Wednesday, December 26, 2012

By Candlelight

This is a piece I wrote some time ago, but with the snow in Ohio, I think it is just perfect for you today.

Forecast: Ice and snow coming in Friday night, leaving on Sunday. Hm. Time to get some food, just in case. Maybe I should grab a log or two in preparation. What will I do without a TV and computer? Another, hm. Wow, not nearly as exciting as ‘no power’ on the farm, or when my kids were young, and we were electricless.

Me on Dad's sled
When the power went out on the farm, we moved to the basement. The fireplace kept us toasty and offered a wonderful place to roast hot dogs.  Mom always had chips and dip on hand, hot dogs and buns, and, at this time of the year, nuts and popcorn balls. It was an event. Seems like we never minded it too much.The gravel on the lane wore an icy coat that offered no traction, yet Dad would bundle up and hop up on the tractor with the scraper on the front and a chain on the back. Neighbors would have clean driveways and cars would be pulled from the ditch when Dad passed by. Food could be brought in to neighbors, rides given to stranded travelers and Dad having a blast doing it all. Red faced he would return to the house full of stories and laughter. Once in awhile he even brought a visitor.

When my kids were growing up, we loved the ‘powerless’ times when games were played, the fireplace roared and boredom was replaced with creativity. We really weren’t powerless. In fact, I think perhaps those were some of most bonding times with my children. I considered it our camping time since I'm not camper. We were roughing it.

Rarely does the power go off here in Oregon. Everyone here goes to Mt. Hood or Mt. Bachelor for the snow. If we do get that white blanket of snow here in the valley, I will bundle up by a fire with a good book or two in hand. Perhaps even a few new stories will venture into my head. Of course, they will need to have some staying power, since my computer will be down and my hands cannot write for long. Still it is always an adventure that I love working and reading by candlelight.

Being without power reminds us of a time when there was no electricity, when lives were simpler and dealing with the quirks of nature just part of life in the country. We reached back in time to make do with what we had available. We were not powerless. The snow was a gift.

I miss seeing Dad ride off on that tractor with a big smile on his face, and his return with the stories of his adventures. I miss seeing Doris walk into the house from a hike up the lane coming to visit her neighbors. Red cheeks and bundled head to toe, she joined us by the fire. I miss the silence that accompanies a world without power. The white quiet that can indeed be inspirational.

I didn't get a white Christmas, but I know it snowed back the lane on Neff Road.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

You are my angel

Little girl:  Daddy it won't bubble
Daddy:  Let it warm up, Pam. It will in a little bit.
Little girl:  Daddy, it still won't bubble.
Daddy:  Just flick it with your fingers.
Little girl: Oooooo
The bubble lights brought the tree to life.

Daddy:  Come here, Pam. (The Daddy lifted the little girl holding the blue angel.) Can you reach it?
Little girl: Ooooooo. She's beautiful.

Dad: A car is coming down the road! I think its them. It is!
We all run to the door when the gravel scatters beneath the wheels of the car. I was first out of the house. My sister June was the next to arrive.

Baby Stacey was in bed. Jobi, Brad and Trevor opened presents laughing as paper scattered around the living room. Mom and Dad laughed. I swear he had a tear in his eye.

The family would gather only one more Christmas. James was added to the family by then. The family was even more scattered. The old bubble lights were replaced by snowball lights. The angel more tattered resided in the box while a star took her place.

I placed the old red bell on the tree. A piece of thread looped over the branch. To my grandchildren it looked old and outdated. To me it held all the years of Christmas on the farm.

The bubble light was firmly pushed into the socket. It was time for the store to open.

Nathale: Just tip the light over so it will bubble.
Pam:  No, just flick it with your fingers.

Once more the little girl was seated beneath the tree watching the bubbles rise. Once more she was home.

Pam:  Dad, can I put the angel on the top of the tree once more.
Dad:  Oh, Pam, didn't you know? You are my angel.

Merry Christmas and season good wishes to you all. I send each and every one of you my love. Pass it on.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Let there be peace on earth

Red twinkling lights welcoming the Christmas season.

"When I'm worried and I can't sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings." Irving Berlin gave me the words I think of often. This holiday season I am truly counting those blessings. I am surrounded by blessings.

For days I have started this writing only to find myself at a dead end. Now for a woman who has a head full of words, this is alarming. This holiday season began with excitement and anticipation then this changed. The change came with red flashing lights. Just a few days ago there was a shooting at the mall. I heard from many of you checking in to see if me and my family were safe and well. Thank you for your concern. The Clackamas Mall is on the other side of the city yet one we visit. The woman who was killed was the hospice nurse for a friend of ours. The man was a friend of one of my friends. Too close to home. Flashing red lights.

This morning I wake to find that there has been a shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut. My heart is heavy. So much pain for so many families. My granddaughters are afraid. The asked me what to do if there was a shooter, a fire, an accident, an earthquake. The children are afraid. It has come out that people carrying guns for protection at the mall were trying to shoot the running murderer at the mall. Guns firing wildly. Fear causing chaos. Flashing red lights. Lives changed forever.

I don't write this piece as a downer. I write this piece to tell of the pain in the world. The pain of those children raised in homes of violence who become angry adults. Of those who are starving and have no help in sight. Of those suffering in the arms of war. Of those with illness and loneliness. I write this piece to ask for help. The kindness of a warm voice, a caring hand, a look into someone eyes can be a simple gift to another. Attending school programs for friends, neighbors, relatives tells that you care. A visit with a shut in is a gift in itself. Helping those who are depressed and/or angry to find their help sources. To send cards with a note. To reach out beyond your comfort zone to make a difference in someone's life. Let us be part of peace on earth.

All babies are born in innocence just as that baby who was in a manger. We all have a chance, a choice to make a difference in what happens in life of the child as that child grows into adulthood. Red lights flashing.

"Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me."

Monday, December 3, 2012

Notice for Neff Road readers

Movie News!!! I just found out AN AMISH MURDER (based on my novel Sworn to Silence) will premier on Lifetime Sunday January 6, 2013 at 9:00 Eastern time. I am officially excited!!!!!
Linda Castillo writes Amish murder mysteries based on the area of Neff Road. She uses names of roads and surnames of the residents. Instead of Painter Creek it is Painters Mill. Her books are some of my favorite being a mystery buff. I hope you join me in watching and let me know what you think. 

