Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aunt Goldie

 My family was on vacation. At that time there were six of us children. Add my parents and my grandmother to the car and our station wagon was full. We were to spend one week with my mother;s oldest sister and her family in West Virginia and another with my father's youngest brother and his family in Tennessee.

My aunt had nine children. Add our six and there were fifteen children in the house. Three were babies. Chaos reigned.

These are the only cousins I have who are my age so we had a great time doing the things pre-teen girls do. It was bliss.

My uncle was a coal miner. Their house was halfway up a bare hill owned by the mines. Which meant the house was also owned by the mines. I have no idea what type of rental agreement there was.

Most of us slept upstairs. The upstairs was one large room. The boys slept on one side and the girls slept on the other. It was all open so the boys teased us all night and the girls picked back at them.

Grocery shopping was necessary. Feeding all of us required a gargantuan effort. So all the adults went shopping taking the babies with them for safe keeping.

Rather than leave us on our own Aunt Goldie came to oversee our behavior. Aunt Goldie was my uncle's sister. She was a little strange to be nice about it.

For those who do not know Lawrence Welk was a Big Band leader. He was known for his "Champagne  Music" and bubbles floating across his stage for some songs. He also had dancers and singers on his weekly show.

The night that Aunt Goldie was with us she kicked us all out of the living room so she could watch Lawrence Welk. We satisfied ourselves with some toast and cocoa. And sneaking peaks at Aunt Goldie.

She really became engrossed with that program. when she grabbed a broom and started to dance around the room and up onto the furniture we lost it. We were all laughing so hard. Naturally Aunt Goldie was not happy with us and let us know.

For some reason Aunt Goldie went outside. We locked the door. While she banged on the door we sent someone upstairs to lock the door which was the other door leading outside.

In the meantime Aunt Goldie saw that the kitchen window was open. To get in would require great athletic ability because it was high from the ground but she went there anyway. When we saw what she had in mind we ran over and closed it. My oldest cousin was holding it down so she could not open it. He was stronger than she was.

Aunt Goldie was pushing, pulling, and banging on the window. Some of the glass broke.

Being children we could only think of the trouble we would be in when our parents came home. We unlocked the door and let Aunt Goldie in.

Looking back I think she was worried about being in trouble too. She quickly cleaned up anything she could find to clean.

When our parents came home Aunt Goldie immediately told them what bad children they had. She told them how terribly we had treated her. And SHE TOLD THEM WE BROKE THAT WINDOW!

Of course we tried to plead our case but it was a weak one. We had behaved abominably. But we did not break that window.

At least it is good to know that not all of the strange relatives of the family are directly related to me. Only most of them.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Coming Home

My son who is in prison has been granted his parole. He will be moved to a halfway house the end of the summer. Then he will be coming here.

Besides being frustrating at times the process is amazing. Long but an interesting study.

Months before an inmate is eligible for parole he requests in writing for a parole hearing. Once it is determined that all requirements have been met and all the paperwork is properly filled out a hearing is scheduled.

Most parole hearings are not like you see on TV or read about in the news. They are more like meetings of the parole board. Often the prisoner is not included.

The board decides whether the minimum amount of time is served according to the original sentence. They figure in "good" time meaning allowances for good behavior. Any fights or infractions of rules that are on the record are considered.

Family ties, where the parolee will live, and job prospects can figure into consideration. If the inmate was convicted of a crime of violence against another person (my son was not) statements from victims will be considered.

In the meantime the inmate has given the name and address of the person he will be living with until he can live on his own. That person is contacted by someone who is responsible for examining the home.

They need to check criminal backgrounds of each person residing there. The house is inspected. They want to see where the parolee will sleep, etc. They also need to make sure no weapons or contraband are on the premises.

If everything passes approval that is sent on to the parole board. The prisoner is notified about whether it has been approved so he can make other arrangements if necessary.

Once the parole board reaches its decision the prisoner is notified in writing. If he is to be paroled he is happy and excited. Then he sits and waits to be informed as to when.

My son was informed at the beginning of the year that his parole was approved. He waited several months to be told when he would finally be sent to the halfway house.

We still do not know how long he will have to stay at the halfway house. We also do not know how often he will have to report to a parole officer or any other details or restrictions he will have to follow.

