The Last Day of the Old Year

New Year’s Eve, 2017

New Year’s Eve,
Champagne, hats, horns and music.
A bittersweet moment in time.

At once, a look back on what was, triumphs and disappointments.
And then a look to what might be, hopes and dreams.
All in a few frantic hours on this last night of the old year.

The ones who have it best are not looking back, or looking ahead.
On this night, there is only the moment,
A moment when nothing matters but what is,

They grab another glass of bubbly,
Head for turn around the dance floor,
And think, “My god, what a great party this is!”

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Christmas Eve Memories

This night brings memories for me. This poem was written some time ago, but I still like it. Some of you may have seen it before, but that’s okay.

The Stars Were Singing

The stars were singing,
In a sky full of dark.
On that last Christmas Eve.

Candlelight moved to the music,
Casting shadows upon the wall,
And the wine glasses sparkled.

Your eyes shone brightly for a time,
While your smile would come and go
Like the shadows on the wall.

Bailey’s purrs came as you stroked her fur.
Your lap was her favorite place.
And you asked for another glass.

Wine made the music more poignant,
And, on this night of miracles,
We talked of miracles that might never come.

We talked into the night
Like we had so many Christmas Eves before,
And this night, we didn’t want it to end.

As the last of the candles flickered and died,
And the shadows melted back into the night,
We could hear it again.

The stars were singing
In a sky full of dark,
On that last Christmas Eve.

From my friend, Brandy, who keeps me grounded, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and hope that you find this night as special as we do.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past

Grandma Mann and the Christmas Show

When it comes to recalling Christmas memories, like all who might read this who have their own, I have mine. What follows is one of my fondest because of what I did for my Grandma Mann.

She was in a nursing home in Carrington, ND, my home town, which was also the home town of my wife at the time, Mary Ann.

Her name was Clara Mann, and she was my mother’s mom.
Time now was the early 70’s, her husband, my mother’s father, Frank had died in 1967, and she was left alone, and she ended up in a nursing home in Carrington. There were no such things as assisted living, or such things back then, and even if there had been, she wouldn’t have been able to afford it.

I was working at KXJB Television in Fargo, and when December rolled around, I took it upon myself to produce a short slide show for the afternoon talk show that featured Jim Adelson and Sally Hilleboe.

I took my trusty Nikon F2, along with a couple of star filters, and began driving around Fargo-Moorhed and taking pictures of Christmas lights.

I shot slides of everything, house decorations, close ups of Christmas decorations, city lights. I walked West Acres Mall taking photos of all of the color and light of the season. My wife and I spent many nights driving around the two cities as I tried to capture on film the magic that was the season.

I was using station film, and I wasn’t worried about cost, so I overshot taking hundreds of photos, knowing that sometimes it takes 30 photos to get the one you want.
After I had developed and mounted all of the slides, I began to put together the spot for Adelson and Hilleboe’s show, and chose Andy William’s version of “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of The Year,” to use as the musical background to the slides.

The show on their afternoon show took only about 2 and a half minutes, but it went well. You’ll have to remember, this was in the early 70’s, before videotape and computers, so I was working with what we had. It was basically a slide show on Television, primitive, but at the time effective.

That being done, I wasn’t satisfied at such a short showing, so Mary Ann and I sat at home with a Kodak Carousel slide machine, and a recorder that could program the slide show. We added a few more songs, besides, Andy William’s song and ran the length of the show out to around ten or twelve minutes. Then we had to decide what to do with it.

We were going to Carrington for Christmas that year, as we did those days, and somehow the idea came to take the slide/tape show along, We thought we could show it to our parents. But then, somehow the idea of showing it at the nursing home came up.

When we got to Carrington I checked with the nursing home and told them what I had in mind, and they were excited to have it done there. Most of the residents there were in their 70’s, 80’s and beyond, and would have had no chance to see the lights of Christmas presented in such a way.

Grandma Mann had never even been to Fargo, but she had seen her grandson on TV. My Grandma had really never had much of anything. In retrospect, during our younger years she was just taking care of Frank, and feeding us when we were young and at the water plant where they lived. We always felt her a bit strange, but as kids do, we just accepted her for what she was.

