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...