Author Archives: Melanie Alcorn Wood

About Melanie Alcorn Wood

I am THIRD generation Californian on both sides of my family. I grew up in the small town of Calistoga, before it became THE Wine Country. I am married, with children and grandchildren. Most of my working life was spent in the banking, real estate/commercial loans and escrow arena. My children travelled all over the world with me and their dad for several years and had some uncommon experiences. We all are glad to be back in the old neighborhood, and I'm now about a half-hour drive to my Calistoga, and dear old friends. I have always wanted to write, have had some success with magazine articles. Now with discoveries in geneaology I believe I have a tremendous amount of material, for this endeavor has opened numerous "closed doors" some of which contained skeletons in the closet. A few years ago I discovered via an injury that I was born with a spinal issue and should have never been able to do what I did throughout my life. Confused I asked my doctor how it was possible for me to physically do what I have done. My doctor, bless him, remarked "Isn't it amazing: what you don't know truly cannot hurt you!" I liked that very much and will continue doing whatever I want, In accordance with the rule "For the good of all, harm to none."


within and without

hang in that tree
and let it hang in you
so that the words
in all their mystery 
are whispered to you

watch by the spring
and let it flow through you
so that the sound of life
in all its mystery
is made known to you

stand within the cave
and let it enter you
so that when the mountain speaks
in all its mystery
it becomes a part of you

johnegan. 15/7/15

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What Fryckman Said

My High School class graduated in a leap year, 1964; a year that was pack-full of surprises shocks far beyond just being the first official bunch of Baby-Boomers out the door of good old Calistoga High School.

We didn’t know we were first wave Baby Boomers when we started kindergarten in 1951; and we certainly did not know that our first friendships forged that year would take us through some amazing changes in our country.  Those changes seemed to bind us all together in a way we still shake our heads in wonder over. We feel as siblings, perhaps even closer than siblings.

And we are the class who had to change the way we pledged our Allegiance to the Flag! Miss Grauss got upset with me when I added “Amen” because I through we were now praying, like in church, but of course Church & State and all that is still under debate.  We have bigger prunes to pick than this.

We boomers teethed on Duck & Cover, because those Reds were after us: Pinko Commies all of them; and we watched cowboy movies calling each other lilly-livered-yellow-bellies and things like that. It was a colorful time in our nation’s history! Complete with what seemed an endless threat of annihilation. The best thing, though was we never had to do without playmates! Ever!

The parents were taking care of that for us even in Calistoga of the 1950s! These were post wars times and everyone was finally living and breeding a much better life: living the American Dream at last!

In 1950 we were schooled at the old and very rickety grammar school, corner of Cedar and Berry. We meekly followed in the footsteps of older siblings and practiced Duck & Cover which sounded like a game, but wasn’t. We were not clear on why we had to, and certainly we had no sense that annihilation was possible. And after school we tugged at our parent’s pockets begging for bikes and skates; Davy Crocket’s coon-skin hats and rifles.

Thanks to the G I Bill soldiers were “entitled” (yes, because they earned it) to go back to school and/or get trained for a small business. Their little women no longer “had” to work for a living: “Barefoot and pregnant!” (again & again & again) was the joke of the day. At least for the fathers, those valiant young soldiers who busted historical breeding records creating a proper Sonic Boom. The mothers may have had something else to say, but didn’t.

Realtors, contractors banks and commerce saw the wave coming, high demand plus decent finances:  We are in the Money, Honey!

Nationwide, former orchards and vineyards (like my Calistoga grandparents’) were quickly subdivided and offered as inexpensive homes , 3BR/ 2 BA to be filled up with Babies and all the necessities. We babies saved the world! Commerce and Disney went wild with making product and venues that the young families needed to need for their children, beginning with diapers, cribs, prams, movies, wagons and tricycles, oh yes and Disneyland!

As we aged stores were ready with “Rock ‘n’ Roll Shoes”, circle pins, even strange and tiny clothes pins we girls wore on our blouse collars. No more bobbysoxers, we wore flats or little heels to school in VERY short dresses. As we got older and most parents continued to “grow their wealth” and some kids were provided with hot cars, like the unforgettable and undeniable 64 l/2 Mustang!

