Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Thanksgiving Table Gives Thanks

Snicker. The blog is named after him 

                 by  Valerie L. Egar

        A hundred and twenty years I’ve been in this farmhouse. Made from wide plank pumpkin pine, I glow in evening sun that comes through the west windows. It’s been a long time, but I still remember the forest, the weight of snow on my limbs, the green scent of spring, summer bird song.

            The stain near the edge over there? A bit of ink spilled from a mother writing letters to a son soldiering in some war. Lots of men on this farm have been called to serve and serve they did, but that left some of the chairs empty and a great sadness in the house.

           The little crack across the top— that’s from an enthusiastic bop with a toy hammer Santa left one of the children for Christmas.  Made from metal, it was small in size but packed a wallop. Ouch!

          My legs aren’t as smooth and well shaped as they used to be.  The chew marks record the family’s history of dogs: a few collies, early on. A beagle who was a pretty good hunter from what I’ve heard. Noble German Shepherd. Then, a black lab who really did a number on one leg. Gosh, puppies like to chew!

            I’ve seen some lean years, years when the farm didn’t yield, when money was short and dinner consisted of thin sliced bread with watery gravy. Other years, my top brimmed with so many home-canned tomatoes, pickles and string beans, I almost groaned.

          I’m proud to be a table. I’m where she puts her prize winning apple pie before she carries it to the fair. I’m where her blue ribbon rests when she comes home, until she hangs it with all the rest she’s earned over the years.

          In the winter, I’m where friends gather, drink hot cocoa  and visit.

   I’m where children roll out cookie dough and cut out gingerbread men.

   I’m where children do their homework while Mom cooks.

I’m where the men warm up with mugs of coffee after a long work day.

I’m where the family gathers at holidays. My favorite is Thanksgiving. They dress me up with a fancy cloth and a vase of chrysanthemums, light candles. They load me with food that isn’t everyday fare: a huge roasted turkey. Ham, too, because a few don’t like turkey. Stuffing with the aroma of sage. Sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows, like dessert, except it isn’t.  Mashed potatoes. Gravy. String bean casserole. Cranberry relish. Sweet pickles. Corn pudding.  Brussels sprouts?  Someone always brings them, but I’m not sure why.

Before they begin to eat, each says why he or she is grateful.  One says, “Family.”  Another, “Good health.”  So many reasons to be thankful: “Friends.” “Finding a job.” “Graduating.” “Getting into college.”  The younger ones say things that bring a smile: “I’m grateful for my new kitten.” “Thankful my braces are off, finally!” “Glad I made the football team.”

What they don’t know is that I’m grateful, too. Grateful I’ve been part of the family for generations. Grateful no one decided to opt for a newer more stylish table and push me to the back of the barn or worse, chop me up for the wood stove. Grateful they don’t mind my scars and scratches. Grateful we have another Thanksgiving to share where I can happily shoulder the feast and be part of the stories and the laughter.

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Published November  13, 2016 , The Sunday Journal Tribune. Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author. 


Monday, November 7, 2016

Bluko the Astronaut Makes a Friend

Snicker. The blog is named after him.

                   By Valerie L. Egar

            Bluko lived on the moon in a space colony with his parents, Nika and Roanne. When he wasn’t in school, he zoomed around the stars in a space ship that was exactly his size. Bluko explored as far as his tiny spaceship would go, and knew several short-cuts to Saturn, where to find the best space rocks and to always look both ways before crossing the Milky Way.

            One day, Roanne asked Bluko if he would like to deliver some fresh cinnamon muffins to Grandpa Crawfus on Asteroid 260.  Grandpa was a prospector, mining gold in a remote canyon. Whenever Roanne got a fresh delivery of cinnamon from planet Earth, she always made muffins and sent Grandpa several dozen.

            “Of course, I’ll go!” said Bluko. He loved seeing Grandpa, and besides, Asteroid 260 was right next to Neptune’s moon, Galatea.  Bluko knew that Galatea was the only place to find rare Luna Septus rocks and he wanted at least one for his collection.

            “No short cuts and no detours,” said Roanne.  “I want you to go straight to Grandpa’s house and come straight back.”

            “Aw, Mom.”
  “No ‘Aw, Mom’,” Roanne said. “I don’t want you meeting any Martians, so no short cuts and no detours!” People in the moon colony didn’t know much about Martians and were afraid of them.

            Bluko stashed the muffins under his seat, locked the hatch on his spaceship and zoomed off.  He set his destination for Asteroid 260 and was soon well on his way, speeding past Mars. As he passed Galatea, the moon shone brightly.  “How long could it take to find just one Luna Septus rock?” Bluko thought. He took the ship off automatic pilot and steered it towards the glowing moon.

            Bluko guided the space ship to a rocky field and gently lowered it into a clearing. He popped open the hatch and scrambled down to search for the rare Luna Septus rock, hoping its green glow would catch his eye. Back and forth he walked, without any luck.  Meanwhile, the delicious scent of cinnamon muffins drifted into the atmosphere from the open hatch of the space ship.

         A Martian appeared from behind a large boulder. He had red glowing eyes and an enormous mouth. “What do I smell?”

 Bluko was frightened, but answered, “Cinnamon muffins. I’m taking them to my Grandpa.”

        “If you dilly-dally, they’ll be cold by the time you get there,” said the Martian.

        Bluko hopped in his space ship and headed for Grandpa’s house. “Gosh,” he thought. “Martians don’t seem so bad.”
         Bluko found Grandpa in bed. “I’m so tired,” Grandpa said. “Just put the muffins on my nightstand and run along.”
“Strange,” thought Bluko. “Grandpa always puts the muffins in the freezer and wants to talk.” Bluko looked closely at Grandpa.

            “Grandpa, what big eyes you have!”
        “Yes, all the better to see you.” Grandpa never said things like that.

     “Grandpa, your ears look bigger.”

            “Yes, all the better to hear you.”

            “Grandpa, your mouth looks bigger, too.”

          “All the better to eat these delicious muffins!” With that, he shoved all the muffins— two dozen!— in his mouth. “Yum, yum, yum!”

       “You’re not Grandpa! You’re a Martian! Where’s Grandpa?”

            Bluko heard noise under the bed and found Grandpa hiding.

    “Dang it, Martian,” said Grandpa, “if you wanted some cinnamon muffins, why didn’t you just ask? ”

            The Martian belched.

        Grandpa opened the freezer door. Stacks of muffins crowded the freezer. The Martian squealed.  Bluko put a dozen muffins in the solar heater to defrost them and Grandpa poured three glasses of moon milk. They ate and laughed. Bluko taught the Martian how to say “Another muffin, please” and the Martian gave Bluko a rock from a planet Bluko hadn’t heard of.

       “Follow me home,” Bluko said. He couldn’t wait to introduce Mom to his new friend.

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Published October 2, 2016 in the Sunday Journal Tribune. Copyright 2016 by Valerie L. Egar. May not be copied or reproduced without permission from the author.