Tag Archives: #wanderingkeri53

Turn on Light – Give Joy

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Looks kind of like my first radio.

Okay, I admit it, I’m not an audiophile.  I haven’t ‘crushed’ on a song probably since Jr. High School, where I would listen to the radio for hours with my cassette tape recorder at the ready to capture ‘that song’.  However, there is music that is the sound track of my life, or periods of my life. Like a smell caught on a breeze that opens memories, music does that too. I will tell you that I am emphatic about this statement …. I despise “classic rock”. Mostly music from my High School years … tell me, just how many times can a person hear The Who’s Tommy, the Lovin’ Spoonfuls I Believe in Magic, or the Beatles Yellow Submarine, and others ad nauseum? It gives me the creeps.

That said I do listen to different radio & satellite stations while I’m driving and I have tried to keep up with music trends; so I can at least be semi-aware and have some common ground with my family & friends who are music lovers.   I don’t do that much anymore. I’ve found I’ve become more aware of the lyrics, even if there is a catchy melody, and for the most part I don’t hear much that gives me joy. What I hear is ugliness against others, about others. I find it degrading to people, women in particular. It degrades love and I feel a lot of it sends negativity into the world and is the antithesis of light, joy, and happiness.

You can tell that pondering today’s blog thought took me afield from for what song am I most grateful. With all of my griping about old music here is a handful of music that always makes me smile and turns light on in my heart and gives me joy.

Louie Armstrong: What a Wonderful World

Lee Ann Womack: I Hope You Dance

Handel’s Messiah: Hallelujah Chorus

W.W. Phelps: The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning

 

*All music links are via published YouTube links.

Mrs. Rambeau 15 Mean Girls 0

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Have you ever used a brain-storm connections chart? Circles and lines, boxes and dots, large arrows and small, here a color, there a color to describe conditions or choices. In the end the lines of greatest impact are visibly represented, areas of import highlighted.  That is what swirled within my mind as I reviewed today’s gratitude thought: for whom in my life am I grateful? 

Of course my parents and progenitors were significantly highlighted. Friends forever, friends for a while, acquaintances for now and those who left impressions for good or bad in our passing. The lessons I’ve learned from them have often changed the direction of my life, brought joy or pain, brought illumination of heart and soul, or sometimes a cloud of darkness and fear.

Today’s brainstorming chart filtered down to Mrs. Rambeau, my first grade teacher. She not only taught me to read and write, but she taught me a greater lesson about love, about my responsibility for caring for one another, and for my actions.

Timpanogos Elementary School. My first grade classroom was first door from the left. (The school was torn down in 2007 & replaced.)

She taught that lesson on a rug in the corner of our classroom.  Some of us were bullying a girl. We had made fun of her and made her cry. We hurt her heart so badly she didn’t want to come back into the classroom. I don’t recall what or why this group of girls coalesced against her, but we did.  Not willing to let a teaching moment pass, Mrs. Rambeau sent the boys back outside and called us “onto the carpet”.

I remember sitting in a semi-circle facing her. I remember her eyes were sad, but her voice was firm and I remember this as the first time I felt shame for my choice and behavior. She didn’t yell, she didn’t demean, she spoke softly of kindness, of caring, of seeing ourselves in this young girl’s place. She taught me empathy in those few minutes. She also taught me that saying I’m sorry is only the first step in repairing the damage caused by my actions. I have to show that I have changed by doing something to reach out and be a positive change in their life or circumstance.

Today I am grateful that I had Mrs. Rambeau in my life. She was a gift. I sincerely try to be kind, more caring, more willing to walk in someone else’s shoes than I am a ‘mean girl’; some days I am more successful than others. To that end my friends, if you’ve felt any pain or fear from my actions or words, I sincerely apologize and ask your forgiveness. I’m sorry, is there some way I might make it up to you?

Michelangelo’s David – Pure Joy

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I was not prepared for the overpowering, breath-taking beauty of Michelangelo’s David as we entered the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence Italy.

The magnificence and perfection of the young David in the strength of his faith and youth brought me to tears. Not just wet eyes, but tears running freely down my face bursting forth from the overwhelming joy I felt witnessing such beauty.

How grateful I am to have stood in awe and wonder of Michelangelo who brought forth perfection from marble that joy continues to live in my heart and fills my soul. Michelangelo’s David is the piece of art for which I am most grateful. 

 

Say Fromaggio!

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Again today’s question for what sight am I grateful is almost a no-brainer for me … a smile on the face of my Sweetie when either he walks in the door toward me or when I walk into the room; especially when we’ve spent a few days apart. Or the smiles on the faces of my family when I walk through their doors after months apart.  The sight of opening arms for that long embrace when some times I can’t really see ’cause my eyes are filled with water.

