THE HOUSE I GREW UP IN

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IMG_0364 I bring you another glimpse of the past, the house that I grew up in. Probably its not too interesting to anyone who never lived in a Midwestern town, in a house that was built by my father during the Great Depression of the 30’s.But as time goes by the old memories seem to be coming back to me and I marvel at how resilient my parents and their friends were.
The Great Depression affected everyone, at least in the world that I lived in. The pictures of men standing in long lines waiting for a chance at one job where thousands were hopeful are a haunting memory that shows up on the internet even today. If you were extremely lucky you might get hired for the WPA, but often you had to leave your family behind and go to another state to use a shovel or drive a truck.
In Michigan there had always been numerous factory jobs and that is where most young men started their work life. But after the stock market crash in 1929 work began to disappear. Jobs that had always seemed safe no longer existed. My father was one of the ones that lost his job. There was nothing to be had anywhere. He had always been a hard worker and couldn’t stand to stay home and have nothing to do.
So he decided that he was going to build a house. He and my mother and I lived in an apartment upstairs in my grandparents home and my mother had the patience of a saint, I do believe. My grandmother was an extremely religious woman of her time and she didn’t believe that women or girls should wear slacks or pants, and she didn’t mind telling you so. My mother was young and modern but she was a stay at home mother like other women, and so she was under watch all of the time.
My father borrowed $200.00 and decided that he was going to dig the basement himself. The house must have been about 24′ by 24′, or so. In Michigan you need a deep basement for your furnace and your water heater. Our basement also had to hold a coal bin. So he started digging, and digging, and kept at it until it was accomplished. My parents are no longer here to tell me how they got the money to start the actual house, but somehow they did. It was a two story, and they finished the lower level, where there was one bedroom, but the upstairs had to stay unfinished. So my brother and I had the whole floor to ourselves. The two by fours were up to show where the walls would be later on. I was on one end, with two younger sisters showing up eventually. And my brother had the little room on the other end because it wouldn’t do to have boys and girls together.
So for years this was my bedroom and I spent many hours, reading under the covers late at night, with a flashlight sometimes. I would also sit by the window where there was a streetlight that helped out some. Since my parents were downstairs I got away with it a lot. My sisters were 8 and 10 years younger so they had cribs and youth beds in our room and I hated that.
After growing up, getting married and going with my husband to Ft Carson, Colorado where he was in the Army, my dad put on a big new addition to the house and all of a sudden everyone had a lot more room. He was so proud of that room and being able to do it for his family. Eventually he built a much larger house for he and my mother, but this time he didn’t have to do any digging.
Looking back at how all of our lives have changed, I marvel at how people like my parents, Marjorie and Truman Strong, were filled with resilience and pride in their accomplishments. Our generation has much to be proud of, and I hope that we can pass this on to our descendants.

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THOUGHTS ON A BRAND NEW BIRTHDAY!

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First of all, I made it! Another year chalked up and I am still here. Despite all of the ups and downs that have been a major part of my life, here I am, still rising up each morning, being thankful that I made it safely thru another night, and the world is still my oyster. Looking out the window I can still see that the sun is shining, our yard looks absolutely beautiful, the hollyhocks are holding on to their last blossoms, and there are roses in bloom. And the concord grapes are almost ripe.

September is probably my favorite month, and it’s not just because it’s my birthday month. When I was a child I was eager to go back to school, where books and friends abounded. I always did love the learning process and the competition that school provided. Now that the main word around here is “retirement” nothing has stopped as far as books and reading and learning has concerned. The blessing of having enough time and choices to do whatever appeals to me most is high on my priority list. It is easier for the average person to continue their own education at their own pace than it ever has been before. Computers, tablets, smartphones, they are all at our fingertips.

So on a day when I am sending prayers and wellbeing for the friends and family we have in Florida, I am still thankful for all of the blessings we have received. Life is an up and down procedure, but at least we are proceeding in a forward direction. I have a heart filled with immeasurable love for all of the friends that get up every morning and go about their lives even tho they don’t always know what is in store for them. I try to remember that everyone doesn’t have the same priorities as I do. Maybe theirs are more important than mine are right now. It is good for me to remember that the viewpoints of the other people are at different stages in their lives. They will find, just as my generation has, that everything and everyone changes, and so will theirs, in time.

