We all have a Mom and a Dad…they may have gone on to Glory a long time ago, like mine have, or we may still have them with us and if that is so, give thanks every day for your Mom/Dad!! There are two outstanding childrens’ books by Doug Wood, a Minnesota author who lives in or near Sauk Rapids MN. One is called WHAT DADS CAN’T DO and the other (of course) is WHAT MOM’S CAN’T DO. If you have young children or just enjoy childrens’ books you will like these two a lot. I got an e- mail today titled "moms" and it is descriptions of moms by 7 year-old second graders. A sample: Question: Why did God make mothers? Answer: Because she is the only one who knows where the scotch tape is. Question: How did God make mothers? Answer: God made my Mom just like He made me. He just used bigger parts. Question: Why did God give you your Mom and not someone’s else’s Mom? Answer: God knew she likes me a lot more than othere people’s moms like me. Question: What kind of little girl was your mom? Answer: I don’t know because I wasn’t there but my guess would be pretty bossy. Question: What did your mom have to know about your dad before she married him? Answer: His last name. Why did your mom marry your dad? Answer: My grandma says my mom didn’t have her thinking cap on. Question: What is the difference between moms and dads? Answer: Moms work and work at home and dads just work at work. Question: What does your mom do in her spare time? Answer: Moms don’t do spare time. Question: What would you do to make your mom perfect? On the inside she’s already perfect. On the outside, I think some kind of plastic surgery. Question: If you could change one thing about your mom, what would it be? Answer: I’d make my mom smarter and then she would know it was my sister who did it and not me. This led me to thinking about presents for mom and dad—-especially the ones we used to make in school, always for Christmas and Mothers’ Day. We never made a present for our Dads. Poor Dads, only mom got the nice homemade gifts and she always saved them in a special place and never threw them out no matter how bad they were. I remember making hand dipped white wax candles for our moms when we were in first grade. We also made candle holders out of some special form of modeling clay rolled into a perfectly round ball, cut in half, indented with a real candle, dried, and then painted with blue tempera paints. Our wobbly looking, skinny, lumpy hand -dipped candles fit into those ugly little blue candle holders and I suppose everyone’s mom had them on the table for Christmas Eve or Day. That is just the way it was. My dad was so important in my life , I am sorry our teachers never thought of making a present for Dad. I do not remember making one single thing for him. My dad was a huge influence in my life; I loved and admired him so much. I know I chose my husband because he has so many of my Dad’s good qualities. I think boys who feel the same way about their mothers probably choose their wives by the same method…..girls who have their Mom’s qualities. What a big role we play in the lives of our children. Look alert—they are watching us all the time.
For the second time in two years, I am going to miss our Annual Leaf Ride. It has been a long-time custom to hop in the current vehicle and "take a ride" to see the beautiful Fall colors displayed by our Maples,Birches, Aspens, Red Oaks and other hardwood trees that are bedecked with the most brilliant reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, burgundies and browns. The annual color change is one of the most beautiful things in nature. When I was young, my parents, my sister and I would take a "leaf ride" also. We always made a day of it…it had to be on a Sunday because my Dad worked the other 6 days. It always included a picnic lunch packed by Mom and would always feature bananas(our favorite fruit) and homemade ginger cookies, as well as the sandwiches and beverages…coffee thermos for parents and kool-aid for the sisters. My husband and I have continued the tradition especially since our sons grew up and left home to establish their own families. When the boys were young, Leaf Rides were not possible—-there was too much restless energy in boys to confine them to the backseat of a car to look at the gorgeous leaves. We needed to stay home so they could play outside and tackle each other, imitating their beloved Minnesota Vikings. Now for the second year, we are going to southern Missouri right when the leaves are the most beautiful. When we went last year,I thought we would see the autumn colors in Missouri, but I did not calculate that southern Missouri is much farther south and it was still full green summmer there. It was also hot and I was not prepared for that factor! To me early October means lovely blue – skied, crisp, sunny days but it wasn’t so in Missouri. But we are going again to join good friends for a week of fun and relaxation and we will miss our Leaf Ride again. It is something you cannot take a rain-check on…..the leaves are only gorgeous for a short time and then they drop to the forest floor and you know that the next act of nature will be cold rains followed by……(gag) snow! I just wish I could somehow do both things—–see the lovely leaves of Minnesota and travel to Missouri, but I can’t. We have to stay home next year in late September and early October…..my Minnesota soul says one should not miss the Leaf Rides of my childhood and adult years. There is something necessary about observing the transition between summer and winter that prepares you for the cold bleakness of November and the winter months ahead. I am going to miss that ride to Park Rapids and Bemidji……I hope others will do it and somehow be my "substitute" this year.
