Saturday, January 4, 2014


An Advent wind has ushered in a frosty Christmas.
In Bethlehem this year that is also true!
So “In the Bleak Midwinter” can be sung in earnest
by us, and by those startled, sleepy shepherds, too.
And, like the family huddled in that little stable,
Ours has gathered also, in that child’s name.
Grateful for the comfort of our warmer dwelling
and for his love among us—Love is why he came.

Now once again I take my fountain pen and paper
and let the ink inscribe for you our family news…
…But wait – This isn’t Christmas 1867!
I’ll dictate it to Siri!*  Siri likes to schmooze
with me; she’ll listen as I tell it to my iPhone,
she’ll faithfully transcribe my every golden word.
This smartphone app is flawless, hardly any errors.
Ready, Siri? Please write for me: “Joy…to… the… Word!”

(Well… close.) I’d better put my fingers on the keyboard
and write a little clearer what I have to say.
(Especially since I’ve once again procrastinated
and missed the goal of sending this by Christmas Day.)
With this rhythm and this rhyming I will tell our story
with eight-line stanzas, and will surely try to keep
it short and sweet and interesting enough, dear reader,
that the gentle, lilting rhythm won’t put… you… to… sleep...

… Let’s see, where was I? Ah, the annual family story
of Beret, Joel and Sam, and little Violet
and Anna, who arrived from far-off Massachusetts,
(and even we, the ‘rents, will get our own vignette.)
But first I pause to note that we were all together
for Christmas Eve. And at the crack of Christmas Day
we packed our cars and drove out to a Black Hills cabin.
Our snowy lane still showed the tracks of Santa’s sleigh!

And “snow on snow” was Anna’s carol for her journey;
Northeast, Midwest, and back—a winter wonderland.
We miss her, but we’re happy that she loves New England,
and happy she was here.   In May we’ll take the grand
tour: Maine, New York and Boston; our itinerary
includes good friends, and Anna, then we’ll roll along
to Lincoln Center; Caryl’s choral group is singing
with many other choirs in a brand new song.

Boston is the hub, but it is actually Quincy
where Anna lives and works – about eight miles away.
Quincy’s full of history: John Adams’ lived there
with Abigail (who sometimes told him what to say).
And just like Abby, Anna is her own strong woman,
teaching books to kids, and blogging on Young Lit.
Her paper, titled “Not Your Mother’s Graphic Novels,”
was published in a journal many bookies get.

Beret, Joel, and Violet and Samuel Jorgen
still reside together on St. Olaf Ave
in Northfield Minnesota where their lives are richer
now that Sam’s in Kindergarten, and they have
Violet right behind him, learning from her brother.
(Today he was a Secret Agent; So was she!)
They’re a living demonstration about how our siblings—
who sometimes drive us crazy—make us who we’ll be!

Sam’s a young ‘rachnologist who studies spiders.
(He’s taught me more than I learned in Biology!)
Violet is a princess who pirouettes in purple,
dancing with a grace she didn’t get from me!
For Joel and Beret now of course their lives are centered
on their little ones—a loving mom and dad.
But school, lunches, teaching, working, bedtime reading…
well—two-oh-aught-six was the last authentic sleep they had.

Beret’s radiant smile is seen in downtown Northfield
at “The Rare Pair”—no doubt Northfield’s favorite store.
Joel still teaches pottery to college students,
then comes home to his basement kiln to make some more.
We free a little time for them as Gram and Grandpa,
and Caryl often loves to be both maid and cook.
Sam and I play swords, but Beret shakes a finger
at me! (I think “Time Out For Grandpa” will be my next book.)

In February I joined Caryl in retirement;
we took a lazy jaunt out California way.
Good thing, because since then our lives have been so busy,
we have—our calendar reveals—only the rare day
together. Caryl volunteers, and watches grandkids,
and sings in three ensembles (I’m her biggest fan).
I write, and serve a church that’s briefly between pastors,
and play with Sam and Violet – I’m a lucky man!

Now Christmas Day has flown, but yet the season lingers;
the Magi journey on toward bright Epiphany.
We follow the same star to the same wee cradle
where, in the winter bleak, the face of God we see.
The light shines in the darkness! That is still the promise;
the longest night can’t keep the light of hope away.
May that same light, and hope, illumine all your journeys
from New Year’s Eve to next December’s Christmas Day!

                                                                                                     ~ Love, Caryl and Dick

Elk Antler decorated at the cabin in honor of our
44th Anniversary! (December 27)
Frodo and Gandalf in Mirkwood
Joel and Beret with Violet, 2-1/2, and Sam, 6

Sam and Violet love their Auntie Anna.
She chooses (and reads) wonderful books for them.

Joel’s ceramics and pottery web site is

Check out Beret’s store at

Anna writes on Young Adult Lit. at

*In case, like Rip Van Winkle, you have just awakened,
 and “Smart Phone’s” that new thing from Alexander Bell:
 “Siri” is the robot voice within an iPhone
 who takes dictation, writing every word you tell.