Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is there hope for our world?

12/26/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

As the days of 2012 wind down, I think we can all agree on one thing—it has been a difficult, heartbreaking year for individuals and communities all across these United States. The despicable, wanton murder of innocent children and adults by crazed individuals; the widespread destruction of property and lives by Mother Nature; and the hard financial times suffered by so many of our families, cause us to wonder if there is hope for our world.

For many years it has been my tradition to tell an old-fashioned, feel-good holiday story in this space in the last column of the year. And if ever we needed a reason to feel good, the time is now. Today I’m going to take you back to another time of heartache and suffering. Fear in the form of The Great Depression stalked the land of these United States and the only joy that could be found was in family ties.

This story is attributed to farmer Webster Howe’s recollection of his favorite Thanksgiving but it could have been told by my father who was also living in the hills of Missouri trying to help his father eke out a living for their family of five after the death of his mother. Eventually they all emigrated to Calif. Mr. Howe tells a similar tale with a different ending.

“It was 1934 or ’35. Our kids had all left home lookin’ for work in California and in Kansas, takin’ all the little ones with them. Probably to starve, as Mother put it. There was no one left on the farm but me, Mother and John, our youngest son.

In those days there was want all across this country. Where we was you couldn’t hardly make a thin dime. We milked our string of cows and couldn’t sell the milk; fed it to the pigs and couldn’t sell the pigs but we was blessed with food and work.

That year we put up more dried and canned stuff and put down and smoked more meat than we ever done before or since. You’d of thought we was squirrels, putting’ away nuts for a hard winter.

Anyway, it got to be the week before Thanksgivin’ and we didn’t hear nothin’ from any of the kids livin’ in Kansas or Calif. Mother had writ them long letters and wondered if any of them was comin’ home for the holiday.

When she didn’t hear, she jest went out one mornin’ and killed two big tom turkeys and dressed them. Then she set about making apple, mince and pumpkin pies. By evenin’ the bread and baked stuff began to pile up till I asked who she was cookin’ all that for, me and John? She never even answered me.

I tell you, it got to me. Mother was workin’ hard and lookin’ tired. I was getting’ bitter at the kids who hadn’t even answered their mother’s letter.

Well, it didn’t get no better and by the time we was doing chores the night before Thanksgivin’ me and John was feeling low too. I still had two cows to go, when I heard a car drive up. John left the feedin’ and went out to look. He come runnin’ back and told me to come quick, he’s finish up later.

When I stepped out of the barn, there was my son Ken’s old touring car loaded with women and kids and Jack, my son-in-law, jumpin’ out of it. I jest turned around and went back into the barn. John came to get me and said they’d jest come down after me if I didn’t come on up to the house.

At the house there was a lot of laughin’ and talkin’ and everyone was huggin’ Mother and John and me. When we went inside, John, poured coffee for the grownups and icy cold milk for all the children. Mother and the girls went to the pantry for something to eat and we could hear them teasin’ and laughin’ about all the stuff she’d made. 

Then with both hands full of cookies, the littlest grandchild come out to lean against my chair. She was a purty little redheaded kid. She told me that up in Kansas they didn’t have no cookies like Grandma made. I looked down at her and seen right away that she was as scrawny as a lamb whose mother didn’t have enough milk to feed it. About then, Mother and Daughter walked out of the pantry.

Daughter has always been the bravest of all my children but when she looked straight at me, I saw fear in her eyes. Never sheddin’ a tear, not a waver in her strong voice, she told us how they’d been broke most of the time and how they’d sold everything to get the money to come home. Without asking for an ounce of pity, she made me a deal to work out their keep till things picked up as though I wouldn’t a taken them in for nothing’.

My boy Ken, he never said nothin’, neither did his wife, they jest let Daughter talk. Jack, our son-in-law, never said a word, jest sat there with his kind of down and his elbows on his knees. Mother seen he was feelin’ shamed for not bein’ able to take care of his own, so she told him how much we was needin’ help and how his comin’ was a real godsend.

The next day was Thanksgivin’ Day. The boys helped me with chores, then we sat awhile in the barn and talked about how we was goin’ to make it. And how bad it was in Kansas and on up north. The women spent the whole mornin’ puttin’ dinner together. Then about two o’clock we ate.

Sitting’ there at the crowded table, covered with plates and food, the family all spruced up and smilin’, Mother lookin’ like the Spirit of God had descended on her purty face, put me to mind of my own pa and ma and my own brothers, and I remembered the old, old prayer my father said at our table:

We thank Thee, then O Father,
For all things bright and good
The seed-time and the harvest,
Our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer
For all Thy love imparts,
And what Thou most desirest,
Our humble thankful hearts.”

The prayer of this (then) 96-year-old man certainly gives me pause to reflect. Along with the deep, deep sorrows of 2012 we have also received blessings. It reminds me that now—the day after Christmas and all the days to come—is the time to practice the spirit of Christmas. In this New Year may we resolve to share the gifts of love, joy, peace and hope every day, in every way, with everyone.

Yes, there is hope for this world and it begins with us.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

There is no place like home for the holidays but...

12/12/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Christmas is in the air. Like everyone else, my life is a flurry of activities as I compile list after list of what to do and when to do it.

The decorating is done but we still don’t have a tree. The annual Christmas letter is still waiting to be written. Most gifts have been purchased but for some people I don’t have a clue. There are cookies to bake, meals to plan, gatherings of friends and church services to attend. It’s a busy time of year.

But thanks to Melinda, my longtime travel agent friend, I am sitting here with a stack of travel catalogs while Jingle Bells plays in the background. Melinda thinks that we and our husbands should take a trip to England and Germany to explore the fabulous, glittering world of open air Christmas Markets. The brochures show romanticized photos of visitors dressed in snow boots and parkas as they browse the shops drinking mulled wine among twinkling lights. Beautiful!

“No, no, we can’t go,” I protested weakly. Christmas is not a travel time. It is family time. My childhood memories of Christmas are still bright. They range from buying dime store gifts for my siblings to riding a new bicycle and eating grandma’s yeast rolls. Christmas is a big deal and everyone has always been home on December 25.

Still, the ads are tempting. “Nothing gets you into the festive mood like a good old Christmas market teeming with cheery stall holders selling handmade gifts from twinkling wooden chalets, the sweet smell of mulled wine and a couple of tap dancing turkeys!”

