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God has that Red Robe going on……

Who is all seeing? Who knows what you’re doing all the time? Who knows how each person should be rewarded for being as they are? Why that would be…God, whose side- kick, apparently, must be Santa right? You know, Santa, the other guy who knows if you’ve been naughty or nice-even checking on it twice to be sure there’s no mistake about it.

How’s this for wrong-Santa pitching Coke.

Nice Red Suit.

I guess they kinda work together these two guys, especially on that very important religious day for many-Christmas Day. When it comes to flying around the town, in and out of our homes or even in and out of our  lives and thoughts,  Santa has only one competitor: The Holy Ghost. I’ve always thought of Santa and the Holy Ghost as being equally quite busy- even in the off season there are lots of lists to make and things to report or record.  But what’s this nagging feeling I have: is someone is being left out?

Anagrams can be fun to play with for most of us, unless you’re dyslexic- then not so much. But even for dyslexics some anagrams can be easy to picture. How about that good ol’ chap Santa-a name easily arranged into, er, Satan. Perfect huh? On one hand we have a jolly ol’ guy flying around town delivering presents wearing a red suit. Seemingly this Santa guy has the unlimited capacity to share his unlimited wealth with you just because you are you- he’s just a nice sort of guy. But on the other hand, we have this ‘anagram’ guy, Satan, ready to give you everything you’ve ever dreamed of but for a price. What would happen if they ran into each other in a chimney? Do they exchange information and then fly about their way? Could Santa, if the stockings requiring coals out strip his supply, simply find Satan and ask for some of his coal?

I like the red suit Santa touch-just enough red flashy style to catch your eye as he magically goes about his business.  And God’s sacrifice, for believers, is the blood of Christ: it goes without saying we’ve got a lot of red going on here. Trouble is I’m thinking Satan  is a guy hewed in red skin having just arrived from the red, hot land of fire and molten rock. Couldn’t one of them have picked a different color to be associated with if just for the sake of making a more singular fashion statement?  I guess it would be easy to tell the difference between the three if they appeared side-by-side in your living room- one features an awe inspiring gaze, one’s got that white beard thing going on and the other that smoking pitch fork in hand: one greets you with a smile, one with a sack full of presents, the other with a contract.

What we have is three guys flying around who know everything about you-nothing you can do about it, they know, they watch you all the time. They never get arrested for spying or being voyeurs-that’s just the way it is. One can’t wait to give you presents, he wears a red suit and smokes, at least he did  through last century  but now-a-days there may be laws against picturing Santa smoking. Another rewards you later at a time and place no one has come back from except for Jesus ( according  to believers). And  Satan is ready to reward you as well, right now too, but just pass on the parting gifts if you go that route. Me?  I’ll just mind my own business and try to ‘keep my nose clean’. I do have to say, however, this whole story has made me want to pass up the cookies n’ milk and go directly to the ‘sauce’.

Are you keeping these guys busy????

I had no idea his head was that large????

Franque

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(Avatar Magic, by Gerald Franquemont, is on Kindle and can be downloaded onto most computers or reading devices.)

 

Life, I guess, is like baseball in a sense: it is go, going, gone before you know it. We pay to watch, play or read about it. We work hard in Life to cover and touch all our bases, to field all the questions we can, to not get our backs against the wall and to stay safe. Striking out is bad when we are dating but getting to home base when dating is a whole different thing. We always hope to connect with whatever is thrown at us and we just hate to drop the ball on something. The last thing we want to be is to be in left field on any issue and it’s even worse if something comes from there-‘wow, that came from left field!’ And who hasn’t been pitched at from time to time?

We all hope for a fair referee in Life. We all want a  Cop when you most need him, a boss who knows who’s working and who isn’t, a fair minded administrator, a teacher who grades it as it is and even a God who makes it right, if not in the short run then at least in the long run. We want someone or something to ‘call it’ as it is. But often in Life, as in baseball when the Ump ‘stinks’ is blind or perhaps on the take, the type of referee we need just isn’t here all the time we need them to be. Life, it is said, isn’t fair but rather sometimes just a bad call. Certainly, for some, Life can seem to be, at best, a dropped ball, an error, a mainly left on base or rained out kind of Life.

My Brother’s Life wasn’t a called third strike kind of Life. Heck, in many ways, my brother had it all in Life. He wrestled during most of his early years and got to be third in the College Nationals. He studied well and Graduated from Harvard to settle on a hippie commune farm during the late 60s-having a blast with all those back to nature type things it was hip to do back then. He started a Home building business, Bare Bones, and had a house featured on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. His Family of two children spent 10 years in Peru; he spoke around the world about the weaving of the Peruvian cultures. And he is featured in a Nova TV special series: Lost Civilizations-Incas and Aztecs. No, his was not a ‘strike-out’ kind of Life. But his Life still had much in common with the lives of so many who achieve much less. For one-he died.

