Sunday, December 27, 2015

Threshold of a new year

On the threshold of a new year 2016. Standing on this edge of a new year, we find it hard to leave the memories of 2015. A year of joy, tragedy, loss and gain. We have met each with the strength and the wisdom that life has granted us.

The minister called all the children to the front of the church. Emma was eagerly holding her mom's hand while Nolan was a bit apprehensive. The service was wonderful. As the Christmas story was told, the children were asked to participate. First up was the call for a Joseph. A boy of about nine stepped forward. Next came the need for a Mary. Sweet Emma stepped forward in all of her three years oldness. The congregation chuckled. A long blue drape was placed over her little head with her sweet face in all its innocence concentrating on her task. Next came the sheep. Nolan with limbs shaking stepped forward. The tiniest of the lambs and definitely the most timid.

The short service was filled with heavenly wonder. A little Mary held her baby close and lovingly moved the blankets from his face. Joseph loomed above her older in age as was Joseph to Mary. Emma knew what she was doing when she raised her hand.  She wanted to be near the baby. She wanted to be sweet Mary mother of baby Jesus. When the children turned to the audience, everyone was quiet. I swear I would not have been surprised to see a light shine upon Emma's sweet face. A spirit touched us. A Spirit that descended and told us that no matter what happens in this world, we are loved. A Spirit that told us to look for the face of God in all ages, all colors, all faiths, all happening of our lives

There is no way to know for sure that Christ was born on December 25. The date was thought by most to have been set on the end of winter solstice. I have no problem with the birth date. It doesn't matter. It is just a date. It is the event that matters. An event that is timeless and dateless. It is what we learned about helping others. It is about celebration of life. It is about bringing everyone from the richest to the poorest together. It is a story of a baby who brought hope, forgiveness and everlasting life.

A little girl in a blue drape wore her costume with more passion and depth than any I had seen before. She reminded me that we are Christ in the world no matter what our ages. She reminded me that as we leave an old year behind, we take with us the memories and, hopefully, by these memories make the new year and the future more blessed for others.

For many this new year will be difficult. I pray for you and with you that in this gift of love, we all find peace and hope. Happy New Year, my friends.

Monday, December 21, 2015

And a reindeer named Rudolph

Bubble lights. Angle hair. An orange and nuts. Rudolph and little dolls. Stencils on windows. Icicles and  little village. Christmas elf and, well, you get the idea. Memories from Neff Road. Pieces of Christmas that brought joy to the Loxley household...and those that hang on my tree still.

The big box was brought out each Christmas. A box that seemed to tall to peek into. A box that was even more exciting than the Christmas gifts. I am not sure where that box resided during the rest of the year, but when Dad hefted it into the living room, we knew that Christmas was officially here.

We tried to wait patiently while Dad put on the lights. I was usually parked next to a bubble light just waiting for it to heat up. If it was sluggish, Dad flicked it with his fingers and the bubbles danced. One by one the ornaments were taken from the magical box and handed to the Loxley daughters. Once the Angel, with spun glass hair, was placed atop the tree, Mom opened the box of icicles. One by one we draped them over the limbs. Once in awhile June was known to toss them when no one was looking. Well, no one but her little sister. Mom put up the little cardboard houses for the Christmas village with a mirror in the middle on which little figures skated.

A package of stencils was opened while Mom prepared the Glass Wax. We painted over the stencils adding Santa's face, angels, all sorts of wonderful Christmas designs to the big, old windows in this magical house. Bit by bit Christmas came to the house back the lane. A visit to Rikes in Dayton was extra special. Children with noses pasted to the big windows, watching elves pop out of snow drifts and Santa peeking out of a chimney. Then off to Santa's Village.

In 1951 the cartoon version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer was released in movie theatres. In 1949 Gene Autry sang the song about this red-nosed guy, topping music charts. About this same time, the family was riding the elevator up to the top floor to see Rudolph. The littlest of the family was busy looking at her new doll that had just arrived in the mail. A sweet doll, Bonny Braids, who was the daughter of Dick Tracy and Tess Trueheart. (Sure wish I still had that doll!).

We sang carols at the piano next to the tree. Seems we sang them all day long during those special days. We sang of a baby in a manger as well as a guy who was coming to town. We sang at home and we sang at church. We waited for that baby in a manger. Our hearts were warmed by the congregation surrounding us who were neighbors and friends. People who were in essence, all family.

Our sock on Christmas morning sagged with the weight of an orange and a few nuts. A small present might be hiding in that length of that sock. A simple gift might be under the tree. Our hearts were bursting with love for family and friends who stopped by. The same love I feel today for those memories and dear ones. I thank God for the gift of remembering, for the fullness of life I had living in that house with such a dear family. Gifts of music, simple life, loving neighbors continue to fill my heart.

Merry Christmas, my dear ones. I hope this column has jiggled a few memories loose that you can savor this holiday season. May the memories you make today be equally cherished by those you love.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Snow

We prayed for it. It filled our winter dreams. Sure we wanted Santa to come bringing gifts. Excitedly, we could not wait to put up the tree. But more than all of that, we wanted snow. Big soft flakes falling on broken stalks of corn in the front field. Flakes floating past the upstairs window where a little girl sat watching, waiting. Snow.

When we moved to Wisconsin, we knew that we would always have a white Christmas. It sometimes began the end of September. Mountains of snow pushed between the highway lanes and piled outside of town. A constant digging of a path for the dog to go out and clearing the driveway so the snowplow could once more close us in. It was not Ohio snow.

Perhaps it was because we had some winters where snow was scarce or it quickly became slush that we relished those time when we would be snowed in and school canceled. Oh, having school canceled was a bonus, but the snow was the prize. Those first flakes drew us to the window where we were hypnotized by the gently falling snow or thrilled by the wind blowing it as it swirled and mounted right before our eyes.

Dad bundled up and took the tractor with the plow on front out to help stranded travelers. He would come home later to tell us all the stories he had gathered that day. While he worked, we played. Neighbor kids came over with their sleds. It was the best time to live in a house on a hill. Geneva and Marilyn pulled we little ones on the sleds. Then we doubled up, flying down the hill and out into the field. We did not have snowsuits. I usually had two pair of pants, a jacket, mittens and a sock hat all of which not only kept me warm but was a great buffer if I fell from the sled. I still remember the nearness of Mom when she pulled the scarf up over my nose and mouth. She was not always tender, so this extra bit of care was memorable.

Of course, when we came back into the house, absolutely everything we wore was soaked. Mom unwrapped us, placing the wet clothing on the hot radiator. A fire blazed in the fireplace. It was waiting for cold, wet children and a daddy who had been out all day on snow duty. Hot cocoa and toasted marshmallows, hot dogs and potato chips. Mom was always ready. She knew that a tired family needed some pampering.

I will never forget the feelings captured on those days. I cannot see a snowflake without remembering the little girl watching through the window. I hold dear the children who were my dearest friends. And, I am always reminded of sweet Marilyn Lavy who left us much too soon.

It is a season of gathered memories, and truly, I think there is no more potent reminder that the first snowflakes that come to stay for such a short time. Snow.

Monday, November 30, 2015

When the old became new

Brrrrrr..... The temperatures usually do not get into the teens here in Oregon; however, this year they seem to be getting mighty close. I cannot be this chilly and not think of other cold winters on Neff Road. In looking back this year, I was struck with a new thought: What was it like when my sisters grew up in that old house? The years that part us in age certainly saw a new era on this lovely farm. So, I went to the sources, my sisters Peggy and June.

Never did I think to ask Mom questions about life in the Johnson household. She had even a bigger gap between she and her siblings than did my sisters and me. How different were their lives than the one she lead?

In this research of the Loxley past, I learned that my parents had lived in three places before my sister June was born. June and I were Neff Road babies. Peggy had been born in the house back the lane next to Newcomer's Cemetery. At the time that Willard and Ruth moved into the house back the lane, the basement had a dirt floor and coal in a corner for the old stove. There was no electricity nor was there any running water in the house. The old pump sat outside the kitchen on what was later to be the back porch. Mom cooked on an old wood stove. Peggy remembers the old lamps lighting the rooms and baths in an old wash tub.

During the ten years between Peggy and I and seven between June and I, a first phone was put in when June became ill with rheumatic fever. Progress came slowly and out of necessity. A dirt basement floor was cemented and a furnace put in. A beautiful fireplace was built by Dwight Sebring. A fireplace that would give this family joy for all the years after. New stairs were put in to replace those open to the damp basement. A fruit room replaced a shelf under the stairs. Mom and Dad were raising their daughter in fine 'new' home.

By the time I came along, the house was a warm place to live. The kitchen was modern and full of life. I never knew it without a phone and loved when the power went out and Dad went into the backroom to get one of those old kerosene lamps. The basement was my playroom where I skated around the ping pong table. We spent many chilly winter days and nights around Dwight's lovely fireplace. I seemed to have come along in a different time than that of my sisters.

I feel fortunate that I have asked questions of my sisters. I rather feel like an archeologist clearing off the layers of today seeking the history of yesterday. This is a time of families gathering together. A time of remembering. I hope you will find this a time of asking questions and learning more about the people in your past. Yes, I learned much around that kitchen table when I was a child. It is too bad that I find new questions long after my parents have passed. I thank God for my sisters and the years we have had together. We rejoice in the history we share and, too, a deep love for that family and farm back the lane on Neff Road. Wishing you a season of embracing the past.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Welcome home.

