Where did all the snow go? January 23, 2023 539 words

Here in western lower peninsula of Michigan, we have had two snow falls of over 20 inches each. In between the snow has melted away. We are accustomed to snow on the ground from January till mid April. Not so this year.
In my home town of Northville, The area on the east side of the state was referred to as the Swiss Alps of Wayne county. Glaciers left deposits of sand, gravel and dirt, forming the hills surrounding the town. From one hill, you can glimpse the tall buildings of Detroit 24 miles away.
My dad tells a story about skiing with his sister Marian holding onto tow ropes, while their mother drove down the deserted Edward Hines Parkway.
I recall wading through waist deep snow to take cookie orders for my girl scout troop. The pity factor was in my favor. I sold over 100 boxes.
Near the Horse race track, the local recreation dept. flooded the small parking lot to form an ice skating rink. It had lighting for skating after dark.My whole family skated. I was embarrassed because I had hand me down hockey skates. My skates were black instead of the white figure skates like the other girls wore. To get them to fit, I had to wear two pairs of heavy socks.
There were several sledding hills in the parkway. My favorite was at the end of Eaton drive. If you slid too far the hill ended at a spring that never froze. The water hazard lent excitement to the run.
The parkway also boasted a toboggan run. Whole families would race down the steep hill, to slide into hay bales to help them stop.
The former site of a tuberculosis treatment center became the Mayberry State Park. The wooded paved paths were perfect for cross country skiing. I would drive to the park to ski from the staff entrance. Often ,I would have the park to myself in the early dawn.
This year, people can take walks without worries about slipping on the ice and snow. Perhaps there is some truth to global warning.

Alone with Myself

Morning sun broke over a sparkle filled woods.
Carrying my poles and skis, I searched for a place to sit.
A long fallen trunk offered a purchase.
Jamming my poles into the drift, I slipped on one ski then the other.
I stood with the help of the poles, ready to push off.
The rhythm of the skis gliding made a soft swish in the quiet of the day.
My mind was free to ponder as long trained muscles took up the remembered cadence of moving.
I saw the low hanging branch and swerved to the right.
Snow and ice crackled underfoot as I crested the rise.
Tucking my poles under my arms, I raced down the hill to the pond.
The clear, smooth surface called to me.
I turned away fearing I would break through.
Instead, I rested to let my breathing slow and listen to the sound of my pulse in my ears.
Worried thinking vanished as I joined nature awakening to the sunrise.
I breathed long gulps of chilly air.
Renewed in body, mind and spirit.

Carolaspot@aol.com copyright 1-23-2023

Martin Luther King’s Day of Service, January 16, 2023 507 words

In 1983 Ronald Reagan signed a bill to commemorate Martin Luther King’s Day . It was celebrated national wide starting in 1986. Many people are familiar with his famous speech, “I have a Dream.” But what do we know about the rise of this Baptist minister? As a leader in the Civil Rights movement from 1955 to 1965.
As a young man, Martin was greatly influenced by the non-violent resistance practiced by the Indian people to resist British rule and gain their independence. Dr. King sought to resist discrimination with non violent marches, singing and prayers. Many people joined the marches risking imprisonment ,beating and even death to challenge the established norms. Gandhi was imprisoned 13 times. Dr. Martin Luther King was jailed 30 times for non violent resistance protests.
From the Montgomery bus boycott to the march from Selma to Montgomery AL. to protest voting laws. That kept non white voters from registering to vote.
There were other protests before this. On March 1st 1965, 600 people participated in the first of three marches towards the state capital. They were turned back before crossing the The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma Al. The first march was attended by over 50 priests, ministers and other clergy. It was chronicled in the writings of Fr. Thomas Carroll in his correspondence.
“Fifty of us clergy rode a bus from Boston to Selma. We were met by parishioners to feed and house the group. When we lined up in the early morning, I knew that my 6 foot, four inch height and my collar would make a prime target for snipers. We walked in a tight formation , singing, We shall Overcome We followed Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to the start of the bridge into Selma. Halted by the Alabama National Guard, I noted hate in the eyes of the guards. Dr King knelt to pray for the police and the people of Alabama. I couldn’t kneel due to an injured leg. Bending low, I continue to imagine my head in a rifle sight. Young boys, circulated through the marchers informing us to turn around after the prayer. I was never so scared and elated to return to the bus.”
I think of this day of service and know that I will not be putting myself in harms way. But The spirit of Dr. King reminds me to be mindful while I read books to children at the local library, cleaning the cafeteria or pack lunches at the children food basket. Working with others to build community will last more than one day.
So what are you going to do to promote change where you live? Then do it! One day at a time.

