Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
October 31st, 2008


1. Put frying pan on stove.
2. Turn on gas.
3. Pour a little canola oil in pan.
4. Get egg from refrigerator.
5. Get bowl from cabinet.
6. Put smidgen of water in bowl.
7. Crack egg into bowl.
8. Put egg shell in garbage.
9. Scramble egg and pour into pan.
10. Get slice of bread from freezer.
11. Pop into toaster.
12. Get Smart Balance from refrigerator.
13. Turn egg over with spatula.
14. Get plate from pantry.
15. Put egg on plate.
16. Get toast from toaster.
17. Spread Smart Balance on it.
18. Put toast on plate.
19. Get cup from pantry.
20. Fill with water.
21. Get out instant coffee.
22. Get out Cremora.
23. Get spoon.
24. Add coffee to cup.
25. Add Cremora.
26. Add half-teaspoon of sugar.
27. Put in microwave.
28. Set microwave for 2 minutes.
29. Get teeth from glass.
30. Get fork from pantry.
31. Start eating egg and toast while still warm.
32. Take coffee from microwave and stir.
33. Turn on TV.
34. Sit in front of TV.
35. Enjoy for 10 minutes.
36. Wash dishes.
37. Put them away.

No wonder seniors don’t eat; it’s too complicated.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth the effort.
Is it time for a nap yet?
No. It’s time to warm up the car. Hard frost last night.


This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

October 29th, 2008


It was two weeks before the election and Archbishop Charles Chaput in Colorado had publicly stated that “activism for Senator Barack Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.”

My friend, Kay, had visited a church in another city the previous Sunday and had heard the Catholic priest there, after the mass, tell his parishioners from the altar that the Church cannot tell them how to vote, that they could decide for themselves who they would vote for. He was heartily applauded by his congregation. Kay was considerably upset as he was, indeed, doing his best to undermine everything pro-life that had been accomplished in the past 35 years.

Barack Obama is the most liberal of all the Senators by anyone’s measure, and has promised to keep Roe v Wade in place. He says he will appoint liberal judges, and opposed the confirmation of Read the rest of this entry »

October 28th, 2008


A few weeks ago I posted the poem, THE CRABBIT OLD WOMAN, written by an aged inhabitant of a nursing home.  She pleads to be seen for what she is, a person, deserving of love, respect, and tender, loving care.  The response to her poem by a nurse whose job is caring for those warehoused in such homes, who suffer silently as they await the end, is too good not to be included here.  It is said to have been written by a Liverpool nurse.

A Nurse’s reply To the Crabbit Old Woman

What do we see, you ask, what do we see?
Yes, we are thinking when looking at thee!
We may seem to be hard when we hurry and fuss,
But there’s many of you, and too few of us.
We would like far more time to sit by you and talk,
To bath you and feed you and help you to walk.
To hear of your lives and the things you have done;
Your childhood, your husband, your daughter, your son.
But time is against us, there’s too much to do –
Patients too many, and nurses too few.
We grieve when we see you so sad and alone.
With nobody near you, no friends of your own.
We feel all your pain, and know of your fear
That nobody cares now your end is so near.
But nurses are people with feelings as well
And when we’re together you’ll often hear tell
Of the dearest old Gran in the very end bed,
And the lovely old Dad, and the things that he said,
We speak with compassion and love, and feel sad
When we think of your lives and the joy that you’ve had,
When the time has arrived for you to depart,
You leave us behind with an ache in our heart.
When you sleep the long sleep, no more worry or care,
There are other old people, and we must be there.
So please understand if we hurry and fuss –
There are many of you, And so few of us.

Nursing homes are often understaffed and the nurses overworked, underpaid, and under-appreciated.  It would be a corporal act of mercy for friends and relatives of those who are tucked away, invisibly, in such homes to take the time for a short visit. What a morale booster for the patient, the nurses, and the visitor!


I was naked, and you clothed me: I was sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. Matthew 25:36.

October 24th, 2008


I like to sit in the back pew at daily mass.  Looking at the folks farther forward, they sit there quietly, hardly moving, and I conclude they are deep in contemplative prayer.  One of my reasons for sitting in the back is that I need to clear my throat, deal with a tickle that makes me cough, rearrange my back and my neck for better comfort.  First I cross the left leg over the right, then the right over the left.  All in all, I’m a rather fidgety person.  Besides, the back pew is near the bathroom–just in case.  Probably some of this preference for an end seat in the rear of the church harks back to my agoraphobic days when I sought a place conducive to easy exit in case the discomfort of being so enclosed became extreme and I had to get out fast.

