January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015

CHAMPION—January 19, 2015

        This whole global warming thing has become a hit with some locals.  They like a 63°F Sunday on the 18th of January.  Thinking back over last summer, it seems that there were really only a couple of weeks when extra cooling was necessary here.  It was a relatively mild summer for the Ozarks, but other parts of the country registered their highest temperatures ever.  Worldwide it was the warmest year ever and every year has been like that for some while now.  The natural cycles and events that are known to influence climate do not account for the amount and pattern of warming that has been measured in the last twenty and more years according to the hundreds of scientist reporting to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formed by the United Nations.  They say the only way to explain the pattern is to include the effect of greenhouses gasses emitted by humans.  Deforestation is another culprit.  Champions will do their part to help the situation by being informed and by finding an alternative to throwing a tire on a brush fire to keep it going.  Moreover, they will enjoy every beautiful day no matter what the cause.  Champion!

Not global warming…just a colorful sunset in Champion.

        Jacob Kyle Brixey, Skyline prekindergarten student, and Mary Beth Shannon share their birthday on the 18th.  Each can charm you with a beautiful smile.  J.C. Owsley shares his birthday on the 19th with a most prominent Champion.  J.C. has a new horse which he says will be 20 when he is 80.  He has years to go to get there and mostly likely will get there in the saddle.  Champions will hope he ambles on over this way one of these days.  Another prekindergarten guy is Jacob Johnson.  He has his birthday on January 23rd.  So does handsome great nephew, Oliver Holden-Moses, an aspiring and accomplished percussionist over in Oklahoma.  Prekindergarten teacher, Mrs. Doni Coonts celebrates her birthday on the 25th and third grader, Brook Johnson has her party on the 26th.  Skyline alumnus K Heffern Alexander will have begun her partying last week and will still be celebrating the week after her birthday on the 27th.  First grader Kimberly Wallace has her birthday on the 29th and Ericka Strong, second grade, has her big day on the 30th.  Talking about big days, James Brixey was 40 on the 30th in 2012.

        The Skyline VFD Auxiliary had a meeting on Wednesday, the 14th.  Preparations for the annual Chili Supper have begun.  It is always a fine get-together because of the good planning.  Proceeds from the Chili Supper go toward providing equipment and training for the Volunteer Firefighters.  Diane and Jerry Wilbanks had a grass/brush fire at their house last year sometime and were most complimentary of the efficiency and speed with which the Skyline Volunteer Firefighters saved their house.  After an extended absence caring for ailing family, their Champion friends are glad to have Diane and Jerry home again.  They have been enjoying these gorgeous days riding in their wagon behind their beautiful white mules down by the creek.  Diane just had her birthday on the 13th and had planned to come to Champion for ice cream as a celebration.  Something got in her way but she will get her ice cream next time she comes this way.  Last year her wonderful apple pies were the hit of the Chili Supper and her Auxiliary friends will be looking for her at the next meeting February 11, 6:30 at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  Everyone is welcome to attend, particularly if you are in the Skyline Area Volunteer Fire District.  Get Cowboy Jack to tell you how a flue fire did not take his home recently.  Support your VFD!

        The Boys of Summer are daydreaming now about baseball.  It will be nice to be warming up in the bullpen or up on the mound, nice to run the bases or to catch a high fly out in right field, or to slide into home.  This is brought to mind by recently posted pictures of General Fast Pitch and the fellows, wearing the uniform of the Francis E. Warren AFB, Wyoming Fastpitch Softball Team of 1973.  The no-hitters attributed to the pitcher were mostly the times when he managed not to hit the batter.  He blamed the wild Wyoming wind.  There was a nice picture of Upshaw boys skating on the family’s frozen pond over south of Denlow.  General Erudite said, “Had we fallen, we surely would have broken through.”  Sunday, February 1st, he is planning to attend a formal soiree where the Patriots and Seahawks will battle it out on the flat screen.  He will enjoy cultured speculative conversation concerning the game, and sports oriented modern poetry to the tune of Miles and Monk on the HiFi, Chablis, truffles and brie—XLIX.  He will probably wear his turtleneck and a tweed sports coat.  Such a cool guy.  This is not the side of him you see at the Thursday evening Vanzant Blue Grass Jam—a multifaceted individual indeed.

