Wednesday, December 31, 2008


May peace break into your house and may thieves come to steal your debts. May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet of $100 bills. May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips! May your clothes smell of success like smoking tires and may happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy. May the problems you had forget your home address! In simple words . . . May 2009 be the best year of your life!!!


Old Trunks wonders where documents go when you delete them. She wonders where the land fill is. She wants to go there and find this mornings post about batteries. Perhaps the life of the cell wained and it simply gave an illustration.

She remembers her early days at trade school and the 123 commands to operate the Word Star system. She remembers a heavy chested comrade leaning over her desk and brushing/leaning on the keys which deleted all of her work. The lesson learned was for her to stand up and reach or sit down and save first.

Not so with the battery thoughts. Be careful what command you give after highlighting text. Do I sound like I need a sympathy card? Not quite as she grumbles.

For those of us who had grand parents/parents who listened to the battery operated radio on Saturday night or Sunday morning, we realize how fortunate we are to have most items plug into the wall. We don't even think about power until it is gone. For many, an IPHONE is a lifeline for movies, talking, text messaging, GPS, and the Internet. The IPHONE needs to be charged.

Think about how long the IPHONE battery lasts. Think about how grand parents would save on battery power. If you are in your sixties, think about the cranking power of the battery on your car in comparison to what is in vehicles today.

We have a bucket of batteries in the buffet drawer. They are separated according to size. We have recently had a run on triple A batteries at our house. This morning, for example, a flash light needed four. An angel, given as a gift, needed three. A dog collar light also required three. The scanner needed four double A batteries.

Little blinking snowmen needed three button like batteries. At K Mart, those batteries would cost $13.41 per snowmen, of which there were ten. Tom found them on line for 29 cents each. We accidentally double ordered and had 60 on hand before we began the assembly line like production of making them ready for shipping.

Old Trunks recently read that putting batteries in the fridge or freezer prolonged their life. One just had to get them to room temperature before using them. If that be true, what about that flash light you have for emergencies in your survival pack in the car? How can you get those batteries to room temperature when you are stalled in a car somewhere in a North Dakota blizzard? Makes no sense to me. Huzzah for candles and matches!

But for now, the battery holiday is past. My new watch is solar and movement powered. And I don't have to be concerned about the sign which says, "Watch batteries installed, $5.95." After all, in this economy, who would want to pay six dollars to watch someone put a battery in something when you can see a whole matinee movie for the same price.

It is the last day of 2008, are your inner batteries charged and ready for the new year?


Tuesday, December 30, 2008


December 30

The gift of self to my children this Christmas was a 75 page, hand written memory book. The book would mean nothing to anyone else because it was written from the inside of the family circle. What is so precious to Old Trunks is, Rachel took the time to reminisce back.

Please enjoy:

I just finished reading my book. I laughed so much when I got to the conversations with Bud that I had tears streaming down my face. I could hear us saying all of those things together. I could hear myself saying BUD! and how well I remember him saying, "we got reamed! we got ripped!"

What a wonderful gift. I will cherish it always.

Thank you for taking the time to write down all of those memories by hand :)

You had some questions in the book, and here are my answers!

Love you,Rachel

First job-I think that Allyson and I started our babysitting business the summer after fifth grade. Mrs. Hawley knew us because she was a student teacher in Mrs. Johnson's class.I am now thinking about my entrepreneurial spirit and how it existed even back then, when we started our babysitting business.

M&M Twins-the oldest daughter was named Frances. She hated it when I'd come over because she knew Edwina was leaving. She was a real handful, and the only thing she liked was when I'd record Sesame Street and play it in their VCR. She would yell "F- YOU, Rachel," when I'd get to their house. The younger daughter was Becca, and she had all those beautiful blond curls.

Shoes-I don't know when they became an important fashion accessory for me. But, I remember how upset I was when those new shoes got dirty and I remember running all the way back home and how you brought me back to school and how odd it felt to walk in late. Authors note: Rachel had patent leather shoes and she had to walk in the grass and they got dusty.

I've given up all shoe vanity for the winter and am now wearing snow boots daily so that I won't slip on the ice or get snow inside my shoes when I'm scraping yet another round of snow and ice from my windshield.

Remember the summer you made me all those cute dresses and I had those pink pumps to go with the white dress that had the pink tie? Authors note: She discovered I could make four dresses for the price of one purchased at the store.

Soap Operas-You took notes on General Hospital for me. Renee McGhee is the one who got me hooked on the soaps. General Hospital was the first one and then I also got addicted to One Life to Live. I did not know that soap opera watching was a genetic trait. *teasing* Authors note: It was her grandmother who got started watching One Life to Live while eating her lunch delivered by Meals on Wheels.

Vic 20 I simply had the drive to learn how to write a program, so I taught myself how to do it. One of the best things you ever taught me was that I could teach myself anything I wanted to learn. There was a booklet that came with the Vic 20 that taught the basics of a program called Basic, so I studied it and then put it into practice. I don't know if you know that Allyson, Kevin, Bud and I spent hours trying to program their TRS-80. We even developed a shorthand for the code we were attempting to write. However, not one of those programs would ever run--the programs we wrote were too long and too full of errors. Authors note: Vic 20 was a computer unit on which Bud and Rachel played games. The game blew up when a very large, very cold soda, which was left on the ladder stairs to the loft got knocked over, killing the game and the TV all at the same time.

Bars in the Backyard-I do remember them, along with the swing set and the Rocket Ship. I think we must have had the best backyard ever. Oh, and the sand box. We'd spend hours sifting sand to make it really soft. We called it "sympathy." You asked me if I actually knew what that word meant, LOL. I didn't. Authors note: Rachel liked to play on the bars at school, we installed two heights of them at home. She made sympathy using a bright orange colander, a gift from the Easter bunny.

