10-week-old Elijah & Grandpa

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Eli at 10 IMG_0753“Grandpa, I’m big. I’m 10 weeks old today! How old are you?”

“Well, Elijah, there are lots of ways to calculate that. Usually we tell a person’s age in years. Kinda hard for a 10-week-old to understand, huh?”

“Yeah. What’s a year?”

“Like I said, it’s kinda hard to understand but let’s try. Okay?”

“Give me your best shot!”

“Okay, a year is 12 months and…”

“What’s a month?”

“A month is four weeks and usually a few days. It’s always four weeks (27 days) but, depending on the month, it can be four weeks and three days like November, April, June, and September; it can be four weeks and one one day like February, except every four years when it’s Leap Year. All the rest of the months have 31 days.”

“Grandpa, why are you talking like this? You’re not making any sense. Are you senile? Does being old mean you can’t answer a simple question, Grandpa? This conversation started with a simple question: How old are you? I’m 10-weeks-old. So…how old are  you?”

“I’m almost 75, Elijah.”

Eli 10 IMG_0754“Wow! You’re 7.5 times older than I am!

“Actually, the difference is a LOT bigger than that. Let’s think of the years as weeks. There are 52 weeks in a year.

“Yeah! I’m 10. How many are you?”

“I’m 3,899 weeks OLDER than you, almost three-quarters of a century, Elijah.”

“Wow! What’s a century?”

  • Grandpa Gordon, August 1, 2017.

 

The Hustler

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“In America, the race goes to the loud, the solemn, the hustler. If you think you’re a great writer, you must say that you are.”Gore Vidal (1925-2012)

Vidal61fb3bdfbd41727a362c07c09a9437a3--vidal-gore

Gore Vidal – Dobson’s Improbable Quote of the Day

After driving four hours Tuesday to lead a discussion of being still while resisting social madness, and spending the night alone in the Super 8 parking lot in Storm Lake, Iowa, the 2003 Toyota Avalon returned home yesterday with all the books still in the trunk. Its driver failed at hustling Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness.

Had she read The Guardian‘s tribute to Gore Vidal following the controversial writer’s death, the Avalon would never have left Minnesota. 

His quick wit and acid tongue made him a sought-after commentator; he himself once quipped: “I never miss a chance to have sex or appear on television.” A stint on ABC opposite William Buckley, covering the 1968 Republican and Democratic conventions, degenerated into abuse, with Vidal calling Buckley a “crypto-Nazi”, Buckley suggesting that the “queer … [should] go back to his pornography”, further attacks in the magazine Esquire, and suits for libel on both sides. The same refusal to back down characterised his dispute with Norman Mailer, whose attitudes towards women had brought rebukes from Gloria Steinem and Kate Millett. Vidal entered the fray with an article suggesting there was “a logical progression” from Henry Miller to Mailer to Charles Manson. Mailer responded at a Manhattan dinner party in 1977 by throwing a glass of whiskey in Vidal’s face, head-butting him and then throwing a punch. Vidal is said to have replied: “Lost for words again, Norman?”

USA - Portraiture - Gore Vidal

The Avalon’s licking the whiskey from its face before trying again!

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN 55318.

 

 

 

ALERT! TURKEY LEAKS SECRETS …

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The world is really weird these days, as Marilyn Armstrong demonstrates here.

SERENDIPITY

So I saw this headline:


Turkey Leaks Secret Locations of U.S.
Troops in Syria


and I thought — “What a strange business. Turkeys don’t usually have media ties.”

It took me a few minutes to remember that Turkey is a nation and not necessarily a gobbling bird trying to avoid Thanksgiving. This probably speaks to my overall loss of sanity regarding the world in which I live. I’m pretty sure that in earlier days, I’d have instantly recognized Turkey as the nation and not the bird.

Sanity is gone. What is left is a sense of being desperately short of sleep, broke … and holding a list of things I need to fix that exceeds any rational likelihood of doing them. Ever.

What to do next?

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had more reality than I can handle. I’m going to read a book. Take me away…

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The Hiding Place

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Visiting St. John’s Abbey for the first time years ago just before noon, one of the Benedictine monks invited the guest to join the monks for mid-day prayer.

