Tag Archives: childhood

Teepees and the 4th of July

Early 1980s

Tiny lights dotted the skies as the sun set and twilight gradually crossed into darkness. We darted across the yard and pastures capturing as many as we could into jars, screwing the nail-punctured lids on tight. Occasionally we would cup on in our hands and watch the blink in fascination. Though we were careful not to smash them, inevitably one would get crushed and we would stair in amazement at how our skin would glow.

With glowing jars in hand we would parade beneath the dark sky to the sillohuetted teepee at the bottom of the hill. The kid created teepee sported a sheet draped around some poles dragged from the woods and lashed together. We huddle together around our jars of firefly light and my sibblings would begin to tell ghost stories until I was convinced to return to the house. 😀

July 4th, 2009

I have wanted to build a teepee for the kids for quite some time, but haven’t been able to locate suitable poles. Some time at the beginning of the year we were the recipients of some poles perfect for a teepee ranging from 10-15 feet (or more) in length. So, this Saturday as part of our 4th of July festivities Paul and I set up a teepee for the kids.
We didn’t want to spend a lot of time sewing and cutting, so we just draped and tucked the canvas around the poles, but when all was said and done it looked fairly decent and is a lot of fun!

I cut some strips of clothes for the kids for headbands and Emily had a couple of bows (filbert branches and string) that her Sunday school teacher had given her. Jacob crabbed a small stick for a spear and Dorothy pretended she was was blowing poisonous darts. We ate dinner in our teepee and the kids are anxious to sleep in it tonight.

Teepee Collage-001

Teepee Collage-002


Filed under Children, Dot, Em, Every Day Life, Family, Jacob, James, Lizy, Photography

Editor in Training

Once a week a few friends meet at my home for writer’s group. We each will often share a chapter from our work to be critiqued – giving a copy to each person for them to writes their edits on. We meet before the girls come home from school, but are often finishing up when they burst into the door. They always stand nearby, intrigued as we swap comments.

Once I am done with my edits I pass the extra marked copies off to my girls so they can use the back of the paper for artwork. Today I found an old chapter from Belinda floating around the house. It was heavily marked with words all through it circled.

Curious, I picked up the small batch of stapled papers. They were crinkled and a little worse for wear, but my face creased in a smile as I observed them. I wasn’t sure who had been so industriously at work on my manuscript, but it had the hint of Elizabeth over it.

On the backs of the pages were cute pictures scattered about with professions of loving the color pink (hence my determination that it was Elizabeth) and over the front of papers any word that was used more than once was circled – with a list to the side as to what the words were.

What heightened my amusement was the fact that the listed words were words such as: into, a, the, to , and, Belinda, she, her, of, I. On some pages she had even detailed the number of times each word was used.

On one page she employed her creative powers and exed out about half of my paragraphs – and on other pages the repeated words were highlighted rather than circled.

I had to laugh – she had put a great deal of work into her little editing process, and I couldn’t help but wonder… What is she going to be when she grows up?

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Filed under Children, Humor, Lizy, Writing

Pennsylvania Summers

In the dead of summer when the heat crackled around you and the hummidity made your clothes cling to you like limp rags, those were the days when we would beg our parents to take us to the local sportsmanship pond and go swimming. Playing chicken, and squelching the soft mud at the bottem of the pond between our toes. We would beg dad to take us on the froggy swim across the pond. We would lie on his back as he did the breast stroke, going up and down, in and out of the water.

When we were finally feeling waterlogged we would lie out on our beach towels on the grass in the hot sun and dry ourselves beneath it rays. Often our trips to the pond would include a picnic lunch – or even a birthday celebration for me if it was near my birthday.

In the evenings the heat would cool as the sun dipped low in the sky, but the humidity continued to drape itself across our skin. Fireflies would begin to wink across the night sky and we gathered on the porch to catch the slight breeze. I am sure there were evenings when Mom played her accordian on the porch and we all sang along.

Rarely a night was spent inside – we made pup-tents, or slept in our kid made teepee, sometimes we would just sleep out under the stars, rising early to help with the chores.

Summers were full of fun and hard work as we spent hours sitting on the porch husking corn, or in the kitchen listening to General Conference tapes as we canned peaches, tomatoes, and a bazillion other things harvested from our huge garden. I’m surprised that the fruit and vegetables we canned didn’t have an extra salty taste from the sweat that poured down our forheads and dimpled on our skin in the heat of that kitchen on humid Pennsylvania summer day.

