Sunday, October 31, 2010

Browsing Old Cemeteries

Got this from a friend, and I though it perfect for today. Happy Halloween everyone!

Browsing Old Cemeteries

Harry Edsel Smith of Albany , New York :
Born 1903--Died 1942.
Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the
car was on the way down.
It was.
In a Thurmont, Maryland , cemetery:
Here lies an Atheist, all dressed up and no
Place to go.
On the grave of Ezekial Aikle in
East Dalhousie Cemetery, Nova Scotia :
Here lies Ezekial Aikle, Age 102. Only The
Good Die Young.
In a London , England cemetery:
Here lies Ann Mann, Who lived an old maid
But died an old Mann. Dec. 8, 1767
In a Ribbesford, England , cemetery:
Anna Wallace
The children of Israel wanted bread, And
The Lord sent them manna. Clark Wallace
Wanted a wife, And the Devil sent him Anna.
In a Ruidoso, New Mexico , cemetery:
Here lies Johnny Yeast... Pardon him
For not rising.
In a Uniontown, Pennsylvania , cemetery:
Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake.
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake.
In a Silver City , Nevada , cemetery:
Here lays The Kid.
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger
But slow on the draw.
A lawyer's epitaph in England :
Sir John Strange.
Here lies an honest lawyer,
And that is Strange.
John Penny's epitaph in the Wimborne,
England , cemetery:
Reader, if cash thou art in want of any,
Dig 6 feet deep and thou wilt find a Penny.
In a cemetery in Hartscombe , England :
On the 22nd of June, Jonathan Fiddle went
Out of tune.
Anna Hopewell's grave in Enosburg Falls ,
Vermont :
Here lies the body of our Anna,
Done to death by a banana.
It wasn't the fruit that laid her low,
But the skin of the thing that made her go.
On a grave from the 1880s in Nantucket ,
Massachusetts :
Under the sod and under the trees,
Lies the body of Jonathan Pease.
He is not here, there's only the pod.
Pease shelled out and went to God.
In a cemetery in England :
Remember man, as you walk by,
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so shall you be.
Remember this and follow me.
To which someone replied by writing on the tombstone:
To follow you I'll not consent.
Until I know which way you went.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Have Mercy on Kids Who Stutter

Did you know that Friday was International Stuttering Awareness Day? Three million other Americans, or approximately 1% of the population, stutters. That said, my guest today is Ms. Pamela Mertz, who also has a brilliant and heartfelt blog...Make Room For The Stuttering. Right now she's posting a series on women who stutter. I encourage all of you to check it out.

Have Mercy on Kids Who Stutter

Imagine being an 11-year-old, in sixth grade. There are 30 kids in the class. The teacher takes attendance at the beginning of the period, and does it in a fairly traditional way. She calls each student's last name alphabetically, and each kid has to say "here" or "present."

No big deal, right? This is played out in classrooms all across the country.

The 11-year-old's last name begins with "S", so he has to wait while the other kids' names are called. It's always done the same way too, starting with the "A"s, never with "Z."

Waiting, this kid does what he always does. He focuses on what he is going to say and what will happen when he says it. His palms start to get sweaty and his heart starts to pound. He can feel his face grow really hot and realizes he is squirming in his seat.

He is thinking, "Please, not today, please not today, please let it be OK today." But he knows that the same thing is going to happen.

He wishes he was sick and could go to the nurse's office.

Then he hears the teacher say "Stasick." He decides to say "here," which might go easier than it did yesterday. He opens his mouth, says "hu-hu-hu-hhhhh- here" and his eyes squeeze shut. He hears the teacher call the next kid's name.

Maybe it won't happen today. Nah, he hears it, the snickers from the kids sitting behind him. Then the skinny kid with big ears whispers loudly, "Spastic Stasick, he can't t-t-t-t-talk."
The kid tries to shrink down in his seat as he hears the kids laughing at him, just quietly enough so that the teacher doesn't hear it. She never does. He has thought about telling her, but knows that will just make things worse.

It's bad enough that he is pulled out of his classroom twice a week to go to speech. When he is pulled out, (and it's always during math or science, the classes he likes) he hears the kids whisper, "There goes spastic Stasick with the b-b-b-b-babies learning how to talk".
He can't talk to his speech teacher about the teasing either; he only gets 20 minutes with her and there is usually another speech kid in the room.

There is no way the kid can tell his mom, because she always tells him to slow down and think about what he is trying to say before he talks. The kid keeps thinking, "No one understands me."
Lunch time is the worst. No one sits with him, and when kids walk by, they snicker and laugh. A couple of times, the skinny kid with big ears bumped into him on purpose, knocking him into the wall and making him drop his stuff. The kid and his friends start yelling, "Spastic can't walk either." That gets other kids laughing, including girls.

This kid stutters. He dreads being called on in class. He never raises his hand, even when he knows an answer, and is teased a lot. He is called names, left out socially and sometimes pushed. He does not know anyone else who talks like him and is really starting to hate school.
Kids who stutter get teased and bullied. Kids can be cruel, especially in middle school. Most people do not understand stuttering, because they have never met someone who stutters. Only about 1 percent of the population stutters and it's usually boys.

If you know a kid who stutters, know this: It's not his fault. Stuttering is an involuntary stoppage of normal speech flow. It can be hereditary and some research suggests that it is a neurological disorder. There is no known cure yet for stuttering, but therapy with someone who understands stuttering can help, especially with feelings of shame, embarrassment and isolation.

