Friday, May 31, 2019


Summer will come eventually. I hope.

I was thinking last night about summer when my children were small. Other children often came to our yard to play. Nieces and nephews were at our house. Then came my grandchildren. We often had the yard filled with children.

When the weather is hot children need to have something to drink. And they are always hungry. It can be expensive to keep them in snacks.

Water is the best thing to drink but the kids like something with more flavor. Kool-Aid and other drinks like that work well.

Another good trick is to freeze Kool-Aid for a cooling and wet snack. Just pour the drink into ice cube trays or small paper cups. Popsicle sticks are usually available at the dollar store. Put one in each cube or cup. As the liquid freezes the sticks are frozen into it. Nice handles. Some people use toothpicks but they are sharp and I do not recommend them.

There are many snacks that are easy to make. One of my favorites is graham crackers and frosting. You can either buy cans of frosting or make your own with confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla, and a touch of milk. Spread a generous amount of frosting on a graham cracker. Then cover it with another graham cracker. They are quite filling. You can use saltines too but they are not quite as good.

Popcorn is inexpensive. Make up a bunch and give it to the children. I can tell you ahead of time that they will probably have a popcorn fight and throw it all over the yard. It hurts nothing. Birds and animals will eat up whatever falls before the next morning.

If you feel especially energetic you can make Kiddie Cookies. Pie crust is cut into pieces. I used the cut off pieces of pies I was making. Put them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar. Bake them for a few minutes until they are golden brown. They are crispy and sweet.

Core an apple and cut it into wedges. Put a dollop of peanut butter where the core used to be. They are so good. One apple goes a long way so you will not have to use too many. You can also fill them with soft cheese or even fluffy marshmallow.

These are just a few ideas. It makes child'splay fun and your time a little easier.

Monday, May 27, 2019


Arlington National Cemetery is where many of our military dead are buried.  If you ever get the chance to see it GO. There is nothing I can tell you that gives justice to the sea of perfectly aligned headstones that mark the graves of fallen soldiers and dignitaries.

The history of the cemetery is astounding with many historical figures mentioned.

George Washington married Martha Custis, a widow wirh 4 children. One of her grandsons was George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha raised him after his father died when GWPC was just 6 months old.

GWPC eventually married. He and his wife had 4 children but the only one to survive until adulthood was Mary Anna Randolph Custis.

They lived on a lovely bit of land GWPC inherited from his father. It was about 1000 acres that overlooked the Potomac River with a view of Washington DC. He built a Greek Revival home at the top of the hill to take advantage of the view.

GWPC gave a 'living inheritance' to his daughter that specified that she could not dispose of any or all of the land during her life.

Mary married a military man with a great future. He had graduated from West Point and was highly regarded in the highest circles of political society. His name was Robert E Lee.

When Lee chose to remain loyal to Virginia during the Civil War they had to reluctantly relocate. Union forces captured and occupied Arlington. As was common practice at the time Mary buried many family valuables before she left.

Because of the war the two nearby cemeteries rapidly filled. The US government realized that national cemeteries would be needed. After deliberating on locations it was decided that Arlington was the best spot.

Arlington had a view of Washington DC, it sat on high ground as protection from flooding, and it had a serene, pleasant feel to it. A bonus to using Arlington was that since it was the home of Robert E Lee he would have no home after the war.

The US government purchased Arlington for taxes after denying payment of those taxes from Mary Custis Lee.

In 1874 Mary's son George Washington Custis Lee (also known as Custis Lee) sued the US government claiming that he was the rightful owner of Arlington. He won. He then sold Arlington to the government for $150,000.

There was a signing ceremony to transfer Arlington back to the government. Attending were Custis Lee and Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln.

Arlington House is still on the grounds. It is a beautiful home.

There are several monuments and places of interest in Arlinton National Cemetery. I will let you search for them if you are interested. I want to mention only two of them.

The Tomb of the Unknowns honors those who lost their lives in wars but were unable to be identified. With modern science identification is more probable and some of the unknowns have been named.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is located on the spot where Robert E Lee had his garden.

The guards for the Tomb of the Unknowns are there 24 hours of the day. The solemn ceremony is beautiful, majestic, and sad all at once. Even small children become quiet to see them perform their duties.

Volunteer soldiers guard the Tomb. They undergo rigorous training to qualify. They guard in every kind of weather all day and all night.

