Sunday, December 01, 2019

Santa Claus has Gone to Texas!

© 2019 Nutcracker Publishing Co.

The story written to accompany Harrison's Advent Calendar is published below.



Last November my father died, and for me, the 2018 holidays ceased to exist. It was a sad year going forward especially for my mother, aka Granny Pat. However, amidst the sadness of burying our family patriarch,  my niece Makenna Krenek announced she and her husband Jacob were expecting their first child. Harrison Luke Krenek was born in July and became my mother’s first great-grandchild. 

Granddaddy Mike Solomon, Makenna ,
Granny Pat and Harrison
Harrison’s birth this summer, along with the engagement announcement of her oldest Solomon grandson brought back a joy that had been missing from Granny Pat. 

It also helped to bring the motivation to create back to me, and for the first time in a while, I was inspired and motivated to write a children’s story. 

I wrote Santa Claus has Gone to Texas while doing the advent calendar you see pictured for Harrison. It’s numbered this way so he can fly his reindeer back and forth across the calendar as he counts down to Christmas. In each pocket, there is a Christmas ornament from the story that he can take out and hang on his own tree.

Many aspects of this story are true. It was definitely inspired by Harrison, my brothers, and having lived in Texas. Some things may have gotten exaggerated. Harrison got blamed, but when Makenna was a little girl, she was the one who told our Aunt Nita, who’s now deceased, that she’d grown too. Many years from now I know Harrison will share this calendar, our family stories, and his childhood memories with his own children. I hope it always makes him feel loved. 


Happy Holidays from Nutcracker Publishing Company, Merry Christmas from “Great” Aunt Amelia, and …God Bless you Texans! 

Santa Claus has Gone to Texas

It was a month before Christmas and Santa Claus had gone to Texas. 
The astronauts at NASA in Houston had been grounded and were feeling restless.


Santa agreed to let them try out his sleigh, 
and told his reindeer that afterward, they’d get big bales of hay. 

While the reindeer and astronauts took to the sky, 
Santa took out his naughty list and let out a sigh. 

Santa usually didn’t check his Texas naughty list twice
because little Texans are brought up to be nice. 



But a little cowboy in Matagorda County on Byrd Salyer Road 
had punched another little cowboy in the nose. 

Then he’d lassoed his dog and hogtied his cat. 
And told them all they better scat. 

A punch in the nose could be understood  
because that other little cowboy had been up to no good. 

And, Santa thought, who wouldn’t be impressed that 
such a small cowboy could lasso a dog and hog-tie a cat?
Maybe the little fella had been rescuing a rat. 

Except these are not the reasons Harrison Luke Krenek made Santa’s naughty list. He didn’t even know such lists exist. 






Harrison had a terrible problem. 
His Granddaddy Mike had been spoiling him rotten. 

Santa thought Harrison had too many toys. 
Which would be okay if he was sharing with the other cowboys.

Unfortunately, Santa had no way to know. 
The elf who was supposed to have been sitting on a shelf watching the Krenek house had to be let go. 

Elfin the North Pole Elf 
hadn’t been content to sit on a shelf. 

He dreamed of roping Texas cockroaches while riding a bucking rooster, 
Sitting on a shelf made him feel like a loser. 

He’d hit the trail to become a rodeo elf! 
Which seemed way more exciting than sitting on a shelf.

Santa had to admit sitting on a shelf was not a job for an elf with ambition. 
But it might do for an elf who liked to sneak food from a Texas kitchen. 

Food like barbecue, tacos,and queso with nachos. 


He looked down at his belly thinking it looked scrawny. 
Maybe Harrison’s kitchen would have some fried bologna. 

He’d just go sit on Harrison’s shelf himself. 
The one in the kitchen where leftovers got left. 

By Christmas Eve, Santa thought, my belly will be jelly and my cheeks plumb plump.

He saddled up his horse Reckless, and called “Giddy up, go,”
“I’ve got a craving for Tex-Mex. Don’t go slow!”

Reckless snorted, to find Harrison’s house all he had to do was sniff, 
but it wasn’t Tex-Mex he expected to whiff.

The last they’d heard from Elfin Elf, the tacos and nachos that Santa craved
almost led Elfin to an early grave. 

Tacos were Harrison’s favorite food, and his cravings were hard to quench.
He and grandaddy ate them every meal. After-which the tooting and pooting they let loose caused a toxic stench. 

Reckless whinnied a grin. 
The old elf riding on my back ought to fit right in. 

