Friday, December 8, 2017

A small town's blessings


11/22/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. This wonderful day has been set aside for centuries to simply be thankful. In our country, the Pilgrims set the tone in 1621 in gratitude for their survival and a bountiful harvest. They praised God and their American Indian neighbors who helped them survive. That tradition continues to be an inspiration every November.

Today, unlike the Pilgrims, most of us don’t worry about having a roof over our heads or where our next meal is coming from. We are a blessed nation. Unfortunately, reading or watching the news is enough to suck the life out us and steal our joy. Sometimes we need to look for reasons to be grateful to counter-act the ugliness that seems to prevail in this day and age.

Living in Oregon for the past three decades is one of my many blessings. As Californians, we were accepted whole-heartedly by our new friends and neighbors who couldn’t understand how we had ever lived and thrived in a big city with all that sunshine! Some of the men at our new church immediately took it upon themselves to introduce our sons into the Oregon way of life—everything from deep sea fishing to logging! 

I recently was reminded of one of those logging expeditions. Longtime logger Bill Swift got the boys up at 4 a.m. for that adventure! The stories Jeff and John told from that day parallel those in the book, “Bounteous Blessings,” by Francis A. Gillette, a resident of Yacolt, WA. In it, her daughter Cheri Mattson, pens a tribute to her father Sonny. It’s titled “An Honest Heritage— in memory of the American logger.” Here’s an excerpt:

"My dad’s dad was a logger. And like the miners, his sons followed. My dad said, “it was a tough occupation. The old-time loggers were a different breed. Nothin’ stopped ‘em, not rain, cold, heat, wind. The only time we went home early was when the yarder or loader broke down. A lot of people got hurt, too. My oldest brother, George, died at 33…A couple of times, dad was injured and not expected to work again or even survive.”

He neglects to talk much about his own brushes with death, other than to say, “Always be thankful and try to be content with what you have. Many men worry a lifetime about retirement and never live long enough to reach it. Through life, I have found that the mind plays a very big part in making one able to survive.”

Memories as far back as I can remember, revolve around a logger’s life. Dad would begin the day before dawn, meet his partner, climb into the ‘crummy’ and drive one way to work. At daylight they’d hit it hard, put in an honest day’s work and hope to make it home for supper. He’s come home covered with wood chips, even his pockets would be filled! We would run to see what treasures dad would have for us in his lunch pail…maybe a soggy crust of bread, a pinecone or an interesting rock. One time he ripped up his blue and white striped hickory shirt and wrapped it around some baby squirrels he had found…I’d sit next to him and lean into his shoulder drawing in the smell of his day…trees, old coffee, sawdust, fresh air, earth and sweat; greasy oil and gas from the power saw. The mundane cares of the world all seemed so trivial to my dad.

He enjoyed being a cutter or faller for many of his logging year. “It’s very dangerous work but it’s exhilarating and rewarding too,” he said. “We’d work in ‘sets’ and had to fall the timber safely, yet in order. Each tree had its own place to fall. The real test was cutting on steep ground! ‘Timberrr! (A cry goes up by law!) The tree starts to creak and groan…. First in slow motion, then picking up horrific speed. WHOOSH! Down and with an earth-trembling WUMP! All is silent. The tree is down.”

Once on the ground the trees would be ‘bucked’ (cut to size), loaded, branded and sent down the road to the mill—headed for poles, pulp or lumber. Whether producing paper products or homes, the tree truly serves countless beneficial purpose. One large tree can provide enough lumber to frame a whole house!

Once an area is logged, the land is then scarified, where the brush and debris are burned. Then, even more quickly than it was harvested, the area is re-planted with seedlings for the next generation. Dad says, “I have planted thousands of trees. Far more than I could ever cut in my lifetime.”

Loggers! They’re driven by their love of honest hard work, their respect for God’s creation, its gifts— and the thrill of helping re-build a beautiful forest for the next pioneer.”

I love this story. It’s another reason to be grateful for the diversity of our hardworking communities and the awareness that “it takes a village to survive” just as it did with the Pilgrims. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Contact Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox at bchatty@bettykaiser.com



Friday, October 27, 2017

Anniversary Memories

10/25/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser 
Chuck and Betty Kaiser

59 years is a long time to be married. But by the grace of God, Chuck and I will celebrate that milestone next week. I was 19 and Chuck was 20 years old when we were married Nov. 1, 1958. Life in the 50s and 60s was an exciting era. We were kids who thought we were grown-ups and the world was our oyster. It was a great time to be in love and unaware of life’s obstacles. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

Unlike today’s mega, destination weddings, ours was a simple church ceremony on a Saturday afternoon. The cost was minimal. Mother paid for my gown. The five lovely bridesmaids and tuxedo-clad groomsmen paid for their attire as did all the other attendants. We provided the flowers, cake and printed napkins. Dad paid the minister. The church ladies did the rest. As a couple, our out of pocket cost was probably $300 tops.

