Oct 31 2010

Halloween – October 31 –  All Hallow’s Eve

What fun we used to have on Halloween in the 1950s! Running around the neighborhood, knocking on doors until they opened and yelling, “Trick or Treat!” We loved the people who gave us full size Hershey bars, although you didn’t have to say, “full size” then because there was only one size. On the other hand, we couldn’t understand the people who gave us apples and insisted they were good for our health. We thought that was just peculiar.

This year, it seems like it’s going to be pretty cold for the kids. Cold like it was the year I decided to be a mermaid. And what a disappointment that was. It was bad enough that mother and daddy refused to pull me around in a wagon so that the illusion of a tail fin could be maintained, but the costume that mother had come up with to keep me happy and make a pretense of me being a mermaid was a long green skirt with the outline of a tail fin drawn on it. Needless to say, I was totally disgusted and humiliated that this ridiculous excuse for a tail fin was being placed on my body. Adding insult to injury, I was supposed to be gracious about it and wear it with a smile. Very hard to do when one is so emotionally encumbered.

This was before Walt Disney’s Little Mermaid, Ariel, but somehow I had channeled the image of a glorious fish tail with real scales and the ability to move my legs as one to make it fan and flip, which would have been relatively easy if I had been in my wagon like I wanted and was being pulled along like I was supposed to be. But no, there I was, a bipedal self embarrassment in a long green skirt with a fish tail drawn on it, shuffling along with a pillowcase of candy, glad that it was dark so nobody could see it, but then alternately mad that it was dark so nobody could see it to realize what I was being put through. The sympathy vote might have been worth a couple extra Hershey’s Kisses, after all.

But actually, the worst thing about that Halloween night, long ago, was that it was cold. So cold, I had to wear a coat over my mermaid costume and the top half of me was the only redeeming feature of the ensemble. I forgot to mention that in my haste to tell you how stupid the bottom half appeared. Mother had done pretty well with the top half and wasn’t it a shame that nobody would see it because it was too cold and I had to wear a coat?

Well, you might be saying, trying to make the glass half full and pull victory out of the jaws of defeat, at least least I didn’t have to wear a hat.

Oh NO! You would be wrong! Of course I had to wear a hat! This whole thing is happening in the 1950s when sensible children with sensible parents were always dressed appropriately to the weather. That night it was cold, and if a coat was needed, then surely a hat was needed, therefore, a red knit peaked hat with a pompom hanging on a chain stitch piece of yarn from the peak that bobbed to and fro was required before I could even think of leaving the house. It was a nightmare come true. There was no hope except the glimmer of truth that no matter how I was dressed, I would come come with a pile of candy. That was the only thing that kept me going.

And so, this Halloween, if any of your children are dressed like a decent mermaid with a shiny, slithery, sparkly, scaled mermaid tail and you are pulling them around on a wagon to create the illusion that they are half fish like they want to be, may I reach out and shake your hand to tell you what a great parent you are? And if you live in Florida so that they don’t have to wear coats on Halloween, may I congratulate you on your unselfish foresight? You have transcended all obstacles while holding down a day job to make your child’s dreams come true.

And may I say, “Bravo! You won’t regret it.” And you won’t have to read their blog fifty years from now to see the trauma you caused them and beg them for forgiveness.

What a great Halloween you will have, with many more to come.


If you enjoy Halloween as much as I do, consider
visiting this site for everything Halloween and MORE!

If you would like to buy a haunted house, click here.

If you want to order the candy you ate as a kid, try this site.

Go here, if you would like to make yourself into a zombie!

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Filed under: Family,Heart — admin @ 3:13 pm Comments (0)
Oct 30 2010

I have noticed that some country, fresh air lovers are casual in their approach, and others tend to be more aggressive, making over barns into homes and living spaces. Yes. That’s what I said. There are many resourceful people in the United States turning unused agricultural outbuildings into fine, attractive homes and studios. Especially endearing is the idea of living in the barn while renting out the farmhouse usually found with the barn to pay the mortgage and costs of renovations.

