If I Could Save Time in a Bottle

The All Too Patient Patients

20130430-120758.jpgToday, I’m sitting in the waiting/reception area at my mom’s oncologist/hematologist’s office. Mom has been coming here weekly for about five years for iron infusions due to iron deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia is a condition that occurs if you don’t have enough iron in your body. Low iron levels usually are due to blood loss, poor diet, or an inability to absorb enough iron from food. Mom’s cause appears to be the latter.

Her weekly visits usually take 3+ hours. When I average three hours per visit over these past five years I find that mom has spent 32-1/2 days of her life in this doctor’s office. Her hematologist is just one of four specialists that she visits regularly and my husband and I are her transportation.

I remain amazed at the number of patients always waiting about three hours in a crowded waiting room, usually to get their labs, infusions, chemo therapies, and then visit with one of several rotating doctors. Mom’s visit with the doc, lab work, and infusion actually lasts about 35 minutes in real time!

20130430-120315.jpgMy frustration and sadness is for the many patients who are usually elderly, have other medical, mental, and physical challenges besides the ones being treated here. To me, it feels like being lined up and herded like cattle into a pen awaiting branding one at a time–only this process is slower.

The staff is respectful enough, don’t get me wrong, but the appointments and procedures management confines these patients and their chauffeurs to a waiting room as life outside continues to pass them by.

Often when waiting, patients and caregivers discuss this situation among themselves. All agree that alternate care options with improved services aren’t available elsewhere locally. In fact, this particular practice has 10 locations in Maryland. Long term patients confirm that the waiting times have remained unchanged for many, many years. According to the National Cancer Society, an estimated 1.7 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013. And, nearly 600 thousand cancer patients will die this year. That makes for a lot of sick and dying who need to make the best of their time for the best quality of life they can have for whatever time they have remaining. And, these facts turn my memory back to the great Jim Croce ballad:

Time in a Bottle

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend more time with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

If I had a box just for wishes
And dreams that had never come true
The box would be empty
Except for the memory
Of how they were answered by you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with.

Soccer Mom vs. Baby Boomer–NOT!

I started writing a post that compares my hectic and dynamic baby boomer (those born between 1946 and 1964) activities this past week, especially, to those of a soccer mom.  You know, that married middle-class woman who lives in the suburbs and has school age children.  She’s the woman who puts the interests of her family, and most importantly her children, ahead of her own.

But, whoops–my research informed me that soccer moms were trending from about 1980 to 1996.   I still will write the post about this baby boomer’s past couple of week’s and unusual activities.  However, I thought my newest research and discoveries into today’s American households is very topical.  In fact, the topic fits well within my blog about genealogical histories and perspectives and the varying lives and lifestyles that span 10 centuries and many more generations.  So, with the help of George Masnick, and the U.S. Census Bureau, I share the the following that reflects how our families and households have changed over the past 50+ years.

Childless Households Have Become the Norm

Author:  George Masnick, Fellow

Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies

April 15, 2013

In 1960 almost half of all households were families with children under 18.  Since then, the number has fallen to under 30 percent (Figure 1).  By definition, the declining share of family households with children exists because households without children have increased more rapidly (Figure 2).  There are many reasons for this trend: delayed age at marriage and later age at childbearing, smaller family sizes, higher divorce rates, and more couples choosing not to have children (Table 1).  The changes in each of these measures over the last few decades are quite striking. In 1960 the median age at first marriage was 22.8 for men and 20.3 for women, compared to 28.6 and 26.6 in 2012.  The share of households with four or more people in 1960 was over 40 percent, falling to just under 23 percent in 2012.  Women who were 25 in 1960 ended their childbearing years in the mid 1980s with only 8.5 percent of them remaining childless. Women born in 1960 finished childbearing in 2010 with nearly twice as many of them childless (16.3 percent). In 1960, only 13 percent of all households were single persons, but by 2012 that percentage had risen to 28. All of these trends result in households having fewer children and fewer households having any children at all. (Click charts to enlarge.)

