Patterns for stick laying

This is the sort of thing that could keep a couple of small children productively interested in something other than mischief while you get lunch ready.  It’s also the sort of thing that could drive a perfectionist child into a freakish melt-down.  I have some suggestions for that below:

vintage patterns for stick laying

First suggestion: Ignore most of the instructions.
For children who will be incredibly frustrated when their sticks, or pieces of dried spaghetti, or toothpicks, or pipe-cleaners, or whatever, roll off the lines and don’t stay put:

Use these: Wikki Stix

Or trace the picture with a glue stick (or better, let the child do that)- a couple lines at a time, and then lay down the sticks (or yarn!).

Give them a tray of sand and let them try to copy the picture by drawing in the sand.

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Decorative Designs

From the vintage magazine ‘School Arts Publishing Company, 1915

vintage designs school arts 1915

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The Real Roots of School Reform

vintage as the twig is bent school illustration

From Charlotte Iserbyt:

The reform is not new. It started in the early 1900s when John D. Rockefeller, Jr.’s Director of Charity for the Rockefeller Foundation, Frederick T. Gates, set up the Southern Education Board. In 1913 the organization was incorporated into the General Education Board. These boards set in motion “the deliberate dumbing down of America”. In Frederick T. Gates’ “The Country School of Tomorrow”Occasional Papers No. 1 (General Education Board, New York, 1913) was a section entitled “A Vision of the Remedy” in which he wrote:

“Is there aught a remedy for this neglect of rural life? Let us, at least, yield ourselves to the gratifications of a beautiful dream that there is. In our dream, we have limitless resources, and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our moulding hand. The present educational conventions fade from our minds; and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or of science. We are not to raise up from among them authors, orators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians. Nor will we cherish even the humbler ambition to raise up from among them lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we now have ample supply.”

The above quote sounds like something from one of the public/private school-to-work/tax-exempt foundation partnerships involved in the Reinventing Schools Coalition agenda, as well as other innocuous sounding current-day initiatives that are being implemented across the nation.


Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies (by the Carnegie Corporation, published in 1934)  is the most important book I ever laid my hands on. You can find it here. Following are important and revealing excerpts from Conclusions and Recommendations for the Social Studies:

“The Commission was also driven to this broader conception of its task by the obvious fact that American civilization, in common with Western civilization, is passing through one of the great critical ages of history, is modifying its traditional faith in economic individualism [free enterprise], and is embarking upon vast experiments in social planning and control which call for large-scale cooperation on the part of the people…” (pp. 1-2)

“. . . Cumulative evidence supports the conclusion that in the United States and in other countries the age of ‘laissez faire’ in economy and government is closing and that a new age of collectivism is emerging.” (p. 16)

Read the rest. It will make you a little ill, and very chilled.

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Free4Kindle: Books on the best-sellers list 100 years ago

The Turmoil, a novel

Amazon Reader Review: I read this because I’ve been on a serious Booth Tarkington/Sinclair Lewis kick. However, I read “The Magnificent Ambersons” first and it is simply Tarkington’s standout novel.
“The Turmoil” is the first in Tarkington’s “The Growth Trilogy,” and it’s OK, although I think one good book (that is, “Ambersons,” the second in the series) might have sufficed. I would have given “The Turmoil” 3.5 stars, but I couldn’t figure out how to find a half star. The third in the trilogy, “National Avenue” or “The Midlander,” seems to be unavailable anywhere, so perhaps others also thought one book was plenty for this series about proud aristocratic families losing their fortunes amid rapid industrialization of the 20th Century because they don’t know how to earn money, only squander it.
The infrastructure of Tarkington’s stories is often little more than a soap opera. The reason to read Tarkington is the atmosphere around his story. If you ever looked at the fantastic architecture from the late 1800s to the 1930s or so and wondered about the people who built those houses, here is your answer. He not only introduces you to the builders, but he takes you right inside those houses to daily life.
Tarkington is billed today as a Republican through and through, but don’t be fooled. While he is conservative in some of his views, he hates the blight of big-business industrialization; I have yet to read a Tarkington story that doesn’t gripe incessantly about the ever present soot darkening all that was once white. I guess today’s comparison is our alternate reality, cyberspace, taking our jobs, eliminating human interactions, sentencing us to weeks in our lonely rooms and chronic Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
If you’re on a Tarkington kick, or feel compelled to read the entire trilogy, or wondered about those houses, this is a good read.

