Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Grandpa and Grandma Hurst

I don’t think I was very old when Grandpa and Grandma moved to town, but I do have memories of when they were on the farm.

On the farm, Grandma had her chickens, and she loved her chickens. She had one that would follow her around, and me, too, but I was afraid of that chicken following me. Grandma would always tell me that that chicken wasn’t going to hurt me, but I was still reluctant about being friends with a chicken.

They had a collie dog. His name was Spook. I don’t remember what happened to the dog, but I remember that he was a beautiful dog.

Grandma had a garden. I can’t remember a lot about the garden, but I do remember how she loved the long line of purple lilac bushes that were in the yard. The garden was just north of the lilac bushes. Even after they left the farm and we lived there, I always connected lilacs with my Grandma. And the wild roses and tiger lilies that grew beside the house in the back yard. They were always Grandma’s flowers to me.

I remember the old crank phone that was in the living room. And the one thing I distinctly remember is watching Grandma when she talked on the phone, not just the crank phone, but later, when she had the phone desk in the hall in Colby. Whenever Grandma would talk on the phone, her face was filled with expression....happiness, disappointment, sadness.... whatever response was appropriate for the conversation. I remember her nodding her head in agreement as she spoke to whomever was on the other end. And she always called the operator Central.

I don’t ever remember Grandma wearing anything but a dress on the farm, and she always had on an apron. She had some beautiful aprons, and she also had beautiful hankies. Any time she went somewhere, she always carried one of her hankies with her. She always dressed up if she left the house to go somewhere. She had lots of pretty necklaces and pins that she wore. She loved Evening in Paris perfume and had cin cin’s sitting on her dresser to freshen her breath.

When the weather would come on the radio, we stopped whatever we were doing as she said “listen, listen” softly to let us know the importance of the weather to her. Later, when she and Grandpa lived in town, we would get in the car and drive over the viaduct and outside of town so that Grandpa could see the weather for himself. They also used to take me for a drive, I guess to get me to go to sleep, but those drives were special to me. I can remember Grandpa driving from Colby to the farm one time, and he would lean forward, put both hands at the top of the steering wheel, then encircle the steering wheel with his arms as he drove. I do that myself sometimes and always think of Grandpa when I do. It bothers Al to no end because he just can’t see how anyone can drive like that.

Grandpa and Grandma had twin beds. I never gave it a second thought about why, although Mom and Dad didn’t have twin beds. It was just normal for them. Now I wonder if it was because Grandma was a great snorer. After Grandpa died, I would sleep in the same room with her and remember going to sleep listening to her snore. Now, I think I snore as well as she did. And as strange as it may seem, the snoring has become a fond memory of mine because it was a part of my grandma. I even find that the few times that Al snores, it is a comfort to me.

Grandpa and Grandma took me with them when they went to Great Aunt Lulu & Uncle Henry’s to play canasta. I didn’t get to play, but Aunt Lute always had cookies for me or something I could play with while they played, or I would sit with them and watch. Grandma taught me how to play canasta. We played many, many games together, and it has become one of my favorite card games. I can remember when she would click her tongue in sequence several times while she was thinking of what to discard. If I took the discard pile, she always had a strong look of disappointment on her face, and an “Oh, no” as I picked it up. If she took the pile, her face would glow. When we played canasta, she used to ask Grandpa if he wanted to play with us, but he wouldn’t. He didn’t play canasta unless he was at Uncle Henry’s, or at least not that I remember. He would watch us or go for a drive.

Grandma depended on Grandpa to take her everywhere. As far as I know, she never learned how to drive and didn’t really want to. Grandpa took us shopping, bingo, to main street to park and watch the people. And many people would stop to talk to us as we sat there. After Grandpa died, Grandma kept the car for quite some time. She always had us drive her to the store or to bingo.

I remember the tree beside the garage in town, and the pampas grass that grew not far from the tree. Grandpa would set his lawn chairs under the tree and we would sit with him or I would go play while he and Grandma sat. Once, when Grandma wasn’t around, he took firecrackers and threw them into the street when cars went past. I thought that was great. I’m sure the people in the cars weren’t as pleased. What fun for a little girl. He would use his cigarette to light the fuses. I always remember Grandpa with a cigarette in his hand.

I learned to play Chinese Checkers at Grandpa and Grandma’s. They kept the Chinese Checker board in the coat closet. And this is a memory that my daughter Julie has, too. Just thinking about the many times that I played Chinese Checkers makes me think I need to get that game for my grandchildren. It was great fun to jump marbles.

Grandma would turn on her record player and we would listen and sing together. That’s where I learned It Is No Secret and The Old Rugged Cross. I think It Is No Secret was Grandma’s favorite, it was mine, but she loved them both. Then I can remember Grandma dancing. She had this neat bounce when she was doing the waltz and I loved to see her dance.

We also used to spell together. Grandma was quite proud of her spelling ability, and I always wanted to be able to spell as well as she did. We practiced a lot.

Grandma loved to do dishes. We used to clean her buffet that sat in the dining room and wash every dish that was in it. She would always caution me to be very careful. She also had what I call the blue lady figurine. It is mine now, and each time that I look at it, as worn as it is, it is a part of my Grandma that I see. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life.

Grandma used to fry steak. And it was the best steak in the world. Grandpa, Grandma and I would sit at the kitchen table and have our fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy and whatever else went with the meal. And we always had bread with our meal.

I remember going to the garage with Grandpa. I don’t know what we went to the garage for unless he was looking for something, but I remember being there with him. And getting the car out of the garage so that Grandma didn’t have to get in until she had more room.

I also would help Grandma with her laundry. Washing the clothes and putting them through the wringer, then taking them outside to hang. I don’t know that I was much help to her, but I thought I was. I’m not sure just when she got an automatic washing machine and a dryer, but I know she did. She still liked to hang her clothes outside.

Then when Grandpa died, I was heartbroken. I remember staying at Grandma Faber’s and crying the day that he died. I didn’t want my Grandpa to go.

After Grandpa died, Grandma used to take a table knife and put it in the frame of the front door after she locked it as an extra precaution against someone trying to get in. I found myself doing that when I lived in Wichita. It was just an extra sense of security.

I lived in Goodland when Julie was born, but we went to Colby to the hospital. Before I went to the hospital, I sat at Grandma’s and waited. And guess what we did while I waited? We played canasta. After Julie was born, Grandma loved her so much, and Julie loved Grandma in return.

Grandma was a worrier. I think she enjoyed the little girls more than the boys because she didn’t worry so much about what we would get in to. But she loved us all, and so did Grandpa. And I loved them.

Christmas Tree Memories

(I wrote this 8 years ago and found it on my old computer. Thought it was worth sharing.)

Three little girls with sparkling blue eyes, and smiles spread wide across their faces, their reddish-blonde hair glistening in the light of the freshly decorated Christmas tree. They each don new nightgowns, two dark blue with teddy bear prints, and the other a light blue with clouds floating throughout the pattern. Beautiful red garland is woven not so neatly around the tree. Decorations on the tree cluster in certain areas, leaving other areas not quite filled. The twinkle lights sparkle, and the illuminated star sitting at the top of the tree reminds us of what Christmas is really all about. To the left of the tree, sitting on the counter, is a jolly ol’ Santa Claus watching over the little girls.

Three, four and six; that’s the age of the little angels standing in front of the tree. At least they look like angels for the moment. But I can still detect a gleam of orneriness shining from their eyes. At least they aren’t fighting for the moment.

I love my three granddaughters, and seeing their picture, I can’t help but reflect back to when I was a child. Our Christmas trees were much like this one. The kids always played a big part in decorating the tree each year. At my grandmother’s house, we would string cranberries and popcorn, carefully putting several pieces of popcorn on the string, then a cranberry. Cranberries cost more than popcorn. We also made paper chains. Sometimes we used green, white and red paper, sometimes we colored our own paper, but the time we shared together while making the decorations became a memory I cherish.

At home, my brother, sister and I also decorated the tree together with the help of Mom and Dad. And the last two things that went into the decorating were the star or angel that sit at the top....my dad usually put this piece on...and the wooden manger scene that sat below the tree with one light shining from the back to illuminate the baby Jesus in the cradle. I remember well my mother’s quest to find the perfect tree when we were older. One year, she found what looked like the perfect tree, but when we went to put it up, it was top heavy. We had to tie a rope from a nail on the wall to hold it up. We still laugh about the trees Mom so carefully chose each year.

My own children helped to decorate our tree. I incorporated some of the old ideas into the decorations. Sometimes we made chains of paper and popcorn. Sometimes we made our own wooden ornaments to hang around the tree. But we always did it together and placed the angel or star at the top, then placed the wooden manger scene that I bought the first year I was married at the bottom, carefully putting the light behind it.

I still use the old decorations, and I still have children to help me decorate. I derive great joy from telling my grandchildren how we made the decorations. And even more joy comes from getting out the paper so that they can make decorations of their own. It is all an important part of Christmas.

I see many beautiful trees each Christmas season, but none of them will ever meet the beauty of my Christmas trees. There’s something missing in the other trees. Love, togetherness, companionship and last, but certainly not least, the memories.

Christmas is Coming!

(Written 9 years ago.)

Of all the gifts I have received in my 51 years of celebrating Christmas, one gift always comes to mind when I try to think of my favorite. At the time the gift was given, it didn’t seem like much, but now it is the gift my mind constantly returns to. I’m not even sure it was my gift. It could have been my brother John’s or my sister Jackie’s, or it could have been a gift given to all of us. The gift given to all is what I choose to remember.
The gift was a Monopoly game. I remember staying up into the wee hours of the morning playing with Jackie and John. I’m sure we fought, laughed, screamed and probably accused each other of cheating that evening. But it was the evening of the first of many Monopoly games we would play.
Now that I look back, I realize that it wasn’t the game at all that was the gift. It was the fact that we were together, that we shared good times with each other.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Faith

From comments on Faith blog:

Sounds to me as if Grandma Smarty dodged the question. Were you questioning the concept of God when you asked the question? Or were you expressing a genuine curiosity about something that mystified you? Would an answer such as "God is eternal. God has always been and will always be" have come closer to answering the question for you then or now?

I think I was questioning the concept of God, the possibility or impossibility of God, the science of religion and the Mystery. I don't remember why I asked the question, but I imagine that I was doubting the existence of a god. Grandma's answer was quite sufficient at the time because of the doubt I was probably feeling. The answer that God is eternal and has always been and will always be just wouldn't have satisfied the question of whether God is real or not. In this world, everything comes from somewhere, so where did God come from? Just where is the beginning, and how did it start? Even science can't answer this question for me with the Big Bang Theory because each element involved in the Big Bang Theory had to come from somewhere. I believe that Grandma was right. There are some things you just have to have faith in. Without that faith, you can't possibly believe.

What do all of you readers think?


Once upon a time, when I was a little girl, I asked Grandma Smarty, "If God created the world, where did God come from?"
Her reply to me was, "Everyone is a doubting Thomas at times. You just have to have faith."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Old House

Mary at http://travelinghammer.blogspot.com/ took a picture of my grandparents old house on the farm. I loved reading what she had to say, but I also had some memories of my own.

Grandma had a garden out behind the windmill. How much water came from the hose depended on just how much wind was blowing to pump the water to the surface. She trenched along the side of the plants and let the water run from one end to the other. I don't remember sprinklers in the garden, but maybe she used them. Dinah and I used to unhook the handle and lift it so that the windmill would run. When the water finally come to the surface, it was so cold and sweet that there was nothing better in the world to drink. Now we have so many additives to the water that it doesn't taste near as good as that fresh water from the windmill.

There was a cistern at the front of the house. When the wind blew, Grandma would run the hose to a pipe in the cistern so that it would fill with water. If the cistern wasn't kept full, there was always the chance that we wouldn't have wind and the water might become a bit scarce. I don't remember that ever happening.

I also thought about the water spilling from the top of the windmill, and we kids would play under it as kids today play in a sprinkler. I'm not sure, but I think that this happened when the wind was blowing hard enough that the hose couldn't handle the volume, so it spilled out at the top of the windmill. Is that right, Dinah?

In the little building beside the windmill, there was an old sink pump that had originally belonged in the house. We could laboriously pump water into the sink and pretend we lived in the "old days". There was also a wood burning stove in the building, and occasionally, we were allowed to build a fire. We had so much fun at this old house. I treasure the memories.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Antiques Roadshow

I was fortunate enough to win two tickets to the Antiques Roadshow in Denver, Colorado on Saturday, July 25th. It was held at the Colorado Convention Center. I took my sister Jackie with me, and we were allowed two items with each ticket. We had a difficult time deciding what we should take, and maybe we didn't make the best choices, but we certainly did have a good time.

We had an entry time of 9 a.m. and were asked not to arrive more than 15 minutes early. We arrived at the Convention Center a little before 9 and were directed to the area where the Roadshow was. Upon our arrival, our tickets were checked, and we were sent on to another person who also checked our tickets and placed us in a long line. The room was huge, and the line snaked around to go the length of the room 8 or 9 times. Now we played the waiting game. At first the line advanced slowly. It was interesting to look around to see what everyone was bringing to the show and visit with a few of the people. Once the line started to move, we moved forward fairly fast until we came to a table where they checked our items and our tickets again and gave us another ticket to guide us to the area we needed to go for our appraisals.

A guide was again with us and took us to the prints and poster area because we each had an item that fit that description. Jackie went first with her World War I cartoon that Darrell had picked up in Texas out of a trash bin. After hearing her story of how she obtained it, they told us about the item and said it was worth about $100. Next, I placed my item on the table for the appraiser to look at. I had a picture that my parents had bought for $50. It is of an angel in a forest with little animals that you could see pop out at you as you moved. The appraisal on this religious picture was $75 to $100, if presented to the right group of people.

At this point, Jackie took her son's machete that had Spanish writing on it to the weapons area. She discovered that the machete was made for tourist trade and was worth $25 to $35.

While Jackie was having the machete appraised, I took my painting, shown above, to another appraiser. She asked me the story of the picture and I explained that in the 80's I had a foreign exchange student from Sweden. Out of appreciation for keeping her son, his mother Anna gave me the picture saying that it had been in the family for many years. It came from Hungary where they had smuggled it out of the country to Sweden during the time Hungary was under Communist control. The appraiser stated that it could be a gypsy, or a picture of a woman attending a special event such as her wedding. The painting itself wasn't high quality, and during a certain period, artists were painting pictures of family in traditional attire. She stated that it could be a picture of a family member, or it could just be a picture they picked up. She said that it was signed, but that she didn't recognize the signature. At any rate, she appraised the picture between $500 and $800. Needless to say, I was pleased to hear that my item was the best we had taken.

We left the area after we had spent over an hour going through the line and getting our appraisals. We had a great time. Now I'll have to watch for the Roadshow to come close to home again so I can try for another set of free tickets and watch for the television broadcast to see what they chose to film. I'm sure we can find some more interesting things to take if we ever have another chance. The tickets are given through a drawing. Jackie and I both put our names in for the drawing. I was lucky enough to win the tickets. I wonder if it will ever happen again.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some of Our Flowers

We love our flowers. Columbine is one of my favorites, but I can't leave out the Bergamot, better known as Bee's Balm. It's the strange looking flower in the third picture. I love the smell.

This is Yarrow. It spreads like wild fire, so you have to work hard to contain it in a specific area. Both Yarrow and Bee's Balm are herbs that have been used for medical purposes.

Hollyhocks are not my favorite flower and almost impossible to get rid of. They are pretty in bloom, but the bottom flowers die, leaving an ugly stalk up to the top where there are still flowers in bloom. There were Hollyhocks all over the place at one time, and they're still coming up unexpectedly.

The lilies are beautiful. WE have many others that haven't bloomed yet. Maybe there will be more pictures to come.

Our Garden

Here are some pictures of my husbands garden. This is Al, working around the Castor Bean Plants. They'll grow around 8 foot tall before summer is over. The Castor Beans themselves are very poisonous. They're actually used to make Castor Oil.

These are the vine plants: cucumbers, watermelon, cantaloupe and maybe a squash or two that came up volunteer. They're just getting a good start at growing.

Green Beans, lettuce and we did have spinach here, but the spinach is gone now.

We have lots of tomato plants. We've already had 3 tomatoes from the garden, small, but good.

I do a lot of canning, some freezing, eat lots of fresh veggies and sell extra to customers around town. It's hard work, but very rewarding.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

Before I read The Pact, I read Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult. This book was quite different from the second one I read. It didn't bring me down like The Pact did. Interestingly, it's the second book I've read that suggests that God could be a woman, or at least God is as each individual sees him/her.