Some of my most vivid memories take place in those hot humid summers – playing Annie Annie I Over until twilight set in, talent shows on the front lawn as we danced and acted out crazy skits. I hope my children will be able to share in some of the same summer memories…


Filed under Memory, Personal History

Like Father Like Son

Between the years 1976-1977 in the grand city of Billings, Montana there lived a little boy (being between the age 2-3). This little boy was a resourceful fellow who had grand ideas that only he saw the logic or reasoning behind.  This little boy once wanted a jug to play with. Not any  jug though, he wanted the glass jug that was full of purple Portland Punch concentrate. A nice big gallon size jug perfect for all sorts of little boy shenanigans.  The only problem with this spetacular glass specimin was that it was full.  The little boy decided that he could simply empty the jug, though he was loath to waste such a perfect purple concotion. Thus he spied his father’s brand new lawnmower, unscrewed the gas cap and poured the  purple punch concentrate into the gasoline tank of the shiny new mower.

Later the little boy’s father was not very happy when the older brother hadn’t mowed the lawn.  The older brother stated that it wouldn’t start and said, “I think Paul did something to it.”

“What do you mean it won’t start?” sounded the rather upset father.  He walked to the mower and finally managed to fire it up – it didn’t last long as purple Portland Punch began oozing out of every nook and cranny of that poor lawn mower.


During the year of 2008 in the grand state of Oregon there lives another sweet little boy. This little boy was in love with telephones and mesmerized by the brand new sleak shiny black ones that his family had just purchased, as the old ones had finally died.  They were portable, they were small, and apparantly they were perfect for dunking in milk.


I think I have my work cut out for me – don’t you?


Filed under Children, Humor, Jacob, Parenting

Circus (not the one I live in) heh

It is funny how memories shift and fade over the years. Some memories are so vivid and tangible, while others lurke – a shadow of faded vision just out of reach. These memories seem to me to be just out of focus – the edges blurred so it is hard to tell between reality and dream. Sometimes I wish my brain had a fine tuned focus knob so that when I latch onto one of these memories I could bring it strong and clear to the front of my brain.

As Paul and I were driving to the LaCrosse game we passed by the brilliant blue and yellow circus tents set up on the Water Front.

“I wish we could all go to the circus some time,” Paul mentioned as we drove past.

A memory instantly began teasing my brain of some fuzzy long distance, once upon a time. Hadn’t I gone to a circus once? Nah, it was a dream, but then the memory slowly focused just a bit and I remembered enough detail, some funny insignificant detail, that let me know that it was a long lost memory indeed.

I don’t recall what grade I was in when we went on the fieldtrip, but I was very young, so I am guessing 1st or 2nd grade.

The bus ride was long as we drove some distance, probably Pittsburgh. As we came off the freeway I saw a big huge white building. “That can’t be the circus, there are supposed to be tents,” I thought to myself.

Just as we passed the building, bright colorful tents popped up and a thrill of excitement shot through me. I clutched my brown paper bag lunch and exited the bus in a throng of students. I was very excited about my lunch becaus it had one of those short juices with the bumpy sides on it and foil for a lid. There were also Combos in my lunch – those little pretzly snacks with filling in the middle. I distinctly remember that mine were Pizza flavor. This was a rare and special occasion in deed as trying to raise five children on a farm finances were tight and such luxeries in our lunches occured rarely. Though there were usually a plentiful supply of home made cookies in our lunch, so I can’t complain to much. Anyway, back to the story.

The tent was huge. It was so big that it didn’t even feel like a tent and I was amazed at how they had stairs taking us high, high up. We were in the peanut gallery, and I always wondered why we didn’t get peanuts.

There were two acts I remember distinctly. All my short life, up until that moment, I always wanted to see someone shot out of a cannon. That was what defined a circus to me – there had to be a guy flying out of a cannon. How loud that cannon was! I cheered as I clapped my hands on my ears, laughing as the guy sailed through the air.

Then there was the tightwire motorcycle act. The tightwire went right over our heads. The motorcycle drove slowly across the wire getting closer and closer. Then a beautiful lady in a sparkly silver costume descended from the motorcycle, clenching the rope (or whatever it is called) with her teeth. She began the most beautiful arial ballet right above our heads. I was in awe as I watched her spin and dance in the air. I couldn’t believe how she was able to hang on just by her teeth!

I am fairly certain I played circus for weeks afterwards.

I love how forgotten memories are triggered by the smallest things, and sometimes things that have nothing to do with the memmory. I always greet them with a smile and hug to an old friend. Then I quickly write them down before they slip away again…


Filed under Memory

A Memory Remembered

It is amazing how the mind remembers and forgets and how the tiniest thing will spark a flood of memories cherished and warm and you wonder, “How did I ever forget?”  And then you have the greatest desire to share it with your own family.