If you’ve not figured it yet, family and friends are my greatest blessings and I am anticipating “that smile” when Sweetie pulls into the drive Friday night after a week of elk hunting 600 miles away. And anticipating Thanksgiving day when blooming smiles surround our tables with plates piled with, of course, family favorites.

An aside … I’m grateful to sit here and think about the smiles on the faces of those I love. It has put a smile on my face …

Daughter 2 & Daughter 1 Together after a almost a decade

That’s right! That’s the gaggle 🙂 or part of it at least

Grandson weekend … still smiling from that trip

Making this mama’s heart sing … my kids, minus 1.

 

Warning!! Seriously Addicting Chewy Ginger Cardamom Black Pepper Cookies!!

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Today’s question’s answer For what texture am I grateful is the slightly crispy on the outside, a bit more chewy on the inside, crunch added with a bit of raw sugar and a perfectly crackled top Chewy Ginger Cardamom Black Pepper cookies. Which I am eating when I read the question and the answer was right there, in my mouth!  These delectable cookies are perfectly textured for an adult treat unless your younglings are fond of spicy pepper.

Ginger cookies evoke memories of my grandmother’s kitchen, and her cookie jar filled with ginger snaps. She’d get after me for sneaking yet another cookie and slipping back to the basement to savor my ill gotten sweets.  I love the sweet and spicy taste of ginger, so when my step-son Peter brought these cookies to Thanksgiving or Christmas (I forget) I was hooked.  So will you be once you’ve whipped up a batch and this will become your go-to recipe again and again and again.

Warning!!

Chewy Ginger Cardamom Black Pepper Cookies
Serious Eats

Seriously Addicting

The recipe is from Serious Eats, but I double the cardamom and black pepper, and leave out the candied ginger.  I didn’t have any one time and found that I couldn’t really tell the difference that it wasn’t there.

2 cups flour

1 T ground ginger

2 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1 t ground cinnamon

1/2 t unsweetened cocoa

1/2 t ground cardamom

1/2 t freshly ground black pepper

1 c granulated sugar

2/3 c vegetable oil

1 egg

1/4 c molasses

1/2 t grated fresh ginger

1/2 c chopped candied ginger

1/4 c coarse sugar (for rolling) Optional

Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, ground ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa, cardamom, and pepper.

Ina  large bowl, beat together sugar and vegetable oil. Beat in egg, grated fresh ginger, and molasses until smooth. Fold in the flour mixture until well combined, then add in candied ginger.

Shape dough into 1-inch balls, roll in coarse sugar if desired and place on baking sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes (I cook them 8-9 minutes)

Let cookies cool for 3-5 minutes on cookie sheet, then remove to a wire rack until cool.

The Shooting of Len Nielson

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If you’ve been reading Wanderingkeri for a while you may remember Chills, a Nudge, and Footsteps when I talked about starting an unknown journey to learn the stories of my great-grandparents and by extension their family. That nudge has become an obsession to learn and tell their stories because we need to see how much their trials and experiences may teach us, lead us, and guide us in the days of our lives.  The following story is about my grandfather Tom Murdoch Nicol.  What stories are hiding in your family?

 

(Tom, Upper Right)Written on the back of the this picture is the following: “This is the Children’s play tent they have a good time. Tom is always making something. I wish you could see it. The boy standing by Tom with his hat on one side, the little girl and the boy by her are neighbor’s children also the one just back of John with the paper in his hand. The rest are mine. Can you tell them by their looks? All well hope you are. Don’t think that house is ours. Ours is a little bigger than that. I wish I could see you all but don’t know when that will be.” Love to all Tressa

The Shooting of Len Nielson

Heat mirages wafted across the desert ahead of them, dust softly puffed from beneath their horse’s hoofs as the boys rode south and back north, east then west looking for cattle strayed from their ranch. The air carried the occasional morning meadow lark song and the two boys kept an eye out for rattlesnakes that may stretch out or worse coil up beneath the sagebrush or in the rock filled outcrops throughout the ranch.

Tom, the oldest, had his pistol holstered at his side. He prized his pistol and was proud of it and proud of his ability to hit what he aimed at almost all the time. Hyrum, his father, had taught him to shoot at an early age as he had taught each of his boys to use weapons for protection, especially riding the ranch; rattlesnakes weren’t the only varmints that would and could injure a man or animal.  When his parent’s first came to the desert country to homestead, Tom was only two and Chase, riding next to him now, was just an infant. They’d moved onto the “Rez” when it was first opened to white settlement in 1906, and though Duchesne had grown the Nicol’s ranch was about 15 miles from town and was as desolate an area as when the Indians were first confined to the newly designated Uintah Valley Reservation in 1863.

