Posted by: Jim E | January 25, 2016

Time…Time…And Rest A While…

Time has been on my mind lately…I was sitting in the living room waiting to go somewhere…I looked up at the clock on our wall…and saw the time…let’s just say I had some time yet to wait before I left to pick up Jeremy…but it struck me, I use everyday a timepiece that was invented in the 15th or 16th century…in fact the very clock on our wall, I look at, is 100 years old, and more…pendulum clock Jim Burton

But the truth is though, I depend on that clock everyday…if I really want to know the “exact time”, I look at the cable box or at my cell phone…those are as accurate as we have in our house…

It used to be, when I was young, in the 50’s…I didn’t have a watch, there were no cell phones, no cable, no TV, the radio was the most accurate for telling time, and no money to buy a watch…but the radio always gave the time, I think they still do…at least where they still are live and not recorded…I always thought they were somehow connected to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)…a “magic time machine”, I figured…in school we learned about a town somewhere in England called Greenwich that all other clocks around the world where counting on to have the correct time…it was established in 1847 and used most importantly for ships to know where they are at all times throughout the globe…I won’t go into that any deeper than that…you know, time zones, longitude and latitude, and on and on…Greenwich Mean Time

When  I was young, time did not have the importance it seems to today…I can recall during the summer, leaving the house in the morning and not showing up until I got hungry or a time Mom told me to be home…I thought for a while about that the other day, without a watch, how did I know what time it was…well, it was not lost on me the stories I read and heard about Indians and pioneers…they told time by the sun, I did too…when the sun was straight up…it was 12:00, noon…and any other angle, it would “read” to me just like a clock…half way up the horizon, it was 9:00…half way past noon, it was 3:00…and everywhere in between…I don’t remember being very far off many times…or Mom would call…and I could hear her call for miles it seemed…that method was used for centuries, until clocks were invented…

I still prefer the 15th and 16th century windup timepiece…the one on our wall is special to Judie and I…it was a wedding gift from a neighbor of ours growing up…Jim and Mary Burton…he was in the jewelry business for years and his house was full of clocks, all kinds of clocks…we got married in 1963, I was 21, Jim was 91…I went over to talk with Ford 1953 my first carhim…(we had grown up with the Burton’s as neighbors, my Mom basically took care of them until they died…in fact I was going to pick Judie up for a date when Jim started over to get one of us…I was just getting into my car when I noticed him, called to Mom and ran over…he said something was wrong with Mary…no 911, we did what we could but she died that day)…a year or so later I went to talk with Jim…to tell him Judie and I were going to be married…Jim wanted to give us a clock…I chose the one pictured on this post…it’s still on our wall some 52 years later…

I remember Jim, at 91 remember, wanted to clean it before giving it to us…I assured him that was not necessary, but he said he would be happy clean it…I thought, there goes the clock…the next time I went to see Jim, the clock was all spread out on his table…parts here and there…I thought he will never be able to put that together…I was wrong, maybe it isn’t that complicated or maybe his eyesight was better than I thought or maybe he was a better watchmaker than I gave him credit for…it’s been on our wall for over 52 years, and on his wall for many more…I still rely on it and it still keeps good time for a clock invented the 1600’s and probably made in the mid or late 1800’s…so this is all about time, just a few ways to look at it…in terms of a life or two lives, or history of time…its all about how you view it…

Various words we use all the time have to do with time…wait a minute, an instant, a nanosecond, a second, a month, a year, a calendar, a lifetime, a generation…hundreds of words that speak of time or the passing of time…it passes even while we sleep…Jesus talked about time here and there…in Mark 6:30-32…verse 31 “He said to them, ‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.'”…”a while”, another term about time…in fact I love that term…rest a while…so many times I remember telling myself and others to take time to rest, retool…heal…

I have never seen “the tide”, though we know the times of the tides, there are tables that show those times…I have seen the ocean, both Atlantic and Pacific…but I never was there long enough to “see” the results of the pull of the moon on our great oceans…heavens, I believe there are people who live by the ocean but are so busy, so Tides, thewrapped up in what they do, there is not time to notice this great event…it happens everyday, the high and low tide…but what is really astounding…at the changing of the tide, there is a brief period of time called “slack tide” when the water is neither high nor low…this is when the water is “unstressed”…it is a quiet pause before the surging of tidal flow begins again…Jesus understood that need and knew his followers needed to eat and rest…”Come aside…and rest a while”…

So as I sit in those early morning hours, and that happens everyday…I sit and look out our front window, contemplate the day…look at the only timepiece I ever look at that time of day…and take that time, that little “while”…to get ready to face whatever God holds for me and “rest a while”, even for a few minutes…

Posted by: Jim E | December 23, 2015

Lutefisk, Lefse And Ring-A-Ding…”Uff da”, I Said…

Lutefisk, Lefse And Ring-A-Ding-Ding…”Uff da”, I Said…

Here is another Christmas post from the past…it will hearken back to Minnesota culture…but you will live through it…just sit back and enjoy the Scandinavian humor and culinary delights of Christmas…Merry Christmas…

Oh, yes it is Christmas time in America…and what comes to mind to a Minnesotan…even a transplanted Minnesotan???…it is all the Christmas traditions of childhood and beyond…and it happens to me…even here in Arkansas…we still have Azalea flowers on our bushes…and it seemed a bit strange for me to be putting Christmas lights on bushes that still are flowering…so it is red, green, blue, yellow lights blinking with pink flowers underneath…quite a sight…and all the while Minnesota has snow and cold…but we do have our “White Christmas” CD playing in the background…maybe that will help…

Christmas traditions…part of ours is to make lefse…every year we make lefse…we learned to make it many years ago in Minnesota…it is wonderful…it is a simple recipe…not simple to make but once you get the “hang of it”, it is…we did it with the whole family…in fact that is the joy of it…the whole crew gets involved…someone mixing the dough…it is made of boiled potatoes (riced potatoes, put through a ricer), flour, melted butter and cream…mixed to the right consistency…someone to roll it out very thin, almost like what a crepe ends up like…and then someone to put on a lefse grill (yes, they have grills just for this, Target, etc. have them)…using “lefse sticks” (yes, there are sticks made just for lefse) you turn it over and then stack it to cool…of course everyone must try some warm…butter, sugar, cinnamon or brown sugar…whatever…it is so good…it is like a flat bread…most cultures have that kind of bread…this one is just a little better than the rest…and everyone gets in on the act…

We have been making lefse for most of 40 years…and it is as loved today as it was years ago…you can eat anything rolled up in it…not only butter and sugar but meat, cheese, just anything you would use bread for…so very soon we will be getting together with the kids and  grandkids and making a huge pile of lefse to be used over the holidays…Christmas Eve with a little pickled herring…and how about Swedish Sausage…Oh wait, that’s another story…ignore my mention of Swedish Sausage…more about that later…But thinking about that…we bought some Swedish sausage and Swedish meatballs when we were in Minnesota last summer…we have already had one “ring” of Swedish sausage and will have more at Christmas…but also Christmas Eve we will serve lefse and Swedish meatballs…with gravy…so good…all this is traditional food from years gone by…and still served in Minnesota and all over the Upper Midwest…as well as the Pacific Northwest…

