota, flew in to Philly and spent the evening and overnight with his cousins.  He and my son Mike will be flying to Germany later today.  Uncle Mike is treating him to a month touring Germany, France, and other points of special historic interest.  Kyle loves history, so he’s all excited.  This is Mike’s graduation gift to his nephew, and I think it’s pretty awesome.

Last night, my daughter and her husband came up to say hello and goodbye, so our little house was packed full–especially with their little dog Andy, who loves everyone and has a hard time making up his mind which of us gets the honor of his presence.

Missing from the party were Ken and Sheila, Kyle’s parents, with their other two kids; and Dan and Maria who have moved to England; as well, Deb and Aaron’s kids were committed to helping in a Vacation Bible School and couldn’t  be with us. I don’t know where we would have put them all, but we’d have figured out something 🙂

I love having all my family together.  It’s rare these days, so every moment is treasured.

RDP: Welcome


Open and Transparent?

RDP # 46 – Open

Old English open “not closed down, raised up” (of gates, eyelids, etc.), also “exposed, evident, well-known, public,” often in a bad sense, “notorious, shameless;” …


First thought:  This beautiful hymn. Brings back lots of memories of Fourth Baptist Church in Minneapolis, back in the 1950’s.  I loved the big old pipe organ, the harmonizing of several hundred voices. I especially loved it when the song leader would have just the men sing a verse.  I’ve always loved the rich, full sound of male voices in full harmony.

We’re hearing a lot these days about openness, transparency, in government and/or any other type of leadership. There are good things to say about all that. When a government or, say, a corporate leader, acts in secrecy from the people who support that government or the employees,  some harsh results can occur.

It strikes me as somewhat hypocritical, though, for, say, the political left to accuse the right of not being transparent and then to read an article, as I did this morning, about George Soros and all the anti-American organizations in America that he supports quietly.  It is especially disturbing in view of the accusations against the conservatives of being Nazis, when Mr. Soros was an overt Nazi and, as far as I know, still is.

Speaking of Nazis, I heard a survivor of the Nazi “work camps” objecting to the detainment centers for abandoned children ( yes, abandoned–most of them did NOT appear in America with their loving parents, but came across in truckloads, and were dumped where they would be quickly found) being compared to the Nazi camps where millions of people were gassed, tortured, starved, and buried in heaps of skeletal remains. He said, “These camps are NOT like the Nazi camps.  They are given food, beds, blankets, health care, and every effort made to reunite them with their parents if indeed their parents brought them here. To compare what is being done for these children to the Nazi camps is ridiculous.”

I heard on the radio the other day that  reunification, where possible, has now been completed.  What will be done with the thousands of children who were brought here illegally, without their parents, I do not know.

Well.  I don’t usually ramble this much, nor do I usually get into our extremely troubled American political scene.  I think I’ll go back to listen to the hymn again.


Tossing Salt


Middle English: from Old French, or from Latin superstitio(n-), from super- ‘over’ + stare ‘to stand’ (perhaps from the notion of “standing over” something in awe).


“Are you superstitious?”

“Me?  No way!  All that stuff is just nonsense dreamed up to scare people.  No, I’m not afraid of black cats or Friday the 13th or walking under a ladder.  Silliness.”

“Really?  Then why did you just toss that pinch of salt over your shoulder?”

“What?  Salt?  Oh!  Well, uh . . . that’s what my Grandma always did. . . .not sure why. . . .just seems like a good idea, though.  Nothing superstitious about it.  I mean, what could happen?”

“Knock on wood.”

Image result for tossing salt over one's shoulder

( It’s believed that if you spill salt—which is bad luck—you should toss more over your left shoulder to ward off the evil spirits your spill stirred up. Salt used to be so expensive that spilling it was the same as losing money.)

tossing salt




A Wedding


late 16th century (earlier as an adjective): perhaps related to Old Norse depill ‘spot.’



Dick and Jane (see them run) *

Hurried to the chapel

Where the sun shone through the windows

And the pews and floors were dappled.

They said their wedding vows,

Had a kiss

But not a grapple,

And went to have some lunch

With all their guests.

They offered scrapple.* So

It’s really no surprise that

people settled for an apple,

Washing down their lunches

With a glass of sparkling Snapple.

