Back in Time

Posted on 10/31/2011 08:16:00 AM
In the same town where my Great-Grandfather's house is, my Grandfather's house still stands as well. This house is not still family-owned, so I didn't really get the chance to go poking around the property or to see inside. Because, as MB says, who wants a bunch of weirdos trespassing and traipsing around their lawn, staring at their siding?  Probably not the guy who I'm sure has a loaded gun somewhere in the house, that's who. But we did stop on the road and take a quick look.

This is the house my mother lived in when she was little: 

I love that rock in the front yard more than words can express. 
Sadly, I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have fit in my airplane bag, either.
Back in the 1940s, my grandfather bought this land and tried to make a go at farming.  Weirdly, his farmland is still there too, but it doesn't seem like anyone is really working the land these days.  Here's the current view from his front window: 


But wanderlust got to him.  He eventually sold the farm and started moving around the country in a variety of jobs he held throughout his lifetime: potato sorter, gas station owner, trumpet player in a Mariachi band, washing machine salesman, sheet metal worker, bottled water deliveryman, building airplanes, building missiles, laundromat owner... I'm sure there are more, but I got tired. The man could do pretty much everything.

I was also impressed by how well this one has been maintained.  Here it is today:


Here it is in the 1940s:


There have been a few changes made here, but it's still the same house.

Check out this shed:


Here's my Grandmother standing in front of it in the 40s:


Here's the creek (this word is pronounced crik, by the way) in front of the house now:


And here's the creek in around, what, 1949?

That little tomboy in the cowboy hat is my mother - cute, huh?

If Back to the Future had been set in my family's home town, I'm pretty sure Marty McFly would never have actually noticed he'd gone back in time.

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You Can Go Home Again

Posted on 10/30/2011 07:28:00 AM
While I was in Idaho last month, I got the chance to go prowl around one of the old family farm houses that belonged to my progenitors and still stands in the town where my family lived back then.  It's a funny little community because a lot of old family farm houses still stand there and they still look much like they did in the early 1900s. Normally, I would expect that everything older than twenty years have been razed by now to make way for twentieth century progress like strip malls and cathouses (no, not this kind), so it was good to be reminded that there are still some places in the world that keep historic buildings around, even though they're not listed on the National Register.  

As I mentioned before, I didn't take my camera on this trip -- just too much traveling and too much stuff to carry around with me while crisscrossing the state -- so I took all my photos that week with my camera phone.  Hence, the quality of my pictures that week wasn't top. But with the application of my mad Photoshop skills a few downloaded actions I swiped off the interweb, these photos actually came out quite nice.

My Great-Grandfather's farmhouse

The same house as it looked in 1920 1910*

I love that it's nearly identical to how it looked over a hundred years ago.**

Surprisingly, much of my Great Grandfather's farmland is still there too. My Great Uncle took over the farm after Great Grandpa died and I remember being a kid and heading out directly to the right of those photos above and searching for milkweed in his wheat field.  Because there wasn't much else that would make a bigger, gooier, stickier mess to annoy the adults more and something about that is wonderful to a seven year old.  Years ago the family sold off that portion of land and now that area is a subdivision. But here's the view out of the front window...


...and the fact that that any of his old farmland is still being used as, well, farmland, to me, is nothing short of amazing.

It was one of the first houses in the community to have electricity installed and still has the old-style push button light switches inside:

If, maybe, a little worse for wear

Out back, several of his old barns still stand.  Here's one:


This is the barn where the cows were milked every morning. Now, it's largely unused, but there's still graffiti from 1925 when my fifteen-year-old grandmother decided to write her name all over the walls of pretty much everything on the property, starting a tradition that family members would follow for decades.  Most are just names and dates from those who decided to mark their territory, but my favorite is probably the one that says, "Put heifers in pasture Aug. 25."  I don't quite know the purpose of this note: was it to remind someone that they needed to put the heifers out? or was it proof that he/she did it?  Either way, I guess paper was in short supply that day and a barn wall was a good enough substitute.  A bunch of my cousins and I went rummaging through that barn one day and, oh, the things that I could take home and sell for eleventy-hundred dollars at a primitive antique store here.  If only airlines didn't charge for additional checked bags now.

