His Turn II: An Artist Discovers More

Do you have photo albums un-touched in years? Is there a box of pictures stashed away that hasn’t seen the light of day in ages? What treasures may be hidden in your attic or basement?

After our Big Move August 9, more of Cliff’s artwork has come to light, pieces squirreled away, forgotten for decades.

On the July 6, 2016 blog post, I hinted that Cliff the Artist would be discovering more goodies. What I said then:

He has also found lurking in drawers, pencil drawings of college classmates and professors in the classroom, sketches of unsuspecting diners in restaurants. (To be revealed)

The Revelation

Cliff found a treasure trove of surprises in an armoire’s shallow shelf with other large art pieces, in niches below that, in a handmade folding portfolio, and in a cabinet with glass shelves.

An antique mahogany cabinet brought forth more surprises.

Photographs and artwork like these:

cartoonistphoto

cliffdrawingpuppies1983

dogcatwolfson1983

Sketches in college classroom

Cliff and Barry Beitzel, both divinity students in college, studied Greek together. Cliff became an artist/educator and Barry, a Hebrew scholar and author of important biblical literature including The New Moody Atlas of the Bible.

barrybeitzel1966

Sketches in restaurants

In the style of Honoré Daumier who honored ordinary folks like in his oil painting Third Class Carriage, Cliff caught images of unsuspecting diners in Waffle Houses and restaurants of similar ilk:

smokingwomanlakeland1987

blackcoffee1987

restaurantnewspapermen1987

 

A Family Heirloom, the House on Anchor Road: Cliff presented the painting of our homestead to my dad, Ray Longenecker, 1983

housedaddycliff

 


His Admission

Without prompting from me, Cliff wrote this memo to himself recently, feeling exhilarated about finding his long-lost “friends”

memoclifforganizing

 

Time Moves On

Yes, time moves on. More than thirty-seven years have passed since this calendar with Cliff’s pastiche drawing circulated for the new year.

pastichecalendar

 

Your Turn

Maybe it’s time to check through memories marinating on your shelves, incubating in boxes. No telling what treasures you’ll find.

 

kidsswingingwolfson1983

Bonus: Two good websites to help you mine stories from photographs:

Shirley Showalter’s Magical Memoir Moments: photos and writing prompts to bring out the storyteller in you

Dawn Roode’s blog on using digital photos to trigger writing life stories

Any I missed? Please add others in the comments column. Thank you!

 

 

Coming next: Aunt Ruthie Longenecker ~ Her Life in Pictures

 

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Drawing on Love: Stored Secrets Come to Light

When we met, Cliff’s very first words to me were “Nice to see you again.”

My quick quip, “Nice to see you again too.”

But I’m getting ahead of my story. Way ahead . . .

* * *

During the months of June and July, I published a series of posts about moving from our large family home to a smaller abode. An earlier post discussed this move from my husband’s point of view: His Turn, an Artist Discards, Donates, and Discovers. I mentioned then that I may reveal later some of Cliff’s discoveries, unearthed drawings from an armoire that have not seen the light of day for literally decades.

I’m showing the first one on this post.

But first, some background . . .

Through the ingenuity of my Pennsylvania neighbor next door, Paul Mumma, I met Cliff, his college roommate, as a blind date on December 18, 1965, a fact I recorded in an entry with many embellishments in my journal. My iPhone says the day of the week that year was a Saturday.

On what turned out to be a double date, Paul, his girlfriend Betty, Cliff and I drove down Anchor Road on the way to the education building of a small church which the four of us intended to decorate for Christmas. On a blackboard in one of the Sunday School rooms Cliff first revealed his artistic talent by drawing a Santa Claus, mostly for my benefit, I surmise. (Sorry, the Santa Claus has been erased.)

A few days later, he had me pose in the living room of my parents’ home for many minutes. He explained that he was drawing my portrait. I sat very still for a long, long time.

Cliff finally flipped the paper to expose the drawing. I was aghast when I saw what the clever artist had been playing with on paper for forty-five minutes: He had morphed my then-slender figure into a porky jungle animal with a cute blue bow.

Elephant drawing_7x7_72(1)

He laughed heartily when he saw my shocked reaction.

After the gasp, all ll I could manage was an incredulous giggle. “You got me,” I thought.


The next week was Christmas. Then I heard him tell me, “I think I am falling in like.”