The interesting aspect of this long-term trend is that it continued in spite of the strong upswing in the sheer number of American children, which grew after 1990 (also Figure 1).  That increase is due to the largest baby boomers having their own children (the echo boom) and to childbearing by the flood of immigrants who arrived between 1985 and 2005.  (Note that in 2012, fully 87.5 percent of children under the age of 18 who have an immigrant parent were themselves born in this country.)
To be sure, baby boomer and immigrant childbearing did increase the actual number of households with children.  For example, the number of households with children under the age of 18 increased from 33.3 million in 1985 to 38.6 million in 2012. This 5.3 million increase was far less than the 11.3 million increase in total number of children in the population over this period because many households with children contained two or more children under the age of 18.  More importantly, however, the increase in households without children surpassed the 5.3 million growth of households with children by a considerable margin.
Two key reasons for the recent increase in childless households have been the aging of the population and increasing longevity. The large baby boom generation (age 45-64 in 2010) is now entering the empty nest stage (at least regarding children under 18). Between 2002 and 2012, households with at least one child, headed by today’s 45-64 year old cohort, declined by 12.3 million. There are still 11.5 million 45-64 year old headed households with children, and most will become households without children over the next decade.  Furthermore, empty nest households headed by those over the age of 65 are surviving longer and longer, making it likely that the trend in the decline of households with children will continue well into the future.
Significantly, the decline in the number of households with children accelerated after 2007.  Much of the decline can be explained by the sharp drop in the number of births. Annual births rose from just over 4 million in 2001 to over 4.3 million in 2007, the highest on historical record, but then fell to just below 4 million in 2011.  The total fertility rate (births per 1000 women age 15-44) fell from 69.5  (a 17 year high) to 64.4, a decline of 7.3 percent over this same period. Both the decline in births and the drop in the fertility rate are linked to the decline in immigration that followed the Great Recession. Because newly arrived immigrants are concentrated in the childbearing ages, and because immigrants have higher fertility than the native born, the loss of immigrants has had a disproportional effect on declining fertility.  The effect of the Great Recession on lowering fertility among the native born is also of importance, but this decline could be temporary.  The echo boom generation began to turn 25 in 2010, and has most of its childbearing years yet ahead of it. A return to higher levels of immigration and/or a rebound in fertility could reverse the decline in number of births and ease the long-term decline in the share of households with children, but will not likely reverse it.

Patriots Day, Boston 2013: Another Indelible Memory


Reflecting Upon Everyday Moments that became Precious and Often Indeliable Memories

Events in Boston have compelled me to update earlier prose originally written while I was employed at the U.S. Census Bureau and formalized into a post on March 7, 2013.

The events impacted, molded, and joined lives of the people who shared and survived them together.  Some of the moments became precious memories and others indelible because they were so horrific and unbelievable that we couldn’t forget them even if we wanted.


Memory” Instrumental by Zamfir
Google Images Search
America’s Best History Timeline

When’s the Last Time You Expressed Your Feelings Through a Greeting Card?

When cleaning my desk in my home office I came upon a birthday card from my second born son and his wife.  I had set this card aside after initially receiving it in January 2013. When I received it, I couldn’t fully focus on it with others around.  I knew though that I wanted to read and save it with other special memories.  It was vintage pretty and its words had struck a chord in me.  They were telling me that all my efforts as a mom were appreciated and that I had made a difference in their lives–what more could a mother want or wish for from her children?

BDayCard2013And this card reminded me of cards exchanged among family from times past.

Stored away in one of several cardboard boxes in an unfinished attic, I found rare old family pictures and many other sentimental items, including greeting cards from times past.

These cards were not just your everyday “read and toss” cards with envelopes that now cost $4-6.00. No–these were vintage cards measuring about 8″ x 10″. They were made of satin and silk materials, beautiful pastel colors and were padded to add life-like dimension of the adorning flowers. I could still smell the floral scents on some of the cards bringing back memories of when they were given and received. The ribbons and bows were just as perfectly draped and tied as the day they were assembled. And the reason they were in such great condition is because each card came packaged in its own high-grade laminate coated and acid free box or tin.

The dates on these cards ranged from the early 1940’s prior to my parents marriage and into the late 1950’s early 1960’s. The occasions for giving were usually Birthday,Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, or Christmas. All of these cards were bought by my dad and given to my mom. And, always accompanying them was two pair of boxed silk nylons with dark seams up the center backs, and a large, heart-shaped box of chocolates.

