Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Home again, home again, jigity-jig

Because we've been eating out WAY too much lately, before we left for Warm Springs I packed a lunch.  Nothing fancy, just tuna salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, raw pepper strips, and banana bread.  And, of course, a thermos of coffee.  As we approached Boonville I asked the GPS to help us find a park, and I must say she (our GPS is female) chose a good one.  

You can read about some of the history of this depot HERE.  It's on the Katy Trail State park, a biking and hiking trail that follows where the railroad track used to run.  

Click on the picture to make it larger

I've always loved cabooses, although I prefer them to be red.  I used to say that if I won the lottery, I'd put a caboose in the yard.  At this stage of my life, though, I wouldn't bother.  

There was a picnic table at one end of the depot, so that's where we ate lunch.  I think this is the first time we've had a picnic lunch since we sold the motorcycle.  We need to have more picnics!  

We took a back-road route home and made a couple of fun stops, just like we used to do when we rode our motorcycle.

So yesterday was a wonderful day, from Clydesdales to Cabooses.  I must say my knees didn't protest too much, partly because I took my cane-chair along.  I didn't even take any pills stronger than an aspirin.  At any time during our tour of Warm Springs Ranch, I could unfold my chair and have a seat.  Sometimes that makes all the difference in the world!

I never actually use it as a cane, I just carry it in one hand until I need to sit down.  If you have bad knees and have a problem standing for a long time, you need one of these.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Visiting Warm Springs Ranch at Boonville, Missouri

Warm Springs Ranch is the breeding facility for the Budweiser Clydesdales.  If you are going across Missouri on I-70, I would recommend that you make plans to visit it.  However, you have to schedule your visit ahead of time, because tickets are sold out well in advance.  

Our tour was to begin at 10 A.M., so we arrived before 9:30, just as they were opening the gates.  The lady opening the gates (we later learned her name was Kim) told us to follow the cars ahead of us and stop near the big "W".  

While we were waiting to be motioned on to the breeding barn, many of us (mostly older) folks took advantage of the photo-ops.  Who can resist having her picture taken with a life-sized statue of a Clydesdale?

Pictures were also taken from our spot near the "W" of the barn where our tour would start.
Beautiful, is it not?  

I wanted a picture of Cliff going into the breeding room, which was the starting point of the tour.  Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him to close his mouth.  

This little lady, Natalie, was a great tour guide!  She spoke clearly into the mic so that even Cliff had no problem hearing her.  She also had a great sense of humor and kept us chuckling.  

When she first took us out to introduce us to a couple of the stallions, this guy was far out in the background.  But as she kept speaking, he migrated over next to her.  

This is our other tour guide, Kim.  She was every bit as gregarious and funny as Natalie.    I forget the name of this horse, but he starred in a Budweiser commercial with a puppy... I think it was THIS ONE.  By the way, the area in which he is standing is where the horses are bathed.  Both the girls who guided us through the place were so knowledgeable, and handed out such a wealth of information, that I didn't retain a third of the facts they fed us.  They were able to answer ninety percent of the questions we asked them.  By the way, in this picture, Kim is holding a horseshoe that one of the Budweiser Clydesdales wear.  

  Then we went outside to learn about the trucks that take the horses all over the country.  They can't travel more than five hundred miles in a day, and they have to stop every two hours, I guess to let the horses take a break from having to balance themselves on the road.  The horses do NOT leave the truck on these rest stops.  

Then we got to see a foal that was born on September 11!  One of the highlights of the tour.

At the end of the tour, everybody had a chance to have someone take pictures of them with a Clydesdale (and Natalie, too.  Did I mention how much we liked our tour guides?)

I took a final shot of the barn, and we were on our way home, with one short stop for food.  I'll blog about that tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

It was great day for a tractor ride

Some of our tractor club members took tractors to display at the Apples, Arts, and Antiques festival today.  Since Lexington is only about ten miles from our house, we were able to ride the big Oliver 1855 over there.  

Before we left our little town, we had to gas up.  

I love riding in the open air along the Missouri River.  "This is fun!" I told Cliff.  

There weren't as many tractors on display as there often are because many of our club members are farmers, and they are busy harvesting corn right now.  

There was a scarecrow contest going on.  

I wandered around on my own for quite a while.  The library was having a book sale, and I got myself a whole grocery bag of books for a dollar.  I got two books for myself and about a dozen children's books for a little daughter of my grandson's friend who is helping him with the house.

I finally called Cliff and agreed to meet him back where the tractors were parked in front of the courthouse.  

We got on a bus and took an audio tour of historic Lexington.  If you are ever in Lexington, you can go to the city's website and download the audio tour, which will direct you around the town and give information about some of the houses and buildings, as well as the town cemetery.  Click HERE to download the tour.

There were lots of mums for sale.  

I was having such a good day, I asked Cliff if we could stop by Catfish Charlie's on our way home.  A good end to a relaxing and fun day!

