Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Naming my blog "Almost Paradisical" was easy. My childhood was just that.......almost, but not quite paradisical. At least in Glenwood. Writing down memories, (mostly the good ones) while knowing there are also catastrophic events that string them all together invisibly is an interesting undertaking. My siblings have totally different memories which don't match mine. Mom could make hundreds of corrections. But these are my memories, this is how I remember them. The bad ones don't stand out in three dimensional clarity as well as the good ones. There are a few, but if I write them down, they will be real................so I continue as before, traveling back to Glenwood where Almost Paradisical got it's name and I became.
Noel was first and almost horse. She was a donkey and so cute she was ugly. It was a game to see how long someone could stay on her as she darted underneath low hanging branches to scrape the bareback rider off - deliberately. She later was bred to a regular horse and had Lily, a henny, jenny or mule, however you call the mixture. Lily always looked awkward, but she was mine and I loved her. Noel's hee haw was loud and long enough to wake the dead.
Horses are graded. Sold at sales for chicken or dog food. Sold privately through word of mouth or expensive advertising. Ahab, our little horse with a big heart was rescued from almost becoming dog food by neither method. Mom discovered him at the mangy looking feed store whose owner was predatory, abusive and an all around nasty person. Somehow, she persuaded him to give Ahab up, cheaply. She did have a dazzling smile and for a while, that guy would watch for her yellow scout to come down the only road to town and try to stop her by coming out onto the road waving. She was kind hearted and innocent, the first few times, then started gunning for him, aiming to maim him if he stopped her one more time. He terrified me!
Ahab was spunky, never realizing how puny he was. He turned out to be quite handsome after he was nursed back to health and vitality, but stayed small. Grandpa custom made a bridle for him, braiding the reins artistically round, like a cord, then attaching them to a handmade silver bit that would be soft and fit his injured mouth. Ahab responded to the love and care and trained alongside mom, who was just being introduced to the world of horses.
Mom wore a leather split skirt with double rows of long delicate fringe around each leg. It had probably been Annie Oakley's, Dale Evans' or Sacajawea's at one time, although she says she found it in a saddle shop, new. Perfect fit for her. She saddle soaped it often, along with the saddles to keep it supple and soft, wearing it every day during riding lessons. The thinner, longer and thicker the fringe is on any leather item, the more skilled the artisan who made it and the higher the price. This split skirt had the thickest, longest, thin cut fringe I've ever seen. The generous fringe would lift gracefully, showing her bare calves and sometimes slapped gently against the side of her horse. She looked so exotic and beautiful to my admiring eyes.
Riding happened in the morning. Chores after that. When I think of horses, it seems like they were ALOT of work for a little bit of fun? Feeding, medicating, mucking stalls, fixing fences, grooming, taking good care of the tack, and exercising them was never ending. Lunging was a strange way to exercise them, but it really made a change over time. Mom or grandpa would stand and go round and round in the same spot while the horse had to obey commands in a circle from the length of a long tether. By the end of a session, an indention would mark where the human had dizzily drilled down with their feet in the dirt in the riding ring, which was soft, deep and as fine as flour. It seemed like all it was wanting was some eggs and milk to make a big batch of biscuits. I can vividly recall the silky feel of it sifting through my fingers.
The catholic nuns had a retreat center down below us, which at one time was the town of Glenwood. Once, a few of the younger ones came up to visit and were invited to ride. Ahab was terrified of the long flowing habit and veil streaming out behind them, his eyes rolled desperately back in his head trying to keep track of where the wind was blowing it. He was so relieved when they dismounted!
Mom upgraded to a large palomino named Chain, who was skittish when anyone touched her head. It took patience and love for her to finally let mom bridle her. Grandpa thought someone had beaten her over the head. Anyone who would beat or mistreat a horse was the lowest criminal on earth in his opinion. We allowed him this opinion and agreed with him, as he was the original horse whisperer. His skill was remarkable. Horses almost begged to obey him.
He had a big black and white pinto named Wea, short I think for Sacajewea, who would effortlessly obey him without any outward visible signs from him. They worked as one, gracefully complimenting each other. It's a big deal now to do a rein less routine in a horse show. Grandpa did it without an audience. He trained a horse effortlessly and oh so gently.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Let me describe a North Dakota Public Auction. It's a social event. It's an eating occasion. Eating supports a good cause after all. Hopefully it doesn't rain. If you're a dealer/collector or just a dishonest person, you jiggle around the goods, hiding things in junk boxes or camouflaging a treasure. It's great fun haggling and outbidding someone, coming away with the prize. It's great fun as long as you don't know the story or the people who all this stuff belonged to. I will never go to another one without some compassion for the family. I think auctions should be 'by invitation only' - to keep the cannibal like dealers away and let the family and friends have some dignity while salvaging some keepsakes..... but then it wouldn't be very profitable.
Friday, August 7, 2009
There are dish sets that were added to one piece at a time. Furniture which has been redone over and over again, re-apolstered, re-finished. The cream separator from when Gordon and his boys milked cows twice a day. The same cows who tied them down to the farm so that vacations were special and rare. The cows who were literally their bread and butter, grocery money week to week. The hand crank drill press that has been in the shop for so long that nobody remembers it not being there. It has a fly wheel the size of a ferris wheel......where are the little people going to play at night? There were boxes and boxes of cards recived by everyone over the years for birthdays, anniversaries, thank you grandma, etc. Saved because.......we don't know for sure, but probably because life on the farm can be lonely and somewhat isolated, especially a farm buried in a little town surrounded by wheat fields, sunflower fields, cow pastures, sloughs full of cattails, rock piles, corn, soy and hay. Saved for the same reason she fed and watered her yard full of birds and planted lovely flower beds. Saved because they were a pretty, colorful bright spot in her day, her life. Something to savor over and over again.
I completely broke down last night. Each of these words are a tear. Each sentence a sob. Coming home, won't be coming home any longer. It is finished, that part. Only death is more final. The auction tomorrow will seem like a funeral, except the auctioneer gets paid. Gordon will make some money, feel lighter in so many ways and have some freedom from endless chores. It is a good thing, but doesn't feel good. We're just doing it sooner than later. Will the emptiness fill again? I know in my knower that it is people, experiences, memories which make our lives full, not things! But what has been unexpected is how symbolic the things are, how they represent a person.
The boys wanted each of their children to have a keepsake of grandma's. There were enough collectible plates to go around. Myrtle used to have one wall by the huge table completely covered with nursery rhyme plates which she had collected one at a time. When the grandkids came, they would beg her to 'tell the plates' meaning, tell the story behind the picture on the front. She would patiently go through each one till there weren't any more. They would snuggle as close as possibe, the smaller ones crowded on her lap. Brita and Tess remember caressing her soft, velvety elbows while she spoke. All of us have a house full of our own things, we don't need or want much of anything from the boxes. Her handwritten notebook of recipes is sweet, but my kids would just have to haul it away with my stuff someday.
There were games and puzzles that had been so well used, that the box had layers of tape on the corners holding them together. A bookshelf Craig made in shop when he was in 9th grade, always in a place of honor.
That big old house, held together by thick layers of wallpaper soaked with love, laughter, memories, tears, scents of meals and music, won't fall and rot away by the searing summers and desperate winters. It makes it easier and we are so grateful. It helps that a young, energetic, hopeful farmboy, his wife and two children will carry on the tradition of family farming, right there, collecting their own memories which will all be boxed up someday too.