So this is enough reminiscing for another year. Hope that next year we are not thinking of another hurricane, but who knows. Thanks for the fabulous wishes!20141025_181549000_iOS

ONLINE WITH FACEBOOK

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Ever since I started up on Facebook, a long, long time ago now, I have noticed that there are several different kinds of people who actually write posts, as opposed to the ones who just check in to see their grandchildren and figure out what they are doing lately.  Often I run into people who say “Oh, I never use Facebook” in a manner that leaves me with the option of saying “I just do it for the grandkids”, knowing that is really not a true statement but a way of showing I am better than those people who do write all those silly things. But underneath I know that I really do enjoy FB, at least most of the time.

Where else can I find out how the people in my life really feel about anything? We are all so busy. When do we take time to sit down and talk about anything, let alone the more serious side of life. We all seem to be afraid to discuss certain subjects for fear that we will be shown as taking sides, or making someone else angry. So as a general rule in company we talk about the weather or friends, or what picnic we are going on, a safe subject, you know.

But we are smarter than that. As we are reading posts from people we know from all different stages of our lives, we are reminded that at some time in the past we may have felt completely different about certain subjects. And we can tell that we may have moved on to a different thought pattern from old friends of the past. And that is perfectly natural.  Lots of us still believe in the same things we were taught as children, at least partially.

But we also have newer friends who have gone on beyond us  and  we don’t always agree with them either. Reading FB is like taking a sample of what life is like, how others act or react, and there is usually a lesson to be learned. This is a big country with many paths that we can go down, and FB shows us that many new things are available to us.

Take games, for example. When I see the names of friends that play certain types of games, then I am given a small piece of their interest. I know that they at least have enough time in their life to take a few minutes for themselves. If they are retired then it can be a welcome addition to their day. We are told that it keeps our brains a little sharper. Time will tell about that one, tho.

Now that FB posts a lot of well-known magazine or newspaper articles, we can look at a variety of opinions and find out the ones that suit us. I started thinking about writing this after taking some of the many “tests” about what I think and what kind of person I am. If I believed it all I probably would go and sit in a corner like I did sometimes as a child. They can be pretty hard on the ego.

But I guess the best part is still that we keep in constant contact with friends that we haven’t physically seen for many years and we can see how they approach life and the challenges that come up. I love it when I see who “likes” the same things that I do, it gives me a warm feeling to know that I am not alone in this crazy world that we are privileged to reside in. I feel a closeness when I see that someone a whole lot younger than me has come up with the same conclusion about something I care a lot about. And when I disagree I can just keep on going, and know that everybody can’t be the same.

And when I see the birthday messages for one of my siblings or children, I can feel gratified over how many friends they have. Birthday greetings from FB telling me who is having one today are a wonderful idea, since I don’t always remember.

So this has been a post to say “Thank You” to Facebook.  You have brought a great deal of happiness to us over the years and many new friends to our lives. 495486-R1-15-22A_016

SPRINGTIME WORRIES

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When you can look out your bedroom window, and see a view that is so magnificent in all its glory, all the white and pink blossoms bursting forth to show the world that another spring has arrived, it seems impossible to believe that this beautiful scene could be the cause of untold worries for the farmers that have brought it forth. Ever since the end of fruit season last fall you have been looking forward to a new year, to beautiful  blossoms, and a wonderful crop of cherries, or apples, or peaches.  Being a fruit farmer, or a member of his or her family means that you always have these expectations of the next years crop sitting somewhere in the back of your mind.

Most years you are lucky, the trees bloom, somehow the dreaded freezes just manage to avoid you and you end up with the wonderful fruit that Michigan is so famous for. Pleasing all of your customers is one of the main goals in your life. There is nothing like handing an apple to someone and seeing their smile in return.

But right now we are under a freeze warning for our area tonight. We don’t actively farm ourselves anymore, but all of our neighbors do.  The laborers in our area are all dependent upon good crops.  Our customers and that includes us, all want this great Michigan fruit. So we do the best we can, we watch the thermometers hourly , and we send our prayers soaring upward in hopes that all will be well this time.

But one thing I do know, no matter how cold it gets tonight, no matter if the pistils turn black, the farmers will be determined to try again next season because this is just what farmers do, they plant, they grow, and they pray. And somehow it works, and we are all thankful for that. .    IMG_0136

OUR FRIEND VERNA THORNTON

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hearts_sSometimes  we have to smile  at our memories, be thankful that we had our friends as long as we did, and look for the words that express how we feel about them. Verna Thornton was probably the first friend that I made after I moved to Florida and discovered the Creative Writers Club at Betmar Acres. One of the original founders, she was an enthusiastic member that almost always showed up on Monday morning. As our facilitator she guided us in our writing, suggesting many subjects that she felt we would be interested in. As a poet, she excelled, and she and I felt a kinship from the very first time that I went. I was so impressed by the way her words could always make me see a picture in my mind. She just had a way with descriptive words that could make you laugh or cry or remember something in your own life.

