Saturday, December 24, 2016

"In The Memory Bank" Jim Terry

As I sit here and stare at my Christmas tree that was set up for this wonderful holiday, I can’t help but to think of where this year went. Doesn’t it seem just like yesterday we were welcoming in the first day of spring, enjoying the warm summer nights or even ushering in the first days of fall?  And as quickly as time seems to pass, it also astonishes me that my brain, at least as far as I can tell or maybe remember, processes or stores most of those experiences I have into my “memory bank.” 

Memories also seem to manifest more easily in certain environments and surroundings, I have found. Have you ever just sat quietly in your living room during this time of year with Christmas music on on, witnessed the smell of pine or cinnamon in the air and stared into your Christmas tree?  It always surprises me that when I do this, that the longer I stare at my Christmas tree, each individual light eventually merges and becomes one big warm glow of light where the defining edges of each light, or even the shape of the tree, become fuzzy and are lost. It is at that moment, that I find myself flooded with memories of Christmas’ past. 

It was December 2009 and I was flying home for the holidays to be with my family in Boise, Idaho.  It was a journey that started with a flight that was delayed for ninety minutes but was made up for with a flight that was full of…well…really quiet cheerful people.  

As we approached Boise for landing, the captain came on and said that visibility was “very low” and we may not be able to land due to the “fog and the amount of snow” that was falling on the ground.  Needless to say, there was a short, sweet and humble prayer said in my heart that night that we would be able to land in Boise. They always say, “The third time is the charm,” right? Well, it was on our third and final attempt at landing in the inclement weather, and just before we would be diverted to Salt Lake City, which we bumpily, yet safely touched down and taxied to the gate in Boise.   

About two months prior to my trip, I had reserved a “mid-sized” car.  I quickly made my way to the rental car company’s counter as soon as I had disembarked the plane. Once I reached the counter, I then offered my name and reservation number to the employee.  There was a bit of hesitation before he spoke and I could tell there was something not quite right because of his awkwardness and body language. It was the very same type of awkward silence that one may experience when you try and crack a joke that you think is funny and as you await the laughter of your listening audience, hear nothing but crickets in the background. Once the crickets begin to fade, this is what I heard the employee tell me.

“I’m sorry sir. We just ran out of the type of car you requested and I do not have anything available but an economy car.”

I guess that’s what happens when you arrive on the 24th of December at about midnight. So with a firm discussion on why we, as patrons, make reservations and a heavy discount from the rental car company, I gratefully accepted the keys of my new ride for the week and walked out to the parking area where my vehicle was waiting for me.

As I stepped outside, I could not believe how MUCH SNOW was on the ground. It literally was about 18” and still snowing heavily. The few cars that were left in the rental parking area looked like a giant mounds of snow verses anything resembling a vehicle.  As I walked past each mound, I kept hitting the unlock button on my car’s keyless remote to identify which “mound” was mine.  It wasn’t until I walked almost all the way to the end of the lot that I heard that familiar “chirp” of a car unlocking its doors and saw the red glow of the taillights through the snow that was heavily covering every aspect of my vehicle.  

Once I found the door handle under the snow and opened my vehicle, I immediately found the snow brush so I could start the daunting task of cleaning all the snow off of the car so I could make it safe for driving.  As I continued this task, the first thing I noticed concerning my car is that it was definitely red.  Secondly, what once appeared to be a descent sized automobile, slowly disappeared and became one of the smallest cars I had ever seen and certainly ever driven.  It was almost like there should have been a sign on the car that states, “You’re on candid camera” or “Welcome to “Driving 101 in snow without snow tires and in a Toyota Yaris.”

I left the airport and got onto I-84 and headed west. As I was traveling towards my parent’s home at about 35 mph due to the road conditions, you could literally feel the snow pass by on the undercarriage of the vehicle because it was so deep. Also in some areas on the road where the snow was deeper and more compacted, you could even feel the car be pushed and moved around due to how light and small it was. 

As I pulled into my parent’s cul-de-sac at just past midnight even with the flight delays, the weather, the downsized rental car and all of the hassles of traveling, I was rewarded when I saw their home and felt a certain stillness, tranquility and peace there. With the quiet crunch of the tires on the snow as I slowly pulled in to park, I noticed the inflatable snowmen on my parent’s front yard waving hello. Each Christmas light that adorned their home and the bushes outside were covered with snow, creating a familiar multi-color glow through the surface of the snow fashioning, what could be, a perfect Norman Rockwell painting. And finally as I stepped out of my car and took in a deep breathe of that familiar winter air, I noticed the silhouette of a concerned loving Mother, way past her bedtime, peaking out from behind a partially open front door welcoming her son home.  This easily made my surroundings…well…undeniably serene and beautiful!

The next day was Christmas Day.  The morning was the same as always…lots of fun, laughs, tears and the joys that one may experience when your family is around and spending time together. After the opening of the gifts and seeing what Santa had brought us in the morning, we had also planned on going to a movie in the afternoon. 

As we all walked outside to go to the theatre, three volunteers stepped forward that wanted to ride in the very small car I had rented.  It was my Mother, my brother Mike and I believe my Dad who had enough courage to ride in my little car. The brunt of the jokes, all that morning amongst my family and eventually some of my friends I met later in the week while I was in Idaho, was my rental car.  They had nicknamed it, “the Shoe” because of its “smallness.”

So something to know about cul-de-sacs or any roadway that is constructed that meets a sidewalk.  As I’m sure most of you know, there is a bit of a slope or grade on the roadway towards the gutter so that when it rains or the snow melts, that the water runs off of the road and into the storm drain which then leaves the roads clear.  Well it was the slight grade of the road that day and the weather the night before, which created one of the best and funniest memories I have of Christmastime.

We all got into the vehicle, my three volunteers and myself, and put on our seat belts.  Also just before we got into the car, I had told all of my family that we were going to do some “cookies” or “doughnuts” in the cul-de-sac and to “watch my amazing skills.” I then started the car and jokingly revved the engine of the car, before I put it into reverse.  This elicited some giggles from those in the car and those of my family that witnessed the “rev of the engine” on the exterior of the vehicle. It wasn’t until I put the car into reverse and applied the gas, that the laughs really began.

Overnight and by morning, the road’s surface under all the snow and under the tires of my car had frozen and created what most of us know as “black ice.”  So as I applied the gas and because of the road being frozen, the slope of the road towards the gutter and having no snow tires on the vehicle, we went absolutely NOWHERE…the wheels just sat there and spun.  As the laughs continued about the mighty “Shoe” that was our transportation to the movie that day, I finally could feel the car gently start to move and rock, just a little bit, as the wheels continued to spin.  It was finally getting a little bit of traction on the surface of the road below us. And then it hit me how we were to get unstuck…I told my Mom, my Dad and my brother Mike to “rock with the movement of the car” and that should get us unstuck “eventually.”  So as the rest of the family stood on the driveway watching with smiles on all of their faces, this is what they observed.

They watched four adults in a car, just the right size for four rodeo clowns, rock back and forth inside of the vehicle and observed what some call a “Christmas Miracle.”   The car went back…the car went forward…the car went back and the car went forward again…It wasn’t until after about twenty to and fros with the movement of the car and the clowns inside, that the “Shoe” was ultimately freed from the icy road and the gravity that inhibited it from moving freely from the curb.   

Have you ever laughed so hard you cried? Well this was one of the instances that I not only did this myself but watched the tears of joy run down the cheeks of all those involved both inside and outside of the vehicle. This moment definitely brightened our Christmas Day and has become one of the warmest, fun and heartfelt memories I have of Christmas with my family.

