The Next Great Epoch: The “New”

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I should be putting more work into what I’m attempting to do right now but, I can’t help but think existentially about what’s going on in the U.S. and the world,  trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together based on where it all came from and where it’s all going and blah blah blah.  What future scenarios are most likely to occur?  Just trying to figure things out.  How will things change?  Whatever.  

WILL life change significantly?  Change is inevitable.  Life will never be the same.  I think we need to face that fact.  Incremental circumstances create change that’s incremental.  Far flung circumstances bring great change.  Great change can be expected; the challenge is life threatening and we’ve never faced a similar threat before.

At this moment in time, life is an ‘Unknown Variable’.    

Life will never be the same.  The Modern Age we’ve lived in for all our lives is coming to a quiet end.  What’s interesting is that those of us Boomers who were born at the birth of the modern age who spent our youth growing up during the Golden Age of America 1950 – 1965 so too are WE slowly coming to OUR ends.  It’s as if our lives and the Modern Age have been inextricably linked from the beginning up until the present time.  

How beautiful that we lived from its birth through all the complex historical events beginning with the fifteen innocent years we lived in complete freedom.  We were privileged to have lived with the freedom to discover, to assuage a child’s lust for knowing the world and interacting with it, free to enjoy the pursuit with a level of comfort, unlike any generation of youth has ever known.  

I think it’s swell that the whole country is returning en masse to the only true place of refuge; the place where family lives.  What’s great is, we have no choice in the matter!  We can’t be for it or against it politically because it’s nature who has made the decision for us and I don’t think nature HAS a party affiliation. It’s more like a higher authority has declared, “Get your asses home and start all over again and this time, do it right!”  

My concern is, will the knowledge of that ‘golden age’ be passed on as a model for the future since, future generations will know little about America during its Golden Age and they will be called upon to make the creative changes that will lead us toward the next leap of faith.  

The next great epoch.  Or the late great planet earth?  

If they don’t know their history, how will they have any semblance of a ‘road map’ to lead them into the future?  

Wow!  Forced to face a new world built on family units, to pool resources and talents in order to get through the next couple months and move into the future.  A LOT can happen in two months and I expect a lot WILL since we’ve never been to this “place” before.  

Bottom line is, this could be the best thing that ever happened to family and country and maybe the world during during this so cared Modern Age, a fitting way to end the Modern and begin the New.  Maybe the whole span of the Modern Age was a run through so the same mistakes will not be made in the “New”.  

I look at it this way.  It was OUR actions that brought the virus into the world NOT through some cockamamy conspiracy rather, through deforestation; by invading the eco systems we are releasing countless pathogens into the world from where they’ve existed in stasis within their environment for tens of thousands if not millions of years, bringing them into contact with a world crowded with humans who have invaded the barriers between.  So it’s our job to deal with it and to deal with it right.  

We’ve forced these pathogens to interact with us by the decisions we’ve made.  But we’re not allowed to blame this on nature.  It’s human activities that have done the damage and humans who must pay the price or change our ways.  Either that or,  this virus will only be known as ‘The First”.  

We are at a crossroads of history.  We must evolve or go back to the old ways and invite more catastrophe to come our way.  Our eco systems can’t take much more.  They have already started to fight back.  It’s up to us to find creative solutions that enable us to live in partnership with nature and … with man.

Return to family means people will be forced to live life styles from a past age when all relationships were centered around the home; when this was the ‘norm’ in America as it was when we Boomers grew up during the Golden Age of America 1950 – 1965.  

The humble beginnings of the Modern Age streamed from the “small town ethos”, a kind of ‘mind sharing’ that can only happen in certain group settings but when it does, a kind of magic occurs that runs through lives much like the electrical currents of a social network except the mind sharing of the small town ethos exists in ‘real’ terms.

Maybe social networking needed to come into existence to fulfill the vacuum created when the small town ethos began disappearing. 

continuing …. maybe .,.. ks

A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story 

It’s  

cold and crisp, 

the air between each time  

crystal clear or full of light wings falling/

fat with fluff  

sailing where they please, drifting sideways in the breeze with crystal memories 

See them resting quietly in the trees? 

On the ground adding curve to rugged spaces giving shadow’s warm embraces?  

Hear them dampening sound with suspense and quiet anticipation? 

See the ground with sparkling memories of all the Christmas’ past?  

Each snowflake reflecting back the light from each, its very own star? 

Or so, we liked to think.  

The  Stage  Is  Set 

And so the stage is set for the most memorable Christmas of my lifetime when as a ten year old boy the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) gathered at our house for a rare celebration of gift giving on Christmas Eve when a surprise guest came into our midst adding even more magic to that magical time.  

Stranded At the Depot/A Stranger In the Night  

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This was the year my grandfather Dusty Peck, who worked at the Grand Trunk Railroad Depot brought home a guest from Canada stranded at the station with no place to sleep on Christas Eve after blizzard conditions forced cancellation of passenger train service to Chicago.  

We welcomed her into our family as an honored.guest. 

Knowing rules would be more lax in her presence, we give little effort to restrain our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the joy we create as our Christmas gift to her.