However, Harrison wasn’t tooting and pooting, or even playing with his toys.  
He was inside his house practicing his social graces which meant not making noise. 

His Great Aunt Amelia had flown in for a visit, 
and he was trying hard not to fidget. 

The last time she ’d seen him he had been real small, 
but he was grown up now. He stood up straight and tried to look tall. 

“I declare, Harrison, you sure have grown!” Aunt Amelia cried. 
“You’ve grown too Aunt Amelia,” he replied, 
“I’ve gotten taller and you’ve gotten wide.”

Granddaddy began roaring with laughter. 
Harrison had never seen him happier. 

He wasn’t sure what was so funny that he’d said, but Granddaddy was as tickled as he’d ever been. 

Unfortunately, his laughter made Aunt Amelia madder than a yard cat caught by an old pecking hen. 

Aunt Amelia pecked Granddaddy a thump 
on his head that gave him a lump.

Her lips gave a pout 
as she went huffing out.

Jumping on her broomstick, she flew away home,
knocking Santa off Reckless as they were trotting along.

“Whoa!” Santa hoed, but they were too far gone. 
He lay sprawled on the ground as Aunt Amelia’s broom went hissing along. 

Its tailwind blowing Reckless’s mane onto his face, 
and he tumbled over Santa who was still lying in place. 

Great Aunt Amelia’s departure meant Harrison was free to run about. 
He put on his boots and his Astros cap, grabbed his lasso rope, and went running out.

Maybe he would have recognized Santa if he’d been wearing his red suit, 
but he was clad in blue jeans, and cowboy boots. 




Harrison had been warned of the danger of strangers lurking about. 
He opened his mouth, and gave a shout 
that almost burst everyone’s eardrums out. 

Then Harrison stuck out his tongue in concentration
as he lassoed Reckless and hogtied Santa, much to Claus’s aggravation. 

Upon hearing Harrison in distress, Granddaddy came running outside so fast, he couldn’t slow down, 
and tripped over an armadillo who’d been rutting around. 

He would have run into Reckless, as well, 
except Reckless had begun swishing his tail. 



The tail slowed Granddaddy down 
and directed him to go around. 

Santa had lost his hat, 
tried to stand, but instead he sat. 

He could barely move, and his eyes went squint when what should appear 
but a hound-dog who slobbered Santa’s face, and was licking his beard.  

Granddaddy stood up and rubbed the lump  
on the side of his head Aunt Amelia had thumped. 

“Harrison,” he said, “either that cowboy you’ve hogtied is Santa Claus or Aunt Amelia has injured my brain 
and finally driven me insane!”

Santa Claus harrumphed a sound 
as he peeped around. 

There were toys strewn all over the ground. 
He looked at Harrison’s grandaddy and would have frowned. 

Except Santa’s eyes had the ability to recognize 
the little boy still inside. 

Santa recalled the only toys Harrison’s grandaddy ever received 
were the ones he had brought him on Christmas Eve. 

Even then he hadn’t always got what he had wished.
Cause he’d been mean and told his sister Santa didn’t exist. 
This had gotten his name written at the top of the naughty list. 

Santa knew Grandaddy just wanted to give Harrison what he hadn’t had. 
It was sweet, but it could go BAD.

“Harrison,” Santa said, “it’s hard to be good when you’re being spoiled rotten, 
and it doesn’t help matters that you come from a family chock full of other spoiled, naughty, rottens. 

“Christmas isn’t easy for a boy like you. 
I’m in a quandary as to what to do.  

You’ve already received too many toys. The only places I’ve ever seen more 
is at the North Pole workshop and in Walmart stores.”

“It’s okay Mr. Claus,” Harrison assured Santa, “I don’t need any more toys, 
all I want for Christmas is a baby girl or boy.”

Feliz Navidad blared from his phone before Santa had a chance to reply.
A deafening boom blared from up high 
as Santa’s sleigh plummeted from the sky.

It went plowing into a cow pasture nearby, 
as an astronaut was heard to cry:  

“SANTA WE HAVE A PROBLEM!”

They all stood gawking from where they were standing,
watching the astronauts make an emergency landing!

Harrison untied Santa, and Claus hurried to where his sleigh had hit the ground, 
only to find that his reindeer were nowhere around. 

“It’s hunting season in Texas,” an astronaut explained.
 “Your reindeer spotted a deer stand, and refused to be reined.” 

