Dad Turned 90 Today

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Dad is Ninety

Dad turned ninety today

Although he didn’t remember

Living in a world of memory loss

The short term completely gone

Living only in the moment

One experience at a time

Forgetting the past he presses on

To reach the finish line

Waiting now with serenity of heart

But not the same of mind

Barely getting up out of his chair

He rolls with his walker here and there

Unstable security allows him to move

A forgetful memory keeps him out of the groove

Proclaiming to us that he’s still in good health

Not realizing the creeping stealth of his situation

He says he is thankful he lasted this long

Hoping to see us on our next vacation

He still recognizes our faces

But names slip through the cracks

And when it’s time to go he’s sad we have to run

He forgets we were there each time we go

And exclaims each time we come in

His face brightens up as he says hello

Surprised over and over to see us again

But while we are there it’s a special time

To see everyone brings him joy

He has not lost his humor or wit

Still catches a funny joke we tell

And has a good chuckle at it

Some things in his brain are still working

He loves to have some fun

He enjoyed his party and all his friends

Until they had to run

About most things he asks

It must be quite confusing

To see us there and then we’re gone

The memory just won’t last

Living to a ripe old age sounds good

The goal of many I am sure

But for me it’s a journey I hope not to take

Let me go while I still remember

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Photo: Dwight L. Roth

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Home…

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When we moved to our home a few years ago, I felt like I had come home. The location, the farm land, the trees and rolling hills all felt like home to me. The painting above was done for a friend whose home not longer existed. He gave me a photo of the house and asked if I could paint it.  Two years later his Aunt asked me to paint one for his Uncle who had grown up there. Nostalgia and feelings all converge to remind us of the home or place we grew up in. Sometimes it is unexplainable, but one just knows.

Home is a Feeling

Home is a feeling you’ll know when you’re there.

No matter how far you go no matter where you’ve been

That feeling slips in and lets you know…

Home is a feeling when you’re there

*

When you’re driving through the cornfields down a long and duty road

And you see the evening sun sinking slowly out of sight

That feeling slips in and lets you know…

Home is a feeling and your there

*

When you’re far away and all alone wondering how long you’ll be gone

And a song comes on the radio it takes you back and you’re right there

That feeling slips in and lets you know…

Home is a feeling and your there

*

Though mom and dad are gone and the old house stands no more

The place is still just as real you can feel their presence there.

That feeling slips in and lets you know…

Home is a feeling when you’re there

*

When you’re loved by those around you and they all reach out to you.

Nothing else matters now… You can see it in their smiles.

That feeling slips in and lets you know…

Home is a feeling when you’re there

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Painting #2 by: Dwight L. Roth

The Bumpity Bump Time Machine

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My favorite part of flying is taking off. I love racing down the runway and then feeling the smooth lift-off as we glide up into the wild blue yonder. Today, as we flew on our first leg of our journey, I decided to write this poem to pass the time. The planes get smaller, the snacks keep shrinking and the seats get tighter (…or I keep getting bigger!!), but they still seem to get us where we are going in a timely fashion.  Flying is still one of the safest modes of transportation in spite of what we see and hear on the Media. It has been a very long day!

The Bumpity Bump Time Machine

A bunch of sardines in a tight tin can

Barely room to breathe no room to stand

Knuckles turn blue as oxygen get thin

Waiting inside for our journey to begin

In the United Time Machine

More popular than baseball this roaring tube of metal

People pay good money to sit in this kettle

To be turned into spam compressed every wit

A new destination makes us willing to sit

Creeping in the queue awaiting our turn

Shaking and vibrating as the engines burn

Finally it’s our turn down that endless runway

We race down the drag strip it’s up up and away

A bumpity bump ride to say the least

Compressed even further the bumps finally cease

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Racing two or three hours at the speed of light

Hurling through space like a meteor in flight

This can of sardines shooting up into space

In a matter of time we arrive at our place

From Carolina to Texas what an unpleasant thrill

On this Bumpity Bump Time Machine of aluminum and steel

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

My Thoughts on Climate Change

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I am posting this one realizing that it may go counter to the thinking of some of you, but hoping you will read with an open mind and then decide what you think. After watching the extremes related to Climate Change, it amazes me how so many people believe this is something new. This has been going on for thousands of years as shown in the geology of the earth’s crust and in the rings of the trees, like the one shown above from the University of Arizona. We saw how the draught in California changed in a matter of a year’s time. Major changes can happen at any time within the earth’s crust or in the Weather cycles. I am not trying to dispute the Science of Climate Change, but I am amazed that we think that all of our efforts are going to change the inevitable! You may call me naïve or lacking in scientific knowledge, but this is my personal observation.

