Norman Rockwell's "Marbles Champion" ~ if you think girls can't do certain things, you need to change a second look.

Norman Rockwell’s “Marbles Champion” ~ if you think girls can’t compete with boys, you need to rethink that.

Rockwell's "Big Decision" ~ the catcher has a different point of view than the coach

Rockwell’s “Big Decision” ~ the catcher has a different point of view than the coach. Below, the perspective from the “High Board” is different than from the side of the pool.

High board

“Running around like a chicken with its head cut off” isn’t just a simile for a frantically busy person. It’s also an actual description.

When I was eleven years old, a farmer knew that my mother had been raised on a farm, and as a gift he delivered to our house a fresh chicken for our dinner.  It was a very fresh chicken.  Still alive.

In our back yard, he quickly balanced the chicken on a board, lifted an ax and cut off the chicken’s head. The chicken body ran like crazy.  We had a tall picket fence enclosing our big back yard. It was painted white. By the time the chicken dropped, there were very few pickets that didn’t have streaks, smears or spatters of blood. (You can thank me for not having pictures of this.)

The farmer used our garden hose to spray the fence while my mother plucked and cleaned out the chicken. That night our family had fresh fried chicken for dinner, but I didn’t eat any of it. The fence still had faint stains, and my mind still saw the running chicken.  It was a long time before I realized what my mother tried to help me see: the chicken incident, like many things in life, was a matter of perspective.  To her, it was a generous gesture from a farmer bringing fresh chicken to a former farm woman who was probably tired of store-bought frozen chicken.  I couldn’t understand how my mother, who wouldn’t let me see THE BLOB movie, let me watch a chicken run with its head off.

Henry David Thoreau said, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”  And C.G. Jung said, “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”  I doubt they were referring to chickens, but possibly they were encouraging us to understand ourselves through our perspectives.

The quote I think applies most to Mom’s perspective about things that were thrown her way in life is by J.M. Barrie: “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”  My mother had the amazing ability to appreciate people and their good intentions, even if they caused her to change her plans or do more work.

Even before my father’s Alzheimer’s and then her own dementia, my mother was not a naïve Pollyanna. She was an intelligent, perceptive, strong-thinking realist who stood firm when necessary. She was also a good listener with a kind heart and open hands to help others. And she knew how to keep life’s chickens in perspective.

*     *    *    *   *

Tracy Karner has a superb post on CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), effective for changing a number of problems by establishing a more hopeful perspective.

A replica of vanGogh's "Three Sunflowers in a Vase" on an easel.

A replica of van Gogh’s “Three Sunflowers in a Vase” on an easel.

My husband Jim is 6'2"--and he is walking the path to the 80' tall art replica in Goodland, KS. (which should also give you a new perspective of the importance of art in small Kansas towns) These photographs by Marylin Warner

My husband Jim is 6’2″–and he is walking the path to the 80 ft. tall art replica in Goodland, Kansas (which should also give you a new perspective on the importance of art in small Kansas towns) These photographs by Marylin Warner



Filed under art projects, Dementia/Alzheimer's, Henry David Thoreau, Kansas, lessons about life, lessons for great-grandchildren, memories for great-grandchildren, special quotations


  1. juliabarrett

    Every time I hear another story, I’m blown away. Your stories, your mother and the way you tell them. I feel like I’m right there, watching that chicken. My father has told me about an experience similar to yours. His mother was grateful. He, however, couldn’t eat the chicken, nor a pheasant on another occasion.
    On the other hand, my grandmother, who didn’t have a cruel bone in her body, was pragmatic. They were poor. She appreciated food to feed her family.
    Wow, what an incredible scene.

    • I think you’re right, Julia, and my mother and your grandmother–who were never cruel–did feed their families.
      This event was more than five decades ago, but I remember it like yesterday. I think I was frozen in place, watching each scene unfold.

  2. Henry David Thoreau said, “The question is not what you look at, but what you see.” I love these lines, and what a great thought behind the words of wisdom. Your mother’s wisdom and intelligence reflects in every action that she took to teach you the lessons of life. I am very impressed with the ways she used to educate her children about different perspectives of life. Looking at a thing is different from seeing it from a particular perspective. Thanks Marylin for an excellent article. Take care and God bless.