*You will catch this meaning only if you’re old enough to remember learning to read from the Dick and Jane books.  See Spot run!  Run, Jane, Run! Dick runs, too!”

Image result for Dick and Jane readers

I can’t even begin to tell you how bored I was in reading group.  I was always getting into trouble for finishing the book and not staying on the same page as everyone else. BUT!  I’ve never forgotten these characters, especially Spot. See Spot Run!

*scrapple, for those who are lucky enough never to have tasted it, is popular with a lot of people here in my corner of PA.

Scrapple is typically made of hog offal, (which should tell you a lot, right there!) such as the head, heart, liver, and other trimmings, which are boiled with any bones attached (often the entire head), to make a broth. Once cooked, bones and fat are removed, the meat is reserved, and (dry) cornmeal is boiled in the broth to make a mush. The meat, finely minced, is returned to the pot and seasonings, typically sagethymesavory, black pepper, and others are added.[3][4] The mush is formed into loaves and allowed to cool thoroughly until set. The proportions and seasoning are very much a matter of the region and the cook’s taste.[5]Image result for scrapple

People here of a very thrifty Pennsylvania Dutch lineage like to say that scrapple uses every part of a pig except the “oink.”   I’m not a native, and to me it just tastes like liver. And yes, I’ve tasted everyone’s great-grandmother Anna’s secret recipe.  It tastes like liver. I don’t like liver.  Blech. Deplorable stuff.

A Wedding

Sewing 101

RDP #39 – Dart


Middle English: from Old French, accusative of darzdars, from a West Germanic word meaning ‘spear, lance.’


There are so many meanings to this word.  However, my mind went to junior high home economics class.  Back in the olden days ( 1960-61) Home Ec, as we called it, was for girls only.  The guys took shop. I think they had more fun.

We were to learn to sew, cook, bake, and to do other home-related tasks. My mom had already taught my sister and me to cook and bake. We could both put a full meal on the table before we were 12. And no, it wasn’t child abuse or any thing close t it. We enjoyed it.  It made us feel useful and an integral part of the functioning of the family which, by the way, is  now referred to as self-esteem. I’ve had something to say about that whole concept over on my other blog.  In my counseling experience, I’ve observed that “poor self-esteem” often means that we don’t think other people think as highly of us as they should.

Anyway, back to Home Ec.  I wanted to learn to sew.  My mom was an outstanding seamstress, and was still doing work for people into her 70’s until her vision disallowed the fine work that was sometimes required.

So I was excited about actually making a skirt and blouse.  Just purchasing the fabric was wonderful!  All those pretty prints, and delicate whites for the blouse, were hard to choose from.  Finally I settled on a floral pink for the skirt and an embossed light white for the blouse.  Pattern, thread, buttons, zipper–good to go!

We did the skirts first, learning how to make box pleats.  Most of us actually came up with a wearable garment, and I was very pleased with my own.

Image result for box-pleated skirts

The blouses were harder.  We had to learn about facings, button holes, collars, sleeves, and darts.  You don’t see a lot of darts these days, in the age of tee shirts and other knitted tops.  Back in that time, though, a blouse needed to be shaped to fit the curves of a girl’s figure, and that’s what darts were for.

We made our darts along the sides of the blouse, more like this:

Image result for making darts in a blouse

I was quite pleased with the way my outfit turned out, but I suspected my mother had a few time-saving tricks I could learn.  She did, and I sewed my own clothes for many years, along with making a lot of the clothes my daughter wore.  I found it relaxing, and it also was a great money-saver at the time.

Darts were a normal part of the sewing routine. They are used anywhere you want shaping, and are used in pants as well as tops.  And that, my friends, is your sewing lesson for today 🙂

Sewing 101

Get a Clew!



Old English cliwencleowen (denoting a rounded mass, also a ball of thread), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch kluwen .  Also: a ball of thread (used especially with reference to the thread supposedly used by Theseus to mark his way out of the Cretan labyrinth).


Aly was lost. It was dark, she was hungry and thirsty, it was cold, and she was alone. Completely alone. There weren’t even any of the normal night noises from the crickets and tree frogs that usually filled the air. It was as quiet as death.  Quiet, and just as lonely.

