It was 1987 when my husband and I last entered the Magic Kingdom. Our daughters were seven and ten years old, and somehow we’d been able to take them to Orlando over Christmas Break. There was security then, but no double bag checks and X-rays. We also remember that in order to take a picture of Cinderella’s Castle in […]

via DISN-EYED — The Amazing Bird Collection



It was 1987 when my husband and I last entered the Magic Kingdom.  Our daughters were seven and ten years old, and somehow we’d been able to take them to Orlando over Christmas Break.  There was security then, but no double bag checks and X-rays.  We also remember that in order to take a picture of Cinderella’s Castle in the dark, we set our SLR camera on the top of a trash can.  In contrast, this year I pulled a smart phone out of my pocket and snapped these shots of the fireworks and light show.



So what else has changed at “The Happiest Place on Earth,” in thirty years?  Prices are higher, to be sure.  You scan your “magic band” to get in instead of presenting a paper ticket.  The customized bracelet also works as a debit card for hotel rooms, restaurants, and fast passes.



There are two more parks to visit now, but we stuck to the main ones: Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  The Muppets have been ensconced on Main Street USA, greeting visitors with a performance about the founding fathers.  Miss Piggy (who else?) represents the royalty from which our new country broke away.  Frontierland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland — all still there, with modifications such as Pixar’s Monsters Inc. “Laugh Floor.”  Peter Pan’s ride, below, is fun as ever, along with the Little Mermaid, Dumbo, Teacups and Space Mountain.  One can still float through “It’s a Small World,” and wind up with the tune in the head for the rest of the day.



At Epcot, time is best balanced among designing cars for the Test Track, navigating a mission to Mars, and taking in other countries’ shop wares and cuisine.  We had a wonderful experience at the Japanese grille, breaking bread (if not chopsticks) with an extended family from Pittsburgh.  And mouse ears of every color were everywhere: sprouting from headbands and caps; with sequins, bows, and fiber optics.  Those wearing them were all ages, all sizes, from just about everywhere, speaking their home languages.



Never changing is the fulfilled vision of Walt Disney.  Disney World is a place where you meet characters you grew up with, dance in your heart to music you’ve always loved; and dream more of what the future can hold.

That’s Funny?


Image result for presidents laughing  President Reagan liked a good joke, particularly on himself. 


“I love to laugh!” sang Uncle Arthur, drifting to the ceiling in Mary Poppins.  I remember laughing just because he did.

What was considered funny in the past and what we think is funny now can be two different things.

The first recorded jokes we know about are from Palamedes, a Greek who outwitted Odysseus just before the Trojan War.  While it seems there were a group of sixty who met in the Temple of Heracles to trade wisecracks, there probably weren’t any women present, due to the subject matter.  Or maybe they just didn’t care.

“Jestbooks,” such as one produced by a man named Philogelos, contained this conversation.

Talkative barber: How shall I cut your hair?

Customer: In silence.


A lady asked how she liked a gentleman’s singing (who had bad breath).

“The words are good, but the air is intolerable,” said she.


In Victorian times, jokes were known as facetiae.

“Waiter, I’ve found a button in my salad.”

“That’s all right, Madam.  It’s part of the dressing.”


Why should the number 288 never be mentioned in good company?

It is two gross.


In 1896, a Chicago publisher included this one:

Enfant: (patting his uncle’s bald head) “Say Uncle Jack, is that where you get spanked when you’re naughty?”


And a mother, trying to instill a virtue in her child: “There is more pleasure in giving than receiving.”

“That’s also true about castor oil,” the child said.


I’ve found more than a few jokes I hadn’t heard, so I’ll share these.


A man walks into the doctor’s office with two red ears.  “What happened?” asks the nurse.  “I was ironing a shirt when the phone rang,” he answers.  “Oh dear!  But what happened to your other ear?” she exclaimed.  “He called back!” moaned the patient.

How was the Roman Empire cut in half?  With a pair of Caesers.

That person is so classless he could be a Marxist Utopia.

A Roman walks into a bar, puts up two fingers and says, “I’ll have five beers, please!”

He was so dumb when he drove to Disneyland he saw a sign “Disney Left,” and went home.


Of course, hearing a joke is often half the humor.  I leave with this gem, from Rodney Dangerfield to Johnny Carson:

“When I was born I was so ugly, the doctor slapped my mother!”


Adam was the only one who could not say, “I’ve heard that one before.”


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Today is Yesterday

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Today is

All the yesterdays

I have or want to have

Brought together.


I tie off one memory

Or many

I choose

What to bring back.


Sadness?  Happiness?  Confusion?

I think what to think

I reminisce.  I discern.

I learn.


My purpose is

Finding reasons to remember,


Going on.


My history doesn’t make sense

Neither does the world’s

But wait

I take heart.


I find meaning



In today, which is yesterday.




As I sat back in the recliner thinking once more about how to maintain an exercise regimen in the year to come, I was interested in how presidents have kept fit throughout history.  Most of them did nicely, which is not surprising considering they had to stay active to deal with demands of the office.

Early leaders George Washington and Thomas Jefferson developed the skill and coordination of excellent horsemen.   A few years later, John Quincy Adams swam (naked) in the Potomac River every morning, long before it was known that this was the ultimate cardiovascular exercise.

Abraham Lincoln, who grew up guiding a horse plow and splitting wood rails for fences, once used his strong arms to throw a heckler out of a political rally.

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Theodore Roosevelt overcame his childhood frailty in the arid west as a hand on his own ranch.  He was always active in boxing, and led other dignitaries on point-to-point walks in Rock Creek Park.  One time he asked a French ambassador, when they took off their clothes to cross the river, why he did not remove his gloves.  “Why Mr. President,” he exclaimed, “We might meet ladies!”