From the commercial point of view we Boomers were targets because we overwhelmed the Little Woman chasing her herd: she really needed help to get us out of the house and out of her hair! Mother’s Little Helpers weren’t yet prescribed. That would come when we were a bit older, and some of us would gain an unusual interest in small and pretty pills.

Most of our class was barely fourteen when we started high school, and pushing sixteen when a young man by the name of Robert Fryckman along with other unforgettable young teachers like Mr. Stagnero and Mr. Peters, and a delightful freckled young woman from Tennessee who taught us Spanish with a decidedly “Sutthen” accent .

Mr. Fryckman arrived just before Kennedy was assassinated. We were Juniors. He was teaching us second period US History when the assassination was announced over the loudspeaker. Little did we know then that we would identify our lives with each event as the world gave way to an endless stream of assassinations, murders, riots and shocks. Everything was changing.

My recollection in those last two years of school is that our class grew closer and closer together through all the shocks and changes. We banded tighter together, and the teacher that many of us turned to when we were confused and/or frightened was him: “Fryckman” as he was commonly and affectionately known by our class.

A true teacher,  he may have been in another life, Aristotle sitting beneath the olive tree, teaching us how to think, predict, and plan. He was not old enough to be a “parent” to us, rather a bigger brother, one who had once gone to divinity school, but for fortune’s sake, he decided to show up at the end of Napa Valley when the class of 1964 needed him desperately.

Although Fryckman left Calistoga after that one year spent with us, his imprint was unforgettable; his talent for making history make sense, and his always ready sense of humor drew us closer to him than any other teacher, and we did have some mighty fine teachers. I followed him to Napa Junior College and repeated U.S. History! I actually learned to love history and research, thanks to Bob Fryckman.

Today our class knows that Bob Fryckman was an insightful seer. He warned our class that if we continued to bow to commerce, to trash our planet, there would be consequences!!   The time would come when water, food, even clean air would be scarce.

Last summer, wandering around at our 50th reunion we spotted an old faded yellow paper pinned to the wall, with fade and rumpled note: “WHAT FRYCKMAN SAID” !


The anonymous list was of his warnings that the world we once reveled in post war, may well be ruined, for it simply could not tolerate much more abuse. In 1964 Fryckman spoke of water shortages, food shortages, even clean air shortages, and the effect this would have on our quality of life. But a half-century ago we were teen-agers and couldn’t see that far, just like the rest of America.


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USS Goldsborough, DDG 20

USS Goldsborough DDG-20.jpg

USS Goldsborough, DDG 20

It was my brother’s ship. A big old destroyer. I was living in Honolulu, and spent a lot of time on that ship when it was in dry-dock. Bill and I hung out together all the time for over a year; much of that time was spent on the Naval Base, as my husband was out to sea on an old pig boat sub off the coast of where I was not supposed to say.

It was the Viet Nam era, and I normally met Bill at Pearl after I got off work. The Goldsborough was in dry-dock, and this one particular day I had to use the lavatory. Bill supposed the Commander was not going to be showing up, so he just told to use the commander’s unit and to be quick about it. I very confidently told him about all the boats I had learned to go potty on. My poor bro believed me.

When my mission was accomplished I took a look at all the gear and pushed some buttons, turned this knob, pulled on the ring it was much like flushing the Coast Guard Cutter and the Submarines I’d been on. Well, I found out they aren’t all the same.

My brother was freaking when I told him I pushed this, turned that, and pulled that little doo dad there!! But he got me covered ASAP.

(I think I feel him laughing over my shoulder right now: “Aww, Sis, don’t go public with the toilet.. Please?”)

Bill didn’t live long enough to learn what a blog is. And now my poor dear bro, I miss him so, is my subject . He is such a special guy that I just want to share him with everyone. And if you think I made a mistake in tense, I didn’t. He often comes to me in my dreams, cheering me on.

After the bathroom event I inadvertently blew serious cover on PEARL HARBOR’S TOP SECRET MILITARY CODE NAME in the Officer’s bar!