The second memorial is the Eternal Flame for President John Kennedy. I suppose it is because Kennedy's assassination was such an indelible mark in my brain that I feel its importance.

Remember a serviceman today. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What Happened To Spring?

It has been raining for about a week now. I will be honest and say there were a couple of sunny days. For the most part it rains.

Today is heavy rain and a lot of wind. I had to go into Sioux City to pick up groceries. The wind made driving difficult.

It was not cold enough to freeze though. When I was coming out of the store I noticed that the water on the paving in the parking lot was thicker and slippery.

When I went to get into my truck I opened the door. When I went to step in to sit down the wind almost blew my feet from under me.

Things are supposed to calm down by tomorrow. My sister-in-law winters in Texas every year and she finally came back last week.

We are meeting at the cemetery tomorrow (weather permitting) to get things looking nice before Memorial Day. We go to three cemeteries evey year. Then we go to lunch and catch up on family news.

Friday, May 17, 2019

The Divine Malady

This is a re-post of something I wrote a few years ago. It needs to be seen every once in a while. Please read it all. It might come in handy someday.

When I was 16 I took a summer job babysitting. It was a family of 5 children. They lived in a trailer park on a lake. Their trailer was a very large nice home.

They had four boys and one daughter. I would sleep in the same room as the daughter because I would stay there all week. On weekends I would go home.

Both parents worked so they needed someone who could take care of the children, do light housework, and cook at least two meals each day. No problem. Remember I have six younger brothers and sisters.

The children also had an aunt and uncle only a few trailers away. The aunt was only a few years older than I. I was asked to never leave the children alone with her because she had epilepsy. She had been in a car accident and there was a bruise on her brain that caused seizures.

She was a very nice person and we got along very well. She would come down a couple of times a week just to visit while her husband was at work.

One day she had a seizure. She was just sitting and quietly watching television when she began to act strangely. She yelped a couple of times and slapped her leg repeatedly. It took me a few beats to realize what was happening but I had no idea what to do for her.

I had promised the children I would make Johnny cake for breakfast one day. What I call Johnny cake is just hot cornbread with sugar and milk poured over it. It is delicious if you want to try it. So one Monday morning I got up early to start baking.

I did not know that the parents had broiled steaks the evening before. They decided to leave the oily aluminum foil on the broiler and clean it after work Monday.

I lit the oven and started making cornbread batter. The oldest son of the family came in rubbing his eyes and trying to wake up. As we were talking we saw the flames flare up from the broiler.

I am good in a crisis so I was going to go out and turn off the fuel tank. When I got to the door I suddenly felt myself turning to the left and spinning uncontrollably.

Then I was waking up on the couch with the mother of the family hovering over me and the children looking so frightened. She wanted to know if I was okay. I felt fine. Maybe just a little sleepy.

The oldest son had the good sense to run outside and turn off the fuel. Then he ran down and had his aunt come up. She called the mother who came right home. It was about a 45 minute drive.

The mother decided to take some time off work so I could go home. My parents had me rest and stay calm even though I felt fine. After one week I went back to take care of the children again.

I was there for about a week and a half. I was up before the children once again. As i moved through the living room toward their rooms to wake them up I turned and saw myself walking slightly behind and to the left of myself!

Once more I woke up to see the mother there as I was lying on the couch. This time my mother was with her. I was still so scared from what I had seen. The mother of the children of course needed someone who was not passing out all the time. She had made arrangements for a friend of mine to finish out the summer. That was fine with me. I wanted my mommy.

Mom took me home and we were relaxing again. That same day I passed the television as I was walking to a chair. Mom was in her bedroom folding clothes.

There was some sort of art program on television. The program was flashing from one painting to another and the lights changed with each painting.

I felt dizzy and was able to sit down. Then I felt myself reach up and tear the whole left side of my face, jawbone, teeth, and all, completely off. Then I felt that same hand reach down and tear the muscle from the top of my left leg. Of course that did not happen. I passed out.

Mom said she heard a funny noise and came into the living room to see me sitting in a chair with everything on my body trying to fold into itself. I am not a limber person. She said my hands were sort of palm up with my fingers almost touching my wrists.

I went immediately to the doctor. I do not remember much about the doctor visit. He admitted me to the hospital.

I had never been in the hospital before. I thought it was kind of cool to be served my food in bed. I did not like the testing they did as most of it involved drawing blood.

