Christmas Eve has arrived. I always look forward to this day and tomorrow. A special time spent with family, and whenever those days occur…memories abound.
I am missing my mother this year. She is still with us, but in a nursing home. The woman that was once a huge part of our holiday celebrations, only remembers the work involved. And I guess I don’t blame her for that. She went above and beyond for her family during the Christmas season.
Weeks of baking which included cookies of all kinds, and decorating sugar cookies. See’s Fudge, and gingerbread houses when we were older. We always had several trees to decorate. My father and brothers hung strings of white lights over barns, and shrubs, while candles illuminated every window.
We didn’t always have new clothes for Christmas. My mother shopped at the Salvation Army when we lived in Longmont, Colorado. We always had plenty of new-to-us clothing, and often from high-end places. My mother was a savvy shopper. She could stretch a buck to the breaking point in those days. What she didn’t purchase, she crocheted or knitted. Our babies always were well-dressed, and warm.
In between all of that, my mother played piano and organ for our church services. Which always meant a Christmas Cantata. I don’t know how she did it all.
Today, in America, we celebrate Thanksgiving. It’s become a day of copious amounts of food and eating.
A day to share with family and friends.
At one time, our schools taught that the Pilgrims and Indians came together during those first autumn days, and shared their bounties.
It’s been a very long time since I was in school, but I hope there are some memories of those first years when the settlers struggled, for our school children today. I remember being in first grade, and our mothers made a Thanksgiving dish for us to share during class. My mother also made me a long, calico skirt that I wore for a few years. I loved it! A couple children dressed as Indians, some as Pilgrims. We sat on blankets on our classroom floor…and we tried to place ourselves back several hundred years.
My take away from that day at school wasn’t all the political stuff, but the working together, and being thankful for our family, friends, and good food.
I pray your day is filled with Thanksgiving memories, and the acts of sharing, and caring for one another. We all have much to be thankful for.
Today, here in America we celebrate our Veterans. The men and women that have served in our armed forces. Without their dedication and sacrifice…some the ultimate sacrifice…we would not have the freedoms we still enjoy.
While I have no memory of family serving in actual battle, my husband’s paternal grandfather served in World War I. His Uncle Cal served in the Vietnam War for multiple tours. During my years working in rest homes, I had the privilege to speak with many war survivors. I was always amazed at the stories they told, the experiences they had.
And I was extremely thankful for them serving their country.
Today we remember all of you, and we thank you for your service.
My maternal grandfather, Daryl McMillen, United States Navy
My father, Larry Johnson, United States Air Force
My husband, George Dykeman, United States Air Force
My brother, Todd Johnson, United States Navy
My husband’s family…
His paternal grandfather, George Dykeman, United States Army
His father, Robert Dykeman, United States Marine Corps
His uncle, Calvin Dykeman, United States Air Force
His uncle, Albert Dykeman, United States Air Force
His brother, Ron Davis, United States Marine Corps
His brother, James Dykeman, United States Marine Corps
My husband has another uncle, Tom Dykeman that may have been in the service as well. If family reads this post, please be sure to correct me and post the branch.
Please be sure to show your thankfulness and support for all our Veterans today. Display your flag correctly and with respect. Attend services for these Veterans if available in your community.
And always…remember their dedication and sacrifice to the United States of America.
My mother loved old homes, and probably passed that down to me. Throw in a little history, maybe some drama about a place, and I’m hooked. Because of those two items, I read a lot of Victoria Holt in my teenage years. I also enjoyed John Jakes, and Eugenia Price for the same reasons. And yes, when I was younger, I read a wide assortment of genres. Usually spending my lunch hour reading in the library rather than eating, if I had the option.
Because of my mother, we were privileged to live in some real beauties over the years. That also meant a lot of restoration projects, and cleaning! I don’t think we ever just lived in a house. And about the time it was fairly decent, and had a good kitchen, we moved. This happened a few times in my memory. That is probably the reasoning behind so many of my own kitchen projects!
So imagine my surprise when a friend from high school, (actually in my sister’s class I believe) shared this link with me a couple days ago.
My parents purchased this house the summer of 1978, the year I celebrated my 14th birthday. We had been living in Burlington, Vermont since that January and my parents saw this house on the way through Crown Point, New York. So about August, we began making weekend trips to the house to clean, paint, and get ready for us to move into. Those were long days, but I was so excited! For one thing, I had hated living in Burlington. It was one of the rare times we had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and the schools were not great. I won’t even mention how miserable it was to move to Burlington in January! You can let your imagination run wild and it will be on course.