I loved the light streaming through the windows here in the milking side of the barn:

This one didn't even require much work in Photoshop, the natural light looked just blue that day

I don't know how old this water pump is, but it's still in use.
It also makes that modern green garden hose seem a bit anachronistic

This house is still in the family and I love that.  I remember spending nights in one of the upstairs rooms as a kid and obsessively petting the velour blanket my Great Aunt gave us to keep warm at night.  I remember playing in a nearby potato cellar.  I remember climbing the tree that stood next to the house*** and trying to hop off its branches onto the roof (That tree is gone now -- it got too big and rickety and it threatened the house so they had it removed.  I understand, but that one still makes me sad.).  I remember having adventures with cousins in the woods out beside the house.  Mostly I remember feeling... home.  Even though the home that I actually lived in everyday was several hundred miles away and it was not my grandparents who owned the house, but rather my grandparents' siblings.

It's funny how the concept of "home" can change on you.  When I was little, this area of the country felt like home to me.  Now I feel "home" is where I am.  It's the city that I love. It's where my husband is. It's where my kids are growing up.  It's where I have a life.  I have a new home now.  And I fully expect that one day this home that I know will be replaced by some other home in some other part of the country.  But somewhere inside of me, that little farmhouse occupies a little piece of "home" for me too.  When I think of the generations of children running across that porch and the rocking chairs that have graced its presence and the songs sung there, that little farmhouse still makes me smile.



Edited to add:  I love that I have people who read this weblog and then send me photos like the following.  Thanks, E, these are great! 

*This was actually the house in 1910, shortly after it was built by the original family who owned it (along with the original family standing on the porch).

**But here is the property in 1895 when that family homesteaded it.  So I guess some things do change:


Here's the corral in 1942:


Here's the house with my Great Aunt and Uncle standing in front in 1970.  Three words:  White.  Picket.  Fence:


***Here's that tree in the middle 1970s.  Apparently it was the garage the tree overhung, not the house, so my memory is a bit faulty.  Also, I had totally forgotten that there was almost always a tire swing in the yard.  That is almost too idyllic to be real:


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And Not to Be Outdone...

Posted on 10/29/2011 06:49:00 AM
Somewhere along the line, my little princess-loving child, whom I could not force into a proper Halloween costume a couple of years ago, has turned into a goth-girl. So before she grows up enough to start dressing like this when she goes to church, I figure she deserves a Halloween portrait worthy of the old B-movies I love.


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Irony, Thy Name is 4 Year Old

Posted on 10/29/2011 06:21:00 AM
I have so many comments on this Halloween costume, I can't contain them all. It's a good thing I have accounts on several different social media sites.



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Apples Fall Close

Posted on 10/28/2011 06:40:00 AM
She asked for a guitar for her birthday, but she plays it like this.


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Armfuls of Blossoms of Blue

Posted on 10/25/2011 05:02:00 AM
I love blue flowers.  I know they're not real, but they should be.



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Halloween Costume Preview

Posted on 10/24/2011 05:35:00 AM
Aunt Clara had for years labored under the delusion that I was not only perpetually 4 years old, but also a girl.

Mr. Parker: He looks like a deranged Easter Bunny.

Mother: He does not!

Mr. Parker: He does too, he looks like a pink nightmare!  Are you happy wearing that?  There, you see?







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Why Didn't Anyone Think of That Before?

Posted on 10/22/2011 08:36:00 AM
"I got a great idea, Momma!"

"What's that?"

"I want to have my five birthday just like my four birthday."

"You want the same kind of pirate party?"

"No.  I just want it to be the same as my four birthday."

"You want to have your party out on the deck?"

"No!"

"You want to go to Pirate Adventures?"

"No!!!  That was my three birthday."

"What then?"

"I want to have my five birthday on September 19th.  Just like my four birthday."

"Oh!  Well, I suppose that could be arranged."

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Nature Finds a Way

Posted on 10/21/2011 10:01:00 AM

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To Gillian on Her 11th Birthday

Posted on 10/20/2011 07:14:00 AM

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't - has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right... that. Which could be awful - not all the time. It's kinda... [deep breath] not that you like it exactly, but - it's what you've got instead of your son. So, you carry it around. And uh... it doesn't go away. Which is...

Becca: Which is what?

Nat: Fine... actually.


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Games People Play

Posted on 10/19/2011 09:27:00 AM
The other day, The Caterpillar spent quite a bit of her own time dragging books out of her bookshelf and lining them up on the floor from the door of her bedroom into the living room.  I asked what she thought she was doing and she just looked up at me through her eyelashes and said coyly, "You'll see."

So I sat at the end of the line of books and waited patiently, not to be disappointed.  A few minutes later Peter Cottontail came hopping by.


Lucky is the mother whose daughter can entertain herself.

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Panoramic Idaho

Posted on 10/18/2011 10:15:00 AM
A few more photos taken in Idaho which don't necessarily fit into any story; I just like them and am surprised by how good they turned out. You know, I could almost get into this camera-phone thing.

