Saturday, November 18, 2017

Turkey on crutches

Drumstick (Webster) 1. a stick for beating a drum  2. the segment of a fowl's leg between the thigh and tarsus.

Ah, definition 2. Oh my, whenever I look something up it just makes me do even more research. I should have paid more attention in anatomy. Tarsus! What part is the tarsus? Well, this can be a bone in the foot, connective tissue on the eyelid, part of an insects leg or a country in southern Turkey. The last definition was the closest to the name of the bird even though I cannot find a direct connection  to the drumstick.  Thus, we have come to the subject of this column. I think.

My son was in the National Tour of Evita which stopped in California. What a great excuse to have a Disney vacation! We packed up the family and headed south to meet up with him and some of his cast at Disneyland. Now I know you are wondering what this has to do with turkey legs, but please bear with me. (Oh, don't let me get started on bears!) One of the new delights at the park was turkey drumsticks. Now I am not a white meat fan, but let me at a drumstick, and I'm a happy girl. One of their drumsticks would feed a family of five. It was huge. A conversation ensued on the size of the bird with these hefty legs. This was around the time that Gabby learned that the birds we eat do not  survive the removal of said legs. Those drumsticks did not look quite as tasty.

I had begun to rethink this meat devouring thing. I'm not headed towards the vegetarian diet yet. But I think that the native cultures who thank God for the animal lives that are given in order to feed and clothe their people are teach us something very important. We are learning more and more about the cognitive power of not only animals but also fish. We are learning more information about a that makes us think. I find that it makes me look deeper into who I am and about the animals where I was raised. I think I missed a great deal when I was on the farm.

So, this is a column about not only drumsticks but also about being thankful for the food we eat. It is about the life of a turkey. Most of all, it is about defining who we are in how we look at new discoveries about the creatures of this earth.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends. My blessings include each and every one of you. Much love on this special day to you and your families. I am thankful.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Out the front door

A friend once told me that she loved living in her area, because it was away from crime and the cities. It is a quiet community that hasn't changed that much for generations. The people live in the same neighborhoods where their ancestors resided. They marry local people. Their children go to the same schools. Nothing changes but the clothing with the seasons and the babies replacing those who have passed.

Well, as we all know, that is not reality. It certainly is not part of our religious background that tells us to go out into the world and to love all people regardless of their color, their beliefs, their lifestyles. We are told not to judge and to be lights unto the world. It isn't just about prayers. It is about us as God's hands. Seems to me that we all are failing on that topic.

This isn't just about the shooting in Texas but much more. It is about the people who criticize, who are close-minded and who allow their religion, party affiliations, and families to dictate what they believe. We have come through this last year with hate being allowed to have a voice. A time when being mean to someone is accepted and our values lowered to accept things we never would under different circumstances. We joke about harassment saying women are just pushing the issue. We ignore when one more African American or Hispanic person is brutalized. We ignore pleas from other countries for help. We have an ego that just doesn't stop! Where is the heart, the love, the compassion and understanding that we all know we are supposed to have? Yet, we believe lies and ignore injustice, because it happens elsewhere.

Please, I implore you to become part of the system and not just an audience member. Vote, vote, vote. Don't vote party.  Vote for the welfare of ALL people. Call your people in congress and let a voice be heard. Support organizations for peace and equality. Support mental illness agencies. Embrace and understand those outside of your community. Don't support an issue if you do not know all sides of it. Don't believe what you read unless you check out all sides of the issue by doing your own research. Rethink what a gun can do and the necessity of it. Don't be a pawn. Be a player.

When I grew up, no one talked seriously about family problems and how to help loved ones in need to find their own help. I know in our house Mom tried to solve problems; however, I learned from working with kids at risk that we are to help them help themselves by finding resources for them to pursue and encouraging them along the way. We can't just shut out problems. Be active. Not passive.

A small community not so unlike where I grew up lost 26 people in just a few minutes. As many are in the hospital. We are not communities separated by state or country or religion or sex or belief or color. We are a united world. Americans are no better than those in other countries. We have a right to protest when we are hurt and no one seems to listen. We need to listen, folks. We need to stop judging. We need to look out the front door and see the bigger world. Please.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Savoring the holidays

Just a couple of days to Halloween, and Nolan leans over to me whispering, "Christmas is coming."  What?!? Time to get a few things straight!

Already stores are packed with slippers. Slippers, you know, sell out early as they are a sought-after Christmas present. You couldn't find a last minute Halloween decoration, because those were tucked away making room for a Christmas takeover. Yes, indeed, Nolan, every sign points to Yule on the horizon.