Novel Writing-I am amazed that people used to write books by hand. Author John Grisham wrote his first novel, long-hand, on yellow legal pads. I have often thought that I need more computer free days, but the thought of committing words to paper by hand is a giant mental block for me.

Kangaroos-We were such a clique, and with girls, it's just not going to work when people start getting gossipy about each other. The clique broke apart before high school, but then we tried to put it back together again but it was too late--we all had our own interests and were developing new friendships at that time. The best advice you and dad gave me was "what comes around, goes around." Well, I still have a problem with wanting to "share stories".

Libraries-Jaeme does not like to read. I hoped if I could find a series that she enjoyed that she'd get into it more. We finally found one last summer called "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and she's read almost every volume. I do remember the old library. They later turned it into a community center of sorts, and I took a drama class there (with Allyson Downs.)

Lunch Boxes-The lunch box had my name spelled out on the top with red felt like letters. The L fell off, so Bud started calling me Rach. He's the only one who'll I'll let call me Rach to this day, ha ha. Now I have a craving for Spaghettios because that's what I often got in my thermos when that bag would slide down the hall to me. Authors note: On days Old Trunks worked play ground duty at the elementary school, I would bring Rachel's lunch bucket to school and slide it down the hall. The good kids got to sit in the hall and work, she would intercept it. I had forgotten about her name being on it.

Heat-When I get cold, I still turn the heater up (almost) as high as it will go, ROFL. But not in the summer! Authors note: When the A/C was running and she got cold, she would turn the furnace on.

Can I?-I still say this, ha ha. Carlos teases me about it. All this holiday week, I was saying, "can we turn on the fireplace?" "Can we make coffee?" "Can we go to Ulta and see if they are open?"

Cleaning My Car-I did really well this summer. Now I keep telling Jaeme, "we'll clean out the car next __________________." It has not happened yet.

Old Trunks encourages all parents to make a memory journal for their children. Perhaps the feed back will be a tremendous blessing for you as well as a gift for them.

Monday, December 29, 2008


December 29

I like to be amazed at how a new situation sparks a memory. Actually, I love it!

Tom was talking to his oldest son who told his dad about how he was going the wrong direction and his child knew they were 'lost'. Bob went on to reminisce about how, as a little guy, he wanted to go to the store at the end of the block while visiting his grand parents and how he got lost because he went the opposite direction when he left the house.

Another concept that Old Trunks adores is when without standing on the table top and hollering, one picks up on the want/need/wish. For those of you who have family visit, you understand what I am talking about.

History: In 1979, Mother sent each of our family a Christmas stocking. Rachel's was a ballerina slipper, Bud's a sneaker, Ryen's a teddy bear, and mine was a Christmas tree. That means my tree and Ryen's teddy bear are nearly 30 years old.

The family complaint was that the Christmas tree gaped open and Santa's filling was not supported by the sock. And every year, regardless of which life time I was in, the complaint remained.

Last year, Sweet Thomas and dear son Ryen complained again. And I stated, "If you don't like it, do something about it."

We had made a trip to a local hardware store around the 10th December to get light bulbs, while there, Tom took time to look at all the socks and picked one out for me. I mentioned to Tom that Ryen may remember as well. While decorating, I tied it on the back of the dining room chair with a ribbon when I tied Ryen's on his chair and Tom's on his captain chair. I retired the Christmas tree.

Ryen designed an angel, made the pattern, sewed, dipped, dyed, and tied this lovely creature with a Santa pocket. It is precious and all of us are enthralled with the design, the talent, and the time he charged to making the angel, who, by the way, has a name, it is Pearl.

Included is a picture of him working at his nine foot table covered with pieces and parts of fabric as well as the floor. The picture says, "I'm not messy, I'm creative." The picture itself tickled me so I requested an 8x10 to put in his picture frame which sits on the corner table in the dining room with all the other precious people in our life including the message of not messy.

Old Trunks hopes you are a listener. It makes a mother and a wife feel very special.


Sunday, December 28, 2008


In the predawn hours of this day, December 28, my son is at the airport and will lift off in twelve minutes to wing his way back to San Francisco with a plane change in Denver. He will be home a few days, then fly to Peru on business.

While transporting back to the west coast, he will watch movies on his IPHONE and use IWEAR, a screen in side glasses and nap with his travel pillow.

A hundred years ago, if you went to visit at Christmas you may take a train and bring your own lunch to cut cost. If you traveled by train in winter at Christmas, you may find yourself in delay because of the snow on the tracks. Men would get off the train and dig out the tracks. Or there may be long waits in big terminals with granite floors and high ceilings with bouncing children who loved the space to run and play while the parent's sat stiffly waiting to board.

What is it about traveling that makes parent's pack food, regardless of the length of travel? Why do we think we need to pack energy food to stave off the hunger when airports have dozens of places to buy food and drinks?

I can almost see my grandmother with a carpet like bag in her lap. It would include food for the travel to St. Paul to see Grandpa's sister, Corina. What was in that bag, I wonder. Did she caring crocheting with her to keep her nervous hands busy? Perhaps the bag contained meat sandwiches on homemade bread, wrapped in waxed paper and tied with string. Was there a jar of coffee they would drink cold? Was there lefse? Cookies? Gifts? Did it last until they arrived in St. Paul? I am thinking they knew how to budget the food to last. If the boys were with them, be assured the food stuffs went to them first.

Ryen is a smart traveler. He doesn't have terrible things happen. It doesn't happen because he can flow. Even in high school, when the group of eight were stalled in Chicago for 23 hours because of some snafo, he kept his head when others did not. We offered to get him out of there and fly him home but he elected to stay with his group and offer a peaceful spirit to those who should have had crocheting for their nervous hands like Grandma did.

