Friday, November 15, 2013

The Decline of America

Every now and then something happens that seriously riles me.  Hearing that the schools will no longer teach cursive writing is one of them.  Apparently some schools are fighting back after they heard that cursive would be dropped from the curriculum.

Over the years, our history books have been changed, obliterated, white-washed, and diluted until kids don't have a clear picture of our history.  Granted, with each generation, there is so much more history to learn, they can't teach every single thing, but the high points should be left intact.

You may have seen an email or article of what an 8th grade exam was like in 1912.  Most high school seniors would fail this exam today.

Back to cursive writing though;  I see so many problems with not being able to write.  Some people choose to print, even as adults, and that is their choice, but most probably know how to write in cursive.  Cursive is so much quicker, and I for one, would rather use a day planner and write down notes, to do lists, and grocery lists by hand.  It's much faster and I don't have to plug in my planner to charge it up.  The younger generation may consider that old school, but they appreciate typography.  Beautiful handwriting from days gone by is all over the internet these days in craft projects and decorating.  These could be as simple as a grocery receipt, but the handwriting is so beautiful, it is used and appreciated as art.  I don't think generations to come will be printing out old text messages to use in that way.  Word abbreviations, slang, and sideways smiley faces aren't nearly as decorative as French typography.  For that matter, where will we learn our history?  We've learned much of what we know of the past from letters.  They told the stories of current events, daily life, and the emotions of the people who wrote them. 

The day of letter writing is almost extinct.  Few people even write thank you notes these days, and that's a shame.  It's a form of courtesy that is also dying, unfortunately. 

When you compare that 1912 8th grade exam to todays tests, it is clear that our schools are dumbing down.  America used to be a nation that everyone looked to and aspired to be like or a place they wanted to live. 

Many schools today are nothing more than day prisons and the teachers are the wardens.  Parents believe their children to be angels when they are anything but angels.  I don't have an answer for how to change this, but one thought is to start moving the curriculum back toward the way it was in the past. 

Don't stop scoring a game if one team is beating the other one, 'so no one gets their feelings hurt.'  Life is hard and sometimes you lose the game.  The sooner kids learn that, the sooner they can learn to be graceful losers and to try harder. 

Since many parents are failing in the manners department, that should be taught in pre-school and enforced through high school.  You will go much farther in life if you are kind and polite than if you are demanding and abrasive.  Foul language should not be tolerated.  Too many parents let it fly at home and are shocked when little Johnny says the "F" word at school.  Teaching kids to reason out a problem is important.  They need to be able to see the consequences of their actions, so they can choose the best course of action for the best result.

I could go on and on about this, but I'll get off my high horse and let it rest. 

I learned cursive handwriting in 3rd grade.  At eight years old, we used our cartridge fountain pens to practice writing.  Perfect cursive letters were written in white on a green background and bordered the top of the room in our classroom.  I looked forward to writing lessons.  It was almost like drawing, which I also liked doing.   Did you notice in the top picture that handwriting was called slate work back in the early 1900's?  We have come a long way since then, but not all progress is positive.  In some ways, we have gone backwards.

My grandmother was born in 1897.  I have her McGuffys' Reader.  This is the first grade reader.  Each lesson includes a sentence to write and the handwriting example was gorgeous with swoops and curls.  It was an art form taught early back then and I hate to see it disappear. 

What if your iphone needs to be charged up and you can't write?  Oh No!!!  What can you do?

I refer back to my comments on reasoning and common sense.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School

Bobbie Brooks via Pinterest
Public schools resumed classes on Monday here in Reno, Nevada.  It's a little earlier than normal.  Each time I walk into a store and see shelves of notebooks and crayons, it takes me back to when I was a girl.  That's been a few years, so I know it is a strong memory. 

I always loved new notebooks, new crayons with sharp points, and of course, new shoes, but the best thing was new school clothes.

Every summer before school started, my brother and I spent a week with our grandparents.  They lived a couple of hours from where we did and it was an annual event to spend time with Ma and Papaw.  They entertained us as much as they could.  This included lots of our favorite foods: peach cobbler, ice cold watermelon, and plenty of 7-Ups and ghost stories that Papaw would tell us while we sat in the big rockers on the back porch in the dark, with only the eerie glow from his cigar and the lightening bugs to illuminate the blackness.