High Jinks and Hilarity

I can still see her sitting next to the fireplace in the blue Naugahyde chair her head thrown back, mouth wide open laughing along with everyone when Uncle Bill lost his balance while bouncing around the living room on a pogo stick, knocked over a lamp then rolled onto the shade while trying to stand up.  

Up In Flames

This is the same year that most of the frilly girly gifts my two girl cousins received went up in flames after being accidentally gathered together with all the Christmas wrappings and burned In the fireplace.

Everyone is sympathetic while my one cousin cries.  My brother and I think it’s hilarious!  

Roasting

This is also the year that Deac decides we’ll have a traditional style roasted pig with an apple in its mouth for dinner on Christmas Day..

Our oven isn’t big enough for a whole pig so a baker named Mr. Gregory who lives in the apartment above the bakery downtown gives us permission to use his big gas fired oven with rotating shelves to slow roast the pig all day.

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Shortly after sunrise Christmas morning with temperatures below freezing, we park in the alley behind the bakery.  The back door is unlocked.  Ten feet from the back door we see the wide stainless steel door of the big oven.   

Baker’s Hours

Mr. Gregory, who bakes bread starting at four a.m. every morning doesn’t mind lighting the gas oven for us before we arrive.  We don’t expect what happens next.  

When Deac pulls down on the stainless steel door handle warm dry, desert like heat washes over our faces and hands reminding us how cold it is a few feet behind us just outside the back door.  

A long chain moving over sprockets turned by an electric motor pulls the shelves around blue flames hissing through b.b sized holes along a metal tube the width of the oven.

Our pig rests on a square cast iron skillet with curled edges so that juice won’t leak inside Mr. Gregory’s oven AND to capture the juice that my grandmother, will use to make her delicious ham gravy.

After turning the motor off we tent the pig with an extra heavy strip of aluminum foil folded down the middle.  Deac uses a wooden bakers pole to slide the cast iron skillet into the center close, but not too close to the blue flames.

Before leaving we turn the motor on, pull the back door shut tightly and drive home. 

Every Two Or Three Hours 

Every two or three hours during the day, we drive downtown to the bakery, to check on the progress of our roasting pig.  The blue gas flames light the inside of the oven just enough for us to see it turning golden brown as it slowly rolls past our eyes …

Later That Afternoon/A Pig In A Blanket 

Later that afternoon around five o’clock the pig is cooked to a dark, rich, golden color.  It doesn’t need to be roasted any longer.

We use the bakers pole to pull the big skillet to the edge of the open door where we cover it with more aluminum foil.  

Wearing thick insulated gloves we lift the pig and iron skillet from the oven, carry it down the back steps to the car.

We place iron skillet covered with more foil into the trunk of the car with blankets over the top.  

While Deac starts the car I run back inside to close the oven door and make sure the back door is slammed tightly shut! 

On the way home we laugh about having a pig in a blanket in the trunk of the car!

Dining

We need two dining tables to comfortably seat ten people;  one aunt, one

uncle, two girl cousins, a grandmother, a grandfather, a brother, Deac and Donna and our guest from Canada. 

Deac carves the meat into chunks that are so tender they fall apart when served.  A combination of flavors; cloves and cinnamon and garlic and onion fill the air.  I finally understand what “melts in your mouth” means!

My grandmother’s ham gravy forms golden pools on top of Donna’s creamy smooth mashed potatoes.

The menu includes scalloped corn and scalloped oysters, fresh green beans quick fried in bacon fat with sautéed onions pieces of bacon tossed with apple cider vinegar and a touch of sugar.

My grandfather eats mint jelly with some venison Deac set aside as a special treat.  

My cousins, my brother and I drink tall glasses of milk, my grandparents drink black coffee with their meal while the adults drank red wine.

For desert there’s apple and pecan pie (my favorite). Each year Deac makes a creamy rich sauce in a double boiler from butter, sugar and an egg yolk that makes even fruitcake taste good!

After everyone raves about Grandma Peck’s apple pie we get a good laugh when she tells us it’s ‘mock apple pie’ made with Ritz Crackers! 

Telling Stories 

The adults keep us entertained with funny or interesting stories about growing up or daily life.

We relive Uncle Bill’s accident with the pogo stick.  Each of us tells what we saw from different points of view.  Each story is a different version but they’re all the same and we laugh a little harder with each re-telling.  

My brother said it looked like Uncle Bill was shot from a cannon when he flew into the table knocking over the lamp.

The lady from Canada tells us her sister lives in Chicago where she works as a bookkeeper at the Chicago stockyards and that she lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario where she books fishing expeditions into Canadian bush country on the Alcona Railroad.

They Met At the County Fair 

Grandma and Grandpa tell how they met at the Shiawassee County Fair during a band concert in 1918.  Grandma tells how hard they worked growing up on farm 10 or 15 miles outside of Owosso tending the big family garden, canning fruits and vegetables all summer long, stocking up for the long cold winters, caring for the farm animals seven days a week, gathering hay before hay “balers’’or harvesting corn with implements that seem ancient today.plus there was no electricity or indoor plumbing.. Despite the hardships Grandma Peck says she had a wonderful childhood growing up on a farm out in the country with lots of brothers and sisters. 

