Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It is the Most Wonderful Time of Year

It is the "most wonderful time of year" - it's time for Gramma to get 'run over by a reindeer', and
for the Xerox Xmas Letter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Greetings Card - British Winter Scene?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Village Sunday

On a crystal cold winter morning
New fallen snow squeaks underfoot
The sun hides without warning
Fireplace chimneys spew their soot

Church bells sound in the distance
So crisp their deep and mellow sound
They call for joyous assistance
Cleansing Sunday’s meek and penitent crowd

From a sleigh a family greets
Scarves hide their Sunday smiles
On their way to Sunday meets
Bright eyes betray their covered smiles

The congregation warms the church
The church warms people’s hearts
They sit in silence in pews of birch
While the Parson’s sermon finally starts

No fire and brimstone this Sunday morn
The Parson speaks of Christmas Day
The day the savior Jesus was born
To whom the congregation should pray

After an hour the Parson stops
The people rise to family and friends
The children play and run and romp
In the new snow that heaven sends

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Christmas Town

Christmas Town was all abuzz
There was skating in the square
The best season that ever was
There was laughter everywhere

The children’s choir sang ‘Silent Night’
The carolers sang door to door
The falling snow was the purest white
Pot bellied stoves warmed the stores

Santa visited Christmas Town
While the town’s people were asleep
The Christmas spirit was all around
Santa left gifts they could keep

The children woke on Christmas morn
To find presents under their trees
Toys and drums and little brass horns
They were all immensely pleased

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Belts, by Rudyard Kipling

There was a row in Silver Street that's near to Dublin Quay,
Between an Irish regiment an' English cavalree;
It started at Revelly an' it lasted on till dark:
The first man dropped at Harrison's, the last forninst the Park.
    For it was: -- "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's one for you!"
    An' it was "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's done for you!"
    O buckle an' tongue
    Was the song that we sung
    From Harrison's down to the Park!
There was a row in Silver Street -- the regiments was out,
They called us "Delhi Rebels", an' we answered "Threes about!"
That drew them like a hornet's nest -- we met them good an' large,
The English at the double an' the Irish at the charge.
    Then it was: -- "Belts, &c."
There was a row in Silver Street -- an' I was in it too;
We passed the time o' day, an' then the belts went whirraru!
I misremember what occurred, but subsequint the storm,
A Freeman's Journal Supplemint was all my uniform.
    O it was: -- "Belts, &c."
There was a row in Silver Street -- they sent the Polis there,
The English were too drunk to know, the Irish didn't care;
But when they grew impertinint we simultaneous rose,
Till half o' them was Liffey mud an' half was tatthered clo'es.
    For it was: -- "Belts, &c."
There was a row in Silver Street -- it might ha' raged till now,
But some one drew his side-arm clear, an' nobody knew how;
'Twas Hogan took the point an' dropped; we saw the red blood run:
An' so we all was murderers that started out in fun.
    While it was: -- "Belts, &c."
There was a row in Silver Street -- but that put down the shine,
Wid each man whisperin' to his next:  "'Twas never work o' mine!"
We went away like beaten dogs, an' down the street we bore him,
The poor dumb corpse that couldn't tell the bhoys were sorry for him.
    When it was: -- "Belts, &c."
There was a row in Silver Street -- it isn't over yet,
For half of us are under guard wid punishments to get;
'Tis all a merricle to me as in the Clink I lie:
There was a row in Silver Street -- begod, I wonder why!
    But it was: -- "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's one for you!"
    An' it was "Belts, belts, belts, an' that's done for you!"
    O buckle an' tongue
    Was the song that we sung
    From Harrison's down to the Park! 
by Rudyard Kipling

Friday, November 25, 2011

Antique Santa Post Card

By the looks of the fireplace, Santa must have had a warm trip down the chimney.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Santa and the Prairie Christmas

