Tag Archives: dad

Liquid Yolk

 

Liquid Yolk

He holds the hot egg in one hand, turning it as he taps it gently with the knife edge in a perfect horizontal line, and lifts the top off like a skull cap to reveal the molten golden lava of the half-congealed yolk. It spills out in a river as he moves his spoon around the shell to remove the white in one solid unblemished half-oval—shining, still steaming from the boiling water it has so recently been surrounded by. 

The egg rests on the square of toast and is soon joined by its equally perfect other half, mashed
onto the toast to be lightly sprinkled with salt, dusted with black pepper. Then, the final perfect ingredient to this gracefully executed breakfast favorite—one delicate sprinkle of cider vinegar from the tiny stoppered glass vinegar cruet and the neat slicing with fork and knife, the lifting to lips, the dabbing of yolk from the plate with another triangle lifted  from the toast plate.

The final smacking of lips and the long satisfied sigh as he places his knife and fork across his empty plate. My father, a large man with work-hardened hands, is like an artisan in his neat and graceful maneuvering of the utensils, his napkin blotting any errant egg from his lips before raising, at last, the coffee cup to his lips to wash it all down.

Soft boiled eggs, toast and coffee. Bright yellow, white and brown are the colors of the morning as the school bell rings and I am off in a mad dash to slide into my seat in my schoolroom across the street before its last peal.  This memory of my father eating soft boiled eggs was early morning poetry that I have not forgotten half a century and more later. It is the little things, the small beauties, that stick like liquid yolk to our memories.

 

 

For dVerse Poets prompt: food

My father put vinegar on everything from cabbage to eggs. I loved to watch him eat, for it was at the table that he was transformed from  a hard-working farmer-rancher with wheat in his pants cuffs to a cultured gentleman with impeccable table manners. In this prose poem I try to replicate my father’s artistry in disassembling a soft-boiled egg. The cruet above is one of the few objects I claimed when I went to pack up our house after my father’s death. I still use it for cider vinegar, and think of my dad every time I open the cupboard and see it on the shelf.

Ben Dykstra’s Bottom

All of Ben Dykstra!!!

When Dwight Roth of Rothpoetry commented on this old post it caused me to read it again and I laughed so hard that I had to reblog it again. Who can’t use a good laugh? Thanks, Dwight, for bringing it to mind again. (Be sure to read the part about the church bulletin snafus…the part about dad is just an intro to it.)

lifelessons - a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown

murdo-coyote-march-28-2013_5889da83b6d87faea58b4b72

Every region has its own vernacular and sometimes we are not aware of how familiar terms of our childhood might be to others.  My dad was a farmer/rancher in South Dakota  where a low-lying field or land near a river was called a “bottom.”  My dad loved a good joke, but not so much when it was on him; thus, while we laughed until we were ill, he never cracked a smile as he read the following news in The Murdo Coyote, our local small-town newspaper: “The men are busy this week moving dirt on Ben Dykstra’s bottom.”  

One local wit was heard to observe that his bottom must be a sizeable one to afford that amount of activity for that length of time.

DSC09955

Another small town diversion, other than the local newspaper, was the church bulletin. Typed and mimeographed by a volunteer before the age of the…

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Once Upon a Time

I’ve decided that my nieces and nephews need to hear some of the old family stories of relatives in their far distant past or ones they never met. This photo sent to me by my cousin Sara today gave rise to a story when Forgottenman asked me some question about it.

The members of the group are my mother, her two sisters and the husbands of two of them. Left to right, my Aunt Peggy, Uncle Rob, my mom Pat, My father Ben and my Aunt Betty. Uncle Ed, Aunt Betty’s husband, must have taken the photo, or perhaps he stayed home and a stranger took it. At any rate, I believe it is taken on the Capitol steps in D.C. where my glamorous Aunt Betty (of Filipino Lantern May Basket fame) lived. The three women are sisters–at that time the only remaining members of a family of six sisters and two brothers.  Rob and Peggy had driven from Wyoming, picked up my parents in South Dakota and driven to D.C. and points south, going through the states of Kansas and Missouri, where the ladies were born and raised.

One of the most memorable stories of that trip was told to us by my Uncle Rob, a sparkly-eyed gentleman who happened to be the State Superintendent of Schools for the state of Wyoming but who also had a rollicking sense of humor. I adored him.