I think it was the turkeys that got me. Soon I was entertaining visions of visiting new places and learning new Christmas traditions—on site. But it’s winter. I don’t like the cold and I have grandchildren. I’ve been to some of these places when it’s warm. I can’t go now. So, instead, I’m going to share some of my discoveries with you. Come along with me, you’ll enjoy the journey.

The city of Cologne, Germany, offers a total of six Christmas Markets.
I vividly remember visiting Cologne one hot day in May. Teeming crowds of visitors wearing shorts and tee shirts gave a cursory look at the Cologne Cathedral as they jostled one another on the way to the harbor for a tour of the Chocolate Museum. Winter brings a different crowd.

The four largest markets attract about two million visitors. The Cathedral is the impressive backdrop for the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland and over 160 wooden pavilions feature artisans in all media and of course, food and mulled wine. Pictures show the entire city sparkling like gold with strolling musicians and bands. I was very tempted to click Expedia’s ‘book now’ button.

Both Germany and England are known for their castles but how about a castle and a cavern? Castleton, England is home to the picturesque ruins of a Norman Castle and four spectacular caverns with stalagmites and stalactites. And Peak’s Cavern is a Christmas favorite that offers evening songfests at the entrance to the lead cave. They say the acoustics are great for singing traditional hymns like “We Three Kings” and even “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

And then there’s Rome. Sure we’ve been there in the brilliant sunshine of summer but how about winter? Every year a larger-than-life nativity scene is unveiled in St. Peter’s Square on Dec. 24 just in time for the Pope’s midnight mass. And you can pick up your own crèche set at the Piazza Navona Christmas Market. Also available are depictions of the Italian witch La Befana made of burlap and straw. She is said to fly around on a broomstick at Epiphany dropping candy or lumps of coal down chimneys. Sound familiar?

A little closer to home, in Taos, New Mexico, bonfires blaze nightly in the plazas, bringing what one person described as a “block-party vibe” to the town. Brown paper bags lighted with votive candles line streets of famous galleries and art studios made famous by Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe. Christmas Eve, there’s a procession at Taos Pueblo, a 1,000 year old adobe settlement and on Christmas Day harvest and hunt dances are performed in the center plaza.

One of the most unique western hemisphere events takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico. On the evening of Dec. 23 it is home to a century old competiton known as the Noche de Rabanos (Night of the Radishes). In the city’s central square, farmers display elaborate sculptures of nativity scenes, robed kings and musicians all carved out of giant locally grown radishes. The sculptures are judged and then fireworks light up the sky.

Christmas Eve, Posadas—door-to-door processions that re-enact Mary and Joseph’s search for shelter— fill the streets along with a parade. And then, there is the tradition of “breaking of the plates.” People buy crispy bunuelos, topped with sugar or syrup and then smash the ceramic plate to the ground to signify the end of the old year. Personally, I can’t help but wonder who cleans up after them.

Finally, thousands of miles away in Jerusalem, it’s business as usual on Dec. 24 and 25 because only two percent of the population is Christian. But Christmas is joyously celebrated in the Christian quarter of the Old City where Jesus lived and died. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, is only six miles south a short pilgrimage from Jerusalem. There, marching bands and bagpipers led by Arabian horses weave through the narrow streets to Manger Square, the plaza outside the Basilica of the Nativity, which stands on the grotto where Jesus was born. It’s a solemn yet joyous time for all.

It’s funny how writing things down can change one’s perspective. I realize that interesting as these destinations are, our yearly family traditions are equally fascinating. Christmas anchors our lives and connects us spiritually. Our time together builds family history. It grounds the youngsters, fosters values and shapes their lives. And it’s fun! Spending time with family is a priceless, memory-making and heart-warming experience.

Truly, there is no place like home for the holidays. (Of course, if the family wants to go with us to Europe next year that would be great!) 

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Midnight Madness is CRAZY!

11/28/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Oy! Shopping has sure changed. Halloween was once just a day of costumes and trick or treating. Now it looks like a national holiday when aisles of decorations and costumes are unveiled in September. Supplies and decor for Thanksgiving (a true national holiday) are now available in mid-October.

So why am I always surprised that the hype for Christmas shopping begins in early November? Because I think it’s ridiculous, that’s why. Come on, shop keepers! Just let me enjoy a time of Thanksgiving before you start shoving Christmas cards, trees, ornaments, poinsettias and glitter down my throat. I don’t want to think about Christmas gift lists, baking and travel until I’ve eaten turkey and pumpkin pie and reflected on my blessings.

In early November I awoke to a Valley River Center radio announcement that said, “IMAGINE…all your shopping done before the sun comes up-now that’s insane. Stores open at midnight Thanksgiving night…and will be offering the craziest deals of the year.” Well, in my opinion, the idea of shopping all night is crazy.

I remember the first time I heard a Black Friday announcement. I thought the advertisers had gotten their holidays mixed up. Good Friday. Black Friday. I was confused. One day is a Holy Holiday and the other is gaudy greed.

Black Friday (so named because it’s the first day of the year that merchants turn a profit) is all about bargain shopping—at midnight. Now I’m a shopper and I love a bargain, I just don’t like bargain hunting between midnight and 7 a.m.—not even extreme bargains. That’s when most of us sleep. I need daylight to think straight.

Shoppers know that bargains are always available somewhere. Let’s say your husband needs a new sports coat. Stores A and B don’t have what you want. So you end up at a Macy’s One-Day Sale. They have the perfect $250 Ralph Lauren coat on sale for $99 and it’s marked down to $79 with a $20 off coupon. Now that’s a bargain. And you can purchase it in broad daylight without standing outside the store with hordes of frantic shoppers in the pouring rain!

Nevertheless, being the open-minded journalist that I am, I Googled some of the items being offered on Black Friday. If I had stayed up all night Thanksgiving and into the wee hours the next day, I could have run around like the proverbial chicken with its head cut off, getting substantial discounts at any of my favorite haunts from J.C. Penny’s in Eugene to Kohl’s in Springfield.

I will reluctantly concede that if you have electronics or children’s gifts to buy, Black Friday is probably the time to get great bargains at Best Buy, Sears, Kmart, Toys-R-Us, Walmart and Target. I checked out some of their online ads and their Door Buster prices were impressive. Of course, most of the prices were good for only 24-48 hours and subject to stock on hand.