Friday, September 26, 2014

My daughter said to update my blog

Here's the thing:  I can't think of anything notable that has happened lately that anybody would be interested in reading about, except, of course, for the antics of the little girl we babysit, the biggest ray of sunshine in our lives.  And I share enough about her on Facebook; I'd rather keep her out of this spot on the Internet.  I have done some entries in her private blog this week, so it isn't like I'm not blogging at all.  

I will admit that Facebook is bad for a blogger.  I say everything I have to say there, and I'm too lazy to make a complete entry about my twenty-five assorted Facebook posts of the day.  

The garden is done and it may be my last one.  My knees, more and more, are limiting my physical activities.  This, in turn, makes me lose a lot of enthusiasm for all the things I used to blog about.The stationary bike did fix one knee problem, in that my natural knee no longer catches painfully like it used to.  So I continue to use the bike regularly.

Work is coming along on the old house.  Dry wall is being put up, plumbing is in, electricity, air conditioners, and furnace are in place.  

Maybe it was coincidence that when I decided after dinner there was nothing notable to blog about, something came along.  I was piled up on the couch for an afternoon nap when my cell phone rang.  It was Cliff, calling to tell me the four horses that live here got out.  He had sold a disc on Craigslist, and the man who bought it was coming to get it.  So he went to the big lot where he had parked it to drag it closer to the house, where it could be loaded.  He opened the gate and, as he was driving through, looked out to see the horses far away in the big pasture.  So he left the gate open and went on to get the disc.  He happened to look up again and see the four horses galloping at full speed toward the lot he was in and the wide-open gate.  Before he could even say, "Oh no", the horses were out and crossing the highway.  

These are horses that can't be easily caught on a normal day, and they certainly don't intend to be caught when they are out in the big, wide world.  We knew it was futile, but we followed them from one yard to another, back and forth and across the road and back.  

There is one filly who isn't as wild as the others, so I worked on getting a halter and lead rope on her, and finally succeeded.  However, I couldn't hold her when the other horses ran off kicking and bucking, so Cliff grabbed the lead rope and somehow restrained her, fighting and rearing as she was.  He got her back home and shut her in the small lot, and in the end, that's how we won the battle.  The other horses kept coming back to her, and once we got them near a gate, we opened it and they ran right on through.  By this time, the man had come to get his disc, and he helped us chase horses for awhile toward the end of the adventure.

We're tired and sweaty and now my knees hurt worse than usual.  But at least I did a blog entry.  I hope my daughter is happy.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Changed vacation plans

The time when we were going to travel to the Grand Canyon is rapidly approaching, but the strangest thing happened:  Every time I sat down to make some plans, I got an uneasy feeling.  "Unsettled" how I described it to Cliff.  

That is the chief reason I decided we shouldn't go, but there are two others also:  First, such a trip would be costly.  Not that we couldn't pay for it, but we aren't millionaires, and there is always something wiser on which we could spend that amount of money.  Secondly, I don't know that my knees are up to such a long ride.  I'm sure I could make judicious use of the Vicodin I use sparingly when we're on the road, but it's just another factor in why we aren't going.    

But the unsettled feeling is the main factor.  By the time a woman is my age, she learns to pay attention to her intuition.  Call me crazy if you like.  

There will be some adventures during the time the baby is in Iowa with her grandma, though.  I have already gotten tickets to Warm Springs Ranch at Boonville, Missouri, home of the Budweiser Clydesdale horses.  We've been wanting to visit there for three years.  We were always going to make it a motorcycle ride, but just never planned ahead for it.  It's one of those things for which you have to buy tickets ahead of time.  Tickets are non-refundable, but since they only cost $10, that isn't a big deal.  

I also booked another trip to the old Missouri Penitentiary in Jefferson City.  We've wanted to do a return visit practically since the minute we walked away from there at the end of the other tour we took.  This time I chose the more in-depth three-hour tour instead of the two-hour one.  Tickets for the prison tours cost more than those for Warm Springs Ranch, but are refundable up to within 24 hours of the tour.  

I'm sure I will come up with some other fun things to do during our baby-less days that won't take us too terrible far from home.  I've considered a day or two at Branson, just to see some shows.  I only hesitate to do this because Cliff is so hard of hearing, it's difficult for him to enjoy the shows.  But we'll see.  He is so happy to get out of going to the Grand Canyon, he doesn't much care what we do instead.  

We have been wanting to visit my sister in Kansas for a long time, but there has been so much going on around here!  I plan to put that to our vacation agenda, too.  

I have the Gusewelle visit to look forward to, although that doesn't happen until late October.  It's on a Saturday, a day when the baby wouldn't be here anyway. 

So there you have it.

So I wrote this song yesterday...

I was sitting at my computer yesterday morning, playing around on Facebook as I am inclined to do while waiting for Cliff to get out of bed, and realized I might be able to write a song for my Facebook friends.  The song came to me quickly and easily, verse after verse.  I didn't try to polish it or rearrange the verses and words, although it could have used some polishing.  But it was just for fun, something to share with others who enjoy Facebook as I do.  I used the video-cam feature of the Ipad, laying it on my desk lens-down so that there would be no picture of me singing, and recorded the song.  I sang it with my morning voice (not my best, in other words).  I wasn't trying to impress anybody, I just wanted to make people smile.  Normally my privacy is set so only friends can see what I post, but I opened up the privacy on this one so anybody could hear the song, because I like to make people smile.  I didn't even attach my name to the video.