Before we went home, there was the yearly trip to Belk Department Store for school clothes.  Papaw took my brother to the boys department and they were done in about fifteen minutes.  From there, I think they went to the barber shop for a haircut and a "sody". 

Meanwhile, my grandmother and I took our time and I tried on everything to make sure it fit right.  Fall is, and has always been, my favorite time of the year.  Fall clothes were something to look forward to because of the quality, fabrics, colors, and textures.

We would leave the store with bags loaded down with Bobbie Brooks wool skirts and matching sweaters and blouses, bras and underwear and slips.  In those days girls were required to wear skirts or dresses to school.  That was before skirts got so short and school boards decided that pants would be a better alternative.  Then they allowed pants suits only - no jeans or casual pants and certainly no shorts!

I saved for months to buy a pair of Lady Bostonian Kiltie Loafers like these. 
This is the only picture I could find and they are men's shoes, so imagine them in a little more feminine version.  Apparently, the Lady Bostonian line of shoes is no longer made - only Bostonian men's shoes.  All the girls were wearing Lady Bostonians at the time and they were very good quality shoes with leather insoles and soles and the top leather and finish was beautiful. 

Times change.  Oh how I long for good quality clothes like the ones my grandparents bought me.  Now when I go to the mall and see all the see-through, low cut, unflattering designs and cheap inferior fabrics, I mourn all the beautiful clothes I owned as a child.  Younger girls don't know why a slip was worn and have never been fortunate enough to wear clothes like this. 

Last night, there was a fashion test online.  I took it just for kicks.  They showed outfits and you were supposed to click on the best accessory to go with the outfit.  My conclusion was if it didn't match and made you look shorter or like you'd gotten dressed in the dark, that was they one they believed to be the correct accessory/shoes/bag for the outfit.  If looking pulled together makes me out of style or old, so be it.   I'd rather look like Audrey Hepburn than Lady Gaga any day.

***Please note:  I am not dissing Lady Gaga.  The lady can really sing!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Back In the Saddle

Writing has been on the back burner for the past few months, but I'm back to it again and hoping to have a finished product before long.

I have a lot to learn and am working on that.  It reminds me of when I took piano lessons at twelve years old.  Nothing was so boring as playing scales.  I wanted to skip straight to Chopin, but we all know that can't happen without practice.

That's where I am with writing.  Who are these people whose first novel becomes a best seller?  How did they leap that chasm to the other side?  So before I get the nerve to make that big leap, I'll keep practicing and reading and learning and writing. 

On another subject, since I'm "back in the saddle again", I chose a beautiful western saddle to make my point.  The gorgeous squash blossoms carved into this saddle are absolutely beautiful.  This is an art form that not a lot of people know how to do.  I've often dreamed of a handbag covered in this kind of tooling, since I don't have a horse.  Ralph Lauren has a gorgeous one in their spring 2013 collection for a mere $4,500.  That's a bit much for a handbag, but I'll keep dreaming.

Happy Trails.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Jack of All Trades


Let me preface this by saying that I love to do anything artistic or creative.  As a child, I wanted to learn everything I could from my grandmothers.  From their knees, they taught me cooking, sewing, crocheting, household chores like laundry and ironing, and many other useful things.  My mother encouraged my love of creativity.  I was constantly singing, drawing, playing house, imagining my own house by raking leaves into house plans or dressing up in all sorts of colors, silky fabrics, and jewelry.  My love of purses lives to this day.  “Do you really need another purse?”  My husband asks skeptically.  “Yes!!!”


A few years ago I discovered a love of writing.  It’s not so different than painting with words.  Instead of conveying a subject with textures, colors, and light, you use words, emotions, and cadence.  I learned that just because I had a new passion, the others couldn’t fall by the wayside.  I’m still passionate about painting, sewing, crafting, and numerous other crafts.