        Ms. Ayn Throp writes in to champion@championnews.us to say that the reason rhetoric gets so out of hand and people seem to be crazier and more radical all over the world is that when people are only around other people who believe exactly the same thing they believe, a person wanting to get attention has to speak louder or say more outrageous and crazy things.  Her point seems to be that it is a good thing to learn what other people think and to respect the rights of people to believe as they do.  Another Champion writes, “…America has actually been self-correcting on a pretty steady pace,(we haven’t even been around that long in the scheme of things).  Of course there’s still a ways to go, but a lot more divisiveness is being promoted than I think there really is.  I have even seen quite a few changes in the backwoods Ozarks in my time here in the acceptance department.”  Mr. Cipriano had a good point the other day when he said that flip-flopping is often the result of education.  You believe one thing, learn the truth and change your mind.  It is what happened to Paul on the way to Damascus.

        Linda’s Almanac from over at The Plant Place in Norwood says that the 21st through the 26th will be a good time to prune to discourage growth.  Children in need of chores can always cut sprouts.  Old folks missing having young people to order around just have to hobble out and cut their own sprouts or let them grow.  Young Luxe Krider has made her debut at The Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  She is a real beauty and her older sister Teagan is quite fond of her.  They are destined to become great singers.  One day they will be entertaining out on the wide veranda.  Reports are that the Wednesday Morning Club is growing in numbers and enjoyment.  A pleasant time can be had almost any day, but Wednesdays are special.  “Through all kinds of weather, what if the sky should fall?  As long as we’re together, it really doesn’t matter at all” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015

CHAMPION—January 12, 2015

        This time last year the Polar Vortex was battering the community and it wore out its welcome quickly.  Frozen pipes and polar plunges meant aggravation, hard work, and a little fun.  Joking about adversity is a proven coping mechanism.  On Sunday some cold people over east of Champion began dragging out old similes and making up new ones to the effect that the roads were as slick as various substances smeared across various surfaces, one being a glass door knob.  It would have been enough to say, “The roads are slick.”  Those nice gents from MODOT had been down to Champion early, sprinkling their special stuff on the road.  Conditions can change so fast this time of the year, Champions are alert to the possibility of black ice and proceed with caution.

        Norris Woods’ birthday is on the 13th of January and the family had a musical evening over the week end.  Buzz said, “Pickin’ and grinnin’ with my brother, sister, and dad.  Can’t get any better than this!” The video that was posted on line had a nice version of “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey?” and Grannie Sharron dancing with her little grandchildren.  Happy Birthday, Norris!  The same goes to Skyline prekindergarten student, Jacob Brixey.  His birthday is on the 18th.  Nathan Nava works at the school and celebrates his birthday on the 19th together with Robert E. Lee (1807), Edgar Allen Poe(1809), Janis Joplin (1943), Dolly Parton (1946) and another charming lady, a younger Champion.  Kyle Barker is a second grader now at Skyline and his birthday is on the 21st.  He has a General for a grandpa and an interesting life ahead of him.

        Jody and Royce Henson sent a Happy New Year card out to Champion from their home in Springfield.  They had been on a shopping spree for antiques.  Actually, the card said “Just two antiques out shopping!”  They looked like they were having a good time in the pictures, but that is their standard look.  They were standing by a green and white 1955, Chevy two door hard top, maybe a Bellaire.  Maybe some pleasant set of circumstances yet unknown will bring them back to Champion before the school reunion in September.  They are always welcome.  Another always welcome visitor is Bernice Wiseman.  She and Wayne are grandparents to Champion grandchildren Foster and Kalyssa.  Bernice is having some delicate health issues and her Champion friends send her their best wishes.

        Mary Brown-Davis reported that she was very proud of Cheyenne Baker who had taken second place in the Parkview High School Archery Tournament on Saturday.  Cheyenne has shot in three tournaments and has taken third place in two of them and now a second place.  Lannie Hinote is coaching the Skyline Archery Team and doing a wonderful job with them.  Champions!

        Laine Southerland wrote the other day that Tom Cooley and Leo Stouffer had been over to the Southerland place and split up a huge stack of logs.  Laine said, “These guys are my heroes today.”  She said that Tom hurt his hand and she hoped that he was ok.  Champions hope so too and will be looking for an update from Laine.  She keeps the neighborhood in good music, good information and good thoughts.  Thanks, Laine.

