What really happened to Beauregard

What do you do with pictures of people you’ve never met but who were special to someone you loved? It’s a icky, sticky, wicket to those of us who inherit our grandparent’s photos and memorabilia and guess what folks?  As the eldest grandchild on my mother’s side of the family all those boxes and albums are in my possession and my siblings and cousins couldn’t be happier! 

Hello people I don’t know. You seem fine and dandy and I do love your photos but I can only guess at who you are. Or were. Or are.

So what will I do with all these pictures of folks I don’t know?  Invite them to some ghostly Thanksgiving seance so they can tell me their stories?  What would you do?

And now – the truth about what really happened to Beauregard

I tried to think of a funny Thanksgiving story to tell but the only thing that came to mind was the year my father decided to confess at the dinner table.  I believe his aunt Katherine was in attendance as well as his cousin Jim and recently widowed sister Helen Betty.  And of course, his adult children. The table was set to perfection. The entrees ready to go.  Everything … but the scalloped potatoes. They’d been delayed by Dad’s two inept and half-drunk divorcee daughters and we were in Deep Shit. The air was icy; the perfect dinner ruined and so Dad in some half baked attempt to save his daughters from eternal damnation rose and admitted he’d lied. On a recent hunting trip, Beauregard, his wife’s favorite basset hound, hadn’t been hit by a car and killed.

Dad had mistaken the dog for an elk and shot him dead. We tried not to laugh, we really did. Poor Dad. The things parents go through for their children.

Happy Thanksgiving – and please remember to turn on the oven before you start drinking the wine.

Bah Humbug

th-5Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, however I am looking forward to joining with friends and commiserating over what the f**k has happened to this country. Instead of Happy Thanksgiving we will be having a Grave Misgivings bash, drinking margaritas and eating turkey mole.

When I was young Thanksgiving meant sharing a room with my sister when either one or the other set of grandparents came to visit.  I wish I could say it was jolly fun to spend time in that small house with my grandparents but all four firmly believed children were to be seen and not heard and they insisted on making weird shit which we were expected to eat.

th-4 For Grandma J from Massachusetts the feast would not be complete without oyster stuffing and green bean casserole. I’m sure there are many fine cooks out there who work wonders with those two dishes but alas my Grandma J believed that any recipe could be improved by Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup and dried onion flakes.

For Grandma M from North Dakota it was mincemeat pie and ambrosia salad.  I like fruit and I like coconut but her ambrosia salad was made with canned fruit and coconut that I swear had been sitting in syrup for years. And mincemeat pie, really?  Does anyone really like mincemeat pie?th-6

And we had to eat everything that had been piled on our plates otherwise we weren’t getting away from the dining room table.  The idea, hammered into our heads, was to be happy we had something to eat and weren’t starving like all those children in China. Seems an odd way to make children grateful, to force mincemeat pie down their throats.

I have to admit that as a child I also hated pumpkin pie. What a nasty little unpatriotic brat I was!  But I’ve changed my tune. After many years of experimentation my husband’s figured out how make pumpkin pies that don’t taste like wallpaper paste and they smell divine.  He generally makes three pies – one to take to friends and the other two to eat all by himself with a scoop of cookie dough ice cream.  He could eat pumpkin pie all day long and all year long without any qualms but luckily he doesn’t.

Joel's pumpkin pie - he makes three of them at Thanksgiving and doesn't share.

Joel’s pumpkin pie – he makes three of them at Thanksgiving and doesn’t always share.

Food isn’t the only issue I have with Thanksgiving. Its proximity to Christmas is the other.  Oh boy, time to really start stressing as the season to buy, buy, buy rolls over us like a big, black cloud.

But I don’t want to end this post on a negative note.  I am a thankful person – well fed, a roof over my head, healthy children and I’m doing what I love: sharing thoughts, stories and photos with other bloggers from around the world.img_2394

Lazy Blogger Day: The Pilgrim

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My garden’s a haven to what gardeners call “volunteers.” Some are the children of plants we’ve planted over the years and others are pilgrims to my alien shore that I don’t have the heart to starve, rip to shreds, or send out into a stormy sea.

This sunflower took root in a pot containing another plant and grew and grew and grew until it reached the sun.IMG_1086

The stalk is approximately five feet high. But it didn’t squeeze out the other plant. They’re living happily together.

May all your pilgrims be grateful for the protected soil they’re growing in!  Even in a crowded pot, there is room to share.

Learning Lakota

This post, from a few years back, is on my mind this Thanksgiving.

When I was a kid, every summer my father morphed into a stoic Sioux warrior whose job it was to toughen up his wimpy offspring so they’d become mighty braves. On weekends we were marched up mountain trails carrying heavy backpacks irregardless of the temperature.  Then we were told to catch a fish or go without dinner. Sleep was on mattresses we made of pine needles. My father would make statements like:  “When I become a burden to the tribe, I will walk out into the desert with only the clothes on my back and never return.”  Tribe?  Good grief.  You’d have thought he was really a Native American.  He was not.

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Hand-painted dancer from Pine Ridge Reservation circa 1920.

He was the son of a man who ran Indian reservations throughout the Dakotas and Montana and thus spent most of his summers learning to hunt and fish and hide horses with the Sioux.  Both my father and grandfather wore elaborately beaded buckskin jackets and bolo ties made from arrow heads.

Peace Rug

Peace rug, age unknown

I can only imagine what it must have been like to be a Scottish man working for the Indian Service at a time when the Sioux still rode horses. From what I’ve heard, he tried his best in many bad circumstances but in the end the job killed him.  Or it might have been my grandmother.  She was not noted for her humanitarian instincts. She was noted for her prickly disdain for Catholics and all non-Norwegians. But, because she was an English teacher, Grandfather convinced her to tutor Native American children.IMG_0582Every now and then she’d send us a few Indian Life books like the one above which were used to teach the children to read english using their own folklore. My favorites were The Pine Ridge PorcupineThe Slim Butte Raccoon and The Grass Mountain Mouse.  In these stories every creature had its place and purpose in the world.  Even trees and mountains and streams should be respected and worshipped. The world, as the Indian knew it, was not owned by man; man was owned by the world.

Sadly only one of the primers survived my crazy childhood: Sioux Cowboy. 

Lakota

Part of the Lakota alphabet as translated by Emil Afraid-of-Hawk

I tried to teach myself Lakota, fantasizing that if my grandparents ever invited me to visit them on the reservation I would be able to speak with the Sioux girls and boys in their own language.  I didn’t know that by the time I started getting the primers my grandmother had already left my grandfather at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation and was living primarily with my great grandmother in Fargo.

So today, I’m grateful for the reminders I have of Native American culture.  I wish this was a day when Native Americans were thankful that their charity towards refugees from a far off land had been richly rewarded.  Maybe someday.