Life On The Farm – A Quieter Time

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

While traveling the backroads recently, I happened upon this cute little farm area. It sent me back many years to when my grandparents lived on a farm in the small town of Springer, Oklahoma.

My siblings and I were raised in the city and going to the farm was like leaving the country, even though it was only 100 miles away. This was a working farm where there were cows, horses, sheep, chickens and other assorted critters. My grandmother could go outside, find the right chicken and in a matter of moments, grab it, ring its neck and take inside to prepare for the freshest, best fried chicken ever.

We had fresh eggs, milk, butter and cream. Today all those food items would be deemed very unhealthy for us, but back then that is what people, and especially people on the farm, ate….and it was really good.

I remember one day I wandered down to where Gran was milking a cow. I was barefoot and managed to step into a big pile of cow poop. Fresh and warm it oozed between my toes and over my foot and I was aghast! I was hopping around and shaking my foot trying hard to get that stuff off. My grandmother, as calmly as possible without missing a beat, turned her milking towards me and sprayed my foot with warm milk fresh from the cow. Well, that just made it worse. I can still hear her laughing as I quickly made my way back to the farmhouse yelling for my mom to come and rescue me from this terrible fate.

Visits to the farm helped shape my life and reflecting on them gave me cause to ponder. It is a shame my children will never experience life on the farm. My grandparents are long gone and so is the farm.

I wish my children could experience the nights that were pitch black, but when looking up at the stars you could clearly see the constellations and an occasional falling star. The city is so bright one cannot appreciate how beautiful the heavens really are.

The nights are so quiet and yet terribly loud with the sounds of crickets, cicadas, frogs, coyotes howling and general rustlings. However, there are not cars, trucks, or sirens. It is a loud quiet that goes deep inside you.

We could go to the well and pump water, and it was the best tasting water. I can still taste how truly fresh and clean that water was.

Then there was always the outhouse. I was not a fan of using those facilities, but my grandparents did not have indoor plumbing for many years. My poor mom had to take me, no matter what time it was, because there was no way I was going out there by myself. There was that ever-present danger of the boogieman coming to get me, not to mention what might pop up out of the water and bite my butt.

I wish my children could experience life without all the bells and whistles. Our senses are bombarded all the time with something that glows in the dark. We have our phones, pads, laptops. My children have no idea how when a phone would ring, and you had no idea who it was until you answered it – and it was not a telemarketer.

I never felt safe, as my mother did, telling my children to go outside and not to come home until they heard her whistle. And when we heard that her whistle, we better get home fast. It is not safe for children to play up and down the block as we did as children.

We were city slickers and my children are city slickers and the farm is no longer an option. Very sad, because I wish my children had experienced life at a calmer, less frantic pace. There is not a chance they can even begin to realize that lifestyle, which is unfortunate because farm life is all but disappearing.


It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It truly is for me.  I love Christmas for several many reasons.

I begin decorating the inside of our home the weekend of Thanksgiving, while my husband is decorating the outside. We have a very festive home in and out, and I love waking every morning and turning on the tree.  My Santa collection always gives me a happy, holiday feeling. The Poinsettias are on the tables and the holiday stuffed animals are scattered throughout.  It is fun!

I make lists and lots of them.  There are several lists of menus I will cook while the family is together.  Then there is the grocery lists – I have several, shopping lists, cleanings list.  Checking things off my lists shows me I am accomplishing goals as we move closer to the  main event.

My shopping is finished and all the packages that need to be mailed have arrived at their destinations.  Yea! That is a big relief.

This year, right now, our daughter and her family, which includes a granddaughter, are on their way here for the holidays.  It will be a long, eleven hour drive for them, but hey, they are young.  Last year we made the drive and we are not nearly as young as we used to be.

Our son and his family live here, and that includes a granddaughter, so the whole family will be together and that is my most favorite time ever.  I absolutely love it when we have the whole family together.