        The meeting room was full to overflowing on Wednesday and everyone seemed in good spirits.  Ethel Leach was wearing her Elvis Week hat and looking glamorous as ever.  She has a winning smile.  Ethel reported that Anne Smith, the pleasant, friendly blonde who has been working at the window in Mountain Grove’s MFA for years, had taken a bad fall and suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung.  She is in Cox hospital and will be for a little while.  Her Champion friends wish her a speedy good recovery.  This news sparked several stories of bad falls and near misses.  A subject has not been adequately addressed and cannot be retired or changed until the aging poetaster of Almartha has given it a thorough working over.  Between collecting signatures on his birthday card, one that showed a broken down, bowlegged cowboy on the outside with his hat crumpled and his elbows sticking out in every direction and something about becoming a “geezer” on the inside, he told of having recently taken a walk in the woods.  He was all by himself, not a dog at his heels, not a cell phone in his pocket, his wife, bless her heart, in town working for a living, just him out for a ramble in the woods.  He did not say how far away from home he was or just what he was really doing out there, but he made it out to sound like it was a far piece, when he stepped in a hole/slipped on some wet leaves or down a slick bank/got his toe under a root/ had to dodge some brambles, or something like that and just not being as surefooted and quick as he used to be on account of getting old, he wound up taking a hard fall.  Just before the end of the story, he revealed that when he fell, he fell on his knees.  It was at this point in the story that at least one and probably a couple of the women in the room thought that would have been the perfect time for the chronic disparager of the fair sex to have repented of his incessant misogyny and anti-suffrage haranguing.  It was, alas, not an opportunity that he recognized or was willing to seize.  He finally finished his story, the gist of which seemed to be that things can happen in the blink of an eye.  He continued with his theatrical, bombastic, and maligning pronouncements until she wearied of it and left.  On her way home the woman thought about what she should have said, as is so often the case when the moment is long past.  She thought she should have said just what the Erstwhile Barber said to her one time right out loud in a public place—the Skyline Chili Supper about 2010—he walked up to her with a grin and said, “I’m surprised ain’t nobody’s shot you yet.”  No use starting a brawl when everyone was having such a nice time.

        “Hot corn, cold corn, bring a long a demijohn!  Yes, Sir!”  Bring that demijohn on down to the wide and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, walk across the muddy Square, climb that graceful set of steps up to the veranda of the Recreation of the Historic Emporium.  Wipe your feet before you go in and enjoy the warmth of a big wood stove that has been taking the chill off for generations.  Seed catalogues are starting to show up everywhere, so there will be gardening to discuss.  Share your good news there or at The Champion News, Rt. 72 Box 367, Norwood, MO 65717 or at champion@championnews.us.  Spin your yarn and enjoy the company of farmers and firemen and Champions of all sorts—Looking on the Bright Side!

January 5, 2015

January 5, 2015

CHAMPION—January 5, 2015

        The big full Wolf Moon rose late and rode high through the clear night sky setting just at dawn.  Of course, the rise and set may vary depending upon how high the surrounding hills are, but what a joy to see the big golden thing again and Monday’s brilliant sunshine brings smiles even with the deep cold.  “Sitting in front of my window drinking coffee and watching the snow’s lazy descent to the earth.  Occasionally the snow makes a last ditch effort to head back to the heavens on a wayward gust of air.  Beautiful.  Good Morning Friends.”  This was snagged from the internet, authored by Champion K.H. Alexander, living now off in the big town.

        Another posting had to do with pumping gas after dark at Henson’s Grocery and Gas in Downtown Champion.  Sometimes, particularly when a person is cold, the sound of liquid pouring and the feel of it going through the gas pump can have a sudden, urgent physiological effect that cannot be ignored.  A much loved nurse experienced this phenomenon recently and was relieved to find an obvious solution.  She, however, was not observed and laughed, “…hehe…Yes, I did that!  It was very daring….living on the wild side….”

        January 5th marks the birthday of Georgie Anne Pendergraft Masters.  The only child of George Pendegraft and Margaret Henson Pendergraft.  Margaret died while her daughter was an infant and George married Malvernia Henson, Margaret’s sister.  She and George had a number of other children.  When Georgie Anne wanted to marry J.W. Masters, her dad refused and when she married him anyway she was forbidden to return home.  Malvernia, her step mother, made a little bundle of her other clothes and stashed them on the back side of the barn so that she was able to come by on the sly and get them.  In those days one change of clothes might be all a person had.  This was over in McDonald county just before the turn of the last century.