Tap Dancing On the Radio 

Donna and Aunt Jo talked about the beautiful costumes my grandmother made for them when  they tap danced at gatherings in different towns and 

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cities all around the state.  They re-lived their experience riding the train to Chicago where, since television hadn’t been invented yet, they tap danced on a popular radio program!

The Episodic Past

I have many boyhood memories from Christmases past but, they are all episodic.  Scattered memories from different years.  

There was the Christmas Eve I rode around town with Deac leaving turkeys on the doorsteps of families not as fortunate as ours.

There’s a partial memory I have of a very young boy walking down the aisle at the Congregational Church cradling his favorite gift, a white football that he leaves at the alter for some less fortunate boy or girlThen there’s the year I got the second best gift ever (the first being a new bicycle) a new pair of black figure skates with runners that, as Deac pointed out, were made of Sheffield Steel.

Christmas Morning/Ice Skating In Winter Wonderland 

Very early one Christmas morning after the gifts are opened, the sun barely casting a gray shadow onto the world I grab my new skates, sneak out the side door, cross the road walking west a block and a half along the north side of the athletic field to the ice pond in the park where I skate in a magical world devoid of human movement or sound.  It feels like I’m dancing with an invisible partner carving out figure 8’s any size I want, free to skate as fast as I want then turn and use the sharp teeth at the front of my blades to cut curved grooves in the solid ice showering fractured ice crystals curling to the sides like broken waves while stopping on a dime.  

Other Stories

All the Christmas memories are special. But, the year we celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve while making the Canadian lady a part of our family made this Christmas celebration even more special since all the inns in town were closed that Christmas Eve.  It almost seemed like she was meant to be with us.  Her presence was a gift releasing a spark that added extra measures of laughter and joy.  By her presence we were elevated into becoming the best people we could be even more full of love, transcending the needs of the immediate family. 

It seems strange that THAT Christmas is the only Christmas I can still clearly remember from beginning to end.  By the time our guest departed next day she had become a special part of our lives.  She will ALWAYS be a part off me.  A vivid memory from beginning to end that after 50 years I can still share since otherwise how could I have written this story! 

My Christmas wish is that may we re-live Christmas each year with renewed appreciation while adding more wonderful memories each year better than the last.  

Merry 2018 Christmas 

Happy New Year  to all  and 

To all a 

Good Night!  

From Kurt and Jodi Struble and the Struble/Logan clan 

Or as Tiny Tim said, “God bless us all.  Every one.’”’ 

Christmas Story; A Midwestern America Christmas!

Christmas Story

An Unexpected Guest; High Jinks and Hilarity

When I was 11 I experienced a Christmas I’ll never forget.

It started on a night when the entire family (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) had gathered at our house for a rare celebration of Christmas on Christmas Eve; … (the air crisp and cold, the sky crystal clear, snow the size of fat cotton balls falling on a soft white blanket sparkling like diamonds each flake reflecting a different star, … when my grandfather, who worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad, brought a lady home from Canada who had become stranded at the depot with no place to go or sleep that Christmas Eve. after blizzard conditions forced cancellation of passenger train service to Chicago.

The addition of a stranger in our midst added an air of excitement to the festivities. Knowing rules would be more lax in her presence, we gave little effort toward restraining our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the joy we created as our Christmas gift for her.

I can still see her sitting in the blue ‘Naugahyde’ chair next to the fireplace her head thrown back, mouth wide open laughing along with all of us after Uncle Bill, while bouncing around on a pogo stick in the middle of the living room lost his balance knocked over a lamp then rolled over onto the shade while trying to stand up.

Up In Flames

This was the same year several of my cousins gifts; pajamas and other girly things, went up in flames after they were accidentally gathered up with all the Christmas wrappings and thrown into the fireplace.

Everyone was sympathetic while she cried. My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

Roasting

This was also the year my dad decided that, since we were hosting more people than usual, we’d have a traditional roasted pig with an apple in its mouth for dinner on Christmas Day.

Our oven wasn’t big enough to slow cook a whole pig all day so a baker named Mr. Gregory who lived downtown above Gerry Gregory’s Bakery gave us permission to use his big gas fired oven with rotating shelves. to slow cook the pig.

Shortly before sunrise Christmas morning with temperatures well below freezing, we parked in the alley behind the bakery. We used a key to let ourselves in. The big oven was located several feet from the back door.

Mr. Gregory, who baked bread every morning starting at four a.m. didn’t mind getting up early, even on Christmas Day, to light the big oven so that by seven a.m. when we arrived it would be preheated.

What a surprise when we opened the oven door! Warm dry air flowed over our face and hands like a desert wind instantly warming us. A startling reminder of how cold it was a few feet away outside the door behind us.

An electric motor attached to a chain moving over a metal sprocket turned the shelves around the blue flames hissng through b.b sized holes along a metal tube the width of the oven.