    • Thank you, Samina. My mother did teach us lessons by living her life and showing how to live. God bless you for your posts on police, for showing the important lessons and honorable and brave ways they serve.

  3. As always Dear Marylin, you put life in perspective with a story about your Mum. The thing is, you obviously learned all these things rather than let them pass you by just so you could eventually come and share them with us so maybe we can pass those lessons on too.
    I always enjoy your posts.
    xxx Sending Massive Hugs xxx

    • Your comments always make me smile, David. Thank you. Me, remembering and sharing my mother’s lessons so some day her great-grandchildren will also enjoy them; your grandson Reuben, like his mother, the recipient of your books of poems, and some day your great-grandchildren will enjoy them too. You and I document and share the important thoughts and words for the next generations.
      Massive Hugs back to you.

  4. Very thought provoking and so true. When I coach people one of the big breakthroughs is when they recognise the importance of how they are perceived rather than simply assuming their view of themselves is the only (right) one. We never kept chickens but I have seen chickens being killed in a wet market. Before the threat of all sorts of bird flu’ loomed so large over us my wife would go to the market, choose a chicken and it would be killed and plucked for collection 15 minutes later. My best chicken claim to fame is that I have genuinely seen a 3-legged chicken. I spent 12 months living in a farmhouse when I was at university. One morning the farmer knocked on the door and dragged the 3 of us outside. What do you think of that? he asked. And there was a tiny ball of fluff with 3 legs. It did not live long but I’ve never seen another since. That would have been 1978. I wonder if the chicken had a different perspective by virtue of its extra leg.

    • For a special dinner with friends one night, Andrew, we went to a sea food restaurant for fresh lobster. Really fresh. You pointed out your choice in a big tank, it was lifted and taken to the boiling water. I ended up having friend shrimp and could hardly enjoy that as I watched the others eat their chosen lobsters. And yet, as long as I don’t see the process, I eat beef and chicken, and those aren’t kind endings, so I feel like a fraud.
      In science labs I’ve seen preserved deformities, but you saw the “tiny ball of fluff” (you had to describe it like that–thanks, Andrew ;( ) with 3 legs. I should probably be more curious and objective and less emotional, but I once had a teen in class whose mother had taken thalidomide while pregnant; the girl was in a wheelchair with wrists and hands formed above the elbows. I wonder what her perspective was about life, the future and hope. Sorry, I got carried away.

  5. Love the perspectives on the Van Gogh replica. Thoreau’s quote would certainly relate to Van Gogh’s paintings from his time in the asylum “His doctor initially confines him to the immediate asylum grounds, so Van Gogh paints the world he sees from his room, deleting the bars that obscure his view.”
    As for chickens, I have seen them being plucked but was spared the beheading. I suppose I ate the chicken. That part I don’t remember.

    • What a terrific link to van Gogh! I didn’t know that he painted what he saw from his window but deleted the bars. Despite van Gogh’s problems, that one act is a remarkable example of applying creativity to improve his situation, don’t you think? If he were alive today, I think he’d appreciate the efforts of the residents of Goodland to add his colorful sunflowers to their flat plains, combining their state flower with their creative efforts and appreciation for his art. Thanks so much for this link!

      • He would be amazed by his presence in Goodland and the efforts of the residents. It is sad, really, that he can’t know how much his art is loved and appreciated.

  6. Don

    Keeping perspective as we go through life – I don’t think there is anything more crucial. There’s no telling what roads life begins to go down when perspective is lost.

    Marvellous art, Marylin. I love Norman Rock well. One of my favourites is the young girl with a blue eye waiting outside the Principal’s office. Great post – Thank you.

    • That’s one of my favorite Rockwell favorites, too, Don. Nothing like a shiner after a rough and tumble encounter…and to me the girl always looked quite proud of herself. I loved it!
      Like you, I believe finding and keeping a perspective in life is essential.

