STORIES ARE LIMITLESS


Stories are either written or oral, and are at the base of every civilization. Even cultures who had no written language had storytellers. At a lecture by F. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa Indian writer and educator, he stated that at some time in everyone’s life, he must know from where he came. The Native American has no such problem, because he has been taught the legends of his people over and over his entire life. He can recite his family tree for generations back, and can also remember and tell stories about ancestors long dead.

Stories are painted and carved on rocks throughout the world. Reminders to us that we are not unique, and that those who have gone before us left their legacies for us to interpret.

In the 19th century, missionary schools began popping up on reservations all bent upon teaching the white man’s ways to the Indian children, but in 1870 the first off-reservation schools were organized to ensure that children would come to be Euro-American.

Emmett
“Emmett Oliver” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

Our good friend Emmett Oliver, dear friend and educator, recently celebrated his 101st birthday. His mother was a product of one of the off-reservation schools, forcibly taken from her family. Tales of mothers clinging to the fences outside these schools are heartbreaking.

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“A Hole In My Heart” Stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

It was said that a hole formed in the hearts of mothers so that her children could climb back in.

Children were given American names, and boys were given short haircuts and American-style boots. All were taught to work for their keep. Often when boys returned to their homes they knocked the heels off their boots and returned to moccasins.

Once back in the arms of their families, they again became part of the stories of their family.

I Am Home
“I Am Home” stoneware sculpture by kayti sweetland rasmussen

In this sculpture, the child, standing within the warmth of the blanket, is surrounded with the stories of his people. He hears the words once more, and again feels a part of the story.

“What cannot be changed must be accepted. What is accepted must be endured. Back when we were a people on foot, running up and down the mountains, we lost our advantage. People took our land, our children. We accepted everything, except the loss of our children. When you look at us now you will see a big hole in our hearts. This is so our children can climb back in. We go out to your world and come back, trying to decide which way to go. The young travel to places they think will give them everything. After awhile, they come home. They stand in the plaza, looking up at the mountains, seeing our ancestors. We older ones say nothing. Isn’t silence better than a scolding?”

COWS AND CROWS


Cows and crows are great judges of genius; you can take my word for it. I have sat under trees scribbling my nonsense, and in the middle of open fields attempting to place in paint the indescribable beauties of nature. Ever alert, the eyes of cows and/or crows have often sat in judgement.

cows

We all have a sense of personality; a lingering feeling about a person, though not specific. Often you remember that they were either good or bad, but can’t remember why. What sensory perception triggers memory? Is it sound, sight, smell, or perhaps the waft of a soft afternoon breeze. The afternoon breeze puts me comfortingly back into the bed of a much loved aunt while taking an after-lunch nap together. Do the cows and crows depend upon the same sense of perception?

crows 2

When entering my garden while Henry and his pals are testing out the birdbath, do they know my face? In walking past the open field, when several cows look up in unison from their eternal munching, is it the sound of my boots on the gravel, or the motion of my passing that attracts them? I find it endlessly fascinating to believe these creatures of Nature recognize and accept me for what I am, as I accept and appreciate their attention.

sanjulian

I often wonder if the thin veil between the animal world and us will ever be shorn. Meanwhile, we anthropomorphize our relationships with these amazing creatures, which pleases us no end.

Jan horse 3

Who can explain the thrill of discovery we feel when a small yellow horse in a corral containing several others, looks up at the sound of his name being called?

054
“My Beau” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The thing about moments–once they are gone, they’re gone forever.

TWO MEATBALLS & MASHED POTATOES, twenty-five cents


meatballs

Lunchtime did not loom large in my imagination during my youth Justifiable perhaps given the likelihood of all too familiar contents in my paper bag or lunch pail. I don’t recall seeing a single cafeteria, serving what I imagined to be delicious lunches. In the small two room schoolhouse in New London, Connecticut, I am sure there was none; there was barely room for the four grades of children crammed into its old walls. Give the economics of the Depression era I would not have been allowed to eat in a cafeteria anyway.

Life and lunchtime changed when we moved to Alameda, California in my junior year however. In our own small enclave surrounding the high school, there was a bakery, a coffee shop, a music store which allowed you to listen to records before buying, a few small shops, a movie theater and J.C. Penney, where I began working to earn money to spend at these stores.

