Friday, March 30, 2007

Mysterious ways

I prayed for something this morning that I didn’t really want, but knew would be good for me and guess what? God made it happen. It's not surprising that He answered my prayer, the miracle is that I had the guts to pray for it. I must be growing up.

I am SO glad it’s Friday!
This weekend is Palm Sunday and my Gospel Quartet is scheduled to sing at the 8:00 service. We sing on Easter Sunday also, which I’m really looking forward to – I love the Easter songs even more than Christmas Carols. Which makes me wonder, why do we sing Christmas carols for 4 weeks out of the year and Easter songs for only one day? Maybe it’s because there are hundreds of Christmas Hymns, but only 6 (I counted the ones in our Hymnal) Easter hymns. Easter is really a far more significant holiday on the Christian calendar than Christmas is. Christ’s birth was only the beginning, Part 1 if you will, of God’s greatest gift to the human race. His crucifixion is Part 2: “He died on the cross to pay a debt He didn’t owe because we owed a debt we couldn’t pay.” (Jim Eliot) Part 3: His resurrection assures us that sin, damnation and death have been conquered and even though our bodies may die, our forgiven souls will live forever. Shouldn’t we be singing about this for more than one day?
And speaking of Hymns, I want to recommend the singing group Selah. They have 3 cd’s out right now that I know of. They have made some contemporary arrangements of old hymns without losing the attitude of reverence, which so often happens when someone tries to make a hymn more “hip.” The group is Tod Smith, his sister Nicole Smith and Allan Hall. Tod and Nicole are the children of missionaries and grew up in the Congo, so they include some Congolese music and if you can listen Yesu Azali Awa (it means Jesus is Here With Us) without wanting to get up and dance for joy, you need to take your pulse. They also have a beautiful arrangement of You Raise Me Up, which Josh Groban fans will recognize and appreciate.
Hymns are another important part of the Music of my Life, which I started last week and promised to continue, but haven’t done yet, because the new sod season is here and I’m getting busier and busier every day. Maybe next week.
Anyway, I wish everyone a glorious Palm Sunday and many blessings during the Holy Week ahead!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

I've been out and about with the camera. Enjoy!
This is Bubba in all his muddy splendour!

Here is my son Jack - just being handsome. He's single, you know. And a good cook... :)

This is my daughter Emily with a jar of cookies she made last Saturday. Aren't they both lovely?

Monday, March 26, 2007

ANDREAS HELGSTRAND - WEG2006 Freestyle Final

Click to see a dancing horse!

6 things about me:

1. I want to quit my day job to do photography and write novels, poems and short stories. Lots of people have encouraged me to do this including a magazine editor who has read my writing, a newspaper owner, people I trust and whose opinions I value and the person who hired me for this day job. I have several things ready to submit, but I am afraid the rejections would discourage me to the point of giving up. I would have to abandon this dream in the face of reality and if I did that, I would have a huge hole in my life. On the other hand, acceptance and success might be just as scary. What if I run out of ideas for things to write about?! What if as soon as I quit this day job, they find someone who can do it better and won’t ever want me back? What if…? what if…? what if….?!?!?

2. I don’t want my children to have children. They would be the same kind of parents I have been and there are just too many things I should not have passed on to the next generation.

3. I wish Condoleezza Rice would run for and be elected US President.

4. My wrist still hurts from when I broke it back in October. It’s stiff when I rotate it, I get cramps in the palm of my hand and it’s lumpy & crooked in places it wasn’t lumpy before. It makes my handwriting sloppy. I won’t to go back to the doctor for it because I’m afraid he’ll recommend some kind of surgery and I don’t want that.

5. The last time I slept clear through the night was almost 25 years ago when Jack was born and we brought him home from the hospital. I put him to bed at 9 pm and I woke up at 6 am. I went rushing into his room, certain I would find him dead of SIDS, but he was sleeping peacefully. Ever since then, I wake up two-three times every night, no matter how tired I am.

6. I would like to go to Seminary and get a Ph.D. in Christian Theology. I love God with all my heart and read through the Bible once a year, but there are so many things I don’t understand. Like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof when he sings If I Were a Rich Man and imagines himself with time to sit and study the Good Book “…and that would be the sweetest thing of all…”

Friday, March 23, 2007

The Music of My Life: A Reminiscence

It all started with my mom. In my memory, she sat down to play the piano at least once a day. As soon as I could talk, my sister Shirley and I would stand on each side of her and sing while she played. She was into the swing of the 40s and some of the songs I remember are You Are My Sunshine (which I used for a lullaby on my babies), I Ain’t Gonna Take it Sittin’ Down, He, Let the Sunshine In, Just Because… and if you gave me a few minutes, I think I might be able to sing at least the first verse and the chorus of each one of them. I have a collection of the sheet music and books she used as well as the piano she played. It’s a great monster of an upright, made in 1910 and it sits in my living room, looking lonely.
I think I must have been in second grade or so when I joined the choir at our church. Our director was Gail Pearson and she had a gift for music as well as for working with squirmy grade schoolers. She taught me that two different notes sung at the same time create something called “harmony.” When it was our Sunday to sing, we wore ivory white robes with maroon collars. I’m sure we made a cherubic picture, tho I can’t recall any of the songs we sang or how well-received we were by the Methodist congregation. I seem to recall Nell Hightree smiling from her spot in the second row, so we must have been, at the very least, not offensive.
In our home, the radio was on every morning, tuned to KFAB Omaha. Their playlist was, of course, swing. And on Saturday nights: Lawrence Welk and his orchestra along with the Champaign musicmakers: Jimmy Roberts, Joe Feeney, Norma Zimmer, Larry Hooper, the Lennon Sisters. Lawrence Welk deserves a blog posting of his own, so I’ll stop there.
I took piano lessons from a lady named Ruby Case. She came to the house every Saturday morning and taught me how to read notes: Treble clef lines are EGBDF - Every Good Bird Does Fly; and spaces FACE. Bass Clef lines– GBDFA Great Big Dogs Fight Animals and spaces ACEG All Cows Eat Grass. I think she charged something like 50 or 75 cents for a 30 minute lesson. I never got very good on the piano. In retrospect, all the kids I knew who took piano from Gertrude Newell played beautifully, so I’m taking the low road and blaming it all on Ruby. The fact that I only practiced for 10 minutes before she came on Saturday mornings couldn’t possibly have any thing to do with it.
At our Public School, the music room was in a building across the street from the main schoolhouse, along with the woodworking shop and the ag building. That was where we went for vocal music as well as marching & concert band. In High School, we sang in Mixed Chorus, Girls’ Glee, (or Boys’ Glee) and in the seventies, someone dreamed up Swing Choir – an octet that performed contemporary music and wore matching outfits and made an attempt at choreography. I always sang alto. Spring Music Contest was the highlight of the musical year and our school maintained a winning record. Our vocal teacher and band director was Bob Widener. A musical genius, he taught at that school for 30 years. He knew how to bring out the best in all of us. In the springtime, after we were done with Contest and when it was too warm to stay in the music room, he would bring out his guitar and take us outside. We’d sit in a circle around him and just sing for the sheer pleasure of it. In the summer, he piled as many kids as he could (usually six) into his convertible and drive us into Omaha to see concerts in the parks or musicals. We started calling him Uncle Bob when he took our marching band to the Sun Bowl where we marched in the parade in El Paso, Texas in 1972. He and six of us from Lyons went on a tour of Europe with the Mid-America Band, Orchestra and Choir in 1973. London was where I first saw live musical theatre; we saw Showboat and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat – still two of my favorites. We traveled by bus through England, took a ferry across the English Channel (my first experience with seasickness), visited France, Germany and Switzerland, giving concerts in each city we stopped. I was in the orchestra and we always closed with The William Tell Overture (a/k/a The Lone Ranger Theme), thus assuring a standing ovation everywhere, because even if it’s done badly, that overture makes you want to stand up.
(To be continued)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We had our first thunderstorm of the year night before last. Just some rumblings in the distance and flashes of lightening on the horizon. Rather than being scary, like it was when I was a kid, I found it rather reassuring. If it had been daylight, we might have seen a rainbow and remembered God’s promise of Genesis 8:22 “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.” So it was kind of nice to doze off to the sounds of faraway thunder.