See also: The Magnificent Ambersons

vintage BOOK with owls lettering

A Far Country – Complete
By Winston Churchill, not the British politician, but the American author that almost nobody reads anymore.

Amazon reader review: Not written by Winston S. Churchill. It’s about how the Railroad baron, political Bosses and politics worked in the late 19th century. Definitely worth reading.

vintage BOOK with owls lettering

Michael O’Halloran
By Gene Stratton-Porter

I loved this one as a kid. As an adult, I see that it has flaws, and the eugenics theories of the time slip into all her books, but…. I still love this one.

vintage BOOK with owls lettering

Pollyanna Grows Up
The sequel to Pollyanna

Amazon Reader Review: Fully recovered from her previous automobile accident, Pollyanna returns once again to the city of Boston, in request of her kind nurse, Della Wetherby. This last has a sister by the name of Ruth Carew, who is miserable and depressed as a consequence of a great loss, a young nephew by the name of Jamie who was taken away by his father, the woman’s brother-in-law and who was never seen again. Della Wetherby’s sorrow was just as grand, but her career as a nurse allows her to forget, while Ruth Carew lives alone in her big house in Commonwealth Avenue with nothing else she does or wants to do but to think of the lost Jamie. However, with her visit, Pollyanna soon changes things around, at first driving Mrs. Carew mad but soon she enters her heart.

Pollyanna finds a lot of new friends in Boston, beginning with the servants in Mrs. Carew’s own home, Jerry, a young newspaper selling boy, Jamie, a crippled boy who Pollyanna is sure is the lost “Jamie,” and Sadie Dean, a homeless working young girl. In Boston Pollyanna spends most of her time trying to locate Jamie, in desperate hope to please Mrs. Carew, but of this I shall say no more, the surprise twist is for the very reader to discover on his or her own.

The second part of the book may not arrive too welcomed by some readers, like Jimmy ‘Bean’ Pendenton stated, we readers weren’t ready to see little Pollyanna grow up. However, although Miss Pollyanna Whittier has indeed grown up, she has managed to mantain her usual personality, even if some of her more innocent charm is gone. Pollyanna indeed needs her gladness and her famouse Glad Game to be able to survive the terrible dark times that have arrived at the Harrington homestead, where she grew up with the strict, but changed Aunt Polly, who has gone almost back to square one.

In conclusion, if you’ve enjoyed the first part of this story, then you will definitely enjoy the further adventures of the glad girl and all of her old and new friends. Definitely a great sequel to an unforgettable classic!

vintage BOOK with owls lettering

by Mary Roberts Rinehart
About the Author
Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was an American writer, often called the American Agatha Christie, although her first mystery novel was published 14 years before Christie’s. She is considered the source of the phrase “The butler did it”, although she did not actually use the phrase. She is considered to have invented the “Had-I-But-Known” school of mystery writing.
Reader Review: Quite philosophical and very evocative of another time, other values, another world view.

Still has plenty to say about both good and evil. About second chances and the problem of sin….

Really fun to discover not what I think about people shortly after the turn of the 20th century, but of what people at the turn of the century thought about themselves.

vintage BOOK with owls lettering

The next is Jaffrey, by William J. Locke. Amazon doesn’t have in a free Kindle version, but they have these two for free:
Simon the Jester
I’ve read this one in my great-grandparents hard-cover.

Amazon Reader Review: “It was a soft November day, full of blue mist and invested with a dying grace by a pale sunshine struggling through thin, grey rain clouds. It was a faded lady of a day – a lady of waxen cheeks, attired in pearl-grey and old lace, her dim eyes illumined by a last smile.” Such were his thoughts after Simon de Gex, MP, learned that he had 6 months to live. He might have isolated himself and waited the inevitable outcome, but if he had we would not have a wonderful story of a man struggling to do good in his final days and failing and succeeding and finally understanding what it means. Don’t get the idea that this is a melancholy tale. It is not. William John Locke is a delightfully humourous writer and that wit appears throughout this book. His style, grasp of language, development of memorable characters, and, best of all, storytelling ability shine through in this book. I think he is among the very best English writers of any age.