Our pig rested on a square cast iron skillet with curled edges so that the juice wouldn’t leak inside Mr. Gregory’s oven AND to capture the juice that my grandmother would use to make her delicious gravy that soon, I’d be spooning over my mom’s mashed potatoes.

After turning the motor off we lifted the pig onto the shelf where my dad used a wooden bakers ole to slide the cast iron skillet into the center close, but not too close to the blue flames.

Before leaving we turned the motor on, locked the back door and drove home but every two or three hours we’d return, park out back to check on its progress.

Dining

The dining table was big enough to comfortably seat ten people: one aunt, one uncle, two girl cousins, a grandmother, a grandfather, a brother and mom and dad and our guest from Canada.

My dad carved the meat into chunks of meat that were so tender they fell apart when served. A combination of flavors filled the air making my mouth water. I finally understood what “melts in your mouth” means.

My grandmother’s gravy formed golden pools on top of my mom’s creamy smooth mashed potatoes.

We ate scalloped corn and scalloped oysters, fresh green beans quick fried in bacon fat with sautéed onions crumbled pieces of bacon tossed with apple vinegar and a touch of sugar.

My grandfather ate mint jelly with his meat. My cousins, my brother and I drank tall glasses of milk, my grandparents drank black coffee while the parents drank red wine.

For desert there was apple and pecan pie (my favorite). Each year my dad made a creamy rich sauce in a double boiler from butter, sugar and an egg that made even fruitcake taste good.

We had mince meat pie made from the venison of a buck my dad shot during deer season.

My grandmother made a fake apple pie that everyone raved about before telling us it was made from Ritz Crackers.

Stories

While we ate, the adults kept us entertained with funny or interesting stories about growing up or daily life.

We relived Uncle Bill’s accident with the pogo stick. Each of us told what we saw from different points of view. Everybody’s story was different but they were all the same! We laughed harder with each re-telling.

My brother said it looked like Uncle Bill was shot from a cannon when he flew into the table knocking over the lamp.

The lady from Canada told us her sister lives in Chicago where she worked as a bookkeeper at the Chicago stockyards and that she lived in Thunder Bay, Ontario where she booked fishing expeditions on the Alcona Railroad into the Canadian bush country.

Grandma and grandpa told how they met at the annual county fair during a band concert.  They talked about how hard they had to work growing up on farms 10 or 15 miles from town back when there were few cars, tending the big family garden, canning fruits and vegetables all sumer long, stocking up for the long cold winters, caring for the farm animals seven days a week, gathering hay before hay ‘balers’’or harvesting corn by implements that seem ancient today. All of this plus there was no electricity or indoor plumbing.

My mom and Aunt Jo remembered the beautiful costume dresses my grandmother made for them when they entertained gatherings at different towns, counties and around the state.  They relived their experience of riding the train to Chicago to tap dance on a popular radio program.

Uncle Bill told us another funny story about a pet crow he trained to perch on his arm while he fed it red cherries from a tree in his back yard.

Each time the crow ate a cherry, a pit from a previous cherry popped out of its butt! Nobody believed the story until I told them it was true because I saw it happen!

The Past

I have many boyhood memories from Christmases past but, they are all separate episodes.

There was the Christmas Eve I rode around town with my dad leaving turkeys on the doorsteps of families not as fortunate as ours.

There’s a partial memory I have as a very young boy walking down the aisle at the Congregational Church cradling my favorite gift, a white football that l gave to some less fortunate boy or girl.

Then there’s the year I got the second best gift ever (the first being a new bicycle) a new pair of black figure skates with runners that, as my dad pointed out, were made of Sheffield Steel.

Next morning too anxious to wait any longer I grabbed my new skates, snuck out the back door before breakfast, headed for the ice pond a block and a half away where I skated in a magical world devoid of human movement or sound carving out figure 8’s any size I wanted. I was free to skate as fast as I wanted before turning to dig the teeth at the front of my skates into the ice spewing chips curling away on both sides like fractured waves before stopping on a dime.

Other stories
continued

All the Christmas memories are special. But, the year we celebrated Christmas Eve by opening our house making the Canadian lady part of our family was special maybe because we gave her a place to sleep when there were no rooms at the inn … Her presence was much a gift to us as our inclusion of her into our family was for her.

She brought to us a spark that released extra measures of laughter and joy. By her presence she caused us to be the best people we could be; more full of love and giving than were she not in our midst. i

Her presence gave proof that giving to others is as much a gift to the giver as it is to the receiver which, isn’t this the true meaning of Christmas?

By the time she left on the passenger train to Chicago she had become a part of us and we were part of her. She still lives inside otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to write this wonderful story!

Funny how it turns out that THAT Christmas is the only Christmas I can still clearly remember from beginning to end.

My Christmas wish is that we be united by the knowledge that we ALL share special memories of Christmas because memories are all we have and Christmas memories are the best. May we re-live them with renewed appreciation while adding more wonderful Christmas memories this year .

