OUTTAKE — TAKING A RISK AT THE BRISTOL BRASS   2 comments

Explanatory note: Mr. Willson was the Chairman of the Board of Directors

Then there was the day Mona feared she’d been so bold she would lose her summer job at the Bristol Brass. Mr. Wilson had given her and the other girl the job of verifying his numbers. Two times they entered his numbers into the adding machine, taking turns on who read the numbers and who entered and cranked them. Two times they came up with the same total, but different from Mr. Wilson’s, so Mona reported the difference to him. “Just do it again,” he said. By the third time they got the same result, Mona was more annoyed than cautious. When Mr. Wilson came out of his office to check on them, she couldn’t restrain herself from saying, “But Mr. Wilson, you must have made a mistake.” She was only half aware of the men standing in their office doorways, as if expecting something to happen. But she was aware of fearing she would disappoint her father.

Mr..Wilson returned to his office, coming out later to acknowledge he’d arrived at the same numbers as the girls.

“Sometimes, you just have to do the brave thing,” Carl said on the way home.

 

MY FATHER’S GARDEN   2 comments

This is another outtake from “My Father’s House.” Just a reminder — these outtakes are things I removed to shorten the manuscript.

As winter departed, Carl watched the weather. Bu mid-May the temperature ranged from lows in the 40s to highs in the 90s. Rain was not as frequent as he would have liked. Natural rainfall is better for young grass seed like that planted the previous fall, but on dryer days the water hose kept the potential lawn moist. Everyone had a turn at the daily task of holding a finger against the stream to create a lightly broadcast spray. By Decoration Day on Saturday, May 30, 1930, marking the beginning of the first summer at 187, the lawns both front and back were rewarding the effort with green shoots thickening like an adolescent boy’s growing beard.

Jennie prepared a warm picnic lunch that would become a Decoration Day tradition: Meatloaf and escalloped potatoes. This year she made apple pie for dessert.

But there was deep sadness as those who had given their lives were memorialized. Grieving Swannie’s death, Carl and Jennie found happiness in the knowledge that Mona was lucky, being born at a time when peace, at least, was guaranteed.

Like a prisoner set free, Carl celebrated the summer by exchanging his suit and tie for work clothes as soon as he got home from work. After the meal he headed to the garden, not recognizing the fall of darkness until it wrapped itself around him like a thick blanket.

“You seem like you’re praying when you’re working out there,” Jennie commented.

“It is prayer.” Carl never worked the soil without remembering the barrenness of Torsäs.

Rising from bulbs pressed into the soil in the fall, there were the beginnings of multicolored tulips, yellow daffodils, and delicate white irises with leaves revealing gentle lavender veins. A burst of low-lying deep purple crocuses began to form a delicate wall along the tidy ridge separating the developing green grass from the lawn’s periphery.

In the future there would be geraniums and zinnias, and dreams of phlox to come up in the next spring season. The shadier areas anticipated a multicolored array of impatiens.

From the nearby woods Carl and Harvey brought home small cedars forming a future partial wall marking the end of the property. For this first summer, marigolds would form a protective defense around the trees.

By July an automatic sprinkler replaced the individual finger to disperse water widely and delicately. All that was now required was judicious movement of the hose every half-hour or so. Truth be told, the whole family appreciated the days when a long, gentle spring rain came.

 

AUNT AGNES: ANOTHER OUTTAKE FROM “MY FATHER’S HOUSE.”   4 comments

Some outtakes really hurt, like this one about my mother’s youngest sister, Agnes

“Is Jennie up to talking?” she asked. “Or should I tell you.”

“She’ll be OK,” he said, hearing the urgency in Esther’s voice.

Jennie got herself slowly to the phone and stiffened as soon as the conversation began. “Oh no, poor Agnes.”

Carl moved close to Jennie even as he observed strength and determination flowing into her body.

“It’s cancer,” Jennie told Carl. “Agnes is at Yale/New Haven hospital. They don’t have any hope. Poor Agnes. Poor Esther, alone again.”

Carl watched Jennie revive. She knows Esther needs her.

“I visited Aunt Agnes in the hospital today,” Mona reported some days later. “I’m so glad I did. She seemed really happy to see me, and really lonely for company.”

“How did she look?” Jennie asked.

“Not as bad as I expected, but it is so sad. She kept saying ‘It’s not fair. I’m the youngest; I shouldn’t be the first to go.’ And you know how she always sort of grasped me as if she wanted me to leave a piece of myself with her…? Well, that’s what she did when I had to leave.”

Late in October, Jennie and Carl asked Mona to come to Forestville so they could take her out to lunch at Johnny’s Restaurant for her birthday. On the way Mona stopped at the Forestville Nursing Center to visit Agnes who’d been there since leaving the hospital.

“I was really angry,” Mona reported. “When I arrived, I told the nurse I was there to see Agnes Galloway. She took me to her room and yelled at Aunt Agnes to wake up because she had a guest. Poor Aunt Agnes. I know she’s been in such pain. Why couldn’t she just let her sleep – or let me go in quietly to be with her. Anyway, I got the impression Aunt Agnes was happy – maybe even eager – to see me, and started talking right away, as if there was something she wanted me to know. But her words were so soft and slurred I couldn’t understand them. I didn’t let her know that, though. I kissed her like I thought what she said was very special – I’m sure it was. And then she went back to sleep.”

