Sunday, June 16, 2013
On warm, summer days at supper time when growing up in the country with those four houses full of relatives all in a row, each family would bring whatever they'd prepared to eat together under my aunt's pine trees in her backyard. It became a smorgasbord of hot and cold dishes with all the trimmings. Back then it was the food that I thought about-potato salads, macaroni salads, baked beans, tossed salads, fruit salads, of course hots and hams and all the trimmings plus an assortment of chips. I don't remember many desserts-except for strawberry shortcake with real dumplings made soggy by berry juice and home-made whipped cream smothering the bowl. Of course it all tasted even better because we were eating outside. After everyone was finished, the younger ones would sometimes play baseball as the others sat around and talked and family dogs would see what they could find in the grass or get that look on their face so someone would feed them leftovers.There was no rush to pick up. No cell phones ringing. No one looking down-more interested in texting outer space than enjoying what was all around that backyard-family taking time.
No matter what my father was doing he was dressed up-sometimes a little more so than other times-even when sitting and eating his picnic supper as shown in this photo. Back then he was always on call. Funeral Directors served as rescue squads 24-hours a day besides their regular hours-which were never regular as dying still doesn't happen just between 8-5.When he was with the rest of us, he thoroughly enjoyed it. All the adults got along. They helped each other. They appreciated each other. I think that was due to my grandmother (sitting near my father)-a kind, funny, and very strong woman who kept us all in line just by her presence-and cooking!
I now realize those evening suppers in the summertime under the pine trees had nothing to do with the food but were all about the moment-families gathering at the end of a day.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
But my favorite brand remains Homemade Lemonade. My grandmother made it as did my mother and aunts. They each had a favorite glass pitcher for lemonade that never came from a can or container. It came from slicing real, hold-in-your-hand lemons and squeezing the juice out by using a thick glass-lemon-squeezer thing. It was odd-shaped but it worked.That's what they all used. You'd hold on to it with one hand and with the other put a lemon half in place one-by-one. By moving the half lemon back and forth, around and around-out came the juice. After squeezing a few you'd dump the juice into the pitcher and repeat the process. You could leave the seeds or take them out. They knew how many lemons equaled how much water and sugar to add. I know they did because every single time they made their lemonade, it was as perfect as the time before. I don't remember a measuring cup being used. They just knew.
My mother sometimes added lime juice-after squeezing limes. She'd even slice a lemon and maybe a lime and place the slices on top of the freshly-made lemonade. Best part about that was sucking on the slices after they'd absorbed the lemonade while sitting in the refrigerator. On a hot, muggy summer day nothing tasted better than those naturally flavored slices Back then we never drank soda. We were lucky and didn't even know it- the adults never bought the stuff!
Of course, the finishing touch was a home-baked cookie or two and if you were outside enjoying the day with your lemonade and that cookie or two-life was absolutely-no questions asked-perfect!
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The one-room schoolhouse they attended was up the road from where they lived-down a side road just as it curved by a bunch of maples. The creek that ran behind their farmhouse ran behind the school as well. The school is long gone but the maples are still there. Sometimes I go down that old country road. I slow down before that turn; imagining exactly where that school sat and imagining my mother and her sisters walking along that very road. If this is the school-then this is where my parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents bought the desks, books, and chalkboards for me and my cousins for our chicken coop clubhouse.
Looking at the picture I think how far we've come in educating our children. Some of that is good and some of that isn't. How simple it all looked back then. No computers or football fields or baseball fields or swimming pools. No connecting to other students around the world or excelled classes or foreign languages or guidance counselors and on and on. Just a plain building with kids of all ages clumped together. And when their school day was over there were no sports or after-school activities. Activities were actually chores that were waiting for them at home or out in the barn. They did their chores and helped out without question-sort of like Little House on the Prairie. Of course mothers were home and dinner was cooking. Kids weren't distracted by cell phones or texting. Neither were their parents.
Sometimes that all sounds better than where we are at today. But then the grass is always greener-right??
Sunday, May 5, 2013
A couple of times he bought a few heifers and kept them in the barn. One time it was black angus. It was fun having animals in the barn. I could only imagine what it must have been like back in the day when the farm was up and going. I think our grandfather would have been proud of my brother who was the first grandchild. They were quite close. My brother inherited his work ethic. My brother cared for the heifers and black angus every day before school and every day after school. One summer he asked me if I'd care for the black angus for a few weeks. He was going to visit relatives. I was thrilled. I was also nervous. Being as organized and particular as he was, I felt I had some big shoes to fill. But I didn't tell him that. I followed him around a few days before he left-and then-it was me and the angus!
We did just fine. The barn got a little out of control but by the time he returned I had it all organized. All the black angus were fed and accounted for. My brother brought me back a pack of Juicy Fruit gum for helping him out. I was overjoyed. I may not have filled those big shoes of his-but I had fun trying!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
We'd laugh every time we'd recite that little ditty.
Since those days I've learned there are different types of poems, each with their own rules. I still enjoy writing poems. They make you think. They lighten your load. They offer you an avenue of expression. Since April is National Poetry Month I'd lke to share a few with you and remember-'Poems make you giggle-They make your tongue wiggle!' While I don't remember what type of poem each of these represents or what rules they follow-I hope you enjoy them!
'Tall and lanky swaying in the breeze-Carrying on laughing with the trees-Making every day bright-They are truly a sight-Always smiling without saying Cheese!'
"Let's go fishing," said the big, cat fish.
"Perfect," thought Cat, while making a wish.
Watching Fish grab a worm-Cat pounced and made Fish squirm. Cat went fishing for a Fish-de-lish!'
'Tomatoes red-Asleep in beds; Potatoes white-So hard to bite; Zucchini green-So sleek and clean;Squah yellow-A curvy fellow!'
'Asparagus swords-Defending the beds-Carefully swaying-Watching their heads; Fighting off each deadly foe-Including the farmer-with his shiny steel hoe; But once fully grown-They go down in defeat; For they taste so good-When ready to eat!'
and one more for now...........
'Wet drops falling from above-Giving the garden lots of love-But if the rain keeps falling down-It will saturate the ground-Turning beans into boats-And off they'll float!"
Saturday, April 27, 2013
I remember playing in our chicken coop clubhouse. Pretending was always part of the play as was reading Nancy Drew, Laura Ingalls Wilder, or Louisa May Alcott-and taking pieces of paper, folding them, and 'pretending ' to write a story. They say what you did as a child is where your heart lies as an adult. A part of my heart will forever remain out in the country-the perfect place to draw from when writing fiction and weaving storylines.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Besides showing my grandfather as I'd never seen him before, this photo offers another glimpse of the barn I always write about. The more I find pictures with that barn included the more I realize the role it played over the years, from one generation to the next, from one season to another. I've heard the stories about the horses it housed and the mean rooster nicknamed Baldy who ruled the barnyard and the bull who almost did my mother in if it hadn't been for my grandfather and his pitchfork. But by the time me and my cousins came along there were no horses or bulls or mean roosters-just a barn offering us a great place to play and pretend.
Family farms peppered the landscape back then. It was hard work seven days a week from early morning to late at night. Sadly, most family farms like my grandfather's have been sold or boarded up and abandoned. Many farms are big business now. It makes me wonder if kids still play in barns or ride on the back of hay wagons like we did. Although he didn't wear his top hat, it was our grandfather driving his old Ford tractor and pulling the hay wagon to the barn. We were so lucky! Trouble with that-you don't realize how lucky you were until looking at a photo of years gone by.