I wasn’t even drinking, Bill and me and a couple of guys were playing cards. Somehow or other I said the phrase so closely guarded (not!) and the entire bar froze into silence.

They watched as I was swarmed by a bunch of uniformed men who escorted me to a room filled with uniformed officers. Bill insisted on staying with me. I needed to convince everyone that I had no idea where I’d heard the phrase I thought so amusing.   I didn’t know, and was terrified I was going in the clink.

My brother had to talk real fast, and I can’t imagine his feelings about his job security. I mean it was a stupid sounding password, and I thought sounded hilarious for the tropics. I thought everyone would get a laugh.

I believe Bill was kind of glad when my husband arrived and we went stateside again. Back to Northern California, San Francisco, with the famous cool and foggy weather.

Years later, we were a family, a daughter and a son and a great job with Chevron. We had an opportunity to travel the world and we did our best to hit as many continents as we could. South America and Antarctica are the two the kids and I missed.

But all the joys of travel bring potential problems. While returning from a holiday our family was held under armed guard because we didn’t have an international visa. Chevron’s Mr. Ten Percent had neglected to provide one, and In Saudi Arabia the potential for serious trouble was everywhere. We could, depending on which way the wind blew, end up as hostages or worse. Here we were in the Jidda airport for 24 hours, arrested and under armed guards. Both kids were very small, 3 and maybe six going on 7. The little guy was tired, hungry and ticked off and expressed his frustration by giving the armed soldiers the raspberries….which is not as belligerent as throwing shoes at them, but is hugely offensive and unacceptable behavior! Fortunately, Arabs are often softies, especially when dealing with children. They seemed to appreciate that I did my best to apologize to them in my not-very-classic Arabic.

A very important lesson came several years later, when we were back in the States, and I was driving home from an afternoon wedding in which I had not imbibed. I don’t like champagne, so my nieces and nephews – and me, well, we had this champagne fight. Nobody was hurt, but boy we were soaked!

When it was time to go home I remembered it was late Sunday evening, and I hadn’t washed my son’s baseball uniform!  He had a game Monday afternoon, and for the first and only time in my driving life I looked around, coast seemed clear, and I put the pedal to the metal:  Go!

I blew right past a county Sheriff’s car and heard the siren, saw the lights.

They pulled me over, and though I passed all the usual tests you see on TV– backwards alphabet, finger to nose… counting and what not, even my breathalyzer was under the limit at that time.

But, I sure didn’t pass the scent test as my pretty pink jumpsuit reeked of the fermented grape.

Then they had me walk the straight line (in high heels – men don’t have to, huh?) And the coppers had no choice: I wobbled in the soft dirt with my damn left leg. I felt hecka pain inside my left hip for the very first time. I probably looked like I was staggering, as it sure felt like it.

So, right or wrong I was arrested, read my rights, and one Sheriff took my car to drive my kids to my nearby friend’s house; and the other drove me and the patrol car to the jail.

For 2 whole hours they “held” me in a cell with several crazy women. Scary, scary, crazy women.

Yes. It was a “wrongful arrest” – Yes, I really should have got a big fat speeding ticket…. instead of a… valuable lesson, hmmm? I am okay with the whole ordeal, and in many ways it was.

I would not know the real story of my gimpy hip and 24 degree scoliosis for nearly 20 more years. But first I danced a Hula with seven other beauties at the Sudanese Club; I also took up Belly Dancing. I ran in the Hash House Harriers, that famous worldwide running club that pops up anywhere one finds Brits their Beer.

And at the age of 50 I learned to play tennis and was recruited to a Senior Women’s team in another town. Within four years and a lot of worn out tennis shoes, my team went to USTA National Tennis Championships in Tucson, AZ. ranking #5 of 25 teams in the USA. Champion or not, I was not able to play tennis after that. Not yet. But.. next summer, I’m thinking?

Sometimes things in life have to go down the way they have to go down. I safely learned a very important lesson: MY fabulous judgement can be faulty, even when I’m stone sober.

However, there is one issue that still floors me. It is the hat/uniform/badge “power thing” that some peace officers, male and female, can really get caught up in. I’m afraid it may be a part of some problems we suffer now in our country right now with renegade cops and outraged populations. Hats/Uniforms/Badges. Think about it.