But one of the foods we will not be serving (mostly we can’t get it here) is Lutefisk…it is a “lye” cured cod or whitefish from Norway…served with melted butter and cream sauce…I won’t go into “how” it is fixed but let’s say it is important…it is served with lefse, mashed potatoes, white gravy, Swedish meatballs, rutabaga, etc…lutefisk is also served in the Upper Midwest and in the Pacific Northwest, much like lefse…but tastes and smells a whole lot different…Madison, Minnesota claims the dubious title of Lutefisk Capital of the World…they serve and eat more there than anywhere in the world…you can look that up online if you would like and see the huge gatherings of people who come there for their lutefisk suppers during this time of year…

Lutefisk has been on the receiving end of all kinds of jokes…Ole and Lena jokes: We tried the lutefisk trick, putting it under our porch, to get rid of the raccoons living there…but now we’ve got a family of Norwegians living under our house!!!…humorist Garrison Keillor: Lutefisk is a repulsive gelatinous fish-like dish that tastes like soap with an odor that would gag a goat…and it looks like the world’s largest chunk of phlegm…encouraged to eat “just a little” was like vomiting a little, it’s just as bad as a lot…

The jokes and stories go on and on…I have tried lutefisk myself a time or two…probably to say I ate it once…and the next time or so, because good Scandinavians “should” eat it…like it???…nothing ever was mentioned or came to mind that we were suppose to like it!!!…enough cream sauce and melted butter covers a multitude of sins, it was told to me…but for many years WCCO AM radio (in Minneapolis) had a couple of personalities…Boone and Erickson who were very talented…and they did one of their Christmas traditions called “Lutefisk Lament”…I have saved it for the last…it is a poem, of a sort…along with their Scandinavian accent and humor…I hope you will hang on to the end…since some of you are not from the Upper Midwest…the humor may escape you…but open your mind…and think like a Swedish or Norwegian farm kid from rural Minnesota…get in character now…get ready to go on stage…let’s go…click on the link and enjoy Boone and Erickson’s “Lutefisk Lament”…(I will add the words to follow along…not all will be in this version…but you will be able to follow)…Merry Christmas…(click on the link)…

Boone and Erickson – Lutefisk Lament

Lutefisk Lament

Charlie Boone & Roger Erickson

‘Twas the night before Christmas with things all a bustle
As Mama got set for the Christmas Eve tussle.
Aunts, uncles and cousins would soon be arriving
With stomachs all ready for Christmas Eve dining.
While I sat alone with a feeling of dread,
As visions of lutefisk danced in my head.
The thought of the smell made my eyeballs start burning.
The thought of the taste set my stomach to churning.
For I’m one of those who good Swedes rebuff:
A Scandahoovian boy who can’t stand the stuff.

Each year, however, I played at the game
to spare mama and papa the undying shame.
I must bear up bravely, I can’t take the risk of relatives knowing I hate lutefisk.
I know they would spurn me, my presents withhold,
if the unthinkable, unspeakable truth they were told.
Then out in the yard I heard such a clatter,
I jumped up to see what was the matter.
There in the snow, all in a jumble,
three of my uncles had taken a tumble.

My aunts, as usual, gave them “what for”,
and soon they were up and through the door.
Then with talk, and more cheer,
an hour was passed as Mama finished the Christmas repast.
From out in the kitchen an odor came stealing,
that fairly set my senses to reeling.
The smell of lutefisk creeped down the hall
and wilted a plant in a pot on the wall.
The others reacted as though they were smitten,
while the aroma laid low my small helpless kitten.
Uncles Oscar and Lars said, “Oh, that smells yummy,”
and Kermit’s eyes glittered while he patted his tummy.

The scent skipped off the ceiling and bounced off the door,
and the bird in the cuckoo clock fell on the floor.
Mama announced dinner by ringing a bell.
They pushed to the table with a yump and a yell.
I lifted my eyes to heaven and sighed,
and a rose on the wallpaper withered and died.
With wooden legs I found my chair
and sat in silence with an unseeing stare.
Most of the food was already in place;
there remained only to fill the lutefisks space.
Then Mama came proudly with a bowl on a trivet.
You would have thought the crown jewels were in it.

She placed it carefully down and took her seat,
and Papa said Grace before we could eat.
It seemed to me, with my whirling head,
the shortest prayer he ever had said.
Then Mama lifted the cover on the steaming dish,
and I was face to face with the quivering fish.
“Me first,” I heard Uncle Kermit call,
while I watched the paint peel off the wall.

The plates were passed for Papa to fill.
I waited in agony between fever and chill.
He would dip in the spoon and hold it up high.
As it oozed on the plates, I thought I would die.
Then came my plate, and to my feverish brain
there seemed enough lutefisk to derail a train.
It looked like a mountain of congealing glue:
oddly transparent, yet discolored, the hue.
With butter and cream sauce I tried to conceal it;
I salted and peppered, but the smell still revealed it.
I drummed up my courage, I tried to be bold.
Mama reminds me, “Eat, before it gets cold.”

I decided to face it, “Uff da,” I sighed.
“Uff da, indeed,” my stomach replied.
Then I summoned that resolve for which every breed is known.
My hand took the fork as with a mind of its own.
And with reckless abandon that lutefisk I ate,
within twenty seconds I’d cleaned my plate.
Uncle Kermit flashed me an ear-to-ear grin,
as butter and cream sauce dripped from his chin.
Then to my great shock, he whispered in my ear:
“I’m sure glad this is over for another year!”

It was then I learned a great and wonderful truth,
that Swedes and Norwegians, from old men to youth,
must each pay their dues to have the great joy
of being known as a good Scandahoovian boy.

And so to you all, as you face the great test:
Happy Christmas to you, and to you all the best.

