Family Histories: The Copper Coffee Pot

Welcome to Family Histories, a series of guest posts by some of my favorite bloggers in which they explore family . . . and history. The families and the histories are sometimes the writers’ own and sometimes not.

Today I’m happy to share a poignant poem from MIRIAM IVARSON about connecting to her seafaring forefathers when polishing a family heirloom.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you just look at the title
and think;  Coffee Pot!  What is there to say about such a
seemingly everyday object?
And I would understand you, but please stay with me a little
longer through this post.

In my About page I hint that there will be stories coming
that show vignettes of my life both in England and Sweden.

O.K. , I can hear your frustrated sigh, so why a Coffee Pot?

This Copper Coffee Pot is very old, goes back to my
Grandfather’s days. It was an important part of the men’s life
and I am now the caretaker, until such time that it passes to the
next generation. It has pride of place and I often tell the stories
that were told to me, hence giving my children a feeling of their
ancestors.

The poem below came to me as I was polishing it one day
and all was abandoned for the notepad and pen.

003

Copper Coffee Pot

An inanimate object it might seem,
Yet, is it really so?
Emotions stirred by the Pot,
The Copper Coffee Pot,
say no.

Polishing this morning,
its surface filled;
With lustre and life lived.

It had sailed the Sea, in storms,
in hurricanes,
also in still, smiling swells.
For seven men it brewed every day,
Gave warmth and cheer,
clattered its spout lid to say;
Coffee ready, take a break.

Men with strength of body and heart,
with purpose and skill;
In tune with the elements each day,
feeling the mood of the Sea.
Respecting and honouring,
Its power, its gifts.

Their work was heavy,
cold, among waves,
Full trawls spread smiles.
No-one minding the tearing of
sinews, muscles and backs.
In this age old task.

These men were my ancestors,
part of who I am, and I of them.
Their lives, their hands had touched me,
Given me strength.

The Copper Pot in my hands
A cherished and vital part
of their days.
Here they met, found warmth,
succour and laughs.

An empowering friend.

© miriam ivarson

Vinga lighthouse

All photographs © miriam ivarson

For more of Miriam’s poetry visit her blog: MY WINDOW

***PS~ Also had a thought that Miriam’s poem and a story shared by ANNIKA PERRY  here on Family Histories are great companion pieces. You may want to check it out! LOSS OF A PATRIARCH

Family Histories (Holiday Edition): Pass The Pie

Welcome to Family Histories (Holiday Edition). I’ve invited readers and bloggers to share holiday themed pieces with the accent on “Family” and “History” in any way they like. I’m pleased to offer you this Thanksgiving  visit  from Chris Michaels’ memory bank:

” Pass The Pie “

Holidays.

You have to admit, there’s very
few occasions that create more
memories than those family
get-togethers around the holidays.

My grandmother had a tradition –
– she liked to do Thanksgiving
at her house each year, which,
considering how well she cooked,
became quite a favorite event in
my family over the years.

There were several dishes she
could make that no-one has
ever gotten close to doing as well.

Lovely.

Yes, Thanksgiving during my
teen years was very special.

Well,
usually, that is.

Except for the time1915judge
my Aunt Minnie made such
a fuss over it, that it was
somehow decided
(on the board room level)
that she could host it at
her house that year.

I can still tell you
exactly which year
that was – 1974.

Memorable?
Oh sure.

Because it was the year
of the great ‘pie in the eye’
controversy.

Now, to start with,
lemme say that it was
a complete accident……

Alright, I’ll start at
the beginning.

Nobody had asked me –
– I was a kid – but the idea
of going over to her house
for dinner at Thanksgiving
just seemed like a terrible
waste of a perfectly good
holiday – not to mention
missing out on all my
Grandmother’s traditional
goodies.

And it didn’t take long for
the idea to start losing any
merit it ever had-
(if it ever had any)
when Aunt Minnie
proclaimed that everybody
would bring a cooked
dinner component,
so she wouldn’t have
to cook herself.

Perhaps it did make sense
on some cosmic level –
considering that the
predominant flavor profile
in all of my Aunt’s cooking
could be described as
ewww, that’s way too salty‘.brundage

She was the only person I knew
that had a 50 pound bag of
Morton’s salt in her pantry.

When it rains, it pours.

( It was widely rumored among
us youngsters that the lady lost
her sense of taste and smell in
a gas attack during the
Crimean War –

ok, so, hey,
we were still kids,

and didn’t know that much about
history, but still, her taste buds
had to have gone somewhere. )

But my Aunt wasn’t much
on organizational things….1880
and so, when she told
everybody to bring ‘a dish’,
I guess she just assumed that
they knew what she meant.

And, considering how long
she had been a member,
(a charter member, one
might say), she should have
remembered that our patronymic
name’s alternative meaning in
it’s original language was
something resembling ‘cheapskate‘.

When the final menu was
assembled and inventoried
on the big day, the holiday
haul consisted of:
several (5) cans of green beans,
1 can of French Fried Onions
(meant as a topper for the
green beans applied ‘a la minute’),
a yellowish gray jello-mold thing,
1 canned ham,
a tray of Gino’s pizza rolls,
a large turkey-noodle casserole,
some damp and foul smelling
slimy stuffing-ish substance,
macaroni cheese (still in the box),
a package of hot dogs and buns,
a hunk of Kielbasa,
cookies (my Grandmother’s)
and a very large assortment1909
of cold drinks and alcoholic
beverages.

Happily, my family brought
some pumpkin pies
and whipped cream.

Now, I have to say that,
due to the turkey-noodle
casserole, my Uncle Harry
didn’t put on his usual
big production about carving
the bird, which might have had a
motivating factor in the choice,
for all I know, although it still
tasted, of course, as awful as
it sounds.

During ‘dinner’,humor
my Aunt Minnie used her
once-in-a-lifetime home court
advantage to full effect :

She started with a blessing that
included a plea to the Almighty
to help:

my older cousin Larry ‘get a
real job instead of living off
the fat of the land’,

my Grandmother to
‘share the holiday’,

my Mom to ‘dress more
appropriately’

and other assorted
helpful suggestions
like that ………

While passing the green beans
(served three different ways)
she was also kind enough to
remind me that she didn’t like
the length of my hair, my clothes, my manners, and my plans to go into the Navy
when I was old enough.

As the pie was coming out,
she was ragging on me
for not bringing a date….
‘you’re old enough to have
a girl friend, aren’t you?’
….

Hey, who would subject
anybody they liked to
dinner with Aunt Minnie?

But you see,
no matter how hard
the going gets at one
of these doooos —-

one always must keep some kind of
secret plan for sweet revenge in the
back of your mind, just in case.

And I had one, too, buddy……

It was more fantasy than plan, really….

— involving an innocuous lookingchase
can of Reddi Whip that my family had brought with the pies —

— one would only need to
shake firmly, point it in the
right direction and push down
on the tip for instant gratification.

Uh huh..

Ever hear of ‘thinking’ out loud?

Well, what about ‘doing’ out loud ?

One naughty thought caused
the slightest pressure on the
nozzle to explode in a very
specific direction —
— all over my Aunt.

Ooooops.wwdenslow

“Oh, I’m soooo sorry…..”

Well, “,
my mother added helpfully:
“…. that wasn’t exactly a new dress there, Aunt Minnie… ”
(she’d worn it every year
since 1957) ”
….. and accidents will happen,
ya know “.

You know how they say that
every cloud has a silver lining?

It certainly was nice to have
all our Thanksgivings back at
my Grandmother’s house again…

And we did for many
delicious and memorable
years afterwards.

Happy Holidays, y’all.

.

For more of Chris Michaels go visit his FANTASTIC Blog: THE MUSCLEHEADED BLOG

Family Histories: The Musclehead’s Grandparents

Welcome to Family Histories, a series of guest posts by some of my favorite bloggers in which they explore family . . . and history. The families and the histories are sometimes the writers’ own and sometimes not.

Today’s post is from THE MUSCLEHEADED BLOG. Chris never fails to amuse me with his mix of humor, sex and vintage postcards. Here he writes about grandparents:

triangle

Note: this post might
start out sounding
like it’s about Math,
— but it ain’t.

Believe me,
if I really wrote a post
about what I knew about Math,
I’d sound more like this:a1
“2+2= ummmm– 22 ???? ”

Ahem.

 

Do you know the
old story of Pythagoras?

How,
when he figured out that:
” in a right-angled triangle
the area of the square
on funnythe hypotenuse
(the side opposite the right angle)
is equal to the sum of the areas
of the squares of the other two sides” ,
he exclaimed ” Eureka !! “,
which in the Greek language
means ” I’ve Found It ! ” .

( ok…
technically speaking,
he said: ” εὕρηκα “ ,
but that’s all Greek to me )

Anyhoo….

Well, I’ve had some εὕρηκα
moments of my own recently
and I’ve come to realize
a couple things…..

For most of my life,mad-widens-the-generation-gap I thought my grandparents
were kinda crazy.

I mean,
I loved them like nobody’s business —

My Grandfather had a cockeyed sense of humor that would come out at the oddest times —

— especially when things
were really going badly.

My Grandmother was one of
the loveliest women to ever live —
smart, beautiful, and
dare I say it — sensual.

Even well into her 90’s,
long after my Grandfather
had passed, my Grandmother
had male suitors sending her
flowers and gifts in the nursing home.

But it’s only been recently
that I’ve been figuring out,
that they really knew what
the hell they were talking about.

generation_gap

Take Prune Juice, for instance.

I’m not saying I would ever
drink this stuff, despite the marvelous effects that other mature ( ahem ) folks that I know are getting out of it.

Those marvelous effects —

Well, let’s just say
without them, you walk
around feeling sorta outasorts .

I used to think my grandparents
drank the stuff cause they liked the taste of it.

Shows ya what a kid knows.

NADA.

Young people figure icons
they’re hip to the jive,
they’re up to date and groovy —

And that older
people are square,
superstitious,
and old fashioned —-
just to be spiteful.

It’s only when you start walking
around in comfortable clothes,
unbranded sneakers,
and buy yourself a four-door car,

—- do you start to realize there’s
a method to their madness, man.

It’s the truth.

Cooking at home — there’s one.

I always figured why cook at home ,
— when you can go out to eat?

Until you’ve done it
10,000 times or so,
and realize….

record

What Grandmom used
to call ‘junk food’ —
turned out to be just that .

Hey– at home —
everything’s fresh,
the food’s better,
and the service don’t suck.

Have it your way anytime —
by doing it yourself at home.

You knew what was it
in the food, ’cause you made it.

It’s freakin genius, I tell you.

Now, my grandfather
didn’t trust banks.

He had survived the
Great Depression as a young man —

The runs on the banks,
the quick-rich-cum-suddenly-
poor jumping off skyscrapers,
the soup lines,
the whole rotten deal….

genAnd he remembered that banks are basically just a glorified Ponzi scheme.

So, he’d cash his
paycheck each week,
take the cash home,
divide it into little envelopes —
— one for the light bill,
one for the water,
one for the mortgage, etc.

Once he had put the allotted
amount of cash in each envelope,
he knew how much cash he had
left to spend for the rest of
the week on luxuries like
going to the movies, eating out, etc.

He never worried
about bank fees, borgcheck charges, balancing the books,
broken ATM machines,
credit card interest, or any of
the rest of the millarkey
I deal with on a regular basis.

Hey, back in the early 1970’s,
I had one of the first ATM cards ever issued.

The bank I was using
was the first one in Florida
to do the whole ATM thing.

I was really enthusiastic twiceabout the concept–
— cash from a machine —
24 hours a day !

Talk about technology.

But when I told him
about it, he just laughed.

Crazy old geez, I thought.

Stuck in the middle ages, poor guy.

Yeah.

Uh huh.

sexandcoffee

Somehow, over time,
we forgot what
those banks were,
and are about.

But he never did.

 

I remember how they’d
look at each other
with this special sense of ardor —
as if their passion
was what twitdefined them–
as man, and as woman,
when they were together.

I was asked to give her eulogy,
when my grandmother passed at age 95.

I explained that there were
two things that everybody
who ever met her knew about her:

that she loved her family
with all the intensity that
her heart and spirit could generate –

….. and that she loved life
with that same verve
and enthusiasm.

It pains me that I’ll never bond.igf
have the privilege of
knowing anyone like her again.

Yes, I adored the lady,
and I don’t mind telling you that,
or that I have a tear in my eye
as I write about her.

I’ve got a smile,
a smile that I reserve for only very happy times,
and only very special people —
———- and it’s her smile .

She thought that anything was possible,
as long as you had a close knit family.

The family was a necessary part of any meal,
so everybody had to be at the table,
right on time, at 5:00PM each day.

And Grace.

You had to say Grace at every meal.

I always thought
that was kinda hokey, spell
but I went along with it,
cause I loved my Grandmother and didn’t want to upset her.

But really,
I thought, God didn’t care whether I said Grace or not.

It’s only recently that I have realized…

We weren’t saying Grace for God’s sake.

We were saying Grace for our own sakes.

Learning to appreciate your blessings, the importance of family….

……… To understand the vagaries of time.

And I thank God I had them to learn these things from.

.

blondie

 

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