Friday, March 29, 2013

Hoop on the end of the barn

The basketball hoop hung on the side of the barn. I vaguely remember Dad hanging it there. In fact, I think it might have actually had a net when it was new, but in all the time I remember, it was just a hoop. Where there were farm kids, there was basketball.

We stood in the gym. It was probably 1963. We had six girls per team with three forwards on their home half court and their three guards on the opposing home court. I guess that somewhere along the way someone decided that girls did not have the stamina to run full court. Silly person. Of course, we had a front row seat when the opposite end was tossing the ball around. It gave us a chance to catch up on the latest gossip. I wore Keds, shorts and one of Dad's old, white, button-down shirts. The uniform of a 60's girl.

I was always a guard. Not sure if I was always a guard because I couldn't hit the hoop, or perhaps I was an excellent guard. Hm. I think it was the lack of talent with the ball. I was so busy trying to remember the rules. As a guard could I toss the ball across the line of demarcation or did I need to pass it off? What if I was the only free player when one of our forwards on the other end of the court needed to pass off to our side? Could I catch it or should I just stand there waiting for a forward to come along? If I was a forward, could I block a shot? Oh, my, it was chaos in the mind of a girl who had no sports sense. I found myself trying to get lost in a crowd of players. Sometimes I stood off on my own waving my arms as if someone was in front of me. I thought if I looked busy, no one would throw the ball in my direction.  Dribbling was even a chore for me. If I remember rightly, the ball could only be dribbled twice then needed to be passed off. Twice was at least two time too much for me. Basketball was not my game.

In 1970 the girl's rules changed. Half court changed to full court. Six players lowered down to five players. Girls must haved proved themselves worthy to play by the rules set forward for the boys. Today I have two nieces who coach junior high girls' basket ball. Both women were star players on their high school teams.

The basketball hoop hung on the end of the barn. Farm hands always threw a few balls when Dad gave them a break from hoeing tobacco or baling hay or straw. My sister June (grandma of the two now coaches) tossed balls through that hoop. She even tried to help her little sister. Dribbling a ball on gravel was not easy. I guarantee that most farms today have a basketball hoop. The sound of the ball hitting the side of the barn still hangs in the air. Still hangs in the memory of a girl from Franklin Monroe.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Shades of Easter

The smell of vinegar filled the kitchen. Mom pulled down the big, white coffee cups. A trip to the hen house then fresh eggs were set to boil. I close my eyes and once more I am there. Just wisps of the past niggle at my brain, so I turn to Google to refresh my memory.

Paas Easter egg dye was the invention of William Townley, the owner of a drug store in Newark, New Jersey. In the late 1800's he came up with the recipe for Easter egg dye tablets. Tablets that came in five wonderful colors. In 1880 the packets sold for only five cents. The name Paas comes from "Passen" which is the word Mr. Townley's Pennsylvania Dutch neighbors used for Easter.

Mom filled the cups with a mixture of water and vinegar. June and I dropped tablets into the cups and watched the water turn into blue or red or orange or yellow or purple. A little parafin stick came with the tablets, so we could decorate the eggs before we dropped them into their colorful bath. Yellow was a tricky color. It seemed to take the eggs twice as long to reach a decent shade. Once the eggs had reached the perfect color, we used the wire egg picker upper to pull the eggs out of the smelly bath, setting them in the holes we had punched out of the Paas box. Colored water was everywhere. Fingers were various shades of Easter. June, the artist, always decorated an extra special egg for her little sister.

In retrospect I have to laugh. We thought our eggs were lovely; however, as a child, I had not seen many white eggs. Our chickens laid brown and tan eggs. Paas did not create a color that could cover the egg, so our eggs looked a bit like dingy laundry. The yellow looked like something that should have stayed in the hen house. I don't remember hiding the eggs. I'm sure we did. The best place would have been in the hen house! What a shocker for those old hens! 

Thank you, Paas, for the memories of dying eggs that have spanned my childhood and that of my children and grandchildren. If I were to wax poetic, I would say that we are all colorful eggs sharing the same egg carton. Happy Easter, my friends.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Uncooped up

The Rhododendron is blooming. The Camellia is in full regalia. Spring has come to Oregon. But best of all, I saw two baby lambs with long tails wagging, and I was once again on the farm on Neff Road.

For those of us who grew up with sheep living in a shed that sat on the other side of the lawn, we knew what it meant when spring made an appearance. The bulbs might be popping up, and it still might be a bit chilly, yet we knew that lambing time was upon us. I sat in the corner watching the lambs arrive. Birth on the farm was nothing new. We learned about the process of conceiving, birthing and death at an early age. There were no surprises. We had seen it all. I for one cannot eat lamb. It tastes exactly as a baby lamb smells. For a girl who had a lamb as a pet, eating lamb is all wrong. I'd much rather think that all sheep live in comfort giving up only their wool once a year.

Spring also heralded the cleaning of the barns and chicken coops. City folks probably don't realize that when animals winter indoors during cold months, the amount of disagreeable disposal gets deeper. Thus, out comes the manure spreader and the fields are fed for the growing season. It is the way on the farm in spring. Horses seem to romp more. Cows savor the spring growth of new grass. Rabbits do what they always do, and chickens escape the coop once more to see what has fallen into the chicken yard over those indoor months.

I miss those spring days on the farm. A time when brown turned to green, and more people popped in for a visit. Neighbor kids walked the lane once more knowing it was warm enough to play in the barn. We eagerly awaited the first mushrooms to pop up in the woods.

I actually squealed when I saw those sweet lambs with their wagging tails. Spring has kissed her world once more.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Paws for Music

The stuffed bear sat in the lap of my grandson. I pushed the paw, and Itsy Bitsy Spider began to play. I began to keep track of the other songs that their toys played. If you're happy and you know it, you still clap your hands. Heads, shoulders, knees and toes seem to be in the same places, and Old McDonald still has a farm. Row, Row, Row Your Boat is still playing; however, the babies are too young to sing in rounds. The weasel still goes 'pop' making the babies laugh. Of course, Pat a Cake is a standard. The little piggies have been pushed over by little puppies. No puppy goes hungry, and arf-arf-arfs replaces wee-wee-wees all the way home.

I have changed some of the words myself to be politically correct. One little, two little, three little monkeys. Four little, five little.....well, you get the point. I often get so bored with the same old songs and stories that I had new words and sounds. Some day these babies will grow up to sing with their little friends and have their own renditions via Grammy. Creative child rearing.

I sat singing along with the music on the kids' musical farm toy. My daughter-in-law was trying to sing along, but said she had never heard the song before. I guess when she was growing up no one worked on the railroad all the livelong day, and Dinah didn't blow her horn. I've been banned from rocking a baby in a tree top, because it plummets to the ground, baby and all.

Luckily, Sesame Street songs still capture the babies' attention. Singing about sunny days seems to lift my spirits. And, as I understand, it isn't easy being green. I don't love trash, but do recycle. And sing "C is for Cookie" whenever I bake cookies. See I did learn a lot from the show when my children were small.

Nobody comes around the mountain any more. No one else I know picks up paw paws let alone puts them in their pocket. As far as I know, few people go to Alabama with banjo on their knee or comes from Louisiana their true love for to see. I remember the old song books from Fern Fourman's music class at Franklin Elementary School. I grew up with those songs from cradle to, well, I'm still working on the rest. I know that most are carryovers from when my parents were young.

Time passes and things change. Just tried to put my watch up to Emma's ear, so she could hear it tick. Oh, my, I have a long way to go.