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.
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?
I think autumn has finally arrived in our part of the world. Here in Kansas it always seems to peek around the edges, giving little snippets of cool weather and fluttery days, mixed with hot and humid. Then suddenly, it’s cold, and the leaves disappear from the trees.
Very different from the autumns I remember as a teenager in upstate New York. The colorful show began in August, evenings with cool suggestions of winter to come. Gorgeous colors seeming to turn overnight. By October, you knew those wintery days were just a breath away, and the holiday season was upon you. It always seemed to be a colorful parade, leading up to a finale of crystal snowflakes.
Here in Kansas, there is no stroll through the off-seasons of autumn and spring. More like a plunge.
So, the kitchen projects I needed to finish took a backseat to the outside projects that kept popping up. I probably shouldn’t word it like that. One would imagine just springing onto the scene, rather than items on a list I always have running through my mind.
Our oldest grandson came for a week or so to help with those outside goals. Poor guy…he will probably never return. This grandma’s house isn’t a safe haven of cuddles and cookies. It’s more of a boot camp for life-training. But there was some baking thrown in for good measure.
He worked like a trooper, helping me dig holes for fencing, and pushing wheelbarrow load after load of dirt to fill holes around the yard. He mixed cement, and got out supplies that are a burden for me after a long day of digging. And he hung in there. Projects that were on my long list were accomplished, and then some. And now this grandmother feels better about the cold winds around the corner.
We assured him that the holidays were upon us, and days of playing games for hours were promised to come. Days when we all can sip hot chocolate and eat yummy baked goods. I hope those remembered other times will be an enticement.
In the meantime, I can look at my very happy roses climbing on the white fence, walk on the stone path Joshua helped me with, and look forward to some steaks on the firepit he helped me move to a larger area.
At the end of those days with our oldest grandchild, our son and son-in-law helped replace the windows in our bedroom. This was the third set of windows they have done in the past couple of months. It was a huge project…more than we expected…just like all the others. But they are beautiful, and they fit in with all the other windows now. I’m hoping for at least one more warm day to get them painted outside.
This year has accomplished way more than I had hoped for when it began. The kitchen was to be the main project, and it probably was. But so much more has been done. All with the help of family. Some would read this post and think that all I care about is getting stuff done around the house. Some of those readers may even be my family! 😉 But what sticks out even more in my mind is the time that I have spent with all the family that has been here to help…and that I am blessed to have children, sons-in-law, and grandchildren that are willing to be here for us. And not just when it comes to projects. I know that if we ever need anything, our family would be there in any way that they could to lend a hand. That means so much in this world today of each person looking out for themselves.
The past few months have given me many memories of frustrating times of things not going right, boards in the face, dropped hammers on toes, wiring cut, and rethinking of a plan. But so many more memories of stepping back and thinking, “Wow! We accomplished that!” And I believe all of us can say that. Thank you to everyone for just hanging in there!
As a side note, I had another blogger at https://bluewillowcottage.com/2018/10/12/make-a-coffee-station-at-home/ ask about my coffee station. It ended up being a question about my previous kitchen remodel in the home we sold in 2020. My how time flies! So here is a picture of our coffee area now. I don’t have it as cute as some, but it is extremely handy. All coffee supplies are located in those cupboards and drawers. The counter provides enough room to hold many cups waiting for coffee. (Grandchildren have some cocoa, lots of cream and a bit of coffee). For me, it works perfectly!
Visiting your parent in a nursing home is not for the faint-hearted. Add the restrictions…
I worked for several years as a C.N.A., and then as an Activity Director. I did home-health care a couple of times over the years. Back before all the rules. Back when you could care for someone without fear. I did it because I loved being with the elderly. I wanted to know them as a person, and be a part of their life. Even though it was the last part. The months and years that are not counted as being very important at times.
They are extremely important.
Just as important, and maybe more so than the first few years on this earth. Because people are stooped, wrinkled, and cranky, doesn’t mean that their soul is gone. Because they stare blankly, doesn’t mean their soul is vacant.
My mother went into the nursing home mid-September 2020. She had hip surgery, and then some rehabilitation. My father and I saw her for a doctor’s appointment the first part of November. We visited again on Saturday.
And it was heartbreaking.
Again, I’ve worked in healthcare. I know the routine. I know what the diagnosis entails. But seeing your parent in the situation somehow ties your hands behind your back, and you become an onlooker, stumbling along with all the rules.