Seems like I have been a nomad for most of my adult life, starting in Ohio then to Wisconsin and finally to Oregon. Have moved from place to place and finally one more added to the number. On Saturday, my son's friends joined us in moving me once more to a smaller place. Indeed, this was a difficult move.

I had already parted with an old antique desk that had been one of our first purchases for the newlywed couple, planning to live out their years on Teagues South not far from the family home place on Neff Road. Perhaps it was then that I realized that not only did I have the treasures from my parent's lives but also from mine over the adult years of my life.

I had to chuckle when a young man picked up a couple of old grey boards. They were heavy for their size and greyed with age. "Suppose you wonder where those came from," I said to Nate. "Well?" he replied. The old boards had been salvaged from the old barn where my horse and I hung out. It was also the place where we stripped tobacco and had many hours together as a family. To me, they are priceless.

A big letter "L" sat atop the boards. It was one of the letters off the front of Dad's big, white barn. It could have been one of the Willard L's or perhaps one of the Loxley L's. Many of the grandchildren and children of Ruth and Willard took one of those letters that greeted us every day of our lives.

I tried to thin out the many lovely dishes that travel with me. Many were my mother's but some are my grandmothers' as well. I have a cracker jar from Freeda Anderson and depression glass that I began to collect when I got my Grandmother Loxley's dessert dishes. Pieces of my family. Generations in just a few pieces of china and glass.

I was going to part with my Haviland china. But first I gave my oldest granddaughters a voice in the decision. Of course, they would want it. What was I thinking?! The lovely roses edged with gold. Ninety-two pieces to be divided one day. I'm glad they want them. We did not get any of our china when we were married, because I had picked expensive plain, white Haviland in the same imprint as this lovely set. My cousin Millie had the same pattern. When she passed, I was to get her set. It was stolen the day of the funeral. When her sister Camille passed, I was given this lovely set. Yes, it has my heart in it. I am thrilled to pass it on.

It is difficult going through your history when you move. Even more difficult when you are older. I won't part with my grandfather's derby hat or my mother's raccoon one. I have things Brenda made me that are treasures in themselves as are those things from my sisters. All of them gifts from the heart that I hold in my dear.

My linens could be thinned out, but I will not part with things my aunt and other relatives made. I have things from Doris Lavy and Margaret Stager that are special to me and full of love.

Yes, my memories travel with me in the pieces of my past. Stories to pass on with each piece. It is a melancholy thing, this moving. Each time I feel that I leave a little bit of myself behind. And, too, in each move, I add to myself. It is indeed a good opportunity to get rid of the junk. A good opportunity to take a look at myself and decide just what is important in life. For me, I'd rather get rid of the new and hang on to a little of the old.

Well, I am in a new place. Closer to my grandchildren and adjusting to a new set of neighbors. Life is good.....it will be much better when the boxes are emptied and I can say, "Welcome home."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Because of you

This week a picture of my old home on Neff Road was sent to me by Dean Lavy. The picture warmed me with memories....not just of the farm, but of the people in Darke County. I am blessed to be able to share the memories of that place I love. I am blessed to have conversations with all of you once a week. Do you know why? Because it feels like home.

Often I have talked of how our house was a gathering place. The door was never locked, and anyone could just walk in and feel at home. But this was true for most homes I entered back then. Yes, maybe some were a little more conservative, but this family of ours was not. We loved the people of Neff Road and embraced our times with them.

Friendliness was a big part of those days on the farm. Farmers relied on one another as do their farming. Kids played together while mothers worked together preparing food, sewing quilts, caring for gaggle of children. Friendship was a way of life. We celebrated the births as a community and came together when there was a death. We cheered successes and pulled together when there was need.

So, what brings this on, Pam? A sweet letter from Miriam Knick. A letter that means the world to me. I sometimes forget that I am writing not only my life, but I am writing yours as well. We lived in a time of hope after so many years of war and sadness. We lived in a time of change. Our parents did the Charleston, and we did the twist. You were and are part of my life. You know the best part? I know for a fact that I could knock on the door of your house and be welcomed with warmth and laughter. I know that we could sit around the table with a cup of coffee and chat for hours. You are my old friends and my new 'old' friends. We have come from our youths in that other century and are still changing and growing in this new century. We are the keepers of family history. We pass on not only the stories and memories, but we pass on the warmth of that generation. We know what it is to work hard in a field yet laugh and bond as we worked. We know what it is like to face years of poor crops but hold together in the warmth of neighbors and friends.

Miriam's letter came at a perfect time. I am getting ready to move across town. Some things that have traveled with me for 68 years are going to be left behind. Already I have tossed pictures that will mean nothing to my children. I weigh what is important and what is not. Not an easy task for this woman who embraces her roots. In clearing out my 'stuff', I came across a video my son made for each in the family when my parents passed. It is a journey from our childhood days to the final days on the farm. Many faces pass through the video. Faces of friends now gone. I watch in joy and not loss at what I have had in my life. All we have in the end is love and our memories. Both are easily passed on. For my part, both are shared weekly with you.

I realize that this column is a little different today. Perhaps it is because of you, this feels like home.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

On the cusp of invention

My first job was working as a file clerk at NCR in the NCR Paper division. I was just a kid learning the ropes of working in a big office. It was not long until I was at a typewriter, answering phones and making copies. This is where I had first-hand experience with progress. We loaded up the typewriter with paper, carbon paper, paper. Most of the time, I had blue fingers and a waste basket full of mistakes.

Our copy methods were archaic as well. The first copier I used was a reflex copy machine. This nasty thing required toxic chemicals and copies that smelled like dirty socks. The copies faded over time and the special paper was thin. My finger tips were blue and now smelly. Thank goodness that our first Xerox machine came into being. We were one of the first to get this fantastic copier as we were NCR Paper, and this was a necessary piece of equipment to our product testing.

So what is NCR Paper? Well, one of our think tank people named Dr. Barry Green came up with a process called encapsulation. Ink filled capsules covered a sheet of paper. When pressure was applied, the cells broke and the image appeared. No more blue fingers and  less mess. Working in this ground breaking division equated to adventure. We secretaries became their trial and error workers. Yardley wanted paper that smelled of red roses, so we typed on paper encapsulated with ink and the essence of a flower garden. Believe me, you can only take so much of smelling roses. We sat on the paper to see what effect it had on the capsules. We tested different processes in ways to make typing corrections on this new paper. We typed on multiple pages and stored them to test longevity of imprint.

I seemed to advance quickly from file clerk to executive secretary. We grew from a small office to one that was in demand due to the fast growing market. Soon we advanced from encapsulated paper to time-released capsules and heat sensitive products that became fads. I have one of the first mood rings that was developed by our department.

In 1978 our division was sold to Appleton Papers in Appleton, Wisconsin. They were already making our paper, so sending us up north made sense. I was in a family way and planned to be a stay-at-home mom. The years I had worked for the company had been interesting and fascinating. It was difficult to sit on the sidelines.

My grandkids do not know the name NCR. They have no idea what impact our division had in all fields. I just bought time-released vitamins and remembered those days again. Mood necklaces and rings still are in stores. We have gone from carbon paper to encapsulated paper to computers. A whole new field has opened. Sometimes I feel as though my life has been a series of beginnings. I have seen the end of one process and the beginning of a new one. Working at NCR allowed me to see a process of where an idea became reality. It was exciting, fascinating.

Once in awhile I put on that old mood ring just to check out to see how my mood is doing after so many years. I do believe that the color has gotten a bit warmer over time. I grew up quickly back then. Working in the city in a professional field taught me about a wider world. Working with a group of wonderful people who took me under their wings, taught me about the business world and life. I learned to stand up on my own and evolve with the changes that were taking place in our society.

From blue tipped fingers to a mood ring. From Red Roses to time-released capsules. From Ohio to Wisconsin. On the cusp of invention.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Almond, the other milk

milk
milk/noun
1.
an opaque white fluid rich in fat and protein, secreted by female mammals for the nourishment of their young.
 
Hm. Milk. Have been drinking it all my life. Dad stopped milking cows before I came on the scene, but the milking parlour is there, so no doubt about it. We had fresh milk. Hollie milked cows. Uncle Keith milked cows. Grandad had a herd of milk cows. I never doubted where milk came from. Kitties drank fresh milk straight from the cows from a little tin pan. Hm. I am confused.

Rice milk. Soy milk. I sit watching a commercial for Almond Milk and am totally blown away at the image that crosses my mind of little almonds in the cattle yokes waiting to be milked. Hm. It must be very difficult to milk a little almond. I guess the same applies to rice and soy beans. Confusing to say the least.

I can see it all now. Children no longer sure of the source of milk or the use of milk cows. Those children raised on formulas that come from a powder would be surprised that true milk comes in liquid form. Every time I see the Almond Milk ad, the farm girl in me says, "uh-uh". Not true. You cannot milk an almond. Of course, no one is listening. No one seems to care. And the guy drinking the Almond Milk seems content. My guess is that he does not even like milk but is making good money doing the commercial.

Perhaps we had some confusion as kids as to the source of chocolate milk. Did it come from brown cows? If so, why would anyone have any other type of cow. It is indeed a milky situation.

I guess as a child I, too, was confused that we had beef cattle that were not milked. In my head full of questions, I wondered why the calf could get milk from the cow, but dad did not milk the cow. On top of that, I totally disliked the idea that the said calf would be raised for the dinner table. I much preferred to have it milked. Dad and I did not see eye to eye on the subject.

