Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Memory of Dried Roses

Tucked into the corner of the main room of the old farmhouse were two doors. One led down to the slightly, scary old stone basement…and the narrower one, tucked into the very corner, led up to a third story attic.

The doorway was narrow and the old hand-forged iron latch always stuck a little, generally requiring a thump with a fist and a well-placed kick or two.

To go through the doorway required hunching down a bit, and then maneuvering three, narrow pie-wedged steps before the passage straightened out. The remaining sixteen steps up to the attic were so steep it was difficult to carry anything. Over time, and with many, many trips up and down, I learned how to navigate that treacherous stairway without breaking my neck. But I’ll tell you more about those trips in a little while.

For now, I’d like to tell you about the first time I went up those stairs. When I emerged into the huge space at the top of the steps, I was so astonished I couldn’t move. Two narrow windows inserted beside an ancient red brick chimney helped illuminate the space through their small panes of wavy old glass. Five bare, low-wattage lightbulbs hung in a row from the center beam, each with a threadbare cotton string hanging down from it.




The amber and gold floorboards were incredibly wide and covered the entire length of the attic floor. Worn down in grooves at the top of the steps, you could literally see where hundreds of feet had trod over the years. The dark hand-hewn beams overhead were massive and joined together with hundreds of wooden pegs.

The air in the attic was faintly scented with the fragrance of dried herbs and old woodsmoke. The floorboards were bare and dusty.

I could feel the history of the house in that space. I could so clearly imagine all the other housewives before me drying herbs and storing treasures there.

I quickly learned that the drafty attic space was phenomenal for drying flowers and herbs. I gathered what I could find around the farm before the frost killed everything and filled one of the beams with carefully bundled bouquets. I had plans to sell the dried flowers to help in my perpetual quest for extra money.

The following spring I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of a commercial rose grower in a neighboring town. I had ordered quite a lot of roses for a wedding I was designing, and after I picked my order up on Thursday afternoon I discovered that the grower threw away all the unsold roses at the end of business on Saturday. Threw them away! I was aghast!

I offered to buy all the roses from him each week. He thought about it. “Well,” he said, “I’d have to let you take them away in the rose buckets and how do I know you’ll bring the buckets back?”

Thinking quickly I told him, “Look, I’ll pay you three dollars a bucket for the roses AND I’ll give you a deposit on each bucket!”

He thought for a few more minutes and then agreed.

Each bucket held around ten dozen tightly budded roses neatly rubber-banded together. By recutting the stems and giving each bundle of roses some breathing room, in three or four days I would have gorgeous bouquets of full, beautiful blossoms.

I was careful to hang the roses in the attic right before they bloomed fully. Each rubber band slipped neatly over the nails I had pounded into the low beams. And because the grower had prepared each dozen for commercial sale all the thorns had been stripped from the stems.

Some weeks the rose grower would have four or five buckets of roses for me. Some weeks he would have none.

But over the spring and summer months I dried hundreds and hundreds of bundles of roses in that attic.

It was beautiful and fragrant there. The slight smell of dried herbs and woodsmoke was taken over by the fresh, lovely scent of thousands of roses.

Each beam was a bower of roses in various stages of drying…gorgeous corals, sunny yellows, antique ivory whites, carmine red, pale apricot.

After the roses dried completely, I would slip them into plastic florist sleeves and pack them away in boxes arranged by color.

I made extravagant wreaths covered entirely in dried roses. I put beautiful ribbons around the sparkling cellophane. And every fall I would attend craft fairs and set up a booth filled with hundreds of bundles of dried roses. The colors were so beautiful and the roses were so perfectly preserved that my booth was always crowded with eager buyers. I rarely took any roses home.




Over the years, those dried roses paid for vacations to the ocean with my children. They paid for dentist visits and eyeglasses and sometimes they paid for the electric bill.

I write this memory now with tears on my face.

How blessed I was to have lived so many hours in a house with attic beams bowered in roses.

And how blessed I am that this dear memory has never faded.




This post is linked to Alphabe-Thursday in honor of the letter D. To read other D posts, just click here.

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Alphabe-Thursday's Letter D


Good morning class. Welcome to round four of Alphabe-Thursday!

Today we will be discussing the letter:


Please link directly to your Alphabe-Thursday URL (if you don't know how to do this let me know!) and please continue to visit the five links before and after your link and leave a comment. Minimum of 10 links visited please. You can visit more if you like, of course.

I also want to let you know that each week I visit every blog. If it appears I haven't visited your blog by the following Thursday morning, please let me know!

If you have any difficulties with your link, please make sure to include the number of the link when you e-mail me. It is really difficult for me to find you easily otherwise.

If you have any questions about Alphabe-Thursday or problems doing your link just post it in a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll do my best to help you as quickly as I can.

The McLinkey will be live from 1:00 pm MST time Wednesday afternoon in an effort to assist our lovely "friends across the pond" and continue through 10:00 am MST time Friday morning!

And remember.... link back to this post, you need to be registered as a follower of my blog, PG posts only, and visit at least 10 other students (perhaps the 5 students before and after your post). The links will stay live after the final post deadline has passed so you can even wait and visit over the weekend or whenever you have more time.

Please discuss your dynamic letter D now!

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What's the big deal...

...about a medical degree?

Really.

Just yesterday I got mine.

In one day.

Just a single day.

I about five hours accomplishing part of my Christmas to-do list.

Stamping, cutting, double-stick taping...

...and at the end of the afternoon...

I was officially a CARD-iologist!



Go me!

And please don't ask me for free medical advice.

I'm pretty new at this whole medical thing.

So, please ...

Just take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Unless you want to come over right now and help me address all these Christmas cards!

...

...

Sigh...


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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some disturbing news about socks...


I cleaned out my sock drawer over the weekend.

Yeah.

I am totally into the high life here.

Big time.

I found:

9 black socks, six had holes in the heels or toes.

2 pairs of almost new striped socks that are itchy inside.

11 white socks...and I use the term 'white' very loosely.

1 pair of Ohio State socks with holes in the toe AND the heel. I've been holding onto them for about 15 years now for 'sentimental' reasons.

1 pair of Boise State socks because Mr. Jenny feels that if you're going to wear football socks they should be from BSU!

3 brown socks.

7 pairs of assorted holiday socks...who doesn't need socks with spiders, reindeers and/or Easter bunnies on them.

2 pairs of panty hose stuffed wayyyyy in the back all mangled and inside out. It appears the last attempt at trying them on went slightly awry.

1 belt. I have no idea whose belt this is. I haven't had a waist since 1981.

3 pennies.

1 bobby pin.

and a book of matches...

...perhaps so if I lose electricity I can still locate 1 of the 9 black socks without a hole in them.

The disturbing news is that...

Yeah.

I'm really truly writing about it.

And I'm not even a tiny bit sorry.

So there.

...

...

Sigh...

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Monday, November 28, 2011

A Rose by any other name...

So... Did I tell you we have a new Grandlittle on the way?


video

It's a boy. And he might be born on my birthday, April 19!!!

I'm excited! The kids haven't officially announced the name yet, but I suspect it's gonna be some form of 'Jenny'.

Right?
Not quite sure how they're gonna masculinize that name...

Maybe Jennster.

Or Jenniam.

Or even Jennielle.

I'm just hoping they don't try to tie my middle name in.

Yeah. Using the middle name 'Rose' would definitely be a stretch!

Sigh...

PS. It took me almost an hour but I think I figured out how to load this video so you can view it!


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Sunday, November 27, 2011

New career path!

I was so nervous on my first day. I fiddled with the jacket of my suit and tugged at my panty hose. I glanced in the rearview mirror…checking my makeup…making sure there was no lipstick on my teeth.

Ten minutes early, I pulled in and pep-talked myself! “Okay, Miss Assistant Manager! Go get ‘em!”

The manager greeted me with a puzzled look. Handing me an apron he told me, “Your most important duty will always be the up-sell. Just remember that!”

A pimply-faced 16 year old behind the cash register said, “Get freakin’ real, dude! Just tell her to say ‘would you like fries with that?’”



This little hundred word story is linked to Saturday Centus. The prompt is in bold. To read other french fry queries, just click here.



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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Centus - Would you like...

Jenny Matlock


Welcome to week eighty-two of Saturday Centus.



THE PROMPT THIS WEEK IS "Would you like fries with that?".
WORD COUNT - Not to exceed 100 words plus the six words of the prompt. 106 words total.
STYLE OF WRITING - Any
NO ADDITIONAL PICTURES


The regular restrictions apply: PG, no splitting of the prompt, play nicely and visit the other entries, any style or genre of writing you prefer.

Please display my link button or just a hyper-link back to Saturday Centus. Be careful to link your SC URL to the Linky and not just link to your main blog.

E-mail me directly with ???'s or ask your question in a comment and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

I know I'm wicked behind again. I'll be by, though, scouts honor!

Feel free to link up anytime between now and next Saturday!

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Early Sundays with Steve - Thanksgiving

This is Steve's Sunday post, but it seemed more relevant to post it today, the day after Thanksgiving.

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:
I’ve been writing these weekly stories about life in Northern Idaho, as a youngster and as growing into a young man, primarily for our family. And I'm delighted to share them with you. Just between us, I’m anticipating being cranky when some whipper-snapper who may not even be born yet harasses me in 30 years or so with 'Grandpa, tell me about when you were a boy.' That will probably be after the mad cow disease has set in and erased whatever memory is left. So these are the not-so-dramatic adventures of a Baby Boomer in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Thanksgiving

Another Thanksgiving in the books this week, a smaller crowd than usual, and my annual BBQ turkey didn’t get done in time for the main course, but came in time as dessert. Fortunately our traditional oven-roasted boring turkey was cooked up in plenty of time for the main meal.