Lyn Johnson in Michigan bought a barn with a floor covered in manure, in true barn style, and fixed it up as a wonderful living space. If you click here, you can visit a web site where Ms. Johnson has posted a slide show and she says,

“It took a hired handyman several days to shovel down to ground zero whereupon I found a solid floor already in place. Power washing gave me even more things to get excited over. Wooden ceiling support beams were felled trees, some still with bark. Rough cut ancient axe marks carved the ends. Though well over a hundred years old, the barn was remarkably solid, in relatively good shape. My creative buttons were pushed, every one of them. I saw beyond what I had to what it could be and for the next several months my local Lowe’s Home Improvement store got to know me on a first-name basis. I no longer saw the little milk house as an office alone but rather the bottom level of the three-story barn as living quarters.

Living in the barn gave me the option of renting the small farmhouse for additional income. It made me think outside the box with other possibilities farm families might consider during tough economic times.”

“I live in a cow barn. The cows left long ago
when the dairy operation seized and original
owners sold the place, but after renovations,
it now has a warm, woodsy back-to-nature feel.”

In her slide show narration, Ms. Johnson explains all of the clever ways she saved money and made use of creative planning. And, Sunbonnet Smart applauds her talent for looking at the bright side of our current economic times when she says, “Had it not been for the tough economic times I might not have entertained the many options sitting right there in front of me, just waiting to be unleashed. It brought to mind Plato’s words that necessity is the mother of invention. True, indeed.

I overheard someone remark recently, “America’s in recession, but I’ve decided not to participate.” I’ve decided not to either. I live in a cow barn — and I’m loving it.”

To preview this well received book on converting your barn into a living space, hover your mouse over this link:

Living Barns: How to Find And Restore a Barn of Your Own (Schiffer Books)

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Oct 29 2010

Crowd at New York’s American Union Bank during
a bank run early in the Great Depression.

The stock market crashed on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. I suppose everyone knows someone in their family who was ruined by The Great Depression. When I speak with people about those years, most everyone suffered and had to cut back on their living standards. In addition, however, were those who were living in wealthy circles and overnight, lost great fortunes, relegating them to what they considered poverty.

“Anyone who bought stocks in mid-1929 and held onto them saw most
of his or her adult life pass by before getting back to even.”

Richard M. Salsman

There was a high level of prosperity during the 1920s.
Most people felt the country would never go back

Rethinking the Great Depression is a very informative book by Gene Smiley. It is good for formally educated economics students and also, for beginners without such a background. All readers will have a better understanding of the Depression period which technically only lasted from 1929-1933, but whose repercussions are remembered as lasting throughout the 1930s.

If you would like to learn more about the great Depression and the effects it
had on all facets of American life, hover your mouse over the link below:

Rethinking the Great Depression (American Ways Series)

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Filed under: Loss,Money — admin @ 3:09 pm Comments (0)
Oct 28 2010

For many Americans, futures are dark and without direction.

I am amazed at how unaware people are of the financial situation of many Americans. It seems that unless people’s personal finances have been lessened, many have no idea that many Americans are suffering as never before in this country. When I mentioned my idea of a blog to connect the dots on family finances, bankruptcy and the currents times to the Great Depression last summer, she felt that “aren’t enough people with an interest in a blog like that.” She continued by asking “How are homeless people going to access a computer?”

Whoa! That was a real, “Let them eat cake” comment for me.  There are plenty of people with computers suffering in this downturn. In fact, it is shocking how many people, who have worked all of their lives and done all of the right things are suffering and sometimes homeless. Here in this video of a 60 Minutes documentary are those who have access to a computer and are realizing the long term effects of the financial situation now dominating their lives.

In California, we see those who have exhausted their
99 weeks of unemployment benefits and are still unemployed,
are calling themselves “99ers.”