 

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Posted February 8, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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Outtake — Teddy   Leave a comment

If Jennie thought Mona was taking on a lot, she hadn’t anticipated the reason for their next visit to 330 Hill Street. This time it was an urgent invitation to meet Teddy, the new Sheltie.

It wasn’t easy talking Lou into it. He grieved his family’s dog too much when he died after fourteen years and couldn’t stand the thought of loving and losing another one.

“But you should have seen what Mom did,” Doug broke in.

“Well, I studied it and decided the ideal dog for us would be a Sheltie. Then I found a place where they had a litter kept in a playpen in the house, treated like a member of the family – pedigreed and all.”

“So Mom talked Daddy into going to see them,” Lisa explained

“And,” continued Doug, “the people picked up the puppy they said was the best of the litter and gave him to Mom.”

“She let us hold him,” Lisa added, “and then all of a sudden Mom turned around and plopped him in Daddy’s arms so he had to hold him or drop him.”

“He was hooked,” Mona grinned. “So now we have our Teddy.”

“Yes, Mother, he is work, but he’s so good. I feed him, and then take him out in the back yard and run around with him until he does his duty. He was housebroken from the time we brought him home.”

 

Posted February 4, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

I’M BACK   4 comments

I’m back

Have I been away too long? Have I been away too Long? I hope the tune came up for you so you’re singing the words with me.

At any rate, I’m dealing with a new (to me) method here. It’s supposed to be easier, but it’ll take some convincing .

The news, though, is that I’m finished with the recent phase of “My Father’s House.” (I’ve been working on it since 2003). It’s less that 500 pages which is what I’m aiming for. Now I’m looking for people who’d be willing to read it and let me know if it’s interesting to “real people?” I had an agreement with Booktasters, but somehow I’ve lost that correspondence so I’m trying to get back in touch with them.

Here’s my plan. I removed some pretty good content — I think — and plopped it into an “outtakes” folder. It’s kind of hard to part with my babies, so I thought I’d get back into the blogging swing by including some of them here, starting with a relative short one. In the following outtake, Mona has a summer job with the Bristol Brass Company where her father is Treasurer. Mr. Wilson is now the Chairman of the Board — a pretty important position.

With that background, here it is.

Then there was the day she feared she’d been so bold she would lose her job. Mr. Wilson had given her and the other girl the job of verifying his numbers. Three times they entered his numbers into the adding machine, taking turns on who read the numbers and who entered and cranked them. Two times they came up with the same total, but different from Mr. Wilson’s, so Mona reported the difference to him. “Just do it again,” he said.

By the third time they got the same result, Mona was more annoyed than cautious. When Mr. Wilson came out of his office to check on them, she couldn’t restrain herself from saying, “But Mr. Wilson, you must have made a mistake.” She was only half aware of the men standing in their office doorways, as if expecting something to happen. But she was aware of fearing she would disappoint her father.  Mr..Wilson returned to his office, coming out later to acknowledge he’d arrived at the same numbers as the girls.

 “Sometimes, you just have to do the brave thing,” Carl said on the way home.

Posted February 3, 2020 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

496 PAGES   6 comments

I’m still at sea — well, sort of. We are about to dock in San Antonio, Chile, whence we’ll be flying home after a 17-day cruise. I promise I’ll be better about sharing photos and stuff, because while on board I have finished the umpteenth edit of “My Father’s House,” the fictionalized story of my father and his family from the time he left Torsas, Sweden, until his death at the age of 86. It reads like a novel, with the interacting influences of historical events — and they were many — as they impacted the growth and character of the family. Yes, if you are interested, I am part of the story.

I’ve been told that 500 pages is a reasonable length, so I’ve been working — and working — and cutting — and cutting to reduce the original 800 or so pages. Now I’ve hit 496, including preface and postscript. So I’m being bold again to ask if there’s anyone out there who’d be willing to read it now — available via e-mail. I’d love honest feedback about its interest to people in general and suggestions for further cutting.

If you’re game, please let me know your e-mail address in the comment section here. Or if you’d rather keep your address private, please let me know via forgivenessoptions@earthlink.net.

Just to prove I’ve been traveling, I’m including the unseparated photo I just bought of my entrance to Salaverry, Peru.

Posted November 1, 2019 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

POLITICAL VS. MORAL   6 comments

Recently I mentioned the fact of ICE separating children from their parents at the border, and even in some inner cities. The person responded saying, “I don’t talk politics.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Because I see clients whose politics may be different from mine, I refrain from making my political preferences public. But when does an issue become more moral than political? For me the answer lies in insomnia. Politics is interesting, and sometimes disturbing during the day. But I know it’s a strictly moral issue when it wakes me at night.

So, I’m going public with my assessment that removing children from their parents, or removing parents from their children, is not only immoral but impractical. It’s as if there is a deliberate decision not only to create misery, but also to create diagnosable mental illness in the future. Particularly frightening is the effect of attachment disorder, an almost guaranteed result of the separation practice. Try this link to get a sense of the complexity. And please, decide that this is a moral issue.

https://www.newhealthadvisor.com/Reactive-Attachment-Disorder-in-Adults.html

And one more very important thing. If it hasn’t been clear in the link I’ve sent you, be aware that conscience depends on healthy attachment. Think about the future generation you want to live with.

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