"Toys for Tots"

"Internet Toy Drive"

It has always been in November when I started alerting you to the Internet Toy Drive in conjunction with the U.S. Marines' "Toys for Tots." For 10 years, Rick Beneteau and I ran that project, kicking it off on Thanksgiving Day.

Rick acted as webmaster for the web site, we both promoted and, for several years, I provided my PayPal account for donations, paying the fees myself - as well as writing articles and leading most of our association members in promoting it through their own resources.

Over the years, we provided thousands and thousands of dollars to buy Christmas gifts for needy kids who otherwise would have had nothing on Christmas morning. I'm extremely proud of that project - and of our members' part in it. We carried the Internet Toy Drive every step of the way!

However ...

Without going into a lot of explanation, I am asking you this year to simply make your donations directly at the "Toys for Tots" web site. Rick has redirected the Internet Toy Drive web site to the Marines Toys for Tots Foundation at:

Toys for Tots

If you have ever contributed to this project, I know you will be contacted directly by "Toys for Tots" for this year's donation. So, I don't feel that anything will be lost for the kids.

Still, somehow, it seems to be the end of an era ...

All Around Good Stuff

"Remembering Summer"

I had a really neat childhood. My brothers and I went to school in the city, but nearly every weekend, plus holidays and summers, were spent on our beloved grandparents' farm. In the city, I learned to be quite the little lady. But, on the farm, I could just BE. So, I had the best of both worlds.

It's those summers I've been flashing back to lately. I have no idea why! Maybe, I'm worn out. Maybe, it's one of those, "Stop the world, I wanna get off," things. Maybe we just work too damn hard, and forget to relax and enjoy. Or, maybe we're not allowed to relax and enjoy anymore.

Now, I know everyone didn't get to spend childhood summers in the country. But, I wonder how many people remember things like this ...

Waking up, just past dawn, to the cool, morning breeze gently lifting the white, "summer curtains" in the bedroom, listening to the quail give their "Bob White!" call, then heading to the kitchen to gobble the cold oats (not oatmeal – slow-cooked OATS) left for us by Pappy Lee (our grandfather) when he went to the barn to feed the animals.

Or, on days when we woke up early, having Pappy make us buckwheat pancakes, topped with pure butter and homemade sorghum syrup, made as only he could make it.

Racing to the barn behind him, dogs at our heels, to help "feed," jostling each other to see who got to prime the water pump and to check on any new arrivals, and see if the bull snake, kept for controlling the mouse population, had shed its skin. Then back to the hen house to gather eggs.

And, maybe watch Pappy kill and dress a hen, carefully removing any unlaid eggs, to be boiled up with the chicken and homemade noodles for supper (called "dinner" in the city) that evening.

Helping Nonny (our grandmother) bake fresh fruit pies "from scratch," – using lard - while the morning was still cool enough to turn the oven on - where the left-over dough was shaped with a chicken shaped cookie cutter, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon, with a "red-hot" for an eye, and baked to make the very best cookies in the entire world.

Lying in the grass, watching cumulus clouds lazily making perfect shapes of animals and other objects as they floated by. Or, hiding out under the young Weeping Willow tree, staring up at the leaves, and fantasizing what life would be like when we "grew up."

Running through the orchard, picking fruit off the trees, wiping it off on our clothes, and eating it on the spot, without concern for washing off any pesticides. Or, snatching strawberries from the patch, or grapes from the vines as we passed by, and it was okay to do that.

Picking flowers from the flower beds, taking them to the house, and washing the ants off them in the sink before sticking them into a Ball fruit jar, where they presided over the kitchen table with the oil cloth cover, and the ol' mean cat that would reach out from another chair, and swat our bare, brown legs with her claws extended, if we dared to sit down without looking.

Swinging on the tire swing, hung from the huge, old Cottonwood tree in the barn yard, that lightning struck at least once every year.

Riding the Indian Paint ponies, whooping like little savages – bareback – racing the trains on the tracks out behind the farm along the full length of the property, with the engineers waving to us all the way across.

Telling my brothers they'd better not chew that gum without asking, and laughing so hard when they did it anyway, and found out later it was Ex-Lax.

"Going to town" on Sunday mornings to the Sunday School that taught us to sing "Jesus Loves Me" and "God is Love." And, to the church service afterward, and on Wednesday evenings, where the pastor preached hellfire and damnation.

And, showing up for Vacation Bible School every day for two weeks in the summer. And, the "Ice Cream Social" at the end, with homemade ice cream being cranked in a churn, and sugar cookies with colored sugar sprinkles, to celebrate our latest "graduation."

