EXPRESSION OF LOVE

The sound of excited voices echoed throughout the kitchen.  Little hands pressed out cookies.  Grandma complained about the kitchen being a mess–same as every year.  I knew she never meant it.  Some of the snowmen cookies had a garish “Picassoesque” appearance.  The process guided by a Grandmother’s loving hands.  She was fair, but firm.  Any disputes were quickly mediated and concluded.  Older grandchildren helped the little ones.  It was all in good fun.  Oddly shaped cookies with extra sprinkles tasted just as delicious as “normal” ones.

Cooking is an expression of love.  My expanding waistline tells me, perhaps I’m loved too much?  Good cooks memorize recipes.  When asked, my wife replies, “Oh, I don’t write anything down.”  “I just put in a pinch of this and a dash of that.”  She knows what ingredients, in the right proportions, taste good together.  All our children and grandchildren have favorite dishes.  My wife goes out of her way to prepare requested favorites when we visit.  I tease by saying she’s taking the kitchen with her.    Some favorites are homemade vegetable soup, swiss steak, smothered chicken breasts, mini-meat loaves.

My future bride was amused by this bumbling bachelor’s gastronomic forays.  Some of which she refused–with good reason.  It may have been my canned tuna, green bean, tomato surprise casserole topped liberally with cheese.  Over the years, my culinary skills have been sharpened.  For several years, we worked different schedules.  My responsibility was preparing the evening meal.  I came up with my own recipes.  Sometimes it was wise not to reveal all the ingredients.  Chef’s secrets, and all that, you know.  The few catastrophes were due to my creative spirit run amok.

Most guys are content to stick with outdoor grilling.  It’s hard to beat a good steak.  My speciality is grilled honey-orange, marinated, bone-in, chicken breasts.  I’m breaking tradition to pass along one of my “secret recipes.”  Not to worry, there were no barriers broken down–no frontiers crossed.  My “Sweet and Sour Coleslaw” recipe has never been written down.  Quantities are estimated to the best of my ability.  I’m a guy, I believe in keeping things simple.  There are no “exotic” ingredients.

Sweet and Sour Coleslaw

One regular sized head of cabbage, coarsely chopped, red cabbage adds color

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 cup chopped celery, (may be deveined if desired)

1 1/2 cups shredded carrots

1 large shredded sweet onion, (Vidalia or equivalent)

-Thoroughly mix dry ingredients-

Prepared Italian dressing, (Liptons, Kraft, or equivalent)

Use one third bottle, add more later, if necessary

Red wine vinegar, two dashes, (1 teaspoon)

Dill weed, (2 pinches)

Celery seeds, (1 pinch)

Garlic powder, (1 tablespoon, or two crushed cloves)

Thoroughly mix wet and dry ingredients

Taste test for proper sweet-sour balance

I prefer slight sourness over sweetness

I don’t add sugar, but that’s a personal thing  

Carrots have natural sweetness that comes through

Adding some tart apple pieces would add interest 

Marinate in the refrigerator overnight

Peace! Love! Enjoy!

SCARED OF LIVING (Afraid of Dying)

Hardly remembered
Easily forgotten
What could be?
What might have been?
Live for today
Not tomorrow
Nothing given or taken
Only borrowed
Could briefly stay
Afraid to go home
Judgement clouded in anger
Conscience disappeared
Truths, too real to conceive
Secrets carried to the grave

As day transitions to night
Give up, or stand up and fight
Cemeteries overflowing
With timid and bold
Young and old
Those that died
For what they believed
Widows, orphans
Overcome with grief
Same language
Different beliefs
Scared of living
Afraid of dying

A NARROW ESCAPE

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No issue ever divided our country more than that of slavery.  Our family home, was built circa 1836, by abolitionist, Josiah Whipple.  It was a two-story structure built in the Greek revival architectural style.  The foundation was constructed of limestone rocks carefully stacked and fitted together.  Timber came from local sawmills.  Josiah Whipple ran a girl’s finishing school called Greenwood Academy.  Our home served as one of the dormitories.  My grandfather purchased the property in nineteen twenty-nine.

