Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Ow! Sticky

My mother loved succulents. She was fascinated by all different kinds of cactus. She always had at least one little pot with a cactus in the house.

She was especially fascinated by a hen and chicks plant that grew at my grandmother's house. Grandma being Grandma refused to let my mother take a cutting. Mom being Mom would not take one without permission. It was years before she got one from someone else. We did not live there long enough to see the chicks begin to spread.

One year Mom decided to plant a garden of cactus around the base of one of our trees. I do not remember if she planted cactus or seeds. I suspect it was the plants.

She faithfully tended her little garden. Since it was newly planted she gave it a little water every morning. She watched it carefully.

The garden was not thriving. All the plants looked dead. Thinking that perhaps she was giving it too much water she watered it only every other day. Still her garden was dying.

Finally Mom gave up. That was not like her but she realized that this was not a garden she could grow. She gave up on her garden and felt a great sense of failure.

Then came the day she went to get some vegetables from the regular garden. She glanced at her failed cactus garden. It was gloriously alive.

She learned that in order for them to grow she had to ignore them.

Friday, February 16, 2024

Miss Hayhurst

When I was in second grade I had the best teacher of all teachers. Her name was Miss Hayhurst. She taught Kindergarten, first, and second grades. It was a small town so the teachers all taught three grades at a time.

Each child in her room felt like teacher's pet. Each and every one of us!

Every morning after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance we sang a little song wishing her a good morning. Then she sang it back to us. It was a cheerful way to begin the day.

I loved school. Whenever we had a test I tried to be the first to turn in my paper and to have the best grade. It came easy to me. I often had time to write a little note to her on my paper. She replied to the note when the paper was returned with the grade on it. Usually it was nothing more than me telling her I liked her sweater and her saying, "Thank you."

There was a little girl in first grade who always had the prettiest clothes. Each day we drew a picture of her clothes that day and wrote a bit about why we liked them. At the end of the semester we connected all the pages with yarn and had a book we had written and illustrated.

Every morning we had recess. If the weather was nice went outside to play. Otherwise Miss Hayhurst would find a fun activity for us. Often we would gather musical instruments. We had triangles, blocks of wood, kazoos, and other fun things. There were also three bird warblers. With a little bit of water in them they warbled in the tuned we were celebrating. Miss Hayhurst would play the piano and we marched around the room playing our instruments.

After recess was nap time. Each of us had taken a small throw rug to school at the beginning of the year. At nap time we picked a spot on the floor to spread our rug so we could lie on it. It is surprising how often we all actually fell asleep for a few minutes.

Polio was still dangerous for children then. Dr. Salk invented a vaccine to keep us from being infected. All children across the nation were encouraged to be vaccinated. Schools were the logical place to do this because that was where children would be. But as I said we were a very small town with a very small school.

It was decided that we would be transported to a larger town nearby. The boys were accompanied by some of the teachers on a bus. Miss Hayhurst drove us girls in her car. There were only about a half dozen of us so we had plenty of room. And we were all vaccinated. Adults wanted all the children to be protected from this crippling disease.

Every month there was a school wide assembly. Parents were the audience. Each teacher chose a song, dance, or small play for their students to perform. Because there were so few girls in the town we were usually borrowed by some of the other grades as well as our own. It was great fun.

Mis Hayhurst discovered that I was good at memorizing long poems. I often had a spot alone too. I recited poems like The Owl And The Pussycat, The Gingham Dog And The Calico Cat, and Little Orphant Annie. 

Later Miss Hayhurst told my mother that it was not appropriate for me at that age but she felt that when I was older I would enjoy the works of Shakespeare. She was correct.

Mom said for years that she wished all of us could have had Miss Hayhurst because she was such a good teacher. Unfortunately we moved away a couple of years later so most of the younger ones could not experience her.


Friday, February 9, 2024

Pinochle

When we were little there was not a lot of money for indoor activities. We all learned word games, Twenty questions, paper games, and card games. We usually got board games for Christmas. They were often worn out by the following Christmas.

My parents also enjoyed these games. In fact they had a weekly pinochle game with another couple. 

They would play cards and have snacks. We loved the snacks. Most of the time when it began to get late we would just go to sleep on the floor. We loved it.

My parents both believed in competition. Because of them I do too.

I like to win. If I do not win I know I have done the best I could and am happy for the winner.

One night while my parents were playing pinochle there was an unusual situation. My father was dealt a perfect hand.

A perfect hand means that if he gets the bid he can take all the tricks. I have never had a perfect hand.

There was a problem though. The other man also had a perfect hand. Wow!

Each of them wanted to get the bid so they could take all the tricks. The bidding was epic. Neither man wanted to give in.

Eventually the bidding was a lot higher than the points they could make. They kept bidding not wanting to let that perfect hand go to waste.

The two women began to chuckle. Soon they were laughing out loud. It was a funny situation. 

I do not remember how it ended. 

