Old Writing: Part 13::A Poem

This has no date but is written on a mimeographed worksheet which discusses the poem, Against Idleness and Mischief by Isaac Watts.

Apparently, we were to create a poem like it making substitutions for some of the words (bolded) in the original poem.

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

I only wrote one stanza and did not quite follow the directions…

How doth the little termite
Improve his appetite,
By eating wood and nothing else
Oh, that fussy termite!


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Old Writing: Part 12::What I’ll be Someday

This was written on October 4, 1966. Three years later I will write another paper about my future.

What I’ll be Someday

I want to be a nurse and I want to be a teacher too because I like school. If I were to babysit for my brother I might like it and on the other hand, I might not like it.

I can name a few of the things I want to be, like a nurse, teacher, nursery teacher, Sunday school teacher or an animal hospital nurse because I love animals.

I hope I get married and have a dog, cat and a few hamsters.

The teacher writes “what about children??” after the last sentence.

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Old Writing: Part 11::My Parents

This was written November 1966. Probably 4th grade.

My Parents

I love my parents very much. I need them very much because if I did not have them I cold not tell them my troubles.

My dad is a mechanic. He is the only speedometer man in Elgin and my mom is a housewife. They both love me and I love me and I love them.

For my birthday once I got to go and see a movie called “Jack the Giant Killer” and then I got a kitten for my birthday. And I got a radio and alarm clock. But before my brother was born I got to do more things than now. I love my mom and dad. They spank me sometimes but I love them very much. They kiss me every day when I go to bed or when I get up in the morning or when I go somewhere and when I eat a good meal.

No comment on this one…


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Old Writing: Part 10::Untitled

I wrote this October 1966. I am not sure what grade I was in. Probably fourth.

I am a ten-year-old girl. My name is Dona Patrick. I live at 240 Heine Street, Elgin, Illinois. My brother’s name is Kevin. He is three years old. My mother’s name is Pat, but I call her Mom. My father’s name is Al but I call him Dad. I don’t know if I am pretty, but my dad says so.

When I got my cat, it was 5 months old. When I got my dog, he was eight months old. I was ten when my cat was born. I was six or seven when my brother was born. My aunt was married and I was the junior bridesmaid. My mom was a bridesmaid. So was my aunt. The bride’s girlfriend was the maid-of-honor. My brother was the ring bearer. Now I have a new uncle and I might have a new cousin. I hope it’s a girl. But if it is a boy, it’s his business.

My aunt and uncle never had kids.


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Old Writing: Part 9::Puff?

I wrote this on November 3, 1970. I was in 8th grade and 14 years old. I got an A+/B for the paper. The teacher wrote at the end:

“Yes, there are times when tears are impossible, we just hurt so much.”


“Dona, you have told this beautifully, for you have made me feel as if I knew Puff and shared your hurt in having to give Puff away. Thanks for sharing it so well. By the way, you have a very interesting writing style. Keep it up.”

My take on this is: it is forced and feels stilted. It is too formal in parts, yet too informal in others. I do not consider this one of my better old writings. And why the question mark in the title?


My love for cats is very great. But my father is just the opposite, he hates cats. So I have had only one cat in my life. (I have a five-month-old kitten at the moment but she acts so much like a person I think of her as a sister). This cat — a white half Persian, male. Mother Persian, father unknown. Born in a box in a breezeway by the side of a garage. He was my “birthday cat” as I called him, but every cat or pet must have a name so I had to find one. I tried every name I could think of: Prince, Whitey, Snowball, Pumpkin, etc. I finally settled on Puff. Everyone laughed. I said I didn’t care because Puff had been my favorite story character in Dick, Jane, and Sally. Also, my favorite song was “Puff the Magic Dragon.” Sometimes I made up “real” names such as “Prince Puff Patrick” (PPP). Yes, Puff was my cat and I loved him.

One and a half years after I received Puff, my kitten had grown into a cat. A large, long, slim and beautiful cat. He was all white except for a long black or gray streak down his back from when my friend and I accidentally left Puff in the charcoal burrner overnight. I thought that Puff didn’t love me anymore for he had always faithfully returned home after a day outside.