  7. Marylin, what a beautiful, thought provoking post. I try to be keenly aware of how others may perceive the same situation I am observing or dealing with. My perspective is only one and I have become a body/face language reader of sorts- though I do not always get this right!
    Looking at something through the eyes of another person is the definition of the highest form of wisdom- “Kindness.”
    (But I’m with you. I’d have had a HARD time eating that chicken you witnessed!)
    xo Joanne

    • I don’t think either of us could take a field trip to a slaughter house and then discuss it over lunch, Joanne!
      I like your definition of wisdom–“Kindness”–seeing something through the eyes of another. And I enjoyed your recent post so much. Seems like we’re thinking on very similar pages.

  8. People who buy their meat frozen or packaged in parts might easily disconnect from the live animal. Your story does offer a different perspective.

    Coincidentally, I showed some of my classes drawings and illustrations on Friday that offered differed perspectives. One might originally look like a frog on a lily pad. But when you turn it, it’s clearly a horse. They loved the discovery and I hope, as your readers have, that my students will make that connection to their reading and life as well. 😉

    • Do you remember when those brightly colored posts that looked like psychedelic modern art first came out many years ago? Our school librarian posted them around the study areas, and you’d see students squinting hard at them, crossing their eyes, struggling to see the hidden picture take form. They all wanted to show that of course they could “see” the real message others couldn’t.
      I have a friend from college who always said if you couldn’t look the cattle or lambs or chickens, etc. in the eyes before they were killed, you should be a vegetarian. She didn’t have a lot of people who sat with her in the student union cafeteria…

      • If we’re talking about the same type of art, I could never see what others saw … and finally gave up. I’m convinced it was a psychological ploy and they were just putting me on. lol 😉

        I understand what your friend is saying. But I would have starved to death if I’d followed that policy when growing up.

      • I’m with you on that, Judy. The dinner after the chicken incident, I think I had cereal for dinner. By the next dinner I was back having meat, beef probably. My mom probably would have put a couple meals in between before serving chicken again.

  9. your blog should be freshly pressed on a daily basis. 🙂
    also, many thanks for sharing the CBT link.

    • Isn’t that CBT link excellent! I was so glad when Tracy posted it.
      Thanks for the kind compliment, but writing a post every day would be overwhelming to me, and I’d never get anything else done. Plus, what I’ve learned is that when I go through my life’s week, doing what I need and want to do, that’s when I feel the nudges of memories of things from my mother and my childhood.

  10. I love your mother. And I’m very fond of her daughter, too. 😀 Thank you for the link–that was an unexpected smile-maker at the end of an enthralling story.

    Coincidentally, I’m working on a story in which a woman learns to slaughter her own chickens. Actually, it’s a novel. I expect it to take quite some time to finish…

    • Hey, Tracy, if you need a resource for small animal slaughtering, I have a smart, kind, wonderful high school friend who lived on a farm, raised livestock for 4-H and commercial sale, and she had lots of experience.

      I’m so glad that you’re very fond of both my mother and me, Tracy! You’ve taken me along on so many of your baking, writing, and art gallery and museum adventures that I feel like we’ve been friends for a long time and shared tea and fresh bread and laughs and stories in many wonderful little bistros!

  11. Marylin, I join with others in congratulating you on this superb post. The message is timeless, and I love how you illustrate it with Rockwell, Van Gogh, Thoreau, psychology, and even pop culture. Then you top it all off with a huge rendering of the same Van Gogh sun-flower painting in a Kansas town, perspective personified!

    I am curious about what came first: recollection of the chicken story or one of the paintings as the impetus for this post. As you know, I love and appreciate the creative process in my own and other’s writings.

    • You know, Marian, I can never predict which will come first; I’m just always grateful when an idea does appear. This one came as we were driving home to Colorado from our recent Kansas visit. I’d been trying to get a picture of the vanGogh from the interstate for several months, and bless his heart, my husband said that this time we’d drive through the town until we found the best shot. Then at home, I was putting uploading the sunflower pictures with the Rockwell high dive picture and chicken was baking in the oven, and WHAM! I remembered the chicken incident.