And as the shape of the Christmas tree in my living room once again becomes defined and the lights on the tree are no longer just one big warm glowing mass of light, as I slowly come out of my meditative Christmas’ past trance, I am slowly reminded of the many gifts that I already have...I have my health…I have many remarkable friends…I have my family…and I have my life. And as I age, I also find out that the most important thing at Christmastime, or anytime of year, is “To Be Together” ( with those I love so that I might experience, recognize, appreciate and store those experiences, amongst all the others I have, "IN THE MEMORY BANK."



(The link to the great song above is for all of you but specifically to my sister Angie and my niece Savahnna. Thanks again for going to Amy Grant's Christmas concert with me, so we could "be together."

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Monday, December 5, 2016

"My Brother" Jordan Waite (Introduction by Gina Waite)

I think pretty much EVERY Mother I know is happy the day she can see growth and understanding in her child. The type of growth and understanding that is attained by learning from someone else. The idea that it, "takes a village to raise a child," has become increasingly more important to me the older my son got. Jordan has been blessed with wonderful family and friends. Family and friends that have loved, taught and supported my son into adulthood. As a Mother, I ALWAYS hoped to have another brother for my son, Jordan, to rough-house with. I ALWAYS hoped to have another sister for my daughter, Paris, to confide in. I was happily blessed with one boy and one girl and knew I would have to rely on the goodness of others to share their children as "adopted siblings." I can never express the gratitude I feel for those "adopted siblings." Today, I'm so happy to share with you a beautifully written excerpt from Jordan's thoughts about his "adopted brother," Jaron Whipple. Jaron is serving a full time church mission in Peru for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and is supported and missed, every single day.
(For more information about missionaries visit

"There are some people who come into your life for a reason. Usually a reason greater than your own comprehension. The people who have been sent your way by a greater being, with your greater interest in mind. These companions influence your decisions, therefore influencing who you are, and who you will become. They influence your life for the better. They teach you valuable lessons through their actions and the way they interact with you. I can think of no greater companion than my best friend and self proclaimed brother, Jaron Whipple.

From a very young age I always wanted a brother. Those of you who know myself and my family also know that I was the only boy born to my mother. I don’t have a brother. Don’t get me wrong, my little sister, Paris, was an amazing substitute for a brother, playing football in the mud, wrestling, running all over the place, and usually getting into trouble. Despite the amazing efforts of little Paris I still somehow knew that I needed a brother. At this point, I’m sure you can guess who that brother ended up being.

I did not, however, expect to meet that brother in the 7th grade, and I definitely did not expect my first words to my future brother to be “you bastard!”. (Me, being myself, started being mischievous and troublesome. Jaron, being himself, had told the teacher that I was breaking all the rules!). I’m sure you can imagine how glowingly warm our relationship started out! Not at all warm, while not sworn enemies, we did not really like each other that much. Not until junior year of high school did we finally become friends. Best friends. Brothers. The countless memories and experiences we share together will be treasures in my memory for the rest of my days. I love my newfound brother dearly. He is and always will be irreplaceable in my heart.

I am a few months older than Jaron, and I am about 60 lbs bigger. We always jokingly referred to ourselves as master and apprentice. Bigger brother and little brother. Myself being the mentor and big brother, Jaron being the learner and younger. As reluctant as I am to give up my master status, I must do so. While he may be smaller and younger, Jaron will always be, to me, an older brother and teacher. His selflessness and kindness remind me of that of our Savior. He has taught me so much through his example and actions. I might be taller than him, but I will always look up to my brother Jaron. I know I will always be able to look to him for guidance. His impact on my life will remain until the end of my days. I will never forget the kindness he shows his friends and family. I will never forget the long hours spent working hard together, his shoulders never drooping, and his ethic never swaying. Most of all, I will never forget how much happiness he brought into my life as a friend and teacher.

As mentioned in the quote in the beginning of this writing. It is our journey, our decisions in life that make us who we are. Not the beginning or end result. I know that my brother is making the right decision. His choice will only make him better, and I know that he will return an even better man. Despite the beginning or end result, Jaron has not only made his own life great through his decisions and actions, he has influenced many along the way for good. 

