Category Archives: Stories

In Search of My Irish

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

By the time you read this, I will be in Ireland. I could not get my head around how to tell one of these stories. It is cruel and overwhelming and unbelievable. It stopped me cold when I started to write it.

The group I am travelling with is a group of polymer clay artists who have been the students of our teacher from Jordan, MN, Maureen Carlson. She has for years had a teaching studio where people came to learn from all over the world.  One of those students is an Irish priest Father John.  Maureen closed her studio nearly 2 years ago to semi-retire.  He cut a deal with Maureen—let me come over for lessons one more time, and then the next year you can bring a group to the retreat center I run in Ireland for another 5 day lesson.  She said SOLD!  I was invited to attend.  I said yes.

Weirdly, this retreat center is located in the Irish county where my ancestors emigrated from in 1841 to Canada, County Down. That is my mother’s side.  You can the read the story of my great grandfather at this link:

https://www.bookemon.com/book_read_flip.php?book_id=278253

That story is stereotypical. The Newells wanted a better life.  They emigrated to Canada, then Iowa to homestead and did very well.  I hope to travel to see the old stone house the Newells lived in on the sea.  It is still there, 25 miles from the retreat center

The story I found in Ancestry.com on my father’s side knocked my socks off. I had no idea.  This is located in the county north of Down, in Antrim where Belfast is located.  I understand the Irish hatred of British after this one.  Sorry this is so long.  Here we go:

“The year was 1548 and it was in Ireland and it was time to pay Taxes to England . Ever year England would send a small army of tax collectors to Ireland to collect taxes, The people of Ireland had very little money and never enough to pay taxes to England . The tax collectors had been given the right from their King Edward V to take any thing of value to pay the taxes owed. It was the practice of King Edward and Mary Tudor to take Children in payment of the taxes. The children were taken to England to be trained as domestic servants and bonded labors.

This small village called Antrim, in the Ulster Province and of the MacDonald Clan was no different than any other village in Ireland everyone had to pay taxes one way or another, And this is where my story begins, Young children ages 12 years and older that looked in good health were taken from the family clans as payment for the taxes.From the time that the tax collectors picked the first children until they had over 100 children to go back to England it would take lest a week to 10 days. The children would be put into carts and wagons and most of the time their hands were tied to the racks on the carts to keep them from running away.

One young boy that came from Antrim was called James Antrim. His last name was from where he came from. He was being trained as a cord winder and rope maker. James Antrim was a hard worker and he learned well he also learned to read and write that would help him to get ahead in life. He lived and took his training at the family mansion of Sir Thomas Wyatt . During the five years of training young James Antrim had a hard time at first until his hands and arms got stronger, then he was as good a rope maker as there was.

It was on a spring day on a weekend that James went to the market with three men that he came to see for the first time a young lass with red hair , James had to know more about this young women. James found out that she was a cook’s helper at this master’s house and that her name was Colleen O’Shay . This was the first time that he seen his wife to be. The servant’s Masters was willing to let their servants have relationship with other household master’s  servants.  With the hopes that it would lead to a marriage. This way the servants children would be under the master ‘s care and they would become servants also and it would be cheaper than going to Ireland and bringing back young children to train .

Our ancestors were two of these servants that were married and two of their children came to Salem , Massachusetts, America in 1635. they were Thomas Antram and his wife Jane Batter, . And Thomas sent two of his sons John and James back to England in 1679 to bring friends and to raise funds to buy land in New Jersey. Our Ancestors were early America Pioneers.”

I hope that in our 5 days of touring we get to the Antrim area, as well. I want to know more about this practice of taking children for taxes.  It is guaranteed to create hard feelings that last for hundreds of years. It makes me think about how much I hate taxes sometimes.  Several times, while I owned my practice, I had to reach down deep to pay my taxes, but never did I have to make this kind of sacrifice—a 12 year old child.  I cannot come up with a question for discussion for this one.

What would you suggest as a question?

What’s Up, Doc?

OK, so I missed International Rabbit Day by a few of Earth’s rotations. I discovered this when opening Saturday’s bing.com… Saturday’s bing.com  Who knew?