Twenty-five years ago there was always somebody approaching me, asking if I could write a song or poem for a relative who was graduating or a friend who was moving away or something for somebody's anniversary celebration.  "I'll try," I would tell them, "but you will have to write down all the information about the person and occasion that you can possibly think of, because I can't write anything for them if I don't know something about them."

I have no record of most of these songs because, after all, they were personal.  There would never be another occasion for that particular song.  I sang it once and then discarded it.

I guess that period of time was my "fifteen minutes of fame", because gradually the requests stopped.  It was a relief, honestly: when a person came to me expectantly and handed me the notes, I was always afraid I wouldn't be able to take that jumble of words, make it rhyme, and figure out a tune; I don't write music, so when I think of a tune, it's only in my head, not on paper.

When I came up with my silly Facebook song yesterday, I felt good about it, knowing I could still come up with a home-made song in less than an hour.  For some reason, the tune I used left me no space to take a breath, so I had to add some awkward pauses in order to breathe.

Ordinarily I go to great pains not to leave any songs I am singing on the Internet available to the general public, because I know there is always somebody out there who will make fun of my efforts.  This time, for some reason, I don't care; I'm a seventy-year-old woman, and I don't give a flip whether people make fun of my singing voice or my impromptu songwriting.  I don't care whether I get credit for writing it.  

I didn't practice the thing after getting the words on paper, I only went through it once before recording it.  If you want to hear the silliness, I believe this will work for you:

Post by Donna M. Wood.

Here are the words:

Good morning, all my Facebook friends.
It's good to see your names again
We'll drink our coffee, all together,
And talk about the chilly weather.
Sometimes I know I share too much
(The pictures of my cows and such).
I pass on sayings, wise and true,
That likely bore the most of you

But it's Facebook, my second home,
You all live here, and when I roam
You are with me still
Up and down each hill
On Facebook.

There are some times I just can't sleep
It doesn't help me, counting sheep
But I can turn my Ipad on
And find some friends awake at dawn.
Some of you do not agree
With my thoughts and philosophy.
We get along, and Heaven knows,
You serve to keep me on my toes.

It's just Facebook... it isn't real,
It's addiction! But I can feel
All your joy and pain
All your loss and gain
On Facebook.

The pictures of your kids and pets,
The corny jokes I can't forget
The selfies that you take each day
In hopes true love will come your way.
We're a motley crew, a melting pot!
I'm keeping all the friends I've got.
Imaginary you may be,
But all of you put up with me

'Cause it's Facebook.
And you're my friends.
I will be here til my journey's end
When life goes wrong
I will sing this song
On Facebook.

No need for me to comb my hair
Or worry about clothes I wear
My picture will be all you see,
Portraying the best side of me.
When bedtime comes, I say good night
To all my friends, both left and right
And pray the Lord to care for them,
Even those who don't believe in Him

(repeat first chorus)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Peripatetic adventures, the final chapter

My last entry about my parents' Gypsy lifestyle left us back in Harlem in the first house my parents had ever owned.  One would assume that our travels were over, now that we were homeowners:  That assumption would be wrong.  After a year or two, we sold the place in Harlem and bought a home in Crestview, a subdivision in Kansas City, North.    

This was a cheaply-built pre-fab house surrounded by other houses that looked very much like it, but I was thrilled to live in such a "new" house.  It's probably the first house we ever lived in that wasn't at least seventy-five years old.  Oh yeah, and I didn't have to change schools.  I was still attending North Kansas City High School, from which I graduated in 1962.

This house was near St. Pius X High School, so many of our neighbors were Catholic.  I don't think I had ever known a Catholic before then, and it was interesting to learn that they were no different than anybody else .  I had a lot of opportunities to babysit while we lived there, because those Catholics had a lot of kids!  

We must have been moving up in the world, because just before we bought the Crestview place, my parents bought their first-ever brand new car, a 1958 Chevy.

This picture looks across the road from our house.  

This is where I will end the series about all our moves, because the next move, after I graduated and started working at National Bellas Hess, took my parents to Blue Springs (the factory where my dad worked had been relocated), and me down into the heart of Kansas City, where I lived the second story of a house belonging to some church folks.  It had been converted to an apartment.  Guess what?  The house is still there, not looking too bad considering the neighborhood.  Thanks to Google Earth, I have a picture of it as it looks now.

My bed was at a window looking out at the apartment building on the right, and on hot summer nights when everybody had their windows up, I could hear entire conversations that were going on over there.  

My parents continued to move frequently throughout their lives, but Cliff and I have only moved five times, and once we bought this place in 1975, we stayed.  Oh, there was a two-and-a-half-year period when we rented the house out and lived back at Oak Grove (a long and boring story), but we returned, resolving never to move again.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Is it just me? (On getting older)

Yesterday I realized I needed to add a certain item to my grocery list.  See, I got rid of most of my non-stick cookware, but I kept one skillet for certain special tasks.  Unfortunately, I threw all the plastic-nylon utensils away that I used with those non-stick pans, forgetting about the one skillet I kept.  