Boring perfect turkeys reminds me of my Aunt Eugenia, and of all of those Thanksgiving’s in the 1950’s and 1960’s at her house in our small town in Northern Idaho.

Every year, without exception, every single time, Aunt Eugenia massacred the turkey. She over-cooked it to the dryness and consistency of leather. Year after year the white meat was inedible; the juicy dark meat was not. It was obvious to everyone except her that she was secretly trying to make turkey jerky. In later years she laughed at her inability to cook a bird, but in the 1950’s, she was in fierce competition with her sister – my mother – to cook the best turkey. My mother (my father actually cooked it, but I think that was a secret at the time) would prepare the perfectly oven-roasted turkey to transport the short distance to Eugenia’s house for the late afternoon feast. The contrast of the two turkeys was always stunning.


Eugenia would be seem to be embarrassed and fume ever year that her bird was so dry, and that her sister out-cooked her yet again.

Aunt Eugenia (Genie for short) was kind of a strange duck: She was very prim and very proper, always dressed to the hilt, her house always picked-up and tidy, her language impeccable, her presence one of reserved elegance. But underestimate her or cross her at your own peril: Her glare, when you crossed the line of propriety, was like a death ray. Her pronouncements and judgments – out of the public view – were cutting, sharp, and decisive. You never wondered where Aunt Eugenia stood on anything, on any topic, on any view, and woe be to you if you disagreed with her pronouncement. And by the way, you had better shape up and behave yourself in her presence.

Thanksgiving was always at her house, while a month later Christmas dinner always at the Matlock madhouse. Thanksgiving usually consisted of us three rambunctious brothers and our parents, Aunt Eugenia’s two grown children who both lived still lived with her at the family home (one of whom for many years called us brothers ‘brats’, a term I still don’t like), Eugenia’s mother (my grandmother), and six or eight other adults that included several of Eugenia’s widowed lady friends. Mr. Eugenia had fled life with Eugenia in about 1950.

Eugenia always hired a bit of help for the holiday, usually someone in the kitchen to prepare the side dishes, the desserts, and then to clean-up the kitchen after dinner. For many years the help was a delightful lady named “Coxie”. Ida Cox was entertaining, energetic, and a fountain of local history of our town, most of which she had lived through personally. She stood no more than four-foot eight inches tall, thin as a rail, but with muscular arms. Coxie cooked on a wood burning stove at her small frame home until her death in 1970 at the age of 95. She was a master of home cooking, she delighted in making cakes and pies for her friends and neighbors, and often, if we were lucky, for the Matlock family. She fried chicken on Sundays, after chopping their heads off with a hatchet on Saturdays. She chopped the wood for her stove, and she never believed that gas or electric ovens did a very good job. She would chase us boys around Eugenia’s house when her cooking chores permitted, to the consternation of my aunt, and she befriended all of us brothers for years. She was a delight, one of those characters you never forget.

Eugenia’s son was Eugene (Cousin Gene) who I have referred to in many of these stories as my father’s partner in the local radio station and the radio news broadcaster for our small town.

It was Cousin Gene, my father, and my grandmother “Grambie” who were most vocal about Aunt Eugenia’s annual destruction of the Thanksgiving turkey --- year-after-year. Grambie would have one of her two cocktails a year (the other was always an eggnog before Christmas dinner) while Cousin Gene and my father would dip into the bourbon for a couple of shots before carving the two turkeys that would be resting at the kitchen table. The men would groan over the destroyed turkey as it crumbled under the carving knife, and they may have had another shot of bourbon in honor of Eugenia’s bird. Coxie would cackle and laugh at the poor bird while preparing the stuffing and green beans, and Grambie would sit on a kitchen step stool out of the way, sipping her drink, going “tisk, tisk, tisk” at the pulled pile of white turkey meat. It was really very funny, even to me at that young age. While that was going on, Brother David and I would steal pieces of dark meat to sample. In later years, when home from college for the annual turkey day massacre, Cousin Gene would sneak glasses of bourbon to David and me as well. He was a good cousin that way.


As a curious youngster, I always found it fascinating that there was a little button under the carpet of the dining room table Eugenia sat at the head of. If she needed help from the kitchen, she could press the button with her foot to activate a buzzer. Coxie would ignore her, of course, with a loud laugh, but in later years when Coxie no long cooked for the family, others came running. It was weird.

My mother was no great cook, although she tried. Her salvation at Thanksgiving was two-fold: i) In the late 1950’s Butterball turkeys came on the market that had the plastic doneness probe that popped-up when the bird was done, thus generally preventing over-cooking (Eugenia never figured that one out, one of those new fangled inventions that made no sense to her), and ii) Coxie in the kitchen preparing everything else.