In Her Eyes

I sat looking at the picture of the Johnson women of our family and was overwhelmed with emotion. It wasn't the first time this has happened. So I have decided to investigate a bit and figure out why this picture of my grandmother affects me as deeply as it does. Who was this woman and who now has her face? To begin with, I know very little of my maternal grandmother. Mom Johnson was not the warm, sensitive grandma. At least that is what I have heard. She was a tough woman being married to Pop Johnson, my grandfather. Pop was a hard man with a temper. His discipline to his daughters was often severe. My grandmother never interceded.

Pop and Mom Johnson
I'd always been told that  Mom Johnson was barely a teen when she married Pop, but according to the records, she was seventeen to his twenty years. She raised three daughters and a son. Raising daughters with a man who had no respect for women must have been terrible. I can't begin to imagine her life. She had rebellious daughters who left home as soon as possible leaving my mother who was much younger behind. My uncle was, of course, the apple of the family eye. He would be the one to continue the family name and to work the soil his father and grandfather had cleared.

I see in my grandmother's eyes a tenderness or perhaps a longing. My heart breaks wondering what she endured, knowing that her voice was silenced giving all power to my grandfather.  She had daughters who demanded their freedom, a freedom she never had in her life. They stretched the limits giving voice to their anger while she had to deny her voice and agree with her husband. There is a sadness in her eyes.

My grandmother, great-grandmother and mom.
What stirs me most is the familiarity I feel when I see her face, in her eyes. Do I see my own in hers? Do I see that of my sister June? I don't know, but I see a face I recognize today. And, I am drawn to her. Perhaps in some strange way, I am getting to know my grandmother for the first time. I'm not sure anyone cared to know her story. But I will treat her story with kindness for in her eyes I see eyes I love.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Practice, Pam

My feet didn't touch the floor. They hung over the edge of the piano bench. Next to me sat my piano teacher Dortha Hunt. It was the same every Saturday. The Loxley girls came to call at her house with the glassed in porch in Greenville. In the summer we sat on the porch waiting for our lessons. During the colder weather, we sat in the hall watching the student ahead of us. Lessons that were a dollar.

I hardly remember the time before piano lessons. I was seven when I started taking from Dortha, continuing for seven more years. First the right hand exercises. Next the left hand. Then, on to big time with both hands. I really didn't like piano lessons. And.....Dortha always knew I hadn't practiced.

The best part of music lessons was afterwards when we stopped for a hamburger, a shake and French fries at the little Hamburger Shop. It was compensation, I'm sure, for making us take lessons. But there was no compensation to when Mom made me take organ lessons. Sure I could play it, but I didn't want to. If I had to have an instrument, mine was piano. I think Mom always thought one of us would play for church. None of her three daughters went on to play the organ in church.

Dortha and I met a couple of times after I was all grown up. I know I was just one of many students who passed through her door. I think perhaps she remembered me because I was such a challenge. I never memorized music for recitals. I never practiced for my lesson. She ran me through the drills telling me the same thing each week. "Practice, Pam." What she didn't know was that she did teach me. She taught me the skills that I used in later years to be a better pianist. I challenged myself with music that was difficult. I bought a piano because I would be lost without one. I taught Carla and Nick a bit of piano when I was in high school, and have gone on to teach my granddaughters. Dortha, you gave me a gift that I cherish. I may not have practiced the music before me, but it has followed me my entire life.

Dortha recently passed. But my memories of sitting on the piano bench next to her will stay with me forever.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Margaret

She will be ninety-nine on December 4th. She has been in my life for as long as I can remember. There isn't a day that she isn't in my thoughts. A trip  to Ohio is out of the question right now. But, oh, how I want to be there to give her a daughter's hug and kiss. I want to sit next to her and tell her all that she means to me. Oh, how I love you, Margaret Stager.

Me, Brenda, Mom, Peg, Margaret in Michigan
Stager's lived across the field. Every day I looked out the window from our house back the lane to see what was happening at their house across the corn, the wheat, the tobacco, the snow or whatever blanketed the field. If someone was outside, I usually headed their direction. Brenda and I are best friends. We always wanted to build a house between our houses, so we could play together all day and still see the homes of our parents. In retrospect, it was a lousy idea since neither of us could cook or do laundry. Their home was just like mine. Hollie and Margaret handed out discipline but not as much as they did the love. Brenda and I went fishing with our daddies and stood by as they cleaned a mess of fish. I sat in the kitchen while Margaret canned hoping for a taste of her pickles. We were inseparable, and one home was no different than the one next door.

My other Mom and Dad
I remember walking into the kitchen often to see Margaret corraling her daughters around the sink to wash dishes. Their house echoed our own on who would wash and who would dry. When Brenda pulled out her little oven, Margaret watched over us and tasted the little nasty morsels that we baked.  I always knew that Margaret was my mom, too. I knew she would protect me like her own. I knew she would comfort me as her own.

As the years passed, the love I have for her increased....if that is possible. I was as excited to see their house as I was my own when we drove down Neff Road. And, I wasn't home long before Margaret and the girls came to call. The family was united again. I cherish this family. They are a gift to my life.

When my father passed, Hollie told me that he was my father now. I remember wondering if he knew that he had always resided in that spot. He and Margaret were always my parents. I had enough love for two sets of parents.

Blessings come in many ways. One of my best came with Margaret Stager in my life. Happy Birthday, Mom.  I send you a kiss on the cheek and a warm hand on yours. I love you with the love of a daughter's heart.

BTW, if you would like to wish Margaret a Happy Birthday, she resides at the Brethren Retirement Home in Greenville, Ohio.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful for Neff Road

Wild turkeys now roam the countryside where once they were hunted then gone. The idea of hunting a turkey for our Thanksgiving table was about ancient to me as growing maize. A time of pilgrims and simplicity of life. Dad found our turkey looking much like a chicken only a few steps from the house.

Not sure where picture was taken. From the old scrapbook.

The door opened and squeals of happiness erupted. Another Loxley girl was home for the holiday. Dad watched the lane for hours hoping to get the first glimpse of a daughter returning home. We didn't gather often enough. Many times one of us couldn't make it back for one reason or another. Yet this coming home is still something we cherish when we see each other again.

We were greeted with smells of Mom's baking and cooking. Pies sat in a row on the freezer in the garage. She made our favorite pies. Mine was definitely shoo fly pie. We all loved her cream pies and pumpkin. The house was clean but Mom didn't spend time fussing on the house. She fussed in the kitchen, and we reaped the benefits.

Our children once more became reacquainted, tentative at first, best friends at last. Sisters piled into the bathroom for conversations long missed. Husbands found their way to the kitchen table or in the living room visiting with Mom and Dad. Exhausted from travel, we all settled into the womb once more.