He is busy getting paperwork together for the things he will need to take care of when he comes home. A drivers license will be important because he will need identification. So he will need proof of who he is and where he lives to get that. Others things will need to be taken care of when he gets here.

While we are awaiting his arrival we are making plans for all the things we want to show him. He did not grow up here because we lived elsewhere when the children were children.

I am trying hard not to be excited but it is hard. I really was beginning to believe they would not let him out until after I died.

Anyway I will finally get to see my son. And he will get to see his children. It will be good for all of us.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Mow, Mow, Mow The Lawn

Do you want to know my favorite part of this time of year? People mow their lawns. That is correct; people mow their lawns.

I absolutely love the smell of newly mown grass. It smells like watermelon which is another favorite of mine.

When I am out driving and I pass someone mowing along side the road I inhale deeply. It is a clean sweet aroma. And it always sets me to thinking about lawn mowing experiences.

When I was small everyone had push mowers. A push mower had curved blades fastened around an axle on the mower. There were two wheels outside of the blades and a long shaft that led up to the handle bars.

To operate a push mower you simply pushed the machine forward. The blades rotated and cut the grass. The best way to do it was to thrust forward then pull back a bit then thrust forward again. Even with nice sharp blades some of the grass would escape the first thrust.

A push mower was a lot of work but it beat using a scythe. A scythe takes more exertion and is less efficient so a push mower was a wonderful thing.

Then my grandmother got a gas powered mower. It was a nice shiny red machine. It was started by pulling a rope that had been wrapped around a pulley that connected to the motor. Usually it took a couple of tries before it started.

The mower was very loud. I guess they decided not to include the cost of a muffler in the price of mowers at that time.

It was fun to watch Daddy and my brothers mowing Grandma's lawn. Actually it was quite an event. My youngest sister was afraid of all noises but she liked to watch the mower.

What we would do was I would take my sister into Grandma's screened porch and hold her tight. For some reason she felt safe that way and she could watch the lawn mowing operation without screaming.

In another town the boy across the street from us used the power mower to mow his family's lawn. He was my brother's age. His older sister was my age.

During the summer most kids did not wear shoes in the summer. Being barefoot was the freedom we were allowed.

One day the boy was barefoot and mowing the lawn. He hit a hidden piece of glass. It shot out from under the mower and cut off his big toe. It reminded everyone in town to wear shoes while mowing the lawn. Other than forever missing his toe he was fine.

My parents had gone into the big town to shop for groceries. They took the little kids with them. I was off with my friends. Two of my brothers were home. They were supposed to mow the lawn.

Power mowers took a mixture of gasoline and motor oil as fuel. My brothers had discovered the fun of putting gas into an empty tuna can and lighting it on fire. Then they would toss it and watch the gas burn.

My oldest brother was holding the can and lit it on fire. When he tossed it the gasoline splashed all over his arm and suddenly his arm was on fire.

My brother was smart enough to drop and roll to put the fire out. One of the attendants at the gas station across the corner from us heard the commotion and ran over to see if he could help.

My brother's arm was badly burned. The attendant drove my brother to the doctor's office. I happened to be walking in front of the doctor's house which doubled as an office when they pulled up. The blisters on my brother's arms had already broken open leaving raw skin exposed and he was in real pain.

He was lucky that there was no scarring. But he was in a lot of pain for a few days. Both brothers learned not to play with fire.

Last summer I hired a couple of young men to do some yard work for me.  I needed some small trees trimmed and some weeds cut. They would also mow the lawn.

I am still not sure what happened. The young men mentioned nothing. When I paid them I had to ask them to return my push broom that they "accidentally" loaded into their vehicle.

A few days later I had to go somewhere. My son and I were riding down the road when we heard a funny noise.

My son turned and looked. The rear window of my SUV was crumbling. We later found a rock that must have been thrown up by their lawn mower and through the window. It turned into the most expensive yard work I ever had done.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Update On My Sister

I realized I have not said anything about my sister in a while. I suppose once the danger of losing her was over I relaxed. Just as she does I take each day as a step forward.

My sister had a stroke more than a year ago. It was a serious stroke. She had many difficulties resulting from it. I will now report on her progress.

She had to have surgery to replace the piece of her skull they removed to ease pressure from the swelling of her brain. Needless to say the swelling went down. The surgery was also successful.

She is now home. Her husband is her primary caretaker but they have a nurse who comes several times a week to help out.

