February 2021

~~ a calendar quindecim ~~

by tkbrown
Winter Wonderland
January moves into February,
and winter has settled in.
Sunny skies are often cloudy;
snow is on its way again.
Wind is blowing, howling--
a reminder to stay in and warm.
Hot soup will tame stomach's growling
and the goosebumps on my arm.
Awakening to a new day dawning,
out the window is now a wonderland,
a roaring fire in the stove is warming,
novelty in the air is quite grand.
Being snowed in can be so charming
if we fill the time with games, reading--
cooking memories for future sharing.

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Photo Above: by Long Luc @Unsplash.com.

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My Morning Do . . . Down on the Farm — I

~~ by tkbrown

19 November 2020 — From time to time, I begin to think anew upon the days when I was young, the things I did, the things I learned–things most folk today would have no idea how to do. I am thankful for those days, and I have fond memories of the learning, the doing, and the being a part of . . . whatever process was taking place.

I grew up on a farm in the middle of Brown Hollow in the heart of the Ozark Mountains–Southen Missouri, USA. We worked eighty acres–the back forty belonged to us, and the front forty belonged to my uncle. My uncle’s forty acres had an old clapboard house that served as our home. Life was not easy on the farm. We grew most of our food, herded cattle, sheep, a pig sty, rabbits, chickens, ducks, turkeys, guineas–you name it, we probably had it at some point in time–not really, but it often seemed to be the case.

Each summer, we grew a ten-acre garden and a small (probably an acre or so) kitchen garden right behind the house. Five acres of the main garden were dedicated to vegetables of various sorts. Each year, this section included some new vegetable. My Mama loved trying new vegetables–most often chosen from the Henry Fields Seed Catalog, the Burpee Seed Catalog, or from a brother or some neighbor’s son who were selling seeds as an FFA Project (Future Farmers of America). Through her venturesome nature I got my first exposure to Kohlrabi, Rutabagas, Peanuts, Beets, and learned of the many and varied types of tomatoes, green beans, etc. When it came time to plant or hoe, those rows seemed to never end. The remaining five acres were planted in corn and potatoes. The corn was mainly used to feed the stock during the colder months, but part of it was put into the freezer or canned to be eaten with family meals.

The potatoes were one of our staples. Our evening meals almost always consisted of cornbread and potatoes along with other filling, stick-to-the-ribs type foods–i.e., beans of some sort. The potatoes were typically boiled–with or without the jackets (peels)–mashed, fried, or creamed. We never had fancy food, but what we had was prepared and served with love. Since I was the seventh of nine living children, we all pitched-in and helped cook and clean up afterward. Teaching us how to cook took much of Mama’s time, but she made it seem like we were learning on our own–I still have not figured out how she did that.

My earliest memories of cooking began around the age of four. We had an old round oak, pedestal table where Mama did most of her biscuit making, and other baking preparations. When family would come from out of state or out of county, they always asked for her hand-slung biscuits. Each was about three inches in diameter and about three inches high. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, she would cook twelve biscuits–four rows of three. Mama was famous for her biscuits.

We had an old empty lard can big enough to hold about forty to fifty pounds of flour. With nine people to feed, that did not last long. Many breakfasts boasted Mama’s biscuits with eggs or gravy–or both. During the winter, we usually ate oatmeal with those biscuits.

When seh was prepping food to cook, I would sit on the lard can–which also served as my seat at the dinner table–and watch her prepare those biscuits. She would let me dip the flour out of the can for her to sift, and as I learned the process, I was allowed to sift too. When she made short-bread or cornbread, I could help stir. I have no doubt this was the beginning of me loving to cook. As I was learning to cook, I took the experience outside and blended it into playtime by making mudpies and all sorts of goodies to be served to a make-believe family at a make-believe table. As I grew older, instead of mudpies, I made cakes, pies, cookies, coffee cakes, etc. which were eaten at my real-family mealtime. I became known in the community for my cakes. There were those who would make a special trip to get a piece of cake if they knew I was baking. This was quite a feat in a rural community with very few telephones. This says even people from the community encouraged skills which were above average. Cooking has been a hobby of mine since that time.

I remember when I was four years old, we were preparing for an especially difficult winter when the money was tight. Daddy went to the old smokehouse and brought-out an old, old, hand-grinder for corn and other grains. We used it to grind corn for cornmeal. The grind was very coarse, more like grits than cornmeal, but it worked. It was an interesting learning experience for a four or five year old.