Death comes like the wind-from any direction at any time without much warning, as invisible in approach as it is evident in its’ presences. And when death is gone nothing is as it was: Life seems scattered, disarrayed, moved and re situated for so many- the Game is over. The day my brother died even the air itself seemed thin to me, more transparent than ever yet able to be grabbed in its’ lightness. And I tried that. I tried to hold air that morning and asked where oh where the referee I needed was? I even had tried to make a covenant with God offering since my cousin had died just weeks before on my brothers’ birthday at least my Brother should live? Early on I’d offered that if one of the two were to die than the other should live: it seemed the right call to me.  But, instead, my brother died on my cousins’ birthday-each dying on each others birthdays not three weeks apart.

There is a lot to take away from any event-especially one as vast as dying. Some get to prepare and other’s don’t but I suppose there can be an upside to each happenstance. Spending the last few days with my brother and his final night is, while devastating, also much like a pillowed memory I now hold fast. And I suppose the main thing I gained from his passing was a sense of how much he had really done in 58 years. He ‘stepped up to the plate and lead by example. No need for any of us to be spectators of our own lives. We need to carpe diem, we need to cease the day, take a walk, hit it off right and most certainly, take our best swing.  That’s what I try to do and ,of course, I’m hoping to make it home safe.    Franque


(Avatar Magic, by Gerald Franquemont, is on Kindle and can be downloaded onto most computers or reading devices.)

 

My ex brother-in-law is good at everything he does. Don’t you just hate that? Actually he’s a once great Lacrosse player,  a Coach of a College National Championship Lacrosse team, he still is a  Nationally acclaimed wood carver and, happily I say,he is currently  my fishing buddy. I should also mention, he’s a fisherman with the ‘sad’ misfortune of owning the largest Island in the Lake I visit during the summers. Sad misfortune indeed you say?

Yes an Island’s a beautiful thing to own. Like Mel Brooks said:” It’s good to be King.” But there’s another side to any Island. Weekends bring out, oh, a million boaters all hoping to view the 22 miles of shore line the Lake has to offer. These boaters also like to go for a spin around the Islands as well. So there you have it-on weekends living on Islands in Lakes can be kind of like building a house on the middle grass section of any major interstate highway. There’s a lot of traffic; there’s a lot of noise. Also-there’s a lot of peeing. Yes, random, rampant peeing. Oh Boy!

Now it’s a well known fact that boats float better with beer in them. Police don’t know this yet but everyone else does. Anyway, it seems, as my ex brother-in-law tells it, most boaters pick the ‘backside’ of the Island as the place to deposit their individual beer rentals. Trouble is, oddly, the backside of an Island is always relevant to where the boaters started out from on the lake. So what you get,on weekends especially, is pretty much around the Island boat traffic featuring around the Island peeing. Nice. But enough for now about this Island, one of my childhood haunts, my does everything well ex brother-in-law and the Circus type Island weekend peeing events.

I’ve learned a lot about fishing with my fishing buddies and my ex brother-in-law is no exception. He excels, as usual, at fishing-the technique, the gear, boats and mind-set. This summer I told him the story of how I once hooked my friend in the head while fishing and how that friend insisted we keep fishing. (see blog-Hooked in the Head). And how that friend had told me of his story of how HE hooked his friend in the head and they had to go to the hospital. I was amazed when my ex brother-in-law began his story:

“I got hooked in the head too,” he continued. ‘We were night fishing the Long Island Sound when my friend landed a big one: me. (By the way-these hooks they use are really big hooks). After pulling, wiggling, and rotating the hook as much as possible it became apparent that it was of no use to keep on-the hook was in for keeps. We went to the Hospital, hook in head and all. It was two hours waiting in the ER all for the one thing we hadn’t tried: a string tied to the hook followed by a severe jerk. Out it came. The blood was cleaned up, the stitching in place as we went directly back out to fish some more!’

I took a moment here wondering; what are the odds? What are the odds that I would hook a friend in the head while fishing who had once hooked his friend in the head while fishing and then tell the story to yet another friend who had been hooked in the, you got it, head while fishing?! I suppose what I once thought of as odd behavior is actually standard fare for fishermen (insert fools if you like here). Yeah-that’s it: go fishing, get hooked in the head, go to the hospital, get the hook removed, and go back out fishing right then. Almost seems completely normal now. You know- yes, I’m starting to think those ‘odds’ might not be so bad. Or, just maybe, I’m just a guy with a lot of ‘hooking’ friends.    Franque


That’s the Lake for you-as expected the Lake water is totally wet, thru and thru. Unfortunately, so is the air. What I have here is wet air, as opposed to the air in the guy you wish would stop talking. In all, while I was on vacation, it has rained 14 of 19 days. Nice huh? But look at the bright side- it’s a great time to be a duck.

