family, Home Life, Uncategorized

Ode to the Good Ole’ Days

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This story is a continuation to my previous posts about my childhood days on the farm. You can find those posts in my archives.
Even though these stories may seem simple and somewhat ordinary, they are still share-worthy because the memories which I hold dear from that simple, country life are important times, not only in my own history, but for that era in which people and communities lived and grew. Some of these small communities and rural areas are now almost unrecognizable. As housing, industry and commercialized agriculture expands, the small farm livelihood and purpose shrinks.
So, if you too experienced childhood on the farm, or even if you didn’t, I hope my stories will bring a smile to your heart as you recall your own yesterdays.

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I was about 5 years old when my Mother remarried and we moved to the outskirts of a tiny town called Buena. It was a nice little rural community in those days. It was small, but had a little convenience store, post office, a tiny public library, beauty shop, and a small elementary school within walking distance from our home.
I have always loved the house we lived in. It was less than a mile from town, and sat on about an acre or so of land. The red, 2-story home resembled a barn, with a white, covered porch expanding across the front of the house. To a small child like I was, it felt like a mansion!
I shared a large, upstairs bedroom with some of my sisters, but outside was where we had most of our fun! It was a fantastic place to play! Oh, there were so many things to do!

 

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Farm life suited us just fine. We had quite an array of animal life as well.

 

 

Mom had a beautiful, golden-brown Jersey milk cow, and we also had horses, chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs, goats, dogs and cats! My favorite cat was a huge, yellow-tabby tomcat, which I would pet and talk to on the back porch for hours!

 

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My Mother, being the hard-working, ambitious woman she was, put the farm to work producing an abundance of food and produce for her family. I don’t know when she ever slept, as she worked from sun up til sun down, and then some!
But I truly believe she loved every bit of it. Seeing the bounty being canned, frozen, and stored away to meet the needs of her big family must have given her peace of mind, knowing her children would be fed well.
One year, she built 2 very large, framed screens, and set them up in the front yard. After lining them with plastic wrap, she spread a thin layer of pureed fruit over them which dried into home-made fruit leather (today they are called fruit roll-ups). She also used the screens to sun-dry sliced apples and other fruit in the fresh, natural sunshine.
Frozen cherries were one of our favorite summer time snacks, as well as sweetened, frozen sliced peaches. There was also plenty of home-canned cherries, peaches and pears.
At that time, there were 7 or 8 kids still living at home, which included my stepfather’s 2 school aged children. The youngest, a girl, was only 2 months younger than me, and my Mom would often sew matching outfits for us. (See picture below)

 

One winter, the older children built a real ice igloo!

 

You can’t spend all those hours out on the farm, and not have a few battle scars.

 

For instance, my hand bears scars from the day I ran out the back door to play. The front door was open, causing the back door to firmly slam shut, quickly taking the tip of my finger off. All I remember is screaming at the sight of the blood, and my mother wrapping my hand in a towel and holding me while I was taken to the hospital, where skin was grafted from my hand in order to repair my finger.

 


It wasn’t all fun and playing, as there were plenty of chores to be done. Pulling weeds in the garden wasn’t much fun, whereas collecting the eggs and giving the pigs their stinky, mushy food was definitely more interesting to me.

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One particular evening, it was my turn to wash the dishes. I was probably about 8 or 9 years old. But that night, my older sister was having a slumber party and I didn’t want to wash dishes, I wanted to hang out with my sister’s friends!

 

So I carried on to my Mother about it, whining, and fussing and complaining, and I mean, I just kept on and on in my misery!
Mom finally had enough, and she firmly said, “Oh, just go on then! I’ll do them myself!”

 

Woo-hoo! I was free! I got to go have fun, right?
No! Because then, I felt so terrible and guilty, that I started crying and crying and begging my Mom to “please let me do the dishes!”, but she wouldn’t!!

 

My poor Mother! Whatever a wit’s end is, I’m sure I drove her to it that night!

 

Of course, it wasn’t a perfect time of life, and we had our share of difficulties, tragedy and loss, but because of our foundation of love… we endured.

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Faith, Home Life, Uncategorized

Don’t Forget to Look Up

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It’s hard to believe we’ve been in our house just about three and a half years. I guess when a house really feels like home and you allow yourself to finally put down deep roots, it feels like you’ve been planted there longer.

 

We have completed several renovation projects on our small home, one of which was a complete kitchen remodel. I like to add my own unique touches and features that make my home feel welcome and warm for my family and guests.

 

The kitchen ceiling is one of those, with a recessed section in the middle of it, and a hand-painted medallion which shows off the beautiful light fixture. It’s a lovely feature.

