Sunday, August 30, 2009

Horse & Buggy Days

Not too long ago, my youngest grandson asked me if we had tv back when I was a kid. Well, yes we did, Devin, but not until I was ten and a half years old in 1954. Dad had obtained a console tv to "try out" for a week. At the same time an accordian salesman had been to our home. I really wanted the accordian - mostly because my best friend had one and was learning to play. Dad gave me the choice - tv or accordian? He must have known I would chose the tv; if I had chosen the accordian, it wouldn't have been fair to the rest of the family.
Until they bought the 'home 80' in 1964, my parents farmed 320 acres on shares with the landlord. Hade Hutchinson lived on the east side of Corning. He had a barn and pasture down by the Nodaway River and lots of horses. He was a horse man. His big thing was racing trotters during the county fair. He also sponsored horse shows at his own ring. I loved walking through his barn and looking at all the horses in their stalls; 'picking' "my horse" as my sister 'picked' hers.
Hade always made sure we had a horse at our farm. Granted, it wasn't a very good horse, but she was our horse. Queenie was a cross between a shetland pony and a taller horse; just about the right size for little girls to ride. The problem was, she didn't always want to be ridden. She would fight taking the bridle, even nipping at us. She was blind in one eye, so we always tried to approach her from that side. Mom said she had us "buffaloed" and we needed to let her know we were in charge. Easier said than done!
I remember having a saddle, but we almost always rode her bareback. Queenie was in the same pasture as the milk cows. We would take an ear of corn and the bridle, walk down the lane to the pasture, lure her with the corn, grab the halter, and, one time out of ten be successful in getting the bridle on, swinging up and riding her back to the barn as we herded up the milk cows.
When I was nine, Dad talked our neighbor into selling his buggy to us. Technically, I think it was a buckboard. It had one seat, a little storage space behind and a top which could be put up and down. Wow! It was alot more fun riding in the buggy behind the horse; riding in comfort and style! We soon learned how to harness Queenie ourselves so we could take off anytime.
I remember carrying water out to the men working in the hay field or cutting and shocking oats. It was always hot and humid and they were glad to see us with our cold water jugs. One old fellow teased us about bringing lemonade instead of water, so we called him 'lemonade'.
One day two older neighbor boys came to visit with my brother. They hooked up the buggy and went galloping down the road. We didn't see what happened, but they tipped the buggy over into the ditch. After that we no longer had a top on our buggy. They had broken it to pieces.
There was a big hill north of the other place which served as a wonderfully long sledding hill in the winter. Betty and I would take the buggy up there in the summer to watch the sun go down. We probably only did that two or three times, but that was enough for us to name it "Sunset Hill".
Oh, the good ole' horse and buggy days!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dressing Chickens; Canning Tomatoes

It's that time of year - August - the end of summer, the beginning of a new school year. As a kid, for me it also meant helping Mom do the canning of the vegetables from the garden so we would have something to eat during the winter. I didn't like picking, tipping and snapping green beans. I hated husking, de-silking and cutting the sweet corn off the cob. It was such a sticky mess. We always set up a table out in the yard. The flies just loved us!
The one thing I didn't mind was canning tomatoes. Mom would put the blue granite cooker full of water on the stove to boil before we went out to pick the 'maters. Often Dad would go to Corning to pick up his Mom to help us. Old newspapers would be spread on the table. Three dishpans would be set around. Knives would be sharpened, ready at each station. The boiling water would be poured over the buckets of tomatoes to 'scald' them. Ready, set, start....
Oops! I left out preparing the canning jars. Ugh! Another job I hated; washing all those quart jars. Each jar was checked for nicks on the lip which would prevent the jar from sealing, or cracks which could cause the jar to explode in the pressure cooker. It always seemed Mom would find those blemishes after I had already washed them which meant I had to wash more!
We would take a pan of tomatoes, set a bunch of jars in front of our pans and begin taking the skins off and quartering the tomatoes. Scalding helped the skins slip right off. See why I didn't mind canning tomatoes? It was easy. Soon we would have dozens of jars lined up ready to can. Having Grandma Lynam there not only made the job go faster, it was always more fun. Sometimes I would just listen to them talk about grown-up stuff. But Grandma was good about asking me questions and getting me involved in the talk, too, which made me feel grown up.
Dressing chickens was another end of summer job. Any roosters we hadn't already eaten during the summer were killed, dressed and frozen. A few might be allowed to live longer to get bigger for roast chicken; mostly we liked them for fried chicken.
Again, Grandma Lynam often came out to the farm to help out. Mom would kill four to twelve roosters at a time by wringing their necks. When I was really little, my sister and I would watch the headless chickens bounce around the yard until they died. There was nothing worse than being flopped by a bloody, headless chicken.
Mom dipped the birds in scalding water then handed them to us to begin plucking; another job I disliked. Not only was it smelly, the feathers stuck all over me. We carried our buckets of plucked chickens back to the house where Mom singed each one over the stove burner. Singing burned off the remaining hair-like feathers.
Again, the knives were sharpened and ready at each dish pan station. When I first began helping, I could only scrape the pin feathers and cut off the wings and legs. Eventually I learned to cut them open and take out the tricky insides; even how to cut open and clean the gizzards.
I was very proud of the fact that I could dress and cut up a chicken by myself when I was only ten years old! It's surprising I didn't become a surgeon!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fathers and Daughters

Every little girl looks up to her daddy. In my case, I had to look way up, Louis L. Lynam was six foot six. He was so tall and skinny as a young man, one of his nicknames just had to be "Slim".
Dad was 26 when I was born and I was 34 when he died at a young 61 years of age.
Growing up I wanted to be 'daddy's girl' but my little sister held that spot. At least I always felt that way. Mom told me that Dad had named her, (Betty Ruth) so I naturally thought that meant she was his favorite. But then I had been jealous of her from the time she was born and took over my spot as the baby.
Mom was in charge of child care including discipline. Dad would yell at us, but spankings were left to her. I can remember only one time Dad struck me and that was after I had been told twice to stay off the straw stacks. The first time was when we had been climbing up and sliding down the stack east of the barn. Bro & Sissy paid attention, but a few days later a cousin and I walked up to the other place and started playing on the straw stack up there. We were out of sight of the home place, so even though I knew we were breaking a rule, I felt confident we would not get caught. I didn't realize Dad was mowing the pasture north of us and could see us until he yelled.
We high-tailed it home. I figured I was in for another lecture when he came into the house and said, "Didn't I tell you to stay off the straw stacks?" At the same time, he slapped my face, saying, "Now that didn't hurt, but if I catch you on those stacks again, next time it's going to hurt!" I thought, "Like heck that didn't hurt," but I was so shocked that he had hit me that I didn't even cry.
Mostly what I remember about my father is that he never complimented me no matter what I accomplished. When I was in highschool, he gave me a silver dollar for every A I earned on my report cards, but he never said, "Good job."
On the other hand, my sister and I were often compared unfavorably to neighbor girls: "Why can't you be more like J & D or C & V? Not the sort of words you need to hear for self esteem building.
I never went to college. I started working as a bookkeeper at age 17. Through the years I worked my way up to such positions as assistant to the controller of a manufacturing firm, office manager of a recording studio and Public Relations Director for the College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery. Not once did my Dad ever say he was proud of me; of what I had accomplished.
By the time I was 31, I had been married and divorced twice. (Dad did let me know how he felt about that!) I married men my age, but I was attracted to men much older. I said it was because they were smarter and more mature; denied for a long time that it was a father fixation.
After many years, I was finally able to understand that what I was looking for from those men old enough to be my father, was the approval I never received from him.
I hope fathers out there realize how important it is for them to tell their daughters (and sons) how much they love them and are proud of them. Children look up to their fathers no matter how tall Dad is.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Thinker