There is also intensive physical therapy. My sister is so frustrated because her left arm and leg are still not moving. She is determined to walk again. Knowing my sister I am sure she will.

She is sick of being confined to either a chair or a wheelchair. And she is sick of having to have people wait on her. (I never thought that would happen. My sister is even more self-centered than I am.)

She called me a few minutes ago. Her speech is completely normal but I can hear her tiring as the conversation gets longer. It is so good to be able to call her and have her call me. For a while she was difficult to understand and her thoughts would wander as we talked.

She did say that she wished her hand/eye coordination was better. She used to do a lot of sewing. I wish there was someone who could help her do some sewing one-handed. Maybe she would enjoy that. Any suggestions are welcome.

I suppose it does not sound like she has made a lot of progress but actually she has worked hard and become so much better. She has a strong determination and is so strong willed.

My sister knows she will probably not be able to return to work. She has begun the process of filing for Social Security. She will get about $100 more a month if she takes the disability so that is what she is trying for. A rotten way to spend her 65th year.

I hope to one day be able to tell you that she is moving on her own. Better yet I hope to be able to tell you that she is in Fiji which is her favorite place to be and walking on the beach.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Home

Once the Plains States were home to Native American tribes. The area where I later lived and where I live now were inhabited by tribes of the Great Sioux Nation. Lakota, Ponca, Shawnee, Pawnee, Omaha, Santee, Kiowa, Osage, Kansas, Quapaw, Winnebago, Otoe. Those are only a few.

 In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson's purchase of the Louisiana Territory more than doubled the size of the United States. Nebraska and Iowa were included in the 828,000 square miles of the Louisiana Purchase.

The Lousiana Purchase prompted the Lewis and Clark expedition. The US government funded the expedition to explore the land in the purchase and to try to make maps.

The Louisiana Purchase opened the lands west of the Mississippi River for white traders, trappers, and explorers. Most were men who stayed in one area. Many married Native American women and were accepted by the tribal leaders.

Soon white settlers were establishing farms and communities. That is where my story begins.

The small town I live in is the western-most town in Iowa. It was originally platted in 1856. Most of the people who hoped to live here abandoned their homes due to Indian uprisings.

In 1877 the present town was platted. It is on the northern edge of the Loess Hills. Most of the town is nestled in the shadow of one of the hills. The opposite border is the Big Sioux River. On the southern side is Broken Kettle Creek just at the end of my street. The opposite border is the Westfield Creek.

In the beginning we boasted several businesses. There was a bank, blacksmith, post office, grocery store, barber shop, hardware store, hotel, grain elevators, 2 churches, and a lumber yard.

Today we still have a post office in spite of attempts to close it. There is one church. There is a bar that also serves a limited menu. And we have a gas station. 

One of the biggest scandals in town was when the bank was robed in broad daylight. The robbers were captured and put in jail. 

Then they escaped. There was gunfire from both sides. The sheriff and his son were both wounded. The sheriff's wife was knocked out by a blow to the back of her head. The son died a few days later from his injuries.

After being captured and taken to another jail in a larger town nearby the men once again escaped. When they were captured yet again they were taken to Sioux City and put on trial.

There is a railroad that was completed in 1874. It is directly across the highway today. The grain elevators take in and deposit grain to train cars. I can hear them running when they are working.

There were stage lines running between towns. Unfortunately because the trips were so small not many records are available now. 

Before open pit sand mines there were sand mines dug in the area. Most were not very successful but at least one operated well for a while. Unfortunately it ran up under what is now the highway and has caused some problems over the years. I think they have finally found a permanent repair.

The sand was often used for laying a foundation for a building. In those days trees were not plentiful on the prairies. No wooden houses here. Stone and brick were much too expensive for most people. So they used what was available. 

The prairies have always been known for their grasses. One and a half to two and a half acres of prairie grass could be used to build a fine sod house. 

There is coal in the area. Attempts to find profitable coal mines were not successful and often led to disastrous results. 

One disaster was the mine being dug when suddenly they struck water. The water quickly filled the mine. Being industrious the miners decided to sell the water instead.

They soon found out that they were taking all the underground water from a neighboring town. They had to close the operation.

As i said there are small coal deposits in the area especially around Broken Kettle Creek. Some farmers had small amounts to burn. The main problem there is that the coal is not of good quality and not really worth the trouble of digging it out.