So on the few occasions I use that T-fal skillet, I've had to be very careful about how I turn the foods, or how I remove them.  Finally, today, I remembered to put my needed item on the shopping list.  

But I couldn't remember what the item was called.

So here's what I typed on the grocery list on my Ipad:  "pancake-turner".

I figured the actual name would come to me later, but it did not.  

Cliff got out of bed this morning and I told him about my problem.  "It seems to happen all the time lately," I said.  "Words that I have used all my life won't come to mind when I need to use them.  I hope I don't have Alzheimer's.    

"The same thing happens to me, too," he responded.  "The other day I was taking my walk and I spent the whole time trying to remember what kind of tree I was thinking of.  After my walk was over, I remembered.  It was a sycamore."  

By this time I remembered the name for the object I needed:  A spatula!  

So I got to Walmart and found one, in no time at all.  Only, guess what?  It was labeled as a slotted turner!  Then I didn't feel so bad about not remembering the word "spatula".  

I have decided it isn't dementia that caused us to forget these words we have used all our lives; it's just the fact that those aren't words we use regularly, so our brains decided they weren't important.  But you know, if it IS dementia, at least we will be losing our minds together.

Here's another thing.  Cliff said at some point last night he woke up and didn't hear my usual snoring, and he said I felt "stiff".  Yes, stiff.  So he put his arm across me and left it there until he felt me breathing.  

I do the same thing with him sometimes in the early morning... check to make sure he is awake.  I was telling the grandson about this tonight and he said, "I would freak out if I woke up and thought Heather was dead!"

"But when you get to be our age," I told him, "You realize that you ARE going to die, and most likely one of you is going to die before the other one.  That's when you start checking to see if they are still breathing."

It's true what they say.  Getting old is not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thinking about schools (my peripatetic youth)

I rather enjoyed going to Northgate, a brand new school that wasn't quite finished when I began attending there in whatever year it was.  I recall them playing rock and roll music in the lunch room, and kids dancing in the hall after they finished eating.  According to this article I found, it was projected to open in the fall of 1959.  When I look at old pictures and such, I'm sure it opened much earlier than that, because in the fall of 1959 I was back attending North Kansas City High School.    

I think I figured out one reason Mother left out so many of our moves.  There wasn't room in her personal history book for all of them:
As you can see, she took to writing in the margins toward the last, and there were more moves after she stopped entering them.  Of course, she began with her childhood, so that covers a lot of time.  She never moved, though, until she married.  The gypsy fever evidently overtook my parents after they got together.  They were married in 1932, right in the middle of the depression, so I'm sure many of the moves were just a way of finding a job that would keep food on the table; maybe that's what set the pattern.  

I wasn't born until 1944, and by then moving seemed to be a habit with them.  I assume they thought I was adjusting just fine to one school after another.  I kept my thoughts to myself and never complained, but I hated going to unfamiliar schools, often switching in the middle of the school year, trying to adjust to completely different teachers and agendas.  My sister expressed to me how uncomfortable it was for her, too.  Yes, they were moving throughout her childhood too (she is sixteen years older than I).

During their first twenty-five years of marriage, my parents had never owned a home, but that was about to change.  They found a place for sale at a bargain-basement price in Harlem, so I was due for another move and another school switch, back to good old North Kansas City High.  Perhaps one reason they had a tendency to gravitate to Harlem was that Daddy still had two brothers living there.  They weren't in the old apartment building by this time, though.  Both of them had mobile homes in a trailer park there.  
I wasn't thrilled about the school change, but I was happy to return to Harlem, where I had places to roam and cousins who were, actually, the only friends I had at that time.  I loved having the Municipal Airport within walking distance, although it was a bit annoying when planes took off and messed up our television reception.  I still enjoyed climbing the steps up to the ASB bridge, or ascending the levee to get to the riverside.  

I believe this move was in the fall of 1958, because I got a Brownie camera for Christmas that year, and a lot of the pictures I took with it were in 1959; and all those pictures are at the Harlem house.  

I guess I took this picture because my most prized possessions were my stereo and my radio.  Fabian was a cutie, wasn't he?  Terrible singer, though.  You can see my Pat Boone album sticking out from underneath the Fabian one.  Because we lived so close to the airport, my mom and I met his plane and got the backs of our curly heads in the Kansas City paper.  Lots of church friends called to tell us we were in the paper.

My mom and I are in the lower left-hand corner.  She is holding my camera.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Always moving (part four of a series)

Our next move was just up the street to an old, two-story house owned by the same landlords, who now became our next-door neighbors.  Nothing really changed with this move:  same neighborhood, same school (North Kansas City), same Missouri River, still within walking distance.  We were back to an outhouse, but there was running water in the house, at least.  No hot water, but still, it beat carrying a bucket outside to a pump as we always had before moving to the city.  I don't remember much about this house except that I had a cat I sneaked inside after school, while both parents were still at work.  My mom was allergic to flea-bites, so she soon figured out what I was doing and banned the cat forever from the house.