After a brief 3-day honeymoon, Chuck went to work and I set up housekeeping. We were blessed that all those guests and bridesmaids hosted bridal showers and brought us gifts. We had everything that we needed and we are still using the pots and pans that were wedding gifts.

Fortunately, I was a home economics major at Pepperdine College so I knew how to cook, clean, sew and manage a budget. I didn’t know much about managing a husband or raising children but I muddled through and that’s a subject for another time!

One of my shower gifts was the first edition of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. It had cooking tips, recipes and other household hints. Most women did not work outside of the home. The pictures in my copy all show a young woman wearing a house dress and apron while going about her daily chores. Following are BCC’s rules for being a successful housewife:

*Every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply make-up, a dash of cologne and perhaps some simple earrings.  It does wonders for your morale.
*Wear comfortable clothes and properly fitted shoes while working around the house. (No jeans.)
*Harbor pleasant thoughts while working. It will make every task lighter and pleasanter.” (Sometimes.)
*Prevent unnecessary fatigue: Use a dust mop and long handled dust pan; or self-wringing mop (no stooping). (Well, duh.)
*When standing, keep erect posture—do not slump or bend over tasks (poor posture is tiring). Remember sitting uses much less energy than standing. (Who has time to sit?)
*Do head work while dusting, sweeping, washing dishes, paring potatoes, etc. Plan family recreation, the garden, etc. (It’s called multi-tasking.)
*If you feel tired, lie down on the floor on your back; put your hands above your head, close your eyes and relax for 3-5 min. (A nap?)

I didn’t follow all those rules but I did comb my hair every morning; cologne was only for special occasions. Jeans are my uniform of the day. I try to mop as little as possible and I am always thinking of pleasant things I would rather be doing. And yes, I have been known to fall asleep on the floor with kids crawling around me!

One of the things that Betty Crocker didn’t cover was hanging up the laundry. We had a washer but no dryer. And I had three children in four years! I learned the hard way about the basic rules for hanging clothes and diapers out to dry. There were no secrets you could keep on a clothes line. They announced when a baby was born, the ages of children, illness, the company’s coming tablecloth, the husband’s work clothes and dingy kitchen towels. So, there were clothesline rules…

1.   Never hang clothes on the weekend or Sunday! Monday is always wash day.
2.   Wash the clothes line before hanging the clothes! Walk the entire length of each line running a damp cloth around the line.
3.   Hang sheets and towels on the outside lines so you can hide your “unmentionables” in the middle.
4.   Hang clothes in a certain order: whites were always washed and hung first. Then came the dark colors.
5.   Always hang shirts by their tails. Never by the shoulders! What would the neighbors think?
6.   Always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. It is tacky to leave pins on the line.
7.   To cut down on clothes pins, learn to line the clothes up so each one could share a clothespin with the next item. (Thrifty!)
8.   If possible, take the clothes off the line before dinner, neatly fold them in the clothes basket to be ironed.
9.   IRONING? I couldn’t wait to buy a dryer!

Looking back, I realize that I never did play by the rules when it came to cleaning house or hanging laundry. But I did learn how to love and cherish my husband (and children)—for better or worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and health. I also learned that sometimes rules are meant to be broken and life’s ups and downs are great teachers!

P.S. Happy Anniversary to the best husband I’ve ever had!


Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 
Read her twice monthly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.










 

Good manners and readers ask "Why?"

 9/27/17 Chatterbox

Summer is gone. Fall is here. And that means it’s time to clean up the garden and my email inbox. Both are overflowing. Readers often send me thought provoking and fun stuff that I keep until I find time to pass them on. Lately, my inbox has been full of reminders of the practice of old fashioned manners. Lucky you! Here are some to ponder…

“First impressions make lasting impressions” was drilled into me as a child. I was taught that a first face-to-face introduction spoke volumes. Today, impressions are also made by what you say online in emails or Facebook. Yes, it’s still important to dress well and be polite... but how far will that get you when people only know you by what you say on the Internet? That’s a whole different set of manners  that we’ll talk about another time.

Those of us of a certain age often wonder what happened to the “Yes, Sir” and “No Ma’am,” environment that we were raised in. Using those titles (without sarcasm!) is still a sign of respect and that hasn’t changed. It is always best to address others respectfully at that first introduction. Military personnel set a good example for us all. I must admit that some of my friends think it is too formal and old-fashioned thereby betraying their ages. That doesn’t bother me.

“Thank you” or “You’re Welcome” are never out of style. We were raised in the same generation if you have ever been annoyed by a sales clerk’s attitude who hands you your change from a transaction and says, “Here you go!” At some point in the last few years, the phrases “Yep,” or “No Problem” also started. Where did they come from? They suggest that your business was no big deal. The phrases thank you and you’re welcome allow customers to feel like their business is appreciated.

“Here’s what’s happening.” I like this form of communication. It can be used not only at work but within families, friends and neighbors. It is a meaningful exchange of information. It means you’re not being left out of the loop or having to rely on rumors to guess what is going on. It is true communication. It shows respect and consideration without being condescending.