I hate the way that commercialism demands we focus on Christmas. The other holidays seem to get the boot, because the mighty dollar needs to be spent. We go into Thanksgiving hoping to get it done,  so we can get the Black Friday deals. We are manipulated by public relations and marketing ploys to draw us in and our money out.

Well, I am protesting. I am standing up against this power push by Hallmark and other card companies. I stand against Christmas movies beginning in November. I protest tinsel and garland before I have had a bite of my turkey. Who will stand with me!!! Ah, hello..... are you listening? Who will stand wi...okay. I am a lone voice bucking the system. Nothing new there.

I can close my eyes and find myself sitting in the kitchen with mom while she makes her pumpkin pies. Oh, wow, smell that aroma? Pumpkin and spices calling out to me after all these years. Anyone who ever ate her pie knows what I am saying. This is what I mean about savoring the holidays. The preparation, the planning. The family coming home. Long talks at the kitchen table and kids draped over the chairs and sofa getting to know one another all over again. Yummy leftovers to be eaten for couple of days after. And, no Black Friday. We savored the food, the family and all the memories that came to visit. My money can draw interest a little longer.

There are blessings that come when we don't live life so quickly. We set into motion traditions that stay with us always. We learn to appreciate the moment as well as the bite of pumpkin pie. Bah Humbug to those who are pushing the holidays. I prefer to lick my lips and say, "Can I have another piece?" For now, I will just bide my time and wait for Thanksgiving to arrive. And for those who are not looking forward to Thanksgiving, I say, "Run, Turkey, Run!!!!"

Monday, October 23, 2017

Treat and Treat

The candy makers are anticipating a great Halloween night that will have kids dragging home bags full of their goodies. Dentists cringe at the thought. Parents try to recycle the gathered candy as fast as they can once the child gets home. Yep, its that time of year again.

I always had a bit of a problem with this idea of trick or treat. The treat is nice if you get one. If you don't, why would you want to hurt someone else? Seems to be a bit of bullying tied to this old fashioned idea. I rather like the idea of handing out little books or tooth brushes. Perhaps we could just hand out good advice when the ghosts and goblins show up. Many of those old traditions and way of thinking really should be updated to reflect kindness and goodwill.

Well, what do I know? Mom felt that begging for candy was wrong. "We don't beg," Hm. Hadn't thought about that in years. It was begging. And, if you didn't hand over a treat, a cow might be tipped or corn shocks knocked over. You might get egged or have your pumpkins smashed. Why, why, why?

Then there are those kids who are entirely too old to go door to door and should know better. One year I even had a woman show up with a bag! And, they go to neighborhoods where they can get the biggest haul. My kids, and now my grandchildren, only visited their own neighborhood. Who needs that much candy?!?

I guess I sound like a Halloween curmudgeon, but truly, I don't get it. Give me a great ghost story and maybe a few ghosts, and I am in the spirit. Jack-o'-lanterns winking on the front steps and scary ghosts sounds coming from a hidden speaker. Kids parading their costumes followed by smiling parents...and grandparents. Feeling that pride when they say 'thank you' after they receive their candy. Watching neighbors who have watched them grow, beam when they open the door to their smiling faces. That is what I love about Halloween.

I handed out candy last year. I ran out and had no other option but to turn off the lights and sit in the dark. For at least 30 minutes, kids came up and still knocked. Some even yelled angry words. Those were the older kids who should have stayed home. I sat in the dark as if I had done a criminal act by not handing out more candy. I hoped to blend into the shadows so no one would notice that I sat there holding an empty bucket.

Perhaps Halloween should be a day of treating. Treating others with kind words and deeds. It could be called Treat and Treat. Good deeds deserving a few sweets. Candy makers might be a little put off by the idea. Dentists would love it. And, best of all, I wouldn't need to sit in the dark with my empty bucket.

Happy Halloween, my friends. Be safe out there.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ah, sweet autumn

Put the cauldron on! We're going to revisit memories. How can you not go back in time when you feel that crisp, fresh air and smell the leaves and other detritus, that decay giving the earth a blanket for a winter's sleep. Our thoughts turn to pumpkins and pumpkin pie. Not just about today but about those yesterdays remembered. Nutmeg, cinnamon, apple cider. Somehow nuts and apples and pears are a bit more alluring. Autumn. Ah, let's add ingredients

The first thing into the cauldron must be the sound of farm equipment rumbling across the fields, taking in the fall harvest. Wagons full of corn, signaling a healthier bank account, and livestock with food in their pantry. It signals a quieter time for the farmer and a honey-do list waiting for him when winter brings him out of the fields and into the house. A time to sit by the fire.