And now we come to another move my mom left out.  Maybe it was because she ran out of room in her personal history book.  I wouldn't even have been able to figure out when this move took place if it hadn't been for a headline I looked up on newspapers.com:

The night of the tornado, my dad was at work, but Mother and I (and my cat) took cover beneath a concrete bridge near our house on North Antioch Road.  So we had moved away from Harlem before this took place.  We may as well have stayed in the house, since the tornado hit the Ruskin Heights area of the city, nowhere near us.  

I believe when we first moved there I was still attending North Kansas City, which was so overcrowded that they were having split sessions with half the students attending in the morning and half in the afternoon.  But then the brand new Northgate Junior High opened, NKC school went back to full-day sessions, and I went to a brand new school building.  That's where I was going to school when the tornado happened, because I remember taking the newspaper to Northgate school with me, showing everybody the pictures of tornado damage.

I'm pretty sure we lived at this property for the better part of a year.  I remember a Christmas there, and I recall spending time at a creek in either spring or fall that ran behind the house.  There were no neighbors nearby.  With Daddy working nights and Mother working days, I spent a lot of time alone, which was the way I liked it.  I never had an after-school social life and I didn't have friends I called on the phone.  I think my poor mother worried about my lack of a social life, because she was always trying to push me into situations where I would perhaps forge some friendships.  If there were new people at church who had a daughter around my age, she would invite them to our house for Sunday dinner, and later perhaps invite the daughter over after church for the afternoon.  She signed me up for church camp a few times.  Later on, she even tried to set me up with a "good church boy", inviting him over frequently.  I took to heading to my room when he showed up, because I had no clue what to talk about with the guy and I had no feelings for him whatsoever.  

Among the peculiar things I associate with the Antioch Road house is the fact that I remember that's where we lived when I started to develop breasts.  I know, too much information.  (Cliff was reading this entry and started laughing.  I asked him what was so funny and he answered, "I'm reading about you starting to grow your retirement package.) 

The next entry will find us moving back to Harlem.    

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

I'm tired of spelling peripatetic. Let's call it my Gypsy childhood from now on.

I assume Mother left the Wyant farm out of our wanderings because we didn't actually move out of the Eagleville area, but that isn't the only place she missed, and there is one that I am not sure where to place in our journeys:  Our first stay in Harlem, which is an unincorporated area of Kansas City.  I know I was in the second grade when we were there that time, because they tested me and decided I was ready for third grade.  That would mean we were there at some point before we moved to Eagleville.  It must have been very brief, because I don't even associate a house with that time, only a school I hated.  It was a miserable time indeed.  

Now comes the big move to Harlem from the Wyant farm.  I literally cried myself to sleep some nights in our tiny three-room upstairs apartment, homesick for the country.  Two of my dad's brothers lived in the downstairs apartments with their families.  When one of my aunts would spray for cockroaches, the pesky creatures migrated to our apartment.  Then Mother would spray, and they would move back downstairs.  

There was a bedroom for my parents, a tiny living room, and a tinier kitchen.  I slept on the couch.  I'm sure my parents intended this as a temporary place until we found something bigger, but nobody told me, and I assumed we'd be there awhile.  There were some positive things about the apartment:  For the first time in our lives we had running water, and down at the bottom of the stairs was an indoor restroom, the first we had ever had.  Oh, we shared it with the other tenants, but it was an improvement over the outhouses we were used to.  My cousin Alice, who lived directly beneath us, was my age.  They had a television, and I took to going to her house after school to watch whatever was on at that time.  Alice was excited about Peter Pan (with Mary Martin as Peter) and insisted I join her to watch it one evening.  

Before long both parents had found jobs, and one of their first purchases was a television.  Mother said it was the only way to keep me from moving downstairs with my cousin.  

I don't know how long we lived in the apartment.  I do know we were still there on Halloween, because my cousins and I were trick-or-treating and knocked on the door of an elderly couple who asked where I lived.  "In that big house down there that looks like a barn," I said.  

I didn't know they were our landlords.  My cousins were mortified.  

The only thing that helped me get over my grief at leaving the farm was our close proximity to the Missouri River.  Our apartment house was just across the road from the levee, so all I had to do to find solitude was walk to the top of the levee and then down the other side.  I could walk right to the river's edge if I wanted to.  It was a great consolation to me, and I find it rather poetic that I still live very near the same river.

This picture I took of my dad and some out-of-town cousins at a later time shows the levee on the river side, with the ASB bridge in the background.

My Peripatetic childhood, continued

We moved a lot, but we spent enough years in the Guss switchboard and in Eagleville so that I have fond childhood memories of both places, and I think of both places as my childhood home.  When I consider all the moving we did, Eagleville was the first place we stayed in one place for three years straight!  We spent as many years at the Guss switchboard, but not all at once; we would move away and then move back.  I imagine it was hard to get people to take on the switchboard job, since you couldn't go anywhere without hiring somebody to stay with the switchboard.  In the first place, the pay wasn't that great, and if there was an emergency call in the middle of the night, my parents had to get out of bed and put the call through.  Of course it was a small community, and people were thoughtful about waking "Central" at midnight.  So unless it was a real emergency or someone got drunk, most nights were uninterrupted.