Greeting cards from times gone by can be windows into society. We can look at them and think about what the world must have been like at that time and how did people really see themselves?  Everything about each card–its design, colors, typefaces, and printed messages-was indicative of the times in which it was made.

Collecting history

The Museum of American History`s Archives Center has several greeting card collections to document their history. The largest is the Norcross Greeting Card Collection, which the Smithsonian acquired after Windsor Communication Inc., Norcross` parent company, stopped producing cards (about 1980). This collection contains cards and records of the Norcross and Rust Craft card companies, greeting cards from 1880-1900 and a small number of modern cards by other manufacturers from 1920 to 1980.

Craig OrrCraig Orr, archivist with the Museum of American History, and volunteer Ann Behning, former greeting-card shop owner, arranged the massive Norcross collection of cards by occasion, date and serial number, then stored them in more than 1,700 acid-free boxes. Orr estimates the collection contains nearly half a million cards.FathDavisRuffins

Smithsonian Colleague, Fath Davis Ruffins says: “By studying cards that span several generations,” you can detect the differences in society and see changes in people’s styles, attitudes and ideas.”

And I firmly believe that many of the commercial and online greeting cards of today are purchased and sent as more of an obligation or 11th hour thought.  The one exception to today’s sending of Happy Birthday messages might be the barrage of birthday messages that come online from Facebook friends.  It’s amazing how these well wishes pump me up on my birthday.  But for the most part, simpler times of the past are when people really shared their personal feelings through thought-filled tasks and giving.  And now we have come full circle in my story of greeting cards.  And,  I will close by saying that I recognize just how fortunate I am to be a member of a very loving family.  And, if I missed your birthday this year, I just want to say “Happy Birthday, and may you have many more!”

About Greeting Cards – General Facts-  From the American Greeting Card Association:

  • Americans purchase approximately 6.5 billion greeting cards each year. Annual retail sales of greeting cards are estimated between $7 and $8 billion.
  • The most popular Everyday card-sending occasion by far is Birthday, followed by a number of secondary occasions that include Sympathy, Thank You, Wedding, Thinking of You, Get Well, New Baby and Congratulations.
  • The most popular Seasonal cards are Christmas cards, with some 1.6 billion units purchased (including boxed cards). This is followed by cards for Valentine’s Day (145 million units, not including classroom valentines), Mother’s Day (133 million units), Father’s Day (90 million units), Graduation (67 million units), Easter (57 million units), Halloween (21 million units), Thanksgiving (15 million units) and St. Patrick’s Day (7 million units).
  • Women purchase an estimated 80% of all greeting cards. Women spend more time choosing a card than men, and are more likely to buy several cards at once.
  • Greeting card prices can vary from 50 cents to $10 – with a price point for every consumer. The vast majority are between $2 and $4. (Total price per year include boxed cards.) The cost of a typical counter card, however, is between $2 and $4. Cards featuring special techniques, intricate designs and new technologies and innovations – such as the inclusion of sound chips and LED lights – as well as handmade cards, are at the top of the price scale.
  • Seven out of 10 card buyers surveyed consider greeting cards “absolutely” or “almost” essential to them. Eight out of 10 of these buyers expect their purchases to remain the same going forward. Of the balance, twice as many card buyers say they will “increase” their purchasing as say they will “decrease” their purchasing in the coming year.
  • Younger card buyers and those who are more technology savvy are currently the ones most engaged in buying paper greeting cards online.
  • Most people now acknowledge many more birthdays than ever before because of Facebook, but they aren’t necessarily sending fewer cards as a result.
  • The tradition of giving greeting cards as a meaningful expression of personal affection for another person is still being deeply ingrained in today’s youth, and this tradition will likely continue as they become adults and become responsible for managing their own important relationships.

Are You Smarter Than An 8th Grader in 1895 Kansas?

