Category Archives: Family

Dear Diary, Aug 20, 1958

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I recently found my old diary, pictured above. I was eleven years old when I wrote the entry below.

Dear Diary

August 20, 1958

Dear Diary,

After I got up I started to clean up living room and finished after dinner*. Then I read, played cards and watched t.v. Patti and I just had a fight. She wanted to listen to her radio and I was listening to t.v. or I should say watching it. Anyway, it causes a little static when the t.v. is on too so Patti turned off the t.v. I kept turning it on and she off. Well, finally I shut if off for a while and went up to listen to her radio. She didn’t like that either because I was humming, so she told me to read a book.  I wanted to watch one of my favorite programs so I turned on the t.v. She started crying and I can’t bear to see a woman cry so I turned it off and told her for a girl of 15 who thinks she’s a lot older, she sure was a baby sometimes. For that, she hit me with a book hard.

P.S I’m writing the part about our fight outside.

………….

*We called lunch dinner back then.

Love the last line. Ha!!! Sorry, Patti, but this was too funny not to share. She now lets me watch TV whenever I want to plus she pays my land taxes and signs my income taxes for me and performs all sorts of other generous sisterly duties.  xooxox

Easy Street

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Easy Street

Her wishful dreams did not include the latest Paris fashions.
Pedicures and facials were not numbered in her passions.
Being a wife and mother was what she loved the best.
It’s said that wild horses couldn’t drag her from the nest.

If they held a World Olympics of mothering and wifery,
she’d excel in matches such as ironing and knifery,
and her family members no doubt would all concur
that she’d capture golden medals in the wash and bake and stir.

If you questioned her contentment, you’d hear her lilting laugh
as she dished up cornmeal muffins, buttering each half,
thawed out frozen orange juice, avoiding the debate
as she hurried us through breakfast, afraid that we’d be late.

When the fifteen minute warning bell was rung across the street
in the school bell tower, we beat a fast retreat.
She drained her cup of coffee, then poured another cup,
put fish food in the goldfish bowl and fed the cat and pup.

She filled the sink with wash water and scrubbed and dried and listened
to her morning radio until the glasses glistened.
She’d make the noontime casserole and put it on slow bake.

Sometimes make a cherry pie or a chocolate cake.

She’d sweep the floors and make the beds, polish, dust and mop
until the noon bell sounded and she had to stop.
She’d make a hasty salad of lettuce and tomatoes
and serve what we called dinner— ham and scalloped potatoes,

meatloaf, hamburgers or a ring of cooked baloney,
Spanish rice or navy beans or cheese and macaroni.
Spaghetti, ham and cabbage, goulash or steamed steak—
whatever she could fry or steam or boil or broil or bake.

My dad would come in from the fields and eat and leave again.
With just an hour for lunch, we kids were always in a spin
to get back to the playground and lay claim to the best swings
or be first in line for tether ball or other schoolyard things.

Then she lay down on the sofa with our little terrier curled
right up close beside her as she learned about the world
through books, papers and magazines, reading there until
the let-out bell was sounded and kids bolted down the hill.

Time enough for supper preparations to be started
as one by one she was rejoined by her dearly departed.

Tales of school spats, teachers’ stories, what our best friends said.
From four to five, our childish raves and rants swirled through her head.

Then my father home again to wash up at the sink,
his mouth up to the faucet for a little drink.
“Use a glass, Ben,” She would say. A rather tardy rule
as he sank into his chair with feet up on a stool.

Supper at six, then radio, or later the T.V.
Dad in his favorite rocking chair, teasing my sis and me.
Mother in her usual place, prone on the divan 
reading “Redbook,” eating stove-popped popcorn from the pan.

Did she wish she’d gone to college and had a different life
than just being a mother and a rancher’s wife?
She would laugh and say to us, seemingly undaunted,
“Girls, basically I’m lazy. I’ve had just the life I wanted!”

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Word prompts for today are horses, wishful, concur, laugh and nest.

 

Faith, Fame and Family

 

(I think I have a bit more faith than is demonstrated in this poem. What enters us to write through us is more an exploratory being than one completely sure of what we write. I do believe, however, that more evil has been done in this world by those absolutely sure of the rightness of their faith and their beliefs than by those who continue to explore, and the older I get, the more I realize that although part of a larger world and universe, we are all unavoidably alone in our existence.)

The prompt words today are solitary/solitude, alive, ephemeral and inspire.

 

Shelter: Portrait for Weekend Mini Challenge

 

Shelter

On the prairies of Dakota, 
weather often came with exclamation marks.
My father’s forehead was ringed like an old tree,
white from above his eyebrows to his fast-retreating hairline,
from his hat pulled low to guard from every vagary of weather.
“It’s hot as the hubs of Hell!” he’d exclaim as he sank into his chair at noon,
sweeping his hat from his head to mop his brow.
A nap after lunch, then Mack’s Cafe for coffee with his friends,
then back to work in the field until dark, some days.