Very near here was the largest cottonwood tree in Iowa. It measured over 29 feet in circumference and was over 100 feet tall. Lightning struck the tree and destroyed it.

The prairie grasses that I mentioned earlier looked almost like an ocean to someone looking out over it. Wind caused ripples that resembled waves of water. The grasses could be anywhere from 1 foot to 7 feet tall. But those grasses offered no shelter from the wind.

They were a big danger. Fires would spread even more rapidly than some forest fires and were almost impossible to put out.

The most important grasses in this area were Big Blue Stem, Little Blue Stem, Side Oats Grama, Blue Grama, Needle and Thread, and Buffalo Grass. There were more than 250 species of prairie grass here.

We have the normal animal life in this area. Coyotes, chipmunks, birds, deer. There are too many to list. During warm weather the pests like ants, mosquitoes, and boxelder bugs drive us crazy. 

Our town is known to be home to prairie rattlesnakes. I have not seen any although I have seen garden snakes.

Bison roamed free here until the white settlers both killed them for food and hides and drove them out. About five miles from my town is The Broken Kettle Grasslands Preserve. Prairie grasses grow free with no one trying to wipe them out to clear land for farming.

Also in the preserve is a large herd of American Bison. They roam free within the confines of the preserve. The rattlesnakes are plentiful there as well as a lot of other animals that are in danger if found outside the preserve.

Our high school was established in 1910. It was the first Township High School in the United States. Alas the last school building sits empty. School consolidation has our children being bused to our neighboring town. It is only 5 miles. 

But our building does not look too old. It was sold on the internet for very little money and the new owner is not happy with his purchase. Sad.

There are more trees now. Cedar trees especially have taken over. They are an invasive species here but they are pretty. My town is the northern boundary of the mulberry tree.

We are supposedly the home of Jack Smurch. Mr Smurch was the main character in "The Greatest Man In The World" a short story by James Thurber. In the story set in 1937 Jack Smurch flies a monoplane around the world without any stops.

We are a small small town. The 2010 census says we have 132 people living here. About 1/3 of those people are children. 

It is so quiet here. Except for those days when the bikers visit the bar there is little noise at all. For a retired person that is perfect.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Eat This

We can tell if we are a little late feeding my son's dog.  She begins to loudly wail, "Ooooooo". It sounds for all the world like she is saying fooooooood. Once he feeds her she is happy again.

My family has demonstrated some odd eating habits over the years.

My oldest son was two years old. I had made pot roast for supper. It was one of my husband's favorite meals.

We all sat at the table to eat. I served my son and put his plate in front of him. He was sitting in a high chair but without the tray on it so he was at the table with us. My husband had filled his plate with a nice healthy portion of everything and was preparing to dig in.

My son stood up suddenly and urinated directly into his father's plate!

Of course his father was furious. To this day I have no idea why my son did that. It was obvious that he was aiming successfully.

My mother had a birthday party for my oldest brother's first birthday. I was barely a year older than he was so I only know what my mother said about the day.

It had been a busy afternoon for a one year old. After playing and opening gifts he was getting so tired. Time for ice cream and cake.

My brother was in his high chair. He was so very tired. But he loved cake. Mom put his cake and ice cream on the tray of his high chair and he went at it. But he was so tired.

My brother needed to be cleaned up and put to bed but he wanted to finish his cake first. Mom looked up at him and he was sitting there trying to keep his eyes open. He was too tired to chew. So he just put the cake in his mouth and tried to poke it down his throat with his fingers.

My third son was a good eater. But he had a weird way of eating. I would put him in his high chair and give him his food.

My son would take a nice handful of food and run it through his hair. Apparently if his hair liked it he would eat it. His hair liked everything.

My youngest brother was an extremely fussy eater. There was not much that he would eat. He did not like hot dogs for instance. But he loved to wrap them tightly in aluminum foil whenever we barbecued. Then he would toss them onto the charcoal. As the hot dog heated and expanded it would cause the whole package to explode.

What my brother took to school for lunch (no school lunch for him) was a sandwich. The sandwich consisted of one leaf of lettuce and two slices of bread. Nothing else.

I was a good big sister. I had to be... there were six more after me. I always helped with my little brothers and sisters.