Really? What’s that like, I wondered.

About a week later,  Cliff drew a proper picture of me.

 

The Drawing

cliffFirstDrawing

He drew a good likeness of the serious me and prophesied my future, I think, by exaggerating my pile of dark hair and miniaturizing my prayer cap.

He signed it, Love, Cliff.

Yes, Reader, I married him.

 

Reader, I married him.  A quiet wedding we had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were alone present.    ~  Jane Eyre, Ch. 38, C. Brontë

 

Our wedding was not quiet. And more than four people were present.


A Card

A few weeks ago when Cliff pulled out piles of papers and other drawings including the one above, a small bag fell out from one of the crevices in the same art armoire. The envelope was dusty but well-preserved after years in hiding. Inside he found an anniversary card he apparently had bought in his travels and had been intending to give me about 10-15 years ago, so he imagines. Time had preserved the lacy layers. But he added a fresh, new message.

AnniversaryCardCover

AnnivCardInside67

Dear Reader, have you ever found lost or long-buried mementoes of sentimental value?

Thank you for adding your discoveries here. 

By the way, our move became a reality yesterday, August 9, in case you are wondering when all this hoopla has culminated. Next week, prepared in advance: Summer on Anchor Road: Sights, Smells, & Sounds

Give and Take with Cake

“Let them eat cake!” That’s what newly weds and their guests do at wedding receptions. At 9 ½ minutes after three o’clock on August 5, 1967, I fed my groom a huge mouthful of cake, and he returned the favor more gingerly ten seconds later, if the clock on the wall is any indication.

WeddingCakeCliff

WeddingCakeMe

We are on the verge of celebrating our 49th anniversary. Like the seventh note in an octave, we are almost there, but have not yet reached the golden mark.

How have we gotten this far without hitting the skids? I could make a long list of suggestions, but right now I have only one:

Watch Your Words

Cake is sweet to the tongue just as our words should be to one another. Words have power. Let your spouse or partner hear “please” and ”thank you” every day. Sarcasm is out. Surely contempt must go. Public humiliation, a big NO!

  1. Say “Yes” as often as humanly possible.
  2. Wait for the best time to make a request, offer a suggestion. Everyone needs 5-10 minutes to decompress after walking through the door. Let your spouse have time to breathe before requiring a response.
  3. Once a day, notice the positive out loud: the way they look, something they’ve said, or done.

Michael Hyatt, author and speaker, affirms that “Marriage is a powerful visual of how you treat the people you value the most. (“Why Speaking Well of Your Spouse is So Important”)

Ever the tip and list maker, Hyatt in another post shares his recipe for how to become your spouse’s best friend. Many of items on the list regard minding our words, for example: “Extend grace to me when I am grumpy or having a bad day. Speak well of me when I am not present.”

“Listen without judging or trying to fix me.”

Humorist Ogden Nash adds a dash of rhyme and reason to the mix:

If you want your marriage to sizzle

With love in the loving cup.

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it.

Whenever you’re right, shut up!

And finally, Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”  

~ Colossians 4:6, New Revised Standard Version

 

Light a Candle

CandleWedding

This candle first flickered and then burned brightly on a pedestal at Calvary Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The candle came with instructions to burn for one hour on our anniversary date. Some years the candle probably has shone for more than an hour. But we may have even skipped a year or two. Nevertheless, the long, tapered candle is very short and stubby now. Yet the flame still burns brightly.

Whether you are married or not, on this day I light a candle for you and whatever family relationship is most important in your life.

 

CandleDiningRoom

 

Your thoughts, recollections, or advice are welcome here. Thank you!

 

Coming next: Drawing on Love: A Brief Retrospective

Paring Down, Tidying Up – Some Tips

“Listen to this” I said to Cliff as I began reading the page on sorting papers: “Rule of Thumb – Discard Everything. ” As I continued reading the chapter on sorting papers in Marie Kondo’s New York Times best seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I saw my husband’s eyes bug out, his jaw go rigid. I imagined his next move would be grabbing the book from my bare hands. (He didn’t.) Even though papers accumulate in our house like snowdrifts, he was having none of it.

It’s hard to dispute the dictum of a Japanese cleaning consultant like Kondo who claims that none of her clients have lapsed – and who has a three-month waiting list. She insists that if you organize your house properly, you’ll never have to do it again.