Target’s doors were opening at 9 p.m. turkey day and they were offering a $99 Nook Simple Touch for only $49.00; a Polaroid 19” LED/DVD TV for $109.99 and you could save $100 on a Nikon digital camera. WalMart’s most impressive deals were TVs ranging from 19” to 50” in size and starting as low as $78. Sears had a 50% savings on Craftsman 18-volt drill and you could get 75% off plus an extra 20% off on selected jewelry.

It all sounds so tempting until you hear the horror stories about the mob scenes. I read about a lady who practiced “competitive shopping” with pepper spray in a crowd at a Los Angeles WalMart. She reportedly injured more than 20 people just to be sure she could obtain a video game console. Too scary for me.

I’m also too lazy to slosh around in the rain when I could be eating pumpkin pie in front of the fireplace in my slippers. Heck, after dessert, I don’t even want to go online to shop. And at this stage of the game, I wouldn’t know what I was looking for. My grandsons are still in school. They aren’t even thinking about Christmas yet.

To be a Black Friday competitive shopper you must meet three criteria and I fail in all areas.

Number one: A shopping list. If you have a list in Nov., I’m impressed. If you don’t, do not leave the house. Kids are fickle. Advertising is just beginning for the hottest toys of the season. I never knew what my kids wanted until mid-Dec. My husband was in the toy business for 10 years and he was even surprised when a new Elmo burst on the scene late in the season. So leave room to wiggle.

Number two: You need a budget. The hardest thing that I do is figure out how to spend the same amount of money (give or take a few dollars) on the same number of gifts for each grandson. Sheesh. It takes an accountant to bring equality to gifting for ages 10 to 22. 

Number three is this question: do you have the energy to shop all night long? I don’t. I never did and I never will. That’s why I’ll never go. However, I must admit that I enjoy hearing the war stories that shoppers have about their experiences and envy them for being finished with their shopping.

But hey, I’m not worried. There are more sales coming up. While I was online checking out Black Friday deals I was introduced to Cyber Monday. Just imagine what advertisers will come up with in the next few weeks. There will be something for everyone on Wonderful Wednesday, Terrible Tuesday, Freaky Friday or Silent Sunday.

My rule is—first I decorate and then I shop. So I’ll see you at the stores in December. Just not at midnight!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

'Free' TV and OPB too!

11/14/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Thanks to South Lane Television’s translator on Hansen Butte, our family is one of the recipients of Cottage Grove’s 'free' television. When we moved here in 1989 we did not have television reception. A visit to our local Radio Shack and an antenna was installed so we could receive three stations—ABC, CBS and NBC. We were stoked!

Thanks to a recent Sentinel article, I know a little more than I did about the history of the translator that transmits broadcasts to us here in the country. Kudos to the five local businessmen who decided in 1957 that if they were going to sell more televisions they were going to have to get us better reception. Now, according to Lloyd Williams of SLTV, that system is one of the finest in the United States.

At our house, we receive far more channels than we watch but nothing compared to those of you with access to dozens of channels on cable or satellite dishes. We toy with signing up for one of those just to watch certain HGTV and History channel shows. Still, nothing can beat OPB (public television) as our favorite network channel.

My husband is the principal viewer of all television at our house and most of the programs he watches are on OPB. He enjoys everything from “This Old House” to “Oregon Art Beat.” Anything from car shows, woodworking shows to travel, history or old guys solving cold cases is fair game for his clicker.

I, on the other hand, have just a handful of favorites. First and foremost, I am an avid fan of the Antiques Roadshow. Life comes to a standstill at our house on Monday night. The Roadshow is arguably the best reality show on TV. It mixes nostalgia with hope and a little greed. Probably one of my favorite segments was an Oklahoma man who was utterly shocked when his (ugly) Chinese rhinoceros-horn cups were appraised at $1.5 million. In everyone’s dream, he went from Social Security to millionaire in the blink of an eye.

Last year, we discovered a new treasure on OPB. “Doc Martin” is the name of the hit show that began its run in England. It took only one episode for it to become our must-see Thursday night TV event.

We love the unlovable and cantankerous Doctor Martin Ellingham. He is a surgeon whose rising star in the London medical world crashed and burned when he developed a blood phobia that prevents him from operating. He’s a bitter man.

Doc was forced to retrain as a general practioner and hired to set up his surgery (office) in Portwenn, a tiny little Cornish town where he spent childhood summers with his Aunt Joan. His patients were used to tea and sympathy. He is a brilliant physician and diagnostician and a total curmudgeon. On this premise is built one of the most complicated and enjoyable story lines on television.

Doc is socially challenged to the maximum. Over and over it is clear that this he could care less about how his patients and peers emotions. He lives to make them well physically. Any other kind of relationship is an intrusion. He is blunt and to the point—“do this and check back with me in two weeks. Goodbye!” No bedside manner.

Slowly, the story line introduces a pretty primary school teacher Louisa Glasson into his life. She’s attracted to him. He’s attracted to her. And you cannot imagine how complicated and stressful their relationship becomes. Most of the time I wonder how she keeps from slapping him but then…well, you just have to watch it evolve.

As I understand it, the show only films every two years. Right now, it’s in re-runs and if you haven’t seen it, tune in Thursday nights. Doc Martin has something for everyone—humor, relationships, mystery, suspense and romance. And you don’t have to worry about it being inappropriate for mixed company. It’s all done in good taste.

“Call the Midwife” is my latest addiction. This OPB series is based on a memoir written by Jennifer Worth describing her life in the East End of London during the 1950s. It was written in response to a call for “someone to do for midwifery what James Herriot did for vets.” Worth died in 2011 and Vanessa Redgrave narrates her story.

I must admit that as a child of the 1950s, I was shocked at the poverty and harsh living conditions that are portrayed in London tenements. Young twenty-two year old Jenny Lee Worth was also shocked as she arrived not at a clinic but at Nonnatus House (a pseudonym for the Sisters of St. John the Divine in Whitechapel) to live and work alongside her fellow nurses and the Sisters.

The Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus have been active in the East End as Anglican nursing nuns since the beginning of the 20th century. I love the way their humanity is portrayed and the way they teach the young nurses their mission. They are there to serve their patients. They are not there to judge the often harsh and immoral lifestyles. Their primary work is to bring literally thousands of babies safely into the world and help the moms care for their newborns.

The stories revolve around the drama and trauma in the lives of individual mothers. There is lighthearted fun back at the nunnery as the young nurses struggle to have a personal life.  And then there’s Sister Monica Joan, an elderly and eccentric nun who is also a kleptomaniac! It’s a dedicated, diverse community ministering in a challenging and diverse environment. The story line is intense but also a breath of fresh air.

So check out OPB. It has something for everyone and you’ll be glad that you did. And thank you SLTV for making it possible for everyone to enjoy quality television!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail —

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Volunteers wanted to help unchain dogs

10/24/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser


Chained dogs are a really big pet peeve of mine. Driving by these helpless animals, I feel guilty that they must alternately endure Oregon’s relentless rain, the blazing heat of summer and winter’s freezing nights. They’re pack animals.  I can only image their emotional isolation as the rest of the pack gathers in a cozy house while they are left alone outside to suffer. I want to rescue them

For years, one of my neighbors chained their Boxer outside to a shed while a smaller dog was brought into the house. I used to snarl and gnash my teeth as I drove by and pondered what to do. Ultimately, the dog died and but during its lifetime, no one (myself included) approached the owner about the cruel situation.

Shame on me! But unfortunately, I think that my reaction to this situation is pretty common. I saw a need but rationalized that the dog had shelter in the shed. I didn’t want to start a fight with anyone. I just wanted to help. But where does one person begin? I was a coward.

Well, let me tell you about a Portland volunteer organization that rescues many dogs from a lifetime of being continuously chained, tethered and isolated. It’s called “Fences For Fido.” And its mission is to create safer and improved conditions for chained dogs. A couple of years ago I read about FFF in an edition of Spot magazine.

On the front page a large Rottweiler-type dog was attached to a huge chain. The article was titled “Un-Chained. One Dog at a time.” The mission: to get as many dogs off chains as possible by building fences, providing shelter, veterinary care and educating families how to care for their pet. 

The inspiration for Fences For Fido began after a radio interview aired with a North Carolina dog lover, Amanda Arrington. She and her friends started “The Coalition to Un-chain Dogs.” The group’s focus was simple—to get as many dogs off chains as possible by building fences. At that time, the coalition’s volunteers had built fences for nearly 300 dogs—free of charge.

Kelly Peterson of the Humane Society of the United States and her friends in Portland, inspired by the Coalition interview said, “We can do this!”  They contacted Arrington and four core members of the Coalition to Unchain Dogs responded with help. They flew to Oregon, shared their concepts and taught the new group how to build a sturdy fence for about $500.

Polite consideration for pet owner and dog are at the core of the service. Volunteers set aside all of their negative assumptions about the owners of chained dogs when they visit a family. They simply knock on the door where a chained dog lives and offer to build a fence, spay and neuter (if needed) and provide a doghouse—free of charge. As it turns out, most owners are happy to get their dogs off a chain and gratefully accept the help.

Twice a year, the volunteers also visit the dogs and two-legged family members to be sure that they remain unchained, safe and healthy. Through these contacts friendships are made and education is dispensed on how to care for the four-legged family members in different situations and weather.

FFF’s first fence build was for Chopper, described as a sweet, kind-hearted Golden Lab mix. He had been chained to a tree for six years while living across the street from a park. Once Chopper was set free in his own yard, Peterson said, “It was a moment I will never forget” as he raced around, smelling and marking his own territory.”

Chopper’s story and the efforts of a few women to save him from a lifetime of imprisonment, touched my heart. I looked around for similar programs in our area and couldn’t find any. At my age, the last thing that I wanted was another project but I wanted to know more about Fences For Fido.

So I contacted Peterson and one miserable, rainy day in March, my husband and I attended a bone chilling, wet and muddy, fence build in Albany. A beautiful Malamute dog was chained on a large corner unfenced lot. The owners were setting up a barbecue lunch for the volunteers. The excitement was palpable. Freedom was in the air!

About 20 eager volunteers showed up with tools and donated fencing material. They worked like a well-oiled machine. The area was sited under a large tree and measured approximately 30-ft by 60-ft. The project took about two hours from start to finish.

Finally, the volunteers gathered in a circle and the owners released their chained dog. At first, he stood there quietly, as if still shackled. Suddenly it dawned on him that he was free and he began a zigzag dance of happiness that brought tears to my eyes. He was free to run around, roll in the grass, look at the neighbors and yet was sheltered from harm.

Today, the FFF mission remains the same. Thanks to generous donors and volunteers they have unchained more than 235 dogs since 2009. You can read about their work and see all of the heartwarming photos at

I first presented this idea to readers of my Critter Chatter column in the Humane Society of Cottage Grove “News!” But the HSCG plates are full. Only three people expressed interest in the project.

So what do you think? Is there a need for this kind of program in Cottage Grove and Creswell? Do you know of a chained dog that needs emancipating? One that will spend the winter in the cold without shelter from the wind and rain or a dry place to stand...

 Let me know if you’re interested in learning more about going to the dogs—with a dog house and a fence. It will take a village of skills from fund raising to outreach to construction. Will you help?

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Readers email handy hints and silly jokes

10/10/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I have this unscientific theory that you can tell a lot about an individual’s personality from the types of emails that they keep. My personality is obviously eclectic. My email inbox overflows with a wide variety of subjects. So last week I sat down to re-read, sort, decide what is important to keep and delete the rest.

It was easier than I thought. My messy inbox consists mostly of stuff that I might use someday or I don’t know what to do with: Daily Deals from Groupon; Just for U ads from Safeway; ticket deals from the Hult Center; negative political commentaries; dozens of YouTube sites that I must visit; and requests that need a response right now!

My one saving grace is the preference setting that automatically sends unwanted mail directly to “Junk” and is emptied every night. It’s kind of scary to think that there are Robots (and humans) who have nothing better to do than continually scan the Internet looking for my email address to send me some sort of scam (aka spam).

I also discourage spam in these ways: I seldom post on public forums or websites. I avoid questionable sites and all chat rooms. And I immediately report all spam to Otherwise I would be drowning in requests for money or equally suspicious offers to earn $7,000 a month working from home.