Every definition I looked up for milk said that it does indeed come from a cow. Daniel Webster would certainly be confused. Even the Old English Dictionary is sure that milk comes from bovine. Never have I questioned the dictionary. Nowhere in the tomes does it say that you can milk an almond. So what's up with this?!?!?!

Milkweed. Milk maids. Milk glass. Milky Way.  Milkman. Milk of human kindness. Perhaps I have milked this column much too long. Hm......coconut milk. Argh!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Only the keepers

There were no new homes in the neighborhood when I was growing up. All of the homes had a history. Most began long before each family came to reside. The barns were wood. Some built even before the houses were raised.

The house my Uncle Keith and Aunt Katerine Loxley lived in was fascinating. A big cement porch sat to the side of the house. We imagined everything from carriages dropping people off guests at the platform to children playing on the slab at recess. The old brick house had many bedrooms upstairs and small rooms downstairs. So what was this house at one time? Was it just a quirky farm house or something no one can now recall?  It was a strange house. One that inspired imagination.

Our house was a log house. Long ago it had been sided and painted white, but those of us who lived in it had seen the massive logs in the walls. The axe marks revealing the work it took to fell the trees. Horses must have dragged the huge logs to the spot where a two-story house would stand. The only current signs of those old logs were those of wide window sills the width of the logs and the wide beams that spanned the basement. A house that had seen many seasons. A house that held the scents of food cooked over a fire then later a range. Trees that give up their leaves and lives to secure a home for a family long before the Loxley's came to reside.

Many of the old wood barns are gone. New metal sheds pepper the landscape. Old houses have gone away, leaving space for a new one. Some have been remodeled just as ours had been by my parents and now by the new family who lives there. Old home; old history. I personally think that a journal should be kept with each house. A log of the journey of an old house.

A house has a life of its own. It changes with every new owner. We see it in the layers of wallpaper and the bits of old paint that hides in the corners. Sometimes we see it in last remnants of a house frame or maybe even in a deserted house. Each has a story. We are only the keepers for short time. We are allowed live within its walls and capture its moments on film.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

It's in our roots


The old tom turkey was puffed up and angry. Every face was pinned to his blue face. Well, all except Nolan's, "MeMe, tractor!!!!"
My grandchildren have never been back to Neff Road. They have not asked many questions of my growing up. To them, my childhood is foreign and so far away from all they know and have experienced. So when we go to the pumpkin patch, they get a glimpse of what I already know.
The twins wiggled little fingers through the fence to touch a bunny. Emma picked out a mostly-white pinto horse she wanted to ride and claimed as hers. A big tom turkey put on quite a show with his blue face and angry puffing up of his feathers. Piglets chewed on my fingers. Emma asked questions and Nolan's little eyes followed every tractor that passed by.
For me, it was pure joy watching them experience what I took for granted most of my life. I love my urban life but am so grateful for my childhood years on the farm. Emma asked about the animals that lived behind my house. She was trying to comprehend what it would be like to have animals so close, to be able to see them every day.
My son lifted the kids up on a big John Deere. Both kids grabbed the wheel and imagination took over. The little boy who plays with toy trains, trucks, cars and tractors was actually on a full-sized one. Pure joy. Emma who also has grown up with the same loved the feel of that big beast as much as did her brother. It was then that I noticed the smile on my son's face. This was about more than taking his kids to get pumpkins. He had touched on a memory. The days of his grandparents' farm were something he wanted to share with his children.
We walked over to the play area. Somehow I ended up taking the kids down the big, fast slide while my son took the pictures. James walked over to the barn and was talking to the lady there. He peeked inside at the bale maze and turned around laughing, "When I was a kid, we made tunnels like this out of my grandpa's bales."
The woman said, "I bet your grandpa wasn't happy about that!" Well, she did not live in that house back the lane. She did not know that every kid around the area had played in that barn and built mazes and tunnels out of bales. Sometimes Dad even helped.
We rode the hayride back to the barn after we found our pumpkins, Nolan picking out the seat immediately behind the tractor. I saw in my son's face the joy of the once boy. Nolan and Emma's world grew a bit more that day.
My old saddle sits in the kid's playroom.  When we returned home, Emma ran to the saddle, "MeMe, is this how you get on the saddle?" She asked swinging her short leg high and wide. "I'm going to ride my white horse someday. Okay, MeMe?"
Oh, Emma, some day you will ask the questions and learn about Neff Road. You will pull up this experience and realize that the saddle you own was once on my horse. You will look at old pictures and marvel at the wonderful life I lived. Once a farm girl, always a farm girl…..it's in our 'roots'.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Small panes

A front room. A parlor. A room separated from the rest of the house by French doors. Lovely French doors. As a child I stood outside the windows and looked in wondering why I was not allowed to play there. Why were there doors inside the house that were always close?. Why was this room so special? Why was there a door to the outside porch? Another front door. A front room. A courting parlor long out of use. A room where the man who came courting entered by that other front door. A room where the couple met with windows where parents could keep an eye on the interaction of the young folk. A room long out of use.

Grandad Loxley's home had a beautiful front room. His house was so lovely and included many bells and whistles long before other homes caught up. My favorite place was, obviously, the front room. French doors separated the dining room from this special place. In essence it was the living room, yet a room set apart. the old player piano sat against the wall. The brick fireplace framed by two window seats. A front door opened up onto the front porch where the swing sat waiting for the next occupant. I always knew that if I went into that room, I needed to be on my best behavior. The French doors were swung open when the family came for Christmas, that one time of the year.

Pop Johnson's house had  French doors. The doors were always closed again until the family came to call. I never played in there. It seemed to be very apparent that the room was off limits to anyone shorter than the huge, standing radio that sat beside the doors. (I think it might have been a Silvertone radio from Sears and Roebuck.) This room was small. A big piano sat along one wall and a horsehair sofa on the wall next to the front door that opened onto the porch. There was no fireplace. Instead there was a mantel. Sitting in front of the mantel was a small, composite dog. A fascinating item for a little girl looking through French door windows.

My Aunt Welma and Uncle Bob had  French doors. Another room set off from the rest of the house. Again, it hosted a front door. French doors like the others that were seldom open. The parlor was Aunt Welma's pride and joy. Her loveliest pieces of china resided in the china hutch. And, another horsehair sofa waited for someone to come calling. A room, like the others, that was seldom used.

Theses home all held several things in common. A front door that was never used as such. Small-paned French doors that were also quietly waiting. Rooms that were always a bit cooler than the rest of the house. Rooms that were not receptive to fun and laughter. Sofas that remained like new year after year. The little girl on the other side of the glass often wondered if there was ever family fun inside those walls.

Certainly other older homes in the area were constructed the same. It must have been a time of plenty for the French door manufacturers. One Christmas the French doors were opened at Pop Johnson's house. The family sang around the piano and Aunt Bess and Uncle Sam gave a toddler a painted pony to ride. Maybe that one experience was what draws me to those windows time after time. Small fingerprints and probably a smudge from a little nose questioning even back then. The doors were always closed.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Cocoon of fall

"MeMe, is it fall?" sweet Emma asked on her way to preschool. "Why? Where is summer?"

The changing season, a small child wondering at is all. Why? Well, I could have gone into a scientific explanation, but even for me that is a bit boring.

"Honey, it is time for the trees to rest and the leaves to fall so we can play in them."

The explanation seemed make her happy, and it made me happy. I love fall.

The smell of fall, the crispness in the air, the putting away of summer clothing and slipping into a nice warm sweater. What is not to like?! Perhaps there is a deeper reason. It began back on Neff Road.

The corn picker hummed its way across the field. Wagons were overflowing with field corn that was destined to Scammahorn's grain elevator or was heading into the corn crib, my summer playhouse. The corn was shoveled onto the elevator that carried it up and into the crib. I sat up above watching it fill the bin, oblivious to the little critters that were also eagerly watching, watching their winter pantry fill. It was time with Dad.

Tobacco hung in the shed not yet ripe enough to strip. The sheep were donning their winter coats. The cows seemed more content to stay close to the barn. Kids were back in school, and beds as well as people were dressed for cooler weather.

It was the one time of the year that I had my parents. Mom no longer cooked for hands. Dad had put the farm to rest. We lingered around the kitchen table more and neighbors came to visit. Doris stopped in a couple of times a week. That distance between houses was just perfect for a nice fall walk. Relatives came to visit and sometimes stayed overnight. It was a time of being in the house. A time of socializing and laughter.

Dad had chopped enough wood to keep the fireplace going for most of the winter. Mom laid in hot dogs, buns and potato chips, always prepared for a special night of roasting hot dogs. Those nights were the best of the times on the farm. My parents were youth leaders. It was not unusual for us to have a basement full of kids on a Sunday afternoon. The ping pong table was busy downstairs while a group of kids sang around the piano upstairs. Our house was full of laughter.

We always shared our parents with so many people. The Loxley daughters appreciated the time when were had them all to ourselves. We sat in the kitchen and visited with Mom while she puttered around. There were no hands to feed. No huge meal to get ready. She had time to talk. Dad spent equally as much time in the kitchen, watching the birds out the west window. It was the beginning of that precious family time that was rare any other time of the year.

The fall evenings were cool. There were more daily walks to the bridge. We knew that they would soon disappear with the winter weather. We hung over the side of the old, black bridge, looking for any frogs or crawdads that just might be lingering. Leaves fell and the woods became an artists canvas of color.

Cousin Betty had a puzzle ready for downtime during cold weather. The freezer was full. New bedding and clean barns were provided for the livestock. Dad's equipment was stored, oiled and resting for a time. Aunt Welma baked cookies and her nieces played beauty shop styling her hair. It was a time of family, of quieter moments and listening to gossip and family history.