I miss my parents deeply at these special times of the year. I miss that my children and grandchildren did not have enough of those experiences with my family. Oregon was just too far away. Distance didn't deter us from keeping the home fires burning. Mom and her daughters started writing a round robin letter keeping up with the news with pictures, news clips and other goodies making the rounds from Ohio to Indiana to Virginia to Oregon. My son decided that he wanted to keep the bond alive for the cousins since rarely did they see one another. For years the letter traveled from Oregon to Mom in Ohio to Indiana to Maryland to Colorado or wherever the cousin lived at the time. Mom loved the letters. They brought the family home again and again. We found them all saved in notebooks when Mom was gone.

The Loxley girls returned home again. Neighbors and relatives opened the doors and squeals rang out again. Long visits over coffee and puzzles. Singing at the piano. Hugging and holding those we missed every day since we had moved to other places. We gathered around the table full of the bounty of the farm and the labor of Mother's hands. Dad blessed our meal and thanked God for these people he seldom saw under the roof of the house back the lane.

Neff Road you are in my heart this Thanksgiving season. If I try real hard I can still smell Mom's chicken roasting full of her wonderful dressing and homemade noodles boiling in rich chicken broth. Once more I am home.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Kalamazoo Stove 1907

They bake, they warm, they clean themselves. Ovens are a marvel to behold. A naked turkey can is basted, stuffed and poked with a timer that allows the oven to bake the bird to perfection. Ah, we've come a long way from when I was a baby.

I sat in my high chair in front of the window overlooking the grape arbor. My grandmother lifted me from my seat as her mother looked on from her rocking chair next to the stove. It is a memory, only one of the three I have of my Grandmother Loxley. A memory long ago etched in time and place.

In 1907 my grandfather bought his bride a new stove. I know because I have the paperwork from the purchase. A receipt from the order sent with a 2¢ stamp. This fancy new stove was every woman's dream. Wood was stacked behind it waiting to be tossed into the chamber that heated the stove. Delicious smells of food mixed with that of burning wood. Much different from what we presently have but a memory of wood smoke and a place to warm oneself on cold winter day. I'm not sure how the stove was delivered let alone carried into the house. I don't know what happened to this wonderful stove when replaced with an electric range. I do know that a turkey would have taken more than a few hours to cook, probably days. Grandad would go to the woodshed to cut pieces of suitable size to replace the burned logs keeping the stove hot and the pile of wood dry and ready. Probably a cast iron kettle sat on a burner adding moisture to the dry winter air. A stove that was more than a stove.

Clothing would be hung by the stove to dry. Boots tucked close enough to erase the rain. Vents from the kitchen to the upper floors would allow warmth to flow into the cold bedrooms along with yummy scents from the kitchen. The stove was more than a place to cook. It was the hub of the house. And, probably in summer, used as little as possible.

My grandmother's life was changed in 1907 as were the lives of other women living around Neff Road. The wood stove would later be replaced with electric. Oil lamps replaced by light bulbs. But the family gathering around the old stove would not be forgotten by those who lived then. A memory of family. A memory of generations of women cooking in the kitchen together.

I look at the brochure that came with the old stove and am warmed with thoughts of a grandmother, a great grandmother, a rocking chair and a huge cast iron stove. It was 1907 when a new stove was delivered back the lane on Byreley Road. The beginning of a new age.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Story Never Told

In my last post, I added a picture of the women of the Johnson family. I sat looking at the picture and was overwhelmed with emotion. It wasn't the first time this has happened. So I have decided to investigate a bit and figure out why this picture of my grandmother affects me as deeply as it does. Who was this woman and who now do I see in her face?

To begin with, I know very little of my maternal grandmother. Mom Johnson was not the warm, sensitive grandma. At least that is what I have heard. She was a tough woman being married to Pop Johnson, my grandfather. I was told the story often of how Pop got so mad at my aunt that he took a horse whip to her. When he was finished, he handed the whip to his son and told him to take his turn. It was a hard day and age and sometimes the men were mean and cruel.

I'd always been told that Mom Johnson was barely a teen when she married Pop, but according to the records, she was seventeen to his twenty years. She raised three daughters and a son. Raising daughters with a man who had no respect for women must have been terrible. I can't begin to imagine her life. She had rebellious daughters who left home as soon as possible leaving my mother who was much younger behind. My uncle was, of course, the apple of the family eye. He would be the one to continue the family name and to work the soil his father had cleared.

The in-laws l to r: Betty Hunt, Sam Fisher, Mom Johnson, my dad, Pop Johnson, Welma Johnson

I see in my grandmother's eyes a tenderness or perhaps a longing. My heart breaks wondering what she endured, knowing that her voice was silenced giving all power to her husband.  She had daughters who demanded their freedom, a freedom she never had in her life. They stretched the limits giving voice to their anger while she had to deny her voice and agree with her husband. There is a sadness in her eyes. One that no one knew was there.

What stirs me most is the familiarity I feel when I see her face. Do I see my own in hers? Do I see that of my sister June? I don't know, but I see a face I recognize today. And, I am drawn to her. Perhaps in some strange way, I am getting to know my grandmother for the first time. Perhaps I am finding compassion for a woman who always was stern and unyielding. I am trying to understand.

We are a present molded from the past. We carry remnants of others in our faces. Our recollections are framed by what we have heard from others. We make our way into a future learning what we can by the bits and pieces of the past. Even a past we can't remember.

I was nine when she died. Today I try to tell a story of a woman I did not know.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Apron Strings

Mom Johnson, Mom, Peggy, Aunt Bess, Aunt Welma, Betty Hunt
I remember standing in Mom Johnson's kitchen while the 'womenfolk' worked around the big oak table that demanded its space in the middle of the room. Aprons hung by the backroom door (along with the bonnets) where everyone could grab one and set to the task of cooking. Aunt Welma, Mom Johnson and Mom, in aprons, moved to an invisible choreographed dance, cooking, preparing the table and never once running into one another. I was small and loved to smell the wonderful aromas that filled those aprons.

Aprons were probably worn to protect one of the few dresses that women owned back then. We didn't do laundry often and had few pieces of clothing. I don't know if we did the 'sniff and wear' test, but I know that we did wear clothing longer than one day. It went along with the baths taken once a week depending on layers of dirt. That's another topic. So Mom in her apron protected a precious dress.

Aprons were used as hot pad holders when transporting a pie from stove to table. They could carry produce from the garden to the kitchen. An apron was a great rag to wave, spooking an escapee cow back to the barnyard. A few eggs could be carried in an apron as well as a few precious morels. Hands could be dried, dust could be removed and tears wiped away.