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Oct 26 2010

Washington Irving was born the year the Revolutionary War ended, in 1783. Because the new country had a new President named George Washington, many children born around the time the Revolutionary War ended were named after the President. So, Washington Irving grew up in New York City and was the kind of child that searched for adventure. He was fascinated with life and everything that happened in it. Eventually, he went to study in Europe as many young people did, and when he returned, he was considered America’s first great literary figure. He wrote the collection of stories called, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gentleman. Both of Washington Irving’s famous stories of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle” are found in this collection.

But we at Sunbonnet Smart have another reason to consider this successful author, acclaimed on two continents. Washington Irving, at one time in his life, went bankrupt! It is interesting the bankruptcy had to be declared in the Irving family for the same reason many people declared bankruptcy today, not for spending foolishly, but because of medical emergencies that deplete personal assets, the income of which is also severely limited by the ill person’s loss of salary.

In 1815 his brother Peter, who was in charge of the Liverpool office of the family import business, had fallen ill and the family company was not doing well. As Washington Irving was in England on a non-business trip at the time, it was natural that he stay and help Peter out by trying to run the family business. Although he worked hard for two years, he could not pull the company out of it’s decline and had to declare bankruptcy.

It is noteworthy that because of hardship, because of a negative life incident like bankruptcy, Washington Irving turned to seriously publishing his writing to bring in extra income. And what a wonderful thing for all of us that he did. It is just amazing how many downturns are actually just a shift in our options. Because of hardship, we end up trying things we never would have otherwise. Trust me when I say this, as I am now a web master. Who would have known?

It is interesting that Washington Irving’s hardships in managing a declining business and suffering through two years of worry over finances encouraged his flexible temperament. This positive attitude will be recognized as an asset to a productive future by all Sunbonnet Smart readers. It is noted that he once wrote in a letter to his brother William, Jr., “I endeavor to take things as they come with cheerfulness and when I cannot get a dinner to suit my taste, I endeavor to get a taste to suit my dinner”.

This Disney version of Washington Irving’s
Legend of Sleepy Hollow was first televised
on October 26, 1955, exactly 55 years ago TODAY!

If you are interested in a nice version of the classic
“Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and “Rip Van Winkle, hover
your mouse over this link:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow & Rip Van Winkle (Treasury of Illustrated Classics – Series UPC 39360)

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Oct 25 2010

Just in time for Halloween fun!
Meet Benjamin and Emma Bushytail.

Soon leaves on trees will be a memory, the frost will be on the pumpkin and we’ll be headed toward winter. Squirrels will be trying to remember where they have buried all of their nuts so they have enough food to make it through the winter. Some squirrels have been in school since September, such as Benjamin and Emma Bushytail.

Now Emma and Benjamin are putting down their studies to plan their Halloween costumes so they can go Trick or Treating at the tree homes in their neighborhood. Benjamin has decided to be a skeleton and Emma is going to be a witch. Both are going to carry pumpkin baskets that Momma Squirrel bought to hold their candy.

Do you like paper Dolls? I do. They were always my favorite when I was little because I could make new outfits, any color I wanted, with just a sheet of paper, a pencil and some crayons.

The Bushytails were drawn by a very famous paper doll artist, Kathy Lawrence, in 1992. Ms. Lawrence grew up around paints and brushes because her mother, Queen Holden, was also an artist. Kathy Lawrence has designed many fun paper dolls that you can order from The Shackman Store found here. You will find the Bushytails with outfits for a wedding, a set of Oliver and Olivia Owl paper dolls and a set of rabbit paper dolls called the Hopper Family.

Kathy Lawrence lives in Texas and still designs lots of interesting and fun things for children. She is a famous illustrator for greeting cards and collector plates as well as soft, beautiful religious paintings.

