HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - merchants slogan: "We don't have it but we can get it for you."

Monday, November 24, 2008


Dear Lar,

You of course know the Thanksgiving I always think of....at the farm...what precious memories of it all.

I don't even want to try to tell you what you mean to me and I am thankful for it each day.

To quote Beethoven again:

Never shall I forget the days which I spent with you....Continue to be my friend, as you will always be mine.

Ludwig von Beethoven



Thus was the loving e mail I received yesterday from my very good friend who lives just outside of Napoli, Italy, where his wife Dianne is finishing up her final year of teaching music at the American Naval Base. (Geez! I think I got that right, but I are old so the facts might not be correct on that!)

The Thanksgiving Matt refers to was many years ago. I informed my dear mother, Alice, the best cook I know, that I would be coming over to the family farm south of Menomonie with a dinner guest, (Matt) and I would be bringing the turkey.

I explained to her that Matt and I wanted to do all the food preparation which of course she agreed to as long as I let her do something. We decided she could make the pumpkin pies as she made absolutely the best!

Before I go further, you must understand that this was more than likely at the end of the 1970's and a goodly portion of college age folk had at least tried smoking pot. Since I left education and became a full time entertainer, marijuana was very acceptable to my "profession". Hell, I remember working a little peanut bar off the University of Minnesota campus back in those days and the crowd passed a joint around the room while I was onstage! When it came down front, the harmonica player who was working with me took a hit and passed it over to me.

Unlike Bill Clinton, I inhaled.

So Matt and I jumped in the green ford van, reefer and turkey at hand, and headed for the farm via the "short cut" cross country, south of Menomonie. Even in late November Wisconsin is a beautiful place to be, especially after a good hit on the herb when you become appreciative of all the different shades of brown and gray there really are!

We knew that my mom and dad would be gone to Mass when we got there so we had the farm kitchen to ourselves. We unloaded all the foodstuffs and the goodly bottles of wine -- now that I think of it, I think there WERE several - and took over the kitchen, salivating over Alice's freshly baked pies, still warm, cooling on the kitchen table.

We popped the cork on the first bottle of wine. While I cleaned out the turkey and started the stuffing, Matt worked on peeling potatoes and scrubbing up the yams.

When all was ready, including the pre-heating of the overn, we got the bird into the heat and opened the second bottle of wine.

Here I must stop because truthfully from this point all I can remember is that we laughed until tears rolled down our faces, mom and dad came home to find two really happy lads in her kitchen and it was a day of great love, joy and true thanksgiving.

Hopefully, I can get Matthew to write how he remembers the day and add it to this blog later.

My mother and father have gone to their rest now, as has my father-in-law, Bob. This thursday, however, I will be back in the kitchen here at home, cooking for those I love that are nearest by; Kim's mom, Joy and her sister, Kristi, are coming down to share the day with us.

Thanksgivng has always been my favorite holiday. I guess because it revolves around food! I can hardly wait to slice into the turkey, dip into the yams and mashed potatoes and gravy, the freshly made cranberry sauce, the salad, the rolls, and finish it off with pumpkin pie or cheese cake.

This year there won't be any wine or pot!

I received this e mail from Matt, concerning the above:

" I do remember that Fr. John was there and had a great time. I think eventually everyone was there...even Anson and Diana...I know Bob was there...the whole crowd ...

John was the priest there in town and had done the Mass...I asked him if he forgave us for not coming to Mass to which he said..."it doesn't makde any difference if I forgive you...but He does ...you had to get all of this ready. Ma got out the biggest piece of cheese and crackers and olives etc...for horsdeuvre of which we ate so much there was little room left for anything else...Ma told me when I asked her about the pies...she said the secret was in the milk and cream used...she used fresh milk and mostly heavy cream to make them. I remember the first time I went to the farm Ma asked me if I liked cottage cheese...I love it...so she got a small bowl and a spoon from somewhere in the milk room where the milk ended up...went to the bag holding the drippiing cottage cheese and scooped some into the bowl...then to the cream tank and poured a whole dipper full of heavy cream over the whole thing. The cottage cheese world has never been the same since...all pale in the remembrance of that. I never had the courage to order the homemade bread spread with butter and jam in a bowl filled with fresh cream which is on the menu of the Norski Nook cafe and cardiac clinic. The place with the mile high meragine.

On that Thanksgiving I don't remember going home...perhaps we stayed there overnight...one time we did and I got up at 4 or so to do the early milking with everyone."


No comments: