Friday, November 12, 2010

One upon a time ...

We had snow... bunches of snow. Snow days, snow icecream, sledding snow, shoveling snow... snowballs and snowmen. We built forts and igloos and played outside until we were wet to the skin. Then we went inside and laid our things out to dry in front of the fireplace and drank homemade hot chocolate made with milk from Bossie our milk cow.
And when our clothes were dry we went out again. I sorta miss snow...
Chris the dog's house at Granpa Dave's 1977

Grandpa's cows
The house in valley snowy day 1977

Pine tree in Grandma and Grandpa's yard 1977

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

This is my grandpa Ferris H. Parker Sr. As far as I know this is the only picture we have of him. On the back of the picture it says the cat's name is Blue Boy. I only met my Grandpa Ferris one time. He came back to Ohio once for a family reunion. I was pretty little. I remember riding in the car on the way to Ohio. I didn't feel good. My ears hurt. Somewhere along the way we stopped for lunch and I got spaghetti and meatballs. Dad argued with mom about whether I should be allowed to have something so messy. A really big napkin solved the problem.
I remember meeting my grandpa Ferris at the reunion. I thought he was big, and scary and had a really big cowboy hat. I remember the wind blew the cowboy hat off his head. He was bald. He was mad that the hat got away.   I remember hiding under the porch swing because I was scared of him. I was scared of him because my dad had told us stories about him. How  he was a hit first ask questions later kind of parent. How he abandoned the family when my dad's mother died in child birth. As a little girl that was enough to convince me I didn't want anything to do with him. That was the only time I ever saw him. We didn't hear anything more from him until Dad was called to go to his funeral some years later.
This is the only picure I have of my dad when he was a boy. It's my dad, Ferris Harmon Parker Jr. on the left and his brother Larry on the right. Dad had lots of siblings I remember Larry, Bobby and Rosella. I met some of the others but those three are the ones that I remember. Dad said they were so poor that he only had one pair of pants and Aunt Rosie would beat him up and steal his pants. Then he couldn't go to school.
My dad didn't have a very easy early life.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wringers, mangles and laundry day

When I was little my grandma Dorothy had a wringer washer. I loved to help her on laundry day. First we sorted the laundry: whites, lightly soiled colors, soiled colors (Grandpa's work shirts), then darks. After the laundry was organized in neat piles we ran the washer full of hot water using a hose hooked to the water heater. Add the soap. Add the laundry. Turn it on. Have a snack.
After the laundry was good and agitated came my favorite part - running the clothes through the wringer!
"Be careful you don't get your finger caught," Grandma would say. "Your Aunt Ruth got her fingers caught once and ran her arm into the ringer clear up to elbow. You don't want that to happen."
Grandma Dorothy taught me to fold the flat things like towels and sheets so they would run through the narrow wringer without jamming.
"Watch out for your fingers." Oops it almost got me.
Then she taught me how to release the wringer so I could get the towels that jammed out of the wringer and try again.
She taught me to fold the blue jeans so that the zipper was protected.
"Watch your fingers." Oops I felt the pull of the ringer on my finger tips.
She taught me to fold anything with buttons so that the buttons lay flat and were protected from being crushed from the wringer.
"Keep your fingers back." Near miss. It almost got me!
Laundry day was exciting!! All those close calls!

Then one day Grandma went to an auction and came home with a "mangle".  I was fascinated. It was a metal cabinet. Inside was a cloth covered roller. You plugged it in and it heated up. She said you could iron sheets. Who knew you could irons sheets. My mom folds the flat sheet and stuffs it along with the fitted sheet into the pillow case that matches so the set stays together. 
It worked a lot like the wringer on the washer. Feed the material into the roller and it came out pressed.
"Keep your fingers out of the way or you'll get burned." Wow such danger and adventure in the laundry room!
Grandma told me if you were really good you could iron shirts and pants and skirts and dresses. And my grandma was THAT good.  I never got that good, but she did let me iron the flat sheets and her table cloths..

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June Birthdays

June is a big birthday month in our family. My great Aunt Ruth on the first, my sister on the 7th, me on the 8th and my little brother, Chris, on the 9th. Sooo many birthday's so much cake. At some point that I just can't remember we started having one family birthday party in June. As a kid I all those birthdays got pretty muddled together.  

As an adult, I've made it a point to call the birthday boy/girl and sing them happy birthday on their special day. Ok  it's off key usually and once I had to resort to texting, but the sentiment is there.

