HEROINES

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Verlie in the Orchard

From the vantage point of being a mother, a grandmother, and even a great grandmother now, I would like to talk about some of the heroines of our current day.

At one time, a long, long time ago, the place of the average mother was in the home.  There is no doubt that she was a hard worker and seldom had much spare time for herself. She was the one who kept everything running on a day to day basis, with some suggestions from her hard working husband. When children were ill, or needed clean clothes, or someone to go to PTA meetings she was the one in charge.  Our mothers, aunts, and grand mothers all did their part in this process.

But somewhere along the line things began to change.  Mothers still did all of these things at home, but now they began to go out into the workplace in addition. Life became very hectic for women as this world gradually began to accept and then to expect them to be workers in business.

Since women had learned the skills that were necessary to do a good job they were welcomed as additions to the outer world.  They brought their organizing skills right along with them.

So now it is a whole new prospect.  I would like to nominate my heroines, the young women we know who are doing double duty and showing us how capable they are. They work at home and they work in the community. They find new ways of earning an income by sales or crafts, or even by politics. They are showing their children that women can do whatever needs to be done, and they go wherever someone needs them.

And yet they still are putting their children and their spouses first, as women have always done.  It is a wonderful thing to see our younger women taking over for us.

I salute them all, they are my heroines, and I am so proud of them!

 

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THE JOURNEY

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Living in a pickup top camper parked in a mountain meadow at the elevation of about 9000-9500 feet can be a life changing experience.  Especially if you are living there five days a week, with no one around you except a hard working husband who just happens to be a logger in the Colorado Mountains.  The air is clear and beautiful, the aspen and pine trees are thick and surround you in every direction.  Looking out your window you can see for miles and miles to the New Mexico border.  Since there are only a few two track roads leading up through the trees to the top we have been hired to build the start of a road.  Clear cut all of the trees and brush in a 12 – 14 foot swath so that a new road may be built by the United States Forest Service.  The road will be used for loggers and Fire Prevention people, so you know you are doing an important job.

I say, WE, but the truth is I am the chief cook, bottle washer, housekeeper, and anything else that needs to be done. Gary is the man who cuts down the trees and brush, walks the miles needed, carries the saws, tools, gas, oil, water, lunch and anything else he might need.  The main thing you need to remember is that every day he walks a little further away, so it takes a little longer to get back.  There are no roads yet, of course, but there sure is a lot of brush and trees to stumble thru.  And the rocks, millions of rocks and boulders, are everywhere, and they are tremendous.

Since we are getting paid by the length of the road to be cut, whenever Gary comes to a section where there is a clearing, he is one happy camper to see even a few feet of it. By early afternoon the clouds are beginning to boil up and we can hear the rumble of the daily afternoon thunderstorm.  He doesn’t want to stand near the tallest trees that attract the lightning, but there really is no where else to go. There is a short deluge of rain pouring down, and sometimes it is even snow for a few exciting moments. I remember one storm on September 4th where we were snowed in, and there were very narrow tires on the pickup when we had to try to get out.

From late spring when the winter snow had finally evaporated we lived in the mountains. From Sunday night until late on Friday afternoon we stayed in our camper, worked every day, and watched the wildlife that was abundant all around us. Deer being curious often walked up to us checking out what we were doing.  We had campfires daily, but it didn’t seem to bother them at all. Gary would walk out to his cutting spot in the morning and when he returned often a bear would have left his calling card right in Gary’s footprints.

When I went walking each day I kept a close eye out for the bears, but altho Gary often saw them I was happy that I didn’t.

On Friday nights we would take the camper and also our car and go home to Pagosa Springs where we had a mobile home.  The weekends were spent grocery shopping, saws being repaired, supplies being gathered up, water jugs being filled up, and then late Sunday afternoon off we would go on our journey to the mountains again.  We worked at various places usually 50 to 70 miles from home. It was a very different life from what I had known, but a life filled with adventure.

We did this for a few years, and then the government cut back on building roads and the work became difficult to find. So we took the camper home, unpacked it all and then we headed for North Dakota and the oil fields. Three sons were working there, there was a lot of work if you were willing to work hard, and the years flew by.  That is another whole story for a different day.

But this camper would have a lot of stories to tell also.  Living in the mountains was a new way of looking at life, and a way of being one with nature and knowing what is important.  Our children occasionally came to visit us while there and it is fun to see the pictures yet today of them helping with the wood and having fun doing it.

Many years have gone by since we traveled in the camper, working our way thru the years, but the memories are still there and the love that developed in me for the mountains still remains, and I am the better person for it. Thank you, Colorado.

WHAT IF

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What if I had known when I worked in this beautiful building, so many years ago, where my love for books and my experiences would lead me? in 1950, 1951, and 1952 this was my home for two hours a day, Monday thru Friday, and eight hours on Saturday.

