Grand Pockets’s Blog

Genealogy, Family, Poetry and Peeves

The Angelus


sailboat-sunset

The Angelus

after the rain,
I returned home
to this valley,
where the rivers race
with the wildfowl flying south
and  words in the sateen night
cry of home and haven…

after the rain,
I remained in peace
as silence from the heart
overwhelmed me.
Fallow are the fields
where tall corn flourished.

Death stroked like a clock
rousing light from the long night:

My Brother, my brother,
where have you gone?

Hesse is rewritten.
Narcissus falls to AIDS
and Goldmund lives on.

after the rain
this blue shimmer raises
chills,
within the patchwork
of this quilt,
I cuddle your warm memory
named in the block
sewn on my heart.

after the rain,
an infant sun breaks rays
with the noon angelus,
a huckstered rooster crows
and corn greens
summer’s fields again.
grandpockets1

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February 8, 2009 Posted by | love poems, Poetry & Art | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Aquarius


Okay. My friends got me out last night…this is a Tuesday mind you, and I have to work in the morning. Like in getting up at 4:30 am.
“It is a birthday party,” they say, “for Mike. Ya gotta come.”
Maybe I will, I tell them, thinking to myself, you guys are nuts, how are you gonna get up tomorrow? Its evident that most of the guys are going but I’m still sure I’ll just stay home and 3:30 finally arrives.
When I get home I’m bored, and Renee is working and Sadie is at her Grandma’s, and I have hamburger helper lasagna and Pepsi for dinner. At 6:30 pm I cave in. Okay. I’ll go to Legends (the club they’re at) for one beer and say hi to everyone.
I arrive to cheers and heads up! and Chuck-o! and all the inane things people greet you with they’re drunk enough to become best-friend familiar. The scene was cool: mostly friends from work, not too many collegians, smooth, steel drum-like lounge music, not too loud and a few couples moving together on the dance floor. Legends is the kind of club that has large crowds most of time, too young and too hip for me generally.
Tonight, perhaps because it’s Tuesday, perhaps because everyone is partied out from the weekend, its laid back and atmospherey and I’m feeling comfortable as I sit with the gang and order a LaBatt Blue. We’re laughing and joking around when Jeff introduces me to a girl – not to hook me up because it’s his niece but, I think, he feels I’m old enough and married enough to be harmless and trustworthy.
Cori is very pretty, chic, 20-ish and a live wire. She flirts with all of us, dances one set after another non stop and becomes the life of the party. She knows how to tease the older guys like me, set the younger ones on the edges of their seats watching her every move and, I think, although this is really new and different territory for me, more than a few of the women are appreciating her, too.
So, one beer becomes two, I’m having a good time and decide I can bend my rules a bit and stay til 10. It’s gotten a lot quieter of a sudden when someone asks – “Hey, where did Cori get to?”
Jeff checks everyplace out – restrooms, parking lot, everywhere. No Cori. He is worried. We all start looking. Been about an hour since anyone’s seen her and we’re getting more worried since she left without a word to anyone. Jeff is about to call the cops, this is his niece and he’s saying his sister will kill him dead as a doornail if anything happens to Cori when in through the doors she walks.
She just pats Jeff on the chest and kisses his cheek when he asks where she’s been. “Went for a walk, Uncle Jeff, I’m a big girl you know,” and leaves him fuming as she heads for the dance floor, waggling a finger at Brandon like he’s a bass about to land on her hook or something. He is landed, too, steps right up there. Tomorrow I am going to check that boy for a nose-ring, I swear I am.
Now we are all a group of 4 tables pushed pretty close but still a bit apart, and since I was one of the last to arrive, I’m near the back. Jeff, Mikey and most of my buddies my age are clear at the other end. So who comes up and sits by me when the set is done?
Yep. Cori. She leans over to sip a drink and say, “Uncle Jeff is too much. He’d never understand.”
“Understand, what?” I ask her.
“I gave Tony a booty call a while ago…it was getting so boring here”
“A booty call? You mean your boyfriend”  I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear this explanation.
“Oh, no, nothing like that. Tony’s just my local fuck.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. Responding is difficult when half a LaBatt Blue beer has just been spit – by oneself – down one’s shirt.
“Don’t tell Uncle Jeff, okay?”
“Don’t worry.” I sure as  hell ain’t gonna to tell Jeff that! I’m thinking to myself.
She is up and running for the dance floor again just like that, as nonchalant as if she’d told me she went home to do the laundry.
I wiped my shirt off, said goodbye to everyone and feeling old and out of my time, went home.
One thought from an old song kept running through my mind all the way there.

This is the dawn of the aging of Aquarius…
grandpockets1

February 4, 2009 Posted by | family, humor | | 1 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

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

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

Suicide in an Alien Night


It is discomfiting to experience a suicide taking place just outside your door, as happened to me in my home some years ago, when I’d just moved to the southend in Saint Joseph on Colorado Street, and a man pulled up at the curb, disconsolate over who knows what and put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. A total stranger yet the effect his last act had on me was lasting and profound. I can only imagine the pain his family felt and their anguish.

A Suicide One Alien Night

Sentry hours when a car passing draws you to the window,
squinting in the blackhole that is the rest-of-them universe,
disturbed that someone parks under your elm.

Alien nights are not for interrogatories,
astronomers just observe anomalies intently with
some calculation, this becomes a simple decision. Watch.

Hemingway sat in Ketchum, disconsolate and afraid. What
a novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was. It tolled for him,
sitting in Ketchum, alone, like the man in the car outside.

I can write about Hemingway. I know him from his works
and his biographers. You can understand a man from his
books. All I know about the man at my curb that alien night

was how I observed him in the darker-darkness of light
inside looking out and the gunshot that scared slash-strokes
of Van Gogh’s blackbirds from my elm, and the police

using my phone to call his next of kin.
I didn’t know his name, a stranger escaping the”rest-of-them” universe.
He left no books to read, no note to help us understand.

Alien nights
are not for interrogatories,
astronomers just observe
anomalies, hemingways
and dimly seen stars blinking out in the blackwash of night.

©Charles Elledge 2008

January 5, 2009 Posted by | Poetry & Art, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Need a New Programmer


I'm just a Video Game? Me?

I'm just a Video Game? Me?

Are we living in a real Matrix? A simulated reality generated by some wacked out video game programmer in a higher universe? According to Konrad Zuse’s “Calculating Space”, it’s a possibility. Zuse, is not some science fiction novelist but a physicist who postulated the theory that life may just be one big program in 1970. This ‘digital physics’ theory still has proponents, including Seth Lloyd, one of the world’s leading physicists who proposed a modified theory of digital physics that attempts to reconcile it with quantum theory. Basically all the universe and all within are just bits of information, quantum particles that are either “on” or “off” to drastically simplify things, like bits in a program. The ‘Matrix’ movie series borrows much of its underlying premise from the theory. The difference is in the movie all those humans hanging in baggies – suggests that once humans were other than programs, while the theory suggests that basically that is all we are.  God, as a programmer, is a more than a bit jarring, but at least that suggests the program has a direction and purpose – in reality the theory proposes no such direction. We are simply random, complex interactions of all information that exists, bytes that pass in the quantum night. I wonder what they call the game we live in up there in alternate universe land? Warcraft, Earth Version? Doom Too? Quake – Its Just a Game? Now, at least, I can quit worrying about my foibles and quirks – it’s just the way I’m programmed. And the kid that’s playing me? Boy did I get a dumbass!

grandpockets1

January 3, 2009 Posted by | family, humor | , , , , , | 3 Comments