Mariah (Jewish) and Colin (Episcopalian) are married with a young daughter Faith. Because of the differences in their religions, they don't practice either religion and have not taught Faith any religion. When Colin cheats on his wife, the couple divorce. Faith begins to speak to God and claims that God is a woman. As the story progresses, Faith receives the gift of healing. People begin to gather around her home to see if she will heal them. The father believes this is something the Mariah is promoting and decides to seek custody of Faith.

Mariah talks with Rabbi's and Priests about Faith. Some are believers, some are not. Some accept the possibility that God is female, some don't. Also in the picture is a man who is Atheist, yet by the end of the story, he even questions his own beliefs.

I enjoyed this book because it looked at different beliefs and really gives you something to think about.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

I read this terribly disturbing book this week. According to the author, it is used in schools for reading material. It's about teenage suicide. Rather than a Romeo and Juliet type story, this one is about two families who were very close and always expected their children to marry. Eventually, they did start to date. They were so much a part of each other, people never questioned that they would one day get married. The girl, partly from an earlier molestation that no one knew about, and partly because of the high expectations people had of her, decided she wanted to die. The boy was entangled in the whole affair and eventually was put on trial for first degree murder. Throughout the entire novel, I wondered if he had done it or not. You'll have to read it to find out what happened.

When I read this story, I was a bit depressed, and the story really took me down for a while. It describes kids as they really are and shows different ways that people deal with a tragic situation. It was good reading, but I would suggest that you don't pick it up when you're in a blue mood.

Monday, June 22, 2009

What a Day!

Today wasn't the greatest day I have ever had. I was upset, achy and just didn't want to do anything. Guess you might say I was depressed. Al knew how upset I was, and when he came in from the garden this evening, he brought me roses.

Here is a picture of the roses he brought me from the garden, planted because he knows how much I love roses.

Thank you, Al, for making a gloomy day a little brighter.

My New Experience

We're never too old to try something new, and I decided to try something that is really quite old, but new to me. I made Mulberry Pies.

Al took an old sheet out by the mulberry tree and laid it out on the ground. Then he shook the branches of the tree and in no time at all, he had a gallon of mulberries.

What to do with mulberries.... I googled mulberry pie and came up with several recipes. I took one of the recipes and added a suggestion someone had posted: Add Chinese 5-spice to the mulberries. I happened to have some and decided to give it a try.
4 cups mulberries
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 TBSP tapioca or flour (I added a bit more because someone said the pie still came out runny)
1 tsp. 5-spice (Cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg)

I wasn't crazy about this recipe. It was a bit too spicy for me. My neighbor had a piece and thought it was heaven. I think it had too much ginger in it, so I decided to make a second one to take to the Father's Day BBQ we had at my sisters. This time I didn't use the 5-spice, but just added a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of nutmeg.

When my dad arrived at the BBQ, he asked me if I had made it with sugar (he's diabetic), and I had to tell him yes. He was so disappointed. I asked him if he had ever had mulberry pie, and he said that yes, his mother used to make them. He told me how when he was a little boy, he would take a sheet out and put it under the tree, shake the branches and take the mulberries to his mother. She would then either make a sauce they had for dessert, or she would make a mulberry pie. He was so anxious to taste one once again.

I didn't taste the second pie. One of my nieces ate a piece, then hinted that she would like to take some home, if there was any left. I told her she could, and she took the remaining pie home except for one piece that I left for my sister. It must have been good or she wouldn't have taken it with her.

Now I need to get some more mulberries so I can make a pie for my dad using Splenda. Al said they're about done, so if I don't get to it soon, it will be next year before I can try it. We'll see if I can take the time tomorrow to make one. Tonight, it's questionable. Dad said not to worry about it, but it would be a nice surprise for him, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I'm not sure my comment section is working. I've checked my settings and they're okay, so I don't know what the problem is. If anyone has any idea how I might solve the problem, let me know. Most of you followers have my e-mail.
Okay, I have neglected my blog. It's a busy time of the year for me, I guess. The garden is beautiful this year. Al brought in the first head of broccoli today, and it is wonderful! Just perfect! I'm going to use it in a salad on Father's Day with lettuce, spinach, onions and radishes from the garden. I have strawberries galore. I've frozen then, made jam, rhubarb/strawberry jam, rhubarb pie, milk shakes and had some on ice cream. They're still coming strong so there's plenty of work ahead of me there. They're my mom's favorite fruit, so I'll take them to the Father's Day BBQ we're having at my sister Jackie's. The first crop of beets are close to being done so I'll soon be making some pickled beets. I just couldn't make enough last year because of people who were wanting to buy them. I'm sad because we won't have any peaches this year. We've had them two years in a row, but they didn't make it past the frost in early spring. The cherry tree is producing for the first time, but it's a little tree. I'll be stingy with them. Keep them for us. The Mulberry trees are loaded. I've never done anything with them before, but I found a recipe for a mulberry pie that I think I'll try this year. If it's good, I'll put some in the freezer.

I think all the rain we have gotten has done the garden good and has also kept the water bill from rising so high. I can't complain at all about the rain. Last night we did get some pea size hail, not very much. It didn't harm the garden or trees.

I've also been putting more time in at work. I go to the local restaurant and help them out on Friday's, but business has been picking up so I've put in more time there. I enjoy doing it because I get to know the people in this area a little better. I just got home form work and think it's time to take a little nap before I start on the strawberries again.

Happy gardening all you gardeners out there!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's been almost two weeks since I've blogged, and a busy two weeks it has been. Each year over Memorial Week-end, my husband barbecues for his family. I just can't seem to accept his idea of "clean house after they leave, not before they come". So, I did my spring cleaning only to see rain on Saturday, mud on Sunday and rain, rain, rain on Monday. We've had over 4 inches of rain since this all began and now the house is dirtier than ever. There were around 85 people for the BBQ on Sunday. Most of them were here just for the day, but we had Al's daughter for two days, one of his granddaughters for two days and his son and two other granddaughters are still here with us.

On this Memorial Day and all Memorial Day's, I think of those who have lost their lives fighting for our country. But I don't think of just those who have died, I also think of those who have lost a part of their lives because of the fighting. Those men and women who have been wounded in war physically and emotionally, who are trying to piece together their lives after experiencing the horrors of war. I thank all military men and women for their service to our country including my husband who spent 20 years in the Air Force, some of that time in Vietnam, and my brother John who also served in Vietnam in the Army. Above all, I pray for peace.

Also on my mind are friends and family who are no longer with us. I miss them often, but on Memorial Day, I particularly think of them and the influence they have had on my life.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Alexis Graduates

Tomorrow, Saturday, May 16, I go to LaCrosse, Kansas for my second grandchild's graduation. I missed her 8th grade promotion because I went on a trip, but I promised her that nothing short of dying would keep me away from her high school graduation.

Alexis was a pretty little girl with reddish brown hair that matched her eyes perfectly. She was a quiet girl who adored her older brother Zeb. And to this day, Zeb still tries to "take care" of her.

One day, I got a phone call from my daughter. Alexis had been run over. I immediately headed for the hospital My heart felt as if it would race away, leaving me behind. When I got to the hospital, I could see that she was fine, but they wanted to send her to Denver just to make for sure all was okay. I hugged her and held her in my arms there in the hospital room, then went home to wait. Wait to hear that everything was okay. And now she's graduating from high school and enrolled at Wichita State University in the nursing program.

Alexis ran over herself. She was in the car and somehow shoved the gear into neutral and the car started to roll. Thinking that she could stop it like she would her bicycle, she opened the door and stuck her foot outside. It pulled her out of the car and under the tire that rolled right over her abdomen. There was a man who saw this happen. The car was about to roll over her again when he pulled her to safety. This man had to be a channel to her guardian angel.

Alexis loved to dress up and had a pair of pink slippers that she loved. She wore those slippers until they were falling apart. Julie would throw them away and Alexis would go to the trash and dig them out. Finally, Julie gave them to me and asked me to get rid of them. I didn't get rid of them. I took them home, put them in the closet and have those pink slippers to this day. All the other grandkids have tried them on, but Alexis is the first person I think of when I see them.

I helped Alexis decorate her bedroom one time. Purple, purple everywhere. We painted two shades of purple and also sponged purple over purple around the windows and doors. She kept her room like that for a long time, and when she decided to change it, she worried that Grandma would be upset if she did. Not to worry. We all have changes in taste as we grow older. Now her bedroom is black.

I could tell you lots of stories about Alexis, but I won't. She probably wouldn't like me to do that. I will tell you that she works at a nursing home, she gets wonderful grades in school and she has a promising future in the nursing field. I am very proud of our Alexis Rose, and I love her very much.