The Christmas meal will include my mom who is 91, my older sister (no need to mention her age) my nephew and his family which includes a great-niece and our whole family.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, yes, we are missing my other two siblings, including Tricia and Devin and my brother and his two girls.

I like listening to the Christmas carols.  They play in the house and in the car. Some make me feel happy – like Burl Ives and “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.  Some make me feel nostalgic, like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, and some give me a feeling of thankfulness and can bring a tear to my eyes, like “O Holy Night”.

I am a spiritual person.  Realizing that the Christ was not really born this time of year, and He would not be impressed with the way we have totally forgotten the real reason for his birth, I still try to keep the remembrance of Him separate from the Christmas hype. “O Holy Night” brings me back and makes me think again about how awesome the occasion was and how awestruck I should be when thinking about that sweet baby, born in a manger, just for me.

So, I guess you could say I love the pagan part of the holiday and the religious part of the holiday. As I said at first, I love Christmas for several reasons.

The holiday began last night with family coming over for some white chili and the best cornbread ever (a recipe from the Baldpate Inn near Estes Park, CO) and the holiday overeating will continue through next Saturday.  There is enough food and goodies to last us for weeks.  So, it will be leftovers for Dale and I after everyone has gone home.

It is the most wonderful time of the year – enjoy!



China and “Gotcha Day.”

17 Years ago I was in China with my sister. Tricia was adopting a precious one-year-old baby girl and we went to bring her home.

Oh, she was so adorable!  All the children were just precious.  We were in a group of several parents, and we all traveled together, so we got to know each other pretty well.  Wonderful parents, wonderful babies. Of course, ours was the cutest.

We spent several days traveling around and doing some sightseeing while all the paperwork was being handled, and it was an unforgettable experience.  The Chinese people are so friendly. They would come up and admire our babies and try to show us how happy they were we were there despite the language barrier.  Another interesting thing about the Chinese women is they feel very strongly about having hats on those babies.  We had one woman stop us and smile and gesture that Devin needed her hat on.

We were not in the metropolitan areas, we were more urban. I was hesitant to go to China because I am not a very adventurous eater and I was not so sure what there was that I would like.  Turns out, nothing. My sister had a different experience with the food and came home and incorporated a lot of the menu into her and Devin’s eating habits.  I lost eight pounds in two weeks while there.  Something about the whole chicken – and I mean after it was cooked – just left me wanting.  Not all their food was bad, but in my opinion, most of it was. I subsided on roasted sweet potatoes, instant oatmeal I brought from home and M&Ms.

That little one-year-old is soon to be 18.  Tricia and I met Devin for the first time on December 8.  We call that “Gotcha Day.”  So, instead of her birthday, I always give her a gift on “Gotcha Day.” It is something only I do as I was the only other family member in China at that time. It is special to Devin and I, and I am so thankful we have that between us. Her mom frets every year that I might forget and she says Devin looks so forward to my card.  But, I would never forget such a special day as December 8.

“Gotcha Day.”  It is a very special day.


The Thanksgiving holiday was great – if only we weren’t all sick

We had eight family members gathered in Missouri for the Thanksgiving feast. It was a wonderful time, and my nephew and his wife went above and beyond to make it memorable.  It was my husband who made the memory we won’t forget.

Dale played golf in freezing weather with a high wind and moisture in the air.  Now, my nephew played in the same weather, but he is much younger. My husband knows better than to play in weather like that – well not really since he will play in the snow if he has a colorful ball.

My husband came down with a cold. And when he gets a cold, I want to ship him off somewhere far away.  He coughs and coughs and coughs and blows his nose and makes sounds I don’t like to hear. A cold always goes to his chest, and he can choke on air, so imagine all that congestion trying to find its way out. To put it bluntly, I hate it when he gets a cold.

As families will do when they get together, we played a lot of games, mostly with cards.  We played poker, ninety-nine and dominoes.  All of those games require us to touch stuff everyone else has touched; I think you get the picture here.  We are all sick. If you did not get sick playing games, you got sick riding in the car where we were spreading germs like in an airplane.

