Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas from The Besseys

In 2009, I posted some Christmas poems written in the 1960's by my Uncle George Bessey and my grandfather, Arthur "Bappa" Bessey; who worked for Great Northern Paper Company at the time.  These poems were published in the "Pittston Farm Weekly"--GNPC's newsletter.

Two years ago, in an attempt to preserve family history (and make it entertaining, too...) I made voice recordings of most of these poems and burned them onto CD's for my closest friends and family members.

And then... I forgot about them.

The last two years have been unlike anything I've ever experienced-- or intended to experience.   I've been busy.  Preoccupied.  Right out straight, if truth be told. 

But what takes precedence?  Work?  Community involvement?  Activism?  Or...should 'family matters' be what really matter?

Christmas comes but once a year.  And I think once a year is 'just about right' for how often a Bessey family poem should be read.  And enjoyed.

I hope you like this holiday poem which was written by my uncle George Bessey, published in GNP's Pittston Farm Weekly, and passed along to me and my kin to be enjoyed by you and yours.

Merry Christmas, from the Besseys of Maine to You.

What a Night Before Christmas!

‘Twas the night after Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except Santa’s spouse
Who, with shabby old house coat and curlers in hair,
Was making S.C. wish that he wasn’t there.

“So the children were nestled all snug in their beds!”
She shouted at him as she waved some blonde threads.
“Now, patience, my dear,” pleaded Santa with pain,
“If you’ll just let me speak, I’ll try to explain.

“I left here on time, albeit quite shivery,
Intending to make the Christmas delivery.
But before my first stop, it became crystal clear
That ahead of my sled were eight crazy reindeer!

They bypassed the houses where I planned to go
And finally dumped me right out in the snow
Where, what with my wondering eyes should I sight,
But a house full of girls—and a single red light!

“ ‘Hey, girls! Look who’s here!’ I heard one exclaim.
And there rose such a cheer I was glad that I came.
They dusted me off and invited me in,
And their boss introduced them to me with a grin:

‘Here’s Pat, Midge and Fran and a loser named Vixen.
She’s red-headed, drives a Rambler and voted for Nixon!
Here’s Connie and Cuddles and Bubbles and Joyce.
Now look them all over and then take your choice.’

“Now, my dearest, you know that I could not agree
To take one and not all of them…up on my knee.
So I said to their leader, ‘It would be a crime
If I didn’t give all of your girls equal time.’

She chuckled and said, ‘You’re a helluva gent!
And I lingered with them till my ear was quite bent,
Then before I departed, I gave them their toys:
Five sables, three bobcats, a beaver and a golden decoy.

“Despite what you think, there’s no reason to doubt
That I planned to continue my regular route.
But when for my list, I ventured to look,
What should I find but a little black book!

To hunt for my list I knew would take ages,
So I used in its place that little book’s pages.
And though (as you know) I’m quick to see,
The first address led to the Auberge at Ste Aurelie.

“Now, the names in that book included ‘Annette’,
‘Beatrice’, ‘Lilli’ and a yummy ‘Yvette’.
But just which was which? There was no guessing whom
Until they all took me to their dressing room.

And there I discovered Annette had a mole;
Bea really was blonde; and Yvette wore a scroll
Tattooed on her thigh that caused me to pause;
For on it was written ‘J’adore Santa Claus!’

“The evening rushed on in a dizzying whirl
As the little black book led to girl after girl
In Greenville and Jackman and St. George and St. Zacharie
And each of them had to eggnog and nutmeg me!

And I’m not to blame if their clothing was scanty
Or if they were all simply wild about Santy.
Thus it was that the sun rose over Maine
At the very same time I was leaving the I.P. Chain.

“After that, Sugarplum, your jolly old gnome
Hopped into his sleigh and headed for home.
Now I’ve told you my story with patience and care;
So I’m sure you’ll excuse that bit of blonde hair!”

