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Category Archive: Wisdom

Dec 25

The Christmas grandma forgot to cook. First printed in December of 2006 in The Examiner, an eastern Jackson County daily newspaper.

With apologies to author Clement Clark Moore who was thought to have penned  ’The Night Before Christmas’ in 1823. Here’s my take on this delightful Christmas classic poem…

twas-the-night-before-christmas-little-golden-book-cover

‘Twas the day before Christmas, when all through the house, the grandkids were running and chasing a mouse.

The stockings, hung by the chimney with care, were falling into the fire before I could get there.

Only one of the grandkids was nestled snug in her bed, while her brother and cousins danced and jumped on their heads.

Papa in his slippers, and I in my wrap, longed to settle down for a cozy afternoon nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, more grandkids arrived to add to the chatter.

Away to the coffee table I flew like a flash, put away vases, pictures and books before they were trashed.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow, meant more kith and kin would come soon with toddlers in tow.

When what to my aging eyes should appear, but a van load of college students with eight cans of beer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be Uncle Rick.

More rapid than eagles, the relatives came, as I whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now, Auntie! Now, Uncle! Now, Nephew and Niece! On, Grandpa! On Grandson! On Brother and Sis!”

To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall, Papa whispered, “Dash away! Dash away! Dash away all.”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, the hungry settled round the table ready to eat ‘til they die.

So up to the kitchen, I flew like a flash, threw open the empty cupboards and searched for some cash.

With a purse full of bills and no time to blink, I drove straight to the deli but was soon back at the sink.

There was no food to be had in our little berg; the shops were all closed, the keepers gone home. There was nothing to feed this hungry, wild herd.

And then in a twinkling, I heard in the drive, the screeching and stopping of each giant tire.

As I drew in my head and was turning around, down the chimney the Schwan’s man came with a bound.

A bundle of boxes he had flung on his back, and he looked like a St. Nicholas just opening his pack.

My eyes how they twinkled! My heart how merry! He had entrees, desserts, and even frozen cherries.

He had hams and turkeys, gravy and pie. Casseroles, pizzas, chicken, oh my!

A wink of his eye and a check of his supply, soon gave me to know there was plenty to buy.

There were scalloped potatoes, California blend veggies, green beans and corn, frozen fruits galore, peppermint ice cream and chocolate cake rolls.

He spoke not a word but went straight to his work and filled our fridge, then turned with a jerk.

And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, into his yellow truck he rose.

I sprang to the task; serving up the stash, and to my guests gave a whistle.
They flew to the table like down on a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight,

“Next year lady, buy your food ahead a fortnight (and don’t forget to cook)!”

Nov 03

From my archived newspaper columns: The final neighborhood garage sale is never the last (Or…”Hubby covets neighbors garage sale trash”)

(From my archived columns, first published in The Examiner. The Examiner is a daily newspaper published Tuesday through Saturday, serving Eastern Jackson County, Mo.)

 

 

“So that you’ll never be tempted to participate in a neighborhood garage sale, allow me to explain how they go. Friday night you’re up until two in the morning marking prices on all the junk you’re hoping people will buy. At this point you’re almost psychotically optimistic, calculating the total value of your inventory at slightly over twenty-two thousand dollars.”–W. Bruce Cameron, author, columnist and humorist.

My neighbors and I are planning our “final” garage sale.

Thus, a definition of the word “final” might be in order here. According to Encarta Encyclopedia, the word means the last of a number or series of similar things. “Final” also means conclusive and allowing no further discussion.

Such as involving a garage sale, the last garage sale, in fact, that my neighbors and I will ever have.

We mean it this time, too.

No one believes us.

We are deadly serious though because the upcoming fall sale will be conclusively the last, positively the last, and without a shadow of a doubt, the last garage sale! There will be no further discussion of this either, we neighbors agree.

But we lie. Here’s the proof.