        The Eighth of January is a favorite old tune in these parts.  Elvis Presley was born that day in 1935.  Fair Rachel Evans was born in England on that day and has since made a cozy spot with many friends in Fair Edina.  Elizabeth Johnston celebrates the next day and her extended loving family will tell her in words and actions how pleased they are to have her in their lives.  She shares that date with a favorite Champion nephew, Dr. Phillip Holden-Schmeckle, another Brit, a gourmet raconteur, and an excellent purveyor of Humanism.  The tenth is given over to Sir Tom Van Dyke.  This do-gooder (in the extreme) stops in Champion every so once in a while and leaves it much improved.  A wake of improvement follows him.  Reports of mission trips to Kenya, Cuba, Guatemala, and Oklahoma come in welcome postcards.  The next day Teeter Creek Herb’s own herbalist, Bob Liebert, celebrates his birthday.  He is the author of “Common Medicinal Herbs of the Ozark” and “Osage Life and Legends.”  He co-authored with Louis Two Ravens Irwin “Two Ravens:  The Life and Teachings of a Spiritual Warrior.”  Many Native American readers accept this as an accurate portrayal of life for a Native American over the past several decades.  He and Wilburn Hutchison have shared a birthday all of Bob’s life.  Connie Lansdown reported a funny phone conversation with Wilburn the other day after the sad news of the passing of actress Donna Douglas.  Connie and her mother were both named after Ellie Mae Clampett.  “’Elle May,’ I say to Dad, ‘she was 81, Dad, and still cute as a button!’  He says, ‘Me too.  I’m 81 and cuter than a button too.’  Then goes on to elaborate and says, ‘Sis, where you think you get your good looks from?  That’s right, your handsome Dad.’ I so love my funny and humorous Daddy!”  His Champion friends do too.

        An old Champion woman says, “I liked Ike because he was a Texan…because the first television I saw was the 1952 Republican convention.  (I got to watch a lot of the McCarthy hearings too.) And because he was a soldier who had the nerve and the willingness to warn against the ‘industrial-military complex.’  Now Senator Sanders of Vermont suggest that military spending and national priorities ought to be the subject of national discussion.  He quotes President Eisenhower, ‘The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this:  a modern brick school in more than 30 cities.  It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population.  It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.  It is some 50 miles of concrete highway.’  Of course this need for concrete highway is why a person cannot go to Norwood and get on a train to go anywhere in the country.  Public transportation sucks in America.”  There are plenty of people around who can say what all is wrong with America.  While Pollyanna blithely keeps her focus close at hand and just sees the good and pleasant, Ms. Ayn Thrope can rail endlessly about what all needs fixing.  She is currently outraged about the Wounded Warrior Project.  In her letter she says that she loves the Veterans and thinks the Wounded Warrior Project is a beautiful thing, but that it is criminal that it has to exist.  “Is there no contract that provides for the care of those who have served?”  She wonders why a young person would consider joining the military when they are so poorly treated once their sacrifice of limb, cognition, and/or spirit has been made.  “That any Veteran is homeless or neglected is a crime when private companies in the war machine are making billions, and Veteran benefits are considered ‘entitlements.’”  It is a Champion balance to stay informed and optimistic.

        A prominent psychologist asks, “When you were growing up, who loved you?”  The question is posed to cause a person to reflect.  Chances are that one person stands out in anyone’s memory, or it could be that a lucky person in a big family can say, “Everyone!”  Reflection is a good way to start a new year.  By this time many resolutions have already been abandoned and the best a person can do is to learn the good lessons from the past and apply them to the future.  Julian Barnes writes in “The Sense of an Ending” that what you end up remembering is not always the same as what you have witnessed.  Come reflect around the big wood stove and get your story straight in the Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square.  Sing your favorite Elvis song there (“A Little Less Conversation, and a Little More Action, Please!”) or check out the latest ‘Linda’s Almanac’ on the bulletin board.  It is also available at www.championnews.us and informs that the birthstone for January is the garnet and the flower is the white carnation, in case anyone is buying gifts for January ladies.  There was a good turn-out for Douglas County Health Department nurse Angela Souder on Tuesday.  She is not the gas-pumping nurse of paragraph two, but the one who is helping Champions take better care of their health.  Any morning of the week will find a lively discourse going on the wide, wild and wooly banks of Old Fox Creek, being made more wooly by those fellows from Southern Construction as they clear out the electric right of way.  Harley was here for a few days and livened up the chatter.  He is home chatting with Barbara now and their friends and neighbors here look forward to seeing them again soon.  Elvis says, “That’s alright! Any way you want to do” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!