So on the 7th, I got ready to call my sister, Laura. I asked mom if she wanted to help sing to her baby. She looked a bit puzzled. "Which one?"  Even Mom has trouble remembering which one of us comes first.

On the 8th, my husband, whispered "Happy Birthday" when we woke up. He's at least go my birthday down.

So on the 9th I dialed Chris's cell and sang my song. "Thanks," he said laughing, "I know it's my birthday, but which one is yours?"

That evening we got together at our house for one of our classic family pitchin dinners. Over dinner Chris confessed that he wasn't even sure which day was his birthday until he was almost 10 years old.

So I told him how I keep it straight: Aunt Ruth was the oldest so she came First (6/1), Laura came before Chris so hers is the 7th. I know I was born on the 8th. Chris came latest so he is last on the 9th. Dad's birthday is easy for me now... it's also my anniversary on the 17th.

Now I only have to consult my "Birthday Book" for my nieces, nephews, mother, cousins... Oh well I have June birthdays down. :^)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Cowboy or Farmer?

Anders loved this plastic ride around pony and he wore this pair of overalls until they literally fell apart.


Wadestown, WV : A bend in the road, a garage with a tiny store, a post office and a church. Turn the bend and head up the hill and you'll find a gate and a driveway on the right. Open the gate and head down the hill and you'll come to a rill and a foot bridge. Cross the bridge and come around the house and this is the sight you'll see in the fall when deer are in season.
This is where my kids and I lived from 1988 until 1992. Wild and wonderful West Virginia. We lived in a tiny house without TV or internet. If you had to go to the bathroom and it was chilly out you had better plan ahead. The outhouse had a heater with a switch in the house, but you needed to turn it on about 10 minutes before you made the chilly trip out there or you would literally freeze your buns off.

In the winter if you wanted a hot bath  it involved a big galvanized tub pulled up close to the wood stove and heating water on the propane stove. You could have a hot shower in the summer, but you'd be showering out in the yard using the warm water from the garden hose. For a cold shower you could use the indoor shower, but that water was COLD. It came out of a spring on the mountain and flowed downhill to the house in a pipe.

I wanna be a carpenter

This is Anders. That is  Grandpa Dave's hat on this head and I suspect that is his hammer too.

Grandma Dorothy's guessing wall

When I was little my Grandma Dorothy went to a lot of auctions. Her house was full of beautiful antique dressers, chairs, davenports and interesting old books. Some of her more interesting finds ended up on what I thought of as the "Guessing wall". Some things on the wall I knew what they were for and some things remained a mystery for years.

A few of the oddities on the wall in this picture include: a calf weaning appliance that looks like something from a castle dungeon, a hand auger, a mold for making a "pudding", a kraut cutter, and a butter mold.

Now & then

My Great grandparents' house now . . .and a long time ago...
I love this old farmhouse. It sits at the front of our farm close to the road. There was a lilac bush in the front full of lavendar blooms in the spring and an apple tree in this side yard. We used to pick the little hard green apples and my Great Grandpa would whittle a short stick sharp on both ends so we could spear apples on it to make "dumb bells" so we could play "strong man". Ok so I'm a girl... at that age it didn't really matter.

There used to be a big carpet in the living room that had roses on it. I remember sweeping it as a child and up until a few years ago I still had that carpet. Walking through the house now it seems small. But it was big enough to hold a whole lot of love. Years ago my great grandparents, my great aunt and uncle, my mom and her brother were all living there in the summer. Mom says she never felt like it was ever crowded. Years later my parents lived there and I moved in with them while I went to nursing school.

This is the house where my great-grandmother taught me to bake sweet rolls and big soft loaves of bread. The house where we would all sit down to dinner and when my great grandpa was full he would look up suddenly and say "Look at that bird!" When you looked he would slide his leftovers onto your plate. He was always full of mischief like that.

There used to be a workshop on the back of the house with a ceiling so low that I still wonder how Grandpa Webb, who was tall, could ever have done anything standing up in there. The workshop is gone now, replaced a patio and a 3-season room.

