Monday, May 28, 2018

Bring on the Feast

As we finished the last of a very successful pot roast, I thought of the Memorial Day Dinner in my hometown, Nebo, Illinois.  What a feast it was.  It was ham, more ham, fried chicken, more fried chicken.  Then there were every potato dish  known to be prepared in the Midwest.  Then the dessert table overflowed with homemade pies, homemade cakes, homemade cookies and more pies. Don't forget the jello extravagances.

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My Brother's Community Memorial Day Dinner

It was a wonderful day.  I was a teenager then and kinda resented my roll of refilling the dessert table and serving pie/cake/cookies to known and familiar people.  Also, I brought desserts to the unknown visitors who yet had a similarity to townsmen around them.
Good memories. Great food.

Yes, please.
This brings to mind what we now consider a lifetime of food memories.

So, given the excellent pot roast, what do you consider memories of good food? this is mine:

mashed potatoes, white gravy,creamed peas, ham salad, homemade rolls (made by my grandmother), bread pudding w/raisins, warm tomatoes from our garden, pickled cucumbers, pecan pie, strawberry shortcake with homemade whipped cream...Okay, enough already.

Your memories?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cold Ocean, Warm Sea

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As the Ocean Rolls
Warm blue sea
Surface, smooth 
Reflecting sunlight
With a quiet wind.


Frigid, numbing
Green fighting blue
Rough, rolling
Turbulent, angry.

Swirling, ripping

Tearing apart.
Cold ocean hates
Flesh itself.

Cold water ocean

Warm water sea. 

God, stir blue green,

Dip Your Hands
Where cold fights,
Warm soothes.

Rescue me 

From cold.
Hold me 
In Your Warmth.

I cry out for You.

Monday, May 14, 2018

May is Mental health month; "The Silly Bus"

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Lift your chin. Square your shoulders.  Pull it together.  Nothing is wrong with you.  Work harder. Get over it. Go to church. Or, at least, keep it to yourself.

A community like mine was where there were no secrets and lots of gossip.  Whatever one said or did was under scrutiny, where it merited truth or concern or not.  It was the Midwest, after all, where values and commitment mattered more than any personal failure or need. 

What about those who could not lift a chin? Square shoulders? Pull it together?

I will tell you, since I know. 

Those people were given a fair amount of criticism and reprimands. Everyone has problems, everyone has suffered losses, but they deal with it in the Midwest way. The stigma of a mental illness reflects on the family, after all.  

I remember the very day when I was visiting home, we all were sharing a breakfast and a scheduled bus went up the road to the county seat.  Dad smirked, "There goes the silly bus."

Silly bus? These were people who had developmental problems which required extra services.  These were people who suffered mental problems and couldn't deal with life in general.

When questioned, Dad said, "In my day, they didn't need all that. They were taken care of at home. Those others, well, they should just get out there and work. Just work it out. Don't need help."

Didn't he know? Didn't he see me?  Didn't he see himself?

I have struggled through chronic depression all my life.  My "sadness" was deep. It has taken years of therapy, assisted by anti-depressants, to reach a steadiness. God gave me what I needed and put me in a place where I could reach it.

Dad? His father died when Dad was 9 years old and suicide was always on his horizon.  World War 11 pushed that into PTSD and opened a floodgate of his own depression. When he went into a spiral, we all felt its effects, God help us.

One day, many years after sitting at breakfast, my sister was home. Dad mentioned the silly bus, and my sister replied, "Dad, my son (with autism) would be on that bus." He never said that again.

But then again, autism and many others in the realm of developmental issues was not dealt with in Dad's era. My parents asked me (a teacher) if this couldn't just be whipped/beat/spanked out of him. I spent the next hours explaining exactly what children and adults experience with autism and what is known or theorized about it.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  May 11-17 has been selected as Mental Health Awareness week. Never before has mental health been recognized as so important, impacting society in ways never imagined. 

October is Depression Awareness Month. The first full week of October is Depression Awareness week. Never before has Depression been recognized and diagnosed as a silent struggle so many experience and suffer. 

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day. 

Lift your chin. Square your shoulders.  Pull it all together.  Nothing is wrong with you.  Work harder. Get over it. Go to church. Or, at least, keep it to yourself.

This post is dedicated to those who relate or can relate to what is written here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Well, then

B-29 Superfortress
 Well, then…

My father began every story with those words.  He’d lean back in the kitchen chair—where most stories were told—and tilted his John Deere cap to the side. Well, then...

Me and Sweetman were on a long run over the China Hump…you know what that is, dontcha?  Well, that is a flight over Burma and China to Japan.  We dropped bombs on towns there... Well, then. 

It took close to, oh say 24 hours to fly there and back. We'd stop over in China to unload food supplies for the hungry Chinese. Then take off to fly low over the waters, so low that we could see the white caps on the waves.  I betcha we coulda reached out to grab some sea water. 

Flew low to conserve fuel.  Plane was heavy.  Man, it was heavy with fuel tanks and artillery.  Me and Sweetman were bay gunners.  The closer we got to Japan, Japs would be buzzing around us like hornets.  Me and Sweetman would shoot at 'em, heavy guns and loud.  Now and then, we’d say, “I got one…”

Well, then.  This story is about a rule we had on the bomber.  The first one who had to pee would have to clean the latrine.  Nasty, bad job.

Ol’ Gandy had to go bad.  The rest of us were pent-up about the mission, we couldn’t have peed for nothing.  But Gundy had to go.

But the latrine?  He decided he’d open the bomb bay doors just a little and pee down them.  Worked just fine.

Then we heard the navigator Ol' Shelton say somethin’ like.  “What’s this?  Yellow sea water?”  He smacked his lips, wiped his face.  “Tastes funny.”

We never told him what it was.  Don’t think he’da like it.

Top row (rt. To lt.)
: Charles T. Roc, Charles H. Donald, Ronald M. Gandy, Louis E. Peck (my dad), John Sweetman
Middle Row: Capt. William O Ezell (pilot), Lt. Hump Halsey (co-pilot), Arthur M. Shelton, Merril Williams
Front: James D. Waring, Robert Quick

Well, then Dad would stand up, straighten his cap, and go out to do chores.

Some stories don’t need an end.  Others do.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

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It is that time of year.  Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays, and Orioles are battling it out as the American League Eastern, along with other parts of the country doing the same.  

The fans are passionate, really passionate.  There are sports jerseys on fans of all ages and sizes.  Being clueless, I did not even know there was any sort of competition at all, except sport bars showed little else.

Baseball passion goes deep.

How 3 year olds play ball

A three year old  races to home base.

22 month old at the practice cage

That's my boy! 

Indeed, baseball passion runs deep and it also starts early.  Toddlers are the best of any team ever.