Monday, February 24, 2014

A day at a time

The twins walk in the door and head directly to the toy room. Yes, I have a toy room just the same as my mother did many long years ago. The toy basket is the old wicker baby basket from the Loxley side of the family. It holds toys that I played with as a child as well as those that my children and older grandchildren loved.

I don't put things up when the little ones comes to play. They are very good at listening...or at least looking at me before they move an object from a shelf. I pulled the old cast iron car from the shelf handing it over to Nolan. He didn't notice that it was an ancient car. Nope, it was a car and that was good enough for him. A short time later I looked over to see him pick up another item from the shelf. I nodded, and he smiled. He lifted the cast iron horse and carriage. After a good look at the horse, he decided that it was a good choice. The old and the new.

A bit later Emma came out of the room with my mom's Bible. The inscription in the front reads: Ruth Johnson age 12. Along with the Bible came a journal my mom had kept. Mom's journals were only a line or two each day. They didn't say much more that the fact that she did laundry or perhaps baked. This journal was different. I sat looking at the history of my mother and my father. The daily simple things that Mom usually wrote were a bit longer with a bit more added regarding failing health. She wrote all of the names of those she had seen each day. The people who stopped by. The church people who came to call. The family who came by for a cup of coffee. Junior who drove Mom to and from the hospital to see Dad. The daughters who came in because they needed to. I closed the little book and looked at the toys scattered around the floor. The old cast iron toys next to the Fisher Price toys of the seventies. Different instruments were scattered as well. Two recorders, a guitar, a melodica and a toy accordion. It occurred to me that if I had a daily journal, the recordings in it would be long and probably boring to the average family member. I could not put into the words the feelings that I had looking at the old with the new. I wondered if someday my family would understand that I am the old and the new. I hold the history and the hopes.

My grandchildren played among the toys oblivious to the history they were sharing with me in those very moments. Perhaps one day a child will lift up an old piece of writing by an old woman they did not know and hand it to the parent who just might look at it and wonder what I did a day at a time. Would they know that I was teaching the old to the new.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Little tin house

For hours I sat in front, er, behind the tin house. It wasn't my dollhouse. It belonged to my sister. When you are in a line of kids, you get the hand-me-downs and the toy always belongs to the first kid. Even when your parents tell you it is your toy, it never is. That's a lie they tell us. Older siblings never forget. Mom later gave the dollhouse to her granddaughter. However, I don't think that any of them enjoyed it as much as did I.

The two-story house had little plastic windows that could be opened. A deck was on the upper side off the bedroom. Every woman's dream. Shrubs and louvers were painted onto the sides. And a red roof could be removed. My favorite room was the nursery. Circus scenes played along the walls while a sweet lamb and jolly elephant danced across the blue floor. The house had a bathroom. We didn't, but my dollhouse did. It was the nearest thing I knew of indoor plumbing. The bedroom had yellow walls that would keep even the deepest of sleepers awake, while the living room boasted wall-to-wall green carpet. An Indian rug was painted across the dining room floor. Oh, yes, I loved this little tin house.

The furniture didn't fair too well when handed down. The dark greenish sofa was missing a leg.  The dining room table and chairs were long gone. The nursery had a playpen and a high chair. I remember a coffee table and a high back chair that was pink. There was a baby buggy and a kitchen sink, a bed and a bed stand. Not much furniture but for a kid with an imagination it didn't matter.

The family was certainly one to give any child a distorted idea of the human anatomy. People with stiff arms that were hinged at the shoulders and elbows. Knees and hips also hinged to move. The baby was a little rubber tyke that didn't do much except reach for mama.

If I haven't lost you already, perhaps you remember having one of these in your house. While the boys had erector sets and Lincoln Logs, we girls had dolls and dollhouses. I don't mind. Mine didn't give me the 'little woman's place in the home' ideas. It gave me imagination. Soon I was having super heroes jump off the top of the house onto the side porch saving the young sister from a life of toil in the kitchen. The baby was often kidnapped and rescued by the same superhero who looked a lot like Peter Pan. (I had a Disney set, too.) I learned to find other types of creative furniture from my other toys and became quite the decorator.

The twins and I play with the little castle I have at my house. Most of the time, we are sending people to the dungeon, because it is fun. When at their house, we play with cars and push stuffed animals around in little grocery carts or the small doll stroller. We all play with the Lego blocks. They like tearing down everything I build up. No one in my family played with my toys and me. I never knew what it was like so never knew the difference. I had my imagination to be my friend. Now with my imagination, I play with my grandchildren.

It was a little tin house that lived in the big white house back the lane on Neff Road that comes to mind now and then.