I wish Coxie were alive today -- I’d invite her to dinner and I would fly her from Idaho to Arizona to join us, not to cook but to experience our modern but traditional Thanksgiving and to enjoy our family. I wish my father and Cousin Gene were alive to join us as well, to sneak a bit of bourbon, and to rightly judge whose turkey this year is best.

I wish you were coming too, because I know that you, along with all of our Thanksgiving day guests this year, are going to appreciate the finesse, the delicacy, the suberb nature of the masterfully prepared cherry-wood smoked turkey that will jointly grace our table on Thursday along with its boring counterpart, the perfectly oven-roasted bird.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Memory of Thanksgiving


It was early morning. It was that tingly cold that makes you put on your warmest slippers and flannel robe. As I headed downstairs I cursed my attraction to century-old farmhouses. Although we had tried mightily to seal old glass windows and run heating vents through almost petrified wood beams, the upstairs was always chilly, and even more so in late November with an early cold spell bringing snow and wind to upstate Ohio.

On the way to the kitchen I turned up the thermostat several notches. I turned on the kitchen light and the golden tones of the wooden cabinets and floors glowed. The double window over the kitchen sink reflected a light glittering of snow dusted pink, rose and gold from the first rays of the Eastern sun. The gnarled ancient apple tree branches silhouetted against the pale lavender morning sky cast their charm over me as they always did.

The pilot light on my old, white enamel stove was out again, but I struck a match and the burner glowed warmly in the still chilly kitchen. I checked that the oven pilot light was working and turned that on as well. In deference to the early hour I had left my cast iron skillet, biggest roasting pan and a basket of onions out on the counter the night before.


The refrigerator supplied the butter, celery and a fat turkey ready to be stuffed. Very soon chopped onion and celery were simmering away in butter and their savory scents perfumed the kitchen air. This was the smell of every Thanksgiving past in our family. It was the same scent I anticipated each year when my parent rose at dawn to begin the preparation of our childhood feasts. I can remember laying in my cozy bed and smelling Thanksgiving as it drifted through the house. I hoped my children were having those same feelings on this day.

My huge yellow-ware bowl, used only for preparing food in massive quantities, easily held all my bread crumbs, bread cubes and spices - pungent sage and black pepper, the coarse glisten of kosher salt, the soft, enticing smell of the marjoram. All of the scents combined in that big yellow bowl…ahhh, the fragrance of memories. Soon the onions and celery were tender and the chicken broth warmed and the dressing became moist and aromatic with their addition.

The kitchen had become warm and wonderful and soon the stuffed turkey was in for its long roasting time. The extra stuffing was in its buttered casserole with a scoop saved out inside my little pink stoneware bowl. Now it was time to make some coffee and then start the dinner roll dough rising, time to make the pie crust so it could chill for several hours, time to start chopping vegetables…

But first… a fresh cup of coffee and cream and a small pink bowl filled with stuffing needed to be eaten in front of the big windows overlooking the stark sculpture of winter apple trees and the rosy morning glow of the sky. The house was quiet, the wooly throw was warm on my lap, my children were safely asleep upstairs.

Later the house would fill with relatives and laughter and teasing and conversation. Pies, mashed potatoes, the magnificent turkey, flavorful stuffing, yeasty warm dinner rolls, and homemade jellies glistening like jewels would fill the table.

But for now, my coffee was perfect, the stuffing was savory, memories of all the Thanksgivings that had come before warmed my mind. This moment and this magic was my Thanksgiving.

.....


I still have the giant yellowware bowl. It sits on my counter filled with fruit and random bits of lifes overflow! On Thanksgiving when we have large gatherings it gets washed out and filled with stuffing. This year is only 14 for dinner, so its clutter remains!

Have a blessed day of Thanks, my friends, whether it is a holiday where you live or not.

This little sentimental post is linked to Alphabe-Thursday's 'We Gather Together'. To read other links,
just click here!
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alphabe-Thursdays - We Gather Together


Good morning class. Welcome to round four of Alphabe-Thursday!

It is Thanksgiving week here so we are on a short break. The letter D will resume next week according to the normal A-T schedule! Your post can be anything about being thankful or family gatherings.


Please link directly to your Alphabe-Thursday URL (if you don't know how to do this let me know!) and please continue to visit the five links before and after your link and leave a comment. Minimum of 10 links visited please. You can visit more if you like, of course.

I also want to let you know that each week I visit every blog. If it appears I haven't visited your blog by the following Thursday morning, please let me know!

If you have any difficulties with your link, please make sure to include the number of the link when you e-mail me. It is really difficult for me to find you easily otherwise.

If you have any questions about Alphabe-Thursday or problems doing your link just post it in a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll do my best to help you as quickly as I can.