If you would like to download this FREE pdf of The Bushytail paper dolls, click here or click the image below:

Designed by Kathy Lawrence in 1992 for B. Shakman, these Bushytail family girl and boy, Benjamin and Emma, would love to come live at your house. Download this pdf file onto strong 24 pound card by clicking on the thumbnail above. Cut out with sharp scissors while being careful not to cut off the tabs that will hold the clothes on to the figures. When you are done playing, try storing Benjamin, Emma and their clothes in an envelope so you won’t lose all the pieces.

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Filed under: Heart,Kids — admin @ 3:04 pm Comments (0)
Oct 24 2010

An early 1900s postcard expressing current sentiments.

Well, it seems like whatever is happening, there are those who want just the opposite to happen. For example, around the Turn of the Century, the 1800s into the 1900s, the United States was mostly an agrarian society. Most people in America lived on the farm and longed to go to the “Big City” if and when they had a day off, or if and when they were of the age that they could leave the farm with Mom and Dad behind.

So, let’s fast forward a hundred years to where more people live in or near cities than live in the country.  Now, everybody I know talks about how nice it would be to have a piece of land where they could have a garden and some chickens. Sure seems like we have come full circle.

These geese were the first to notice
we have come full circle.

The love affair we had with the machine that came in with industrialization is over. Now we realize that nothing will replace the human mind or body, no matter what the robo-engineers at the technical schools like to claim to try and have job security. It is heartwarming to see tried and true values of family and home life returning along with a respect and love for nature and our planet Earth.

It also seems like there just as many people who aren’t caught up with modern conveniences as those that are. Once you think about all the families who are taking television sets out of their homes, for instance, and returning to family time and visiting with neighbors, it becomes clear that we are now using modern conveniences to enhance, not rule, our lives. It seems many people are waking up to the idea that getting back to nature and the way G-d made the world might be a right fine idea.

Fresh country air provides organic country apples.

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Filed under: Roof,Rural House — admin @ 2:45 pm Comments (0)
Oct 22 2010


Sadly, the number of homeless people is increasing

When one thinks of homeless people, it is easy to understand the level of poverty putting a person on the the streets would cause extreme hardship. Food, water, bathing and so many other things that we take for granted become luxuries. But, I did not understand the danger of living in such an unprotected manner, just out in the world without shelter. I never dreamed that aggressive individuals would feel a need to harm and physically abuse those in such a miserable, vulnerable position. Here in Maryland, we had a homeless man killed where he slept in the grassy, wooded area of a highway cloverleaf.

As Brian Levin, advisor to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and director of the California-based Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, states in the article below, “Homeless people have become a socially acceptable target of aggression.”

US Senate urged to act on rising attacks on homeless

WASHINGTON — The US Senate was urged Wednesday to require that violent attacks against homeless people be tracked and formally reported as hate crimes, which could lead to stiffer penalties for the perpetrators.

Senator Ben Cardin (Maryland) said he was “shocked and horrified” by reports of 43 homeless people killed in 2009 alone, compared to 27 murders a year earlier.

The victims were specifically targeted by their attackers, including cases in which people were strangled, beaten to death with bats or set on fire, experts and family members of the deceased told a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Cardin urged support for his “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act” that he introduced a year ago that would allow authorities to track homeless attacks along with other hate crime categories such as race, religion and sexuality.

“The homeless, just because they’re homeless, are being victimized and that has to stop in America,” said Cardin, who chaired the hearing.

Acts designated as hate crimes lead to harsher punishments for those convicted. For example, a second-degree felony would become a first-degree felony, with a maximum sentence bumped from 15 to 30 years in prison.

To read the entire article, click here.

It is hard to imagine this would be a problem, with teenagers being the main protagonists and advertising their cruelty by posting videos of their cowardly conquests on YouTube, but that is where we are. Apparently it is happening all over the United States. Here is some coverage of the situation and then comments by those who are determined to stop the violence. To watch, click play:

Heartless cowards are beating up homeless people, sometimes to death.