Posted by: Jim E | December 21, 2015

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

A Christmas Story…Well, Make It Two…

I wrote this in 2012, a Christmas story, well, two of them really…they take me back to Minnesota and my childhood…with a dear neighbor…and then a story from a teacher I worked with for years…both very important to me…and I hope will make you think of your life and memories you have…Merry Christmas…

At Christmastime, I reach back to memories of the past…and my childhood…when you get my age, most people that I meet everyday are much, much younger than I am…it gives you Christmas tree snow coveredpause…Oh, it is not a negative thing…it’s positive…I love the fact that I can remember so much more than most around me…that I actually experienced the history that most people talk about…and you know, I remember talking to people who were born just after the Civil War…who fought in WWI…who fought in WWII…these were actual people, who were there…and, of course, with my age comes the passing of most of those people…almost all of them have died…and just yesterday, Judie’s Mom died…she was 92, almost 93…so much history she experienced…and of course, all of that personal history is now gone…only what we remember of her wonderful life is still with us…all of us who knew her will try and keep that alive…

Age is a funny thing…it comes upon us while we are awake or asleep…it comes with or without our permission…and Christmas upon Christmas comes and goes…I remember so many…but in my 70 plus years, they all seem to run together…it is hard to remember each and every one…in fact what happens is we layer them, one upon the other, so we view them as a stack of slides…viewing them as a whole rather than separating them…only special circumstances make one memorable from the others…let me tell you of two memories…one that is many stories, stacked upon the others…and one that someone told me and experiences it over and over every year…these two stories are the same kind of thing, only different…stay with me here…

When I was born on February 3, 1942, Jim Burton was about 70…about my age now…and 26 pendulum clock Jim Burtonyears later, I officiated at his funeral…now that may not seem strange to you…but it does to me…he and his wife, Mary, were great friends of our family…Mr. and Mrs. Burton (as I respectfully called them growing up) were our neighbors…they lived next door to my grandparents on the south, separated by two lots and we lived next to my grandparents on the north…that neighborhood was two generations old when I was born…Jim Burton was the real estate agent who sold those small lots to people like my grandparents…all during my youth, because Mary was blind and they were aging, my mom took care of them and their needs all the years I can remember…this was a close neighborhood and everyone knew Jim and Mary Burton 1everyone…

On Christmas Eve my mom and we three boys walked over to Burton’s (many times on the way home from Christmas Eve services at church)…to spend some of the evening with them…I wish you could have seen the inside of that small house…Jim had been in the jewelry business and the house was filled with clocks (in fact I attached a picture of the clock he gave Judie and I for our wedding, almost 50 years ago)…to a young child they were beyond counting…10 or so grandfather clocks, wall clocks, mantel clocks, “Regulator” clocks…just all kinds…large and small…and it certainly fascinated a young child…inside, it was reminiscent of a “Charles Dickens” scene…dark but welcoming…the furniture was from another century it seemed…overstuffed, worn and it had that “old” look and smell…and there on the table was their Christmas tree…lights and decorations and a fewChristmas lights in dark presents…and we would relax there with a cup of tea and goodies…settle back and listen again to the stories they told…the stories of other Christmas’ in other countries (she from Norway, he from England)…and stories of their time in America…there in the dim light…dancing over our faces…this couple, whom we loved and had become such an important part of our lives…weaved the stories of a lifetime into our lives on those Christmas Eve nights…

On the way home in the darkness, with the snow crunching under our feet…we asked mom questions and rehearsed things we heard…so much of which I have now forgotten…I miss the stories of Jim and Mary…from another age…from another time…

Christmas Tree at nightAnd so with that story of Jim and Mary Burton…in reality, many stories stacked upon each other year after year…I go to a story of someone who grew up on the plains of North Dakota…we worked together in my former life…a friend and a great teacher, who sent me this after I told one of my Christmas stories to the staff…it is a keeper…you will understand after you read it…he virtually re-lives this every year…

“That takes me back to my youth on the plains of North Dakota, when on Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother packed a shoebox of items to give to an old bachelor neighbor who lived by the river a mile south of us…I can still see the box and its contents: cookies, a Christmas napkin, a new handkerchief and a tin of Prince Albert pipe tobacco…About four o’clock, my dad and I walked to his place and gave it to him…It was a Hallmark scene and I can still see the snow falling and hear and feel the wind as it made small drifts on the path in the pasture…That was a long time ago, but I still take a walk on Christmas Eve afternoon around four o’clock…Even though my father has been gone for seventeen years, he still goes along just like he did on that special trip so long ago”…

With that I wish you Joy and Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

December is a wonderful time of year…though, as I remember when I was young, many things happened in December that were hard…I can Christmas Eve snowremember the thought of how can we have Christmas when all this sadness is going on…I guess I thought that other months of the year didn’t bring on as much loss as December did…I was wrong of course, but it was a true feeling I had when I was young…
 
This morning (12/19/15) when I picked up Our Daily Bread, a daily devotion I use everyday, there was an interesting and helpful story Christmas 2015that relates to that feeling…called “The Seventh Stanza”…it is about the America poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and what is now a Christmas Carol called “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…he titledChristmas Day, I Heard the Bells his poem at the time “Christmas Bells”…it later was set to music…the short article was historically interesting as well as the message of the poem…read the link to this “Our Daily Bread”…then the entire poem, including the stanzas about the Civil War, which was still being fought as he wrote…it will give new meaning to “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”…and the great expectation and hope that still remains for all of us during difficult times…
 
 
 
“Christmas Bells”
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

“I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

 
 
Posted by: Jim E | December 11, 2015

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…A Gift To You…

 

I wrote this about 1995, give or take a few years, I really can’t pinpoint the year…I think I have shared this every year since then in some form or another…with some audience or another…read it to the students at school over the intercom…gave it as a Christmas letter…Oh, all kinds of ways…I always thought it was about my Grandma and her fruitcake she always made…but in the end it became something more…I don’t really know what it will be for you…but enjoy Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake and all the love that always came with it…

There are all kinds of jokes and stories about fruitcakes…there is one that says…there are only so many fruitcakes that have ever been made in the world and they are the same ones being given away every year…or the one that fruitcakes are good for something, like a doorstop…and another, that the post office this time of year puts out a warning…if you get a package with no return address, it is over 5 pounds and it smells funny, be careful, it may be a fruitcake…and it goes on and on…

But I can tell a story about fruitcake and about a woman who made them…it was my grandmother…Grandma Reggin, my mom’s mother…she is the only one I know who made fruitcake and did what is suppose to be done with them…gave them away…

Grandma was born in 1896…in fact she would have been 114 years old last July…she lived a little over 72 years…and she could cook and bake…and she made fruitcake…every year, I always ate a little fruitcake but never cared much for it…the candied fruit was a little much for me…but my Grandpa Reggin, he loved it…he loved the candied fruit, the nuts, the spices and the dark cake, full of flavor…he loved everything about fruitcake…and because he was a hero to me…I tried to eat it…but just couldn’t get into it…

My Grandma, at Christmas time, when people visited, would put out ample slices of fruitcake, and I would watch while the Hungry Boy cookies, the decorated sugar cookies and the date-filled cookies, that my Grandma was famous for, would disappear…but much of the fruitcake was still on the plate…

My Grandfather, as I said, loved fruitcake…and he really liked it with a real cup of coffee…(Grandpa was a coffee roaster for McGarvey Coffee Company in Minneapolis…I use to go and watch him roast those green beans that had no smell…into those dark beans we know as coffee beans…full of aroma)…and by a real cup of coffee, I mean he wanted one that, as he put it, “That I can stand a spoon up in.”…and maybe a little cream…and he would savor that fruitcake with that “real cup” of coffee…I can see that picture in my mind, and “I savor” that time with him…