The McLinkey will be live from 1:00 pm MST time Wednesday afternoon in an effort to assist our lovely "friends across the pond" and continue through 10:00 am MST time Friday morning!

And remember.... link back to this post, you need to be registered as a follower of my blog, PG posts only, and visit at least 10 other students (perhaps the 5 students before and after your post). The links will stay live after the final post deadline has passed so you can even wait and visit over the weekend or whenever you have more time.

Please feel free to share anything about family or giving thanks now:

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Good morning!

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, isn't it?

If you have a minute I'd like to share a wonderful song with you as you read this post. Wayyyyy down at the very, very bottom of my blog there's a playlist. I have the autoplay turned off. If you don't know the music of Patty Griffin (and you're not at work right now!) click on song 119...it's called Beautiful Day. The lyrics are amazing. And perfect to listen to on a day when many of us are thinking of gratitude. And facing lots of lifes difficulties.

Finally, finally we are getting some autumn color on our street. It's o-dark-thirty right now, so I can't take a picture, but there's actually red and gold trees turning on my street right here in the desert.

And if that's not exciting enough news...Thanksgiving is our middle Grandlittles birthday. She is turning eight.


Yeah.

I know. Crazy how quickly time goes by.

I've been trying to pretend she isn't growing up, but denial, sadly, has failed me a bit of late. I'm willing to let my personal suffering go, though, and make some cupcakes for her for Thanksgiving...I suspect she would be less than thrilled with candles in a pumpkin pie...silly girl!

Later today the link for Alphabe-Thursday will go up but it won't be for the letter "D". It will be for a link with anything to do with Thanksgiving or family gatherings. I know it's not Thanksgiving Day everywhere, but it is Thanksgiving day for me...because I am thankful for all of you who continue to brave the blather on my blog so often.

Thank you for doing that! I am, truly and without the smallest trace of sarcasm, thankful for your kind support as I continue 'off on my tangent' through life.


Tomorrow I'll put up my little annual Thanksgiving post...and gather with family and friends and celebrate this interesting, busy, crazy life.

Stop by if you get a chance, and if I don't see you, know how very much I am thankful for all of you!

Hugs from Arizona!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I am in the process of...

...preparing for the most epic garage sale in the history of garage sales. In the world. Or at least in this hemisphere.


But before I whine too much about it I need to tell you that Alphabe-Thursday is on holiday break this week! There will be a linky on Wednesday for 'Holiday' or 'Family' Memories BUT we will resume the letter 'D' next week!

Okay, now that I got that out of the way I shall resume whining. Ahem.


There is not an uncluttered inch of space on my garage floor but friends and family keep dropping off more stuff.



Yeah.

I'm dumb.

I should have said drop stuff AFTER Thanksgiving, but I didn't...

So instead of writing a real post today I'm gonna just leave you with this...

HELP ME!!!!!

In addition to the heartfelt plea uttered above...and just to make you feel it was totally worth your while to stop by...



...

What did the mama turkey say to her naughty son?



If your papa could see you now, he'd turn over in his gravy!



...

If the Pilgrims were alive today, what would they be most famous for?



Their AGE



...

Why did the police arrest the turkey?



They suspected it of fowl play



...

Why can't you take a turkey to church?



Because they use such fowl language



...

See? Now aren't you glad you dropped by?!?

Sigh...
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Knock, Knock...

Who's there, you say?

Norma Lee!

Norma Lee who, you say?

Normally I don't eat this much but it is Thanksgiving!


Ummm...

Okay.

Did you like that one?

Not so much?

Seriously?????

Okay then.

How about this one?

Knock, Knock.

Who's there, you say?

Olive!!!!

Olive who, you say?!?

Olive the stuffing the best, too!

That was better, right?

Why are you groaning?

These were tip-top Thanksgiving (or any gluttonous holiday) knock-knock jokes!!!!

I'm sorry.

I think it's something in the water here.

Really.

Oh, and hey...

Knock, Knock!

Who's there, you say?

Didja!

Didja who, you say?!?

Didja read about the fun giveway for some nifty cool kids books?

If you missed that link, please don't be a turkey and click here to read about it!!!

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sundays with Steve - The Summer Campaign

These Sunday's segments are written by my husband, Mr. Jenny. Here's what he has to say about his posts:

I’ve been writing these weekly stories about life in Northern Idaho, as a youngster and as growing into a young man, primarily for our family. And I'm delighted to share them with you. Just between us, I’m anticipating being cranky when some whipper-snapper who may not even be born yet harasses me in 30 years or so with 'Grandpa, tell me about when you were a boy.' That will probably be after the mad cow disease has set in and erased whatever memory is left. So these are the not-so-dramatic adventures of a Baby Boomer in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Campaigning with Steve

Did I ever mention how I got really interested in politics? It was spring 1970 when a knock on my apartment door in Pocatello, Idaho revealed Cecil Andrus, who had announced the prior month that he was going to run for governor of that rural, agricultural state.