The old smokehouse was built using 1/2 inch x four- or five-inch boards about seven feet long. These were nailed side by side onto the frame. The roof was aluminum colored tin sheets nailed to the trusses which were cross braced with 2 x 4s cut to fit. The wood was very porous from age and weathered to a gun-metal gray. When Daddy was a child (during the early twentieth century), the old smokehouse was truly used as intended–to smoke meats. It was one room with a flue in the roof which allowed the smoke to escape. I seem to remember, when I was very young, the door was attached with straps of leather. At some time during my early years, those straps were replaced with long, angled, black-looking steel hinges attached to the outside. During my childhood, the old smokehouse served as a storage shed for tools and other items that were beloved but no longer used. This is also where we kept the gardening tools–i.e., hoes, rakes, spades, picks, shovels, etc. Gardening was hard work, but the fresh produce was wonderful. I loved it.

The eggs we had for breakfast were most often laid by hens on the farm. They were grain fed, free range. We found laying nests in some of the strangest places, and the eggs were delicious. Sometimes, they were quite large. Once in a while, we would get one that had two yolks, These were typically a bit larger than the regular fare. When there was an excess of eggs, Mama would break enough for a meal of scrambled eggs into a plastic freezer container and freeze them. In wintertime, when the hens were not laying many eggs due to the cold, we would use those eggs–usually on the weekend.

Mama and Daddy would purchase two or three flats of baby chickens each year. We would tend to them as they grew. When they were about six weeks old, they were good to eat as fryers. We would kill, pluck, clean, cut and freeze enough to last most of the summer. During the fall, we would repeat the process with older hens and roosters which were used for chicken soups, chicken and dumplings, and fried chicken during the colder months.

We had a small herd of beef cattle and a small herd of milking cows. Daddy and my brothers would milk the cows each morning and night. We took out what we needed for the family, and the rest was stored in ten gallon cans which were kept in a cooling tank. The milkman would come twice a week, pick up what we had in the cooler and leave the empty cans for more milk. The cream on this milk ranged from an inch and a half thick on top of the milk to three inches thick. We skimmed most of the cream off to make hand churned butter. We often kept a gallon or two in the freezer. When Mama made grape dumplings in the winter months (using the half-gallon jars of grape pulp she had canned the previous summer), this frozen cream was scooped out and served atop the dumplings. Mmmmmm!!! This was some good eatin’ on a cold winter night.

There is so much more I could tell, but this gives a general synopsis of life “Down on the Farm” when I was young.

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Photo Above: by Gabriel Jiminez @ Unsplash.com.

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My Morning Do . . . In Memoriam

Mac Davis and Helen Reddy

~~ by tkbrown

30 September 2020 — Two very potent Singer-Songwriters in the United States Country-Pop Genre of the 1970s have died: Mac Davis and Helen Reddy. I graduated high school in May 1972 and married in June 1972. I am a country girl through and through with a bit of pop, Rock ‘n Roll, Jazz, Rhythm ‘n Blues, Hard Rock and even Heavy Metal; I guess the biggest influence on me as a person has come from Christian Hymns. I grew up in the country, and like Barbara Mandrell — “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool.” With all of this musical influence in my life, how could I help but write poetry and song lyrics too?

The influence of Helen Reddy’s song, “I Am Woman,” cannot be ignored. I think she stirred a tiny bit of rebellion in me. Her song made me realize I was strong and could survive whatever came along! I remember cooking and cleaning while singing this song when my children were young. She was among the first women to write and sing about the strength women possess.

Mac Davis’ “Lord It’s Hard to Be Humble,” was a song I heard at least several times a week. He wrote at least two of my favorites recorded by Elvis Presley: “In the Ghetto,” and “A Little Less Conversation.” He wrote for many of the top names in Country Music; so, many of his tunes were among those I sang regularly at home.

For the two of them to have died on the same day is a bit uncanny, and it touches my heart. I have always loved to sing. I grew up with sisters and a mother who all loved to sing; so, we turned on the radio, and we sang. I love the oldies. I love the songs my Mama loved. I love the songs my Daddy loved. I love the songs my siblings loved, and I love the songs my children and grand children love and have loved. So, the deaths of two of my favorite Singer-Songwriters creates a bit of nostalgia for me. I guess I am getting old, huh???