Sitting in the back pew I became familiar with the backs of everyone in front of me.  Some look as if they could really use a prayer so they get one.  I’m familiar with the stories of some of them; others are “mystery people” — there is little opportunity for interaction.   There used to be a couple in their seventies who always sat on the other side of the church, about eight pews down.   I had met them casually on a couple of occasions and knew their first names.  Whenever I heard someone come through the door behind me, I expected it to be them.   The husband always flipped down the kneeler behind their pew, to make room for his long legs. Read the rest of this entry »

October 20th, 2008


Morning has broken
Like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken
Like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
Praise for the morning,
Praise for them springing
Fresh from the Word.
———Eleanor Farjeon

It was still dark when I first looked out into the yard this morning.  The yard was white.  “Snow!”  I thought.   The forecast was for frost, not snow!    It turned out it was only white frost on the grass – and on my windshield.  I scraped but the glass was still not clear enough to drive so, for the first time this year, I filled a pitcher with hot water and poured it over the windshield.   Everyone tells me I could crack the glass with this wonderful method, but in 45 years not a windshield has cracked.   When we ran a motel way back then this tip was given to me by a truckdriver.   It works very nicely.  Try it — you’ll like it.

The first hard frost is a harbinger of winter.   It speaks of the inevitability of the march of time.  I recall a neighbor with ALS (amyotropic lateral sclerosis) sitting on the porch in his wheelchair telling me — this must have been about twenty years ago — that I moved like a young person.   He could barely move at all and was attuned to the way people moved. Time has taken its toll.  He is long gone. He should see me now.  The slowed steps, the cautious turns, unable to walk a straight line, reaching out to steady myself if there is something to hold onto.

Way back in the beginning when God was starting this whole shebang, He said to an angel:  “I just created a unit of time that will be half-light and half-dark and keep repeating itself over and over until the end of time.”
“Oh,” said the angel.  “That sounds wonderful.  What will you do next?”
And God answered: “I think I’ll call it a day.”

And the days dwindle down –  to a precious few – September,  November – and these few precious days I’ll spend with you.
——–Jimmy Durante

I think I’ll call it a day.  But first I must dig up my potatoes.   I pray they are not frosted beyond repair.


And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, a sixth day. Genesis 1:31

October 19th, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I wrote a Letter to the Editor to our local News-Times as follows:


Two people visited me the other day to ask me to vote for a local Democratic candidate.  “Is he pro-life?”  I asked.  “If he’s pro-life, I might split my ticket.”  They didn’t know and promised to find out.  They said they were pro-life and their candidate was a member of a Baptist church.  One of them wore an Obama shirt.   “How can you wear an Obama shirt?”  I asked.  “He’s pro-abortion.”

I should have said Obama is the most pro-abortion candidate ever.  He promises to nominate Superior Court judges who will uphold Roe v Wade.  He voted in favor of partial birth abortion in which late term babies which are partially delivered then have their brains sucked out so their heads will fit through cervix.

He even voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act written to  protect babies destined for abortion who happened to be born alive.  Nurses  report watching these babies gasp for breath in a waste pan until death, sometimes holding them  so they would know a little bit of caring.  Doesn’t our constitution give them a right to life?

Read the rest of this entry »

October 15th, 2008


When John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you he who is to come or shall we look for another?”  And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see, the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.”  Matthew 11: 2-5

I doubt very much if the message of Jesus would have caught on like it did were it not for the signs and wonders that he performed. To this day the signs and wonders that accompany the “good news” (or gospel) give witness to the divinity of the Christ. For example, since Mary appeared to Bernadette in 1858 and the spring sprang up where none had been before, millions have visited the Grotto in Lourdes, France, to bathe in the healing waters. Many have claimed healings of one sort or another and the Lourdes Medical Bureau of doctors was formed to investigate claims of miracles. Only 68 so far have been called medically inexplicable. Because of the difficulty of proving a healing of any sort, healings are not my favorite sort of miracle. Real though they may be, they require testimonies and medical documents, and there always remains the question of mind over matter — a psychosomatic healing that can be labeled natural rather than supernatural.

In his book Miracles C. S. Lewis writes: “I use the word Miracle to mean an interference with Nature by Read the rest of this entry »

October 10th, 2008


“The name escapes me at the moment,” said Father Benedict Groeschel on his Sunday evening program. “Don’t get old.”