My daughter and her husband live there now. She's planted tulips beside the sidewalk and painted the rooms in cheery colors. That old house is still full of love.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rats are people too

And they like story time as much as anybody. This is my son, Anders, and his pet rat reading together. Don't ask me what the safety glasses are all about, but this is one of my favorite pictures. He had put the arm rest cover on his head so the rat couldn't climb in his hair. That rat went everywhere with him.
I believe the book in his hand may be either Fifteen Rabbits or Brighty of the Grand Canyon. Two of the first "chapter" books I ever read to my kids.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Belle Pony

This is Belle Pony as apposed to Bell the horse. When we were growing up we had both a horse and a pony named Belle. The pony came first and she stayed around the longest. Many of my childhood adventures have Belle Pony in them. Like most ponies she had some ornery habits.
When you went to get on you had to be sure you had the off rein pulled tight to keep her head turned away. If you didn't she'd nip you on the knee as you got up. She could open any feed bin no matter how clever you thought you were about closing it up tight and pony proofing it. As a consequence of her over eating she foundered and needed careful hoof care and a watchful eye.
Oh and I swear she deliberately stepped on my toes.

But for all of her less than perfect ponyness, she was my favorite and my partner in adventure. When we were very little my mom and my grandma would load all of us kids on her bareback. At the time that was 3-4 kids on board. Then they would lead us around the field to check the corn. When the pony went around the corner we would all slip off into a heap. :) Grandma would put us all back on again and off we'd go.
My best friend and I used to try to "roman ride" one Belle - like in the circus. One of us standing up on her broad behind while the other one lounged her in a circle until we lost our balance and fell or slid down to sit on her back. It's a miracle we never got hurt.

I can't even count the lazy afternoons when I packed a "lunch" and headed out alone to wander over the farm. I'd find a likely spot for my picnic and tie Belle to a tree. More often than not while I was nibbling and daydreaming she would  untie herself and light out for home leaving me to hoof it home on my own.

Bell taught me about the circle that is life. The picture above is of Belle with one of her babies. Belle's was the first foal I saw born. And one year Belle was expecting and she caught pneumonia. She was my pony so it was my job to go out and give her an antibiotic shot each day. She coughed and she coughed for what seemed like forever to me. When she foaled the baby was stillborn. I buried the tiny foal in the rain up on the little hill behind the barn with a little stick cross to mark the spot. Then I led Belle up the hill so she would know where her baby was. I cried. Belle nuzzled my hand and we both trudged back down the hill with water dripping off of our noses.

Belle lived to give my children rides when they were small. She died at the ripe old age of 36 on the home farm where we grew up.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Meet me

This is me 24 hours old and already looking around for something to get into!

The Spittin' image of my momma

My great-grandparents, David and Laura Webb with my mother and her brother Lloyd on their laps. (I'm not sure who the dog is.) I didn't realize until recently how much I REALLY  look like my mom!

A woman in a man's world

This is my grandmother Dorothea Cline. I was named for her. My grandma ran the Agricultural Stablization and Conservation Service in our county for 25 years and she ran my grandpa a good bit longer than that. She sewed all of her own clothes, made quilts and pies, kept an imaculate house and still had time to make us root beer floats on hot summer days.
She worked very hard to convince farmers that the hilly country in Brown County Indiana wasn't well suited for row crops. That the farmers could earn more and save their topsoil by putting their land into pasture and raising beef and hay. She convinced land owners to manage their wood lots instead of just timbering off land with out thinking about the future. Grandma started the "Forestry Field Day" which I remember as one of the big events of the fall each year. She brought in foresters and other educators to teach about forest management for sustainability.  What I remember as a kid was the rail splitting demonstration and the apple cider and homemade baked goods and walking through the crispy leaves listening to the forester tell about the different trees and did I mention the apple cider? 
Grandma encouraged farmers to take advantage of government programs that would help them to build ponds to store water. Our county doesn't have a lot of natural spring water and good wells were hard to come by.  When I was a teenager Grandma was invited to Washington DC to receive an award from the president for her years of service. She was an amazing woman and way ahead of her time.
When I was in first grade learning how to spell my name I wasn't too crazy about being named  Dorothea, but now I am proud to be her namesake.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Grandma's cookies

My Grandma Dorothy and my Great Aunt Ruth  were sisters. They both had cookie jars. You could tell a lot about them from their cookie jars. Aunt Ruth's cookie jar was glass with a screw on lid. Nothing fancy. Grandma Dorothy had two cookie jars one was shaped like a cabbage with a family of bunnies coming out of the top. It had been mended by my Grandfather more than once and showed the scars left by tape and glue. The other one looked like an apple.The cookie jars were always full of cookies -sometimes homemade and sometimes store bought.  If we were walking from our house to Grandma's, we knew we could stop along the way at Aunt Ruth's and get a cookie and she'd let us pump up a glass of cold water from her well. Then when we would get to Grandma's of course we were "hungry" and needed a cookie.
I inherited my grandma's recipe  box. The recipe for "Honey Jumbles" is in her handwriting. Try it. See if you like it. Let me know.