"I think, therefore I am." Descartes
Discussing one of the characters during book club last night led into some comments about how some babies have a way of looking/staring as though they were thinking the deepest thoughts in the world; so knowing, so questioning, so thinking. (Then someone laughed and said: "Yeah, but they get over it by the time they are teenagers!)
I have long been fascinated by the way the mind works. I believe some of us were born 'thinkers'. As a child, my Mom used to say to me: "Quit your moping." And I would reply: "I'm not moping. I'm thinking." By dictionary definitions we were both right. I thought she meant I was 'dejected' when actually I was 'brooding'.
While my older brother and younger sister were more inclined to having fun, I was the one who took everything more seriously. If I ever did try teasing other kids, I instantly regretted it because I was afraid I had hurt their feelings. Perhaps it was because I was the middle child, but I was always the responsible one and the 'peacemaker'.
Once I started to school and learned to read I discovered a whole world of things to think about. I became not only a thinker, but a daydreamer. It took me a half hour or more to walk the mile home from school because I was dawdling along, thinking about the bird tracks or snake trail in the dust; the fairy tales I had read during free reading time; the chores I had to do when I got home; how the teacher had bawled out one of the older boys for acting up; why my friend Virginia had played with one of the other girls instead of me during recess.
When my first marriage was coming apart and I was trying to explain to my parents how I felt and why I wanted to take my little boy and leave, my Dad said: "Your problem is you think too much!" Like it was a bad thing. I see it as a good thing. I am glad I was a born thinker.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bees and Honey

We moved to 'Our House' May 30, 1969, the day before my honey, Kari, was born. We were so excited to be moving out of Des Moines and onto an acreage. In addition to the roomy old farm house, we had a two car garage attached to the house via an enclosed breezeway, a chicken house and an old barn. All this on 80 acres with the nearest neighbors a quarter mile away.
The house still stands on the east side of the indoor golf dome east of Cutty's off hwy 141 north of Urbandale. The barn was taken down and used in building the carpenter's shop at Living History Farms.
Kari was a stubborn little lass - I was already 19 days past my due date. I so wanted a May baby, but it didn't look like I was going to get one. The next morning after moving, we went back to clean the apartment and turn the keys in. Around 1 p.m., I started having 'twinges', but nothing like regular contractions. That had changed by 3:00 and we called Dr. Overton's service only to discover he was out of town. (It was a Saturday.) We were told to go to the hospital while they notified Dr. Donna Drees, the on-call physician.
Once Kari decided to make her debut, she didn't waste time. By the time we made it to Mercy Hospital I was only in a room long enough to be prepped before they took me to the delivery room. Kari Leigh Fleming was born at 4:17 p.m., May 31, 1969. My May baby made it with a few hours to spare.
Not only was she stubborn about being born, Kari was also a very independent baby - she did not want to be held, preferring to be put to bed with a bottle instead of being held and rocked to sleep. I've always believed this was because of the way I treated her in utero. Early in my pregnancy, I almost miscarried and had to stay in bed for two weeks. The doctor warned me that if I even so much as spotted again I would have to quit work and stay in bed if I wanted to carry to term. I did have more spotting, but I did not think we could afford for me to quit work so I never told anyone. Therefore, I did not allow myself to love the baby I was carrying thinking I would lose it. Even after I went past my due date, I was afraid something would go wrong during the birth. I don't remember her crying and when I first saw her, she was very blue. It seemed I had been right not to let myself become attached to her. Little wonder she didn't want anything to do with me!
But all was well and a few days later we took her home. School was not out for the summer yet, so it was just the two of us amid all the unpacked boxes. Mid-morning of our second day home while she was sleeping, I walked down the lane to get the mail. I could hear a very loud droning noise, but could not see what was causing it. As I started back to the house I looked up into a black cloud of honey bees. All I could think of was they were going to swarm on me and sting me to death and my baby would be alone all day. I kept walking very slowly back to the house and the bees settled into a hollow tree nearby.
Forty years have passed. I'm not sure about the bees, but I'm grateful every day for my little honey.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"Our House"