Late yesterday afternoon, we had another one roll through and drop some hail on us. I was in the barn when it hit. We saw the storm coming and were going to try and get the horses in out of it, but it started too quickly. After the downpour and hail started they just turned their rumps to the wind and stood there, ignoring my calls to them to come in. They even looked at me as if to say, “Why don’t you get yourself in out of the rain? You’re going to get soaked.” So I just waited it out in the barn. There’s something mysteriously good about watching a rainstorm through the half door of a barn. The rain looks wetter if you aren’t looking at it through a glass window. The wind howls a little louder through a haymow than it does around the eaves of house. The thunder cracks a little louder when there is no fiberglass insulation to slow it down and the lightening seems brighter, closer and flashier somehow. And you can watch it all while staying dry and warm. You can experience it without actually having to get out there in it and get soaked.

My son, Jack (25) has the day off today after his class, so he is cooking supper tonight. He’s making enchiladas, frijoles, guacamole & Spanish Rice. He’s a pretty good cook. Several weeks ago he made us a Cajun meal of blackened redfish (good), jambalaya (good) & crawdads (gross).

It’s been a beautiful, sunny day today. Warm enough to shed the Cowgirl Up sweatshirt which I put on last September and have pretty much worn day in and day out since then, with brief pauses for laundering, of course. I am so cold-blooded. My friends just roll their eyes at me when I say, “It’s chilly in here.” And then they proceed to describe their latest menopausal hot flash to me while I continue to shiver, shove my hands into the front pocket, and put up the hood. Then they end their monologue with, “Just wait ‘til you start getting them.” What can I say? I’m kind of looking forward to it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Senior moments

Not long ago I had to trade vehicles with my husband. I don’t remember why, he must have needed a pickup for something, so I took his car. Not a big problem, until I went to the grocery store. Oblivious to the nightmare I was about to find myself in, I happily pushed my cart up and down the aisles, filling it full of bargains and looking forward to all the wonderful meals I was going to create with them. I proceeded to the checkout and went to the parking lot to find my pickup. I remembered which line I had parked in, but there was not a single pickup to be found. “Hmmmm,” I muttered. “I must not have parked in that area after all.” I scanned the other rows for the pickup and continued pushing the cart full of groceries back and forth, from one end of the lot to the other and up and down each row of cars for what may have been a good 10 minutes. Certain that my pickup had been stolen, I was about to go back into the store (I don’t have a cell phone - it will be clear to you why when you get to the end of this) and call 9-1-1 to report a stolen vehicle, when I spotted a familiar looking red car in the third row. “Why, that looks just like Randy’s car!” I thought to myself, “What’s he doing here?” Only then did I remember that we had switched vehicles that day.
This same thing happened to me last week at Wal-Mart. I have the privilege of using a company pickup when I go on errands to town (the TST office is 16 miles from town). This particular day, the errands included a stop at Wal-Mart. Again; I went in, did my shopping and confidently strode out – and stumbled around in the parking lot looking for my pickup – I think this time it might only have been 5 minutes – until I remembered I needed to be looking for the RED TST pickup instead of my white one.
How would I ever manage to keep track of something as small as a cell phone when I can so easily misplace entire automobiles?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Here are some blizzard pictures, taken 3/2/07.
Can you tell that Randy is stainding beside a drift? That is in our back yard.
The one on the left is the view from the barn. At the right, is looking east from the barn. The photos are not nearly as impressive as the actual event.

JW Scare
Wednesday is my day off so I usually spend it doing laundry, beginning first thing in the morning. Sometimes I’ve done two or three loads before I even get out of my jammies and into day clothes. Yesterday was no exception. However, yesterday the weather was breezy and above freezing – perfect for drying the bedding on the clothesline – I love the scent of line-dried sheets and quilts. So the sheets and mattress pad were the second load of the day, and of course I was still in my pajamas.
I love my pajamas. I got them in Nederland, Colorado last summer when I was vacationing with my sisters. My PJs are of soft t-shirt fabric, long pants and a tank top. They are bright pick with brown horses trotting all over them. I have a pair of socks to match, only the socks are brown with pink horses on them. Since the early morning was a bit brisk when it was time to hang my bedding on the line, I grabbed the first jacket I could find; my bright red Nebraska Cornhusker windbreaker. The back yard, where the clothesline is located was only last week under a six-foot snowdrift, so the ground is still a little soggy. I pulled on my manure encrusted barn boots and headed out. The breeze was whipping around my ears, so I pulled up the hood on the windbreaker, finished hanging the sheets and made my way back into the house.
We live down in a little valley on a remote gravel road in Northeast Nebraska. No one ever just stumbles onto our place; you have to come here on purpose or not at all, so I usually don’t’ concern myself with drop-in visitors. As I rounded the corner of the house towards the front door in all my laundry day finery, I came face to face with two Jehovah’s Witnesses. With my hood up, I must have appeared to them as a gaudy red and pink version of the Angel of Death. And let’s not even mention the aroma that must have been emanating from my barn boots.
It’s hard to say who was more startled. They just tried to hand me one of their publications, to which I replied “No, thank you.” Then one of them mumbled something about catching me “at a bad time” and then they scurried back to their car and peeled out.
I don’t think they’ll be back.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Ferrier visit