In a previous post of mine, titled All Hallow’s Eve in 2017, I included this: A gorgeous home built by the town banker in the late 1880’s from what we were told. His name was A.J. Wyman, and he began a banking business in April, 1881 in Crown Point. My parent’s talked with people all over town getting as much information about the house as possible. They were told that the oak staircase in the front of the house was hand-carved and took a year to make, and other interesting facts and trivia. Some they questioned, because you never know how the stories change over the years. Another item that was shared was that nuns had lived in the house for a while. The Catholic Church in Crown Point was just a little ways from the house. A realtor friend of my parents at the time said the house had porcelain sinks, tubs, etc. originally, and they had disappeared from the house during a time of it being rented.
The summer we arrived, the house had been a duplex. The section that had been for the Wyman family when built, the north side, had been done in oak. The south side was done in cherry, and housed the servants. There were pocket doors between the two sections for servants and family to be able to cross discreetly. So these two sections had been closed off to make two homes. My parents used it for one home, opening it back up.
Because of this, there were two kitchens, and three bathrooms at the time we moved in. For some reason, my mother elected to use the south kitchen, which is what you see in the above real estate pictures. I say for some reason, because the other kitchen was rather nice, actual cabinets and counters. But it was modern, and my mother wasn’t into modern too much back then. She even put a wood cookstove in the kitchen we used. It was located on the same wall where you see the stainless range now. My grandfather built a brick wall for the cookstove, and that’s where I learned to lay brick. When we lived there, the kitchen had no cabinets. Just an old porcelain sink. There was a gorgeous butler’s pantry just off this room, all done in cherry. We kept all our kitchen supplies in there. The other kitchen has now been made into a bedroom, the only one on the first floor.
I was amazed, and so very pleased to see that all the woodwork is still intact, and not painted! It was gorgeous, and it still is. I spent many hours with lemon oil polishing it. My father hung the wallpaper that you see in the front foyer, parlor and what was our formal dining room. That included the wallpaper you see going up the stairs and in the upstairs hall. I remember him placing a long board across that rotunda, and hanging that very heavy wallpaper. It’s wonderful to see that it survived all these years! I had noticed that the red-flocked paper in the northwest room we used as a formal dining room is not finished on the west wall. I seem to recall my father running out of wallpaper, and that was not completed. I will have to ask him about that!
My sister and I had the two bedrooms on the north side of the house with the bay windows. Mine was on the west and her room was on the east. One brother had the room next to mine, that is now a bathroom. The room that was a huge bathroom when we lived there is now a bedroom. Another brother had the bedroom across from the bathroom. It is now where you see the baby bed and whicker furniture. A doorway that was installed, and not original to the house leads to a bedroom in the servant’s section of the house that my parents used. In the pictures above, you see a really pretty bathroom with burgundy colors and an old toilet. This was where the cistern for the house was located, and it was gigantic! That was all that was in that room. The bathroom my father used was the bedroom you now see at the end of the hall. The bedroom across from there has a daybed in it if I remember correctly. When we lived there, the walls in the servant’s quarters were pretty bad. It’s nice to see that they have been updated…but for my taste I would have gone with something not so dark, and that complemented that cherry woodwork a little better.
The large room at the back of the house had been the woodshed. It was pretty rough when we lived there. We used it for a family room, and I had a sleep-over with many friends in that room! The Christmas we were there, we had a huge Christmas tree, and my father anchored it to the supports in the ceiling. The room is nice now, and very cozy-looking. Not to mention the added bathroom that was once my mother’s laundry room. You entered it through where the washer and dryer combo is in the kitchen now.
The row of pine trees beside the house on the east side were planted by my parents. My mother would be thrilled to know they grew to be so big! I was surprised to see how very much the house is blanketed by trees. It seemed rather open to me back in the ’70’s. My brother had a horse and a pony that had stalls in the barn, and a corral behind the barn. We kept rabbits there as well. A very large garden area was to the west of the barn. My father grew lots of potatoes that second summer we lived there. He stored them in that cavernous basement beneath the house. It was a terrible thing to hear my mother ask for wood for the stove or potatoes. That meant a trip to that dungeon, and that is exactly what it looked like! I can still remember the damp coal and heating oil smells from all the years before us.
Memories! Mine seem even more sentimental now. My mother is in a nursing home. A small room with very little of the items that she at one time enjoyed having surround her. She does have memories of the Crown Point home, and other homes she enjoyed fixing up and decorating. She often mentions all the work they took to maintain! Slowly, her material items are being given out to family members, and I hope they come to love them as she did.
I suppose this post is more for me than anyone else. A record of my thoughts when I was looking through the pictures that Allison shared with me. I have good memories of my school years in Crown Point. My favorite teachers were there, and I still have many friends that I stay in touch with through social media. Someday…it would be nice to return…preferably with my siblings, and remember the good times.
Not just the bad.
Below is the house our first Christmas. Isn’t it beautiful?
When I was young, this made me sad. Summer, and all the activities we were involved in was one of the highlights of my youth. For a few years, I was in summer school. I know that may send shivers down some spines, but for me it was a few weeks when I could extend the classes that I really loved in school. I took art classes…fun stuff like pottery, and macramé. My siblings and I always took swimming lessons, and then spent every day at the pool.