In honor of…

my paternal family’s educators: grand aunt Lelia May Powell Bowling (1903-1985) school teacher for 35 years before retiring and 2nd cousin (6x removed) Anna Peyton Bolling (1836-1919), high school teacher, then principal from 1876-1904 in Petersburg, Virginia, where Anna P. Bolling Junior High School in Petersburg, Virginia was built in 1926 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.

Just how educated do you think we are today when compared to yesteryears?

Remember the game show that came out a couple of years ago “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”  And, remember when your grandparents told you that so and so only went through the 8th grade in school?  And, remember how we thought how undereducated they must have been?  Well, after reading the 1895 8th graders’ final exam that follows below, I believe many of us remain undereducated.  “Have a gander,” as they used to say:


The Smoky Valley Genealogy Society in Salina, Kansas transcribed the following document from the original eighth-grade final exam for 1895 from Salina, KS. An interesting note–the county students could take this test in the 7th grade, and if they did not pass the test at that time, they would re-take it again in the 8th grade.

And, I’ll give you a hint to one of the arithmetic problems and will wager that you still can’t pass the test:  a bushel is a  unit of dry measure containing 4 pecks, equal in the U.S. (and formerly in England) to 2150.42 cubic inches or 35.24 liters (Winchester bushel) and in Great Britain to 2219.36 cubic inches or 36.38 liters.

Good Luck!

Smoky Valley Genealogical Society

Saline county, KS Graduation Examination (April 13,1895) 


Miss Stewart's Class of 1895READING AND PENMANSHIP

The Examination will be oral, and the Penmanship will be graded from the manuscripts.

(Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case. Illustrate each case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7-10 Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

(Time, 1 ¼ hour)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weights 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. Per bu., deducting 1050 lbs for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 per cent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per m?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 per cent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

(Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whtney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865.

(Time, one hour)
1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic orthogaphy, etymology, syllabication?
2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?
3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?
4. Give four substitutes for caret ãuä.
5. Give two rules for spelling words with final ãeä. Name two exceptions under each rule.
6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.
8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.
9. Use the following correctly in sentences: Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.
10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

(Time, one hour)
1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?
2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?
3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?
4. Describe the mountains of N.A.
5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fernandez, Aspinwall, and Orinoco.
6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.
7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.
8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?
9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.
10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

1. Where are the saliva, gastric juice, and bile secreted? What is the use of each in digestion?
2. How does nutrition reach the circulation?
3. What is the function of the liver? Of the kidneys?
4. How would you stop the flow of blood from an artery in the case of laceration?
5. Give some general directions that you think would be beneficial to preserve the human body in a state of health.


1. Teachers each day will fill lamps, clean chimneys.
2. Each teacher will bring a bucket of water and a scuttle of coal for the days session.
3. Make your pens carefully. You may whittle nibs to the individual taste of the pupils.
4. Men teachers may take one evening each week for courting purposes, or two evenings a week if they go to church regularly.
5. After ten hours in school, the teachers may spend the remaining time reading the Bible or other good books.
6. Women teachers who marry or engage in unseemly conduct will be dismissed.
7. Every teacher should lay aside from each pay a goodly sum of his earnings for his benefit during his declining years so that he will not become a burden on society.
8. Any teacher who smokes, uses liquor in any form, frequents pool or public halls, or gets shaved in a barber shop will give good reason to suspect his worth, intention, integrity and honesty.
9. The teacher who performs his labor faithfully and without fault for five years will be given an increase of twenty-five cents per week in his pay, providing the Board of Education approves.


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Believe it or Not–We Learned this in Church Today!

the real normal: the real problem

realnormal-realproblemI usually do not post religious messages on my blog because we all know that religion and politics can be off-putting topics.  But, today’s exercise at church was really fun and I wanted to share the exercise with you.  So whether your religious beliefs and mine agree, just know that the math problem that’s included is the real example of how some things remain constant.  We can accept it or reject it, but the results remain the same because we can’t affect the outcome.  Albert Einstein once said: “that insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.”

Free will allows us to accept or not accept God’s will, but God’s will does not change.  And the following real math problem is an example.  The answer does not change.  The answer is the real normal…No matter how many times you work this problem, it doesn’t change the outcome.  From the first sin ever, nothing has changed.