When I was married, I bought pretty, crisp aprons for the servers to wear. Pretty aprons that couldn't catch a spill much less dry a tear. My mother had several of these aprons as well from weddings past. If I had suggested to my future daughter-in-law that we buy aprons for servers, her reply would be, "What servers? What aprons!?" Yes, the wedding apron has gone by the wayside along with doilies, embroidered pillow cases and, yes, the handkerchief.

I purchased old aprons at estate sales for my granddaughters and their friends to wear when painting. My son has an apron for cooking over the grill. I have an apron for cooking in the closet, er, hanging in the closet for cooking. Hm. I don't like to cook. I don't use the apron.

I made my first apron in 4-H many years ago.......many, many years ago.  I moved it around for years before deciding I would never wear it again. It was white with black polka dots and pockets across the front handy for toting kitchen utensils and envelopes when I went for the mail. For the life of me, I can't remember anything ever finding its way into the apron pockets. I can even remember the apron finding its way around my waist.

The saying "tied to the apron strings" is no longer valid. Evidently we have become tidier cooks no longer in need of these pieces of cloth. The tenderness of a mother's touch wiping a brow or drying a tear with her apron is gone. The smell of the kitchen no longer lies hidden in the cloth. But the memories of the women in my family wearing a well-worn apron, tied in back with a neat bow continues to bring a smile to my face and abundant memories.

I guess I am still tied to the apron strings.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Our History

The hours are terrible. In fact, they are 24/7. All of the income goes back into the business. There are no paid benefits, no sick days and no vacation. The working conditions are not always favorable and risk of injury is possible. The love of job runs deep and never thinks of giving up.

You can buy stock. Of course, this kind of stock is either for milking or beef. Sometimes you take a day off and maybe even a vacation, but you are always on call. It is a profession that seems to be dying away in many parts of the country. Part of the reason is that the population is creeping out of the city into rural areas. Some newcomers are trying new methods, new ideas in farming. Changes have taken place over the years. But still there is a sameness to what went before.

It is not an easy life, this of the farmer. Yet it is a life cherished by those who live it. I think my dad enjoyed being at home where he could run into the house for a glass of water and a kiss from my mother. We were all part of this farm business doing chores and working in the fields. We were a family together most of the time. I feel sorry for those who have never experienced life in a farm family. My, what you have missed.....

We are the history of Darke county not just the history of our families. Within the soil is the life of the earth; the life of its inhabitants. Sons often find the way into the same fields. Daughters marry a future farmer from school. They are continuing this history of Darke County. They are protecting its rich cloak and closeness of community.

The rewards for the farmer are the crops they grow. The rewards of family and extended family. Of neighbors and friends. The rewards are the freedom to grow and build all on your own. And, there are enemies. Market value, government restrictions, weather and diseases lurk waiting to knock down the farmer. Yet time and time again, the farmer rises to the occasion and makes the best of it.

I cheer for the farmer and the families who thrive on the land. I am one of you...and so darn proud of it.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We are Neff Road

Some might think that I have not left my past behind. I would say to them, "You didn't have my past." Perhaps Neff Road is a frame of mind. The simplicity of life that not everyone can understand. A way of looking at the world from a pod of neighborhoods on the west side of Ohio. A pod of loving and caring friends and neighbors.

I love Oregon. I moved to one of the most beautiful states I've ever seen. My move here took place in 1978. Yes, most of my life I have been an Oregonian. I was struggling to keep a marriage together that had suffered irreparable damage. Where could I go? I went home to the farm.

For the first time, my parents sheltered me from everyone. They gave me and my children a place to rest, to heal while I made decisions that would change our lives one way or the other. It was January. Snow had fallen and the hill was white and waiting. Dad pulled out the old sled, the sled that I have now. I sat behind my children, and Dad gave us a shove. I was home once more. I stayed for a month before returning to a different life. I returned stronger from going to my roots.

You might wonder why I didn't return to Neff Road. I knew that I couldn't return to the life I had before I left. I knew that I could not take the kids away from their father in Oregon. I was strong enough to leave knowing that I would take Neff Road with me in a way I did not before. I found a relationship with my parents that I did not have before.

Neff Road was the womb that birthed me. The friends and neighbors there made me who I am today. My journeys back to Neff Road in the past twenty years have not always been easy. Most have been to say 'good-bye' to loved ones. It has been easier than I thought it would be, because I know I am always surrounded by those who were part of that loving family of Neff Road.

We are Neff Road.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Love that Lasts Forever

Nothing prepares us. There are no words that can prepare us for this thing called life, this thing called death. There are no words. There is no preparation. We just go forward as best we can.

One of my favorite people, one I call my other parent, is failing. I will probably not see her again. I don't like being the youngest. I don't like seeing those who have been in my life forever leaving me behind. Oh, yes, I do believe that we will be reunited, but until then, I say good-bye over and over again.

I'm not sure if this is what makes us wiser in our old age. I think perhaps it is. We learn from pain. It begins when we try to walk and fall on our bums. I happens when we send our kids off to college and then into marriage. Then is slams us in the face when we lose that first person we love. I just can't toughen up no matter what I believe. It hurts.

Doris was my rock even when I didn't know it. Their belief was much different than ours. The grandparents were German Baptist and had horses and buggies. We wore bathing suits when washing the car, and I know that Doris disapproved. They were our neighbors at the end of our lane. They saw all of the comings and goings that happened with the Loxley girls. I didn't pay much attention back then. I was a kid on the way to my life.

After I was married and had moved away from Darke County, my trips back often began on the stoop of the Lavy house. We passed the house on the way in which meant that if it was warm weather, Doris and Victor were sitting on the stoop waiting to see when we arrived. I watched for them as much as they watched for me. They were the first stop before we went up the lane if only to roll down a window to say hi. Each day of my visit, I walked to the bridge. If the neighbors were out, I walked down to talk for awhile. We talked of family and weather. We joked about how no one ever wanted me on their side when we played softball in their pasture. So what if I was a lousy player! It always brought a laugh and a memory. They filled me in on the health of my parents who would never tell their daughters a thing. They were as much my home as were those who lived back the lane.

When I lost my parents, Victor and Doris became my family. Doris once told me that she had always watched over me. My heart was so full of love for her. I never knew they cared as much as they did. I had no idea how much they loved me.

Two years ago I last visited them. They now live in the Brethren Home in separate rooms. Doris is in the assisted wing. Sometimes she fails to recognize those she loves. I can hardly wait to see them when I go home. To once more hold their hands and hug them. I know that Doris is failing rapidly. I know that life progresses as it must, but my heart breaks at the news. I wonder if she realizes that now I watch over her with a love born in a small girl back a lane.