When the first cool breezes hit Longmont, Colorado, (where I lived until I was thirteen), we knew it was time for school to begin once again. There was always a shopping trip to purchase new clothes and shoes for the school year. These clothes came with instructions from our mother of what day, under what circumstances, and what kind of weather those pieces of clothing were for…and we didn’t stray. You were not caught in school clothes if you were playing in the yard, and never on a weekend. Work clothes were not worn to school, and church clothes were for church, and only very special occasions. This list of instructions was the same for all children. When the cool weather changed to winter, you added a cardigan to your dress, and sometimes tights, or knee-high socks. I spent many mornings waiting for the school bus and wishing I had remembered my tights instead of the knee-highs. I would board the bus with red, chilled-to-the-bone knees.
After the first day of school, you had your school-supply list. That of course meant another trip to the store. I think I was in middle-school before a list was posted before school started. That second trip to the store was fun, and must have cost my parents a small fortune when all four of us were in school. But back then, those supplies were yours to use. A nifty little school box, (that we kept caterpillars in), stored our pencils, erasers, and little scissors. If you were really fortunate, you had your own pencil sharpener that didn’t eat up too much of your pencil, saving you the wait time of using the class crank one. Life was easy back then, and the little things meant a lot.
Memories make up so much of our lives, and I have many good ones. I started this post with the end of summer, and even as an adult, it makes me melancholy. The days are already becoming shorter, and the mornings have that autumn feel, even if the temperature rises into the nineties. Outdoor projects once again beckon me, but now they are a process of getting things ready for the winter. A winding down, preparation for the holiday season ahead.
One day, my goal is to spend a substantial amount of my year beside the ocean. Seaside is still my favorite place to be. A few trips to see my father’s side of the family in the San Diego area, made many good memories for me. Most notably the time we spent at the ocean. The beaches were a little more crowded than I liked, but the crashing waves, sand sifting beneath your feet, and that salt-water tinge in the air were always there. In my young-adult years, I was introduced to the Cape Cod surroundings, and I felt as though I had found my special place beside the ocean. It still beckons.
For me, summers always mean water, and that seaside experience. I don’t even want the palm trees and sand, but the sand dunes and beach roses. White picket fences trailing into oblivion, dune grass swaying in the ocean breeze. Even though I’ve lived in the middle portion of the United States for most of my life, this is my picture of summer.
And today, those pictures are replaced with the memories of trudging off to school in a plaid dress, wet leaves plastered on the sidewalks. That damp smell filling your head, as the heavy air lingers around the trees.
Easter Sunday is approaching quickly. Here in Kansas we were experiencing sub-zero temperatures just a couple weeks ago. The past few days have been in the ’70’s. Now, another storm is approaching, promising lots of snow in some areas.
Spring…a season of new life, expectations, and hope.
So many of my posts are reflecting back on my life and thoughts. Easter Sunday was another day I looked forward to as a child. Yes, I understood that we were celebrating and rejoicing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But the bigger picture for me at that time was a new Easter dress and decorating eggs. Remember…I was a child, and I thought as a child.
I have happy memories from those Saturday afternoons of dipping eggs. I don’t think we ever missed an Easter-decorating-eggs-day. Little cups of vinegar, the tablets melting into pools of color. The wire holder that was to help scoop the colored eggs. Always difficult for little hands to manage. But little fingers worked well. I think every child in Sunday school the next day had colored fingers! When the wraps came out in the 1970’s, I was thrilled. We could take our decorating to a whole new level.
My father always hid our Easter baskets first thing on Easter morning. We have pictures of us, proudly displaying our baskets. Our hair a mess from sleeping, mine usually in curlers. Those were the days when everyone bought a new dress for Easter Sunday, and you proudly marched off to church in it. When I was small, the outfit still included a new hat, shoes, white gloves, and a tiny purse. Of course more pictures were taken. And now they are included in photo history. A time when life was more simple, and it seems joy was taken in the little things.
Our youngest asked if we could decorate eggs this year. She’s 16, and very talented in the drawing, and painting areas. For me now, I don’t want to take the time to decorate something I’m going to crack, peel the shell off and eat. Because now I think like an old woman. No disrespect intended, and there is nothing wrong with decorating eggs. But it would be very special to have some pretty eggs for Easter Sunday.
I hope this post brought back your own special memories. The holidays are a time to reflect on those days…and that is part of making them special. Happy egg-decorating!
I sit here trying to remember my last post date. I know it’s been far too long.
It’s been long enough that the format for this site has changed again. Why do we have to mess with what works? Is there always a ‘new and improved’ way of doing things? As many of my older readers know, it’s not so much the fear of change, the dread of a learning curve, but just missing the old and familiar. The comfy chair that fits you just right, and you know you’ll feel safe and secure in.