      Some of the post ideas come from free writing. I’ll be writing a short story or essay and will begin to free write a slow scene to develop it, and WHAM! again I think of something from long ago that my mother did or said…that had nothing to do with what I was originally writing.
      I’m always grateful for the inspiration, and writing a weekly blog has been a good discipline for me to have my imagination and mind open for whatever comes.

      • I love the WHAM! idea. It’s a good tag for the open-mind-and-imaginative state of awareness that leads to a piece. Last week, I opened a tube of ham loaf from Pennsylvania shrink-wrapped in old newspaper which revealed an idea for the story that I re-worked into today’s blog post. Getting 3-4 different art forms to converge at once as you did today is a stroke of genius, I’d say.

  12. This was such a great part of a chapter in your life, Marylin. I think that you have grown and learned from all that your mother taught you in these simple moments. I would have been paralyzed and faint feeling from the sight of the blood! Love that your Mom wouldn’t let you see the “Blob” movie and yet, the other was ‘real life!’ The Norman Rockwell paintings, including your gentle, thoughtful lessons written, were a good inclusion. Along with your last moment of your post, with the message about Art, found even in small towns, like in Kansas!

    • Robin, I’m still smiling. I printed off your non-meat casserole recipe; now after remembering the chicken blood on the fence, I’m in the mood for vegetarian!
      You’re right about THE BLOG vs. “real life.” One is an important reality check, and the other is a sensationalized horror movie.
      The “Three Sunflowers in a Vase” had always been one of my favorite vanGogh paintings. To see the 80 foot tall replica on the Kansas plains is an affirmation of Kansan creativity and appreciation…and a part of my will always be a Kansas girl at heart.

  13. Marylin, You have such a gift of putting life in perspective for all of us. I am so very often that poor chicken running around with my head cut off in a life, with three children, that is busy to an extreme. However, I am blessed that the majority of time “Nothing is really work because I would not rather be doing something else”, except on cleaning days, of course! 😉 I am sure you were traumatized by the chicken that day, but you ever so eloquently told the story with such a visual proclamation that I can envision the entire incident while appreciating both perspectives, yours and your mothers. There is something to be said for small, Mid-West towns and their generosity for serving and helping one another, the simple thoughtfulness, as your mother so gracefully saw the disruption in her schedule that day, is heartfelt and always forthcoming in such towns. Being on the East Coast, I miss that – a lot! I miss the drop in visits, the surprise baked good delivery, etc. of the Mid-West neighbors I grew up with. Your post, as always, brought back priceless memories as well as a pleasant reminder to keep things in perspective. Thank you! Blessings and hugs to you my dear friend, Robyn

    • Robyn, you wrote that so eloquently and beautifully, like your words for one of your wonderful photographs. Thank you.
      Writing the stories about my mother affirms core values and reminds me that even living in a city, there are good neighbors, solid friends helping each other and others, and each time I imagine my mother surviving here and doing the same things she did in Fort Scott, Kansas. She would have had a kind heart and open hands here, too. Many blessings and hugs back to you, dear Robyn.

      • From what I have learned about your mother, her heart would pour out love to anyone, any where! Thank goodness solid friends can be found in many places, places of all “shapes” and sizes…who could live without them?! Enjoy the day my friend, Robyn

  14. Ah, many a chicken ran around in the yard of my youth. We lived in the country, raised chickens, and often at one for Sunday dinner (especially, if company was coming). I didn’t think much about sentient beings at that time in my life and didn’t identify much with those chickens. I did refrain from eating, tho, the first time they served up a pet goat. I must have hardened quickly, however. I don’t remember missing many meals and we had to have been served the rest of the kid goat.

    • Your pet goat?!? Oh, no.
      There’s a good reason farmers don’t let their children name and play with calves and piglets and lambs.
      Our granddaughter visited calves on her other grandfather’s farm where he was pasturing cattle. Grace would go to the fence and call out the calves’ name and they’d come to greet her.
      We dreaded the end result, but the other grandfather was very careful that when the calves were sent to slaughter, Grace wasn’t there to say good-bye.