Verna has gone on beyond us this week. She hadn’t been well after a bad fall a month ago, and we had missed her at our group meetings. I talked to her a few days ago and she was very determined to get better so that she could attend again in November. She lived alone, after having taken care of an ailing husband for many years. When I got the phone call I was shocked because I hadn’t expected it.

I found this poem written by Verna in our annual book put out by our group this spring, and am printing it to show you how she felt about moving on from us.

FLYING FLOWERS

I was just a little child

And watched the pansies die.

Grandma tried to comfort me

As I began to cry.

Then she sat me on her lap.

She hugged me close and said,

“Pansies droop and petals fall,

But they’re not really dead.

Notice how the butterflies

Have colors bright and gay.

They are wilted pansies, dear,

The ones that got away.”

Now, my pansy bed is filled

With deep exotic hues,

Yellow, purple, rust and bronze,

Mahogany and blues.

Vibrant colors, trimmed with black,

Their scent is everywhere,

Sunshine yellow on them all,

Their fragrance fills the air.

Rippled by the summer breeze,

They’re nodding in the sun,

A dark and somber little face

Peers out from every one.

Wistfully, they try to speak,

And each one seems to say,

“How much longer will it be

Before I fly away?

I’m bound to earth by stem and roots

My days are passing by.

How much longer must I wait

To be a butterfly?”

Today our Verna is a beautiful, shining butterfly, so watch for her wherever you go.

WALKING UNDER A FULL MOON

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imageSilvery full moon shining down upon us

The darkening sky is almost free of clouds

The streets seem more quiet tonight

I feel a great change coming on.

It is cooler tonight than normal

A change in the weather has come upon us.

I see there are fewer cars driving about.

Many of the driveways seem to be empty

The annual trek to the north has begun.

The siren call of warm sunny summers in other homes is upon us.

Altho many people will leave many others will stay.

This is their home.

They relish the quiet which will descend upon the park.

Looking ahead I see a fellow walker coming.

She is pushing a cart just like I am.

But her cart is filled, filled with Buster and Sophia,

Approaching us she brings the little dogs to be petted.

Their little bodies squirming with delight,

Waiting for my friendly hands to give them a rub.

This is what our park is about.

Neighbors greeting neighbors, exchanging their states of origin.

Our friendly walker wishes us safe travels.

We smile and say goodnight

But we know that next fall

Back to our park we will come,

Back to our friends in the south,

Back to our walks every evening

Back to our new friends, Buster and Sophia,

Hoping we will meet again under a silvery full moon.

Bon Voyage.

HOW ABOUT?

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IMG_0127Looking at a picture from last spring, in April to be exact, out our dining room sliding door after we had just returned from Florida.  The scene looked so delicate, our flowering tree just beginning to show its early bloom, the pool still covered up after a long, hard winter, the grass a very light shade of green, and all of the new season just waiting to show up and give us some sunshine.

I hear that this past winter there was a lot more sunshine than normal, and for Michigan that really sounds fantastic. February in the North is gray, gray, gray, unless it is white, white, white. Growing up in Michigan, I am so familiar with boots, mittens, scarfs, snowpants, and all of the constant changes of weather. As a child we often reveled in the snow and the ice for skating or fishing. We made forts out of blocks of snow or large snowballs and had picnics in them. But somehow we grew up and started driving a car or truck and some of the fun seeped out of our daily activity.

Time rolled on as it seems to do, and now I spend the winter where there is a lot of sunshine. That is great, being warm enough to go out walking wherever we please to go.

But when I look at this picture I remember all of the charms of a spring in Michigan, especially when you are on a farm, and the blossoms will soon be showing up on all of the fruit trees. I begin to see that it is time to start gathering up our belongings, thinking of what we will need when we take our long trip, the clothes that serve us well in both places, the things that I can’t bear to be without, no matter where we are. A trip can be a lot of pleasure if you are not in a hurry. There are always new roads to travel, new restaurants to enjoy, and hotels to stay in.  When I was much younger, we used to take long trips across the country, but we often slept in the car in rest stops along the interstate. Now a comfortable bed sounds a lot better. That probably makes me an old fogie, looking back at the past, and realizing that nothing stays the same.

So Michigan, we will be on our way in the not too distant future.  We will enjoy the summer and surely the fall, which is my favorite, but at some moment in time I will begin to remember the sunshine, the warm beautiful days, the friends waiting for us, and then I will begin to pack again. What a pleasure it is to enjoy two beautiful states, and the best of both worlds.