Hot afternoons reading books like, "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn." Or, reading and living the Adventures of Peter Rabbit, Reddy Fox, Buster Bear, Bucky Beaver or Tommy Titmouse. Or, learning new words by doing, "It Pays to Increase Your Word Power" in Reader's Digest.

Working in the garden, helping pick vegetables that would be carried to the house and used for supper, or be cleaned for "putting up" - to be used when wintertime came.

Shelling peas, or removing the ends of snap beans, while sitting on the old glider out on the screened-in porch, with Nonny telling us stories about life in Kentucky back in the "olden days."

Or, maybe sitting with a card table in front of that same ol' glider playing Canasta with Nonny, and always believing she cheated because she didn't believe in "letting" kids win.

Drying dishes that Nonny washed in a big metal pan in the sink, while Pappy Lee sat in the kitchen, next to his radio, listening to a baseball game – or, listening to us, because he cared about what we had to say.

Heading to the pond with Pappy after supper to fish, watch the dragonflies, listen to the circada, and maybe even catch a turtle on the line, big enough to make turtle soup.

Catching lightning bugs and putting them in a jar, with holes punched in the lid, to see if we could get enough to read by.

Watching Nonny and Pappy play Bridge on Friday evenings with Mr. and Miz Roberts, and all four of them smoking cigarettes, and drinking iced tea, (which they shared with us), loaded with sugar and fresh mint and nobody worrying about second-hand smoke or making the kids hyper-active.

And, being fascinated by how Mr. Roberts could keep his cigarette in his mouth while he played Bridge, and talk around it, and grow a two-inch ash, and still get it to the club-, or diamond-, or heart-, or spade-shaped ashtray before it fell.

Going to sleep at night, after a bath with Ivory soap, kneeling beside the bed, reciting, "Now, I lay me down to sleep ... ," listening to the lonely, quiet, wonderful sound of a train as it whistled its warning way up at the crossroads, and waiting for it to pass.

And, listening to the bull frogs over at the pond. And, smelling the foot-wide white flowers, that bloomed at night, on the Moon Vine outside the window. And, lying there facing that window, with just a thin cotton cover, watching a bazillion stars twinkle, as if inviting us to reach out and touch them, and holding us in awe of the universe. And, feeling so very safe ...

And, we were.


Feed-Back and Comments

iCop Members: To leave comments on the blog, you MUST register a user name and password. The information you use to access the iCop Member Center does NOT work on the blog.

Last week, we had a couple of different problems with the “comments” section of the blog. If anyone has a problem this week, please let me know so we can try to get that dang thing to work every time.

It's a royal PITA! But, with your help. maybe we can get it straightened out.

Since I did receive so many comments, last week, that didn't make it to the blog, I'm going to publish just a few of them below. Some have been slightly edited for space - and to avoid World War III.

(And, BTW - it wouldn't surprise me one bit to see WW III start right here in the good ol' U.S. of A. - among our own citizens!)

Comments on "Word Perceptions"

Subject: Slanguage

Good Grief! I had NO idea that tea-bagger had the slightest sexual connotation! I thought it was a misled right wing nut-job who probably believes everything Fox Noise spews out.

Got some touchy readers, doncha?

Just for the record, I'm an independent conservative liberal, or liberal conservative depending on the issue, moderate (on most things). Glad we could clear that up...

Hang in there, baby!


Subject: You GO Girl! :-)

I'm extremely proud of you for telling it like it is. I am sick to death of media twists and tired of the herd following it off the cliff. How can anyone believe anything that's on TV or in the paper today without checking out the facts?

As my Texas grandmother used to say, "It all smells like the north end of a south bound skunk to me."

Love you and your work,

SF Quick

Subject: Apology accepted

I can't begin to tell you how relieved I was to receive your email, explaining all those horribly offensive terms and political labels.

It's so comforting to know that some people are constantly on the watch and anxious to set us straight.

To those people , I say “Let's start worrying about the actions and accomplishments of our politicians (and ourselves) rather than what label to apply.

Or put a little more to point, “Get a life!”

Keep on keepin on.

Don Shickle

Subject: Starting with an Apology

Hi jl

People are nuts aren't they? I personally love the "tea bagger" story. You should look your words up in urbandictionary.com - Now that's funny.


Subject: Starting with an Apology


Love it when you get "your back up" and come back on some of the comments!


I too was unaware of the so called definition of a "tea bagger", guess at 63 I'm too old for those things! I also subscribe to your using a dictionary to find a definition, NOT the "news media" which I no longer trust for anything but the weather.

Deen Adolphe

Subject: Apology

Whoopie, Hooray and Kudos for you! I am a Progressive Independent, too. My definition is the same one you use.