It was another one of those watershed events that, in retrospect, changed my life, although at the time it seemed like a way to avoid the Vietnam War for a year or two, and to take a semester off from college. I really wasn’t intending to change my life.

Back then, state-wide campaigns started about three months before the primary, and maybe nine months prior to the general elections in November. Ah, the good old days of short election cycles!


I was 21 years old and finishing my junior year at the university, studying journalism. I was slated to attend U.S. Army boot camp that summer as a part of officer training – a prospect I was not looking forward to, not at all. I knew that a summer with the Army was the precursor to being sent into the Vietnam War after graduation, sent off with a bright second lieutenant’s bar on my helmet, a bar that I had heard the enemy liked to aim their rifles at.

I had known of the Andrus family for a number of years: They lived in our neighborhood in Lewiston, and “Cece”, as he was called, was my father’s insurance agent. His daughters were somewhat younger than I, and attended the same public schools. Prior to moving to Lewiston, Andrus was a lumberjack in the woods of North Idaho and Oregon.

Andrus asked me that day to join his media staff for the campaign that summer and fall, and I jumped on it. I chatted with the local Army colonel who was bright enough to see that a summer campaigning would certainly make me better able to stare down the Vietnamese when I got into the war a year later than planned.

I joined the Andrus state-wide campaign staff in late May, after classes ended for the summer. I packed up my meager belongings and drove to Boise, the state capitol, where the Andrus group had set up their office. I found a place to live by sharing a small house with three college buddies for the summer, and eagerly reported to work.

I was assigned to the media manager, John Hughes, a Lewiston television news reporter who also took the summer off to join Andrus. The full campaign staff numbered about six, and all had Lewiston ties.

I was expecting to write press releases and distribute them, join policy discussions, and hob knob with the rich and powerful of the State. That didn’t happen.


I spent the summer driving the politician from event to event, standing in the wings to keep him on a tight schedule, and passing out brochures while the candidate was shaking hands and meeting people. We covered the state many times over that year, driving the winding mountain roads in the North to the potato fields in the East, 500 miles in each direction from Boise, piling thousands of miles on the Andrus family station wagon. We spent weeks away from “home” in Boise, campaigning in the many small towns of the state, and the few small cities, too (there weren’t any large cities then, outside of Boise’s population of 60,000, the next largest town had 35,000).

It wasn’t what I was expecting – I was anticipating an intellectual summer of influence building – but it turned out to be hard work, long days and weeks on the road, pushing a candidate , listening to his frustrations and joys, and being a good sport about everything, no matter the circumstance.

We typically stayed in people’s homes while traveling, to save precious campaign funds. We ate in more cafes and diners than you can count, and I think we attended all the county fairs and rodeos in the state that year – all 44 of them.

When we drove into any of the small towns where we stopped, typically a local supporter had arranged for a “meet and greet” gathering, where ten to a hundred people might have gathered to meet and hear the candidate Andrus. We would always run the candidate to the local radio station, stop at the local daily or weekly newspaper for an interview and to plant a few prepared photos, then move on to the next town, the next event. We would find the local television station too, if the town had one (there were only about five TV stations in the state, then).


The staff back in Boise would arrange our schedule to the minute, while banging out press releases, organizing supporters, and mailing thousands of letters and promotional material.

Andrus had won the primary election early in the year, and we were in a tight race to unseat the incumbent governor, Don Samuelson. This was the second time Andrus ran for governor, losing to the same Mr. Samuelson four years earlier.

We won that election of 1970, beating the Republican governor by five percentage points, in what was historically a conservative, Republican state. Andrus was the first Democrat elected in that state in decades, and he went on to win four terms over the next 20 years. He also served as Jimmy Carter’s Secretary of the Interior.

From my viewpoint, that election campaign changed many things in my life, and changed my destinies: Instead of accepting a job on the new governor’s staff, I returned to college the next semester to get my degree (it turned out to be two degrees, as the University gave me a lot of credits for working on that campaign, no doubt to impress Andrus and keep their state budgets well funded). The campaign experience delayed my entry into the Army by a year, and hence I was not sent to Vietnam as that war was winding down. That campaign created a love of observing politics, which helped drive my future media career which is still on-going. And that campaign experience gave me the confidence to run for public office 12 years later.

It’s funny how fate can intervene in life – my decision to go to the particular university I did, a decision to chair a college convention one year that as a result, lead to the Andrus campaign offer – decisions that are made today that really do have unintended consequences, good and bad, years later.

(c) 2010 Stephen J. Matlock. This publication is the exclusive property of Stephen J. Matlock and is protectedunder the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Stephen J. Matlock. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Centus - We Gather Together...

Jenny Matlock


Welcome to week eighty-one of Saturday Centus.

The challenge for this week is in the spirit of the season.