December 29, 2014

December 29, 2014

CHAMPION—December 29, 2014

        December 25th found people standing still, wrapped in their coats and shawls, eyes closed and faces turned up to the sun, their lips sagging into smiles of relief.  The long grayness had passed, if temporarily, and hope bloomed again.  Champion!

        Among the many kind greetings Wesley and Karen (Suzie) Freeman, hillbillies down in McKinney, Texas, say they are still kicking (“Don’t know how high”), “Read your items every week in the paper.  Hope you and people down Champion Way have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!”  Bonna Mullens sends her good wishes for the season and the New Year along with her welcome support to TCN-on–line (www.championnews.us).  Champion friends and family look forward to seeing her and Pete in Denlow on Memorial Day.  It will be here soon.  Pat Metroplos has been off in Seattle enjoying her birthday which was on the 22nd of December.  She will be home soon with adventures to share.  Birthday greetings include salutations to Teeter Creek Herbs’ own rocking grandma, Jan Liebert, on the first day of the year.  That day also was for Jacob Wellington Masters, a long gone rascal of a moon shine drinking, brush arbor preaching grandfather over in McDonald County.  Jacob Coon’s dad has his birthday on the first.  Jacob is a 6th grader at Skyline now and has his birthday on the third.  Music man, Leland Isley, will be in the company of the fair Amanda for his birthday that day.  He is a lucky man and he knows it.  Then comes the 4th of January, the first Sunday of the New Year, with big time celebrations in store for the lovely Sami McCleary.  This dynamo of a Champion girlfriend will probably start her partying on New Year’s Eve and carry it on through the following week.  She makes smiles happen.  Congratulations on the anniversary of another trip around the sun, whether or not it is out.

        Champion Richard Heffern has generously shared some timely observations with The Champion News.  “We spent last week in the Missouri Ozarks, in our little house in Mad Dog Hollow.  It’s, of course, the darkest time of year, and it was very, very dark as soon as the sun, which had perched all day in among the oaks and pines very low in the southern sky, set in a modest blaze of wanly-lit grey cloud.  Then… the dark swallowed up the world.  We’re 20 miles from the nearest small town, seventy from the nearest city, and for most of the night there was no moon.  Clouds obscured the stars, and it was cold.  Stoking up the wood stove was the least we could do to ward off this solstice-time assault by darkness.  Later, lying in bed, I placed my hand in front of my eyes and realized I couldn’t see it.  And I thought this was the experience of most of humanity for hundreds of thousands of years—just up until the last few generations.  For so long, we huddled around fires and chimneys and told stories into the long, long nights.  Feeling this kind of darkness down in your bones and deep in your psyche, one realizes how much, at this time of year, we need….well, each other, stories of light, hope that the sun will indeed return and not continue its descent toward the horizon permanently.  No wonder this time of year is time for closeness with family and friends, for celebration—Hanukah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule.  Season’s greetings!“

        Herr Dr. Schmeckle writes in part, “I worry about the stress that Xmas puts on poor families – and yes, I know, the spirit of Xmas moves through the poor as well as the wealthy.  It doesn’t stop me from thinking about the adults who put themselves into debt because consumer consumption has taken the place of holiday’s spiritual core.  I worry about those, young and old, who wake up with the feeling that they are missing out – missing out on gifts, missing out on family or, most commonly I suspect, missing out on happiness.  Mental health is fragile at best; around the holidays it takes one hell of a pummeling.  I want peace and love in the world.  I want you to accept me as I am, just as I will accept you.  I want everyone to work together for the benefit of the greater good – you know- healthcare, education, housing etc.  These are concrete manifestations of things that religions (Christian, Jewish, Muslim, whatever) strive for at their very core.”  Well said, Doc!  A note in the paper from 125 years ago says, “A man’s debts always overtake him.  He can never out run them or hide from them.  Debt has sharper eyes than justice.”  This is comforting thought for some who feel a debt is owed them.