 

But you know what? I seldom enjoy it anymore because when I’m in the kitchen, I never look up! I’m just so focused on my task or walking through to wherever I’m going, and I don’t think to look up. My gaze is fixed on my eye-level view.

 

So when my granddaughter said the other day, “Grandma, that’s a really pretty light”, I looked up and said “Yes, it is!”. And the Lord placed this thought in my heart.

 

“Don’t forget to look up!”

 

It’s so easy to forget to do that! Life gets busy, there are so many world events that overwhelm our sense of security, not to mention our own personal life crises. Discouragement causes our gaze to drop and we barely find the strength to just get through today. It skews our perspective.

 

Knowing we would face those times, God gave us reminders in His Word to lift up our eyes!

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I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you—
the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.”  Psalm 121

 

Jesus lived this himself as an example for us to follow, when his dear friend Lazarus died and upon arrival at the scene, He gave thanks to His Father in heaven for hearing Him and for the miracle He knew was about to take place.

 

“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.”  John 11:41

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Oh, my prayer is that while I am busy with this life, that my eyes will remain fixed on Him! That I will never forget to look up!

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(Photo- Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)

Home Life, Living Life, Uncategorized

June Bugs!

June Bugs. 

At least that’s what we have always called them. The proper name is- Ten lined June Beetle. 

Let me describe this little creature, in case you don’t already know about it. My most sincere apologies to anyone with a bug phobia! I can hear my sisters now saying ‘Ewww!’, and now laughing. 

When I was growing up, this dreaded little bug struck fear into the very depths of my being! 
I was an outdoorsy farm-girl. I loved frogs-and still do-I played with worms, ladybugs and rolly pollys (sow bugs).

I baited my own fishing lines for goodness sakes!

So what is it about these tiny crawly-critters that I hate so much?

First of all, they are not tiny. They are 1- 1 1/2 inches in length and up to 3/4 inch wide, off-white in color with greenish-brown stripes on their hard outer shell. They have large, fuzzy antennae. 

But the worse feature is their long ‘sticky’ legs. By sticky, I mean they stick to things- like screen doors in the summer evenings…and skin…and hair! Makes me cringe just thinking about it.
They come out in the heat of the summer, usually in the later part of the day, and are attracted to the light. So just about every evening, we would find at least one or two of them clinging to the screen door. We could examine and poke at them from the ‘safety’ of the indoors, but wouldn’t dare go out there and risk having them land on us.


Many years ago, after I got married, all the family gathered at my Mother’s house in the summer for a hot dog/marshmallow roast. It was dark outside and we had a big, roaring fire going. It was great fun. But all of a sudden, we were invaded!




June bugs love light and heat, and they began flying all around- oh yes! they fly, too!- and we all started ducking and flailing around, putting whatever we had over our heads, because you do not want one of them landing in your hair, and we dashed for the house! A few of the critters hitched a ride inside with us. Oh my! What an exciting time, right?! Oh, I can laugh about it now!

I forgot to tell you one more thing about June bugs. They hiss! Loudly!

One particular summer evening, two of my sisters and I were rehearsing some songs, using microphone equipment. It was hot and stuffy in the room, so we had opened the door.

All at once, we heard a sound…a hissing sound. We looked around, and there it was.


Sitting on Debbie’s shoulder was a huge June bug, the microphone amplifying it’s already loud hissing! I don’t recall Debbie’s reaction, but I’m certain that if it had been me, there would have been some screeching, and jumping, and carrying on.

I know the unique June bug has a purpose in the balance of nature, although I could do without them!

 
More information and pictures in case you want to know more:

inaturalist.org

(photos- public domain)

family, Home Life, Uncategorized

Setting Priorities

I am finding so much fulfillment in writing/blogging. It feels like this is what I am supposed to be doing at this point in my existence. It makes my simple, obscure life seem like there is purpose after all.

I am so thankful to the Lord that He directed me to this. And I truly mean, it was Him who did so and as long as He fills me with a message, or insight, memories worth sharing, and lessons to be learned, I will continue with expectation and gratitude.

So, if that is the case, I am going to have to commit to prioritizing some things. I would love nothing more than to sit at this screen all day and write, to read the stories of my new blogging community, and develop this into whatever its potential is.

But it doesn’t make for a productive household, meals for the family, or physical wellness. Therefore, I will commit to learning to balance this new-found passion with this life God has blessed me with.

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Inspired via Daily Prompt: Commit

(Photo credit-Robin Abrams, A Song In My Heart)

family, Home Life

Uncle Bob

When I was a little girl, there was a very special man in my life.img_2366
My Uncle Bob.

Oh, he was a tall, handsome, funny, and loving man. He always made me feel so special, even when I became an adult. I think he made all of my siblings feel special, too.