No wonder fall makes me feel all snuggly inside. It is that crawling back into the cocoon of Neff Road again feeling the warmth of family and friends.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Who's got the button?

Button, button. Who's got the button? Again, the brain kicks into gear, and I wonder why these words have come to mind. Button, button, Who's got the button? Remember the game? Hands clasped together with the button in between. The person in the middle of the circle had to decide who the button was passed to. In the earlier rendition of the game, an adult would sit at the bottom of a stairway, hiding the button in his/her hands. If the child guessed the correct hand, he/she could go to the next step. The child to reach the top was the winner.

Buttons. Mom Johnson had a basket of buttons. Of course, everyone saved them. Buttons were often lost, especially by those rowdy, farm kids at play. When a garment was completely worn out (and I do mean completely) or when someone passed and no one could use the clothing, the buttons were clipped off and saved. When we went to my grandparent's house, I would play with these buttons. I remember old flat buttons shaped like flowers. There were a gazillion underwear buttons. Little white buttons with only two holes. Evidently the underwear wore out first, probably because it was not washed very regularly. So I got to play with the lovely buttons.

Mom saved buttons. Why not? Saved money. Saved running to the store to buy new. Always had a supply to match for something old or something new. I would string buttons. Mom tied a big button to the end of the thread, and I would pick out my favorites to string making a button necklace. Button, button. Who's got the button?

I have my own baby food jar full of buttons. Honestly, it has been years since I have used any of them. Yet the button jar is full of memories. The green button is from the first, fancy bathrobe I ever bought. I can go through the past by looking at my buttons. There are three that mean a great deal to me. In fact, they have gone from the button jar to my jewelry box. My mother had a couple of dresses that had belonged to my Great Aunt Alma Hollinger. She was one of my favorite people. This one particular dress had tiny cloisonné buttons set on a silver backing. Precious little pieces of art full of memories of a lovely aunt.

Buttons came into being as ornamental seals and brooches. In the 13th century, someone in Germany decided to use a button to fasten clothing. Of course, along with the button came the button hole or button loop. The first Button Making Guild was created in 1250. Their buttons were created only for the wealthy who loved buttons down their sleeves and on the front of their garments as ornamental design. When they were used for fastening, dressing became an event. I am sure that the servants were not so happy with these new fangled things. In the 16th century, the directionality of the button came to be with men wearing theirs to the right and women to the left.

Well, I probably should button this up for now. The Advocate is kind to allow me a bit of space to write. I thank them for the privilege. If you would like to contact me, please send your correspondence to the Advocate, and they can forward it to me. If you have access to email. please write. I love hearing from you. Miriam, I have received your lovely letter. Thank you for writing.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dance in the rain

Rain. Wet drops that smell divine. The grounds eagerly laps it up wanting more of the delicious treat . This stuff called rain.

For five months we have been without measurable rainfall. The earth is cracked and lawns are brown. Birds have lost their song beaconing the coming rain. Lakes and rivers are extremely low, record setting low. We watch the earth suffer and stand helpless and hopeless. But not today. The skies opened and prayers were answered.

Growing up on Neff Road, we knew the value of rain. Our lives depended on it. Seems we either had too much or too little, but in the house back the lane, we knew that rain meant hope for an easier winter with the larder full. Rain watered the seeds that grew into food for us to sell, for our stock to eat and for mother to can.

Once in awhile the rain refused to stop. The front field flooded and the ditches ran full. I remember being at Hollie and Margaret's paddling around in the ditch with Brenda. Our own little swimming pool on Neff Road. We splashed in puddles and danced in the rain.

Mom and Dad screened in the back porch.  When rain came, we did not retreat into the house. No, the family sat on the porch as long as the rain did not come in on us. A gathering place where we watched storms pass over and our children do that same dance in the rain. A special time. A memorable time.

If it rained hard enough, Dad would drive us down the lane to the bus. If not, soggy kids piled onto bus #16. A bunch of wet kids probably not smelling all that great piled in like a can of tuna. God bless our bus driver Lewis. He certainly managed to smile through all the seasons, all the weather and all the soggy kids.

So what does this rain mean to us here in Oregon? Well, it does not look as if it will make it to the fire zone. The amount of wildlife and forest lost is heartbreaking. Homes are lost, lives are lost and there seems to be no relief. Storms on this side of the Cascades bring fear of wind and lightning strikes on the other side of the mountains. If Oregon gets downpours, there is a chance of mudslides with nothing to hold the earth. It seems a case of feast or famine. Yet the beauty of this place calls to all of us who live here, wanting to protect her in any way we can.

The extremes in the weather teach us that we are vulnerable to Mother Nature and constantly at her mercy. We learn that we cannot control everything despite the fact that we want to or need to. There is no doubt that we learn what is important and to appreciate what we have knowing that it can change in the blink of an eye.

The smell of the rain takes me back to Neff Road again. The rain beating down on the metal roof of the house playing a musical tattoo on my brain. Dad and I are looking for night crawlers under rocks. Brenda and I are playing in the rain. We sit on the porch in a sweet compatibility that has grown through the years. The corn is growing and the beans look good. Today we cherish this wet stuff and look forward to more. In fact, I just might dance in the rain.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gifts from the mailbox

Thinking of you. Just wanted to let you know. Hope you remember me. It's been a long time. Greetings....wonderful greetings that warm the spirit and bring a smile.

God works in mysterious ways. Over and over again, when I need help, He already knows it and has taken action. This last week was a prime example. It was a rough week, beginning with a dear friend's doctor informing her that she was going to be put on hospice. Tari has had MS for well over 30 years. Her doctor informed her that she is the longest living MS person he knows. She has been bedridden for at least the last ten years only able to move a few fingers and lift her head, yet she is one of the strongest people I know, accepting her circumstances and living with a cheerful spirit. For better or worse, I am the only person with whom she expresses her deeper feelings. So when this news came, I was the designated person to talk to her. It took three hours to get around to the subject. "I forget that I have MS," she said. It was time to talk turkey. I crawled up into bed with her and held her. She told me of her fears, and I told her about mine. We talked of her children and the end of life. I can truly say that it was one of the most difficult conversations I have ever had to face. I sat in my car after and cried.

On Thursday my granddaughter called to tell me that their other grandma had passed away. She had only been ill a few days with pneumonia. Another time to put on a façade of strength and support, while inside I grieved with them and for them. But as I said, God takes care of me. Evidently the weight of compassion comes with a support team.

My sis June and I got into a conversation about how we love to get things in the mail. As kids we argued as to who would walk the lane to the mailbox. We could not wait to get toys we had sent for via the back of a cereal box. Waiting for the funny paper was a weekly treat. Junk mail was even better than an empty mailbox. Well, my mailbox was busy this week. On separate days I received notes from old friends and neighbors that wrapped around my heart and warmed me. Betty wrote to me of a time when my mom helped her boys. Marilyn thought she had to remind me of who she was, but I already knew and smiled at her note. Janet sent a picture and beautiful card, filling me with a missing of Neff Road. Today I received a dear note from Geneva who just happened to be thinking of me. My sadness was eased by these lovely women who took time to write. Their encouragement and sweet words picked up a sagging heart.

In this age of technology, we seldom find personal notes in the mailbox. I am at fault more than most, since it is difficult to write with my arthritic thumbs, but I know the worth of those written words. I do most of my communication and receive most via the internet. It, too, is my mailbox. What a blessing to know that someone is thinking of you. I am grateful for these women who came to my rescue. I will write return notes. They will take some time, but it is important. I have learned that when we have the urge to write to someone, we just might be writing at a time when love and support are needed. Wish I could still walk the lane to the mailbox. Wish I wasn't too old for that cereal box prize. The gifts I got this week are priceless. So are the women who sent them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Great Darke County Fair

We lived for it. It was our Christmas in the summer. A time when those who moved away migrated back to Darke County once more. A time when people stopped to chat with neighbors and to find faces they had not seen in years. The excitement was in the air long before August rolled around. Farm kids were preparing their projects and brushing their animals to achieve that perfect, glossy coat. Dreams turned to cotton candy, blue ribbons, stock barns and carnival rides. The Great Darke County Fair is about to open once more as it has since 1853.

I have been to a few county fairs, but indeed none compare to our fair. And, I say 'our fair' because it belongs to all of us who ever loved it. I once thought that the fair fell right before it was time to go back to school as a lure to draw us in and make us all excited and happy before the doors closed on us in the classroom. Hm. Guess it had more to do with farmers.

Time for a little baring of the soul. I apologize if it offends anyone, but here goes. I did not like 4-H. I could not sew. Did not want to sew. Did not cook. Did not want to cook. Did not want to raise an animal.  But did want to hang out in the stock barns. However, when in Rome.......  So I took 4-H. Got a few ribbons. Managed to please my mother and my 4-H leader. What I realize later in life is that my talents did not include cooking and sewing. It just is not in my makeup. You can teach a dog to speak, but it sure isn't going to speak English. However,  I hung in there. I went to the 4-H building and stood looking at my project. Silently thinking, "Whew, glad that's over." I guess I wasn't a very good farm girl. You should have seen me in Home Ec! Argh!!!!

My favorite part of the fair was when as kids we walked around the midway. When little, Brenda and I checked out the rides. When we got a little older, we checked out the boys. Even older, we brought our children. Now when we go, we look for familiar faces and step back in time visiting old memories and missing that other part of our lives and those who shared it with us.