  15. Nancy Parker Brummett

    I guess I should be grateful my grandmother would just “wring their necks” by swinging them over her head! Yikes. We are spoiled by King Soopers. 🙂

    • I watched my aunt do that once, Nancy, and I heard the crack. And there was a remaining wide-eyed blink or two in the chicken afterwards. But, still, it was better than the blood on the white fence.
      I’m so glad I have a King Soopers card!!!

  16. Marylin, your stories amaze me – on the surface, tales of everyday life – but sooo deep – I love them. You are clever, the way you link everything up and make us think.
    I love that Van Gogh replica – are there similar elsewhere in the town? Such an unexpected sight!

    • I don’t know, Jenny. The van Gogh in Goodland, KS is the only one I’ve ever seen, and from the interstate it’s a striking easel above the trees on the plains. I’m so proud of the town’s commitment and fundraising and efforts to accomplish the project.
      On the blue-highway back roads I take to drive down to Ft. Scott to visit my mother, there was a farm with a fallen tree that had been hit by lightning. It was in a field close to the road, and someone had painted the twisted trunk and branches into a brilliant many-colored dragon. It was stunning, especially with the cattle grazing around it in the field…and my camera’s battery was dead! That’s one of my HUGE regrets. When I returned the next trip, the trunk and branches had been removed.
      Sometimes we get only one chance at something…

  17. My older sister shared chicken stories like yours. She and my oldest brother lived with my grandmother and great-grandmother for a time when they were children. They had chickens and Great-grandmother Hicks did not spare my siblings from the realities of life either. What my sister remembered most, though, was Grandma Hicks’ fried chicken eyeballs. Grandma’s grandparents (and possibly her parents) were slaves, and I’m sure her childhood included eating anything and everything that was available to her family. My sister, of course, was horrified. 🙂

  18. Eyeballs? Oh, Darla. One of the other comments was about eating a pet goat at dinner; I think this one out-trumps that image!
    But Darla, just read the way you wrote about the grandmother and her parents and their slave histories. There’s a story there, a rich and powerful and practical story of survival. I hope you’ll write about it.

  19. Often,the lessons we learn about perspective aren’t immediate lessons. As we mature, the memories take on new meaning then what we thought it meant as a child. When my husband’s Czechoslovakian grandmother insisted we kill our ducks,my daughter helped me pluck them while her much younger brother watched the head chopping incident. We were all traumatized by this experience. It was years later that we could all talk about it, understand her motives and do some real laughing. Different perspectives depending on ones age and previous life’s experiences. Lovely post, Marilyn and I love the Kansas pictures.

    • Lynne, your grandmother knew more about hunger than sentimentality about the ducks, I’m sure. I’m glad you all could talk about it and understand her motives years later…and really laugh about it. Laughter can help put a lot of things in perspective!
      The Kansas sunflower pictures make the chicken images very pale in comparison.

  20. I’m glad I don’t have the memory of the chicken to haunt me, but with every post you show how thoughtful and wise your mother is.

    • She really was wise, Andrea. During the years of my dad’s Alzheimer’s she also showed how calm, loyal and thoughtful she could remain around him, and she taught us by that example how to deal with her dementia.

  21. I have a similar memory. We kept chickens and my aunt (who had more experience than my mother at such things) would come to do the beheading and (unfortunately) one day I was present. My mother said her mother taught them they should learn this (and how to clean-out and pluck the birds) because ‘you never know when you may need to know’. This was one legacy they had from the depression years and being self-sufficient.

    • I think that was at the root of much of my mother’s pragmatic approach to growing and preparing foods, Elizabeth. She remembered the Depression years, and though they lived on a farm and had enough to eat, it was still a frugal time, making the most of each thing and sharing with others, too.

  22. Your post reminds me of the story about sympathy and empathy. A city man saw cows in a field, it was raining and cold with the wind blowing. He would hate to be out in that field in this weather. He felt sorry for the cows – sympathy. Another person, from the country remembered the previous day, when it had been extremely hot and the black flies were biting the cows, he thought the cows would be enjoying this break. Was that empathy?