Thank You all for putting up with my memories today! Blessings!!!

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My Morning Do . . . “Losses”

~~ by tkbrown
19 September 2020
Midst all the grieving and lamenting
with such intensity the heart doth ache.
Whom can I trust? The pain, the not feeling
is more than this old, feeble soul can take.
One disaster hits, and then another.
Before I can stand up straight, I smother
the screams of anguish inside, and I hide
the pain because my neighbor cannot find
half of her belongings. How can I scream?
I need to be strong and help mend the seam
the storm ripped open before something else
renders it irreparable. Immense
are the threats to my survival, but I
am not important right now, and I sigh--
deeply, longingly--and look to the sky.

There is death and dying all around me.
Ash and charred wood, far as the eye can see
and I wonder, how will it ever be
the same; and I just want to run, to flee
and forget the loss stretching, engulfing
all. No home, no  business, no feeling
to express the emptiness entrenching
the dried riverbed; ash coating, drifiting
between the stones--gray, forlorn, seemingly
afraid to hope for better day. Achingly
eyeing the chard remains, desperately
recalling beauty--incongruently.
This is not a scene one would ever want
to revisit. Even new growth could not
erase the scars, the memories so scant.

As I contemplated the losses our country
and my fellow-citizens have experienced this week--
from fires and storms,
I grieved with them--for them;
and I penned these words
as an expression of my condolences.

To those not suffering loss at this time,
if you are ever in the path of such powerful forces,
evacuate!

Leave hearth and home!
No material belongings are worth your lives!
This cannot be stressed too much. 

The country, the world is already reeling
from unfathomable loss,
and the grieving process has begun.

The five stages of grief:
Denial,
Anger,
Bargaining,
Depression,
and Acceptance
have begun.

No two persons experience them in the same order
or to the same depth.
Oftentimes more than one can be seen at the same time.

Therefore,
no two countries will experience them the same.

Denial is not yet past--for us--
here in America!
The Anger has begun,
mostly in the form of rioting,
looting,
violence,
and mayhem
focusing on other areas
rather than the death and dying
all around us
directly related to coronavirus--

in our families
and in society.

So, the Denial has not passed.
It is still going on
along with the Anger,
and some Bargaining.

Expressions of Anger are being blamed
on events not truly related
to society's loss from the pandemic.

It is hard to separate personal loss
from societal loss.

Is that even possible?
I don't think so. 

Be strong enough to feel--more than the anger!
Be strong enough to heal--more, more than yourself!
It will take introspection refueled
to collectively grieve and to rebuild.

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Photo Above: by Dylan Nolte @Unsplash.com.

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Source: Kubler-Ross, M.D. and D Kessler. (August 2014). “On grief & grieving: Finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss.” Scribner. New York. (16 September 2020).

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When ‘Age’ Sets In . . .

~~ by tkbrown
When someone you love gets old
and can't do things they used to do,
especially when it's really hot--or cold,
how does that feel inside of you?
If grandma used to get down on the floor
to play and color and laugh with you,
maybe she walked with you out the door
to see the outside and what others do.
Maybe it hurts to see mom in pain
knowing she will ne'er be the same again.
That should not keep you apart from her--
spending less time will cause memories to blur--
when the time comes you can see her no more
you will wish you had piled up mem'ries before.
So, e'en though it hurts, go knock on that door;
make some good times, do things with her.
Play a card game, cook some food!
Write down her recipes when it's really good.
Talk about things she used to do
When her mom and dad were living too.
Talk about what she did in school.
Did she protest or obey each rule?
Ask how life was different then.
Would she want life to be like that again?
Write down what she says so you won't forget.
Someday you'll read them and won't have to fret
about not remembering things she said
of her young children or the day she wed..
What did mom do when she was young--
her hobbies, talents, and songs they sung.
How did she and her siblings act
when things went bad -- fiction or fact?
How did they learn what had been done--
in order to deal with the one
who was the true perpe'traitor--
leaving others guilty no more.
All memories--both good and bad--'
will, one day, be treasured and spread
forth for perusal tenderly
when mom is no more here to see.
Only then will you know how true
your heart was wrapped in loving hue.
Only then will memories held
be treasured, embraced--with you meld.