He was a secure male role-model for us, the father-figure we all needed at that time.
He never yelled at us, always loved it when my Mother would take us to their little house for a visit. They never made us feel like we were a bother and we were always welcomed.
In fact, he and his family helped my Mom many times, as she single-handedly worked to raise her children with little income, sometimes bringing groceries or big boxes of apples or oranges at Christmas time.
Whenever we went over and I had a splinter, he would give me a whole quarter so that I would let him take it out. A quarter doesn’t sound like much, but at that time, you could load up on the penny candy at the store!

My sister Shelby recently confessed that when she knew we were going to Uncle Bob’s house, she would run her fingers over the wooden porch rails, trying to get a sliver. Sometimes it would work!

 

He would engage my sister Gwen in a game of checkers, using quarters as the game pieces, and somehow she always ‘won’.

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And every now and then he would bring out the favorite toy. It was a wind-up Mickey Mouse that would play the xylophone, turning side to side, bending up and down, while arms alternated in motion. The most interesting and mechanical toy I had ever seen!

 

 

 

 

But what I loved most about going to his house were the music jams.

He would get on the old organ or piano, Aunt Mary would sit at the drums, and whoever else played an instrument would join in. The children were always encouraged to be part of the music. We gathered around, sitting on the floor, and played maracas, the triangle, the tambourine, and other percussion instruments.

The songs ranged from old traditional hymns, to fun old-time ones like “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea”. If you’ve never heard it, here’s a link. Be forewarned, it will probably be stuck in your head for the rest of the day, but it’s a fun song!

There were big band favorites like ‘In the Mood’. Uncle Bob loved playing that one and would just let it go on the organ or piano. And my cousin Marilyn was always requested to sing “Teddy Bear”.

It wasn’t just the music that we loved, it was the special time of gathering together with family and finding joy even when times were hard.

When I asked some of my family to reminisce about the days at Uncle Bob’s house, there was one thing that stood out the most to all of us.

We felt loved.

family, Home Life, Uncategorized

Stepping Out of the Cover

I guess you could say that my early childhood was quite sheltered.

Since I spent most of my time at home with my family, and because many of the secular influences which have so saturated society today were not prevalent in our home, I didn’t know about a lot of ‘worldly ‘ things until later. I was quite naïve.

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But when I was in the 5th grade, I began to swear. Yes…
I remember clearly that time in my life. I was happy, I had great friends, I loved school and I was beginning to learn more about the ‘world’. I was slowly coming out of my shell and on occasion was quite bold.

Well, I decided that cool kids cuss and that I was going to do it, too.

So we were just having a great day and the opportune time came, and I let it go.

I clearly and intentionally said “Crap!”….Oh. Yes. I. Did.

I said again, “Crap!”  Was I cool or what?!   Oh, I said it several times!

Mind you, I don’t think I knew many other words to choose from. I certainly didn’t know the “S” word or the “F” word, and if I did, they were absolutely in the off-limits category. But ‘crap‘ was deemed pretty bad in my book, so I went with that one.
At home, there were words we were not allowed to say. Like ‘butt‘, or the names of any other unmentionable body part.

We did not say ‘pee pee’ or the slang-term for any other private bodily function, and if we did, you can be sure that someone was going to tell on you!

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Oh, I’m not complaining about being so protected. I am quite glad that my early childhood was not blemished by the crude world, and that I was simply allowed to remain in my childhood innocence, at least for a short time.
Soon enough, the negative, perverse nature of the world would touch my life and threaten my future with poor choices, others’ ill-intentions, and the knowledge of things which bring corruption to the mind, body, and soul.

P.S. The cussing thing? Wasn’t really my thing.

family, Home Life, Uncategorized

Digging To China

I don’t think there is anything more primal than kids and dirt. You place a kid in front of a dirt pile, and they know exactly what to do. No prompting needed. I love how instinctual it is. They grab handfuls of it and soak in that earthy feeling of satisfaction, like it’s becoming a part of them. 
I remember all the hours and hours I spent playing in the dirt mounds at my childhood home. Mud pies by the dozens! In fact, I think most of my early childhood days were spent outdoors. I don’t remember my Mother ever telling us to not get dirty or getting angry at us for tracking dirt in the house. If she did, it wasn’t harsh enough that it made a lasting memory. We were outside playing, doing what kids were supposed to be doing…and we were happy. 
So as we are planning out and landscaping our little backyard, it is important to me that it be a place not just for my husband and I to enjoy, but also an atmosphere where my grandchildren can store away lasting memories of all the fun they had at Grandma’s house.