Weather is good from here to San Francisco. He has enough time delay in Denver if the flight there is late lifting off in Fargo. His plan is to veg out and sleep this leg of the flight. He will eat in Denver and arrive at his apartment by noon. Uneventful.

And, he has lefse.

Happy trails to all and crochet if you must.


Friday, December 26, 2008

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


"Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space". David Barry

"Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall". Larry Wilde

"One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas day. Don't clean it up too quickly". Andy Rooney

"Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer... Who'd have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?" Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

"There has been only one Christmas, the rest are anniversaries." WJ Cameron


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Old Trunks wishes each of you..........

A keen sense of reality - aware of real situations - objective judgement, rather than subjective

To see problems in terms of challenges and situations requiring solutions, rather than see problems as personal complaints or excuses

To appreicate the need for privacy and comfortable being alone

To be reliant on own experiences and judgement - independent - not reliant on culture and environment to form opinions and views

Not to be susceptible to social pressures - non-conformist

To be democratic, fair and non-discriminating - embracing and enjoying all cultures, races and individual styles

To be socially compassionate - possessing humanity

Accepting others as they are and not trying to change people

To be comfortable with oneself - despite any unconventional tendencies

To have a few close intimate friends rather than many surface relationships
To have a sense of humour directed at oneself or the human condition, rather than at the expense of others

To be spontaneous and natural - true to oneself, rather than being how others want

To be excited and interested in everything, even ordinary things be creative, inventive and original

To seek peak experiences that leave a lasting impression

Not just at Christmas, but always


Monday, December 22, 2008


When Grandpa and Grandma invited their sons and families to their home for Christmas Eve, supper together was part of the celebration. Only one year do I remember it was just for dessert and coffee. They made the announcement early and it felt odd to all of us. Old Trunks never knew the entire story.

Our family arrived a little late. We had celebrated at home and did the dishes before we went to town. Their was an odd spirit in the air when we arrived. Grandma, prone to pursed lips, was, indeed pursed lipped. Harry and his family were visiting quietly among themselves in the living room. Grandpa sat at the table drumming is fingers. And we bolted in laughing and wishing everyone MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

My parents talked about it as we drove around the city and looked at the Christmas lights. Grandpa was in his 80's by now, that should have been a hint for all of us. Why didn't our family potluck? The food could have been brought in; they could have hosted dessert. Was are family trying to be Mr. Fixit?

Yet, now, older and ahem, wiser, I am wondering if something set them off. Did someone hurt their feelings in some way? Where they too proud or too stubborn to talk about it? Or did the family think 'they would get over it'?

There are numerous blogs at this time of the year. The pain some of these families is huge. It seems as if what can be laid aside most of the year surfaces at Yuletide. If people have been rude and cruel the rest of the year, suddenly they are feeling slighted by their families. Will Christmas bring forgiveness from everyone? Are the people so vulnerable under the star of Bethlehem they feel exposed and become decent to their family members? Is the light so bright that when we ourselves are in the light we must forgive because of what the Light is?

Maybe it is a time of reckoning for us. Maybe between the cookies and fudge and twixt the tinsel and the tissue, we naturally think about the equation of friends made or lost. Maybe it is a human thing in a spiritual realm that allows us to peek into our dark corners with a mystical sort of flash light were we may need to look. MAY NEED.

And for folks who can not find gratitude on the first rung of the life scale, how are they going to reach the second? How can they even consider there is an ultimate goal?

Biological and Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth

Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability

Belongingness and Love needs - work group, family, affection, relationships

Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige, managerial responsibility

Self-Actualisation needs - realising personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences

Transcendence needs - helping others to achieve self actualisation

And I ask you again, what is cooking for Christmas?


Sunday, December 21, 2008



No, now think about it. What about after mail and before photographs, how would you describe your partner, friend, mate? It is a fair question. What would you want your family to know?

What if you moved away from home and lived several hundred miles away. If you wrote to your parents, what would you say? Would you list, say occupation? Living situation? It is a hard question, isn't it? But is it?

Here is a description of a women from the man writing to his family in 1890:

Maybe you would like to know what she is like. She is a school teacher, as is her sister. I do not think her father is living so there is just the two girls and the mother. They are Scotch Canadians. She is very small and very pleasant, a jolly little person with dark hair and brown eyes and a pug nose. She is not very homily, or rather one doesn't notice she is homily because she is pleasant. Her sister is quite pretty with light hair and blue eyes. So, who do you think he is going after? The homily one or the pretty one?

If you were going to write--in 25 words or less--a description what would you say?

Granted there are some butt ugly people in my family tree. They would scare anyone that didn't know them. But to use precious space to include homily, no, I don't think so. And I would not have introduced them by saying, "This is my mess of uglies great uncle." (grin)

When I think about my sweet Thomas, I am not thinking about his bald head, although in early conversations a decade or more ago, he did announce to me he had hair loss. There is the realism for you.

And just maybe what I would say about Tom are descriptions buried inside of me and not for public viewing.

Perhaps when you care about someone, whether a partner or a friend, you are, as the movie, "The Enchanted Cottage", where you see the beauty in someone else.

Mark Deming, All Movie Guide wrote, "This romantic fantasy was based on a popular play by Arthur Pinero. Oliver Bradford, played by Robert Young, is a young man who returned from World War II with severe facial scars; while he was engaged to be married before he left, he believes that no one could love him now, and he lives on the brink of suicide.