Old Friends

I can hardly believe that it's been over two weeks since I've posted. Where does time go?

On Mother's Day this year, Al and I went to see my mother. His mother passed away the year after we got married. Dad had started dinner, turkey breast, potatoes and dressing, and when I got there, I took over to finish up. We had a wonderful salad, the turkey and all the fixings. For dessert, Jackie and Darrell came over. I had made a carrot cake with a cream cheese frosting, a sugar-free pumpkin pie and low sugar apple and peach pies. Mom constantly told me to leave some of the desserts, especially the cake, because she just doesn't get many sweets. Dad just grinned and made comments about her little stashes around the house.

What a pleasant surprise when Mom and Dad's neighbors from years ago showed up with their son. Gene and Helen lived 1/4 mile or so down the road from my first home. They had two sons, Mickey and Jay, and a daughter Caroline who died at a very young age. Other than aging, Gene and Helen seemed like the same people I loved when I was a child. Now Jay, the son who brought them, was the youngest of the boys and I hadn't seen him in years. It took me a minute, and a glance at Gene, before I realized just who he was when he came to the door. We had a nice visit. I'm happy that we changed our minds about having Mom and Dad come here because if we had done it that way, we would have missed seeing old friends.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Rules of the Road

I've been thinking about how much things have changed since I was just a kid. Anymore, kids have to be buckled up when they ride in a vehicle, as well as the adults. There's nothing wrong with that, don't get me wrong, but I can remember as a kid jumping into the back of the pick-up and heading down the road. It was fun to ride in the back. Don't get me wrong. I know why it is that the laws are becoming more strict, to save lives.

One time Jackie, Dinah and I were riding in the back of Grandpa John's pick-up heading down the road toward his house. We always had fun trying to fool him into thinking someone had fallen out. Well, on this particular day, Jackie stood up at the back of the pick-up by the tailgate. She tumbled over the tail-gate (she was facing front) and hit the ground pretty hard. Dinah and I both hollered at Grandpa to tell him that she had fallen out. Talk about the old story about crying wolf, that's exactly what happened. Grandpa ignored us. When we got down the road quite a ways, he saw Jackie running after us. It didn't help that when Dinah and I saw that Jackie was okay, we laughed and giggled while trying to tell Grandpa she had fallen out.

I hope Jackie wears her seat belt now. I think there were a couple of other times that she managed to fall out of a car.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

These grape hyacinth were growing all over the yard when Al and I got married. Over the years, we've managed to move most of them to a couple of different places where they are all together. They're such pretty, dainty little bulbs. I had baby lilies earlier that I didn't get a picture of. They came from Al's mother's garden years ago. My sister-in-law Vicky gave them to me.

The tulips are beautiful this year. I know, there is grass in them. Well, there was grass in them. After I took the pictures, I went to work getting rid of grass and weeds.

Some of the flowers that are blooming in my flower gardens right now. I had yellow and white daffodils, but I'm afraid I didn't get out to take pictures of them soon enough. They're about finished.

Al and I both enjoy gardening. He concentrates mostly on the vegetable garden but helps me out a lot with the flowers, too. He used to tease me when I started growing flowers, telling me that I had weeds growing that I needed to get rid of. Now he's as bad as I am about planting flowers. I think it's because all the ladies tell him how beautiful they are.

The vegetable garden is pretty much planted now. I'll have to take some pictures of it later on when it has a chance to grow. There isn't much to look at right now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

This is a picture of my great, great, great grandmother Rachael Poorman Baird, wife to Benjamin Baird shown below.

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Benjamin and Rachel Baird were originally from Scotland and boasted of a Baird Clan Plaid. There each clan or the descendants of the same progenitor, had a plaid designed for them in a particular pattern. Boastfully or apologetically, they say the lineage can be traced back to the house of Stuarts. On the other side, the famed Rudolph Hess, is thought to be our very, very distant cousin (p 9).
Later the family moved to Ducanon, Ireland and from there to America

In her book, Maude Cole says that there were no candles available so her grandmother, Rachel, had an iron teapot that was filled with bear grease. They stuck a wick into the spout and lit it. (p 10).

She tells of the time her Grandmother Rachel was home with only the children when a huge bear tried to force its way into the house. Rachel took a large kettle of hot lye mixture she was using to make soap and fought the bear off with that (p 11).
They lived in a log cabin until 1850 when Benjamin sold off some of his land claim and built a large frame house on the remainder. Ezra and his family lived there until they went west in 1906 (AWAY BACK WHEN by Maude E. Cole).

These stories happened while the Baird family was living in Pennsylvania.

This is a picture of my great, great, great grandparents Benjamin and Susan Sallee. Aunt Dinah says there is a book published about the Sallee's. I need to find out more about it so that I can try to get hold of one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Rawlins County is updating their History, so I wrote these to add to the collection.

Albert J. Holub
Albert James Holub, Tech Sergeant, Air Craft Mechanic for the U. S. Air Force was raised in Rawlins County on a farm southeast of Beardsley. Al joined the Air Force on the 26 March 1961 and spent the next 20 years serving our country, retiring on 30 March 1981.
Al took his basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas then attended Basic Air Craft Maintenance School in Wichita Falls, Texas. He then went on to Donaldson AFB, South Carolina and during that time served two six month duties in Germany. While at Hunter AFB, Savannah Georgia, Al had a 3 month temporary duty in Guam.
Following these assignments, Al served in Vietnam for a year and three months. During this time he was awarded the Air Force Accommodation Medal. After leaving Vietnam, he was stationed at Peterson AFB, Colorado Springs, Colorado, then moved to Shepherd AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas where he served as a mechanic instructor.
Iceland was next where he worked on EC 121’s for one year, then Wurtsmith AFB, Michigan where he worked on the B 52. Overseas duty was next in Athens, Greece where he worked on EC 135 aircraft, His last assignment was Loring AFB, Maine where he again worked on the B 52.
When Al retired, he lived briefly in Wellington, KS, then moved home to McDonald where he lives at present.

Albert J. and Vonita S. (Faber) Holub
Al and Vonita were married on September 4, 1993 at Al’s home in McDonald, Rawlins County, Kansas with Judge Dorothy Reinert officiating. The wedding was held in the yard with many friends and relatives present.
Al was born in Rawlins County, Kansas on September 27, 1938 to Albert and Vera (Studer) Holub. He grew up on his parents farm northwest of Beardsley with 11 brothers and sisters: Margie (Holub) McFee, Delbert (Bud), Joyce (Holub) Hale, Larry, Judy (Holub) Mann, Patty (Holub) Lloyd, Gary (Pete), Maryjane (Holub) Howard, Ronnie, Randy and Tammy (Holub) Ginther. Al attended grade school in Beardsley. In 1956, Al graduated from McDonald High School, then moved to California for a short time. He came back to McDonald, joined the Air Force and served our country for 20 years.
During this time, Al married Linda Smith in 1963. Two children were born during this marriage; Cheryl on 21 July 1964 and Alan, 20 November 1965, both in Savannah, Georgia. He later married Edna Walton in 1968, and they had a daughter, Michelle, born 3 April 1970 in Wichita Falls, Texas.
In 1981, Al retired from the Air Force, lived in Wellington, Kansas, then moved back home to McDonald where he worked for the County Highway Department as a maintainer driver for thirteen years.
Vonita was born to Jack and Mary (Hurst) Faber in Colby, Kansas and went home to the family farm in Rawlins County south of McDonald. She has a sister Jackie (Faber) Jorgensen and a brother John. John still lives on the family farm. Vonita attended the Mirage School in Rawlins County until 6th grade when the family transferred to Brewster. Vonita graduated from Brewster High School in 1967.
In 1967, Vonita married Robert Wallsmith. To this union three children were born; Julie Marie, 23 March 1968; Matthew Dean, 7 July 1970; Jessica Lane, 17 November 1972. Vonita graduated from Fort Hays State University with a degree in Secondary Education/ English. She taught in Stockton, Kansas for one year then taught Outreach Composition I and II classes for Colby Community College until 1998.
Since their marriage, Al and Vonita have lived in McDonald except from 1996 to 2001 when they owned and operated Big Al’s Steak House in Brewster, Kansas. Between the two of them they have 13 grandchildren who bring joy and excitement into their lives.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's so much fun to turn on the television and see a relative on national tv. I had a phone call yesterday to watch CNBC around 9:15 this morning to see cousin Mebane Faber as a guest speaker on Squawk on the Street under the heading of Investing Like the Top Endowments. Meb is living in California, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), and is a financial analyst. He has written a book called The Ivy Portfolio and also does some writing for www.thestreet.com and the World Beta Blog. If anyone would be interested in watching him, you can find the clip at the following address online:


We had such a wonderful Faber family reunion on April 4. I will write about it in the near future. I've kind of neglected my blog lately, but seems with the nice weather, I am reminded of so much that needs to be done. Well, I think about it a lot, but I haven't gotten a lot of it finished. There's windows to wash, house to clean, garden to plant (Al's pretty much doing all of that this year) and graduations coming up soon.

