The Good Old Days: Grandparents and Thanksgiving

Kempton was always known as the small town with the big heart; the town of my mother’s family beginnings; her grandparents, my grandmother who had passed away in 1958, aunts, uncles and my great aunt, Lulu Pearl. My earliest memories of Kempton were on Thanksgiving Day at Aunt Lu’s two bedroom corner, blue cottage neatly painted in white trim. A vegetable garden was meticulously maintained in the back with her specialties of beets and tomatoes while well-trimmed shrubs surrounded the foundation of the home.

Coming from the city, my immediate family was always the first to arrive while Aunt Lu called the others to join us on her believe it or not box phone with crank and real receptionist named Jenny. That gave me plenty of time to cut out the latest Betsy McCall and her clothes. After the rest of the family arrived, we took our places behind the long table in the dining room eating from her blue willow dishes. Pumpkin pie was always her winning recipe.

The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break is Grandparents Day at school; a wonderful time for those traveling to see their grandchildren. For our district, Grandparents Day is usually one of the biggest attended events with just grandparents…not sons or daughters who have kindergarten or early elementary children. Just for Grandma,  Grandpa and Grand friends…sometimes Aunts or Uncles if Grandma can’t attend. Over 300 attended today. Many become new Grandparents on that day for children who do not have a guest. A study out of the University of Oxford found children who are close to their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems, and are better able to cope with traumatic life events, like a divorce or bullying at school.

Though she never learned to drive, Aunt Lu would find her way to our house in the city by my cousin every summer. I could always count on a game of Yahtzee every time I offered and she always made the best fried potatoes in town. Because of unpredictable weather, the winter months were generally confined to her little town in Kempton but one year she came to stay and had arrived two days after Christmas. It was unusual for her to venture out in the cold months but my father was in the hospital. Children were not allowed to visit during the 1960’s and Aunt Lu felt she could help.

During her first night’s visit, the phone had disturbed our usual game of Yahtzee and after that I found that Aunt Lu could offer so much more than games. It was a nurse from the hospital; my father had passed away. Though I was 12 and tried to be adult, Aunt Lu let me cry as long as it took, keeping her arms around me, never tiring or disturbing me from my tears. What incredible timing for Aunt Lu’s calming patience in such a terrible storm. Ten years later, Aunt Lu passed away after passionately celebrating her 90th birthday with her family.

Today, I appreciate the towering strength she provided that day and the strenuous days that followed; never perceiving the no pomp and circumstance woman as one of the most salient women I was blessed to know. And I try to follow her loving example everyday reminding myself that every tragedy as has a reason.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Exploring Native American cuisine

Caryl Clem:

Authentic Native American cooking varies from region to region, recipes adapted to what the surrounding environment supplied.  Traditional cooking consists of four phases since the Native Americans were forced from original homelands under the Dawes Act as groups escaped government control forming new communities in new territories. Historically cooking techniques and methods fall into the pre-contact era before men from Europe were exploring, first contact with settlements, after Indian Removal’s “Trail of Tears” mid-1800’s reservations given rationed food, lastly emergence of Native American owned restaurants featuring indigenous dishes during the last 25 years.

The top chefs from 566 recognized tribes are publishing cookbooks, opening catering businesses, food trucks and restaurants. Red Mesa Cuisine, operated by Kiowa Nation, offers recipes from all generation.  Travel from the past and back at your own dining table. Mouthwatering choices include plank broiled smoked salmon or bison, marinated bison served with Cajun style sauces, Succotash,  blueberry cornmeal mush, wild berry glaze, acorn bread, and fry bread. During the forced containment of the Navajo at Bosque Redondo during 1864-68, the Native Americans created a food staple from the rationed flour known as Fry Bread. Starting as a humble food stretcher to accompany every meal, its popularity spread from coast to coast. Now Fry Bread rivals the lasagna, potatoes, noodles, or rice to earn a place of honor during any culinary feast.

If you are a road warrior blazing asphalt trails, famous Native American cuisine can be found in Albuquerque NM,  Seattle WA,  Denver CO,  Colorado Springs CO,  Santa Fe NM, Minneapolis MN,  Phoenix  AZ ,  Geyersville California, Washington D.C. to name a few. The oldest cooks in America are the new “in” must have taste. Stopping to dine ranges from a Smithsonian museum buffet style restaurant or luxurious hotel while savoring the “harvest”.  For the hands on, do it yourself readers, the following cookbooks were on multiple cites as favorites by the cookbook buying consumers. Bon Appetite!!

