Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Taste of 1986

So as I went to water my garden yesterday, I noticed little blackish things dotting the ground around where we turn the water on, and after a brief moment of confusion, I realized that they were ripe mulberries that were dropping from a nearby tree. Seeing as this is a tree in a vacant lot, it doesn't really belong to anyone that lived nearby, or it could be that other people have no interest in eating mulberries. In any case, there were a lot of ripe berries within easy reach, so I spent a few minutes helping myself to a tasty finger-staining treat. The taste really transported me back in time.

Growing up I had a best friend named Von Richardson. He was one of the younger kids in the Richardson family and I remember many fun times spent at their house. They had pet snakes, and raised mice in the barn to feed them. They had goats that we used to sit and watch the older boys milk. They were so skilled that they could aim a teat and fire a deadly-accurate stream of milk right at the mouth of a waiting cat. I was pretty amazed. I even got to try my hand at milking, even though I was probably only 5 or 6 at the time. I remember that it was a lot harder than it looked. They had a greenhouseish type of room built off one side of their house, and we used to sneak little sprigs of parsley and snack on them when his mom wasn't looking.

Amidst all of the other wonders at their house was a big mulberry tree that was super easy to climb and produced tasty little berries. Von and I spent many happy hours up in that tree munching our little hearts out! Well, as we got a little bit older (6 or 7) his mom started being concerned with us spending the night at each other's houses (being of the opposite sex and all) so I didn't get to spend quite as much time over there. I got to see Von at school and church, so I didn't really miss him all that much, but I sure missed those mulberries.

I finally badgered Von enough about it that he brought me a bread sack with some mulberries in it for me one day. We lived pretty rural so the bus ride took and hour and my siblings and I were the second ones on the bus in the morning, but we picked up Von and his siblings about halfway through the ride. So he handed me this sack on the bus one morning, and I was super excited. I munched contentedly for most of the rest of the bus ride. That is, until Von smirkingly informed me that he had put a little goat nugget (goats poop little spheres like rabbits) in with my berries and asked if I had found it yet. I was totally grossed out and didn't eat any more of the mulberries. I was probably pretty mad at him, but I probably deserved what I got. What with the nagging and all. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Buckle Up!

So today as I was driving to school, I noticed this bumper sticker on the back of the car in front of me.

It made me giggle, then it put me in the mood to watch alien movies. But not the scary hack-em-up and suck their brains out kind, but rather the kind with little cute alien flying robots.

Or aliens that love Reese's Pieces (just shows that aliens have good taste),

Or the kind where people really are sucked out of their cars and beds and stuff, but where they aren't the scariest part.

Or where some radom kid gets to pilot an alien spaceship.

Or where weird alien pods make old guys feel young again.

Or where aliens are family.

Yeah. I'm totally going to have to watch me some aliens sometime soon.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Grandfather's Clock

So my grandpa's grandpa Norman used to sing this song to him and he really loved it. We put a few verses on the back of his funeral program, and later we all sat in my grandma's living room and sung it in his honor. So here it goes!

My Grandfather's Clock
by Henry Clay Work

My grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half than the whole man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn of the day that he was born,
It was always his treasure and pride;

But it stopped short never to go again when the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short Never to go again, when the old man died.

In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know,
And share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride.

But it stopped short never to go again, when the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short never to go again when the old man died.

My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time, and had but one desire,
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place, not a frown upon its face,
And its hands never hung by its side.

But it stopped short never to go again, when the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short never to go again when the old man died.

It rang an alarm in the dead of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit was plumbing his flight,
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side.

But it stopped short never to go again, when the old man died.
Ninety years without slumbering,
Tick tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short never to go again when the old man died.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bonding with the Candy Bomber

While I was home last week I got to hang out with Colonel Gail Seymore Halvorsen, or "Uncle Hal" as he told us to call him. He told us all about the story that made him famous.

So it all started on the beet farm. I just need to digress for a minute and mention how happy I am to be able to start a story with the phrase "so it all started on the beet farm". It makes me feel a special connection with Dwight Schrute. Especially since it was my grandpa that was working the next beet field over from Uncle Hal.