"Our house is a very very fine house, with two dogs in the yard, life used to be so hard...."
Yes, I know, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young sang it with two cats, but the version I played over and over was Helen Reddy's. She became my heroine with "I Am Woman" and her LP's were the ones I bought. (And she sang it "two dogs".)
"Our House" was the name I gave to the acreage northwest of Des Moines where the kids and I lived for nine years. I cajoled (might have even paid) an artist at my workplace into sketching my favourite three pine trees onto a new white mailbox. Then I painted them and added "Our House" and proudly exchanged the new mailbox for the old one at the end of our lane.
Late one afternoon I happened to be outside when two neighbor boys drove past and indulged in mailbox bashing. I was so mad I jumped into the car and followed them the mile down to the residence of one of the boys. I confronted them, yelled at them, threatened to tell their parents and threatened to turn them into the postmaster. They apologized, begged me not to tell on them and offered to buy me a new mailbox. I finally calmed down and left.
A few weeks later, our dog, Mimi, disappeared. We searched and searched for her, but never found a trace. I always wondered if they had something to do with her disappearance; if their mailbox bashing escalated because I confronted them.
The place on Tuck Corner I labeled "Windtuck". I painted a windmill with the name on that mailbox.
There were two tall pines in the yard at the little house. That mailbox was adorned with my version of them with a bird flying over and "The Aerie" printed on the side.
I might have used "Our House" again the year we lived at Mrs. Elliot's, but no other abodes got named until we moved back to my birthplace. The area we had our mobile home placed was always called 'the orchard' by my family. In my lifetime, I only remember one apple tree there, but perhaps there had been enough fruit trees at one time to deem being called an orchard.
Bud & I tried several different names; Orchard Place, Orchard Home, Orchard Park, Orchard View......When we hit upon Orchard Prairie, we both knew it was the right moniker. I never painted anything on the mailbox, but my daughter-in-law, Shelly, painted the name on a large board which we had mounted over the garage. And one year at the state fair I ordered an "End of the Trail" sign with "Orchard Prairie" printed on it as a present for Bud.
This is how Orchard Prairie became my yahoo e-mail address if anyone has ever wondered. As yet, we haven't named our new home in Creston. Perhaps "On Golden Pond" as we overlook the pond and live out our "golden years."

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Day The Music Died

Most of us remember what we were doing "The Day The Music Died"; The Day Kennedy Was Assassinated"; etc; etc.... (at least those of us a 'certain age'.)
February, 1959, I was a sophomore in high school. It was Monday morning second hour typing class before I heard about the plane crash near Clear Lake that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper. One of the girls in that class was named Donna and she was crying. She was a fan of Valens because of his song (Donna). That was how I learned of the deaths of the three upcoming stars.
The era of rock and roll began for me three years earlier. I was a pre-pubescent 13 year old when I went to see "Rock Around the Clock" at the American Theater in Corning. It wasn't the movie I reacted to, it was the song. I can't say it awoke new feelings in me, but it did make me want to do wild and dangerous things with those feelings.
I also saw Elvis in "Love Me Tender" that year. And while I fell in love with Elvis singing "Love Me Tender", it was a dreamy, romantic love sans the sexual tensions of rocking around the clock with Bill Haley and the Comets.
I came of age with rock and roll. Hearing certain songs will always invoke certain memories of that era. But I also relate to Big Band tunes from the 40's ( "In the Mood" is my favourite). I wasn't old enough to consciously learn the tunes from my early years. Did they slip into my sub-conscious while the Philco was playing in the background? I think I identify with the music too strongly for that to be the answer. My theory (feeling) is that I was a soldier, killed early in WWII, and then reincarnated.
I've always wanted to do a past lives regression through hypnosis to see if my theory is correct.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Shoeless Joe

Writing of my little people sighting at the fair reminded me of my very first appalling 'how'? 'why'? experience.
Our farm was five miles southwest of Corning. Nearly all our shopping needs were met there on our weekly Saturday night trips. A few times a year, however, we got to go to one of the nearby 'big' towns to shop. Creston, Red Oak and Clarinda were all within a roughly 25 mile distance. All three towns sported J. C. Penney stores of two to three floors of merchandise as well larger dime stores and grocery stores. It was a big deal to visit one of those three shopping meccas.
It was during one of those trips to Clarinda the summer before I turned eight that I came face to face with an alien creature.
Clarinda is built on the traditional square with businesses fronting the four blocks surrounding the courthouse. Routinely, we parked somewhere on the square closest to wherever we expected to do most of our shopping; usually the south side. Then we walked over to Penney's on the southwest corner. Sitting there on the sidewalk was a man with no legs. The board he sat on was only a few inches off the ground and had some sort of wheels on it. He was strapped to the board. In his hand was a tin can. In the can were yellow pencils which he was trying to sell.
My young mind could not comprehend such a sight. I was horrified. Mom declined buying any pencils which started the questions whirling in my head: "How could he survive just selling pencils? (And had she just doomed him?) Where did he live? How did he get in/out of a place if there were stairs?" So many questions with no answers. I couldn't talk to Mom about him. I was too upset.
Later I saw him cross the intersection and go zipping along the sidewalk on his little board. He stopped at the popcorn stand outside the dime store and talked to the man running it. Maybe he had a friend? That thought helped ease my mind some. But I remember him and those scary feelings to this day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