At the heart of her message is this: Keep something only if it sparks JOY in your life. And related to this: Give it away, if you think it will inspire joy in others.

So, I have divested myself of possessions I’ve held onto for decades.

Ribbons and sewing notions have gone to a church friend, Donna, seamstress extraordinaire, who has connections to talented women needing supplies.

RibbonGiveaway

Like my friend Carolyn, I have passed on items of fine dining. My wedding crystal went to my hair stylist and super hostess Jackie. Originally, I intended to donate my crystal (from The Susquehanna Glass Factory in Columbia, Pennsylvania) to The Community Hospice Thrift Shop. But before I ever got to the donation center, Jackie took a look, fell in love, and the crystal sherbets and glasses became hers.

Crystal

By far the hardest thing to divest myself of is MY BOOOOOKS! They are part of my self-hood, my identity for the decades of my long teaching career. I am not the only book lover who wrestles with such impulses. Summer Brennan writes about the heartache of such a task here. Like her, I feel torn by the lure of Kondo’s promise of the magic of recycling and my impulse to embrace William Dean Howell‘s advice, “Oh, nothing furnishes a house like books.”

I’ve given dozens of books to Angel Aid, a charity for women and children. But I feel just as good when they land in the hands of young scholars, like Matthew, who can appreciate the nerdy translation of my Chaucer texts from Middle to Modern English, pre-digital translate days.

ChaucerTranslation

­­­­Matthew took my Milton text too, and two Survey of English Lit texts. He exclaimed, “I appreciate this. I can’t thank you enough,” followed by a smiley face and book emoticon.

ChaucerMilton

I feel a certain lightheartedness at getting rid of stuff, especially if I can pass them on to people who appreciate their worth.

Grandma Longenecker can relate to such a feeling. She told me so in a letter from Rheems, Pennsylvnia in April 1975.

GrandmaRidStuffLetter

“They are busy at the shop, selling a lot of new equipment, I turned the shop over to Ray and house to Ruth, so I’m rid of that stuff.”

In other words, Grandma divested herself of two properties by deeding them over to my father and aunt. I’m guessing that she was immensely relieved of responsibilities for either property.

She continued to live in her lovely Victorian home until the day she died.

1989RuthieHouse

Coming next: A rollicking review of Marie Kondo’s book and a glimpse of the shop Grandma deeded to my dad. Neat versus messy? You decide.

Your tips for paring down and tidying up are welcome here.   🙂

 

My purple hat - Out the door!
My purple “Downton Abbey” hat – Out the door!

 

Moments of Extreme Emotion: Where’s My Spyglass?

The photo of a pair of transitions eye glasses attached to a scarlet lanyard is still posted on my Facebook page dated April 14, 2016. “Hubby makes a lanyard for my glasses today. He is not being kind. He just doesn’t want to look for my glasses anymore! . . . well, yes, he is being kind.” Those were my words.

“The accompanying script in red and black reads “Forsake not the assembling of your glasses with your body.” St. Cliff 1:1 with date 4.14.16

CliffLanyardGlasses

Comments came from sympathizers and a naysayer: “Funny that I got a store bought one in my Christmas stocking.” “Doesn’t look very practical. I predict you don’t use it much.” ” I can absolutely relate!”

Reading over my Facebook heading again now I sense myself thinking at the time, “I won’t lose my glasses again.” A trace of boastfulness? Perhaps. Presumption? Probably.

Here’s how the glasses story subsequently unfolded: On Friday, April 29, I went to my power-pump class at the gym. Obviously I wore glasses to drive there and back. I’m nearsighted without them. Why, without glasses I might have a wreck.

That evening, we saw a scary Netflix movie, a British gothic flick “The Making of a Lady.” I must have worn my glasses then. I don’t remember squinting or sitting up close cross-legged to see the screen. I also don’t remember whether my lanyard was around my neck or somewhere else at the time.

The next morning I planned to drive to Curtis’ soccer game at 8:30 a.m. At 8:10 I grabbed my keys and and my glasses. My g – g – g l a s s s e e s s s; where are they? Too embarrassed to ask Cliff for help right away, I scoured the usual places: My computer desk, my dresser, the coffee-table, the kitchen counter. I couldn’t even find my back-up pair usually sitting snugly in the console by the driver’s seat.