Aly had been trained in all sorts of ways, to defend herself, protect, camouflage, disappear. She could take down just about anyone who  tried to attack her but she wasn’t bullet-proof.  And she was just a little bit afraid of the dark.  One never knew, after all, what kinds of monsters lurked on the other side of the dark. The human ones were the worst.

Right now, though, she needed to figure out where she was.  It would have been easier in the city, where there were always lights.  Out here,  the word dark had a whole new meaning.  When she’d finally broken out of the trunk of the car  and rolled out onto the road, it was gravel.  Gravel?  There were still gravel roads that people actually used?

Image result for escaping from a car trunk

Wow. She knew where she was. Nowhere, that’s where.

Well. There was only one thing she could think of to do. She oriented herself by the stars,  faced east, where the sun would shed its first light. She took off her hand-knitted watch cap,  thankful for the long hair that would help keep her head warm. Picking at the seam of her cap, she finally loosened a thread. Using the cap as a clew, she tied the loose thread to a scraggly bush and tugged until the cap began to unravel.  Standing, stretching, checking the stars again, she started to walk.

If she needed to, she could return to her bush and start over again in a different direction.  She had a sweater, socks, and  an undershirt that she could add to her clew.

She fervently hoped that she would still be alive and at least partially clothed by the time she figured out where she was.

Get a Clew!



To Hug or Not?



(Middle English (in the sense ‘encircle, surround, enclose’; formerly also as imbrace ): from Old French embracer, based on Latin in- ‘in’ + bracchium‘arm.’)


I’m sure I’m not the first or only one to think of this old Sinatra classic.  It’s the very first thing that popped into my mind.

Changing direction:  In my profession, we are strongly discouraged from physical contact with our clients. Hugging, embracing, even a pat on the shoulder, can be grounds for a law suit if someone decides to get their knickers in a twist. So I do not offer to make the first move.


Related image


Big however coming up. When someone is clearly in deep emotional pain, and they stand up to leave and hold their arms out, please tell me, what is a therapist to do?  I’ve tried just taking their hands, but I get pulled in for a hug. So I hug. Women only, mind you.  I’m quite adept at sidestepping into a side hug when it’s a man, or just offering my hand for a handshake.  But women often don’t settle for that, needing the full embrace. So I hug.  They need it, and maybe I do, too.

My job is often stressful.  People in such pain need to know there is someone who is hearing them without making judgments, without criticism. Sometimes all I can do is cry with them while they sob out the story of whatever has turned their lives upside down and inside out.

Sometimes, the importance of a warm and caring human touch is more important than a code of ethics.


To Hug or Not?




Word origin: late 16th century: from French, from obsolete hospiter ‘receive a guest,’ from medieval Latin hospitare ‘entertain,’ from hospeshospit- (see host1).

I apologize to those of you who don’t get excited about word origins, but I love knowing where words come from.  It’s a hobby of mine, and I probably will continue unless I get a restraining order or something 🙂

My mom was a wonderful hostess. She loved to cook, loved being able to set a pretty table when she finally got her first full set of china on their 25th anniversary.  Things sure have changed.  Brides today expect that full set of expensive dinnerware.

Anyway, it wasn’t just her food and her dishes that made her a great hostess.  She was a “people-person,” and she knew how to make guests feel right at home.  She welcomed help in the kitchen, and there was always laughter  along with the work.  People were her stock in trade, so to speak. She was interested in the lives  of her guests, and as a pastor’s wife, she often knew things about people that helped my dad know how to counsel them.Image result for a gracious hostess

Some of my favorite memories of having company include Sunday nights after church.  Usually, it was a relaxed time. There would be kids our age, and we would entertain ourselves elsewhere in the house or outdoors while the adults sat around the dining room table.  I remember being intrigued at outbursts of laughter, wondering what they  thought was so funny.

They wondered the same thing about us, I learned later on. They’d hear gales of giggles and belly laughs and wonder what we were up to.

I don’t remember now.  I just remember that we had fun. We didn’t have electronic devices of any sort. We did play games. We talked with each other, joking, teasing, laughing without the “benefit” of a cell phone.  Actually, it was considered rude to turn on the television if you had guests.  What a concept!

Good times, good memories.