The past few months have been spent enjoying a new sewing machine and making all sorts of colorful, creative things for my new granddaughter.  Trust me.  If you haven’t had grandchildren yet, everything comes to a halt for them.  They are indeed grand and supremely wonderful.


Now that the baby sewing frenzy is over, new things beckon me.  I have the opportunity to sell some paintings, which have not been painted yet.  I want to sew a list of things that don’t include baby things, but wait; mothers to be saw photos of the baby things I made my daughter-in-law and they want some.  Do I open my own Etsy shop? 


I am jerked back to reality by the fact that I have not yet done the taxes.  Uuuggggghhhh!!!  Is there anything less appealing to do than taxes?  Maybe, but taxes are way at the bottom of my list down near having a root canal or major surgery.

 Something like this - natural stone that fits in with the setting around the house.

In my dreams, I have a house in the country.  Behind the house is a bubbling brook and there is a glassed in porch that opens up in mild weather to hear the birds and the rushing water.  Lighting is good and in one corner stands a grand easel and loads of art supplies from oil paint, acrylic and watercolors, paint brushes, a large table for scrapbooking and drawing, and a built in rack for oil paintings to dry undisturbed.  The house is stone, one level, with a basement and a big safe room to weather any storm.  The kitchen is, of course, enormous with black quartz counters, white cabinets, a walk in pantry with a window, a big island with lots of stools so my grandchildren can gather round and learn from me like I learned from my grandmothers.  The laundry room is quite large.  It may even have two washers and two dryers.  There is a tall folding table island in the center of the room.  This doubles as a place to fold clothes, storage, and a comfortable height counter to cut out fabric without causing an aching back.  The sewing machine and ironing board are in this room, quietly tucked away so the mess isn’t spread all over the dining room table like it has been at all the other houses where I’ve lived.  I realized when moving once that I have much more “stuff” than your average person.  It’s all the craft and art supplies, sewing materials, and an excess of kitchen supplies that I use regularly.


Consequently, there is usually a mess somewhere indicating a project in progress.   I once drew an ideal house plan.  When it was finished, there was more square footage in storage areas for all this stuff than there was in the rooms.  


Tastefully painted chest

Another passion is refinishing furniture.  The trend today is to paint everything.  I cringe at the thought of painting a valuable antique, yet every day I see people doing just that.  A beautifully constructed chest with dove tailed drawers made from fine wood is painted turquoise with white chevrons zig-zagging across the front.  I’m not totally against a painted piece of furniture as an accent to a room, but painting everything just because you can makes me feel sick at my stomach.  Certainly, damaged furniture or something that was repaired and has two different kinds of wood should be painted and can be done tastefully.  Maybe I should open shop and show them how it’s done.  Another big sigh…


Years ago, I was in a decorating program to become a decorator.  That’s another passion since I was a child.  We moved away and I didn’t finish the program, though I tend to think you either have it or you don’t when it comes to taste and decorating.


My mind is all over the place and writing plays a part in all of it.  This morning, while watching a series on William Morris, I could relate to his love of architecture, design, texture, colors, and the thought that one shouldn’t put things in their home unless they are useful or beautiful.  Collections of things can begin to look like clutter and dust catchers.  Remember the 1980’s when “country” d├ęcor was big?  Hardly an inch on the walls or surfaces was without a wreath or figurine.  Curtains were stuffed onto curtain rods and piled onto the floors.  It was a decade of over-the-top excess in many ways.  Curio cabinets were filled to bursting with tiny glass figurines by Hummel and Lladro.  Each piece on its own was a piece of art, but dozens of them made the room look more like a gift store than a home and it was hard to appreciate any of them because there was so much.  My first thought when I see a collection is that it must take all day just to dust it all.  I have more important things to do.
100 %

Where am I going with all this?  I don’t know.  An aptitude test told me that my brain is one hundred percent creative.  This is not to say I can’t balance the checkbook or have no common sense.  In the common sense department, I have an overabundance and anyone, if disciplined, can do mundane things that have to be done in this life to survive like balancing a checkbook or cleaning the bathroom. 

This leads me to ask the questions:  Am I alone in flitting from project to project and from one medium to the next?  Do you have several things you love doing?  How do you balance it all?