William Howard Taft may not be remembered as athletic because of his weight and the famous custom bathtub installed in the White House, but he later trimmed 100 pounds off his frame and lived a long life as a Chief Justice.  He liked golf and tennis.  TR had cautioned him not to be photographed playing, however, because it might make him look too upper-class.

Herbert Hoover playing Hoover-ball on the White House lawn, February, 1933. Photo 1033-16A

Probably the most interesting game played by a president was named after him.  Hooverball, invented by doctor, involved two teams tossing an eight-pound medicine ball over a net every morning during the Depression.  It would have much easier for Herbert Hoover than tackling the plight of Americans at the time.

Franklin Roosevelt developed his upper body strength by pulling ropes to hoist the elevator up and down, sitting in a wheelchair, at his home.  He was also a swimmer.  Harry Truman took 120 steps per minute during his mile and a half daily walks.  This was the World War I marching pace, which would make any Fitbit happy.

Dwight Eisenhower played football for the United States Military Academy, once tackling legendary Native American star Jim Thorpe.  John Kennedy played football with his family members until his weak back prevented it.  Concerned about flabby citizens of the 1960s, he initiated a nationwide fitness program and commissioned the recording of “Chicken Fat” still used in schools today.

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At the top of the list of fit presidents is Gerald Ford, despite his reputation for being clumsy.  That was because his knees had been used up as a football player for the champion University of Michigan Wolverines.  He turned down offers from the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears, and later settled for playing golf.

Ronald Reagan was a high school lifeguard who saved over 70 people from drowning.  When president he stepped up body building with specially-designed workouts after he was shot, and even wrote a fitness article for Parade Magazine.  “In my view, every exercise program should have an outdoor element to it – whether jogging, bicycling, skiing, hiking, or walking.  I prefer horseback riding and, whenever possible, hard manual labor at the ranch,” he said.

A portrait of an adolescent George H.W. Bush and a teammate in their baseball uniforms. Bush was the captain of the baseball team at Phillips Academy, where he attended from 1937 to 1942.

The George Bushes also head the fit list, with the father a high school baseball captain and a serious runner.  Dubya runs and cycles yet today.  Bill Clinton famously jogged, as Barack Obama loves to play pickup basketball games off backboards on the old Taft tennis court.

Warren G. Harding was probably in the worst shape of all of our presidents: boozing, smoking and sitting still.

Donald Trump?  His idea of burning calories is sweating in a crowded room.  He sleeps four hours a night and skips breakfast.  What will the President’s Council on Physical Fitness do about that?  It may just have to be the Council on Physical Fitness for the next four years.

I will have to slim down to give him an example.

A Gift for All

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I have always liked to make things, and used to spend a lot of time trying to decide which homemade Christmas gifts to give; it was a necessity when dollars were scarce and our family was young.

I made nightgowns, counted cross stitch samplers, pillows, candy, lighted Ball jars, cookie mix, cocoa mix, coffee mix….  One year in college I made dolls from dishwashing soap bottles and material scraps.

Today it seems the homemade gifts I wrap come from craft shows, and I have faint dreams of copying them for another time.  This year I melted and molded soaps, which was fun and took a minimum amount of time for the way they turned out.

Whether a gift is homemade or store bought, edible or wearable, small or large, it can’t match the greatest gift in the form of a baby who grew up to be a man who would save us all.  It probably wasn’t in December or exactly 2016 years ago.  But it was a terrible sacrifice of the Giver, the gift above all others.  Merry Christmas.


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“You don’t need any more Christmas wrapping paper!”
My daughters have said this to me more than once when we’re out shopping or looking through stationery catalogs.  But can you ever have too much wrapping paper?  It makes giving more fun; it allows you to create your own art form; I just like looking at the presents and grouping them in stacks according to color (yes, a little bit of the OCD tendency there).  And the rolls fit under the bed so well.
How did we get from “brown paper packages tied up with strings” to the $2.6 billion gift wrap industry today?  A little checking on the Internet reveals that it makes up half the 85 million tons of paper products sold each year, and 30 million trees are cut down to produce it.  Yikes!
In the Second Century B.C., the Japanese placed gifts of money in envelopes called “chin poh” made from hemp, bamboo, and rice.  They also wrapped gifts in “furoshiki,” or reusable cloth.
Before 1900 Victorians wrapped their gifts in elaborate paper and ribbon. Mercantiles used tissue paper.  In 1916, storekeepers Joyce and Rolloe Hall ran out of it and substituted some special French paper instead.  It caught on in following years, and eventually became a key product of their company, Hallmark.
The process of wrapping a present can be tricky.  You’ve first got to cut the paper to the right size; if you don’t, trimming the ends after the middle part is secured requires precision so that it covers. but doesn’t overlap too much.  Invisible tape is preferable to cellophane, which shines on the seams.  We would never want anyone to think this package was taped, would we?  I used to teach a geometry lesson while gift wrapping: right angles and perpendicular lines, acute angles…
And then, ribbon.  I love wired ribbon that can be stretched and molded just how you want it.  I’ve given up curling ribbon and found it better to let the loose strands fall in a mass than having them boing like Shirley Temple’s curls.  I’ve also massacred those “easy pull” flat ribbon bows so often that I don’t buy them anymore.
I do like gift bags, which can be reused to the end of saving part of those trees.  As can the tissue paper that keeps the giftee in the dark about what’s inside.
Just before Christmas, when my dining room table is covered in paper rolls, flat wrap, boxes, ribbon, and tags, I look forward to the days ahead when family will gather and memories will be made.  The embellishments make it a little more happy.