So Grandma would make fruitcake…I mean she made fruitcake!…we lived next door to my grandparents and I went over there everyday…and close to Christmas every year she would begin to bake in earnest…she made pounds of fruitcake…wrapped them in waxed paper, “tin foil” and ribbon…and put them on the unheated covered back porch to keep fresh until she gave them away…she also made Hungry Boy cookies by the hundreds and other cookies to give away…she would give them to the paperboy, milkman, mailman, at the gas station, the meter reader…just anyone who provided service to her during the year…and off they would go with some cookies and of course a fruitcake to share at home…it was her gift of love at Christmas…

No doubt I loved Grandma very much…her modeling this love at Christmas…her unselfishness and devotion to others came out often…when anyone would criticize someone…she would say, “You just don’t understand.”…the idea was, if you only understood, you would not criticize…never an unkind word came out of her mouth, at least in my presence…she was without peer in that area of life…

I remember getting in the car with her and going down to pick up my Grandpa after work…I would go with her often when I was quite young…and especially the day or so before Christmas, when she and I would load up the old Plymouth with all the precious cargo she had made…go down to McGarvey’s and take the bounty into the office area and the giving would begin…

It was an large open office area…with all the desks in a row…and down at the far end, behind glass walls, were the offices of the president and other officers…and in we walked…Grandma in front and me trailing behind carrying my share…as we passed each desk, she would place some cookies, all wrapped up…and of course, a fruitcake at each desk…they all thanked her and talked to her as we went on with our Christmas giving…

And as we inched toward the president’s office, I was apprehensive…but my Grandmother was not…she was a simple woman…as people would look at her today and even then…but not to me and to those who knew her…she was kind, generous and loving…and did not hold a negative thought about anyone…nor that they would ever think anything negative about her…that was her attitude and it was disarming then as it is today…it didn’t really matter what the president or those in the other offices were doing, she would stand there patiently…and they would always stop what they were doing and come out to wish her “Merry Christmas”…talk for a while…thank her for her gifts and we would leave…I don’t know if anyone else could have got away with that…but she did…

So this wonderful woman, who spent some of her growing up years in an orphanage, because her mother could not take care of her…had four children…all raised in a house 20 feet by 40 feet…and out of that kitchen in that house came a legacy which I share with you today…one of giving and love…it was Grandma’s Christmas Fruitcake…

And at the end of her life…I sat on the hospital bed next to what had become a frail body of this marvelous woman…and leaned over and took her beautiful face in my hands…kissed her and told her again, the wonderful gospel story of Jesus…who came as a babe, who lived and died for her…who was waiting for her…to escort her home…and for the last time told her I loved her…and let her go…

I wish you Joy, Peace…and wonderful memories…Merry Christmas…

It all started, I guess, with something I read…from Our Daily Bread, a devotional reading I use most everyday…with the happenings around the world and even here in America…we worry about what can happen…Oh, I know the old bromide: “What you worry about hardly ever happens.”…but there is a palpable fear in many, concerning terrorists killing innocents…it’s easy to become overly concerned about the criminal acts over which we have no control…Psalm 37:1 says: “Do not fret because of those who are evil.”…Our Daily Bread

So that’s where it started…instead of worrying over such large and uncontrollable possible happenings…maybe we should lower our concerns to things we can control…that will bring us comfort, peace and calm…starting with Psalm 37:1, is a good start…

I heard a story on the radio the other morning about an 84 year old black lady in Mississippi, who had wanted to go to college when she was young but couldn’t afford it…she worked all her life cleaning houses, took in ironing and did other household duties…she lived very frugally and when she was 84…she gave tens of thousands of dollars to a college for a scholarship to be given to black students who would otherwise not be able to go to college…she was asked by a reporter why she had not spent some of that money on herself…her answer, “I did spend it on myself.”…it was a simple thing…a simple gift…couldn’t give to everyone, but someone every year would benefit…it brought her fulfillment, contentment…so I guess she did spend it on herself…

Yesterday, the idea of little things popped up again…I took my vehicle in for some service and was sitting in the waiting room…they just added a whole front to their dealership, so the area I was in is brand new…the waiting room is large, well-lit and has a few cubicles for people to use their laptops as they wait…as I sat in a chair looking in that direction…I noticed that someone had spilled coffee while they were working at the cubicle, the desk was cleaned off but I noticed it had run down the wall, and over the baseboard…it was an old spill, cleaned off the desk but whoever cleaned it up didn’t check further, to see if they got it all…I reported it to someone with the thought…small things make a business flourish…as it is with business, so it is with a life…small things make us flourish…simple things, things we can do something about…

Simple Things in LifeIts been on my desk for a few days, the topic of simple gifts, little things, and what we can’t change…I guess I have always been a simple man, not wanting too much…wanting to be like my Grandfather, who was a simple man, but a great man in my mind…and like him,not trying to be something I was not…taking care of my family, loving those around me…trying to take care of those things which I could do something about, at home, work and out and about…being a good man…and “…not fret because of those who are evil”, but take care of the simple things in life…the things I can do something about…instead of turning myself in knots about things I can’t control…

“Simple Gifts”, it is a Shaker hymn and dance…you may have heard the melody in “Lord of the Dance”, written relatively recently…but let’s stay with “Simple Gifts”, which was written by Shakers over a hundred years ago…let’s see if I can give you a taste…

No doubt this is purely American music, a hymn written by a religious group established here in America during the 1800’s…their group though certainly uncommon in some of its tennets, they where certainly part of American history…basically believing that living simply is living godly…I’m not so sure they didn’t have something there…rising during the 19th century at the time of the Great Awakening…when there was soul-searching in this county…we live in a time where a good soul-searching would do us some good…but it must start with simple things, simple gifts lived out by simple people who know who they are in God’s eyes and decide to live that out…like the woman in Mississippi did…she lived her whole life to give that simple gift…

Aaron Copland, a composer of what I call “American Music”…certainly different from European composers of past centuries…and though I love much of that music, I really love what Copland wrote…and one of the best and most well known is his “Appalachian Spring”…according to Copland himself, the music had nothing to do with Appalachia or Spring…it was just a name suggested, there is a little more to the story but let’s leave it there…regardless, he used the Shaker “Simple Gifts” in his “Appalachian Spring”…you will immediately hear the melody…I will add it here and you will enjoy it all…powerful and emotional…and I’m sure you will say, with me, the name “Appalachian Spring” fits his music…simple, powerful, emotional…just wonderful…we need, today, to find those things which lift us up and give us hope… 