I wonder if [people] know how long England has practiced socialism without becoming communist. Progressives are not against any form of capitalism. Once again I look across the sea to England. Does capitalism flourish in that socialist nation? Certainly it does.

Closer to home, Canada has socialist health care, as do most progressive countries in the world.

One of my favorite sites is www.unclebrice.com

At the top of every page is:

"Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it." - Winston Churchill

"Those who fail to learn from history are stupid." - Uncle Brice

Thanks for voicing your opinion. I share it, and applaud you for doing so.

Larry Jameson

Subject: Starting with an Apology

Morning jl

I don't guess you are going to be politically correct all the time so don't try to please everyone or you will go nuts. I personally think your newsletter is one of the best on the net.

Good day

Dan Beal

Comments on “Love is.”

Subject: Comment

First off, jl, thank you for another value packed issue of the ezine.

Secondly, I have got to tell you how much I loved your roses memories.

I am not really a "flower person" BUT the roses I have gotten that really meant something when they were given stick in my memory as well and they are just so special, both the roses and the memories.


Jan Tallent

Subject: Roses

A wonderful and moving story - both about the roses and your daughter's wedding. Thanks for sharing, and bringing back some emotional and heart warming memories. What joy our daughters bring!

Richard Rossbauer

Subject: Comments

I don't comment often, but I need to tell you how your "Valentine's" message moved me. It was beautiful, jl, and I thank you for taking the time to write it.

Thanks again for all you do and especially for this latest newsletter.

Be well -- be in peace,

Ron Rink

Subject: Starting with an Apology

Hey jl,

"Love, once born, never dies. It is eternal. It can be called upon at any time, and it will always return."

Very profound. Loved it.

Best to you, Dennis Gaskill

Chuck has now fixed the "Comments" section on the blog. So, please use it to comment on the newsletter!

"Love is."

Saint Valentine's Day is almost upon us. It's a day to celebrate love. I often wonder if we stop to think enough about the different aspects of love, beyond the romantic.

Not that there's anything wrong with romance! In fact, I recommend it. Yet, romantic love is just one of many types of love. Then, conversely, when all's said and done, aren't they all the same?

A famous writer, when asked to define love, simply stated, "Love is." Author, Gertrude Stein, was the same woman who wrote, "A rose is a rose, is a rose."

It's possible that some things, such as roses and love, are simply too perfect to describe in mere words. It's even possible this is why we associate the two.

Ask any woman about her memories of roses. She'll tell you stories of love. With our memories of special roses, we can't help but feel special love.

I remember the perfect roses of my first corsage, given to me by my first love. It was also my first high school Homecoming Dance. I was a freshman; he was a senior - an "older man." It was a semi-formal dance, so I was wearing a light gray, soft wool dress. Of course, he had asked me beforehand what color dress I would wear to the dance.

I suppose I must have expected the traditional mum corsage, or something "girlish." But, he stole my heart forever by presenting me with two huge rosebuds, such a dark red color as to be almost black, nestled among silvered leaves and dark red ribbon. Very sophisticated - very grown-up! Roses I would cherish for a lifetime.

I remember the Peace Rose - my favorite rose for all time. My father always had rose bushes in our yard. He planted, and cultivated, and pruned, and babied each one. Their gorgeous blossoms were his outlet for stress and his drive for perfection. They were lovingly tended and thrived under his care.

One day, he went out to his rose beds, then returned to the house excitedly. I was standing in the family room as he came through the door bearing his prize, which he promptly presented to me. A huge, yellow Peace Rose, with every perfect petal outlined in peach, and fully eight inches across! I never, ever, see a Peace Rose without remembering that day and the gift Daddy gave me with such love and pride.

I remember the tiny pink tea roses peeking through jasmine, and tucked among white calla lilies in the bridal bouquet of my youngest daughter. She was, in my opinion, much too young to get married. Yet, I had helped her into her wedding gown, the veil, all the trappings of a bride, and handed her that lovely bouquet. As I stood back for the final inspection, my heart nearly burst.

She stood there, looking like a little bride doll, everything about her perfect. The fragile, very feminine gown, the soft blond hair curling about her face, just as it had when she was a toddler, her dimples flashing as she smiled uncertainly, waiting for Mom's approval ... Those tiny pink tea roses couldn't possibly have described her, or my love for her, any more clearly.

Love, once born, never dies. It is eternal. It can be called upon at any time, and it will always return.

Sometimes, it is wrapped in tissue paper images ... of remembered roses.

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* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ http://www.ChamberofCommerce-ontheWeb.com - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

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