And among these stores, a mere block and a half from the school, was the Alameda Delicatessen, advertising two meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy, and all for twenty-five cents! This was the era when gasoline was less than a dollar, but twenty-five cents was still a bargain. My feet wore a path to the deli each day at noon, and in spite of ridicule from classmates, I ate there daily for the remaining two years of high school.

Sixty years later, at a class reunion, a much admired former classmate, who had been a professional baseball player and then scout, confessed that he too had gone to the Deli every day of his high school life, and had eaten meatballs, mashed potatoes and gravy and paid twenty-five cents. He too knew a bargain when he saw it.

The large Swedish company IKEA, sells plates of meatballs and gravy to hundreds of people daily. They even sell bags of meatballs you can keep in your freezer for people longing for a meatball fix at home. Costco sells huge bags of meatballs as do a lot of other stores. If people didn’t love meatballs no one would go to the trouble. A local food editor last week did a whole column rating the quality of the meatballs sold at various stores in the area. Whole Foods got the best rating, and it went downhill from there, with some poor company rating no stars. And speaking of Stars, which is the offering at your last cocktail party which got the most action? The large cauldron of meatballs in spicy sauce, right?

Countries around the world have their own version of the meatball. In my husband’s Danish family they are called frikadellar, and are served with mashed potatoes and gravy.

But I have to say, none of these meatballs can hold a candle to those twenty-five cent meatballs at the old Deli which has long ago closed its doors. They are still the best meatballs I ever ate.

THE BOYS IN THE BOAT


crew

The warm October sun clings to the lost days of summer like the shorts on the long-limbed girls strolling along the bank of a flat calm lake. The two boys rowing ten feet off shore aren’t unmindful of the tanned walkers. One of the boys yells a loud “Hi”, and the girls giggle.

I have just finished reading “The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown, and was sorry to see it end. It tells the stories of nine boys from the University of Washington who came from poor and sorry circumstances in the Great Depression, yet worked their way through to obtain college degrees and become the finest crew team in the world.

Rowing is an ancient sport, and at both the University of Washington and the University of California they give it deep respect. Crews from both schools have captured gold medals at the Olympics, and Washington’s biggest win was when they did it at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, leaving Hitler red faced and in an especially foul mood, as it had been planned and expected that Germany would grab the gold in all events, and for awhile it looked as if they would. Berlin and the surrounding Olympic venues had been sanitized for the Olympic events, everything depicting a picturesque and sublime Bavarian life, but the terror of the Holocaust had already begun and lurked behind scenes, resuming when the Olympic flag was lowered.

Race rowing was a big sport at Eton College and Westminster School in England, and the elite sport then spread to the east coast of the U.S.A. and from there to the west coast.

The racing shell, unlike the ordinary rowboat, is an extremely narrow, extremely long boat, originally built of wood, and outfitted with long oars and sliding seats. The boat for an eight man crew is sixty feet long and 24″ wide! An eight man crew actually has nine men, eight rowers and a coxswain who is in charge of the steering and navigation of the boat. He sits facing the oarsmen and shouts his orders while the boat ghosts along the water, the long oars dipping in unison and leaving not a ripple. Bobby Moch of the UW team was one of the finest coxswains in that or in any time.

A second generation boat builder whose father built boats for Eton, George Yeomans Pocock came from England to the University of Washington in 1912 and began to build boats used by nearly every college in America.

A champion sculler himself Pocock worked out of a boathouse on the campus of the UW and built his beautiful wood racing shells over the next half century. Shells today are made from reinforced carbon fibre, strong and graceful for sure, but the polished beauty of the wood boat is gone forever. Pocock was a mentor to many of the rowing coaches of the day, including Al Ulbrickson, head coach at Washington, and Ky Ebright, head coach of the University of California, Washington’s rival, for whom Pocock also built boats.

For the four years the boys struggled to stay in college and stay in the boat, Ulbrickson drove them hard and Pocock gave them gentler suggestions steering them toward their biggest victory in Berlin in 1936. During this time, Seattle’s most famous sports writer, Royal Brougham, registered every win and loss of the UW crews, and helped fuel the enthusiasm for crew racing still felt today. Seattle is a big sports town and partly because of the lack of TV coverage in those days, the public swelled with pride at every win heard on the family radio and every word of praise in the local newspaper.