Another time I thought I had lost Puff was when he was caught between the screen door and inside backdoor. Around midnight my father heard a strange noise coming from the back door. He must have thought that a burglar was trying to get into the house for he went and opened it and was surprised to see a white streak running up the steps and under the table.

Finally, the sad part of this gleeful lifetime must be told for I have put it off long enough. Although Puff and I had happy times together, there were still some bad ones. For Puff was getting to be a nuisance. He would get hold of a piece of wool or a sock or any material and eat a big hole in the middle. Puff also, like any other cat, had a desire to catch and eat birds and rabbits.

So my mother suggested that we take Puff to Wisconsin for my grandparents’ house to catch mice. Naturally, I didn’t want to give up “my little cat.” After weeks of pondering about what to do with Puff, we finally decided on giving him to my Aunt and Uncle to take to a farm. By that time I had started to dislike Puff, or so I thought, for the cat would make my father angry, so angry he would get angry with me and that made me angry. The cat would sit in the middle of the living room and pull his hair out. Also, the cat was getting mean, very mean. He even made a sort of growling noise in his throat when he ate. This noise was not purring, he never purred, not even when he was a little kitten.

Well, the day came when my parents asked my Aunt and Uncle to come and take my cat to his destination. My mother tried to tell me that Puff would be happier at the farm, but I really didn’t care about anything at all anymore. My cat was leaving me. I handed my cat to my Aunt and I think she could see a tear in my eye. I gave Puff one last kiss and after they left I went into my room. I didn’t cry, I couldn’t cry. I was beyond crying.

The next day we received a call from my Aunt and Uncle saying that about halfway [to the farm] Puff jumped out the window, which was down about 6 inches. He didn’t get run over, but he ran into a cornfield. This was the last time anyone in my family saw my cat, Puff.

Now that I have heard of Pica disease in cats, I am pretty sure Puff’s habit of eating fabric, pulling out his hair and his meanness came from an underlying issue that we didn’t consider.

Several years after Puff ran off into the cornfield my father did some appliance repair for someone not too far from the place where Puff disappeared. The family had a large, white cat who apparently walked out of a cornfield and into their lives years before my father did work there. He believed it was Puff. I hope it was.

My cousin Jeff, my brother Kevin, my cousin Pam and Puff. Jeff always opened his mouth like that when the cat was in the room.

Kevin, Puff and Jock. Puff is dirty because he spent the night in an outdoor grill. Oops.

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7-22-04: Three accounts of one day

Nearly thirteen years ago the kids and I set out on a drive to Illinois. Dean must have been on a business trip. For one reason or another, the kids and I each wrote our account of the day on Holiday Inn stationery. We really didn’t need to write down the part about the seatbelt — none of us will ever forget that.

My view:


Left home at 11:10 this morning. Had hoped to get an earlier start but no luck. The kids were fine. Great first few hours then they began watching LOTR-FOTR. Stopped in good old Breezewood for lunch and gas. Bought too much food.

Arrived at motel in Fremont, Ohio around 7:30. Checked in. Kids wanted to stay in the car.

When I got back Clare was doing something to Andrew’s back. I jokingly asked Clare what did she do to Andrew. Then I saw that he had the seatbelt all tangled up and round his belly. I helped him escape and was on the verge of calling 911 to get him out. He finally did a backward somersault and slipped free. Dinner was good.

Kids watching TV now.


Andrew’s view (he was 11)


We left a lot later than I wanted to but we had TV. Then we ate lunch at a fine place. Then I had to go to the bathroom really really bad. Then we went to a place we went last time. Then stuff happened. And then…I got stuck in my seatbelt and I got to do a somersault. It was weird.

Clare’s view (she was nearly 13)

Today was funny…Halloween woke me up. Awwwww. Mom was mad. Dad left blah blah blah. OK later, Andrew got stuck in the seatbelt. Umm, I have no clue how. He had to do a backward somersault. errr.. Dinner was odd… umm mom probably told you. A cute kid (adorable) waved. He was 2. Then a thunderstorm came. I went to our room and am watching TV now. The seatbelt disappeared in his tummy. GTG ~*Clare*~

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Declutter 2017: Little Golden Records

For the past few decades I’ve been in the market for an affordable record player that was capable of playing 78s because I had a pile of Little Golden Records from my childhood that I wanted to hear again. I remembered playing some of these records over and over again and even wrote about them in a memoir essay for a college class. I felt sure that I was going to be suddenly transported back to that pink room on Mountain Street.

little golden recordsA few months ago I pulled out the records and looked at the titles. I figured I probably didn’t need to play them again because I assumed I could find them on the Internet. While I did find some, I could not find all of the recordings. But it didn’t matter because I realized that my memories of the records were somewhat false. For instance, I was sure that Walt Disney himself was singing “Bibbity Boppity Boop!” on one of the records but it turned out to be Mitch Miller and the Sandpipers.

