Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

For Renee – All the Nights Unborn


renee1

A day without you casts shadows on my heart

The lack of you is loss of light

Drear spirits magnify when we’re apart

I ache to hold you through the night.

I ache to hold you through all the nights unborn

And laugh with you throughout the days

From the sunsets in the eves

To the sunrise in the morn.

©Charles Elledge2008

grandpockets1

January 28, 2009 Posted by | love poems, Poetry & Art | , , , | Leave a comment

After the Storm


I mercurochrome my heart with words,

Taking perverse pleasure in the sting

That truth inflicts.

I turn my back to the door

Her back saw last and ignore the urge

To walk to the telephone,

Some words are swords edgewise

To walk upon.

I watch winter whiteout my window

And stroke my cat, Capsaicin.

He purrs, stretching under my fingers,

Alone knowing the right words.

©Charles Elledge1997

grandpockets1

January 28, 2009 Posted by | Poetry & Art | , , , , | Leave a comment

What the Hell is Wrong with you?


Well, after my last post I sat down to eat, felt uncomfortably full and retired to bed.  I awoke feeling like a boa constrictor had wrapped around my chest, got out of bed, took a half dozen steps and collapsed.  Another damn heart attack. So I’ve been stinted again, and I’m home, exhausted, sore and very glad to have how many days I’m given to love my family and appreciate life.

You know, I considered, while laying there in that clackety-clack hospital bed, (the new-fangled kind that shifts under you automatically, supposedly to prevent bed sores but gives a really creepy feeling if you’re cognizant and able to move yourself) why I really love genealogy so much when it’s those darn genetics that are a huge part of my health problems. Dratted ancestors. Did they all have to have peanut butter pipes for arteries?

Okay, truthfully, I have to lay more blame on my own choice of lifestyles, since I smoked from the age of 18 on. And being naturally thin and lanky, I never really worried about what I ate, gobbling buffet lines of fried foods, eggs, butter, cakes, pies, pizzas and pastas without considering what all that fat and cholesterol might be doing to my heart plumbing even if it wasn’t fattening me up. I enjoyed every damn delicious bite, too, so hold the sympathy. I’ve loved the hell outta life and I ain’t done yet, Jack.

All this means is that I am living a new kind of life now, and its one I intend to enjoy just as much – as soon as I can adapt to the taste of skim milk and egg beaters. They say its kind of an acquired taste – foods with no fats, I mean; and once used to “no fat” the old fat-filled foods taste bad. I hope to hell it happens soon, though because the “no fat” varieties of ice cream, for instance taste like crap. Soy meat tastes like crap. Skim milk tastes like whitened water.  Someone said to me, try tofu, it tastes good and its great for you. I tried it and spat it out. I wanna ask my friend “What the hell is wrong with you?”

Food, of course, is an acquired taste for all of us. Cultural and personal choices made from early years on tend to accumulate in our brains as tastes we love and crave. My grandkids for instance think raw rolled oats cooked the old fashioned way tastes like crap. They want instant stuff with articial flavoring. Personally I think that stuff tastes like sweetened shredded cardboard.

Same with hamburgers – my grandkids want hamburgers from McDonald’s. When I grill a nice juicy thick hamburger they complain it doesn’t taste like McDee’s. “What the hell’s wrong with you?” I wanna ask.

It’s not just tastebuds that you have to fight if you truly want a healthier diet – its the pocketbook, too. Why is it that foods made with loads of artificial chemicals and a lot of energy intensive processing cost half as much as foods with no artificial chemicals, and far less processing? I’d  like to get the heads of some big companies like Con Agra, and Sara Lee, and General Mills together and ask them “What is the hell is wrong with you?” Put the good foods and the bad on equal financial footing and hey- it’s all on you brother. Eat stupid and suffer the consequences. If you can afford the good food and eat the bad anyway I go back to my key phrase “What the hell is wrong with you?” (By the way – I put myself in this category). I wonder, though about young families with children who are struggling with every dime they make, and elderly or disabled on fixed incomes.