“How can I help?” Again, this is a respectful form of communication. People don’t like to ask for help. But if we see that someone has a need, we can be proactive and suggest that we are ready, willing and able to help them through a rough patch without dictating what we think they need.

“I’ll find out.” Sometimes we have questions that we cannot answer alone. Knowing that someone is going to go out of his or her way to team up with us, relieves tension and warms our hearts.

But enough of manners. On the lighter side, a number of people send me interesting questionnaires that I can never answer. The questions usually begin with “WHY?” Here are some for you to ponder. The answers follow.

 Questions:
Why do ships and aircraft use 'mayday' as their call for help?
Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called passing the buck?
Why are people in the public eye said to be 'in the limelight'?
Why are many coin collection jar banks shaped like pigs?

Answers:
1. This comes from the French word m'aidez (meaning 'help me’) and is pronounced, approximately, 'mayday.'
2. Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
3. In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal.  If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would 'pass the buck' to the next player.
4. Invented in 1825, limelight was used in lighthouses and theaters by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer 'in the limelight' was the Centre of attention.
Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of dense orange clay called ‘pygg.’ When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as 'pygg banks.'  An English potter misunderstood the word. He made a container that resembled a pig.

Thanks to all who contributed to today’s column. Now we all have been reminded of our manners and why we have piggy banks! Oink. Oink.




Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her twice monthly columns in the 
Cottage Grove Sentinel.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Family and friends favorite vacations

Betty and Chuck, Glacier Park, Continental Divide

8/30/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

The dog days of summer are dwindling down to a precious few. Sunny days and vacations will soon be a distant memory but those times will never really go away. I became aware of that as a group of my friends gathered for coffee and conversation. The subject of the moment was our childhood vacations. Nostalgia and laughter reigned as we shared simple stories from 40-50 years ago.

Two of the women’s vacations always included big family reunions. Barb’s mother was one of 9 children and her father was a teacher. Fortunately, her family had time to drive across country to Minnesota and visit relatives every summer. She said it was a wonderful opportunity to meet in a park for a huge picnic and get re-acquainted with all those cousins. 

Kaylen’s favorite memory was of family gatherings at Shasta Lake in No. Calif. Her mother was one of 8 children. Sometimes there would be as many as 100 cousins, aunts, uncles, shirt tail relatives and friends of the family camping on one of the islands with the ski boats on the water ferrying kids and kin around.

Other favorite vacations included Sandie’s annual trip to a primitive cabin in the Sequoias without electricity or water. Lynn’s family trip to Disneyland shortly after it opened was one to swoon for. Shirley’s family didn’t go on vacations but she made up for it when she married Ernie and they discovered cruise ships. And finally, there was Toni’s mother who randomly declared vacations by announcing that Toni and her siblings didn’t have to go to school—everyone was going to the beach for the day!

That morning with my friends got me wondering what vacations my kids and grandsons found most memorable. Due to space limitations, I can just print a few of their responses but you’ll surely find something that you can relate to. 

 Our daughter Kathy was the first to chime in and make me laugh. To set the scene— In the 1970s we owned a tent trailer. The five of us toured National parks and the entire state of Calif. in that rig. My husband hated it. Betty, Kathy, Jeff and John loved it. We didn’t have to tow it or set it up.

Kathy says, “My most memorable vacation as a kid would be our tent trailer in Yosemite with the boys sleeping in a tent outside and us (inside) hearing a bear.” Oh, yes. I remember it well. Kathy woke up in the middle of the night whispering, “Mom, there’s a bear under my bed.” The boys were outside probably with food in the tent!  I elbowed Chuck. He flung open the tent door, looked around and said, “Nope. No bear here,” and went back to sleep. The next morning, we found remnants of the bear’s feast from the picnic basket that we had conveniently left outside! Yikes!

Son-in-law Tim’s favorite vacation was a toss-up. “For me,” he said, “It was at Hume Lake, riding motorcycles in the Sierras and target shooting. In 1976, it was going to the east coast with the Calif. Cavalcade of Bands (I played saxophone). We began in Boston and ended in Washington, D.C. on July 4th with fireworks in the Mall.”

Our daughter-in-law Betsy is a Middle School Teacher and classes started last week. She still had time to type this: “My favorite summer memories are at our mountain cabin. Swimming in lakes during the heat of day, eating an ice cream cone as it melted down your arm, staying up late, playing cards and sleeping outside. Doing all these things with the people you love the most. It doesn't get much better than that!”

Paul, is our first grandson, 26 years old and an EMT. His memories mimic that of the other three who had similar experiences. “My favorite childhood vacations were always going to Hume Lake. Being by the lake and surrounded by all the trees was the best playground a kid could ask for! We got to go swimming, play on “the log”, hike, explore and watch all the animals. The great part about being at the lake was the pace was always up to us. We could decide to lounge around the cabin and put together puzzles, or we could go explore a new to us part of the National Park that surrounded us.”