It's hard to believe that I have another grandchild graduating from high school. Alexis Rose is the graduate, and she plans to go to nursing school in Wichita. Then I have Amber, Caleb and Nakita graduating from 8th grade. I guess I'll be doing some traveling towards the middle of May, which isn't so bad because I still haven't seen my son's new home. Oh, to win the lottery and be able to travel anytime and anywhere that I want to. Dream on!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Just thinking

Well, the history for the day shows John Wilkes Booth as the subject. Makes me think of Aunt Dinah and all the work she has done in Maryland with the preservation of the Booth home. She's put a lot of time and energy into the project, and I admire her for all her hard work. WTG Dinah.

We left Saturday morning and went to Tyrone, OK to visit with Al's two sisters who live there. We stayed at Maryjanes and visited at Judy's. Judy had a houseful of company, neices and their families who we hadn't seen in years. It was nice to see them all even if I did have to ask them who they were because they had changed so much. There was a new baby there, Isabella. She's only a week or so old so I thoroughly enjoyed holding and cuddling her. I love babies. Right now there are no babies left in my immediate family, so I have to enjoy those of other relatives. Maryjane also has a new granddaughter that we hadn't seen. She's older and such a beautiful baby she is. She has gorgeous red hair and a smile that captures your attention immediately. She laughed and talked to me lots while I held her.

We picked up a third sister of Al's who lives close to us but was visiting at Judy's. She had gone down earlier to visit for Easter and we brought her back home with us. On the way home, we were all so tired we decided not to stop at another of Al's sister's on the way. Now I wish we would have stopped because there was another baby new to the family that we hadn't seen. Oh, well, we'll have to catch that one later.

Al comes from a big family. There were 6 boys and 6 girls for his parents to raise. Al was the 2nd and since he went into the Air Force for 20 years, the younger ones were pretty much grown up by the time he moved back to this area. Now that he's here, he enjoys so much visiting with all of them.

Oscar went with us. He stuck pretty close to Al the entire time. But when we went upstairs at bedtime, he wouldn't go up those stairs. They were pretty steep and narrow with carpeting on them and he was afraid of them, so we had to carry him up and down. I think of the three of us, Oscar was the most relieved to leave for home.

It's nice to go visiting, but it's even nicer to come back home. I slept well while I was gone, but still came home worn out. There's just nothing like Home, Sweet Home.

I hope that all of you had a Joyful Easter.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Mom and Dad

Jack and Mary Faber have pretty much grown up together. Mary was born March 20, 1927 in her parent’s home. The Doctor had come all the way to the farm to deliver her and ended up staying there for a few days because of a blizzard. Jack was born October 27, 1928 at his Aunt Ella Hollander’s home in rural Campbell, Nebraska. His mother Artie says that Ella took care of her, Jack and his dad John for nine days. His mother Artie said that she stayed in bed those 9 days because that was the rule of the day, if the mother didn’t want to fall to pieces.
One of the Christmas gifts from Santa that Jack remembers is a Caterpillar Tractor. Santa Claus came to his house. Mary says that they didn’t get presents for Christmas that she can recall, but they always had a big Christmas dinner with turkey raised by her mother. Mary had a dog named Spook, and Jack had a dog named Patsy.
In 1935, Jack’s family moved from Nebraska to what we now know as the home he grew up in, and it was a little over 2 miles from where Mary lived. They were neighbors and went to school together some of the time. Mary went to Atwood to school some of the time in grade school and Atwood is where she went to high school. She stayed with her Grandmother in Atwood. Jack went to Colby to high school, but neither one of them graduated. Jack later got his GED in the 1970’s. Mary’s sister Olive thought that when Jack came to school, he was the cutest little boy she had ever seen. Jack and Mary both said that they fought with each other all the time. Mary says that Jack and Donald Hawkins used to tease her. She says Jack threw her in a sticker patch, but Jack says it was Donald who did it. Will we ever know for sure? Mary also said there were times when her bicycle had flat tires and she believed those boys had something to do with it.
When Jack’s family moved to Kansas, Jack got to pick out the wallpaper that would hang in his bedroom. He chose a tan wallpaper with roses splashed all over it. This room would later become the bathroom.
There wasn’t anything special between Jack and Mary in these growing up years, but eventually, a love developed between them that would last through the years. On December 9, 1945, Jack and Mary had a date. Mary had asked her dad to bring her a pretty dress from town. He picked out a brown dress, really rather drab, for Mary to wear. Knowing that this date with Jack was special, she was greatly disappointed in the dress and cried. Her mom and dad had no idea why this dress was so important to her.
Mary didn’t wear that dress on their date. She chose instead a jumper that was brown, trimmed in gold that she had worn before and had liked. She ordered it from a magazine from Hollywood. Jack notes that she is still ordering from catalogs. It was ordered COD and her Dad paid for it, even though she didn’t tell him she had ordered it. Jack and Mary looked for Gene and Helen Fields to stand up with them, but they couldn’t find them. They went to Brewster, Ks, stopped at Bea’s CafĂ© and convinced Donald Hawkins and Rosella Jones Hawkins to go with them to Goodland and witness their marriage. They went to the home of Nora E. Beecham, the Sherman County Justice of the Peace where a wedding was quickly put together, much to the uncertainty of the Judge, and they were married. Mary was 18 and Jack had just turned 17 in October.
Jack and Mary had a rather unusual wedding night. Jack took Mary home, just as he would have on a regular date and then went to his home. Their first night as husband and wife was spent in separate homes. The following morning, Mary’s mother was doing the laundry when Mary showed up flashing her new ring so that her mom couldn’t help but see it. Her mom immediately let her dad know what had happened at which time her dad shed a few tears. No one seems to know who told Jack’s parents. Possibly, Mary’s dad told him after Jack and Mary had left on their honeymoon. Jack says he sure didn’t tell them. His dad was not happy about the situation.
Jack and Mary went to Denver for about a week for their honeymoon and stayed at the Colorado Hotel. Mary's dad had given Mary some money as a wedding gift, which she almost entirely blew on a gold suit. Jack stopped by the Dewey Ranch to pick up his paycheck and this is what they used for their honeymoon. Mary says that none of the neighbors thought their marriage would ever last, and right now, they’re in their 64th year.
Jack worked for Chauncey Dewey the first year of their marriage. He rented ground from Chauncey eventually and then bought some land for himself. Jack had his first wheat crop in 1947. During this time, Jack had a great time riding steers, bulls, whatever kind of cow he could find with the Dewey boys. One day while riding a steer, he got bucked off, hit the fence and ended up going to the hospital for stitches. This put an end to his riding. I don't know if it was because he had had enough, or if Mary wouldn't let him ride again.
Jack and Mary’s first home was the SE Quarter of 3535, then known as the Bob Baird Basement. It was a basement house and Mary hated living underground. It wasn’t long before they moved to Mary’s parents yard and fixed up an old granary for their home. It had three rooms, a kitchen, living/dining room and one bedroom. Jackie was born while they lived in this house.
In 1947 or 48, Grandpa John bought a quarter of the Lydick place and Jack bought the quarter where the old Lydick house sat. Mary cried when she heard she would have to leave her little house in her parents yard. Jack and his dad fixed the house up. It was a disaster. They put concrete over the wood siding outside of the house and fixed up the interior. Mary fondly remembers the large flower patterned wallpaper that hung in the living room. Vonita and John were both born while living in this house. When they first moved in, they had no electricity and used an outhouse. It was an exciting time for Mary when these conveniences came to her home.
Around 1956, Mary’s parents moved to Colby and Jack and Mary moved their family to the Hurst home. Jack had helped build on to this house when he and Mary lived in the granary. After they moved into the house, they eventually built a room where the back porch was so that they wouldn’t have to go outside to go to the basement and it made a washroom and storage area for Mary. Other than one winter, this is the house where they raised their children. For one winter, Mary stayed with the children in a rented house in Brewster because of bad weather.
In 1947, they lived one winter in Mary’s Grandmother’s house in Atwood while Jack worked for Ernie Hackerott. He helped to gravel what is now a highway from Levant straight to Colby. He also graveled what is known as Whiskey road going from Levant into Colby and some of Highway 25.
Around 1952 or 53, Jack harvested with Ernie Hackerott in South Dakota. At this time, he and Mary actually considered moving to South Dakota.
In 1957, Jack and Mary had no crops. Jack took a job driving a truck for Western Auto carrying cars from Detroit to Denver or Cheyenne. It was during this winter that northwest Kansas was hit with a terrible blizzard. Jack was gone. Mary was at home with the children and it began to snow. It snowed for three days. When the snow was over, the family was snowed in. The porch was filled with snow and the windows were covered. One of the outlets in the house sparked, and Mary was afraid the house would catch on fire and she couldn’t get the children out safely. Jack’s dad managed to make his way to their house and dig them out.
During these years on the farm, Jack also worked for the ASCS office in Atwood. It was in the 1950’s. Jack measured fields, became supervisor of the measuring crew, then served on the county committee for 6 years.
They moved eventually moved to Brewster in _______ when son John bought the home on the farm. The house in Brewster cost Jack $900.00. It was unfinished and small having two bedrooms, a bathroom, a washroom and a combination kitchen/living room. He had the family room and basement built on to the house and once again, he fixed the place up for Mary with a beautiful family room where the kids, grandkids and great-grandkids have spent many hours in front of their fireplace.
Jack also worked for Federal Crop Insurance starting in the 1950‘s. During this time, he and Mary lived for a while in Hays, then moved to Manhattan. Mary loved living in her little trailer in the city. She and her friend Katy had a blast playing bingo several times a week. When they moved back to Brewster, Mary was somewhat disappointed to leave Manhattan, but happy to be near her family again. At that time, they passed up the opportunity to move to Topeka. They have lived in Brewster since that time. I can’t say that Jack retired because he still helps out on the farm and works part-time for Federal Crop Insurance.
During Jack’s years, he has been a rifleman sharpshooter, winning many trophies and ribbons in Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas. He was an excellent pool player winning games and trophies in the area. Another hobby was coin collecting, and he remembers Grandpa John going to Colby on the day the city emptied the parking meters so that they could get all the coins that went through them. His dad, Jack, children and grandchildren all sifted through the many coins at his dad’s house, finding those they could add to their collection. After his dad passed away, he was faithful in taking the Townsend to the Bird City Tractor Show until John and his sons took over the task. He liked to fish and did some hunting. One year while on vacation, Jack caught a huge trout in Colorado and had his picture taken with the fish and published in the newspaper. Chasing coyotes and shooting them was one of his favorites. I think it was the excitement of the ride. Several times when taking the kids to school, he would take off over a field to get a coyote. Such an exciting journey for the kids. Jack loved music and played the violin and guitar by ear. He played for some of the neighborhood dances. He and Mary loved to go dancing, and who could forget Jack singing some of the good ol’ western songs?
Jack has served on the school board at Pleasant View School, Mirage School and at Brewster school for 6 years. He has been a member of Lions Club, volunteered time with the Senior Center and served as their president for 25 years. He received the conservation award in Rawlins County, and he received the Brewster Citizen’s award in 2007.
Mary’s greatest joy is her family and Jack. When in Brewster, grandkids often came to her house for breakfast, lunch or dinner, to snack or to spend the night, and she was always ready to feed them and happy to have them there. Mary loved to make bread which she learned from Jack’s Aunt Henrietta. Mary is a devout Democrat who will argue politics with anyone, and when her grandchildren reached 18, she would take them for pizza when they registered to vote, if they registered as a Democrat. Much to her dismay, they didn’t all remain Democrat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Time Flies

