Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Not My She-Shed!

My Barn/Shed that is about 40 years old and needs a haircut! 

It was a warm day in January when I decided to spend thirty minutes cleaning out the winter creeper vine in a section along the back fence. I'm having lower back issues so don't tell my family that I did that, but I needed to start the process. I have fought the invasive winter creeper for years--a battle I am not winning. I have no clue who introduced this vine into our rural neighborhood, but those people are not my friends. 

I took this photo January 1, 2020 of my old barn/shed that is covered in the winter creeper vine. I did not work on this project. The building is made of old but sturdy wood and it's a mess with it's missing boards and creepiness. I need to have it taken down, but it's not in my way. It has character.

When I looked at my photograph, the shed gave me the vibes of a hairy monster. The least I could do is give it a haircut, I guess.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Rural Rewards and Blocks

Living in a rural area where the people population is less and small towns are your go to place for goods and services seems like a wonderful idea and a Mayberry experience. If you want to avoid others being in your face and place, if you want the government to stay out of your business more, if you want fewer restrictions on building structures and if you’d rather hear frog peepers instead of people voices, rural living might be for you. Well-water tastes better than city water. The air smells better unless you happen to live downwind from individuals who buy up real estate to run egg laying farms that are not favored close to towns or cities. If you want to cast your eyes on an ever changing country landscape complete with wildlife and experience stress relief, the rural experience might be for you. People in rural areas mostly know your name and sometimes your business, but if anything goes wrong, rural folks line up at your door, in the olden days. Today, they might show up on your social media page to help out.

Rural life offers rewards, but it also can be a stumbling block.

Growing up rural meant for me that I rode the school bus for at least an hour one way, depending on the year. Back then, I couldn’t join after school activities. I wanted to but knew the reality of the commitment. We lived in the area where my mom grew up, but when she was a child/youth her school was only a couple of miles away from her home. She could join activities and walk home after, as needed. My school was much farther away. Kids today in rural areas still have a long commute to school. At our district, there are school activity buses now where kids can participate after school and be delivered to centralized bus stops for parent pick up.
Remote rural areas can also draw in the criminal element. Because of the remoteness, rural areas are handy places for manufacturing meth and stashing stolen goods.

Inconveniences Linked to Rural Life 

Rural individuals go to their doctors less and often miss early diagnosis of chronic diseases (Saylor, 2012). If there are tests to be done, patients are sent to large cities quite the distance away.

Getting to any appointment anywhere can be difficult for the elderly or for anyone who does not own or can't borrow a vehicle.

Aging in place in remote rural areas is a concern unless you have family living with you or nearby. If those are in place is your house aging compliant and if not do you have the money to make it so. If you have passed the above obstacles, there is one more--a shortage of people who can help the aging population with housekeeping chores in rural areas.


Unavailable transportation not only restricts doctor visits, but other important life things. Without transportation, the pursuit of higher education is a struggle or not attainable. In most cases, education is a way to escape poverty.

Employment opportunities cannot be continued if an individual does not have a vehicle or a ride to work. There are no city buses in the country and most of the time not a reality in small towns. However, in town individuals can ride a bike or walk to their destination. And without a job, it’s difficult or impossible to buy or maintain transportation. If an individual is lucky enough to have a car, then the cost of fuel can be a hindrance especially when the commute to employment is from a rural setting. Therefore, living in a small town is a better option, if you do not have access to transportation.

Shopping Choices

Choices of grocery stores are limited in rural towns and often are not as affordable without the competition. The same goes for buying clothing. What choices are there in a small town? Why not order online you say? We'll get to that later.

Emergency Services' Delays

If you live in the rural and become ill, do you have time to wait for an ambulance that might be traveling twenty plus miles to get to you?

Living in the rural, you might be an easier target for criminal activity since they also know that law enforcement does not patrol rural areas as much as (perhaps) they should. How will you protect yourself and property until county law enforcement can assist you?

Inclement weather takes down electricity on a regular basis in some rural areas. Are your lines the last to be fixed? These are issues rural people face daily.


Let's talk about internet options and actual working internet. Internet connectivity in my mom's area was better ten years ago than now. Today, it is a pathetic or nonexistent reality in many rural areas. You might think that the internet is a privilege and not a right, but I argue that most things in today's business world are performed through online access: job applications, online medical care and education access, just to mention a few.

All over the United States, broadband legislation is introduced and not adopted (NCSL). Profit over people, in my opinion.


Many administrators and teachers do not want to teach in the far away land called The Ruralhood. In my 29th year working for a school district, I have lost track of the number of building administrators who have passed through our doors. Some used the district as a stepping stone, some left because they wanted a school closer to home and some exited due to the noncompetitive salaries we offered at the time. The same goes for getting good teachers and keeping them.

However, the quality of education in our district has never waned. I can't speak for other rural schools, but our district through the years has provided excellent learning opportunities with up-to-date technology for both college and trade school bound students. We also have a vocational school. Not only have we kept its doors open, but in the next five years, with the support of our community, we will build a new vocational school so that our students and neighboring rural school districts' students may learn a trade.


Housing is also a rural and small town problem. Well, let me clarify. Often rural communities and towns lack not only in quantity but quality housing options, places where humans should live. It's easier to be a slumlord in rural places. 

Final Thought 

As the rural child grows up they are faced with life decisions that includes where they will call home. Will they live in a rural area where the benefits are soul pleasing or in a city where opportunities and conveniences abound? Many of our career bound students do not return after college, which is sad, but I can't blame them. Sometimes the land of opportunity wins out over soul pleasing. I mean, we need to pay the bills.

Do you live in or ever have lived in a rural area? Did you experience any of the issues listed above?

Problems of Rural Life Support the Rural Landscape Saylor Academy, 2012
NCSL: Challenges facing Rural Communities

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!!!