Then modern telephone technology came along and my parents no longer had jobs.  And now we come to one of my favorite places to live, one that my mother totally left out of her records.  When this came to mind I realized we only spent two years straight at the town switchboard, not three, because we moved to Glen Wyant's farm, just a couple miles outside of Eagleville.  Daddy became a hired hand for Glen, and Mother took a job at Vanzant's grocery and dry goods store.  Also for a brief time she, as well as my aunt, worked at Laura Reed's Cafe.  

I have always wished to live in the country, and I thought I was in heaven during the year or so we spent on the farm.  With my mom at work all day and Daddy doing field work and farm chores, I was on my own:  I wandered through the cornfields and pastures, discovering blackberries and stepping barefoot on snakes more than once.  There were kittens in the barn and wild strawberries growing in the ditches at the roadside.  As at all our residences, Mother kept chickens, and I had fun playing with them.  The winter we spent on the farm, we had a wood stove, and I pretended I was living like little Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I've always had a vivid imagination, and I was living my dream.  I was still attending the same school, only instead of walking there I had a short bus ride.  We must have lived there for a year or thereabouts because I remember the winter there and a full summer of leisure, doing whatever I pleased... except that I had to wash the dishes every day before Mother got home from work.  

Glen Wyant's son was going to build a home in the location of the old house we lived in, so movers were called in and the old two-story house was taken across the road and set in my dream spot:  THE WOODS!  Wow, just when I thought things couldn't get any better.  Not to mention the pure excitement of waking up in the morning and looking out the same window you've looked out of for months but seeing a whole different landscape.  Or the adventure of seeing your house being pulled across the road by a bulldozer!

I'm sure my parents weren't having as much fun as I when we lived at the farm, but I was in my own little world, and I had no idea I was going to be torn out of it before long.  Kids don't think about the future.

It wasn't long after the house was moved that we became city dwellers, and home was a three-room apartment.  Daddy shot my old dog before we moved because she had a large tumor on her belly and was old.  I was allowed to take one kitten with me to the city, but she disappeared within a couple of months.  

But I will save the move to the city for the next entry and leave you with a poem I wrote tearfully, as a twelve-year-old.

The friend mentioned in the first verse was Glen's grandson, Billy, who spent a lot of time at the place while their new house was being built.

Monday, September 08, 2014

My peripatetic childhood (part 1)

That word, peripatetic, was a "Henry Hornet" word when I was in high school (that's "vocabulary word" for those of you who attended boring, ordinary schools).  Otherwise I probably wouldn't ever have known to use it.  But doesn't it contribute nicely to the title of a blog entry?  

I paid for a one-month subscription to newspapers.com, mainly because I wanted to find out the times and dates of events that happened during my childhood.  As I read about various things that stuck in my memory, most of the time I could remember where I lived when those newsworthy items made their impression on me.  My mom has a book she got in the 50's that helped her make a record of places she worked, where she lived at certain times, baptisms, births, and so forth that has really been invaluable to me at times.

On one page she listed the various places she had lived up through 1971, and today I decided to make a list of all the moves that included me.

When I was born in July of 1944, my parents lived on a farm near my maternal grandmother's place, but they sold that farm to my mom's brother, my Uncle Leo, and in October of the same year we moved to Guss, Iowa, where my parents become the local telephone operators.  The mailing address there was actually Villisca, Iowa, and that is how she listed it.  This confused me for a few minutes until I figured out what was going on.

According to my mom's records, in October, 1947, we moved to Clarinda, Iowa and lived there for ten months.  I have no memory of living in Clarinda.  Mother actually put down the street address at which we lived.  

From August of 1948 until October of 1949 we lived in Nodaway, and I do have a few memories of that place.  I would have been five when we left there.  I recall playing with a little neighbor girl younger than I whose name was Mickey Snowden.  And there was some guy who would set up a projector in a vacant lot, have people make seats out of boards, and show "Blondie" movies.  I loved that.   

From October 1949 to October 1950 Mother has us living at New Market, Iowa.  I don't remember ever living in that town, but I think maybe this was the period of time when we lived on a farm owned by Ted Davies where there were sheep Daddy helped tend, and I think some cattle.  My dad was in bed with pneumonia part of that winter.  This was where we lived when he tricked me into touching my tongue to a frozen water pump, and where, as we were getting in the car to go someplace I said the word "crap" (heard it from Daddy) thinking it was an innocent word for "stuff".  My mom slapped my face almost before the word was out of my mouth.  (Isn't it strange the things one remembers?)

