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.