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Opinions

The cure for writer’s block is to write

Food for Thought

“Writer’s block,” he groaned. “I just can’t finish that article. The words won’t come.”
I say baloney. There’s no such thing as writer’s block. It’s just a myth invented by some writer who didn’t bother to organize his thoughts before he picked up his pen.
“Poor man,” they sympathized. And he was granted another week, month, year to finish what had started out as a good idea that then got lost while he stumbled around trying to figure out where the good idea had been heading, and how he was going to get some isolated flashes organized into cohesive form.

Home for the holidays

Walkin'

No Fleck family gathering is complete without a game of cards. Back in the day the adults played Spades, Hearts, Canasta, Rummy, Tripoli and the old standard, Pinochle. Children were gradually brought into the pastime. If someone had to go to the restroom it was a great honor to be deemed old enough to play a hand. By the time I was 10, I could hold my own in all the games mentioned and more.
This holiday I made it home and we played “The Six Card Game.”

Ghosts of Christmases past

Food for Thought

A little over a year ago, I was fortunate to be able to attend a reenactment of a traditional Amana Christmas at the Heritage Museum in Amana. Since my dad had grown up in a home with a German mother and a Norwegian father, his notions of how Christmas was to be celebrated were quite different from my mother’s childhood experiences– a combination of English, Irish and Spanish, some of whom had been here before the Revolution and absorbed traditions from other cultures as well.

Christmas past

Preparing for a holiday meal began in earnest a day or more before the big event. We baked bread, rolled piecrusts, soaked beans, molded Jell-O, browned sausage, prepped vegetables, hauled down dishes from the top shelf, polished silverware... Note that I used the word “we” as everyone helped. One job only Dad could do, however, was make the trip to the liquor store for the rare bottle of wine, Mogen David Concord Grape, that graced the party.

Dear Santa, I want…

Food for Thought

There were a few old standard Christmas songs when I was a little girl, long before such ditties as “Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer” or “Frosty the Snowman” came along. We were stuck in a Clement Moore vision of Santa, where Mama wore a kerchief on her head at night and Dad wore a nightcap. I refer to these as Christmas songs rather than Christmas carols (those more directly depicting the joy and wonder of the birth of Jesus) that we learned and sang in church and Sunday school.

Collective memories

Walkin'

I believe in collective memory or the ability to remember things your ancestors experienced.

Hey, baby!

Food for Thought

It seemed to be an evening devoted to babies. Well, not entirely, but they kept popping up on the radar– or rather the television screen. There was a rerun of a once popular detective program, with the classy, lollypop-addicted detective Kojak, played by Telly Savalas. It wasn’t about babies, but if you remember, he often used the expression, “Hey, baby!” The baby theme continued with a baby lotion commercial wherein we were treated to watching a mother lovingly smooth lotion over the plump tummy of a gurgling baby.

Being Polish

Walkin'

How do you get a Polack into a bathtub? Simple, throw in a nickel.
These and about another hundred jokes survive from my childhood growing up in the Chicago area. Later, I would run into many of the same in Iowa, only recycled as “Bohemie” jokes.
In my youth, long before the age of political correctness, I told the jokes in ignorant innocence of the terrible discrimination the Poles faced from the German and Russian empires. There was nothing funny, for example, about the ethnic slurs guised in the form of humor Nazi Germany perpetuated to make ethnic cleansing more palatable.

Knit me a landscape

Food for Thought

Once I had an art teacher who was big on having frequent sessions in which we critiqued our work– or rather in which he and our classmates critiqued our work. We were never allowed to put in our own two cents worth, be it in defense of, or ideas for altering, what we had done. If we had ideas for improvements, it was assumed we would have implemented them before the critique session and, likewise, I suppose that if the artwork couldn’t stand on its own merits, there was no defense.

The dating blues

Carol and I “broke up” soon after our first kiss, but I can’t really remember why or how.
I do remember that the split occurred on a Sunday morning before church, and during service she suddenly burst out sobbing. I didn’t have a clue about what to do, but then that’s fairly typical for me.
The angst sent me into another bout of celibacy, not that I was beating girls off with a stick. The truth is that I was very shy around girls.

Worth repeating

Food for Thought

During the coming month, we can expect to be enticed, cajoled, implored, dared and practically ordered to spend as much money on as many things as our bank accounts and credit cards will tolerate. There are stores staying open past midnight, sales beginning at four in the morning, and early-bird discounts for those willing to stand in line in the wee hours waiting for the doors to be unlocked. Some stores even offer to give you a wake-up call so you can be there on time.

White sport coats

Walkin'

By chance I heard the song “A White Sport Coat” the other day and it got me to thinking and doing a little Wikipedia research about the politics, cars, celebrities and jokes of the era.