And I really hate that!
My mother was a vibrant woman at one time.
She survived leukemia as a young woman with four small children. She struggled through more surgeries than I can count, suffered health problems for so many years. And she just kept going. We four children were told more than once to tell our young mother good-bye, because she may not be there when we awoke in the morning. We sat on her bed, a huge tank of oxygen standing guard in the corner as we held her thin, translucent hand, and begged God for her to be there in the morning.
And she was.
She learned to talk, walk, and play the piano once again when I was 12. Her memory was never the same, but she was there. She went on a campaign for our better health as well as hers. And we children dreaded every step of it. The green, sludgy drinks that did not taste like V-8. The hunks of stoneground wheat bread made from scratch, slabs of cheese with sprouts hanging out made our elementary school lunches a trial. We dreamed of fluffy sandwiches, pristine white and easy to chew. Then we could be like our classmates. My deodorant was lemon juice, and it worked for my face as well. At least that is what I was told. Toothpaste that tasted like baking soda, and shampoo that didn’t have suds were my companions until I reached legal age, and could purchase what was so prettily marketed.
But my better health, and no cavities at the age of 56, are my reward. And now an immense appreciation for what my mother did for her family in the areas of health.
And she is no longer there…most of the time.
Everyone that has had a parent in a nursing home has the same stories to share. Their parent’s were vital people as well. I always loved to hear the memories those over-middle-aged children had to share about their loved one. I wanted to know about those real people. Their accomplishments, their loves, their hobbies, and I wanted to see pictures. I wanted to know them as they were long ago. Before the years had taken a toll, before their mind had escaped to that far-away place we call Alzheimer’s and dementia. Because that person was still there…just watching from afar.
I never thought I would see the day that my mother, the woman that had escaped death so many times, would be sitting in a nursing home. Alone, sad, and afraid. And what I had done for so many others, I can not do for her at this time.
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.
When I first began this blog in 2015, my goal was to write about me and my family, and light issues that would help my readers connect with me as a person. I didn’t want to bombard with just writing topics. For one thing, I don’t have a master’s degree in writing anything. I rely heavily on my editor to fix all that I do wrong. I don’t know much about branding or marketing. I go to others and read lots of other posts about it to broaden my knowledge base. And considering sales of my books…I have lots more to learn in those areas! 😉
So now, four years later…I’m still a little mired down in this blogging world. I read other sites that are really successful. I try to figure out what they are doing right, and what I’m doing wrong. I wonder if my scope of topics is too large, or the site just not interesting. I’ve even considered starting over, but what would my focus be?
Truth be told, my knowledge base is marriage and family. It’s what I’ve done for all of my adult life. Sunday, the 20th will be my husband and my 35th wedding anniversary. It’s one I’ve looked forward to. Others celebrate by going on a cruise, having another ceremony to rededicate their married lives, or going out for a nice dinner. I thought that by this time in our marriage, we would be doing the same. We won’t be. I think spam is on the menu this year.
My husband and five children have always been the world to me. It’s what I invested all my time in. Some may say that was crazy, and that I didn’t plan for the future. I always thought it was the best way to plan for our future together. But children grow up and have families of their own, they move away, and they make their own choices in life. I am no longer in control of all of that…and maybe I never really was.
So, here I sit at almost 55 years of age. This past year as been beyond difficult in so many ways. There are days when I feel as though the rug has been yanked out from under us, and we haven’t hit the floor yet. But when we do, it’s going to be bad. My faith has taken a serious hit, and there are more days than not that I would like to run away and be a different person.
This Life is Real…and so are the Answers. I truly believe that. None of us live in a fairy tale world with light and laughter, flowers and fun, around every corner. Many of us deal with darkness and tears, an inability to breathe because of all that has been dumped on us. The flowers in our lives are dead and crumbled, blowing away in the wind, and a smile is hard to summon.
I don’t have a master’s degree in anything. Just a lot of learning through difficult experiences. I try to share that in my books. In my books, there is an answer for that struggling character. Writing helps me work through all that has been allowed in my life. This blog has been a release for me to express all that bottles up…whether it be good or bad. I pray that my books reach people and the struggles they have in their lives. I pray they find an answer.
So for now, I’ll stick with what I’ve been doing here, and I welcome any suggestions to improve.