Friday, February 14, 2014

A Heart

Amid the mass of last shoppers lined up in doubles looking over shoulders to see the cards, there is a quiet section in the back corner of the store. A few lone shoppers look at sympathy cards. Valentines day is indeed a day of the heart. A heart that loves, a heart that aches as it remembers and a heart that has to say good-bye. Remembering those loves that are no longer here....but are here in my heart. Valentines Day is not always easy.

It is a great time to give a smile, a compliment, a helping hand. A time to be a gift in yourself reaching out to others. A time to share the love you have inside with someone close to you and perhaps someone you don't even know. Start the love today.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Hand in Faith

They lived at the end of the road. I played there many times and occasionally spent the night. Rowena was my best friend. Her dad was our minister. I knew I had to behave when I went to the parsonage. I certainly didn't want to be in trouble with God.

Rowena was really only in my life until they moved to Hagerstown, Indiana. I believe it was the end of the third grade when my friend left. Rowena and I joined church together. Byron baptized us along a guy named Darrel Fourman. Her husband. I remember stepping into the baptismal reaching for the good Reverend's hand. It was the hand of a friend.

I loved going to the parsonage. It was always active with the Miller children. Zola was busy with her younger children: Anita, the twins Julian and Lillian and Stanley, the baby. I had older sisters who never wanted to play with me. Zola and Byron just added me to the mix. We made up plays and put them on for Rev. Miller. Poor Anita was always in some situation we created, so we could save her. One of those plays even made it into a Sunday sermon. Rev. Miller always listened.

When you grow up, you don't always acknowledge how much someone from the past means to your life. It is that way with Rowena's daddy. He was the first minister I remember at Painter Creek Church. He was the one who called me to the alter and baptized me. He was there to preside over my wedding. I was never in their home that I didn't feel loved the same as their own children. For this woman, I realize how important that was in my life back then.

Reverend Byron Miller is turning one hundred years old this month. I figure he was about forty-three when he baptized me. Where did the time go? In my mind and in my heart, he will always be that forty-three year old minister and I will be nine. It is mental picture I keep of a time I cherish. Reverend Miller and his family were a quiet presence in our lives. We took them in and loved them as our own. He brought many youth to God. And, those youth have kept Him there.

I've never had a chance to see him since I was a young bride. Yet he has always remained an important part of my life. Happy Birthday, dear man. Thank you for the kindness and guidance you gave a young girl. Thank you for giving me a friend like Rowena.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Weather, er, whether or not

I don't know whether or not you have noticed the extremes in the weather. If you have not, I hope you have enjoyed your life under a rock. Life on Neff Road was pretty much the same from year to year. We had the dry years. We had the wet years. When snow was deep, we enjoyed the fire in the fireplace and a puzzle on the table. Farmers struggles came with the years that were extreme. However, the term extreme has changed drastically since I was a child who lived back the lane.

The first definition of extreme in the dictionary: of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average. I decided to go online to see what I could about the extremes this earth is experiencing. I decided to focus on the NASA site. I decided that the view of earth away from earth was probably a pretty good place to see what is happening. Well, it scared me. The naysayers can dispute that global changing is happening, but folks, it is real. Since 1950, our carbon imprint had skyrocketed (seems an appropriate word since I was on the NASA site). 

 As a child on Neff Road, we didn't think of this old earth coming to an end. We were rich with natural resources that seemed endless. People had been around forever. In fact, we seemed to be getting more and more people all the time. So why worry? Perhaps it is because I am a mother and grandma that what happens to this earth concerns me more and more. I will not suffer in this crisis as much as will those babies I hug and protect. If I love my family, then I should be concerned.

I think many people refuse to see the changes having a long range impact. It is easier to laugh and pretend it is all temporary. However, even if it was only temporary, why wouldn't that same person do whatever was possible to protect their own? Many people will lose their businesses this year. Farms in California are drying up. Here in Oregon, we have had such little snow that many of the ski lodges on the mountain will be gone if there is no change. States are suffering the ravages in their states as emergency funds drain time after time. It is more than weather. It is a way of life that is changing. 

A friend of mine just joined the community preparedness group. I plan to do the same. It is for my neighbors and my family that I do this. I have people who love me and want me safe. I need to be able to take care of myself. What does that look like? Well, I will have an emergency kit and am building one for my family members. I will keep informed about what is happening in my community. My family members who are scattered all know to call my brother-in-law in another state if we can't get in touch with one another. We are cautious because not to be is thoughtless.  

I know that Neff Road has few extremes, yet I also know that rare earthquakes can happen. Storms that are growing more and more deadly can hit my old neighborhood. Power can be knocked out for days on end. Flooding, fire, anything can happen in a world that is changing. So how are you prepared? 

I write this column because I care about you. I have learned to be informed is the intelligent decision. To think of others is what we should all do. We have people who love us. Please think on this matter. Consider what you have done to take care of yourself. Consider how important you are to your family. If you are a parent, what are you doing to protect those in your care.  It is something we should do 'weather' or not we believe in climate change.