But on that evening, at the Sheriff’s office, I was being booked and fingerprinted by a pimple faced jerk behind the counter.   He wanted to know what color my underpants were.

Obviously he was playing Pimpled-Power-Man to my Trapped-Woman-Woman.

So I just told him the straight truth. I told him I was going commando!   No UnderRoos for this lady, Sonny! I took his little power away and Pimples gasped and nearly fell off the high chair he had been sitting on. It is hard to express just how very satisfying that was.

I don’t know what our parents would have said had they got to know a grown up me. But believe me, I do know that my brother truly would have been ROF and cheering me on. I think he still does.

(The USS Goldsborough was purchased for parts by The Royal Australian Navy, but I’m not telling Bill!)

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The Truth America Hates

SUBJECT:  A post on Face Book today got my angst door open with an issue very personal to me and one I feel strongly about.  It is important that all Americans MUST understand is a strictly “American” issue and does not live in the “Socialized” countries – those same white bread European countries many of us descend from.  Where did we get the belief that every man (and woman,  and child) is an island, therefore should damn well be self-sufficient?  (You know, the boot straps, the name calling, finger-pointing, suspicion as well as other amazing fabrications.

The poor, the indigent, the mentally ill do not need more hardship.   Matter of fact, up until the Reagan Administration the mentally ill in California at least,  were housed safely and cared for.  Even the very poor family I grew up in had a roof over our head, usually a leaky one always; and once a roof that crashed on top of us in a storm.  True enough, food ran out in our house as we headed into the fourth week of the month.   Utilities also were shut off then.  Oh, and you can bet my family paid taxes on only what we purchased.  That’s the reason we had no food and utilities.  DUH!

This current Americans vs. Americaca attitude seems to have surfaced some point after the Viet Nam War, in my mind.  Or maybe my community was just more loving?        (Comments & or corrections welcome)

Homelessness in America today is a very serious very dangerous issue for all of us! And the  belief that those indigent live the glorious, unwashed and drunken life at taxpayers’ expense has simply got to go!   Along with the theory that people stuck in poverty are there because they “like it” or are “lesser” humans.

Many of those happy, unwashed and drunken folk pushing those tax-free LGCs  (Lavish Grocery Carts) are in truth the very people who once served our country well and  suffer from the effects of that service today!

Others are women with children with no support from the father.  Yet we have those who want to ban birth control and abortion.  It makes one believe somehow that unwanted offspring should  indeed be brought into this world just to suffer?  We will never, ever stop people from Looking For Love but we can provide them birth prevention!

In the end, I know better than to  believe the indigent are living an envy-inspiring life is nothing but a self-serving, egocentric,  and ludicrous justification of a cruel belief;  a very dangerous attitude to unleash on a troubled population.  More likely the focus should be on those cunning and highly educated criminals who deliberately brought down the entire world with their disastrous money-grubbing felonies.  They are called the One Percent.  I have a better title in mind.

In our United States of America as recently as the 1900s, there were community “poor houses,” and churches, and people who volunteered to tend community flocks, out of the kindness of their heart!  Shoot – I well remember being on the receiving end of such people’s good intentions.   I remain forever thankful, and do my best to pay it forward.

I recommend we step back from all this finger-pointing about people not paying taxes because they have no job; about those who suffer in so many ways for having served our country.  Perhaps we can focus on an Income Surplus Tax?

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Winter-time lighting

The gas oven for warmth

I learned to beware

of the flare

Singeing eye-lash

and eyebrow

But never my hair.


Door full open,

To my straight-back chair.

Ahh, wrapped in my blanket

Pray hurry, the warming

Of winter’s night air.

Categories: Family History, Family Secrets, Poverty, Supporting Our People | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Inspiring Portraits of Peace Icons

Amazing. Enjoy.


Jan 22, 2015 10:02 am | Suzanne


Featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not!

Michael Volpicelli is a veteran with a passion for art and peace. His unique portraits uses the words of notable peacemakers to create their likenesses.

Source:Inspiring Portraits of Peace Icons

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The Truth about Tilapia

This was a catchy lead that caught my eye as I did a quick-browse-about this morning.  And by way of chasing this lead I got a great recipe for White Bean Soup – it might even be the kind my Mom used to make and I’m most excited about it.

In chasing Tilapia I got a lot of information that made me go cross-sighted, as a friend of mine coined it.  I was offered tips to improve my life, my locks, my looks PLUS access to a Victoria Secret’s Angel Guide to Gorgeousness!  This offer was followed by The Best Fast Food Fried Chicken in the Universe which would never be allowed to touch the petulantly plump lips of these children.

The Truth about Victoria lies in the fact that their run-way models are typically fashion models fodder:  barely pubescent girls with a keen yearn for glamour, aided and abetted by family.  Dewey-eyed girls with the required glowing, silky skin are not allowed to smile for fear of encouraging wrinkles and are hired for their pouty lips, their talent for a wide eyed and beguiling stare.  This is a dangerous thing to teach our young girls.  Their fear is around wrinkles and income, not at all about how vulnerable they are made to look.

These rascally little girls trick reasonable women into thinking a 30-year old woman is akin to a Sub-teen.  For those who don’t know what Sub-teen means, it is an old-fashioned clothing size once used to acknowledge that though puberty is imminent, there are no boobs yet.  I think it is now represented by Vanity Sizes 0 through 2 these days, because size 3 work with boobs.  I would hate to think any young models are encouraged to use add-ons in their bras at these tender ages, but if it’s profitable I suppose some do, their salaries probably cover the cost and as a business expense it might be write-off-able.

I took a note or two on how to improve my Life, Locks & Looks and increased the font size to so I would be able to study it when I felt the need.

And then…..I printed out the recipe for the White Bean Soup and made my shopping list.  I’m really hankering for it in these days of California’s dry, freeze-assing-cold.  I cannot handle cold unless I’m extremely active, as in the two fabulous ski-trips I have been on.

I feel like The Lone Californian, for I cannot wait for summer though it’s supposed to make our droughts even worse:  at least I will be comfortable in my thirst.


The Truth About Tilapia:  It ranks #4 in the USA, behind shrimp, salmon and canned tuna.

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The common warthog is medium-sized species; their head-and-body lengths range from 0.9 to 1.5 m (3.0 to 4.9 ft.) and shoulder height is from 63.5 to 85 cm (25.0 to 33.5 in). Females, at 45 to 75 kg (99 to 165 lb.), are typically a bit smaller and lighter in weight than males, at 60 to 150 kg (130 to 330 lb.).


Years ago our family was on our first African Safari in the Masai Mara. Masai being the name of the local natives; Mara is the name of the wide river running through the area.  The Mara is beautiful, twisting and winding through Kenya, home to herds of hippopotami and the giant Southern crocodiles. The Mara is far more dangerous than the Nile Rivers in the North: it is a fact that most human killings by animals in Africa are by Hippopotami.

We stayed at Kichewa Tembo Camp, in a spacious tent complete with an outdoor toilet, outdoor shower. One morning while my husband and our two (very) young children were sound asleep, I thought I might leave our tent and step outside to watch and photograph the sunrise over the Mara, hoping to see some of the animals living normally, waking and coming out to graze.

On our arrival we were cautioned to walk only on wide bare dirt paths or where native grasses were kept mowed down to nubs. Tall grasses often contain deadly surprises, like lion, cheetah, hyena: all predators laying low, sleeping off an evening of hard work.

On this particular morning, light spread slowly across the sky, first a metallic grey-green turning blue, exposing the short grass, as the first flickers of orange peeked above the horizon. The sun rose tentatively, picking up a rainbow of pinks, taking over the early morning blues; and awakening the inhabitants of the savannah to bask in her full beauty.

Delighted with the display, I sat cross-legged on the prickly short grass in the semi-dark, and indulged my then habit: in the untouched beauty of nature, I lit a lousy menthol cigarette! I smoked and waited, eager to see how this show would progress, confident that I, although alone, was securely seated on the protective short grass, therefore I would be in no danger.

When the sun fully rose above the horizon and spread its light, the gods opened the gates of nature and thundering herds wandered in: wildebeest, zebra, water buffalo, giraffe followed by one delicate Thomson Gazelle: mostly early-morning hooved creatures.

Apparently lion, cheetah, leopard, cervil, and elephant and others were either sound asleep after a night’s marauding or waited for Group One to tear up the earth and kick up some protein or perhaps to drive other predators away. Nature has ways of sequencing to which I am not privy.

I was enthralled with this display, and sat cross-legged and slack jawed with a half-smoked cigarette in my right hand, camera in my lap when I heard something nearby. I heard footsteps. Then I heard an animal make a snorty noise like a sleeping husband and I saw movement to the right of me.

Was it instinct that told me to freeze, to not make any eye-contact with the Leader of this Pack? Or was it because he was plain scary looking? He led his family of four Little Warthogs; Mama brought up the rear. They all slowed down, eyes on me. I froze in the clarity of my situation.

I used my peripheral vision to keep track of them, making no eye contact at all, worried about challenging them with those babies. They stopped for what seemed like a lifetime as I remained a statue. The damn cigarette was burning its way to my finger nails but I dared not move. As I worried about the scent of my burnt nails Papa moved on, but the children wanted to get a closer look at me. And now Mama snorted at them.

I dropped my eyes when I heard Papa turn around, hoping he knew the snort came from Mama, not me. They all went quiet. I felt twelve eyes on me. I kept mine on the grass, avoiding challenge, hoping I would see any flicker of movement; wondering what I might need to do: sling my Nikon at the Dad?

The whole family snorted at me. They then trotted away and disappeared from sight.

I looked at my watch and found it was a heart stopping eight minute encounter.

The cigarette, burnt down to the filter was out and it scorched my fingernail painfully. The odor of burning hair was on me.

Perhaps they moved on because I now smelled worse than they smelled.   I don’t know whether that is good or bad. What I do know, is these Warthog Parents had expectations of their youngsters. They trained them to obey so they could learn how to be safe and stay alive. I guess I was a part of that lesson.

A lot of parents today could learn from that band of Warthogs.


NOTE: Wikipedia is a source I use frequently. They are in need of financial support, approaching a possibility of shut down in the near future. I encourage all who access their information to go to their site and support them J

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It’s About Death

Both my mother and brother died on Dec. 13th, three decades apart. He had not reconciled with our mother and I have had a hunch that it was his way of honoring her at last.  I dunno, I’m just built that way:  life (and death) have meanings.   This year it is Corrie, my Dutch friend who married an old boyfriend of mine.  I’d passed him on to Annie who was so mean to him – but then we were Just Seventeen then and stupid.  It freed him up to eventually take a holiday to Amsterdam, where certain vegetation could be purchased with no hassles.  I’m not saying he found Corrie there, doing that.. but they both were known for dam heavy smoking and whiskey neat.

It was a godsend that Patrick was in Holland when my world collapsed in Sudan.  The kids and spent the better part of three months in Den Haag, waiting to see what the political outcome would be in Khartoum.  Pat is one of my oldest and dearest friends, and he had a beautiful life with an incredibly intelligent, funny and loving woman.  They were married over 30 years.

Corrie passed on New Years Day after nearly a decade of fighting brain and lung cancers.  During those years she was in and out of hospital, and when she was strong she and Patrick took off to various parts of the world to continue their lifelong devotion to improving the world.  They worked on fresh water and farming in Africa, built schools in the Greek Islands andSouth America. Where there is need the Dutch always roll up their sleeves and literally “dig in”.  They came to me a year ago last summer, and we held a wonderful party for them in our back yard when it still looked beautiful.  Food and drink and old folks:  we reminisced about our teenage years when we were young, silly and excited about everything – even an event in San Francisco I’d blocked out:  a “Horse Potato” fight in Golden Gate Park.  Disgusting but fun.

Most of us have relatives and friends who seem to choose the Annual Party Time: starting with Halloween, through Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Year.  I am of the opinion that they choose their departure deliberately, they have some say in the event and it is not to bring sorrow to the celebrations, it’s their way of participating annually ~ perhaps even looking in on us???  Anyway, that’s my own take. I promise to make a post to my blog if I find out if I’m right after I make my own transition.  That should be Thanksgiving.   I will no doubt be hovering near your stove because I love to be warm!