Oliver meets Laura Pennington played by Dorothy McGuire, a plain young woman who is convinced that her looks will never win her a man. These two lonely people marry, more out of desperation than love, and move into a small cottage which is all that remains of the large estate of Abigail Minnett who lost the rest of her property in a fire. The cottage has been the site of many happy honeymooners over the years, and inside its walls, Oliver and Laura discover that a magical transformation takes place; he regains the handsome features he once possessed, and she becomes beautiful. ..........the outside world does not recognize the beauty that they have found with each other.

If you can not find the words, then, at least, take the time to take them by the hand or ear and say you care.

Give the gift.


Saturday, December 20, 2008


A very strange accident befell Mrs. D on Wednesday last which, had it not been for her courageous conduct would, no doubt, have proved fatal to her life.

It appears she went on top of a straw covered stable in search of eggs; the straw giving way, she fell through and landed on the head of an ox that was tied in the stable.

At this unexpected presence the ox became greatly excited, hooked her and trampled upon her until her head was literally mashed and her face covered with blood. When consciousness returned, she saw the alternative of death or a desperate struggle for release. She wiped the blood which was freely flowing from her temples, out of her eyes, and seizing the maddened beast by the horns, raised herself up and climbed back on the top of the stable, through the hole that had let her down. She then succeeded in reaching the house and lay there for two hours before any one discovered her condition...A physician...found her head terribly mashed and that it was necessary to remove two pieces of the fractured skull.

The doctor reports hopefully on her case. Mrs. D is fifty-six years old and has enough grit to always take the dilemma, or ox, which ever it may be, by the horns and pull through....The world needs more women of that type.

Got the grit of this 125 year old report?



Friday, December 19, 2008


On this day in December of 1941, stores were selling a special black out paint--telling the public not to paint their windows with ordinary paint or enamel.

They said there was a special black out paint. It is a powder that is mixed with water and when the black outs are history, this interior only paint can be scrubbed off with soap and water.

Fabric stores offer a black sateen for interior decorations. It is used for black out draperies.

Yet, experts agree, the best method of blacking out the home during the black out tests, it is turn off all the lights.

The people of St. Peter encourage others to come to their city encase of an air raid. They have Seven Caves which can hold thousands of people. The caves are 75 to 150 feet below ground; cozy in the winter and even good in the summer during cyclone weather.

There are few of us who lived through the drills of WWII. Nor did we receive bank statements taped together rather than rubber banded due to the rubber campaign when nearly 300 ton was collected in Minneapolis. We didn't hear about Germans being jailed in St. Paul.

During this time, a mayonnaise plant began making gun shells and auto air cleaners made shell box liners. Families were encouraged not to make telephone calls on Christmas Eve or Christmas day to keep the lines open for defense activities.

But for our parents, they would remember laundries including the words to The Star Spangled Banner included with the bill. Minnesota Savings and Loan a first aid index.

A facetious army memo, author unknown, distributed this list to some servicemen in Minnesota. It is an indoctrination for return to the US.

"A typical American breakfast consists of such strange foods as cantaloupes, fresh eggs, milk, ham, etc. These are highly palatable and though strange in appearance, are extremely tasty. Butter, made for cream, is often served. If you wish some butter, you turn to the person nearest you and saw quietly, "Please pass the butter." You do NOT say, Throw me the goddam grease."

In the event the helmet is retained by the individual, he will refrain from using it as a chair, wash bowl, foot tub or bath tub. All these devices are furnished in the average American home. Iti s not considered good practice to squat Indian fashion in a corner in the event all chairs are occupied. The host will usually provide suitable seating.

American dinners, in most cases, consist of several items, each served in a separate dish. The common practice of mixing various items, such as corn-beef and pudding, or lima beans and peaches to make it more palatable, will be refrained from. In time, the "separate dish" system will become very enjoyable.

It is not proper to go around hitting every one of draft age in civilian clothes. He might have been released from service for medical reason; ask for his credentials, and if he can't show them, then and only then, go ahead and slug him.

Upon retiring, one will often find a pair of pajamas laid out on the bed. (Pajamas, it should be explained, are two piece garments which are donned after all clothing has been removed.) The soldier, confronted by these garments, should assume as air of familiarity, and act as though he were used to them. A casual remark, such as "My, what a delicate shade," will suffice. Under no circumstances say, "How in hell do you expect me to sleep in a get up like this."

We do not ration

We are in war

We appreciate the soldiers

We can't thank them enough

We hope they can all come home and tell us to throw the goddam grease.

Appreciate your freedom.


Thursday, December 18, 2008


Ever read those advertisements which are extras in the newspapers this time of year? Old Trunks and her sweet elf wrapped the last gift last night.

Page through the ads with me, won't you?

The first ad states to 'come to the right place' and that if using their charge card, you will be rewarded with triple points.

A model sits wrapped in a robe warmer than a coat and bare feet. The robe isn't necessary but I would take her feet, which have never seen a Ped Egg and all her toes are straight.

The store offers men's dress shirts a brand with sleeves that are not 32-33", rather about 30". BUT Tom would take their hands which do not get purple from the cold.

The entire stock of Christmas table linens are 60% off, wait until after Christmas, they will be 90% by the first of February.

There is a four page spread on fragrance. Give me only the memories of 20 Karat cutting loose under the seat in the Chevy on skip weekend or a mini wisp of Chantilly.

When Penney's advertises, "DOOR BUSTERS", I think about that poor man who was trampled by the stampede at Walmart. Skip JCPENNEY.

Sheels advertises a turkey cannon for $14.99, regularly $24.99. What is a turkey cannon? It is a metal device that goes into the cavity of the bird to make it cook from the inside. And of course, all of us want a key ring advertising North Dakota Universities, right?