 My favorite mornings as a child were when I would awake to the sound of the bread mixer. It ment delicious hot fresh bread that day and there was nothing better, especially with butter melting on top.  As I would climb the stairs from my basement bedroom I would emerge from the dark into the warm cozy glow of the kitchen. Mom would be making breakfast usually as the bread mixed and the sound would fill the kitchen and house.  Usually breakfast would consist of oatmeal, or some other kind of mush which I didn’t care for too much.  There were times of eggs, or pancakes and sometimes even bacon.  Cold cereal was something that we only had on trips and Christmas (I remember often that there would be one of those mini boxes of cold cereal tucked into our stocking on Christmas morning – we were always so excited at the novelty).  Then there were these mornings when sometimes, espeically if there were some special occasion, when Mom would make the most wonderful thing ever.  We called them scones – though they weren’t really, I suppose the correct name would be fry bread, or something like that, but to me the will always and forever be known as scones.

Mom would roll out the bread dough, cut it into pieces and fry it.  The funnest times were when we got to help with the cutting out.  We would get all creative and make letters – the first initial of each person’s name. We would do shapes and braids.  Sometimes we would even grab the cookie cutters and do fancier shapes.

Mom would drop them in the hot oil and we would watch as the bubbled and browned until the were fetched dripping hot from the pan. We would carefully pat them down dry in paper towls and add them to the growing stack on the table.

Soon it was eating time.  Hot maple syrup was poured over them – sometimes even fresh using maple from trees the boys had tapped.  And, then there was always peanut butter. I don’t know who started the peanut butter, but the most devine thing was to spread peanut butter, always chunky, over the scone and then pour the hot syrup on top.  The peanut but would melt and go all gooey. Mmmmmm  Then you sank your teeth in and tasted the gooey goodness, and nothing could ever go wrong in the world.  I’m sure we put other things on the scones as well, but the syrup and peanut butter was the staple.  We actually did peanut butter and syrup on pancakes and waffles too, but it never tasted as good as it did on our scones.

 I never thought to forget about scones, I mean how could I? They were a childhood favorite. I made them a few times when Paul and I were just married – and introduced him to the peanut butter and syrup combination – after a brief moment where he thought I was insane, he quickly discovered just how wonderful it was. 🙂  Then a few weeks ago we were doing something and the memory of scones in the morning came flooding back with the force of a two by four smacking me right between the eyes.

I couldn’t wait for the next Saturday to arrive as I got up early and began mixing bread dough.  We didn’t do all the shapes we did as kids, I was just excited to eat scones again 🙂 but that will come later.  The kids loved the novelty of peanut butter and syrup together – another generation of warped kids coming up 😉 and my kitchen was flooded with cherished memories from my childhood as I made scones for my little family.  They were readily devoured by all of us, and I can promise, I’m not going to be forgetting now.  I have four little people who will eagerly remind me of our devine breakfast, and maybe, just maybe, someday they will have a few little people reminding them of their devine breakfast, and the memories will cross generations and bind us all together.

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Filed under Memory


Weekly Anamnesis #29

It looked like a science experiment gone wrong, or the latest goo technology of the 80s. I eyed the bowl warily as I saw long flat green things swimming sinisterly beneath the murky surface. I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone. In horror I watched my mother dip in a spoon and fish out some of the green stuff. A pale greenish slime drip from the spoon, there was practically enough elasticity that I thought it was going to bounce right up again before the line grew thinner and separated. With a resonating “schlop” she plopped it on my plate, a sound similar to a suction cup slowly being peeled from a window.

“I have to eat that!” I gasped as my nose caught an odor equal to dog vomit. My brothers were eyeing the mess with as much timidity as I, but my sisters didn’t seem the least bit phased. “They had probably helped make it,” I reasoned in my head.

My Mother’s glower was enough to answer my question. I knew the rule; once on the plate it had to be devoured in order for us to make our exodus from the table. I poked my forked at the pile of sludge on my plate and a chorus of “let my people gooooo” rambled through my brain as I leaned in my seat, gazing with yearning through the door where freedom lay. There would be no hope of Salvation for me as I eyed my Promised Land beyond the kitchen table.

“It looks like mucus,” my brother whispered in my ear sending us into a fit of giggles.

“Mom, what is this stuff anyway? Are you sure it’s actually edible?” I was expecting it to walk of my plate any minute as I waited for her answer.