The second or third day I was there (I do not remember how long my stay was) I was lying there and I began to think about epilepsy. I remembered hearing my grandmother talk about two sisters in town who had "fits". That and the aunt of the children I had taken care of was the limit of what I knew on the subject.

My parents came in that morning and stood at the foot of my bed. They told me that the doctor thought I might have epilepsy. I said, "I thought that might be what it was."

When I got the chance I asked the doctor what this would mean for me having children. He said not to worry about it. But I did worry about it. So he assured me that the chances of my children having seizures was not even 1 in a million.

I was put on the medications that they used to treat seizures at that time. Now I am not a medicine taker. Two aspirin will knock me out. The medicine that I was taking made me so sleepy all the time. I do not know how I got through my senior year of high school that year. And with my A average to boot.

I have grand mal seizures (now called something else). Those are convulsive seizures. They are extremely painful. Each one a person has is a bit worse than the one before until they can be so bad that a person can die from a seizure. In fact I have almost died three times. I feel very fortunate to be here.

I am also very fortunate that I am very well controlled with medication. It has been so many years since I had a seizure that I cannot remember when the last one was.

I am still taking the original medications that the original doctor prescribed. One of them is a controlled substance. After fifty years I am physically addicted to it. That means without it I will go into withdrawal and the classic symptoms that accompany withdrawal. It does not mean I am constantly craving more. I just need it to live.

A dear friend of mine was on the city council of the big city we lived in. She was on President Carter's epilepsy commission. She asked me to go through the information she had and give her a synopsis. No problem. Until I saw the research. It was five books. Each one was about four inches thick except the last one. It was about three inches.

What I read was a real eye-opener for me. While epilepsy, like many other maladies, is not inherited the predisposition is inherited. That means that my children might have a weakness that they inherited from me that would make them more disposed to having seizures.

Also they used an example of a parent with four children (I have four children). If one child has seizures the likelihood of another having seizures multiplies (not adds up, multiplies). If three children have seizures the fourth will have seizures.

I learned that an uncle of mine had epilepsy. He died before my father was born. He was in a home for juvenile delinquents. My father always thought his brother was "bad" because that was better than being "defective".

My mother suffered terribly from migraine headaches. They are a first cousin to epilepsy. Many of the workings of the brain are the same in both.

Two of my sons had migraines when they were about 8 years old. Testing showed some brain activity but I would not allow them to be put on medication until there could be a definite diagnosis. Neither has had any further problems. My daughter is fine. I recently discovered that my other son has been having petit mal seizures for about three years. He did not want to worry me so he kept it to himself.

Two of my grandchildren have migraine headaches. So does their mother, my daughter-in-law. Two of my grandchildren have had seizures. One was placed on medication for a year. The seizures stopped and the medication was also stopped. He has been fine for several years now.

If any one needs to know anything about seizures feel free to ask. I am almost an expert. And if I am not certain I have the right answer I can probably guide you to the place to find it. In the meantime I am going to tell you what steps to take if you are with someone having a seizure.

1. If they are upright, lower them safely to a prone position. That will help keep them from injuring themselves in a fall.

2. NEVER, EVER, EVER, try to force anything into their mouth. Fingers have been bitten off. Tableware and wooden sticks are either broken or cause damage to teeth.

3. The human tongue is a muscle. It sits in a particular spot in the body. It is physically impossible to swallow your tongue. However the tongue like any muscle can fall to the back of the mouth and block the air passages. Gently position the person on their side. That way the tongue falls to the side instead of the back of the mouth.

4. If the seizure lasts for more than three minutes or if there are repeat seizures call for medical help immediately.

5. When the seizure is over often the person will lose consciousness or maybe just be confused. When they awaken the body and brain are busy trying to re-establish connections. They have no time to answer questions like "Do you know me?" Leave that for professionals. Simply say, "hi, (insert name, it is important). I am (insert name, it is important). You just had a seizure. You are safe and I am right here. Everyone is taken care of. You need to rest so go to sleep. I will be here when you wake up." If an ambulance is on the way or the doctor is on the way let them know that too. That way they can let their body heal itself without wondering what is going on.

In the beginning  I was up and full of energy after a seizure within a couple of hours. As time went on it took me at least two full days to be able to even get out of bed and stand on firm feet. Each person is different.