Kids who stutter are just like anyone else, they just talk differently. It is not OK to tease or bully a kid who stutters. We have heard enough in the news lately about what happens when bullying is left unchecked.

Friday was International Stuttering Awareness Day. The only way to raise awareness about stuttering is to talk about it. It will sure make it easier for the kids.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Feeding the Homeless -- A Shift in the Warehouse

A hungry stomach can not hear. ~Jean de la Fontaine, French Poet, 1621-1695

Last Saturday I went with my church to volunteer at the local food bank. It was an eye-opening experience, and one I hope to repeat regularly. You know me, I’m all about food and feeding people, so this kind of thing is right up my alley. A couple dozen of us—singles, couples, and families with kids--showed up for a three-hour stint in the warehouse, inspecting and repacking food for distribution to those in need. Ahead of us, just on their way out the door, was a group of about the same size from Gannon University.

I was startled when, after our group arrived, one of the young men in the Gannon group gave up his chair and rolled it over for me to sit in. Chivalry does still exist in some parts of the world. Unfortunately, instead of taking a moment to appreciate that fact, after I thanked him and he left, I turned to the friend I had arrived with and asked, “Do I look that old?”

I didn’t sit in the chair. I spend most of my time sitting. I had come for a workout…and a workout I got.

Our first assignment was to watch a 13-minute video on how to recognize foods that the Food Bank can not accept. For instance, any food that has been packed in the same box or container with any open cleaning products must be considered contaminated and thrown out. There’s no way the food bank can risk food contamination.

So if you make donations to your local food bank, or supervise collections for food drives and such at your church or school, please, please, please separate the stuff with chemicals in it from the stuff for people to eat, just to be safe, or all of your hard work and good intentions may go for nothing.

Also, as much as they would like to, the Food Bank can not accept any home-canned goods. We all know they taste the best, because they’re made with love, but unless they are commercially sealed, they are a no-go at the Food Bank.

So make sure you give your excess home-canned goods to your family and friends. If you don’t have enough friends, you can send some to me…I love home-canned anything :). I would also be able to use it in my soup (and now baking) ministry for the homeless shelter.

I’m serious. If you have home-canned stuff you want to get rid of, email me at Liana (at) and we’ll work something out…a win-win for everyone.

But back to the Food Bank. Any packages that were open and therefore might have been touched by bugs or rodents (face it, where there’s food, there’s bugs and rodents) had to be thrown out as well. But the good news is, at the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwestern Pennsylvania, none of that food goes to waste. It’s all collected in a separate place, and picked up by an Amish farmer, who converts it into slop for his pigs.

On this day, we contributed opened boxes of Fruit Loops, Rice Krispies, and many other brands of breakfast cereal to the (future slop) bin, as well as some fresh bread that was in wrappers that had gotten ripped somewhere along the way.

A lot of things like the cereal comes from stores, still in the manufacturer’s original case lot cartons, which have been damaged in shipping somehow. Either crushed or torn or poked through with the equipment used to move the case lots around. So these damaged case lots are sent to the food bank, where volunteers like us open the case lot cartons, separate the damaged individual boxes of cereal from the ones that are not damaged, inspect the food, repackage what we can—(if only the outer packaging is damaged we can tape it back up—but if there are any holes in the bag that would expose any food, out it goes)—and recombine it into new case lots for the Food Bank to distribute. The extras are then sent to the Food Bank’s internal “grocery store” where individuals can go up and down the aisles and pick up small amounts of different donated foods.

As for the bread, it came from a local commercial bakery, and was still fresh. All we had to do was take it off the racks, inspect the bread for mold and the bags for holes, then repack the inspected bread—buns and loaves of every shape, size, and color—into cartons provided by the Food Bank. Taped shut, and labeled BREAD, they went onto nearby pallets and created fresh case lots for the Food Bank to shrink wrap and distribute.

Before we knew it, our time was up, and our work was done. As the English dramatist John Heywood said, “Many hands make light work.” But the Second Harvest Food Bank has many opportunities for group and family volunteering to help those in need. The Food Bank welcomes children age six and up, and even has child-friendly projects for them to work on. The Food Bank also sponsors specific Family Days, with shifts available between 9:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. and Family Nights, with help needed from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. It’s a fun way to involve the whole family—be it your individual family or your community family. Get a group together and go. All you need to do is call and make your reservation.

Who are those in need? Well, here are some Fast Facts from the Second Harvest Food Bank, the largest non-profit food distribution organization in Northwestern Pennsylvania. Second Harvest solicits, inventories, and distributes donated products to 254 member agencies that directly serve people facing hard times. During fiscal year 2009-2010, Second Harvest distributed 7.7 million pounds of food to 72,600 people in NWPA.

They can’t serve this many people without help from people like you. Three ways you can help are to donate money (for every $1 donation, Second Harvest can obtain $17 worth of food), donate time (hours are available Monday through Saturday…check their website for more information), or you can donate food directly. Second Harvest accepts non-perishable food donations Monday through Saturday.

They then distribute these foods to the people who need it through various member agencies, like churches, food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, kids cafes, child care centers, backpack programs, and senior citizens food programs. The people who benefit from the Second Harvest Food Bank include the homeless, single parents, senior citizens, children, the working poor, the unemployed and underemployed, the disabled, and families in crisis situations.

That’s a lot of people needing food. Is there someone you can help feed today?