Saturday, July 7, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder Gravesite

I had every intention of posting about an ice storm that occurred in my rural area (no, not today) since it's sooo hot here right now. It's not finished, so I will share pictures from my last visit to the Wilder sites in Mansfield, Missouri.

Not long ago, I made one of my two yearly treks to the Laura and Almanzo homes in Mansfield, Missouri. However, in this post I will share the photos of the cemetery where Almanzo, Laura and their daughter Rose are laid to rest.

I kind of like Cemeteries. They never freak me out except for one that I visited when trying to locate a relative. Normally, I feel peaceful. And I especially love it when graves are full of flowers and the gravesite of Laura and family members was beautifully decorated.
Cemetery where the Wilder family is buried.

Beautiful setting.
The Wilders have a chain draped around their grave sites and boxwood planted on two sides. Mr. and Mrs. Wilder is on the left (as you look at the screen and the arrow)and Rose Wilder Lane on the right. 

Laura and Almanzo's stone. Note that the grass is worn in front of
the gravestone.

Gifts from fans adorn the top of the Wilder stone. Some might find this disrespectful. I find it sweet and meaningful. Laura would have liked the gesture, I think.

Daughter, Rose Wilder Lane grave 

This is the back of Rose's stone. Fan gifts on top, too. 

As you may remember, Laura Ingalls Wilder was the first author that impacted my (reading) life. I still read her books when I'm stressed. The first book was read to me in a classroom. When I read one of Laura's books on my own, I was in fourth grade. After that, I decided to write Laura a letter to tell her how much I liked reading her books. I then found out she had already died. Although, I do love Laura, her daughter Rose is more interesting to me and a person that I would have like to have known. She was talented and spunky. I like spunky. Rose was ahead of her time in forging the way for women to work in careers of their choice. She wrote a boatload of articles for magazines and papers. 

That's it for now. I'll post other photos of the houses, museum and countryside in the future. 


Friday, June 22, 2018

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Quilt Block Patterns

For years I’ve visited the Laura and Almanzo Wilder Rocky Ridge Farm site in Mansfield MO, sometimes twice a year. When my children were young, we took them to visit and learn about Laura and her family. At that time, we visited the old museum and toured the farmhouse.

A new museum was built in 2016, a short distance from the farmhouse, but I still have fond memories of the old and tiny museum.

The farmhouse is wonderful. Almanzo Wilder built the kitchen countertops to accommodate Laura's short stature even though he wasn't that tall either.  

I made this pillow from an applique pattern purchased 
at the bookstore. The pillow is about 12x12 inches.
The lace you see is another pillow behind it. For 
the appliqué, I used the zig zag stitch on my sewing
machine. The stem and leaf detail I hand embroidered.
In the Little House books, Laura talks about not liking to sew when she had to make clothing, sheets for the beds, underwear, quilts and just about anything they needed.

I've sewn "stuff" since my junior high school years. Laura's creations have always interested me. (Some are shown in the Mansfield Museum.)Of course, I've used sewing machines to sew, but back then Laura sewed by hand. Later her pa gave her ma a sewing machine, but they were experts in sewing things by hand. Each time I leave the Wilder farm, I leave inspired to create.

Through the years, I decided to buy a couple of Laura's quilt block patterns from the bookstore. I continue to dream of producing quilts on a regular basis because they are useful and it's a useful skill. 

The first pattern I purchased was the bear's paw pattern either in the late 1990s or early 2000s for $1.00 from the bookstore. I must confess that I have not made anything from this one. 

Another time, I purchased a flower appliqué pattern that I've made a couple of pillows from (pictured above). One I gave to my sister and the other to my daughter. It’s a simple design and not much work, but I still think it’s pretty. I still have that pattern, just not sure where it is.

Last weekend, I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder homes and gravesite again in Mansfield, MO. I bought another quilt block pattern, this time a nine patch for $2.50. 

If you're interested in Laura Ingalls Wilder, I will be posting more on that trip in the weeks to come. 


Saturday, June 9, 2018

Indian Creek

Indian Creek
March 2018
Creeks and rivers were (and are) a source of entertainment, in the Ruralhood. Actually, “city folk” borrow our waterways all the time for swimming, fishing, skiing, boating and canoeing. 

Both sets of my grandparents lived near creeks. The Powell farm was located near Douisenberry Creek. The Dugan farm was near Indian Creek.

