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Early to bed and early to rise,

Makes a man or woman healthy, wealthy and wise!

Where in the world did that come from?

A childhood of memorizing old sayings, dredged up from a distant past.  Memories of our local school where we repeated all of the familiar passages from our books until we knew them by heart.  No TV, no internet, no phones for us.  We relied on our reading and studying for everything we learned.

Now altho I have a big digital  clock shining its message in the early morning light I have a built in alarm clock in my head. No matter where I am, north or south, in my own bed or traveling somewhere, I wake up.  It’s Sunday morning here, the one day you would think I’d sleep in, but NO!  I’m awake and I’ve had enough sleep.  Seven hours this time because I stayed up, immersed in a great book, that I just had to finish.

Not only that but I am retired, I don’t have to get up. I could lie here as long as I’d like. No children calling out, no pets needing to be let outdoors, just me, knowing it is time for me to get out of bed. Looking out the window I see the orchard rows, and they are white! It’s May 15th, and we have snow on the ground. This is not good.  The orchards are in full blossom, and they definitely do not need the cold weather.

My mind leaps from one scattered idea to another. I must make the coffee, but I also must write down the words swirling in my head. I search for my notepad and pen, and ah, I am safe. Reassured, all is well.

I am up, it is early in the morning.  I feel the urge to write, and I know the snow will melt eventually. The deck is white now, but it will soon be brown again. I am ready for a new day.  It lies before me, I can do whatever I choose to do, and since I got up early I have plenty of time to do it.

Mornings are beautiful, especially in the country, and I don’t want to waste a single one of them. Come and join the early risers in your life, and you’ll be glad you did.

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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.

HOW HAVE MY GOALS IN LIFE CHANGED?

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Looking back at my somewhat helter skelter life, I am really having a rough time putting the thoughts about my past goals down on paper. Somehow I can never remember having any special goals other than the ones that are universal to all of us. When I was in my teens I wanted to grow up, get a “good” job, get married, have children, basically do all of the things that my parents had done, and have enough money to keep the bills paid.
My father had always drummed it into my head that I could do whatever I really wanted to do, and I believed that implicitly. The problem with that was that no one, including me, really believed that I would ever do much more than get married, raise children, go to church on Sunday, and in general live my life in the same way that I had been brought up.
But then along came the draft. I had married, and my husband was called up for duty, and so off we went, he joining the Army and I trailing along behind him. We lived in the West and in the South, and I began to realize that there was a whole different world out there than I had ever experienced. There were so many different ways of looking at things, and so many new people to meet.
After the service we went back home to Michigan and raised a family. Traveling had opened up my new world. At the same time women’s liberation had begun. It became more acceptable for girls to go to college or find work that fulfilled them in different ways than before. But at the same time we women still had to take care of our homes and our children. My main goal at that time was just to survive it all. I look back and remember how tired I was and how pushed I felt for a long long time.
Eventually the children grew up, the jobs got better, and traveling became one of the main goals in my life. Moving to Colorado and living in mountainous country fulfilled me for a long time. Cruises to Alaska later on in life bring fantastic memories to me even today.
Eventually I began to write, and to feel the urge to share my thoughts and feelings with others. This led to the goal of writing and publishing a book of poetry. I became obsessed with the thought that I could accomplish this and I wrote and worked and edited until my goal became fulfilled.
Now my goals seem to have quieted back down. I am back to thinking about the everyday facets of life again as I did when in my 20’a. Keeping house, connections with our children, writing, traveling, all has come full circle. The days when I had to keep pushing myself to get everything just so have faded into the past. I can take the time to do whatever I want to do, go for a ride with my husband, crochet, knit, read, read, read, and I don’t have to worry about whether my goals are getting met or not. I can study all of the things that I never had a chance to do when I was a young mother, and I can enjoy all that the world has to offer.
In a way it seems very odd to me that I have landed right back where I started. I venture that this is true for many women of my age. We are so fortunate that we have seen the best of both worlds, and now we can relax. We still remember when we cooked everything from scratch, had a wringer washer, and ironed the washing every Tuesday. We lived in a world where all of the normal people did pretty much the same things in the same way.
Now we can choose what we wish to do, and where we wish to go. That is enough of a goal for me. I have arrived at a great place and I am enjoying every step of the way.

GOAL ACCOMPLISHED

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GOAL ACCOMPLISHED

It certainly has taken a long, long time for me to accomplish something that I never thought would happen. It isn’t like I didn’t think about it every once in a while. Over the years I have kept house in many different locations, and most of them I look back on very fondly. They weren’t always in the greatest part of town, but they were filled with love, lots of noise, and plenty of confusion at times. Children abounded for about half of those years, until they went on their merry way. Everyone had their own bed, and plenty of covers to keep them warm, and while nothing seemed to match in a very fancy way, no one complained about how the beds looked. Looking into the rooms you could just tell that boys lived there, and messy boys at that. Every Saturday morning we had a sergeants drill directed by mother, and somehow things got picked up or stuffed somewhere out of sight.
Eventually the inevitable happened, the boys grew up, left their messy rooms, married, and they became another woman’s problem. My daughter in laws probably solved it better than I had.
And me, I went on making my own bed wherever I moved. It looked alright, it didn’t disgrace me, but you know, nothing really matched. The sheets had been around for a long time, and so had the blankets. Sometimes I would break down and go out and buy some new ones, but it was more of the same. I had resigned myself to buying whatever was on sale, and that is exactly what I continued to do for many years. No one made me do that, it was just it didn’t seem that important to me.
Fast forward. Last week we got a new bed, mattress set, springs, frame, the whole works. And I put on my regular sheets and cover, and for two days I thought and thought about it. I went on line and looked at bedding with a fresh eye, and marveled at the beautiful bright colors. I looked at so many websites that the Internet took notice of it and started sending me tons of ads about comforters and Beds In A Bag.
Whoa! Bed in a bag? Bells started ringing in my mind. Everything matched in them. I could have the best looking bed in town. I renewed my searching until I found the absolutely most beautiful one of all at the very best price, and then I went shopping. It was time for me to decorate our room so that it all looked perfect.
It wasn’t until I started writing this article that I realized that I had done this on our 22nd wedding anniversary. What a wonderful feeling to celebrate our marriage with a fantastic bed that matches.
Sometimes parents can put themselves at the back of the line over a lot of minor events. Eventually life catches up with us all, and we seem to take a lot of comfort in the little things. But A Bed in A Bag isn’t a little thing. Not to me. I finally MATCH!

MILLIE

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8fcfd141-9386-4ef8-9e13-6aa8c2cdbce2Everywhere I go I see Millie,

Everywhere.

The click click of little toenails coming down the hall

The deep sighs of our Millie, sound asleep under the bed,

The big brown eyes begging me to go for a walk.

The tug on the leash as she pulls me thru the orchard,

The soft curly hair beneath my stroking hand,

The sharp barking when a stranger comes to the door.

The prancing and galloping when she sees us come thru the door,

So relieved that we’ve come home.

The urgency of the run for the grass every morning,

The pleasure of knowing she loves us, no matter what!

Ah, Millie, thank you for all of the joys

and fun you brought us!

I see you wherever I go,

Our beautiful little shadow,

Gone on, but not forgotten.