This is the Christmas season…a simple story really, with such power, the power of the Almighty God, sending His Son to this earth as a babe…a Nativity scenesimple gift but a gift of hope for a people who are certainly needy…I am one of those needy who claimed that simple gift for my own…I have tried to pass on the gift to those around me…that Jesus came to save this sinful world…a simple thing, this simple message…a simple gift, to give hope in a time of things we can’t control…but we know with Him, in the end, things will “come ’round right”…

I wrote this post April 9, 2014, just a little over a year ago…but the march to the abyss continues apace…it has become even more important, now…because what has happened in the passing of a year…

The Last Straw…Where Are We Going…And The Last One Standing…

A little over a month ago…I got up early as is my wont to do…did a few things I usually do…open the blinds, clean out the dishwasher…heavens I always run it as I go to bed…sit on the couch for a few minutes as I think through the day…then go in and turn on the computer…look at the news, read a few blogs and websites, so I will be up to date on theCandlelight vigil for murdered 10 yr old overnight news and views…then move on to other things…but that morning when I read the home page news…and as I read the story about a 10 year old girl who was abducted in broad daylight…found murdered in the basement of a neighbor…in trash bags and storage containers…and a picture of a candlelight vigil in Springfield, Missouri, where hundreds came out…that put me over the edge…as my Mom used to say, “that’ s the last straw”…I knew I had to write something, though I didn’t know then and even now, as I write, what it would be…even though it was as the proverb said, “…the last straw that breaks the camel’s back.”…

You probably know the scene in the Christmas movie, “The Christmas Story”…called the Scut Farkus affairScut Farkus affair, where Ralphie loses it after months of being picked on by Scut Farkus and his toady, Grover Dill…standing there after being irritated by a number of problems that stretched Ralphie’s endurance beyond his limit…”the last straw” happened, Scut Farkus hit him in the face with a snowball…and that was “it”..the fight was on and Ralphie “lost it”…it is kind of the way I felt that day…after seeing all the negatives on the news…where almost all of the things I believe in are being attacked almost everyday…where even at the highest levels of society, government, entertainment and culture…seem to be turning away from what I believe has made our country great…and how I saw this little girl being killed as part and parcel of that downward slide we are on in this culture…

And I see things on a fast trip into the abyss…I remember so well, in my former life, B.R. (before retirement)…I was  a principal of a large high school…one of my axioms was, “it takes a week to lose it and a year to get it back”…I saw it happen many times…at the high school level, if you change something, like a rule, and it is less controlling than the former, it is easy to change the rule…but almost impossible to change it back…it can be done but it takes a lot of time and a lot of work…I’ve been there, I know…I remember when I became the principal of our school…there were many things I felt I had to “clean up” to return the school to do what we were charged to do…educate…to be a place where teachers can teach and kids can learn…that seems simple but there are many things which work to stop that from happening…look around you, at schools that work and those that don’t…it doesn’t take much time to see why…but getting the right person or group of persons on board and willing to do the hard work to make it happen is the difficult task…but I digress…it is also true in our culture..as we give up mores and cultural principles that we have live with “forever”…easy to change, difficult to return to them again…

I have a poem written in the front of my Bible…it goes like this:Alexander Pope

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien,
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.

Written by Alexander Pope, 1688-1744, from his epic poem, “An Essay on Man”…published in 1733-34…vice meaning sin…mien meaning conduct…so if I have written this way in the front of my Bible…”Beware of this human weakness: first we abhor…then we pity…finally, we embrace“…put another way: ”sin first unthinkable, is grudgingly tolerated, then condoned, then endorsed, then openly promoted as acceptable in God’s eyes”…we see it all the time…things thought unimaginable are being endorsed…

So when I see people being mislead by whomever they are listening to or watching, I know how the process works…it is a breakdown of morals and values, that have been taught by parents, schools, churches, synagogues, culture in general for generations…then I read about Miley Cyrus…a young girl, maybe over 18, but young…and her move from being Hannah Montana to what she is today…how did that happen…drugs, sex, and all the rest…I look to her parents, her “handlers”…they have talked her into this kind of life…if this continues, it will not go well with her…those of us who are older have seen this many times…and her parents think this is a great thing for her…I see it as tragic…I feel badly for her…but she has been “groomed” by those around her…though she would not see it that way now, I’m sure…we desperately need to return to the morals and values that many in this country still hold dear… 

I read a memoir recently by Jeannette Walls, “The Glass Castle”…it is a good read…almost unbelievable but a good read..without going into the book itself…one of the last lines in the book goes like this:Glass Castle

[“A wind picked up, rattling the windows and the candle flames suddenly shifted, dancing along the border between turbulence and order.” -Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle]

It’s where I see us as a culture…dancing along the border between turbulence and order…there still are those who want us to stand against the onslaught of turbulence but even in the highest places in government, in churches, in entertainment…no one seems too interested in providing the role models to follow…and seem to attack those of us who still want high standards…let me pick on churches for a moment…like Calvin Miller wrote in “Letter to a Young Pastor”…“Confess what the centuries have labeled the historical faith, or, well…follow the crowd of those “new kind of Christians” who arrive at the old kind of nothing yet still believe themselves faithful…”…I know, I am only hitting the high ground, ignoring the valleys, gulleys and draws…but you get my drift…Where are we going?…What shall we be if we continue down this path?…I say put on the brakes before we can’t stop at all…this will end badly if we don’t…that 10 year old girl and all the 10 year olds around us deserve a better world to live in…the one we are headed for is not so good…

I just finished “Goodbye, Darkness”, a memoir of the Pacific War by William Manchester…a story of his time in WWII…at the end of his book he tries to put it all in focus…to answer why they served…it is a bit more than I will share here…but this is some Goodbye, Darknesss by William Manchesterof it…“It was an act of love. Those men on the line were my family, my home. They were closer to me than I can say, closer than any friends had been or ever would be…Actually love was only part of it…we had to be tough too. To fight WWII you had to have been tempered and strengthened in the 1930’s depression by a struggle for survival…devotion overarched all this. It was a bond woven of many strands…You also needed nationalism, the absolute conviction that the United States was the envy of all other nations…Wickedness was attributed to flaws in individual characters, not to society’s shortcomings…to accept unemployment compensation, had it existed, would have been considered humiliating…Debt was ignoble. Courage was a virtue. Mothers were beloved, Fathers obeyed. Marriage was a sacrament. Divorce was disgraceful. Pregnancy meant expulsion from school or dismissal from a job. The boys responsible for the crimes of impregnation had to marry the girls. Couples did not keep house before they were married and there could be no wedding until the girl’s father had approved. You assumed that gentlemen always stood and removed their hats when a woman entered a room. The suggestion that some of them might resent being called “ladies” would have confounded you…All these and “God Bless America” and Christmas or Hanukkah and the certitude that victory in the war would assure their continuance into perpetuity…”