Epilepsy is nothing to be ashamed of. No more than diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. If you were ever to see the list of famous people and world leaders throughout history who had seizures you would be amazed.

But it must be treated. By a doctor who knows what he is doing. Not many do. Most of the "maladies" are only mentioned in medical school in passing. I hope I have enlightened you a bit. I hope you never need the information. But if you are confronted with a situation you now know what you can do.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Jesse James

I married a man who wanted to be like Jesse James the famous outlaw of the Old West. He did not realize it. He wanted what he thought of as an exciting life.

The father of my children was not a large man. When we got married we were the same height. He grew a couple more inches as the years went by.

So he had that feisty temperament often attributed to small people. No remark was ever too slight to elicit an angry response from him. If he was lucky a fight would erupt.

Because he was an alcoholic he was often at the bar. You have no idea how many times he would call me and say, "They are picking on me!"

Of course me being the great enabler that I am I would rush to the bar to break up the fight.

There would be my husband and another man (often a friend of his) rolling on the ground and hitting each other. I would break up the fight. My husband would stand up and clap the other guy on the back and say, "That was a good fight. You want a beer?"

How can you be angry enough to fight with someone and then want to have a drink with him? I really would like to know.

So I would go back home. The combatants would go back into the bar to drink some more.

My husband liked to draw a gun on people. He is lucky he never hurt anyone.

My sister-in-law was still in shock as she told us of the time soon after my mother-in-law died that she got a call from the farm. My ez-husband moved there when Mom died. To a friend he rented the trailer house of another sister (who had died a few years before). It was across the driveway from the farmhouse.

He called my sister-in-law to tell her that he was fighting with his friend. He told his friend to move out immediately.

A gunfight ensued. No one was hurt. Both men felt big and bad and probably had a beer together. By this time we had been divorced for years so I was not a part of any of this.

When my sister-in-law was telling two of my sons about the incident they both chuckled and said, "That;s my dad." They were used to his erratic behavior.

Friday, May 10, 2019

My Mother

Mom was very pretty. I knew her as a quiet somewhat reserved person but I see in old photos that she probably got into her share of mischief.

Even though there is no Indian blood in our family it seemed that they always lived near an Indian reservation. Grandma and Grandpa did not want any of the girls working the farm so the most farming they did was to raise vegetable gardens and tend the fruit trees.. They also took care of the poultry and occasionally slopped the hogs.

Grandpa put great store in an education because he had very little schooling. Mom graduated top of her senior high school class. I used to tease her that it was easy for her because there were only three people who graduated. In truth my mother was the most intelligent person I have ever known and you would be surprised at some of the more or less famous names I could drop.

Mom and Daddy had a happy successful marriage. I never saw them argue. That is not to say that I never saw them upset with one another. Mom would stop speaking to Daddy. After he could stand it no more Daddy would try to cajole her into forgiving him. When he began to see her softening he would start with, "Hon, do you want a cup of coffee? Do you want a cup of coffee, hon? Hon, would you like a cup of coffee?" Finally she would nod her head yes and he would yell, "Emma, get your mother a cup of coffee!"

When I was quite young Mom used to write short stories. Many of them were published in women's magazines. I have no idea what they were like because women's magazines were considered too racy for little girls.

Both of my parents instilled a love of books for all seven of their children. We lived in one small town for 4 years. That was a long stay for us. Anyway during those four years we read every book in the library at least once. When new books were coming in, the librarian would let us know so we could be first to check them out.

Mom was artistic too. She painted, drew, sculpted, sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted.... I could go on but it's depressing. I inherited none of her artistic abilities. For a while she was avid about charcoals. For Christmas that year she did a charcoal drawing of my teacher as a gift. She felt faces were the most difficult thing for her to do but that one was magnificent.

Most of us in my immediate family had birthdays within three weeks of each other. I always teased my parents that there just was not much to do on those cold winter nights on the prairies. Once she decided that she was going to have birthday parties for each of us. Since there were five of us at that time the girls would be one year and the boys another. The little one, a boy, could go with the girls because he was not in school yet.

She had imaginative parties for each of us. Mine was a treasure hunt. The morning of the party she went out and planted clues all over town. When all the children had arrived and dutifully handed over my gifts, she gave us the first clue. It was a poem that would lead us to the spot where we would find the next clue.Of course there was an adult or two with us to make sure we did not have too much trouble finding the clue. The final clue led us to the town park where Mom was waiting with ice cream and cake and of course my gifts. It was so much fun.