As Tiny Tim said, “God bless us every one.”
.
Merry Christmas 2017

Kurt Struble

 

The Apple of Our Lives; An American Christmas

continuing … That was the same year several of my cousins gifts; pajamas and other girly things, were accidentally gathered together with the gift wrappings, thrown into the fireplace and burned.  Everyone was sympathetic while she cried. My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

A Roasted Pig

This was also the year my dad decided that, since we were hosting more people than usual, we’d have a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth for dinner on Christrmas Day.

Our oven wasn’t big enough to slow cook a a whole pig all day so, Mr. Gregory who lived downtown above Gerry Greory’s Bakery gave us permission to use the big gas powered oven with rotating shelves that he baked bread in every morning starting at four a.m. so, he didn’t mind getting up early, even on Christmas Day, to light the big oven before the sun came up, so that by the time we arrived the oven would be preheated.

We drove downtown to the bakery.  We parked in the alley behind the bakery.  It was cold outside.  Well below freezing.

We let ourselves in the back door with the key.  The oven was just inside the back door. When we pulled down on the big oven door warm dry air washed over us, warming our hands and face.

An electric motor attached to a chain moving over a metal sprocket slowly turned the shelves around blue flames hissing through the b-b sized holes of a metal tube the width of the oven.

Our pig rested on a square cast iron skillet with curled edges so that the juice wouldn’t spill inside of Mr.Gregory’s oven where he’d soon be baking bread AND so there was plenty of juice that my grandmother would use to make the best gravy in the world! Gravy that I’d soon be spooning over my mom’s mashed potatoes undoubtedly, the best mashed potatoes on the planet!

After turning the motor off my dad used a wooden bakers pole to slide the cast iron skillet onto the center of the shelf close, but not TOO close, to the blue flames.

We turned the motor on and went home but every two or three hours we drove downtown parked out back and checked on its progress.

continued …..

Slice of American Pie: A Christmas Story

A Christmas Story

Don’t you think those unexpected, unique events that sometimes occur during Christmas are presents more memorable than any single gift received?

Memories are more powerful because, unlike the new bicycle or the baseball glove or even that favorite new pair of ice skates that have long turned to dust, they can be dusted off, relived and shared with family and friends year after year.

“An Unexpected Guest; High Jinks and Hilarity”

Like the year we gathered an aunt and uncle, cousins and grandparents at our house one Christmas Eve the air outside crisp and cold, the sky crystal clear, snow the size of fat cotton balls falling on a soft white blanket sparkling like diamonds each flake reflecting a different star (or so our ten year old minds thought), when my grandfather, who worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad brought a lady to our house from Canada, who had become stranded at the big depot due to heavy snow, to join us for our Christmas Eve celebration.

The addition of a stranger in our house added an air of excitement to the gathering. We treated her like an honored guest.

Knowing the rules would be more lax in her presence, we gave little effort toward restraining our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the joy we created as our Christmas gift for her.

I can still see her sitting in the blue ‘Naugahyde’ chair next to the fireplace her head thrown back, mouth open wide laughing along with all of us when Uncle Bill lost his balance and fell while bouncing around on a pogo stick in the middle of the living room floor knocking over a lamp then rolling onto the lampshade.

“Up In Flames”

That was the same year several of my cousin’s gifts like pajamas and other girly things, were accidentally gathered together with the gift wrappings, thrown into the fireplace and burned.

Everyone was sympathetic while she cried. My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

continued …

Christmas Story IV: Magical Moments

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There were other Christmases and other memories I have from when I was a boy.

There was the time I rode around town with my dad on Christmas Eve leaving Christmas turkeys on the doorsteps of families not as fortunate as ours.

There’s the fragmented memory I have of walking down the aisle at church cradling my favorite gift … a white football … a gift I gave to some less fortunate boy or girl.

I have no memory of the chronology of the events leading up to that moment, how I managed to receive the gift and give it away all within the confines of Christmas Eve and Christmas day I don’t know.  But, does it matter?

Then there’s the year I got the second best gift ever (the first being a new bicycle) a new pair of black figure skates that, as my dad pointed out, were made of Sheffield Steel.

Too anxious to wait, I grabbed my skates, snuck out of the house before breakfast,  headed for the ice rink at the town park a block and a half from where I lived and while puff balls of snow fell straight down, the world silent and devoid of people, in my ecstasy I lost all track of time while making figure 8’s or skating really fast while using the teeth at the tips of my skates to turn and stop on a dime fragments of ice rising on either side; the whole experience was one, long magical moment.

But the year the lady from Canada came to our house … maybe because  all the rooms at the inn were taken … was the only Christmas I can clearly remember from beginning to end.

My Christmas wish?  May we put aside our troubles, have magical moments armed with  the knowledge that we are all sharing our own personal magical moments together!

A Christmas Story III

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A Christmas Story III

The dining table was big enough to comfortably seat ten people: one aunt, one uncle, two girl cousins, a grandmother, a grandfather, a brother and mom and dad.

Dad carved the pig into chunks of meat that were so tender they fell apart when served. The combination of spices flavored the air. The smells made my mouth water. I finally understood the meaning of food that “melted in your mouth”.