Check out this interesting article on tree ring research the University of Arizona is doing.

https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/laboratory-of-tree-ring-research-to-debut-new-home-to-community

Read the Rings

Earth Day has come and gone

With marches and shouting protests

Proclaiming something new going on

That’s been happening for thousands of years

Climate change has always been with us

With no help from any of us

From the Ice Age to the Sahara changes happened

Somehow we think it is something new

*

Perhaps we should read the rings

Of giant trees we cut down

Of oaks and redwoods that are lifetimes old

Their stories ingrained in the wood

Hundreds of years of climate change

Appear before our very eyes

Wide rings with rain and rapid growth

Narrow rings years of heat and drought

And the cycle of life continues on

We think we’re in control

We’ll save the planet with our great roar

*

One volcanic blow can change it all

As we saw in Mt. St. Helen’s blast

The ozone layers not even mentioned

Now it’s just a blast from the past

*

Pollution and garbage are a big problem

Ugly scabs on our big blue ball

Do your part.. care for your space

Conservation is extremely important

Keep planting trees and manage well

The Earth is alive and doing pretty well

But it will change no matter how loud we yell

*

What about you what about me

For the next thousand years

We are just earth rings

In the tree of time

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Tree Ring Photo: uanews.org

A Moment of Glory

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Reincarnated Beauty

I am a lily rising to the sun

Blooming for a moment

Wilting follows fifteen minutes of fame

Beauty to be admired and remembered

Photographed and stashed away

Living for a time in general obscurity

In the oppressing intensity of time

Dying back to the bulb

Only to rise once again after winter

Reaching for the sunlight

Reflecting the treasure of the bulb

Stored away for spring reincarnation

Another moment of glory revisited

Only to experience the fragility of life

Wilting once again at days end

Turning inward to feed the bulb

Till once again the treasure

Is opened once more

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Photo: Dwight l. Roth

 

Toes in the Ocean

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In 1977 I moved to North Carolina and got a job teaching fifth grade in a very rural school system. Our classes were based on achievement test scores, and I had the fifth class of the fifth grade!  Needless to say my introduction to NC culture was in overdrive that years. In March we took all the fifth graders to the Outer Banks. We visited the Wright Brothers Memorial, climbed the sand dunes at Kill Devil Hills and stopped for a short time at the public beach. Many of my students had never seen the ocean even though they lived only four hours away. Their hesitation and excitement was a joy to see.

Toes in the Ocean

What must it feel like to see the waves

Watching them ebb and flow for the very first time

The thrill of white foam licking your toes

Disappearing just as fast as it came

Eleven years old and nary a visit

Never seeing this wild wide wonder

But today is the day to stop look with awe

Put your toes in the sand sink into the surf

How wonderful to squeal with delight

Friend in hand you take those first icy cold steps

Together experiencing a lasting impression

Forever indelible in your minds

One of the memorable joys of teaching

Is to see your students experience the ocean

For the very first time in their life

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Photo:  Dwight L. Roth

Creeks

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Creeks were made for little boys

Who love digging in the sand

Creeks rippling along singing as they flow

Calling all who are young at heart

To come explore hidden treasures

Found buried in the sand

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Hidden under rocks

Crawfish and minnows

Turtles and frogs

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Dam construction always a fun project

Watching the water rise above your ankles

Feeling the sand squishing between your toes

Yes creeks were made for little boys & little girls

No matter how old they become

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Photos: Dwight L. Roth

 

 

My New Book

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My Grandfather Roth lived almost a hundred years ago. I was five when he died, so I did not remember a personal connection to him.  In 1882, when he was six years old, he emigrated with his parents from Switzerland. He was a concrete mason by trade and was very creative in his many interests. One of those interests was raising skunks! He descented them and sold them for pets and for the skins.  There were many other stories of his life that only had a sentence or two in a family history. I decided I wanted to take those small pieces that I could gather from my oldest cousin, and other family members, and embellish them with my own imagination to make a set of stories of his life. This book is the 108 page fictional biography that I compiled as a result.

I am including the story of the skunks for you to read if interested. See what you think.

Skunks

I can just imagine the day my grandfather, Christian Roth, told his wife Linda, “I think I am going to raise skunks and sell them for pets!”  That must have been a real shocker for her. Being a very expressive person, I am sure she probably exclaimed, “Now why in the world would you want to do a thing like that?”  She made it very clear that she did not want skunks anywhere near her house.

Grandpa and Grandma Roth lived in a two story frame house, surrounded by shady maples, at the south edge of Allensville, Pennsylvania. On their property stood a small barn, along with a few outbuildings, space for a garden, and a few small fields behind the barn.