“It’s called okra; it’s very good, and very edible.” (Let me insert a disclaimer that I have heard that fried okra is quite good, but I can testify that boiled okra is of the devil himself, heh)

“No guts no glory,” I mumbled under my breath. I speared one of the long green things with my fork and deftly clamped down on my nose with my left hand. I tipped my head back and held the dripping okra up over my plate. I cranked open the hatch and let the slimy thing fall. Trying my best not to gag, I felt it slip right down my throat, no swallowing or chewing involved. Disgusting and slimy, but at least I didn’t have to chew it!


Filed under Anamnesis, Farm Stories, Humor, Writing


Weekly Anamnesis #28

I tucked my fuzzy pajama covered knees beneath my chin, wrapping my arms around them, hugging them close. I rocked back and forth a bit staring longingly at the sleek dark finish of the bedroom door.

“I won’t cry! I won’t!” I whispered to myself as tears threatened, brimming and pooling at the corners of my eyes. I dashed them aside with my grubby hand. I could hear them, laughing and giggling, their sounds muted by the closed door and the distance of the hall. I could picture them sprawled across the floor munching on their popcorn and laughing over their silly poses on the slides. I saw the slide of my brother in my mind, his hands placed upon his cheeks in a surprised “Oh!” and laughter in his eyes as he stood below a waterfall in naught but his underwear. Oh, how we giggled and laughed at that one. The water splashed off his elbows scattering in disarray, with the brown rock behind him. I heard a burst of laughter, no doubt my sister, and I hugged my knees tighter. “I won’t cry!” I whispered fiercely as I unfolded my little body and crawled into bed.

Only when the covers were yanked over my head did I let myself dissolve into a heap of gut wrenching sobs. Mother had said, “Go to bed.” But I wanted to be with the family. I hadn’t been bad had I? My crying softened and I heard someone at my door. A soft tap and the slight creek as it opened, followed by quiet footsteps. I felt the covers slip over my sodden hair and I looked up into my Mother’s worried eyes.

“What’s wrong? Why didn’t you come out?” She asked.

“You … said … I had to go … to … bed,” I gasped as the sobs threatened another act of piracy. I looked into my Mother’s astonished face as it crumbled into compassion.

“Oh, darling, I said to get ready for bed,” she whispered as she gathered me into her arms.
I turned my tear-streaked cheeks up to gaze into her face, a glimmer of hope in my eyes. “Then, I’m not in trouble?
”I can come out and watch slides?”

My tears forgotten I scrambled out of bed and followed my mother out the door, leaving them to dry.


Filed under Anamnesis, Memory, Parenting, Writing

Amendment (an attempt to clear my name of it’s dubious behavior, somewhat)

Weekly Anamnesis #16

It has been ages since I have done one of my farm stories, so here we go. Now, lest you all believe that I was the main center of mischief in our family I am submitting this amendment (correction) to my blog confessing my siblings’ follies. (I know it is a stretch for the topic at hand, but it is all I could come up with) I hope they will forgive me, but after all, I wasn’t an only child and they did many crazy things just like me, and as I witnessed most of them well . . .

We’ll start with Heidi. She was the oldest and I don’t know that I remember too much, other than the boys and I harassing her when she was babysitting to her wits end. I do remember a certain yellow plate rocket launched into space though. Paul, Kimball, and I were being especially obnoxious, sitting across the back of the kitchen table, and she got really, really mad. Before we knew it we had an UFO aimed right for our heads. “Beam me up Scotty!!” It missed us and shattered on the wall right above our heads. Were we scared, terrified, sorry? Of course not, we started laughing and said, “you are so lucky you didn’t break the window with that thing!” Hmmm. Ooh, and then there was the time when she was going to bake something in the oven and turned it on with out looking inside it first. I’m not sure why it was in there, but pretty soon there was an awful smell, flames, and lots of smoke! After about of gallon of baking soda was dumped everywhere she pulled out a very melted plastic cake/jello pan. See, I’m not the only pyro in my family!

Now Lisa, I cannot claim to ever having witnessed her particular claim to glory. Though I might have been watching it all from above as I was not born yet. I have heard the story a million times. I believe it was a beautiful day and they were someplace visiting someone and there was a pond. My sister was prone to delusions of grandeur, and on this particular day was delusioning about super woman. Maybe she was showing her older sister how it was supposed to be done, I can’t really say, I wasn’t there. Perhaps she was just under the impression that if she got a long running start down the hill she could take flight and soar across the pond. So down she went proclaim at the top of her lungs, “SUPER WOMAN!” I’m afraid there was no grand flight, or soaring into the sky. There was a loud splat though as she hit the mud at the edge of the pond. Heh. I sure wish I could have seen that one! 🙂