Abbey Church, St. John's University | Collegeville, MN | Marcel

St. John’s Abbey Church, Collegeville, Minnesota

Moments after declining the offer, I changed my mind. Risking the embarrassment of unfamiliarity with the Benedictine rite, I quietly made my way up the right side aisle toward the Chancel choir loft where the monks were gathering.

St John's Abbey hurch

Interior of St. John’s Abbey Church, Collegeville, Minnesota

Anxious and wanting to be as invisible as possible, I slid up the steps of the choir loft like a cockroach and found a suitable hiding place, the seat in the far corner of the top row (far right in the photograph).

I felt a tug on my left shirt sleeve. “I don’t think you want to sit there,” said the kindly Benedictine Brother with a twinkling eye, “unless you want to be the Abbot!”

Any early childhood protestant prejudice that monasteries are places where people of lesser faith go to hide came tumbling down! There is no hiding place in a Benedictine monastery. No one is a cockroach.

During a crisis years later, I returned to St. john’s for spiritual guidance and took a more lowly place in the choir loft.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 12, 2017.

 

 

 

Elijah’s hunger strike!

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carseatFullSizeRenderElijah is not happy when he arrives at Grandpa’s and Grandma’s at dinner time.  Adult dinner-time, not his! Elijah still eats every two hours, all day, all night.

He hates his car seat.

He yells and screams at Mom for the 20-minute drive from Mom’s to his Grandparents’ home in Chaska.

The conversation begins while removing the straps of his straitjacket.

“Elijah, Mom needs you to be quiet when she’s driving. You need to be more respectful. Mom has needs, too.”

“No she doesn’t! Mom’s a warden! I hate that cell!!!”

“No, Mom loves you! She’s not a warden; the car is not a prison; and your car seat is nothing like a prison cell.”

“Uh-huh!!! I thought you were my friend! You’re just like Mom! You don’t care about me. You think I’m just a thing, like my car seat. I’m not coming here anymore.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way. Do you want me to get you out of your car seat or not?”

carseatNo! I’m staying here just like Martin Sostre did in solitary confinement because he refused to submit to the warden’s rules.”

“Well, Martin’s case was altogether different. Martin was a political prisoner at Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. Chaska’s a long way from Dannemora.”

“You loved Martin more than you love me, and Martin wasn’t even your grandson!”

“Well, there’s a big difference between you and Martin. Martin was a man of courage. He didn’t scream and yell. He didn’t cry. Martin didn’t terrorize his mother.”

“You care more about people who aren’t members of the family than you do about me! That’s not right! Martin was a criminal. I’m a prisoner, but I’m no criminal.”

“Elijah, there’s a big difference. Martin was an adult. He wasn’t in solitary for his own safety. He was put there to humiliate him. Mom puts you in your car seat to keep you safe.”

“Uh-huh! And because she’s enforcing the law! Mom’s a warden and you’re a guard! How come you won’t help me! I’m your grandson! I’m gonna go on a hunger strike!”

“Well, okay. But remember. If you go on a hunger strike, you’ll still get strapped in your car seat. The only things a hunger strike would change are you’ll make Mom happy ’cause she doesn’t have to feed you every two hours . . . and you’re going to starve.”

“That’s not fair!””

“No, it’s not, Elijah. Life’s not fair. As my old football coach used to say, ‘Life is tough! You must learn to adjust.”

“Not in my car seat!”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, July 1, 2017.

 

 

 

Grandpa, we’re with Mika, right?

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Eli and baseball IMG_5753Elijah and Grandpa had just read the President’s tweet about Mika Brzezinski when Elijah said a bad word.

“You need to be more respectful of the President!”

“Why?” asked Elijah. “He’s not my President! Look what he just did to Mika! What’s he have to do that for! He’s mean, Grandpa!”

“I wish I knew, Elijah. Most of his tweets happen when he wakes up early in the morning.”

“Maybe he needs to be nursed as soon as he wakes up. That always calms me down.”

170629123255-trump-tweets-assualt-on-brzezinski-1024x576.jpg“Well, I’m afraid Donald Trump’s mother is way beyond being able to nurse him. She’s really old, way older than Grandpa, Elijah.”

