How To Eat a Prick-Headed Monkey

My brother Tyler is going to demonstrate how to properly eat a prick-headed monkey. But first a few prick-headed monkey facts.

-First off, nobody knows why they are called that. They are three cornered pies filled with currents and citron, there are absolutely no monkeys involved.

-Second, nobody in our family that isn’t a direct blood decedent of Gramps actually likes these. There are those that will eat them, but nobody else loves them.

-Third, those of us who love them really love them.

-Fourth, we only make them at Christmas time.

The first thing to do when eating a prick-headed moneky is to find other prick-headed monkey lovers to eat one with you. Three people is the optimal number though two works as well. This is important because the first key to proper prick-headed monkey consumption is to con someone else into cutting it. I divide and you decide has never been more important than in prick-headed monkey division. The pies are nominally triangular in shape and must always be divided into three pieces (I don’t know, it’s tradition, just go with it okay?).

In this instance my mom divided, now she’s pretty good at prick-headed monkey division ( This is a skill, you try dividing a lumpy triangle into three equal parts, it’s not as easy as it seems.) but there was still a large piece. Tyler and I thumb wrestled for it. My brother has thumbs like a gorilla- he won. You can see him here with his rightfully gained largest piece.

This is of course exactly why you want three people to eat it with. Tyler would have had no fun gloating over the largest piece without the other two of us there. This is also the time to take pictures to send to those family members who aren’t able to join in the feast so that you can hold it over their head that you are eating fresh out of the oven prick-headed monkeys and they are not.

Sorry Uncle Jim, we know you are recovering from heart surgery and that’s why you couldn’t be around but there is actually no one else in the world who would want to eat these so these pictures were for you. Notice how Tyler is gazing fondly at his biggest piece before he takes a bite.

In the following picture you can see how Tyler is clearly enjoying his own piece while at the same time mocking ours. Because dough balls.

If the person who made the prick-headed monkey did a good job the filling will be all the way to the corner. If not, the corner will be nothing but a dough ball. To finish off the proper way to consume a prick-headed monkey you must stay on alert for dough balls in the corners. Then, if you made them, you should deny their existence and attempt to prove that you had a current in the very furthest corner of your piece. If someone else made them however it’s best to claim that your corner was nothing but a dough ball and completely terrible.

Even with a dough ball there are those of us who know that prick-headed monkeys are never terrible and, like Tyler in the picture above, we are already plotting our next piece.

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Smile!

Tonight we looked through all the old photo albums to find pictures of Gramps for his funeral next week. It was kinda hard, kinda sad and kinda fun but it certainly confirmed that nobody ever took a picture of Gramps when he wasn’t smiling.

Running across photos like this one left us smiling ourselves.

I’ll admit it, this photo just gives me the giggles. What a cutie he was!

Then it was kinda hard, kinda sad and kinda fun and if my eyes occasionally “leaked” a little bit I was smiling when it happened.  Just like Gramps.

Thanksgiving Memories

Grandpa didn’t say he was coming home to die. He said he was coming home to make good memories with the time he had left.

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving. Our celebration included grace said around the hospital bed in the living room that we can only hope Grandpa heard before we had dinner on the other end of the house.

Today was hard.

Today we cried.

But today, when the butter shot out of the mixer while mashing potatoes, across the kitchen into the gravy and when we pulled out the old deck of animal rummy cards for a few lively rounds before bed and a dozen other smaller points in between, we also made good memories.

And that’s worth all the heartache and tears.

 

Our Sunny Center

It has always been my opinion that Grandma Elma was the center of our family’s universe, though she would hate it if you pointed that out. She wouldn’t want anyone to make a fuss. Now, I am only one of her 15 grandchildren, not to mention the 15 great-grandchildren, 8 children and all their associated persons, so my views are not the definitive ones.  But I have watched our family swirl around her kitchen and her smiling face for my whole life.

Even past the time when Grandma would produce an endless stream of food for visiting family, the family centered their talks and conversations around her chair.  When Grandma passed last week she, of course, didn’t want a fuss made over her. No funeral, no service, no memorial… but she was our family’s center and so a few of us naughty grandchildren planned a little something anyway.

We filled a kitchen with people.We put knives in the hands of those who were capable of cutting and we put babies in the laps of great-uncles.Some of us started stirring up dough and rolling out pie crusts, while hunters came and went and told stories. I have wondered in the last week how our family will do with it’s sunny center gone, but I watched as we talked and laughed,told stories and cried,waved sticky, floury, messy hands about and demanded help from hunters who thought they were just passing through.

As the family worked together making a foolish amount of pasties and apple pies, I watched us all swirling around one another. And then, as we sent the food off to feed to hungry hunters and more home with families to be eaten later, I had hope that even with the center of our universe gone, she taught us well enough that we will still spin through life together.

Grandma would still probably scold us for making a fuss about her but, I think, if she had been there in that hot kitchen with all her family working together, she would have had a smile on her face while she did it.

Elma Eloranta

1919-2017

 

 

 

All photo credit belongs to my Aunt Helen. 

Stamp Collecting

My Granny has always saved stamps.

Not in a discerning collecting and meticulously organizing sort of way but more of a snipping out and stashing in an old cigar box way. And, as far as I know, no one in my family has been a stamp collector.

Until Clara.

Clara collects everything – including stamps.

Clara, being a rambunctious eight year old is also not a discerning collector or a meticulous organizer of her stamps. But she does like adding to her collection. Granny has three giant manila envelopes stuffed with stamps and she’s been slowly doling them out to Clara.

It’s a stamp saver and stamp collector’s dream come true.

Except.

Except this totally justifies the keeping of things for just in case.

Farming runs on both sides of my family and you don’t just get rid of things that might be useful again one day when you are running a farm.

Ever.

This was a lesson that well and easily ingrained in me. I don’t really need the hey-look-I’m-so-glad-I-kept-these encouragement Granny and Clara’s stamp collecting has accidentally given me.

But now I’m doubly certain that I better keep saving those random springs I find, and of course the extra screws they send when you put something together, and flower pots, and fabric scraps, and keys, and jars…

Someday, someone (maybe even me), is going to be so glad I did!