At Sears you get double points on your purchases! AND, one can purchase 2 carbide blades on sale for $19.88. Shall we connect these blades with the turkey cannon and see where the meat flies?

And what about the magic of Macy's?

Or Expecting great things at Kohl's?

Although I am a product of my parent's, I do not shop as they did. Christmas shopping was dress to the nines on a Friday night and go out to eat. After supper, shop. Walk the streets of Thief River Falls and go in and out of stores like the Jewel Box and Ole Granum's Northern Supply. Or a dress shop or the drug store. In an hour, they were finished.

How did they do that? Limited buying for one. One gift per person, which was cherished. Grandpa Ranum got a new wool shirt and a new hat. One for his birthday and one for Christmas, which was on December 25. Uncle Bennie got a shirt. The boy cousins got choppers, which are mittens made out of deer hide. Cousin Judy got mittens. Okay, moving right along from Ole's to the Jewel Box in 1958, Greg and I got rings. At the other jewelry store, Daddy bought Mother more pieces of dishes or glassware to fill out one kind of collection or another. Daddy got Pendleton shirts from Mother. I can not remember what Grandma received from my parents or from Harry and Lillian.

What do you get for someone who claims they need nothing? And who said it was about need? Harp, Harp....Isn't it about knowing someone well enough to give a gift from some inside tract or off a hint you have heard throughout the year? Harp, Harp.....

Tom and I were talking at the table last night. He was saying that at one time the family and families got so big there were so many gifts purchased by family members who may well have spent the cash on their own children. He put a stop to the avalanche of gift buying. It is a delicate and complicated situation but it worked and everyone was okay with it.

Some families draw names. If there are 10 members, you give one gift. Some have a boy pile, a girl pile, and an adult pile. Some families, don't, won't, or can't do gifts. I can understand the don't and won't. For the life of me, I don't understand the can't.

We don't have to shop for an hour after dinner and purchase all gifts. We can shop a little each month. We can be clever and find really neat things for less than $10. The gift of giving, believe it or not, is NOT about one upmanship, it's about an extension of oneself. And what.........about the gift of friendship which is daily? What about a letter to a shut in monthly? What about dinner with an old friend? What about shoveling some one's driveway? Does it have to have a bow?

This Christmas, I hope each of you have a memory of a gift you were not expecting. I am hopeful you were surprised because you are worth it. I am hopeful something you received made you laugh or cry or somewhere in between.

I am hopeful that if you get socks for Christmas, you will find the toy in them by juggling them with a camera running. If you get a fishing rod, I am hopeful it comes with your own personal dream for the big bass in the spring. If you receive a paring knife, I am hopeful you have much to peel. And if you ask for shirts and get shirts remember that was your wish. And if you get a gift and have no clue as to why someone thought of you in such a way, look into yourself and realize that someone else knows you from another angle. Do not be dismayed if your parents give you toys, they are remembering a child ripping paper and simply can not let go of the image even if you are in your forties. And for those parents who give their children money, don't expect them to spend it on themselves, they will use it for their children. WHY? Because you have taught them to be givers but not taught them to be receivers.

Although we are told it is better to give than to receive, dear Ella amended that years ago: One gets the gift, the other gets the blessing.

Harp, Harp.

Come to the right place, it is all inside.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008


In a Letter to Son and Daughter-in-law, Old Trunks wrote:

I hinted I would visit with you about the great piñata caper last month. It came to me that piñatas would be a great gift for the children in the neighborhood and a great friend with young children. The only place they were available was at that time was a place called Haas Hardware, in Lawrence, KS, which had no hardware, only the most bizarre assortment of gifts and a very, very large woman who sat in the middle of the store in a swivel chair. From her perch, she could see every nook and cranny. The store was near the Varsity Theater, in the ten hundred block of Massachusetts.

We had first gone to the store to look for something unique for my parents, who were wintering in Arizona. That's where we found the Three Wise Men! And that is when I spotted the piñatas! We had seen them in Mexico when we were there in March of 1972 and they, like the ones at the hardware store, were crushed from shipment.

I figured if I made them and hung them up, I could preserve the delicate tissue loops. According to directions in a library book, one used strips of newspaper saturated with starch, carefully wrapped around a balloon; six layers of newspaper was the minimum number of layers. I would make 6-- for the families of Bonham, Lingle, Bishop, the school party where I was a room mother, Farrell, and one for the house.

Every day for most of a week, balloons were wrapped with soggy newsprint. The circle shapes were hung to dry. While they were drying, packages of red tissue were cut into 4” strips, folded in half and on the folds, cuts were made every each. After the cuts, the paper fold was reversed, making a poofy-like row of paper as wide as the tissue. Hopefully enough had been cut to made all of the piñatas.

Once the shell was dry, two holes were drilled on either side near the top of the balloon to string a cord to hang the piñatas. Half way down a 3 sided door was cut to put in the candy. I would need a bowl to set the shell in and lots of Elmer’s glue© and a good eye to dress the shell.

Once finished, I hung them on my side of the closet in the bedroom. As budget permitted, I added candy to each one. In the mid-seventies, one could buy a lot of candy for $5.00.

It was about a week before Christmas when I noticed that my son looked ill. He had blue circles under his eyes and was pale. He rubbed his nose continuously. What was he breathing? What was he eating? It was a mystery until I cleaned his room. Under his bed was a pile of candy wrappers. The kind of candy that was in the piñatas. The piñatas were nearly empty! Wellness returned a few days later when the culprit was out of his system. He rebuttles saying he and his friend put the wrappers back in the shells.

The families were encouraged to add a little more candy. For the Farrell’s, it became a tradition and even now, a piñatas is broken on Christmas eve. The fourth generation will break a purchased one this year.