THE PROMPT THIS WEEK IS 'WE GATHER TOGETHER TO ASK THE LORD'S BLESSING'.
WORD COUNT - Not to exceed 100 words plus the eight words of the prompt. 108 words total.
STYLE OF WRITING - Any
UP TO THREE PICTURES TO ILLUSTRATE YOUR WRITING


The regular restrictions apply: PG, no splitting of the prompt, play nicely and visit the other entries, any style or genre of writing you prefer.

Please display my link button or just a hyper-link back to Saturday Centus. Be careful to link your SC URL to the Linky and not just link to your main blog.

E-mail me directly with ???'s or ask your question in a comment and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.

Good luck!

Feel free to link up anytime between now and next Saturday!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

A fun literary giveaway!

So.

A lot of you know Miss Terra who is often found Sitting on an Oak!

Well...

Miss Terra has been busy writing up a storm and has published three wonderful children's books!

These are hard bound little beauties and the carefully crafted words and messages are brought to life with adorable illustrations that will capture the imagination of both child and adult.

When we had our Grandlittles over the weekend I got some wonderful pictures of them cuddled up with Grandpa in their fuzzy pj's while he read these books to them. All four of them enjoyed the special time together.

However.

My picture file became corrupt and I had to do a poor recapture in the parking lot at Sonic when I picked them up after school for a rootbeer float treat. Please pretend these are softly lit, cozy night-time pictures.






Now for the fun part!

Terra is giving away all three of these wonderful books to one lucky winner.

For a chance at winning, please visit Terra's publishing blog by clicking here.

There are three different books on her site featured on the top toolbar.

To be entered for a chance at the giveaway, please leave a comment on the 'Welcome Jenny Matlock friend' page on the linked site.

For three ADDITIONAL chances at the giveaway, please visit each book link and tell Terra what you like about the theme of the individual book in a comment on the welcome post.

AND...

For every book ordered you will receive ONE ADDITIONAL change at the set of three books! Just leave an additional comment for each book ordered telling her you did!

In addition to the prize of three books, I have a little prize I'll send you myself from this giveaway. I'll draw from the same comments Terra will.

I won't say what it is, but you'll like it.

Unless you're weird.

And I know you aren't weird because...well...I just know it, okay? Please don't make me attempt to explain myself. It get's ugly when that happens.

So...

Here's a quick recap of the giveaway:

1. No Grandlittles of mine are included as prizes. Sorry. They're mine. All mine.
2. Leave a comment on the Campbell Lawson welcome page for one chance at the giveaway.
3. Leave an additional comment regarding each book after you visit the links at the top of the Campbell Lawson welcome page. (3 additional chances)
4. Leave an additional comment on the Campbell Lawsom welcome page if you place an order. (up to 43 million additional chances. If you order more than 43 million books I think there might be a small problem!)
5. Drawing will be conducted with the help of Mr. Random Org on Wednesday November 30th so the books have time to get to your doorstep before the holidays. Winner will be announced both on Terra's blog and mine!
6. Winner will be notified via e-mail so be certain you leave a way for us to get hold of you!

Let's help Terra have a wonderful book launch. Please tell your blog friends and family about the giveaway. I can't give you more chances for that because I'm already almost out of fingers and toes to count.

BUT...

I would be forever grateful!

Which doesn't really count for much but, hey, someday if I join the mafia or something it might actually be a valuable relationship, ya know?

Good luck everyone!

PS. If by some teeny/tiny possibility you are confused, leave me a message here and I'll try to write another thousands words or so to explain even more!

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Memory of a Tree

I’ve never been much of a geography buff, so when I heard the word Transylvania it seemed like a mystical, mythical place to me.


In the world before googling, it was hard to conceive that my little farmstead in rural Ohio could actually be associated with anything or anyone from that far off, slightly ominous sounding place, but it was.

One morning shortly after we moved in, I went outside and was surprised to discover an ancient little man sitting on the rickety porch swing hanging from an enormous tree in front of the old house. The swing had been one of the delights that had helped entice us into purchasing the rundown old farmstead.

We’d already encountered a few surprise visitors since we’d moved into the old farmhouse so I had no hesitation in approaching him. “Can I help you?” I asked.

He enquired about the previous owner, and I told him that the gentleman who had lived there had passed away and we had just purchased the house.

He nodded his freckled, balding head and closed his wrinkled, parchment eyelids for a moment.

“I thought that might have happened. He was a good man.”

I observed a moment of silence with him in memoriam.

“Is there anything I can help you with, sir?” I eventually continued.

“No, no, not really,” he replied after a long pause. “I just like to come here and sit under this old tree sometimes.”

Torn between wanting to be polite but also wanting to get started on my very long list of chores, I finally suggested he just sit as long as he wanted. I offered him a cup of coffee. He declined. Finally I held out my hand and introduced myself. “I’m Jenny,” I said, “Come and sit under the tree whenever you like.”