The Haymakers

My great grandpa loved to sing. He was Welsh and the Welsh are known for their voices. On the back of this photo scrolled in spidery penciled cursive it says, "Little Welsh Church, Elwood Indiana".
Whoever thought to write on the back also had the fore thought to tack a piece of paper onto the back with all the names of the people  they could identify written out neatly with the rows numbered. That's how I know my Great grandpa David Thomas Webb is 2nd from the left in the fourth row.And that his sister Maggie Webb Morgan is the last lady on the right in row three. I don't know who did the writing, but I'm glad they did. Until today, I didn't even know my great grandpa Webb even had a sister.

Who are these people?

Your guess is as good as mine. Like so many old family photographs this one is a mystery. No one living in our family remembers the couple in this photo. No one wrote on the back.  My grandfather left many photos of mystery ancestors. As a child I liked to make up stories for the people in the pictures. I still do. Perhaps they married young with high hopes. Maybe they moved North into Canada like my great grandparents in search of land they could afford to buy and start a farm of their own. Maybe he was a banker and she a milliner. Maybe they had 3 children. Maybe they endured the heartache of losing a child much too soon to a childhood disease that nobody dies of anymore. Maybe they loved each other through the good and the bad times, sunny days and rainy. Maybe when he died she missed him terribly and when she died she was missed terribly by their children. Maybe, just maybe...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

On becoming a family of Druids

When my grandmother passed away we planted a tree in her honor. It was a weeping willow. It died. I don't think Grandma Dorothy wanted to be a sad tree. When my grandfather passed away we planted a tree in his honor and another one just like it to replace the Grandma Dorothy tree that died. Sweet gum trees picked out with loving care by my son, Anders. They grow side by side in front of our house next to the driveway.

After we planted these rather expensive memorial trees, my father announced that when he died we were not to buy a X*&^%$ expensive tree to remember him by. He said he had already planted a perfectly good tulip poplar tree next to the driveway and that would be his tree. That was in June. He passed away unexpectedly in November.

After much contemplation, planning and hard work my youngest brother and his wife built a memorial bench with the bronze plaque the military sent mounted under the seat. We put it under Dad's tulip poplar tree.

We've planted rose bushes to each side of the tree. Dad loved roses. Mom and I often rest there when we are out gardening or going out for the mail. It's shady with a nice breeze.

One day  Mom and I had stopped to rest on the bench. I got to thinking about the memorial trees and started to smile.

"Mom, I think we're becoming a family of Druids"
"What?" she asked looking puzzled.
"Look down this drive. When our family members die we 'become' trees!" I replied. "So what sort of tree do you want to be? A river birch, a fir, maybe a Linden tree..."

Mom thought for a moment then answered seriously,"I think I'll join your dad and be a tulip poplar."

I wiped a little tear from my eye.

I won't forget.

Meeting Grandma Mildred

When my husband,Brian,and I had just started seeing each other, he picked me up one afternoon for a date.

"My grandma's in the hospital," he said as he drove. "I'd like to stop by and see her.I'm her favorite."

"Ok." I had no idea what to expect.

At the hospital we took th elevator up to the ward, asked the first nurse we saw where to find Brian's Grandma. The nurse pointed out the room and told us she was asleep. We promised to be quiet and just peak in on her.

"Dumb ASS!" suddenly rang out from her room. I looked at Brian in shock and he laughed. He headed right in and gave Grandma Mildred a hug.

Then he introduced me. I will never forget the first thing Grandma Mildred ever said to me.
Don't you cry over him. He's not worth cryin' over.

We visited for a little bit. When Grandma Mildred's dinner came up we said our goodbyes.

I'll never forget the last thing she said to me.
Don't you cry over him. He's not worth cryin' over.

Brian explained later that "Dumb Ass" was Grandma Mildred's affectionate name for him. He's told me stories about Grandma Mildred ever since. Stories about when she was young and vital and alive. I never new her like that, I wish I had.

With the passing of the old year, Grandma Mildred passed on too.

She will be missed.