Step by Step

Step by step we walk arm in arm with others.
Winds of change are in the air.
Opening our eyes, we truly see each other.
Masks fall away as the true self is revealed.
With mindfulness, we smile at the stranger.
Looking into their eyes we glimpse ourselves.

carolaspot@aol.com copyright 1/16/2023

White and Gray January 9th , 2023 259 words

This time of the year is filled with dark cloudy days. Cold blasts roll from Lake Michigan to deposit freezing rain or snow, depending on the temperature.
I long for the occasional glimpse of a hazy sun behind clouds. Daylight last less than eight hours a day. When I had daylight driving restrictions, I would drive to and from work as soon as I could see. I would experience daylight only on the weekends.
Though I no longer see true light, the memory of day after day of dark filled precipitation , promotes melancholy in my actions. Usually, I can imagine a warmer and brighter world. Today I am at a loss to know day from night. My family and friends wonder how I know the difference. I must listen to hear the chirping of birds at the feeder or barking of squirrels , waiting their turn at the water trough.
The weather person has predicted a sunny weekend. I will sit on my porch and feel the sun’s warmth to recharging my mental batteries. Storing the sun in my face, I am ready for another string of cloudy days. January can’t last more than thirty one days.

Clouds and Sun

“What are you doing?”
I turn to the voice and smile.
“I am feeling the warmth of the sun.”
“It is below freezing!”
Still smiling, I reply,”I can feel the sun.”
“How do you feel clouds?”
Thinking before I reply,”I feel the frozen moisture in the air.”
We both sit to feel the day.

carolaspot@aol.com January 9th 2023

New Year’s day 2023 481 words

Happy New Year’s Day to all my readers. I wish to thank you for taking a virtual flight on Blind on the lite side. It is hard to believe that I am begining my 5th year as a blogger. Whether you are an occasional traveler or a regular visiter, I wish to thank you for making my blog a part of your weekly schedule. I will do my best to amuse, inform and entertain you in 2023.
For my husband and myself, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day was a time to retire early. John worked on the equipment that sorted the mail. This was a time to do maintenance of the equipment. His work hours were 6 am to 3:30 pm. Often, he would volunteer to work holidays so others could enjoy the day with their families. We were in bed by 8:30 pm.
Not so with John’s mom and our daughter Ruth. For many years we would host a sleep over for a half dozen of Ruth’s friends. They would have special snacks and sparkling juice toasting the new year at midnight.
Grandma helped by buying noisemakers and legal fireworks for the girls to use to welcome the new year. They decorated the trees in our backyard with rolls of cheap toilet paper and confetti poppers. The only request, was to help with cleanup before they left on January first.
Grandma’s family had hosted a New Year’s party for many years. Hosting the party for Ruth’s friends brought fond memories and created others.
One year, John bought fireworks that shot up in the air. He lined them up on our back stone wall. That year, we had a covering of snow to prevent the dry leaves from starting a fire.
With Grandma gone and Ruth moved into her own home, John and I may watch the ball drop in Times Square after the last of the Christmas movies we love. I find I fall asleep cuddled next to john on the couch. We remind each other of good times from past years. Toasting the next year with non-alcoholic wine. We will raise a glass to all our family and friends on this night. May 2023 b e a blessed year for all of us.