To Jaron...I know you have made the right choice. I know you will be a valiant warrior of light in a world full of so much dark. I know that this is not easy for you. It isn’t easy for any of us. But all of us know that you are doing the right thing. You are meant to be in Peru. There are families there, lost in the darkness of the evil and cruelty of the world. They will have no one to look to for rescue, no one to look to for comfort or kindness. And then they will meet you. You will bring them the answers to their questions. You will show them the path to happiness and service-oriented life. The children whose hearts you touch will tell their own children of you after you have long returned from your mission. They will talk about the young man who showed them the way. The young man who will be, for generations, a loved and respected figure among the quaint people whose hearts he touched and lives he blessed. Be safe, my brother. There are many adventures still left for us to have. I love you more than words can describe. You will be in my thoughts always. Your lessons and example always in my mind. You are and always will be the greatest friend I have ever had. See you in two years!

Your Brother, Jordan"

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Friday, November 25, 2016


We hope your holiday was filled with family, fun and memories to last a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hearts Returned And Ryan Terry

The trek to join the official third Terry Family Reunion started in Meridian Idaho at nearly 80 degrees and just a little after 1 pm in the afternoon. Natalie, my wife, and I had loaded the car full of games of all kinds, canned goods, 4 pans of freshly baked french toast casserole, snacks, soda, luggage, bedding, and of course an iPod playlist to entertain us on our 5 hour drive to south eastern Idaho. The drive went famously until we had just reached the outskirts of Twin Falls when the heavens decided to drench us the rest of our journey. Hail and raindrops the size of small water balloons pummeled our Toyota Camry as the window wipers furiously worked to keep the never ending sheets of water and ice out of our view. To relieve the tension of bad driving conditions, we played a game I now call Alpha-Topic. The game is played by choosing a letter of the alphabet and then a topic where you have to name something under that topic that starts with the letter of the alphabet you chose. For example you could say the letter is “P” and the topic is “birds”. Peacock, penguin, and parrot are all correct answers and the game ends when after, going back and forth, someone can’t think of another answer. It was incredibly entertaining and elicited tons of laughter…and a few arguments that Siri had to settle.
Nearing Fort Hall and under heavy black clouds, we could see that traffic was at a standstill on the freeway. Ahead of us the line of cars and their burning red brake lights seemed to stretch on forever. Curious people were getting out of their cars hoping to catch a glimpse of what was causing the backup but the rainy mist and diminishing light kept any clues out of sight . For nearly an hour we inched our way toward Blackfoot and finally found that all traffic was being diverted off to the old highway that connected Blackfoot to Idaho Falls.
After another 40 minute drive, we reached Idaho Falls and decided that we wouldn’t make it for dinnertime so we stopped at the Wendy’s on Broadway. As we pulled in to park, we both were shocked to see sleet mixed with rain falling heavily on our windshield. I was still wearing shorts and a t-shirt and quickly glanced at the temperature reading on our dashboard. 40 degrees…REALLY…we had left Boise near 80 degrees? I was born in Idaho Falls so this weather shouldn’t have surprised me. It was after all…September. Steeling ourselves against the cold, Natalie and I darted into the Wendy’s to get some warm food before hitting the road again.
Soon the city lights that illuminated the roads and clouds above faded and we were driving down dark twisting roads that led up to the cabin we were staying in at West Piney.