Brougham traveled with the team to Berlin and reported every move of the American teams. His excitement was boundless and on the day of the varsity win over Hitler’s teams, Brougham pounded out probably the greatest column of his 68 year career with the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Unfortunately it was never seen because of a union strike the next day in Seattle.

You might ask why my great interest in the story told in this book? We grew to love Seattle and the University in th years we lived there. One of our daughters and her children graduated from the University, and we attended every sports event for five years. We still fly up for occasional college football games.

Living on the banks of Lake Washington, the vision of rowers, crew or single sculls was an everyday pleasure. Here in California, we of course also root for the Cal boys in their boat since that was Dr. Advice’s school. They row down the Oakland estuary, which lies beside my old home on the island of Alameda. While living in Connecticut in the 30’s I watched the Harvard and Yale crews rowing on the Thames river in New London. The Thames was also the water in which I learned to swim. I don’t seem to be able to get too far from water!

As a final irony in Berlin, Bobby Moch, coxswain from the winning University of Washington, stood on the podium alone to receive his gold medal. Unbeknownst to Hitler and his band of evil, intent on the destruction of an entire race of people, Bobby Moch was a Jew.

A POISONOUS SUMMER ALL AROUND


What triggers a story? You sit staring at the blank white page on your computer, knowing you have something to say. The piles of notes scribbled all over the desk say you do. And you do this every day. As you sit, you think about the banana cream pie you started out in the kitchen, or the dustmop waiting in the corner you promised yourself to use today, but something you thought of last night when you couldn’t go to sleep at three o’clock is nibbling at your memory. What was it?

In this case, it turns out that it was the smell of my mother’s homemade bread, baked in a wood oven in New London, Connecticut when I was ten years old.

059 “Kate and Nigh-Nigh” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

The start of two years in New London, Connecticut, did not bode well. We had arrived after a hot and hurried road trip across country in the summer of 1938 to a strange community, strange people and stranger new surroundings.

We found an apartment, upstairs over a grocery store. It had two rooms and the bathroom was down the hall, which was strange because you couldn’t hang out in it because somebody else might need to use it. There was a community phone out in the hallway, but we didn’t know anyone to call anyway so that was OK. The building was old and the landlord lived downstairs with his family of wife and two small children. The good thing was that the landlord’s kids could drink all the orangeade they wanted for free.

Our kitchen floor was crummy old greyish beige linoleum with colored flecks in it. In front of the sink it had worn through to the black, and in one place you could see the wood flooring. My mother was sad but uncomplaining; things would get better. Of course in the Depression, you never could be sure of anything. It’s only claim to fame was a big old wood stove which turned out delicious bread once or twice a week.

Eventually I went out to play with the downstairs kids and came home red and itching. The more I itched, the more I scratched until welts and bubbles broke out all over my body. My father’s diagnosis—poison ivy.

poson ivy

My mother bathed me with stinky CutiCura Soap and the ointment which went with it.and then coated me in a sticky layer of pink calamine lotion which kept leaving flakes wherever I walked. Though I spent the entire summer in bed in this condition, I don’t remember what the bedroom looked like. The whole thing reminds me now of Chesterton’s quote: “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.”

Another summer, our first (and only) in Oregon, was also spent in the throes of Poison something or other. Along with the ubiquitous calamine lotion, which I might as well tell you, does nothing to relieve the itching, they wrapped me in damp sheets for the summer, mummified and staring at the ceiling of another house.

Years later in California, Dr. Advice and I cut through a meadow to reach the river to go swimming away from the other summer vacationers. I was monstrously pregnant, and in those days you kept out of sight when in your swim suit rather than pose for Time magazine as Demi Moore so famously did in her birthday suit. The meadow was lush with bushes of blackberries and other bushes. We sat and ate our sandwiches and blackberries and tossed the crumbs to a friendly squirrel which seemed interested in us.

That evening I noticed a red rash appearing on my arms and legs. It itched. It spread over my large stomach. You would think I’d learn to keep out of the weeds.

PoisonOak_wb_biggerLeaves Poison Oak

LUNCH BOXES


lunch box I happen to like PBJ sandwiches. It used to be only with grape jelly, but I graduated to strawberry some years ago. Fresh baked bread of course is primo, but in a pinch any bread will do.