“Indeed, I will not!” Mrs. Santa shot back.
Then without a word, she went straight to his pack
And dumped out a doll you’ll not find on a shelf!
Said Santa, quite weakly: “It’s just a new elf.”

“A disgrace to your calling—that’s what you are!”
Mrs. Santa came on like an angry hussar,
“There’s only one way to undo what you’ve done—
Now don’t argue with me! I’m sending our son!

He’s the symbol of everything you ought to be:
Love of family, clean living—in short—decency!”
“My gawd!” muttered Santa to this revelation,
“That pantywaist kid will kill my reputation!”

But although Santa pleaded, his wife remained firm,
Shouting, “Take off that suit, you philandering worm!”
In a twinkling their son made ready to go;
Candelabrum in hand and dimples aglow!

“Now be careful, my precious, and be a good boy,”
Mrs. Santa said kissing her bundle of joy.
'Twas then Santa shouted, his voice rather messy!
“Give that little black book back to bachelor George Bessey!

And so ends our story, as Santa said, rather meekly…
Happy Christmas to all—A la Pittston Farm Weekly.

The Pacific by Peter Watt

Few things brighten my day more than finding a yellow ‘parcel notification’ slip in my mailbox and then going to the Post Office to pick up a package from Australia. Last week my local Postmistress handed over a wonderful surprise—an autographed copy of the latest novel written by my friend Peter Watt.

These days, I rarely take time to read for ‘fun’ but I’ve been anxiously awaiting the publication of The Pacific. This most recent novel is a continuation of the legend of the Kelly and Mann families, which began in Pete’s novel Papua.

I read The Pacific in 2 days.

I’m always pleased by the authenticity of Peter’s novels. Every writer knows—heck, every reader knows—that a good book will remain as only a good book unless its author knows what he or she is talking about. To create a great book, the author has to have done extensive research… or ‘lived’ his or her story. Peter’s fans have the advantage. He is a man who does extensive historical research, and he has lived a life of adventure in addition to being a former advisor to the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary. The man isn’t blowing smoke—when it comes to the backdrops and time periods of his novels, he knows his stuff.

In The Pacific, Peter takes us to exotic locations. Queensland, Vietnam, Papua...there were few places on the globe which remained unscarred—literally and figuratively--after World War II. As in Europe, many countries in the Pacific were deeply embroiled in the intrigue, the terror and the scrabble for survival.

Ilsa Stahl is an American war correspondent who is taken captive by the Japanese after being plucked from the sea following a plane crash. Perhaps worse--Ilsa is set to be turned over to the Nazis due to past activities carried out by her German step-father.

But she is the daughter of Jack Kelly, the sister of Lukas and the cousin of their closest friend, Karl Mann. These Papuans of Irish and German descent each find themselves with a mission: to bring Ilsa to safety.

War is hell and for those involved, death hovers--never far away. The Kellys and the Manns do not escape unscathed from the battles fought in the jungles of Indochina and the South Pacific.

It might be the height of summer Down Under but up here in America it’s the first day of Old Man Winter’s domination. Grab The Pacific and settle in for a good read. Better yet—start at the beginning of this saga, with Papua and read all the way through. Then (because you won’t be able to help yourselves) give the Duffys and the MacIntoshes a try, beginning with Cry of the Curlew. A major motion picture is in the works for that series and I can’t wait! For twice the enjoyment, be sure to read it before it hits the theaters. If you visit Peter’s website, you can order your own autographed copy.

Merry Christmas and a blessed and happy New Year to you all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Tennessee Country Christmas...

It’s almost Christmas; the season for parties and festive decorating ‘round the house and spending time with family and friends. It’s the gift-giving season, too--and I have just received the most amazing gift from some wonderful friends. It arrived at Bangor International Airport on Saturday night--Delta Flight #5603.

Actually, I should say…they arrived.

That’s right. My gift was a matching pair of puppies; a brother and sister. I--a woman who has always had mutts and mongrels and pound puppies (and one really big Newfoundland)--was gifted with—brace yourself!—pure-bred Chihuahuas.