Around 9:30 pm we pulled up next to the familiar cars my siblings drove parked outside the cabin. Warm yellow light poured out of the windows, illuminating the rain drops that were still falling, and we quickly unloaded our car with the help of our family. Relief washed over me as I walked into the cabin to see my family, gathered in the large room that served as a movie room, game room, and dining room. A few were playing corn hole (made by Dad and our step mother Kathi-and painted a bright BSU blue and orange) while others were seated and talking near the fireplace. Lora and Glenn arrived a few hours after we did but I still had this nagging feeling that someone wasn't there. Jim, Mary, Ben and kids, and Savahnna weren’t going to make it this year but even knowing that, it still felt like someone was missing that should have been there.
On the fireplace mantle, set by a candle, was the last picture that was taken of my mom Marlene while at the Idaho Press Tribune. In the photo she is smiling magnificently, her head tilted a little to one side, with light and warmth beaming from her. In my mind I could hear her say, “Hi Fred” as she always did when I saw her. I immediately got choked up seeing her there, looking over all of us, and I realized then that the nagging feeling I was having was because I had not yet accounted for my mom. Now mentally noting her attendance, I was able to fully relax and enjoy myself.
The few days we had together seemed to hurtle by at the speed of light (my Mom would have noted that it is still much slower that the max speed of the Star Trek Enterprise) and it was filled with hours of playing Guesstures, Rollick, Uno, & Rummikub. If you ever need a good laugh, ask Richard to act out the word “figure” or Dad to act out “square dancing”. Angie set up a championship Farkle tournament where the winning player got their very own Farkle game (congratulations to my wife Natalie, who made a come back and scored 8000 points on one turn to win).
There is a giant slide that drops a couple stories down the mountainside and beckons everyone to take at least one ride on it. At the top of the slide, fear nearly keeps you from taking the plunge as you peer down the long slide to the bottom below. Warnings to keep your hands off the sides of the slide only increased the fear. When you finally go for it, there is a temporary feeling of weightlessness as your body begins to pick up speed past the initial drop and is best expressed as a guttural groan like my brother Mike did as he whizzed by, “Grrunnnungh….” only to be sharply reminded of your weight when you hit the near 90 degree bend at the bottom of the slide. Luckily you have to climb up two stories worth of stairs to work out the pain in your rump before doing it all over again. Hearing and seeing Mike’s experience recalled why Gina had to sign a release form for all of us to use the slide.
Everyone had an assigned meal to provide for the entire family. It worked well until we fired up the huge grill that we found out quickly has only two heat settings…off and BURNING FLAMES OF HELL. The pancake batter barely touched the heated surface
before it had to be turned, and the fat in the bacon evaporated almost instantly in an angry sizzle leaving shrunken strips of charcoal. It took some getting used to but we soon were able to wrestle the demon grill into submission long enough to provide some really good food. In the midst of sweating over the grill while helping Lora and Glenn cook breakfast, my nephew Andrew came up and tapped my arm. With a large smile on his face he said, “Uncle Fred…Reeeeeellllllaaaaaxxxxx!” as his hand, much like a gesture Vanna White would make when a puzzle was solved, revealed in large block letters the word “RELAX” printed on his t-shirt. Andrew has a way of making everyone forget about their troubles and just laugh out loud. I heard him deliver his wise words to a few others who needed it, laughing every time I heard it.
Gina had arranged for family pictures and while our photographer was very good, there is always some discomfort in the ritual. You spend a good part of an hour pressed together like Pringle chips all while trying to put a pleasing and natural smile on your face. Cajoling good behavior out of our clan is fruitless and it took many takes to get one where we were all smiling, open eyed, and looking at the camera. Years form now I know I’ll be looking at this picture and long to be back in that meadow, shoved close together with my family. Angie pulled out her phone and played an old voice mail Mom had left while on a church history tour. Her voice rang out as if she was there in our midst, thanking us for the gift of sending her there, the importance of family, and her love for all of us.
