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.   

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.