My Ferrier comes today to work on my horses’ feet. This was one of the things that used to make me extremely nervous when I was a greenhorn. My mare was 5 years old when I first got her and had offered her previous owners no problems when it was time for a Ferrier visit. She stood still, gave up her feet without a fuss to him and let him hold it between his knees while he did what he needed to do for as long as he needed to do it. However, when it came to my Ferrier, she forgot all of her good manners. She jerked her feet away from him at every opportunity. She rared. She kicked at him. She spun around and pretty much behaved like a brat for him, which scared the heck out of me. A 950 pound animal with really hard feet throwing a temper tantrum is a frightening thing. Foolishly, I blamed her. Then, one day after he left, I found some welts on her back and sides. He had hit her with his hammer. Needless to say, he was not invited back.
Fortunately for me, I got in touch with a good Ferrier and got on his schedule, right before he stopped accepting new clients. He is worth his weight in gold. The first time my mare tried to jerk her foot away from him, he simply held it tighter and continued his work. She tried to rare up and he held even tighter, pausing only long enough to make sure he kept his balance, and continued his work. I apologized for her behavior and expressed that I thought she should know better and he shrugged it off saying, “She’s only a horse.” She soon learned that resistance was futile. By the second time he visited, she and I had both calmed down considerably. He’s been with me ever since.
Two things I learned from him about horse handling that served me very well over the years: (1) no matter what the horse’s reaction is, just keep doing what you’re doing. They’ll stop fussing eventually. And (2) He’s only a horse. You can’t expect him to know anything about obedience (or lack thereof) he hasn’t learned from you.
Another thing I like about his visits is he is a really good storyteller. He spent some time in his youth as a cowboy working on a dude ranch in Wyoming and I hope to capture some of his stories on paper. He told me once about being out fixing fence in a pretty remote area one time and he and his partner came across a herd of buffalo. They noticed one cow separate herself from the herd and lay down. It became obvious to them that she was in labor. Then they saw another cow follow her and start trotting in circles (about 120 feet) around her. The second cow kept her trotting vigil until the calf had been born, licked off and was steady on his feet. Then all three of them went back to the main herd. He commented, “I don’t know why I was granted the privilege of seeing something like that. Most people aren’t that lucky.”
I wonder what his story will be today?

Monday, March 12, 2007

This is not good:

I had some free time Saturday morning, so I headed into Omaha for a haircut. I’ve been attempting to grow it out to a more ladylike length (see Fat Old Man posting January 6, 2007) and it was time to get it trimmed up. Well, I’m not sure what happened, but the stylist didn’t clearly understand what I wanted, (how many different meanings can be applied to “Not quite that short.”?) because when I look in the mirror now I see Tom Bergeron of ‘America’s Funniest Home Videos.’ At least he isn’t fat.
I intended to get back into a routine where I take a walk every day, but found some excuse or another not to both Saturday and Sunday as well as today.
We lost an hour Saturday night due to Daylight Savings Time. I heard that the Congressman who decided we should do this two weeks earlier thinks it will save energy, because we won’t have to turn the lights on so early in the evening. We have to turn our’s on earlier in the morning, so as far as I can tell we haven’t gained anything.

This is better:

The weekend weather was pleasant enough; especially compared to the last two. Temps hovering between 30 and 60 F.
We have a creek that crosses our driveway at its lowest point and it was so high and running so fast on Friday afternoon, I took the camera out to record the phenomenon. By Saturday morning, it had fallen to a more normal level, though it is still flowing faster than usual. Almost all the snow is gone, except where it was piled up by the scrapers and loaders.
I’ve heard rumors that robins have been spotted in the area. I haven’t seen any robins, though I did hear a cardinal a few days ago. Our barn swallows aren’t back yet, but I expect them any day now.
The inside out cats are spending more time outside than in the past few days. I don’t mean the cats are inside out – that would be ugly. I mean they are allowed in because they know how to use the litterbox and they are allowed out because we trust them not to run off.
The lot my horses live in is a quagmire, but they don’t seem to mind. They’ve started shedding their winter coats and a roll in the mud must relieve the itching, because they were both absolutely covered with it from nose to tail Friday evening.
We got our tax returns back from H & R Block and everyone is getting a refund. I got the FAFSA onlines filled out for my college students and they both qualify for aid.