Peanut butter and jelly remind me of the lunches my mother packed for me in my grammar school days. It was sometimes bologna with mayo; mustard came later when my palate matured, and avocado or left over baked beans made a good sandwich too. The very best as I remember was meat loaf. Each in their turn packed in a brown paper bag with my name clearly written on the front. They didn’t have the cute metal lunch boxes with cartoon characters on as yet. There was always an apple and a couple of cookies, and usually a screw cap jar with milk which had turned warm. Lucky we didn’t get ptomaine poisoning.

I asked Dr. Advice what he took when he was a wee tyke and his list was pretty much the same as mine. We were children at the same time after all. I think he was taken aback at avocado, baked beans and jealous at the meat loaf; he was probably more interested in playing than eating, which is his current persona.

I began to wonder what other people took for their childhood lunches, so I interviewed two friends while we were at lunch yesterday.

T. is from a farm family in Malta, one of 16 children, 8 boys and 8 girls, all carrying their lunches to school. Once at school, each carrying their own small spoon, they were given a graham cracker with jam, and the teacher poured cod liver oil into each spoon. I tried that with my kids by disguising it in orange juice. They have never forgiven me.

She had a hard boiled egg every day, and bread and jam. The bread was like foccacia with olive oil. It was wrapped in waxed paper and carried in a cloth bag. She usually traded the egg for a penny which she spent on candy! Maltese children traded off their lunches just as we did! I don’t remember getting any money for mine though.

T. is an accomplished seamstress, and when I asked her when she first learned to sew she said she always ate her lunch while sitting and sewing on the roof of the school with the principal!

J. went to a convent school in Jamaica, her father a gentleman farmer of English descent. A car came for her and her three brothers each morning, depositing them each at their individual schools.

Her sandwiches were of mashed sardines or potted meat and wrapped either in waxed paper or often in a slightly damp linen cloth, the weather being so very hot. There were no cookies or fruit, but a man brought in “patties”, which are small pastries filled with spicy meat, somewhat like a pasty. Very flaky and crumbly and wrapped in brown paper. They still make them, but they are now made with taro root and called coco bread. Though we have been to Jamaica a couple of times, I don’t remember the patties.

Though it was fun to reminisce, it wasn’t about the food as much as the memories, which it always is really. I wouldn’t trade my lobster ravioli in tomato cream sauce for the PBJ or even the meat loaf sandwich, and the dessert wasn’t bad either.

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“Lily White, Fiji” original watercolor painting by kayti sweetland rasmussen

A FLURRY OF BIRTHDAYS


prairegirlsspring

It seems that this week contains the celebration of birthdays–not mine, but I get to be part of the celebrations which is even better.

Yesterday’s luncheon on the island (Alameda) was in honor of two 87 year old high school friends, and Friday’s soiree is for a couple of 70 somethings. We were missing one of our group yesterday. It seems that she got a wrong number the night before at her home, and while in the midst of explaining that they had reached the wrong person, she got a coughing spell, which alarmed the caller to the point that they called the police to come take a look at her. The first she knew of it, the police were shining bright lights through her front windows and pounding on her door! Nice to know there are still strangers who care, but still she elected to opt out of our gathering the next day. Maybe she was still coughing. Who knows? She missed a lively party complete with small fancy cakes and the whole restaurant singing the “Happy Birthday” song.

Speaking of the police, the husband of one of our birthday girls had been a policeman. She related the story of a peeping Tom who kept showing up wherever she happened to be for a week or so. Her husband had been in the hospital for a few weeks when she first noticed the peeper. After the husband came home and was resting on the sofa one evening, the guy came to their front door. Her husband leaped from the sofa, grabbed his gun and chased the fellow down the street while streaming expletives at him. They never had any more problems along those lines.

I had a phone call from my much younger cousin the night before asking the date of my anniversary. It is about to be 68 years, and she mused that I had been married nearly her whole life. She had been a flower girl tossing rose petals up the aisle in her white dress our grandmother had made. An adorable little redhead whose braids were wrapped around her head European style. She told me it was the first wedding she had been to, and I told her it had been my first as well. One of the ladies yesterday had been in our wedding and I would have asked one of the others but she got married the week before me.

