Sunday, October 8, 2017

Ah, sweet autumn

Put the cauldron on! We're going to revisit memories. How can you not go back in time when you feel that crisp, fresh air and smell the leaves and other detritus, that decay giving the earth a blanket for a winter's sleep. Our thoughts turn to pumpkins and pumpkin pie. Not just about today but about those yesterdays remembered. Nutmeg, cinnamon, apple cider. Somehow nuts and apples and pears are a bit more alluring. Autumn. Ah, let's add ingredients

The first thing into the cauldron must be the sound of farm equipment rumbling across the fields, taking in the fall harvest. Wagons full of corn, signaling a healthier bank account, and livestock with food in their pantry. It signals a quieter time for the farmer and a honey-do list waiting for him when winter brings him out of the fields and into the house. A time to sit by the fire.

Next comes the anticipation of snow and thoughts of Christmas. A quick stopover at Halloween and then Thanksgiving with thoughts of finishing crafts and buying presents. My granddaughter Emma took me into her closet to show me her snow pants. She is anticipating tubing down the mountain. "I need snow boots, MeMe," she imparted with perhaps a motive behind the comment. Ah, yes, snow. I remember. I remember the anticipation.

Add a few memories of counting days until kids come home from college or grandchildren come to visit. The excitement of planning. The anticipation of hugs long missed. For me, it is a time of missing those no longer here, remembering the family gatherings and anticipating my son coming home after months at Northwestern during his college years. A yearning for those we love and the past.

Let's toss in hay rides. Pure joy and smiles at the memory of straw in a wagon, singing at the top of our lungs and snuggling together against the fall chill. Cider and hot dogs. Popcorn and cookies. Donuts and hot chocolate. Sugar Grove and youth group.

Let's add a little bulk to this stew of memories. Homecoming, marching band, football and soccer. Pumpkin Show and fall bazaars. Summer put away so that a new season can bloom once more. A hearty fall menu.

Bold colored leaves of yellow, gold, red and orange are reflected in clothing. Tank tops make way for sweaters. Heavier bedding comes out of storage. Feather beds, down comforters, flannel sheets. The stew is a palette of memories and colors. I hope I have stirred a cauldron of memories for you. Enjoy every minute and savor the stew.

"And in my heart, sweet Autumn, thou art the awakener of many, many things. At thy touch the deep fountain of memory is stirred, and its shadowy bank is thronged with many cherished images and hallowed recollections of the Past!" - Elizabeth J. Eames from "An Autumn Reverie, October 1940

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Getting my penny's worth

Some people do spring cleaning. June and I are both doing fall cleaning. She is getting ready to move, and I, just like my mother, love to move things around and discover treasures I had forgotten I had tucked away in that "why am I keeping it/I can't part with it" box.

June: I just found those old cards I got at the fair that have actors on them.
Me: I hate to tell you, but I have one of yours. It's Donald O'Connor. Do you want it?
June: No. Do you want this stack?

So goes the conversation taking on a new direction straight to the Penny Arcade at the Darke County Fair. I know you all have some of those little treasures. We all took those once precious pennies into that tent to the left of the race track and tried our luck. We played pinball, had our fortunes read and hoped that the love machine would tell us that our favorite guy really loved us. When the pennies ran out, we took off in search of a parent who just might have a bit of change.

A big old claw would pick up cheaply made toys and toss them into a chute....if you were lucky. There were gumball machines that added to the already large amount of sugar we had already consumed with cotton candy and candy apples. You could squeeze a handle to learn what strength you held in those skinny arms. If you had no idea how much you weighed, for a penny you could have it announced it to everyone in line behind you. Marbles shot off into space and horses raced around a track. Boxers fought and balls were tossed into holes. For a penny you could learn how your day was going via the horoscope machine. How about a piece of soda mint gum to settle your tummy? Maybe you stood on a box and looked into the big, round Mutoscope at a movie. There was a personality tester where you could find out if you were shy, exotic, glamorous, studious. It was a place you could shoot a mounted gun and not take the life of any living thing.

Yes, one conversation turned into a column of penny memories.

June: Do you remember the one machine that you could type your name onto a circle that surrounded a silver star? I spelled my name wrong the first time and had to do it again.

I remember putting a penny into a machine, and it coming out flat with a message on it. I'm missing those days when a penny was worth every moment of delightful time spent in the Penny Arcade. Hey, June, remember the plastic kewpie doll on the end of a stick? (fuel for another sister conversation)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Putting a spin on it

Pool sticks lined up against the stone wall. Chalk, balls, all the stuff of pool. The big table took up the space where once there was only a ping pong table. Wait a minute! What am I saying!?!?! It was not just a ping pong table. It was so much more.

Mom laid the pattern on top of the fabric. A piece of small print cloth that would more than likely end up as bib, aprons or possibly a dress; however, I never knew of my mom making a dress let alone any of us wearing something she made. The large green table was the perfect size for pattern cutting. The net could remain in place just in case a quick game of ping pong was pursued. Patterns were cut there and, occasionally, a meal was in place for the guests who came for a fun time at the Loxley house.

It was a warm September when our wedding gifts were beautifully displayed on that green background. As was done then, newcomers would wander around the ping pong table peeking what each person gave to the newlyweds. A rehearsal dinner was had, and I left that ping pong table for good.

My memories of that ping pong table were special as I played in that basement listening to my records and skating around the table, grabbing it on each corner as I swung about. Around and around on my little, metal skates that hooked onto my shoes. Oddly though, I never played ping pong on that table. Hm. Guess those sisters of mine were gone and so was the enthusiasm for the game.

Many are the people of Darke County who ate hot dogs in that basement seated around that big, old table. New Years celebrations with old friends, youth groups who grew into young adults, sitting around that table on most Sundays. Memories were gathered and meals shared, laughter echoing through generations.

The pool table came to stay after the Loxley girls were gone. Now grown up Loxley adults grabbed pool sticks and played. Their children played. I still didn't play, and no one seemed to care. Argh!

Just a 'backhand' of information gleaned from the pages of the English History of Ping Pong. Some sort of ping pong or table tennis has been in existence since the 1880s. It was first played among the upper classes in England. After dessert came a parlour game known as Whiff Whaff. It was played with books used as, batting golf balls across the dining room table. Later it was played with cigar box lids used as paddles and balls made from champagne corks. I'm pretty sure that even then no one would have played Whiff Whaff with me; I could have helped empty those bottles of champagne under the table.

