Monday, October 14, 2019

Returning To Where We Started

I’ve said this before and will repeat; I loved living in Illinois for the three-ish years we lived there. This was actually my second time at Illinois residency. My parents (with me) also lived in Joliet, from my age of 6 months to 3 years old. There are a couple of things that I consider memories, from that time, which is interesting since I was so young. That will be a future post. 
The story of our moving day from country living to city living is featured in Trading Lives. I think I was twelve when my parents made their very happy decision to move back to the place where they belonged. I kind of had to go with them, but I had built friendships and expectations on the next school year. As a kid you go where the folks go and make the best of the new until it becomes your normal. 
Washington, IL: Family Picnic
When we were just a couple of weeks out from moving for good, my dad loaded me up with our Rat Terrier, Bluto, a few of our household and personal goods in the car and headed to Missouri.

Before we left Washington and sorry in advance for "too much information", my stomach began to hurt. I think I was nervous about traveling to Missouri, with my dad who really didn't talk to me much and staying with my grandma and cousins without my mom. At one point, I begged my mother to give me a laxative because I had not had a BM in a while. She did NOT want to do this, but I pleaded and won, if you call it winning. 
The last hour before we landed in our tiny hometown, I was ready to explode. The first place we stopped was at our neighbors house. They owned one of the country stores and ran the post office. I stayed in their one bathroom so long that both Dad and the woman of the house knocked on the door, at separate times, asking me if I was okay. Of course, when I exited the bathroom there was some teasing, and I was embarrassed.

Our little Rat Terrier, Bluto, was a mighty dog, rarely
(R-L) Me, my brother and Bluto with
his head turned. I'm probably 4 and
my brother near a year. 

 afraid of much. He was a bit energetic so the long distance car trip was not his favorite thing to do. Along the way, he became...gassy. This was not fun for the humans, but it did make my dad (who NEVER wanted to stop and stretch) stop so that Bluto could take care of business, as needed.


As a child, anytime I stayed all night with anyone other than home, I missed my mom terribly. Until my parents, two siblings and a truckload of furniture and things arrived at our house, I would be staying with my grandma. Staying with my Grandma Sadie and the three cousins was fun, but I was so homesick for my mom. They were so excited to have me stay and spend time with them that I told no one of missing my mom. 

My Uncle Charles, his wife Glenda and their children lived with my grandma and ran the farm. My uncle was leaving the army when my granddad died of a heart attack. Grandma couldn't run a farm on her own so Charles moved in. Later he would marry Aunt Glenda and their five children would grow up there. My youngest cousin was actually a couple of months older than my son.  
Ultimately, my family moved back into our farmhouse, near both sides of our family. Bluto got to explore wherever he wanted--a much better life than in the city. Throughout the years, I felt sad for kids who did not live near grandparents and cousins. I understood the gift I'd been given. Not all family members are people you want to live near, but living near the "roots" of your family gives a glimpse into your own identity. A cool thing.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Cherry Tomatoes: After the rain

What can you do when you're in between computers and writing from an iPad is not your talent?

Answer: Finish up a draft and publish it OR tell the story of my cherry tomatoes when it rained this summer.  Here it is:

It rained. My cherry tomatoes got a shower. I think they liked it, but who can tell.

The End!

Saturday, July 13, 2019

The Unlife of Gardens

Nature is alive and well on my 3/4 of an acre. Recently, I read that nature doesn't like voids. This is true for my property. If I clear or clean out anything, nature is already working behind the scenes to fill it up again. Today is not about the living, but about the unlife in my gardens.

Mr. Gnome - Some say he is creepy. I think he is wonderful.

This wire owl I've had for years, but didn't know what to do with it. This year, I decided to repurpose my thirty year old mailbox post and shelf, attach the owl to it, fill the owl with a hundred solar lights, and place it in one of my gardens. This setup looks cute by day and but by night is a glob of eery light in a dark yard.

Live frogs and turtles are welcomed here, but also fake frogs and turtles.

HEADLINE: Metal Daisy grabs her fifteen minutes of fame by photobombing Miss Phlox and Miss Lily's photo.

That's all. Just a little unlife in my gardens.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Designer Halloween?

What is as stressful as helping your child make an original Valentine's Day card box for a school party, a box like no other child will have, something formed in your child’s mind that might win a prize? It’s a Halloween costume!
Halloween is just as stressful.
Back in the day, I either made my children’s costumes or made part of it to go with whatever they purchased to wear. I made parts of their costumes for economic reasons, but I guess Dr. Lovely Daughter imagined her costumes were a result of designer couture. With Halloween approaching, she reminded me that as a child she felt sorry for the kids who had to wear the thin nylon costumes for Halloween. She felt that the purchased outfits did not measure up to hers.
You just never know what's going on in a child's mind.
Fast forward to the present. My Halloweens are easy peasy these days. All I have do for Halloween is... 
  • buy candy and...
  • try not to eat the candy before the trick-or-treaters arrive, except,...  
my trick-or-treaters are four grandkids (two these days) and a couple of other kids who show up. I have no idea who the other kids are. They are different children each year and are usually a couple of random kids accepting candy from a random stranger who has her porch light on. Nothing wrong with that idea, I guess.
The low attendance numbers at my door could be blamed on a city wide candy giveaway, the Saturday before (or on) Halloween (depending), where the kids dress up, visit safe stations of reputable businesses, organizations and churches and all at one easy location. I guess I have to be okay with that one. 
Here are a couple of pictures of my babies and their costumes from Halloween past.  And if you're wondering, the first picture (above) is of me in 1990. The bank that I worked for asked that we dress up for Halloween Day. I couldn't afford to buy a costume and my kid's Halloween stuff so I made my vampire dress and bought  cheap makeup and hair powder. I look very little like the young woman in that photo. Instead of putting gray in my hair today, I... well never mind.  