Me again: I don’t remember the details any longer, but I do remember that at the time I read it, I quite disagreed with both the author and Simon on their ideas of good, but I still found it an interesting and provocative read.
The Belovéd Vagabond

vintage BOOK with owls lettering
Felix O’Day by F. Hopkinson Smith

Felix O’Day

About the Author
An American author, story-teller, illustrator, and engineer, Francis Hopkinson Smith (1838-1915) was the descendant of Francis Hopkinson, a signatory to the Declaration of Independence. The foundation of the Statue of Liberty is amongst his greatest achievements as an engineer. Earning fame as an illustrator and painter, he started his literary career in his fifties and published the famous series of Colonel Carter novels.
vintage BOOK with owls lettering

The Harbor by Ernest Poole
The Harbor

THE HARBOR is chock full of observations that are so contemporary and relevant that one might think this published now instead of 100 years ago. “Billy” telling his story in the first person leads us down a path from childhood in 1880’s Brooklyn to growing up and working as a writer/reporter in the early 1910’s. The book is supposed to be a socialist polemic that pits the capitalists profiting from labor in the ports of New York and the ships that come through it. But overlaying it we have Billy growing up observing the ever changing and dynamic NY waterfront and growing up. In one example Billy as a college student debates his affection for Voltaire, Hugo or Maupassant to his friend and foil Joe Kramer’s attraction to Darwin, Nietzsche, Whitman or Zola. Kramer and Billy are debating like college students will for the next 100 years and equally questioning “truth” and “education”. It’s an interesting and completely unselfconscious passage one could find in any coming of age book written in the last well hundred years.

Billy grows up with a father obsessed with building a successful shipping company and a mother who nurtures her son’s interests in books, literature and writing. Again just as young people have always done Billy finds a calling to study in Paris; an essentially indulgent and somewhat narcissistic period that only ends when called back to New York to tend to a family tragedy.

The second half of the book is considerably different as Billy’s journey shifts from one of growing maturity to how he’ll make his way in the world, what will be his life work and worldview. He is quite taken up by the Harbor and falls for the “Big Men” capitalist that want to make the waterfront grander in anticipation of the Panama Canal.

vintage BOOK with owls lettering
The Lone Star Ranger
Zane Grey, what more needs to be said?

vintage BOOK with owls lettering
Angela’s Business by Henry Sydnor Harrison
Angela’s Business
About the Author
American author HENRY SYDNOR HARRISON (1880-1930) is best remembered for his novels Queed (1911) and Captivating Mary Carstairs (1914).

vintage BOOK with owls lettering


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The Siege of Leningrad

The diary of a teenager who lived through the seige of Leningrad has been found, edited, and published.  It looks interesting, and, of course, sad, although she herself survived. More here.

You can also read more about the siege here:

“It was horrific. The siege of Leningrad (the modern-day St. Petersburg) lasted almost two and one-half years and cost the lives of an estimated 1,000,000 city residents. It began on September 8, 1941 when German troops completed their encirclement of the city. As his blitzkrieg rushed towards Moscow, Hitler made the strategic decision to bypass Leningrad and strangle the city into submission rather than commit valuable resources to attacking it directly.

Hunger and cold became the city’s greatest enemies. By the end of September, the city’s oil and coal supplies were exhausted. This meant that the city was without any central heating. As the brutal Russian winter approached, water pipes froze and broke, denying the residents drinking water.

Food supplies were cut. By November, individual rations were lowered to 1/3 of the daily amount needed by an adult. The city’s population of dogs, cats, horses, rats and crows disappeared as they became the main course on many dinner tables. Reports of cannibalism began to appear. Thousands died – an estimated 11,000 in November increasing to 53,000 in December. The frozen earth meant their bodies could not be buried. Corpses accumulated in the city’s streets, parks and other open areas.”