Neighbor, we’ll call her Susan, once signed a pledge written by her husband promising to never again hold or participate in a yard or garage sale or any other kind of rummage sale. Another neighbor, let’s call her Kathy, announced clearly and adamantly that she was finished, done, spent. No more garage sales for her. The third neighbor, we’ll name her Sandy, was too busy and was simply running out of things to sell and, yes, running out of interest, too.

Yet, we are doing it again.

One of the neighbors, not to be mentioned by name, was well ahead of the rest of us. Early on, she began the process of dragging her basement treasures to the garage thus forcing her husband to park outside days ahead of the sale. Her garage was overflowing with clothes racks, tables, and miscellaneous “like-new, priced-to-sell” household items, naturally there was no room for a car. Makes perfect sense to me.

Meanwhile, my husband, who incidentally never fails to notice anything that could possibly be free-of-charge, observed that said neighbor was cleaning out her house and bringing lots of non-worthy garage sale items to the curb for the morning trash pickup.

He began to covet her trash, in particular stacks of empty plastic 5-gallon buckets.

When I called to ask about the buckets, my neighbor’s husband answered the phone. “Could hubby have them,” I asked him.

“He wouldn’t want them, they aren’t any good. I drilled holes in them to water flowers,” came the reply.

Five minutes later my spousal unit was in their driveway snatching the buckets in the dark of night. He reported back to me that they were perfect for carrying boards, tools, bricks and rocks, and would work just fine.

Of course they would, I thought, and they will work just fine in my garage sale in the spring, too.

That is, of course, if I have a garage sale, you understand.

Jun 30

Fourth of July memories– it’s really the patriotism we love, not the potato salad.

(From my archived columns, first published on July 3, 2006, in The Examiner. The Examiner is a daily newspaper published Tuesday through Saturday, serving Eastern Jackson County, Mo.)

fourth-of-july-picnic

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”

–Erma Bombeck.

Ah yes, I remember that “iffy” potato salad and the flies, too, at many a Fourth of July celebration of my youth.

The Fourth of July is a happy holiday bringing back delightful memories, but maybe it is more than the family picnics and fireworks that I remember and love.

Maybe it is the patriotism, 1950s style, not the potato salad, that makes it such a happy holiday.

For instance, one of the things I remember most about past Fourth of July celebrations is a television monologue given by the late great comedian Red Skelton in honor of Independence Day.

For younger generations who may not know this, Skelton was a comedian who rose to stardom between the 50s and 70s delighting audiences coast-to-coast with his weekly comedy television show.

After all these years, turns out I remembered very few details about Red Skelton’s then famous “Pledge of Allegiance” monologue. However, I do recall how much I loved his performance at the time.

If you search the Internet, you will find it easily, the YouTube video of Red Skelton’s Pledge of Allegiance, 1950 style.

Skelton tells a story about how his teacher Mr. Laswell of Harrison School in Vincennes, Indiana, felt his students had come to think of the Pledge of Allegiance as merely something to recite, something monotonous.

Mr. Laswell remarked to the students, “If I may, may I recite it and try to explain to you the meaning of each word?” He continued.

“I—meaning me, an individual, a committee of one.

Pledge—dedicate all of my worldly goods to give without self pity.

Allegiance—my love and my devotion.

To the flag—our standard, Old Glory, a symbol of freedom. Wherever she waves, there’s respect because your loyalty has given her a dignity that shouts freedom is everybody’s job!

The United—that means we have all come together.

States of America—individual communities that have united into 48 (now 50) great states; individual communities with pride and dignity and purpose; all divided with imaginary boundaries, yet united to a common purpose, and that is love for country.

And to the republic—a state in which sovereign power is invested in representatives chosen by the people to govern. And government is the people and it is from the people to the leaders, not from the leaders to the people.”

Red Skelton’s entire rendition of Mr. Laswell’s speech is too long for this column.

However, I will share with you here his final admonition to his students, “We are one nation so blessed by God that we are incapable of being divided, which means, boys and girls, it is as much your country as it is mine.”

Yes indeed, it is this kind of patriotism that I love and remember, but not so much the “iffy” potato salad.

Happy Fourth! May it be patriotic and memorable, even if you can’t keep those pesky flies off the potato salad.

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