My aunt and uncles went to school in a one room schoolhouse in the country. On the last day of school there was a picnic and we always went. The more the merrier, you know. This year it was held on Friday, the 13th.

We set out for the picnic with Mom at the wheel. Daddy had to work. Mom was running late as usual so she was driving a bit faster than she should have. She came to the top of a hill and saw the police car at the bottom. Instead of slowing down she panicked and stopped. When she restarted and drove down the hill she was pulled over. Luckily the cop recognized the car. Daddy was the town marshal and worked with the state police on occasion. Mom received a warning to be more careful and we went on our way.

The car was low on gas so Mom pulled in to a station along the highway. In the 1950's the pumps often had big glass globes on the top with the name of the gasoline company on them. They were pretty. When Mom pulled in for gas she realized that she was too far away from the pump. She pulled forward a bit and then backed up a bit closer... whoops! a little too close.She bumped the pump. That beautiful glass globe began to wobble, wobble, wobble, wobble... it seemed to be slowing and coming to a stop. Whew. Then it just fell right off and smashed into millions of pieces.

The man at the station was very kind. Of course we did not have to pay for it; it happens all the time. (Right!) We got our 2 dollars worth of gas. That filled it up then. And we were off again.

We turned off the highway to the county road on the way to the picnic. We were merrily driving along and Mom missed the turn onto the next county road that led to the school. Not to worry... she just backed up so she would be in position to turn. Somehow we ended up in the ditch. Some of the ditches in Nebraska were like valleys. We were rear end down with the nose of the car pointing up. Now what was she to do?

Here we were with a car full of children sitting in a deep ditch with no chance she could drive it out. As luck would have it a neighboring farmer came by on his tractor. Mom waved him down and he of course was happy to help. He was so happy to help that he could not stop laughing as he hooked the chain up to the car and his tractor. Laughing as he had Mom steer the car while his tractor strained to pull us out of that ditch. He was so happy when we were completely clear of the ditch that he kept laughing. Mom had made him so happy that he was still laughing as he drove off.

Off we went again. Mom successfully made the turn. Believe it or not we made it safely to the picnic. Of course we were extremely late but there were still a few games left to be played. After that Friday, the 13th, was a day that we no longer let Mom drive. As a matter of fact we would not even let her in the car.

Mom was a loving caring woman. She would never purposely hurt anyone or anything. That does not mean that the occasional evil thought would not cross her mind. She always kind of wished she could bring herself to be slightly evil just once.

Mom died in her sleep in January one year. It was a hard winter. She was living in another state with one of my sisters. As soon as we had made all the arrangements we could by phone, I drove down to help my sister and her boys.

When my brother was killed in Viet Nam Daddy bought three adjacent plots for my brother and my parents. Mom was to be in the middle. That meant we had to have her returned to the place I was living.

It was a bitterly cold day for her funeral. One of my sons had a friend who owned a limousine service who graciously loaned my son a beautiful long white limo for the funeral. Early the morning of the funeral my son had his stepsons wash it to make sure it was nice and clean to honor his grandmother. Because of the cold the doors and locks froze tight. My son missed the services for his grandmother but he did make it to the cemetery.

As I said it was bitterly cold. There was a strong cold wind to really add some bite to the cold. As we were entering the cemetery I was struck by the thought that for just as long as it would take to snap your fingers Mom would have been happy that the day of her funeral caused us to be out there freezing half to death. It made me smile.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Watch The Goose

My blogging friend Susan had a fun and funny story about a goose and a bull at The Contemplative Cat.

She reminded me of the story of the coyote that was killing my grandfather's chickens, ducks, and geese.

Grandpa was losing at least one bird every night. He saw coyote tracks and decided to listen more closely to try to catch the coyote. He kept his clothes and shotgun next to the bed. He was going to shoot the thief.

When he went to bed at night he listened carefully and did not hear anything. Until the night there was a huge ruckus outside. It sounded like all the birds were screaming. He heard squawks, and quacks, and honks. The whole barnyard was awake and making noise.

He jumped out of bed and got dressed. He grabbed his shotgun and ran outside.

By the time he got outside everything was quiet. All the birds seemed to be sleeping again. Because it was the middle of the night Grandpa went back to bed. All was quiet the rest of the night.

