Thursday, January 31, 2013


I didn't think I'd still be here at the beginning of 2013.  Didn't think I'd see winter under these "big skies" once more.

Can't say I'm disappointed God had other plans...


"Do you still remember your childhood?"  The question took me aback.  I was at a birthday celebration for a friend.  There were 20-30 people milling around, but I only knew about 4.  My countenance must have been something akin to being whammied because she laid a hand on my arm and countered her question, "Sorry if that is too personal."  I shook my head, it wasn't too personal, I was just surprised that someone opened a conversation with something other than, "So how do you know Ashley?"  I quickly let her know that I was impressed because, honestly, I'm not much of a crowd / party person, let alone a conversation starter.  Then I answered her question.  "I remember my childhood vividly."  Her turn to be impressed.  I guess most people say, 'bits and pieces', or 'mostly just impressions or feelings', or they remember major life events - I was the first one who had answered that I could remember details of day to day, normal life. We talked about a few scenes from both our pasts, moved on to other topics and eventually found our way into conversations with other people, but the question got me thinking, smiling (inwardly anyway). I have had moments over the last couple days where I have caught myself in the 'daydream' of memories.

My favorite memories are being on the farm /ranch.  I was (am) quiet, awkward, shy.  I was (am) a reader, daydreamer, rule follower, & (my husband will testify) smart-alecky.  Farm /ranch life fit me well.  There I climbed trees and reclined in the dappled light humming songs or just listening to the leaves and wind.  I rode horses, collected duck eggs, swam in ponds, ate fruit directly off vines and branches, picnicked under trellised grapes, drove tractors, canned and dried food, made soap and candles, felt grown up moving hand lines, turned (and, later, bucked) bales, read books draped over tire swings (or when I supposed to be napping).  I learned to drive cattle, to shoe a horse, to change oil, and drive a nail straight.  I also learned how to sew, and crochet, to cook and bake, and play cribbage.  Grampa taught me how to garden.  I still remember tears streaming down those crackled cheeks watching me try to pull Mallow (it has a taproot anchored in China, I swear) and ending up on my derriere when it broke free.
Wherever we went Grampa sang or whistled.  He got in trouble for teaching me Navy tunes.  On long trips he went through his entire repertoire. Froggy Went A Courtin', Tennesee Waltz, Bell Bottom Trousers, Danny Boy, My Bonnie, Too-rah-loo-rah-loo-rah, Down to the River to Pray, Roll On Columbia, A Tisket- A Tasket, Mairzy-Doats, Cheek to Cheek & In the Good Ole Summertime.  Gram would round it off with Mama's Lil' Baby, & All the Pretty Little Ponies.  As I grew older I'd sing too, though I most enjoyed watching the world speed by the car windows with Grampa's quiet, shaky baritone, or his clear, true, steady whistle serenading my scene.  And, no matter where we were headed, he always managed to find a spot that made soft-serve ice cream cones and we would have to race to keep them from dripping all over us and making a sticky mess. I can still smell the rubbery/dusty interior of the VW Squareback Wagon, hear it's endearing putt-putt engine (we always knew when he entered the driveway), see the waffled dimples of the vinyl upholstery and feel the thrill of getting the angle of the pivoting triangle window just right to be blasted with air.  We (my cousins & I) called it Gus.  It was behind his steering wheel that I learned to drive a clutch.  Those lessons are more memories of Grampa laughing until he cried.
Gram had arthritis.  Plastic knuckles gave her less pain, but also less mobility.  I didn't even know until I was 10 or 11 that that was why her hands were so small (I think mine were larger than her's by the age of 6).  She still cooked, baked, chopped, & did dishes by hand.  I never remember her hair being gray.  It was always white and worn in curls.  Like fluffy clouds surrounding her smile.   The worse her arthritis became the shorter the curls became, but it was always white.  She also had beautiful nightgowns (1930's wedding shower gifts).  She gave them to my cousins and I to dress up in.  We felt like fairies in the pastel chiffon lightness.
(Like this one)
We coaxed her to tell us stories of them.   Both my grandparents were Scottish decent, but Gram's kin lived in Ireland as children before immigrating to America when they were 3-ish & she had the best wee-folk stories!  She would wake us at night to send us out to see the 'faires' that were fireflies.  She taught me to build frog huts near the irrigation ditches & fairy homes under the bracken.  When we sat out on the stoop at dusk, wrapped in her crocheted afagans, & listen to the crickets symphonies and she would say they were singing the fairies awake and me to sleep.  Next thing I'd know my eyes would open to sun streaming through my window, the air heavy with the scent of percolating coffee, and the tune of "You Are My Sunshine" being hummed shilly-shally somewhere walls away from where I lay.

The farm was my summer home.  It's where I became a very willing early riser, where I learned to care for & take care of, & where I first dealt with death and loss.  There my values were solidified and the value of others was demonstrated.  There the worth of all we had was doubled when it was shared or repurposed (and shared again).   There I grew, flourished, thrived - as well as the garden, orchard, alfalfa fields, cattle and horses I helped to tend.

Do you remember your childhood?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Happy New Year!

With love from US!