Bountiful Summer, May 29th 2023 537 words

My brothers and I looked forward to the summer months. Not for the hot days nor the warmth nor the sport opportunities. It was the bountiful garden of food.
My dad sold appliances from Grandpa Clifford’s store. Mom had her hands full with four boys and myself. Creatively cutting up one round steak to feed seven mouths, she piled the plate with veggies. Summer was the easiest season to feed her growing families bellies.
From my earliest memory we referred to summer not as months but what we harvested. A basket of black walnuts were in the basement to await yearly shelling. The green husks had had been removed in the fall. We had a long handled nut cracker to break open the dried nuts. The natural dye in the outer shell turned my brothers’s hands black. A brother was asked,
“What is that dark stuff on your hands?”
He replied, “I am spending time with you, My skin is turning black.”
The first crop from the garden was asparagus shoots. Mom steamed them and added to a white sauce to serve over toast. She stated that this was a spring tonic. The smells from the toilet proved her correct.
Strawberries were the fruit in the berry patch. We had to hurry to pick them before the birds.
My favorite pickings were in the raspberries ,where they grew in a fifteen foot long row of bushes. I would crawl under the bushes to eat the ripening fruit on the bottom branches.
Raised to use what was given to us, we had a steady supply of carrots, radishes, peas and beans. Our small patch of pumpkins were harvested for their seeds and then carved into jack o lanterns.
I foraged for morel mushrooms. They reminded me of a wrinkle brown elf cap. My brother were sent to the spring fed creek to pick water crest for salads and sandwiches.
Frogs were caught and brought home for the preparation of fried legs. I could never eat them because the green color of the meat.
We had two old apples trees in the back yard. Eating the fruit before ripened, we suffered through many stomach aches, but we continued to eat the fruit.
Our neighbor , Mr. Eaton, grew a dozen fruit trees. We were invited to gather tart cherries, peaches and winter pears. I would take a brown bag to pick t mulberries on the way home from the recreation department. Learning to pick the blackest fruit to have the sweetest taste. The small green stems had to be bitten off each berry.
My older brother Bob, was sent to the local A and P to purchase over ripe bananas at 10 cents a pound. We teased him because the banana aroma stayed on his clothes until bath time.
When older, we would visit the grandparents homes. There we could find Vernors pop, vine grown tomatoes and a never empty cookie jar filled with windmill shaped almond cookies.
The early lessons in trying new foods helped expanded our appreciation of a varied palate.

free food
grown from the ground,
natures gifts, freely given,
learn where to forage we gather
bounty May 29, 2023

Exploring cellars, May 22, 2023 644 words

I loved to play in my home’s basement. It had a door to the garage and outside. There was a half bathroom with bamboo fishing poles and discarded sport equipment. I would try on the brown boxing gloves, finger the mermaid figure with hooks and try on lifejackets. Each panel of The walls were written with measurements to note the growth of my brothers and I.
As interesting as this exploring was, going down to my Grandpa’s Heatley’s basement was a rare treat. The basement had a set of outside cellar doors. When opened, they had to a low ceiling area that held the washer and dryer along with bits of the past. When I was young, Grandpa kept us out of the basement by telling us that he kept snapping turtles he caught to make turtle soup. I don’t recall any turtles or home made soup. But Grandpa was a jokester. There was an inside door to the basement. It was located in a large storage room between the dining room and the kitchen. There was a toilet in this room because the only bathroom was located upstairs. Often, when I was using the room, The lights would flicker and go out, leaving me in the dark with the sounds of the old house around me.
Grandpa would listen to my tales of sounds and would remark with a straight face, “it must be the ghost of the former owners”.
When I was a teen, I was able to explore the basement as I helped to clean it out in preparation for selling it.
I still wonder where the golden doored church music box went. It would play a Carol as the doors slowly opened to reveal a Christmas tableau then close.
There was a wooden alligator that Grandpa told me was real.
On top of the television, there sat a model of a sailing ship with metal sails. On the deck of the ship, was a clock in the place where cabins would have been located. I would put my eye drops on the deck to remind me to take them at noon and 4 PM.
In the china cabinet were several china cups that had a piece to drink through to protect a man’s mustache from getting wet while he drank his coffee.
I found several old dolls on a dusty shelf in the basement. My Grandma said that I couldn’t have them. They belonged to my aunt Kathleen. I thought that she had left her home and was married with children of her own.
When the old house was renovated, the owners invited my mother to see what they had found in the walls. The items included a windup alarm clock with a bell on the top, one toddler sized button shoe and several shoe buttons with a medal hook to pull the button through the opening. Mother put all the items in an discarded cigar box from Grandpa’s barber shop.
Did my aunts and uncles as children hide them, drop them between walls or were they a game of hide and seek that finally ended 50 years later?
The final mystery was a mummified remains of a bat found under the hole in the front cement steps. I have put them all in my memory treasure chest to spin a tale for another day.