This is best:

Our Girl Scout cookies came. Love those Caramel Delights.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Horse joining a Cycling Race - What other kind of video would you expect from me?

And he's off and running!! This is an experiment in digg-blogging. Hope you like it.

read more | digg story
Just have to add a little something to your sometime/somewhere comments. "Are we there yet?" You never get there, because when you get there it is no longer there, it is here. Go figure.
What time is it?

It’s time for some thoughts on time.

I sent an email to a friend who lives in the same time zone I do one Monday at 11:30 AM. She sent me a reply that same day at 8:32 AM. Now, I knew email was faster than the US Postal service, but I wasn’t aware they had mastered time travel. Is that on an HTML somewhere I can copy and paste in?

And on my blog, the weather stamp (at left) is exactly 56 minutes behind the time my computer clock says it is. I thought all computer clocks were calibrated to a big Atomic Clock somewhere on the planet that is supposed to be accurate to within a fraction of a second per century. So who is off? My computer or my weather stamp? Or is the Atomic Clock?

And this weekend, we switch over to Daylight Savings Time (DST). We “Spring Forward” and cause the sun to stay up an hour later in the evening (see what wonders our clocks have wrought). That means, it comes up an hour later in the morning and we morning people will lose an hour of daylight. I was just getting used to heading out to the barn with the eastern sky beginning to glow and having it be almost full daylight by the time I’m done and headed back to the house. By Sunday morning, I’ll have been plunged back into darkness for my chore time. The change officially occurs at 2 AM Sunday. How come they can’t change it a little bit at a time like maybe 15 minutes or so for four days? Then maybe we wouldn’t be so groggy on the Monday after the DST change.

And where, exactly, does time begin? I used to think it was based on Greenwich Mean Time, but someone told me that ,no, it actually starts somewhere off the coast of Australia. I have a little card in my rolodex that tells me that when it’s noon here, it’s 4 AM in Sydney, Australia. But 4 AM of what day? Would that be today or yesterday? Or maybe tomorrow? And did you know that, even though California, Montana and Texas are all geographically bigger than Nebraska, they each only occupy one time zone – we have two. It changes by an hour in North Platte. And how did they decide on changing it by an hour in just one spot? How come it doesn’t change by 15 minute intervals every 200 miles or so?

One time or day I’ve never seen on any clock or calendar is some. As in, “I’m going to go take Janell to lunch someday.” Stop saying that ‘coz someday ain’t ever gonna happen. It’s just not on the calendar. I checked.

Sometime isn’t on any of my clocks either; not the digitals or the ones with faces or the one on my arm.

Another place you won’t ever find some on is a map – not even on Yahoo or Mapquest. And especially not the wrinkled up mess in the glove compartment. That one’s so old, it might make Antiques Roadshow, but even if it is, you still won’t find someplace or somewhere on it. So even if you want to “take a vacation somewhere someday,” you can just forget it. You’ll never find a hotel someplace and you can’t get a reservation for some time.

Okay, that’s enough of this nonsense.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Onion Pie
Delicious! If you like onion blooms or onion rings, you’ll like this pie.
I tried this recipe while I was snowed in last weekend and was it ever good! It's from the Lyons (Nebraska) Methodist Cookbook published in 1991. The recipe was submitted by Phyllis Hensley.

1 ½ Cups Ritz Crackers, crushed
5 Tblsp butter

5 Tblsp butter
3 cups onions, sliced thin

2 eggs
1 cup milk

½ cup cheese, grated
salt & Pepper to taste
½ Cup Ritz Crackers, crushed

Mix 1 ½ cups cracker crumbs with 5 tablespoons melted butter. Press into pie plate.

Saute onions with remaining butter until limp. Spoon onions into pie shell.

Mix together eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over onions. Sprinkle cheese over onions and sprinkle with remaining ½ cup crumbs. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.