Grandson Matthew is now 23 years old and a graduate of Pt. Loma University. I like to think that he speaks for all the boys when he said, “My favorite vacations as a child were the escapes to Oregonland! From the mystery adventures, to building tree houses, racing tractors, and beyond. I knew in Oregon there would always be something special waiting for me. Being a Southern California boy the thought of snow, rain, and big green trees out the window seemed so magical. Top that with donuts, trips to U of O, and even the 99 cents store what more could a boy ask for?!”

Thanks to friends and family for sharing. Now, dear readers, it’s your turn to share some good time vacation memories with each other.


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




 

Country living is a dream come true


8/1/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

It’s a typical summer day at our house. The sun is shining, the bees are buzzing and the flowers are in full bloom. I’m writing this column sitting outside and counting my blessings as I listen to the squirrel’s chatter at the bird feeder while a variety of birds and our two Dachshunds try and chase them away. I love living in the country.

I am a born and bred big-city girl but every summer my family vacationed at our cabin in Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains. It was there that I learned to love fresh air, listen to the mysterious sounds of critters in the forest, ride horseback and watch the black bear families forage at midnight through a nearby dump by the headlights of visitor’s cars. 

It was also there that I learned to love birds and enjoy the fun side of my grandfather. Grandpa J.D., the business man, always wore a 3-piece suit in the city. In the mountains, he wore casual clothes and trained Blue Jays to sit on his finger. He would sit for hours, gently tugging a peanut on a string, enticing the birds to come closer. It took days but ultimately, they became friends and a peanut award awaited them. I never mastered that art.

I always dreamed that someday we would live on a tree-lined property, near a lake. Well, surprise! Dreams do come true. Twenty-eight years ago, we moved to Cottage Grove Lake where all kinds of adventures awaited. 

Our animal adventures began immediately. The first critters that we heard were scratching in the walls of our bedroom! Our house had been unoccupied for awhile and MICE moved in. They were not welcome and had to go. Later, on a walk, a fox ran through the meadow and a bear surprised us at the lake by scrambling down a nearby hill.

Across the street from our house, a lot of squawking was going on. Looking up we saw the biggest nest ever—an Osprey family had hatched their noisy chicks. Their parents were vigilant and protective. One day I looked up to see an eagle headed down the creek towards the nest flanked by two Osprey. It wisely turned away from the chicks before a confrontation. 

Whenever logging goes on up the hill from us it chases wildlife out of their habitat into our neighborhood. Our former neighbors, Jay and Audrey, had a pond on their property that a local cougar claimed as his own! Summer days he would sprawl out on the street in front of their house and at night come onto the property for a drink! He was also interested in their sheep but their Dobermans and a tight barn kept them safe. Rumor is that there’s been another cougar down at the lake recently.

One morning Audrey called to say that there were three long-horn cattle on their property. Did I know who they belonged to? I didn’t but someone later claimed them. Another day we woke up to three ponies at the back fence trailing their ropes. Their owners also found them. And then there was what the cat drug in. One day Misty Mouser came home from the meadow dragging a rabbit! He was still alive and we took him back to the park. 

Learning to co-exist with the deer is an ongoing battle. They love our roses—all 75 bushes. Early on they circled the property during the day scouting out their nighttime dessert. At dusk, they sometimes would just camp out on the driveway where they made a friend of Lady, our German Shepherd! Deer and dog would greet and touch noses like old friends!

 The same deer regularly decimated the vegetable garden until Chuck built a Stalag 17 type enclosure and now the tomatoes and cucumbers grow in peace. It took hot wires around the rose beds to protect the flowers. Of course, we must be careful if there’s a power outage. Critters know when that hot wire is cold!

 Recently, I saw the sweetest sight ever. It was evening and a tiny newborn fawn on wobbly legs was following her little mama up the road to a safe place. Absolutely precious. Oh, how I love country living! 

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


Sunday, July 30, 2017

Spreading the news of the Declaration of Independence


7/5/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

We hold these truths to be self-evident,
That all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator
With certain unalienable Rights,
That among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
The U.S. Declaration of Independence

Yesterday we celebrated the Fourth of July and the above words again reminded us of the distinct privilege and blessings we have as Americans. The Fourth is one of those special days in our country’s history that still bring chills of gratitude when we look back at the founding of our nation.

The USA that we know today is vastly different than it was two centuries ago. Our principals, however, remain the same as that of the original 13 colonies that were banded together by a desire for independence from Great Britain. Freedom was on the lips and in the hearts of every man, woman and child. Weary of being shackled to another country; of fighting battles, over basic principles of decency that they couldn’t win, they toppled a giant and became one.

The Declaration of Independence that binds us together continues to guide us today. The declaration of freedom document was formally adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776. It proclaimed to the world that there was a new nation on the world stage. The formerly dominated colonies would be free of the tyranny of Great Britain. Free of “taxation without representation.” Free to act on their own beliefs and to begin a new way of life in a new world. It was a brave and gutsy move.