If truth be told it was bitter cold
As the wind blew on the plains
It was a winter day as the story unfolds
The snow drifted for nearly five days
Christmas time was drawing near
Santa was making ready his night
His prairie run was a tough son-of-a-gun
Santa’s jaws were clenching tight
A plan was formed to beat the storm
A team of mules instead of those deer
Mules are strong, though their ears are long
They’re too stubborn to know any fear
They’re willing to work all night long
For a bucket of oats and a pail of beer
Santa hitched ‘em up to his heavy sleigh
And said; “which one of you buggers can steer?”
Not one Jack answered him back
Not a single Jenny uttered a bray
Santa said; “How will I keep ‘em on track?”
“How will I deliver by Christmas day?”
It became darn right clear the old elf would steer
He saddled the lead Jake; a snaffle bit to brake
He climbed on the back; with a leap, the first drift was cleared
They were headed off across the plains
Santa got the job done with his mule run
It was a Christmas for the history class
It was the year that Santa made his run
Just sittin’ on his a………a………a………mule

©12/7/09Terry Sutherland

Sunday, November 20, 2011


The past few Christmas seasons (well, maybe the last ten or fifteen), Denise and I have been painting Christmas ornaments.  Just inexpensive plaster of paris cast ornaments.  We spend a cold and snowy Saturday afternoon at the kitchen table with our acrylic paints and dime store brushes, being creative.  We have fun!!

Winter Has Come to Sundance Cottage

We'll spiff it up with Christmas Decorations!!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Old Christmas Post Cards

I bought a book of reproduction old Christmas post cards at a garage sale.  I thought it would be fun to post one every so often - Christmas is just around the corner!

I'm guessing this is a British publication by virtue of the bearskins and red tunics worn by the toy grenadiers.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Daughters of Oden

(a second posting)

Daughters of Oden

Daughters of Oden, Valkyrie
Cause of the heroes slain
Valhalla’s open gates to see
Forever Norsemen reign

Oden’s warriors einherjar
Valkyrie serve them drink
Skuld carried from battle far
Across the foamy brink

To every battle the Valkyrie
Until final Ragnorok begins
Oden’s norn cross the sea
Blown by the Northern wind

Norse heroes of Oden die
Valkyrie choose the slain
Sail Norsemen to endless sky
Drink mead to ease the pain

©11/20/07Terry Sutherland

Thursday, November 17, 2011


O woe is me for the merry life
 I led beyond the Bar,
And a treble woe for my winsome wife
 That weeps at Shalimar.
They have taken away my long jezail,
 My shield and sabre fine,
And heaved me into the Central jail
 For lifting of the kine.
The steer may low within the byre,
 The Jat may tend his grain,
But there'll be neither loot nor fire
 Till I come back again.
And God have mercy on the Jat
 When once my fetters fall,
And Heaven defend the farmer's hut
 When I am loosed from thrall.
It's woe to bend the stubborn back
 Above the grinching quern,
It's woe to hear the leg-bar clack
 And jingle when I turn!
But for the sorrow and the shame,
 The brand on me and mine,
I'll pay you back in leaping flame
 And loss of the butchered kine.
For every cow I spared before
 In charity set free,
If I may reach my hold once more
 I'll reive an honest three.
For every time I raised the low
 That scared the dusty plain,
By sword and cord, by torch and tow
 I'll light the land with twain!
Ride hard, ride hard to Abazai,
 Young Sahib with the yellow hair --
Lie close, lie close as khuttucks lie,
 Fat herds below Bonair!
The one I'll shoot at twilight-tide,
 At dawn I'll drive the other;
The black shall mourn for hoof and hide,
 The white man for his brother.
'Tis war, red war, I'll give you then,
 War till my sinews fail;
For the wrong you have done to a chief of men,
 And a thief of the Zukka Kheyl.
And if I fall to your hand afresh
 I give you leave for the sin,
That you cram my throat with the foul pig's flesh,
 And swing me in the skin! 
by Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


(I can't think of a title for this - any suggestions?)