It's been ten days since I've written a post. During those ten days, I've managed to turn 60 years old. I just can't believe how fast time goes these days. Remember back when you were a kid and you could hardly wait until you could go to school? Then the time came and you had another goal. You couldn't wait until you were in Jr. High or High school. Next on the list was the age of 14 when you get your learners permit to drive. And then 16, when you could legally drive anytime, anyplace. It wasn't long after that and you started looking forward to graduation from high school and when I was a kid, the age of 18 when you could legally buy a beer. That one has changed. At 21, you were truly an adult and ready to take responsibility of your own life. Well, for many of us that was at 18, but for some reason that I can't think of right now, it was good to be 21. Maybe because you graduated to stronger drinks than beer. From 21 on, things went downhill. Instead of looking forward to the milestones, you begin to dread them. Oh, no, I can't be 30, 40, 50 or more. And now, 60!! What do I have to look forward to? Retirement! Hmmm, I'm basically retired right now, but in 3 to 5 more years, I can get social security and all that good stuff.

I sound as if I'm complaining. Really, I'm not. I'm thankful for every day that I have. I'm thankful for having my parents, my husband, my children, my grandchildren, my family and my friends. I'm thankful that I live in the United States, even with the problems we are having right now. I'm thankful for the great advancements that have been made in medicine and health care and looking forward to even more advancements in this direction. I'm thankful that I can see the sun, the moon and the stars, that I can hear the birds sing, that I can smell the flowers or the rain, that I can feel the emotions of love and taste the german chocolate in my birthday cake (thank you, Pat).

Today my mom turns 82. Today I'm especially thankful for her presence in my life.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Grandma

Today would have been Grandma Smarty's birthday. My dad reminded me yesterday as we were driving home from Denver. Grandma always wrote the most wonderful notes and letters to all of us on our birthday's, so, here is one to her.

Thank you, Grandma, for all the love and support you have shown your family and friends in the past and for all the fun times I had at your home.

Grandma always had games for us to play, especially Uncle Wiggly, and craft items for us to do. Remember cutting snowflakes from pieces of paper? We also made paper chains at Christmas and strung popcorn and cranberries, all to decorate the tree. We would take napkins and color the lines of the design or decorate paper plates. Such patience she had. She allowed us to make items for our little store that we would set up. The mailman almost always would buy something from us. I'll always remember crawling into her chair with her and listening to the stories she would read us. I remember scattering paper dolls around the living room and setting up a mini kitchen in the kitchen. Then there were the shows that we would have and the mess she had to deal with when we made our stage. We also used to build our own little houses, covering chairs with blankets. Grandma let us fix up a playhouse in one of the outside buildings, play in the barn, sit under the lilac bushes, start our own campfire or build a fire in the stove that was in the milk house. She fixed picnics for us to take wherever and enjoy. Sometimes we would take picnics to the creek where she let us wade in the water and play in the hills and rocks. It was always fun when Grandma would play the piano and we would sing along. I even got to go on vacations with them on occasion. Maybe it was so that Dinah would have someone to play with, but just getting to go was such a treat. I remember one especially, and that was the trip Grandpa and Grandma took us to Marble, Colorado. I also remember going to Aspen, Colorado and walking down the sidewalks listening to people playing their musical instruments in the upstairs apartments along the street. I remember getting sprayed by a skunk and taking a bath outside in the little round tub. When we took showers, we would get into the shower and wet ourselves good, then she would stand us up on the toilet seat and soap us good all over, then back into the shower to rinse off.

Oh, my, there are so many wonderful memories and they continue into my adulthood. I always felt special when I went to see my Grandma.

These are really random thoughts, in no order whatsoever. Maybe I'll write more about some of them later. If you knew Grandma, tell me what you remember about spending time with her.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tulips are Popping Up

Well, now, here it is March already. Time seems to go faster every day. This is a month filled with family birthdays for our family.

I have some tulips that are popping up in my flower garden along with the daffodils. It let's me know that spring is on the way with all it's beauty and pleasant weather. I have been working on some family history again and came across another writing of Grandma Smarty. Today, I'll share with with you, thanks to Dinah for sending it to me a couple of years ago.

"There is one [tulip] that has been most faithful of all. I look for it each spring on the west side of the sidewalk that goes out a short ways south of the south porch. It has been there for I suppose forty years and comes up each spring and no matter how dry and unfavorable the conditions may be it never fails to put up at least a little purple blossom. I like it much not for its beautiful bloom for most times it doesn't amount to much but because it is faithful and does its best in spite of whatever may come. I have known a few people like that. The places where they found themselves weren't pleasant and the way may have been hard but they were there doing what they could with what they had. I think of my cousin Belle xxxxx who lived in Benkleman. She grew up with her dad having run off and left his family to be raised by a weak mother. She married too young and had too many kids and nevert had enough money to hardly have enough to eat. But she never complained and was such a calm fine old lady taking care of herself and others who needed care even until she was past eighty five. A fine, fine woman."