“Then you should call the White House. They should give him a bottle as soon as he wakes up before he attacks another mother! When he stops tweeting insults at women like Mika, I’ll stop calling him a mother.”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 30, 2017.

 

 

 

Elijah and Pumphouse Creamery

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Elijah’s Mom, and Grandma just learned of  Pumphouse Creamery.  They’re getting excited. They want Grandpa to drive them to the Pumphouse for ice cream.ElijahIMG_5621

Elijah’s never had ice cream.

In a pinch, he’s had pumped milk, but he’s never been to the Pumphouse.  Listening to Grandma talk about all the flavors and the Sundaes, Elijah’s starting to get excited.

Elijah, they have special flavors at the Pumphouse.

Like what?

Like Madagascar Vanilla, Fresh Rhubarb, and Belgian Chocolate.

Are they organic? I can only do organic.

Yes, Elijah, they’re mostly organic. It’s handcrafted ice cream that starts with natural, organic and locally-sourced ingredients. It says so right on the Pumphouse website.

Grandma, do I have to go in that car seat?

Yes. We’ll take you in your car seat.

I’m going to tell Grandpa! I hate my car seat! Sometimes Mom pumps right here in our own little pump house!

  •  Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 26, 2017

 

 

Ever wonder about your DNA?

How much of you is written already by the latest rendition of the old doctrine of predestination? Not so much by religious predestination as by your DNA? Or are predestination and DNA the same?

Reconnecting with the second cousin from the Andrews family raises the questions. I’d only met her once sixty years ago, yet, like twins separated by distance and circumstance, the parallels of perception, pencraft, and psyche are unmistakable.

Mr. Rogers assured the children that each of them was special. I like the sentiment but have preferred the word ‘unique’. None of us is nearly as ‘special’ as we’re prone to think we are, but, come to think of it, neither is any of us quite as unique as ego might lead us to think.

As Carl Sandburg reminded me, “O, I got a zoo, I got a menagerie inside my ribs!” Many of the creatures in my zoo were not of my choosing. They were, you might say, predestined. They predetermined me. Some of them date back to the Andrews family in Andrews Hollow, Maine, and as farther back into time than memory can follow.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 12, 2017

 

Grandpa, who’s Mr. Rogers?

Well-fed Elijah has become curious about television. He has a new topic and questions.

“Grandpa, Mom’s been watching CNN. What’s CNN?”

“It’s a 24-hours-a-day news channel, one of many television channels.”

“Yeah, my great uncle John doesn’t like CNN. He told Mom she should be watching FOX. What’s FOX, Grandpa?”

“Well, Elijah, it’s too early for that discussion. There are more choices than CNN and FOX.

“Yeah, like MSNBC and Rachel Maddow! I like Rachel! I don’t like Sean Hannity. He’s mean!”

“I understand. But you need to be careful. Both Rachel and Sean only do one-way conversations.”

“Yeah, like ours, right Grandpa?”

“Sort of. But you get to talk back to me. Sort of. I can hear you. Rachel and Sean can’t and they don’t care what you have to say. When you get older you can choose your own television channel. You don’t have to watch the news all the time. But no matter what you end up watching, you’ll always have Grandpa.”

“But, Grandpa! There’s a lot of scary stuff out there in the big world. When I grow up, do I have to go out there?”

Big_bird_book_kids“Yes, Elijah, but this isn’t the time to worry about that.”

Ask Mom to turn on Sesame Street. There are lots of fun people on Sesame Street, like Big Bird, to help you get ready for the big world. Or you can come to Grandpa’s and Grandma’s house and watch re-runs of Mr. Rogers.”

“Who’s Mr. Rogers?”

“Well, Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister.  Like Grandpa.”

“What’s a Presbyterian?”

“Well, that depends on who you ask, Elijah. Some people call us ‘God’s frozen chosen’  ’cause they think we think we’re special and we don’t show a lot of emotion in worship. But for me, a Presbyterian is someone just like Mr. Rogers.

“So . . . will you help me to tie my shoelaces when I get shoes?”

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, June 1, 2017.