Then, I go into full-out search mode. With and without Mr. Red Lanyard Maker, I . . .

  1. Look on every surface without a flashlight.
  2. Check every surface with a flashlight, lifting seat cushions.
  3. Walk outside and check the patio furniture, flower-bed containers.
  4. Re-visit the front porch table.
  5. Repeat steps 1 and 2 at night.  I hoped I’d catch a gleam with my flashlight, after five hours of searching all told.
  6. I awoke with a jolt at 2:00 a.m, with the strong image that my glasses had fallen off my lanyard and into a garbage bag. So I cull through two plastic bags of trash to no avail.
  7. I prayed ardently. After alI, I do remember the story of the Woman with the Lost Coin in Luke 15, a woman who lost one of her pieces of silver, lit a candle, swept the house, found it, and called her friends together to celebrate. I was ready for celebration!

Catholics would appeal to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost items. One online source printed a prayer: “Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony, please come around: Something is lost and needs to be found!”  A woman named Madeleine suggested that one call off the hunt as a sign of faith, claiming that “once you say the prayer stop looking for whatever it is you lost.”

Well, I did call off the hunt on Sunday, yet kept an eye out. There is always a chance for a miracle. Maybe those two shiny lenses would spontaneously appear.

Apparently, I am not alone. Hunting for lost or misplaced items is common. According to one source, the average person spends one year of life looking for keys, wallet — glasses. Among the more distressing losses are diamond rings (Oh, I lost one of those too!) and honeymoon tickets (We didn’t need tickets for air travel – just a pickup with a topper.)

Websites about lost items are usually accompanied by blatant suggestions to get more organized and be more mindful going about one’s daily tasks.

Sunday afternoon, the highly-motivated Red Lanyard Maker drove me to LensCrafter’s to fix the problem. After all, Mr. RLM can’t be my chauffeur for the foreseeable future.

At the office, I got an eye examination, another prescription, and new glasses with identical frames promised in a fortnight.

GlassesWink

As I write now, my lanyard is securely hugging my neck with glasses attached. More mindful? Yes, I believe so.

To this day, I haven’t found my glasses. Nor have the back-up pair appeared either. How had some genie or sprite spirited away both sets of glasses? Odd and distressing! If the originals make their appearance, I’ll be thrilled to use them as my spare.

* * *

From my experience, our possessions seem to disappear in direct proportion to their degree of importance in our lives.

How about you? Tales of woe – or discovery are welcome here!

 

All Creatures Great and Small: The Power of Pets

I missed National Pet Day on April 11 by a few weeks. But if you own a dog like Scotty or a kitty cat named Sophie, every day of the year is pet day.

In 4th grade, I drew a cat and colored it charcoal gray. It appears I was as interested in making the wallpaper pretty as I was in drawing a green-eyed cat with its wee kitten.

KittenArtMarian1947?

In first grade, my teacher Miss Longenecker introduced our class to reading via the phonics method with the drawing of a cat illustrating the hard “c” sound. She probably used the Hay & Wingo textbook entitled Reading with Phonics (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1948).

 Hay & Wingo, Reading with Phonics, J. B. Lippincott, 1948
Julie Hay & Charles Wingo, Reading with Phonics, J. B. Lippincott, 1948

We never had a pet cat, probably because my mother was allergic to cat dander, but several memorable dogs cavorted through our childhood. Sporty, an Airedale Terrier mix leaped and frisked around Grandma’s ankles when I was very young.  Boots, a black and white Smooth Fox Terrier, flushed ground hogs from their holes.

My sister Jean remembers other animals too: Our dad raised Angora rabbits housed in wooden crates in the barn attic and another Smooth Fox Terrier named Minnie, as small as she sounds. Sister Jan says we used to dress her up with doll clothes and send her down over the hill to Grandma’s house.

Our brother Mark’s dog, 3-legged Skippy, butterscotch and cream colored, lost one leg when a truck ran over him. Still, he skipped, ran far, and jumped high with just three legs. You’ll see part of his rear end and his tail in the second picture.

MarkDogMailbox

 

Brother Mark with sled and Skippy in the snow 1961
Brother Mark with sled and Skippy in the snow  1961

 

We all remember Ruthie’s little lamb that felt like mine when I wiggled my fingers digging deep into its wooly coat.

