Sunday, July 30, 2017

Down memory lane

I never know from year to year whether I will have a garden, or if I do, whether I will decide to can or not to can.  Each year I seem to drop another thing from my routine:  The Jersey cow is gone, the chickens are gone.  So I wait to see what's in store each spring and assess my "want-to".  

My garden this year is smaller, but I have lots of tomatoes.  I think I've canned enough for my needs this winter, but there is a lady who is usually glad to come and get any of my extra tomatoes for canning.  I may do some more later; I just want to take a break from the mess. I had just typed this much when I had some visitors.  It was my friend Shirley, whom I'm always so glad to see.  I sent them home with some tomatoes.  Her daughter looked very happy as she got in the car.  
Just a few fruits of my labor
When I bring in canning jars from the garage, they spark happy memories.  I got rid of at least half my jars years ago, knowing I'd never use them all again.  I should dispose of more, but believe it or not, I'm very sentimental about my canning jars.

Some of them were given to me by my mother after I got married and started gardening.  I'm sure my mom never bought new jars in her life, because most of those were mayonnaise jars, which used to work great for canning.  But a few of the real canning jars were obviously very old.  Yesterday I wasted at least an hour trying to find out just how old some of them are.

The blue jars were made between 1923-1933.  I remember my mom saying that when she and Daddy married in 1932, her mom gave her a lot of home-canned goods:  Green beans, tomatoes, jams and jellies.  I like to think perhaps these originally came from Grandma.  Old Ball jars are plentiful, and there's lots of information about how to figure out their ages.  However, I found very little help from Google on this next one.  Apparently Atlas jars aren't collected as much.  If I understand correctly, all the manufacturers stopped making the blue jars after the mid-1930's, so this one is very old too.

Here's what leads me to believe it might have been made before the 30's.

Can you see the bubbles in the glass, actually a part of the jar?  I couldn't really find any information about the bubbles, but I would think it would be older, perhaps before they had refined the process of jar-making to keep them from being flawed like this.  

Most of my jars are newer ones I bought myself, but I have an attachment to those too:  Money was scarce at our house back then, and it was a big deal when I bought a case of twelve shiny new jars.  I remember how happy I was to have them.  I have a few marked with the bicentennial in 1976, but most were purchased in the late 60's.

Isn't it silly the things we get attached to?  Then we die, and they'll all be disposed of.  I keep trying to force myself to box up some of my precious jars and take them to Jamesport, where the Amish folks will buy them.  They don't pay much, but I hate to think about anything so hard-gotten being thrown away.  Yeah, one of these days I'll take half of them up there.  Right.  Ha!  I'm already getting cold feet just thinking about it.

In case anybody is wondering, our weather has been perfect!  We got seven inches of rain last week... that was a little much, but afterward the temperatures cooled down nicely.  

That's all my blathering for now.  Peace!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The land of plenty

After last year, having any tomatoes is a blessing.  Blight is out there, and may or may not take over.  But while I have tomatoes, I will can them.  My main motivation for even having a garden, in the past several years, has been tomatoes.  I no longer can anything else, but we actually use a lot of canned tomatoes, so many that when I have to purchase them, I get a case.
I only bought two six-packs of plants this year, but somehow I ended up with one plant that bears yellow tomatoes (three of those are on the left in the picture).  I can't can them (ha!), but they're pretty tasty.  I've heard they're good for people with stomach issues who can't take all the acid in regular tomatoes.  

Now I move on to the difficult part of this blog entry.  I was going to wait until we have more answers, but I have decided to prepare everyone now.  I imagine most of the local folks have heard anyway, because if you tell one person in a small town, word gets around.

Friday we found out Cliff has prostate cancer.  He had a high number on his PSI test so he was sent to a specialist who confirmed our fears.  As if cancer wasn't bad enough, it's a fast-growing kind.  He will go do all the things this Friday that will let them stage the cancer, although we might have to wait longer for one procedure, because the insurance company has to approve it.  His next appointment is August 17, three weeks away, so I assume that's when we will actually find out what stage.  My daughter, who has HAD cancer, said, "Why so long, if it's fast-growing?"  Of course that question was on our minds too, but once you are in the hands of the doctors, you may as well just hope for the best.