Didn’t you tell them, flying reindeer are an endangered species?” Santa grumbled.  
“Uh huh…” the astronauts rumbled. 
“I don’t think the one who almost got his red-nose blown off believed us,” one of them mumbled.




Christmas Eve was only a month away, 
and it would take weeks for Santa to pack up his toy bag and hitch up his sleigh. 

If there was going to be a Christmas at all, 
he needed to round up his reindeer and get them back to their stalls.

“Reckless, find Elfin Elf, If I’m going to rein in those reindeer, I’ll need some elfin’ help. If he can lasso a Texas cockroach, he can lasso anything else,” Santa yelped.


From across the field, Harrison raced.  
Santa could tell from the smell, that in his haste 

Harrison had managed to deface his cowboy boots. 
By stomping them slap dab in the middle of blobs of cow patty poop.        

Harrison called, “Mr. Claus, I’m as big as an elf, 
and I can help!”

Santa held his nose and opened his mouth, intending to explain 
that Harrison was too young for this sort of roping game. 

Except the next thing he knew he was being spoon-fed chicken n dumplings made from an ole fat hen. 

Elfin Elf had been flying in on the hen 
when Harrison flung his lasso around her neck and pulled them in. 

Then lickity split Grandaddy plucked her feathers and cooked a plate
 of the best chicken n’ dumplings Santa had ever ate. 

As they watched Santa Claus devour his chicken, 
Granddaddy whistled a whisper so faint Harrison had to strain to listen,

“And that,” he smiled, “is how you go about 
getting a naughty list name X-ed out! 

After Santa put several plates of dumplings away
they all piled into his magic sleigh. 

It was hitched to Reckless who galloped at such a fast pace 
his hooves left the ground, and they were soon flying in space. 

Where the stars shone bright, the night was clear
and on the other side of the moon, they found Santa’s runaway deer.

They were munching cheese from an angry moon who declared them rude. 
He was in a mood, and didn’t appreciate being used as reindeer food!

Harrison, Grandaddy, and Elvin helped Santa lasso them all, 
and back to Texas, they were hauled.

“Harrison,” Santa said, “I know all you want for Christmas is a baby girl or boy, 
You helped me out, and  I’ll do my best to give you some Christmas joy.”

Then he gave granddaddy a wink, tussled Harrison’s hair, 

and he, Elfin, Reckless, and the reindeer disappeared right then and the

Yet on Christmas Eve, Harrison was still surprised to look down and gaze into the eyes 

of his new baby, and this time, it wasn’t another dog… 
It was a pot-bellied hog!  

Up on the rooftop at Byrd Salyer Road, Santa thought as he paused, maybe one day Harrison will receive a sister or brother, but that will be a gift from God, and it won’t come from Mr. Claus.  

Then he ho ho-ed as he fired up his sleigh
and blew the Krenek’s a Yankee dime as he flew away. 

His naughty reindeer two-stepped across the Texas sky as Santa called, 
“Merry Christmas, y’all!”

And God Bless Texas, especially those naughty Kreneks!




Harrison's 
Advent Christmas Ornaments 

 1.Texas
 2. Cat
 3. Rat
 4. Santa 
 5. Elf
 6. Rooster
 7. Cockroach
 9. Horse
10. Broomstick
11.  Lasso
12. Armadillo
13. Cowboy Hat
14. Hound Dog
15. Sleigh
16. Astronaut
17. Reindeer
18. Boot
19. Hen
20. Star
21. Moon
22. Christmas Tree
23 Heart
24. Yankee Dime 

Granny Pat's currency

Yankee Dime (Blow Kiss)


Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Skin Cancer: Basil or Basal Who NOSE the Difference?

WARNING: Blog contains images some may find disturbing.


frahmtotable

Genovese Basil: It's best to have a biopsy before it spreads to the rest of your garden. 🌱 #preventativemedicine
#Basil #FrahmToTable #microgreens#local #asheville #organic #nonGMO#food #farmtotable #urbanfarming#verticalfarming #vegan #fresh#healthy #chefs #gourmet #salad



Summers and winters of sunny days past, spent on the water and snow, have finally caught up to me. I spent this summer recovering from plastic surgery due to Basal Cell Carcinoma skin cancer. 

Not to be confused with the Basil Cell Carcinoma my son Jordan, owner of Frahm to Table, named his basil microgreen tray. His mom and her tumor — may it Rest In Peace and NEVER return — were honored! 