The following paragraph is from Wiki Wiki :  “Rabbits are small mammals in the family Leporidae of the order Lagomorpha, found in several parts of the world. There are eight different genera in the family classified as rabbits, including the European rabbit, cottontail rabbits, and the Amami rabbit. There are many other species of rabbit, and these, along with pikas and hares, make up the order Lagomorpha. The male is called a buck and the female is a doe; a young rabbit is a kitten or kit.”

I got curious about the long-eared jumpers when I lived on the California coast, next to a vacant bunny-populated lot… loved watching them chase each other and jump in the air. I read half of The Secret Life of Rabbits by R.M. Lockley in the mid-70s (before leaving it on a plane); collected rabbit tchotchkes for a while; and still receive occasional rabbit gifts, most recently some beautiful note cards.

Some of my favorite rabbits are from children’s books – Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit books, of course, and Dubose Heywood’s The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes. But even adult lit has come up with good rabbit tales – Watership Down lingo Watership Down lingo has stayed with me for decades – silflay, hruduru… and I loved the characters’ names – Bigwig, Fiver, Efrafa, Cowslip…

Take a gander at more of these rabbits in literature

Do you have any rabbit stories?

What’s your favorite literary animal?

Make a List!

today’s post comes to us from tim.

  1. The weekend at my daughters school was pretty lame
  2. We got a late start my fault
  3. Got to dinner too late after unloading at airb2b
  4. Had to deal with oncoming illness
  5. Events were poorly planned out and yet ok
  6. Seeing daughter was great
  7. Letting 16 year old hang with her sister was worth it
  8. Brunch should be go to meal every day
  9. People watching is my 2nd favorite thing

What’s a summary of something in your life with bare bones description?

My New Love

Today’s post comes to us from Jacque.

I am smitten. I met my new true love in July at a near by nursery.  Her name is Rosy Jane Indian Feather.

Every few years I find a new plant that entrances and seduces me. I plant it, baby it, admire it, and then buy more of them for years to come.  This year it was Rosy Jane.   It is not just an infatuation.  It is a romance, but so much more. I think it will become a commitment.

Past loves have been Indigo salvia, an annual; another annual–licorice plant, both sage color and mint green; the wave petunia. Several years ago it was the small petunias that I cannot remember the name of.  They all still show up in my pots.

And now I have added Rosy Jane. Tiny pink flowers appear at the end of a long stem that shoots out from a relatively small plant at the base.  The flowers look like they are just floating from the pot.  It is categorized as a perennial, zone 5.  I am going to attempt to winter mine over, even though we are zone 4 because winters are warmer now.  I think if I plant it close to the house it might make it.  And if it does we will live happily ever after in a state of romance, me with stars in my eyes.

What romances you?

Spoiler Alert

500 pages. Book discussion is Saturday so I thought I’d dig in tonight.  After two hours I realized I might finish it before I went to bed.  You know how this ends.  It’s midnight, I’m turning out lights and suddenly remembering I haven’t check on a blog bit for tomorrow!

What’s the last book you stayed up to finish?

Sweet Corn or Bust!

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

My sweet corn finally got ripe. It’s not good. But Dammit, I’m going to eat it!

I get sweet corn from the seed corn dealer. Two small bags slightly bigger than what you’d pick up from Fleet Farm in the spring.

I use the first bag as I test the planter as I start corn in the spring.

I divide the seed into 3 rows of the planter and then plant the sweet corn testing depth and the monitor and just making sure the planter is working properly.

This year, the first 50’ I had the depth wrong so the corn never emerged. And the last 75’ was next to the pasture and woods and the deer ate all that before it even got tassels. But I kinda expected that.

Then I plant all the rest of my regular corn. And then, before switching the planter to soybeans, I plant the second batch of sweet corn. Some years that might only be 3 – 7 days. This year it was about 2 weeks between batches.

I plant the second batch in a different field, close to the house and on the other side of the field from the trees and deer.

This year with the weather being so cool, it took a long time for that second field to get ripe. The bottom of the ear was tough and the top and middle were just OK. I don’t know if was the variety of the sweet corn or just the way it ripened. And there was a lot. 12 rows 100’ long. I knew it was too much but I take a lot to the my siblings and I freeze some and I invite others. This year, I bought corn earlier to freeze as I didn’t know if mine would ever get ripe

But darn it; I look forward to sweet corn all summer and I’ll be darned if I’m going to not eat it just because it doesn’t taste good!

Sigh.

But I think I’ve had enough corn this year…

What do you do even though it’s a dumb idea?