My Aunt Ruthie loved animals all her life, especially dogs. Her last four dogs were Schnauzers, known for their fierce loyalty and protective power. The pure-bred Schnauzuers were all named Fritzie – Fritizie I, II, III, and IV.

In this photo she was probably holding Fritzie III in her lap. The devotion you observe in this photo flowed both ways.

RuthieDogPiano

* * *

Like most children, our kids Crista and Joel wanted a dog. We shopped ads in the Dollar Saver for our dog back then and were taken in by the phrase “loves children.” That’s how we found Me-Too, a kid-loving-mailman-hating dog of questionable pedigree. Still, the children doted on her and adopted her into their play. Here the frame of their baby buggy became a carriage with Me-Too as the pony express.

WondaChairCristaJoel

 

Research

Not surprisingly, research shows that pets promote health, both physical and emotional.

Pets in the household can reduce everyday stress – lift one’s mood and provide physical contact. They provide an outlet for nurturing too: Pet owners have a living thing to care for. And finally, pets keep one active: walking the dog, feeding the cat.

Several of my writing friends admit that a pet dog or cat serves as muse: Kathy Pooler, Merril Smith, and Susan Weidener. Other authors have pets that appear on their blog posts from time to time: Laurie Buchanan, Janet Givens, and Elaine Mansfield. Lord David Prosser observes that his alarm cat Oscar wakens him from slumber every morning. And photographer Lady Fiona’s dogs enliven most of her fabulous photographs. Marylin Warner is training a puppy, but I don’t think she would call Scout her muse yet.

* See note below.

 

Books with animal characters

Books of my childhood:

  • Anne of Green Gables – Dog Monday
  • Little House on the Prairie, Laura Ingalls’ dogs – Jack, the brindle bulldog, and Bandit, the stray, appear in her books
  • Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Literary works:

In The Odyssey, I recall Homer’s beloved Argos, who patiently waited for him at journey’s end. Maybe you remember this faithful dog too.

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, cats romped in the Bennett household, at least according to author Pamela Jane.

Anton Chekhov wrote a short story entitled The Lady with the Dog, preserved here in statuary forever viewing the Black Sea in Yalta. When we visited in 2011, Crimea was still part of Ukraine.

CrimeaMarian2011

 

In the 1970s James Herriot books were all the rage both here in the States and internationally. Herriot, an English veterinarian, immortalized farm animals, pets, and their owners in his popular series set in the Yorkshire dales and moors. I read many of the titles: All Creatures Great and Small, All Things Bright and Beautiful, and The Lord God Made Them All.

 

What pets populated your home or the pages of books you loved? What items can you add to the list of benefits of owning a pet?

Leave a line or two here. You can also include endearing (or not) pet anecdotes.

Incidentally, if I inadvertently missed listing you as an author with a pet muse, please bark at me, so I can rectify the oversight ~ pronto.

 

Daisy with Jenna in pigtails
Daisy with grand-daughter Jenna in pigtails

 

Coming next: Baby Beads and Wooden Blocks: Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

 

 

 

What Lights Your Fire?

My mother wore many hats both literally and figuratively. Most of her head coverings were prayer veilings worn every day. As a young woman, her coverings were large, decreasing in size as she got older and church rules had progressively relaxed.

Mom+Marian_2 mos_5x9_300

 

Mother wore a sunbonnet in the tomato patch in Bainbridge, PA. As far as I could tell, Mennonite women in the 1940s and 1950s, paid no attention to Coppertone ads. (Remember billboards with that sneaky cocker spaniel pulling on a little girl’s swimsuit bottom, exposing her pale cheeks?) No one that I knew then wore sun tan lotion regularly, except maybe to the shore at Atlantic City or Ocean City. Country women, including my mother, wore bonnets in the garden and fields to protect their skin.

MomBonnetTOMATOES

The details are fuzzy here because this photo is another movie “still” captured from Aunt Ruthie’s 16 mm camera (circa 1955).

I look at this image of Mother’s sunbonnet worn in the tomato patch with two lenses, viewing the blurry film now and remembering the scene vividly then as an eyewitness:

I’m looking at a film clip of Mother in rows of the tomato patch just now, humped-over body bending toward a flush tomato bush facing the camera, her blue and white speckled sunbonnet sewn with three tiers of matching ruffles, a row along the bill, a row at the crease, another row near the crown of the hat—come to think of it now, headgear much fancier than her everyday prayer cap.