The gravy that my grandmother made formed golden pools on top of the creamy smooth mounds of mashed potates.

We ate scalloped corn, scalloped oysters and fresh green beans with crumbled pieces of bacon fried in bacon fat then tossed with vinegar dressing with a touch of sugar.

My grandfather ate mint jelly with his meat.

My cousins, my brother and I drank tall glasses of milk, my grandparents drank black coffee while the parents drank red wine or water.

The adults did all the talking. We listened to their funny stories about growing up or daily life.

We relived Uncle Bill’s accident with the pogo stick. Each of us told what we saw from where we watched. Every bodies story was different but they were all the same.

My brother said it looked like Uncle Bill got shot from a gun when he flew off the pogo stick before knocking over the lamp.

Sitting around the table we laughed even harder after reliving the story for the second, third and fourth times!

continued …

Christmas Dinner

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That was also the year my dad decided that, since we were hosting more people than usual, we’d have a roasted pig with an apple in its mouth for Christrmas dinner.

Our oven wasn’t big enough to slow cook a a whole pig all day.

So a baker downtown named Mr. Gregory let use the big gas flamed rotating oven he used to bake bread every day.

Mr. Gregory lived above the bakery.  He baked bread every morning starting around five a.m. so he didn’t mind lighting the flame of the big gas oven well before the sun came up even on Christmas Day, so that the oven was preheated when we arrived.

Early Christmas morning we drove downtown to the bakery parked the car in the alley and let ourselves in with the key.

When we pulled down on the oven door the warm air rushed out at our faces. The morning air was cold and damp and the back door was still open so the warm air felt good against our faces and hands.

An electric motor attached to a chain moving over a over a metal sprocket slowly turned the shelves around and around. The oven was heated by blue flames hissing through b b sized holes around a metal tube the width of the oven.

The pig rested on a square cast iron skillet with curled edges so that the juice wouldn’t leak out onto Mr. Gregory’s bread shelves AND so that my grandmother could make the best gravy in the world that we could spoon over the best mashed in the world.

After turning off the motor we lifted the pig and the iron skillet onto a shelf. We used a wooden bakers pole to slide the pig to the center of the shelf close, but not too close to the blue flame.

continued …

Christmas Story

images-5

Don’t you think those unexpected, unique events that sometimes occur during Christmas are presents more memorable than any single gift received?

Maybe the memories are more powerful because they’re shared by everyone at the same time.

Like that one Christmas Eve, the air crisp and cold, the sky crystal clear, snow falling the size of fat cotton balls, sparkling like diamonds on the ground each flake reflecting a different star (or so our ten year old minds thought), the entire family gathered at our house (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) when my grandfather who worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad brought a lady home from Canada who had been stranded at the depot, to join us for our Christmas Eve celebration.

The addition of a person we had never seen or met before added an element of excitement to the gathering. We treated her like an honored guest.

Knowing the rules would be more lax in her presence we gave little effort toward restraining our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the sense of joy we created as our gift to her.

I can still see her sitting in the blue ‘Naugahyde’ chair her head thrown back, mouth wide open laughing along with all of us when uncle Bill lost his balance while bouncing around on a pogo stick in the middle of the living room, knocked over a lamp then rolled onto the shade after losing his balance and falling.

That was the same year we discovered several of my cousins gifts went up in smoke when her pajamas and other girly things were gathered together along with the gift wrappings, thrown into the fireplace and burned.

Everyone was so sympathetic while she cried. My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

continued …

Big House Gone From Sight

 

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I cry the picture’s gone from sight

The Big House seen at night

the steam and carriage resting there

the hiss of dragon’s breath its fire and its steam

its flight through dreams of futures past

its passengers through the night

of fleeting time.

 …..

I miss the Big House pictured

our fathers and their’s

from generations back

still alive

 within its past

…..

I miss the Big House

flaming vapors behind glass

held in time

before my eyes

taken by fires delight

…..

But its alright …

…..

I miss the Big House.

The moon throwing down its light

her picture now  gone from sight.

But all is well …

Christmas Stories III

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Christmas Stories III

The dining table was big enough to comfortably seat  ten people: one aunt, one uncle, two girl cousins, a grandmother, a grandfather, a brother and  mom and dad.

The pig rested on the iron skillet on a ceramic trivet in the middle of the table with the shrivled red apple still in its mouth.

Dad carved the pig into chunks of meat that were so tender they fell apart when served.  The combination of spices flavored the air.  The smells made my mouth water.  I finally understood the meaning of food that “melted in your mouth”.

The gravy that my grandmother made formed golden pools on top of the creamy smooth mounds of mashed potates.

We ate scalloped corn, scalloped oysters and fresh green beans with crumbled pieces of bacon  fried in bacon fat then tossed with vinegar dressing with a touch of sugar.

My grandfather ate mint jelly with his meat.

My cousins, my brother and I drank tall glasses of milk, my grandparents drank black coffee while the parents drank red wine or water.

The adults did all the talking.  We listened to their funny stories about growing up or daily life.

