Tuesday, July 31, 2012

To my Neff Road readers,

I have added a new column on my A Grandparents Voice blog (agrandparentsvoice.com). 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 news....no 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.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Robot - Right this Way

"Did you see that?" my son asked.

"Uh huh," I answered (a bit stunned for a moment).

We live in a changing world. Sometimes we don't necessarily see it happening. We are accustomed to our place we live, those things we see daily. A couple of people in our area have the Segways. They putter down the sidewalk with those around them giving little notice. We get our money from machines. We carry our phones. Life around us is digital and transportable. I can talk to my friend in Ireland face to face. Things change, and we hardly notice.

I remember when I was little and my parents took me to town to see an animated man holding a stick in the store window. He would turn and tap on the window with the stick then turn and point to a sign.A small crowd was gathered around watching the advertisement, sharing something new. I know that automatic doors versus the old revolving door was probably very exciting. Escalators took the place of stairs. My parents saw great changes during their lives.

Yes, I stood in awe. We had just seen a robot come into the waiting room outside of the cardiac unit. It called for two people to follow it. I suddenly felt that perhaps I was in the Jetson's TV show with robots doing the jobs of people. The robot certainly couldn't be mistaken for a toy. It stood as tall at the people it lead. The couple followed it as if nothing strange was happening. I guess I need to get on track. This was my first sighting of a robot in action.

"Mom, did you see the robot?" my son asked.

"Uh huh," I answered.

 Then it crossed my mind....."I wonder if that was a doctor?" Hm.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

In the Leaving

There is a going and a coming. A leaving and a returning. There are tears on both ends of the journey. I know. It has been the story of my life.

I had no intention of ever leaving Neff Road. I loved being from Franklin Township. The people who lived on our road, and those went to our church, those who were part of our community, were people I about whom I cared deeply. Yet there are those of us who for whatever reason were taken away from Neff Road. College, marriage, military service, jobs. The list goes on.

My parents never left Neff Road. They never had to make that adjustment of moving to another place, that adjustment of living away from all family. They never had to start all over again and have their babies far away from the family core. They were born, lived, raised children and died on Neff Road. They never completely understood.

Sometimes I think it is good to move away from where you live if even for a little while. It challenges you in new ways. It let's you know you can survive and be happy elsewhere. It makes home all that much more special when you return.

Often I've been asked why I don't move back to my roots. I must say that I have been tempted over the years. My parents rarely went to see their children thus seeing their grandchildren only a couple times a year if lucky. They would never move close to one of their daughters even after retirement. We all wanted them. We missed them terribly and wanted them to be part of our lives. Jobs held us fast to our locations. I made a pact with myself many years ago. I decided that my home would always be near my children. Wherever they went, I would one day follow. My children had no grandparents around. I would not deny my grandchildren the same.

Do I miss Neff Road? Oh, every day with all my heart. Yet I carry it with me wherever I go and return as often as possible. We can never return the same as when we left. Perhaps it is because we see things so differently. The feelings for relationships, the land, the experiences we took for granted in our youth are all much stronger when we return. When I return, I spend time holding hands of those I love as we talk of old times and people now gone. I want to pass on the love and gratitude I have for each and every one of them. I do not take for granted those things that are Neff Road for I know they are a gift and only here for awhile.

We come, and we go. Tears are shed in the returning and leaving. It is always the same. But as I age, I know with all my heart that even though we all leave at some time, we will all be home together  again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Learning the Ropes

I was surrounded by babies all or my life. Fuzzy baby chicks. Curly baby lambs. Pink baby rabbits. Wobbly calves. Baby turtles in the creek. Tadpoles and minnows. Small kittens and little puppies. Babies.

Mom always babysat for every neighborhood child. Yet her daughters did not sit for babies. Soft little newborn people were a mystery to us. Somehow picking up a bottle and slapping a nipple on it as we did for the abandoned lambs was easy. And, the lambs were thankful. No diapers with animals. Just scrap out the pen, and it was all done. No nightly feedings. No need for baths. But babies are different.

When I had my kids, I was so scared and oblivious to what I was doing. We lived in Wisconsin at the time with no family nearby. We learned it all by trial and error....and Dr. Spock.....and Better Homes and Gardens Baby Book. It was not easy.