Young Hal and Bill used to work and play together, going hunting and fishing together, and swimming in the creek after a hard days work. Well, working on the farm with his head down all day, Hal used to look up when planes would fly overhead and wish he was flying with them. So he went and got his private pilots license. He came back and flew over the beet fields, doing a little loop-de-loop or something like that. When he landed and went home, his dad almost killed him for almost giving his mom a heart attack. They were ripping him up one side and down the other, when Bill came in saying how cool that was, and making Hal feel better about the whole thing. He promised his mom not to do any more flipping, that he'd just wiggle his wings a little bit as he flew over. She seemed to think this was a much safer option, so that's what he did. Soon after he joined the Army Air Corps ferrying transport planes around during WWII. He stayed in the military after the war, and got called up to fly transports in Germany.

So as Americans in Europe, the soldiers would frequently be followed by groups of children clamoring for candy and gum. So he saw some kids on the other side of the barbed-wire fence next to the air-field in Berlin one day and went to talk to them. These kids were different, quieter, more polite, and were asking that the Americans not abandon the airlift when the weather turned bad. They said that they could live without enough food, but "if we lose our freedom we may never get it back". This touched him so much that he fished around in his pockets, but all he had was two sticks of gum. He picked four kids out of the crowd and gave them each a half-stick of gum. He was a little afraid that the other kids would start fighting over the gum, but the other kids just passed the gum wrappers around so they could all get a little sniff.

He was so touched that he promised them that he would fly over the airfield where they were and throw out some candy. They asked how they would know it was him since planes flew over every few minutes, and they all looked pretty much the same. He told him he would wiggle his wings as he flew over so they would know it was him. So even though the soldiers had a pretty limited supply of candy and gum and whatnot, he and some of his fellow soldiers pooled their resources, and made a few little parachutes out of handkerchiefs with the candy at the bottom. So as Hal flew over the kids, he wiggled his wings and someone else dumped the parachutes out of a back window. He hadn't really asked permission to do this, and got in a little bit of trouble for doing it, but when the publicity it generated was so positive, he was allowed to continue. There was 850 lbs. of candy donated locally, and by the end of it, Uncle Hal and the other pilots that got involved ended up dropping 23 tons of candy over different parts of Berlin. And it helped with American-German relations after all of the nastiness that had gone down that was WWII.

So as we're sitting in my grandma's living room talking with Uncle Hal about all of this, he just kept telling us that we need to be grateful for what we have, and not to underestimate what great good little things can do. After all, look what he got started with just two sticks of gum!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Happy Birthday Grandma!

Sunday we had a party for my grandma Mary Merrell's 79th Birthday. It was a come and go kind of a party, and so I wasn't there for all of it, so I'm sure I missed some people, but it was good to see the people I did. Molly and her 5 girls were there, Bart and Hiroko, Janis and Rich Hardy, John and Rhonda King, Verla Jackson and her Husband (whose name escapes me). I made Grandma's cake and she was sure excited to be able to claim a corner piece! It was fun. It's always fun to spend time with family!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bye Gramps...

My other grandpa died just after midnight the morning of June 6, 2008.

I'll miss his laugh, hearing him say "Oh my gosh", giving him unshelled pecans at Christmas and receiving shelled pecans later in the year, hearing him buzz his lips as he was working on projects around the house, his crazy hat collection, watching him love his pets, the lively conversations between him and Nana, all of the fun things he picked up at garage sales, helping him figure out compuer stuff, and so much more.

He was a great man and a great example to me. Love you Gramps!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Peep Wars!

At long last, the peep wars finally went down. The teams were as follows:

Blue Warriors (blue): Brian
Purple Peeple Eaters (purple): Amy
Krustees (pink): Karen
Geepers Peepers (green): Brent
Smella Yella (yellow): Rhiannon

Each commander prepared their peep army for battle.

Two commanders each selected an opposing peep to face one of their own. Peeps were microwaved for 30 seconds. The peep that got speared first, or that rolled over first, or that blew up the most was considered the loser. The winning commander then selected which of the next two armies would face off.

Because the Krustees were tearing it up (so to speak), when we decided to do a full-on battle with all five teams at once, there were more toothpick lances pointed at my peep than at any other one peep. Which turned out to be a little overkill, since my peep was the first to roll over in this particular battle.

It was fun, but ultimately the Krustees (named because they were the most stale of the bunch) were the victors! We have another set of peeps that we've put in a gallon sized bag all together (to even levels of crustiness across all peeps for the next battle.)

There was a brother-on-brother battle that was pretty entertaining, so I'm including a video of that one too. It was really fun to see the peeps get all huge in the microwave and then deflate when we took them out. If anyone else would like to host their own peep wars, I would recommend using paper plates. The post-microwave peeps get pretty crusty, and I'd hate to have to wash them off of plates I wanted to use again.