What ever happened to the Wise Men? We shipped them to Sun City for Christmas that year. Mother named each of them accordingly: Gaspar, Balthasar, and Melchior.

Who would have ever thought the statues from the poorly lit hardware store in Lawrence, KS would have a treasured spot on the mantle in Thief River Falls, then follow a star to Fargo. It is a personal miracle and there is a fourth Wise Man, his name is Tom, but he doesn’t have his name written on his bottom.

Cherish each other.

Loving thoughts,


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Old Trunks is hopeful that in your lifetime you have grand memories of home made candy.

For me, there are several that pop up. Prompted by the sun gleaming on the lumps of snow after yesterdays blizzard.

One is Grandma Mae and her marvelous melt in your mouth divinity. Made totally by hand in a little kitchen without the equipment other than an apartment size gas stove and a lot of by hand stirring. It only emerged, as if magic, at Christmas time. She gave my dad a little box for Christmas, the box was an oleo box, wrapped in tissue paper and fastened with stickers. She did not put nuts in hers. Pop one in your month and let the sugar melt around your taste buds. Heaven.

On cold winter nights when car tires crunched along the side streets is when Daddy would get the urge for candy. My sweet tooth Father would gather sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and a pot and put it on the stove to boil. Now, for those of us who may have made candy, we know one of the cardinal rules is the sugar must dissolve and making candy includes beating it, unless you are using a 'new fangled method'. But skip all that, put it in the pan, boil it hard, pour it unto the oval meat platter and set the sugary goo in the snow bank to freeze five minutes. Let me tell you he was the first to admit Whitman's or the company that makes Nut Goodies would never have hired him as a candy maker. Once the frozen delight was brought it, those of us who wished, started from the edges of the platter eating the goop with a spoon. In a few minutes we were all sugared up, half the platter was left. In the morning it was dried out, we could cut it.
Where was the snowbank where the candy froze? Right next to the snowbank where the dog toileted. Times were different, weren't they?

Later, much later, the children's father took lessons from Mrs. Allen, a grand lady in the neighborhood who made marvelous divinity. She used black walnuts in hers. She made it very clear the sugar must be dissolved and the hot sugar mixture needed to be poured in a very thin stream into the egg whites. Beating was of utmost importance. Ryen, as an infant is pictured sitting in the rocking rocker with his dad while he stirred a batch of divinity. Mrs. Allen was a great teacher. Seems to me she taught Rachel how to make pie crust, too.

Do I make candy? No. Do I like candy? Yes. So, why don't I make some? It is on my list of things to accomplish. Meanwhile? I will remember Daddy saying, "Do we have any candy?" The pattering to the kitchen in his wool shirt and twill wool pants with a hanky peeking out of his back pocket to rattle the pans. And I will remember Grandma Mae mixing mixing mixing and dear Mrs. Allen with her sweet little voice except when she hollered at WALTER!

Divinity. Divine.













When is the last time you used that word? I hadn't heard it for years until Shirley used it in an e-mail.

"V was here bright and early this morning to get the tractor and snow blower to clean out his yard. He also does a couple of his neighbors yards. An older couple and a widow that don't have a prayer of getting out or anyone getting in without the snow blower. They always want to pay him, but K has taught him over the years that stuff like that is "neighbor work", and you don't get paid for being a good neighbor. V and K always get fresh homemade buns from the widow and delicious cookies from the couple at Christmastime. These poor older folks that have to try to survive on their SS! "

And I teased her about getting home made buns because my Sweet Thomas was being neighborly as he cleared the driveway of the woman to the east and didn't get any hot buns! BUT then, he saw a lady to the west trying to lift the heavy snow with a shovel. After he got the sheared pin replaced, he did her driveway.

And Sue, was neighborly and brought him an apple pie.

Shirley wrote, NEIGHBORLY ROCKS!!!


Try neighborly.


Monday, December 15, 2008


For those of us who watched "Little House on the Prairie" or read books about the brutal North Dakota winters in L. Snelling's books, let me tell you, it is real.

It this modern day world, we don't have to go to bed to be warm. We don't have stories to tell our children about how we cooked on the front side and froze on the back side by the wood stove in the kitchen. There are no buckets of water which froze in the house over night. We didn't go to bed in the attic or loft under mounds of covers to look up at the ceiling and see the frost between the roof boards. We aren't tough, either because we don't have to be.

Will us who live in these northern Minnesota/North Dakota snow banks be slaves to Jack Frost for the winter?

Sarah Berman writes in January of 1930:

"The cold weather has imprisoned me in a cold house with the outside so cold, I have qualms about going out to see Jenny t her home and thaw out. I am affectionate by nature but I rebel against hugging the radiators all day, for even while we get thoroughly baked at bottom we remain raw on top.

No, for hugging purposes I have definitely decided, radiators leave much to be desired. They, again, who has time to be romantic? I have to sit at the phone all morning expatiating the excellencies of the American Jewish World, {it is her job to do phone sales}, and the desires of its presents in every Jewish home regardless of interest, money or brains, or in spite of brains.

All of this keeps me chained to this cold telephone with the chilly drafts from the imperfectly closed doors of the sun room. I am freezing my feet and chilling my ardor."

Note: I think what she may mean by chilling my ardor is the passion to do phone sales while being so cold, as ardor means passion or heat.

Old Trunks hates the howling wind. Our home is warm, there are no drafts but when those big gusts come from the north, northwest, the house shutters as the tempest whips around the corner down the driveway and out into the street.

At least we don't have to go feed stock and unlike the winters of the 1880's, we won't get lost and freeze to death.

Stay warm.