Grandma Smarty was a special person herself. She was able to see the beauty in what most people would pass by. She was also able to see the beauty in the people she knew. Grandma loved us for the beauty inside, not for how we looked or what we did, because I'm sure all of us have done things we're now ashamed of. She looked past those things and saw the goodness within. I'm sure this has had an effect on all of us who knew her and that it helped us to become good people.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


An elderly woman I know sent her daughter an e-mail. When she talked to her later, she asked if her daughter had gotten the mail.
"Yes," replied her daughter, "but it was pretty hard to read. Maybe you should write your message in the message box instead of in the subject line."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just a Few Thoughts

Just a few thoughts:

As for the Black/White issue people seem to have with Obama as President, I'm tired of that. People are people. Besides, everyone focuses on the Black and forget that he is also White. He was raised in a White family.

Obama talks of creating jobs by improving highways, schools, parks, etc. When these jobs are created, the unemployed people have jobs, pay taxes, which brings in much more money for the government, and helps to keep our country in good condition. When this happens, it helps the government by providing tax money. Our country is in dire need of improvements in many of these areas but without the government help cannot afford them. What individual would invest in these things without getting something monetary in return? Our country can not remain as one of the top countries in the world if we don't take care of what we have worked so hard to get. Our education system is not great right now. It is extremely important that we pay teachers what they are worth and provide great learning centers for our children. Our children are our future.

Our "war machine" needs to be supported and kept up. We do need to spend the money more efficiently. It makes me sick to hear where much of the money went without any questions asked, ie Haliburton as an example. I don't believe in war but I do believe in protecting what is ours. The war in Iraq was and still is a ridiculous war. I'm happy to hear that our troops are beginning to withdraw. The Afghanistan issue will continue, but hopefully, it will be handled more diplomatically instead of exclusively with guns. I see in Obama a man who can work with other countries without compromising our safety which is something we desperately need.

Don't do away with SS. Privatizing it will only put the poor/middle class into needing more help when they retire. When a person has the choice of putting food on the table and a roof over their heads and saving for retirement, they will choose the first. By creating jobs, we are using a trickle up philosophy.

The one difference that shines with Obama is the optimistic attitude that he has and the effect it has on the people. Hope has come back into the picture.

Things won't get better overnight. I liked that Obama talked about students volunteering to help pay for their education. Once again, it will help to improve our country as well as the individual.

I hope that Obama does go through all the departments to see where things can be done away with or cut. Spending in these departments needs to be looked at seriously. It's ridiculous what the government pays for simple items when they can get them much cheaper.

Pork barreling is still happening, but not as badly as it has in the past. Hopefully, Obama can get rid of them, too, but it will take time.

I have much more hope for our country today than I did a year ago.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

I finished The Witch of Portobello last week. It was a good book. I thought that it was amazing how an author who is a Roman Catholic could focus in on some of the "feelings" of a pagan. I see no reason why Christian religion can't blend with some of the pagan beliefs and not harm either religion. As a matter of fact, Christianity did blend many pagan beliefs with their own in order to win over those of pagan religion. I think specifically of Christian holidays and their relationship to Pagan holidays. The Christian holidays were set up to coincide with pagan celebrations of the seasons. Even traditions, such as Easter eggs came from the pagan religion.

This book made me think of the condescending way that Christian religion portrays women. Of course, they would never admit this and say that man is to treat his wife with respect, love her as he loves himself. By the same token, the blame for sin is placed on the woman's shoulders. The woman was "made of man's rib" indicating that she is a part of man, not wholly of herself. Even the Christian cross shows the submission of woman to man. The horizontal line represents the female while the vertical line represents the male, and which line is the longest indicating more importance or power? I realize that Jesus was crucified on a Christian cross and that explains why that cross is used, but I can't help but see the symbolism that is there, too. Churches for years did not, and many still do not, accept women in a mininstering role. Some churches even place the women at the back of the church with the men taking the places of importance. I think it is very important for us to see the male and female side of God understanding that one is no more important than the other, and that both sexes can function in the roles of religion and spirituality.

The book.....I seem to be off track, and yet these are things that I thought of while reading. I thought some interesting questions developed in my mind from what I read:

Was Athena the way she was because she was born to a pagan mother, even though she was raised in a Catholic family? Were the "gifts" that she had inborn or learned? Seems that it is both as she had the tendency but then met her teacher. And yet the teacher chose her because she was different.

Did the rejection she felt in the Catholic Church push her more to the pagan religion? Is that happening now among dissatisfied Christians?

Does a teacher learn by teaching? I believe, yes. I think I learned more when teaching than I did going to school.

Why did Athena never return to see her birth mother? It seems she learned from this woman, too, probably more from her than from her adoptive mother.

Do we all have those "blank " spaces, and if so, are they ever completely filled? Was Athena's filled when she decided it was more important to leave the public eye to protect herself and her son?

Did her son have some of the same gifts that Athena had? It was when he sat down that she would go into a trance. He also loved to dance, yet he was afraid the first time Athena became Hagia Sophia. Aren't we all afraid when something unexplainable happens to us, not knowing what to expect?

Was Athena's journey a success? Did she accomplish anything, or were things just going back to what they were? It was interesting when she stated that Andrea would be a better teacher because she had more patience and was prudent. Athena thought that she had failed because she pushed harder than she should have, causing more conflict than was necessary, and yet did she not touch many lives by who and what she was?

Love is a strong theme in the story. It covers love between a man and woman, love between a child and mother, love of parents to their children, whether adopted or biological, love between friends, and interestingly love between those who hate each other, yet love because they learn from each other.

I really enjoyed reading this book.

About Pigtopia

I finished reading the book Pigtopia by Kitty Fitzgerald early this morning. For me, it was a disturbing book, but good.

Jack Plum was born with a large, deformed head. People in the community considered him to be a freak and retarded. He was, in fact, more of a genius who lacked formal education because of his deformity and his mother not allowing him to go to school, but he gained pig knowledge from his dad before his dad was killed. He raised pigs in the basement of his mother's house. His mother treated him terrible and blamed him for her own medical problems. The book emphasizes the intelligence and cleanliness of pigs. In contrast, we see the filth of his mother's life and health. Jack is in his 30's when the story takes place. His mother dies during this time, and he fears that he will be "put away" and will no longer be able to work with his pigs.

Holly Lock is a young girl just at puberty. She and Jack, through Jack's encouragement, develop a secret friendship that leads to many downfalls. Holly tries to help Jack by helping him get rid of his mother's body and hiding her death from the community. By the end of the book, Jack ends the relationship with Holly, but I won't say how. Read the book to see.

One of the things that I brought away from this book is more realization beyond what I already had on how people treat those who are different from us through no fault of their own. Labels are put on these people as being dangerous. I know that this is basically untrue, but I must admit there have been times when I've felt uncomfortable around disabled people. There are other times that I have known these people personally and understand that there is something special about them, and I love them for who they are.

All things turn out okay in the book, but I wonder how it happened, and I'm unsure that it is really okay. The book seems to be a kind of a fairy tale. Some of what happens in the book is entirely grotesque. Even though things are okay, the end is quite sad. And I must say that even though pigs are quite intelligent animals, I still don't like them very much. Maybe it's because they're too smart.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

When we were young, we had a donkey. He was already named when we got him, and we kept the name, Pedro Joe.

I can guarantee you one thing. Mules get their stuborness from the donkey. I can remember times that I wanted Pedro Joe to lead for me and he would plant his two front feet stiffly in front of him and refuse to go. I even tried pushing him from behind and he still wouldn't move. Then there were times when I was riding him that he would just decide he had gone far enough and just stop. Nothing could convince him to go forward until he was good and ready.

