Sunday, August 29, 2010

Family reunion

This afternoon I went to a family reunion. It was an interesting event - unscheduled and unplanned, I wasn't even expecting to be there. I got to talk with my dad and we were talking about some email we had exchanged. Mom was there but didn't say much, just kind of quiet and smiling. Uncle Ron, mom's brother, was there laughing his huge laugh that I remember so well and holding hands with Aunt Geneil (dad's sister) who was laughing with him.

My sister Sam was around, but again, most of what I remember is her laughter. It's such a good thing that most of my family memories are full of laughter. She chuckled as she walked past, scratching my dog under the chin and teasing me for holding him so close and tight. I was watching my daughter's children as she was playing with them over by the window. Doug and Emma were in some kind of battle which isn't new. DJ was building something.

I can remember the smells of the food - our family events always had laughter and food. I remember wondering where Jeff was because I could hear him somewhere. I always wanted to have Jeff as a brother as I didn't always get along with my two sisters. Jeff and I didn't always get along either, but it we always had fun together.

Javert, my dog, put his head on my shoulder and I remember hearing some kind of beeping or horn and thinking that it sounded odd, like it didn't belong. Then the electronic sound of something like coins dropping into a glass, maybe ice cubes? Then I recognized it as Kerry playing some game on her computer and slowly realization started to slip in.

As wonderful as my reunion was, I began to realize that it was just a dream. Dad died in '89, mom last year. Sam several years ago and Geneil back in the early '80s. I'm not sure what it means that I had both family that has passed away already and family still living with me.

I don't read much into dreams, although I love to have them. I usually dream very vividly, very graphically. I tend to smell scents and odors and can feel and touch in my dreams. And as I rose from the bliss of sleep and dreams, the smells of the food waning and the sounds fading, the laughter slowly growing quiet, I was left with the feeling of peace and warmth as the last of the dream left to me.

I miss them all, each of them. I am thankful for the memories that I have and remorseful of those that I missed. I wish I had been able to spend more time with the family although it seems like this family has a hard time getting together. Everybody wants to, but these plans never seem to come to fruition. I'm as bad as any other.

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have had the past couple of years to re-unite with some of my extended family, and friends as well, and have been blessed with renewing these relations. I can only hope that I provide something in kind back to each of them.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


o·pin·ion   /əˈpɪnyən/ –noun
1. a belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty.
2. a personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
3. the formal expression of a professional judgment: to ask for a second Medical opinion.

Oh? You have an opinion? You do realize that having an opinion doesn't set you apart from anybody else, right? You know that everybody has one, right?

Oh, okay, yours is different. Yours is right.

Wait, uh, wait a minute.

May I ask you a small question? Just a simple questions, really, just a little insight for me own personal edification?


The other day a mutual friend of ours apologized to me because of the comments that you made. It was on her dime, it was her thread and you interjected your own criticism, condemning a whole group of people for simply having the audacity to have their own opinion that was (GASP!) not yours! How dare they? Don't they know that YOURS is the official, one-and-only opinion allowed?

I declined to let her even think that she had any reason to apologize. I refused to let her take responsibility for the vitriol that you vented. She is much to nice of a lady to saddle with that responsibility. And you, coward that you are, should have never put a lady in that position. If you want to vacate your spleen, do it on your own time. Own up to it. Stop hiding behind someone else.

I do have one other question: What exactly does make you think that yours is the RIGHT opinion? What exactly sets you apart and grants to you the insight and wisdom to so blatantly and rudely impart your precious pearls upon the world?

Is it geography? Does that fact that you live where you do give you this authority? Is the state in which you reside the ONLY state that is allowed to hold value of opinion? Is it something in the water? Is it the lower altitude that grants you an oxygen-rich environment so you think more clearly than the rest of the world?

Or is it that you have a captive audience with low cost since you manage to post on social networking sites? Since you don't have to invest the cost of a stamp, let alone the time to write a letter, place it in an envelope and mail it to the editor of the paper; has technology and the fact that any 11 year old with an Internet connection who can type can post their glowing words of praise or degenerate and perverse vituperation bestowed supreme opinion status on your glowing and golden brow?

Save your castigation and condemnation of me just because my opinion is not yours. I am every bit as educated as are you. You have your values and standards as do I. However, just because my social mores and the values I have are not those you would embrace, don't you dare for one instant believe that yours have any greater value than mine.

I don't expect you to agree with me, I rather expect that you will NOT agree with me on many items. But I refuse, as a matter of fact I demand that you will respect my opinion for the value that it has, regardless of whether it has any semblance of your opinion. I didn't assault your values and your opinion, neither did I denigrate your worth as a person, as a human being, just because your values are not mine. Neither are you allowed to do that to me.

You, no question or doubt, owe Patricia an apology.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Memories of corn

About a week ago someone left a package on my porch. this being zucchini season, I was just a little bit leery, but it wasn't squash this time, but it was a half-dozen ears of fresh sweet corn.

Guess what dinner was...

Later, as I was shucking the corn, I commented that I hate shucking corn, then stopped to think why I hate shucking corn. Suddenly, with all the clarity and impact of an Alfred Eisenstaedt photograph, I remembered the catalyst for my dread of corn silk and husk. I don't remember how old I was at the time, maybe eight or ten years old, but my mother and her best friend Barbara Cartwright had decided that they were going to can corn to preserve it for later use. That was back in the day when most households preserved fruit and vegetables to save money and add variety to the diet during the winter months.

Mom and Barbara bought a load of corn. In my mind, for years, I would swear that it was a dump-truck load, but I'm sure it was just a pickup truck. The image of that mountain of corn, green and bright and smelling like, well, corn, is burned into my mind's eye.

At any rate, they had the corn delivered to our driveway and then mom and Barbara went to work. They also recruited help, and since they were saving money, they didn't pay the help. What they did was use indentured labor - i.e., their kids. The memories of this time which I hold are of me and my sisters Sam and Chris, mom and Barbara and her boys Steve, Tracy and Perry. All of us together shucking corn, removing the husks and silk, battling the worms and earwigs (how many do YOU think we found in a million ears of corn?) and laughing.

We laughed and we talked, and talked and laughed. There were jokes and people throwing bugs and corn. Lots and LOTS of corn. And if you thought you could get away from the corn by going into the house, then you got drafted to help dad and using the cutters to take the corn off the cobs. The cutter looked like a metal U-shaped wire with what I thought was a bent saw blade rolled into a circle to slide down the cob that was impaled on a board with a nail to hold it in place. Wet, messy and smelling of corn. (I detect a theme.)

Mom is gone, and I haven't seen Barbara for way too long. Tracy I run into once in a while and Steve and Perry are still out there. Sam was taken a few years ago and Chris is another story altogether. I can still hear the laughter. I can still feel the heat of summer in Logan and hear the crickets as we worked way into the night.

I still like to eat corn, I just hate to shuck it. But I love the memories of the friends and families that I miss.