Out With the Old, In with the New

Opening my closet, I remove clothes that no longer fit. Matching tops and bottoms to find outfits. I search the desk drawers to discard unwanted items.
I bag useful items for the resale shop. Old magazines and papers are place in the bin
They will be recycled as insulation in walls.
Slowly I am downsizing my possessions, offering them to family and friends.
I came into this world with nothing and I will take nothing with me, only the love of others and a life well lived.
Carol Farnsworth Jan. 2023 copyrighted 2023


A Cookie for all Seasons, Rockies, December 26th 2022 215 words

Christmas Rockies were the last cookie selection I made this year. This a favorite of the whole family. It is filled with walnuts and dates. John talks of his Grandmother Helen making small loaves of a bread. For years, he thought this was fruit cake. Now, we make cookies instead of the cakes.
We have made another cookie, named Chinese Stony’s . These were a round hard ball of dough. The recipe made many dozen of the small hard balls. John jokes that he and his brothers fed the last of these morsels to their dog. Mike, a mixed breed mutt was always hungry. The boys tossed the unwanted cookies until Mike’s belly was distended and he could hold no more.
The Christmas Rockies resembled small rocky hills. They remained soft and chewy until they were gone.
One of my Mother’s friends always sent her a gift of special dates for the holidays. Half of the dates were dusted with powder sugar. The other half were dates stuffed with a large pecans. I have associated this treat with Christmas for years.
Attached is the audio file for the last holiday cookie. Enjoy the aromas and tastes of the season. Talk to family and friends to hear about their special holiday food memories. A taffy pull anyone?.

carolaspot@aol.com 12-26-22

For the Squirrels December 19, 2022 450 words

As I finished the last of the holiday baking, I caught sight of a single squirrel scampering on the back porch. He jumped up onto the bench to get a drink of water from a heated bird bath. He headed for the bird feeders to search for a snack.
Several years ago, I had the bright idea I would construct a gingerbread house for the wildlife. The walls and roof were made of three year old cookie rectangles. John glued the pieces together with super glue. Once the house was finished, I started the decorating.
First the outside was coated with lard and peanut butter. Bird seed sprinkled on the top to give the feeling of texture and color to the roof. The windows were etched with black sunflower seeds. Final touches of a wreath of pretzel pieces on the door and mini-marshmallows around the edge of the walls.
We put it out on Christmas Day to see how the birds and Squirrels would respond. They avoided the new object but the smell of peanut butter attracted the squirrels.
Day after day the house was eaten. First went the sugar and salt. Then the seeds on the roof. Finally the edges of the roof and walls were chewed. One morning, I looked out to see a fat squirrel sitting inside the cookie house chewing on a back wall. A heavy rain that evening put an end to the house.
I smiled as I looked up to see the squirrel watching me. Opening the cabinet, I found a couple of walnuts. Smiling , I tossed them to the squirrel.
“Here is something that is good for you. “
He sat , waiting for more.
“Ok, is this what you want?”
I rolled a pfeffernusse cookie across the porch floor. He scurried to retrieve the cookie and the nuts, I thought,”Once exposed to sugar, they can smell it,”
Below is the audio file of the family recipe for Pfeffernusse spicy cookie balls. They can be enjoyed by more that the squirrels.