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Court sends boy to jail for not having lunch with dad

Judge puts children in juvenile detention because they won’t have lunch with their father (or have any sort of relationship with him).  I realize that divorces are bitter, acrimonious and a case of he said/she said, but the oldest boy told the judge he would not talk to his father because his father is violent and he has seen him hit their mother, and this was the Judge’s response:

“You’re very defiant, you have no manners. There is no reason why you do not have a relationship with your father. Your father has never been charged with anything. Your father’s never been convicted of anything. Your father doesn’t have a personal protection order against him. Your father is well-liked and loved by the community, his co-workers, his family (and) his colleagues. You, young man, have got it wrong. I think your father is a great man who has gone through hoops for you to have a relationship with you.”


Not a single one of those things is proof that the children didn’t see him hit their mother. And he’s clearly not well-liked and loved by his family, since his kids won’t have anything to do with him. She told the boy he just might have to stay there until he graduates high school if he refuses to have a normal, healthy relationship with his father. Well, how do you order that? How do you make that happen by court order? And what kind of father that loves his son would let that happen?

The 10 year old said he’d just go to juvie with his big brother. Here’s what the judge said to the 9 year old little girl:

“Let’s see, you’re going to be a teenager. You want to have your birthdays in Children’s Village? Do you like going to the bathroom in front of people? Is your bed soft and comfortable at home? I’ll tell you this, if you two don’t have a nice lunch with your dad and make this up to your dad, you’re going to come back here and I’m going to have the deputies take you to Children’s Village.”


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The Red Wheelbarrow

Red wheelbarrowIf you have never yet read The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams, please remedy this loss immediately.

It is a light thing, just over a dozen words, yet packed with imagery and feeling.  Having this poem in your own repository of poetry changes the way you see so many common, every day things of life.

William Carlos Williams was an American poet in the first half of the 20th century, and he was also a doctor with many patients in the African American community.  From Wikipedia:

Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh and uniquely American form of poetry whose subject matter centered on everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. He came up with the concept of the “variable foot” which Williams never clearly defined, although the concept vaguely referred to Williams’s method of determining line breaks. The Paris Review called it “a metrical device to resolve the conflict between form and freedom in verse.”

The owner of the chickens and the wheelbarrow has probably been tracked down.  From this article:

“The discovery doesn’t change the meaning, he said, but “knowing there was a man with a particular wheelbarrow and some chickens does help us understand the world the poem was embedded in.”

Williams’s 16-word poem, first published in 1923, was hailed as a manifesto of plain-spoken American modernism. Williams himself declared it “quite perfect.” A staple of classrooms and anthologies, it has inspired endless debates about its deeper meaning — how much of what, exactly, depends on the red wheelbarrow? — not to mention provided the name of an English-language bookstore in Paris, a craft beer from Maine and an episode of “Homeland.” “

Thaddeus Marshall was an African American street vendor in New Jersey.  William Carlos Williams was his family doctor.  He had a chicken yard in his backyard.  Williams delivered his son.

“I’m in awe,” Ms. Hale, 69, a compliance officer for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said of the connection. “To think that the real person who inspired it was my great-grandfather, and that I lived in the same house he lived in, and looked out the same windows at the same yard, is overwhelming.”

Little things.

Be blessed by the little things in your day today.  So much depends on them.

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Gloom and Doom (formerly news and views)

Outspoken feminist once wrote a column where she mocked the high rate of male suicide rates and said she didn’t care. It was really quite horrifically hate-filled and hostile.
Her favorite son just committed suicide (she is estranged from her other son, a young man she has publicly admitted she just doesn’t like).

I hate the thought of any mother going through this much heart-ache and grief, and I can only imagine that the memory of that column must be like pouring flesh eating ants all over her already lacerated heart. I’m not gloating. But stuff like her column is why so many women do not want to be called feminists. She’s not an outlier, she’s not your crazy Aunt May or Uncle Joe who just says that stuff in a corner. She’s been given a platform, she’s had it for years. She is representative. And chickens, regrettably, do come home to roost.

FBI, DOJ and IRS plotted to target conservatives.

We did nothing wrong and they destroyed our stores– from AskaKorean, about the Baltimore looters who targeted Asian owned stores (again)

Oops again- it was bigger than we were told (where have we heard this before, how recently, and how soon before we here it again? Hackers of social security numbers and private info on 21.5 MILLION government workers.

Reality is unprofessional and abusive.

“Germano also “reinforced gender bias and stereotypes” in the minds of her Marines by telling them on several occasions that male Marines would not take orders from them and would see them as inferior if they could not meet men’s physical standards, the investigation found.”