We relived Uncle Bill’s accident with the pogo stick.  Each of us told what we saw from where we watched.   Every bodies story was different but they were all the same.

My brother said it looked like Uncle Bill got shot from a gun when he flew off to the side before knocking over the lamp.

Sitting around the table we laughed even harder after reliving the story for the second, third and fourth times!

continued …

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Christmas Stories: The Pig In A Blanket

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Every two or three hours we drove to the bakery, parked out back and checked on the progress of our roasting pig.

The blue gas flame gave just enough light for us to see the pig slowly rolling past our eyes.

By four or five o’clock the pig had cooked to a dark, rich, golden color.  It didn’t need to be roasted any longer.

When the roasting shelf was level with the door we turned the motor off.

The heat escaping through the open oven door felt like a warm fragrant wind bringing with it the combined smells of garlic and onion and basil and rosemary, cloves and beneath it all the subtle smell of apple cider.

My dad used a pair of iron tongs to pull the iron skillet to the edge of the roasting shelf.  We wore thick insulated mittens to lift the pig and skillet from the oven.

The skin on the red apple in the pigs mouth was wrinkled but there weren’t any holes …  so we knew hot apple juice had been steaming inside the pig.

We put the pig on top of blankets in the trunk of the car.  We didn’t want to spill any of the rich delicious juice that my grandmother would make into ham gravy.

We put a tent of alumium foil over the pig to keep it warm.

While driving home we laughed about having a ‘pig in a blanket’ in the trunk of the car.

continued …

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Christmas Stories

 images-5

Don’t you think those unexpected, unique events that sometimes occur during Christmas are presents more memorable than any single gift received?  

Maybe the memories are more powerful because  they’re shared by everyone at the same time.  

Like that one Chrisrtmas Eve, the air crisp and cold, the sky crystal clear, snow falling the size of fat cotton balls, sparkling like diamonds on the ground each flake reflecting a different star (or so our ten year old minds thought), the entire family gathered at our house (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) when my grandfather who worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad brought a lady home from Canada who had been stranded at the depot, to join us for our Christmas Eve celebration.

The addition of a person we had never seen or met before added an element of excitement to the gathering.  We treated her like an honored guest.

Knowing the rules would be more lax in her presence we gave little effort toward restraining our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the sense of joy we created as our gift to her.

I can still see her sitting in the blue ‘Naugahyde’ chair her head thrown back, mouth wide open laughing along with all of us when uncle Bill lost his balance while bouncing around on a pogo stick in the middle of the living room, knocked over a lamp then rolled onto the shade after losing his balance and falling.

That was the same year we discovered several of my cousins gifts went up in smoke when her pajamas and other girly things were gathered together along with the gift wrappings, thrown into the fireplace and burned.

Everyone was so sympathetic while she cried.  My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

continued …

The First Marshmallow II

and I saw so many stars and … and the white caps and the laughing orange faces on everyone, (and) the cool breeze seemed to …. … add up to some special new feelings within me … continued … 

Unknown

 And while I,

who was only 9 at the time,

was enjoying this special new feeling,

one of the boys took out a bag of marshmallows

and the family passed around metal prongs,

(… the kind you use when you cook a hot dog

over an open fire …)

and I watched everyone take a marshmallow or two

and put them on the end of their metal prong

then,

hold the marshmallow over the flame until it started to turn dark brown

(sometimes black)

and burn with an orange

flame …

…..

when one of the brothers

removed his from the fire,

he blew out the flame,

blew on the marshmallow a second time …

(… to cool it …)

put the marshmallow in his mouth and  pulled the metal prong out of

his mouth with

lips puckered …

(.. to keep the sticky marshmallow inside ..)

…..

After the older brother pulled his first marshmallow off his prong

he turned and asked me if i wanted a roasted marshmallow …

…..

 I didn’t think they looked that great

because they were on fire

and burned black but I said,

’’OK’’

continued …

The First Marshmallow

Unknown-3

One evening just after sunset I saw a fire at the beach house to cottages  to mine.

I went over to watch the people … two boys, a teen aged sister and their  parents …  who were standing around the fire having a great time laughing and talking.

They knew me so when they saw me standing in the shadows they invited me over to enjoy the fire with them.

So I went to the fire and stood with the boys and watched everyone talk and laugh and pretty soon I found himself laughing along whenever anyone said something funny or acted silly.

After a while I felt like I was almost part of the family.   I relaxed and sat down on a big log  next to the fire.

I looked around at everyone smiling while ripples of orange and black and  gray continually moved across their faces mirroring the flames of the fire.  And the night was cool, because it was early summer, and the fire felt warm, so the goose bumps on my arms disappeared and I felt warm and comfortable.

And the breeze blew through my hair and since I wasn’t cold anymore the cool breeze felt refreshing on my first sunburn of the summer and I heard the waves swish against the shore and when I turned and looked at the lake I saw small white caps briefly sparkle from the firelight then lap against the shoreline.