Prairie songbirds whistle and sing
While cowboys ride the plains
Society ladies wear diamond rings
While workers commute on trains

Colored shards of earthen ware
Lie broken and scattered on the ground
The early people left them there
Never caring if they were found

The seasons came and went
Still, the seasons come and go
Horse soldiers wintered in a tent
Seeking shelter from the snow

The early people hunted by day
And recounted the magic through the night
Circled, watching the campfire play
Casting shadows in the firelight

The early people lived and died
Now, modern man occupies
Where horse soldiers used to ride
Under a deep blue prairie sky

©11/16/11Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


The surface was shiny slick
As ice should always be
A cold and blustery day we picked
To skate the Zeider Zee

Arm in arm we glided
With our backs to the wind
This is great fun, I confided
Except where the ice is thin

Our bodies formed a sail
The wind took us for a ride
The wind blew up a gale
Then suddenly it died

In unison we skated
Laughing as we talked
Then we debated
Crossing where ice is soft

Holland was many miles away
It wasn’t the Zeider Zee
It was just a frozen creek to play
On a Saturday we had free

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Prairie Christmas

A steady wind blew from the west.  It always came from the west.  A piercing winter wind born on the north central prairie of Montana.  It gathered and carried the driest snow depositing white crusted drifts with random abandon.  The wind formed peaked and curled drifts on the little town’s streets.  It pushed steadily against the buildings finally escaping around the sides with increased velocity; rearranging the white dunes; barricading the streets and leaving white, miniature mountain ranges in winter yards.

Miss Jenkins announced to our fourth grade class that after Christmas vacation, when we came back to class it would not only be a new year, 1958, but she would have a new name.  She told us her new name would be Mrs. Letson.  She seemed very pleased and her face reddened a bit when she made the announcement.  The fourth grade girls, who made up exactly half of the eighteen fourth graders in Miss Jenkins class seemed to think the announcement was cause for excitement.  Jerry, James and I and the rest of the fourth grade boys, except for Billy Peterson, gave the announcement little heed.  Billy never played with the boys much.  At recess, when the popular boys chose sides for basketball or dodge ball, Billy was always the last choice.  He just didn’t have the interest in fourth grade boy’s roughness and physical games.  He was a very good screamer, though.  The fourth grade girls spent as much time screaming as they did talking and Billy could keep up with the best of them.  Billy always chose the company of the girls over the boys and neither gender seemed to mind.
She made her announcement during the last hour of school before Christmas vacation.  It was just a bad time to capture the attention of the cupcake eating, kool aid swilling, Christmas party boys who just opened their exchanged Christmas gifts.  Jerry got a red plastic miniature car, James got a plastic sheriff’s badge, and I got a bottle of lilac hair tonic.  The only thing I could figure was that a girl had drawn my name for the exchange.  I told James and Jerry that it was probably that creepy Lorna Iverson, or maybe Billy Peterson. 
It was Friday, December 20th, and when the bell rang at three twenty, an exodus of sugar laden children streamed out onto the playground and quickly dispersed.   We were free for two whole weeks.

Christmas vacation was a time for snow forts and snow caves for we three friends.  On the west edge of my neighborhood the town ended and farmland began.  Town and field were separated by South Iowa Street.  The two city workers, Pinky Broders and Hank Storm had erected the snow fence in the stubble field on the west side of the street.  They put the fence up the first Monday after Thanksgiving and it had already collected a snow drift about a hundred yards long and six feet high.  Christmas vacation always brought with it the promise of more snow and more wind; that meant bigger and better drifts.

Saturday, the first day of vacation and we were determined to build a snow fort at the long drift on Iowa Street.  We dressed in our warmest parkas, stocking caps, our flannel lined jeans, and our black rubber buckle-up overshoes.  Last year, when we were kids, our mothers would have bundled us in snow suits, a forty five minute process involving harsh words and nearly mortal combat.  We had finally outgrown mittens and that string that our mothers ran through the sleeves of our snow suits connecting the pair of mittens insuring we would never lose them.  Now we wore mittens knitted by our mothers to match knitted stocking caps we wore.

We met on the corner of South Michigan Street and trudged through the snow to the drift on the edge of Iowa Street.  The sun was bright in the eleven a.m. morning sky.  The snow collected the sunlight and the crystals shown like millions of diamonds.  We squinted from the brightness and shaded our eyes with our mittened hands.  We each brought a shovel.  Shovels were and important part of the snow cave building ritual.  They were mostly a symbol of the nature of our endeavor.  When we started our caves and block forts we always stood the shovels upright in the snow and used our hands to do the work.  Fathers usually never missed their shovels until the spring when the drifts were melting and spring gardening was in the air.  Then, when time allowed each would walk over to the stubble field and retrieve his shovel.