The Library of Congress succinctly describes the declaration process as taking months. Serious deliberations began in June 1776 with congress delegates from each of the 13 colonies. Jefferson, Adams, Franklin and others wrote and guided, while the war raged on. They debated and revised the document multiple times and finished just as the British fleet and army arrived at New York. 

A formal vote for independence was passed on July 2. The document continued to be repeatedly revised until the morning of July 4, 1776. Then, church bells rang all over Philadelphia; the Declaration had been officially adopted! A hand-written copy was signed by Congress President John Hancock and that night 150-200 copies were made at a printing shop. Twenty-four copies are still in existence.

I am most intrigued by what happened after July 4. Getting the
word out to the colonies and other countries was not easy. As you may recall there were no telephones, telegraphs, railroads or instant communication of any kind. The Pony Express was not even in existence.

This is where newspapers came into play. The Pennsylvania Evening Post printed the first newspaper rendition of the Declaration of Independence on July 7 and it was publicly read on July 8. Gen. George Washington ordered it to be read to the American Army in New York from his personal copy. After that, the original Declaration was formally inscribed and signed by members of Congress.

Still, word of the country’s independence was slow to spread. It was said of colonial communications: “Even the most critical intelligence could only travel at the pace of the fastest horse or ship, often taking weeks to reach other colonies by treacherous postal roads.” So, copies of the Declaration were read in town squares via newspapers and later in magazines. The document took nearly two months to reach some cities.

News of the American independence declaration reached London mid- August via the ship Mercury. England’s General William Howe (stationed in the colonies), broke the news in a letter to The London Gazette with this succinct announcement: “I am informed that the Continental Congress have declared the United Colonies free and independent states.”

The rest, as they say, is history. King George III was not happy but the Americans eventually won the war gaining freedom from tyranny and outside control. May we will always take the high ground with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness available to all. God bless America!


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



Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Congratulations, USAF Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer!

6/7/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser
Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer March 31, 2017
USAF promotion and reaffirmation of oath

Congratulations are in order for newly appointed USAF Colonel Kirsten M. Palmer. A promotion ceremony and reception for her pinning was held on March 31, 2017, in the Airmen’s Hall of the Pentagon in Washington D.C. It promoted Kirsten from a Lieutenant Colonel to a full Colonel. Among the 80 guests attending the ceremony were her husband Col. Roger Lang, daughter Addyson and other family, including her parents, Ron and Linda Palmer, of Cottage Grove.

In her remarks after the pinning of the new insignia she said, “When I graduated from Cottage Grove High School, Oregon, and headed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, I never dreamed my life and career would turn out this well.” With graduations coming up this month, it seems only fitting to post Kirsten’s most recent promotion as motivation for today’s graduates to dream big!

Longtime Grover’s and readers of this column will remember that Kirsten was always ambitious and patriotic. During high school, she was student body president, a scholar and an athlete. She served as a U.S. Senate Page for Senator Bob Packwood. Upon graduation, she enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and was accepted by the Air Force Academy in Colorado. She received her commission from the Academy in May 1995. Later she would earn a Master’s of Science degree in Resource Strategy.

Climbing the ladder in any profession is arduous. We all begin at the bottom and work our way to the top. I have watched with awe as Kirsten climbed the military ladder upon her graduation from the Academy.
Her resume includes stations in five Major Commands (MAJCOMs) filling a variety of flight line and back shop positions. Her weapon system experience includes C-130s, A-10s, C-9s, C-17s and KC-135Rs.

Currently, she is a student at the prestigious Eisenhower School for National Security & Resource Strategy, Ft. Leslie McNair, Washington, D.C. The school is focused on developing strategic thinkers to operate in executive environments developing national security strategy and policy with an emphasis on evaluation and managing national resources.

If all that is as Greek to you as it was to me, it became most impressive after I looked up the responsibilities of a Colonel at military-ranks.org. A full Colonel is just above Lt. Col. and below Brig. General. It is the highest Field Officer rank. A Colonel is typically responsible for commanding a wing (unit) of 1,000 to 3,000 airmen of lower ranks. The rank insignia for Colonel is a silver eagle. They are sometimes informally referred to as “Full-Bird Colonels” to differentiate between them and Lt Colonels. It is the 22nd rank in the USAF. Go, Colonel Palmer!

If you’re a young person considering serving your country in a military career here’s a few stats about the Air Force. Their website says that they have a total of 315,725 active duty personnel. After basic military training —Start strong. Finish stronger—the work includes blue collar jobs, clerical, technical, administrative and professional areas. Becoming a pilot requires a time commitment, a bachelor’s degree, meeting officer qualifications, flight school and more. The average length of service is 14.5 years.

Is it worth it? The last time I spoke with Kirsten she said, “My plan was to stay in the Air Force as long as I was having fun. Twenty-five years later I’m still having fun! The opportunities provided by joining the military are endless and the education benefits are incredible in exchange for serving my country.”