We all sin. It’s that simple and yet it’s so difficult to deal with. The Bible teaches we’re not sinners because we sin, but rather we sin because we’re sinners. Every struggle in our lives can be traced back to that truth. No matter how we try to rationalize our troubles in life, ever since Adam & Eve, one thing remains clear: sin is The Real Problem.  And now here’s the math exercise:

Pick a three digit number.The three numbers used must be different*. i.e. 123 Reverse that number. 123 becomes 321
Subtract the smaller three digit number from the larger.
321 – 123 = 198
Take the answer and reverse that number. 198 becomes 891
Add the smaller three digit number for the larger 891 + 198 = 1089

The answer will ALWAYS be 1089!

If you liked the problem, or liked the tidbits from this week’s message, you can find this and other interesting message podcasts at chesapeakechurch.org

Cherry Pink, Apple Blossom White, and Red in the Face!

One week after Easter, two of our sons and their wives came from Lynchburg, VA, and Nanjemoy, MD, so we could all venture into Washington, DC and enjoy the Cherry Blossoms together in full bloom–something our eldest son and his wife did on their own this time last year. (Yes, I know last year’s picture reeks of lilac, but it was misty and raining and they failed to get any pictures beneath cherry blossom trees!)Bob and Linda

And, unfortunately, we failed to see a single cherry blossom in bloom during our visit last Saturday.  The weather was great though and the company fantastic.  It actually had been  years since we spent any time with both our boys and their wives just enjoying each other’s company.

In fact, we went on a hunt for the Bohemian Cafe & Restaurant that our eldest remembered he had passed before and it was the second item on his bucket list for the day.  We spent a couple of hours walking up and down streets between 7th and 13th and Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues–SW and NW.  Along the way people would acknowledge that they had heard of it, but couldn’t pinpoint its place.  In despair, I pulled up my maps and Google Places apps on my iPhone, but to no avail.

With two disappointments under our belts and the afternoon in full swing, our younger son wanted to find a tobacconist shop so he and his brother could enjoy Cohibas together as they had done when they were younger.  Again I pulled out my iPhone and asked Siri where to find a good cigar.  Siri insisted there were 10 tobacco shops nearby.  You guessed it, we navigated to where these shops were supposed to be and we didn’t find a one!

By now, it’s time to get serious about finding a place to eat and at least some decent restrooms.  Being near to the Willard InterContinental Hotel at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenues, we thought what better place for a pit shop. jeff_bob Finally–we were right, and we sat well, some of us sat), down a few moments so we could better plan the rest of our visit that so far was falling short on the sites we wanted to see.  This proved to be a great time for catching up and reflecting on events from our past times together.

Now, third on my eldest son’s bucket list was to have dinner at Cactus Cantina on Wisconsin Avenue at the Washington, DC/Chevy Chase borderline.  Oops, the last time he travelled there a street person accosted him so we chose not to relive those special moments.

Believe it or not, our younger son and his wife, had never been to a P.F. Chang’s Bistro Restaurant.  So, for the last time, I pulled out my iPhone and used my Google Places app.  Low and behold we were about a 20 minute metro ride away from Friendship Heights and Wisconsin Place.  Having expertly navigated the red line we entered a very pleasant environment and had a fantastic server.  We all enjoyed our meal and our eldest children loved the food, especially the spring roll appetizers.

It’s now time to head back home and go our separate ways until we can come together again.  And guess what?  I googled the Bohemian Cafe and found it–IN MANHATTAN!  (Living just outside New York City has been a dream of our eldest son’s and the planets haven’t yet aligned  for him to make that happen.)

TobacconistIndianAnd you know the tobacconist shop? Well, right around the corner from the Willard Hotel on a street we had traveled several times that day stood a wooden Indian statue.   And, inside was a cigar lounge.  We found the cigars, but not Cohibas, and the prices were exorbitant–the moment had passed–and I was glad because I really didn’t want to see the boys light up anyway.  But doesn’t it look like that Indian statue saw us passing him by and was wondering to himself why we couldn’t see him when he could clearly see us?