This blog is for my dear friends and a thank you for all they have given to me. There is a missing that never ends. And even more so, a love that lasts forever.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Always There

Like a sentinel she sat on the porch, Victor at her side. Doris didn't miss a thing. Over the many years of my youth, I played with their daughters and sons. It was another place I could call home. Marilyn was the only person I ever knew who memorized the Bible. She was a brilliant woman who lost her life in the mission field. Her family grieved, and I grieve with them still. Her older sister, Geneva, became the sister of my heart. When my father lay dying, she helped me to lift him, to tend to him, to grieve for him. Wrapping her arms around me, she gave me a safe place to shed my tears. Merrill, Don and I played together for as long as I can remember. We flew across the barn on the swing, walked the creek, played baseball in the pasture. Lowell came later. Mom babysat for him, and he tagged along behind his older brothers. He became familiar face at our house even after the Loxley girls as moved away.

When the married we girls came home to visit, the walk down the lane always began at Victor and Doris' house then on to Margaret and Hollie's. I always looked forward to the hugs I received as soon as I crossed into the yard. Neighbors who were more than friends. They were family.

My conversations with Victor and Doris had always been light. We talked of family and of the farm. We caught up on the comings and goings of Neff Road. On one visit, Victor was very ill. I sat with Doris in the livingroom. Our conversations turned serious. I shared with Doris how difficult it often was being one of the girls back the lane. "I knew they didn't watch you," she said. "But I did. I always did." Over the years she had kept tabs on me, and I never knew. In those times where I felt I was very much alone, Doris had been watching over me. My love for her grew that day.

Age and illness has taken a toll as it does. Doris and Victor now reside in the Brethren Home. When I visit, we reminisce about days gone by and talk of family. I sit absorbing these two people who mean the world to me. I want once more to sit on the stoop and visit with them. I want once more to run after balls in the outfield. These dear people are part of the family of Neff Road; they are my family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Knee Deep

In case you wonder where I am, I'm knee deep in babies and working on days I don't have babies. Will probably be down to once a week until life settles in. Missing my daily talk with you.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Down a Dirt Road

The Johnson family was traveling to Colorado to see  Great Aunt Molly, my grandfather’s sister. Mom Johnson kept a diary of their trip.

Their trip west was not just about the trip but also about the life and times of Neff Road. Instead of a hotel, they camped. They fished for food, hunted for berries. One town in which they stopped was the small town of Arnold, Missouri. The then population was six. Now the town boasts a population of 20,000. They passed homes still using a well with the bucket on a pulley. Few roads were paved. Some were dirt.

I discovered the year of the trip west from a notation she made when they stayed in a camp in the center of the town Breckinridge Missouri. They stopped at the drug store and heard the returns of the Dempsey/Sharky fight that took place in 1926. They traveled on 5 or 6 gallons of gas between stops. Rainy weather made for pushing the car when it got stuck. The tent was set up daily and torn down the next morning. Meals were cooked over a fire or picked up in town and eaten along the road. They passed through an area alive with grasshoppers 3” long that clung to the car. Some days they made 250 miles.

I love this line: "Monday morning the kids packed a box of grub, took a stove and dishes and started up Hubbard Creek for the day."

Eighty-four years ago this was our country. Neff Road was a dirt road. Horses still pulled plows, and children went to one room schools. I remember when the county came to pave Neff Road. The hot tar bubbled beneath the summer sun. We children ran down the road popping the bubbles of tar then returning home with black spots on our feet. How quickly we have gone from the above day to this age of technology. We have come a long way. A long way from a rich history that began down a dirt road.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Speaking Neff Roadian

Last night, totally exhausted, I took my sleepy self to bed. Snuggling under the covers........ Covers? Not until that moment, did I realize that not many people today would understand the term. Covers are blankets. Most nights my mother would say, "I'll tuck the covers in." We on Neff Road understood the language of our part of the country.

I became more aware of the different speech patterns we Neff Roadians have when reading "The Country Doctor" by Patrick Taylor. In the back of his novel is a glossary of terms. In reading the terms, I found that our Neffness had strong ties to Ireland as well as Scotland. In fact, my Johnson side of the family has origins in Scotland.

I thought you might enjoy seeing what words and phrases are common between Neff Road and the Irish heritage. Bound and determined (determined). Bun in the oven (pregnant). Cow's lick (tuft of hair standing up). Cuppa (cup of). Dead on (strong affirmative). Dibs (first claim on). Dote on (worship). Eejit (idiot). Finagle (get by devious means). Guttersnipe (ruffian). Having none of it (not allowing). I'm your man (agree to follow plan). Malarky (nonsense). Mind (remember). Muffler (long woolen scarf). Mortified (embarrassed). Not put it past (would not be surprised). On the mend (getting better). Out of kilter (out of alignment). Hold your peace (remain silent). Rightly (well enough). Rubbernecking (prying into someone business). Saying no more (final decision). Read up or ready up (clean, put into order). Take a gander (look at). Take leave of your senses (do something incredibly stupid). Tickled (very pleased). Don't give a tinker's damn (couldn't care less). Donnybrook (fight).  Take a gander (look at). Have your cake and eat it, too (trying to enjoy two exclusive options).  Hide nor hair (no trace). Long drink of water (tall and skinny).

Just a few Scottish phrases: How's it guan? (How are you?). Yer Welcome (you're welcome). Whit's this? (what's this). Heft (lift up). Speak o' the devil (talk of someone when they appear), Pure done in (tired). Yes, both languages have infiltrated other parts of the country, but a friend once told me that she was told that a good linguistics person can pinpoint a Darke Countian. For many years I was asked where I lived. Evidently, my speech patterns gave me away. When I moved to Wisconsin, I felt like a foreigner. It was truly Dutch country. We all came over on a boat somewhere along the line.

I love my roots. I love returning to a language I understand.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Shed was Full

It hung in the old shed like a blanket over the floor below. Rows and layers of green tobacco started to darken since cut in the field. It hung there waiting for us. It waited as while the rest of us walked away from the field for another year.

"Why do we raise tobacco?" I asked my parents each year for as long as I can remember. "We don't believe in smoking. So why do we raise it?" It puts food on the table was always the reply. I had a tough time reconciling the action with the belief. Maybe I still do. But after raising tobacco, I knew I would never lift a cigar or cigarette to my lips. Often I wondered if we were encouraging the sin of others. And, if we were, would we be accountable for our actions when we came to Heaven's door. Well, what did I know?! I was just a kid.

