Showing posts from 2020

Christmas Bells

By: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Editor's note:  In this Christmas season of 2020, we felt moved to post something that expressed, for us, the unusual nature of this year. We were reminded of the Christmas of 1863 when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the poem "Christmas Bells," which expressed his feelings during a challenging year.  Several years earlier, his wife, Frances, was accidentally killed in a fire. Then in 1862, his oldest son, Charles, enlisted in the Union Army during the Civil War. In November 1863, Charles was seriously wounded in the Battle of Mine Run. Thus, on Christmas Day, Henry wrote the following words, expressing his feelings of remorse but also of hope. Today, we feel they speak solace to many who have faced loss recently. In addition, the poem conveys confidence that we will learn to overcome the discord and strife which currently divides us. I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play,      and wild and sweet      The words

Winter Sky

By Ashlin Awerkamp deep black darkness opens pale gray clouds flatten faint milky flakes drift frigid silver wind cuts silky ivory snow enshrouds fragile dusky night stills glimmering crystal sun rises icy blue sky revealed

The Dairy Farmer's Christmas

By Jarom J. Petrich The farmer’s day began before the morning sun’s first light, But before he’d finished all his chores it was slipping into night. It was Christmas Eve, so his wife and kids had laughed and trimmed the tree Yet the farmer thought without much joy, what’s Christmas done for me? That Christmas Eve he’d stayed up late to help a cow give birth And as he trudged back to the house he laughed with little mirth. A perfect calf was born that night, but as his luck would be, God had got the gender ‘wrong’, instead it was a he. He’d hoped for a Christmas present that would be a two for one. A baby cow would grow the herd, but bulls , he wanted none. A dairy farm has little use for a newborn Holstein bull, And can ill afford to spare the milk to keep his belly full.  He spoke aloud in mocking tones, “Now what a precious gift!” Instead of feeling Christmas joy, all he felt was miffed. “God ain't so good at giving gifts; why take the time to pray? Ain’t like he cares ‘bout wha

Grokking My Dryer

  By: Kelly McDonald Some people think design means how it looks. But, of course, if you dig deeper, it’s how it really works. You have to grok what it is all about.  Steve Jobs     I was sitting in my workroom at the end of August, hoping to make some progress on my latest essay before it was time for bed. I was trying to write more, now that we had been sequestered by our cautions to COVID-19. Beverly walked up the stairs to our upper floor, having finished off our laundry’s latest before the 10 p.m. news began. She stopped in to visit me before she entered our bedroom.       “What are you working on?” she inquired while resting her arm on my shoulder. We had a ritual of watching the nightly news together.      “Just trying to capture a few more sentences before I wrap it up for the night,” I replied.      She just stood there, watching what I was doing. Then she tapped me lightly on the shoulder and quietly responded, “I hate to say this, but the dryer is broken.”      I’m no strang

Indian Sandals, My Breaststroke, and the Gift of Thanks

By Sean Oliver      Personally, I’m not sure how people develop a passion for swimming. I enjoy it because it’s a good workout, but I feel like a fish out of water when I’m in the water. Come to think of it, struggling to get my face out of the water to breathe properly is probably what makes my lengths good exercise. I’m not too bad at my breaststroke, but it’s my front crawl that needs improving. Somersaulting at the wall and kicking off the other way without getting a water-filled sinus eight out of ten times is also a persistent obstacle. Swimming does allow for some good time to think; what I like best is how my thoughts form around the regularity of my stroke.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Man, the pool’s already getting crowded. I might have to start coming earlier.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. How does the lifeguard keep track of all these people? She actually looks kinda bored.       Stroke, stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe. Do we even reall

The Battle of the Blackberries

By Elizabeth Smith There was a man in Thessaly, And he was wondrous wise, He jumped into a thorn bush, And scratched out both his eyes And when he saw his eyes were out, He danced with might and main, Then jumped into another bush And scratched them in again.      “Ouch!” I gasped.      I ripped off my gardening glove. A red thorn had pierced the leather, and a sizable sliver was firmly embedded in my right thumb. I sighed and winced as I slowly pulled it out: the prick was just one of many wounds I had suffered thus far in the yard. Sucking my bleeding thumb, I gazed at the hideous brambles around me. They covered two corners of the yard, making up about one-fourth of the lot or roughly the square footage of our master bedroom. The canes in the southeast corner sprawled in all directions, and some had even climbed a decorative plum tree. There was no way I could handle that area while my husband was at work. Instead, I was tackling the northeast corner, where the thorny plants were no

Going Out for a Walk

 By Max Beerbohm Editor's note: We share this essay to celebrate the marriage of humor and artistry in Beerbohm's writing. Although the essay was published in 1920, "Going Out for a Walk" is something anyone—living in any decade—who is in need of a good laugh can appreciate.       It is a fact that not once in all my life have I gone out for a walk. I have been taken out for walks; but that is another matter. Even while I trotted prattling by my nurse’s side I regretted the good old days when I had, and wasn’t, a perambulator. When I grew up it seemed to me that the one advantage of living in London was that nobody ever wanted me to come out for a walk. London’s very drawbacks—its endless noise and hustle, its smoky air, the squalor ambushed everywhere in it—assured this one immunity. Whenever I was with friends in the country, I knew that at any moment, unless rain were actually falling, some man might suddenly say ‘Come out for a walk!’ in that sharp imperative tone