Soon the last night together was upon us. A few of the family had to leave for work and school demands but the majority of us still were there. We gathered together by the fireplace, under the picture of Mom, and I brought out a surprise for my family. It was a book I gave my mom several years ago that prompted her to answer questions about herself and then, once she has answered them, give the book back to me. I had nearly forgotten about it when several years ago on my birthday she and Dad had gifted the filled out books back to me. Looking up at my Mom, I then began to read in her handwriting the precious memories she had written down for me in the book. We laughed as she recounted her youth when she attempted to be a trapeze artist from a rope that hung from the apple tree in the backyard, built a raft too big for the canal it was set to sail in, got pulled into the ditch by the “Water Woman”, and cried when her “older, skinnier, and more popular sister” Kaye Dawn told her she was adopted. We learned how she was a combination of her parents: her dad a poet and an amazing story teller, and her mom a skilled seamstress, a diligent supporter of her children, and a candid advice giver. She related an experience of how as she was just about to head out the door to a church activity in a dress without a slip when her mom Hattie said, “If you don’t wear a petty coat under that dress, everybody is going to see your ass.”
She told us about her aspirations to be a mountain climber and an airline stewardess. We were all surprised to learn she had had a black leather jacket switchblade phase in which she called herself “Frankie”, was “tough”, and loved hoodies. Thankfully she grew out of it, became a real dish, and decided to try out for a school marching team called the Sparta Pep which she made. She rocked out to The Everly Brothers, The Beatles, Neil Diamond, and Gary Puckett. We were all warmed by her retelling of her first date with Dad that included a burger, a cherry coke, and a kiss at the local drive in. We marveled at my mother’s wit when the question “What are some of the things you would still like to accomplish?” was answered by “Look like Raquel Welch in the movie 10000 BC (That won’t happen…but it’s a great dream!)” We all dreaded the inevitable turning of the last page and reaching the end of the book. Her last words, “I love you very much!”, while intended for me, touched every one of us similarly.
We all hung on to every word, laughing and crying, fully immersed in this beautiful gift my mother had prepared for us years earlier. It was an amazing experience to see my mother through her own eyes and to refresh our memories of her as if she was there telling the stories herself. Since my mom’s passing, there has always seemed to be an uncomfortable hole in my heart that never seemed to fill, even with the family all around. In reflection I’ve realized that it isn’t a hole exactly. A hole is something that can be filled by something else. What happened with my heart is that my mother took a part of it with her when she passed away. It is hers. This doesn’t mean my capacity to love others has changed or became less, it just means there is a part of my heart that belongs solely to my mom. This moment I had with my family was a sacred memorial for her and her words seemed to pull us all closer together, almost as though her arms had us all in a huge hug.
Driving to the cemetery the next day the sky was full of brilliant sunshine and cool autumn air. We gathered together around the beautiful headstone my father had created for her. Mike and Gina work hard to keep it clean and beautiful throughout the year. The grass surrounding the gravesite was green, weed free, and trimmed and a comfortable place to sit and think. I sat down, directly over where I knew my mother was buried, imagining I was sitting down next to her. I looked up and carved into the back of the headstone is the simple phrase, “Families are Forever” and to the right of that all of the kids names are listed together. I was struck by that message deeply and it nestled down inside my heart. 
I am so grateful to know that our family is forever and I am so grateful for the memories we have that bind us together. My family and every member of it, with all of its flaws and strengths, its miseries and joys are completely irreplaceable. Those that surround us as family are truly our greatest and most valuable possessions in this life. I look forward to the family reunion where we can all be together again, with the pieces of our hearts returned and full.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