But it is not so…every generation must fight the battle for the survival of this great country…so far this generation has not done well…I still have great faith in America…there are still millions of Americans who believe in values that have made us great…that includes American’s in every walk of life, every background…churches, families, individuals need to stand…we may be the last one standing but we must stand…it will be a struggle but one we must win…God help us…Jesus said in Matthew 12:25…Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

Posted by: Jim E | May 21, 2015

Memorial Day…A Story…And Your Own History…

I thought you might like to read this on Memorial Day…I get Fox News First everyday…and it is mostly political in nature…but not today…it is just, very good writing…and touches the heart, which is what good writing does…it’s all good, but two of his comments are also poignant comments about our culture…
 
Americans don’t much do cemetery trips these days – or cemeteries, for that matter. If Marine on the St. Croix cemeteryyou don’t believe in those words “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” then a cemetery wouldn’t be of much use to you. But more than that, we have a culture now based on “closure,” in which we learn to seal off the hurts of our hearts and bury them deeper than the deepest grave. Remembrance is of no virtue to people who believe that their purpose is the pursuit and maintenance of their own happiness.What an impoverishment of spirit that is. I once had an editor who believed that the best way for foreigners to understand Americans was to read our obituaries – to meet these gentle, kind, faithful, loved and loving people who passed their lives unknown to all but those whom they touched directly. I increasingly believe she was right

Livingston Cemetery, Clark County, IllinoisI found myself, as I read this, in southern Illinois, near Marshall…near “The Farm”…everyone in the extended Yeley family knows what that means…strolling through the Livingston Cemetery…but also I found myself looking through the Marine on the St. Croix Cemetery, in Minnesota, high on the bluff above the St. Croix River…searching to find the Elmquist family graves…and of course Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis, where my Mom and Dad are buried…thoughts and feelings explode into memories, as I move through those relativelyFort Snelling 1 small plots of land…all within my own mind…
So enjoy this the way I did…slowly read and let your experience, your history, waft through your mind…remembering those who’s legacy you carry…Jim E

 

Fox News First: May 26
By Chris Stirewalt

On Memorial Day, Some Portals to the Past

My recollections of Memorial Day are dusty and filled with the creaking sound of the springs on my cousin’s Buick Roadmaster as it forded dry streambeds and trundled along rutted country roads in southern Illinois – and then the thwack of fat June bugs popping on the windshield as she picked up speed on the blacktop down towards the Harmony Grove church.

To the eyes of a suburban boy, the places she took my father and me were just empty prairie. To my father’s eyes, they were filled with the faint lines of places and people he had known as a boy. That caved-in pile of sheet metal and rotten boards was Wick Cage’s general store where his father carried eggs to sell. That empty corner was where his grandfather’s little house had stood in the dirt yard where the old man, standing in his best starched overalls at the head of a long table carried outside for the occasion, had poured dippers of iced tea out of a galvanized bucket. Where the hens watched nervously as one of their own made for Sunday dinner.

Just as my old man would start waxing nostalgic, our tour guide moved us along. We were not there to remember life. We were there to visit the dead. My cousin had been retired from the Air Force longer than I had been alive, and she took seriously her job not just as family historian, but as one who would see that our family would do its part for Memorial Day – for Decoration Day as it was once properly known.

GravestonesAnd on to another cemetery we would go, this one clutched by slender locust trees and set back from the road on a rise above Hurricane Creek. Who came to this ancient place keep it up? Who oiled and painted that wrought-iron gate? Who trimmed back the grass from the tiny headstone of an unnamed stillborn child dead for 120 years? Why? No time for questions. Cousin mustered us out and deployed the flag markers for the military men and flowers for the civilians. Back in the Roadmaster and back on the road. A whole day went by that way, graves of my ancestors and graves of those unknown to us. The Black Hawk War, the Civil War, World War I, and on and on.

You can stand at the Dodge Grove Cemetery up the highway in Mattoon, where my Flags on graves, Memorial Daygrandmother’s people were well-off enough to be laid to rest beneath monuments amid mausoleums. From there you see the rise of the earth reveal the graves of hundreds of Civil War dead, including three generals, as the locals will tell you. And any of them, officers or enlisted, who had no one to decorate their graves that day, got a flag, courtesy of our little honor guard.

Americans don’t much do cemetery trips these days – or cemeteries, for that matter. If you don’t believe in those words “the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting,” then a cemetery wouldn’t be of much use to you. But more than that, we have a culture now based on “closure,” in which we learn to seal off the hurts of our hearts and bury them deeper than the deepest grave. Remembrance is of no virtue to people who believe that their purpose is the pursuit and maintenance of their own happiness.

What an impoverishment of spirit that is. I once had an editor who believed that the best way for foreigners to understand Americans was to read our obituaries – to meet these gentle, kind, faithful, loved and loving people who passed their lives unknown to all but those whom they touched directly. I increasingly believe she was right.

Marine on the St. Croix houseBut I have a corollary to add: The best way for Americans to know themselves and their history is to walk among the quiet headstones of our graveyards. See the dates and realize how young they were. Read the inscriptions. Feel the cool marble. Imagine. You can know your family that way, but you can know what America is by placing yourself among the remains of the men and now women who died to make her and to defend her.

No politics today. Instead, we offer you a few of the portals from which to begin that journey – places to let that knowledge start to wash over you. Places where you can leave a flag and offer up a little word of thanks.

— The inscription at the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Marker in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania reads  “Near this spot, lies Lieutenant John Waterman, died April 23, 1778, whose grave alone of all his comrades was marked.” Some 2,000 Continental soldiers died at Valley Forge or in distant hospitals. Most expired not in the dead cold of winter, but in the spring, when influenza, typhus, typhoid and dysentery more than decimated the camp. Waterman died during this time. His lonely gravestone on the grand parade ground was marked simply, “JW 1778.” He was later identified by his initials as aAmerican flag Rhode Island officer.

— In Grafton National Cemetery, Grafton, West Virginia rests Private Thornesberry Bailey Brown, believed to be the first Union casualty of the Civil War.  Brown mustered into service in Company B, 2nd Virginia Infantry, and served under Captain George R. Latham as part of the “Grafton Guards.”  On May 22, 1861, near present-day Grafton, a Confederate sentry ordered Brown to halt.  Brown refused and shot the sentry in the ear.  The sentry returned fire, shooting Brown in the heart.

— At Cypress Hills National Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York lies Sgt. Wilbur E. Colyer. Served in the U.S. Army in World War I and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery near Verdun, France, on October 9, 1918. His citation reads “Volunteering with 2 other soldiers to locate machinegun nests, Sgt. Colyer advanced on the hostile positions to a point where he was half surrounded by the nests, which were in ambush. He killed the gunner of one gun with a captured German grenade and then turned this gun on the other nests silencing all of them before he returned to his platoon. He was later killed in action.”