The story as he told it was that he, Rob, was driving on the Interstate or whatever the equivalent of an Interstate was in the 60’s.  As I recall, they were now in Pennsylvania and for the past fifteen minutes or so, they had passed mile after mile of big fields of grapes. Dad, a rancher and farmer, was always interested in whatever was growing and so Rob was not too surprised when they came to a turn-off, that dad asked him to pull over and stop the car.

He was surprised, however, when dad opened the car door and bounded down the ditch up to the barbed wire fence that surrounded the field, reached over the fence and grabbed a vine, tugged at it and came streaking back to the car streaming a long vine of grapes behind him, jumped into the back seat and started handing the grapes around. My dad consistently astonished and delighted my uncle who had pulled a few hijinks himself in his past, some of which I’ve related in this blog.

I think this photo is an incredible contrast to recent events on those same steps. 

Blackberry Balsam

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Blackberry Balsam

Blackberry Balsam, the scourge of my youth.
It was repulsive, my father uncouth
for presenting this mucous-like liquid most vile,
insisting I swallow the ghastly brown bile.
I gritted my teeth and went sullen and wild,

but how could I refuse? I was only a child.

Gagging and choking, I chased it with Coke,
expecting another dose when I awoke.
All these years later, its flavor unfaded,
its vomitous odor my memory invaded.
Blackberry Balsam? No taste could be worse,
proving sometimes the cure is worse than the curse.

Happy Father’s Day to My Dad!!!

I had so much fun looking back through old photos of my dad.  Thought I’d share them with you. My two nieces are visiting my sister in Phoenix right now so thought they’d get a kick out of seeing these photos of their grandad and grandad-in-law as well. Click on any photo to enlarge it.  Clicking on them also provides explanations for some of the photos. My dad died at the age of 70 in 1974.

 

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.

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/

Shelter: NaPoWriMo 2019, Day 10

 

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.

Those long Julys, we kids strung tents across the clothes lines in the back yard
or lazed under cherry trees,
no labors more strenuous than wiping the dishes
or dusting the bookshelves in the living room.
Books were our pleasure during those long hot summers:
our mother on the divan, my sisters and I on beds in dormered rooms
with windows open to catch infrequent breezes,
or deep beneath the veils of the weeping willow tree.

“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!” 
We knew, of course, from rain drumming on the roof as we sat, deep in closets,
creating paper doll worlds out of Kleenex boxes for beds and sardine cans for coffee tables, rolled washcloth chairs and jewelry box sofas. 

Only afterwards, now, have I really thought about how we were protected
from the vagaries of weather as from so much else.
A mad dash across the street to school was the extent of it,
or short trip from car to church or store or school auditorium.
It was a though my father bore the brunt of all of it, facing it
for us, easing our way. It was his job.
As my mother’s job was three hot meals a day, a clean house, afternoons spent
over a steaming mangle, ironing sheets and pants and arms and bodices of blouses.
After school, one or the other of us girls at ironing board, pressing the cuffs and collars.

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:
Australia, California and Mexico.
Our lives, seen in retrospect,
as though for the first time, clearly.
Remembering the poetry
of how a man who really lived in it
gave us hints of its reality.

The NaPoWriMo prompt is to write a poem making use of a regional phrase describing the weather.

Family Vacation

 

 

 

Version 6My dad in a slower mode of conveyance.

Family Vacation

My father on vacation was robotic in his thrust.
His modus operandi was to get there or to bust—
another hundred miles or so before we stopped to sup,
and we rarely got a room before the moon was up!

When he hit the highway, he became another man.

No mere roadside attraction could deflect his driving plan.
In those days of two-lane traffic and a speed limit of fifty,
he thought five hundred miles a day sounded rather nifty.

Fathers prone to threaten, who hit and rage and cuss

are, I fear, too often too ubiquitous.
But this was not my father. Rage was not his style.
He simply had addictions to mile after mile!

My dad was generous and fun. He told a story well,
but to take a trip with him was nothing short of Hell.
 His proclivity to “get there,” I fear was never curable,
and so family vacations were just barely endurable!

 

Version 2
My sisters and I with my dad.  He didn’t usually look this grim!

The prompt words today are highway, durable, robot and ubiquitous. Here are the links:

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/09/01/fowc-with-fandango-highway/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/daily-addictions-2018-week-34/durable

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/rdp-saturday-robot/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/09/01/ubiquitous/