One day, Jackie and I had Pedro Joe out of his pen and decided to take a nice, leisurely walk down the road. We had no trouble at all because Pedro Joe was ready for a walk. We were probably 1/2 mile from home when much to our surprise, and Pedro Joe's, brother John and his friend John jumped out of the ditch in front of us, waving their arms hysterically. Pedro Joe reacted immediatly and began bucking and pitching about. Jackie was on the back and was the first one to hit the dirt. Pedro headed straight for the house. It wasn't long after that I found myself on the ground, too, but I was so angry at that donkey that I jumped up and chased him all the way home. Didn't even think about checking to see if Jackie was okay. And John? What can I say? Ornery brothers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Grandpa John

Grandpa John
Jackie, Vonita and Dinah

A friend of mine from way back in the country school days sent me a letter a while back telling me that Grandpa John was her hero. She then went on to tell me that one day when she was quite young, she was left at home alone. She went outside to feed her dog and there was a skunk in the yard that was acting quite aggressively. She knew what she had to do and went to the house, climbed up on a chair, (she was too small to reach the gun without the chair) and got her dad's shotgun down. She was afraid, but determined that the skunk had to be destroyed. She got the shells and toted the gun to the yard. Just as she was getting ready to load the gun, out of nowhere came Grandpa John. It wasn't a regular thing for him to stop in at the house, but here he was, just in time. He took care of the skunk for her and from that point on, he was her hero.

My brother John lost an expensive watch while moving cattle one day. It was quite a distance that the cows were moved, miles, so after searching for hours, he knew he was going to have to tell Renee that he had lost the gift she had given him. John mentioned it to Grandpa John, and Grandpa, at that time going blind, took to the road where the cattle had been driven. Do miracles happen? Grandpa John found the watch.

I remember Grandpa having the patience of Job with Dinah and I. How many Grandfather's/Father's would have the patience and the "bravery" to allow two little girls to put make-up on his face and polish his nails?

My daughter Jessica spent quite a bit of time with Grandpa John. One day, they were in the basement reloading shells when Grandpa suggested that they "pull a trick" on her dad. Grandpa loaded several shells as blanks and stuck them in his pocket. When Bob showed up to do some target shooting, Grandpa winked at Jessica and handed him a blank shell. Bob shot, then tried to figure out why he had missed. He didn't think he was behind the target, but he just couldn't be sure because he couldn't tell for sure where it had gone. Grandpa then handed him a few good shells, then he winked at Jessica again and they went back to the blanks. Over and over Bob missed the target and was getting quite frustrated. Jessica still laughs at the confusion on her dad's face when he missed so many targets. I don't know if they ever told him what they were doing.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Analyzing Literature

When I was in college taking literature classes, the plan was to analyze a reading by going through it, looking for symbols, signs, theme, etc., and when you took everything as a whole and put it together, you could come up with the author's meaning for the reading material. If I thought about a certain interpretation, I was told that the interpretation needed to fit with the rest of the story. If it didn't, it didn't belong to the story. Sometimes I had a difficult time doing this because a portion of a story would sing out to me, and I would feel the need for my own personal interpretation for that passage only, even if that meaning wasn't followed through in the entire book.

I think all people tend to read a book and place themselves into the book, noting those things that have special meaning to them. They see in a book things they dream of, are afraid of, or have a need to understand. Is this so wrong? Well, maybe it is if you are a literary critic, but the enjoyment of reading for me is to discover, not only the story itself, but what is inside me. Some stories seem to be only for entertainment, to give you a thrill or allow you to practice your own mystery solving talents; other stories are filled with life lessons, and how a person reads these life lessons depends on their own personal lives. Does that make an individual interpretation wrong? I don't think so because through that personal interpretation, the reader has discovered something personal about himself. All the reader has to do is open his eyes and heart to see what it is inside him that makes the passage special. Maybe that's both good and bad, depending on what you discover, but it can't be all bad because we are all searching for our own purpose in life.

I enjoy receiving comments. They let me know who is reading my blog. Let me hear from you.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mary mentioned a memory Mike had...and it was exactly correct. Grandma Faber used to let us kids smoke coffee grounds, or in my case tea leaves. I don't know if this was to discourage future smoking or just to satisfy our curiosity.

This did bring up something that my daughter Julie told me. Sajid and Julie decided to go to the show one day, and they decided it would be great fun to take their coffee/tea cigarettes with them. They sat in the show, lit up their cigarettes and it wasn't long before they were kicked out of the movie. Someone thought they were smoking marijuana! Funny she didn't tell me about it until just recently.

Another Thought

Just remembered another story about John. I don't think he has my blog addy. Too bad.

One time, our sister Jackie had a date with a guy, and John wanted to go with them. Well, of course, Jackie wouldn't hear of it. Who wants baby brother tagging along on a date?

Jackie and her date got in the car to leave, headed down the road and were quite surprised when John popped up from the floor in the back seat. He should have waited until they were further down the road. They brought him back home.

One time we were having a pretty heavy snow storm. Mom and Dad decided to go to the neighbors for a while and told Jackie and I to watch John, that they wouldn't be gone for very long. We watched him.......walk out the door and head across the pasture. We had to call the neighbor's and tell Mom and Dad that John wouldn't listen to us and had left the house. Talk about scared. They were out in the storm hunting for John. He did get home, safe and sound.

We had a gas stove in the basement. One winter, my dad drove a truck to make extra money to get us through the year. The crops hadn't been too good that year. The stove in the basement went out, so Mom had to go downstairs to start it as Jackie and I slept in the basement.

What a scary sound when we heard an explosion coming from the basement, then Mom came walking up the stairs with all of her eyebrows singed off.

The winter that Dad was gone was a rough one. There was a blizzard that totally covered our doors and windows. We couldn't get out. One of the outlets in the house let off some sparks, and Mom just knew the house was going to burn down. She was able to get hold of Grandpa John, and he made his way through the storm to dig us out of the house.

Now I'm thinking of all kinds of stories. I'll make a note so I don't forget them and write them up later. I hope I don't lose the note and forget.

Just Fun Memories

I was complaining on Facebook that I didn't have anything I wanted to blog about right now, and Mary suggested I make up a story about my brother John. I don't have to make up a story.....he provides me with lots of entertainment.

Then I get another note from Dinah and she says I should tell about Johnny getting chased around the school house on the last day of school.

Well, that story was quite funny. John and his friend Bobby were just young students. They had read a book about Mrs. Beasley, I think that was her name, and they decided it would be fun to call their teacher Mrs. Beasley. Well, the teacher was a man and not the brightest teacher we had ever had. This was in a one-room schoolhouse with 8 grades all having the same teacher.

John and Bobby started to tease Mr. White by calling him Mrs Beasley in a sarcastic way. He didn't take to that too lightly and told them to stop. Would they stop? Nooooooooo. They continued to call him Mrs. Beasley until he got so angry that he began to chase them around the school building. The boys just ran and hollered Mrs. Beasley, Mrs. Beasley. Such a sight to see a male teacher chasing these two boys around the school house. I don't remember if he ever did catch them.

Mr. White was a city man stuck in a country school out in the middle of nowhere. One dark, foggy day, the Moore twins decided it would be fun to scare him. While looking out the window, they saw a coyote run across a field. "Mr. White! Mr. White! There's a wolf running around outside!" Mr. White looked out the window and saw the coyote, but not really knowing the difference, he thought it was a wolf. The boys went on to tell them that the wolf was a Werewolf stalking the school and would kill them all. Well, we weren't allowed to go outside for fear the big bad wolf might get us. We stayed in the schoolhouse until our parents came to get us.

Another time, I had gotten a new chemistry set for Christmas and decided to take it to school. During recess, Charles and I stayed in the school house to play with the chemistry set, and what do you think we chose to do? Burn Sulfur! Oh, the school house began to smell like rotten eggs. When the kids came in from recess, Mr. White was sure that we were going to poison all the kids with the smell, so he opened all the windows and we all got an extended recess.

Yet another time, Bob and Dick, the twins, decided to change signs around in the school. They turned the signs on the girls a boys restrooms around and then proceeded to disconnect the wires in the school bell. Mr. White was not pleased with the change of signs, but even funnier, when he decided to ring the bell for recess to be over, the bell wouldn't work so the kids just kept on playing until he was finally able to round them up by hollering at them. That poor man! It's no wonder that he only taught at the school for one year. I'm surprised he made it that long.

We had a teacher at the school named Mrs. Rippe. Grandpa John made up a cool poem for us to use when speaking of her.

We have a leaky faucet,
Drip, drip, drippy.
It reminds me of my teacher,
Mrs. Rip, Rip, Rippe.

Not so much on the funny side, I remember one of the boys bringing some shotgun shells to school. They decided it might be fun to throw one against the brick school house. I don't think they ever dreamed that the shell might go off, but it did. Luckily, no one was hurt, but it sure did scare us.

This is enough for today. Hope you enjoy.