    • And then take the two examples down the road, Rod ~ when we see a calf happily frolicking in a spring meadow, what would either the city man or the country man think about the eventual steaks and hamburgers?
      As far as the examples you cited go, it seems the first example is empathy (since we all have possibly actually felt rain and cold, etc.) but the second is sympathy because we feel pity and sorrow (for the biting black flies) even though we haven’t actually experienced them?

  23. Oh my, I had no idea a chicken would be able to run around, after having its head cut off. I can see why you didn’t partake in the fried chicken that evening, Marylin.
    The stories you share of your mother, continue to touch my heart and amaze me.
    Love the Jung quote!

  24. Marylin, I keep saying your mother is wise, and I’ll continue to do so. My mother lived on a farm and my grandmother killed many chickens in her day. And wow, Van gogh’s sunflowers are impressive. 🙂

  25. Jim

    Like Mary, my dad grew up on a farm but found himself living and working in town as an adult. He was a dentist. Many of his patients were families still living and working on farms. My dad understood about droughts and hailed-out crops, and how there were times when farms lost money and big loans came due. He accepted payment other than money for his services. He and my mom always showed gratitude for the fresh garden vegetables, eggs, cream, and even bags of pinto beans that Dad brought home for our family table. I never once heard my dad or mom complain that the food payment was no where near the cash value of the dental work performed. However, he never received a live chicken! 🙂

    • And I have to share this one about your dad, Jim, because he died before you and I even dated, but I love what this story says about his generosity. Your dad helped the priest and nuns at St. Joseph’s with their dental needs. When he died, at his funeral the priest told what a fine man your father was and how he would live on in the hearts of those who knew him. And the mouths, too–and he pointed to his own mouth–and talked about fillings and crowns and all kinds of dental work he’d done for the parish. It was a humorous touch about all that your dad did to take care of and help so many others.
      Your parents and mine were gracious people who served their communities, helped others, and made a difference in the lives of others.
      We both had exceptional parents and role models.

  26. Karin Van den Bergh

    “Ladies please, let’s not lose our heads..Lose our heads?!!” 😀 made me think of the movie Chicken Run.
    I love reading your posts Marilyn. They’re so much fun, full of insight ànd perspective! I love the comment thread you had with Marianbeaman on how you come about the ideas to write. Isn’t it lovely how inspiration talks to us in so many different ways? Much love xx

    • Thank you, Karin. What a funny comment from CHICKEN RUN! If there was a cartoon child in the background, frozen in place as a chicken’s head was cut off and it ran crazily–headless–around the year, spattering blood everywhere…that child would be me!
      It is amazing how inspiration to talks differently to each of us!

  27. Love the quotes as well as the visual that you offered to remember perspective, Marylin. I’m pretty sure I’ll think of you and your gracious mother when I hear that expression in the future!

  28. jakesprinter

    Great story Marilyn.. I love the quotes too.. Good intensions are always working your mother`s right Thanks for sharing my friend 🙂

    • You’re very welcome, Jake. You’re right; my mother did always given others the benefit of the doubt and assume their intentions were good. I’m glad that you and others are able to see that in her.

  29. jmksheep

    Ah … life! I am one of the few who actually wish you would have had pictures to share! 🙂

    • Back then–and remember, Jan, I was a child, so this was LONG ago–even if I’d had a camera handy, I doubt I would have been able to take pictures. I was frozen in place with all this happening around me, and my hands were probably shaking too hard to take a picture!

  30. Marylin, your love for your mother pours out in your writing and all these beautiful recollections are so enriching. Your quotes are quite fitting for this blog post.

    I didn’t grow up on a farm, but we raised chickens for meals. We didn’t use an ax as part of the preps for dinner, but a sharp knife. I won’t go into details, but I can picture the scene you described with the fence. Watching the preparation process did not deter the children from enjoying the dinner, it was a way of life for us.