Here is a sauce I concocted to go with it:
½ cup mayonnaise
3 Tblsp horseradish sauce
1 tsp Louisana hot sauce or tobasco
¼ cup ketchup
Mix thoroughly.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Family Memories -Part 3

My mom, Rachel Marguerite Anderson and my dad, John Eddie Gatewood were married in March of 1940 (I think). One of Mom’s favorite stories is about their wedding:
There is a little dirt road just a mile or so east of Bancroft, Nebraska and if she was ever in the car with you when you drove past it, she’d point to a spot on that road and say, “That’s where I got married.” You might think she would go on to say that there used to be a house there or a church or something, but, no – they got married in a parked car on a dirt road outside of Bancroft. It seems the ceremony was held at her Mom & Dad’s in Lyons, but when the minister sat down to sign the Marriage License, he saw that it had been purchased in Cuming County, rather than Burt County (which is where Lyons is). He said the marriage wouldn’t be legal unless it took place in Cuming County. So Mom and Dad, their two witnesses and the minister got into a car, drove til they crossed the county line and repeated the vows.
Their first night together was spent on Dad’s farm west of Decatur, NE and thunderstorms were rolling through the area. Dad had a big old mutt of a dog who was afraid of storms and when Mom woke up in the morning, there was this big, wet dog in bed with them. Apparently, the winds had blown open the door of the house and he came in and made himself at home.
They had six children - of which I am the youngest. The first four were born two years apart each – two girls in April, (one on Palm Sunday and one on Easter) two boys in October, and then two girls in November. Four years each separates the two youngest from the boys. The two oldest were “The Big Girls”, then “The Boys” and then “The Little Girls.”
I think I was about 4 years old (in 1959) when Mom took a job ‘off the place.’ She went to work for the Campbell Soup Company in Fremont, carpooling in to Fremont with a group of ladies from Lyons. Her job there was to bone the chicken.
Dad and Mom farmed until about 1962. We moved to Lyons, Nebraska and Dad became a jack-of-all-trades. I remember some of the jobs he had, not necessarily in chronological order:
The first one I remember was at the creamery in Lyons. It was only about a block away from where we lived. They processed milk into powdered milk. I think it was called the Lyons Creamery. One of the perks of this job was that once in a while he would bring home a pint jar of pure, thick cream – literally the “crème de la crème.” I still like the taste of cream.
I don’t know how long he worked there, but eventually, Dad went to work for the Morrison & Quirk Company at an alfalfa mill near Bancroft. They dehydrated alfalfa hay into pellets. They trucked in the hay and dumped it into huge, round furnaces that glowed red in the night and if you stood too close to the furnace, the heat sucked your breath away. Sometimes, he worked night shift and my sister and I (The Little Girls) would go with Mom to take him a lunch around midnight. They had a pop machine in the shop/office area. It was a big, oval tank with glass bottles of pop sunk into ice cold water. Each brand of pop had its own ‘alley,’ where the bottles were hung from the neck. You’d put your money in and slide your selection through a little ‘gate’ at one end. If you touched this pop machine when you were barefooted, you got an electric shock! The other clear memory I have of the alfalfa mill was the smell of the burning hay and the green dust that clung to Dad’s overalls.
Mom continued to work outside the home. After Campbell Soup, she waited on tables or cooked in some of the local cafes in Lyons. She also worked in the kitchen at the brand new nursing home -the Logan Valley Manor- when it opened in the early 70s.
During the racing season, Dad worked for his father as a thoroughbred race horse trainer, which I told about in an earlier post (February 22, 2007)
Mom and Dad both took jobs with a company called Golden Sun Frozen Foods in the late 60s. They made frozen fried chicken there and Dad drove the truck, making deliveries all over Nebraska, probably Iowa, and sometimes to Denver.
One thing Mom and Dad liked to do was bowl. Lyons had a ten-lane bowling alley – “Lyons Lanes.” Mom was on a women’s league, Dad was on at least one men’s league and they bowled together every Friday on a mixed league. (I still have his bowling shirt.) Dad won a traveling trophy for high score or something two years in a row and I used to love to look at the little gold guy bowling with dad’s name – twice - at the top of the list of engraved names. It sat on top of our piano.
We went to church most every Sunday at the Lyons Methodist. Mom taught Sunday school for several years, but Dad usually stayed home and watched “Bowling for Dollars” on TV. His cousin, Joe Gatewood, was a frequent contestant and even won a brand new convertible. Mom always slow-cooked a beef roast with potatoes and carrots and a jello salad for Sunday dinner.
Their favorite place to go out to eat on a Saturday night was the Green Lantern in Decatur, a steak house that still serves good food and drink.
Dad and Mom welcomed “just passing through town, so we thought we’d drop by” visitors with a pot of coffee and conversation. Frequent guests included Dad’s cousin and his wife, Ray and Tamsey Gatewood and the widow of Mom’s brother, Milton, whom I knew as Aunt Babe; their close friends Tom and Marybelle Connealy. But by far, their favorite guests were their grandchildren. Both The Big Girls and The Boys were out on their own by this time and they all started presenting Dad and Mom with grandchildren in rapid succession. The oldest two grandkids never lived near enough to just “drop in”, but the rest were in Lincoln or Oakland, Nebraska. Of all of the grandkids, I think Cindy and Tammie would rank among Dad’s favorites. I remember him playing “Peek-a-boo” or “I’m gonna GIT you” or tickling them and singing a falsetto “Gitchy gitchy goo” with them until they were giggling and squealing.
One mild day in September of 1969, Dad set out in the Golden Sun truck to make a delivery to Denver. While parked at the loading dock in Denver, he was struck down by a massive heart attack and died instantly. He was 56; I was 13. Mom was widowed at the age of 51 and finished raising The Little Girls alone. She continued her life much the same way as she had when Dad was with her; working, bowling, going to church, welcoming visitors and enjoying her grandchildren -19 of them by the time we were all finished (21 when you count the two already in heaven).
One of the things she especially enjoyed in her later years was the local Senior Center., where she ate lunch most every day, played cards and delivered meals to “those old folks” who couldn’t get out. She was in her 70s at the time. Several of these Senior citizens formed a “Kitchen Band” and they played kazooes (a piece of paper wrapped around a fine tooth comb), pots and pans, an old washboard and Mom, of course, on the piano.
When Alzheimers began to rob Mom of her memories, she made a heroic effort to hold onto the names of her children. Most of us, she remembered by where we lived: “the one from Omaha,” or “the one in Norfolk.” I was always “the one with the horses.”
She died in September of 2005 in a nursing home in Omaha, two of her daughters at her bedside. I had gone home only hours before, intending to return in the early morning. The home, St. Joseph’s Villa, was a converted hospital. It may have been the same one her own mother was in when she passed away in 1962.
Well, my friend, your simple question several days ago, “What are your family memories?” has opened a floodgate. Thank you for doing that. I miss my folks, but writing these things down brings them back to life for me, and, hopefully, for anyone who reads this.
(To be continued)