Instead of shaking my hand and releasing it, he held on. His hand seemed frail and gnarled, its paper-skinned surface road mapped with veins and age spots, but his grip was firm.

“You know,” he said, “I would like some of that coffee after all and then I want to tell you about this tree.”

I filled mugs in the kitchen… cream and sugar for me – black for him, please… and rejoined him on the swing.

We sat and sipped and rocked for a bit and then he told me a story of two brothers who came to the United States from Transylvania.

“It was a long, long time ago. Maybe 1811, 1812. They were Saxons, you know, and every good Saxon has to be around a Carpathian walnut tree so they don’t get homesick. They each carried a seedling under their coats. One seedling died. The other travelled all the way across the country. The brothers took turns watering the surviving seedling and keeping it safe. Finally after months and months of travel the brothers discovered this ground. Virgin ground with deep, black topsoil and before they even built this old farmhouse they planted the seedling.”




He took a few sips of his now cooling coffee. I filed away the odd names in my head…Transylvania, Saxons, Carpathian Walnut.


Pointing down the hill he continued, “There’s a spring over that little hill and the brothers watered this little seedling every day. Every day. And finally the tree started to grow.”

I tipped my head back and looked up into the vast spreading boughs . I looked at the immense trunk and remembered my amazement when we were looking at the property for purchase that my three small children and I could not circle the girth of the tree with our joined hands.


I had no idea if his story was true but it captured my imagination and my heart. It seemed fanciful to imagine a tiny seedling carried and protected on a treacherous journey across ocean and land.

Each time I went in and out of the house I would look at the tree.

I don’t think I had ever seen a tree quite as majestic.

I watched it through several seasons…enjoying the sculptural branches in the winter and the delicious thin shelled walnuts each autumn.

Once in awhile, I would see the old man outside, sitting and rocking.

Sometimes I would talk to him, sometimes I would simply wave.

One summer day there was a knock on the porch door.

I opened it to find three gentleman in short-sleeved blue shirts. One held a clipboard. All had little name badges on.

“Are you the owner of this property?” Mr. Clipboard enquired.

“Yes, and you are?”

“We’re with the Horticultural Department at Ohio State University. We’re measuring some of the rarer, non-native trees in the state to approximate how old they are. You have several trees on your property.” He pointed toward the lovely walnut tree. “This tree is a Carpathian Walnut tree. This genus is native to Transvylania. Would it be okay if we take some measurements?”

I was fascinated.

I watched them measure the trunk and set up some odd little surveyors tools in the yard to estimate the height of the tree.

They then repeated the process with an ugly and unusual, skyscraper-high pine tree at the edge of the driveway.

They told me about the pine tree. I can’t actually remember what they said. That tree had never been a favorite of mine…and I had certainly never gotten dreamy eyed over the tale of how it got there.

Then they told me about the walnut tree. “We estimate this tree to have been planted between 1800 and 1815 based on growth patterns in other trees in the state we’ve measured. The family that settled this farm was most likely Saxon. So far we’ve found two slightly bigger specimens in the state but this is certainly a beautiful tree, enjoy it.”

They gave me a business card, shook my hand and took their leave.

I was a little surprised.

What I thought was a legend was actually a true story.

I waited anxiously for the little old man to come and visit so I could tell him what I had learned.

He never came again.

But I suspect even if I would have told him, he would not have been surprised.

I can hear his voice in my memory, “Two Saxon brothers came from Transylvania…”

And I can still imagine the scene in my mind, “…and they each carried a Carpathian Walnut seedling under their coats.”



This post is linked to Alphabe-Thursday in honor of the letter C. To read other C posts, just
click here.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Alphabe-Thursday's Letter C


Good morning class. Welcome to round four of Alphabe-Thursday!

Today we will be cavorting around the cuddly letter:


Please link directly to your Alphabe-Thursday URL (if you don't know how to do this let me know!) and please continue to visit the five links before and after your link and leave a comment. Minimum of 10 links visited please. You can visit more if you like, of course.

I also want to let you know that each week I visit every blog. If it appears I haven't visited your blog by the following Thursday morning, please let me know!

If you have any difficulties with your link, please make sure to include the number of the link when you e-mail me. It is really difficult for me to find you easily otherwise.

If you have any questions about Alphabe-Thursday or problems doing your link just post it in a comment or send me an e-mail. I'll do my best to help you as quickly as I can.

The McLinkey will be live from 1:00 pm MST time Wednesday afternoon in an effort to assist our lovely "friends across the pond" and continue through 10:00 am MST time Friday morning!

And remember.... link back to this post, you need to be registered as a follower of my blog, PG posts only, and visit at least 10 other students (perhaps the 5 students before and after your post). The links will stay live after the final post deadline has passed so you can even wait and visit over the weekend or whenever you have more time.

Please share your cute post about the letter C now!

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