The only time that I ever swam, for real, was in a deeper part (maybe 3-4 foot depth) of Indian Creek and most of my so-called swimming was underwater.

One memory I have of Indian Creek was a summer when I had been given a (hand-me-down) one piece swimsuit. I think I would have been around ten or eleven and if so we might have been living in Illinois and visiting.

The creek on the side where we usually played. 
That day, my brother, my cousins (that lived with my Grandma Sadie) and me walked from my Grandma’s house down the gravel road to the creek. My sister was there, too, but toddlerish. The adults going along  were my mom and my aunt (married to my mom’s brother) who lived with my grandma. In the back of my mind, I also see my Grandma, but that one I’m not sure about because I don’t remember her saying anything. I may have mentioned before that on any given weekend there were always cousins, from out of town, to play or hang out with so there could have been additional aunts and cousins, at the creek, on this day. I do remember a creek full of kids.

That day, we splashed and play, laughed and swam. At one point my Aunt Glenda did her whistle thing that (trust me) always got our attention. She told us to get out of the water, that there was a snake swimming towards us. I remember looking at my mom who was standing on the bridge with my aunt, but said nothing. There was no panic or squeals, but an orderly (splashing) exit from the water. Then we stood on the gravel bar to watch and giggle as the water moccasin swam with the current under the bridge. Once the snake had passed our area, with no sign of returning, my aunt gave the all clear to jump back in, and we did.

I had seen many snakes in my young life but this was the first time seeing a cool but venomous snake swimming in the water. 

In the creek and river alike there were  critters to see and some to dodge. Frogs and toads were always jumping in the water around us, sometimes with no provocation and sometimes because we scared them. There were crawdads doing their own thing under the water where our bare feet touched the bottom and navigated the rock. If we taunted them, they’d charge out from under a rock and try to pinch our bare feet. Although Missouri houses some 35 species of the crayfish (Missouri Department of Conservation), my family never cooked a crayfish or offered it to me to eat that I can recall. Frog legs, yes, crawdads, no.

In the streams and rivers, there were also minnows that nibbled on our legs and water striders (looks like spiders) that skimmed the water doing their thing, too. Being spider phobic, I felt threatened by the spidery water striders, but those creepy creatures eat mosquito larvae and are not spiders at all.  

Recently, my mom and I visited the burial site of my dad and on the way back to her house traveled the road past her ‘old home place’ and over Indian Creek Bridge. After I crossed it, I stopped my car and told Mom that I was going to snap a picture of the creek. The bridge has been replaced, but the creek is primarily still in the same place. That day was misty with rain. I heard the flow of the water and its splashing over rocks, but except for a bit of nature noise, it was eerily quiet. At one point, I looked out over the shallow water. It was then I heard the voices of children laughing and people talking. 

There was no one in sight. I got a little creeped out. Then I hurried back to my SUV and told my mom what I’d heard. She had heard nothing. 

I do have a vivid imagination, but just in case it was voices from the past, I left Indian Creek behind.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Bubblegum, a Store and Tar

This post appeared on my other blog in 2009, but belongs at The Ruralhood.  
There was not a nicer man than Ernie the storekeeper. Growing up in a rural area, his store was located diagonally from my childhood home, across the highway.

When my brother was old enough, we would sit together on the slope of our yard and watch people buy gas and groceries at the store. There were days when Ernie would step outside the store, walk to the edge of the sticky tarred highway and toss Bazooka™ bubblegum to us. He would announce that he was going to throw it our way and that we needed to catch the wrapped gum. We would race to our yard’s boundary limit and proceed to catch the gum. I can’t remember ever catching the gum in the air. 
I’ve always been a people watcher and loved spying on the patrons when they visited the store. I also loved visiting the small country store filled with counters of candy and shelves with other food items. Oh and let’s not forget the pop cooler. RC Cola™ was my favorite. Outside the men would sit on a bench visiting. Inside the store, the women would shop and the men could also sit near the woodstove, hot or cold, at the back of the store where the post office was located. Everyone seemed to know your name and your family.
As I grew older, I was thrilled to be chosen to cross the highway to get our mail. I was told to hold the mail tightly, so not to lose it. When spring turned to summer, I would shake my shoes and go barefoot all summer long. (My feet still cry when cold weather arrives in MO and I have to stuff my feet in regular shoes.) Not only was I instructed to be careful with the mail, I was also told to look both ways for traffic and then run fast over the highway. And I did. I would run like heck over the bubbly hot and sticky tarred surface that paved the highway. My feet did suffer some minor burns, but I was always up for the exciting challenge. By the time I returned to our side of the highway, the bottom of my feet were coated with hot tar, gravel (from the road that ran in front of the store) and grass (from our yard). I didn't share with Mom that the road burned my feet because she might have made me wear shoes. I would meet mom at the front door, deliver the mail, then find a shady place in the grass to pick the offenders from my (not so tender) soles.  