Hard Lives, Mean Streets, just released in May, 2010, has a well documented look at the dangers to one of the United States’s most defenseless populations. If the subject interests you, hover your mouse over the link below to preview the book:

Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women (Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law)


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Filed under: Roof,Without Walls — admin @ 2:43 pm Comments (0)
Oct 17 2010

Soup kitchens were and are well attended. Here the Navy
staffs a recent soup kitchen in Salinas, California

The Great Depression and what is happening today financially seem very similar. No matter how these times are labeled compared to the Great Depression, there was hardship then and I know there is a great deal of hardship now.  That’s from practical experience, from reading books and searching the Internet and I’ve learned it must take a great deal of research to sort it all out.

I never feel like I’ve gotten to the heart of the matter with all of my questions answered.  So, as there is safety in numbers, I’ve decided to take you with me to see what you think about it all and share some information, hoping that you’ll respond about what’s happening to you where you are in the country, or the world.

First, here is an interesting comparison page on CNN, that you can access by clicking here.

Then I found an article, also on CNN, that says this is definitely a recession and not another depression and explains the ramifications of each, and you can find that here.

This video finds more similarities than not between the Depression and whatever is happening today, however you want to label it. To me the video was helpful in adding another point of view. Love the song, by the way…

Housing Bubble vs. Great Depression

Then, to top it off, here is an article on saying that the only difference between a depression and a recession is the length of time…whoa! After all we’ve learned in other places, that’s heavy. You can see in the article that “a depression is a protracted recession.” Here, you can read it yourself,  or read this except to get the gist of the discussion:

Recession versus Depression:

“It’s pretty easy to understand depressions once you get the concept of recessions. A depression is simply a prolonged or particularly excruciating recession. Economists don’t really have a watermark to indicate a depression. Believe it or not, there’s even an economists’ joke that describes the ambiguity between recessions and depressions: A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job [If you need a more technical explanation, click here.] While the presence of a recession is debatable, when a depression hits, the issue is no longer up for debate.”

H-m-m-m. Sorta’ seems like when you’re a kid and ask grown-ups, “How will I know when I fall in love?”

They always answer, “Oh…YOU’LL know.”

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Filed under: Bankruptcy,Money — admin @ 8:40 pm Comments (0)
Oct 15 2010

Have you ever look closely at a zipper
and wondered what the YKK stands for?

Anyone who sews and inserts zippers into clothing has probably noticed the YKK on the zipper tab. And anyone who wears zippers and has the time to contemplate theirs with an eagle eye has probably noticed the YKK as well. But, why is it there? What does it stand for? These are some of the pressing issues of our times.
Well, suffer no longer. You have a right to know that the YKK found on every zipper stands for the man who founded Yoshida Industries Limited, intent on conquering the world’s zipper market and bringing it to its knees. In 1934, Yoshida’s founder, Yoshida Kogyo Kabushikikaisha, had a beautiful philosophy in that he considered something as seemingly utilitarian as a zipper to be integral to the whole of mankind in a very important way.
Mr. Kabushikikaisha believed in the “Cycle of Goodness” meaning that everyone prospers when one provides a service that is of benefit. In other words, Mr. Kabushikikaisha decided to provide the best zipper he possibly could for the price and not cut corners. Rather than count on zippers wearing out and needing to be replaced to gain market share, he decided to provide a zipper that would last as long as possible and be the best with its intended purpose.
His zipper would benefit the manufacturers who bought them from him and the customers who, in turn, bought their clothes from the manufacturers. This goodness would eventually cycle back to his company and it did work just the way he envisioned. Today Yoshida Industries is the world’s foremost manufacturer of zippers, making about 90% of all of them. There are over 206 facilities making YKK zippers in 52 countries. Here, in  the United States, Yoshida Industries in the State of Georgia makes over seven million zippers A DAY!
If you are interested in learning more about the zipper and its benefactor, click here.

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