    • And let me guess: as a child, you didn’t name chicks or play with them like pets, right? I’ve had several people tell me that on the farm they named horses and dogs and barn cats, but never any of the animals that would become food.
      Thanks for your insights about raising chickens for food.

  31. That huge art work is amazing.
    Chicken? My dad’s family raised poultry during the Depression and delivered dressed chickens every Saturday in Parsons to raise more money. He HATED chickens, any fowl really. He did not eat fried chicken until he was over 60 years old when he finally found the wonder of Chicken Annie’ and Chicken Mary in Pittsburg. I never thought I would see the day but enjoyed sharing fried chicken with him–finally!

  32. Chicken Annie’s and Chicken Mary’s??? Oh, Claudia, we share another very important memory if you also ate at one of those two places! Just thinking about Chicken Annie’s German slaw and potato salad–instead of the mayonnaise-based commercial kinds of other places–starves me for their meals.
    We began driving there after church on summer Sundays when you parked your car on the big open field and waited for them to call your name. Some people spread out table cloths on the ground and played checkers or cards or knitted or read books while they waited.
    They served the summer chicken dinners on picnic tables and had cooked the meals in the little 4-room house…and they had gone out back and beheaded chickens, and the boiling water was waiting. But of course they didn’t show that!

    • Hudson Howl

      I enjoy these last comments. The vernacular of food is interesting and telling of time and place and people.

      • They really do, don’t they? I was surprised when Claudia mentioned Chicken Annie’s (our choice over the primary rival, Chicken Mary’s). The husbands were Italian strip miners (there are still miles of twisting, dangerous pits hidden winding through the woods), and the wives, Annie and Mary, baked Italian bread and eventually opened their own home-run weekend chicken diners. Kansas has Italian settlements in the southeast, Russian in the west central, Czech in the northwest, French in another part, German in another; it’s a melting pot of hardworking immigrants descendants from the early 20th century, a very interesting combination.

  33. Michele Seminara

    What a fabulous perspective your mum (and you) have Marylin! Thanks for sharing it with us x

  34. Hudson Howl

    I was born country mouse and all which that in tails/entrails (entails). I am at home in this, story wise and with the message. It also has a universal global smartness to it. When it comes to perspective, the world is changing, literally. The world itself, a book, a painting, a tsunami, a mountain, a military coup, doctrine to doctorate has been essentially reduced to the size of a smart phone or tablet screen.

  35. You’re so right, but that’s also part of the reason I want the lessons I learned from my mother (which came from her mother, etc.) to be written down so they don’t get lost in the shuffle. Your tails/entrails/entails is great!

  36. That Van Gogh had me fooled! I was going to ask if you had painted it and then I saw the other photograph. I’ve never seen such a large piece of art presented on an easel out in the open like that. Incredible!
    I was amazed for another reason to see that you have written about ‘perspective’. I have literally just put my post up for the weekly photo challenge, the theme of which is perspective!
    The chicken story does remind of me growing up on a farm (although we weren’t the farmers) and being taught how to pluck a chicken and also watching my mother prepare fresh road-killed pheasant (which I refused to eat also!) I’ve not seen a chicken run around headless like this though, must have been something. Reading about your mom’s perspective on it was wonderful, each time I read your posts I get to know you, your mom and your family a little better, like a rich story unfolding before my eyes.
    Lovely post Marylin, as always 🙂
    PS I will now try to get over to Tracy’s blog, haven’t been able to do that either but for some reason things seem a bit better this evening…

    • I’m glad things are better, Sherri. Just remember the chicken running around with its head cut off…and laugh and take a deep breath and slow down.
      Road-kill pheasant? The things our mother’s fixed for our dinners! And we lived to tell about it…and appreciate their efforts. It does help put it in perspective.
      The Van Gogh puts art appreciation in a small Kansas town in a new perspective, too! I love what they’ve done.

  37. Diana Stevan

    Marylin, your post about your mother, along with quotes from Thoreau and Jung, imparts so much wisdom. The whole “in the eyes of the beholder” is what differences are all about.