THE SIOUX CHEF’S INDIGENOUS KITCHEN BY SEAN SHERMAN AND BETH DOOLEY

THE MITSITAM CAFE COOKBOOK BY RICHARD HETZLER

 MODERN NATIVE FEASTS: HEALTHY, INNOVATIVE, SUSTAINABLE CUISINE BY ANDREW GEORGE JR.

 WHERE PEOPLE FEAST: AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S COOKBOOK BY DOLLY WATTS AND ANNIE WATTS

ORIGINAL LOCALINDIGENOUS FOODS, STORIES, AND RECIPES FROM THE UPPER MIDWEST BY HEID E. ERDRICH

Over the river and through the woods

For me as a child, it was a combination of singing the song in elementary school. It was a tune that could not be forgotten easily and once sung…the song would be constantly playing in your mind as a Thanksgiving celebration throughout the next holiday season. I also read the poem in a book partnered with an illustrated painting by Grandma Moses. At a young age, I was always fascinated by her story that she became famous artist as a senior citizen. Her primitive paintings were always something I thought I would copy….even today I try…since I loved her country scenes. When I was nine, I received my first book of her paintings.

The poem was originally published as “The New-England Boy’s Song about Thanksgiving Day”  and written in 1844, Lydia Maria Child. And it was not about going to Grandmas house but Grandfathers.The poem was eventually set to a tune by an unknown composer.  Lydia was a well known author during the time leading up to the Civil War. She wrote a periodical for kids and popular books for housewives with tips to help manage their households. In 1835 she wrote The History of the Condition of Women in Various Ages and Nations that was later an inspiration to women suffragists.

In 1833 she published An Appeal in Favor of that Class of Americans Called Africans, which called for the immediate emancipation of all slaves which did not make her popular.

According to Wikipedia, the original piece had twelve stanzas, though only four are typically included in the song. The verses in bold are the ones I and my family remember:

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
the horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
for ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
as over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood—
and straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
it is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood—
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “O, dear, the children are here,
bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

The following verses appear in a “long version”:

Over the river, and through the wood,
with a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
as we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
to have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding!”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
no matter for winds that blow;
Or if we get the sleigh upset
into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
to see little John and Ann;
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball
and stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood,
trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound!
For ’tis Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,[1]
and thus the news he tells.

Native Americans enrich the tapestry of our American culture’s quilt

By Caryl Clem:

As a young child, I colored pictures of Pilgrims and Native Americans. I remember teepees and 2 seated skin canoes floating down rivers.   Years later, I discovered most of my knowledge about Indians was either false or based on a stereotype. November is the month to honor our Native American Indians.

Powerful prose continuously unites people when they share life’s experiences.  Distances disappear; the common desire for love embraces all. Joy Harjo, who has written poetry, published books and composed songs for decades; a Muskogee Indian was awarded the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress on June 19, 2019.  Her quote” how time and timelessness can live together in a poem” during one of her interviews provides insight into the depth of her prose.  Playing saxophone in her band, “Arrow Dynamics”, several CD’s of her original music cumulated in receiving Native American Music Award for Best Female Artist of the Year in 2009. Listening to her music allows you experience layers of harmony and song.  Joy currently is writing a book that documents the contributions to jazz the Muskogee Indians can trace back to Congo Square in New Orleans.

New Orleans, Louisiana, world renown for gaudy, fascinating costumes featured during Mardi Gras celebrations. The Port of New Orleans constantly shipped slaves, a key labor force.   Local Indian tribes had had their own conflicts with “White Rule”.   Native Americans helped hide runaway Black slaves during Mardi Gras parades using elaborate costumes as a disguise.

The Cherokee Nation, a tribe from Iroquoian descent, inhabited the eight states in The Great Lakes area. Transportation across the water was done in huge hollowed out tree trunks, averaging 40 feet in length carrying 20 men.  Families built log cabins. The food staples known as the “Three Sisters” of corn, beans, and squash are found in any supermarket. Spices for flavor and medicinal purposes were Sassafras, Sage, Juniper, and various Chile peppers. In 1621, an Indian Chief brought popcorn to a Thanksgiving dinner.  The Spanish introduced peanuts to the Indians who learned to grow them.   In the Northwest, symbols of marriages and births in a family were carved into totem poles: visible sign of their wealth and influence.