And I looked up at the sky and I saw so many stars and between the fire and the laughter and the night sky and the swish of  the waves and the white caps and the laughing orange faces on everyone, it seemed the cool breeze wrapped itself around and joined everything together and it all added up to some special new feelings within me.

continued …

The Animal Chronicles: Cardinals Escape From Prison !

… so as you already know … my cat and i have conversations all day … she speaks well … her tail moves with great eloquence … i always know exactly what she is saying even though i can’t always put what she says into words …

i don’t have any more cat stories … (not right now anyway …) but i have a whole plethora of stories about animals … including one about … a couple of female cardinals i helped escape from prison …

… Cardinals …

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One day a few 

years ago when i 

worked

at a 

nursing 

home  …

it was my turn to be the

‘smoking monitor’

for a group of 

ten to twelve patients 

in the screened porch …

where they are

allowed to

smoke …

…..

I lit their 

cigarettes …

…..

while they smoked we 

talked …

…..

next to me sat gracious, sweet 

southern born 

Clara …  

her legs 

blue, 

swollen twice their size, 

blood like red ink on a 

blotter showing through 

gauze wrapped around onion 

thin skin  

ripped and 

torn … from the 

slightest 

movement against any hard 

surface …

…..

deserted by her  children  a

movable lounge chair forever her 

prison 

she cries,  

‘’help, help, help,’’ all night, every 

night …

…..

suddenly two female cardinals 

attached themselves to 

the screen in front of 

us …

…..

sunlight 

highlighted

subtle shades of brown

and 

red streaks

 within their 

tail feathers

splayed 

agains the 

screen … 

…..

clara sat forward 

remarking, 

“… my goodness … how lucky are we to 

see something so beautiful so 

close … !”

…..

suddenly they 

began leap frogging from

panel to panel

back and 

forth

desperate to find their 

freedom …

 ….. 

i rose, herding  them saying,  

‘No, go that way!” or pointed saying 

‘’Keep going straight 

toward that 

opening … ‘’

….. 

one

found the opening

curved  upward into the

blue sky

and 

disappeared …

…..

the other flew 

too far …

attaching herself to the

screen

on the other side of the 

opening … 

…..

by herself now 

searching left to right …

she seemed more

confused  than 

ever …

…..

i walked behind  

her saying,

’’It’s your turn now 

GO!” …

…..

she let go 

fell to the 

left … 

scooped low, rose up and within 

seconds

was a tiny speck within the 

immensity of the sky

before 

disappearing

completely …

…..

i looked back at 

clara …

tears of  pain streaming down her 

cheeks …

…..

thinking

…..

if anyone knows how those cardinals 

felt 

 it was

She …

 

A Christmas Story

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my brother, my cousins and

i listened quietly to the

stories …

laughing along with

everyone especially the

story

about the crow and the cherry pits …

or intrigued by the

stories

Grandmother and Grandfather told about

growing up on a farm …

…..

i can’t remember any of the

gifts i received that

year …

but i clearly remember

the warm air

rushing out at my face the

first time

we opened the

big oven’s

door …

…..

the darkening shades

of golden brown that appeared

every three hours as the

pig rotated ‘round and

‘round over the

blue flame …

…..

the pig’s blanket in the

back of the

car …

Grandmother’s rich gravy

pooled on our

mashed potatoes …

…..

while we laughed and

listened

i looked over at the

pig

resting in the

middle of the table,

our little

family

gathered around it …

…..

strangely enough, it seemed as if that

pig

had a smile on its

face …

…..

 the whole day seems to have

revolved around that

beautiful golden

pig …

…..

especially when we were all

gathered around that long

dinner table sharing its

meat  while reliving

family

memories …

…..

 how strangely beautiful it

seems

now that

that

golden brown

roasted pig had

given me one of the

best Christmas

gifts

i had ever

received …

Christmas Stories

 images-5

Don’t you think those unexpected, unique events that sometimes occur during Christmas are gifts more memorable than any single gift received?  Maybe the memories are more powerful because  they’re shared by everyone at the same time.  

Like that one Chrisrtmas Eve, the air crisp and cold, the sky crystal clear, snow falling the size of fat cotton balls, sparkling like diamonds on the ground each flake reflecting a different star (or so our ten year old minds thought), the entire family gathered at our house (aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents) when my grandfather who worked for the Grand Trunk Railroad brought a lady home from Canada who had been stranded at the depot, to join us for our Christmas Eve celebration.

The addition of a person we had never seen or met before added an element of excitement to the gathering.  We treated her like an honored guest.

Knowing the rules would be more lax in her presence we gave little effort toward restraining our laughter and sense of mirth reveling in the sense of joy we created as our gift to her.

I can still see her sitting in the blue ‘Naugahyde’ chair her head thrown back, mouth wide open laughing along with all of us when uncle Bill lost his balance while bouncing around on a polo stick in the middle of the living room, knocked over a lamp then rolled onto the shade after losing his balance and falling.

That was the same year we discovered several of my cousins gifts went up in smoke when her pajamas and other girly things were gathered together with the gift wrappings thrown into the fireplace and burned.

Everyone was so sympathetic while she cried.  My brother and I thought it was hilarious.

continued …