State Fair

I haven't been to the Iowa State Fair for several years, but watching IPTV's hour long wrap up shows of the fair this week reminded me of one of my earliest fair memories. The show featured a woman singer on one of the free stages. She was an attractive blond with a great voice, but she was in a wheel chair. And she couldn't hold the mic because she had no hands. Her right arm ended above the elbow, while the left ended where a wrist would be. It had an appendage something like a thumb. Only one leg and foot were in evidence below her dress hem.
I could see a little girl in the audience watching her and then whispering something to her mother. I imagined she was asking her mom, "Why?" or "How?"
The State Fair was my family's only vacation. We didn't go every year, but when we did go, it was only for a day; ours was a farm family, we had to be home to do the milking and other chores. Going to the fair meant getting up at 4 a.m. to get the cows up from the pasture. Dad & Ron would do the milking, Betty & I would feed the hogs and chickens, Mom would fry a chicken to pack in our picnic basket along with potato salad, coleslaw, baked beans and a cake for our lunch. One thermos jug held water; another, iced tea or lemonade. We had to be entering the fairgrounds by 8 a.m. and it was a two hour drive from southwest Iowa. (Getting there any later than 8 a.m. meant you wouldn't get your money's worth - wouldn't be able to see everything.)
Dad & Ron would take off for the machinery exhibits and the barns. Mom, Betty & I would begin at the conservation building then on to the Varied Industries building, working our way up the hill to the Horticulture exhibits. At noon, we would all meet back at the car for our lunch. If we bought anything to eat at the fair, it was cotton candy. (Always my favourite treat.) By 4 p.m., we were on our way home. There was an evening of milking and chores awaiting.
Just as it is now, people watching was one of the more interesting things to do at the fair. Coming from a small town, we didn't have much diversity. I probably saw my first black people at the fair. And it was definitely the first time I saw girls scantily clad in shorts! (The only time we were allowed to wear shorts was at home.) Going to the fair meant dressing up. Usually it was the first time we wore the new shoes we had gotten for the school year, which meant blisters!
I was probably 8 or 9 the year I saw two dwarf girls. They were about the ages of me and my sister. I was so surprised, all I could do was stare. The older of the two stared right back and I felt ashamed. I know I didn't point them out to my mom; didn't ask why or how, but those two girls haunted my thoughts for a long time.
The singer at this year's fair said one of the reasons she performed was so that people with disabilities could see that it is possible to have a life. She hoped to inspire others to learn what they might be capable of. I admire her.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

When the kids and I moved back home in '78 after Dad died, we lived the first two years on Tuck Corner. The house was an old, drafty, two-story farm house. But it had lots of character: open porches on the front and side, hardwood floors, an open stairway, a bay window, a claw foot bathtub, etc. Our $50 a month rent included use of a garage, chicken house, barn and garden spot.
Spring, summer and fall were wonderful seasons on Tuck Corner. There was always a nice breeze there. But in winter, the breeze was a very cold wind. The house was heated by a fuel oil furnace and even though fuel oil was only around 57 cents a gallon back then, it was still an expensive house to heat. I was so happy when I bought a wood burning stove, a chain saw and an old Dodge pickup and began cutting and hauling wood to use as supplemental heat. I also had a combination wood burning and electric kitchen range, the use of which added to the warmth.
After Doug graduated from highschool and went away to college in Ankeny, the house was much more than the three of us needed. In October of 1980, Kari, Preston and I moved to "The Little House". It was only a mile and half away, but what a difference! It was off the busy state highway, down a little-used gravel road. The house was a small, one-story bungalow; not much character, but so much easier to heat and take care of. This place also had a garage and a barn; as well as a storm cellar, or 'cave' as we called it, and a garden spot and two fruit trees.
We had lived there several months when I went for a walk across the pasture on a very temperate New Year's Day and discovered a pond up on the hill across from the creek. Until then, we hadn't even guessed at its existence.
I also discovered a connectedness to the land that I had never felt anyplace else, not even on the farm where I grew up. It was such a strong feeling of belonging. I could never understand why I felt so much a part of that place, but some of my best memories are of when we lived in the little house on the prairie.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Light of the Sun