Next comes the anticipation of snow and thoughts of Christmas. A quick stopover at Halloween and then Thanksgiving with thoughts of finishing crafts and buying presents. My granddaughter Emma took me into her closet to show me her snow pants. She is anticipating tubing down the mountain. "I need snow boots, MeMe," she imparted with perhaps a motive behind the comment. Ah, yes, snow. I remember. I remember the anticipation.

Add a few memories of counting days until kids come home from college or grandchildren come to visit. The excitement of planning. The anticipation of hugs long missed. For me, it is a time of missing those no longer here, remembering the family gatherings and anticipating my son coming home after months at Northwestern during his college years. A yearning for those we love and the past.

Let's toss in hay rides. Pure joy and smiles at the memory of straw in a wagon, singing at the top of our lungs and snuggling together against the fall chill. Cider and hot dogs. Popcorn and cookies. Donuts and hot chocolate. Sugar Grove and youth group.

Let's add a little bulk to this stew of memories. Homecoming, marching band, football and soccer. Pumpkin Show and fall bazaars. Summer put away so that a new season can bloom once more. A hearty fall menu.

Bold colored leaves of yellow, gold, red and orange are reflected in clothing. Tank tops make way for sweaters. Heavier bedding comes out of storage. Feather beds, down comforters, flannel sheets. The stew is a palette of memories and colors. I hope I have stirred a cauldron of memories for you. Enjoy every minute and savor the stew.

"And in my heart, sweet Autumn, thou art the awakener of many, many things. At thy touch the deep fountain of memory is stirred, and its shadowy bank is thronged with many cherished images and hallowed recollections of the Past!" - Elizabeth J. Eames from "An Autumn Reverie, October 1940

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting my penny's worth

Some people do spring cleaning. June and I are both doing fall cleaning. She is getting ready to move, and I, just like my mother, love to move things around and discover treasures I had forgotten I had tucked away in that "why am I keeping it/I can't part with it" box.

June: I just found those old cards I got at the fair that have actors on them.
Me: I hate to tell you, but I have one of yours. It's Donald O'Connor. Do you want it?
June: No. Do you want this stack?

So goes the conversation taking on a new direction straight to the Penny Arcade at the Darke County Fair. I know you all have some of those little treasures. We all took those once precious pennies into that tent to the left of the race track and tried our luck. We played pinball, had our fortunes read and hoped that the love machine would tell us that our favorite guy really loved us. When the pennies ran out, we took off in search of a parent who just might have a bit of change.

A big old claw would pick up cheaply made toys and toss them into a chute....if you were lucky. There were gumball machines that added to the already large amount of sugar we had already consumed with cotton candy and candy apples. You could squeeze a handle to learn what strength you held in those skinny arms. If you had no idea how much you weighed, for a penny you could have it announced it to everyone in line behind you. Marbles shot off into space and horses raced around a track. Boxers fought and balls were tossed into holes. For a penny you could learn how your day was going via the horoscope machine. How about a piece of soda mint gum to settle your tummy? Maybe you stood on a box and looked into the big, round Mutoscope at a movie. There was a personality tester where you could find out if you were shy, exotic, glamorous, studious. It was a place you could shoot a mounted gun and not take the life of any living thing.

Yes, one conversation turned into a column of penny memories.

June: Do you remember the one machine that you could type your name onto a circle that surrounded a silver star? I spelled my name wrong the first time and had to do it again.

I remember putting a penny into a machine, and it coming out flat with a message on it. I'm missing those days when a penny was worth every moment of delightful time spent in the Penny Arcade. Hey, June, remember the plastic kewpie doll on the end of a stick? (fuel for another sister conversation)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Putting a spin on it

Pool sticks lined up against the stone wall. Chalk, balls, all the stuff of pool. The big table took up the space where once there was only a ping pong table. Wait a minute! What am I saying!?!?! It was not just a ping pong table. It was so much more.

Mom laid the pattern on top of the fabric. A piece of small print cloth that would more than likely end up as bib, aprons or possibly a dress; however, I never knew of my mom making a dress let alone any of us wearing something she made. The large green table was the perfect size for pattern cutting. The net could remain in place just in case a quick game of ping pong was pursued. Patterns were cut there and, occasionally, a meal was in place for the guests who came for a fun time at the Loxley house.

It was a warm September when our wedding gifts were beautifully displayed on that green background. As was done then, newcomers would wander around the ping pong table peeking what each person gave to the newlyweds. A rehearsal dinner was had, and I left that ping pong table for good.