One of the Air Force mottos is to Aim High. That’s good advice for all of today’s graduates whatever you choose to do in life.  Congratulations to all!



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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Helping mothers feed children around the world


5/10/17 Chatterbox     
Betty Kaiser

A newborn baby is a mother’s most precious gift. The moment that baby is put in your arms you are flooded with an inexpressible, eternal love. Nothing will ever be more important than the child you are holding. You will love, cherish and protect that child forever. But sometimes life intervenes to make life hard for little ones and they need more than our love to save them

The faces of mothers and their children facing starvation in Somalia broke my heart as I witnessed their struggle to live on a television show in early May. ABC News anchor David Muir and Caroline Miles, CEO, of Save the Children, introduced viewers to Somalia a land of 20 million people all on the brink of famine and starvation including the children. I was one of those viewers.

As the cameras scanned the landscape, the reality of years without rain was revealed in pictures of parched earth, animal carcasses and bone-thin adults. Desperate villagers line up every morning for food and water. Trucks dispensed water through hoses at $4 a gallon. Each family hoped to get two buckets full. Enough to last two days.

The faces of emaciated children brought me to tears. The hollow-eyed babies with tiny frames had no flesh on their bones. They were limp and didn’t even cry during the final stages of malnutrition.  Their loving mothers were stoic as their babies suffer with diarrhea and pneumonia as their bodies shut down. Even the doctors are helpless to save these precious little ones.

The situation is dire. Their lives are in God’s hands and those of us watching from far away have questions …how can we possibly help these children from such a distance? How much money do we give to support the agencies that are serving them? And how do we know the money will buy what is needed for the children and their families?

I don’t have all the answers. But I do want to address the money donation amount—no amount is too small. Here's an example: I have a dear friend who is on a limited income. He regularly sends $5 a month to his favorite charities. It’s not much but he can afford $5. It makes him feel good that he’s helping others and if a thousand people do the same thing, the benefit to the charity would be $5,000! Think about it. Give what you can afford.

I am always skeptical of organizations soliciting money. So I checked out the rating for Save the Children at this website: www.charitynavigator.org. I have used this reliable source for many years. You might want to bookmark it on your computer. It gives you organization addresses, telephone numbers, how they spend their money, an overall score and rating for the charity.

Save the Children’s rating was 3.1 stars (out of 4) with 89.6% going to program expenses and services. In the comments section there was some chatter about salaries and other expenses. Too much money spent on overhead was the biggest complaint. My favorite comment about the money being spent was most charitable: “I look at it this way. I'm doing what every human should be doing and that's helping children.”

Of course, I don’t need to tell you there are a lot of scams out there. Be careful before you impulsively give. If you are unsure of a charity, check out such international agencies as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. The United Nations Children’s Fund is another option.

UNICEF was created in 1946 to provide emergency food and health care to children after WWII.  It claims to have helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. They internationally provide health care, clean water, nutrition, education and emergency relief. https://www.unicefusa.org/mission

One of my favorite charities—Heifer International—has a different approach. Founded in 1944, its mission is to empower and feed the poor. They donate livestock to families who raise them and breed them both for eating and to raise money i.e. children can drink the milk and eat the eggs. Then, as the flock or herd grows, the family can sell the excess with one caveat: they must pass on one female (goat, heifer, chicken or whatever) to another family. Sharing the bounty is a win-win situation. This amazing program has a 3 star rating. https://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/index.html

P.S. ABC viewers donated $800,000 to Save the Children within 24 hours of the TV show. Because of them, thousands of lives will be saved. I'm thinking that such donations to one of my favorite children's charities on Mother's Day is a good idea!

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






Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why Cottage Grove?

One of Cottage Grove, Oregon' many murals

4/12/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

My husband and I moved from Southern California (the land of eternal summer) to soggy Cottage Grove Lake 28 years ago. March 1989 was our introduction to a textbook Oregon springtime. One minute the sun was shining and the next it was raining cats and dogs. In fact, it rained 11 inches that month breaking all previous records.

On move-in day, we discovered that those rains had saturated the ground so much that our humongous moving van got stuck in the mud and had to be pulled out by Taylor Towing. You can only imagine how embarrassed our driver was when a woman (!) tow truck driver arrived to pull him out of the muck.

In California, our neighbors and friends all asked the same question “Why Oregon? It rains there. And why Cottage Grove?” Why indeed?  Moving to Oregon was not on our bucket list. We weren’t retired and no jobs awaited us. We were, however ready for a little adventure and living by a lake was our lifelong dream. My husband’s mantra is “let’s go” and my motto is “When in doubt follow your heart.” So we did.

At the time I remember describing the town of Cottage Grove with words like small, quaint, or charming. The population hovered around 8,000 people but it had all the basic facilities one needed: banks, grocery stores, doctors, a hospital, veterinarians, a newspaper, restaurants, gas stations, schools, churches and a donut shop! You know, a regular town.