This is the Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, Michigan, and it really was home to me. The Children’s Room was on the 2nd floor, and one of my most vivid memories is walking up the long, wide, and steep stairs, to where a world full of books awaited me. I was only about five when I started climbing those stairs.  My mother made sure that I got there almost every week.  There were many thousands of books because it was one of the best libraries in the United States, and it had been given to the City of Muskegon by a lumber baron, Charles Hackley, and endowed by him. He also gave a hospital, an art gallery, a school, a bank, and many other gifts. Every year we would have a program in our schools honoring him and then we would be free to go home, so as children we especially loved Hackley Day.

The library had a rule at that time that a child could check out books only from the Children’s Room until they got to the 9th grade.  But long before that happened I had found friends and family members who would go with me to the downstairs stacks and check out books for me. My most prized possessions were my books, and reading was everything to me.

When I reached my 16th birthday the first thing that I did was go downtown to the library and submit an application for employment. My first job was upstairs with the children.  I couldn’t wait until I could go there every day and read whatever I wanted to. The first year I shelved books, pushing a big cart, and I used to compete with myself to see how fast I could do it. By the second year I was typing catalog cards and helping to mend books.  And whenever I could I was sneaking books that I wanted to read to the back room where I had a secret stash.

Every day I walked from our high school about 3/4 of a mile to the library. One of my good friends, Marion, worked in the library also, but downstairs, and we would scurry together.  When my work was done I ran to the bus stop, a few blocks away, to catch a ride. Several miles later I stepped down and hurried home to the supper that my mother had ready for all of us. Occasionally I would miss the bus and then I would really hear about it when I got home late. In the winter it would be dark and cold, and I would be somewhat nervous walking the 2 1/2 blocks.

In the spring of 1952 I applied for work as a savings teller at the Hackley Bank, and was really excited to be hired. My father was so proud, because at that time 17 year old girls just didn’t work in banks. I felt right at home there, in a bank named Hackley.

Many years have gone by since those early days but I have never lost my love for reading every book that I find, and now I have carried it forward by writing about the love that I find  wherever I go.  Books are the bridge between us all, and watching our young children as they discover the fun of reading is one of the great pleasures in our lives.

 

WHAT WILL MY GRANDCHILDREN REMEMBER ABOUT ME?

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Lake Michigan at its absolute best

Sometimes a question will just leap out from the page to bring forth a multitude of tumultuous thoughts.  That is what this one did for me. I have 6 grandchildren from my own sons, and five from my husband’s family.  Then I have 6 more from 2nd wives of my sons after they were divorced and remarried.  Another grandson was adopted out 30 years ago, and yet another grandson drowned at 18.

The ones that I had the closest contact to turn out to be the ones that have had problems with their parents because of divorce.  A strong bond is formed when a child and a grand parent have to face difficult situations together.

So all of these children will remember me in different ways.  Mostly they will remember the grandma who loved the mountains, who lived on the IPad and loved to write. That is why I published my first book, so that they would get to know me better.  Some of them will remember me as Grandpa’s second wife, and that’s really grown more loving with time and experiences. Almost all of my grandchildren live a long distance from me, and I have very little physical contact with them.  But e-mails, phones, and Facebook can be a wonderful thing. I can keep track of their families, even tho sometimes I shake my head, watching their lives go by.

And there are some grandchildren who still end their calls or notes with “No Matter What”! They will remember that I was there for them when they really needed me, when their whole world was shattered, and these relationships have lasted twenty years and more, and grown ever stronger. Because of them I feel that I was in the right place at the right time, and did what needed to be done.

I am really fortunate to have all of our extended families, and I hope they will remember me fondly, no matter what. I have been lucky to have all of our grandchildren to love and to cherish.

LIFE JUST KEEPS ON GOING ON

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This has been a week full of ups and downs.  We have a new great grandson, and we are eyeing him thru the miracle of the Internet, on our phones or our tablets.  As grandparents do we all smile and remember when our own children were born, and everything seems so different! My own parents didn’t even see their first grandson until he was five months old.  My husband had been drafted during the Korean War and so the baby was born in Colorado.

But we lost a family member this week also, one of my first cousins that I hadn’t seen in many years.  As I went looking on the “Memories” page of the funeral home I saw how much she had contributed to this earth because her grandchildren had written how much they would miss her loving spirit.  And I realized anew how important it is to society to have the bonds of grandchildren and grandparents to each other. There can be a specialness to this relationship that endures forever. The grandparent is filled with love and hope just as they are with their own children, but without the day to day disciplines and responsibilities that come with parenting.

When we see our grandchildren with all of the hopes and dreams that we remember from our own childhood we are filled with joy to see that life does go on. Even if we never managed to do all of the things that we planned on ourselves, we see that there is a whole new generation that can do it for us. The sky seems to be limitless for our dreams for them. And when we actually see them accomplishing the things we never managed to do, that is joy without measure.

Now our own children are experiencing the joys of being grandparents.  It is a pleasure to see their excitement and to know how much it will mean for them. Scattered all over the country, yet we are able to keep a close eye on them and we revel in their day to day accomplishments.

Life is so full of both joy and sadness, but underlining it all is Love.  And having grandchildren is the bridge that will lead us forward. We see the sweetness in them and the hope that we all have for their own expectations, and we are filled with thankfulness that they have been loaned to us.