Spring into Springerlies bakingDec. 12, 2022 605 words

John’s grandmother came to America in the late eight hundreds with her family. They were looking for a better life for themselves and opportunities for their children. They settled in the Detroit area to raise their family. The family expanded and produced many branches. One of the branches was John’s grandmother , Helen. She taught the three girls to make many recipes and Polish dishes. These dishes were served for the holidays.
As a new wife, I witnessed the productive efficiency of Christmas cookie creation. One person rolled the dough, another cut out the cookies with cutting forms. The third scooped up the cookie and slid them on to a baking sheet. This cookie must have been a favorite. Some of the recipes made many dozens of cookies. As the cookies age, the texture changes from a hard to a soft chewy confection. The best flavor peaks in two to three weeks. They are stored in a tight container.
John noted that his mother had to hide some of the batch so there would be cookies for the holidays. You may ask,”How many cookies does one family of five people need.”
In john’s moms family there were six children, three boys and three girls. The parties started with Christmas Eve at Grandpa’s house going through New Year’s Eve. Each family hosted a dinner with family members bringing more food to share.
Grandpa Smolinski made kielbasa a traditional polish sausage. He ground the meat, added spices to the raw meat then stuffed the mixture into sausage skins. The sausages were hung to age before cooking. John’s mom and dad picked New Years to host the gathering.
One year, there was an ice storm late that night. Many of the family stayed overnight to avoid the ice until the streets were cleared. John recalls letting his dog, Mike out the back door to relieve himself. Mike, slid from the back steps, across the drive finally stopping in a snow pile. Neither the people nor the dogs went out again that evening.
The family members moved farther from each other. The gatherings were dropped except for Christmas Eve at Aunt Laurie’s and Uncle Joe’s. Unexpected guests were given gifts reserved for such an occasion. I found out about this when we stopped there on Christmas Eve with our young daughter. Ruth even received a special toy from Santa himself in person.
The joy and sharing of these memories remind us of the importance of family, church and community for immigrants to America. As I knead the cookie dough and cut the shapes of circles, bells and trees, the tradition of gathering and sharing the goodness of the past year mingles with retrieved memories.
Whatever special foods are in your childhood, try to make and serve them as a tribute to those who have gone before us. The lemon/anise recipe is below.

Springerle (Anise ) Cookies
Preheat oven to 350 Degrees
4 eggs
One pond powdered sugar
One teaspoon lemon extract
4 cups flour
One teaspoon baking powder
In a 1/4 cup very hot water
Two teaspoons anise flavoring
3 tablespoons anise seed
Beat eggs until light and fluffy . Stir in sugar, beat until combined then add lemon , anise and anise
seed . Mix flour and baking powder and add to mix
Cool the dough in the refrigerator for one hour.
Roll out to 3/8th thick and cut into desired shapes.
Put on greased cookie sheets or parchment paper . Bake for 12 to 15 minutes . When cool store in a
covered container for 2 to 3 weeks before serving.
Makes three dozen cookies.

December 12th 2022

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas Dec. 5, 2022 1084 words

I am reminded of the holiday song,”It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.” John and I started early to shop, write cards and finishing baking. We have peanut brittle, springerles , a lemon/anise cookie, Christmas rockies, a date/ nut cookie and Chinese stonies or phefernuse a spicy ball . The home aroma changes with each cookie batch.
John started this baking frenzy creating two loaves of bread shaped like a turkey in profile. The head, feathers and feet were painted with gel food coloring, egg whites and heavy cream. See below for our first attempt. The second one was eaten too fast to get a photo.
The Christmas rockies, Chinese stonies and springerles are from John’s childhood. My family made sugar cookies cut out with a donut cutter. My mom decorated them with green frosting around the circle. Small red cinnamon hearts completed the effect of a wreath.
For many years, John has made many batches of peanut brittle. Recently, he has expanded to produce pumpkin seed and cashew brittle. We distribute the goodies to family and friends.
I am the official taste taster. I try samples of each batch. This was formerly John’s mother’s responsibility. Helen took her job seriously. She would take several samples before her approval was given.
We are rewarded with the smiles and thanks for our baking efforts. My brother Brian will open his brittle to take the first piece. At 62, he is still a kid when it comes to sugar. Last week, he called to ask us if we hid his brittle after our Thanksgiving visit. We informed him that he must wait until nearer to Christmas, Brian was placated with the box of chocolates we left behind.
At the end of the blog is one of the recipes I mentioned. The turkey is the first recipe to be served . Happy baking!