I was reminded of Kimball’s moment as I watched Looney Toons with my children the other day. I looked at my mom, pointed, and exclaimed, “Hey! That’s Kimball!” I’m sure there are many, this just happens to be the one I remember, and I hope he doesn’t shoot me if he reads this. 😉 My brothers had BB guns and one fine day Kimball was carrying his BB gun about. I’m sure he thought the safety was on. His finger was placed strategically over the barrel (to keep that silly BB from rolling out, heh). Apparently the safety wasn’t on and he got a nice little BB sized hole going through his finger. So the moment on the Looney Toons you ask? I believe it was Elmer Fudd putting his finger in the barrel a number of times to keep it from going of and his finger kept popping out and then in again. You might comment that maybe he watched too much TV and especially Looney Toons when he was a kid, but that argument won’t work; we didn’t have a TV. 🙂

Paul’s story involves BB guns too, and I was there to witness the whole thing! My family just heard the resulting crash. We were standing in our front yard looking out towards the slightly distant road. At the end of the yard just before the front pasture started there was a cement block. On the block in the yard at the beginning of the pasture sat a Robin. Now, my brothers were permitted to shoot pesky birds to keep them out of the garden and such, but Robins were not on the ok to shoot list. And as my brother took aim I reminded him of this. He shrugged, pesky sisters didn’t know what they were talking about. Then I informed him that if he missed the bird that he would hit the block and it would ricochet. “I won’t miss.” he said taking careful aim and squeezing the trigger. There was a pop, a whiz, a ping, a zing, and then a mighty crash. The Robin flew off and Paul stood in utter horror. I kindly did the little sister jig and said, “Oooohhh! You’re gonna get it now!” And promptly disappeared to hide in the barn so as not to be included in the mad-cap caper. What was the crash you ask? The large side van window. Heh.

So, you see, I was not the only contributor of trouble. I am just amazed that my poor mother managed to survive us all! How we do love her so!

(by the way I was interested to find as I looked at definitions of “amendment” that it also means ” a material (as compost or sand) that aids plant growth indirectly by improving the condition of the soil”. For a good story on the many uses of such an amendment read this. So now hopefully, this post won’t be such a stretch of the topic.)


Filed under Anamnesis, Family, Farm Stories, Goofs, Humor, Writing


Weekly Anamnesis #10

If you were to stand on the road in front of our farm you would look across a large field where sheep were grazing, a yard where kids were most likely playing, and your gaze would come to rest on our home. To the right was another pasture stretching from the road back a long ways to where the dilapidated wood gate swung lazily at the entrance to the wood. In the middle of the right field was lump. A hill really, and old foundation where a barn or some other structure had once been. It looked like a large dumpling floating on a sea of waving grass. There were trees scattered around the lump and it had become a favorite place to play and battle dragons alongside King Arthur’s Knights of the round table.

At one point my sister, Heidi, owned a horse. The horse however had fallen from grace and was not liked by much of the family, being of an ill temper (my sister may disagree at this point, but I felt it had an ill temper). Having thrown me at a young age, kicked my brother in the head, and thrown my sister (breaking her arm) I was very nervous around the beast. Happily though, my dislike for the horse didn’t deter me from my much loved romps through the fields.

My brother Kimball and I were playing in the field, at what I don’t quite remember. I just remember the hoof beats. My gaze settled on the horse galloping through the pasture, headed as it seemed, right for me. I panicked.

“Kimball it’s gonna get me!”

I am sure if I were an elder brother I would not be able to pass up the marvelous opportunity either, and thus he gave the remedy, “Run! Run as fast as you can so it won’t eat you!”

Panic and desperation fueled my feet as I tore through the field aiming for the lump. I could almost feel the hot air from the horse’s nostrils breathing down my back.

“Faster J, faster!” Kimball cried. I was too busy running away from the man eating horse to notice the mischief in his eyes and the grin playing at the corners of his mouth as he ran along my side.

“Quick, climb a tree so it won’t get you!”

I heartily took his advice and launched myself into the first tree I came too. Being rather young I had not devolved the art of skillfully climbing and could not attain much height.

“Higher J, higher!”

“I can’t get any higher! Will it still eat me?” I bunched myself into a ball, probably looking much like a misshapen apple to the horse, but it decided that giant human apples were not desirable and gradually meandered away.

It was then I saw it, that grin and tomfoolery playing at his face and he burst into laughter. As mirth is the best remedy, I too collapsed into a heap of giggles and the man eating horse became a favorite object of play.


Filed under Anamnesis, Farm Stories, Humor, Personal History, Writing