Now with two grandchildren ages ten and thirteen under my belt, I have become a pro for these preemie twins. We are ready for adventure.  I can't wait to tell the kids about about kittens and puppies, about lambs and calves, about bunnies and little peeps. Already I am telling them stories, stories about a little girl growing up on a farm and her adventures.

Those days with the baby animals have indeed made me a better grandma. They taught me about love, about dedication, about tenderness. They taught me to love babies.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Bundle of Two

After thirty-six hours of labor and high risk for Mom and babes, two more grandchildren have joined my  family. It has been an exhausting few days filled with concern. On Monday Emma managed to finally break through to the outside. Her little eyes were black and blue and a hematoma rose up from her scalp. She was rushed over to intubate immediately. No longer had she appeared when Nolan rushed into the world. Both babies are fine. And beautiful.

It is an amazing thing, this thing of birth. One day you are waiting for new life and the next you are thrown into chaos you have never experienced before. I held my new granddaughter this morning wondering at her adventure, that from a warm dark tranquil nest into bright lights and the new experiences of hunger, clothing and creatures staring into her face. Her eyes crack open. Only a small crack, because it seems that no matter how high her eyebrows arch, her little eyelids seem to be very difficult to part. After a quick peek, she decided closed is better. Nolan on the other hand loves to smile. It starts on one side of his face then goes to the other often settling into the middle. It used to be believed it was gas. Not so much any more. I prefer to think theses smiles are caused by a peaceful mind listening to a new world.

I apologize for not writing. The babies were born on Monday, and I am still dragging. Tomorrow I go back to work but will still have baby time when possible.

Yes, I am busy with little fingers and little toes, downy heads and sweet mewling sounds. Blessings come in tiny bundles. Ours came in a bundle of two.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pants Standing at Attention

Today a friend posted a picture on Facebook of something old asking if anyone knew what it was. Well, I did. It was what Mom called pant hangers. An expandable wire frame fit into each leg of the pants then were stretched. Mom hung the pants as such on the clothesline. They rather looked like they were standing, er hanging, at attention.

We seem to tuck those things that were from another time into a little pocket somewhere in the back of our brains. Once they are jogged loose something happens. A whole bunch of memories are released as well.

Last week this friend posted an old ice cube tray with the handle that when pulled loosened the ice cubes. It was a coincidence that last week my boss purchased an old Hotpoint refrigerator. One that would have indeed had two of those ice trays in the freezer. This 30 something year old man was thrilled with his find.

"So how did your wife like the refrigerator?" I asked him.

"She said it was old," he answered. He then showed me a picture of the frig in the kitchen. I had to admit that it was pretty darn cute.

I chuckle when I see retro things such as lawn furniture. I guess they were good back then so should be great now. A retro glider, lawn chair and table set sit outside of our grocery. No one has purchased it yet, but many people just sit for a spell.

One of the postings below the picture of the ice tray was from a young man who said he'd never give up his ice maker. Another young woman agreed. Evidently, they never had fruit juice made into ice cubes. I'm pretty sure they never saw pants standing on the clothesline. And I doubt very much that they ever used a wringer washer. I do hope that someday they have those tucked away memories that make them smile. Perhaps they will be of ice cubes shooting out of refrigerator.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Fields Cried for Rain

The crops were bad that summer. Little rain fell to dampen the cracked soil. Corn stalks withered and curled. Along with the corn, other crops would not yield what was needed to get us through the winter months. There was nothing to be done for it. It was the way of the farm. The life of the farm family. 

A farmer does not get a check at the end of every two weeks to keep his/her business going and the family fed. The budget for the next year depends on healthy crops. A dry summer means a difficult winter and less money to put into seed for the following spring.

I remember when our crops didn't yield. Dad seemed to be distracted and always worried. Of course, Mom powered through it always sure we would make it and the farm would survive for another. So what keeps the farmer working the land? What keeps the farmer in constant this struggle with nature? I believe that  despite the hard work and disappointments, the soil holds the heart of the farmer and refuses to let it go.