Turkey Bread recipe

3/4 cup whole milk

Two 1/4-ounce packages active dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for serving

3 large eggs, at room temperature

4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (see Cook’s Note)

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/4 cup heavy cream

Red gel food coloring

Yellow gel food coloring

Orange gel food coloring

2 milk chocolate chips
Heat the milk in a small saucepan until it just begins to simmer, then remove from the heat and let cool to 115 degrees F. Stir in the yeast and let stand until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes.
Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the sugar, butter and 2 of the eggs and stir until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix on medium-low speed until the dough comes together. Increase the speed to medium high and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line the back of a baking sheet with parchment. Whisk together the heavy cream and remaining egg for an egg wash.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Roll the dough into an 11-inch circle.
For the neck and head: Using shears, cut a 6-inch slit from the top of the circle down the left side of the circle, 1 inch in from the side. Pinch in 4 inches from the top of the dough strip. The top of the strip will be the turkey head and the bottom will be the neck. Fold the head over the top of the neck. Adjust and refine the neck and head shapes by slightly thinning the neck and pressing the head into a rounder, flatter shape, pulling the tip of the dough out to create a pointed beak.
For the wings, wattle and feet: Trim off a 7-by-2-inch strip of dough from the bottom right edge of the dough curve. Cut the strip into 6 long triangles. Form 4 of them into long teardrop shapes for the wings and wattle. Make feet from the 2 remaining triangles by cutting 2 short slits on the short ends of the triangles. Pinch and slightly stretch the 3 dough strips on each triangle to make toes. Set the feet, wings and wattle aside.
For the tail feathers: Working along the top two-thirds of the dough circle, use kitchen shears to snip 1-inch-wide strips of dough down toward the middle of the circle (sort of like rays of the sun). Make 2 shallow snips into each strip so that they form spikes; the spikes should point outward to the edge of the circle. Pinch the ends of each feather to a point.
For the coloring: Brush the turkey head, neck and body–but not the tail feathers–with the egg wash. Divide the remaining egg wash among three bowls and color them red, orange, and yellow with food coloring.
Brush 2 of the reserved teardrop shapes with the red egg wash. Tuck the narrow end of 1 red teardrop under the turkey head for the wattle (it will sit on the neck). Put aside the second red teardrop.
Brush the 2 remaining teardrops orange and yellow. Arrange the orange, yellow and remaining red teardrops in a fan to make a wing. Place the wing on the turkey near the base of the neck.
Brush the 2 feet with the yellow egg wash and tuck them under the body at the bottom of the circle. Brush the tip of the turkey’s beak with the yellow egg wash. Brush the tips of the turkey tail feathers with yellow egg wash. Brush the center of the feathers with the orange wash. And brush the base of the feathers with the red wash, making sure the lines are in an arc.
Bake until the bread is slightly golden brown and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. While the bread is still warm, press the chocolate chips into the face of the turkey to make eyes. Let the bread cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm with butter

Below is a link to a video about forming the turkey

Thanksgiving with an Extended Family November 28, 2022 554 words

My younger brother Brian and his wife Ann hosted the annual family gathering this Thanksgiving. It was a combination of vegan and traditional dishes. The meal featured wild rice soup, cornbread pudding, roasted Brussels Sprouts and cheesy mashed potatoes. My husband made a turkey shaped bread loaf for the kids table. Yes, we had 5 children under 8.
I recall past Thanksgiving meals where the Heatley side of the family gathered the day before at Grandma and Grandpa’s home. The table was so long that it extended from the dining area into the living room beyond. Each family sat together rather than having a children’s table. I recall many cousins around the table.
On Thanksgiving day, we gathered either at Grandpa and Grandma Turnbull’s home or in later years at our home for the meal. The main meal was served at halftime and the dessert and coffee was delayed until the end of the game. The game was the Detroit Lions vs the Chicago Bears. Each Thanksgiving, I would set the table while Great Aunt Pearl, and Grandma would prepare the meal. My Mother and Aunt Marian stayed out of their way in the small kitchen. My Mom would wash cooking dishes as they were used then discarded.
As a child, I thought that the meal took forever to place on the table. My stomach growled as I waited for the extended Thanksgiving prayer to conclude. I went for the olives first. It didn’t matter if they were black or green. Next I scooped up a large helping of turkey stuffing.
One year, Aunt Pearl brought a goose for my mother to prepare. It had been in her freezer for a long time. Neither she nor my mother had a clue how goose should be prepared. It turned out to be very greasy and chewy. That year, we ate vegetarian.
This year, the meal was cooked by seven different cooks. Clay Drake and his brother Tray provided the turkey.
Twelve adults and five children shared the feast.
I noticed that the family all talked at once, making it difficult to follow and listen to each speaker. I gave up and smiled while petting one of Ann’s dogs. Several voices were distinctive to be understood over the others. I did my best to remain alert , but I must have dosed a bit.
The salad and then the courses were brought to each person at the table. This may have been due to the tightness of the seating.
Feeling for the silverware, glasses and dishes, I orientated what was in my area. I made it successfully through the salad, soup and main courses. We had dessert after a short break to clean up the dishes.
I returned to the family room near the fire.
“Aunt Carol, you are the oldest family of the family” quipped my niece .
“How did that Happen?” I mused
My childhood memories tumbled down with a reality check. I was the oldest family member there and the oldest woman in the family.
“Where was brother Bob when I needed him?”