Today I have gotten permission from my Best Friend (she, of an earlier blog "Steppin’ Out With My Best Friend") to use her story in my blog. It is so good that I wanted to share it. She wrote it for a writing group she attends in her town’s library and the assignment was to recall early school experiences. As she always has done, hers has an interesting and humorous twist to it, so here it is, word for word, with her permission to bring it on my blog:
SEE SPOT RUN! "My earliest school experiences are of attending first grade at Walker School #2, a one-room school about five miles from the ranch where I grew up. My teacher, Mrs. Backfish, was the wife of a neighbor. I walked a half-mile to their house and rode to school with Mrs. Backfish and three of their four daughters.
There was one other person in first grade. Her name was Connie. Together, Connie and I learned to navigate the world of the scary outhouse, bologna sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper eaten from our Dale Evans lunchboxes, with matching thermoses of milk, and recess games like Red Rover and Fox and Geese. We were taught reading from the Dick and Jane series published by Houghton-Mifflin and, although I had learned to read by the time I got to school, I was endlessley fascinated by Dick, Jane, Sally, Spot, Puff, mother and father.
I have read research that says children enjoyed Dick and Jane books so much because they identified with Dick, Jane, and Sally. I don’t know if other children identified with them, but I know that I did not. I loved the series because that family was nothing like mine. The research also states that children believed that the Dick and Jane characters were real. I definitely believed they were real and I would have given my eye teeth to have been a member of that family.
If my own family had peopled those books, Dick and Jane would not be visiting grandmother and grandfather on the farm because father would have stayed on the farm, just like his father before him, so Dick and Jane would be living with grandmother and grandfather, not to mention a constant flux of other extended family and several hired men.
We would see Spot run, but he would be herding cattle and we would also see him get kicked a time or two when he got too close. As for Puff, she would be busy in the barn with litter after litter of kittens and one story line might read, "See Puff proudly drop a dead rat on the front porch and see Mother scream and clutch her chest as she almost steps on it." Dick would be on a tractor or a horse from the age of seven and Jane would be helping Mother weed the garden and cook and clean and cook and clean, not to mention helping in the barn or in a round-up when Father was short of help. The words "cook and clean" would be repeated several times throughout the series to make sure all the girls would recognize them, instantly. Sally would not exist, if the series had starred my family.
In the early books, so the research goes, we were learning to read but in the later books we were to read to learn and I learned a lot. I learned that there was a whole other universe out there. It was the universe of "town" and I wanted to live in it. There was a particular story in one of the readers called "The New House" and that story pretty much summed up my future as seen from a first grade perspective. I would marry a man who did not wear flannel shirts, jeans and cowboy boots every day of his life and I would live in a new house in town with my children Dick, Jane and Sally, my cocker spaniel named Spot and my yellow cat, Puff. And of course we would all live happily ever after."
(my thanks to Fran for allowing me share her story!!)