When Grandpa got up and went out in the morning he was looking for coyote tracks. He wanted to see which way it went when it left.

When he got to the pen where the ducks and geese lived he found more than he expected.

The coyote was there in the pen. One of the ganders was injured. The coyote was dead.

The gander had beaten the coyote to death.

As Susan so aptly said, "Don't mess with geese."

Friday, May 3, 2019

My Dad

What can I say about my father? He was the most important man in my life. I adored him. Like all little girls my first love was my daddy. That is the yardstick we use to measure all other men, especially in choosing a father for our children.

I was a teenager before I realized that my father was not perfect. I also realized that he was so close to being perfect that the imperfections did not matter.

Daddy was born into a family of 11 children. He and his slightly younger brother were what was called "change of life babies" because their mother was older when they were born. Most of the older siblings were already gone from home.

It was a dysfunctional family. My grandmother was a cold woman who found it hard to care for anyone. I do not know the reason why or if there was one. Daddy loved her though.

His father was a heavy drinker.... sort of the town drunk. He worked as a brakeman for the railroad. My father always had a fascination for trains and had them for the boys to play with all the time.

The older siblings were gone from home. They could not wait to get away from the turmoil. Most of them moved far away and seldom came back for a visit.

I know very little about Daddy's childhood. I know where he was born and some of the places he lived when he was growing up. I know that once there was a terrible flood that destroyed their home and everything in it. That is about it.

Apparently Grandpa's drinking was a problem for Daddy. One day my father came home and found his father drunk again. They had a terrible argument. Daddy told him that he was through getting in fights to defend his father. Then Daddy left the house and joined the Navy.

World War II was in full swing so it did not take long for him to be sent to the Pacific arena. We do have a picture that he had taken somewhere in California before he shipped out. On the back he wrote "To the best Mom in the world".

Daddy was a gunner's mate first class, whatever that is. He told us very little about his experiences in the war. I do know that his ship engaged the enemy more than once. One time they were on radio silence for days. That menat no communication at all with the outside world.

When the silence was finally lifted he was notified that his father had died. It was too late for him to go home for the funeral. His last interaction with his father had been an argument. I know it hurt him for the rest of his life.

Daddy got the required tattoo of a sailor. Apparently it was a naked lady on his upper arm. He could make her dance by flexing his muscles. When they married my mother told him he needed to cover that lady because they wanted children and her children were not going to look at a naked lady on their father's arm. He went back to the tattoo parlor and had clothes put on his lady.

When the war was over he went home, met my mother, they were married. they were happy to find out that they would be having a baby soon after. My parents turned out to be very fertile.

Daddy wanted a daughter. He had come back from the war with a kimono for his wife and one for his daughter. I was the daughter he wanted and I have always felt very special because of that. 

My father is proof that a person can rise above a bad childhood. He was a loving family man. He truly enjoyed his wife and children and we all knew that. He showed it in so many ways every day.

That is not to say that he did not make mistakes. I guess when I was a baby I was crawling around with no diaper on. It was believed that fresh air helped prevent diaper rash. Anyway I bumped the table where his glass of iced tea was sitting and spilled it. He had a terrible temper and swatted my bare behind before he realized what he was doing.

When he saw the red mark left by his hand he vowed to never hit any of his children again. There were a couple of times that he went back on his word but we usually deserved a lot more that the smack we received.

My father never seemed to find his "home" as far as where we lived. He was always looking for that place over the hill and far away. We moved a lot. I went to 10 different schools before I graduated from high school. And that is not counting the times we lived somewhere only during the summer.

Most of the places we lived were in Nebraska. We lived on farms and in small towns. If we stayed in a town for any length of time we moved to different houses. We kept looking for the place that was his.

One summer we moved to a dairy farm outside Spokane, Washington. I loved it there. We lived at the top of a mountain. The only employee of the farm who lived as high up as us was a man who lived in a small mobile home nearer to the barns.

Evergreen trees covered the mountain. We could run and play in the trees to our hearts' content. And we did. My brothers got caught smoking up there one day. They were made to smoke cigarettes until they got sick. It did not stop them from smoking when they got older. Pobably did not stop them then.

The Spokane River was at the bottom of the hills and across the highway. We used to go fishing almost every day.

Daddy got very sick while we lived there. He had the Asian flu. The doctor said to keep all of us away from him. Daddy was put into the boys room. Mom had to take all his meals to him even though he could hardly keep anything down. She had to take care of all his needs plus care for all of us. Poor thing.