The best part of those days around that big, green table was the conversations with relatives and friends. It was a gathering place of pure joy for you could not sit and eat at that ping pong table without laughing. My serve: Whiff Whaff.

Monday, September 18, 2017

As fur as you can go

Don't you just love family time. Those conversations with loved ones who shared your past. The little tidbits you share that jiggle loose memories you either had forgotten or occurrences of which you had no knowledge. Well, I just did some of that jiggling time with my sister June. You would think after all these many seventy years that we would have talked it all out. Hm. Maybe not.

The eggs cost under a dollar for a dozen back in the 50's. Now let's see. Total cost of raising them would include the cost of birds, feed, gravel, bedding, gathering eggs, washing eggs, packing eggs, cleaning out the hen house and putting up with the nasty creatures. Yet, Mom and Dad scrimped and saved every penny to feed and clothe their daughters.

I'm not sure of the cost of rabbits back then, but we raised them, fed them, cleaned the hutches and cuddled them as often as possible. As with the chickens (you never wanted to get attached), they were off to market as well.

Dad also raised cows, sheep and sometimes pigs at Granddad Loxely's farm. They required all the same only in larger amounts. The sheep offered wool to sell as well as an occasional lamb. The cows were given a reprieve if they were good breeders. Their calves were not so lucky. Food in the freezer and a little more money in the bank. Sometimes very little.

Crops varied year to year. The bank account grew or diminished as well. Some years we wore clothing longer even though they got shorter. In a good year we got something new. As with all things on the farm, a lot of money seemed to go into the various animals and crops with the return not so dependable. It was the way of farming. It was the way of raising a family.

Last week June and I got into a conversation about muskrats. I know, only farm kids would talk about muskrats, especially if you lived by a creek. Dad set out his trap and checked them each morning I thought that he was just trying to get rid of the critters. June informed me that he sold the furs; he checked the trees at night for raccoons. What!?!?!? I had never seen a dead muskrat with or without a pelt anywhere on the farm. It was indeed news to me. If Dad was lucky, he would get a fox. Well, this seemed to be a case of farm-underground. Who in the heck bought these pelts? Some hat maker back behind the Palace?! I envisioned a trapper I had seen on Daniel Boone. Then I tried to picture Dad as one of them. Nope, didn't work. I have no idea what the pelts were worth, but it was another effort to add cash to the cash box.

I am amazed at what I learn about my wonderful parents who gave every bit of their lives to their daughters. They suffered defeat. They struggled against health conditions and poverty. Yet, in all of this, they never lost their sense of kindness and pride in what little they did possess. I never had a beaver hat or a fur coat. But I lived a charmed life.  I had a bounty in my backyard and an even bigger one in the love of my parents. They built a life on hard work and small change. They certainly went as fur as they could go.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The only hope for the future

The smoke trailed up the slope like an old steam locomotive chugging through the trees, seeking higher ground. Then it was gone in a blanket of white. A blanket of smoke. As I flew off towards Indiana, I saw my beloved Columbia Gorge burn. A loss of the heart of my Oregon. A place that my grandchildren will never see in their lifetimes, in that beauty that was there for us to enjoy. Beautiful falls laid bare stripped of the thick forest that surrounded them. A place thirsty for rain that refuses to fall. Fish set free from fish farms way too young to meet the river but set free in an effort to save them. Animals frantically fleeing the raging flames. Environment attacked by foolishness. A kid with a firecracker.

A beautiful face comes to greet me. Once again I am united with my dear sister June in another place I call home. Her friends have become my own over the years. We share laughter, and we share tears. There is a bond that miles and time cannot erase. So to come here where there is worry and concern about homes and friends in Florida brings me to the center of frustration and worry. We were glued to the TV, hoping for word of Key West, Port Charlotte, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, St. Augustine and other parts of Florida that touch the lives of the people in my life. A storm large enough to engulf an entire state, to ravage it and leave it in shambles. Environment affected by the actions of humanity.

Yes, there are those who refuse to believe in global warming. Those who do not want to change their lifestyle, just because they like it and refuse to accept reality. It isn't false news. It is truth. We were given this earth to tend, to care for. We are given choice to support this globe or to destroy it. I believe that the true false gods are those who say, "there is no truth in global warming". The storms will be many and more intense as time passes. Our earth will be parched and fires will exhume the sticks left bare. Floods will erase communities and erosion will reclaim the beaches. There is no going back. I applaud those countries that are discontinuing gas-fueled cars. They are the first responders.

We can build walls. We can close our doors to outsiders. We can stand firm and be really ignorant. This is not an American problem. It is a problem we share with the entire world. If I need a country to run to, I certainly hope they will greet me with open arms. If there is a war here, I pray that someone comes to help us. If I am hungry, I hope I will be fed. We are not just Darke County or Angola, Indiana, or Beaverton, Oregon, or just America. We are all countries of the world who need to work together for the good of ALL. There is no you and me. There is only US. When we fail to recognize that, we kiss this earth and all inhabitants farewell.

You may not agree with me. There is no sacrifice in caring enough to change just in case you might be wrong. You just might give our children and grandchildren and every person on this earth a little bit longer to live.

The baby was lying there dying. He picked it up and returned it home. Its mother lay down the beach. Eight people, including a newscaster, picked her up carefully, taking the dolphin to the ocean from which she came battered and beaten. We care for each other no matter what the belief, the color, the  life form on this earth. We are the only hope for the future.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Unbridled kindness

You know, age does not make you ignorant. It might make you a little slower. It might make you feel you can no longer learn. Some things seem just too hard. But those thoughts all stem from fear of change or fear of failure. Now this has little to do with my column, but if you are afraid of computers, you are missing out on a wonderful part of your life and the lives of those who love you. I remember being in my 50's and afraid of a computer then someone explained to me that it was just like going through a file looking for a piece of paper. Instead of fear, I found adventure. This adventure took me to Facebook (FB),which is indeed a marvelous gift. Now....I think I'll continue my column.

I received a Facebook message from a friend I have never met. She is a Darke County girl so in essence we all know one another having met or not. Kim Morrison sent a personal message to me telling me that her mother had cleaned off my parents' gravestone. The Loxley girls all live away from Newcomer's Cemetery. We do not get back to care for the gravesite, yet here is a woman who knew my parents and honored their memory by cleaning the marker. I am deeply touched by such kindness.

A picture comes across on my FB messenger from Janet Rhoades. It is a picture of the creek. A picture that gets sent to my sisters so we can once more see our old neighborhood. A kindness from Janet who knows how deeply I love Neff Road and the people who have lived there. She is my lifeline to the news from home. She is my Neff Road 'sister'.