Now, since we’re talking about computer correspondence, here’s an FYI for you: the United States is no longer the leader in Internet Spam. That position belongs to India closely followed by Russia, Vietnam, So. Korea and Indonesia. The US is only responsible for about 3.2 percent of the electronic junk mail that we receive.

Like all columnists I have a folder of “column ideas.” Readers and friends send me interesting tidbits that I find hard to part with. They’re my security blanket. I find myself hanging onto touching stories, silly jokes, recipes and a variety of unusual household hints. I mean, who doesn’t want to know a safe, easy way to remove ticks?
My husband is in charge of tick removal. He uses the tried and true method where you strike a match, shake out the flame and put the warm match head near the tick’s burrowed end. The tick backs out, is squished and disposed of. It works like a charm but according to this email there’s a better and safer way. (The supposed source is an anonymous school nurse who uses it on students.)

So try this: “Apply a glob of liquid soap to a cotton ball. Cover the tick with the soap-soaked cotton ball and swab it for a few seconds (15-20); the tick will come out on its own and be stuck to the cotton ball when you lift it away. This technique has worked every time I’ve used it and it’s much less traumatic for the patient and easier for me…”

One of the strangest hints I’ve received is how to take an elevator non-stop from one floor to another. Now I’m too chicken to try this but here’s the suggestion: “Hold the ‘close door button’ until the doors close. Keep holding it. Select the floor you want and do not let go of that number and close door button until the elevator moves. This will allow you to go straight to that floor without stops.” It concludes by saying that “This works on every elevator.” (But is it legal?)

Now since I’m on a roll with hints here’s a good one for labeling all those cords lurking under your computer: Use the plastic clips that come on bread loaves to label the cords: Keyboard, Doc, Mouse, Power, etc. Use a permanent black marker and words can be easily read on the flat surface and take up very little space.

Other favorites were to use a hand can opener to safely open the tough plastic on packages; use regular kitchen rags to “Swiffer” your floors; and use a comb to hold the nail when hanging pictures and you’ll have no more smashed fingers. Also, to prevent water from over-boiling on the stove when cooking pasta (or whatever) balance a wooden spoon across the top of the pot.

And maybe you’ve heard this one but I hadn’t. If you drop something small (like a pill or an earring) and it rolls under a chair or counter and you can’t reach it: place a sock over the end of a vacuum tube with a rubber band to secure it. Then, when the vacuum sucks the piece up it will remain secure on the outside of the sock. Brilliant!

And finally, buried at the bottom of the emails I found this list of groaners that still made me laugh. Enjoy!

When chemists die, they barium.

Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
I know a guy who is addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make his tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
This girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I'd never met herbivore.
We're going on a class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there's no pop quiz.
Did you hear about the cross-eyed teacher who lost her job because she couldn't control her pupils?
Broken pencils are pointless.
I tried to catch some fog, but I mist.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
England has no kidney bank, but it does have a Liverpool.
I used to be a banker, but then I lost interest.
A cartoonist was found dead in his home. Details are sketchy.
Venison for dinner again? Oh deer!
My sincere thanks to all who contributed to this column—I think!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Barn down!

9/26/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser 

Photo courtesy Cathy Bellavita
Good-bye, Dr. Pierce

I’ve written so many stories about our town’s beloved Dr. Pierce barn, that I scarcely know how to begin this one. Its demise was expected and heralded in news stories with headlines like “Looming barn demolition…” Last year the Historical Society ended their efforts to purchase the barn. Citizens rallied but a “Save the Barn” campaign never garnered enough support to save it.

Still, it was a shock when I drove by as the owner was standing on the sagging barn’s rafters and taking down the hand-lettered boards. Cottage Grove’s 100 year old, iconic barn siding advertising “Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets” is now in storage waiting for a buyer.

Most people buy old barns to preserve them. They have history on their minds and in their hearts. Beginning in 2008, our barn was purchased and soon held hostage by a new owner. He said it was a hazard and a tax liability. He wanted it gone so he could subdivide the property—a whopping 1.3-acre lot.

As I’ve said before, saving the barn is all about the money! So if you have an extra $25,000 burning a hole in your pocket you may buy it.

The old Dr. Pierce Barn has long been the heart of town. It was more than a tourist attraction. It was an intangible part of us—a source of pride. A landmark that just made you feel good to know it was there. It gave our town a unique personality. It evoked memories of an era that had come and gone. It touched my soul and it will be missed!

Some might ask, What’s so attractive about an old barn? This Dr. Pierce guy and his son were quacks. But in an era of primitive medicine they sold HOPE to men and women for about 90 years. Their blood purifier was the equivalent of 19th century snake oil—but its many claims of success were painted on barns, hawked by salesman all over the country and purchased by those were ill.

In an agrarian society barns were good advertising. And evidently a barn sign painter could make a good living. Harley Warrick (the last of the Mail Pouch barn painters) is a good example. Mail Pouch painters were painting his dad’s barn when he came home from the army in 1947. He decided painting would be a better life than milking 27 Jersey cows twice a day. Warrick became a legend. He painted and touched up barns until his death in 2000.

Long before Warrick started painting, others were painting Dr. Pierce’s message. Many of them still stand in other states. They are located and maintained on private property thanks to owners and communities who appreciate things of the past.

In Sonoma County, Calif., a property owner has maintained one of Dr. Pierce’s barns (and paid the taxes) for years. It is located on US 101 in Asti and a familiar landmark to those who travel the 101 corridor. Its sign is common among the barns. It reads: “For your blood: Dr. Pierce’s Medical Discovery.”

There’s another fabulous old Dr. Pierce barn in Toledo, Wash., One side of the barn says, “Makes Red Blood. Dr. Pierce’s Golden Medical Discovery.” Another side is really not politically correct but it touts, “For Weak Women. Dr. Pierce’s Favorite Prescription.” A few hundred miles away, there’s a similar barn.

Another great barn sits in Cache Valley, Utah, north of Salt Lake City. There, the doctor’s sign reads: “The woman’s Tonic: Dr. Pierce’s favorite prescription.” Last year, an article about the barn was published in the Standard-Examiner in Ogden. Writer Becky Cairns traveled to College Ward to check out the old barn and interview Evan Stevenson, the owner’s father and volunteer caretaker.