Hopefully, our senior class (now really a senior class) will meet at the fair next year. I think it is the perfect place for class reunions. We will probably all bring pictures of those days gone by. You know, those black and white pictures. We will embrace the days we have had together again remembering those who are no longer with us.

The fair brought us together during the summer months when we had been busy being farm kids. It got us ready for the school year, wanting to reconnect again. We said our farewell to bare feet and lazy days. We knew that this Darke County Fair sendoff was just the beginning with the Pumpkin Show not far behind.

I still have a blue ribbon that I won modeling, I think. At least I am pretty sure it was not for clothing or some delicious culinary achievement. I have an old post card of Donald O'Connor that I got at some booth. Not much from all those years of fair-going, but the memories are immeasurable. They are so many filled with faces from the past. Elgar and Leah, Freeda and Herb, Uncle Bob and Aunt Welma. So many people who had no idea that their lovely faces would still be with me today, especially at fair time.

Happy Fair-going, my friends. Perhaps next year we can go together.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

When old things were new

It travels from place to place wherever I go. Each time I pack to move, I look at it once more wondering why I keep it. Still, it finds its way to the next destination. We all have them. I did not really understand that until my mother passed, and we found hers. You have them. I have them. Those little treasures that we never feel quite right getting rid of. I have often tossed something only to find myself retrieving it once more. Not a hoarder. Just a memory keeper.

A small ticket stub fades more and more with each coming year. It once allowed a little girl to ride the ferry across the lake to Soo Saint Marie, Michigan. It allowed me to go fishing with my friend Brenda in Centerville. The gold cord and my school pins, useless to anyone else, lie there looking at me, thinking (if they could) that they are ready to part ways. So what happens? I trash them? Hm. Once in a while I pass on a treasure to someone in the family; however, there are many things that mean nothing to anyone else. Just me. Again, another hm.

When we settled the farm, I took an item that neither of my sisters wanted or could even guess why I would want it. I am not so sure either. It is the bust of a native woman. She is carved from dark wood with hand-crafted earrings. She gathers dust as she did when she lived with Mom. But I find it hard to part with her. She meant something to Mom. And, in all fairness, she is lovely in a primitive way. We do not know where she came from so now she lives in Oregon.

Treasures. Pieces of us. Pieces of those now gone. My cousin lived with us when I was a little kid. He made Mom a soap box for her detergent. It sat on the shelf in the basement, fading with time. I took that, too. It still smells like the soap residue that clings to it still. Clutter? No, it has a place of honor atop my kitchen cabinets. A memory of my cousin Dick, my mother and that old wringer washer.

I have often asked myself (which you tend to do when you live alone) why I love antiques and collectibles. Without a doubt it is due to the memories that cling to them the same as the soap in the box. The smells, the textures, the experiences that go along with each of them. Vintage. Yes, I am becoming something vintage. The things of my era have become novelties for my granddaughters. Gabby has taken to wearing long pants that resemble those days of the 60's. "I'm dressing like you used to, Grammy."

In my antique sidebar reside dishes that were given to me when I was married back in 1969. Dishes that hold memories of those who gave them. Those that hold memories of my life. I hope that one day my kids and grandkids will ask the history of these things that seem to cling to me. They may not be rich in value, but they are indeed rich pieces of my past.

So what got me started on this today? Perhaps because it is August. Time for the Darke County Fair. Blue ribbons, a band letter, a modeling award, bits and pieces of the girl I was at the Darke County Fair reside in this pile of memories. The thing you don't see in this trunk are the memories that swirl around me when I open it. I feel like a Disney character twirling around as the memories assail me. Delight, love and pure joy fill my heart.

There will be no tossing for now. Instead I think I will write about a time when I was young on Neff Road, and old things were new.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A long way home

Growing up at the Loxley house always meant that company was coming. There were very few weeks that we didn't have someone pop in through the kitchen door. No one ever knocked. Had they knocked we would have looked at one another wondering, "What is that noise?!" No, you did not knock on the door; you just walked through the door to welcome arms.

Some of the company came for the day. Some came to stay for awhile. All were welcomed and expected to make themselves at home. In many ways, I think Mom and Dad thrived on those visit. It fed their souls to have loved ones around them. Junior Shuff at most meals with Mom after Dad passed. Our home was home for anyone and everyone.

When I moved away from Neff Road, I understood just how important those visit were to my parents. Perhaps I realized even more than my parents did, since I had to move away from my roots and those I loved. We were close enough to make trips home and Appleton was near beautiful country, so we got occasional visitors. Of course, new babies always brought family to visit.

Moving to Oregon was a bit further and company from home seldom knocked on the door. Those who did make the journey by covered wagon (I joke. Mom and Dad thought I was living in the old west) were very much appreciated. The Sparks family and the Stagers. Raymond and Lena Linder. My sisters, their families, parents, cousins and aunts and uncles. Even my elementary music teacher Fern Fourman found her way to Oregon. Each and every one of them was deeply appreciated. What a gift when someone cares enough to come to visit!

I love going back to my roots. I hope that my visits mean the same to the people I care so deeply about. The miles are far, the years pass quickly and each visit is a gift.

Last week Mickey Gearing Rivers, who graduated with me, came up to Oregon from California for vacation. We antiqued in Aurora and had a great time. This week was extra special as Don and Janet Rhoades, my Neff Road neighbors, came to visit. They were taking a trip through the beautiful northwest and that is exactly where I live. We did some sightseeing, enjoyed dinner together and caught up on the comings and goings of Neff Road. I was allowed to slip back into the nest and gather the news that I miss now that my mother is gone. Old acquaintances made into new friendships with deeper meaning.

Today I saw my friend Linda Marinach Brown off after a short visit. She is a traveling nurse and presently working in Longview, Washington. We met up again at our class reunion in April after so many years apart.  Now she is close enough to pop in for a visit once every so often. We laughed about days gone by and shook our heads at the our interpretations of that past. New experiences shared making an old friendship very special.

 For those of you who have not lived away from Darke County, and I know you are many, please understand how important your visits are to those people who have moved for one reason or another. The older we get the more important and dear those relationships can be. It is not enough to be thought of once a year via a Christmas card or a Facebook message. The importance comes in knowing that someone cares enough to connect and make the effort to see you. I have had two wonderful gifts this week in the visits of my friends. Neff Road was just a little closer.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Neff Road Tree

This Neff Road tree has roots yet does not need water. It is huge yet does not grow in the ground. It is in fact neither coniferous nor deciduous. Well, it really is not a plant, per se. Yet it is a tree.

My sister and I often talk about 'who-lived-where-when'. I had called her on Saturday asking her if she remembered a man who I could not remember where he lived or his name. Of course, she understands my vagueness and told me she would think about it. Later in the day his name hit me like a ton of bricks. My sister in Indiana was in bed, so I could not share the wonderful news that indeed my brain is still working. The next day when we talked about it, the discussion did not get very far, because we only had vague bits and pieces that we each remembered. So I got in touch with Janet Bashore in hopes that she could fill in the blanks. My dad worked for Janet's dad Lloyd when he drove the milk truck. A branch on the tree.

This happens all the time. It happens to all of us. I cannot remember something about the my grandmother, so I ask Alma Lea. Perhaps something comes up about the old neighborhood. I ask Janet or Lowell. I see a name in the newspaper and try to figure out how to find out if it is who I think it is by contacting, via online communications, an old neighbor, family member, classmate.  Whew! A few more branches.

Perhaps I see a name on Facebook of someone I knew long ago. I see that they are a friend of one of my friends, so I contact that friend and ask if it is indeed who I think it is. Man, I hope you followed that. I'm not sure I did. Again, another branch.

Well, by now you know that my tree is not a family tree but a tree of people who lived on Neff Road, attended Painter Creek Church, went to FM or just happened to be a friend of the family...or someone else's family. Branches. Important branches. Important because they fill in the spaces in our lives. They draw together to form that trunk of the tree which is my life and that of my family. I might even begin the tree with Brenda and me, since we are at the beginning of what I remember of Neff Road.

I am grateful for my computer. So many people tell me that they do not want to learn to email or do Facebook. I truly feel sorry for them for the opportunities they miss in expanding their neighborhood tree to reach out to those who have moved away or who are children of those who have passed. It is indeed a gift. I have gained back into my life those who would probably have drifted away into the past. They would be one of those names June and I try to remember. Not now. Now they are even better acquaintances, since we are no longer children and are able to leap beyond the past into the present.

The Neff Road tree is not just my tree. It is a tree that also includes you. You are the branch that holds the present, the past and perhaps the future. Plant your roots deeply in embracing those in your life. Your 'tree' just might go on forever.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A bit of string and a stick

Summer days on Neff Road. A time of creativity. There was no boredom. We were surrounded by things to do. My sister June and I started talking about all of the things we played during the summer. The list grew and grew. One thought triggered another. Perhaps you might be reminded of the wonderful times you had growing up. My time was on Neff Road.

The list of games changed as we grew older. Little ones play Button, Button, Who's got the Button. London Bridge, Farmer in the Dell and Duck, Duck, Goose. We chased each other when we got older playing Kick the Can, Tag, Freeze tag, Hide n' Seek. We bossed each other by playing Red Rover, Red Light/Green Light and Mother May I. We ran around the yard chasing lighting bugs. And loved playing baseball when enough of us played together. Games that had been handed down from generations before were still fun to play in the 1950's.

School aged girls loved to jump rope and play Hop Scotch. At camp, we learned to play Tether Ball and Four Square. Of course, camp always meant a swimming pool and Scavenger Hunts. Kids that were strangers soon became friends. Unless you belonged to the Loxley family where none of us stayed longer than a day because we were homesick. Argh!