Don't you hate just not knowing?  We're both rather numb at present, wondering what to expect.  

The first day we made dark jokes about cancer.  Example:  We stopped at Costco after going to the doctor, to get Cliff a couple packages of T-shirts.  "Maybe we should just get one package," Cliff said.  At the time we laughed, but I notice neither of has joked about it since the first day.  As time goes on, we will probably return to humor, though.

When we know more, I will let you know.  I'm not going step-by-step through every breath we take during this journey, whether it's good or bad.  But I will keep my blog friends updated from time to time.  Meanwhile, I keep thinking about the old "Optimist's Poem".

The optimist fell ten stories
And at each window bar,
He shouted to the crowd below,
"I'm all right so far."

We accept all good wishes and prayers.

We don't solicit any layman's ideas of a cure, such as suggestions of foods he should eat that will cure him.  Holistic health might sound great to others, and that's fine.  This is the hand we were dealt and we'll use the doctors we have been given.  

Oh, and just so you know, I hate pink.  So does my daughter.  Don't share something on Facebook saying "share this if you know someone with cancer" (who doesn't?) thinking it will do some good:  Find a reputable charity on charity navigator, choose one that has four or five stars, and give a dollar or five.  That is the best thing you can do for those who have cancer.

And it only took half an hour after I posted this on Facebook before someone mentioned "holistic health".  

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

More things my mother kept

Doesn't everyone keep old 1952 driver's licenses?  I see by the address that this was the time we moved to Kansas City and didn't stay long at all, perhaps a month or two.

This is a letter from my mom's doctor, probably from the time Daddy's fingers and toes froze; he was the hired man on an Iowa farm, and chores had to be done, no matter how cold.  His frozen toes caused him difficulty the rest of his life.

This is a card that accompanied money the church collected for my parents while my dad was laid up with frozen fingers and toes...

...and on the back of the card are the names of all who contributed to the total $10.00.  Times were hard, and folks were poor.

A pair of sandals I wore when I was probably a year old.

This is a letter from my first schoolteacher, Mrs. Eighmy, written to me after my parents and I had moved back to Missouri.  I had to laugh out loud when I got to the words I have underlined, because that pretty well sums it up for everybody; Cliff and his sister laughed when I read it to them.  

I wonder if that was her diplomatic way of saying I was a brat.

OK folks, there you have more things my mom considered collectable.  There will likely be more coming.

I'm adding this fact I just learned from a few notes written in the baby book Mother kept for me:  At age 2 1/2 I could carry the tune to four songs, and I knew forty nursery rhymes and poems.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Things my mother kept

My mom kept about anything that held a memory for her.  Most of her keepsakes were contained on one sort of paper or another, so over the years many of them have deteriorated badly.  For instance, she kept diaries from 1930, perhaps earlier, up to 1932.  All this stuff was kept in boxes and chests, usually in the attic if we had one.  My parents moved often, but her stuff went with her everywhere she lived until she went to the nursing home.  Unfortunately, many items were lost to leaky roofs, nesting mice, or simply from being folded and re-read too many times.  I was looking at some of her keepsakes today and decided I'd better take pictures of some of them and blog about them or they'll be lost.  Probably nobody would miss them but me, but at least I will have some things catalogued.

All that remains of her diaries is one cover and a few random pages.  When I was a child I'd go upstairs, dig out the diaries, and read parts of them.  Sometimes I'd read something that sparked my curiosity and I'd go downstairs and ask her to tell me more because, as I've said before, she was a story-teller and I loved stories.   

This is the cover that remains.  It looks to me like battery acid got to it, the kind of batteries you use in flashlights, probably.  

Here are all the pages that remain, from 1932.  My parents got married in December of that year. 

Sometimes I rummage through these things and wonder why anybody would keep such souvenirs, but when I look back, I've kept some equally hum-drum things because I wanted to remember a time.

So many ration books, and there are more of them somewhere with my name on them.  Mother told me that, on the car they were driving during ration times, the steering wheel kept shedding pieces so that by the end of the war, the round outside of the wheel was totally gone and they were steering with the little sticks that went from the center to the nonexistent wheel. 