A story that surrounded the home, was that it served, as a station on the Underground Railroad.  This was documented in an 1883 Carlinville Democrat newspaper account by reporter John Palmer.  Mr. Whipple was a contemporary and friend of Elijah Lovejoy, a newspaper publisher in Alton, IL–a nearby Mississippi river town.  Elijah Lovejoy was martyred, because of his abolitionist views, and his press thrown in the river.  After the war, a monument was constructed in his honor, which still stands on the river bluffs.

Mr. Josiah Whipple championed freedom for all races.  He helped many slaves to escape by keeping them in the basement of the house and also in the barn.  He had many enemies because of his stand on slavery.  On one occasion, the slaves were seen coming into town in a covered wagon which turned down the lane to his house.  The horses were put up for the night and the slaves hidden away.  There were some in town who didn’t take kindly to anyone helping slaves.  Besides, the owners of the slaves would pay large bonuses for their capture and return.  They would have received $8,000.  When the slaves started to leave the next morning, Southern sympathizers were sitting on fence posts with their guns just waiting for the slaves to try to escape.  One attempt was made, but the enemy was spotted, so the slaves returned to Mr. Whipple’s.  Another try was made with Mr. Whipple driving the wagon and team.  There was some firing of buckshot which grazed the face of Mr. Whipple.  By going at breakneck speed, Mr. Whipple was able to get far enough ahead of those in pursuit and stopped the wagon in heavy timber.  The slaves took off running in the direction of Macoupin Station.  There they reached the railroad where they made their escape by boarding a freight car to Chicago.  Mr Whipple was treated by a physician in the nearby city of Carlinville.  

Some townspeople attempted to have Mr. Whipple charged and taken to court.  Because of his humanitarian stance, no charges were ever brought.

ALMOST GOOD ENOUGH

Unrecognizable state of mind

Driving with the windows down

Hair tousled in the wind

Better together, than apart

Hopsack and expensive tweed

No compromise like before

Feelings rushed and quickly left

Just more pictures on the fridge

Living on the emotional edge

Why was the sky blue?

Did fish cry?

Like well-worn, faded, blue jeans

Not good or bad, just in between

Painted backdrops went flying by

Moonbeams of reality

Rivers of poignancy

Almost good enough

MARCHING TO OBLIVION

From the land of “Forrest Gump”

Comfortable like favorite shirts

What’s new, whats all the rage?

Besieged, victimized, artificiality

Grandmas in crinoline with little girl bows

Inebriated men with large bulbous noses

Broken spirits, moribund dreams

Flying too high, coming down hard

Because of something, someone said

Caricatures of the holiday season

Moronic laughter, echoed and hollow

Living like there’s no tomorrow

March, march, marching to oblivion

MAGIC BEANS

Imitated imitation
Without limitation
Buffoonery, lunacy
Masters of hyperbole

Thirty day guarantees
Positive, demonstrative
Warmed over dreams, schemes
Magic beans, recurring themes

Buy vacation property sight unseen
Keep your house spotless and clean
Miracle mops, ears, and pills
Aches, pains, bedroom thrills

Make bail, stay out of jail
Pest catchers, shoe stretchers
Hangers, braces, and brackets
Fly-catching tennis rackets

Magic cat litter boxes
Massaging gloves and socks
Choppers, key hiding rocks
Go to sleep, stay awake

Gain weight, get thinner
Sweepstakes, garden rakes
Could be a million dollar winner?
Get smarter, help your heart

Be healthy, get wealthy
New potions and lotions
Beds for dogs, cure mental fogs
Stop dyspepsia, clear clogged drains
Help, I think I’ve gone insane!

PERSISTENCE of DELUSION

Proportions, distortions, assault the senses

Scenes visible to Hubble telescope lenses

Not seeing what’s already there

Bald spots, combed over hair

Spandex as never before seen

Please, let it only be a dream

Portly men proudly clad in Speedos

Clownish makeup, drawn on eyebrows

Cellulite, wrinkles, and cracks

Libidos that are out of whack

Polyester plaids, leisure suits

Where are those Go-Go Boots?

You look hot, you’re on fire!

Tight clothes shrunk in the dryer

Old styles always come back

Are you going out like that?

Looked in the mirror, got quite a scare

Lumps, bumps, that shouldn’t be there

Too much and not enough hair

Self image, projected image

What’s real, what’s mirage?

Face reality?  I refused!

Even Freud would be confused!