That would be me—-not an expert on college football at all, but a Bison Football Freak nonetheless. It started in the Fall of 1984 when our youngest was about 14 and wanted to see the Bison home games as badly as anything else he wanted to do—more in fact. His two older siblings were NDSU students at the time so on the Saturdays that the Bison had a home football game, we began to attend and meet our older kids for the game. We got hooked on the Bison team, bigtime, and it still goes on through all the changes of playing in the FargoDome and the transition to Division 1 AA from Division 2 and the glory days of the mid 1980′s to the early 1990′s when several national championships were won by NDSU. When we started going to the games, old Dakotah Field was the venue and I still have much fondness for that old outdoor stadium and its "South Stands" , now long-gone, where we always sat among the students and other fans who did not hold season tickets or buy the more expensive seats. We were such faithful fans that we got acquainted with quite a few others like us who enjoyed seeing the Bison play and were also knowledgeable of what was happening on the field (I was not, but the kids and the Dad were!) I would listen to the deadly serious discussions in the upper seats by the wooden press box and try to get educated about Bison football and learned to follow the "Veer" offense really well as a result of my informal instructors. We were so hooked that in 1984-1987 we went to all the playoff games, most of which were in Dakotah Field and sat in rain, strong winds, even a snow squall-ey day wearing so many heavy clothes that I could barely walk to the top of the South Stands where we always sat with our "buddies" and our kids. I bought an oversized overall snowpants, and a size HUMONGOUS storm coat at a second hand store so I could put it over all the other jackets I had on underneath. If I would have fallen on my back, I would have been in the same predicament as the "Peanuts" cartoon kids who were dressed so heavily they would lie on their backs in the snow and feebly call for "help"!! Sometimes, in addition to all the winter clothing, we would sit inside our sleeping bags, especially when the temperature would hover at about +10 degrees at some playoff games. Oh, it was such fun and it made so many good memories!! Once when the students were especially restless and rowdy, warmed by pre-game flasks of "mysterious liquids", one student was being particularly annoying by walking all over the seats directly in front of some of the really serious guys in our buddy-group. One of them made it a point to speak to the annoying kid (he had to be a freshman) and he growled at the student in a just-audible voice, "Sit down, S – - – Head!!" That student understood an implied threat when he heard one and suddenly disappeared from the scene for the rest of the game. He was full of alcohol-inspired restlessness and energy, but he was not so courageous in the face of a REAL Bison fan!!! We also witnessed… close up…. the infamous "bottle throwing" by anonymous and frisky NDSU students who pitched an empty whiskey bottle through the glass window of the radio booth at Ed Schultz who "went off" on air and swore a blue streak for all the regional listeners to hear. That was the same game where I had a huge cup of peppermint schnapps spilled atop my head by an inebriated and foul-mouthed co-ed. I think of it all now sometimes as we sit in the end-zone seats in the FargoDome (still buying the cheap seats but they aren’t really cheap anymore!!) Everything is pretty sedate these days compared to the times in the South Stands with the students. Watching the Bison play inside in a the big beautiful facility that is now theirs is not the same as the old rockem-sockem Divison 2 head-buttings in old Dakotah Field. The winds and rains and snow are no longer a factor and somehow it is not as good as I remember the games of the 80′s and early 90′s….but them I am a Nostalgia Nut to the max, so what does one expect of me. I can do no other and I love to remember the good times in the old South Stands.
The inspiring story of the Olson family of Hawley in today’s FORUM (Sep 23) is one for all of us to take note of when we think we cannot make much of a difference in people’s lives. I first became aware of Tom and Eunice Olson and their adopted family when a good friend of ours was going through great difficulties due to serious illness in his own family. Tom Olson was one of his near-neighbors, and Tom faithfully visited, prayed with, and encouraged our friend during his most trying of times. Our friend testified to the faithfulness and friendship of Tom Olson and we listened and took note. The Olson children, all members of Eunice’s extended family from Africa, have been examples of good students and good friends among the young people of the school and general community. Now the news story today brings us the Olson’s hopes of bringing more children into their family, in order to give them a much better chance in life than they would get if they continued to live in their unstable present environment. I am so eager to support the efforts of the churches that Tom Olson serves in helping the Olson family achieve their latest hopes and dreams. I am proud to live in a small town community that has taken the Olson family into their hearts and lives, and will do all it can go help them in bringing the other children to the U.S. and Minnesota. This has to be the sort of "missionary" work that the Lord God blesses…it is truly a work of love and commitment.