Memory pieces

A brass windup clock
shoe buttons black and white
a wooden alligator
a glass doll head with blue eyes
A humidor with brass walls
A set of pipes, with the faint smell of cherry
A mustache cup for with no one to use it
Two deer heads with large glass eyes..I touched
Off color postcards from customers
a musical Christmas church with opening golden doors.
Gone now to be kept in my memory box in my mind May 22nd 2023

Mother’s Day Memories 5-15-2023 458 words

This day has bitter sweet memories for my family. Twenty three years ago, our mother, Rita Heatley -Turnbull left this life for another. Mother Rita was an organized woman. It was no surprise that she orchestrated her departure. The week before Mother’s Day, all the siblings were told to come to visit Mom on that weekend. We were informed by the hospice nurse that Mom was in the last stages of life.
When entering her bedroom, I expected to see a comatose woman. Instead I met a feisty woman with an agenda. She did not want a vigil of all her children at one time. Instead, she called us in one at a time. When it was my turn, I had a difficult time understanding her words. Thinking she might need a drink of water, I offered her a sip, spilling some on her clothing. With agility, Mom swatted my hand away and called for my brother, Mike. Gently, he held the cup and allowed Mom to get a sip of water. He was in tune to her needs and wishes.
Dad told us that Mom had seen our local priest. She received the last rites of confession and communion. When the day was done, we started to leave. We promised to return the next day after John mowed the grass and checked on Ruth and Grandma Helen. My sister in law, Karen volunteered to stay until we returned. We didn’t want my parents to be alone. Karen was nervous and made dad feel the same.way. He told her that we would be there shortly, and she could leave. Between mid-afternoon and the six pm news, mom arose from her dozing to look around. Spotting Dad in his easy chair, she remarked,”Bruce I really love you!”
Dad watching the sportscaster replied”I love you too.”
That was the last words she spoke. After that she slipped into unconsciousness and quietly died before the end of the news.
When we returned, Dad had called the nurse but she had not arrived. The respirator was still on but Mom no longer needed it. When the nurse arrived, she quietly turned off the the machine. The silence marked her passing.
The day of the funeral was rainy and cold . The weather matched my feelings. The last day of her life the weather was warm and sunny.
Sitting between Dad and Ruth, I I felt the love of Mom for all of us with many memories and stories of a family bonded together with love.

Ritual Nightly, on her knees, she prayed.
Watch over my children.
Be with them, when I cannot.
She planned her death, as she did her life.
With faith and love. May 15, 2023

The fragrance of Lilacs 5-8-2023 303 words

One of my earliest memories of fragrances is of lilacs. My bedroom was over our garage. Outside my window was a old lilac bush. Towering 18 feet, it filled my bedroom in the early summer with the smell of lilacs.
I opened my window to pick bouquets of the blooms. The color of the flowers were a light blue. They hung heavy on the bushes. Care was taken when picking blooms. The scent and colors attracted many bees to gather nectar. I would pick the flowers in the early morning when the worker bees were not as likely to be present.
In the back yard, a hedgerow of lilacs spread across the back of the garden. The were purple except for one bush. This one was creamy white. When gathering the blooms for a bouquet, I would be sure to select white and purple blooms.
As an adult with my own home, I planted a pink flowering lilac to remind me of the lilacs of my youth. The scent of lilacs can evoke memories from my childhood.
On my block, there were many lilacs in neighbors yards. On the corner, three houses away was a grouping of dark purple lilacs planted on the corner close to each other. They grew, intertwining their buds and branches to create an oasis of shade for children to play unseen. My friend Cheryll and I would meet there and spend long hours reading books or talking. The flowers created a pleasant smell. The buzzing of the bees combined with early summer days to create lasting memories.
Recently, I visited the old neighborhood to discover many of the lilacs no longer grow there. But they will remain in my home of the past. Who needs photos, I have my recall of those sweet flowers.