    I remember seeing my grandfather cut a chicken’s head off. You never forget it. It’s shocking to see how long they live afterwards; it’s an insane dance. It does make you wonder about life. I like how your mother respected the farmer’s gift and tried to help you see it as that. She’s a remarkable woman.

    I also like the Norman Rockwell paintings you’ve put up. Robert and I visited the Norman Rockwell museum in Stockbridge, Mass. this past fall and we have a calendar with 12 of his paintings on our fridge. Hugs.

    • “An insane dance.” Diana, you’ve described it eloquently. And you’re right, it’s shocking. For me, especially, who just hours later, saw pieces of the chicken fried and being passed around the dinner table.
      Hugs to you, too.

  38. I just found your blog, Marilyn, and your story, as with other readers, reminds me of my youth on the farm. I saw many “chickens with their heads cut off” and was more often that not, the forced labor in plucking them. All in all though, that was a simpler and, in its own way, a more gentle time. I miss the calm predictabllity of it. Seems we share a connection to alzheimers. My father was afflicted with it also. You have a wonderful blog and your stories are first rate. I’ll come visit again soon

    • It was a simpler time, you’re right. That day I was appalled about watching the chicken run around with its head cut off, I had no concept of my dad’s Alzheimer’s and my mom’s dementia in the future, and what that would mean. Thanks for joining us! Please visit again and share your insights about dealing with your father’s Alzheimer’s. We’re all learning from each other.

  39. My father grew up on a farm, and his mother dispatching chickens was a regular sight for him. If we’re going to be meat eaters, we also should understand how it ends up in those neat packages we buy at the stores. Much as we might idealize the brighter and happier sides of life, we need to know and experience some of the darker and more difficult aspects, too.

    I may have said this before, yet it’s still true if I have. Your posts are always so wonderfully thought-provoking.

    • I just finished reading what you called a “mis-mash” blog post, and talk about thought-provoking. My mother was a kindergarten teacher until my brother and I were born, and she would have loved the 5-year-old you.

  40. Thank you for sharing your mother’s wisdom Marylin. Having lived on a farm, I’ve seen chickens running around with their heads cut off. My grandfather was a butcher, so I’ve seen cows and pigs slaughtered too. I have to agree with you; it’s very hard to eat meat afterwards. It changes your perspective… at least for a while.

    That replica of van Gogh’s painting looks amazing. Great pictures! Now, I have to add Goodland, Kansas to my bucket list of places to visit.

    • Theresa, your photographer’s eye would have a great time with the 80-ft. high van Gogh painting copy on the huge easel. It’s truly amazing.
      We’ve both seen chickens running around with their heads cut off, but we still can eat chicken, so it must have been a live-and-learn-and-adapt lesson.

  41. Jane Thorne

    What a lovely post Marylin and I love the Kansas artwork. Dr Wayne Dyer says ‘If you can’t change things, then change the way you look at them’…but we didn’t have this wisdom as children. Chicken for the pot, as achild, always gave me the ‘heebeegeebees’.. Xx

    • Heebeegeebees is the right word, Jane–I love it. We do have to the change the way we look at things, but even now if I watched a chicken running around with its head cut off, no way could I eat it that night for dinner!

      • Jane Thorne

        I am so with you there Marylin, I have gone vegetarian for months at a time because of this!! 🙂

  42. Karen Keim

    I just read this entry and it really hits the right chord for me. Thanks, Marylin. I saw a pig killed in Congo, which we then ate after it was roasted. It was very difficult to get that image out of my mind. I am still looking for ways to not let such things take over my sense of well-being. Great image of the blood on the white picket fence!

    • Thanks, Karen. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      I’m not sure I’ll ever completely be unaffected by watching animals die; after visiting a slaughter house (and it turned out to be one of the better, more humane ones) I did not eat beef for a very long time. That was years ago, and just thinking about it now gives me pause.
      Mom kept the chicken incident and the blood on the fence in perspective because she knew the farmer who brought the chicken for her meant well and wanted to be helpful. I, on the other hand, didn’t see past the headless chicken spraying blood all over the fence as it ran.

  43. There’s certainly a lot to find out about this topic. I really like all of the points you have made.

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