        The Friday morning before Christmas Cowboy Jack and Mrs. Cowboy were thinking about going to town, but decided against it.  A little while later they became aware that their flu was on fire.  Skyline Volunteer Fire Fighters were summoned and extinguished the fire by depriving it of oxygen.  They were quick to the scene with the requisite equipment and skill and so the Cowboy and his Mrs. still have a nice roof over their heads and a Happy New Year ahead thanks to the Skyline VFD!

        A note from Tim Scrivner of the Skyline R2 School Foundation says, “At the last School board meeting Jeanne Curtis handed me a donation of a $100 bill from someone and also a check from the School for $237 from a fund raiser the parents/students had done.  We’ve also learned that the remains of a Wellness grant we received last year has been approved to buy drinking fountains!  I don’t have the details yet, but I understand that the fountains will be the latest and greatest. Our funds (now totaling over $1500) can be used to pay for installation, etc.”  This is great news.  Clean water=healthy children!

        Ms. Ayn Thrope suggests reading for next year to start with “Savage Anxieties,” by Robert A. Williams Jr., a professor specializing in American Indian law.  She says it is an eye-opening harrowing read made current as Congress passed a measure in December to give sacred American Indian lands in Arizona to a foreign company—2,400 acres of the Tonto National Forest destined to be the largest copper mine in the world.  She quotes Williams as saying, “These are folks that have been fighting the federal government over their land rights and cultural rights for a long time, and here you have this little, small tribe of Apaches, one of the poorest tribes, trying to stop this.”  Thrope speaks about logging in an area of Brazil where there were forty indigenous tribes and now only six of them are left after a period of just ten years.  She says, turning attention back home, “And while we are at it, Merry Christmas to Louis Peltier rotting in jail, framed by the FBI.”  Ax grinding might be Ms. Ayn Thorpe’s forte—a real country girl.

        Dakota and Dillon Watts used to be called ‘those Tennessee boys,’ but are now are being referred to as those nice young men from Tennessee.  They were in town over the week end together with eight of their Champion cousins, four aunts and four uncles, their Grandmother Krider, and various great aunts and uncles.  It was a momentous kind of memorable occasion where many photographs were taken, many hugs shared around.  That is the Champion Way!  Happy New Year from The Bright Side!

December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

CHAMPION–December 22, 2014

The busy Saturday before Christmas found the Strong family stopping in at The Recreation of the Historic Emporium over on the North Side of the Square in Down Town Champion. Billy and Leigh Strong are the parents of eleven year old Alyssa, a sixth grade student at Skyline, eight year old Heidi who is in the third grade, and Billy who is six and a kindergarten student. Heidi and Billy reported that they had done some good Christmas shopping at school with Tiger Bucks that they had earned for good behavior. Billy was particularly excited about a gift he has for his Dad. The days ahead promised to be busy ones for them as there was baking to do and popcorn yet to string. They planned to enjoy Christmas Eve with one grandmother, Christmas day at home, and the following Sunday with their other grandmother. Their parents were almost as excited as the children knowing the surprises in store. Merry Christmas to the Champion Strong family!

        In the way that home is the most beloved of all human concepts, so Christmas is held up by much of the world as the best day of the year.  It is the much longed for day when expectations are sure to be met, when families are gathered and memories are made to go along with the photographs that are taken for proof.  It is the reference point for family milestones:  “It was that year when thus and such happened…, you remember…our last Christmas with Mother.” There is a lot of room in the Champion heart for sentimentality and nostalgia with plenty to spare for being mindful of the moment as it happens.  The smells and tastes, the racket and music, the laughter, hugs and tears add weight to the reverence of the acknowledgement of the special day.  “God bless us, every one” on the Bright Side!  This year the DC Herald has made arrangements with a talented local potter, Louise Walker of the Crystal Lake neighborhood, to provide gifts to all the community correspondents.  Like the communities themselves, each piece is unique, beautiful and useful.  Thank you from Champion!