I get letters in the mail from readers and from my dear friend Geneva Lavy. I do not write by long hand any more due to arthritis in my thumbs. Yet I am blessed to hear from home. Kindness from those who care and remember. The emails I receive are kept in a special file, in a special place in my heart.

High school friends call or send a message. I see pictures of their families and share those of mine. Friendship continuing from the past. Kindness that comes in caring. Pictures and words that include me in their lives.

I got a message from Anita Miller who I have not seen since she was a child. She is Rev. Byron Miller's daughter. A minister who baptized me and who married us. Her home was like my own in my young years. She sends a FB message that thrills me, because she remembers me. I am humbled by her kindness.

Mom would have loved Facebook. She wrote letters, but she never had this chance to stay in touch with so many and to have that immediate contact with them. I know she would have sent words of support and concern. She would have been smiling at newborn baby pictures and couples in love. Yes, Mom would have championed this computer marvel.

For all of you who are my friends on Facebook, thank you. Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your lives with me. I treasure each and every post. I laugh with you. And, many times I cry with you. I know that your hearts are with me as well.  What an awesome experience to have so many people want to share their lives with you. Your kindness is overwhelming.

So for those of you who are determined not to learn something new, please rethink it. In learning to open new doors, we allow kindness, love and support to enter. Kindness is indeed unbridled.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Pluck, pluck, oops

Two little girls crouched down on the floor of the little chicken coop. Dad placed the big box down between them. The box vibrated with movement and sound. One by one the little girls poked the perforated holes out of the sides of the box. No sooner had the cardboard disc dropped that a little beak popped through the hole. Dad removed the lid and allowed his two little companions to remove the little fuzzy chicks.

"Mom and Dad left on vacation for a week, so I decided to bring some friends to the farm for my vacation as well," said June. It was a great plan except for one 'little' glitch. June and friends were responsible to take in the chickens to be permanently put to sleep (sounds much better than slaughtered). The girls loaded three crates containing ten birds in each into the back of the truck and headed to Greenville. The next day they picked up said birds who returned to the farm in an unlively state.

Now, thirty chickens are a lot of birds, so as ordered, some chickens were taken to Cousin Betty Johnson, a few to another neighbor and six to Lena Linder. Oops, Lena had just broken her arm and could not take the said lifeless fowl. June and friends ended up with twelve chickens to clean, cut up and then freeze.

The Loxley girls have never been known for their skills in the kitchen, since Mom never allowed us to cook or to help with food preparation. Of the three of us, June was the most inept in the ways of the kitchen and that of plucking and cutting up the creatures that once lived across the yard. Hence, with all the skills the three girls could muster, they plucked then cut up the chickens. (I'm sure Mom had never seen chickens cut in such a way as an art teacher might severe them.)

It was a good thing that those little girls who held those fuzzy little chicks in their hands, rubbing soft fuzz against their cheeks had no idea of the future of the chicks. It was rather like the rabbits we raised and took to town. Better not to know.

By the way, after June and her friends eliminated plucking chickens off the list, they were faced with wallpapering the master bedroom. Ah, sweet vacation.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Just nosing around

Sense of smell. Ah, I love the smell of summer flowers. The blooming magnolia, sweet roses, jasmine with its heady perfume. This nose that has gotten me into plenty of trouble in my lifetime is delighting in the essence of summer. The smell of the ocean or of rain on a breeze.

Of course, this nose picks up smells not always so pleasing. We farm kids know those well. But the smell of the fair with the mixture of horse, cow, pigs, waffles and people all blend into a nasal delight.

Funny thing about this nose, that appendage I can only see if I cross my eyes and look down. It seems to be very closely attached to that part of the brain that holds onto memory. Of course, the older I get, the more difficult it is to connect with things in that part of my brain. Memories should be cataloged as in a library so you can pull up information by quick reference. I find I get lost in the rows and rows of memories, trying to remember where I left my keys. But, getting back to the matter at hand, I often find that I do not need a reference to find something in that maze. Smell is enough.

I can smell a field of fresh cut hay in my sleep. That rich smell that reminds me of cows and tractors. Of bails tossed upon a wagon. Of hay tossed to my horse and the cows. Close your eyes. See, you can smell it, too. Once in awhile I can smell my dad. I guess that sounds funny, but Dad had that sweet smell of hay and grain that often followed him around. Sometimes it was Old Spice. Sometimes it was sweat and motor oil, cows and tractors.

I love hugging my family, taking in the scents of them. The twins are regularly insisting that I smell their little toes. I must say, they are smelly. I memorize all the smells of them. I add them to my brain library. I remember the smells of my dogs. That smell of puppy paws and a sleeping pup curled against me.

The sense of smell is truly a gift. It whets the appetite and helps us put on a few pounds. It draws us to beauty and warns us of fear and of fire. It gives us flashes of the past and captures memories for the future.

With eyes crossed, I just looked down at that nose of mine. It certainly looks different from the top than it does in a mirror. I'm wondering how I could write an entire column on that appendage. Then, I smile and remember the smell of baby lambs. Ah, sweet nose, I celebrate you today!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Zebra lines and candles

So I had a birthday. Yep, one more orbit, and I chalk up another line on the wall. By now, my wall looks like an overly-striped zebra. Well, I don't really have lines on the wall of my home. No, it is the wall in my mind that tracks all of my life events. Another birthday. Another line on the zebra.

The house was full of balloons, streamers and love. Emma and Nolan grabbed my hands and dragged me through the house, pointing out each and every bit of decoration. They rambled and giggled and could not wait for dessert and presents. I love that they were as excited for my birthday as they are for their own. I, myself, will be more excited for theirs. We can leave mine alone.

It is a year of significant birthdays in our family. I hit the seventy mark. Emma and Nolan will be five and off to kindergarten in the fall. My oldest granddaughter, Sydney, turned eighteen and is heading to college in the fall. Numbers that mark the turning of time. They mark the saying 'goodbye' and the welcoming 'hello'. Now at seventy, my life will change even more. Changes I embrace. (but that is another story) There is no need for candles on the cake, because the cake would be so riddled with little candle holes that it would be impossible to cut. Of course, there are little people just waiting to help blow out the candles. I prefer not to start a raging fire.

I sat looking through all of my old pictures. Looking for school pictures containing faces of my parents, their siblings and old friends.  Teachers, students all standing there with scowls on their faces. Lucy Fourman, John Rhoades, my aunts and uncles, faces of children I knew as adults now stared at me as children. I began to take it personally. Sorry, kids, I just don't know your names; however, I embrace this look back in time.