We walked the length of the block and found a good route to the top of the drift.  It was time to celebrate with a good, first day of the season, game of ‘king of the hill’.  Since James was the tallest and heaviest of the three of us, it was Jerry and I that were sent sprawling down the drift; rolling and tumbling with delight to the bottom.  It occurred to James that the rolling and tumbling in the snow was the best part of ‘King of the Hill’.  He dove head first over the edge of the drift and tumbled and rolled to the bottom.  We reveled in our new found sport and spent the better part of an hour rolling down the hill and walking back to the top.

We stood on the top of the drift and surveyed our surroundings.  We were moving north on the top of the drift to the highest part; to the part where no one had yet set foot.  That would be the location of our excavation.
We jumped off the edge of the eastern slope of our mountain and became human toboggans sliding to the bottom.  At about two feet above grade we started pulling the snow out behind us forming the mouth of our snow cave.  We dug and dug forming a center room about six feet in diameter and about three feet high.  We each dug our own little room slightly elevated from the main room floor with rough dimension of three by four by four.  We tired of the excavation.  Now we talked about laying in supplies to keep us in our new fort.  That meant that we had to go home.  The time now was two in the afternoon.  We knew if we went home we would not be back until the next morning.  We were all getting cold.  Jerry invited James and I over to his house for hot chocolate and the remainder of the afternoon listening to Gunsmoke and Amos and Andy on the radio.

Christmas came and went.  Our vacation ended, but Jerry, James and I had built a magnificent fort.  Later in January on the first Saturday after school started again.  Jerry, James and I collected discarded Christmas trees from the alley dividing South Michigan and Iowa Streets.  We used the trees to make a fine roof on our snow fort.

It was hard to remember that Miss Jenkins was now Mrs. Letson.  She wasn’t the same after school started again.  Jerry and James and I couldn’t pin down exactly what the change was.  She seemed to get tears in her eyes for no reason.  She seemed to have gotten rounder too.

One day in January I came to school with my hair dripping with oil and wreaking of June lilac.  Lorna noticed the change in my appearance and proudly owned up to giving me the lilac hair tonic.  She stood a head taller than me and could look down at the top of my head surveying her handiwork.  We both smiled.  Maybe she wasn’t as creepy as I thought.

©Terry Sutherland

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veterans Day 2011

Patrons of the American Legion Veterans Day Breakfast

An old Vietnam Veteran on Veterans Day

Thursday, November 10, 2011

"Back to the Army Again", by Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling

"Back To the Army Again"

I'm 'ere in a ticky ulster an' a broken billycock 'at,
A-layin' on the sergeant I don't know a gun from a bat;
My shirt's doin' duty for jacket, my sock's stickin' out o' my boots,
An' I'm learnin' the damned old goose-step along o' the new recruits!

  Back to Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  Don't look so 'ard, for I 'aven't no card,
    I'm back to the Army again!

I done my six years' service. 'Er Majesty sez: "Good day --
You'll please to come when you're rung for, an' 'ere's your 'ole back-pay:
An' fourpence a day for baccy -- an' bloomin' gen'rous, too;
An' now you can make your fortune -- the same as your orf'cers do."

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  'Ow did I learn to do right-about-turn?
    I'm back to the Army again!

A man o' four-an'-twenty that 'asn't learned of a trade --
Beside "Reserve" agin' him -- 'e'd better be never made.
I tried my luck for a quarter, an' that was enough for me,
An' I thought of 'Er Majesty's barricks, an' I thought I'd go an' see.

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  'Tisn't my fault if I dress when I 'alt --
    I'm back to the Army again!

The sergeant arst no questions, but 'e winked the other eye,
'E sez to me, " 'Shun!" an' I shunted, the same as in days gone by;
For 'e saw the set o' my shoulders, an' I couldn't 'elp 'oldin' straight
When me an' the other rookies come under the barrik-gate.