Rainbow over Sun Valley
The Snake River
Sun Valley Ski Lift - sans snow
Wind farm
Vista from my hotel window in Ketchum
Ranchland near Stanley
Alturas Lake

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Cakes R Us

Posted on 10/17/2011 09:07:00 AM
We were invited to a friend's birthday party this week and then in the planning stages and through a series of events I'm not even sure I can explain, we ended up being responsible for making the birthday cake.  I think they might just have meant a "bring a sheet cake and we'll stick some candles on it" kind of thing, but the birthday boy in question is a big golf addict, so instead he got this:  



Because apparently, I can't do anything half way.

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Sheep Crossing

Posted on 10/16/2011 03:10:00 PM
There are a few, very specific things I love about Idaho.  I love the beautiful scenery and vistas.  I love looking out over acres and acres of farmland and watching crops grow.  I love bringing home a tumbleweed and using it as a Christmas tree*, and I love that as you're driving down the highway and get stopped in a traffic jam in a tiny town, and you're wondering if there was an accident, a huge wreck, maybe even a fatality, based on how long you've been sitting at a dead-stop on the Interstate, that when you get to the source of all the angst, it turns out it was just time to move the sheep.   




*the last time I made a trip out there, I mailed a tumbleweed home to myself for that purpose - try explaining that to the UPS Store lady.  I wanted to do it again this year, but I had already spent a boatload of money and I couldn't justify $50 in packing and shipping fees to mail myself a shrubbery... and a dead shrubbery at that.

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Eight Years Out

Posted on 10/13/2011 10:19:00 PM
So...


this one turned eight last week.

Sometimes I feel badly because by the time her birthday rolls around, just a couple of weeks after The Caterpillar's, I'm just kinda tired and I often chince out on the day o' your birth celebration for The Dormouse.  This year was more problematic because I had been out of state for a funeral four days before her birthday.  I honestly did have some wild plans for a smashing cake, but I just couldn't get it together when I got home after the emotional Big Thunder Mountain Railroad week I'd just been on.

We kept it simple this year and only went out for a family dinner on The Dormouse's birthday.   She chose the place because it's her favorite restaurant (Heaven knows why).


But then a couple of days later, she got baptized and we all made a giant deal about that.


The baptism was, well, kinda perfect.

Everything went well and there was a Spirit there that I know people other than me felt too.  It was so important to me to have this be about The Dormouse and her decision and for it be an experience she'd look back on and remember.  Through some creative scheduling and planning, I think we succeeded in that.


Grandma flew in from out West and gave her a lovely quilt made specially for her.


Two days before, I got a call from the Primary President in our church saying, "Woah, I forgot all about your kid's baptism!  It's in two days. I haven't done anything yet! Let's real quick come up with a program and speakers and what do you want to for music and do you want to bring treats for afterward who's gonna talk and what about and AAAAAAAAAAaaaahhh!"

I guess historically in this congregation, most parents let the Primary President plan and do it all.  But the problem with that is,

Hi. Have you met me?

Not only do I not relinquish control easily, but I always just assumed that it should be the family's job to plan and execute a... well... family baptism.   It never occurred to me to even ask her for help, much less to expect her to do it all.  So when she called me Thursday night freaking out, I was all, "Oh, I've already done that.  Yep.  Taken care of.  Programs?  Printed.  Music.  Check.  Refreshments?  Already ordered and shipped from New York.  Anything you can do?  How about you clean up afterward?"

I'm still not sure whether she was happy or taken aback by my preparedness, but honestly... meh.  Don't really care.  

If you'd asked me eight years ago what I'd think about this day - her turning eight - I wouldn't have been able to answer you.  Not that I didn't think this day would come but that it was so far out of my realm of consciousness, I couldn't really fathom it.  I remember shortly after we took her home from the hospital hearing someone say, "The days are long, but the years go by so fast," and man, is that ever true.  Now, in the blink of an eye (several million blinks of an eye, I suppose, but it seems like just one) here she is, a young lady, trying very hard to be her own person yet still hold onto childhood.

Today, a colleague was describing my daughter to someone on the phone and said, "Oh, she's a very small, very cute, not self-conscious, eight-almost-twenty-three-year-old little girl."  It's as good a description of her as any I've heard.  What she missed in her description though is how this eight-almost-twenty-three-year-old little girl has inspired in me an ability to love I didn't previously know I had until she came along.  Whatever problems she's given us, whatever problems she will in the future, this is the thing I hold on to about her:  she is full of love.  She inspires it.  She exudes it.  I love that about her.  I love her enthusiasm for life.  I love her wide-eyed wonder about the world.  I love her.


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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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