Education of its citizens was considered the great equalizer; The Cherokee Nation formed an accepted common language and ran a printing press publishing its own newspaper in the 1820’s.   (Chicago’s earliest printer in 1833.)  The literacy rate of Cherokee citizens in Oklahoma ranked higher than the neighboring states of Arkansas or Texas.  Chief John Ross constructed the Cherokee Female Seminary in 1847, the first higher learning school available for women west of the Mississippi.  The Cherokee Male Seminary opened in 1851.  Cherokee sports included a stick ball game considered the beginning of Lacrosse, a popular sport today.

Native Americans are one of the reasons Americans are able to live in “Land of the Free”. Americans working on dreams coming true, in the country we love, all sharing the foundation given us by those who were here first.

Lincoln Logs

During morning kindergarten indoor recess, the first day we built a one room log cabin with green planks that was special greenery which surrounded the cabin. The young, creative student did most of the work and asked if we could do this again the next time we had indoor recess. The second recess indoors, she showed me how to build a larger cabin with more rooms and we added a door. The third time in the picture, we built more floors and added a roof. I am so grateful for this kindergarten student to help me learn this new art.  When growing up, I just was not creative with Lincoln Logs and jealous of the friends that were good at it. During my elementary years, I was not mature enough to ask for help. And Tinker toys never thrilled me either. Legos and my children were best friends; another article for another time.

Lincoln Logs are a popular U.S. children’s toy consisting of square-notched miniature logs used to build small forts and buildings. They were invented around 1916 by John Lloyd Wright, second son of the well-known architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The toy sets were originally made of redwood, with varying colors of roof pieces. In the 1970’s, the company unsuccessfully introduced sets made entirely of plastic, but soon reverted to real wood.  

K’Nex, the current distributor of Lincoln Logs, says they were named after former U.S. president Abraham Lincoln because he was born in an old-fashioned log cabin. They had been manufactured in China for awhile since a U.S producer for small wood parts could not be found. In 2016, they returned to the U.S. K’Nex contracted with wooden golf-tee manufacturer Pride Manufacturing Company, a small company in Burnham, Maine.

K’Nex offers a variety of Lincoln Log collections that include the actual construction of a specific building such as a package to build Oak Creek Lodge or Horseshoe Hill Station. The wooden pieces are responsibly made in America, with 70% of the wood coming from Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified forests or other forestry-managed timberland. K’Nex also offers other products of building games for kids.

Vintage Lincoln Log sets are available on Ebay and there is one set from 1923. Most sets run between 10-50 dollars. One set, however, is 100 dollars and has over 400 pieces. Some sets actually included a beautifully illustrated design book.

Boy….my kindergarten friend and I still had a lot of pieces to use…maybe we could build a whole town or………………

 

 

What ever happened to sky blue?

The other day some of the kindergarten students were drawing a hopscotch game on the playground. When you get to the giant circle that was the number 10, somebody said they thought you die and go to heaven. No…I had to correct them even though now there are tons of different rules and regs for hopscotch. When you reach the circle, you yelled sky blue. I don’t know about others but when I am reminded of this game, the only words I can think about is SKY BLUE. But the children of today did not buy it.

Many neighborhood friends when I grew up played hopscotch together. When I was little, like 4 or 5 years old, the older kids would draw the chalk games on the sidewalks in front of our homes. Using a rock to roll to the basic numbers of 1 through 10 and skipping on each number with one foot but picking the rock up with your hand on the block(number) you rolled to. Now, we did not get creative as the game does suggest today. The rules can include   calling out “one foot”, “left foot”, etc. Children also have to hop backward to return, which requires the reversal of numbers. Depending on the rules of play, children may need to call out the numbers as they land on them.

An ancient form of hopscotch was played by Roman children in the 17th century. The original courts were much longer.There are many other forms of hopscotch played across the globe. And in some games, sky blue becomes plum pudding or cat’s cradle according to the English.