I started my education at Skinner School, a one-room schoolhouse, with Mrs. Lorraine Eighmy as my teacher.  I was five; in that area, they had a class that they called "Primary" that came before first grade.  School lasted a full day, and there were no naps in the afternoon.  I loved school and my teacher.  If you do a search of my blog for Skinner school, you will find several entries about it, along with pictures.  There was a sandbox in the front of the schoolroom on the right, and if you had your lessons done you could go play in the sandbox.  But you weren't supposed talk to anybody else.  Well, I couldn't help myself and whispered in a LOUD whisper to a little boy who was there with me.  Mrs. Eighmy tapped me on the head with a pencil and it broke my heart.  I almost cried, but managed to hold back the tears.  It was at Skinner that I used a teeter-totter as a slide and wound up with splinters in my bottom.  I was too embarrassed to say anything, but when I got home to my mom, she had me lay face-down on the couch and pulled the splinters out, one by one.  

That's me standing by our mailbox at Guss.  I remember the mailbox well
In September of 1952, my parents left the switchboard in Guss and moved to Eagleville, Missouri, to become the switchboard operators there.  If it hadn't been for modern telephone systems coming in, Mother and Daddy would likely have spent their lives there.  We were surrounded by family and good friends, and I still have a warm feelings for Eagleville, even though everybody I loved most is dead and gone.  I was a strange kid, a loner of sorts even then:  I never once ate a school lunch.  My mom gave me 25 cents a day, but I would either go home and make pancakes for myself (or have a sandwich), or I would go to the smaller of two cafes in town and buy a hot dog, a coke, and a Three Musketeers candy bar with my quarter.  Sometimes I took a sack lunch to school with me, but I ate it in the classroom alone, not in the lunchroom.  I don't think I ever asked myself why I steered clear of that lunchroom, and I still don't know what my reasons were.

I will stop and continue in a different entry, because this is getting long.  Right now I think I have the sequence of events established pretty well in my mind, so I am logging it for future reference.  It may seem boring to my readers, this is one entry that is mostly for my own benefit anyway.

Sunday, September 07, 2014


People will be around today, and I wanted to have something for anyone to eat who happens to show up.  Every time I thought of something I'd like to cook, I seemed to be missing at least one vital ingredient.  We don't live next-door to a store, and I hate worse than anything making a trip for one item, especially on a day that has enough other stuff going on.  Cliff saved the day by suggesting chili.

As I was going about the preparations for chili, gratitude began to fill my heart for so many things:

1.  That huge pan, the only one in the house that will hold a quadruple batch of chili or a double batch of home-made noodles (I think it holds two gallons).  Thank you, Charlene Marlow, for giving me that pan years ago.  
2.  I can't raise good onions; if I try to store them, they rot in the middle.  So I dice them and freeze them.  I was so thankful not to have to dice four cups of onions this morning.  Thank you, lousy onions, for being faulty and forcing me to freeze you.
3.  Most years I have a wonderful sweet-pepper crop, but I always have far more than I can use, so I dice them and freeze them.  Thank you, pepper plants, for the good winter supply of a vegetable that is rather expensive to buy in the store!
4.  My two favorite cows had to be butchered last year, one because she wouldn't re-breed, the other because after her calf died, her udder was so messed up I couldn't have milked her.  Those cows were pets, but we have no qualms eating them.  Today three pounds of ground beef is there in my chili.  I know it's from Bonnie because there is a little fat in her meat.  Jody's meat is practically fat-free.  Thank you, Nadlers, for processing our milk cows so that they didn't die in vain.  I am so glad you are less than a mile from our house.
5.  I have my own tomatoes to use in the chili.  One quart failed to seal this year, so I put it in a freezer bag.  Used that along with one jar that did seal.  
6.  Beans, dry beans!  I happened to have a couple of one-pound bags of small red beans in the cabinet, so I soaked them overnight, cooked them this morning, and have now added them to the chili. 

And now, after all that gratitude, I just realized that we are out of saltines.  Maybe my daughter has some at her house.  Somehow I doubt it, but I'll see.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Charles Gusewelle

I have followed Gusewelle for years.  I used to send him poems I wrote about his articles, back in some of the hardest times (financially) of our marriage.  

The thing that impressed me was that he always wrote a polite letter back to me.  Hey, some of my poems are really pathetic, but he never made fun of me.  There was one winter when the two brightest spots in my life were Kody, a kid I babysat back then, and Gusewelle's three-times-a-week column.  

KCPT is doing a fund drive, and they did a Gusewelle special.  

(I will try to finish this with Cliff griping at me because I won't commit to go ing to his family reunion tomorrow, and he won't shut up about it.  I want to wake up tomorrow and decide.  He doesn't seem to like that approach.  But I digress.)

You can watch the Gusewelle thing HERE, but if you haven't followed him for years as I have, it probably won't mean much to you.  

I have read dozens of the columns he wrote over the years talking about his cabin in the northern Ozarks; so when I saw KCPT offer a chance for two people to meet him at his cabin in October (with a whole bunch of other people, of course) for $160, I told Cliff I would love to do that.  He said, "Go ahead."  

Gusewelle spoke at some sort of fundraiser thing right here in our little community a couple of years ago, but I was afraid I would have to dress up or something, so I chickened out and didn't go.  

We are SO doing this!  Thanks, Cliff!   