— Mount Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee is the final resting place of Cornelia Fort. Nashville’s first woman flight instructor,  she was giving a flying lesson as a civilian instructor over Honolulu, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941 and witnessed the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. Fort was the second woman to join the Woman’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, which ferried planes to free up male pilots for combat assignments. She was the first WAFS pilot to die in the line of duty. Cornelia Fort was killed while ferrying a BT-13 Valiant trainer when it collided with another plane over Texas on March Flags Memorial Day21, 1943.

–On April 5 1951, Naval Hospitalman Richard D. Wert was serving with the Marines as they cleared North Korean guerrillas from rural areas of South Korea and as they aided in driving the enemy beyond the Thirty-Eighth Parallel. While with the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines during an attack on Chinese Communist forces, De Wert continually rejected medical treatment for his wounds to provide first aid to fallen marines. Under intense fire he provided treatment to four marines, De Wert was killed in action while tending to an injured comrade. The Medal of Honor and Purple Heart recipient was originally buried in Korea, re-interred at the Woodlawn National Cemetery, Elmira, N.Y, but in 1987 upon request from his family, was laid to rest in his home where his grave can be found in section 5 at the Massachusetts’s National Cemetery in Bourne.

— At Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Oakville, Missouri you can find Air Force Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who served in the 8th Special Operations Squadron. He was shot down and killed while piloting his A-37B Dragonfly aircraft in the vicinity of An Loc, in South Vietnam. His remains were buried in Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of The Unknowns as an unidentified soldier from the Vietnam War. After petitioning the United States Government for permission, his family had his body exhumed. DNA tests confirmed that the previously unknown soldier was, in fact, Michael Blassie.

— Staff Sgt. James M. Christen of Loomis, California died in Kunar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when enemy forces attacked his vehicle with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, on his third deployment overseas. Sgt. Christen previously served two tours in Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Staff Sgt. James Christen now rests with many of his comrades from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan in Section 60, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up here.


Worth the trip don’t you think???…hope you enjoyed reading this trip into all our Fort Snelling 2past…and then I will leave you with another picture where my folks are buried…Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis…its a cemetery for all who served in the armed forces…my Dad served in WWII, in the Navy…they both wanted to be buried there…my Dad kept reminding us that they were to be buried there…he was proud of his service and wanted to be buried with those whom he related to best…I think all who served never lost that bond…the war changed my Dad in profound ways, too many to talk about here…but his relationship to other veterans never changed with all that he experienced since WWII…may they all rest in peace…with our thanks for all they gave…

Posted by: Jim E | May 8, 2015

I Took My Mom To Lunch

I Took My Mom To Lunch…

Mother’s Day is this weekend…I will post this as I did last year, in honor of my Mom…I wrote this years ago…April 2006, it was over a year after Mom died, but I had to “get it down” so I wouldn’t forget it…enjoy and if possible call your Mom…it will make her day…as my Mom did mine, on the day I describe below:

                                           

“Something reminded me this morning about taking my Mom to lunch…who knows how memories are jarred loose in our minds…but this morning this memory randomly arrived…

It has been only a little over a year since Mom passed away…but most of the memories of those days are still fresh…I know they won’t always be, so I decided this one I would write down before it becomes irretrievable…that happens to all of us as time goes by and other experiences take img070over…this lunch happened a few years ago…after Mom’s stroke and after Dad died, but before Mom slipped away from all of us…she was handicapped by some of the remnants of her stroke but still lucid enough to remember things of the past…she still knew everyone, though sometimes she called me “George” (her husband, my Dad)…and though she knew that wasn’t quite right, we both just let it go…it really didn’t matter to me and it was okay with her to let it go…just seemed like too much work for her to change it after it came out…if you don’t know what I mean, you will soon enough…

That day Mom had a doctor’s appointment…and so I picked her up…and off we went…first to her appointment, then to lunch…I really hadn’t planned to go to lunch but Mom was so “with it” that day…we talked and laughed as we drove along…she was so enjoying the ride, she commented how she would just like to keep driving…so I drove passed things that she would remember, pointed out things that were changing…she was so interested…she was always interested in what her boys thought and were interested in…that had not changed…I often wondered if that was real…was she as interested as she seemed???…I never could see anything to make me feel otherwise…and that day it was more than usual…it was a high point in these last years of her life…

I asked her if she wanted something to eat, “My treat”, I said…she laughed and said let’s go somewhere easy…I knew what she meant, she had lots of trouble getting in and out of the car…”Where do you want to go?”, I asked her…she didn’t know…so I made some suggestions…and she picked the one with the golden arches, she wanted some French fries…andPond with willows and cattails 3 of course, a drive-thru…I knew one not far away and we drove slowly to get there, talking along the way…we got our meal and parked behind the McDonald’s…so let me paint the picture…behind us was one of the busiest roads in the north suburbs of Minneapolis…but in front of us was a large swamp (called a wetlands today) and we were parked on some of the fill that had been put there to build the McDonald’s and paved…there were still piles of fill beyond where we parked…it was a warm sunny day…cattails waved far into the distance…birds flew here and there…the small willow trees along the bank moved to the motion of the wind…and here I was with my Mom…just talking, eating…sharing French fries…me watching to see if she needed help…it was perfect…Elmquist family WW II 1944

We talked of things she remembered, of things she wanted to talk about…I told her how much she meant to me…she waved it off as she often did…and talked of times past…her folks, my grandparents…she loved them…and now in her 80′s, she still honored them…they, like the rest of us were not perfect, but to her and to me…that didn’t matter, both of us agreed how wonderful they were…she remembered the days of her youth, before all this…and all that was before her…we laughed and some tears were shed…but overall it was a wonderful time…right there overlooking that beautiful swamp…

It’s a picture I will always remember (now bear with me)…from 50 or 100 feet above…do you see it???…looking down you see a McDonald’s, next to a busy highway…and behind a large swamp…and there behind the McDonald’s…right there in the parking lot…an old white Buick and inside…can you see them???…a son and his Mom, he in his 60′s, her in her 80′s…eating, talking, crying and laughing…but enjoying for one of the very last times, each other…

She was and is in my memory…loved and honored…”

 

50th Wedding Anniversary…Skylark…Jackson…Royal Wedding…And Love Becomes Devotion…

(I thought just before Valentine’s Day I would republish this post from July 2013, for the love of my life…well, also to others who may deem this fit to read…of course it is more than our 50th anniversary…we are headed to our 52 year…but why quibble, I just love to be married to Judie)…

Can you imagine, Judie and I will have been married 50 years on August 3, 2013…now thatJudie and Jim doesn’t seem possible except the math of the deal proves it…We met the summer of 1961…I in my 1953 green Ford and she with a group of college girls just coming out of Feld’s grocery store on Highway 55 in Golden Valley, Minnesota…being the great guy I was, ah, change that…being the great guy, I am…I tried to make those girls comfortable in their new surroundings, if you know what I mean…no motives on my part, of course, except to be helpful…but it did only take about two years before Judie and I were married…so something happened…I’m still trying to figure out what and how it happened…