Carol Farnsworth

May Day Celebrations May 1, 2023 307 words

After a long winter, many people celebrate the coming of warm weather. Some of us are delighted to be able to experience another season.
The rites of springtime celebrations go back to Celtic and Norse cultures. Longer days and warmer temperatures lift spirits. In Northern Europe, the day includes cake, , drinks and of course, traditional maypole dances. Many countries have made May 1st a national holiday, having the day off from work.
The traditional May pole dance is performed with young couples swirling and weaving around other couples. Each dancer twirls a long scarf. Originally the scarves were attached to the top of a pole and formed a decorative pattern from the dance.
Other May Day activities include, large bonfires along with the dances. In 1815, The American Indian counsel approved and designated the second Saturday in May for Tribal dancing. This tradition continues. Tribes gather to pow-wow ,to dance, chant and perform drumming. Native crafts and food vendors sell their wares.
The oldest and largest May Day celebration is found in the Hawaiian Islands. There the schools perform Hawaiian Lei making with materials of shells, flowers and vines. The leis are given to friends and family members. On May Day, students show their knowledge of Hawaiian history and culture. Groups compete to win top honors in ancient story chant, hula, and costume making. Each Island had a different dance and story to tell of the myths and stories of their inland.
So on May Day this year, take time to appreciate the diversity of the cultures that encompasses our Spring celebrations.

May Day leis hang from the pole.
Children weave, greenery as they dance.
Practicing all year for dancers to shine.
Reciting ancient Hawaiian rhymes.
Pele and Laka smile down.
From the volcano’s rims. May 1, 2023

Bikers and New Drivers, April 24, 2023, 442 words

There is a rite of spring that can be dangerous. After Easter break, new high school drivers beg their parents to borrow the family car to propel the 2000 pound weapon legally down the road. The drivers may be more interested in being seen by their friends rather that watching for bikers and walkers sharing the road. This week my husband John returned from a bike ride with a tale.
“How was your ride?”
“I had a stand off over by the high school”
“What happened?”
I had a green light to cross. The dismissal bell had rung. Halfway across the intersection, a car, driven by a student, turned in front of me. I stopped to wait to see if he saw me. He stopped but didn’t indicate with a gesture for me to continue. A second car turned right and went around the stopped car. Now there there were two stopped cars in the intersection. I got off my bike and pushed my bike towards the roadside. A third car attempted to pass on the side of the road. Traffic was stopped in both directions. Finally the first driver indicated for me to proceed.
The crossing is several blocks from our home. We live in a subdivision with young bikers and pedestrians and one blind walker. How safe are we at busy times?
As a blind walker, I was trained to listen for the direction of traffic flow to determine when it is safe to walk. With the increase of electric cars, this is difficult. Since 2010, regulations for electric vehicles, mandates the car emit a sound when the car is moving up to eighteen miles per hour.The sound may be a chirp, beep or other sounds. One car engineer stated,” With each car model there could be a different sound. A biker or walker may or may not recognize the sound as an electric car. If several electrical cars are in the road, the sounds may be masked by gas engines.
So what can I, as a blind person do to protect myself.
First, I can wear clothing that is bright and use a white cane when walking. Second, try to to cross intersection at less busy times of the day. Third, when at a busy crossing, wait for another person to cross at the same time. Drivers may see several people crossing.
Being aware of your surroundings may save your life.