"I had a dove and the sweet dove died." ...John Keats
Actually, I had two white doves given me by a Graham Group co-worker in the early '90's. They lived in a large round birdcage on the back porch. We obtained an even larger rectangular cage so they could be outside during the summer. Around it we built another cage out of wooden lattice for further security. Sad to say, it didn't keep something (a cat most likely) from breaking in and getting one of my birds one night.
I don't know where my love of doves came from, or when. I dreamed of having a large dovecote with dozens of doves - similar to one I saw in western Ireland. I remember a movie scene from the 60's where doves were shown flying in the glow of the setting sun. It was a very romantic part of the movie. (If I could only remember the title!) Maybe that's where my wish for a dovecote came from. And then there was Jimmy Smits in NYPD Blue going up to the rooftop to care for and talk to his pigeons when he needed to clear his head.
Even as a child, as my Mom taught me the songs of the different birds, I loved hearing the mourning doves. I still remember when she pointed out one of their scantily built nests wondering how the baby birds kept from tumbling out.
After losing one dove to a predator, I quit using the outside cage. I never knew the sex of my dove, but I named her Aileen - Scots for 'The Light of the Sun'. Not only did she coo, she also laughed and even had a sound like a turkey gobbling. When they were little, the grandchildren were entranced. They would hear Aileen chuckling on the back porch and want to go see her.
Our lone dove made the move with us to the farm in '95. Once again, I would put her in the outside cage as long as I was outside working. One Sunday afternoon when I was only going to be gone an hour or so to the Mother's Day Tea at the church, I left Aileen outside in the cage.
When I got home, Bud met me at the end of the walkway with the bad news: "One of your Mom's cats killed your bird. I've already buried her so you didn't have to see it."
"I had a dove and the sweet dove died."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Changes are....

"The only constant is change." Isaac Asimov Or, as Heraclitus put it, "There is nothing permanent except change".
How true. Yet change is something most of us hate, avoid, rail against, and deny. We become comfortable with the status quo, the routines of our lives, to the point where even the smallest change can upset us. A really big change can devastate us.
At times we want to change - to leave a job, to lose weight or to get out of a bad relationship. But the fear of change can keep us where we are.
Learning to accept and deal with the changes in our lives is one of the most important challenges of becoming an adult; of truly growing. My goal is to accept change gracefully, embrace it and learn from it.
My role model is my Grandma Lynam. During her lifetime, she dealt with more than her share of changes. Bessie Lucille Duncan was born in Adams Co. Iowa July 16, 1891 and died there August 14, 1987 at the age of 96. As the eldest of six, I'm certain her young years were soon filled with responsibilities. I don't remember how far she went in school, though I doubt it was beyond 8th grade. She worked as a 'hired girl' during her teen years and before marriage at age 23, in 1914.
She had her first child (my father) in 1917. Six years later, she had a baby girl, Evelyn, who only lived three days. That is a change a mother couldn't get over. She had to deal with it somehow. In 1947, she became a widow at age 56. (Another big change.) That is around the time my memories of her begin. (I was 4.)
Grandpa & Grandma lived on an acreage on the west edge of Corning. Grandma never learned to drive a car. She did have a daughter living just up the road, but I know she did a lot of walking. What did she do for money? She rented the small pasture to Ike Arbuckle who lived in town and kept a milk cow there. So she had milk and cream which she kept in the cave because she didn't have a refrigerator. She raised chickens and a garden for food. She would butcher and dress chickens and take them downtown to a grocery store on Saturday mornings to sell. (Probably exchange for sugar, flour and other staples.) Eventually she would sell the acreage and move into town.
I think, generally, kids are closer to their maternal grandparents that their paternal ones. That was certainly the case for me. I saw more of my Grandma Ridnour and somehow thought I liked her best even though she was more stern; 'crotchety'. It was only as I got older that I began to appreciate Grandma Lynam. I don't remember her ever being mad at me. Each summer, I would spend several days with her. She was always willing to entertain me. We would sit on the front porch and watch cars go by. She would tell me to choose a color and she would do the same. Then we would count cars with our colors to see who tallied the most cars; who 'won'.
And when on rare occasions my parents went somewhere, G'ma Lynam was the one who came out to the farm to stay with us. That was when we really had fun! Tepees in the yard; sneaking into the other bedroom to scare the occupants when lights were out; eating her wonderful 'omelets'.
When I was 16, grandma lived a block from the highschool. Many nights when I had something going on at school, I would walk up to her house for supper and possibly spend the night. She had two bedrooms, but only used one, so I always slept with her. We would talk and talk and talk. She was so easy to talk to. I know now it was because she listened more than she talked. At one point I had an awful row with my parents and asked Grandma if I could live with her. She gently turned me down.
When grandma was 86, she had a prolonged seige of pneumonia. Once she left the hospital, she went to Mom & Dad's. They put a hospital bed in the living room for her. I know she was expected to die, because I stayed some weekends to help with her and give Mom a break. Dad had been ailing for several years by then, so Mom had her hands full. After three weeks, she told Dad she couldn't do it anymore and Dad put his Mother in the nursing home in Villisca. It was there, a couple days later, we went to tell her her son had died. Grandma had lost a second child. She didn't cry in front of us. She seemed very stoic about it.
Eventually, Mom had her moved to the Corning nursing home where she lived out the rest of her life. It was her acceptance of her lot in life those last ten years that I admired. She never complained. She kept busy with embroidery and mending clothes for the home's other occupants.
Over her long life, Grandma Lynam saw many changes: from horse and buggy days to men on the moon. When her daughter moved to Arizona, Grandma flew back and forth in jets to visit her. She loved flying! She also got to see the Pacific Ocean when Aunt Leona took her to San Diego. (My mom also was able to fly to AZ to see her sister-in-law once. And she loved flying, too. She was 80 years old.)
Through it all, Grandma was a lady; my role model.