I generally put my Christmas decorations up the weekend of Thanksgiving, but since we were going to be out of town, I put them up early.  Thank goodness! It will be several days before I feel in the festive mood.

So, I am in my chair in the living room, in my sweats, wrapped in a blanket by the fire drinking a hot toddy, watching TV and admiring my Christmas tree.

It could be worse, I could not have a tree up to admire, and then I would be stressing about that.

The other problem with the holiday was, we were missing Tricia and Devin.  I am one of those who thinks all families should live close to one another. But, alas, that is not the way of the world anymore.


Christmas Traditions

I read a book years ago when my daughter was very young about building family traditions. I really liked the idea of many of them because it was a way of building memories.  The book had 60 different traditions, most of them just about every day life.  A few examples are:

1) Dad makes pancakes every Sunday morning,

2) the red plate tradition where a family member gets dinner on a special (red) plate because they have accomplished something important, gotten a good grade on something they worked hard on, had a really tough day, anything that deserves attention at the dinner table,

3) Wednesday night game night, Friday night pizza.

What a great way of building family memories through creative, easy to manage traditions.  I wish I had incorporated more of them into our lives, but it is never too late, right?  I mean my daughter is only just about to turn 18…  We still have many years left to design traditions that work for our family and I can get a jump start on some traditions I can introduce my grandchildren to; once and if I ever get any.  We travelled a lot for holidays, so that made some traditions difficult to manage.  However, this year I think I will start a tradition of a special Christmas Eve meal; Chestnut soup has always intrigued me..  But even as I write that, I remember that we usually go to early evening services and then to a good friend’s house who’s birthday is Christmas Eve… I may have to come up with something else.

When there are only 2 of you, it is harder to develop some traditions.  I am the only one coming up with them and my daughter is the only one experiencing them.  Game night can be very interesting with only 2.  You have to adjust some games to accommodate only 2 players. So far, she is not that into anything Christmas.  I usually have to force her to decorate the tree with me even as we pull out all of the ornaments I worked so hard on collecting to commemorate our travels, her annual ornament, etc.  I don’t know if this is something that will become important to her later or not….I trudge on anyway.

I am curious about peoples’ favorite Holiday traditions.  If you have any, please share.


The Day After

So the big meal is over.  We had a great time with our friends and one of the best meals I can remember having in a few years.  Someone brought sweet potato casserole very much like the one my family makes, so I was very happy.  My second batch of dinner rolls turned out beautifully.  I think I am done trying Parker House Rolls; they just never turn out as awesome as they look like they should. The classic dinner rolls came out much better.  I came home with a little turkey and sweet potatoes, so today I think I will make a turkey/sweet potato dumpling.  Egg roll wrappers make this so easy.  A little cranberry sauce mixed with some soy sauce and we have the Thanksgiving version of a Chinese dumpling.  Now the work begins…


Decorating for Christmas.  I have pulled out the storage bins and am looking through the decorations to see what I want to use this year.  I’m trying to get away from the traditionally kitschy decorating and move to more stylish, low key decorations. I am not creative in this area, but I can steal ideas from HGTV. I should take this opportunity to purge my bins of decorations I will probably never use again.  December trips to a Goodwill donation center are doubly good; you get rid of stuff, de-clutter your house and get a tax donation just in time to make the most of it.


I have decided to show the Dicken’s Village this year.  I love the Dicken’s VIllage, but with so many built-ins and the rooms being small to begin with, there is never an optimal spot to display the village.   The cats also love the village.  Alice in particular loves to knock down the trees and village folk and spends a lot of time just sitting in the middle looking like a cat giant.