Our C.G. adventure began in 1987 when we were vacationing in Oregon in our little Tioga RV. I thought of it as a temporary stopover on the road of life. What I did not know was that this place would capture our hearts.

We found Cottage Grove by pure happenstance. We had left Crater Lake in the Tioga with our Honda motorcycle perched on the back. After several weeks on the road we needed a place to eat lunch, a shoe store for new motorcycle boots and a place to spend the night. Our AAA map said C.G. had it all!

On that first visit, we discovered there was no fast food row of McDonald’s, Taco Bell, etc. But around town there were many places to eat including the wonderful but gone-too-soon Copper Rooster. We followed the bridge into town where we passed the historic Dr. Pierce Barn, and the Village Shopping Center that housed a Hub clothing store, Tiffany’s Pharmacy and a grocery store. All of those are now history.

Driving on into town we discovered that Main St. was the shopping hub. Downtown was bustling with business. There were antique stores, hardware stores, banks, pharmacies, gift shops, Ruth and Elsie’s Dress Shop, a jewelry store, The Bookmine, Schweitzer’s Men’s Wear, Homestead Furniture, two shoe stores owned by the Hoover family and more! At that time Safeway was located where the Community Center is now and across the street was a Cornet store (the local five & dime).

That day we got some good advice and made two memorable purchases. First, we had lunch at Tilly’s Top Hat Pies. Oh, my! My husband said that tears ran down my face after just one bite of Margaret Tilly’s apple pie a la mode. It was that good.

At Self-Selecto-Shoes, manager Mike Thiess found us just the boots that we needed and then asked where we were spending the night. He suggested that we head out to C.G. Lake and Pine Meadows Campground. We did and that is where we fell in love with the place that we now call home.

It was only later that we would discover the Gateway Shopping Center where we purchased Merchant’s Donuts. Thanks to the morning coffee guys we got to know born and bred Grovers, appreciate the stuff that early settlers were made of and the area’s historic lumber and mining history.

So much has changed in nearly three decades. The town has grown. Businesses have come and gone. A landmark has been destroyed (Dr. Pierce's Barn) and others have been built (Opal Whiteley and Bohemia Parks). We even have traffic jams! Still, every spring as the rain comes down, the flowers bloom and the grass turns green, we feel blessed that we heeded the call to a new lifestyle and moved to The Grove.

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








Friday, March 24, 2017

From "Hillbilly" to Navy Commander



3/22/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

My husband and I recently attended a memorial service for James Freeman Hornick, a USN Retired Commander, our former neighbor and forever friend.
Seaman Jim Hornick circa 1950



Sitting in the mortuary, amongst his family and friends, I realized that Jim was one of those golden Cottage Grove residents that I spoke of in my last column. This is his story.

To all appearances, neighbor Jim was a good old boy just like all the other guys. He wore jeans, tended his garden and told tall tales. But he was so much more. He had a unique success story that began in the hills of West Virginia where he was born in 1931. The cabin that he and his brothers grew up in had neither electricity, indoor plumbing nor water. His family was truly destitute.

The town of West Milford, WV, had a population of about 630. Jim was one of 15 graduates from his school. (One of the student’s’ favorite pranks involved tipping outhouses!) Post graduation, his future was uncertain. The only certainty was that all young men between the ages of 18 and 26 were required to register for Military Training and Service. I.e. the draft.

Jim may have been a hillbilly (his words) but he was smart and he didn’t have many choices. Since the draft was imminent, he enlisted in the Navy in 1950 at the age of 19. Why the Navy? His answer:  “I didn’t want to roll around in the mud with the Army. Bed sheets on board every night were much better.”

His Navy career began on the flight deck as a “white hat” enlistee or “mustang” meaning that he started out as an enlistee but advanced to an officer—30 years later he retired as a full Commander.

At the memorial, his wife Charlene shared how Jim’s life was a lesson in how to attain success. He had minimal education but a great desire to be more than he was. His life as a sailor was governed by goals, determination and self-education. If he didn’t know how to do something he went to the library and read up on it. That included books on etiquette and manners he hadn’t been taught.

Simply knowing how to type opened the doors to administrative positions. After that, the sky was the limit. He skipped the rank of Chief and Ensign and started climbing the ladder:  Warrant Officer, LJG, LT, LTC and finally, a full Commander with the rank of CD-R (as high as he could go under his designation).

The boy who had never left West Virginia quickly became a world traveler. He sailed the world’s oceans including around the African Horn in a harrowing, ship-rolling storm. He served in both the Korean and Vietnam wars. His shore duties included coast-to-coast tours from California to Florida.

His last duty station was at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. He supervised hundreds of office workers. How did he get along? With respect. He said, “If you want respect you give respect.”

He met Charlene while serving in Calif. After a whirlwind courtship they married in San Diego in 1973. Jim retired after 30 years of service in 1980 and they moved to Cottage Grove Lake where he quietly set aside the ever-changing military lifestyle, his medals, ribbons and other awards and settled down into civilian life.