My oldest brother was a year younger than I was. One day my mother heard him crying and making choking noises. She ran into the kitchen to check on him.

Mom saw my brother in his chair with maggots running from his mouth. I was busy playing "Mommy" with a jar of baby food I had pulled from the trash. It was full of maggots and I was shoving it into his mouth. I was a good big sister.

I had my own idiosyncrasies. I loved tomato soup. It was a good lunch for me and Mom fed it to me often. But I would have nothing to do with ketchup.

Then I changed my mind. I would not eat tomato soup but I did like ketchup. But if Mom told me it was ketchup soup I ate it all.

My oldest son still does not like different foods touching each other on his plate. He wants his meat here, potatoes over here, and vegetable over there. He is close to 50 years old now. At least he can take care of the placement of his food all by himself.

When my youngest son was small he liked to have a slice of bread as a snack. Don't ask. I have no idea why.

The problem was that he would wad the bread slice into a ball and shove the whole thing into his mouth. Then he would sit there and gag on it.

I was playing cards with friends one day when my son wadded up his bread. One woman said, "Emma! He's choking!" I looked at him and said. "So he is." He spit the wadded bread out of his mouth and I picked it up and threw it away.

My second grandson is a funny eater. He has always followed a low carb diet. It was instinctive for him.

If we went out for breakfast he ordered pancakes. Not low carb you say? He did not want syrup, butter, or jam on them. He would take each pancake and peel it open. Then he would eat the doughy center and leave the rest.

He does the same with grilled cheese sandwiches. He peels the bread away from the cheese and eats only the the cheese. Weird kid.

My father liked what was strange food as far as we were concerned. He loved oyster soup. I thought it looked icky. He liked pickled pigs feet. They also looked icky. Children rely on the look of foods.

My father's favorite treat was pickled herring. Living in Nebraska it was not something he could get often and it was quite expensive. It came in round tins. It looked like one long flat icky thing to us. I remember him chasing us through the house one time trying to get us to try it. We were screaming. "Ew, ew". He was laughing with glee.

How do you treat your food?

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Did you know that humans are born with a fear? It is the fear of falling. That is one reason a baby flails around if it does not feel properly supported.

Throughout our lives we experience other fears. Some we are able to conquer and some maybe not.

For myself I have never gotten over the fear of falling. I can climb a tree (or could when I was younger) and feel perfectly safe. I feel like there is a sound base beneath me.

But being up high and feeling as if there is no safety net to catch me makes me afraid. That is the reason I do not ride carnival rides. I come to the top of the Ferris wheel for instance and look out at the scenery all around. But what happened to the contraption I am on? I see nothing. I panic.

There are also lesser fears. Stage fright is normal they say. I am a "ham" so I have not experienced that one.

There is a slight fear when being confronted with a new situation. When changing schools you wonder if anyone will like you and whether you will fit in with others. I did that a lot when I was growing up. It never gets easier.

Some fears make us be a little more careful. Since being in a terrible car accident a few years ago I am very aware of the cars behind me. Not everyone pays attention as they should so it is up to me to watch for them.

As I am getting older I must admit that I see my mortality. Death is closer and closer. I have already lived a longer life than either of my parents. Two of my younger brothers are dead. I know I will not live forever and I feel good at this point.

But the certainty of death is present. I fear it a little simply because it is an unknown. I suppose the best I wish for is that my death will be quick and painless.

I do have a fear that might be considered irrational. I have had several dreams over the years of suddenly going blind.

Not to be able to see is to me the worst debility there could be. No more watching movies or television. No looking into the faces of others. Not being able to curl up with a good book. Not being able to drive. I would be truly unhappy.

Not much scares me. I guess age eases many small fears. Some things are just not important enough to fret over.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Love Hurts

Freddy Kruger was the bad guy in the Nightmare On Elm Street movies. Oh boy was he bad. He killed kids in their sleep.

Freddy had a glove on one hand. Out of the glove came these long blades that he used to mangle the teenagers to death. My children loved those movies.

My oldest son worked in a machine shop. He took pieces of scrap metal and fashioned them into blades like those of Freddy Kruger. He fastened them to a work glove. The main purpose was to terrify the smaller children in the family.

One weekend there were several of the smaller children at my house. My daughter was not working that day. She decided to don the glove and wave it around. As she was waving her gloved hand wildly she accidentally brushed the sharp blades against her thigh.

My daughter did not need stitches in her leg but she did bleed a bit and was in pain for a couple of days. She still has scars from Freddy Kruger.

It was common for young boys to own BB guns when I was a child. My brothers must have been about 7 and 8 when they each received a BB gun from Santa for Christmas. They had to wait for warmer weather before they could take them out and shoot them.

The boys had been warned not to kill any animals especially the chickens or any other animals we were raising. Those animals were food and money making livestock.

One day in the summer Mom sent me out to check on the kids who were outside playing. I was shocked to find that the boys had stood my sister against the corrugated metal fence and were being a firing squad putting a prisoner to death.

My sister was wearing one of those little sunsuits that were so popular for little girls during the fifties. That meant there was a lot of exposed skin. I ran and grabbed her and took her into the house so Mom could take care of her.

Mom spent a major portion of the afternoon picking BB's out of my sister's back. The boys lost their BB guns.

I was working in the cash office. It was before Christmas so we were extremely busy and there were three of us working in there.

I have no idea who started shooting rubber bands. I wanted no part of it. It hurts to be hit by those things and I did not want to hurt or be hurt. So I was left alone thank goodness.

The shooting went on for several weeks. If the night store manager came in they would shoot him and he would shoot back. Even security personnel who would come in took part. I stayed out of it.

Then came the night when the night manager came into the office. I think he had a bit of a crush on one of the women working in there. He took a rubber band and shot it at her just as she turned to face him.

The rubber band hit her in the eye. She had no idea it was coming and her eye was open when it was hit.

The manager was devastated by what happened. The woman that was hit was in a lot of pain but thankfully not seriously injured. The best thing to come of that was that was the last rubber band that was used as a weapon.

My husband no longer lived at home. He would come over periodically when he and his new companion were arguing and he would decide that we should get back together. It was not going to happen. But the children loved seeing their father.

Once when he was leaving after an attempt to come home my daughter was on her roller skates. She decided to race his car to the corner of the block. He had no idea she was doing it.

Just as she reached the corner on the sidewalk she hit a rock and fell. She landed on her chin and split it open. It took three stitches to close.

My best friend and I were visiting her married sister's house. Her sister was at work and we often went there to hang out after school where no one could bother us.

My friend was going through her sister's closet and came out wearing a nice silk blouse. She felt very grown up I am sure. She decided we would walk through town so people could see her in the height of fashion. It was a tiny town so we would be back in plenty of time for her to change and her sister would never know the difference.

For some reason we ended taking a bicycle. First I rode the handlebars while she pedaled the bike. Then she decided she would be noticed more if she was on the handlebars. So I pedaled.

As we needed a bit more speed for some reason, I stood up to pedal. As I stood I bumped against my friend who promptly fell off the handlebars.

I could not stop quickly enough and pretty much just ran over her. Her sister's blouse was shredded..

Needless to say her sister was not happy with either of us. We were no longer allowed to hang out at her house when no one else was there.

We were living in a small town in Tennessee. My husband was a truck driver and we only saw him on weekends. Si I was alone with my four children.

We had a lot of fun. We would go to the state park often. The children could wade in a shallow part of the river. Actually it was more like a brook there. We would cook out there too. And we went other places just to keep ative.

The vehicle we traveled in was an old pickup truck. I had a routine to get the kids in the truck. The two older boys went first. My oldest son sat by the door and my second son sat in the middle. Then my second son held my third son on his lap and my oldest son held my daughter on his lap. I guess I should mention that the two little ones were babies.

That old truck had seen better days. There were little tricks I had to use to start it sometimes. The doors sis not always close properly.

So I was turning the corner to go to our house. Suddenly my daughter came flying into my sons in the middle as the door flew open and my oldest son fell out. He had tossed his sister to try to keep her safe as he was falling.

My son landed on his face as was up and running by the time I got the truck stopped. Luckily he had scraped his face just under his nose but there were no other injuries. He insisted on wearing a bandaid under his nose for several days until it healed.

My children were a little older. We still had the old pickup. For some reason my second son was sitting next to the door that day. My daughter was on his lap. She was about 2 or 3 then. He slammed the door shut.

My daughter screamed. I saw that her hand was shut in the door. I very calmly looked at my son who had a confused look on his face. I quietly said, "Open the door." He looked at me for several seconds before it dawned on him that her hand was in the door.