And, as it always happens with pictures, one search suddenly slows down with each of the memories that you hold in your hands. I wondered at the pictures we have of the events of this month. Pictures taken digitally. Who will take time to look at those? Who will lift each picture and look at the faces, the background, the memories of a time and a place? Will I have the pictures all tagged? Will anyone waaay down the line even come across a picture of me? In these pictures, I hold my history. I hold all the birthdays of everyone in this trunk of pictures. I celebrate their lives with every touch. I embrace their birth days.

Yes, another orbit has begun. A sort of starting over point where I get to gather new memories and maybe even learn a few more things. The zebra got a little longer this year. Here's to the celebration of living!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our three dads

Father's Day retrospective.

When my little granddaughter was about two, I had gotten her a darling little bracelet with pearls and tiny hearts. A little girl charm hung off the side. She held the bracelet in her hand then placed it on the deck. In an instant the little bracelet fell through a crack. We could not get it out. The boards were close and there was no access beneath the deck. Well, that was three years ago. Last week Emma and I searched between the boards looking for the lost treasure. We found it. It laid there covered in a bit of mud.

Three fathers were celebrated. My daughter-in-law cooked a wonderful brunch where Emma brought up the fact that her bracelet was beneath the deck. Of course, everyone had to check it out. Three fathers. My son, his father-in-law Joe and my guy Loren. Three fathers vying to look through the crack at the lost bracelet. Three fathers working together showing the twins that we are family.

The bracelet was retrieved. Emma and I scrubbed and soaped the found trinket. The mud washed away and the shine returned a little scratched but still coming back to life. Three fathers. Three who truly represent the best of that word Father. Three men who would go to any length to serve this family well.

As a child, I failed to understand the times when my dad was furious with me. It was usually because he was afraid for me.  He didn't seem to mind too much that I wasn't a boy. He allowed me to always tag along and took time to show me the little things that I just might have missed. Dad.

I had dads on Neff Road who would have done anything for me at a moments notice. Hollie Stager, Victor Lavy, Carl Bucholtz, Warren Wert, Uncle Keith Loxley, Raymond Linder, Gene Johnson, Cyril Welbaum. Fathers who watched over the children on Neff Road. We didn't notice then but are so blessed to understand and embrace now. Dads.

Three men became heroes today. Perhaps for Emma but truly for me. Our three Dads.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A day for Dad

Yep, Mom's Day has come and gone. Father's Day is on the horizon. Neither of these days were celebrated back the lane on Neff Road. It wasn't that we didn't like our parents. In all seriousness, as children we were oblivious to their existence. My feeling is that perhaps my mother thought the days to be expressing pride. She was so against being prideful that we girls didn't know what it was like to have pride. I think she overshot her target.

As adults we realized the importance of our parents and gladly celebrated them. So today this article is for them and all the years we did not or could not celebrate. Well, really it is for my late father since it is his day on Sunday.

In asking June about the reasons we did not have these days in our childhood, she suggested that perhaps Hallmark had not yet come up with this marketing idea. Of course, nudge me a little and I am on the trail seeking the dawn of Father's Day.

Hallmark did not come up with this money-making card day. In fact, it had a difficult time getting started. There were several failed attempts ranging from one fellow trying to make his birthday Father's Day to a celebration for the families of the men killed in a mining disaster. However, the current Father's Day took hold in my beloved Northwest. A Spokane woman named Sonora Dodd who was raised by a widower wanted to establish a day for male parents. She visited churches, the YMCA, store owners and those in government to get support for her Father's Day. She succeeded and June 19, 1910, the state of Washington celebrated the first statewide Dad's Day. 

But here is the reason we probably did not celebrate Father's Day when I was growing up. In 1966 President Johnson issued the first proclamation honoring fathers on the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. In 1972 President Nixon signed Father's Day into law as a permanent national holiday.

Sorry, Dad. We certainly missed many years of celebrating you. We had the Father/Son celebration at church. But seeing that we were daughters, he missed out again. In fact, I don't think parents should be singled out to celebrate with the child of the same sex. A parent/child celebration of family would have been more inclusive. The Daddy/Daughter dances out here have turned into Family Dance. A celebration not divided by sex but a celebration of what family means.

Hallmark and other card companies love that we have so many singled-out celebrations. I see people dashing for cards, grabbing and running with the first card they pick out. Often I tell them to write a note to the person instead. Don't let Hallmark do the work for you. Indeed it will mean more as time passes.

Oh, well. Dad, I love you. I was your shadow and you relished the time we spent together. I sat at the table often with the men in our family fascinated by the conversations of farm and old stories of the past. Other fathers raised me as well. Hollie Stager and Victor Lavy were men who influenced this person. They loved me and embraced me as one of their own. Fathers be active in the lives of your family. It is your legacy and our blessing.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

She stood tall

She stood tall. She nurtured our family and gave us a serenity that I think we failed to notice at the time. She lived a good life before she fell. She was the old mulberry tree that grew in the circle of grass that held the memories of our family. She was my friend.

It is difficult to remember when I first became aware of that old tree. The thick trunk supported the long branches that shaded the grass. Dad tied a swing to one of the branches on the west side of the tree. A rope and a board. A place where little toddlers pushed off with chubby legs and big sisters pushed them when they were a bit older. The leaves provided a canopy that became a place for dress up and make believe weddings. Oh, how I loved that tree.

Old pictures cover decades of family activity. An old picture of my uncle, grandfather and dad playing croquet beneath that old tree. Their old cars parked beneath to keep them cool on a hot summer day. The tree in the background of a picture of my mother and my aunt astride horses. A new barn being built, looking at the old tree which was looking back and welcoming it to the farm. An old tree. A tree we took for granted.

There wasn't a day that the old tree didn't participate in my life. All of our special pictures were taken beneath that tree. We swung on a trapeze that hung on the east side of the tree. We picnicked beneath its shade, and younger generations would pick up the mallets and continue the game playing as the tree stood by.

Sometimes we don't miss something until it is gone. Dad eventually chopped down that sweet tree. Limbs were falling from its weary trunk. After it had fallen, the barnyard seemed bare. A friend, a playmate, a family member had left us. No longer would a small child pick the empty shells of the locust from its bark. No longer would the shade draw us to the yard. A friend had left us.

Perhaps the poetic side of me saw that tree as more than wood and leaves. It was a living, breathing tree that grew new branches as our family grew older years. It was as much a part of our childhoods as were the members of our family. We mourned when the old tree died. We were conservators of the land and had to terminate a dear life.

Trees, flowers, creeks and ponds, fields of grain, dung beetles, barn owls. All of them and more were a richness in my life. Then I appreciated them. Now I know the importance of them. She stood tall. She nurtured our family and gave us serenity. And, in her passing, she remained in my heart.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Till the cows come home

sook (definition)
  1. A call for calves. (Scotland) 
  2. A call for cattle. (U.S. Dialectal)
  3. A call for cattle or sheep. (Newfoundland)
"Sook, sook, sook". Dad stood in the barnyard calling the cows home.

If you are a farm kid, you knew the sounds of calling the animals to the barn. "Soooooey, soooey", pigs came in. "Shooopeee, shooopeee", sheep found their way to the barn. Farmers all over the world had their own way of calling the animals home.

Dad called the cows, Cyril called the pigs, and I called the dog and cat. Pretty easy to tell what was being called by the sounds used to call the critters. I decided to do some research on calling cows. What I found was that the roots of calling the cows began with sounds similar to yodeling in the Scandinavian countries. When Dad called, it was more like a melody.

In St. Gallen City in Switzerland cows are called by "Ho-ah" repeated in varying pitches. Other areas pronounced it as "Hoyah, Hooyah, or Hooah". Rather like various parts of our country pronounce certain words in different ways. In parts of Norway, herd calling is called kulning. It is indeed similar to yodeling and developed for long-distance sounds that bounce off the mountainsides and echo through the valleys.

Now we cross the ocean. "Bossy" seems to be a common call. Boss is from the eighteenth century and was sometimes pronounced as buss or buss-calf, a name given to an unweaned calf. One theory is that bossy could have come from Latin bos for an ox or cow. Words came over with our immigrant ancestors.

I ran across one lady in my online search who was from West Virginia. Their call was "Come Bossie, come boss". Another was "CuBoooosss! Hup!" Hup!" In Michigan, a call was "Kubas kubas, hup hup" thought to be from Dutch heritage. Another from North Carolina was "waaarden-waaarden um-bashay!"

I loved researching this topic. I found recalled memories from farm kids who grew up with those calls echoing across the fields. We all seemed to have the same thought, "If only I could hear it one more time."

"Sook, sook, sook". Just one more time, Dad. Just one more time.

Monday, May 8, 2017

All my moms

Looking into her face, I said, "Who are you? I don't believe I know you." She didn't answer. Hm.This might take some time. After all, I had known her for months.

The woman waited. She knew I would come, and she waited. On visits home, I could not go by her driveway without stopping. I needed one of her hugs. She watched over me and cared. I loved her more than she knew. Her name was Doris Lavy.

Her laugh brought a smile to my face. Her tears welcomed me into her arms. There were probably more childhood days at her house than at my own. Time with her was priceless and gave me precious memories. Her name was Margaret Stager.

She sat by my bed after my surgery. There was no book in her hand. Her attention was solely on this young woman who was still out of it. She took me into the family with loving arms, and beat the socks off of me at Rum. Her name was Anna Drake.

The names are many. Alma Hollinger, Alma Lea Gilbert, Pauline Aukerman, Betty Johnson, Leah Rhoades, Freeda Anderson, Kate Loxley, Bess Fisher, June Deardorff, Welma Johnson,  Lena Linder, Peggy Graham, Jennie Miller, Susie Miller. Just a few of the many women who helped me through my lifetime. Each hold a place in my heart.

Moms. Those who birth us. Those who watch over us. Those who are part of our lives, so much so that we fail to notice. Then one day we are older and remember with deeper feelings.

She placed a cool hand on my head when I was ill. She made me laugh and sometimes angry. She taught me to love and to care about other people. She held me in her arms when I came to visit. She thought of me every day. She was my mother. Her name was Ruth Loxley.

Moms. They come in all shapes and sizes. They come to us through birth and sometimes through adoption or marriage. They come to us in the form of neighbors and church ladies. They even sometimes come as a dad in the role of a mom. Maybe even a grandma. All of us who are moms and have had that wonderful love given to us know how important it is spread that love around. Mom power.

So who was this familiar face before me? I had her beating on the inside of my body for nine months with a foot in my ribs most of the time. She didn't look like that baby I imagined. She had coal-black hair and lots of it. She was so tiny, and her face turned red when she cried. No matter how we come into a family. There is a time of getting acquainted. I got to know this little girl. Her name is Stacey. When her brother was born, I asked the same question as I tried to acquaint myself with this little guy. After I waited that nine months for another dark haired baby, I was given little blond. Oh, well, never know.

Mother's Day. A day to remember. A day to honor those women who in one way or another created the you that you are today. Those wonderful ladies who hold our hearts. I have lost many of those dear people. I treasure those who I can still hug and love. Happy Mother's Day to you who touch the lives of others. Thank you, to the women who touched mine. Mothers' Day.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Cardboard binoculars

They stood at the window, looking at me through their cardboard binoculars. I laughed as I escaped their view. A sweet vision in the rearview mirror.

Dad knew all the birds and their sounds. He could reply to any bird answering their call gliding on the air. The whistle of a robin. The trill of a sparrow. The call of a mockingbird. It was difficult to tell the difference in the sounds between my father and the feathered friend. Perhaps I could call them two birds of a feather. They were indeed nature in song.

Whenever Dad saw a bird, he would immediately point it out. We would watch the bird until it flew away. I would get a lesson on the type of bird, its nest and other characteristics. He would call to the red-winged blackbird as soon as I spotted one. I delighted each time it answered back.

The preschoolers along with their parents hiked through the Cooper Mountain Nature Park. The trails meander over the mountain and through the woods. The warning signs about mountain lions were not alarming. Rarely would one come so close to town. When the children finished their field trip, they became Junior Rangers. Each child made a vest out of a paper grocery sack decorated with feathers and other pieces of nature. They made binoculars out of paper towel rolls. This preschool based on learning about our environment had done its job. In fact their mom informed me that they use the binoculars outside to look at birds then look them up in the bird book. A little imagination goes a long way in learning.

For my grandchildren and all the children in the world, we need to do what we can to preserve the environment for these birds. We just returned from a trek through our forests seeing all of the clear cuts. Forests chopped down. Barren hills. Mud slides. Nature turned upside down. It happens in all parts of the world. I want better for my family.