My memories of that ping pong table were special as I played in that basement listening to my records and skating around the table, grabbing it on each corner as I swung about. Around and around on my little, metal skates that hooked onto my shoes. Oddly though, I never played ping pong on that table. Hm. Guess those sisters of mine were gone and so was the enthusiasm for the game.

Many are the people of Darke County who ate hot dogs in that basement seated around that big, old table. New Years celebrations with old friends, youth groups who grew into young adults, sitting around that table on most Sundays. Memories were gathered and meals shared, laughter echoing through generations.

The pool table came to stay after the Loxley girls were gone. Now grown up Loxley adults grabbed pool sticks and played. Their children played. I still didn't play, and no one seemed to care. Argh!

Just a 'backhand' of information gleaned from the pages of the English History of Ping Pong. Some sort of ping pong or table tennis has been in existence since the 1880s. It was first played among the upper classes in England. After dessert came a parlour game known as Whiff Whaff. It was played with books used as, batting golf balls across the dining room table. Later it was played with cigar box lids used as paddles and balls made from champagne corks. I'm pretty sure that even then no one would have played Whiff Whaff with me; I could have helped empty those bottles of champagne under the table.

The best part of those days around that big, green table was the conversations with relatives and friends. It was a gathering place of pure joy for you could not sit and eat at that ping pong table without laughing. My serve: Whiff Whaff.

Monday, September 18, 2017

As fur as you can go

Don't you just love family time. Those conversations with loved ones who shared your past. The little tidbits you share that jiggle loose memories you either had forgotten or occurrences of which you had no knowledge. Well, I just did some of that jiggling time with my sister June. You would think after all these many seventy years that we would have talked it all out. Hm. Maybe not.

The eggs cost under a dollar for a dozen back in the 50's. Now let's see. Total cost of raising them would include the cost of birds, feed, gravel, bedding, gathering eggs, washing eggs, packing eggs, cleaning out the hen house and putting up with the nasty creatures. Yet, Mom and Dad scrimped and saved every penny to feed and clothe their daughters.

I'm not sure of the cost of rabbits back then, but we raised them, fed them, cleaned the hutches and cuddled them as often as possible. As with the chickens (you never wanted to get attached), they were off to market as well.

Dad also raised cows, sheep and sometimes pigs at Granddad Loxely's farm. They required all the same only in larger amounts. The sheep offered wool to sell as well as an occasional lamb. The cows were given a reprieve if they were good breeders. Their calves were not so lucky. Food in the freezer and a little more money in the bank. Sometimes very little.

Crops varied year to year. The bank account grew or diminished as well. Some years we wore clothing longer even though they got shorter. In a good year we got something new. As with all things on the farm, a lot of money seemed to go into the various animals and crops with the return not so dependable. It was the way of farming. It was the way of raising a family.

Last week June and I got into a conversation about muskrats. I know, only farm kids would talk about muskrats, especially if you lived by a creek. Dad set out his trap and checked them each morning I thought that he was just trying to get rid of the critters. June informed me that he sold the furs; he checked the trees at night for raccoons. What!?!?!? I had never seen a dead muskrat with or without a pelt anywhere on the farm. It was indeed news to me. If Dad was lucky, he would get a fox. Well, this seemed to be a case of farm-underground. Who in the heck bought these pelts? Some hat maker back behind the Palace?! I envisioned a trapper I had seen on Daniel Boone. Then I tried to picture Dad as one of them. Nope, didn't work. I have no idea what the pelts were worth, but it was another effort to add cash to the cash box.

I am amazed at what I learn about my wonderful parents who gave every bit of their lives to their daughters. They suffered defeat. They struggled against health conditions and poverty. Yet, in all of this, they never lost their sense of kindness and pride in what little they did possess. I never had a beaver hat or a fur coat. But I lived a charmed life.  I had a bounty in my backyard and an even bigger one in the love of my parents. They built a life on hard work and small change. They certainly went as fur as they could go.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The only hope for the future

The smoke trailed up the slope like an old steam locomotive chugging through the trees, seeking higher ground. Then it was gone in a blanket of white. A blanket of smoke. As I flew off towards Indiana, I saw my beloved Columbia Gorge burn. A loss of the heart of my Oregon. A place that my grandchildren will never see in their lifetimes, in that beauty that was there for us to enjoy. Beautiful falls laid bare stripped of the thick forest that surrounded them. A place thirsty for rain that refuses to fall. Fish set free from fish farms way too young to meet the river but set free in an effort to save them. Animals frantically fleeing the raging flames. Environment attacked by foolishness. A kid with a firecracker.