Since I was such a wedding novice, and our was shaping up to be the “wedding of the century”, I had fits of terror and tears beginning at about 1 p.m. My father, at a loss as to what to do about this dramatic display, assured me that I did not have to go through with the affair, even though the trap had been set: flowers and cake and gifts already arrived and in place. Nevertheless, I made an appearance at 4 o’clock on my father’s arm still dripping tears throughout the service while wiping my nose on the back of the wrist of my lovely borrowed dress which a cousin had lent, and the future Dr. A. whispering “Stop that!”

IMG_20140821_0001 That’s me on the right on our graduation day.

Our waitress, who takes care of our group regularly, is clearly amused and bemused by the sight of 8 ladies of a certain age who still connect to renew old memories. She was fascinated yesterday by the story of one of our group telling about the time she found an orchid on her front porch delivered for her husband’s birthday from an old girlfriend of his. She and the girlfriend had the same name, and were referred to as “old Helen” and “new Helen”. The orchid was from “old Helen”.

I plumbed their memories about a girl who insisted upon calling Dr. Advice at his office and at our home after we married. She had been some other fellow’s girlfriend in High School so there wasn’t a personal connection, but I guess she was just hopeful. I don’t blame her, he was pretty cute. (Still is.)

IMG_20140821_0002 That’s Dr. Advice second from the left with all that blond hair!

THE DIFFERENCE


ROTC

Old R.O.T.C. photo circa 1944, and yes, that is me, front row center, the only girl. It was a serious time, and everyone still here was gung-ho to go. I really wanted to be a WAVE, but my father wouldn’t hear of it, so I settled for an ROTC uniform. So many of our classmates had already gone to war, and more were leaving as their names came up. Dr. Advice, who had not yet become Dr. Advice, would leave for training soon at Coyote Point, and then out to sea in the South Pacific. Some couples rushed to get married, several girls while still in High School, and one boy, a good Catholic, convinced his girlfriend that they needed to get married before he left because he wanted to have sex before he left in case he didn’t come back.

Jamie Brenneis, Viet Nam</a

And there were plenty who didn't come back. Thinking back to that time, I remember those fresh beardless faces who were so eager to join up, but didn’t make it home again. My father, a career Navy man had been gone for nearly five years when the War finally ended in August 1945. He was at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941, though we had no way of knowing this.

GGBridge 2

The point of departure and arrival from the West Coast was the Golden Gate Bridge; the first and last thing of home they saw, and the tears fell unashamedly from war weary faces as they stood at attention on the decks of battleships, destroyers, carriers and cargo ships passing slowly beneath the bridge when on the way home.. At one point during the War the San Francisco Bay was covered with a mind boggling number of ships, all awaiting orders to ship out. You had the feeling there were no other ships left, and yet on the other side of the Bay over in Richmond, Henry Kaiser was building a record number of new ones daily. He got the Government contract by convincing them he could not only build great ships, but do it faster. He got the all time record by building one in 4 1/2 days.

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High School over and the War still on, many of us decided to delay college for a few years and went to work. My family being involved with the Matson Line, it was where I gravitated and I was hired as a mail girl at $95 dollars a month. I lived at home and thought it was a fortune! The job was mundane except for the mail being delivered to the upper echelons, and I delivered mail up and down the Embarcadero and also to the American Hawaiian Steamship Line offices where the handsome young pursers checked in upon arrival back from sea. I was promoted to receptionist status which meant I saw them first!

V-J Day came on August 15, 1945, and all Hell broke out all over San Francisco. People spilled out of stores and offices along Market Street, cars and buses stopped where they were, and the cable cars expelled tourists who were getting more than they bargained for in their San Francisco holiday. It put New Orleans Mardi Gras to shame. Horns honked and blared, whistles blew, confetti flew all over us, either thrown by those of us running madly up and down the street or out of upper windows of buildings. People poured into the area from all the side streets to join the the joyous celebration. You were pushed, shoved and hugged and kissed by any and everyone who was nearby, and you did the same. The screams of “The War is over! The War is over!” filled the air while people shook their heads in disbelief, that after all this time it was finally over and all our boys would be coming home. Bottles were passed hand to hand, and I remember someone shoving a bottle of apricot brandy into my hands shouting “Keep it—the War’s over!”