Yes, it’s true folks. I do not think I can go grocery shopping another time without first investing in a VERY good pair of earplugs! An altogether- too- common problem is making it a requisite, at least for me. The common problem, which grows day by day and week,by week, is the problem of small children staging major Hissy-Fit Tantrums , not only in supermarkets, but anywhere their ineffective parents choose to take them and they are everywhere….big stores, small stores, gas stations, restaurants, movie theaters….you name it and you will find a Small Tyrant who is used to having his/her way at all times and is prepared to stage a major scene to ensure that he/she gets what he/she wants!!! The other people in the venue be damned! No more common courtesy from the parents of these young hoodlums….their child has "rights" and that includes breaking everyone else’s eardrums if need be! Today’s loud screaming hissy fit involved not getting the demanded candy and refusing to get out of the little car/cart combination found in many retail outlets for the benefit of parents of toddlers. Today’s child was at least 3-4 years old….certainly of an age to know better but dream on, dear readers! This Little Tsar was not used to being refused anything he wanted and he has obviously been in charge of his mother for years…probably all 3-4 years of his life. She was like an oblivious zombie seemingly unaware of the havoc her son was wreaking on the rest of us who were shopping. One irate lady went up to the cart and informed the Screaming Meemie that he was much to big to act like that but to no avail; the Zombie-Mother did not appear to hear, see, or feel anything and the kid kept screaming at the top of his little leathery lungs. I thought surely a child of that age would lose his voice sooner or later, but he did not. Apparently his vocal mechanisms are strong and able because he was still going on when the slave-mother managed to drag him outside; hopefully she made it to her vehicle without being kicked black and blue by her Master. What was remarkable was the degree to which other shoppers were upset and appalled by this hysterical display by the kid and the non-response from the mother. Many of us were of the generation that would not have tolerated one screech from a child; we would have been out the door and to the parking lot where a sound spanking on the rear end would have been adminstered post-haste, but then, we were not likely to be charged with child abuse for spanking our brats either. Too bad that sensible parental discipine has gone by the wayside for so many young parents. I must add that there were some other parents in the store with other young children and those children were well-behaved. I felt like rushing from one to another and saying, "Thank you for your well-behaved children!!" Next time I think I will take time to do this; it pays to encourage young parents who are not letting themselves be subjected to the selfish whims of out of control pre-schoolers. God help the Kindergarten teachers who will have such monsters in a classroom in a short time.
Last night we were due for the first frost of the season and it was pretty much right on time for this area…I recall reading that mid-September is common for seeing "frost on the pumpkins". It always brings pre-frost frantic activity in an attempt to save tender plants like tomatoes, melons and certain flowers. Last night I could not participate in getting frantic as I am having another "first"—first upper respiratory infection , commonly known as a cold. (FURI….a "furry"!!) My husband was the frantic one, trying to save a few tomato plants. I staggered out in the late afternoon and covered a geranium that I have nurtured for many years….I dig it up and put it in a pot in the fall and "baby it" all winter under a gro-light so I can plant it outside again in the spring. It has become a family member, that red geranium. I have to recuperate so I can pot it and bring it inside before the "second frost" hits because that is always worse than the FIRST FROST. Why we get so frantic when the First Frost is predicted is easy to analyze. We Northerners do not like to admit that our summer is over and we try desperately to prolong it for just a bit. After all, we reason, it will get sunny and warm again and we might as well have a few more ripe tomatoes, ripe melons, or some more cut flowers. If we do not fight back against the First Frost we are doomed to stare at the wilted, browning foliage of our summer’s labors and it is like facing utter defeat. We make ourselves feel better for awhile but after a few frosts, we give up and let it all go to the coming winter that we know so well. But we have to fight back—-at least this one time— because after all it IS still summer…..September 21 is the first day of Autumn and we have to make it that far without giving in to the cold nights that prove to be killers of our beautiful gardens. We shake our fists at the clear starry night skies when the First Frost comes upon us, as if we have some power over the inevitable. I am going outside this morning when the sun is up higher and it gets warmer so I can see if the First Frost really did any damage. I can sit in the warm sun for awhile (even though the tipping north of the earth is apparent and the sun is much lower than it was a month ago) and dream about next spring and planting time.
