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 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
This Thanksgiving week all may not be as we would prefer but we have much to be thankful for.
In a rural community like the one I call home, we would like to have higher prices for our agricultural products but we are thankful for a good crop. As undependable as the rains have been, we could have had both low yields and low prices. After a dry fall, it was great to receive more than an inch of rain in early November. Many years the ground would have been frozen and the precipitation in the form of snow which would have done little to carry our plants through the winter. Thanks to the good soaker, our wheat, trees and pastures will be less stressed this winter and we still have a chance for a wheat harvest in 2016.
As I inventory my own life this Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for having been raised in a stable family that set good standards and encouraged me to meet those standards.
Thanks to a college savings plan started before I enrolled in the first grade, I was debt free when I received my college degree. From grade school on I had to work and save and I am thankful my family could provide opportunities for me to earn money. It took 9 semesters instead of eight to complete my degree. By leaving school debt free, I was in a position to affiliate with this newspaper when only 24 years of age. Unlike many young men, I never had to ask my family to guarantee a loan.
I've been going through my parents' stash of pictures. My parents were not ones to make scrapbooks or keep picture albums. As a school student, my father won a simple box camera in a contest sponsored locally by the Fisher Drug Store. He used that camera for more than 25 years before buying a simple 35 mm camera. At the time, he thought the camera to be a big improvement as the attached flash which used M2 flashbulbs allowed him to take indoor photos and it had rudimentary adjustments for focus and exposure. It didn't have f/stops and shutter speeds nor a distance scale but it did provide for some adjustments like close-up and scenery for focus, and cloudy and cloudy-bright for exposure.
I have shared a few photos which might be of general interest on my Facebook accounts. Far too many pictures are of scenery taken out of this area. The pictures helped my parents remember their travels but since I wasn't along I have little interest in looking at such mystery photos. I will not be converting the travel pictures to a digital format.
I enjoy the pictures of people and local activities. Regretfully, I don't always recognize the people I'm pictured with. I understand my mother's predicament the last time we looked at pictures. I was projecting on the wall of her apartment a picture of a woman standing in front of a tourist attraction when she asked "Who is that woman" She's wearing my dress and carrying my purse."
It was obvious to me it was a picture of my mother but she was hard to convince. Last week I found pictures taken of a Christmas gathering. I was never able to identify one youngster in grandmother's living room. Suspect it was either me or a cousin but if so, why wasn't the person pictured wearing the same clothes as in pictures I could positively identify? Either a picture from another year was mixed into the group or the picture fella was trying on the clothes he received as Christmas presents.
Each year I am finding pictures taken of family members gathered in Grandmother Wrench's living room on Christmas Day and around the dining room table at either her house or Aunt Margaret's. It's fun to see how we changed during the year but sad to think of all the family members who won't be with us today.
Often I can look at one of the pictures taken in the dining room and recall menu items. Things like Aunt Margaret's ham loaf and twice baked potatoes. Holiday meals always included at least three kinds of pie. My mother would make two pumpkin pies to serve with fresh whipped cream. Grandmother provided cherry and mince-meat. Sometimes there was also apple pie. When the main course dishes were served Grandfather and Uncle Duane took the smallest servings as they were saving room for pie, often a piece of each kind served.
Dad and I didn't like mashed potatoes but we would top our small helping with cranberry sauce. Cousin Mark, liked the potatoes and would nearly fill his plate with a heap of potatoes. The pie eaters never objected to potato helping. Mark must have sampled the pumpkin pie and whipped cream for at the end of one meal he told my mother, "Doris you make the best whipped cream."
For the Christmas dinner, Aunt Margaret was in charge of roasting the turkey in her electric roaster.
The adults ate at the dining room table and the youngsters on card tables. From our small table we had to keep a sharp eye to make sure everything was passed our way, even the cauliflower with cheese sauce.
Mother said it was impolite to take more than one olive when they were passed. But if she wasn't looking I would take several. I usually got caught when she found several olive seeds on my plate.
When the meal was over, Uncle Duane went around the table looking for unused silverware. Each time he found a piece he shouted "Cleanie" like he had found something of great value. He gathered up the clean silver ware and returned it to the kitchen but when he wasn't looking the women always washed the clean silverware before returning it to the silver chest. We ate with real silverware, not stainless steel and on china or Fostoria plates reserved by the hostess for special occassions.
Christmas and Thanksgiving were formal occassions at which we wore our best clothes including neckties.
Seeing those pictures and remembering the stories, makes me thankful.
Sunday evening I spoke by telephone with my cousin's daughter-in-law. She told of her plan for the holiday at her in-laws farm and asked that I send her some of the Wrench family Christmas pictures. Later that evening I emailed her photos taken of her father-in-law when he was 10 to 12 years of age. I'd like to be in the corner listening when the family sees for the first time pictures taken more than 50 years ago. Will the younsters recognize their grandfather as a youngster?
As we closed our conversation, Katie said, "Hope we can see you soon." And I do hope that will be possible. Made me sad to think I had declined her invitation to be in Omaha Sunday for a birthday party.
I've been looking for but haven't' found pictures taken on a long ago Thanksgiving morning of my mother. That year we saddled horses and went for a ride through the hills south of Superior. Though my father had pictures of my mother riding horses during their courtship days, this is the only time I remember my mother going with me on a trail ride. Dad was a frequent companion, but after Mother and I had a bad experience with a horse when I was about six years old, Mother had little to do with the horses.
Dad thought she was unduly alarmed but he never changed her mind.
I don't remember much about that experince but I remembering going with my mother into the lot that contained a frisky two-year-old quarter horse. I don't remember why we were in the lot. All I do remember is mother grabbing me and running for the gate with the horse chasing us.
Dad said the horse was just coming to see us, hoping for a treat. Mother was certain he had evil in his eyes and considered her son to be a small intruder that needed to be forever chased from his lot.
That experience has caused me to respect animals' space to this day.
This Thanksgiving I'm thankful to have many memories of good times shared with aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents and parents. I don't remember fights or uncertainty. They were constant influences that could be counted upon.
Not everyone is so fortunate.