Philippians 4:6-7New American Standard Bible (NASB)
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all [a]comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
At one time in my life, I spent literally hours at shopping malls. I kept up this habit until we had two small children. By then it was a great way to get out of the house for a few hours and incorporate some much-needed walking into my day. I never really spent much money, but I recall the people-watching and the store windows. At Christmas time, I loved the decorations and the music, the shoppers with the common goal of locating that perfect gift.
Then, for many years, the thought of entering that brightly-lit fray had the power to make me feel as though an elephant was sitting on my chest. The mall was the last place I wanted to be, and during the Christmas season I really wanted to avoid it. My comfy office chair guided me through many years of birthday and Christmas shopping.
I’ve noticed that life seems to travel in full circles. I’m also the person that would always do the opposite of others, not wanting to follow the crowds. If hair was to be short, mine was long, and if curls were the go-to style, I wouldn’t fuss so much to have that bounce. I haven’t told my family this, but the other day when I was contemplating the painting of our house, two sides one color and two sides of another color flashed through my head. After all, people don’t normally decide to do this to their homes. (And, if you live in a neighborhood with rules, you may not be allowed to do this!) I just know that our house has been the same color for over ten years now, and I want something different and unique, but all in good taste…of course!
So maybe that is the greater reason that I found enjoyment in not one, but two days at two malls…all in the same week! That, or the company I was with. It was also an excellent way to get that walking in! Because I was having such a good time, I even had my picture taken a few times…also a rarity. Thank you to my husband and our youngest for two fun days. It reminded me of why I once spent many hours at the mall, and shopping. The picture below is actually at Home Depot. I’ve never looked so good in red!
I think this is one of my favorite pictures of my husband and me. It just makes me smile. Merry Christmas! May your Christmas shopping be peaceful, enjoyable and those gifts right at your fingertips.
This is another verse that I used often when our children were small. It was the first verse I had them memorize. And with all the verses our children memorized, I tried to do the same. My memory skills were never great, and they have become worse as I grow older, but I tried. If nothing else, having five children learn them, helped to put them into my mind and recall them when I needed to.
I will make an exception to the statement I made about trying to memorize all the verses they were learning. By the time our children were in AWANA, they were learning them so quickly and so many, that I kind of gave up! Even after working with AWANA children for almost 15 years, hearing them recite the same verses over and over, I still did not have them completely memorized. But I did generally know where they were to be found in the Bible, and the general idea of the verse. At least enough for me to look them up and get them into context! Someday, if I am ever without my Bible, I pray those bits and pieces come together.
Psalm 56:3 King James Version (KJV)
3 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.
And here it is again:
Psalm 56:3 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
3 [a]When I am afraid, [b]I will put my trust in You.
Whenever possible, I had our children memorize a verse in the King James Version. I think it has a certain flow to it, and it is beautiful. I would use the New American Standard Bible to clarify if they were stumbling over a certain word. Which is why I like to include both on here.
The picture above and below made me think of this verse. You follow that boardwalk for the first time. You don’t know where it’s going, or what you’re going to find along the way. Our lives are rather like that much of the time. So, you head out, and when the path becomes twisting and dark, and you become afraid, you put your trust in Him. He will lead you through.
No, this is not about another grandchild, although in about five months, we should be making that announcement. I’ve said it before, and I know I will again. Grandchildren are the best little people in this life! We have blessings running over in that area!
If you purchase the paperback edition, the kindle edition is yours for free!
Here’s a little sneak peak at the back cover:
I will also be having a giveaway for this book over at Goodreads. Check back here for more details on that. And if you love getting free stuff, please enter to win a signed copy of the fourth book in the Rubyville series, A Place in My Heart. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32662285-a-place-in-my-heart There are just ten more days to enter this giveaway. I’ve sent out nine books from the Rubyville series so far and you could be another winner. A giveaway for my first published work, To Thee I’m Wed, (and the most talked about story so far), will begin on July 1st.
Lots of exciting things happening this summer! I have several events scheduled. The best part about that is I have the privilege of meeting you, the reader! And of course, I have a second book about the little town of Wheatacre, Kansas that is speaking to me. I know, that sounds a bit crazy, but if you are a writer, you understand!
Whew! Now that I have that out of my head, maybe I can get a little sleep before I need to get up for the day! Have a beautiful day!