It seemed like he was in that room forever. He was so sick. And we were not allowed in there at all. He had never been sick before. It was a little scary.

Finally he began to get better. Sometime after that we were allowed to visit him for a few minutes only. No touching and no getting too close. He looked so thin and weak. It was hard to see him like that. Eventually he recovered and was good as new.

It was a happy day when my grandparents arrived. They moved there with my youngest aunt and two uncles. Grandpa had a job at the dairy farm too. They lived about halfway down the hill from us. My aunt raised worms for us to use for fishing. What she did was keep the soil under a big rock loose. She put coffee grounds in it every once in a while. We had plenty of worms for fishing.

The owner and his wife lived in a big fancy house at the bottom of the hill. The wife had three big bulldogs. They were her babies and she spoiled them rotten. Everyone laughed at her because when she took them for a walk to "do their business" she carried clean white cloth hankies to wipe them afterward.

The owner died at the end of the summer. His wife sold the dairy farm. We packed up and moved back to Nebraska.

Daddy always found work. He often worked as a farm hand. One time he was on the back of the tractor while the farmer backed up to get near enough to a piece of machinery that Daddy could hook it up. Somehow Daddy got his foot between the hitch on the tractor and the tongue of the machinery. He broke his foot and the farmer had to replace him.

For  a few years he worked for a house mover. People would own a house and buy new land to put it on. It was the responsibility of the house movers to get it there safely. We sometimes got to go watch them if they were driving near enough to home. One time they were close and we drove out to watch.

Daddy and another man had long poles with a "V" at the ends. They had to hook the utility wires and lift them so the house could roll safely beneath them.

While they were holding the wires up Daddy was waving to us and maybe showing off a bit. They rolled that house right over his foot! Thank goodness for those old dusty dirt roads. His foot sank far enough into the dust that all he got was a bruised foot.

After a severe car accident and long recovery Daddy got some training. He was able to get a job as a foreman on the night shift in a factory.  He loved his job. But the factory was experiencing financial diffficulties and they shut down the night shift. They told him they wanted him to stay on as an hourly employee but he declined.

I had my first son before this. I wanted my father to see his grandson but we lived so far away then. I finally saved enough money so I could take the bus with my baby and visit my family. Of course Daddy was proud to be a grandfather.

When it was close to time for me to go home to my husband Daddy told me that he would drive me. He and my mother had decided to move again. They moved to the big city that I was living in.

Daddy found a job almost right away. He was a foreman at a chemical plant. He and my mother actually bought a house. He found his place. He was so happy there.

The plant manager who was also an owner decided to retire. My father was made plant manager. He was liked and respected by the men who worked there. He was a very likable man. Most people liked him immediately.

One Good Friday a friend and I went shopping for Easter. My husband insisted that I take his beeper so he could contact me. I took it but I turned it off. I do not like being so connected. When we were done shopping my friend dropped me off at home.

When I went inside no one was home. In a few minutes my friend called me and told me my husband and children were at her house. They wanted me to come on over. I decided to stay home. It was quiet for a change. She insisted and said she was on her way to pick me up.

When we got to her house my husband finally worked up the courage to tell me that my father had died of a massive heart attack. I wanted to see that my mother was alright so we went to their house.

There were arrangements to be made. Several of us kids went with her. When she was picking out his coffin she was having a hard time deciding between two. One was a nice hardwood  and the other was a metallic gray. Both were nice. Mom said she kept being drawn back to the metallic gray one and could not understand why. When I gently told her it was because it was the exact color of a suit she had given him for Christmas when I was a little girl she smiled and chose that one. She loved that suit because she said it went so well with his blue eyes.

Daddy put great stock in honoring the dead. Visits to the cemetery and keeping graves looking nice were a must. And attending funerals was a way to show respect.

The chemical company was a union plant. When someone died the union would send a delegation to show respect. That is what they did when Daddy's predecessor died.

When Daddy died all the workers in the plant demanded the day off to attend his funeral. The plant finally realized they would have to close for the day.

It was a beautiful spring day. Much too nice to be indoors. Every last one of the men from the plant came to Daddy's funeral. They could have gone boating or anywhere else and they came to the funeral. The funeral home was so full of people they had people outside waiting to come in. He would have been so proud and touched. I know I was.