In retirement, this officer who bled red, white and blue, loved to golf, fish and hunt. Occasionally we could get him to tell us a story about cruising the world. He would always end it by saying, “Even a hillbilly from West Virginia can do okay in the United States Navy.” In his last years he valiantly fought Alzheimer’s disease. Sadly, he lost that battle January 21, 2017.

We will never forget you Jim. We are grateful to you and all those who choose to serve in the military. You are role models for all generations on how to live disciplined, honorable and patriotic lives. And thank you Jim, for reminding us that anything is possible if you dream big and work hard enough. Rest in peace.

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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Doug Still, civil rights activist, former Cottage Grove resident


2/15/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Cottage Grove is famous for many things, including its Bohemia Gold Mining district. But in my opinion, this entire area is a huge gold mine of caring residents. Tucked into quiet neighborhoods in and around town, we are blessed with so many people who are pure gold. They quietly contribute their time and talents to make ours a better world.

Former resident Doug Still falls into that golden category. I first knew him by reputation. At that time he had lived here for 31 years and he focused his interests on energy and social issues. Among other things, he was a founder of Jefferson Park, South Lane Mental Health, EPUD and renown for building the solar energy-powered Cottage Restaurant restaurant building.

In Feb. 2006 I was invited to be a guest at a Rotary meeting where Doug was the speaker. Until then I did not realize that his pre-Oregon life included a historical contribution to the Civil Rights movement. I think it bears repeating in this African American History month.

First, a historical reminder: In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves. I 1865 the anti-slavery amendment was added to the Constitution and officially eliminated slavery throughout the U.S. One-hundred years later, racial equality was still being disputed in most southern states.

In the 1960s, beleaguered Black citizens all across the South began calling upon Dr. Martin Luther King for help. This American Baptist minister was also a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Beginning in 1955, he advocated a fresh approach to civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

In 1962 the Reverend Doug Still was serving in Chicago as the executive director of the department of social welfare of the Presbyterian Church Federation for four counties and 2200 churches. (He was a graduate of Union Theological Seminary and was ordained at the historic Madison Ave. Presbyterian Church in New York.)

He began his Rotary talk by saying, “One day a wire came to the Chicago clergy from Martin Luther King saying that the people of Albany, Georgia needed help. They were in trouble and needed us to come and stand with them in their efforts to desegregate the city’s libraries, parks, schools, churches and hotels. (City officials were closing them rather than integrate them).

   “We formed a committee representing the three major faiths,” he said, “and boarded a bus. About 50 of us — Catholic, Protestant, clergy and lay people — rode about 800 miles to Albany to show our concern for our brothers and sisters.

   “We arrived at night and the next morning we worshipped together (blacks and whites) and Martin Luther King spoke. Our strategy was to gather in front of city hall and offer a very brief prayer. The sheriff immediately arrested us and locked us up in jail. Even then we were segregated with the black people being put in the stables at the fairgrounds. Six days later, our bus left for Chicago, the most segregated city in the north.”

In 1963 King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. After that, he won hundreds of awards including the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. The nation was inspired by King’s “dream” speech but racial acceptance was slow in coming and bloody in the process.

Later that year, many were injured in riots when James Meredith was enrolled as the first black at the University of Mississippi. In 1963 fire hoses and police dogs were turned on marchers as they demonstrated in Birmingham, Alabama. Medgar Evers, the NAACP leader was murdered. Four girls were killed in the bombing of a Baptist Church.

   President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 but three civil rights workers were murdered in Mississippi. He then signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but Malcolm X was murdered and the Watts riots left 34 dead in Los Angeles.

State and local lawmen attacked 600 civil rights workers with billy-clubs and tear gas as they as they approached the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7, 1965. The march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama for voting rights became known as “Bloody Sunday.”

Things got worse, Doug said, “Another wire came, asking the clergy and laity to come to Selma. We went down but our efforts to march across the bridge were turned away twice and we returned to Chicago. Later, the National Council of Churches asked me to go to Greenwood Mississippi where I worked with black churches.”

Unfortunately, King did not live to see his dream of peaceful coexistence come true. His voice was stilled by an assassin’s bullet in 1968 and contrary to everything he believed in, the West side of Chicago went up in flames. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fortunately, King’s color-blind dream didn’t die with him. Others like Doug Still took up the torch and progress in racial equality has been made. Progress — not perfection. But when the torch gets dim we can still hear King exhorting us to keep the dream going:  “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last!”

Doug Still has also moved on to his heavenly reward. But he will long be remembered by the legacy that he left of serving others locally and across the nation. That day at Rotary he also left us with this thought:

“So, what do we learn from all of this?” he asked rhetorically.  “Violence doesn’t work. Communication and dialog do.”

So, in the spirit of peace and racial harmony, I leave you with this Biblical scripture quote: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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