September is finally being September after some days of more high heat and uncomfortable humidity. Yesterday that all changed with a day of REAL Fall rains and driving wind out of the Northwest. My Guards look totally different now. I refer to the trees in the Buffalo River Valley which we overlook. The trees are suddenly yellow instead of the summer green of a week ago. Some of the trees are beginning drop leaves and have that bare look that will go on for months and months as we gaze out our south deck door. The changing of the Guard each summmer, fall , winter and spring is endlessly fascinating. The birds we have watched….the huge white herons perched high in dead trees looking down at the dead river, the noisy geese that argue all day long in April and May and some of the deer who drink at our stream going down the hill will disappear soon and not return til next April and May. The changing of the guard is also comforting; one sees a stability in the patterns of nature and one like me, realizes that all of it is the result of the work of a Creator God who spoke it all into existence and cares for it eternally. That evolutionists can surmise that all of this is the work of some random chances and changes is ludicrous to me. Creation shouts out of a Creator.
My Guardian changed over the weekend also; I speak of my own immune system which failed me after I took a weekend trip with a bunch of ladies my age to Winnipeg for a Red Hatters "Grande Gathering" called the "Mosaic". Such fun, so much laughter, too much staying up late and not enought sleeping, plus I got my feet wet, and now I have a "headcold" which was my parents’ generation’s description of an upper respiratory infection, now known at local clinics as URIs. My Mother was right…..if you get wet feet, if the weather is changeable, if you don’t wear your scarf on your head, if, if , if…..you WILL catch cold. I did, and now I have to go back to those good home remedies my Mom taught me to take (they are already improving things) and also to my warm blankets and my recliner chair for another day of taking care of myself so I can feel better soon.
I have missed my blogging for a few days and that has not been fun. We played one of our old familiar roles on Monday and Tuesday and hauled furniture to a son’s home….a beautiful solid honey-maple bedroom set that has a lot of family history and much affection attached to it. Now it is installed in our grand daughter’s bedroom.
But on to the subject…If Closets Could Talk….and I must say that I am glad they cannot talk. The closets in this house would be hollering, "Pack Rats live here!!" or "Help! I am stuffed and cannot move!" or "Tell these people to get rid of some of their "stuff"!!! I recently went into our nice big cedar closet…it does not seem too big anymore because there are a pile of foam mattress pads blocking the door’s opening and it is really hard to get in there. I have to climb over the foam mattress pads to get at some of the Christmas decorations every December but do I do anything about the pile of pads? No! I retired 3 years ago and it has been on my list: "clean out cedar closet". But I haven’t done it yet—too much other truly interesting stuff to do and I love being outside.What about winter time, you might ask….well, I have not done it then either because it’s cold in there in the winter and….well, I just haven’t done it. I have to admit to being sort of a pack rat but I am not nearly as bad as my husband!! He cannot part with his things. We harbored a tweed topcoat(from 1957) that he grew out of years ago til I noticed a heavy coating of fine closet dust on the shoulders of the coat. We do not have it anymore but I remember it was a battle to let it go and I have probably suppressed the things we said to each other at the time. Of course I still have my 1958 green wool sheath dress (it is so beautiful) that I bought at Herbsts’ Department Store in old downtown Fargo. I got it for my friend Helen’s wedding and I cannot part with it either…it is in the cedar closet so moths won’t get at the green wool. I couldn’t even get my thigh into it now but in 1958 I was slim and shapely and it fit my form like a glove. I also have my slipper satin wedding dress in the cedar closet. I tried to get into once and got caught in it and had to have my oldest son cut the zipper open with a razor blade to extract me from the voluminous gown… there must have been 5-6 yards of satin in the skirt alone, which was worn with a hoop at that time. I got claustrophic with my hands raised above my head, completely engulfed in endless satin. I repaired the zipper and it was