Even though the Stager house is gone, I can take you to the exact spot where Brenda and I played Marbles and Jacks. We sat in that hot driveway totally immune to the heat. We rode our trikes on gravel driveways and pulled our dolls, kittens and anything else we could find in our wagons. You could spin a top on their cement drive way or bounce a ball. At our house we made a playhouse in the corncrib and tunnels in the barn. A swing hung in the tree. And, on hot days, we sat in the horse trough to cool off. We didn't go to the house for drink of water. Nope, we just drank from the hose. When it rained, we dashed to get our bathing suits.  They were good days to be a farm kid.

Not always was the play safe. I remember well Dad teaching me to play Mumbley Peg with a pocket knife. A bow made from a willow branch and string with arrows of sharpened sticks. A fishing pole made of stick, string and a clothespin. Target shooting with a BB Gun. Our parents did not always know where we were or what we were playing. Somehow we did survive.

A bit folded paper, a straight pin and a pencil and you had a pinwheel. A playing card, a clothes pin and a bike. and you had a cool means of transportation. A couple of buttons and a string, and you could create a whirring sounding toy. With a piece of string, you could make a Cat's Cradle. Yes, life was simple and so was our entertainment.

Perhaps one of the best things to do in the summer was to watch the animals on the farm. I spent quite a bit of time talking to my horse and sitting atop the gate watching the cows. Or sitting in the field with Brenda watching a cow give birth. The little peeps that came to live with us grew into the chickens we hypnotized. I loved holding the babies bunnies and watching the baby lambs. Kids who grow up not living around these wonderful animals have no idea the education we received and the fun we had just living within a few feet of our animal friends. 

I do not know how many hours during the summer that Brenda and I searched for baby kittens. We cuddled them. Put them in baby carriages and tried to sneak them into the house. Brenda had her dog Judy, and I had Whitey. We were never without pets. The farm was our adventure. We hiked the land, we played at the bridge, we visited neighbors and had a freedom that only kids like us could understand. It was the 1950's, and we were blessed to live on farms on Neff Road.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Heavens to Murgatroyd

My father had a saying for everything. In fact, even after his passing, his daughters still repeat his quips. It got me to thinking about the source of these thing he said. Here you have some common and perhaps uncommon phrases/idioms that might be part of your life. Enjoy.

Heavens to Murgatroyd (the phrase that brought this all on): Well, this one originated in a movie in 1944. The movie was Meet the People with the phrase said by Bert Lahr. It was later a common phrase often spoken by Snaggletooth on the Yogi Bear Show. The name Murgatroyd came from the surname of a long line of English aristocracy.

Stitch in time saves nine:  An early English proverb that has been around since 1732. It has to do with mending. Mending a little hole will be more efficient than waiting to stich up a big rip. Hm. Not hard to reason that one out.

Cat out of the bag:  First in print in England (again) in 1760. Two possibilities on this one. It could actually have meant to tell a secret or as some scholars (if there are such scholars) think it came from the use of the nine of tails which were kept in bags on ships. I prefer to go with the secret.

That's all she wrote:  (American) Probably originated in WWII having to do with the Dear John Letter. Yep, that's all she wrote.

Tail wagging the dog: (American)  From The Daily Republican paper regarding in 1872, dealing with the Cincinnati Convention thinking it could control the entire Democratic Party. Woof.

I'll be a monkey's uncle: Came into use in sometime after 1926. It was used in the Scopes Trials. Hm.

Hold your horses (Dad used this one on me a lot):  (American) Originally hold your hosses. That was back in 1844. Sometime later, diction took over and hosses turned into horses. Pretty much self-explanatory.

Kick the bucket:  (English) In 1785 the link between bucket and death was defined in Grose's Dictionary of Vulgar Tongue: to kick the bucket, to die. Obviously, it had to do with kicking the bucket out from under someone who just happened to have a noose around the neck. 

Till the cows come home: (Scottish) It has no real discovery time. It was probably some farmer's wife asking when her husband would return from the field. He stated the obvious, "Not till the cows come home."

Barking up the wrong tree:  (American) First seen in  James Kirke Paulding's Westward Ho! in 1832. I can just imagine some silly dog barking up a tree while the prey sits in the next tree watching. It's right up there with our dog having a heart attack when dad took him hunting.

Whoops a daisy: (American) Began as ups-a-daisy. First recorded as 'whoops' in The New Yorker in 1925. However, I think of Ups-a-daisy as picking up a fallen child versus 'whoops-daisy' when the child falls down. No matter which it is, there is a daisy involved. 

So how did this column topic come into being today? Well, I find that my grandchildren look at me strangely when I say something like "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!' So I asked my sister June just exactly who was Jehoshaphat? After which ensued a long conversation about Dad and his predictable sayings. I seem to be the keeper of my dad's sayings as well as my own sayings. My three-year-old grandson says 'cool' just about as much as does his grandma. We pick up phrases and just carry them along with us.

Now you just might be called accountable for some random phrase that pops out of your mouth by a grandchild who doesn't miss a thing. Might want to get online and check The Phrase Finder. Better safe than sorry.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The little engine and the thief

It sat on a shelf in the garage of our house on Teagues South Road. A newly married couple. Their first house. Family friends lived across the road and Mom and Dad a few miles away. A dream home for this young couple. The toy sat upon a shelf in the garage.

Most of the time I felt safe living back the lane on Neff Road, except for the times when Dad grabbed the shotgun and dashed out the door. An invisible hand clinched my stomach until Dad came back in again. Usually some varmint was trying to get eggs or the fat hen who laid them. A fox. A raccoon. An old barn owl. I like chicken and eggs, and so did they. Dad wasn't about to share. There were times, however, when Dad thought that the varmint might just have two legs. Once in a while someone would dump something in the creek. A couple of times someone had stolen gasoline out of the gas tank that sat back by the chicken house. Pretty nervy if you ask me. Dad was ready.

We didn't lock the house back then. Everyone trusted everyone else in the community. It was a thing called respect. Trust that a neighbor wouldn't cheat you. And, for the most part, life continued that way peacefully. The keys were in the ignition in the car in the driveway. No tools were locked away. And, by the same token, it was a time when no one talked about problems or bad things that happened in their families. We never knew if a wife and children were beaten. We never knew if a child was molested. It was a time of  'never airing your laundry'.

Sometimes if a young man got into trouble, perhaps stealing something, he was given the choice between jail and the military. Often to compensate a farmer, he would be made to work for that same farmer. More than likely he got a pretty good 'lickin' when he got home.

Trust. It was a thing I was brought up to believe in. It kept me a little naive. Moving to the city showed me a new side to humanity. It showed me what was lurking outside of Neff Road and probably often in that same community. I was just 18 when my new co-worker bought dead bolts for my door. I learned the rules of driving alone at night. I learned that not everything is as safe as it seems.

Then I married. We moved into our sweet, first house. A house that rambled with backrooms, coal room and attached garage. We could lock the house but not the coal room and backroom. Since my new husband was a town boy who knew the ropes, we locked the house. Stored in the old garage were things we had to still unpack. On a shelf sat three cast iron train cars. Only one engine was complete. It was a treasure. My husband and I both worked and came home late in the day. Weekends were the only times we went to the garage. And, as you have probably guessed, someone had stolen the little engine. I lost my trust in the neighborhood that came and went around our house.

My little grandson loves to play with the two broken cars. He always notices that the wheels are missing, yet he still lines them up and plays choo-choo. Each time my heart aches that I cannot give him the little engine that we loved. I wonder at the person who took it, thinking it sat on that shelf for his or her taking. Somewhere it sits on a shelf or in the hands of another child....a stolen toy.

Life was not always as it seemed on Neff Road as with any neighborhood. Yet we try to think the best of people.  I know that no community is immune. I don't live in fear, but I live with an awareness of my surroundings and the safety of my home and family.  We teach children about strangers, and by our example, we show them how to be safe. The little engine and the thief taught me a life lesson. They taught me that not everything was safe on Neff Road.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A little elbow grease

Despite the ease of pushing buttons, digitally doing most everything, the little thrills of the past are missing. The spin of a phone dial, the fountain pen, the pop of the percolator, cold water in an aluminum cup, squeezing a flour sifter. All of the sounds and simplicity of another day.

Someone posted a picture asking if anyone knew the use of the pictured item. These things are posted all the time, but this one was my own personal favorite. When I was small, I could not work it. Just did not have the 'elbow grease'. The day finally came when I could give it a mighty try. I put all my energy into it, pulled the lever and crackle, crack and I had ice cubes. Yes, we had to wait for the cubes in the tray to freeze. It wasn't as easy as pushing a button on the frig and getting a glass of ice. It was an experience. Those cubes were waited for and yanked free from their icy bed. Well, that might be a bit dramatic, but I loved it when at last I could pull that lever and make ice cubes.

Relics of the not-so-long-ago past: The rotary egg beater that made egg fly if you cranked it fast enough. Cranking flour from the bin in the cabinet. The insulated Thermos cooler with the nifty little spigot. The sound of those first kernels of corn popping as you turn the handle on top of the popper. Bottle cap trivets made by every female in the community. The fun things that made life a little more interesting.

We didn't have clothespins that clipped. Ours just pushed down over the clothesline. My grandfather had the clip-type. I could not wait until I was old enough to get married and have clip clothespins. My aspirations evidently were not very high. The ringer washer, the egg washer, even the rabbit ears on the TV were all things that entertained a silly girl back the lane on Neff Road. Those were days when I was a kid.