It’s amazing isn’t it? How do weathermen pour over computerized maps, charts and histories to arrive at a synopsis called: ‘a weather report’? Odd, how some of us watch these magical broadcast moments daily knowing full well it’s a 50/50 toss up as to how the day will fair. The historical outcome, or dependability, of the forecast with regard to the day’s weather has little value to us  devoted listeners-we just ‘tune’ in. My idea is this: have a weather show featuring a good looking guy or gal, your pick, who proceeds to simply flip a coin. Tails and it’s going be a rainy day; Heads, well, better keep your eye on the sky anyway.  But my ‘hats off’ to these people for securing a profession of mostly inconsequential(hopefully) predictions-unless, of course, it’s my rain hat-that I’m keeping on. As you might have guessed the weathermen have again been about 100% consistent during my vacation time here. It’s seems the term ‘weather forecasting’ is more closely related to something like that of a gypsy’s fortune telling than that of a scientific prognosis.

My last full day at the lake once again provided another amazing weather forecast outcome. The day, predicted to be a clear, cloudless, full of 75 degree sunshine conversely displayed at 5 AM a familiar Grey, cloudy sky hoisting white capped waves on the Lake underneath it. Soon a 30 knot wind filled the sponge like air ushering in horizontal rain. Perfect! The rain lasted all day and into the night. Ten inches of rain fell during one week of this vacation alone. Quack, quack said the ducks…and, er, the weathermen.

Franque


It’s logical-summer and warm weather goes together like a lime tequila with an added twist of lemon, snap of ginger and lemon grass crackers. Right? Well apparently where I vacationed this summer, not so much. I’m telling you trucks, cars and alike are not the only to lay claim to having a reverse gear. Up here, just south of the Canadian boarder, summers can too.

To get a drift of the issue here you’ve got to use a foot bath poured at a 72 degree temperature. Place your feet in the bath( take your shoes and socks off first-just checking), washed or unwashed is of no consequence here, and you’re feeling the water temperature of Lake Bonaparte as it was when I arrived on June 25th of this year. There,-that’ll wake you right up. Now slowly add ice to the water until the water temperature is a cooler 68 degrees. Ah, theeeeeree you have it: Bonaparte’s’ Lake water temperature on the day I left, July 14th. It’s as if I could have been at a carnival side show watching how water runs up hill or how Lake Water gets colder as the summer moves on.

But there’s more. Tonight, as I am nearing the  end of my vacation, the weathermen’s forecast, toss of the dice, mumbo jumbo, catch as catch can, diagnostic prognosis’ prediction, and I’m not being bitter here, calls for 40 degrees at night followed by a 60 degree day of rain. Based on the last 3 weeks of weather ‘predictions’ I’d say this: get out the sun screen, shades, hats and lounge chairs- it’s gonna be a scorcher for sure, maybe… it’s fifty fifty at best.         Franque


Soon I’ll once again go to my lakeside summer home. I haven’t done much to earn this right of owning a Northern Adirondack Lakeside home, not much at all. Perhaps my greatest achievement to date is this: to have been born in the right Time and Place so people would pass this home on to me. I guess it’s kind of like winning Lotto without buying a ticket. It’s odd how one person walking along a country road may be unintentionally run over by a 300 lb loosened Hay bale fallen off a speeding truck, flattened like those pennies we left on the train tracks, while another person may be willed a Lakeside home. These are two examples of simple happenstance- the threads of our existence. Or is it?

Everyday people are corralled, bound or uplifted by just plain luck, by the roll of the dice, by the way the winds blow, or hit, as people exclaim, just as lightning strikes. Some try to make sense of it all through stories, facts or even through rhymes. Others simply offer there is no rhyme or reason to Life. This may be true. I’ll agree life is a puzzle. For sure each of us seem to gamble our time and effort as time spent on all that Life can bring or take. But before I jump into this philosophical ‘there is no rhyme or reason boat’ with you I’ve got an odd, odd at best, story to tell. And I’ll tell you right now-this story is true:

In 1814, at a place just south of Paris, a Von Franquemont regiment is documented as fighting against the French. It’s true, early on in 1812, this same regiment was fighting on the side of the French- on the side of Napoleon. But now the tide had turned. Now, in late 1814, much of Europe fought against Napoleon Bonaparte for its’ very survival against his mighty forces. This regiment is important to me because I am related to it through castle building, land ruling, party going, 50 illegitimate wife commanding Karl Eugen.