"My Baby...Have You Seen My Baby?" Jim Terry

Growing up, and as mentioned in a blog post last year, we used to have an amazing spook alley at our home that would consist of ghouls, ghosts and of course goblins.  I always felt bad for the small children that would "have to" come to the famous Terry Spook alley, because it was always their parents that "FORCED" them to come. 

While the parents were being entertained while they took a quick flash back into their youth by going through our spook alley, the kids were having a much different experience. Have you ever seen a small child on Santa’s lap, screaming their head off because of their fear of a red suited man with a really, really big beard and a belly that shakes like a bowl full of jelly?  Their reaction to our small production on Halloween was just like that plus about twenty times more fear interlaced in their little eyes.  I mean what type of reaction would you expect of children who were being escorted by a 7’ grim reaper?  In their journey towards our home, they also would be noticing mummies  and zombies throughout the graveyard, witches on the roof of our home, bats flying about and finally reaching their destination only to be greeted by the great Dracula himself! I'm sure most kids probably thought, "I'll skip this treat Mom and Dad...please!" 

I look back on it now, and I know we, as kids, always complained a lot in setting up the spook alley. It really was about a month’s worth of work, but with the patience of our Mom and Dad, we always ended up with what was said to be, "the perfect Halloween activity” amongst all those that were brave enough to attend.  And for us? It really was a lot of fun!

Funny how time can change one's perception of things isn’t it?  I finally am realizing, in my mid-forties, how smart my Mom and Dad were. For instance, I now look at all the “work” we did, each and every year in preparation for Halloween, as a wonderful time to build some amazing memories which I can now share with people. I also now look at all the effort we put into our spook alley as a great way to teach young kids the meaning of work…to be responsible…to be meet deadlines…and finally in teaching us to grow and love each other as a family by creating situations for us to be together. So "kuddos" to my Dad and to my Mother in heaven for teaching us so many things in life, but most importantly how to love. Your dedication, devotion and perseverance to being such amazing examples has not gone unnoticed. 
I am keeping this short today because I wanted to share with you what was, and still is, a family tradition of our family. We used to listen to a “scary” story off of an album called "Halloween Horrors" –– each and every year, a night before Halloween. It helped get us in the mood for the holiday and set the stage for our spook alley on the following night.  

As we all sat around the stereo and heard the crackle of the needle hitting the vinyl record as it slowly spun around, we would listen intently and carefully.  The whistling wind intermingled with the distant sound of thunder would precede the apparition as she would cry into the empty and dimly lit halls of the old mansion, “my baby..have you seen my baby?”...Call me a "scaredy cat" but it still makes me a little unnerved and brings back such vivid memories from my childhood of being young, excited and scared all at the same time. Listen if you dare! 

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  We hope you have a great holiday that is safe and fun!

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Pumpkin Pie and "The F-Bomb" Jim Terry

Isn’t this just a GREAT time of year?  After the long days and what feels like endless summer heat, there finally comes a reprieve we all need and known to the world as autumn or fall.  With the crisp coolness that one may experience each and every morning, the fall season officially becomes a period of time where warm drinks in the morning are once again needed and longed for. It also becomes a time for football games/jerseys, shorter days, harvesting the garden and of course the vibrant colors that Mother Nature begins to paint the surrounding landscapes.  I also notice that it becomes a time of year when everything you can think of is made of, or with, pumpkin.

Pumpkin pie has always been one of my favorite treats…even as a kid. I remember the sweet aroma of pumpkin, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg filling the air as this wonderful scent traveled throughout and filled our entire home. Generally, in our household at least, pumpkin pie was baked only during the holidays.  It was a rare occasion that we would get pumpkin pie outside of the holiday season, so it was unquestionably a wonderful treat when we were able to eat a slice.

I thought I would start out this fall season properly, since everyone else and every business seems to be making everything out of pumpkin right now, and I took it upon myself to “try” and make a pumpkin pie.  I queried my friends and my family for their favorite recipe and what ingredients they used to make it just right.  I was a bit shocked to find out that one ingredient, I would have never thought of adding, was cream cheese.  Apparently, the cream cheese helps enhance the flavor and brings out a richer flavor.    

Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have one of those Kitchenaid mixers. You know the one? The one that has it’s own stand and is a heavy-duty mixer for those bigger jobs.  I do not have the time to cook often, so I figured I would double the ingredients so I could make two pies with one shot.  I would then freeze one pie to have a slice of pie for several weeks thereafter and then share the other pie with those that had helped me with putting the recipe together.   