“Cold as a witch’s teat in January!” was as close to swearing 
as I ever heard my dad get, November through March,
stomping the snow off rubber

overboots in the garage, tracking snow from his cuffs through the mudroom/laundry.
Cold curled like Medusa’s ringlets off his body.
We learned to avoid his hands,

red with winter, nearly frozen inside his buckskin gloves.

His broad-brimmed hat, steaming near the fireplace
as we gathered around the big formica table in the dining room.
Huge beef roasts from our own cattle, mashed potatoes and green beans.
Always a lettuce salad and dessert. The noon meal was “dinner”—
main meal of the day.

Necessary for a farmer/rancher who had a full day’s work still ahead of him.

Our weather was announced by our father
with more color than the radio weather report.

Spring was declared by his, “Raining cats and dogs out there!”
Only now have I really thought about how we were protected
from the vagaries of weather as from so much else.
It was a though my father bore the brunt of all of it, facing it
for us, easing our way. It was his job.

We were sheltered, all of us,
from those extremes of that land I didn’t even know was harsh
until years later, living in milder climates,
remembering the poetry
of how a man who really lived in it
gave us hints of its reality.

 

This is an extensive rewrite of a poem published earlier this year, redone for a prompt given by the weekend mini challenge  to create a portrait with words that is based on a photograph or painting of a person.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mother.

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My mother, whose maiden name was  Eunice Lydia King, went by the name of “Pat” Dykstra for all of her married life. She died at the age of 91 in 2001, which means she would have been 109 this year. She kept her youthful sense of humor, her keen wit and her independence for her entire life. I thank her for all of the meals cooked, white blouses pressed, animals trained, constant support, laughter, for creating such a beautiful and secure home and for instilling within me a love of books and rhyme. I would give anything to be able to spend this Mother’s Day with her, floating in the pool and drinking frozen daiquiris, which if I recall correctly, she called “Daktaris!”

Predisposed to Erudition

 

Predisposed to Erudition

Central to dad’s disposition
was his need for exposition.
Topics such as  soil condition,
family stories, nuclear fission,
required a bit of erudition.
And every tale’s newest edition
had its own unique rendition.

 

Today’s prompt word was disposition. Here is the link:
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/your-daily-word-prompt-disposition-may-9-2019/

Career Guy

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Career Guy

By the time that he gets home at night, his wife is muttering,
but he’s too busy for analysis. Therapy’s not his “thing.”
She says they must examine whether they should part.
He says business takes precedence over affairs of heart.
Even when he’s finally home, his attention’s rarely won
by all her little anecdotes of what the kids have done
at school and right here at home. She tries to draw him in,
but still his mind’s not with her. He’s intent on where he’s been.

This goes on for years and years until one day he finds
when he gets home at nine o’clock, that she has drawn the blinds.
And when his key turns in the lock, there’s no one there to greet him—
no friendly cooking odors or kids are there to meet him.
Nobody in the bedrooms. Nobody in the hall.
When he enters the kitchen, nobody there at all.
He tries to think what day it is, but he doesn’t know.
Could it be a Friday night? Could they be at the show?

He searches for a note that says where everyone may be,
but his intensive searching ends in futility.
No toys are scattered on the floor. Their closets are all bare.
No TV noise is blaring. No footsteps on the stair.
His briefcase on the table has papers sticking out.
He has a lot of work to do. Of this there is no doubt.
And since it’s not his nature this paperwork to shirk,
he mixes a martini and settles down to work.

Of course his business flourishes once there are no distractions.
He need not fill his home life with discussions and reactions.
He has gained three hours or more to work thus unencumbered.
Frozen dinners and new contracts filled his life until he slumbered.
He saw their pictures on the fridge when mixing a libation,
and once a year he saw them when they were on vacation.
He walked his daughter down the aisle the day that she was married,
trying to fulfill his role, though he was slightly harried

over the Dixon contract, yet he sat worry aside
just long enough to witness as she became a bride.
Later there were grandkids and other celebrations.
He sent his warmest wishes and his congratulations.
He always paid the child support on time with no exceptions.
He made a show at baby showers and birthdays and receptions.
But he never really showed them his affection much until
he finally revealed it, much later, in his will!!!

 

Prompt for today are busy, anecdote and examine. Here are the links:
https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/rdp-wednesday-busy/
https://fivedotoh.com/2019/04/17/fowc-with-fandango-anecdote/
https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/17/your-daily-word-prompt-examine-april-17-2019/