And there is one sight of the day that is now permanently impaled in my mind.  And, for those of you who have ever rode the subway, you know that there are all kinds of sights and sounds to be had–things you just can’t avoid even when you try.  Well, in my face and in my space on this crowded train was a young woman.  fatwomanShe was dressed casually in her cherry blossom pink top and tights.  I was praying that the “impression” that she had made on me and many others on the train wasn’t showing in my eyes or on my face.  It’s not that I lack a sense of compassion, but this woman is just one of many that we see on a daily basis (just not so up front and personal as this one).   I wish I could have paid for lessons in how to dress to fit your size and to keep your bumps, humps, chunks, and rumps under cover.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the day our children went back to their homes and jobs the weather heated up and within two days those rascally Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom!

While this story isn’t intriguing, doesn’t have much comedy, drama, or even a plot, it was a day well spent because once again if only for a few hours we were enjoying life and times as a family and creating new memories together to share with our children.


OBITUARY: Ruth May Owens Pyles


Ruth May (Owens) Pyles: 10 Jul 1943 – 4 Apr 2013–69, of Capitol Heights, MD on Thursday, April 4, 2013 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Beloved mother of Robert (Melissa), William (Linda), Samuel (Doris), Charles (Elaine), Matthew (Jackie), and Christine (Carlton). Also two brothers, Leslie and Robert; 13 grandchildren; 14 great grandchildren; and a companion of 30 years, Jake Rhiel. Preceded in death by her parents, Robert and Rosa (Beagle) Owens.

Friends received from 9 a.m. until services at 11 a.m. on Thursday, April 11 at Cedar Hill Funeral Home, Suitland, MD (www.cedarhillfuneralhome.com). Entombment in Resurrection Cemetery, Clinton, MD.


My family (Dickinson’s and McDaniel’s) first met Ruth Pyles when our daughter and son-in-law (Jennifer and Brian McDaniel) sought out a babysitter to watch their soon-to-be-born daughter, Kylie Brianne McDaniel.  It turns out in reaching out for recommendations from family and friends that Brian had first met Ruth as a boy when he and her son Bill went to school together.  Brian recalls that Ruth was strict with Bill and nothing got past her.  Next friends whose children had just graduated Ruth’s caregiving created the perfect placement opportunity for Brian and Jenny’s impending millennial baby.  Kylie was born August 10, 2000, and when Jen returned to work Ruth started her caregiving.  And another plus in this arrangement is that Jenny and Brian and Ruth lived in the same neighborhood.

And, two years after Kylie arrived came Aaron Christopher McDaniel–and then there were two!  By then, the McDaniels had moved to Calvert County.  But, Ruth was a loving, christian woman who devoted herself to the care of our family’s children.  She was known to attend church daily and she often took one or both of them with her.

After moving to Calvert County, Jenny and Brian continued to have Ruth as the children’s caregiver.  The kids became so attached to her that she quickly became their adopted “Grandma Ruth.”  Kylie and Aaron loved her so much that often they wanted to stay with her on Ruth’s days off.  And, the were several overnight stays that I recall.  On one such stay, Aaron took ill and his temperature soared and Ruth took Aaron to the hospital and had the parents meet up with her there.

One of the biggest concerns of our family was how to best transition the kids from Ruth’s special care to pre kindergarten day care in Calvert County.  So, Kylie one year and Aaron the year after.  And the telephone calls, visits, and family invites to holdiays and special events continued to include Ruth, who now was part of our family.

As the kids grew and their outside activities increased the special times with Ruth got fewer.  The calls continued though, and when Ruth was in the hospital for her first knee surgery the family visited her.  Between the families schedules, Ruth’s surgery and complications, and Jake’s caregiving, Ruth’s trips to Calvert County and McDaniel trips to Capitol Heights became more infrequent.

Yet, when the kids received the news of Ruth’s passing, they remembered her in their hearts.  And when asked to write out a few of their memories of their days with Grandma Ruth they did so immediately.  Obviously, Kylie, two years older than Aaron, remembers more about their early times together than Aaron.  But, Aaron still remembers the feeling of those special moments when Grandma Ruth would cuddle him–which was rare indeed–when Aaron would let people snuggle and cuddle him as a baby.