worn at a bridal show in the school I used to teach at….but I was not the model! I won’t even mention the hysteria and helpless incapacitating laughter of the son who had to get me out of the dress. It is too humiliating for me to remember it. There are 3 very nice mens’ suits in the closet also….each one was worn at a son’s wedding…1985, 1989 and 1991. Of course the father of the groom has not been able to get into any of the 3 for many years either but that doesn’t mean we have to get rid of them….they have precious memories attached. In another closet, are two dresses I wore to sons’ weddings. One is a sheer pale yellow one and the other is a sheer lovely aqua one and I wish I could wear them still….they are so lovely also…they cannot be gotten rid of, naturally. At the middle son’s wedding I wore a borrowed sheer peach colored dress, courtesty of my best friend Avis who had worn it at her daughter’s wedding. Something borrowed, something blue—-well this time it was the groom’s mother’s dress. I even have my mother’s rose-colored dress that she wore to my sister’s wedding in 1968. I can’t remember why I have it but I cannot throw it away. I have actually cleaned out and parted with closet stuff since I retired but there are certain things that my children will have to find and deal with at sometime future when both of us are gone from this life. I should put a codicil in our will that says they MUST hang these old garments on their walls to remember how slim and young their parents were at one time. Until then, I must keep my to-do list that says, "clean cedar closet". One of these days I just might do it….but I won’t get rid of the best stuff….ever!
Ever since our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001, I am determined never to forget what happened or let others forget…so this is patriotic and also slightly political, I suppose. This morning, I went to meet a good friend for lunch in town in the building that used to house my dad’s blacksmith and welding business. I get nostalgic just going in the building, now called the Whistlestop Cafe. It is the scene of my getting many a nickel from my dad’s greasy overall pockets when he would push back his welding mask, smile at me lovingly and hand over the nickel so I could walk up to Andrew Erickson’s Bakery and Cafe and get a nice sized ice cream cone!! I get very tearful and am overwhelmed by my love for my country at this time of year. Every time 9-11 comes around, I remember, with horror, watching it happen as the second plane crashed into the second World Trade tower. I will never forget it or where I was or who I was with at that moment. It is forever burned into my memory, like a rancher’s brand on the side of one of his cows….just as I can recall every detail about hearing of the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. I am shocked when others in this nation seem to be attention-deficit about what really happened that day. I am shocked by politicians who have turned it into a reason to attack each other and hurl accusations and…most recently..try desperately to get a docu-drama yanked from the Monday line up on one TV network. We do not need anyone trying to re-do history or blame others …no matter who it is. We NEED to remember that that act on 9-11-2001 signaled this country that we are at war even if we do not want to be. We did not want to be at war in 1941 when an enemy force attacked Pearl Harbor Hawaii and utterly destroyed our Navy vessels. Both were cowardly attacks and put this nation not only at risk but also in the position of defending itself and fighting back. 9-11-2001 is our Pearl Harbor!! I had first had that thought on the day the World Trade Center was demolished by a cowardly surprise attack not unlike the one at Pearl Harbor 60 years prepreviously and I shared it with some friends at that time. And so now I get out my T-shirt that says "United We Stand–9-11-2001" I made a poster when I was still a teacher in an elementary school and I would put it up on my windows facing the lunchroom where all the kids gathered to eat…my poster said "NEVER FORGET" and it featured an American flag and the date: 9-11-2001. Of course some of the younger kids did not know what it meant but I was eager to explain when they asked me about it. The older kids who had seen it all happen DID remember. I hope they still do. I hope all Americans remember and pause to reflect what it means, even today….the war is not over and will not be for a very long time as long as there are evil people who want to see us all dead and see our nation destroyed. Do not forget 9-11-2001…..this year…. or EVER!