Not long after I’d decided I should just toss the Little Golden Records in the trash, I found a great deal on a small portable record player capable of playing 78s. It was about the size of my childhood record player. I bought it and when it arrived I immediately plugged it in and played one of the records. No feeling of nostalgia. I tried another. Same thing. Nothing. Looking at the titles, I don’t think that any of these records will give me that warm, slightly bittersweet feeling of longing for the simpler days of being a kid that I was hoping for, expecting.

I sit here wondering why these circles of yellow plastic don’t bring back fond memories. Is it that I am so old that I’ve forgotten actually playing them? Is it because I don’t need to feel nostalgic about these songs? Is it because I’ve got lots of better memories than being 5 years old listening to records in my bedroom? I don’t know, and I think I should stop wasting my time on wondering.

These, warped and scratched up as they are and worthless, will go in the trash today. Also, they smell bad.

Here’s a video that someone with an unscratched record posted on YouTube. It’s the only record with a singer other than Mitch Miller and his orchestra plus the Sandpipers.

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Declutter 2017: Four Prints from Frances

I don’t know why Frances gave me the partial set of lithographs from the Old South, but she did. I expect they were something she’d gotten after writing about home design in The Washington Evening Star. I don’t know what happened to the other prints in the set, perhaps they adorned her walls.

These prints have sat in the attic for years, first in the knee wall where generations of silverfish feasted on the outside cover of the prints, then in my electronics/stuff-to-blog-about/junk closet. I pulled it out the other day and was reminded how lovely the prints were — for some reason the silverfish left the prints inside the set alone.

The cover describes the contents:

“A series of six colorful subjects, reproduced in full color lithography, inspired by a way of living — of ease and slow-paced leisure — which has become an integral part of the American tradition. Their joyous composition and gayety of color make these bright watercolors ideal for any decorating scheme.”

New Orleans Promenade, Charleston Flower Merchants, Savannah Cat Walk, New Orleans Hurdy Gurdy, Doorstep Flower Venders, Charleston, and Savannah Green Grocer.

The prints are all signed “Sikat” and were published and copyrighted in 1953 by J. B. Fischer and Co. in NY City.

I am not sure what I am going to do with the prints. I’d like to have them framed and hang them, but I don’t think Dean really likes them. I don’t want to sell them or give them away unless the person I am giving them to knew Frances.

I will ask my kids if they want them, but I suspect the answer is no so they will likely go (protected this time) back into the knee wall.

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Declutter 2017: Live Off the Land and Like It by Dayton Primrose

Several years ago my mother’s friend, Wendy, learned I was interested in edible wild foods. I may have told her that I owned Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons or else we were just talking about wildflowers. Her mother had a wonderful yard full of lovely wildflowers and maybe it was when I visited it. Regardless of how Wendy learned about my interest, she gave me a small pamphlet that her father wrote about edible wild foods, Live Off the Land and Like It. It has been lying around my house for years and I finally scanned it so I could share it. I hope Wendy doesn’t mind. I’m planning on giving the original pamphlet to my daughter who actually makes things out of wild plants.

I’ve not tried any of the recipes, but maybe you will find something intriguing. Here’s the PDF so you can actually read the recipes: Live off the Land and Like It

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Jessie Tyler’s Ivanhoe

Several years ago I wrote about my connection to my great-grandmother, Jessie Tyler Green Harris and mentioned a book that I had in my bedroom that bore her name. I thought it was in a copy of Ivanhoe, but it was not in either of our old books with that title.

I finally found the book in the attic at my mom’s house. It was, as I recalled, in Ivanhoe. I was wrong about her age being written the book though.


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