Awards she got for books she read during the school year.  Mother loved school, and wanted to continue her education, but her father felt high school was too "worldly" and wouldn't allow her to go; so she took 7th and 8th grades over again before she left grade school.  

A post card she sent to her grandmother as a child.  I imagine it was given to her after her grandmother died.  

This is a letter to Mother from my Uncle Paul that is special to me, because I was "the big girl" he was asking about.  It's dated September 6, 1944; I was born in July of that year.  He was in the thick of things in Germany.

I'll stop with all this for now.  I'm doing these entry chiefly for myself. but perhaps somebody else will find it of interest.  I hope to get some more of my mom's keepsakes in another entry or two later on.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

It's been awhile

Three or four weeks ago, both Cliff and I suffered some degree of heat exhaustion and dehydration at a tractor show on a day when the temperatures were in the 90's, and I've sort of turned into a zombie ever since.  I think I'm finally getting back to "my normal".  

Our son, his daughter, and a granddaughter came to spend time with us over Independence Day, so I cooked a lot more than I usually do.  The oldest grandson spares no expense at putting on a spectacular Fourth of July fireworks display; it's his favorite holiday.  This year we celebrated on the Saturday before the Fourth.  It used to be just a family celebration, but has evolved to a whole different level, to the point where I have to search for the relatives in the crowd.  It was enjoyable, though.  I've always loved fireworks.  Since the grandson took over, I don't even have to do much except make a dish or two, which is wonderful!  And if I get tired, I can walk to the house and go to bed.  

three generations
Here you see the grandson, who is now the owner of this place (eating rice-and-raisins, one of the things I am required to make when my son is here); Cliff; and our son Jim, on the first morning after his arrival.  Cliff and Jim had already eaten.

Morgan, on the left, is our son's granddaughter.  Lyndsay is his 17-year-old daughter, who helped him with the driving this year.  She'll soon be going to college.

I've been sitting on the back porch every morning except when it's raining.  I try to tune in to all the sights and sounds.  I don't take the iPad out with me.  It's my favorite time of day.  Below you see my view toward the northeast.  It seems like during mid-summer, the sun comes up almost in the north!  When it's still pretty dark I look at the silhouettes of the tree line and pretend I'm looking at mountains.  
I treasure this view.
I love to go out when it's semi-dark and watch the world slowly light up, and listen to the birds awakening.  Sometimes I see a flock of seven crows land on a certain tree back there, cawing like crazy.  Did you know a group of crows is called "a murder of crows"?  I'd rather call them a flock.  A while back I saw the crows three mornings straight.  Then several days passed when I didn't hear so much of a "caw".  This morning, though, they returned.  I'm always thinking about the Indians who once lived here above the Missouri River, and a silly thought came to mind:  I decided I would take "Seven Crows" as my Indian name.  I won't be spreading that around, but I'll keep it in mind as another gift from mother earth.  I know the Indians were here, because the whole pasture you see here is littered with objects made from flint they left behind.  A former owner of the place let some collector come and pick up all the artifacts he could find, and yet I've found several prizes since then.

One morning last week as I sat out there, I saw a fox crossing the pasture right on the other side of that fence in the picture.  He was trotting along minding his own business; as he passed behind the blue gate, I said, "Good morning, Brother Fox", expecting him to lope quickly away.  However, he stopped and glanced in my direction as if to say, "Who said that?" before he switched course and picked up speed.  But he left me smiling.  

It wasn't even five minutes till a possum came waddling along the same fence from the opposite direction.  "Good morning, Brother Possum," I greeted it (who knows, it might have been female).  It didn't even look up, but kept on waddling along toward the east.  I'm feeling more friendly toward possums these days, since I don't have chickens for them to kill and they haven't bothered my tomatoes like last year.  

I've taken to taking my guitar out and singing most mornings.  Today while I was at it, a mockingbird perched atop the hummingbird feeder and watched my performance for quite a while.  Cliff told me he was probably planning to steal some of the songs I wrote.  

I feel pretty wealthy when I think about my wonderful mornings spent listening to the sounds of nature.