Karl Eugen liked to party. He also liked to make all his illegitimate wives wear blue shoes. Nice touch don’t you think? Most likely the shoes meant: don’t touch! I’m thinkin’ he didn’t want a kingdom filled with people whose heads had been chopped off so he invented this blue shoe thing kinda as a ‘Heads up’ sort of thing. Perhaps he should be considered the inventor of Lewis Carroll’s famous line: Keep you Head? I don’t know but I do know he named all of his off spring from these 50 illegitimate wives by a first name followed by ‘Von Franquemont’…all of them. So many were born that fighting regiments formed by this name. These regiments fought in Europe, Africa and in Indonesia as well. The Von Franquemont Regiments fought with and, most importantly when the ‘chips were down’, against Napoleon. And who was Napoleon’s brother and military aid? Why he was Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain.

The first puzzle piece of this story begins when Joseph Bonaparte came from Spain and settled in New Jersey. He apparently carried much of Spain’s wealth with him. I say this due to the fact that he bought most of Northern New York State to summer in. He chose to build his summer home on what is now a namesake of his: Lake Bonaparte. Out of all of Northern New York State the one lake he chose to build on was this one-Lake Bonaparte-and this decision to build here put the first puzzle piece of this story in place.

Let’s fast forward to around 1928 when my Dad, raised on an Iowa farm, is stationed for Army training randomly at Fort Drum, a camp located on Lake Bonaparte. This is the second ‘puzzle piece’ of this story. My Dad had no knowledge, as did I and all other Franquemonts throughout most of our lives, that he had any connection to the fighting Von Franquemont Regiments. Who knew? Not my Dad, not us. We, and I’m including in this all of today’s USA Franquemonts (less than a hundred in number), had simply never even heard of this Regiment. Still we came to meet for reunions at Lake Bonaparte during the summer most, if not all, of our lives. How?

It was my Dad’s sister who now laid the next puzzle piece in place by visiting New York City during the time my dad was over seas fighting in WW 11. There she met, simply by chance?, out of , oh, about 8 million people, a man who had come to the same city to become a diamond cutter. They fell in love and married. Soon afterward they decided to return and live near his parents in his home town- a town with a population of less than 300. His parents happened to rent property (up-date-I think Maurice, the parents of my uncle Moe may have owned this property.) on a lake nearby which they often visited in the summer time. As Fate would have it, my Uncle and his wife, my Dad’s sister, eventually bought property on this same northern lake named, you guessed it, Lake Bonaparte! Puzzle piece #3 certainly fell into place.

After the War my family and the families of my Dad’s brothers often visited their sister and vacationed on Lake Bonaparte. Luckily my Dad came to buy part of his sister’s property there and built a home on it. This home faces the sunset, sitting on a bluff some 6o feet above the shore line. A hill some 60 feet or more in height rises above the home behind it. It is there, on the hill behind what is now my house, that Joseph Bonaparte built his own summer estate around 1820.Some say the true location is ¼ south of this hill but having myself found foundation stones upon this bluff I disagree with this theory. And there is this: no one can doubt the best view of the sunset offered by the whole of Lake Bonaparte’s 22 miles of shoreline would be from this ridge, not from any other. Would a rich man choose any other location?

I have found in archive records roll calls and payments made near Paris to the members of some Von Franquemont Regiments during 1812-1814. One bears my exact same name, given to me unknowingly by my parents, but for the ‘Von’. Odd it is for me to read his name and wonder: did he die there? Did he pray there for peace, for safety, for strength, for success or even, perhaps, for revenge? I don’t know. But I do know this: today I spend my summers on the shores of Lake Bonaparte. And when I sit on my dock I am most likely sitting in the shadow of Joseph Bonaparte’s once summer home-the man who, with his brother, fought against my relatives.

It’s easy to say I’m at rest at this lake by an odd set of circumstances. Or is there more to it? I think so-there is too much happenstance for me to select chance as the nature of this event. So I often think this really isn’t at all a story about my self. This is a story about you and me. It’s a story about all of Us who live or have lived. Our seemingly randomly lives may in fact be part of a fabric we can’t see-a fabric woven in and by a way we never suspect. Sure, some will call Life a random maze of decisions and luck. Me, I’m sticking with the fabric.

OH- there is one last question: what do you get when you throw a grenade into a kitchen?……linoleum blownapart. Franque

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