There is a small corner of the yard we reserved for them, filled with dirt and sand, because little boys and even little girls love to dig and they need to have the experience of getting dirty and burying the trucks and plastic men in the dirt and making roads. Their little faces, greyed with a nice coating of earth, looking up at me and proudly saying, “Look what I made Grandma!”

A couple of times, two of my grandchildren grew very excited at the prospect that they just might dig all the way to China! Future archeologists! 

And yes some of that dirt from China is going to end up in my house, on the rug, on the couch, and I’m going to spend quite a bit of time sweeping the floors.

I expect that a few of the flowers might not survive my little grandsons, but flowers are replaceable, aren’t they? Floors are easily swept and mopped, right?

When they walk in the door and would rather go outside and play than sit and play a video game or get on their device, that’s a win. 

But they won’t always want to dig in the dirt or play outside. These times are to treasure. 

Let them dig….let them get a little dirty….let them be children.

(Photo credit-Robin Abrams)

Home Life, Uncategorized

The Outhouse

It was about 3 years ago, I was busy in the house doing some chores, happy to just be home with the family enjoying the weekend. It hadn’t been too long since we had first moved in, and we were still making it our own.

My husband was outside, and after cleaning out the old garage that sat directly behind our little house, the entrance facing the alley, he was backing the boat into its home. It had been sitting on my sister’s property because our new small home didn’t have a place for it. I know my husband was very happy to be bringing it home at last.

Going into the kitchen, I looked out the window that faced our small backyard, and the back of the garage, and what did I see?

The boat motor protruding thru a very large, cut-out hole in the garage wall! What?!

What did he do?!   (flabbergasted, can’t-believe-my-eyes laughter inserted here)

Yep, the garage measurement wasn’t quite adequate to fit the boat AND the outboard motor. Well, that’s a problem! So what’s a guy to do?….You make it fit! (Still laughing as I write this lol)

Now, we had NOT put up our privacy fence yet and, bear in mind, we live on one of the main streets running through our little town, in clear view of anyone who happens to be driving by.

Oh! I could only imagine our neighbors’ disbelief as they too looked out and saw that! We had already gotten to know a few of the adjacent neighbors, and I knew they all had a sense of humor, thank goodness, and had to be laughing and just couldn’t wait to see what Andy was going to do next.

No, I didn’t get upset. It was just too comical for that.

So now what? We needed a solution. The boat was not going to fit anywhere else.      

Well, let’s build around it then! When you get lemons, you make lemonade, right?!

Here was his solution. We affectionately call it ‘The Outhouse’. And you know what?

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I love it!

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Home Life

My Little Bit of Earth

After being in our home for a little over 3 years now, we are finally making the landscaping suitable for enjoying. Privacy fencing, brick-edged lawn, and a white pergola. 

I adore anything vintage, weathered and worn, with time-earned character, especially if it also contains a bit of history. So, many of the things I’ve collected over the years finally have an audience and make my cozy backyard a place I want to be. 

The white-metal, vintage table and chairs, which has been waiting patiently in the basement, now has a lovely home on the patio where it can be appreciated. The old black and silver-plated wood stove I’ve kept for the last 20+ years can finally come out of hiding. And the rusty old milkcan anchors it all and makes all the surroundings look like they’ve been here forever. 

Clematis blooms under the pergola are making a show of themselves at the moment, inviting me to sit down and take a rest. 

It’s not a perfect oasis yet, for there are plenty of those pesky weeds fighting to survive. But they still pale in comparison to the little showcases of beauty here and there. 

Today I’ve been busy today adding more plant life. Hostas, succulents, day lilies and more. I really have to keep a reign on myself lest I lose control and fall victim to the planting fever!

One of the things I love about our piece of property in the city, it that it is small and manageable, an important feature for future circumstances, namely, when I’m too old to bend over!

Each time I dig a hole for a new plant, I can’t help but think about my Mother. She is the one who instilled in me the inclination to want to grow things. All those times she would send us kids out to pull weeds, or to help plant the tomatoes and onions, or help to harvest the bounty, left a desire in me to carry on the examples she left for me. 

Most of all, it makes me stop and think of the Creator of all this botanical beauty. Full of wisdom, design and intricacy it is! Each flower on that clematis vine is as perfect and pristine as the others, the aroma of the thyme in the planter box speaks of earth’s savory goodness. If you stop and think about it, that dirt you hold in your hand? That very bit of earth has been here since God spoke it into existence!

Laying out a garden is like painting a picture with God’s paint pallet for the medium and the rich earth as the canvas. Colors, textures, aromas, grand enough to create a masterpiece that feeds the eyes, the nose and our very souls! There is a soothing comfort in it which no man-made invention can boast of.

‭‭”Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you the truth, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.”  Luke 12:27