The next generations said good-bye to ghetto blasters, record players, transistor radios and tape decks. Records gave way to tapes which just gave way. The blender stepped aside for the food processor. Manual typewriters moved over for the electric. The day and age of savoring a process was erased by instant gratification.

The refrigerator now spits ice out into my glass offering cubed or crushed. Even a child can do it. I miss those steps it took to accomplish a task yet must confess that I have given over to the 'new' with great gusto. Instant hot water, purified water, baked potatoes in minutes and a phone that does everything but dress me in the morning. I guess we just progress and remember fondly those little things that make our memories so special. Things like ice cube trays.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Grey Blob

An apology. Yes, I owe an apology for both of my blogs. I haven't been as diligent as I should be in keeping up with these pages I love to write. Life gets in the way. Always I think of these pages as my ramblings with no one really paying any attention. Then I begin to doubt if I should be writing. Well, today is my wake-up call.

While slipping into the Sunday morning nest where I write my blogs and newspaper column, I found that I had comments that had not been moderated. Comments from readers that had not been acknowledged. I AM SORRY. Shame on me. You do read my ramblings. Sometimes I forget that maybe my words are your words as well. Sometimes I forget that I am a cog in a very large wheel, and I'd best be aware.

There is no novel in my words. I've come to accept that fact. I don't have pages of fiction in my head that need to find a voice. I'm not a non-fiction reader; therefore, I don't have it in me to write such books. So what am I? Hm. I often ask God to give me clarity. More often than not, I ask about my purpose on this little ball of earth. As a child, I was close to death. I bumped and rolled along in life the intervening years. I am a survivor thus I have purpose.

More recently as I age, I ask God that I learn more about this grey glob in my skull that contains an infinite amount of knowledge. Knowledge I can't even understand. I ask that in my remaining years, I might learn more of what it contains. Clarity of purpose. Exposure of gifts. An emptying of wealth that this grey matter holds. Contrary to what most people might do, I sometimes try to look into that grey mass persuading myself that if I look hard enough I might find something new. Don't try this at home. It doesn't work. Yet awareness comes to me at the most unusual times. Someone may ask advice and for some silly reason, the answer is in my head. I didn't come up with it. It just was there. We have a wonderful, mystical glob that possesses everything God intended for us just sitting there on top of our heads.

One thing I have learned is that this glob doesn't work well unless there is activity and stimulation. Opening to knew thoughts and ideas. Taking chances where our own doubt is our worst enemy. Time and time again, I have met people who do not know me but who have the same abstract beliefs that I do. I find that this grey mass shares a common thread with others. I often need to step away from who I believe I am in order to learn more about who I am supposed to be. It is a gift we are given at birth.

I have no idea where all of this came from today. Perhaps it is because of you, the readers, who take time to comment on the words that just pop out of my head. Perhaps it is another door that opened and God said, "Write. I am the words. You are my pen."

I believe in this grey mass on my head. This grey blob that refuses to stay dormant. The one that lets me know a few more things every day. My job is to listen and write. So to you who comment on my writings, I thank you. We are all of one thread that weaves in and out of this world and all of humanity. Thank you for being part of my tapestry.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Life's yardstick

Perhaps we don't measure our lives so much in years as we do in numbers, in events. We measure it in generations, in inventions, in medical advances, etc. I can count the years of since my birth, but there is so much more to measure in the measuring of our lives.

My sister June and I often talk about the past and the things I can remember, those she can't and vice versa. We look at the past in new ways understanding that we are a product of the part of the country we were raised in and by the history that took our family from back when to now. It is a lot to take in if one sits down to count it all up. It is impossible.

A few of my classmates and I took a tour of the new Franklin Monroe High School. What a lovely sight to behold. Recycling and environmental impact were at the forefront of design. Up-to-date classrooms with computers and rooms designed for the arts. A new gym with a floor so shiny that it seemed a shame to ever walk on it. I couldn't take that tour without going back to the numbers, the measurement of time. Three gyms had crossed my path from childhood to here. A school was torn down and another went up. We measure by the life we lead.

The funny thing about having older siblings is that their measurements of events seem to add to yours even if you don't remember those years. Homes went from basic homes of comfort with no frills to central heating, bathrooms, dishwashers, microwaves, all the things that measure advancement of time. Sometimes we measure in losses. Those are the difficult ones, yet they are the ones that teach us the most about life.

I write about the past; however, I don't live with the past. Counting the years in knowledge, constantly learning and changing, are probably the best of the measuring. Change has been that yardstick that tells me how tall in wisdom I have grown. We do not stand still.

Life is measure in years, in the events and changes over those years. I couldn't possibly count how old I am in life events. I think I'll stick with my sixty-eight years and counting.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

From Avalon to Dylan

Up at five in the morning. I wrapped my hair on big rollers then placed the cap of my portable hairdryer over them. Snuggling down on the sofa with a pillow tucked beneath my neck, I turned on the hairdryer and tried to get another hour of sleep. I might be a little tired that day, but my bouffant hairstyle was worth it. Thus was the life this once teenager in the mid 1960s.

There was quite a change between the years when my sisters grew up and those of my own.  A revolution was taking place. Teens questioned and followed new paths. Skirts were shorter. Hair was longer. Jeans were part of my wardrobe and wearing a guys button down shirt was a fad with shorts.

At the Alumni Banquet instead of a speaker, music from the honored class eras was performed. The music rocked and rolled just as we had in our teens. Our class perked up as we all felt the music once more. With a little encouragement, we probably would have all gotten up to dance. I looked at the young people who were the class of 2015. I wondered what they thought of these grandparents sitting at a table, 50 years graduated, and mouthing the words as they swayed in their seats. Who were these old people?!?!? Well, we were some of the first to do the Twist, the Mashed Potatoes, the Monster Mash, the Frug, the Hully Gully, the Watusi, the Pony. We were part of the dance explosion, dances that are still seen in movies today and alive again on the dance floor.

Times, they were a changin'. Fads were aplenty. Afro hair, banana seats on bikes, turtleneck shirts and mini skirts, Granny dresses, lava lamps and smiley faces. Tie die came into being along with love beads. It was a big step from the 50's to the 60s. And, we were the generation that saw it happen.

New thoughts and ideas came to be in the 60s. For some it was difficult to change old ways. For others doors were opened that had always remained closed. Cultural walls were being torn down when the youth called for change. People were willing to fight for their rights even if it meant death. Our music reflected the questions teens had probably always thought about but were afraid to ask. Individuals began to think for themselves and to step beyond the comfort zone of their parents. The world changed. Some thought for the worse. Some determined to make it better for all people. In churches and in streets, men, women, black and white held hands and became one voice. It was a time of change.

Perhaps the music is what I remember most. We experienced it all. Rock, Folk, Pop, Soul. Music about love, war, outrage and peace. Our feelings were reflected in a new way. We felt it, we danced it and most of all we loved by it. Frankie Avalon to Bob Dylan. A generation that grew up quickly. No wonder our parents couldn't keep up.

I am still a girl of the 60's. Part of a change in this world. A change that needs to be continued. We are the past and are still a relevant future. No more rollers at five in the morning. Still dancing across the floor when no one is looking. Still singing those folk songs. Not seeing bellbottoms in my future and positively forget my backside fitting on a banana seat. But today is still the future for those open minded, loving adults from the 60s. I, for one, am proud to be one of them.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Don't rag on me

Nothing went to waste. Feed sacks were used over and over again. Twine became a replacement for rope or string or even holding up a pair of pants. A twig could help a fire along or hold a hot dog or even be a tent pole. An old pot could be a bucket or a flower pot. An old Cool Whip container became a poor woman's Tupperware or a bathtub toy. Clothes were handed down or shared. Nothing went to waste. Creativity was the norm on Neff Road.

I grabbed an old rag and wiped my granddaughter's nose. The poor thing had a terrible cold. Her little nose was red. When her mommy and other grandma came home, they grabbed the rag, looking vaguely repelled at the thought of a rag beneath the child's nose. I was a little confused. Didn't everyone use rags? We certainly did. When Dad finally wore out a t-shirt, Mom made it into rags. Wonderful rags that were soft beneath a child's dripping nose. A rag that could be wrapped around the Vicks-coated neck of a child.

Old clothing became part of my grandmother's quilts. Rags were the early hair curlers. I often had a rag held against a wound sometimes wrapped around a cube of ice. I dusted many a shelf with an old rag. Dipped them in a sudsy bucket of water when we did spring cleaning. And managed to wipe off an egg or two before they were taken to market. Dad had a rag tucked into his tackle box. Come to think of it, I believe that rags were a vital part of our everyday life. So don't rag on me.

I wonder if other people have a pile of rags stuck away on a shelf, or are rags a thing of the past or something that was used most by we farm folk? More and more, I use rags today to make my own little dent in my ecological imprint left on this earth. The old trusty rag doesn't need to be tossed. I don't need to buy it. I don't need to recycle the wrapping it comes in. Nope. This old standby has served me well over the years. It has dried my tears, comforted my runny nose, soothed my wounds and cleaned my house. What other product could be as practical and sustaining. Nope, don't rag on me. These are real treasures. Perhaps I should start a business selling old pieces of cloth!

When no one is looking, I whip out a piece of Daddy's old t-shirt and wipe his toddler's nose. I will pass on this legacy of good sense. I will teach my grandchildren what it is to be cognitive of their imprint on this world and how to be creative and practical. Rags. Memories of home, comfort and love.