Dad behind horses. Uncle Keith on wagon
We had speared the tobacco doing the backbreaking work of bending over to pick up the tobacco stalks then pushing them down on the spear at the end of the tobacco lath. Dad and Gene would later load the tobacco onto the wagon. They loaded it as tightly as possible, then in the shed, one stood on the beam and one on the wagon, filling the rows where the tobacco would age. The old shed was airy with spaces between the boards allowing fresh air to reach around the leaves and dry them.

June, Sarah Lee, Esther and Peggy
I remember Dad leaving the shed doors open so more air could get into the barn. The barn looked near to bursting with the bulk it held. The smell of tobacco became a fall scent that ripened as the days went on. I wasn't part of the days of loading the wagon pulled by horses. I'm a little jealous that I didn't have the chance to walk next to a big Belgian talking my way across the field as my parents worked. I'm sure I would have enjoyed my field time in a whole new way. So, instead I rode on the tractor yelling to Dad when Gene called "stop!".

The old shed is gone. The days of raising tobacco are just a memory. The time spent with family and friends over this time consuming crop was a gift, a lifetime of sweet remembrances of the people now gone and of days of handling this crop that was going off to those who did smoke.....from those who did not.

The shed was full.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Old Pump

The old pump sat outside of the brick school house. Kids vied to pump the handle, women carried water-filled buckets into the house for cooking and cleaning. Water was no longer drawn from a bucket dipped into a well. Now the pump handle was pumped, drawing the water to the spout. A little more work than turning on a faucet….and a lot more fun for children.  

I did a little research on Wikipedia to find out when tap water came into the house. Indoor plumbing developed in the last quarter of the 19th century and was common by the middle of the 20th century. I think I remember the pump on our porch. I was very little at the time. Mom actually fell through the boards over the well. It was a little hole. She didn't go far.

I grew up with pumps as much a part of the landscape as were the barns that dotted the farms. Old pumps seldom used but still a standing reminder of the days when my parents attended a one-room school house and when hot water was achieved over a fire. Pumps stood outside of homes, next to barns and even outside of Painter Creek Church.

The pump stood sentry over a cement trough. I don’t know if the trough had any drainage. I do recall our trough at the old barn occasionally wore a blanket of moss. Brenda and I would ask Dad to put water in the trough, so we could wear our flowered bathing suits enjoying our little outdoor pool. Rain that fell filled the wells and the troughs. Via the birds small tadpoles would sometimes find a new home in our little pool. The pump and trough were so much a part of our daily living that we forgot to notice.

On a trip long ago back to Neff Road, I took my camera to capture these remnants from the past. Some of the one-room school houses were now residences while some remained empty. Wells sat in school yards unnoticed. My grandmother had taught in a one-room school house. I could envision her standing on the stoop of the old brick school sending her students out to play. A child would pump the old pump handle and small hands would cup gathering water for a cold, fresh drink.

The old pump is a reminder of simpler time, a time when children fought for the right to pump the handle, a time when women appreciated the handiness of a pump on the back porch, a time when small girls sat in the cool trough giggling not realizing that they were sitting in a piece of history.

The old pump.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Litany of Puppy, Tales

Bubbles was the puppy of our collie. Her litter lived in the old barn. Having only vague memories of my early childhood, Bubbles was just a blurry memory of fur. The blurry memory became much more when the puppy was hit by a car on Neff Road. I never knew how the puppy got all the way down the lane to the road, but one less puppy resided in the barn. I always loved the old barn. Perhaps because it held so many memories, especially one of a puppy named Bubbles.

We had other dogs on the farm. Sometimes Mom and Dad took care of someone's dog. They stayed in residence for a bit then moved on. Sometimes a puppy just seemed to disappear. I learned not to ask questions. We never seemed to have long dry spells where a dog was not in residence. When one wasn't, often another animal stepped in to fill the 'pet' gap. We treasured them all.

We went to the Bright's house to see the new puppies. I got to pick  the puppy I wanted. Eyes still closed and nursing, the puppy would not come home to live with me for several weeks. Aunt Alma was staying with the Loxley girls when Whitey came to stay. Uncle Sam had his first heart attack. Mom and Dad were in Michigan with Aunt Bess. I remember sitting with Aunt Alma on the porch swing with the little, white puppy in my lap. She had come to stay with her grand nieces. Whitey was hit by a car the day we buried Uncle Sam who had died from his last heart attack. Our family mourned.

Dad never had a dog after we lost the sweet cocker. We had lost a member of our family and knew that he couldn't be replaced.

I have had a dogs in my life since then. On the farm, I learned compassion for animals and gave my heart to them all. We were blessed to have pets in our lives. Animals that gave their love to little girls who needed it. I miss you, sweet puppies. Thank you for your love, from a little girl from Neff Road.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Putting Away Summer

The windows were open and buckets of soapy water and rags were ready for the crew to pick up their weapon of choice. The dust of summer was about to disappear. Feather beds were hung on the clothesline along with pillows and comforters. The smell of the closet was replaced with the perfume of nature. We were putting away summer, getting ready for winter.

The smell of fall always reminds me of the farm. That scent so fresh that you'd swear it was newly made. Every window was opened so the house could air out. Mom washed curtains that had hung loosely in the humid summer months. Rugs were shaken, and floors were scrubbed. Fall came knocking on the door.

Mom loved sheer curtains. The silken panels hung at window blowing over us when the wind blew at night, bringing with it the sounds of the evening. In the living room, a renegade sheer was often tucked back out of the way, allowing a guest to sit by the window without wearing a silken shroud. When the sheers wore out, Brenda and I took them as our part of our dress up wardrobe. A sheer was a lovely bridal veil or stunning stole. When Mom passed, so to did the sheers. They passed on to her oldest granddaughter.

After the corn was picked, there was a lull in farm activity. Dad made sure there was plenty of wood for winter hot dog roasts over the fire in the fireplace. Mom had seen to a full pantry with summer produce canned or frozen. The meat locker in town was full of beef. The barn was full of tobacco curing until the winter task of stripping it began. Summer was going to sleep for another year. The crispness of fall was waiting.

Some of those old summer-putting-away habits are still in place. I discovered it yesterday as I took the broom to my son's porches and dusted away cobwebs of spiders' summer homes. I shook out the rugs and opened a window. Their sheer curtains waited for a breeze.

It is that time of the year. A time full of memory. A time of tucking in for the cooler months and storing summer past. Ah, putting away summer.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

I am a Child

Life was what we made it. It is what all farmers make of rural living. My children cannot comprehend the life even though they remember the farm. My grandchildren will have no idea what it was like being raised with cows and chickens living across the yard. What it was like to bottle feed an abandoned lamb in the basement of the white house. Life was what we made it. Life was what was made us.