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  'Oo would ha' thought I could carry an' port?
    I'm back to the Army again!

I took my bath, an' I wallered -- for, Gawd, I needed it so!
I smelt the smell o' the barricks, I 'eard the bugles go.
I 'eard the feet on the gravel -- the feet o' the men what drill --
An' I sez to my flutterin' 'eart-strings, I sez to 'em, "Peace, be still!"

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  'Oo said I knew when the troopship was due?
    I'm back to the Army again!

I carried my slops to the tailor; I sez to 'im, "None o' your lip!
You tight 'em over the shoulders, an' loose 'em over the 'ip,
For the set o' the tunic's 'orrid." An' 'e sez to me, "Strike me dead,
But I thought you was used to the business!" an' so 'e done what I said.

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  Rather too free with my fancies? Wot -- me?
    I'm back to the Army again!

Next week I'll 'ave 'em fitted; I'll buy me a swagger-cane;
They'll let me free o' the barricks to walk on the Hoe again,
In the name o' William Parsons, that used to be Edward Clay,
An' -- any pore beggar that wants it can draw my fourpence a day!

  Back to the Army again, sergeant,
    Back to the Army again.
  Out o' the cold an' the rain, sergeant,
    Out o' the cold an' the rain.
      'Oo's there?

A man that's too good to be lost you,
  A man that is 'andled an' made --
A man that will pay what 'e cost you
  In learnin' the others their trade -- parade!
You're droppin' the pick o' the Army
  Because you don't 'elp 'em remain,
But drives 'em to cheat to get out o' the street
  An' back to the Army again!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Be Brave, My Sister

Be brave, my sister, as you listen by the well
The gauntlet dropped and we gave ‘em hell
We marched in the morning and followed the sun
We caught ‘em without warning; had ‘em on the run

The cannons you hear are dangerously close
You must seek safety now in a Yankee outpost
Gather your belongings and travel with haste
The cavalry is close, horse soldiers you face

Run fast my dear sister, run swift and long
The infantry is near and they’re five hundred strong
Run like the wind, leave your belongings behind
Burn your old home leave nothing to find

Yankee cannons will greet them with canister and ball
There will be no safety; even behind a stone wall
We marched in the morning and followed the sun
We’ll march until morning ‘til the battle is done

©8/25/08Terry Sutherland

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Winter Night

On a cold Montana winter night
Through a softly falling snow
Stars send a twinkling light
And the moon dog shares its glow

Silhouetted across the sky
A flight of native geese
Across moonlit sky they fly
To a field where they will feed

Whitetail deer scrape the snow
In search of untouched browse
Through the starlit night they go
Mingling in a herd of domestic cows

The coyote searches for cottontails
Away from their burrow at night
And the field mouse’s scurrying trail
Never hidden from the night owl’s sight

Awake is the Montana winter night
With a world of nature’s own
A covey of Hungarian Partridge take flight
While Mule Deer graze alone

©11/14/07Terry Sutherland

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Short Story: The Call

A charm of hummingbirds flitted from flower to flower working the hanging fuchsia.  Determined in their mission and irritated with each other in their quest they squabbled and squawked in voices that did not match their size and beauty.  Some fell to the ground beneath the flower, rolling in combat for an instant; then flying and flitting again.  Their awkward voices were the only sound in the warm June afternoon.

Susan kept hanging fuchsias to attract the birds and derived much joy from their antics.  Today she was distracted and only watched the birds occasionally.  The preoccupation was in anticipation of a phone call – the seconds and minutes were dragging on – still no call.

She was waiting to hear the good news coming from the other end of the phone telling her she got the job.  She had interviewed and applied for the modest ladies clothing store clerk job at the local small women’s wear shop.  She needed the job.  Frank, her husband, died unexpectedly of a heart attack the previous month.

She stood in the front of her house – within ear shot of the telephone – and watched the busy birds.  Now she became irritated with the squawking and fighting.  She put out a forefinger for a perch and a Ruby Throat landed.  The phone rang, and rang again – she stayed stationary and made no effort to answer.