        Christmas is a perfect time for fence mending and forgiveness.  Sometimes those fences are mended not because the injured party has become forgiving, but, as often as not, because he is weary of carrying the burdens of grievances and remembering his injury.  The grudge is surely the heaviest of all loads.  Time can be a factor in forgiveness.  Blows can be softened or hardened in memory.  Some may be motivated to forgiveness by a magnanimous righteousness that comes with perceived vindication.  “See?  I was not wrong.”  It may be that a person eventually has to say, “I was wrong,” and adjust his countenance and tone accordingly.  The human being is an inscrutable creature.  However it comes to be, the warm embrace of renewed filial feeling is a preciousness….a gift for forgiver and forgiven alike.  If some postpone that reconciliation beyond the grave or eschew it altogether, it may just indicate that they are at peace with themselves living a conscious life.

        Skyline archer, Morgan Whitacre had a perfect score at the recent tournament in Crane.  Congratulations, Morgan!  Pope Francis had his birthday on December 10th.  He gave 400 well-made sleeping bags to homeless people in Rome.  What a guy.  Second grader Destiny Surface shares her birthday with Mary Goolsby.  Mary and her sweetie, Bob Berry, have moved away from the area, but they are much and pleasantly remembered by the many friends they left behind.  Logan Brown is a 7th grade student at Skyline who shares his birthday with Skyline VFD Auxiliary’s Chris Dailey on the Winter Solstice.  Days are already getting longer by the 23rd when the dynamic and beautiful Sharon Sikes celebrates her birthday.  Willard Hall is in the 7th grade.  His birthday is on Christmas Day.  He has probably figured out how to deal with that.  The 27th is the birthday of Corinne Zappler, a most loved and appreciated Champion great niece.  Logan Hull is in the second grade at Skyline.  His birthday is on the 29th.  He can stretch the giving season out for a few more days.  Eli Oglesby is a Champion grandson who celebrates on the 30th and will be 10 years old.  His little sister, Emerson Rose, and all his Champion cousins will be singing that song to him.  The year ends with the birthday of Denlow and Vanzant’s most transformational personality, sage, philanthropist, world traveler, ambassador of Ozark culture to a confused and hungry world…The General Himself!  Around the globe people will be raising a glass.  Salutations! Cheers!  Slange i va!  Happy New Year!

        Ms. Ayn Thrope includes a dire warning in with her Christmas card.  (Notice that she is spelling her name Ayn now like Ayn Rand.)  She addresses those she calls ‘sedentary sofa loafers’ and suggests that they get up and get involved in the ‘orenda.’  She explains that that is the mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world or to effect change in their own lives.  “Oli Garkey’s robber barons will have a pig farm on top of your spring before you know it as a result of ‘The Right to Farm.’  What nonsense!   Now ‘The Right to Work’ is another shameful thing.  It is a corporate scam to control the worker by keeping wages low, work places less safe and keeping benefits and insurance out of reach.  Surely someone will introduce the ‘Right to Stay Uninformed.’”  To her credit, she does think that by paying attention and being willing to engage in some productive dialogue a general raising of consciousness will be an improvement.  She thinks Winter Soldier Hearings might be appropriate about now.  Other seasons’ greetings in the champion@championnews.us mail box are full of optimism for the year ahead and reminders of all the reasons for the celebrations.  Merry Christmas back at all you lovely well–wishers!

        The last Tuesday of the month will be the 30th and Angela Souder with the Douglas County Health Department will be at Henson’s Grocery and Gas from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. checking blood pressures and doing body mass index readings.  She brings the lung age machine with her and this time she will be doing blood sugar tests as well.  It is a free service and a valuable one.

        Christmas in the kitchen has one old Champion offering advice and instruction to young cooks who are about to put their hands in the dough.  “Blow your nose.  Wash your face and comb your hair.  Secure your sleeves and wash your hands and dry them.  Then you can knead the pizza or bread dough, cut out the cookies, or ice the cake.”  Julia Child suggested that a cook should never do anything in the kitchen by himself that he would not do with people watching.  That way you will never embarrass yourself and the people you are feeding will have no reason to not enjoy their food.  That means if you taste the soup for seasoning, do not put your face over the pot and please use a clean spoon every time.  Some great cooking has been going on in the neighborhood and the many holiday recipes circulating on the internet are causing a few old Champions to be gaining cyber weight.  The Cowboy, the barber, Chad’s dad, the farmer, various Smiths and Stones, Bob and Ethel, strays from Almartha, Elmer and the gang are joining prominent Champions and prominent girlfriends around the stove and cookie jar for seasonal stories and fun.  The Christmas tree in the meeting room is festive and cheerful.  “Tis the season to be jolly” in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!