A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

I don't believe I've ever written about underpants before in this column, mine or any one else's, so this is new territory.
I went underwear shopping the other day, something I don't do often. Not because I am particularly easy on mine, or sometimes go without them, or anything weird like that. I merely hate shopping. So much that I typically buy multiple years worth of whatever I'm shopping for, so I don't have to do it again for a long time. Such was the case last time I bought underwear, which was more than likely sometime during President Obama's first term. I remember buying three five packs of white Fruit of the Loom briefs, the "tidy whities" recently popularized by Bryan Cranston's character on "Breaking Bad."
Before that, the last tidy whities I wore were likely purchased for me by my mother. There was a reason for that. I immediately regretted buying 15 pair, for various reasons we don't need to discuss here. The point is, I'm frugal enough that I stuck with them until all but three pair were done in. And so, back to the same store last week for new underwear. I'm nothing if I'm not consistent.
Knowing I did not want tidy whities again, I looked for the kinds and colors I wore when I was slightly younger. There were two five packs of the cut, size and brand I settled on, but I only bought one. It included two pair of black briefs and three pair in different shades of gray. The other five pack appeared to be five different shades of blue. I'm not a huge fan of blue, especially the lighter shades, like turquoise or sky blue. In fact, I can only think of two things I like in that color ­­ robin eggs and my friend's 1964 Impala SS.
Kathy saw the new underwear ­­ in the package, not on me ­­ and questioned my color choices. Turns out, she liked the tidy whities, because they were a cut and color appropriate for men of my age.
Men of my age? Ouch! She's getting a lump of coal for Christmas. And maybe an undergarment made by Spanx. Should be appropriate for a woman of her age.

Country Roads, by Gloria Garman-Schlaefli

Are you counting your blessings? Even though we all should be counting our blessings every day of the year, Thanksgiving Day is designated as the day to really do so. Scriptures say we should not only thank God in the good times but also in hard times.
Lately, this country and our allied counties are having to deal with some hard times as they hunt down Isis enemies that threaten to destroy, and have done so in several areas. How can the spirit of Thanksgiving remain alive during times like these? We all must keep the Thanksgiving spirit alive in the midst of tragedy. No matter what is going on in our lives, we can still find reasons to be thankful. Sometimes we have to look harder than others, but the spirit can still be found.
Some families find it helpful to have everyone at the Thanksgiving table list things for which they are thankful. Others teach their children by giving or donating freely of their time and funds to help others in need. Thankful prayers can be offered as all gather around the table. Having a kind heart in helping others should remain with us, during Thanksgiving and the days following.
Even with this country's problems and issues, there is still a lot to be thankful for. We still have freedom, a warm cozy home, food on the table, clothes to wear, schools for our children, jobs, family, friends, great memories, churches to worship in and the list goes on and on. If you are blessed with no health concerns, that is a wonderful thing to be thankful for.
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever," I Chronicles 16:34.
Here's wishing you all a happy Thanksgiving Day!