This Marine was relieved of her command because the girls she tried to train didn’t want to have to meet Marine standards.

Greek businesses begin listing prices in drachmas (the currency is legally supposed to be Euros)

It’s true that Greece entered the European Union with huge debts and continued to dig the debt hold deeper and deeper like there was no day of reckoning coming.

But it’s also true that Germany had massive debts that she never paid after WWI, which is one of the many reasons the Germans ended up with Hitler, and we all ended up with WW2.  Oh, and Germany didn’t pay off her WW2 debts, either. More here.

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Date and Nut Muffins for a Crowd

Raisin Walnut Muffins (Walnuts optional) With golden oat topping

Raisin Walnut Muffins
(Walnuts optional)
With golden oat topping

The recipe called for dates, but I didn’t have enough dates, so I used raisins instead. I also wanted them to be heartier, so I add chopped walnuts, and then at the last minute (two pans were already in the oven), I remembered I had some of this yummy brown sugar and oats topping, so I sprinkled a tablespoon of that over each of the remaining muffins. I made six dozen muffins altogether.

Grease your pans first- I love this home-made mix for greasing pans- it’s really amazing, and I use a pastry brush to coat my tins. Well, that’s not true- I use a small paint brush (about 2″) that has never been used for anything else. You need to do this first as well as get the oven ready because anything you make with baking powder should be baking as fast as possible after you’ve added the liquid ingredients.

For the rest:
Flour (I used ww pastry flour)- 2 lb, 13 oz OR about 2 1/2 quarts
Baking powder, 5 Tablespoons
Salt: 2 1/2 teaspoons
sugar: 7 oz, OR 7/8 of a cup
Raisins (or chopped dates or craisins or figs or whatever)- 1 lb or 2 1/4 cup (I think I used a little more)
Walnuts, chopped, about 1 1/2 cups (that’s all I had, or I would have used a little more)
Cinnamon, grated nutmeg, allspice- to taste. I added about 2 Tablespons of cinnamon, just a few dashes of all spice, and about 1/2 of a freshly grated nutmeg.
Combine the above in one large bowl.

In another bowl, combine:
5 beaten eggs
4 1/2 cups of milk (I used coconut milk)
8 oz or 1 1/2 cups of butter (that’s what the recipe said, and I went with 8 ounces- or two sticks- but I think they measured or weighed wrong, and I should have used 3 sticks of butter, because these were delicious, but a touch on the dry side).
Beat the liquid ingredients together. Pour them into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Don’t worry about lumps.

Dish the muffins out using about 1/8 of a cup of batter in each tin.

If desired, sprinkle with a Tablespoon of crunchy oat topping some of this yummy brown sugar and oats topping or just mix up some brown sugar, butter and oats yourself, or leave the tops alone.

Bake at 400-425 for 20-25 minutes.  They are done when you can poke a dry stick of spaghetti or a butter knife through the center and it comes out clean.


Flip them in their tins or get them otut of their tins immediately, otherwise the bottoms get soggy as they steam in the hot tins.


You worked hard.  Sit down and admire your work for a few minutes.

Admire your work with lots and lots of butter.


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Plants in the mustard family

Mustard family crinkleroot description


mustard crinkleroot imagemustard penns bitter cress

mustard bitter cress imagemustard family yellow rocket

Yellow Rocket Barbarea vulgaris- Mustard family.
Blooms in April, May. An upright perennial with angled stem a foot or two high. The flowers in terminal racemes are small, one fourth to one third of an inch, bright yellow; the pods are long, curved, and spreading. The lower leaves, sometimes five inches long with stalks, are pinnately cut with a large rounded terminal lobe and several pairs of small lateral ones; the upper leaves are without stalks. Common by the roadside and in waste places Erect fruited Wintercress Barbarea stricta is similar, but with pods erect and pressed against the stem. Named in honor of St Barbara.

mustard various descriptions



Mustard various imageSpring Cress- Carddmine bulbosa
Mustard family
a low perennial with bulbous root, grows in the wet, four petals, blooms April to June.


spring cress

Shepherd's purse description

shepherds purse image

From the book The Flower-finder
By George Lincoln Walton

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