The barn was built by Swiss farmers and estimated to be 107 years old. It may have been painted in the Great Depression when the farmers would have received a $25 initial payment and then $10 a year afterward for the use of their barn as a billboard.
Gary Stevenson purchased the 15-acre property in 1997. The barn was in such poor condition that “A good, stiff breeze would take it down,” his dad said. In fact, the structure was 3-1/2 feet out of plumb.

Fortunately, he, his son and the community didn’t whine about liability or who was responsible for this piece of history. No, they and the residents of College Ward volunteered to help straighten and stabilize the structure. Now it’s good to stand another 100 years.

So why is this family and community taking care of this old barn? “Well,” Stevenson says, “I don’t believe in being hung.” People are pretty attached to this piece of barn art. Not only that, I love it,” Then he adds. “I think it’s great."

Of course, it’s always something. Now the paint is peeling. Stevenson can pull the flaking paint right off the letters plastered on the side of the weathered 100-year old barn. But not to worry! He says he’s looking for the right person to do that job.

 “We have to get somebody who knows how to paint it old,” he says,  "because you don’t paint an old barn new, you paint an old barn old.”

The extended Stevenson family and Cache Valley community are keepers of the flame of history for esoteric reasons—not for money. A different situation than we have here in Cottage Grove.

Our Cottage Grove sign reads: “For your liver: Dr. Pierce’s Pleasant Pellets.” Perhaps one day, through someone’s generosity, it too will live again and put a smile on faces who like to remember the past—even if he was a snake oil salesman!

If you are interested in reading more about the Dr. Pierce Barn and the demolition process check out this website:

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Denial is deadly!

9/12/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

My husband is the picture of health. He doesn’t look his age (70+), works like a man half his age, doesn’t smoke or drink, has ramrod straight posture, loves life and has weighed the same for the last 30 years. He’s got to be healthy—right? Wrong.

Chuck has a family gene pool that is riddled with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. All of the males on his mother’s side of the family died young of one of these conditions.

He is the oldest of three sons with nearly textbook perfect, active life styles to ward off any health problems. Then, his youngest brother, at the age of 50, was found dead while out for a bike ride. His middle brother had a heart attack and open-heart surgery at 53 years old and just recently had another major heart attack.

With a family history like this, aging is a ticking time bomb. Disaster is to be expected and averted if at all possible. In 2003, during an angiogram, Chuck was rushed into surgery for an emergency 5-way by-pass. Then came a diagnosis for CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and another for diabetes. Every challenge was met and ‘controlled.’ Except for high blood pressure. And last month it reared its ugly head with dreadful consequences.

We were packing for a long awaited trip to the Yukon. We had been to Alaska a couple of times in the 1980s and cruised the famous Inland Passage; run the scenic Mendenhall Glacier River; seen the totem poles and wildlife. This time we were going to take a short cruise from Vancouver to Fairbanks and then head out on a guided inland tour to places like Whitehorse, Tok and Denali.

We stopped packing our suitcases for a lunch break when Chuck quietly said, “I think I’m having a TIA attack.” He sat down. I ran quickly and gave him two aspirin and we headed for Cottage Grove Emergency Hospital. On the way to the ER he began having a series of strokes that briefly affected his speech and left leg. Come and go.

Here, I must stop and give a shout-out to the ER staff. There were angels in the ER that day. We have been there many times but never have I seen more caring, compassionate and competent nurses and doctors. Everyone from admitting to x-ray was wonderful. Not only were they efficient at their tasks but also at communicating details of each treatment phase. Thank you!

The episodes continued while tests were being done and a neurologist was consulted via technology in Eugene. After a CT scan, he advised a bolus of an anti-clot drug. The dosage was carefully calculated and administered. Then Chuck was flown by helicopter to Sacred Heart’s Riverbend Hospital in Springfield. Helicopter? Yep. A nurse had to be on board to continue administering the clot dissolving medication.

He was immediately rushed to ICU where he stayed under the care of more amazing neurologists and wonderful nurses. It took 10 days longer than the predicted 24-48 hours for the episodes to subside. CT scans and MRIs became the order of the day. The stroke was identified as “Stuttering Lacuna.” A clot located in a small artery (that covers a large portion of real estate) was the culprit. Sometimes it resolves with no problem and sometimes it has permanent deficit.

With Chuck’s history, everyone immediately looked to the heart or diabetes to be the cause. Nope. Both were under control. The problem was high blood pressure. It was totally out of control. And it immediately became clear that (for a multitude of reasons) lowering it was not going to be immediate or easy. It would take time.

The scans showed that before the current episodes, my husband had suffered dozens of silent strokes. Too many to count. The effects of silent strokes are sneaky. They accumulate-causing fatigue, short-term memory and balance problems. Then suddenly, they strike.

This was not a silent TIA and his doctor did not like that term. She said they don’t leave a path like a stroke. Also, people do not take them seriously. They think, “Phew, I dodged that bullet,” she said, and continue to ignore the symptoms that can turn deadly.

Chuck is home now, recuperating slowly and his war against high blood pressure is well under way. This time there will be no half-hearted efforts. A near catastrophe brought a heightened awareness that high blood pressure is more than a condition. It is a daily life and death battle that must be fought to win.

We learned a lot during his time in the hospital. But one of the most important things we learned was simply this: Taking medication does not mean you are a failure—and inevitably, you will need to add more over time. Strokes are devastating. They rob you of who you are. The drugs prevent this. Controlling blood pressure is good and necessary.

So this column is for all of us who ignore life threatening health issues. Maybe you are one. Maybe you’re still smoking after your doctor has warned you that hacking cough could become lung cancer. Maybe your family has a history of breast cancer but you don’t get regular mammograms. Or maybe your medication has too many side effects and you just don’t want to try another one.

Do it anyway! Denial is deadly. I’m telling you bluntly to stop making excuses and decide to live. Wishful thinking isn’t going to make your problem go away. Or, as one doctor told us, “Medication’s side effects are a small price to pay for gaining (quality of) life.”