Aaaat! Now, before you react, it’s important to remember that wahwahs are dogs, too! That’s right. It doesn’t matter that Eli’s cat Stevie outweighs these guys by 13 pounds. And the fact that the puppies have to wear weasel collars because cat collars are too big…why, that doesn’t mean they are any less beastly than your average rotti or hound-dog or lab!

This breed has a reputation for being yappy little ankle-biters… but it all comes down to their training and the skill and dedication with which they are raised. I intend to have quiet, calm dogs. These will be country wahwahs, and they will be treated no differently than any other Pease puppies. They will be kind and gentle. Well socialized. They will do their business outside. They won’t chase the deer in our field or piddle in our corn patch. These farm-raised pups might not be suitably sized for herding cattle, but I’m sure they will excel at herding…chickens. Small chickens like…guinea hens. Little itty bitty biddies. Yes, these calm, working farm dogs will be clothed in dignity.

And sweaters.

Oh, my God. What have I done?

It’s been two years since the inhabitants of The F.A.R.M. have had canine companionship. We were ready to share our home with a dog or two and this gift was incredibly generous and well-timed. Yes, there will be challenges. Of course there will be. That’s only natural.

First; it’s apparent we have a slight communication barrier. See, these aren’t your typical Spanish-speaking Chihuahuas from south of the border. It’s worse. These dogs are from Tennessee. If you’ve never heard a Tennessee accent, you don’t know what you’re missing. In fact, no one knows what they’re missing, because it’s almost impossible to understand a single thing uttered by a Tennessean. These dogs don’t bark. They don’t even yap. They “yay-up”.

“Yay-up, yay-up, yay-up!” What the heck does that mean?

Does it mean “I wanna go ay-out!”? “Ah miss ma maw-ma!”? “May-un, y’all have some honkin’ big cay-uts!”?


Second, of course, is the issue of size. Wahwahs are easily misplaced. It’s crucial to develop the habit of emptying all pockets before throwing clothing into the wash. It’s vital to gently shake out shoes before shoving feet inside. These dogs can turn up in the most unlikely places.

The truth is that they have no concept of mass, bulk or dimension. To their way of thinking, they are leviathans. Powerful entities destined to rule the world… or at least—The F.A.R.M.  No matter the size of the being coming through our front door—these babies think they are bigger and badder. (Yes, badder. Don’t look it up in your dictionary—you won’t find it. It’s a Tennessee word--pronounced “BAY-uh-der”. Being a quick study when it comes to southern drawl, I’ve determined that it means “worse”.) What’s funny is that my two-pound puppies are able to convince all other creatures that they really ARE bigger and badder. More bad.


Before we know it we’ll have it all figured out, and we’ll wonder how we ever got along without our wahwahs. For sure, it will be wonderful to have little ones around the Christmas tree again. With my youngest child now a doddering 15 years old, some of the sparkle and magic seemed to be missing during the last couple of holiday seasons. But not this year! We’re all delighted to have these wee ones in our family.

These Pease Wees.

From the multi-lingual crew at The F.A.R.M. (where there’s Fresh Air and Room to Move) to all of you: MAY-uh-ree CREE-us-mus! Feliz Navidad! And Happy Hanukah, too.

Scrappy butchers her 1st pig at The FARM
P.S.  I should add in this disclaimer.  My friend has informed me (in somewhat haughty fashion) that the wahwahs fit into FERRET collars--not WEASEL collars.  My mistake.  Hehehe....I just like to yank his chain...

P.P.S.  Our puppies' names have not been determined, yet.  If you have ideas and would like to share-- please do.  We've had the babes for 48 hours and the monikers we've tried thus far don't please everyone in the house.  Current discards include Chalupah and Burrito, Kelly and Boog, Sweetie and Snappy, Butch and Brutus.  Today, the little girl has been called Scruffy and Scrappy, and the little boy has been Saint and Baxter.  To be determined....