This picture of the store was taken six to seven years ago when I was photographing my grandchildren. Today, most of the front half has caved in.
Even though the store is a mess and Ernie is long gone, he is not forgotten by me. As long as we tell the stories of the places and people that filled our childhood, they will be remembered.
Childhood is  only a whisper in time.  Spread the memories!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Mary Tyler Moore in Me

During my high school years, a friend and I were looking through some of my childhood photos. He told me that he thought some of those pictures looked like the actress Mary Tyler Moore.

Like this one.

I argued, but I saw it, too.

And this one.

This one, too.

But I didn't see it in this picture, still don't. All I see is an awkward girl morphing, lips growing fuller ( thanks, Mom!) and hair getting its red tint (thanks, Dad!).  

Mary Tyler Moore! One of my favorite actresses. No relation, no MTM talent, but perhaps a slight resemblance to a wonderful actress.


Sunday, May 6, 2018

Young Marrieds

I should post this now while the memory is still clear. The snowy part of the lingering 2018 winter reminded me of my first bad weather related experience while driving. 

As young married people, eighteen years old, we were hardly a step away from childhood and most definitely not old enough to navigate or cope with life issues without more instruction or experience. Right decisions were iffy.

The year before I married, I traded in my light green 1965 Ford Mustang for an orange AMC Gremlin. Neither car traveled well on Missouri snow covered roads. 

A week or so before we married, in February, a snow storm visited our area. Soon after that, we had another. 

This is clearly not a snowstorm, but shows you
how young we were. Picture taken the summer after
we married. In case you were wondering these
were the longest shorts that we owned. 😏  
The snow fell fast through the early morning hours. My new husband had left our home, located near a cool truck stop, with his carpool buddies and headed to his welding job forty miles away. I worked at a garment factory in a small town five miles from home. In spite of dangerous road conditions, I knew that my attendance was required in order to keep my job.

The first road I pulled out on was the main highway, in front of our house and  snow covered. I traveled slow speeds to the small town where I worked and used the  more traveled streets to get to the final street, leading to my workplace.

That particular street was the worst. No plowing had been done. As my orange car struggled through the snow, the back end slid right and left. I tried correcting, but didn't know what I was doing. When I reached the sharp corner that led up the small hill to the factory, I accelerated, not because I thought it would help, but because I was scared that I wouldn't make it. Once I reached the nearly empty parking lot, I saw that the lot had been plowed, but was still a mess from packed and falling snow covering everything again.

I drive my Gremlin as close to the door as I can and stop against a mound of plowed snow. Feeling weak, sick to my stomach and the need to cry, I rested my forehead on the steering wheel. In those moments, I considered just leaving without saying anything to my supervisor, but I'd gotten that far so I trekked through the snow to the building. 

Inside, I found Carol at her desk. I told her that I was going back home, that I barely made it there, and the roads were horrible to travel. Her face showed surprise and I thought that I would be fired for my word vomiting. Instead, she told me to go back home and that I shouldn't have tried coming in. 

Back in the car, I turn around and headed down the snowy hill without much trouble. The next corner was another story. To clear the corner, I needed to find a compromise between slowing down and speeding up. All went well until I cleared the corner and needed to accelerate again. The tires spun some and I gassed it. The car made it a couple more feet before stalling in the middle of the street. 

Out of nowhere, a man showed up at my window and knocked, and I cranked down the window. Snow blew inside the window hitting me and the man in the face.  