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Photo Above: by Cassandra Ortiz at Unsplash.com

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Calendar Quindecims June

by tkbrown
Vacations, picnics, and honoring Dad
are bits of fun we are wishing for now,
but gloom and doom hover, keeping us sad,
longing for days with wild oats to sow.
Summertime is wont to be filled with fun,
pleasure-filled hours for yon sweet memories,
for loving anew, basking 'neath warm sun,
taking advantage of sea surfing waves.
How long 'til normal waltzes through the sand,
enjoying family as we once did . . .
strolling through the park, walking hand-in-hand,
dining-in sans limiting safety bid.
Covid-19 has changed the way of life,
taught us to search out the oboe and fife,
enjoying quiet, paint with palette knife.

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Image: 'Chasing Waves' - Saona Island; Dominican Republic
Photo by: Kamil Kalbarczyk @Unsplash.com

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Enjoy 'This Christmas' Now

by tkbrown

With ‘Christmases Past’
all wrapped up at last,
let us rejoice in this day
and remember to pray!

‘This Christmas’ is now;
so, why all the row
about all that was wrong
with ‘last Christmas’s song?’

The loved ones you know
love for you to show
the love in your heart;
so, give it a start!

Call someone today
just to say “Hey!”
Let them share in your ‘cheer’
throughout the New Year!

We all know ’twas sad,
those gifts that were bad,
but the past is all gone now,
bring glad tidings in tow.

What was done is all done;
I want to hear of it none!
So, when I open my door,
please, don’t be a boar!

Let’s enjoy the time we have
and ne’er need apply the salve;
create Happy Memories that will tear
when we recall again next year!

The ‘time’ that we now share
should be our only care;
’cause it is all we know,
and it may ‘ever be’ so!

Don’t waste the time we have,
or taint the current rave.
Just share your heart with me,
we’ll place New Memory on the tree!

Merry Christmas!!!!

Thanksgiving . . .

~~ by tkbrown ~~
Thanksgiving comes 'round but once in a year;
families gather to engage in prayer
for all new blessings received with much care.

Food will be eaten, much has been spread
it seems everywhere except on the bed,
a colorful view -- yellow, green and red.

There is so much food, it is hard to choose --
a bit of this, a bit of that -- a ruse,
fanfare tries hard to not indulge abuse.

Family time for all, with love is cast
to the forefront instead of placing last --
so much sharing to recover the past.

It's hard to slip even a word edgewise,
and many a word we must now excise;
do not interrupt, it would not be wise.

Keep this and that under your wide-brimmed hat,
because saying it might create a spat --
one surely would not want the guild of that.

Memories are made for all to recall,
and pictures are posed to hang on the wall --
festivities grand are enjoyed by all.

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Notes: A seven-stanza triplet is chosen for this poem. Both the English triplet and the Italian tercet consist of three-line stanzas. The Italian terset originated first and encompasses many poetic forms.

The original form consisted of three lines with ten or twelve syllables each and varied rhyme schemes. The more structured English triplet consists of three ten or twelve syllable monorhymed lines (monorhymed: rhymed with a single repetitious end sound). The poem may consist of any number of stanzas.

Other forms of the tercet include the haiku, the senryu, the Villanelle and the Terza Rima. The tercet in varied forms was favored in Romance literature of the Middle Ages.

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Sources:
Eds. (2019). Literary Devices: Definition and Examples of Literary Terms, “Tercet.” (3 November 2019). https://literarydevices.net/tercet/.

McKinney, Carla Jean. (25 July 2019). Pen & the Pad. “What is a Triplet Poem?” (3 November 2019). https://penandthepad.com/triplet-poem- 10004959.html.

Tinker. (2 June 2009). Poetry Magnum Opus. “III. Three Line Construction.” (3 November 2019). http://www.poetrymagnumopus.com/topic/1008-iii-three-line-construction/.

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Image Above: by Geordie @ pixabay.com.

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Calendar Quindecims – September 2019

by tkbrown

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September
The waning days of September
bring memories from days of yore,
of growing-up, learning the ways
employed by those living before.
Comforts not thought to be quite new
by those who enjoy them today —
were considered luxury then
and wood heaters merely cliche.
Summer ends with fall equinox,
cooler nights bring welcome relief,
people start thinking to months ahead
when holidays will seem too brief.
Time will become holiday blur
as days and nights begin to whirr —
and suddenly appears New Year.

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Photo above:
Fall Foliage Homestead -- by Matthew Pla @ Unsplash.com.

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