Our family only has the fondest memories and huge thank you’s to Grandma Ruth for giving her all and going above and beyond with our little ones.  We will truly miss her.

Guest Blogger:  Kylie Brianne McDaniel, Age 12–our granddaughter:

Kylie Brianne McDaniel and Ruth May Owens Pyles – July 2004

Kylie & G'ma Heart When I was an infant, long before I could remember, my adopted grandmother babysat me and my little brother Aaron. I don’t have very many memories of Grandma Ruth, but from what I do remember, she was a pretty great woman. We didn’t spend that much time together, but when we did, we had as much fun as possible. I have one memory of when I was about 5 or 6, and Aaron and I were sitting at her kitchen table, and she asked me if I liked chicken pot pie. Now I had never tried it, but of course me not knowing any better, I said, “Yes! I eat it all the time!” So Grandma Ruth made Aaron and I a chicken pot pie. I stuck my spoon into the steaming tin of chicken pot pie, and stuck it in my mouth and said, “Yum! This is SO good!” and after that, I needed ice-water because I had realized how EXTREMELY hot the pie was.

I have another memory of when I was 9 or so and Grandma Ruth came down to our house for the day. When she came she always had a little something for Aaron and I. This time she brought 2 giant-sized floor puzzles. Of course I got the first pick. I didn’t know how big it was until after I had dumped the whole puzzle out on the couch and the floor. One of the pieces got lost somewhere and I never found it and I never told her because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

The last memory of her, was when she would take Aaron and I to the dollar store down the street from where she lived. She said we could each get 1 thing but I always found a way to finagle getting 2. I remember her saying to me, “No more, or I’ll beat ya with a bag of oranges.”That was her mantra. She would always tell my dad, “I’ll beat ya with a bag of oranges!”

I still hear the sound of her voice in my head saying, “I love you,” and “I’ll beat ya with a bag of oranges!”

Grandma Ruth was supposed to come down to see me for my 13th birthday, a big birthday in her eyes. Now, she won’t get to be there in flesh and blood but I know she’ll be there in spirit. She’ll always be with me in my heart and I just have to remember that. The very last thing that I said to her was, “I love You,” and the last thing that she said to me was, “Love you too, honey.” Losing someone is tough, but losing someone like her is WAY tougher.

By Kylie Brianne McDaniel; Age 12 1/2

Guest Blogger:  Aaron Christopher McDaniel, Age 10


I’ve been feeling so sad ever since Thursday night, April 4. My old baby-sitter (Ruth M. Pyles, A.K.A. Grandma Ruth) died in the morning. When I heard the news I cried my eyeballs out. I was so sad and so was my sister (Kylie McDaniel), and my mom and dad.

Grandma Ruth repeated one thing when she would get frustrated with us that soon became her Mantra: “I’ll hit ya with a bag o’ oranges.” You see, Grandma Ruth had sort of a southern drawl when she spoke. She would also ask us if we wanted to eat some “bisketti,” which was her word for spaghetti.

But Grandma Ruth was not lonely. Her man was Jake who became “Paw Paw Jake” to us. When she babysat me Paw Paw Jake was always watching a war movie. Some of the time I watched them with him.
I also remember that their house was lovely and smelled really good, especially when Grandma Ruth cooked for us.

I just wish I could have seen grandma Ruth one more time to tell her I love her and to say goodbye until I see her again in heaven.

Guns in Action Movie Scenes Replaced with Thumbs-up!

Guns in Action Movie Scenes Replaced with Thumbs-up!

I reblogged this because gun safety and control are topical; the idea of replacing guns with thumbs was a clever one; the morphing from gun to thumb makes the pic funny, and the topic fits perfectly into my category called Elbows are Ugly–Other Oddities and Antiquities.

Some movie stills or posters have become so iconic that we can name them even if we haven’t seen the movie. But if you go through the stills on the Thumbs & Ammo blog, you’ll get a strange feeling that something’s not right here. In fact, all the action movies will feel a lot less aggressive and even somewhat positive instead. That’s exactly the idea behind it: all the photos are photoshopped to replace the gun with a thumbs-up!  Following the notion that “Real tough guys don’t need guns, they just need a positive, can-do attitude”, the contributors to the blog have posted a bunch great submissions with our well-known action heroes giving you a very positive attitude along with a very fierce face. The hand gestures look quite similar, so the overall effect is hilarious!