Having the name of a person or place escape you is not peculiar to old folks, but it does seem to happen more often the older we get.  Now, Father Groeschel is ten years younger than I am and his memory is astonishingly good, one might even say miraculously good, considering his terrible accident and lengthy coma just a few years ago.  But, as with Father Groeschel, more and more often in my peer group I notice that we grope for a word that just doesn’t appear at the tip of the tongue when we want it.   With myself, it most often seems to be a person’s name.  I can remember the person’s occupation, where s/he lives, the nationality of the name, how many syllables it has, sometimes the letter it begins with – if you say it, I’ll recognize it right off.  Like Father Groeschel, I just murmur, “It will come to me later.”  We oldsters are patient with each other and hope that while this incapacity is annoying it is par for the course.  We add, half-joking, that we’re “Up to Z in Alzheimer’s!” Read the rest of this entry »

October 8th, 2008


When this article as published way back in 1955, breast-feeding was a lost art.  Most babies were bottle-fed and I knew of no woman  who nursed her baby.   Breastfeeding was at that time counter-cultural.  The first La Leche League group was formed in l958 and their The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding was written to fill a very real need.   Is is not amazing that a normal, natural, motherly action could be so supplanted by a contrived, bothersome, inferior method of baby feeding?   It makes one wonder about the common sense of womankind.

The swing is back to normal mothering but individual mothers still need encouragement to persevere, especially when they know there is a workable alternative if they run into problems.   If you, like me, have no friend, relative, or mother to cheer you on, I think the following should be helpful. Reading it over some fifty years later, there are some sentences that I might want to tweak a bit, but human nature and human physiology do not change significantly in a mere half-century. Much is written nowadays about the importance of finding time for one-on-one relationships. Much is said about the need for busy mothers to find a little time to relax so that they don’t get so overwhelmed.  Just settle down, with a baby at the breast, and  let the oxytocin flow — it’s like a little oasis!


I once heard of a woman who filled up so much after her baby was born that she couldn’t buy a bra big enough to fit her.  But she couldn’t nurse her baby.   She had “that blue milk, you know.”  And every time I think of her I grieve a little for the baby that would have thrived on that abundance of blue milk — for it cannot be disputed that human milk is the best baby food.  True, it is bluer than cow’s milk — and for good reason.  It has less protein, less fat, and more sugar than cow’s milk.  Its composition is different because it is intended for a baby, not a calf.  By the time cow’s milk is properly doctored up with a formula (water and some form of sugar are added to cow’s milk for no other reason than to make it more like breast milk) it, too, has a bluish-white color. Read the rest of this entry »

October 5th, 2008



What do you see, nurses, what do you see?
What are you thinking when looking at me?–
A crabbit old woman, not very wise,
Uncertain of habit, with far-away eyes.
Who dribbles her food and makes no reply,
When you say in a loud voice, “I do wish you’d try,”
Who seems not to notice the things that you do,
And forever is losing a stocking or shoe.
Who resisting or not, lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding, the long day to fill.
Is that what you’re thinking, is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse, you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am as I sit here so still;
As I use at your bidding, as I eat at your will–
I’m a small child of ten with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters, who love one another.
A young girl of sixteen with wings on her feet,
Dreaming that now soon a lover she’ll meet.
A bride soon at twenty – my heart gives a leap,
Remembering the vows that I promised to keep.
At twenty-five now I have young of my own,
Who need me to build a secure, happy home.
A woman of thirty, my young now grow fast,
Bound to each other with ties that should last.
At forty my young sons have grown and are gone,
But my man is beside me to see I don’t mourn.
At fifty, once more babies play round my knee.
Again we know children, my loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me, my husband is dead.
I look at the future, I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing young of their own
And I think of the years and the love that I’ve known.
I’m an old woman now and nature is cruel —
‘Tis her jest to make old age look like a fool.
The body it crumbles, grace and vigour depart,
There is now a stone where I once had a heart;
But inside this old carcass a young girl still dwells.
And now and again my battered heart swells,
And I’m loving and living life over again.
I think of the years all too few — gone too fast,
And accept the stark fact that nothing can last,
So open your eyes, nurses, open and see
Not a crabbit old woman, look closer — see ME!

First published in Chris Searle’s poetry anthology Elders (Reality Press, 1973), this poem was without title or attribution. As the story goes, it appeared when an old lady died in the geriatric ward of Ashludie Hospital, near Dundee, Scotland, that she had left nothing of value. Then the nurse, going through her possessions, found a poem. So impressed was the staff that it was copied and distributed throughout the hospital — and the rest is history.

According to Wikipedia, in an article from the Daily Mail on 12 March 1998, Phyllis McCormack’s son claims that his mother wrote it while working at the Sunnyside Hospital in Montrose in the 1960s, where she submitted it anonymously to a small magazine intended just for Sunnyside with the title “Look Closer Nurse.”

It is rather obvious why I include it on my blog.  It is just the sort of thing that might result from Musing At 85.  If you look inside the shriveled oldster before you, you have a time capsule, a person with a history, a person who even yet may have hopes, and fears, dreams and longings…a person who above all would like to be seen as a PERSON, who says SEE ME as worthy of respect and tenderness.

But beyond that,C.   Look beyond the packaging – open your eyes – open your heart – look inside and SEE!

The men have their say — a reading herewith: