Today’s post comes from tim
Image result for kurt vonnegut drawingsnovember 11th is kurt vonneguts birthday.
vonnegut and i are joined at the hip as soulmates.
 i love his brain. he is just enough of what he is to be perfect for me. not too much not too little. just right.
kurt always remembered nov 11 as his birthday and armasist day . armasist day was to celebrate world war 1 veterans. then we had world war 2 pop up and then the korean war. if you give every war a holiday the postal workers and government employees would be happy but we would be in trouble. the war based political machine we have in washington would end up with a new holiday every 10-15 years.
hey ww1 guys move over we are going to do a war dejour combo, spanish american war vets stopped , wwI is all done and wwII is walking real slow but korean and vietnam guys are getting there with just a little slower gait. granada, persian gulf, serbia, afganastan and iran are the latest.
from kurt:

I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

Armistice Day has become Veterans’ Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans’ Day is not.

So I will throw Veterans’ Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don’t want to throw away any sacred things. — Breakfast of Champions

kurt wrote a book that was released just before he died that may be my favorite. man without a country. kurt talked about his uncle who was an exceptional guy.

“My uncle Alex Vonnegut, a Harvard-educated life insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania Street, taught me something very important.

He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to NOTICE it. He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories: maybe drinking lemonade on a hot afternoon in the shade, or smelling the aroma of a nearby bakery; or fishing, and not caring if we catch anything or not, or hearing somebody all alone playing a piano really well in the house next door.

Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: “If this isn’t nice, what is?”

― Kurt Vonnegut

we have all  at one time or another been put in a place where pain has played a  role in our lives. it is part of the human condition but particularly noticeable at times some times more than others. when these times are recent and numbness still hovers it is particularly important to take note of epiphanies large and small.

notice it and say it out loud today… and tomorrow…. and then again next week and maybe it can be a part of your awareness going forward. celebrate the small stuff and do it out loud.

you got an uncle or author or other person in your life that had a saying worth passing on?

74 thoughts on “11/11”

  1. My paternal grandfather was a farmer who aspired to be an attorney and who loved to read and study history. He came from a non-conformist religious tradition (Mennonite) . His people, who came from north west Germany, were haraased over the years by what ever religious persuasion the invading or ruling establishment espoused. Grandpa and most of his family were pretty wary of organized religions and their more ardent followers.

    One day when I was about 16, Grandpa looked at me and said “That Jean Calvin was a mean SOB”. He pronounced it “Gene Calveen” but I knew who he meant. I know, of course, that Presbyterians are lovely people who do wonderful things, but to grandpa, Calvinists had harassed and persecuted his people and it was important to him to let me know that.


      1. No, those were practicing Mennonites. My grandfather’s family went, unenthusiastically, to the Reformed churches in Emden and the little towns in Ostfriesland. They felt very pressured to attend the Reformed church in Germany, and didn’t feel they could safely remain anabaptist. They jumped ship to the Baptist Church as soon as they hit the US in the 1850’s, but were not too enthusiastic about any organized religion after that.


        1. I had an old Mennonite man from Mountain Lake in the church I served. He had an amazing life story. A wonderful gentle man. He was raised by the community in Mountain Lake because his parents died in a flu epidemic. he has nothing but ownderful memories. He was a charter member of the church but not a Luhteran. He came every Sunday. We did a Mennonite birual for him.

          Liked by 3 people

        2. The Mountain Lake Mennonites immigrated to Minnesota from the Ukraine in the 1870’s. They were originally from Germany, but went to the Ukraine in the 1700’s. My grandfather’s people were anabaptists who never left Germany until they immigrated to the US. Menno Simons, who founded the Mennonite Faith, was from Emden, very near to where where my grandfather’s family was from. They were called “The simple people of the fields”, when Menno started his church.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m struggling to figure out why I can’t answer this question. I think I have two problems.

    First, my family didn’t believe in “family.” I grew up thinking the word family referred to two adults and their kids. In our case, that was four human beings. I only slowly came to realize that for other people “family” means all those grandparents and uncles and aunts and cousins. We didn’t have much family even when all those folks were counted. More to the point, we sure didn’t associate with them much. My dad disliked his father and had a tense relationship with his mother in law, so we mostly avoided the extended family and did our own thing.

    My second problem is that our family didn’t use “sayings” much. My mother’s mother was a spicy and original character who talked pungently. Maybe she had sayings, or maybe not. Instead of sayings, my family had stories. When my dad wanted to make a point he told a story. My parents were so absorbed in the drama of their own lives that they didn’t work at passing along their views to their kids. And had they been motivated to tell us what to think, they would not have used sayings to instruct us.


      1. My dad had deeper convictions about fishing than he ever had about politics, religion or anything else. His deepest conviction about fishing was that “You can’t catch a fish unless your line is in the water.” I suppose that could be seen as a variant on the idea that “You can’t win the lottery unless you buy a ticket.” As I watched my dad fish for hours and hours, I concluded that his only working theory was that he had to keep a line in the water.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. id say yo have your line in the water steve. i was thinking aboiut your dancing with memories thought earlier and i urge you to consider putting to gether a collection of dances and assembling the steve grooms dance card. i think it would be a great work.
          your recalled memories are a favorite offering here on the trail. i would love a collection

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Not like my dad did. I fished a LOT as a kid, but with different motives than my father had. I fished countless hours with him, but it wasn’t fish I was after. I just wanted to please my dad. Sitting in a boat at daybreak, cold and bored out of my skull, I was expressing love for him. I fished a lot as a teenager, but I wasn’t really after fish then, either. I fished to experience the natural world, and also to avoid the complexities of dealing with people.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. leonard cohen died this week and he had a couple of ditties to add to the human collective.
      i felt happy to have had the day monday to discuss leonard his life an his works with a good friend for most of the day. his bouts with depression and lifes other side were unknown to me. the message comes from where it comes from

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Speaking of pain, I was awake early this morning and stumbled on a young Charlie Rose interviewing Leonard Cohen, a most deep and articulate man. Wonderful interview being replayed. Rose looked like a man way in over his depth.


        1. young charlie used to jump into 15-20 interviews a week and a number of heavy hitters among them. he had the 1-4 shift on cbs jst doing interbiews for a couple of years. he would surprise a nmber of folks by talking about their books and such when they all knwo he had 20 other guests the week they were being interviewed. i think thats how he became the interviewer he is . leonard is an articulate man who unlike so many others on the planet has taken time to know himself and has asked many of the questions that that people like charlie rose ask unsuspecting folks on a reguular basis.

          here is a favorite leonard cohen awards speech. his stories are as striking as his music and at the same tone


          Liked by 1 person

  3. I have two from people I have been thinking a lot about lately: from my grandmother, who could use this phrase for everything from a benediction at the end of a family event (like a wedding) to the more mundane (finishing the dishes). We pictured her saying it as blessing and benediction when the last of her generation, her sister-in-law who had been fighting dementia, died – and we suspect it may even be the last thing she said (we don’t know – she died in her sleep at home). Her phrase, “well, that’s done.”

    For my father – and this is more universal, and he said it often in his last years – the phrase that has continued on after him, “we have a good family.” Yep Dad. We do.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Like SiHV I knew very little family. But my mother was full of sayings, full of them. I suppose my father’s angry tirades were full of his wisdom but I gave up listening at a young age. Much of his wisdom would have been bigotry or about how to use tools and do a job right.
    My mother often told my sister to slow down and take her time and do it right. My sister in adulthood sped up and still did it right.
    I did have one relative, a paternal half-uncle, we saw often in the winter and then all year after he retired from the ore boats. He was interesting and aggravating. He had an amazing voice. Maybe after I have my neck shots Monday and my headache and shoulder pain are reduced, I will do a blog about him. Herman was full of wisdom, about as wrong as wisdom could be. He was one of the few people I knew who tried to tell you how to live your life. My mother gave small advice on the whole. I will try to think of something either of them said.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Speaking of Armistace Day, my daughter was in a school play last night and did a good job. She knew her character and stayed in character. They get very little direction, except my daughter helps her daughter. She could have been louder, clearer, larger. But she grew a lot from last spring’s play. The funniest person in the play was the German foreign exchange student. He did a sort of parody of a mad German. At the end when he had supposedly gone off the deep end, he came out wearing a shiny Nazi helmet. The red neck farmers loved it. He seemed unselfconscious about it all.
    An interesting point was that it was a murder mystery dumb comedy, but you cannot bring guns into school. They sued Nerf guns, I assume those are forbidden, too. I wonder how they got permission.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. my inlas have an odd version ” was you father a glass blower?” i cant see through you. maybe it made sense in the original version but i doubt it


  6. One of the small moments KV’s uncle referred to: you mix up a batch of artisan bread and leave it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. You take it out and lift the lid. You inhale the odor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. can i get your help on artisan gluten free bread. i am missing bread and not having success following the recipe in the refrigerator version by the 5 minute people. any tricks or suggestions?


      1. Tim, you could try the book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. There is a chapter in there about gluten-free bread. You can get it from hennepin county library and be sure you get the one with”new” in the title.


        1. they came out with a gluten free bread book i bought but either i dont get it or the book isnt all that its cracked up to be


  7. From my beloved mother, who was a truly terrible cook, to us kids if we complained about the food — “It will keep you alive.”

    From my father, who was Director of Maintenance for Green Bay schools, and who made tough, unpopular decisions for the highest good over the long haul — “Life isn’t a popularity contest.”

    I guess they weren’t much for sayings, but they led by grace, love and beautiful example.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. From my mom, when enjoying a meal that was easy to throw together: “Sometimes the simplest things are the best.” That is now a standing joke with us, as she would say that at least once every time she visited, each time as if she had never said it to me before.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I can’t offer any wise aphorisms from either of my parents, neither of them being the pontificating sort, but this topic has stirred up some antique expressions from my extreme youth, some of which I know the origins of and some not.
    I remember my parents used to describe someone with exceptional or precocious talent as “a regular Yehudi”. This I find surprising because neither of them were habituates of classical music. I remember hearing the expression “let George do it”, and I know that derives from a radio show. It must have been common parlance at one time.
    Other expressions I like and which likely came from our more agrarian past are:
    “Best horse in the glue factory” and
    ” Looks like he(she) was rode hard and put away wet.”

    Liked by 2 people

  10. In Canada it is called Remembrance Day. Many Canadians lost their lives in the First World War. I lived near Vimy Ridge Park for a while in Winnipeg. A lot of Winnipeggers died in that battle, and the park was a memorial to them. My Grandpa was in the 2nd Battle of the Marne, I believe. We used to try on his gas mask, which he had in an old trunk on the attic.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. when i was looking a veterans day and the 11/11 traditions they said a lot of european countries still honor the 11th hour 11th minute tradition and have a moment of silence for 2 minutes in remembrance of those in the wars. its too bad we lost that. i like those kind of memories and acts in their honor

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother brought it up every year, the story. I do not know if she did observed it, which would have been far out of character. There was no reason she would. She was born in 1917 and had lost no one in the War.


  11. So many phrases we reference at our house:
    Response to someone saying ‘So?’–
    ‘Sew buttons on a balloon; you’ll get a bang out of it.’

    They say ‘Hey’–
    ‘straw is cheaper, grass is free; buy a farm you get all three’.

    And my favorite:
    They say ‘I see…’
    ‘…said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.’
    (And which my daughter replies ‘…said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and see-saw’.)

    In the local theater scene, if you got an ‘Atta-boy’, you did real good; that was a big deal.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I had an editorial assistant once who who had a close friend. The two of them had several little comic bits. One was a riff they did on the old Frank Sinatra song. During a conversation, one would say, “Well, you know, that’s life.” The other, looking thoughtful, would respond, “Yeah, that’s what they say.” The first would then reply, “Flyin’ high in April.” The other, shaking his head sadly, would say, “Shot down in May.”

    Sometimes they’d make a loop of it. After one round, the first would repeat, “Well, yeah, that’s life.” And off they’d go.

    Does that count as a saying, tim?

    And then there were all sorts of things said in my college dorm, most of which cannot be repeated here. Some were more or less like sayings. One of the memorable ones was a frequent exclamation from my roommate, Jack.

    “BALLS!” he would yell, when something didn’t go well. Then he’d slip into this thing he always said.

    “BALLS, said the queen. If I had them, I’d be king!
    Damn, replied the Prince. I’ve got two and I’m not!”

    I have no idea where that came from.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ll have to admit Wasband had at least one:
    – If you want to live forever, you’ve missed the point.
    and a group of us in college came up with a couple:
    – No matter where you go, there you are.
    – In a hundred years, none of this will matter.


  14. Naturally, Woody Allen has some good ones about his mortality:

    “I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it by not dying.”
    “I’m not afraid of dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

    I think this one is Steven Wright:

    “I want to live forever. So far, so good.”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Today I looked up woodpeckers. Wikipedia says: All the pecking also heats up the woodpecker’s skull, which is part of the reason why they often peck in short bursts with brief breaks in between, giving the head some time to cool.[

    Liked by 2 people

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