Friday, October 31, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Halloween Past

In 1978 we had a seven-year-old foster son who though he’d had a hard life, had a tender heart. His mom visited him once in the year we had him. She told him she’d be coming to get him and take him trick-or-treating. I doubted it so prepared behind the scenes and along about 8 p.m. and he’d given up the wait, I unveiled a costume and we set out to the relatives’ houses so he’d not totally miss out. When we got back home he got ready for bed and as I tucked him in he (optimistically but so sadly) said, “She must have meant next year.”

One evening visiting my parents, the subject of respecting elders came up, reminding my dad of a long poem he’d learned years before, which he then recited. Dale listened “respectfully” and didn’t let on that he was “moved” by it until the first words out of his mouth the next morning when he woke up were, with much relief, “Well, them Black Things didn’t get me!”

LITTLE ORPHANT ANNIE by James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916)

LITTLE Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups an' saucers up, an' brush the crumbs away,
An' shoo the chickens off the porch, an' dust the hearth, an' sweep,
An' make the fire, an' bake the bread, an' earn her board-an'-keep;
An' all us other childern, when the supper-things is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun
A-list'nin' to the witch-tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'at gits you 
Ef you 

Wunst they wuz a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,--
An' when he went to bed at night, away up-stairs,
His Mammy heerd him holler, an' his Daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turn't the kivvers down, he wuzn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter-room, an' cubby-hole, an' press,
An' seeked him up the chimbly-flue, an' ever'-wheres, I guess;
But all they ever found wuz thist his pants an' roundabout:--
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you 
Ef you 

An' one time a little girl 'ud allus laugh an' grin,
An' make fun of ever' one, an' all her blood-an'-kin;
An' wunst, when they was "company," an' ole folks wuz there,
She mocked 'em an' shocked 'em, an' said she didn't care!
An' thist as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run an' hide,
They wuz two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side,
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' 'fore she knowed what she's about!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you 
Ef you 

An' little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lamp-wick sputters, an' the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit, an' the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin'-bugs in dew is all squenched away,--
You better mind yer parunts, an' yer teachurs fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' he'p the pore an' needy ones 'at clusters all about,
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you 
Ef you 

To all the little children: -- The happy ones; and sad ones;
The sober and the silent ones; the boisterous and glad ones;
The good ones -- Yes, the good ones, too; and all the lovely bad ones.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Today is a good day, in spite of my headache (a few too many work hours but which will be ending soon).

Got the work I brought home done just before conference started. Don and Lois came in between sessions to get Italian prunes so I had him leave the ladder out there and I got a batch to put up during the second session. Ummmm. Stewed prunes. Sweet. Lovely. Yummy. (Takes longer but tastier than just bottling the halves.) I'll do another batch this afternoon (if the rain slows to a drizzle). And now I feel energized to continue a batch a day next week until I get them done. Juice to follow stewed. Grape juice to follow prune juice.

I was a tad worried they might go to waste. I've found there are many people who are grateful to have me share them, but few who will come pick their own! (Many called but few chosen?) Last year I didn't have time to do them, but was determined to get them picked and delivered. This year, what with the state of economy woes, it seems extremely foolish to not get them put up.

Mom would be proud of me. Well... appalled actually. An eensy-weensy bit pleased, perhaps? (She'd have had the whole tree done by now, no matter what other irons were in her fire.) My parents' gardening efforts bring back fond memories. I well remember wheelbarrows of corn, shucking them on this very back porch, to then be cut and frozen, and so much corn juice running down my arms, a rash developed. Being the youngest and acknowledgingly spoiled, my mom was innovative in her attempts to get me to actually "work." She'd tell me the Black-eyed Susans needed a haircut. Or that the carrots needed thinning and how'd I like to pretend I was a rabbit. My favorite was climbing the apricot tree and eating to my heart's content. Or taking the salt-shaker along up the green-apple tree. I didn't care to be sent out to the garden after dark to get a tomato for the dinner table. (We often ate late due to her "other-iron" approach to life.) I remember expressing my boredom one late summer day. She sent me to the garden to pick the largest squash I could find, and then suggested I carve it like a Halloween pumpkin! She used to make our costumes. One year she bought a soft rubber pumpkin head mask and then made me a circle skirt to go around my neck with a vine and leaf pattern. I'd go out in the garden, sit down cross legged, fully outfitted, spread out my "skirt" and pretend I was one of them. Which also reminds me of her talent when she was involved with the Central School spook alley. It was in the subbasement among the pipes. She took a sheet and made a hole in it so that my head fit through it as it hung smoothly down from upper pipes, and I sat comfortably on a lower pipe behind the sheet as the children came through. She even - annoying perfectionist that she was - face stitched the opening. She tied my hair to the pipe above and then poured (home-canned, of course) beet juice down the front of the sheet. You get the idea. I'd have my eyes closed and in the dimness the kids would comment, "Is it real?" and I'd open my eyes, which caused them to scream and scatter.

Hearing the lids seal yields confirming pleasure. I need to get my shelves lined with grip rubber to give my bottles a chance of survival should there be a trembling. I got the upstairs done but put off the fruit room. Don suggested bungie cords to accommodate a bit more of a jiggling. Great idea! Thanks, Don! I'm off to Wal-mart! after ending this with my grateful expression that I can bring a lot of my work home to do, thanks to a VPN connection to the district. That way, I'm home before dark to pick next week, and get back to the job's odds and ends after. We are very blessed, technologically. To be able to reach my Houston-IKE's was very comforting. Well, I can't say I'm grateful for my cherry trees ;-), but I extend much gratitude to my Heavenly Father for the rest of my little "harvest."