Maybe you are reading this piece of writing years from now, my family. Maybe you are curious or just would like to know a little more about this grandma or maybe a great (or several greats), a past that is yours as well.
I often write about our way of our life back then. They are all pieces of the whole, but they are not me, the little girl back the lane. I remember often being afraid when my parents were off in the field. I often sat alone in the house. My sisters were older and in the field with Mom and Dad. The house was big and made creaking sounds. I was safe. They knew it. But I was always afraid. When old enough, I was taken along for the hours they spent in the field hoeing, planting, pegging tobacco. I learned patience at a very early age. I never had the slightest inkling that I could refuse to be part of this farm life. It was the way I grew up.

I was part of a work crew. We all pitched in on chores according to our age abilities. I pulled weeds early on and gathered warm eggs from beneath chickens. I had to learn not to be afraid of the chickens for some could be angry and mean. We didn't worry about the affects of the sun. We tolerated sunburn. It was part of the way we lived. The smells of the farm were almost a comfort.  The old house had its smell as did the each barn. The fields smelled of earth and plant. The creek bottom smelled of mossy water and wet rocks. They were all part of my every day. A part of the womb I was born to.

I could go to the barn and touch a cow, a rabbit, a lamb, a horse, a chicken. My first words were moo-cow. Quite appropriate for a little farm kid. We always had a dog and kitties. We grew up to the sound of the old barn owl and the mourning dove. We knew what it was to hold baby animals soon after birth or chicks after hatching. We knew what it was to be exhausted at the end of the day. We knew only this life.

I went to the outhouse and used the old pot in the winter. We bathed when small in a washtub. We bathed once a week. I was barefoot as soon as I was out of school. We were poor. I had one pair of shoes to get me through the school year. We ordered them each fall. We were all poor. I was spanked and still can't figure out why I did anything that would ever deserve such action. I was a child.

Mom and Dad provided music lessons, art lessons and some dance lessons when most farm kids never dared to even think of them. I'm not sure what they sacrificed in order for us to have those classes, but they saw to it that we did. They dressed us as well as they could. I wore my cousins hand-me-downs and thought I was rich. We only got one gift at Christmas. I remember once I got a puppy and another time a tiny plastic doll and an orange. We didn't have much one on one time with our parents. They were always busy working and providing for the community. We learned to serve and not to ask for more. It was often a lonely existence.

There was much to our lives that I prefer to put aside. I never felt that my parents were my own. They belonged to everyone else. When my sister June left for college, I was terribly lonely. My parents were older and not involved with their youngest. It was then that I learned that the farm had been my other parent. There was no place I would rather be than on that farm on Neff Road. I knew every inch of soil and found comfort in barns and creek bottom that had been with me all my life. Being a loner most of my childhood, I learned to explore and embrace the lessons of the farm. Perhaps I learned how I belonged to the earth.

So if you read this, my children, go back to our roots and see this place where my life began. Touch the soil that gave me life. Imagine the small, blond girl looking for bunnies beneath the weeds, watching turtles in the creek and walking the fields behind a tobacco planter pegging plants. I learned to ride a tricycle and a bicycle on that gravel lane. I heard the storms rattle the roof of the big white house. I watched the corn grow high until the house was almost invisible from the road. I walked to road to visit neighbors and rode my horse down the back lane. With Dad, I hunted mushrooms in the woods and the thicket at the back of the farm. The arrowheads came from this land. A land where my parents remembered old Indian living along the creek in a lean-to. I left this farm when I was eighteen. I cried every time I left thereafter. Remember me and this place on Neff Road. Remember that we belong to the land and indeed it belongs to our care.

I am a child of the earth. I am a child of Neff Road.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Small Steps and Big Leaps

Please go to for today's post.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Molding the Future

Molding:  the process of manufacturing by shaping pliable raw material using a rigid frame or model called a pattern.

Time for the new school year. Very little changed each August when we returned to the hallowed halls on the yellow buses. The school always looked the same. Most of the same teachers were there. In fact, some had been there for decades.

My parents attended this school when it was new. Mr. Lawrence was one of their teachers. Little did they know back then that one day their daughter would live in the old master's house. He educated those children who lived in his neighborhood and who went to his church. It was the same for most of the other teachers who lived in the area. They were relatives and friends.

There was a history at Franklin School. One that began in a one room school house. Another time when occasionally a teacher lived in the home of a local resident. The teachers were often not much older than their students.

I received an email from a new friend of "Neff Road". She and her mother were wondering if her aunt had been my teacher in the first grade. In fact, I think if I had, perhaps I would not have been sent to stand in the corner. No, I did not have her beloved aunt as my first teacher.

"I got a note from Miss Ditmer's niece," I wrote to my sister who was in school seven years ahead of me.

"I had Miss Ditmer!" she replied. We continued on with the conversation of what teachers we both had in the old brick school. Only two had taught the both of us. The other was Miss Rhoades. I began thinking about the lives of these teachers who touched our lives. As kids we gave little thought of their families and life beyond us. As an adult I wish I had a chance to meet them all over again.

I learned from my new friend, Sue, that Miss Ditmer married after she retired from Franklin School in 1958. She went on to teach at Shady Glen, Greenville, Cincinnati, and Mariemont. She had hundreds of children yet, none were her own. Her life as a teacher touched her beloved nieces and nephew leading most of them to the front of a classroom. Miss Rhoades, too, married after leaving Franklin School. Her children, too, were those nieces and nephews and those hundreds of children who learned in her classrooms.

My friend Jennie Miller began teaching at Verona, but temporarily retired when she was married. It was the rule back in the days. She later went back to Verona when her youngest was in the second grade, later moving on to Monroe Elementary then Franklin. She was not my teacher, yet I have heard from many who attended school in a later time that she had influenced their lives deeply. She was another who stood by the community she loved and those children who still remember. Those teachers who worked where they lived.

The teacher no longer stay in the home of the student, but it those teachers who gave their students so much have touched the lives of our children. The teaching legacy that made a difference in my community happened because our teachers were friends and neighbors. Dedicated to their families. Dedicated to their students.

Thank you, teachers for your time, your knowledge and  as role models molding the future.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Bump in the Night

The night embraced me like a dark cloak. An inky cloth that called to me each evening just as the rooster called to announce the morning. Not a night went by that I was not afraid. Afraid of the night.

Night time in the country is dark and quiet. Damp summer nights called for open windows begging a breeze to come visit. Along with the sought after breeze came the suffocating dark. I laid awake listening to the sounds of evening. Afraid of what I might hear. Afraid of what I couldn't hear.