Stopping on the top of a hard packed sandy hill searching for tell-tale signs of the wandering cattle, Tom lifted his hat and wiped his forehead wet from the persistent sun pounding down. He pulled his pistol out and shot at a rock a fair piece away; the dust popping just below the target, his steady black mare not twitching when the pistol fired. We haven’t seen a track of those cows Chase. Let’s take a break, why don’t we ride over to Len’s and see if he’s seen any strays out his way. It’s been a while since we’ve been over. Besides, the horses could use some rest and water before we move on.

Spotting Len out in his yard, Tom and Chase hallo’d as they trotted their horses next to the barn, and climbed down from their thirsty mounts. Might we water our horses Len, Chase asked? Sure boys, help yourselves.  What are you doing this far out in this heat? Searching for some cattle that wandered away from the herd. You haven’t seen any strays up this way have you Len?  Not up here, but I haven’t been out in the back acres for a while, they could be up there, but it’s pretty dried out, not much water over that way.

While the horses drank, the boys and Len leaned against the barn in the shade. That’s a nice pistol you’ve got there Tom, can I see it? Tom reached down and pulled the pistol from its holster, flipping it over to hand the butt of the gun to Len when the pistol fired mid-flip and it was pointed right at Len! As if in slow motion Tom saw where the bullet entered in the front and exited the back of Len’s neck and then watched as Len dropped to the ground.

What should they do? They were just boys, he didn’t want to go to jail, it was an accident; all these thoughts raced through Tom’s mind as he  grabbed his horse, flew into the saddle and galloped away leaving Chase staring down at Len. Pushing his horse as fast as she could run through the miles between Len’s cabin and theirs Tom was certain Len was dying or even dead and what was he to do?

His litttle black horse was lathered and on her knees when Tom jumped from her back and ran to his mother,  he blurted out “I by accident shot Len Nielson”! Being the mother of seven boys Isabella had developed nerves of steel where the actions of her boys were concerned, but at this pronouncement she collapsed to the ground.  Tom was breathing hard and tears dry on his face, the twins Alva and Alma were yelling Tom’s going to jail, pandemonium had broken loose for a minute and just as suddenly stopped when Isabella said, Stop yelling.  Let’s kneel down here and say a prayer. Isabella turned to one of the youngest boys, John Murray and said, John you say the prayer please.  As they knelt there in the yard, John prayed harder than he had ever said a prayer before. Please bless Len to be alright. Please bless that Tom won’t go to jail. Amen.

After the prayer, Isabella turned and said, Kenneth, take care of Tom’s horse.  I hope you didn’t ride her to death Tom, she said, as she and Tom hitched the wagon and then whipped the horses into a cantor as they turned back up the road to Len’s cabin.

Stretched out on the ground Len closed his eyes and knew he was going to die. Chase, yelled Len! Len! What should I do? But Len was clutching at his neck blood oozing between his fingers, slowly dripping to puddles beneath his head. At once Chase knew what to do! He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket; stuffed one end in the front bullet hole and the other end into the back bullet hole and held on tight. Slowly the blood stopped running out onto the dirt, but Chase was also afraid Len was going to die.

Looking toward home Chase saw a rolling cloud of dust and knew help was on the way.   Isabella and Tom were off the wagon seat hardly before the horses had stopped. Bending over Isabella said a prayer of thanks that Len was yet alive, and that Chase had known what to do to stop the bleeding.   It was a miracle that the track of the bullet missed all of Len’s major arteries, missed his larynx and missed his spine and major muscles.  If Chase hadn’t stuffed his handkerchief into the holes he would probably have died from blood loss.

Over the next weeks life on the ranch returned to normal; Tom’s horse didn’t die, John Murray at age five was certain that it was his prayer that saved Len’s life, and Tom and Chase found the stray cattle.  Stopping over to check on Len the boys were grateful that Len didn’t hold any hard feelings; him saying it was an accident, but he was glad he wasn’t dead and he supposed that with that kind of thing between them that they’d always be friends.[i]

 

[i] Author’s Note: This fictionalized story of the shooting of Len Nielson is based upon the true experiences of Thomas M. Nicol (age about 14) and H. Chase Nicol (age about 12) as told to Tom’s son Keith Nicol and recounted in the James and Mary Murray Murdoch Family History.  Additional facts of the prayer given by John Murray Nicol (age 85) given to author Keri Nicol Vest-Vergari (Tom’s oldest granddaughter). As to who actually went to Len’s aid is unknown from family lore, but taking author’s license, as a mother I could not imagine that Isabella would stay at home waiting, but rather go as quickly as possible to offer aid to what may have become a tragedy.