I wait.
listening at the crosswalk.
Hearing cars move my way.
Quiet, cars start to move with me across the
Safe crossing.
April, 24, 2023

What a difference a day makes April 17th, 2023 180 words

Spring can be a time of quick changes. Saturday evening, in shorts and short sleeves, rode our tandem to evening Mass. Today my back yard is covered with a light blanket of white. A lone squirrel scampers onto the deck to stare at me. I ignore him as I drink my second cup of coffee.
I start my indoor chores, long deferred with the 80 degree temperatures. The winter clothes could be exchanged for summer attire in the closet. I need to wipe down the kitchen drawers removing the crumbs accumulated during the winter. Finally, there is the matter of straightening the hall linen closet to put away the odd and ends of items that don’t belong.
I ponder my options…then get myself another cup of coffee.

Spring Snow

Soft flakes,
Soft blanket of white,
Covers the yellow forsythia bushes.
Splashes of green, gold and white potpourri.
last hurrah.
copyright 4/17/2023

Lenten birthdays, April 10, 2023, 482 words

As a child, the season of Lent dragged on and on. The seven long weeks bridging the winter to spring season. Coming from a strict Catholic mother, we were also expected to not eat between meals, and to not have meat on Wednesdays or Fridays. Instead of using our allowances to buy candy and go to the movies, we were encouraged to place our coins in the offering basket each Sunday.
My brother Craig’s birthday fell in mid April. This year, his special day fell after Easter. Often, it landed in Lent or specifically, in Holy week, the last week of Lent. During Holy week my Mother buckled down on the family to eat only two small meals with no food on Good Friday until sunset.
I recall one such year, Craig wanted to go to the movies with his friends on Holy Saturday. Mother and Dad discussed the problem and decided to allow Craig to go to the movies with two friends and take me along. Looking back, I think that mom had last minute work to assemble the Easter baskets and wanted to do so without interruptions.
There was a children’s matinee each Saturday. The cost for a ticket was 35 cents. The movie was a Disney or a Lone Ranger offering. Before the show, the manager would take the ticket stubs and put them in a bowl to have twelve tickets pulled for a contest and prizes.
This Saturday, my ticket number was selected but not the birthday boy. I made my way to the stairs on the side of the large screen to claim my prize. There was a large apron of the old Vaudeville shows. I sized up my competition. I was one of the youngest and only girl. The ushers passed out large balloons with the instructions to start blowing then up on the count of three. The first child to blow up and pop his or her balloon would be the winner. I received a bright red balloon, my favorite color. I hated loud noises like bursting balloons and I was sure that I couldn’t beat the competition.
On the count of three, I blew up my balloon but didn’t pop it. Letting out the air, I carefully folded it in my pocket. Now I still had my balloon to use later.
“Why didn’t you pop your balloon?”my brother asked?
“I like red balloons!” I replied.
Later, when I was older, I would explore the stage and dressing rooms of the old theater. That is for another story. For now, I was content with my prize.
Happy birthday Craig

Lenten Woes

No candy
or snacks
Don’t eat between meals
Fish every Friday
coins to pay

For seven long weeks
we waited out Lent
longing for Easter
with the promise of spring.
until Lent was over
no candy, pop, nothing! April 10th, 2023