It was just a day or two before Christmas, and it was set. We went to the nursing home and prepared to put on the show for the residents. Mary Ann and I brought the Kodak Carousel and the recorder, and they had set up a screen in the commons area so everyone would have a good view.

Then they came in. They came in walkers, wheel chairs, with canes, and found places to sit to watch the show. There were more women than men, but it mattered little. What was evident they were there to see a show that was being brought to them by the grandson of one of their own.

We dimmed the lights, and the show was on. Andy William’s voice as others filled the room, and the lights and images we had brought, filled the screen, and all of their eyes were glued to that screen.

The show, took more than ten or 15 minutes, and when the final notes faded and the last slide dimmed and the screen went black, there was absolute silence. Not one hand clap.

They all sat there, silently for a moment, and we wondered what was going on. Then the administrator said, “They don’t want it to be over, can you show it again?” Then it came to me, this was a magical night for them, most who had never seen such sights, and they didn’t want it to end.

We started it over again, and this time when it came to the end, there were smiles everywhere, applause, and thanks for coming from the residents, and my Grandma Mann was a real hero that night for bringing her grandson to the show.
She was all smiles that night, and as happy as I had seen her in long time, and that made me smile.It made me smile that I was able to give her something that no one else could have, and it made her happy.

When Mary Ann and I left the home that night and walked into the cold December night, it was with satisfaction that we had brought some of the lights and the magic of Christmas into the lives of those who hadn’t seen much of either lately, and seeing the smiles and knowing how they appreciated it, well, it made us feel pretty good.

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Congressional Constipation

It seems that the current case of collective Congressional constipation is at a critical stage. There is so much intense straining going on that whenever it breaks through, one would be wise to not be nearby. There are not enough Charmin bears in the country available to clean up the mess that will come with the laxative induced eruption that is sure to come. The swamp itself will not be able to contain it.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

Thanksgiving 2017

As I sit here in my little tin shack on this eve before Thanksgiving, I’m struck by a couple of things. The first is that judging from the television, this holiday has become an afterthought. It seems to me that if this were a Monopoly game, we have just drawn a card that says, “Go directly from Halloween to Christmas, do not pass Thanksgiving.

The other thought that comes to mind is that I’ve lost some good friends this year.

Now, I always think of Joanie during the holiday season, and I do today as well. She is the constant.

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The first loss this year was the death of my best friend, Wayne Tanous. It was a shock to me, and I still think of him every day. Wayne and I had a special relationship. He had been my go to guy when Joanie was going through her ordeal, and he was the one I could talk to about what was going on, and he would understand.

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We had similar backgrounds, and it was like we knew each other so well, we knew what the other would be thinking.

His loss still weighs on me, especially during the holidays. Wayne had lost his wife Karen two years before Joanie died, and so we understood what each one was going through.

This year, I lost another long time friend, Don Klocke. We had been friends going back to the 50s. I was part of his wedding, and he was part of my first wedding in 1967. He also made a surprise appearance at my second wedding when Joanie and I got married in 1989. The memories I have of the time spent with Don and his wife Mary Kaye, who had died the year before are ones I treasure.

The other loss I felt this year was Doug Peacock. When he died, he had been living in Rhode Island. Doug was an Army buddy of mine. We had spend two years together in Germany in the early 60s and had seen each other on a couple of occasions over the years. During the past couple of years we had the habit of calling one another a couple of times a month and just talking about was going on in our lives. It was something I looked forward to, and I think he did as well.

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Another old friend, more recent than the others was Wayne Clark. Clark, as we called him was a retired pipe salesman. By pipe I mean the kind of pipes used for drainage and those types of things. Dean Meyer, a rancher and former State Senator from Killdeer and Dickinson referred to Clark by the nickname he had earned while dealing with County Commissions. He said they called him “Big Pipe.”

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The immutable fact is that as we age we all have more years like this, as we lose old friends.

However, I chose to not lament their passing, but to be thankful they were a part of my life at all, and in a lot of ways still are.

So, I’m thankful this Thanksgiving for that.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

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