The Devin/Santa photos from all the various years are on the mantle.  Devin says she will allow one last photo with Santa on her 18th birthday.  (There have been no Santa photos since she was about 7, so don’t think we are one of those odd families…) The Christmas playlist is loaded on the Ipod and the Christmas books are out.  Tomorrow we head up Berthoud Pass to cut a tree down in the Winter Park area.  All the most important ornaments will go on the tree and then we will use others to decorate a garland or maybe place in a glass vase of some sort.  With a little greenery here and there, I think I will be done.

I will then look through every thing else in the Christmas boxes and start filling the donation box so we can make a trip to Goodwill in the next week or so.  I am behind on gift shopping….I am usually done by Thanksgiving, so I will be out and about which I do not look forward to, but at least I can shop in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, which makes it a little easier.  We have a few more food items to make as gifts and I really enjoy that part.  So the season is here.  One good month and then 2015 is making an entrance.  I am hoping for smooth entrance of the new year and just 3 and 1/2 months of no major issues.  Just no repeat of early 2014.  Thanks in advance universe for allowing me that.


My Favorite Santa

Laura and I both have Santa Collections, though different.  Years ago I decided to try and decorate a tree with only Santa Ornaments because my Mom gave me my favorite ornament from when I was a child.


I was so pleased to get this little guy and he is always the first ornament I hang on the tree every year.  You can’t tell that much from this photo, but he is worn in places and definitely looks old.  I love that part.

So I started collecting Santa ornaments and with collections sometimes, I ended up with some Santas that I did not like that much.  Then my daughter came along and, at first, I tried to continue the Santa theme with her annual ornament.

IMGP6303Nantucket 1998

IMGP6309 NYC 2000 something

But as she got older, I wanted ornaments that reminded us of the year that was just passing, so the Santa theme sort of came to an end so I could get ornaments that would allow us to remember years passed.

IMGP6304   Trip to China in 2007

IMGP6299 4th Grade sailing Trip

IMGP6315 Years of Karate

IMGP6308 Trip to Italy 2004

I still like my Santa ornaments, but I love pulling out the ornaments every year and re-living the memories they are meant to inspire. I love anything the refreshes memories.  I love the ornaments, I love my photographs, I love the antiques and other items in my house that are from my childhood.  I know that my daughter will probably not have the same warm feelings about all of these items that I have kept, but I hope she keeps some of them and that they bring back good memories of her childhood.

They are all getting ready to be pulled out of storage and put on the tree again this year.  I think this year we will go to Winter Park and cut down a Charlie Brown tree with a permit.  I love the Charlie Brown trees because the limbs are so far apart, your ornaments really show, plus it is a fun day of driving to Winter Park, traipsing through the woods to find a tree and then having a pizza lunch at Hernandos.  Another memory in the making….


The Favorite Santa

In 1981 my sister-in-law gave me my first Santa.


The following year my daughter, who was seven years old at the time, wanted to add to my collection – if you can call one Santa a collection.  In November, 1982, we went to her elementary school holiday craft sale.  She found the perfect Santa, that was in her budget and proudly purchased it.


At Christmas that year I opened my gift from her which was a very special Santa for a couple of reasons.  I found out after I opened the gift that she had indeed purchased the Santa that day, but promptly dropped and broke it.  She was heartbroken and headed back to the artist to tell her sad story.  The creator of the Santa was in the holiday spirit and sold her the second Santa for half price. Now, however, she is over her budget because of the extra expense of the second Santa. The above photo is my Santa.

My collection has grown over the years with some very nice and sometimes expensive Santas, but the Santa bought at the elementary school holiday craft sale by my seven-year-old daughter is my favorite and always will be. Seeing the excitement on her face when I opened that special Santa, that she had to sacrifice extra money for, is forever in my memory.

I am still adding to my collection, but nothing will replace this Santa given from the heart from my precious daughter.


And then there is my son.  He decided to begin a collection of holiday treasures that poop candy. Now, he has given me many nice Santas over the years, but he is especially proud of the plastic ones that make obnoxious noises and then poop candy. Isn’t that special?!