Sunday, December 14, 2008


They wrote in pencil and never sealed the envelope; they soaked off the old stamp. Both of the families knew the game. The cards would go back and forth between Rosewood to St. Paul and back until the signature area wore out from one too many times erased. Grandpa and Severt exchanged the same two ties for years. If that is crass to you, think of it this way: At least they remembered.

We call it re- gifting now, in the days of the depression, it was a financial endeavor. Remember these people at Christmas time with a card and letter. The letter was new it was the card was not. And yes, they seemed to have more time with less modern equipment to work for them.

In the eighties, the concept would happen again this time it was called recycling. Ladies in groups called circles in churches cut up old cards and made new ones by pasting a message on the inside as well as a picture on the outside. They were sold at senior centers for considerably less than an original card. The card was made and considered, "when you care enough to send the very best", which is Hallmark's motto.

Fifty days before my 50th birthday the recycled cards wishing me a happy birthday started, each card had $1 attached. It became a run for the mail box! It was the perfect gift for someone like Old Trunks. It was a daily giggle.

A friend in Wisconsin stated she was not sending cards this year. For her, it is arthritis in her hands. She does not have the computer savvy to set up an envelope address file and print. She doesn't grasp the email card concept. Yet, I know that a simple email which wishes our household Merry Christmas as the same loving sentiment as a hard copy card.

The clerk at the post office gave Old Trunks a guide board so we would know how fat/or thin the cards have to be to make it through the automatic sorter. The post office does not honor HAND CANCEL or PHOTOS ENCLOSED. If one needs anything protected, it needs to be reclassified into an envelope such as a bubble package. I will flow with that, yet I am old enough to remember when all you needed was the name and if local, write city. Unsealed: 2 cents. Sealed: 3 cents.

Old Trunks wonders if 2 cents equals 42 cents now. That is, has our dollar inflated so much that wages really aren't greater just tacked with higher numbers as are stamps?

Where are you on card sending? And why.


Saturday, December 13, 2008


None of us can move through a holiday without thinking about the people who have died and are no longer with us. Perhaps it is long enough ago and the pain has been replaced by sweet memories.

For those of you who, like myself, have a friend who has had a special person decease in the last year, then, I am certain, you share their pain with them during the hardest holiday of all, Christmas.

Old Trunks is thinking about her aunt. Harry died on New Years Day. The next Christmas at Grandpa and Grandma's she was there. Some one started playing "Blue Christmas" on the guitar, not knowing about his death. He was simply told, any song but that one.

And Ella, the lady I have written about so much, perished in April. On December 3, her family certainly was thinking about birthdays they had celebrated with her in the past. In 1967, her husband died and she came to Kansas to with her children who lived there. We all agreed to give her a mother's ring. It meant a lot to her. It meant a lot to us. Clarity, Beauty, two dignities, and a strength.

It is this same family that took my Mother and our family under wing when Daddy died at Yuletide in 1981. And Mother, like Ella, came to Kansas that first Christmas after to be with her family.

Today, I am thinking about Ella. and her family. I am thinking about a friend in Kansas; her Dad died this fall. I am thinking about a local friend; her husband perished last spring.

Who knows when we are ready for bling-bling and neon colored lights. When do people jingle after loved ones have deceased? How do they share the miracle of Christ's birth without those special people they have celebrated with for years? We just do.

And, yes, even Old Trunks knows life goes on. And Old Trunks knows that sometimes we are honored to be there to flip that switch and if only for a moment, hear laughter and see joy.

Reach out.


Friday, December 12, 2008


A friend wrote to say that their house burned down on this day twenty eight years ago. All the gifts were wrapped and under the tree. She went on to say since her kids were snoopers, she numbered the gifts although they had figured out who got what. The fire destroyed everything, including the family pet.

She reminded Old Trunks that one year, we too, did the number system. Like her children, ours were detectives, first grade. By the time 7 PM on Christmas Eve arrived, they needed no direction or my carefully guarded index card.

One year at Christmas time, the kids had been arranging, rearranging, shaking, smelling, and feeling to the point it was just nuts. At supper that night, at least a week before the gift opening time, we told them we did not wish them mental anguish and since all the presents were bought and no more would be bought, they could, if they wished, open every one of them. On Christmas Eve, we would have a quiet dinner and read the Bible story.

They sprang from the table and began to sort and rip. Rachel tore one piece off her gift of "Little House on the Prairie" book set and started to cry. Bud opened one and stopped. They both re wrapped their gift. They had the option of early opening and chose not to do it.

The next year, we decided to celebrate Christmas in some little way each week of December. If, for example, Christmas fell on Monday, then each Monday previously, we would do a gift exchange. The gift could not be more than 50 cents. We drew names after our Monday night dinner and gift exchange. Did it help to reduce their anxiety? Perhaps, not. It did, however, make the celebration of gift opening last longer than 25 minutes!

Today's blog would have no significance if I didn't tell you about the grandma box. Ella did not wrap gifts. She packed them all in a box, each gift was labeled with a little hand cut piece of paper and attached to the gift with a stick pin. There was no snooping. The box was not opened until Christmas. It was for our family, the golden egg, we never knew what was in that box. One picture shows us with all of our hands on it, as if to say, "Ready, set, tear." Once the seal was opened with a knife, we proceeded with caution because of the pins. There may have even been a note telling us to be careful. Some years, we opened it first, others it was the dessert of the gifts.

Do you have ready, set, rip memories? How quickly those years pass.


Thursday, December 11, 2008


Old Trunks is organizing for the new year. You know those kinds of files one has for 2009 in the front of the drawer. They call them ticklers and they are supposed to annoy you so you watch them. And what about those warranty files that are long out of warranty?

A greater sin is the TICKLER SUITCASE! YES! The genealogy one with maps and spreadsheets and volumes of notes from a few hundred hours at the library.

