Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas, and Part Six of The Christmas Pudding.

Dear readers, there isn't enough time in the holiday rush to post all of the passages from my short story, THE CHRISTMAS PUDDING. My hope is to someday publish the entire story and to share more from time to time on the blog.  For now, in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to leave the happenings at Sanua Semples' house on a joyful note. I wish you all the most wonderful Christmas time - with all of your friends and family close and joyful - and the most magical of times in every part of the new year.  2015 looks spectacularly promising for me with news I shall share on New Year's day.  Until then I will think of you all gathered around the Christmas tree or holiday feast, taking in all the warmth and splendor of your family and the light of this beautiful season.

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In this passage, little Joseph has become a host guest of Sanua Semples and is relating the sights and sounds of breakfast time in the kitchen:

There is utter joy in the foot steps of a donkey and goat as their hooves make light clonking and clanking noises up and down the backyard ramp leading  to the Dutch door.  Already dressed in their blanket coats, they are making a gentle commotion signaling their eagerness for breakfast. Though the door is yet
to be opened, they know the sounds of their feet will be just enough to get them what they are asking for. In the kitchen a copper pot filled with scalded milk sits cooling on the plank board countertop. Into the pot will be folded a mix of dried ground corn, flattened oats, and coarsely chopped lady apples. The thickened mash is sprinkled with brown sugar and cinnamon and divided into two yellowware milk pans, the one for Samuel being slightly larger. Sanua opens the top tier doors, and in a rush - like flood gates opening - the bodies of a donkey and a goat press heavily against the bottom door with heads simultaneously moving and bobbing as if there is a competition to see who will be first at the food."Now, now,"says Sanua, "all in good time." She unlatches the bottom door, with both Samuel and Lamb pushing to be first, and with a bowl in each hand leads them down the ramp and into the yard to place the food on the ground in front of the carriage shed door. Eating ensues immediately and as she turns and makes her way back up the ramp to latch the bottom door, Scoot barrels over the railing up the ramp and over the closed door like a horse jumping a gate in an obstacle course. He lands lightly on the bottom of the kitchen work table where amongst the crockery, Sanua has set out a bowl of finely shredded chicken for his morning repast. I am still absorbed in sleep and the quickness and speed of these fully engaged animals is more stimulation than my mind can process and understand.

Placed before me is a thick, gray earthen mug filled with fragrant tea, and two hearty slices of oatmeal brown bread spread with butter and drizzled with golden honey. In a small bowl, two halves of a jarred Bartlett pear rest in syrup, with a dollop of thick cream and a sprinkling of toasted oats. As I gain my composure and wipe the sleep from my eyes, I spot a tiny evergreen tree leaning up against the firebox. It is a sign of the season and we will plant it among a pile of soft, downy moss in a galvanized grape picker's pail and place it in front of the big gray door that leads to the cold closet. At least that is what was told to me before bed last night, and those precursors to each day always come to pass.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Part Five of The Christmas Pudding...


I played alone and quietly at the base of the staircase in our house. There was a radiator in the entry, and the carpet between the bottom staircase step and front door was always warm.  My favorite toy was a
wooden Noah's ark with sets upon sets of animals which I would line up in parade fashion to walk the gang plank and board the ark.  I loved all the hand-carved wooden pieces, but I especially loved the lions
which my mother had glued fuzzy pieces of golden wool around their faces to make a textured and tufted mane. Some days, I would place the ark at the top of the staircase and put the pairs of like animals on
each successive step, beginning with the elephants and ending with the giraffes. I'd hum a tune in my head as I marched them up the stairs, and once the ark was full, I held it in my hands and rocked it as if it was on
the high seas in the midst of a storm.  It usually sailed into my bedroom, and I placed it on a low shelf near the closet next to my bedtime books, Treasure Island and Great Expectations. My mother would read me to sleep every night by the light of an oil lamp and sometimes she would fall
fast asleep and wake up next to me in the morning.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Part Four of The Christmas Pudding...


Beyond the bank of windows was a scrubbed pine triple-cut door, and outside, a ramp that led from the house to the clearing in front of the barn. Sanua had three cohabitants:  a miniature brown donkey named Samuel, a goat she called Lamb, and a friendly orange cat appropriately called Scoot - as Sanua was
always scooting him away from a cooling pie or a hot stock pot of jam. The
Dutch door was their place to be present in the kitchen. The top two doors
swung open, even in the winter time to allow the smallish donkey and goat to place
their heads inside to be part of the daily happenings. On these cooler days,
the fire was stoked to a roar and the animals wore tailored coats made of old
gray woolen blankets and embellished with vintage black buttons. On the plank
counter was a hand blown glass jar of brown sugar lumps and a wooden bowl of lady
apples that I could feed to these interested and participating creatures.