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220px-Oak-knoll Oak Knoll Naval Hospital

The War was over, and now a new phase began—that of recovery. There was a huge rush of weddings and people a few years older than their classmates enrolled in colleges and applied for jobs–any jobs. We were among the newly married, and I volunteered to work at the Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland where returning veterans recuperated. We read to those without eyes, wrote letters for those without arms, made dish gardens of succulent plants for them to watch grow, and simply talked to those who just needed to talk. I worked mainly in the burn unit.

At my real job as a dental hygienist I answered the phone one day to hear a very nice young man’s voice saying he needed an appointment. I did a mental picture of him because of his voice and pictured him as rather tall and good looking, a returned veteran perhaps needing both tooth cleaning or perhaps a filling. As it turned out, we extracted all of his teeth and made dentures.

His appointment day arrived and I looked up from my desk to face a frightening apparition. His face and hands were massively burned with pieces of his face and ears actually missing. He was from the Mid West but would not contact his family or friends. He was a loner at the hospital, sitting by himself by a window whenever I saw him. He had been a tail gunner on a B-17 Bomber which had crashed and burned over Okinawa. I learned that he had liked chocolate cake so I made him a chocolate birthday cake. It was his 22nd birthday—a year younger than I.

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Part of an unfinished column War Correspondent by Ernie Pyle, who died on the island of le Shima on April 17, 1945:

“And so it is over. The day that it had seemed would never come has come at last. But there are many of the living who have had burned into their brains forever the unnatural sight of cold dead men…..Dead men by mass production….We saw him, saw him by the multiple thousand. That’s the difference.”

DEAR MRS. JAQUISH


Dear Mrs. Jaquish,

I don’t know if this is the way your name was spelled when I knew you. It’s how it sounded to me anyhow. This is a note to apologize for all the rotten things we rowdy kids did to you so long ago before we knew better. We children were not good neighbors. I’m sure you did not plant your flower garden expressly for us to pick, nor your trees for us to climb.

I would have written an apology right after we left, but I got poison ivy as soon as we began settling into living in Connecticut and after that it was too late and you were gone when we came back home two years later. I still have the nice letter you wrote to me which shames me somehow now as not being particularly worthy of your friendship. It begins “Dear Katie Lou,” which was my childhood name, and gives me the news of the neighborhood. I disliked my name even then, and you will be pleased to know I tried out many new ones along the way before settling on the present one.

PALM I can picture Long Beach even now after all these years; hopping the squares in the sidewalk, the wonderful old palm trees lining the streets which all had squiggly black patches on them. The truck which came around with hot melted tar to paste on the cracks in the pavement lives in my memory because we used to chase it down the block and grab a piece of hardened tar before the man could catch us. We thought it was good for our teeth.

Maybe that’s what Life is though, a series of patching things up. Streets, houses, relationships. Even trying to make amends for shortcomings suffered three-quarters of a century ago.

I don’t know how old you may have been in 1938, but I’m sure I am older now than you were then, and with a love of gardening equal I’m sure to yours.

There weren’t many of us children in our neighborhood. Two or three more girls and a boy or two who lived around the corner where I was not allowed to play. If you will remember, in Grandma’s rooming house where I lived, there were a number of people who kept track of me.

When we returned home in 1940, someone else lived in your old house, and one of the two little sisters, our playmate Jackie Glass, had passed away as well as yourself. She was the youngest one at eight. I have her picture at my 10th birthday party taken right before we moved away. I don’t have a photo of you, but you live in my memory. You were the first truly old person I knew.

Anyway Mrs. Jaquish, if you get this letter somewhere up on your cloud, I have learned that apologies are best given with some immediacy.

Very truly yours,

BOY WITH A COOKIE


Lincoln with cookie

Standing in the sunlit garden, this small last progeny, munches happily on his giant chocolate chip cookie, bright beams of radiance bouncing off hair in pleasant need of a barber.

Who has not stood barefoot, awaiting his turn for a shower from the garden hose, then bolting quickly through the icy cold spray, thinking to stay as dry as possible, but secretly hoping not to?

Childhood memories of a bygone age, refreshed periodically by other children no less dear, fill my heart as I watch, entranced by this youngest sprite repeating the age-old summer activity.

When did it all go?