Monday, March 31, 2014

A Reflection on Loss and Grief

I have been up quite a while this morning.  Working on lesson plans that need to be posted.  Realizing I need to make sure I have a sub coming in for me - possible snafu.  Worrying about friends.

One of the lessons I have been working on is the Earthquake of 1906 in San Francisco.  So many things came out of that devastation.  It was the first Earthquake disaster to be  photographed.  I read that it is one of the most important quakes because of the scientific information that came out of it.

I compare that to our own individual disasters.  Many people do not realize the scope of problems until it happens to someone close.  Many older women did not have careers outside the home.  These women are often totally dependent on Social Security.  Lets pick a number from the sky - lets say the husband gets $2000 dollars a month.  The wife would draw about $900-$1,000 depending on variables.  Many women are unaware that if the husband dies first they will continue receiving the $900.  This is a loss of 2/3 of the income that had been coming into the home.

Did you know that if a person goes into some hospice homes or a nursing home the institution receives all but $50.00 of the person's social security check?  Many times family members must also contribute more money to pay for this care. I didn't know that the spouse can be required to contribute additional money from their social security.  I was under the impression that our laws had changed to protect the surviving partner from financial devastation.

There is a small amount of money known as the Social Security death benefit $250 that was set up to help with burial costs.  It is only paid if there is a surviving spouse or dependent children under the age of 18. This amount of money has not changed since the 1970s.  If the couple is not legally married this money is not paid. 

For many couples not only do they lose their life-mate but often their homes, their independence and their pets.  Health and a change in finances are big factors.  Some of these families have pets that can not go with them to their new residence (nursing homes, relatives, etc).  This compounds the loss and grief that the survivor experiences.

For many older Americans, Social Security is their only income.  In the midst of grieving they are pummeled by each new loss.  Now the dominoes start to fall as we wonder why many elders are living in poverty.

How do you figure the cost of death? 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Love Hate Affair

Technology - my friend - some days not.  I see myself as technological competent.  I work hard to stay knowledgeable.  Somedays I see myself as technological clueless.

Take my ipad.  I have had it for awhile and am just now trying to set it up to send email and to send imessages.  The imessage one seems to be where I am struggling.  I get this message "recipient can't receive messages check your network"  Ahhg  I want to scream!

That's about the time when Hank drops his toy on my nearby computer keyboard and wants my attention.  How can I admit to myself that I haven't a clue at what I'm doing.

What do I do - I google.  How do you set up.  I read directions.  Yes done that.  Success?  No.

I experiment with my own addresses to see if I have been successful.  Ok I now can send a picture by email.  Still not by message.  Ahh I will wait until a later hour and see if I can talk to a friend who is a technology whiz.

I always feel so dumb when I can't figure out how to do these things myself.  I feel like such a charlatan when people refer to me as their technology go to person.  I always look over my shoulder to see who they are talking about.  Then realizing oh they meant me.

When they come with questions.  I usually answer-" well lets looks at it and see if between the two of us we can figure it out.  What have you already tried?  What do you think the problem is?  What are you trying to do? Alright, lets see what happens when we do this."

I love technology, but I hate feeling so ignorant.  Technology is SOOOO FRUSTRATING.

Friday, March 28, 2014

My History Fix

Stories matter.  I love hearing good yarns, well told tales.  I relish the stories of real people.  2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Montana Women getting the vote.  One of the sites for great glimpses into stories about Montana women is at Montana Women's History.

Teaching Montana History by Martha Kohl.  Is another favorite blog.  She shares lots of resources, many that would be applicable to other parts of the country.

Teaching History. org  is a site I'm sure many are already familiar with.  If not block out some time and enjoy.  It is a site that I go to frequently.  The History Project is full of resources for teachers.  

I've already shared Montana Moments by Ellen Baumler.  I lover her humor.  It always amazes me the gems she shares.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Classroom Practice and Chronicling America

The webinar went well at least until the lights went out at our school towards the end of the session.   It was the first time the Library of Congress had used google hangout to present a webinar.  The team said they had about 50 people watching live.   It is archived on YouTube and is available to watch at .  

Diane Cormack from Harrison County West Virginia was the other librarian that spoke about using Chronicling America in the classroom.  There were two ladies, Deborah and Robin that work directly with the Chronicling America Program.  Cheryl Lederle was the host from the Library of Congress.

We were asked questions about what ways we had used the newspapers in the classroom.  Then Deborah and Robin explained that the newspapers are in public domain through 1922 and 36 states have digitized newspapers for the program.

One of the things I did not know is that some of the newspapers are in other languages.  Many immigrants settled close to each other and published newspapers in their native language.  When I heard that I thought what great resources for classes studying a second language.  To be able to read about communities while learning another language.

It really turned out to be fun and I got some new ideas.  Diane said she laminated the newspapers and let the kids use dry erase markers to circle new vocabulary.  I thought that was a great idea.  

I believe Chronicling America is the closest thing we have to time travel.  Today I had the opportunity to talk about using the historic newspapers with kids.  I enjoyed the experience even if the lights went out.

Lemon Pie With History

One of my favorite cookbooks is the one I bought from the Current Catalog back in July of 1983.  It was a blank book.  The page format that I use - Recipe from, date I got it, recipe, serves.  If there is room sometimes I have added the back story.

I decided I would share the story of the Lemon Pie Recipe.  During the summer of 1998 I attended a Bead Society Potluck and ate a wonderful slice of lemon pie (pre gluten free life).
Ruth Clancy, a lady in her late 70's, was the pie maker.

I expressed my delight with the pie and she graciously shared the recipe and story.  She had gotten it in 1945 from an elderly lady who had had it for at least 50 years.  

Lemon Pie

1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/2 cup boiling water
3 Tablespoons butter
6 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 egg yokes 
4 Tablespoons lemon juice (squeeze real lemons)

Mix cornstarch and sugar together, stir in water and yokes.  

Over direct heat in cast iron skillet cook until thickens.  Add zest of lemon.  Pour into baked pie crust.


I have often thought that this is a lemon pie recipe with history.  I always smile when I come to the part of the cast iron skillet.  I still cook with my Mom's cast iron skillet, the one she bought in the 1940's.