All this talk about food has me starving. I’m thinking of phoning in a Pizza Hut Supreme and having a dish of Rocky Road for dessert. After all that hospital blandola I’m due, right?

“What the hell is wrong with you?!”

grandpockets2

January 27, 2009 Posted by | family, sarcastic humor | , , | Leave a comment

Aimee and Mandi – My Daughters


I have two daughters, and like most fathers I am blind to their faults and think they are too good for any guy they meet. Luckily I actually like Dobie and Brian, their consorts, but that doesn’t mean either is actually worthy. When I had a heart attack and open heart surgery Aimee and Mandi were at my bedside throughout the thing, staying for hours on end even when I told them to go home. They are also blind to my faults, those legion, because that is the way fathers and daughters are. A wise man once said – “No other success can compensate for failure in the home”. In life my greatest success has been as a father. That’s not because of any great thing I did when they grew up, but, despite the fact it was their own choices that have made them into such terrific adults, I get the undeserved but welcome feeling “Hey, we did a pretty good job with them” whenever I’m around them. Plus, they made incredible grandchildren!

aimee
manda
Daughter Mine

She is part of me that tomorrow
will embrace, when the morning
glory is bare on the trellis slats
and snows into the earth have sunk,
my clarion of spring,
tissue and seed
and the sap flowing in apple trees,
she is me and I am she.

Speak to her when I cannot,
when the slow peace flows
through my heart and limbs
and gives this soul release,
speak to her then, of my love for her.
What lived in times of caesars,

kings and tendriled history,
what lived through her impetuosity,

unremembered but still part of me,
is hers now, daughter of mine.
She is me and I am memory.

©Charles Elledge2008

grandpockets1

January 23, 2009 Posted by | family | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing the City Past


As genealogists we are intimate with death. We chase dead people through records every day, and we become involved with the records of those deaths. What caused them. What happened in those last days?

Medicine was backward, doctors often trained simply by working with another doctor for a few years then taking exams often administered by the same doctor. Later, as more credentialling was required, and medical colleges opened the methods were crude, the things learned often wrong, and discoveries were made by experiments with the poor unfortunates of the slums. There was no regulation of medicine to speak of.

So, medicine was one problem pioneers faced – had I been born in 1854 rather than 1954 I would be dead for a half century now since I had rheumatic fever early, developed a heart murmur and then followed that with scarlet fever. Approximately in 1858, my mother would have wept, my father would have measured and built for me a small wooden box, and you might be hunting my records to complete some pioneer family’s history.

Another problem that led to death was the bathtub. Or the lack of them. And any other form of cleanliness. People rarely washed. Lice weren’t unusual – it was unusual not to have lice, or sleep with bedbugs.

Food spoiled easily, especially in summer, yet it was too precious to waste so you’d cook it anyway. In a stew or soup with lots of pepper or some other pungent herb to mask the flavor. You’d cook it with rain barrel water that you swept clear of flies or mosquitoes with your unwashed hands, and dice the rancid meat on a table that was pitted, scarred and creviced with grime that couldn’t be scrubbed completely out, with an unwashed knife that you also used for a dozen other things that day, cook it on a small iron stove top, and you served it in the few pieces of crockery you possessed, also unwashed, simply scraped clean.

The kids came in for dinner after running barefoot all day in filthy streets coated in horse dung and pig manure and urine. You’d serve Granma, and Aunt Nell, your spouse and your 9 kids, all of you living in a 2 room 14 x 22 foot unheated, brick tenement without running water or toilets. You tossed the slop bucket behind the curtain in the corner (called the necessary) through the back window into a trough in the street that was supposed to sluice it to the sewer. The brick wall outside that window had never been washed and was stained black all the way to the alley below.

You were lucky, though. At least your family didn’t dwell in the alley like so many others did. You faced the slightly less smelly street. You weren’t of the “unhoused poor” as the city’s newly formed committee to try and deal with those huddled unfortunates, orphans, and cripples was named.