Johnny Cash and June CarterJust the other day someone a bit younger than we are asked how love changes from the beginning of a marriage and throughout that marriage…if I understood the question…not that after 50 years you don’t love your wife/husband, but how does it change…both Judie and I said yes, love changes but it all starts with an attraction…all I could think of was a song by Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter, called “Jackson”…it’s a fun song talking about a “big talkin’ man”…it starts and ends like this…”We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout.” and then says, “We’ve been talkin’ about Jackson, ever since the fire went out.”…Oh, I think all marriages begin with that descriptive phrase…and it’s what I thought about when asked this question…”We got married in a fever, hotter than a pepper sprout.”…I think everyone begins at that level of love…but what then…

I remember very well that “hotter than a pepper sprout” time and it was important…but when we started talking about marriage…there were more important things that became important…spiritual things, children, etc…and if couples Skylark Glenn Close, Christopher Walkendon’t…50 years of marriage is a lot harder than if you do consider them…I remember the movie “Skylark” with Glenn Close and Christopher Walken…it is a great movie…the middle movie of a trilogy…”Sarah, Plain and Tall” was the first…but in “Skylark”, they were now married and they were suffering a terrible drought on the prairie…and Jacob had to send Sarah and the two kids back to her home in New England…when the rain finally came on the prairie…Jacob went back East to bring them home…that love scene is one of the best I have ever seen/heard…and opposed to what is around today…it was not in bed or in private…but out in the open for all to see…I will add it here with this explanation…I gave this to Judie, in written form, for Christmas in 2010…it will help that questioner with how love changes, yet stays the same…it is a wonderful scene…with a little written by me, for Judie, that Christmas, then the scene…here goes:

 

Skylark: Sarah Plain and Tall

A memorable quote

(The best quote I know…I have loved this scene since the first time I saw it…and wondered how I could use these words with you…this Christmas seems to be the time…I love you with this kind of passion…and though it may not be exactly like the passion of our youth…it is as powerful and even more real…read and enjoy…this is my love for you…and us for one another…as it is, today…)

Jacob Witting: I love you, Sarah. There are some things that can’t be written… in a letter. I’m not good with words.
Skylark Glenn CloseSarah Witting: You’re fine with words. I never thought you’d come. I dreamed about it at night when the sea sounded like wind through the grasses. I thought about it at night when Caleb had bad dreams. I saw your face everywhere, Jacob, everywhere. I’d look at the sea and see your face there, and in the sky. When I looked at Anna and Caleb you were there. Once in the street I saw somebody that looked like you and I rushed after him. Once I met the train because something told me maybe you’d be there… but I never thought you’d come. Here I was like a child come home to my beautiful sea and I should’ve been happy but I was frightened. And I am frightened because… this terrible love for you is so strong I, I’ve never known such a thing before.
Jacob Witting: [whispered] I know.
Sarah Witting: I never thought you’d come.
Caleb: [Jacob kisses Sarah] They’re kissing and hugging!
Chub ‘Chubbers’ Horatio: Of course they are.
Sarah Witting: Once Matty asked me how long I’d stay here and I know now. I came to stay long enough to say goodbye. I think, Jacob, our baby should be born on the prairie. It’s the right thing.
[pauses]
Sarah Witting: You were right – some things can’t be written in a letter. You, you said it once; sometimes words aren’t good enough Jacob?
[he smiles, they laugh and hug]

Now that still causes tears to come to my eyes…and those of you who know this kind of love or have had this kind of love, understand the words and the emotion and the feelings…you feel it now, don’t you?…the scene goes on with some words like this: “This terrible love for you is so strong.” and “Nobody ever told me how hard it is to love someone.”…all this is a love that I term, “is turned loose”…not holding anything back…and it develops over time…

In thinking about this post, I read again something from a “My Daily Bread” that I use everyday…it was about Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding…”Be who God meant Prince William and Kate Middleton Weddingyou to be and you will set the world on fire.”, the Bishop of London began his message to the Prince and his bride…he quoted St. Catherine of Sienna…he affirmed their choice “to be married in the sight of a generous God Who so loved the world that He gave Himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ.”…then he urged the couple to pursue a love that finds its center beyond themselves…it was a serious ceremony as you can imagine, full of pomp, ritual and ceremony…if you have a few hours you can watch it on Youtube…or watch bits and pieces…I recommend it…the brides brother read from Romans 12: 1-18…”I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God…what is good and acceptable and perfect.”(vv. 1-2 nrsv)…

Fairly serious stuff…but marriage is some serious stuff…there will be highs and low…ups and downs…but if love finds its center beyond ourselves…love will grow to something we cannot fully explain…and in talking to those who have lost their mate after many years, they can tell you that that love still remains in their lives…with reminders that keep on blessing their lives even years later…

Molt Prairie Winds CafeA number of years ago we took a trip to Billings, Montana…it was September of 2007…I have written about Molt, Montana before…a very small town outside Billings…about 20 miles…and in one of the few buildings left in town is the Prairie Winds Cafe…a great restaurant…but I’m not going to talk about that now…while there, I was looking around and on their bulletin board was a news clipping…I wrote about it back then…here is some of that:…While we were there last September we found a picture on the bulletin board…I had Judie “take a picture of the picture”…the picture of John and Grace Leuthold…it was an article about them being married 71 years…but the thing that caught my eye was the statement John made…”Love becomes devotion. That’s what we have.”…that spoke volumes to me…it really doesn’t matter the relationship…with a spouse, children, parents, with others or with our God…as I wrote just the other day: a committed love always turns to devotion…a loyal, steadfast, faithful love…the idea of belonging together in the relationship…Molt...Love Becomes Devotion

Both John and Grace are gone…even before we saw the article on the bulletin board at the Prairie Winds Cafe last fall…Grace passed away peacefully, Thursday, May 22, 2003 at 90…and John passed away at his ranch home of 75 years, in Molt, Wednesday, May 26, 2005 at 98…The picture we saw on the bulletin board is below…the caption on the picture from the “Billings Gazette” in Billings, MT, February 14, 2002, (Valentines Day) was...John and Grace Leuthold, who live near Molt, have been married 71 years. “Love becomes devotion,” John said. “That’s what we have.”

So I bring you full circle…how does love change?…well, I don’t really know, but I do know it does…and it become better and Jim and Judie 2013better…deeper and deeper…so for your 50th Judie…I may have to change my gift to you…maybe it will be more than a trip to McDonald’s for coffee and a Sausage McMuffin with Egg and Cheese…I may have to add us sharing some Biscuits and Gravy…or maybe even an apple pie…or maybe this post can be part of our 50th…I love you more than you know…or maybe you do know…Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary…

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 136 other followers