I did take her in to have her hand x-rayed. No broken bones.

My sister is 4 years younger than I am. She had not yet learned how to swing herself so I was pushing her so she could swing.

I would give her a couple of pushes and then wait while she happily went back and forth. Then I would push her again.

My sister decided she wanted to higher. Higher. Higher. I did know enough to push the chains instead of my sister's back. I pushed and pushed until she was going very high. She wanted higher.

I gave a mighty push. My sister flew from the swing and landed on the ground. She had the breath knocked out of her but was otherwise not hurt. Shortly after she learned to make herelf go.

No matter how careful we are sometimes people we care about are hurt. Sometimes we are the cause.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

I Think It's Over

I think winter is over. There are leaves on the trees. There are flowers on the trees. Dandelions and violets are blooming.

We had a windy winter. There were several big snowstorms. But overall it was not too cold. It was certainly not a mild winter but it was not a bad winter either.

I think back to winters past. Some were rough.

Often we had to walk to school in snow up to our knees. There was one time that there was deep deep snow overnight. School was not called off so we decided to trudge all that way.

Our school was on the opposite corner of town from our house. Mom gave us the option of staying home but school was much more fun. Against her better judgement she allowed the youngest of us to go too.

My brother was in kindergarten and barely 5 years old.We dressed as warmly as we could and set off for school. My aunt and uncles joined us when we passed their house. The snow was as high as the middle of my thighs.

By the time we were a few blocks from school my youngest brother was in tears. He was being snowed under. My uncle picked him up and carried him the rest of the way. Naturally by the time we got to school we were all soaked and cold.

As we were warming ourselves the teachers and administrators looked around and there were very few students who came to school that day. They decided it was not worth it to keep the school open so they closed school for the rest of the day. At least someone came to pick us up from school so we did not have to slog through the snow to get home (where we promptly went out to play in the snow).

One house we lived in did not have a basement; only a crawl space. One really cold winter our pipes kept freezing. Daddy would have to bundle up and crawl under the house in that freeing cold. He took a blow torch to thaw the water so it would run again.

Because I did not have to crawl under the house it was not so bad. But I was glad that we did not have to go out to pump water and carry it in.

During the winter cold the pump would often freeze. We had to make sure there was hot water to take with us to prime the pump. The hot water melted the ice in the works and allowed the well water to pump up like it should.

Even if the pump was not frozen it was a cold job. Filling a 5 gallon bucket took a few minutes and they were cold long minutes. And if we had to have enough water for baths... well refills were the order of the day. Then it was really a cold job.

Some memories are warm. There was probably nothing warmer than spending the night at my grandparents' farm. Grandma had soft feather beds and heavy homemade quilts on every bed. Squiggling down into bed (especially if we had warmed it with warm rocks first) was heavenly.

Most of our houses had a heating stove in the living room. We would wake up in the morning to icy windows in our rooms. We would grab our clothes for the day and rush down the stairs to stand next to the heating stove to dress. There was little need for modesty. We were all trying not to freeze to death as we quickly changed clothes.

We almost always had animals to care for. Whether the weather was cold or hot made no difference. They needed to be fed and watered.

Sometimes in the winter the ice that formed in watering dishes needed to be removed so they had fresh water to drink. Food had to be in a place where it would not be covered by snow.

One house we lived in was on the edge of town. Actually most houses when we lived in town were on the edge of town. Anyway we had several outbuildings (including the dreaded outhouse). The chicken coop was in sad shape.

The wooden floor was set up from the ground. There were wide cracks between the floor boards. We had not lived there long enough to make the necessary repairs.

It was a cold cold winter that year. The chickens would get so cold they would purposely put their legs down between the cracks of the floor trying to keep their legs warm. It not only did not work it caused even greater problems.

Rats saw fresh chicken meat hanging down. They would run up and chew the chickens legs off. The chickens did not raise an alarm because their legs were frozen and they could not feel what was happening. We had a bunch of legless or one-legged chickens in that coop. Not many of them died.

So winter is over. The temperatures are up and down here but I can live with that. I have indoor plumbing. That means NO OUTHOUSE and running water inside. The furnace heats the whole house so my bedroom is comfortable. I actually put the air conditioner in the window last week. I do not need it most days but I am glad to have when I do.