The nocturnal evening brought out the hunter and the hunted. A squeal from the field meant a critter met its end. Once in awhile something went bump in the night or passed through the corn rows. A bump in the darkness of something unknown that frightened a young girl in the corner bedroom.

Sometimes Dad picked up his gun to see what was disturbing the chickens or something he heard in the field or creek bottom. I held my breath until he came back into the house. Came back with a gun not yet fired. Strangers dumped puppies and kittens in the night. Some sought gas from the farm gas tank. I knew of the things that happened in the night. We did not have the crime. We did not have the city noises, but we had the silence and the blanket of darkness. A darkness that even light found hard to penetrate.

What was it that frightened me so? Why do I still find the night time silence daunting? What happened to make a little girl so afraid? Perhaps I will never know. Perhaps I shouldn't.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dig Spot

Seems she is working her way to China. It's a slow, dirty process, but for an Airedale, a little dirt is just fine. Millie has her dig spot just because she loves to dig. The small hole that began when she was little has grown now into a long narrow trench. When she digs, only a portion of her back shows above ground. She is working her way to China.

My son lives in an old farm house on one half acre. This is unusual for a house in town. Yet the little house sits in country quiet in a busy little suburb. It will be a great place for two little ones to run and play. Millie, however, has already staked out her territory.

James noticed some time ago that Millie was digging around an old bottle embedded in the wall of her 'moat'. He was surprised when she managed to dig up a small bottle instead of finishing off the larger bottle in her dig. It was an old bottle of Mrs. Stewart's Bluing. The bottle was filled with dirty water and a dead weed. After it was washed out, much of the bluing remained on the sides of the bottle and a small cork sat at the bottom. The bottle was embossed with Mrs. Stewart's information, so we knew some background on Millie's find. I looked it up on Ebay and found out that the bottle is worth about $12.99. Mrs. Stewart and her family started selling her bluing from their home. That home business turned into one that still is active today. I also found out that there are many people who collect bottles, but there are few dogs collecting. Millie might be the only one.

It was not unusual for items to be dumped in a backyard or a field back in the days when there was no trash pickup or recycling.....even in Oregon. So now we are excited to see if Millie will find more treasures. A little bottle with blue dappled sides reminiscent of 'wash' hanging on the line and clothes pins. I can almost smell those clothes bleached by the sun (and stiff as a board) that smelled of fresh air.

Millie's treasure sits in the kitchen window. Just like a child, her parents are showing off her achievements.The day Millie digs up a saki bottle might be the time to fill in the hole. I'm not sure what Millie will find next, but I think maybe we need to get her a shovel.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A Rare Day

Farm life was a simple life. There wasn't money for frivolous activity. We didn't go on exotic vacations or visit museums and other attractions. It just wasn't something we considered being farm kids. Our dreams were simpler. Our dreams were low budget. Then one day after church Mom announced that we were going to the Cincinnati Zoo. Wow, Cincinnati Zoo!!! I had no idea what to expect, but this kid was going on an unexpected outing.

I really don't remember much about that day at the zoo. I remember most being with my parents. I remember most the fact that they had a surprise for me that day, and it was so wonderfully unexpected. I don't know what triggered the idea, but it was a good one.

Another zoo day I remember was the time Aunt Esther took her niece and grand-niece and nephew to the Columbus Zoo. We all laughed when a goat tried to eat her map. It was a battle of wills. Of course, Aunt Esther won out. It was quality time with an aunt we didn't see often. It was our special time. These two events are the only times I ever went to either of the zoos again.

Gabby I went to the Oregon Zoo. Just the two of us having a day out. I wondered what she would remember of me and the zoo. Would it be the feeding of the Lorikeets or maybe the enormous Sea Lion sunning himself. Maybe it would be the picnic we packed and ate on the lawn as the bird show took place above our heads. The red hawk zoomed over us, and the bald eagle finished the presentation much to the delight of the audience. Two baby elephants romped in the pool causing huge waves. Or maybe she will just remember a day with the two of us hanging out with the animals.

It's funny how such a simple thing as an announcement of a trip to the zoo can make a lifelong impression. There weren't many times when I had my parents' full attention. This was one. The zoo was wonderful, but Mom and Dad were the best.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To my Neff Road readers,

I have added a new column on my A Grandparents Voice blog ( It is a Care List for cares and concerns. I decided to add the column since I have so many people come into the store looking for get well and sympathy cards. I hear stories and want to do something. Also on Facebook friends posts their needs. This is a way to support one another regardless of religious belief. I feel it is a way I can help bring together the power we possess to do good. If you have people or concerns you would like added, please let me know. I will rotate names out weekly. No matter what your religion or belief, this place is for all of us to come together bringing our energy and support to one another. I am taking Natalie off the list because today she had good cancer.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Do You Remember?

Do you remember? An old ice cream freezer sits beneath the question. Do you remember? A chamber pot. Do you remember? Oxydol Soap. Do you remember......

I laugh when I hear my grandchildren talking about things they remember from their childhoods. They are the ripe old ages of ten and thirteen. Of course, they remember! For me, it sometimes takes a bit of brain jogging. Well, at least until someone posts on Facebook a picture of some old item that I had forgotten about, then, suddenly, I'm back in the basement helping Mom with the wringer washer or hanging clothes on the line. Sometimes I'm back in the barn watching Dad pull tobacco plants off of the lath or shelling corn. I'm reminded of the fur shawl made of dead mink bodies and hats with veils. Once in awhile, I'm back home again shopping for a fifty yard crinoline or maybe a pair of black, patent leather Mary Janes. Do I remember?

If my parents were on Facebook, they might see pictures of the old hand plow, a spittoon, a horse whip, an old buggy, a dog cart. They would remember.

My mother would be 100 years old today. I often sit with old pictures and wonder at her life back then. I wish I had asked more questions. What did she miss most? What was her favorite modern invention? What would she tell her great grandchildren about her life back then? They probably wouldn't understand her life, but I know that she would make her stories live. What things of her parents would she remember and perhaps miss?

I find myself chuckling often when I see something that once was thought wonderful that is now long gone. It makes me wonder why I didn't invent something that might have been simple enough to change the way things were done. To my thinking, the flush toilet was the greatest invention of all times. I'm waiting for that next improvement.

Ah, life is an ever changing journey. The old fades away and the new takes over. Perhaps the microwave will find its way into a museum along with the washer and dryer. Maybe tires will be obsolete and all mail delivered digitally. We always stand on the edge of the future, and if you don't look quickly, this moment will be the past, too.

Do you remember? I do again and again.