 

Figuratively too, she wore many hats:

Sister

Wife

Mother

Friend

Gardener

Tomato Picker

Cook/preserver

PTA/Treasurer

Dresser of chickens

Sewing circle seamstress

Volunteer – MCC Gift and Thrift

Volunteer – Choice Books in Salunga, PA

Mother particularly enjoyed her last volunteer job, stamping the Choice Books logo onto inspirational books for display on kiosks in stores around the country. During her “morning away,” she got to see her niece Dotty Metzler Martin often, met her friend Bertha, and ate lunch with other friends. She always sounded thrilled to describe this excursion when we talked on the phone Saturday mornings.

MomChoiceBooks

Even in her early nineties, she got excited about this bright spot in her life. I thought about her experience and examined my own passions when I read this verse from Psalm 39:3

My heart grew hot within me . . . and as I meditated, the fire burned. (NIV)

If someone asked Mother, “What lights your fire?” She would probably answer, “Serving others,” a motto she lived by.

The 16 x 22 inch poster created for her 90th birthday party and later, displayed on an easel at her memorial service, shows flash points of service, including her stint at Choice Books.

PosterMom2008

 

How would you answer these burning questions?

  • What lights your fire?
  • What burns “hot” within you?

“When God gives you an 11-by-17 mindset, you’ll never be happy living in a 3-by-5 mental framework.” Daily Devotional: The Word for You Today, April 10, 2016

 

Hearing from you lights my fire. Thank you for commenting here!

 

Coming next: All Creatures Great & Small: The Power of Pets

 

Raise a Mug to the Irish!

Is there a drop of Irish blood in my veins? I doubt it. I grew up Mennonite in the Longenecker family in Pennsylvania Dutch country, a hot-bed of Swiss-German ancestry.

Still, the Irish-named Donegal Springs is a mere 3-mile, 5-minute drive from Rheems, Pennsylvania near my birthplace. In the adjoining Dauphin County are Londonderry Township. In Bucks County, a town named Dublin, sister city to the capital of the Republic of Ireland.

Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman Dublin, GA
Photo courtesy of Artist Cliff Beaman traveling through Dublin, GA

When we visited Ireland, we met a congenial gentleman named Buchanan, who remarked that he has immigrant relatives buried in the Donegal Presbyterian Church cemetery, a place he once visited.

During my last trip to Pennsylvania, I discovered some vintage postcards stamped with penny postage, sent to Miss Fannie Martin, my Grandma Longenecker. Many of her postcards are embossed and saturated with color – no Photoshop filters needed.

In an era long before smartphones and text messages, postcards were valued. Instead of instant messages easily deleted and forgotten, these cards have become artifacts of my family history. The one below over one hundred years old is dated 1910.

StPat1912MUGfront

StPat1912MUGback

I live in a neighborhood where Irish names abound: Blarney Stone Court, Killarney Drive, Leprechaun Court, St. Patrick Lane. Names on residents’ mailboxes have included Dunleavy, O’Neill, and Kelly. We once had to fight a major retailer to retain charming shamrocks and moss-footed oaks in a wooded area adjoining our community. The hanging on our front door reflects the neighborhood and the season.

StPatBearDoor

St. Patrick’s Day this year falls on a Thursday, March 17. Until then, I wish you the luck of the Irish.

May the wind be always at your back and your pathways peaceful. If you are Jewish, Mazel Tov!

To enjoy these Irish limerick lines below add just the right word to complete the rhyme. Keep in mind the missing word must rhyme with the first and second lines. (Answer key in next week’s blog post.)

A bather whose clothing was strewed

By winds that left her quite nude

Saw a man come along

And unless we are wrong

You expected this line to be __________.

~ Anonymous

 

His sister named Lucy O’Finner,

Grew constantly thinner and thinner;

The reason was plain,

She slept in the rain,

And was never allowed any _________.

~ Lewis Carroll

There was an old fellow of Trinity

Who solved the square root of Infinity,

But it gave him such fidgets

To count up the digits,

He chucked Math and took up _________.

~ Anonymous

There was a young farmer of Leeds,

Who swallowed six packets of seeds.

It soon came to pass

He was covered with grass,

And he couldn’t sit down for the_______.