Every single day of your life living in an early American city was a dance with death. You were only a chill, a cough, an infected cut from contracting one of the diseases that raged rampant through the streets and then you were at the mercy of a doctor who might be relatively skilled, given the time, or you might be at the behest of a butcher, a charlatan with little real knowledge at all. At the last, though, was the final indignity if you wouldn’t die fast enough. The hospital. This is pre-civil war when hospitals were more morgue than places of healing. The sick went there to die because not many ever came out. And through this horrid cityscape, this Dali like nightmare, you’d love and laugh and cry just like we do today because you never knew any better. You strived and attempted and survived, and because of what you lived with and learned, I, born in 1954, live and love and laugh and read about you with awe and wonder and can never, it seems, find out enough about you.

One thing I do know, though, TV and the movies have spoiled us into believing false portraits of what our forefathers lives were really like. They’ve cleaned them up and educated them and made them much more like us than they actually were. That’s probably a good thing, though, because not too many of us could handle the truth about them, let alone the work load or hardships they endured.

grandpockets1

January 19, 2009 Posted by | genealogy | , , , , | 2 Comments

Short Poems Are Like Pop-Up Windows


Short poems are like pop-up windows that just appear from nowhere while I’m “surfing” life. Things just hit me and I dash off a quick line or two under my breath. Sometimes I even write them down. This morning it was cold and a fog drifted in off the Missouri River while the moon tried hard to shine through. Then I went cemetery hunting, photographing graves for Find-A-Grave online and I thought how for everything we hold important and do to “raise” ourselves – in the end we’re all the same. Finally, I had lunch and discovered that its almost time for a new pair of jeans.

Equality

The grass is as green and the sod as bedewed

No matter whose bones are providing the food.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^

A Bowl Full of Jelly

Isn’t it funny that meat

Or anything else that I eat

Turns up on my belly

In a bowl full of Jelly

That disguises my eyes from my feet.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Missouri Moon

It is called a Missouri Moon,

A butterscotch disc

Melting in the mist of morning

©CharlesElledge2008

grandpockets1

January 13, 2009 Posted by | Poetry & Art | , , , | 1 Comment

A Piece of the Rose


A Piece of the Rose

A petal fluttered to the ground,

Sere and curled, faded brown:

A bit of rose, once brilliant red,

is lost – now found among the nettles.

.

Two hearts were sleeping,

dream-searching for a sign.

Two hearts were weeping

over love they couldn’t find.

If retrieved this hope, this pain,

another chance for heart to sing,

.

for mind to reel and ache to feel,

would I chance this agony again?

My beating heart cannot be stilled

in search for truth and love to share.

Bewildered? Yes, but also thrilled

at the audacious love I want to dare!

.

Forsaken once, and yet once more,

I bent and gathered up the petal:

more precious now than it was before

This faded bit of rose among the nettles.

©Grandpockets2008

grandpockets1

January 12, 2009 Posted by | love poems, Poetry & Art | , , , | Leave a comment

Curmudgeon Me


I need to bitch more often. More people read the blog. Does that say something about human nature? I know it does to me and I mean me, myself. Heartwarming stories are chicken soup for the soul but who the hell eats chicken soup all the time? Give me some good red meat “got-that-off -my-chest” beefing for the main course.

There are few things nice about getting older. People that extol the virtues of age are god-damn liars. One of the few things that is neat , though, about wrinkling up and playing raisin is the allowance made for being a crabass, even give it a cuter sounding name – curmudgeon. Its a natural fact about aging – you ache more and thus bitch more. Plus more time to store up gripes, think about ’em and refine bitching technique. It cracks me up when I hear wisdom and age correlated as if age is somehow connected to wisdom. All you have to do to be considered wise it seems is muck things up for fifty or so years and then emerge from the mess still alive and and – curmudgeonly – to have people begin calling you some kind of sage.  That’s not wisdom. That’s being stupid enough to make most of the mistakes available in life’s vast array of choices, and lucky enough to live through it all.