Friday, August 14, 2009


Money - "the root of all evil"; "the #1 cause of disagreements in couples"; the partner of "you can never be too thin......".
I've thought for a long time that it is interesting not only how I choose to spend my money, but also how others choose to spend theirs. Most of my life, it didn't matter how I wanted to spend because there wasn't any extra $$$ to spend.
I am one of those people who feels life is kind of backward: when you are young and energetic you don't have time nor money and there is so much you want to see and do. When you're old and tired and have a little extra money, there's nothing you really want or need. (Or you've learned how fleeting instant gratification is. Plus you don't want a house full of "stuff". And you've started to worry about how long you'll live and how to make what money you have last.)
Budbo's early morning trip to Wally to purchase Madden's 2010 (and waking me at 5:30 a.m. in the process) is what prompted these thoughts. There was a time in our 23+ years together when I would get a little upset by his spending on game consoles and games - seemed very wasteful expenditures to me. But, as he pointed out a few times, he didn't have any other vices - he didn't sit in bars drinking; he didn't have affairs and spend money on other women; he didn't buy a lot of clothes, etc., etc.
I finally realized he was right. That, plus he never criticised how I spent my money. Yes, 'his' money and 'my' money. We decided very early in our marriage that it worked better for us to keep separate bank accounts.
So, what do I choose to spend money on? I have no problem whatsoever with going out for a nice meal. OK, even a mediocre meal if it means I don't have to cook. I DO NOT like to go clothes shopping. I can live in jeans and t-shirts. (But I have a sniggly feeling that could change if I would ever lose enough weight to look how I consider 'good' in clothes.)
Travel - I could probably bankrupt us if we traveled as much as I would like. If we ever hit that powerball, sayonara! Annuals -as in plants; flowers. And anything else to do with outdoor decor - fountains, trellis's (trelli?), fire pits, deck furniture. What else? Stuff for the house, pottery, books, wine......
Finally, I have no problem driving an old car as long as it is reliable. I hate car payments. But my little Escort wagon is beginning to limp; is beginning to have one thing after another needing fixed. I'm thinking next year.....question is, will I go into debt for a new Ford Fiesta when they come to America in 2010, or will I settle for the best used Focus I can find? I've never bought a new car in my life. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The N....word