To say it’s been a wild and crazy year world-wide is an understatement. We’ve all had the ‘old and familiar’ way of doing things knocked from beneath us. Our lives have spun out of control, and some are still twirling, hoping to cease that motion on some remembered ground of what life was once like. Here in the United States, we are still in a political mess of who will be the next President. I don’t do politics on here, and generally not on any social media. I definitely have my opinions, but I don’t care to spend precious time battling them out. God is in control, and I have faith-rest that it will work out in His timing. It may not be an easy ride, I may not agree, but it will be taken care of. My job is to keep applying what I know the Bible says about each and every situation. My biggest responsibility is to applying it with love, using patience and consideration for all. My biggest battleground is myself, and each minute of the day at times, reminding myself of that love, patience and consideration.
Long before Covid-19 hit everyone’s radar, my personal life began it’s own spiral. With all the items that were thrown at us, by the time the Virus hit, it wasn’t much to consider for me. I had too many other devastating items taking place. This post isn’t about feeling sorry for the last year and a half, no matter how much I would like to wish it all away. It’s about sharing with my readers. The one’s that follow this blog, the one’s that read my books. And if you’ve read my books, you know I write about the hard parts of life. The parts we’re ashamed of, the parts we want to forget, the parts we don’t want anyone to know about. We all have them, and they have been forgiven, and forgotten in the broad scope of eternity. Out of the rubble, there is hope, and sunshine to be shared.
I left my job as Activity Director at our local nursing home in August of 2019. I loved the job, but my health wasn’t fairing well with the stress of working full-time. My husband was also struggling physically. Acting in ways that were very different for him. Ways that were scary to me since I had worked in nursing homes for so many years, and knew about some of the symptoms. Ways that a 59 year old shouldn’t be acting. After a general diagnosis from our local doctor in September, my husband was referred to a neurologist. After waiting several months, my husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at the end of February.
My world, our world was forever changed. Hopes and plans for our future were swept away with just a few words. I was devastated, hurt, angry, and I wanted to run away. Very far away. My husband has never been much for expressing his emotions, and I know he felt many of the same things. But I’m a fighter, and he buries his head. The more sand he can scoop for protection, the better. All the while I’m shoveling it away in bucket-loads. It has probably kept us together for 36 years now. But I know it has not been the peaceful existence he would have preferred.
In the midst of all this, two of our daughters were struggling in their marriages. One ending in divorce, another in separation. Four precious grandchildren involved. Again, not what we would have planned or wanted for their lives, and I know not what they wanted. But this road of life is treacherous at times, and it takes all of our being to get through the dangerous curves and drops. Both daughters are now living further away than what I ever would have wanted, but they keep close contact, and we have had wonderful visits with both of them just recently. Those times are precious!
Selling the house we had lived in for 15 years was another hurdle. It was the only home our youngest remembered. So, the first of June, we moved in with our oldest daughter and her three children. Her husband had started a job a couple hours away and was staying with friends from their church until they could move. For four months, during lockdown, we had the privilege of having three of our grandchildren right with us. God knew the timing, He knew I needed help physically and mentally. It was a cherished time for me…for the grandchildren, it may have been different! Our daughter and husband are now living a couple hours away, but they are so good about traveling to see us almost weekly.
As I read back over what I’ve written, I shake my head in amazement. I wouldn’t have planned the last 18 months. I would have run if I had known! Recently, my mother has been moved to a memory care unit. My father cared for her for several years while still working full-time. Again, with the Covid-19 restrictions, it has been frustrating. But she is doing well, and I talk with her often now. I am relieved for my father, and have appreciated the time we’ve been able to spend with him.
I have debated on whether I should take down my posts from when our daughters were married, the pictures I shared on here. I’ve had this blog for several years now, so I’ve shared our lives. I’ve used it as a way for my readers to get to know me better, or at least that was what I was thinking when I started it. But it is therapy for me to write on here. I still cherish those posts, and the pictures. Those men our daughters married will always be part of our family…the fathers of our granddaughters. Nothing will change that. So for now, I will leave them, and I hope our daughters will understand that it is not for disrespect for their lives now, or for our new son-in-law. But it is what has made us what we are as a family. The good and the rough times we’ve shared.
My husband is doing very well on the medication for Parkinson’s Disease. He went from struggling to dress and shave to being able to do those ADL’s on his own. I am thankful. It gives us a bit more time to process this Disease and what our options are. For now we are renting from our oldest daughter and son-in-law, our son and youngest daughter living with us. Their help and support right now is making life easier.
That’s been our life in a nutshell. Again, not to feel sorry, but to let you know that I’m still here. I appreciate your prayers, and support for my books. I will write no matter what happens. I always have a story to tell. But my readers make it real, and very dear.