I followed the recipe directions I received precisely and accurately.  I first put all of the dry ingredients into the stainless steel mixing bowl. This included the spices, the sugar, the salt and the baking soda and then sifted them together.  I then carefully added the sweetened condensed milk, the pumpkin, four large eggs and an entire brick of Philadelphia cream cheese.  I then turned the mixer on to about speed 3­­—For those of you who do not know, the mixing speed goes from 0-10 on these mixers…10 being the highest speed—As I watched the mixer work, I noticed that the brick of cream cheese wasn’t mixing too well with the rest of the ingredients and was creating a "thump, thump, thump." It reminded me of when you wash a pair of sneakers in a washing machine and then try and dry them in the dryer. You hear the "thump, thump thump" from the sneakers being tossed about inside the drum of the dryer.  Could this clatter and the cream cheese not mixing well been created because I had just pulled it from the refrigerator?  As the mixing continued, I noticed that the cream cheese was really sticking to the wire whip at this point and was certainly not mixing together in a trouble-free manner. 

“So what do I do?” I asked myself.  "If I can produce enough centrifugal force, that would then launch the cream cheese from the wire whip and allow it to be mixed properly...right?"  So what did I do? I reached over with my finger and turned the mixer up to speed 10 of course.

Ok, so a little off topic here, and DID YOU KNOW, that tornadoes have different classifications?  This bit of information listed below is brought to you by’s website…

Tornadoes are classified into five categories, F-0 through F-5. F-0 tornadoes are the mildest. F-5 tornadoes are the most dangerous (and the rarest). F-5 tornadoes are also known as the ‘Finger of God.’
  • F-0 40-72 mph, Light damage, chimney damage, tree branches broken
  • F-1 73-112 mph, Moderate damage, mobile homes pushed off foundation or flipped over
  • F-2 113-157 mph, Considerable damage, mobile homes demolished, trees uprooted
  • F-3 158-205 mph, Severe damage, roofs and walls torn down, trains overturned, cars thrown around
  • F-4 207-260 mph, Devastating damage, well-constructed walls leveled
  • F-5 261-318 mph, Violent damage, homes lifted off foundation and carried considerable distances, autos thrown as far as 100 meters.”
Have you ever seen, in real life, what a real tornado can do to a car, a home or even to an area and leave it in ruin?  I personally have only seen tornadoes in open areas where no one or nothing was destroyed or hurt.  I could only imagine what might happen with an F-5 or a “Finger of God” tornado.  That was...until this mishap.
Picture it…A mixer going NOT at 318 mph but rather 1000 mph.

Picture it…Pumpkin mix with bits of cream cheese covering every surface within, what seemed to be, as far as 1000 meters.

Picture it…A once clean counter and floor also now covered in white with the last bit of dried ingredients not yet mixed in with the pumpkin recipe that were strewn about giving those very same surfaces the appearance of a freshly fallen snow.

And Lastly…PICTURE IT…a grown man with a bewildered look on his face wondering what the heck just happened to what he thought was a full proof plan in making, what once was, his favorite dessert.

As I quickly reached over and turned off my mixer, once again with the same finger that started this whole mess, I noticed something not quite right. Not only did all the surrounding surfaces get hit hard but I reached up and felt I had a new mousse in my hair.  A once blue t-shirt with white insignia I was wearing, now had a vibrant and stunning new orange hew. And lastly, what I thought might be tears running down my cheek from the disaster I created was none other than remnants of what was once a great plan gone tears had become pumpkin mix. And anyone in earshot of this calamity, after an initial couple of choice words, would have just witnessed laughter...Someone once said, "If you can't laugh at yourself, you are missing the best joke of the day." 

In conclusion, and definitely two things to remember and learn from this experience…first, if my Christmas cards are late to you this year, you will know I am still cleaning up the mess.  

Secondly, there may be a new classification of tornadoes on the horizon.  I plan on contacting the National Weather Association to see if we can add one more known as the "F-Bomb" or otherwise known as, with no blasphemy or disrespect,  “The Finger of Jim.”

P.S. What does this thing do that comes with my mixer called a "splash guard?" 😂 

P.S.S. And does anyone know how to get pumpkin mix with cream cheese in it, out of the inside of a toaster? 😂😂

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