This Halloween was in 1987. My son wore his (authentic) karate uniform. I made his mask and hood. We bought the toy nunchucks. My daughter is a kitty cat. She wore her dance leotard and tights. All I did with this costume was buy the mask and attach pipe cleaners to the mask for whiskers.  

Fast forward three years to 1990 and here are my beautiful (cough cough) kiddos. I will not tell Dr. Lovely Daughter that I'm pretty certain she's wearing one of those thin nylon dresses in this one. As I look at this photo, I've never been so scared of my children. :) 

Trick or Treat!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Halloween and a Brown Paper Sack

You might have seen this photo before, on one of my blogs, and read the title thinking that my post is about this photo. It is not! Was this click bait? You decide while I tell my next story.

When we moved from our rural town in Missouri to Washington, Illinois, my mom was so protective of her children that it often got on my child nerves. Of course, I thought I knew better than she did. I mean all of my friends roamed the city, and they were still alive.

Sometimes, it takes growing up, and maybe having your own children, to appreciate your parents and all of the things that they did for you. Funny how that works.

(You can read about my rural to city move in Trading Lives, if you wish.)

One Halloween evening, dressed in our purchased masks, my brother and I were allowed to grab a brown paper (grocery) sack and go trick-or-treating, outside of our neighborhood. I don’t remember Mom or Dad tagging along with us, because we were with a group of neighborhood kids, but maybe they did. They might have been walking our sister around, if she was old enough, but my guess is that Mom took her around our own neighborhood. Here's another reason I don't think Mom or Dad was with us. Mom told me to keep an eye on my brother that night. I was around 10 1/2 years old (I think),and the brother would have been seven. Dear Readers, keeping an eye on him was like trying to hold onto a tadpole in water. I often failed. He was in perpetual motion always and NEVER listened to me.

That night the streets and sidewalks filled up fast with kids out to find candy. We must have been limited to the three block area that led to my elementary school since I don’t remember going any farther. The streetlights showed the way for costumed kids who roamed, giggled and yelled trick-or-treat. I had one panic moment when I lost sight of my brother. He had slipped away, folded into the night of Mardi Gras style Halloween-ing. Soon we caught up with him and his little friend knocking on a door.

One of the houses that we stopped at that evening set off my creepster meter. We knocked on the door. A man opened it and told the group that he would not give us treats unless we did a trick for him and his wife first. (I can still see the living room in my mind.) The man motioned for us to enter and my brother immediately dashed inside the room, like they were old friends. One of the more sassy kids in our group challenged the man, saying that trick or treat didn't mean that we had to do a trick for candy. It meant that if he didn't give us candy, then we could do tricks on him like toilet paper their trees and other things that I can't remember. The man belly laughed. He was amused, but repeated his request. We do a trick and we would get our candy treats. Then...our entire group of kids filed into their small living room. From one to another, down the line, my “candy colleagues” did their tricks. Some whistled. Some hopped on one foot. Others sang songs. For the life of me, I don’t remember doing anything and maybe I didn't. I was super shy. However, I do remember getting a regular sized candy bar out of the deal.  

Through the evening, we ran from house to house, carrying our containers of candy. At one point the large brown sack that some of us toted became too full to carry. Some of us ran to our houses on Hamilton Street to grab another bag and return where we'd left off. We only hit a few additional houses after that and it was time to go home.

I will be honest and tell you that I don't know if these are the costumes we wore that night, but this picture was taken while we lived on Hamilton Street. I'm the troll in the back. Troll dolls were really "in" at that time. I think my sister was wearing a spider man mask. My brother's mask might be a werewolf. I'm guessing.
Back at home, I remember dad saying the candy needed to be looked at before we ate it since some people were now putting razor blades in candy bars and apples. It was a sad day to hear this news. I immediately thought of the creepy man who gave out great candy bars after the performances, but kept my creepster meter to myself. A kid can't say too much to adults when there is candy involved. My mom told us to share our haul with our baby sister. I never minded sharing candy with her. She was little and sweet. At some point, I dumped all of my collected candy on the bed. 

I don't remember even considering razor blades as I ate a bunch of candy that night. The apples were no problem either since I didn't eat even one.

What a haul!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder and more pictures

Summer 2018, I visited Mansfield, MO (again) where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived with her husband Almanzo and their daughter Rose, on Rocky Ridge Farm. I visit the homes at least once a year, sometimes two. I'm obsessed with the author of my favorite books. This last summer (2018) I revisited the Wilder grave sites in a local cemetary. You can find that post prior to this one.

The new museum pictured here was dedicated in 2016. I was there. Very exciting. I normally start my visits at the museum which is downhill from the farmhouse then walk to the first house. 

Here are a couple of pictures from this summer's visit. These are of the outside of the museum.

The precious family in this photo (also visiting) gave a more authentic feel to the place in their normal everyday attire. I love the natural flowers growing on the slope of the front yard. You can't see it, but the family is standing on a sidewalk that winds around to the top and takes you to the front door, just in case you can't climb the stairs in front.

Another picture of the museum, below, same angle.

I left my car in the museum parking lot and trekked up a small hill to the farmhouse site. 

It's a beautiful uphill walk that winds around the yard.  

And there she is, the Wilder Farmhouse. A beautiful home, handcrafted by Almanzo and Laura. They both lived long lives in a place that they loved and built together. 

More next time on my visit to the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites in Mansfield, Missouri, USA.