Unlike my health-conscious children, I hail from the baby oil and iodine decade. In my twenties, my own social consciousness was more about being thin and tan. Growing up within driving distance to Pensacola Beach meant trying to become both by Easter.

I recall laying out between the sand dunes, covered in goosebumps. With my blue eyes and fair complexion, suntan oil was a prerequisite course for sunburn.    

By the time my first wrinkles began to appear, I had wised up and learned to use sunscreen, but the damage had been done. My dermatologist warned me that when the skin is exposed to the sun it’s like an egg coming to a boil: eventually, it’s going to crack. Or, in my case, develop skin cancer.  



Right before Mohs surgery. It's
hard to detect any pimple.
Last year I noticed a pimple on my nose that wouldn’t heal. The dermatologist removed it, and the pathology report came back as precancerous. A few weeks before this year's visit to the dermatologist I noticed it was back. The diagnosis was  Basal Cell Carcinoma.   

The hope was that my dermatologist could remove and repair it via Mohs surgery.  

Unfortunately, it was deeper and more invasive than expected. My dermatologist advised me that my earlier precancerous diagnosis had been inaccurate. It had been cancer all along despite the pathology report saying otherwise.  



Basal Cell Carcinoma is the least dangerous of skin cancers. It's seldom life-threatening and easily cured when caught early. The worst thing about my diagnosis was that it occurred on my face — my nose to be exact. 









After Mohs surgery.


I met with a plastic surgeon. He informed me that the nose is expensive real estate. Not just from a monetary perspective! Let’s face it —the late Michael Jackson had plenty of money, but it appeared his nose couldn’t be fixed.  

On June 18th I went in for reconstructive surgery. Before the procedure, my surgeon briefed us on the two options that he could use to repair my nose. One of them would require additional surgery. I got lucky, and he was able to go with the procedure that only requires one surgery. 

According to my healthcare providers, it will take 6–12 months for my nose to completely recover. Or for me to look and feel like normal again.







After reconstruction surgery. 


Perhaps it’s my age — I’ll be 60 in December — or my history with a breast cancer diagnosis, but I haven't been as upset as I know from my google searches that a lot of women are. Most likely it’s due to the attitude of my immediate family. Our awesome morbid humor.  



When my son Jordan saw the stitches, he said I was going to have one badass scar. He was thrilled for me. LOL










Less than a month after surgery.



Lucky for me, my plastic surgeon  Dr. Daniel Fowler doesn’t share my son’s enthusiasm for scars. It hasn't even been a month yet, and there’s already been a significant improvement.  


Regardless, this is not something I would want anyone I care about to have to go through. Which is why I wrote this blog, and am sharing my photos.    

There are at least two things I got right as a parent. I gave up soft drinks for water, and I slathered sunscreen on my kids when they were small. Unlike her mom, my daughter Tabitha has never laid out in the sun to get a tan. Her skin reflects it.









Some of my takeaways regarding skin cancer: 



1.  If that voice inside yourself is telling you something isn’t right — like a pimple that 
     doesn’t heal — pay attention. Always trust your own intuition when it comes to your body! 

I learned this lesson at age 34 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years later a mole on my abdomen just didn't look right to me. The dermatologist I was seeing then told me it was nothing. Another doctor removed it anyway as he knew I was worried about it.  The mole was pre-cancerous.  


2.  If you freckle easily, work or play in the sun, have reached a certain age — see a
      dermatologist once a year for a full-body wellness check.  

Maybe that picture of the side of my nose removed will help motivate!

3.  Research doctors/dermatologists/surgeons and the procedure you're being told you need. 

On my way home from the hospital, a FB post regarding Mohs surgery caught my attention. One of my FB friends was furious. Without her knowing, her elderly mom had been talked into what should have been an elective Mohs surgery. At her advanced age, her mom could have done without it. To make it worse her doctor had botched the procedure.  

4. Try not to feel guilty about your cancer diagnosis. 

There will always be that certain individual who likes to make themselves feel better by making you feel worse.  Maybe you didn’t do all you could have to prevent cancer, but you didn’t try to cause it either. 

Life happens!  

AND 

5. EAT some cancer-preventing microgreens! #preventativemedicine  

Frahm to Table offers microgreens to the Asheville, NC area. All varieties are non-GMO and grown organically, without pesticides or herbicides. Fresh cut greens and live trays are available, made to order. Contact Jordan Frahm. 




by Amelia Frahm
Available on Amazon 
by Amelia Frahm
   Available on Amazon