Jack in a Box, March 27, 2023 762 words

When I was a coed at Eastern Michigan University, a group of my dorm mates selected as a service project, to visit prisoners at the Ypsilanti State Prison. It is classified as a maximum security facility. My dorm was an all girls dorm. Most of the young woman were eighteen to twenty. We had a romantic notion of having a relationship with a prisoner. What we got was a life learning experience.
A prison bus picked us up at the dorm for the drive to the prison. The inside of the bus was cleaned but had seats that were well worn with several ripped cushions. The windows did not operate but were covered by metal mesh . Before entering the bus, a guard checked each girl’s purse looking for contra band and items. Personal possessions were placed in a lock box.
“Your purses and personal items will be returned on the return trip.”
Many of the ladies nervously looked around, as we were led , single file, into the welcome center for visitors.
Two female guards patted down each person with professional detachment. The contents of our pockets were scrutinized before allowing us to proceed into the prison. Many of our items were placed in labeled bags to be returned upon our departure. We were left with pencils and scraps of paper. Finally we entered a multipurpose room sporting basketball hoops and heavy tables and chairs. There was a punch bowl with paper cups and a tray of cookies with napkins. Looking around we wondered where were the prisoners?
A door on the opposite wall opened. A line of young men entered ringed by armed guards. They seemed as scared as I felt. One guard read from a sheet the rules for the dance.
“Ladies sit at the tables. You will be asked by an inmate if you wish to dance or talk. You may refuse. Select only one inmate, he will be your partner for the evening.”
Nervously, the two groups eyed each other. A tall black youth, sauntered to one of the tables to talk with a girl. Gradually more men crossed the middle ground to meet us.
I lowered my eyes to not make eye contact.
“Hi, my name is John, my friends call me Jack. Would like to dance?
I raised my eyes to see a slight man with red hair and freckles smiling at me.
Sure, I guess.”
I was swept away to the tunes by popular bands from the 1970s.
After the song ended, Jack led me to a table, where he got two cups of punch.
I was worried what would I say to this stranger, but Jack did most of the talking. Occasionally I answered with a nod or a quiet yes. I found that the men at the dance were doing time for white collar crimes. They earned the privilege to attend the dance for good behavior.
Looking around at the seated and dancing couples, I was struck how normal we looked, that is until I noticed the guards circulating around the dancers and the armed guards near the doors.
Jack was talking.
“What did you say?”
“I was wondering what you are majoring in?”
Music and theater,” I replied.
“What are you in for?”
Jack smiled,”I wrote some checks that were overdrawn.” “They didn’t come to the dance if we had a committed a violent crime.”
I realized I was way over my head here. I just wanted a little diversion for a Saturday night.
My growing alarm increased when a loud siren began. All the inmates were lined up on near the opposite wall. One by one, each man was searched. One man was lead away through the door.
When Jack returned, he was quiet.
“What that was all about? I inquired nervously.
Some fool tried to pass an item to one of you girls.” That will end the dance.”
Soon several guards entered and positioned themselves around the walls of the room.
“Men, ladies, please say your goodbyes. No touching.”
Jack slipped me a note and without a word he returned to the door on the outside wall.
I didn’t open the note until I was outside and in the prison bus.
” Here is my name and my address. I hope you will be my penpal.”
To this day, I am sorry for not ever writing to Jack. But I did learn about the desperation of prison and what it can do to one’s perceptions.

in a box
no escape from the truth
I am changed.
March 27, 2023

Pound Dogs, March 20, 2023 455 words

I can’t write about family without mentioning our four legged members of the household.
I recall two pets growing up. A large long haired tabby cat named Fluffy. I have a photo of her perched on the side of the bathtub watching as I bathed. Unlike most felines, Fluffy loved to play in water. She would swat at the soap bubbles. A floating translucent globe bitten breaking it’s escape.
A rescue white American Eskimo Spitz, he was named Koke after he wouldn’t respond to his first name, Panda He would bark at UPS trucks. Jumping three feet in the air, he was intimidating behind a closed glass door. I thought he had a bad encounter with a driver in his youth. He was afraid of thunder storms. he would hide in the shower under the shower chair. This was a dark and quiet place to hide. John had a an English Setter named Junior. John he referred to him as his son. Junior was also afraid of thunder. He would lay at the edge of the living room carpet and look longing at John in his easy chair. Slowly, Junior would creep towards John and safety. He would end up in John’s lap.
John’s tells stories of the collection of mixed breed mutts that were kept when he lived in Detroit.
My father in law, worked as a heavy equipment operator for the city. He had a soft heart for the stray dogs that would beg from the workers. Bringing many of them home, to my mother in law’s chagrin. The pack included Puddles and Poo, two labradors with little common sense. Two black and tans named Big face and little face. Little face would issue one large woof to alert the household to a visitor then he would lay down. His work was through.
There was a beagle referred to as Mike. Having grown up in the city streets, he had a bit of an attitude. But the most aggressive of the pack was Rex, a scrawny German Shepard. He had a fierce growl that scared many of the neighbors. No one messed with Rex.
There were many other dogs but they moved on before they became a part of the family.
When I visit local animal shelters, I remember the kindness of one man who adopted dogs from the Detroit streets.

by Carol Farnsworth
The city burned with turmoil.
Flames engulfed abandoned houses, leaving pets behind.
One man took pity, sharing his lunch with them.
They didn’t want to leave him.
He took them home to his inner city home.

They became the protecters of the home and family.
Isolating them from the burning world around then. March 20, 2023