Age has meant humility for me, though. Realizing exactly how many times you probably made the wrong choice and accepting it as your life. Proud humble, though. Damnit, I wouldn’t change many things. One or two, maybe, but part and parcel I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my ride so far and I plan to grow even more curmudgeonly and called a dirty old man at least a few times before I’m done.  It’s the least I can do since its expected of me.

grandpockets1

January 11, 2009 Posted by | family, humor, sarcastic humor | , , , | 1 Comment

Ice Cream in Winter and Damn the Economy


Man it is cold. I mean it is eskimo cold outside and this afternoon it was in the 40s. Now its about twelve and wind chill of “oh hell no”.  I went to Walmart and I swear to heaven when I got to the car from the store my nuts had climbed under my armpits it was so freakin’ cold.

And I’ m not too intelligent anyway – I went in a tee shirt and jeans because the wife wanted ice cream. I slipped on my tennies, a jacket and hitched my henpecked ass out the door. Okay. I love her. So into the midwestern artic I go to fetch ice cream, thinking how this is sort of like selling ice cubes to eskimoes. My wife would buy them. She’d buy them and make me dog sled to the damn outpost to fetch them back.

Ice cream. Really. If you stuck your tongue out the window for 2 seconds you’d have ice crystals – couldn’t she just sugar her tongue with a dollop of vanilla? I am not a shopper. But I went to WalMart no less. I hate WalMart. Going to Walmart in our town is like going to one of those crowded hip dance clubs where no one has room to breathe only you dance while toting a shopping cart at the WalMart ball.

I’ll give it Sam’s gang, there prices are hard to beat and in Saint Joe that’s all it takes. Cheap. Not saying Saint Joseph is economically depressed but they’re thinking of renaming the town Saint Appalachia. Akron and Detroit and other steel belt cities are bigger and depressed, too, but really they are just what Saint Joe would be if we’d ever had big industry here in the first place. At least they had something to go backward from.

So Wal-Mart makes out as house prices tumble, factories are shuttered up, and the chamber of commerce whoops it up when another burger and fry chain opens up and creates 40 new jobs at 6.50 an hour. Seems to me that’s how the American economy has gone flying off track. It’s like a national burger joint. You have one guy making a helluva lot of money off the place and 40 employees who can’t even afford the food they’re serving.That’s all right, though. If the owner mucks it up, cooks the books as well as the burgers, mis-manages the thing into the ground, fails to capitalize in new equipment and cook up food that people ask for – well, heck, he can just cry to the government that he’ll have to put those people out of their jobs – and how it isn’t his fault that people don’t want the menu he insists on offering. And after studying this in several committees and disagreeing about how many pens they’re going to use to sign the various parts of the bill and adding a few hundred pork barrel entitlements to the bill – they’ll bail out the businessmen and offer them bonuses to stay on that some small countries would love to have as their GNP.

I hope my wife reads this. She needs to see what she started – all by craving ice cream. Okay, I feel better. Ggrandpockets1ot it all off my chest – and my nuts have finally dropped back where they belong. I’m signing off and getting myself some Neopolitan.

January 10, 2009 Posted by | humor | , , | Leave a comment

Axe of Minutes – Poem


As always there is a poem in every day, and like days some are better than others. I kind of liked this one, though. I should probably settle into a “style” but I go back and forth between rhyme and non-rhyme in poetry. I like both.

Axe of Minutes

As axe will bite with solid chunk
the stubborn grain
of yesterday’s oak,
tomorrow’s fire
waits to consume the once living:

and I live that blade, honed minutes,
clean wedge of today popped
from yesterday’s folly:
tomorrow’s wisdom
waits to comprehend.

Before the fire,
I plant memories.

grandpockets1

January 9, 2009 Posted by | Poetry & Art | , , | Leave a comment