How many times do you use the N word? You know, "Never". Have you heard the saying, "Never say never"? Some of my more memorable nevers: "I'll never learn to use a computer." Now I say, "What would I do without a computer?".
Another one I remember: "I would never be a waitress". Too demeaning; too beneath me. I gained new respect for waitressing when we moved back to Corning after Dad died in '78. When there are few jobs and you have three kids to provide for, you will do just about anything - including working for tips in a steakhouse!
Then there was the "I'll never get married again. That one after two marriages and two divorces. Maybe I just got lucky the third time, or maybe it was because I was older and wiser, but Bud & I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary next year.
Perhaps my biggest was: "Muschamp will never get this farm!" He wanted to buy Mom's farm after Dad died. She was adament that he would not get it and so was I. A year ago we sold him the farm.
Now, I understand, the only thing left is a garage. House, barn, trees, everything is gone. Which I am glad for. I would much rather have them bulldozed and burned than have them slowly falling in - which is what they had been doing since before Mom died.
Mom & Dad moved to Adams Co., Jasper Twp, Sec 22, in February 1938 after being married October 10, 1937 in Taylor Co. and living with Dad's parents for the first few months. It was the only place they lived together; so it was truly our 'home'. Ron was born in that house May 7, 1940. (We other three were born in the Creston hospital.) Dad died there in May, 1978. Mom died in the Corning hospital December 16, 2003.
So why did we sell to Muschamp? Money. Deciding to sell the farm was the hard part. Once that was decided, it didn't matter anymore. So we set a price. Muschamp met it. Chapter closed.


To continue with Firsts-obviously I have much to learn about blogging. I thought I could go back and edit Firsts and continue on. Guess not after clicking 'publish post'. There is much more I could add about becoming a first time mother. But I will contain it to this one story: Doug was born in what was then the Rosary Hospital in Corning. At that time, the hospital was still operated by the Sisters.
Today's new mothers often go home the second day after giving birth. The day after Doug was born, an aide came in the room. I thought she wanted me to sit in the chair so she could change the bedding. So I gingerly made my way to the chair and then back to bed after she left. A short time later Sister Jovilla came in and berated me for getting out of bed. Her words were to the effect: "On the first day, we just 'dangle', we do not get out of bed!" Meaning I was to sit on the edge of the bed and dangle my feet. I was scared of the nuns anyway, after that I was really scared of her.
As the week went on, I got over my fear of her. Especially after she complimented me on how relaxed I was while nursing my baby. (I was reading the newspaper.) After a full week in the maternity ward, I got to take my baby home with me to my Mom's. (Doug's dad left for a two week national guard camp the morning after he was born.) To be continued....
Second: That is the day my second son was born; August 2, 1971; also in the Corning hospital. It was almost nine years later, however. Preston Louis Fleming was born at 9:40 p.m. We were living near Des Moines then, but Denny was getting his Master's at Kirksville. Because of his absence during the week, we decided when it was close to my due date, I would go stay with my folks. As it turned out, I went over my due date, the Dr. was going on vacation, so we chose to induce labor; something I had always said I would never do. But it all turned out o.k.
We really wanted a boy. I knew there were two boys in the nursery, so as they wheeled me back to my room after delivery, I looked into the nursery. There were two babies swaddled in blue and one in pink. I thought they had lied to me and that I had had a girl because of the pink blankie! (I also tried to grab a drink at the water fountain on the way past; but that's another story.)
A caveat for parents: be careful what you say in front of small children. I told the story of how upset I was when I learned I was pregnant with Preston. Years later he confessed he thought he wasn't wanted, therefore, wasn't loved. No amount of reassurance in later years changes a child's early feelings of a form of rejection. Regardless of the circumstances of birth, a mother's love for her child is forever.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


There is a first time for everything. This is my first time to try blogging. Do I have anything to say of interest to anyone? My intent is finding a way of creating an online journal - something I may someday share with my family and, perhaps, friends. Who knows, maybe the world!
So...firsts - Forty-seven years ago, August 10, 1962, I became a mother for the first time. I was only 18, but thought I knew everything. Now when I look at first time parents in their 20's I think how young they are. How can they possibly be ready to be a parent?