Every doctor that walked into the hospital room said, “You are a lucky man. This could have been much worse. Consider this a warning. Find a medicine you can tolerate and live.” He is taking that advice.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

August and the dogs of summer

8/22/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

It’s August—and the “Dog Days of Summer” are upon us. When I was growing up our family fled the hot, sultry L.A. heat and spent the entire month in the cool, fresh air of the San Bernardino Mountains. We city kids rode horses, swam in the lakes, read books, chased squirrels, explored the woods and just had fun. And one year, we literally rescued a dog.

It was the late 1940s and1950s. Male and female roles were very stereotypical. My dad and grandfather alternated vacation weeks with us. They would both spend every weekend with us, and take turns working alternate weeks at the family business to pay for this holiday.

My grandfather was a very proper individual and I was used to seeing him in his regular business uniform of a three-piece suit, dress shirt and necktie. In the mountains, he became someone else. Although I never saw him in a pair of blue jeans, he did wear short-sleeved shirts and slacks.

It was a special treat to sit with him out in the cabin’s patio while he drank a cup of coffee and trained the Blue Jays to come and take a peanut out of his hand. First he would tie a peanut on a piece of string to entice the Jay. Then he would slowly pull the string towards him. At first the birds didn’t take the bait but slowly they learned there was always a peanut reward at the end of the string.

Mother entertained us kids and grandmother spent her vacation in the kitchen cooking on the wood stove for our family of seven. I remember her stoking the oven morning and evening while she cooked breakfast and dinner, pies and cakes. I don’t remember her relaxing, going swimming with us or taking a nap. I can’t believe she considered slaving over a hot stove a vacation.

At least once a summer dad took us to the lake and we ‘fished.’ I don’t believe that any of us ever caught anything. Inevitably, grandpa would take pity on us and drive us to the Blue Jay Trout Farm. There, the fish practically jumped out of the water and hooked themselves. The only limit was grandpa’s wallet but grandmother always welcomed our catch.

I must have been about 12 years old when a beautiful, golden-colored Cocker Spaniel adopted our family where we were staying in Crestline. That was the day  I went horseback riding and the horse ran away with me. I was a scared little girl until I returned to the cabin. There, my heart leaped for joy when I saw this little golden ball of fuzz hiding in the woods.

It was love at first sight. She was scared and so hungry that I easily enticed her to come to me. After a nice dinner, she made herself at home, laid down and went to sleep. I was told to go to the neighboring cabins and find out where she lived. Everyone had the same story: she had been scavenging the neighborhood for days and no one knew where she belonged.

 My mother and dad weren’t dog people and I knew there was no way that they would let me bring her home to the city. But miracles do happen! I named her Goldie, fed her and combed the tangles out of her fur. And somehow, she wedged herself into mother’s Oldsmobile between us kids and came to live with us in the city.

The surprise, however, was on us. She was pregnant! A few weeks later this gorgeous purebred dog delivered seven (7!) ugly, mongrel pups. We were shocked. There was not a Cocker Spaniel looking pup among them. Fortunately, no puppy is ever really ugly so we were able to find all of them homes.

I wish I could tell you that Goldie’s story had a happy ending but it didn’t. She was very lonely after her babies were adopted and was not allowed to come in the house. The only way we kids could play with her was through a locked gate. She was completely isolated.

Day after day, she languished in the back yard and waited for a chance to escape her prison. When the gardener came to take care of the flowers, she would dart out the gate and down the street. When the pool man came to clean the swimming pool he often left the gate open and she would make her dash to freedom.

After school, I would go looking for her and bring her home. Finally, she simply wasn’t to be found. One day the phone rang and it was a neighbor around the corner and down the hill. She wondered if we owned a golden Cocker Spaniel. My mother said, “yes,” and they compared notes. It ended with Goldie being given to the other family and I never saw her again.

Looking back on my experience with one stray dog, I know where my compassion for lost animals comes from. Goldie was lost, pregnant and completely helpless until she found us. We saved her. Later, after I married and established my own family, lost animals on the street, in shelters or pet stores always tugged at my heart strings.

Our family’s choice of dogs reflect that tug and most of them joined us in summer. Our first dog was Shep. He was a pure German Shepherd puppy that showed up on our front doorstep as a stray. Cinder (Cocker/Poodle mix) and Honey (Doberman), helped raise our kids. They came from pet stores where they cost a whopping $9 each. Lady (shepherd mix) came from Greenhill and all three of the Dachshunds came from so-called breeders with too many puppies.

I love my dogs and I love August. Dogs have taught me to wag more, bark less and love unconditionally. August has taught me that winter is coming so I’d better get going if I’m going to take a vacation!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Oregon field trips for grandsons

8/8/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Yikes! This is the second week of August and the last month of freedom for many school kids. At our house, it is also the month that our three Templeton, Calif. grandsons come to visit. We look forward to their yearly visit and right now, I’m in the middle of checking out places to take them on a ‘secret journey.’

It has become a tradition for us to introduce our 5 visiting grandsons to a part of Oregon that they haven’t seen before. Somehow, it was much easier planning these trips when the boys were small. Now that they range from a senior in college to a fifth grader, it’s a little more difficult to plan something that appeals to all of them.

Fortunately, since they’ve driven 800+ miles to get here, they really are happy just to hang out with their grandparents and the dogs. They can sleep in, swim in the lake, play cards, ride bikes and relax. Still, I try to fit in one or two day trips that won’t wear everyone out.

Most years they try and time their visit to coincide with the Junction City Scandinavian Festival. I have pictures of them as little tykes eating cotton candy, dancing on the stage, attacking the climbing wall and posing with a knight in armor. This year they’ll arrive too late for the Festival, so I’ll have to stock up and freeze some delicious meat pies to remind them of what they’ve missed.

One year we all went up to the Enchanted Forest, a 20-acre theme park between Albany and Salam. Trees shaded Storybook Lane where the boys crawled through Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and staggered through the crooked house where the crooked man lives. We also visited an old English village and a western town.

The big attraction (and my favorite) is the Big Timber Log Ride. Now that the kids are older it probably wouldn’t rate very high on their list of exciting excursions. But just a few years they loved the clanking of the chain lift as we rode through a sawmill and then traveled through some beautiful forest scenery. There was a small dip where we all got a little wet before entering some more twists and turns. Finally, we climbed a bit and zig-zagged before we got to the big dip and everyone got wet. It was lots of fun.