In our wonderful online world, I found a distant relative living in the North of England and began a correspondence with her regarding a mysterious island in the freezing depths of the North Sea just off Scotland.  We did some research then she finally cracked her own “mystery” of the ancient isle of Ates.  During the course of searching I decided I really MUST visit the coastal islands of the UK, soon.  It’s the Isle of Man that has my attention as I once met a fellow who said he was Manx, so I asked if he was from the Isle of Man and he said yes, the residents call themselves Manx, and in answer to my unspoken query he added “Like the Cat. The breed is native there.”

I can only wonder how and why a tail-less breed of cat mutated only on this one small island.  It’s my understanding that cats were first civilized in Egypt.  Now how does this work?  In this paragraph one can see how my mind works and I probably should feel shame but I don’t.

I hope all have enjoyed your tour through my brain above.  Off we go to my letter from Hilda, and how the family celebrated the death of her husband Frank during the Holidays.  (While you read, I think I’ll post and move on to find out what the Barnardos Homes are. Perhaps foster care or orphanage…)


Happy New Year Melanie,

 I had a LOVELY Xmas, despite everything.  My grandson James sat in Franks usual place at the dinner table, and said all the things ‘Grumpy’ usually said on such occasions. It was fun.  His funeral service was beautiful.  He asked for “the cheapest funeral we could get “, and absolutely no religion”. He lost what faith he had when the cancer got him. We granted him his wish.  We had a ‘Humanist’ service. Some of his favorite songs, and a female officiate called Val.  She stood and told his life story. (he was brought up in foster care, starting with Barnardos  Homes.  About 12 of his old work mates turned up. I was delighted. I had only ever met one of them, and it was him who got the rest there.  He remained a loyal friend to Frank, and visited regular when he was ill. We are so very grateful to him.  

We played Ketty Lester’s ‘Love Letters’ to go into the chapel, ( we started out as pen-pals while he was in the army) Kenny Rogers / Dolly Partons  ‘Islands in the Stream’ , for the quiet thoughtful, quiet period half way through, and the very irreligious ‘Another one bites the the Dust’ by Queen, when we were leaving the chapel. (He was cremated) That was his specific request. He would have been laughing.  

 I have had a bit of a struggle with the arthritis  lately. the weather hear is weird at the moment. We have VERY strong winds at moment. I hate them. Makes me tense and head-achy.  Anyway, will finish now. Watching ‘Ben Hur’ for the umpteenth time, as tele  has been pathetic over the holidays. Very few adult programmes, all repeats, and nearly all childrens programmes, even in the evenings. They get there licence fee for nothing these days.  Bye for now melanie. get well soon.

Your friend Hilda.

Categories: Family History, Friends I've never Met, Life Overseas, Supporting Our People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I got no turkey, no dressing, no gravy this year!

No family and friends filled my house

That wet, cold  4th Thursday.

I roasted two Game Hens,

Baked one pumpkin pie,

Then drowned it in whipped crème,

And remembered days gone by.

Those store-bought-whip-crème wars

With our next generation – or two

When everyone is a kid again,

And if you are not I’ll sure squirt you!

We leaned back, then, to honor time

With Remember Whens:

“Remember when she grabbed a

Bag of powdered sugar sat next to the stove

When she was making our gray-vee?”

“Just think, next year will be Olive Hands on these tiny new fingers!”

We always inculcate our new generations

Into holiday-only bad manners!

The following Friday is the kick-off to Christmas:

Rain or shine we got a tree

And two be-ribboned fresh door-wreaths.

It hasn’t happened yet.

In our window in front of the tree should be

Three carved and glittered wood blocks in

red, blue and green :  “Peace”, “Love” and “Lulu.”

White icicle lights should shine elegant and bright

From our roof and invite

Family, and friends to stop by.


Commercial entities preach

All day and all night

To buyers who obey

as Eloy’s

In this new Time Machine:

“You will be seen

Swiping your card

In the mouth of

Our Money Machine.”

Melanie Wood

10 Dec. 2014

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