Monday, May 4, 2015

For the love of Mom

In honor of my mom, I am wearing her raccoon hat while I write about the special moms of Neff Road. I picture Mom doing the Charleston in the kitchen. An apron dusted with flour. Peeled potatoes in the old tin pot ready to cook for a field full of hands (farm hands for those who are not farm savvy). A woman with an apron full of greens, beans or peas. A basket full of eggs. Some still warm from the hen's warm nest. A basket of yarn and crochet needles moving quickly. Ragtime piano and a voice that could be clearly heard whenever she sang. A woman who could confuse as well as inform. She was one of a kind this Ruth Johnson Loxley. And she was my remarkable mother.

Neff Road just like all country roads was filled with women who knew how to work hard. They grew up making soap, sewing sack cloth, toting chamber pots and learning from their mothers what was needed to support the menfolk in the family while keeping the house and children in order. It was not an easy childhood for these women. Their future homes would be modern with electricity, indoor plumbing, appliances and water running from a faucet in the house. They were allowed to be more creative. Some worked away from home. They were post war years when life was easier and new ways of living were at hand. These were the mothers of the 1950s.

As I have said in the past, I had many mothers on Neff Road. Some were in many ways closer to me than my own mom. Mom was always busy with so many other people. She was a caring person who watched over her community and tried to make it better. Margaret Stager was the mom who probably saw me in her house as much as I was in the white house back the lane. I loved going there to play with Brenda. Hollie and Margaret loved me and treated me like one of their own. Next door to us, well down the lane and to the right, lived Doris Lavy. A woman who over the years would find a special place in my heart. "You didn't know it, but I always watched over you," she told me. She was the one person who understood the loneliness of that little girl who seemed to roam the farm and road between the bridge and Brenda's house. There are no words deep enough to express the love I have for those two women. Going home to visit meant more than that drive back the lane to my parents. It meant that I would see those women and their families again.

We should all have such Mothers in our lives. They became my special moms, because I cared to continue to make those relationships stronger as time passed by. I gave them a love I couldn't understand as a child. I cherish them and their families, understanding what they added and continue to add to my life.

I no longer have any of those mothers, but I have them embedded in my heart. This is my Mother's Day thanks to them and the memories I hold dear. This is for you to remember and cherish what you have. For all of you birth mothers and those of you who are mothers of the heart, Happy Mother's Day and thank you. Mom, I sit here in your raccoon hat with a smile on my face. You taught me to appreciate others and to love with all my heart. This for you and the mothers of Neff Road. I love you and thank you.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Keepers of the earth

The earth is alive with new growth. Trees alive with new leaves. Flowers everywhere you look. Spring is alive and well. Along with the change of seasons comes a birthday in a few months. The twins will be three. So this grandma knows it is time. The time has come for this generation to learn about this beautiful earth.

Once again I am lying in the green grass on the hill overlooking the creek bottom. Mom has hung fresh laundry on the line above me. I close my eyes and listen. A cow moos for her newborn calf. The old bridge creaks with the weight of a tractor and wagon. Birds sing and Mom's laundry flaps in the wind. I smell the grass, the newly laundered clothes, the cows and the sheep as well as fresh turned soil. I smell Mom's pies baking in the kitchen and my dog Whitey lying next to me. I open my eyes and see a blue sky full of drifting clouds. A lion? A clown? An ever-changing mosaic in the sky.

The hill was a place where nature could be observed by merely lying in one spot and joining nature. I was a little one when Dad began teaching me to merely listen. He taught me to observe with my eyes open, so I could dream of nature's wonders with my eyes closed. Now it was my turn.

The little ones put on over-sized, gardening gloves. They couldn't pick up anything if they tried. "I like to feel the earth and get my hands dirty," I said. "Me, too," cried the twins with gloves flying off their small hands. I gave each child a job. They searched for winter debris, showing me each piece as they tossed it into the bucket. A neighbor stopped by offering a small wheelbarrow that was tucked away for many years in the back of his garage. The little ones took turns gathering sticks to toss on the pile. The woman who lived in this house before the kids took it over this spring planted a wide variety of plants I'd never seen. After showing the children the uniqueness of the plants, Nolan was soon showing his parents a hidden bud. They were sponges soaking up nature with a little help from the adults who love them. I knew that my Dad had done the same for me.

We sat in the yard and looked at the clouds. We listened to the robin who was building a nest in the tree by the kitchen window. We picked up rocks and looked at the colors and shapes. We worked together and learned from one another. With each new season, new opportunities arise. With each generation, we pass on appreciation for the earth we reside on for a while.

My father taught me to observe and absorb the world around me. I teach my grandchildren to embrace and protect it. I was taught in school that we had unending natural resources. But that's not true. I have a responsibility to teach my grandchildren about the beautiful, natural gifts around us that we need to preserve. I ask God to give them a world as special as the one I was given. A world full of birds, fresh water, clean skies and soil free of chemicals.

In a few more years, the twins will be old enough to share with me the evening sky. We will talk about stars and a beautiful moon. I will tell them about a little girl who could close her eyes and hear the cows and chickens. We will travel from the past and talk about the future. In the years ahead, I will hand off the knowledge I hope they will pass on. I will give them what I can to help them be keepers of the earth.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

It is a gift

Two or three times a week her face pops up on my computer screen. Yep, my sister June is just a few clicks away. I'm in Oregon. She is in Angola, Indiana, yet we are carrying on a conversation as if we are in the same room. I love Skype.

The beauty of having siblings is that we share a common past, memories, history. These are the only people who know it all. They are the family encyclopedia, the keeper of feelings and the eyes of a recorder. When one of us forgets a facet of our past, the other usually can remember. Sometimes a memory long forgotten by both of us surfaces.

Example: In one or our recent, rambling conversations, June said, "You can always learn to crochet. (a reference to Mom)."  I reply that my bad thumbs will not allow me to crochet but then again, perhaps I could macrame. A new conversation ensues talking about macrame. I wish I had some those old macrame pieces. I'd send one to her. The remnants of the 60's are long gone except for a Santa my dear cousin Betty made for me. I was never as artistic as my sister, but I could tie knots with the best of them. Memories of times that warm the heart are alive again as we meet face to face.

My mother would have loved Skype. She could have spent time with her grandchildren even though they lived in various parts of the US. I could have spent more time with my parents. I cannot even begin to think what the future will hold for my grandchildren. Someday they will think that Skype is old fashion and obsolete. For now I embrace it and am thankful that it keeps my sister nearby.

How fun it would have been for us to have had some type of multi-Skype, so our classmates who could not come to the reunion could still have been in the same room with us, sharing a very special time. This day of technology has something for all of us. It requires a bit of learning which keeps the mind sharper. Keeping up with new technology allows me to be a really "with it" grandma for my teenage granddaughters. And, it enriches my life in ways I never dreamed of long ago, sitting in front of that old Raytheon TV.

For those of you who do not know how to Skype and have the opportunity to use a computer, it is a wonderful way to stay connected and close to those you love. When I travel or my kids travel, I am still in contact with them. On my recent trip home, I skyped with the twins. They dashed in front of the camera, telling me all about their activities. A Grammy who was far away was once again in the same room, loving every minute with the chatty tots. Distance didn't mean separation. Skype held us together.

Maybe one day we will have a live newspaper or blog where we can talk face to face with readers. The possibilities are endless and exciting.  Living is all about change and recreating ourselves to be more adventurous and alive. It is a gift.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

A trip back home

Memories collect like dust on an old shelf left to itself far too long. They pile up and together make a grey blanket lying there until ruffled by the feather duster. Well, the feather duster came calling this week.  The memories danced in the air, and we caught every one of them savoring them in ways we haven't in the past. Fifty years away from the classroom, the cafeteria food, Mrs. Frantom's Home Ec and Mr. Dafler's Geometry. A school now gone, but the days of young kids playing on new playground equipment and those of jump rope in the yard not forgotten.

We picked up where we left off only better this time. We are no longer little children or even young adults concerned with our own lives. Hugs, kisses, embraces long overdue. Drawn together in our youth, we now cherish what we have in our later years, making it all new once more. For those who live locally, not caring to join us, there was a hurt, a missing that we wished they felt as well. With the loss of four of our class members, we knew that this little chunk of time together was important. We wanted to say 'hello' and hoped that it would not be forever 'good-bye". 

The Alumni Banquet brought even more into my circle of loved ones from the past. I say loved ones because they share a special time that means a great deal to me.  Each and every face was a piece of my years back that lane on Neff Road. Past school employees, those who attended school with my sisters, those in the grades above me and behind me, they warm my heart and make it sing. I was blessed to be part of those years at Franklin Monroe. I was blessed to be a farm girl who grew up with mud between her toes and an outhouse back behind the corn crib. A simpler time when decades later we returned once more…..because we cared to make the effort.

For you who have not moved away, please know that you are part of those memories of us who did find our lives away from our roots, our past friends and school mates. When we return, we want to see you again. Know that we share a past, a lovely past. We bring our lives to you, hoping you care and want to know where the years have taken us.  I returned home with a new friends. Oh, yes, they were my old classmates, but we have new beginnings now.  We made a pledge to see one another whenever possible. We have been given a gift.

Thank you to my friends and family for spending time with me. I have very little family there anymore.  Yet, I will return. I will visit with Janet and Geneva catching up on the local news. I will count myself blessed for those of you in my life. For you who read this little weekly column, thank you. You humble me. I send my love to you all and look forward to my return to Neff Road.