Grandpa was a concrete finisher by trade. He did a great variety of concrete and block work for farmers in Big Valley. In his down time he pursued a great variety of personal interests, one of which was raising skunks. He believed that he could raise skunks, by removing their scent glands.  When the young ones were half grown, he would operate on them and remove their stink glands. Then they would grow up to be like cats or ferrites and become pets to keep in the house.

This sounds like a risky, stinky, far out idea to most of us, but not to Grandpa Roth. You see, when he was growing up his Father, Benjamin Roth, was a veterinarian in Logan County, Ohio. Emigrating at the turn of the century from Alsace in Germany, to Berne Switzerland, and then to America, he brought his family and his veterinary skills along with him. Christian learned from his father how to do simple procedures on animals. It was this experience that birthed the idea that he could operate on skunks and turn them into pets.

Skunks were very common on the farms throughout Big Valley. They nest in groundhog holes, near a fence row, or under a stone wall. Skunks are a real nuisance to farmers. They liked to eat whatever was thrown out in the garbage, and, if given the chance, they would steal eggs from the chickens or ducks. Their diet consisted of a variety of grubs, plants, and even honeys bees.

Grandpa trapped a female skunk and operated on her, taking out her stink glands. He kept her penned up in a skunk yard he built out behind the garage. Using a dog chain, he fastened her to a post near the field.  The neighborhood male skunks came by and mated with her. The pregnant skunk was then kept in the skunk yard behind the garage.

The skunk yard was made by burying chicken wire in the ground so she could not dig her way out and escape. Wire covered the whole yard.  He dug trenches in the middle of the yard and buried some drain tile that opened to the surface. This created a place where she could make a nest when her babies were due about sixty-six days later.

The new little ones stayed with their mother until they quit nursing.  Young skunks’ stink glands are not fully developed. As the young skunks grew bigger, Grandpa thought it was time to operate. Using his simple veterinary tools, he was able to operate on them removing their stink glands.

A mother skunk could have six to eight babies in one litter. Once their skunk’s glands were removed, the mother rejected them, so Grandpa kept them in a separate area.  The descented skunks made great pets. He repeated the process over and over again providing skunks for pets and some for hides which he sold.

My father, Paul Roth, told of a time when he was feeding the skunks and accidently stepped on one of the young skunks. This was before Grandpa operated on it to descent it.  The skunk sprayed him with a stinking stream before he could move away. He had a difficult time getting the smell off of him and out of his clothes.

Grandpa Roth was an enterprising man. He advertised in national magazines and shipped skunks for breeding and hides to anyone interested in his unique and unusual hobby.

When my father Paul was ten years old, Robert Huey, who owned the general store, sold off building lots in the town of Allensville.  All the lots along the highway sold quickly. There were ten more one acre lots in the field behind the others. They lay adjacent to Grandpa Roth’s property. Grandpa saved enough money, and with the help of his skunk business, purchased ten lots at $100 an acre.  These were added to the original six acres he owned. Another lot may have been added years later making the total 17 acres.

Dead Horses

What does one do with an old dead horse? Grandpa Roth’s creative mind allowed him to be a very enterprising person who did things the average person would not think of doing. One of these was getting an old horse that was ready to be put down from a neighboring farmer. Most people view a dead horse as a disposal problem, but Grandpa saw it as an opportunity.

He took the children’s pony cart and tied the old horse to the back. Together they clopped home.  He led the horse down around the barn to the edge of the field where he killed it. They skinned the hide off of the horse and stretched it out to dry, nailing it to the back side of the barn. The hide was later sold to make straps and harnesses.

The boys helped him cut up the horse. The meat from the shoulders and hind quarters was sliced into strips and hung on racks to dry. He made racks out of long poles mounted on A-frame and laid the meat over the racks. The meat dehydrated after several days into narrow strips like beef jerky. He used these strips to feed his growing skunk population.

In a large cast iron kettle he cut up and boiled the remaining parts of the horse. The fat separated and was skimmed off. The cooked meat scraps were pressed to squeeze out any remaining fat. The fat called tallow was put into cans or glass containers.

Grandpa used the tallow grease to coat his shoes and boots that he used in his concrete work. This kept the leather from drying out and cracking as well as waterproofing them. He sold some of the boot tallow to friends and neighbors as well.

The remainder of the horse was recycled and buried in the field. During the Great Depression, he had to do whatever was necessary to make ends meet.

Selling Star Black Skunk pelts was one of the things he did to bring in extra cash. He fed the skunks the dried horse meat and they seemed to thrive on it.  People liked his silky black furs, especially since they did not have any smell of skunk on them. He advertised in national magazines and shipped both skunks and hides to interested buyers.

All rights reserved:  (c)  4-2017   Dwight L. Roth