My best guess is that the evening ended and all had a good laugh over the whole thing.



Sunday, February 4, 2024

Love

My brother-in-law was in the hospital recently. He had bleeding on the brain. They were able to successfully treat it and he seems to be fine now.

He is a few years older than my husband was and they were quite close. 

When my husband left us he was not as attentive to our children as he should have.  My daughter was especially affected. Her place to be had always been on her daddy's lap. His lap wasn't available.

My daughter began to spend a lot of time with her aunt and uncle. One of my nieces is my daughter's age. I wanted my children to remain close to all their family.

I did not always get along with this brother-in-law. I have so much respect for him because he was there for my daughter when she needed someone like him the most. 

One day my daughter laughingly asked him who his favorite niece was. He said, "Do I have any other nieces?" (There literally are dozens.)

They love each other. My brother-in-law had to love his wife, kids, parents, etc. He did not have to love his niece and she did not have to love him. It is a beautiful thing to see.

I was talking to him a while ago and laughingly said we were getting old. He angrily said, " You are getting old. I'm not!"

So with my daughter being so incapacitated with cancer and him with the brain bleed they have spent a lot of time talking to each other. It has been therapeutic for both of them. 


Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Plumbing

Remember outhouses? They were the little buildings a person would visit to eliminate waste from the body. Every home had one. After all everyone had waste to eliminate.

I hope to never have to use an outhouse again. They are cold in the winter. They are hot in the summer. They always stink.

Most of them were little wooden structures behind the house... quite a ways behind. Inside was a wooden bench with a hole in it to deposit eliminations. Some were fancier than others. On the farm my grandparents' outhouse had three holes along with a little one off to the side for smaller members of the family. 

Toilet paper was considered a luxury. Every year the mail order companies mailed big thick catalogues for people to order goods. Most of the catalogues ended up in the outhouse to use to clean oneself. 

In order to keep the accumulation of eliminations down lime would be poured generously occasionally. I think that may have smelled worse than a normal day out there.

Halloween made targets of outhouses. Teenagers routinely tipped them over. It was difficult for the owner to set it right again.

My father heard a rumor one year that our outhouse was the target. He and my brothers moved it forward so that anyone who tried to tip it over would instead end up in what was under the outhouse. No one showed up.

I do remember one year as we were driving home a bunch of high school boys were busy hauling someone's outhouse to the main intersection of town.

My father-in-law decided it was time to change the location of their outhouse.  He was also in a bit of an ornery mood. There was no door on the outhouse. So he set it up facing the highway. Anyone driving by could see what you were doing. My mother-in-law made him fix it.

I do have one funny story about outhouses but that will come at another time. Right now I want you to understand why I hate outhouses with a passion. I want indoor plumbing..

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Repeat

I enjoy watching movies and television programs. I have favorites of course. 

I watch these to be entertained. I do not want to have to think or look for the hidden meanings. I want mindless enjoyment.

I drive my children crazy. I am like a little kid. I can watch the same thing over and over if I like it.

One of my favorite movies is Grease. Back in the days of VHS I bought it. Then I watched it over and over non-stop until my children threatened me with no more television privileges if I did not give them a break.

So now I try to watch my favorites in my room by myself. I can watch them as often as I wish.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Gone


My little family and I were going on vacation. I had two toddlers at that time.

Both of my sisters and I had been shopping for last minute things. The vacation began as soon as my husband got home from work. We were having a good time.

As we drove up to my parents' home so I could drop my sisters off we were laughing and singing. By changing stations on the radio we heard a song that was a favorite to all of us. We had heard it three times in a row. What fun.

We pulled up in front of the house and Daddy rushed out. His eyes were all red. Since he worked in a chemical factory I thought there must have been a spill.

He hurried over to the car and told me to turn it off. I told him I was not staying but he insisted that I turn it off. So I did.

He told us that my brother had been killed in Viet Nam. I thought I would cry immediately but I was shocked instead. He was my little brother. 

In full disclosure I had felt for more than a week that we would be called home from vacation for his funeral. Feelings like that happen to a lot of people and never come to pass.

I gathered my two little boys and went in to see how my mother was. Did she need a doctor? There on the couch sat my littlest brother and sister. Others were in various places around the room. No Mom.

I went to the phone to call my sister-in-law to tell her that if my husband stopped over there after work (which he planned to do) to have him come to my parents' house instead of going home.

I looked again for my mother. Since she was not there I assumed she was lying down. I took my boys outside so they would not be a bother to others.

When my husband arrived I was still sitting on the front steps keeping an eye on my boys. He ran to us to find out what was wrong. He was sure it was a mistake. He and my brother had been quite close.

We gathered the boys and went inside. Mom was sitting on the couch with my brother and sister. I went to her to see what I could do for her.

As we talked she asked me why I had not said anything to her when I was in the house before. She had been sitting there the whole time!

I have no idea why I did not see her. Maybe it was just too much for me to see both of my parents crying.