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Stories about the Little Princess

I often play one of my Pandora stations by way of Directv when I'm in the living room.  Baby responds to some songs more than others, but she actually does seem to prefer my classic rock over country or folk.  She has to listen to classical music during nap time because the other stuff seems to wake her up if she isn't sleeping soundly.  

Last week we were listening to the classic rock station when "Bad to the Bone" came on.  It's one of my favorites, mostly because "Christine" is one of my favorite movies, and that's the theme song.    Cora and I were dancing, and when the guy got to the chorus where he says, "b-b-b-bad, b-b-b-bad, b-b-b-bad, bad to the bone," I sang along.  That's the only time she had heard the song as far as I know.  

Today it played again.  She perked up at the intro, and before the guy started singing, she was going "b-b-b-b-".  

I told you she was smart.  

At one point today she was unhappy with me about something I told her she couldn't do, and was standing in the kitchen fake-crying.  I started fake-crying, holding my hands over my eyes (all the while peeking through my fingers at her).  She was watching me closely, smiling.  I took my hands off my eyes but continued the fake boo-hooing.  She held her hands up to me, I picked her up, and she laid her head on my shoulder and started patting me, as if trying to console me.  She was still smiling, though, so I'm pretty sure she knew it was just another of my silly games.  

Oh, and by the way, she is starting to talk now.  Not clearly, but if you are around her enough you realize she IS talking.  Often she is just repeating something I said, which is how I know she is talking.  Sometimes all she gets right is the inflection of the word.  One word she knows, and says, really well is "hot".  She says it in a certain way, as though she knows hot might not be such a good thing.  She always says "hot" when she is near the oven or the dishwasher.  

Babies are so amazing.  

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Harlem (in Kansas City)

I got an email today from a reporter at The Pitch, an online Kansas City newspaper.  Evidently he found me on Google after typing in "Harlem" as the search word.  Here's what he had to say:  

Hi Donna,
"I am a reporter for The Pitch, a weekly paper in Kansas City. I saw an interesting blog you wrote about the Harlem neighborhood in Kansas City. I'm interested in doing a story of some kind about Harlem, because I don't think a lot of people know it exists. I was wondering if you might have some time to talk soon about Harlem, share your memories, give me some ideas of interesting things about the place. Let me know? My contact info is below. Hope to hear from you!


If you do a search on my blog for Harlem, you will find several entries.  See for yourself by clicking HERE.  

I will gladly share my memories of Harlem with anyone who asks.  I think I have cousins who would remember more than I do, but I'm not so sure if they would be interested in talking about it.  See, I am the one in the family who, in spite of the fact that I am an introvert, doesn't mind spilling my guts online.  I'm not so sure about the others.  

We moved to Harlem once for a brief time, and there was actually a small, three-room, grade school there.  They moved me to a higher grade than I had been in, in Iowa, and I hated it to the point where I even hid under a desk to keep the teacher from asking me questions.  We probably didn't live there more than a month that time.  My parents liked to move.  

The second time we moved to Harlem, we had been living on a farm at Eagleville where Daddy worked as a hired hand and my mom worked at a grocery store and for a while at a cafe/truck stop.  I loved living in the country, and I hated being in the city.  If it hadn't been for the Missouri River, I might have never stopped hating the city; but because I could climb up and over the levee and look at the river, I found some sort of peace.   I also learned to love the Kansas City skyline while looking out the window of our three-room apartment: the KCPL building, with changing colors at night; the Folgers building, with a giant can of Folgers lighting up the sky.  It was a sight to behold.  

Harlem was a poor neighborhood, and we were among the poor.  I wasn't always happy with the hours I spent at McElroy Dagg elementary school, and I have some really bad memories of riding the school bus (why wouldn't the bus driver, who was attending the Baptist seminary, make those boys who were holding me down in a seat STOP?  It didn't go too far, but I was terrified.  

Nevertheless, I have good memories of Harlem.  Our first television.  Living so close to the airport that I could walk a little way up the road and watch planes taking off and landing any time I pleased.  Climbing the steps up to the ASB bridge.  Awesome!

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  But the good memories outnumber the bad.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Fresh, canned, or frozen from the garden

Yesterday Cliff took down the low electric fence that he put around the garden to keep raccoons out; then he asked me if I wanted him to just go ahead and mow it all.  I went out and told him where to mow and where not to:  Not the tomatoes, since they have given me enough that yesterday and today I canned fourteen quarts.  Anyway, they have cages around them.  Not the okra.  Oh, and that one row of weeds?  There are carrots and beets planted there, so leave that.  And the sweet peppers.

"What about the corn," he asked.  

"Let me go check.  I think there might be four or five ears left."  

By the way, if you have never planted a variety of sweet corn called "Bodacious", you are missing out.  You will never again eat any other kind.  It has Peaches-and-Cream totally outclassed.  

So this morning I have chopped two quarts of peppers for the freezer in anticipation of chili this winter.  I have canned tomatoes.  And I have gotten corn ready to cook and put in the freezer.  It's the tomatoes I'm especially thankful for, since as I said in a previous entry, I had given up on them.  

And the garden looks so much better with the weeds mowed.