No, it does not include photo albums sorted by family. It does not include 12 volumes of blogging. Do I know what is in it?

That brings me to my next point. I am a list maker. I am an obsessive list maker. I have a TICKLER folder for ancestry! Speaking of lists, one of my projects for Christmas required remembering. The best way I found to remember about 75 memories for three people was to use sticky notes. All I needed was a mini prompt and when I sat down to write, YES WRITE, I had my lists and also one in the back of each book.

The original Post It note was invented in the 60's but didn't really get a good start until they used Idaho as a trial center and gave them away.
They took off in 1980 and since the patent is off, they are now available and made by other companies. Don't tell me you don't have sticky notes! :)

Although we tossed the digital cameras which did not work, I have a CAMERA suitcase Tickler too. Well, electronic, is better. Only for the stuff not used regularly BUT I AM NOT READY TO CALL IT A CAMERA GRAVEYARD! (Yes, I meant to talk loudly).

Tickering in Fargo and making a note of it!


Wednesday, December 10, 2008


A New Yorker asked what where Uffda Tacos. Old Trunks figured a form of Navajo fry bread picked up on and was served at the Minnesota State Fair and spread from there. There were no Uffda Tacos in Thief River Falls when I lived there but I have had them in the parking lot of a chiropractor's office on the corner of Third and Horace, (maybe). NOT maybe I had it, maybe that is the cross street.

In Kansas, they called them Indian Tacos. They had them at Baldwin at the Maple Leaf Festival. They may have made the batter, or they may have bought frozen dough, cut, and rolled it into a rough circle and deep fat fried. The ones in Baldwin were beans, lettuce, and cheese and all the taco sauce allowed. I wish they would have used a slotted spoon when they took the beans out of the pot, the fried bread would be less soggy.

Old Trunks is thinking about where this really started and why. This disastrous attempt at peace led to the “Long Walks”. In September 1863, Kit Carson (1809-1868) was dispatched into Navajo land to retrieve a surrender. When no Navajo came to meet with him, he ordered the burning of the land. Attempts were made to starve out the Navajo, and many were captured and taken to Bosque Redondo near Fort Sumner. Hundreds starved on the 300 mile walk, and more would die later in the crowded and disparaging conditions. Navajo were placed with the Mescalero Apache were home peace was often not the case. The camps were meant for 4,000 to 5,000 people, yet there were now over 9,000 people, and supplies were meager.

The government supplies of lard, flour, salt, sugar, baking powder or yeast, and powdered milk were often rancid. Fry bread came from these few foods provided during the 4 years of captivity. Since that time, it has become common food at most all PowWows of numerous tribes.

To some, Indian Fry Bread is a sacred tradition. It is to be consumed by the people until the earth has again become purified.

The Navajo taco was voted the State Dish of Arizona in a 1995 poll conducted by the Arizona Republic newspaper. They are also popular attractions at many fairs, festivals, and outdoor summer shows held in the southwest. People will line up to wait their turn to buy some freshly made tacos.

Indian tacos are NOW combination of beans or ground beef, chopped lettuce, sliced tomato, shredded Cheddar cheese, and optional green chile atop plate-sized rounds of crispy Navajo or Indian fry bread. No plates or silverware are need, as you just fill the fry bread with your desired filling, roll it up, and eat.

Make me hungry just thinking about them!


Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I am dedicating this post to all of us who are butter eaters and NOT oleo margarine eaters.

Although many of us raised in Minnesota knew oleo to be a off white blob in a sealed bag with a red M&M like button somewhere, oleo in 1918, was being sold.

It is said, according to Minnesota Historical Society, Helen Richardson papers, that her father found out that more oleo was being sold than butter AND it was being used in the dining rooms at the University of Minnesota where his daughter, Helen, was attending.

When her father stormed into the deans office with blood in his eye, the dean told him he knew nothing of it and if the teachers and dining room where using it to cut cost and keep down the price of board, so be it.

Mr. McGuire insisted the students be allowed to vote to have which ever they wanted. (Underlined, Underlined). The vote was taken, 40 voted for butter and 180 voted for oleo. ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Shirley and I will stick to the butter, Thank you very much! We will say, "Well, butter my biscuits NOT oleo my biscuits.


Monday, December 8, 2008


Old Trunks is looking at a picture of a group of people looking in awe at a Christmas tree in 1912.

There are fourteen people in the picture and none of them are tots. That surprises me because the toys under the tree are for kids. Little puppies and little dishes as well as a book with Scrooge across the front. There are also several pictures of people, unwrapped in ornate frames. Oh! I see a xylophone! There are cloth bags hanging on the tree.

The decorations are strings of popcorn and berries. Let me try to explain another decoration: Do you remember making May baskets by rolling paper to be shaped like an ice cream cone? Those are plentiful on the tall tree which brushes a twelve foot ceiling. Another decoration is those honey comb bells, which as we all know, don't fair well from year to year.

Perhaps these people are enthralled because the lit candles are glowing. Maybe they all have a section they are to watch in case of fire!

Most of the women are dressed in high collar dresses with there hair in an upsweep. All the men are dressed in suits with high collars. All the men's hair from this angle of the picture are sheared above their ears. Of the two younger men, one wears a loosely tied tie, he is wearing knickers, heavy socks and work like boots. Beyond the setting of the tree is a bed with a picture of a women and a small child in an oval frame as well as a picture of a flower in a square frame.

If you have pictures of your family around a tree, what is there? What can you imagine. I am in a funk that the kids that will get the toys aren't in the room to see what the tree looks like! Perhaps this was the era when the tree was put up on Christmas eve while the children had visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads!

Joy to all that enter in.