 Four little eyes spied on me as I drove away from their house. Little pieces of cardboard and a child's imagination. Children believing that they can see clearly. I will do my best to be sure they always do even through cardboard binoculars.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy toe wiggling

Anticipation began to build. It was spring. The Easter mark had passed, and Mother's Day would be next. My feet were aching to be free.

Spring was always special on the farm. Sheep were sheared. Lambs born. Chickens embraced the weather, clucking with more gusto than usual, and the cows seemed to moo at just about anything. Spring was a time of preparation. As with the creatures in our backyard, Dad was busy in the barn getting his equipment field-ready and plowing the garden. Mom had emptied the freezer and canned goodies in the fruit room, filling her daughters with the end of the year remains. She was making room for the new season of food. We prepared for the bounty of our land with the labor of our hands.

So all was well at home, but at school we wiggled in our seats each time the sun came out. Teachers fought a good fight, trying to keep our attention away from those wonderful, big windows in Franklin School. We dashed to the monkey bars and waited for a turn on the swings. Balls and bats littered the field and jump ropes spun around and around. Summer was around the corner.

For the seniors, we anticipated freedom at last. We began to see the present in that rear view mirror.  It was then we realized the leaving. Boys would be going to war and girls to work. Some would go to college, and some would serve humanity. The going was becoming bittersweet. Spring. A time of growing up.

I remember the summer kitchen airing out in preparation for the summer baking and canning activity. I always hoped that mice who wintered there might go to their summer retreats far from the house. It was a time of removing the feather downs and flannel sheets. A time Sunday drives and visiting friends.

There were more trips down the lane to the bridge. More time visiting neighbors who sat outside, waiting for a little girl to pass by. The kids on Neff Road got off the bus at the corner of Byreley and Neff Roads. No longer did we ride that long trip home. Instead we skipped, hopped and meandered our way down the road.

My feet ached to feel that summer grass between my toes. I wanted to get started on toughening them up for the gravel I would one day race across. The freedom of my toes signaled the freedom from school.  And, now, my toes still ache. They ache for the grass back the lane, the lambs in the pasture, Brenda and I sitting on the gate, watching the world pass by and most of all, for those lovely days of childhood. Toe wiggling at its best.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Coming home

Coming home.  How Mom and Dad loved to hear, "I'm coming home." So many thoughts come to mind with those two words. For most of my life, it meant coming home to Neff Road. Driving down the road and back the lane to the arms of my parents, to those of my relatives, to my friends. Coming home.

Over the years those words expanded to embrace more years and more people, more places and dear faces. Walking into my son's home is just like coming home. Sweet arms of my grandchildren wrapped around me is indeed coming home.  Even though I have a home, those coming homes are so much dearer.

For those of us who moved away from Darke County many years ago, coming home has a different connotation. Many of us no longer have the loving arms of parents to hug us. Yet home is still the house back the lane. Doris and Victor, Hollie and Margaret no longer live in their houses I visited so often in my childhood, yet they are places that I still call home. My grandparents homes call me back to their embrace. And, that bridge and sweet creek pull at my heartstrings. Yet it is difficult when we come back, as many people take us in to where we left off, forgetting about our lives we have lived away from Neff Road. We come back to visit, wanting to share our lives, sometimes feeling we have been kept in a niche from long ago. Perhaps that is the way with everyone who returns to their roots. Coming home changes over the years.

Sometimes we find someone in our lives who gives us that coming home feeling. Maybe it is a whisper of something we cannot quite explain that calls us. A walk in the forest. Walking into a room that feels familiar. The smell of cinnamon or fried eggs lures us back home with the pure delight of sense of smell. I find that music takes me back to many homes. They tug at my heart and talk to me with a melodious voice, returning me to a place I have been.

Now I come home to my little nest. I delight in the respite from the day of work or babysitting. A place created from the parts of my life that all have that sweet echo of the past.  It embraces me in the warmth of yesterday and a place of peace before the morrow.

The arms that held me long ago still hold me when I dream of coming home. The smell of the farm, the hug of a child, daily Skyping with June and snuggling in at the end of the day. Yes, I love coming home. Home to many pieces of my life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

I am a visitor

At only three years old, she could capture a heart and hold it forever. A sweet little thing with a winning smile and a connection to the earth and its creatures that I could not understand.

Glued to the old Raytheon TV, I sat watching cowboys ride the range fighting Indians and establishing new territory. They came in wagon trains. They came in land grabs. No matter how the natives fought, they came in numbers too big for them to hold on to the very land that sustained them. I watched and watched. Loved every minute of these wild westerners shooting and finding love when the show needed a little more story line. I watched and watched totally oblivious to what the shows represented, what they were planting in my young mind. Shooting, killing, fighting, stealing of land, violent interaction with one race bullying another. And, I grew up loving those old shows. No wait, I wasn't grown up.

In looking back, I wonder what the adults in my family were thinking allowing me to watch these shows. We had cap guns and BB guns, things that make killing a make-believe game. Whether you agree or not, that is the bottom line.

Native - adjective
1. being the place or environment in which a person was born or a thing came into being
2. belonging to a person by birth or to a thing by nature
3. belonging by birth to a people regarded as indigenous to a certain place, especially a preliterate people

We had many tribes in Oregon. I am going to list them because I feel it is important to acknowledge them: Alsea, Cayuse, Cheto, Chinook, Clatskanie, Coos, Galice, Kalapuya, Klamath, Modoc, Molala, Multnomah, Nez Perce, Paiute, Shasta, Sinuslaw, Takelma, Tillamook, Tolowa, Tututni, Coquille, Umatilla, Umpqua, Walla Walla, Wasco, Wishram. There are now only nine federally recognized tribes. A few tribes with few people have created confederations. There are no federally recognized tribes in Ohio, and only two unrecognized: Munsee Delaware Indian Nation of Ohio and Shawnee Nation United Remnant Band.

Then I grew up. I realized that this earth is truly precious. In finding native stones on our land, I came to realize that this was not really our land. I wondered whose blood was deep beneath our home and barns. Where were the families whose roots truly were part of this land? What in the world had we done to them all.

"Are you home?" asked Mom. June answered that they were home and had a beautiful little girl. I grabbed my jacket and told Mom and Dad to get ready. We were heading to Indiana. My niece Jobi was not born to our family. No, she was a sweet, little, half-Indian girl who was up for adoption. June and Bob wanted her. We all wanted her. They took off to Montana and came home with a sweet, little girl who had a winning smile and who brought pure joy to our family. A little girl whose brothers and sisters still lived on the reservation. A place where Native American families struggled to make a living.