A beautiful face comes to greet me. Once again I am united with my dear sister June in another place I call home. Her friends have become my own over the years. We share laughter, and we share tears. There is a bond that miles and time cannot erase. So to come here where there is worry and concern about homes and friends in Florida brings me to the center of frustration and worry. We were glued to the TV, hoping for word of Key West, Port Charlotte, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, St. Augustine and other parts of Florida that touch the lives of the people in my life. A storm large enough to engulf an entire state, to ravage it and leave it in shambles. Environment affected by the actions of humanity.

Yes, there are those who refuse to believe in global warming. Those who do not want to change their lifestyle, just because they like it and refuse to accept reality. It isn't false news. It is truth. We were given this earth to tend, to care for. We are given choice to support this globe or to destroy it. I believe that the true false gods are those who say, "there is no truth in global warming". The storms will be many and more intense as time passes. Our earth will be parched and fires will exhume the sticks left bare. Floods will erase communities and erosion will reclaim the beaches. There is no going back. I applaud those countries that are discontinuing gas-fueled cars. They are the first responders.

We can build walls. We can close our doors to outsiders. We can stand firm and be really ignorant. This is not an American problem. It is a problem we share with the entire world. If I need a country to run to, I certainly hope they will greet me with open arms. If there is a war here, I pray that someone comes to help us. If I am hungry, I hope I will be fed. We are not just Darke County or Angola, Indiana, or Beaverton, Oregon, or just America. We are all countries of the world who need to work together for the good of ALL. There is no you and me. There is only US. When we fail to recognize that, we kiss this earth and all inhabitants farewell.

You may not agree with me. There is no sacrifice in caring enough to change just in case you might be wrong. You just might give our children and grandchildren and every person on this earth a little bit longer to live.

The baby was lying there dying. He picked it up and returned it home. Its mother lay down the beach. Eight people, including a newscaster, picked her up carefully, taking the dolphin to the ocean from which she came battered and beaten. We care for each other no matter what the belief, the color, the  life form on this earth. We are the only hope for the future.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Unbridled kindness

You know, age does not make you ignorant. It might make you a little slower. It might make you feel you can no longer learn. Some things seem just too hard. But those thoughts all stem from fear of change or fear of failure. Now this has little to do with my column, but if you are afraid of computers, you are missing out on a wonderful part of your life and the lives of those who love you. I remember being in my 50's and afraid of a computer then someone explained to me that it was just like going through a file looking for a piece of paper. Instead of fear, I found adventure. This adventure took me to Facebook (FB),which is indeed a marvelous gift. Now....I think I'll continue my column.

I received a Facebook message from a friend I have never met. She is a Darke County girl so in essence we all know one another having met or not. Kim Morrison sent a personal message to me telling me that her mother had cleaned off my parents' gravestone. The Loxley girls all live away from Newcomer's Cemetery. We do not get back to care for the gravesite, yet here is a woman who knew my parents and honored their memory by cleaning the marker. I am deeply touched by such kindness.

A picture comes across on my FB messenger from Janet Rhoades. It is a picture of the creek. A picture that gets sent to my sisters so we can once more see our old neighborhood. A kindness from Janet who knows how deeply I love Neff Road and the people who have lived there. She is my lifeline to the news from home. She is my Neff Road 'sister'.

I get letters in the mail from readers and from my dear friend Geneva Lavy. I do not write by long hand any more due to arthritis in my thumbs. Yet I am blessed to hear from home. Kindness from those who care and remember. The emails I receive are kept in a special file, in a special place in my heart.

High school friends call or send a message. I see pictures of their families and share those of mine. Friendship continuing from the past. Kindness that comes in caring. Pictures and words that include me in their lives.

I got a message from Anita Miller who I have not seen since she was a child. She is Rev. Byron Miller's daughter. A minister who baptized me and who married us. Her home was like my own in my young years. She sends a FB message that thrills me, because she remembers me. I am humbled by her kindness.

Mom would have loved Facebook. She wrote letters, but she never had this chance to stay in touch with so many and to have that immediate contact with them. I know she would have sent words of support and concern. She would have been smiling at newborn baby pictures and couples in love. Yes, Mom would have championed this computer marvel.

For all of you who are my friends on Facebook, thank you. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your lives with me. I treasure each and every post. I laugh with you. And, many times I cry with you. I know that your hearts are with me as well.  What an awesome experience to have so many people want to share their lives with you. Your kindness is overwhelming.

So for those of you who are determined not to learn something new, please rethink it. In learning to open new doors, we allow kindness, love and support to enter. Kindness is indeed unbridled.