©4/29/09Terry Sutherland

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Forty-Four Years ago on November 3, 1967, The Battle of Dak To Began

This post is dedicated to all of the soldiers engaged in the Battle of Dak To, in the Central Highlands of Vietnam in 1967:


Battle of Dak To - Background:

In the summer of 1967, the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) initiated a series of attacks in western Kontum Province. To counter these, Major General William R. Peers commenced Operation Greeley using elements of the 4th Infantry Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade. This was designed to sweep PAVN forces from the jungle-covered mountains of the region. After a series of sharp engagements, contact with PAVN forces diminished in August leading the Americans to believe that they had withdrawn back across the border into Cambodia and Laos.
After a quiet September, US intelligence reported that PAVN forces around Pleiku were moving into Kontum in early October. This shift increased PAVN strength in the area to around division level. The PAVN plan was to utilize the 24th, 32nd, 66th, and 174th regiments to isolate and destroy a brigade-sized American force near Dak To. It was believed by the PAVN command that this would lead to the further deployment of American troops to the border regions which would leave South Vietnam's cities and lowlands vulnerable. To deal with this build up of PAVN forces, Peers launched Operation MacArthur on November 3.

Battle of Dak To - Fighting Begins:

Peer's understanding of the enemy's intentions and strategy was greatly enhanced on November 3, following the defection of PAVN Sgt. Vu Hong. Alerted to each PAVN unit's location and objective, Peers' men began engaging the enemy the same day, disrupting the North Vietnamese plans for attacking Dak To. As elements of the 4th Infantry, 173rd Airborne, and the 1st Brigade of the 1st Air Cavalry went into action they found that the North Vietnamese had prepared elaborate defensive positions on the hills and ridges around Dak To.
Over the ensuing three weeks, American forces developed a methodical approach to reducing PAVN positions. Once the enemy was located, massive amounts of firepower (both artillery and air strikes) were applied, followed by an infantry assault to secure to objective. In most instances, PAVN forces fought tenaciously, bloodying the Americans, before vanishing into the jungle. Key firefights in the campaign occurred on Hills 823, 724, and 882. As these fights were taking place around Dak To, the airstrip became a target for PAVN artillery and rocket attacks.

Battle of Dak To - Final Engagements:

The worst of these took place on November 12, when rockets and shellfire destroyed several aircraft as well as detonated the base's ammunition and fuel depots. In addition to the American forces, Army of Vietnam (ARVN) units also took part in the battle, seeing action around Hill 1416. The last major engagement of the Battle of Dak To began on November 19, when the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne attempted to take Hill 875. After meeting initial success, the 2/503 found itself caught in an elaborate ambush. Surrounded, it endured a severe friendly fire incident and was not relieved until the next day.
Resupplied and reinforced, the 503rd attacked the crest of Hill 875 on November 21. After savage, close-quarters fighting, the airborne troopers neared the top of the hill, but were forced to halt due to darkness. The following day was spent hammering the crest with artillery and air strikes, completely removing all cover. Moving out on the 23rd, the Americans took the top of the hill after finding that the North Vietnamese had already departed. By the end of November, the PAVN forces around Dak To were so battered that they were withdrawn back across the border ending the battle.

Battle of Dak To - Aftermath:

A victory for the Americans and South Vietnamese, the Battle of Dak To cost 376 US killed, 1,441 US wounded, and 79 ARVN killed. PAVN casualties are estimated between 1,000 to 1,445 killed. The Battle of Dak To saw US forces drive the North Vietnamese from the Kontum Province and decimated the regiments of the 1st PAVN Division. One of the "border battles" of late 1967, the Battle of Dak To did accomplish a key PAVN objective as US forces began to move out from cities and lowlands. By January 1968, half of all US combat units were operating away from these key areas.

(the above information is from Vietnam War:  Battle of Dak To, by Kennedy Hickman, guide)

When the battle for hill 875 ended on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, the 2nd and 4th Battalions of the 173d suffered 33 Missing in Action, 158 Killed in Action, and 411 evacuated Wounded in Action.