Tuesday, June 25, 2013

In a Minnesota clime

By Kevin Schmitt

In a Minnesota clime

Where you spend a lot of time

Bending lumbars with the tire testing snow

The hardest thing I've done

Was a T.C. distance run

26.2 damn miles with a friend in tow

He was Irish more than not

From a bloomin crazy lot

Of Leavitts that had moved to Shakopee

He had many skills to show

Many trophies in a row

But he was a little daft as you will see

Gifted student with the books

But he earned some nervous looks

When he bought himself a myth of history

Fast draw holster and a gun

Gave him hours of noisy fun

Till one day he put a bullet above the knee

Never helping to forget

Always teasing you can bet

But what the hell, you gamble when you're free

But a safety tip or two

Helps with hobbies old and new

So I get to keep my limbs while being free.

Kevin Schmitt lives in Minnesota and has been a factory worker for thirty-five years. His hobbies are camping, cross country hiking, kayaking, and playing the Boehm type flute (Irish folk music and marches.) When the weather is too God awful for anything else, he writes and practices a bit of Karate kata. He is not a cool person, and he is aging rather quickly.

Editor's Note:  Kevin has also authored a number of stories and novels, including the well received (and published hereThe Bear and Eagle Affair and Boot Print in Time.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Homing Signals of the Soul

by Sheila O'Handley

Upon returning from a trip, whether short or extended, who among us have not said, “oh, It Is so good to be home.” There is something profound in that saying, as there is also, in the expression, “There’s no place like home.” The word home surely means different things to different people, just as experiences of coming home feel different to different people and feel different at different times during life’s journey. The experience of home and of home coming we can relate to, simply because they are spiritual archetypes of being human. They also have had an important place in mythology, psychology, history, religion, politics, art and literature.

 If we were to push the metaphor of home and home-coming a little further, maybe quite a distance, and ask, what the homing signals of the soul might be, what would they look like, and feel like?  What might the return to the emotional and spiritual aspects of the soul/self look like?  What would the inner voice sound like if you decided to listen and what would you speak to your inner self?   How would you remember, and what would you remember in the return to your soul’s home, your authentic self?

The homing signal of inner quiet, where one experiences  a  dis- ease, not unlike the experience of home sickness, a longing and nostalgia. What is this dis-quiet really saying, what is it about? Often it is prodding us to be real, not who we think we are, and not who others expect or demand us to be. Times of dis-ease often feel like breakdown, and maybe that also has to happen. Breakdowns are in reality breakthroughs.  We discover that the old ways of doing things, of perceiving who we are and in the world, no longer work. What is attempting to be born in the breakthrough is a return to the soul’s home.

Leaving is yet another homing signal. It might be leaving the wasteland of addiction, whatever that might be. Leaving an abusive relationship. Letting go of old habits, beliefs, and attitudes that are no longer useful nor life giving. This homing signal feels like abandonment, falling apart, emptiness, lost, you name it, we all have been there. It signals time for clearing house, assisting one to stand on the edge of a new way of being that is so much more than previously imagined, and poses the question:  ‘Have I got the courage to be, to solitarily stand on my own two feet?’

The self as home also contains those parts of us that Karl Jung referred to as ‘the shadow’. Those parts of who we are, the positive and the negative, the light and the dark which have been consigned to the unconscious, these aspects of ourselves, in some cases, are gold nuggets. The homing signal of reconciling these parts of us call forth from each of us the releasing, refining and befriending the totality of who we are. In essence this homing signal of reconciling is the living of the moral and ethical life. It requires  a life time of attending to this aspect of  coming home to the soul.

Finally, the reality of a possible life- threatening disease or impending death signals the longest stride of the soul we ever embark upon. We hone in on the meaningfulness of life.  What has my life been, for whom, for what ? Am I reconciled with all that has been both within and without, and all that will be in the leaving of the home of my physical existence. We all will be faced with this homing signal, no one escapes.  It is in choosing to live this homing reality that we come to accept, or not, the realization that we are made of spiritual energy, in unity with all, and finally at home with self, others and the Divine. It is the stuff of which we are made. It was from this point of home that we can say that we started and it is at this point that we end up at home.  T.S. Eliot in ‘Little Gidding’ in Four Quartets says it most poignantly: “ We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

copyright 2013, Sheila O'Handley

Sheila O’Handley is a diocesan hermit living at Saint Mary’s Place of Solitude and Prayer in the Codroy Valley in the southwest of Newfoundland.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

When a Woman is Left Alone

by June Tuthill Bassemir

When a Woman is Left Alone…
She must learn to……
….Cut the grass;
...Remove the grass clipping from underside the
mower (& which way to tilt it so the carburetor
doesn’t get saturated with oil; or how to clean the
filter if it does get s. w. oil);
....Remove the bees nest inside the attic fan…before
it causes the motor to “freeze”;
....Turn off the water under the sink in case of a leak;
….Clip the bushes when needed;
….Know the difference between a straight screw driver
and a Phillips; (who was that guy anyway?)
….Be aware when the car needs inspection/registration;
….Change a flat tire/or bat her eyes until rescued;
….Clean the gutters five times a year;
….Understand that if she plants ivy it will take over
everything ,,likewise bamboo;
….Locate the fuse box and memorize the number of the
Fire Department.
....Keep a day book to write down the activity of the day;
when she opened a money market account or cashed in
a CD.
....File the name of a good plumber, electrician and tax
....Visit a good shopping mall for bargains.