I am a visitor to this land. I came on the trail of blood and war. My roots lie in Germany, Switzerland, England. The Mexicans who lived here, the Native Americans, all have been pushed away from the land they loved and were born to. A little three year old taught me the meaning of acceptance. She gave me understanding into the beautiful spirit of one born of the earth. I am a visitor here.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Alumnae of the past, keepers of the future

Many questions have been asked on Facebook about the early towns and schools in Franklin Township. So, today I am turning my column over to Mom. In 1996, about three months before Dad passed, Mom sent a journal to me for my birthday. She wrote of her childhood, of her life. In doing so, she wrote of the history of the times. So, Mom, it is time for your pen to have its way: (I use my mother's words.)

The year before I started to school, Bess (her sister) took me to visit. She had a man Orville Riffell as a teacher. I kept laughing and he told me to be quiet. And I told him I didn't half to. So he took me up to his desk and switched me. Bessie got all excited and run down to her Uncle Dan's (he was on the school board). There was quite a lot of excitement for awhile. And when it came time the next fall for me to go to school, although there was another teacher, I wouldn't go.  Abe Minnich (the owner of Red River Grocery) took me and sit with me every morning for the first week of school before I stayed by myself.

We had a bench in the front of the schoolroom that 5 persons could sit on. The teacher would call on the 8th grade arithmetic class up from their desks in the back of the school. They would work problems on the board. Then the 7th grade would be called on down to the 1st grade. Sometimes I would be asleep as it was boring to listen to all of them recite. After I got in the 3rd grade, I liked school and I liked to go early before the big kids got there, and I'd carry wood from the wood-house in to make the fire. We would have to stay after school and clean up. Sweep the floor, pick up papers. I really liked that part.

I did good in school and hated to miss any, but in the 3rd grade I was riding Edward Young's bicycle home as I always went home at noon from school to eat dinner, and I was going pretty fast and fell off the bicycle and hurt my knee. It got infection in it and I had twenty-three boils on my right leg around my knee and couldn't go to school for three weeks. The teacher boarded with Bob (Mom's brother) and Welma and she come with my lesson every evening.

There is more I will share of my mother's story. This is the way it was in Red River when the school was  just down the road. A place where brothers and sisters were in the same room and all ages learned together. Water in the well and fire wood to be brought in. A time when classes were small and teachers lived-in.

This is the time of year for remembering the alumnae of our schools. A time for looking back at our own pasts and a time for watching the new graduates move forward. Let's hope in our moving forward that we not forget what and who came before.

Read the papers left behind from your loved ones. Hold the diaries and appreciate each word. Close your eyes and step back in time. Smell the wood fire and feel the snow on your cheek as you walk to school.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Little pointed cap

Morel (according to Webster) any of several edible fungi having a conical cap with a highly pitted surface - called also morel mushroom.

Well, for the clueless, this definition sounds like a description of a dunce with bad acne. For those of us who get a hankering this time of year for the wild taste of those clandestine morsels, we drool our way into spring hoping to dine on them once more.

Without stooping down for the mushroom, you cannot put it in your basket. - Russian Proverb. When I was a kid, I found those tricky morels loved to hide beneath leaves and under logs. I seemed to find more than Dad, probably because I was closer to the ground. I learned to stoop down early, and in that bending, I learned that the most delightful morsels could be found, a lesson at an early age. It takes time to seek out what we care about even if it means bending ourselves to find it. That single chance to find a treasure or to pass over it. Observe and be rewarded or look away and miss an opportunity.

Oregon abounds with mushrooms. Yep, we have morels. I have been a bit tentative about hunting them as our forests are dense, and I am not educated in regards to the mushrooms here. So, I am going to take a class on our local fungi, grab a bag and step back in time. I want to learn, so I can take my grandkids hunting the way my dad took me. There are traditions essential to learn as a child. This one was a keeper.

Mushroom time is approaching. Through our forest service I found that my limit is a gallon of them. Indeed if I find a gallon, I will have a backache from bending and probably a stomach ache from the most delicious meal ever. Ah, yes, morels.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Birth of spring

The quiet earth wakes again as the daphne and hellebore bloom. Daffodils and other bulbs pop up bringing a fresh new shade of green to the soil. Activity that makes ready for spring long before it comes to life above the ground. Yes, indeed spring is on the way.

Oregon has had a winter like none before. It was the winter of 'mores'. More snow. More rain. Records on all accounts. Mud slides, pot holes, sink holes. Again, the earth below holds surprises that come to light in the spring. A globe in transition.

I decided to check with my old friend The Farmer's Almanac to see what we should expect for the coming months. Here in Oregon it predicted a rainier than normal winter. (got that right) Temps below normal. Snowfall above normal. (yep, again) April and May will be slightly warmer and drier than normal with summer warmer and rainier than normal. September and October to be cooler than normal. (Hm. Seems to me that 'normal' has disappeared.)

I went on to check what was up with the Ohio Valley. Winter was to be warmer than normal with not as much precipitation as normal. Snowfall was to be below normal. April and May are to be warmer than normal with rainfall above normal for the west side of the state. Summer is to be cooler and slightly drier than normal, and September and October will be rainier than normal. (Hm. We lost the normal again.)

Well, there is a new normal. It is a 'no longer normal'.  We cannot depend on what our usual seasons presented to us, because our world is changing. Flooding is worse, tornadoes and other storms are more violent, and there are more of them. Sea levels are changing with some small island countries actually looking for places to move their populace, before their island is lost to the sea. So what does this mean? What does it mean to the farmer? What does it mean to the world in general?

On AGweb, I found an article from the Farm Journal regarding the views of farmers and scientists. The article is written to explain the views of both sides. Having grown up in a farm community, I understand the tremendous feeling of protection farmers have for their way of life and protecting the very soil they love. And, from learning about what is happening all over the world, I see the immediacy of saving a world for my grandchildren and those who follow. It is a mixed bag of feelings. Feelings that raise anger as well as fear. However, no matter how you look at it our earth is in distress and changing. No one will win.

This lovely state in which I live now has changed. My weather journey began here thirty-nine years ago. We rarely had snow. Rain came in showers not torrents. We loved to boast that we never carried an umbrella. The weather has become more extreme. Tornadoes were rare, yet we see more and more now. Winter temps have dropped, and these homes built for milder winters are cold. We seem to go from drought to flood. Yes, the climate has changed.