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Website: thumbsandammo.blogspot.co.uk

When I Had to Say Goodbye to My Babies

Starting with my very first Christmas, Santa always left me the most popular baby doll of the times.  She was always center front just under our tree.  And, my babies were always my most prized possessions.

My first infant

My first infant baby was all rubber and very life-like.  She was delivered in only a diaper. I remember that I would do a traditional swaddling wrap using a flannel blanket to keep her warm.  I would pull up the bottom corner of the blanket from her feet to cover her waist, then wrap left and right corners over her body making sure to snuggly cover her shoulders and arms to keep her as secure as she was before she came to me.  I’d fold back the top corner as an option to cover baby’s head and eyes, should we choose to go outside for a walk later.  Her name was always just “Baby.”

christmas doll panorama
Over the next decade or so new babies were delivered each Christmas to add to my family.  There was Tiny Tears,  Betsy Wetsy, porcelain babies with cotton filled torso and limbs, a bride’s doll, a walking doll, more dolls that cried and more dolls that wet, big dolls, and little dolls.  My family dynamic just continued to grow and I treasured each and every baby dearly.

As I grew older and my small bedroom space seemed to shrink, I remember moving my dolls, furniture, and accessories upstairs to the unfinished, unheated and uncooled attic.  As a result of the extreme temperatures, my first baby’s forearm melted in places and became disfigured. She, being the first, and now disfigured made her even more real and special to me.

By the time I was 12, I had accumulated quite a  large family of dolls.  As I recall though, all of them were girls. I never once thought that at least one of them might be a boy.  Of course, this was an era when most dolls produced appeared to be finished and dressed like girls. And, I never had a Barbie or Ken doll either because they were first produced in March 1959, two months after my 12th birthday. (I think I’m glad I didn’t.  Barbie’s unrealistic perfect image and shape would have driven me crazy.)  And, by then, my daily playtime with baby dolls was waning and I was looking forward to reaching that BIG 13 and being able to officially refer to myself as a teenager.

Meanwhile, my first brother was born in 1958 when I was 11.  That’s when our real family became too big for our 2-bedroom cape cod.  The sale of our existing home and the search for a new one took about two years. To prepare for our big move, mom told me that we were getting rid of all clutter and that we weren’t moving anything unnecessary into our new home.  Then she said to me: “It’s time to let go of your dolls.  Throw them out or give them away, whichever, but they’re not coming with us.”  These words and this demand hurt me to my core but I just couldn’t make mom understand my feelings and attachment to my doll babies.

I inventoried my choices of cousins that I might surrender my babies to, but not one seemed to care as much as I did about their possessions and especially doll babies.  So with mom’s continued insistence, I turned over possession of all of my babies to my cousin who lived closest to us.  She was six years my junior and a tomboy at times, but she hadn’t disrespected, disrobed, or dismembered her doll babies as my other cousins had done to theirs.

In the Fall of 1960 our family moved to our new home and by Spring of 1961–just six months later–I discovered that all my babies had been left for ruin.  I found them in my cousin’s backyard in her open-doored and open-windowed playhouse.  She had left them outside and unattended over the winter. They had been unprotected from the weather, their faces and arms all dirty and their bodies damp and covered with mold and mildew.  And I cried for them and was angry with my cousin for not caring for them or for my feelings.  She had betrayed my trust and my faith in her.  And like Forrest Gump used to say: “And, that’s all I have to say about that!”

So, to all mothers whose daughters have cared for their dolls and kept them as their prize possessions, my only plea to you is that you never ask them to give them up.  We do in fact become like their real mothers and they, our real children, and the hurt of giving them up never goes away.

My  dolls with all their shapes, sizes, and different attributes were an extension of me and my family.   My babies had kept my secrets and had heard all my deepest thoughts and feelings about me and my life.  They were there for me when no others knew or understood where I was in life or what I may have been going through. And, no matter how old daughters get, there will always be times when they would like to return to and cherish their baby dolls and memories of those simpler days gone by.