Monday, March 05, 2007

And speaking of blizzards…

The five most repeated words in the Bible are “And it came to pass…”, in other words, it didn’t come to stay. However, the March 2007 Blizzard managed to stay for three days.
Our gravel road runs east/west and the wind kept it cleared, right down to the gravel, except where there were trees. The north/south county road (a blacktop) was a whole different story. Drifts up to a quarter mile long and up to six feet were quite common. Even when they were cleared by the snow removal equipment, they didn’t stay open for long due the extremely high winds.
All four of us (how in the heck that happened is a miracle) were at home when it started and we just stayed there for four days. Our power was out for about three hours on Thursday morning – YIKES! No TV or sewing machine L.
Every time someone was supposed to report for work somewhere, we’d set out in the four-wheel drive and get turned back at the first drift. We found one stranded lady Saturday morning around 7:30 in a small car. She was buried up to her roof, in the middle of a drift that was about 40 feet long. She had her cell phone with her and her husband was on the way with a tractor to pull her out. She reasoned that she had already missed two days of work and was desperate to get out. She said she had already made it two miles and didn’t realize how deep and solid the snow was until it was too late. She had been there fewer than 15 minutes when we found her, but her tire tracks were already covered over with snow.
We finally made it all the way to town late Saturday morning, but I almost didn’t make it home, because although the snow had stopped, the winds were still keeping the roads drifted shut.
The winds diminished Saturday night and we made it to church Sunday morning and even made it into Omaha for a movie Sunday night.
We have 6-10 foot drifts all over our place and yet in some spots, the ground is bare. I think the snowfall total was somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 inches. The temps are staying above freezing now, so the meltdown is well underway.
Now our creek is on the rise. Wish me luck!
The worst of it was – no access to email or blogs!!
It’s so nice to be back in the world again.