Spring is peeking in on us. The path above my home has washed out, and mud greeted me inside my front door last week. There are gullies where once there was none. We struggle here to make a dent in this global changing. On a whole, we recycle everything we possibly can. We drive vehicles that do little to impact our atmosphere. There is little litter in our ditches because of our care of the earth. We protect our wildlife as passionately as we do our environment.

I write this not wanting my own way, because our environment will have its own way. Our lives will mean little in the grand scheme of things, but our grandchildren will reap what indeed we sow. There is no debate in that.

So I ask you to do your part. Whether or not you believe in global warming, our earth asks that you care enough to take care of it, so we all can share it. The air requires you to care enough to keep it clean for our children to breathe. Spring comes with the birth of new growth. Spring comes with the hope for all seasons.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day

You might not see me often. You might know me by birth or by becoming family not of the womb but of the heart. You might only be an acquaintance. You might be a stranger who just wandered into my world. Well, you are all loved. When you entered my thoughts, you entered my heart. Today I thank you and give you my love.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The dancing bull

Strange the things come to mind when least expected. A niggle from the past comes creeping in, capturing the sense of smell, of touch, a memory.

I was watching a show about a bull that had lost a hoof. A new prosthetic hoof had been designed for the bovine. A demonstration of its new found dexterity not only tickled my funny bone, but also made me wonder what I had missed with the cows that live behind our house. The bull bound across the field, dancing after an enormous beach ball. It leaped and chased. It nuzzled the owner affectionately. What indeed had I missed.

Of course, in watching the bull's warm nose being stroked by the owner, I was reminded of my sweet horse with a nose as soft as velvet. The smells of the leather saddle, the barn, the damp horse after a fast run all came dashing back to me. And, I lovingly embraced the reminder.

Sometimes I think the barn was more my home than the house. There was never a day without a trip to the barn. A check on the cows. A handful of hay for my horse. In the summer, a daily sitting in the hay mow door. A look across the field to the road. A time of listening to the sounds in the house, in the field, in the pasture and at the neighbor's farms. Sometimes I'd visit the tractors and look at the old horse tack hung by the door. I'd touch the old, burlap feed sacks that Dad piled up over the cow stanchions. Searched for baby kittens. Gazed at some old fish Dad caught and put into the horse trough. Oh, yes, a daily trip to the barn. Hm. All that niggling from a bull dancing across a field with an artificial hoof.

Perhaps that jiggling of memory exposed what I had missed as a kid. I missed having our little herd of cattle as friends. I missed sitting with sheep instead of just ignoring them. I missed having more time with our rabbits, wondering if perhaps they could have been my friends as well. (I did not miss time with the chickens.) Wouldn't my dad laugh to see his cows chasing balls across the creek bottom. Sneaking a peak, I would watch to see if he realized that he had more than just dumb animals. He had critters that could play and enjoy life.

"Daddy, do you think animals have feelings?" I asked at an early age. "No, they don't have feelings. They're just dumb animals," He would reply. I have looked into the eyes of many a pet. "Oh, Daddy, indeed they do."

Dance on, sweet bovine. Dance on.

Monday, February 6, 2017

To be loved

'In the street I met a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat was threadbare- there were holes at his elbows: the water seeped through his shoes and the stars through his soul.' - From Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Back in the late 80's a musical came to the stage. One that rocked box offices and gathered followers. I have seen the stage production at least six times. I would see it as many times again if possible. Yet, the play was not the voice that held me. No, it was a book almost 2" thick. 1,463 page that I have read three times. It is the dearest book to me. Paragraphs are underlined. Notes in the margins. A story of love, war, forgiveness, compassion and most of all God.

 'What a great thing, to be loved! What a greater thing still, to love! The heart becomes heroic through passion. It is no longer composed of anything but what is pure: it no longer rests on anything but what is elevated and great. An unworthy thought can no more spring up in it than a nettle on a glacier. The lofty and serene soul, inaccessible to common passions and common emotions, rising above the clouds and shadows of this world, its follies, it falsehoods, it hatred, its vanities, it miseries, inhabits the blue of the skies, and no longer feels anything but the deep subterranean commotions of destiny, as the summit of the  mount feel the quaking of the earth.'

Valentine's Day is coming. It is not just a day for lovers. It is day of loving one another, loving our earth. My grandchildren and I will take our hands full of homemade valentines into the community. We will show our love to those we do not know with hope that they pass on the love. Love unbridled spreading across from one person to another. Could there be anything greater?

The book calls to me again. I think perhaps I should visit my old friend. With each passage, I learn more about myself, about humanity, and humility. We do keep learning, changing, growing. If we do not, we rob the world of the piece that is us, that needs us. We grow and change to lead future generations to even greater discoveries. We capture a new awakening with every person we meet and are the better for it.

'If no one love, the sun would go out.' - Thank you, Victor Hugo.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Revolving door

Ready! On your mark! Whish....whish....whish. I dashed like crazy to get into the space in Rike's revolving door. The big, gold, heavy doors rotated around and around. For a half pint, it was a challenge to get my little legs in gear to hit the mark. Round and round then dash and hope beyond hope that there wasn't a splat. The revolving door.

The Loxley door only had one position. Open. However, anyone who knew my parents was well aware that we had a revolving door. Many times one group of people would be leaving as someone else pulled into the driveway. It was not something that the Loxley girls appreciated since we rarely had Mom and Dad to ourselves, yet we learned a lesson that to this day is probably the greatest lesson we ever learned. My parents did not have much, but what they had they shared. What they had was love.

No one was left out. Friends brought their friends. Relatives brought their friends. Neighbors came and stayed. I think they stayed because our house was a place of entertainment. Always something new and exciting happening in the house back the lane. Laughter and deep conversations. Compassion and peace.

We girls were allowed to have a glimpse of the world beyond the farm. Our world expanded and became richer.  It did not matter the religious belief, country of origin, the way they dressed or even smelled. Mom and Dad invited them all to their kitchen table for wonderful conversation and a piece of pie. They would have shared their last piece of bread with anyone who needed it, shared without complaint or worry. Shared without judgment.

I have said before and will continue to say that my mom, Ruth Johnson Loxley, fought for children's rights before anyone ever acknowledged that they had them. She loved meeting people from other cultures and included her children in every conversation. She read books that broadened her view of the world and always hated that her father had not allow her to go to college. She was an ambassador for all people and would stand with them and for them against anyone.

Yes, we lived with a revolving door. A door that brought truth and wisdom to our house. A door that fed that family back the lane with knowledge and friendship. I am all grown up now. I hope that I am a good example of my parents' love for others. Ready.....on your mark......whish. I make it every time.