Make a cardboard game for indoor fun and by doing so in the example, you actually separate the letters with longer spaces in between to help build coordination and fun. Its a wonderful way to learn how to hop on one foot or two which is exactly what kindergarten students are learning in physical education classes. You can actually purchase indoor hopscotch games.  Learning Carpets 79” by 26” Hopscotch Play Carpet is available on Amazon in different patterns. No chalk required! Toss a stone, coin or bean bag and hop your way through the numerical maze.

The next time I see a hopscotch diagram being draw on the playground, I am just adding sky blue in the top circle whether they like it or not. That is why I am one of the playground supervisors at recess!

iHerb: the beloved online retailer

Medical research has proven that chronic sleep deprivation can create many health issues and during deep sleep, recent brain studies are finding that the brain has the ability to clear out dangerous toxins. Though consistent exercise and diet is important, getting a good nights sleep is more essential in protecting brain health than we may realize. Sleep has always been an issue for me; though clearing my mind with a good book most nights and a natural supplement helps me maintain a deeper sleep cycle.

Daylight Saving Time began this week which means earlier sunsets and shorter afternoons. With the extended night-time hours – many feel more fatigued than usual. As we settle into the “fall back” routine, our sleep-wake cycle becomes disturbed, with people reporting excessive daytime sleepiness, restless nights, and frequent nighttime awakenings.

Dr. Michael Murray, one of the world’s leading authorities on natural medicine has some great tips regarding how to reset our biological clock and combat the malaise and other challenges associated with the time change. He also recommends natural supplements as they could help ease symptoms (iHerb, the beloved online retailer that specializes in natural wellness products is a great source for natural supplements). Some of his tips include:

· Practice good sleep hygiene by developing a regular nightly routine that might involve taking a warm shower or bath, reading a book and doing light stretches. Consider ear plugs and/or a sleep mask to block out light and noise as much as possible and limit daytime naps to no more than 30 minutes

· Be active during the day – regular exercise is particularly important

· Stabilize blood sugar by avoiding foods that case a rapid rise in bluff sugar levels

· Clear your mind – practice letting go of worry, plain, fear of future circumstances and control

· Natural supplements like Methylcobalamin and Melatonin can dramatically improve quality of life in people with a disturbed sleep-wake cycle. Just one month of methylcobalamin (a form of Vitamin B12) in the morning and melatonin at bedtime can be very effective in resetting your biorhythm

On iHerb, consumers can browse over 30,000 health and wellness products in a variety of categories. For more information, visit www.iherb.com

Earth, Wind and Fire: Kennedy Center Honors

Oh, after the love has gone… How could you lead me one…And not let me stay around? Of course, just heard on the radio reminding of my own breakup sadness when this song came out in 1979; After the Love is Gone. But it was September recorded in 1978 that was always my favorite and when played in the early years of its recording, I would ask who sang that song! September reached No. 1 on the US R&B chart, No. 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and No. 3 on the UK Singles Chart.

Another legendary music group that combined the elements of jazz with pop and who many have said changed the sound of music, Earth Wind and Fire began in 1969 Chicago. Maurice White who was the founder actually played with the Ramsey Lewis Trio and a session drummer at Chess records, which helped his vision for the new band.  After signing with Columbia Records, the band rose in recognition with songs such as Shining Star in 1975, one of their most inspired songs.

Your a Shining Star…no matter who you are.… Shining Star for you to see what your life can be can a great dance song during club time in the 1980’s when I was a young adult but a great song to play as background music in the classroom. A song that when many students were down…they truly listened, smiled, and shined with accomplishment.Also a song for the my own young children to play and dance in their living room…singing the words directly to each other or their friends, making a new day of love and friendship.

Maurice White passed away in 2016 but still in the heart and soul of all of their music. The three original members – Phillip Bailey, Verdine White and Ralph Johnson — have been together over 40 years. Earth Wind and Fire continues to travel throughout the country with elaborate and dynamic performances.They built their legendary status with numerous albums to this day, garnering 20 Grammy Award nominations (winning six as a group) and a Hall Of Fame Induction along the way.

On Sunday, December 8, 2019 in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, Earth, Wind and Fire will be honored at the 42nd Annual Kennedy Center Honors. Sally Field, two time Academy Award winner and Linda Ronstadt, with worldwide album sales of more than 50 million, and Michael Tilson Thomas,Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony will also be celebrated that evening.