“You got it stuck! We'll push you out, but once we get it free, you've gotta gun it." He motioned to another man standing behind my car. Both were bundled up in coats, gloves and hat. "Keep it rolling until you get wherever you’re going.”
I thanked him, rolled the window up and waited until the back of my car rocked. When it moved forward a bit, one of the men  pounded  on the car and I gassed it.  The car moved forward, and I drove on down the street, the lightweight backend still swaying side to side. When I saw the stop sign at the end of the street, I gassed it more, prayed and glanced in the rearview mirror for the men, but they had disappeared. I kept the car going, drove through the stop sign at the end of the street without stopping and up on the next better plowed street. 
Five miles later, I passed the truck stop where several semi-trucks idled in the parking lot, perhaps waiting on drivers eating breakfast or waiting out the storm. Ahead of me, I see the prize: my little  house and its driveway! I remember saying out loud, “When I get home, I will never leave again.” 

In the distance, I also see a big rig barreling down the highway coming in my direction. Believing at that moment that I should not wait on the truck to pass or I would get stuck again in the middle of the highway, my feeble mindset influenced the heaviness of my foot and I accelerate the car to get in the driveway. It was at that moment that my car bucks and slides sideways, in the road. I don't look again at the massive vehicle coming towards me. Instead, I take my hands off the steering wheel in surrender. In that odd moment, a calm filled me. I pressed the gas petal and the car jets into the snow packed driveway and stops. The semi-truck blows its horn at me as it passes which did not make me feel any better.

For a  few minutes, I sat in my car, head on the steering wheel and sobbed. 
Not knowing me, you might think I vowed to never drive on snow covered roads again. In spite of a desperate declaration of never leaving home again, I did leave, and I became more determined to conquer inclement weather driving. Don't get me wrong, I don’t like driving in the pouring rain, icy or on snow covered roads, but over the years I've made myself drive it as needed. 

I don't like feeling a hostage to anything.
I learned my share of lessons that day. God took care of me the entire way in spite of myself and still does. I learned about angels in human form coming to the rescue, my first experience, but not my last. At eighteen, I learned about the fighter in me who surfaced that day. I will need that fighter spirit again and again.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Slides to DVD Experience

In a spare bedroom closet on a shelf, in my bedroom under my bed and in the attic, I found approximately a hundred and twenty some slides. All were taken with my 35mm camera purchased in 1978. Since I needed prints from them before I could finish my photo albums, I researched online and felt like Walmart could do the job, but it wasn't as easy as it sounds. 

Store 1: The first Walmart store photo area that I stopped by told me to come back later when another person would be there who could give me the information that I needed. Since I don't live in that town I couldn't come back later that day. 

Store 2: The next WM store, in another town, said they couldn't do it there, that I would need to go to a bigger store. I left, but was pretty darn sure they could do it.

Store 3: The next and final store that I tried, the photo clerk frowned at me and said, "I'm not sure we do that." 

I said, "Yes, you do. The website says so." Then right before my eyes a brochure appeared (like Harry Potter magic) in a rack on the counter. I pulled it out, scanned it and found the area that informed on transferring slides to a DVD. "This is what I need." I sounded more confident than I felt.

She too read the brochure, told me to bundle them in bunches of 40 when I brought them back.

The next time I traveled to that town, I took my bundled slides hoping for no more resistance. The associate helped me through using the slooooow kiosk and the packaging. It took about three weeks to transfer from one media to the other. At some point, I received an email to look at them online. Then someone from the store called me to say my order was in! When I picked them up, the same associate remembered me. She somberly told me some of the photographs were faded. I grinned and said, "That's okay because some of the slides are nearly forty years old."

The DVD, full of images, is a gift. There are pictures I don't remember taking and others forgotten until I saw them again.

This cute picture of my son and daughter was taken at Easter one year. A Chuck Norris, action figure, was in my son's basket. Little sis needed baby doll supplies. Both received those multi-ink pens. I love my kids, but my eyes are drawn to my wallpaper and paneling. My cabinets are now white and there is no wallpaper or paneling.

I could tell you a story about Mr. and Mrs. Parakeet, if I could remember them. I don't know if I took a picture of my neighbor's birds (which I highly doubt) or if I zeroed out the memory of owning these beauties.

I call this photo: The tootsie roll caper. My daughter is hiding her sucker behind her back. She's got some good hair going on there.

My son on his trike.

Several of the slides are of my dad. Seeing new pictures of him is super meaningful.

Here's one of my daughter and I in matching dresses, sort of. I wasn't much into matchy stuff, but made them to make her happy. I love how I am sandwiching her tiny hand between mine.

Lastly is of my oldest niece of whom I love so much. She's nearly forty herself (like the slides) and physically an absolute beauty. We are no longer in contact.

And that is my Slides to DVD Experience.