She should know that WD 40 is a woman’s best friend
along with a rubber mallet and screw driver to remove
stubborn screws –or learn to operate a small propane
tank to heat up the screw for easy removal.

If she can learn to do all these things and more, she can
then live alone. But on the other hand if she has a choice
she should be nice to her husband (no matter how long
he’s been there) break up his Shredded Wheat, section
his half of the grapefruit and/or serve other fruit 
every morning....
...with a kiss.

copyright June T. Bassemir, 2013
June Tuthill Bassemir is the widowed mother of four and grandmother of 10.  An artist and writer, she  volunteers as a docent in a 1765 farm house.   June loves old cars and antiques, and has also enjoyed furniture stripping and rug hooking.  "I used to say I was a stripper and hooker.but with so many trips around the sun, no one raises an eyebrow anymore. They only laugh."  June has given up furniture stripping, but is still an avid rug hooker.

Monday, June 3, 2013

On Being a Maid

by Delores Miller

A best selling novel a few years ago was 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett about the 1960s as colored maids in Mississippi.  Read it if you can.

So lets go back to the summer of 1955.  Time for me to find a job, between my Junior and Senior years of Marion High School. 

After the fiasco of the summer of 1954 and being a hired girl, I was looking for greener pastures and easier work.  Again I did not want to pick pickles the usual cash crop in Wisconsin.   

My Aunt Alma, after World War Two found employment as a live-in maid for a rich widow in Neenah on Lake Winnebago.  This area was a snaggle of paper mills, thus rich widows with  mansions.   She found me employment  as a domestic summer help.  Armed with my Betty Crocker Cookbook, and bluffing my way through the interview bragging of all the food I made the summer before as a hired girl.  The Missus hired me, no one else applied.   White uniform during the day, black for evening serving. Pay was $16 a week.  Big money in those days.

Easy job, cooking three meals a day, all served on good china in the dining room.  Learned to make fancy foods, i.e. lime and cheese souffles, salads, steak, hors d'oeuvre, deviled eggs, creme brulee, melon ball fruit cups, tomato flowers with cottage cheese and Pepperridge Farm  toast tips, appetizers, canapes, molded tomato aspic, borscht or beet soup with sour cream, dried beef rolls, popovers, Yorkshire pudding, baked Alaska, Schaum torte with fresh strawberries, cream puffs, chocolate eclairs, key lime pie, omelets,  English Muffins with orange marmalade, eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce, clam chowder,  lamb chops, fresh fruit, etc.  All made from scratch.  Each morning the Missus wrote out the  menu, called in the grocery order to a store which delivered.  I could order what ever I wanted to eat, too. (I gained weight that summer.)  Dinner parties for her rich friends. Cocktail hour before dinner, a full  hard liqueur cabinet, gin, rum, vodka, whiskey, brandy, bourbon, grenadine, tonic, bitters, vermouth.  Bartender made martinis, daiquiris, Manhattens, Margaritas, Pina Colada, Bloody Marys, wine.   Nothing so common as beer or diet soda.   I never sampled.  Then came dinner.  Salad, soup, overcooked vegetables, usually asparagus,  main meat course, dessert, coffee.  Serving from the left, removing dirty dishes from the right.  Finger bowls to wash dirty hands. Candles.   Cloth napkins, lace table clothes.   Tinkling silver bell summonded me back  to the dining room for more service.  Faux pas, I once took the aluminum  soup kettle to the dining room, when I should have taken her bowl to the kitchen.   No microwave or dish washer.  Polishing the  candelabras and silverware. The Missus was gallivanting often, even out of state and  left me in charge of the house.  How did she trust me not to steal the silver or have wild parties?

My own bedroom with bath and shower.  This was a big deal for someone straight off the farm.  Granted it was next to the laundry room with an automatic washer and dryer.   What luxury.  Lake flies plagued anyone outdoors, so thick, one could not open their mouth, or they would get a meal.    Mosquitoes.   Watching the sunrise over Lake Winnebago with sail boats on the horizon, beautiful.   No television, but a radio where I could listen to all the Milwaukee Brave Baseball Games and best of all - a library filled with books, novels, non fiction.  A 1936 Roget's Thesaurus and a 1929 Funk & Wagnallis Dictionary.  And I read them all.  And a typewriter so I could  write tales and memoirs of my adventures.  Daily newspaper.  Smallish house compared to the big mansions further up town.  A gardener, cleaning lady, laundress. 

Became friends with the other maids and nannies.  We had Thursday and Sunday afternoons free for movies or shopping.  Playing badminton at a nearby park.  Polio  or infantile paralysis epidemic that summer of 1955, swimming pools were closed, quarantined.  Many people died.  Was not in the same league with other neighboring teenagers, debutantes who were presented to High Society  at a ball at the Golf Club.

Oh, what I learned that summer being a MAID, grew up and saw the 'big' picture of life.  Observed  how people in the big city lived and work.

Went back to Marion for my Senior year of high school, graduated, kicked up my heels, shook off the dust and manure and left the area forever.  Enough of picking pickles, being a Hired Girl and a Maid.

Two roads diverged on a highway,

And sorry I could not travel both.

I took the one more traveled

And that has made all the difference.

What do teenagers now in 2013 do to earn money?

Copyright Russell and Delores Miller, 2013