Next year, I will be sure to have one of my older brothers on hand. mean while I will enjoy the blending of the generations, hugging each of my family members. I am blessed. Happy Holidays.
carolaspot@aol.com copyright November 29, 2022

Deer hunting Season, week two, November 21, 2022 548 words

Our weather is perfect for the hunters this year. There is six to eight inches of snow on the ground with more expected. The snow makes it easier to track a wounded deer. Michigan’s Dept. of Natural Resources has reported 150,000 deer have been harvested state wide.
I wish to thank my brothers for comments relating to other hunting stories. I am grateful for their memories.
Bob reported he recalled Grandpa Turnbull had the deer hides tanned for future use. Bob and Craig remembered receiving deer hide gloves ,that were sewn for each boy. I never received gloves, but my mother sewed a purse for me from the last of the hides.
The hides were a soft brown and felt similar to a chamois cloth. I loved to rub my hand over the skin, imagining the beautiful animal it was from.
Both brothers related the last fishing trip Grandpa Heatley and my Dad took. Grandpa was more of a fisherman. He wanted to go fishing later in his life. He and my Dad traveled to the Upper Peninsula to fish. The trip took many hours. By the time they arrived, Grandpa was too stiff and sore to get into the boat. They came home without getting the last chance to fish.
Craig told the story of Dad’s last hunting trip. John’s family owned a farm of 110 acres. He wanted to hunt one more time like his father and father in law. Craig took him to the farm and situated him near a harvested corn field , in a sheltered blind to hunt. Dad was across the road in another field.
Craig saw a deer and fired, he thought he wounded him. When he tracked the deer, the deer was gone. There was some fur but no blood.
Hearing a shot from across the street, Craig saw his excited dad hurrying towards him.
“I got one! Come quick!”
When Craig examined the deer, there was a crease from a bullet on his right shoulder.
The deer had been shot by both father and son. Dad got the bragging rights and Craig got most of the meat.
Grandpa Heatley had a deer head in his barber shop on display. I don’t know if one of the Grandpa’s shot it. But it was on display for many years. I remember touching the glass eyes and wondering if they were real. The deer seemed sad to end up as a fixture in a barber shop. I never heard a story about the mounted head.
Hunting season will end after Thanksgiving. The deer and I will both rejoice.

Girls hunting trip

Every year, my dad and brothers went deer hunting.
My mother would take me to Detroit to the large Hudson’s department store.
Driving to five points, we then caught the bus to downtown.
The store had sixteen floors, in different themes.
My favorite floor was one that was devoted to children shopping for their family members.
No parents were allowed. all the gifts were priced under five dollars.
I would browse, looking for the perfect gift for my mom.
No cheap dime store perfume for her.
After shopping, we rode the elevator to the restaurant .
I always ordered clam chowder.
It was a whole day event

Copyright Nov. 21st ,2022