We were not rich. At least not in coin. The life of a farm family is blessed. Life and death is part of our growing up with livestock and pets. We learn about birth. We learn about purpose and commitment. The women work side by side with their men; therefore, children learn what it is to be family. When one farmer suffers loss from a dry season, he knows that all neighbors are suffering the same. It is a community of the land.

The season seem to be changing. Oregon seems to be damper longer and our summers run into fall. We live in a changing world. I'm not sure how we change with the weather that presents itself. Some think that global warming is a myth. I'm one who does not. With the extinction of more and more animals, with the changing in the weather and melting of glaciers, I don't see how we can deny it. I'm not sure how we exist with it.

 My heart goes out to those farmers who are suffering the drought. It will be tough year for them and their families. I am a neighbor. I am a part of that soil.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Time We Can Remember

As a child, I lived it. As a young adult, I wanted to leave it. As a middle aged mother, I went to visit it. As a older woman, I embrace it.

My past. My growing up years and those that seemed to fly by when I had a family of my own are all parts of me and my history. They are parts that I want my family to remember. They are important years. Not just because of the people and events of the past. They are important because they are a part of American history and rural Americana.

What is there in your history that echoes in mine? Who are the people who changed your life and who just might have been my neighbor? What were the things you experienced in those years of living? The things we remember might seem insignificant, but they are perhaps those things that helped define our lives. We are rural Americana. The old ringer washer. The old ice tray that on special occasions was filled with fruit juice. The days of summer barefoot on the farm. Riding on a tractor pulling a plow. Sitting in a grain wagon munching on fresh oats. Watching the corn crib fill with hard, yellow corn. Sitting on the sidelines as a baby lamb was born or when the sheep were shorn. A time when life was simpler though sometimes difficult. A time we can remember.

Perhaps many of you will only remember the hard work that came along with those times. For me, I remember a family working together. We shared laughter and sometimes song as we worked. We learned to be part of a team when we were young. We loved the time with adults when we were considered responsible for some small task. We learned what it was to be a neighbor by pitching in to help another family with their crops. We learned what it was to appreciate what we had even if it was a hand-me-down. A drink of cold water from a thermos in the field was wonderful....even if we did all drink from the same spout. Chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner (lunch) was better than prime rib in a fine restaurant. We knew what it was to rest from a long day in the field. We knew how to worship and be thankful for what we were given.

Not everyone cares to go back to the past. It has not always been easy for me. Yet I find healing and hope in what came before. In looking back, I understand more.

It is a time we can remember.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Waiting for Twins

Sorry my writing is so irregular. Waiting for babies and expecting them any time. Things are a little bumpy right now. Please keep my family in your thoughts. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

A Flag was Raised

We raised the flag. A tradition which had been handed down from the time of the first flag pole at Franklin School. Now we were in junior high. It was our turn to raise the flag.

Normal Rhoades was an extraordinary teacher. She opened our world up in ways that most kids in those years seldom experienced. My sisters had her as a teacher those many years before me. When I reached the 8th grade, she was my teacher.

I'm not sure we realize what we have when we have it. For me the awareness of those wonderful things that happened to me, that were taught to me, seem to have eluded me until my later years. Maybe I just have more time to look back. Maybe my vision in looking back sees things differently, perhaps more clearly. Thus are my memories of the things that Normal added to my life.

I would never have held a real bow and arrow had it not been for this woman. I stood in front of the old brick school pulling back the arrow held close to my cheek. I remember that Normal showed me how to raise the bow up so I wouldn't embed the arrow into the ground. At least I wasn't going to hit some kid in the outfield or someone driving by the school. The release of the arrow. The feel of the power. I learned an art that required concentration. I know few other people who have had the experience of shooting at a target with a bow and arrow. I learned this at a country school. It was one of many lesson outside of the classroom.

Normal taught us to respect the flag. We were taught the rules of handling the flag. We learned that it was serious business. There was no playing around when we had flag duty. We were handling not just the flag but also our country. Normal knew how to make impression on her students.

At the end of the school day, two of my classmates lowered the flag. Slowly they folded the flag, handling it with respect and care. We learned the history of the flag and the reason for each fold. We learned what it is to be an American. A flag was raised, a flag was lowered.