Oregon’s central coast is another fun mystery trip. Camping at Honeyman Park is convenient to a variety of places to keep the kids busy. Old Town Florence is better sight seeing for adults than kids but between shopping and eating, there’s enough to hold everyone’s interest for a few hours.

As soon as everyone gets bored, we head for Sea Lion Caves. It’s always exciting to board the elevator that descends to a massive sea cave at the bottom of the cliffs. Sometimes the fishy stench can be a little overwhelming but just watching the sea lions sunning and frolicking on the rocks is mesmerizing.

Heceta Head Lighthouse is just a ways up the road. It’s currently closed for renovations but it’s still a great spot to relax, look for seashells and watch for whales. I’m told that whales really do frolic in those waters but I’ve yet to see one

One of my favorite spots is the 2.700 acre Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. It has 26 miles of connecting trails that take you from tide pools below to the magnificent old growth forest above. It’s a cool place to be on a hot summer day with an interesting interpretive center.

Another favorite mystery trip was the year we took our Ventura, Calif. grandsons to Salem. There is so much to see and do in our state’s capital that it was hard to know where to begin. First we toured the capital building and it is impressive. Inside the rotunda, the capital dome rises 106 ft above the bronze replica of the state seal. The ceiling, featuring 33 stars, symbolizes Oregon’s admission as the 33rd state in the union.

We then rode the elevator to the 4th floor where we were told there was a short 121-step climb onto the observation deck. Ha!  The literature forgot to mention that those steps were straight up a narrow spiral staircase that wound through the infrastructure with catwalks and ramps leading to a heavy door. Fortunately, the door opened at the base of the gilded Golden Pioneer Statue where the view was awesome.

After working up an appetite, we headed downtown for pizza and a visit to Salem’s Riverfront Carousel (closed) and the A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village. That turned out to be a surprising hit with the boys because of its interactive exhibits. Gilbert, an inventor, is most famous for the Erector Set and the village is home to the world’s largest Erector Set tower at 52 feet.

Eugene-Springfield, of course, is much closer to home. The boys are all athletes in one sport or another, and visiting the UO is a choice destination. Hendricks Park is beautiful and the Wave Pool is always fun but we’ve never been to the Cascades Raptor Center. Hmm.

Cottage Grove has been well explored but I’m sure we’ve missed some sweet spots. One place we haven’t been is river rafting on the McKenzie. Maybe a return trip on the jet boats in Gold Beach or Grant’s Pass or Wildlife Safari. So many places and so little time.

Truly, the area that we live in is a treasure trove of places to go and things to do. I have barely scratched the surface and I want to share them all with our boys!  So where are we going this year? I’m not sure. But this I know…it won’t be boring and it will be fun!

It’s summer! Welcome to Oregon, boys! Let the fun begin...

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

The wit and wisdom of Will Rogers

7/25/12 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

“…All I know is what I read in the papers
and that’s an alibi for my ignorance”
Will Rogers

I am a big Will Rogers fan. Although he died before I was born, he was somewhat of a hero in my family. One of the reasons being that he and my dad shared diluted Cherokee roots and had the same down-to-earth political philosophies. They both had an ‘ah-shucks’ demeanor and a dry sense of humor that would take the edge off any controversial subject from the media to politics or religion.

Rogers was born in 1879 in Oologah, Indian Territory (now known as Oklahoma). My dad, however, was born in Missouri (pronounced Missourah) at the turn of the 20th century. But he always considered himself an Okie like Rogers and never forgot his roots—both were practical, intelligent men of honor and good will. As a man in the business world, my dad’s word was gold.

Rogers became a world famous figure, respected for his humorous truths. He was adored by the American people and known as Oklahoma’s favorite son. His career as a humorist, columnist and radio personality evolved from humble beginnings. As a boy he loved horses and wanted to be a cowboy so he learned to use a rope and lariat. For a time, he and a friend worked as gauchos in Argentina until he became a trick roper with “Texas Jack’s Wild West Circus.”

From there, he moved into vaudeville. Eventually he was discovered by Hollywood and made 48 silent movies before appearing in dozens of feature films. He even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. An avid newspaper reader, he later toured the country’s lecture circuit and the New York Times syndicated his weekly newspaper column from 1922-35. During that time he also traveled the world, dabbled in politics, wrote books and became a radio broadcaster.

Sadly, Rogers died at the age of 55 on August 15, 1935. He was in a small airplane with aviator Wiley Post, when it crashed as they returned from Alaska. Aviation was in its infancy and Post was surveying a mail-passenger air route to Russia. Rogers was in search of new material for his newspaper column. Fortunately, his humor remains as relevant as if it were written yesterday.

So on this summer day as we near the anniversary of his death, I’m going to let Will Rogers take over my column. Sit back and enjoy the common sense of an Oakie who influenced common folks, people in high places, clergy and politicians. Nearly 77 years after his death, Rogers’ wisdom and witticisms still apply. Here’s Will!

"There are three kinds of men:
The ones that learn by reading.
The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to touch an electric fence."

“I read about eight newspapers in a day. When I’m in a town with only one newspaper, I read it eight times.”

“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

"Lettin' the cat out of the bag is a lot easier than puttin' it back in."

'The only problem with Boy Scouts is, there aren't enough of them."

“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to someone else.”

"People who fly into a rage always make a bad landing."

"Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

"Everything is changing. People are taking the comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke."

“It isn’t what we know that gives us trouble; it’s what we know that ain’t so.”

"A fool and his money are soon elected.”

“Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money to be defeated.”

"Americans will feed anyone that's not close to them."

"Our foreign policy is an open book—a checkbook."

"I belong to no organized party. I'm a Democrat."

“Democrats never agree on anything, that’s why they’re Democrats. If they agreed with each other, they would be Republicans.

"The income tax has made more liars out of Americans than golf.

"Everybody says this here thing we're involved in ain't a real war. Congress says it ain't a war. The President says it ain't a war. 'Course the guys over here getting shot at say it's the best damned imitation they ever saw."

"One sure certainty about our Memorial Days is that as fast as the ranks from one war thin out, the ranks from another take their place. Prominent men may run out of Decoration Day speeches, but the world never runs out of wars. People talk peace, but men give up their life's work to war.”

"If stupidity got us in this mess, why can't it get us out?"

“When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I dident like.’ I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.” (Note: ‘dident’ was a Rogers’s colloquialism.)

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.