~ Anonymous

 

Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, and Lewis Carroll are among the best versifiers of this humorous form. If you want to cook up your own limerick, here is a link to the recipe with a pattern for the rhyme scheme.

 

Coming next: Wanted, Forty Winks

 

Comparison Shopper Finds His Valentine

Gump-a-bump-a-rump-a! (Repeat – repeat)

No driver wants to hear this coming from under her car hood, even if it is my aging Infiniti. When I reported these scary noises to my husband Cliff, he immediately went into Investigator Mode. His problem-solving scenario proceeded like this: visiting a neighbor who restores antique cars, checking with an auto shop we’ve used before, and then contacting the dealership, the most expensive option. He wrote down notes for each, notes with names, dates, schematics, and most importantly, dollar signs.

ComparisonShopperNotes
ComparisonShopperNotes

He handles plumbing problems at home or HVAC hang-ups the same thorough way. Whether buying a new lawnmower, computer equipment or making travel plans, my husband Cliff is a comparison shopper supreme.

Once upon a time, Cliff used this same methodical system to find suitable dates. During college he had a little black book in which he entered names of girls to date. After they passed the sensational-physical-attributes test, their names and interests were entered into this book. Some girls’ names were crossed off the list because they were too giggly, walked like a duck, or were unable to sing on key.

Cliff went into serious search mode to find a mate after an unofficial engagement fell apart. Then his college roommate suggested he meet his next-door neighbor, a teacher and a Mennonite, during Christmas vacation. We met on a blind date In December 1965. I say blind because the normal-looking Mennonites he had known from the West were very unlike the girl standing in front of him, plain with hair coiled up under a prayer cap – me.

Maybe because of the mystique of our differences or because we had similar interests, ours was a whirlwind romance sustained by letters for months after Cliff returned to post-graduate work and me to teaching. Then his letters dwindled, probably because of his hesitation about dating a girl like me from such a strange background.

He went into comparison shopping mode again as he began his first year teaching, dating a nurse from a fine family. Later, he said after he had come to his senses, “I couldn’t get you out of my mind. I thought I would miss something if I said goodbye to you forever.”

According to Cliff, two things I did sealed the deal for him.

  • I made him a monogrammed bath robe for Valentine’s which kept him from freezing on off-campus housing his last few months in college
  • I called various hospitals to try to figure out in which hospital he was a patient when he had pneumonia and was too sick to contact me.

Fortunately our friendship was rekindled when we both attended the August 1966 wedding of the couple who introduced us. Now it was Christmas 1966, and Cliff drove from Jacksonville Florida to pick me up in Charlotte, North Carolina where I was teaching. From there we headed to my hometown, in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania in his white Plymouth Savoy.

Replica of Cliff's 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster
Replica of Cliff’s 1963 Plymouth Savoy now offered on eBay, poster

There one snowy evening before Christmas Cliff said, “Let’s take a drive.” So we bundled up and headed out, crunching footprints in the new fallen snow. Fat flakes were falling from the sky even thicker as we slid into the car, the plastic seats crackling from the cold. Memories of the evening have become a movie in my mind.

“Where are we going?” I quizzed.

“Oh, I don’t know. We’ll just take a drive in this beautiful snow,” Cliff replied rather lamely.

As he tried hard to urge the heater to warm us up, we reminisced about our first dates the Christmas before. “Do you remember how deep the snow was when we went to see the Sound of Music?”

“Of course I do!” The car’s windshield wipers were swishing away mini-cotton balls of snow now.

In the back of his mind, Cliff wondered, “What will she say if I ask her to marry me?”

As we approached the archway between Rheems and Mount Joy, I exclaimed, “The road hasn’t been plowed any farther. We’re at a standstill!” We had come to a crossroads.

Then he said, “If you thought it was God’s will, would you marry me?”

Quickly I responded, “Of course I would.” But in an instant I recognized this as a marriage proposal encased in a tricky question, a snowy fleece.

“Well, then, will you marry me?”

With a “Yes,” the camera dissolved into hugs and kisses.

And yes, the little black book has been destroyed long ago.

Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection
Vintage Cut-out Card, Cliff Collection

 

Is there a comparison shopper in your family? Are you such a shopper?

You are invited to share your marriage proposal story here too.

 


 

 

Coming next: My Day of Change @ a Middle School