40 years ago

Forty years ago today was a big day in our lives…

(We were both  14)

ūüôā

 

 

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Growing up with big ears

Yesterday son John and I worked together hanging drywall.¬† He said he liked the picture I’d put on Facebook¬† the night before….(my grandpa’s baby picture).

I said to John,¬† I just wish someone would have told me when I was growing up, big¬† ears ran in the family.¬† ¬†ūüôā

Growing up I hated my ears.  I was ashamed of them. Kids called me monkey.  I swore that I would have plastic surgery when I grew up.  Funny thing is, when I could finally gets my hands on the $3000  I needed for plastic surgery, I had to stop and think about it.  They no longer bothered me.  My ears are just a part of what makes me, me.  -)

I’ve been working on family history this winter as I’ve mentioned recently and one of my dad’s baby pictures caught my eye.

I posted this series of photos on Facebook for my peep earlier this week:

Grandpa

Dad

Me

Son John

John’s son

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Growing up, my self esteem sucked.¬† No other way to put it.¬† I had a terrible case of low self worth.¬† I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I became an adult.

I hated my ears, I hated my name.  I hated the fact that I was small for my age growing up, not good at sports like my little brother.  I was different than him. I had a musical bent.  A sensitive heart. And I was clueless when it came to girls.

Low self esteem casts a long shadow.

It affects all your relationships.

Low self worth is  a festering wound in the soul.

I no longer battle with the self esteem issues I had growing up.

Restoring self worth in others is one of my passions.

A part of me would love to start a support group for kids who think they have big ears.

Question for you…What would you tell that little boy who came to you and said, the kids in school are making fun of his big ears, calling him “monkey, monkey, monkey,”¬† and picking on him because he is so small?

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Have a great day and thanks for stopping by. DM

 

That’s Twice Now

It has been a very productive winter for me as I’ve had the time to work on¬† family history.¬† It’s an interest I’ve had for years that comes and goes.¬† I’ve had individual folders with old family pictures, notes¬† from conversations from people now passed, two different family trees books I am descended from…a lot of information that begs to be organized.¬† ¬†Last Fall, I happened to run into Diane at a local picnic for a tour group in the area from Ostfriesland.¬† (Part of northern Germany.) By the end of our conversation, Diane had offered to help me work on our family tree.¬† She had the time, the know how and I jumped at her offer.

She reached out to me this past January and asked if I was ready to get started.¬† I gave her some names and she started setting up a family tree.¬† I didn’t hear anything for several weeks, and discovered in the meantime¬† that since my wife had taken a DNA test there was a free ancestry account already in existence in our name. So while I was waiting for Diane’s results, I started doing some work on my own…adding pictures, uploaded stories, using the search tools in the local newspaper archives.¬† ¬†It has been a great way to break up some of the time these past few months.

Night before last Diane wrote me a note.¬† I’d given her a link to the family tree I’ve been working on,¬† this is a portion of what she said:

“I can tell you that your instincts, Doug as a genealogist and family history keeper are excellent.”

That is the 2nd time someone as given me unsolicited affirmation about that area of my life. (lover of history.)

The first time was in 2009.¬† I’d shared a link to a history blog I was working on with one of my favorite authors.¬† Andrea Seu Peterson.

She wrote me back and said : “You may want to call yourself a contractor, but I think you’re a historian. “

I hesitate to share those two affirmations and yet, I believe there is a place in our lives for personal affirmation.  God knows there is enough negativity most of us battle with that goes on in our private thought life.  So, when  a few words of genuine affirmation makes it into my life, I celebrate. :-).

So there you go.

I am a voracious reader, especially when I get on a topic that interests me.  Heck, I grew up in a home where World Encyclopedias were on a bookshelf in our bathroom.

So for me, to receive two unsolicited affirmations  affirming my work in the area of history,  does as much for me as getting a piece of paper telling me I have a Masters degree.

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I’d never seen any of the following pictures before…(except the one of grandma on the boat.¬† I’ve share that one before.)

Picture of my grandmother (little girl on the left)  She was 13 years old.

My grandma, front row second from left.  Getting together with  her friends right before emigrating to America. March 1929.  She was 23.

Grandma on ship March 1929 coming to America

1949 Picture from my grandmother on her first visit  back to Germany since she immigrated. 

(She is in the center)

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Twenty years had passed…She’d gotten married to an Iowa farm boy.¬† She’ had three children.¬† Her father had passed away while she was gone.¬† She’d endured the Great Depression in America, experienced WW 2 as a German living in America.¬† ¬† I think of the emotions she must have been feeling at that moment.

I miss her.

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I need to get moving.

Thanks for tagging along.

Take care.  DM

Winter Sketches

I have two stories that rumble around in my head  each winter, when the weather gets testy, this year I added a third.

First story

(And you may have heard this one before).

Growing up,¬†my Grandpa would talk about a train¬† that derailed south of his farm in the dead of winter, January of 1929.¬† ¬†The train derailed and “turned turtle”¬† (went over on it’s back)¬† when it hit a hard snow drift.¬† One of the engineers (Roscoe Stevens) was trapped in the wreckage for over 3 hours.¬† ¬†Grandpa said, (and I have this on tape) ” I can still see that man…had a damn rod as thick as my arm over his arm…he was laying there, couldn’t move. Both engines were lying in the ditch. then the doctor hollered,” Does anybody got some whiskey??? Come on, get some! If you got nothing, get some! We’ve got to have whiskey for this guy.” they poured the whole pint in him. He was suffering….It was 35 to 40 below. You don’t ever forget those things…”

Here are a couple of pictures of that train wreck:

 

Second story

You may have heard this one before too,¬† that can happen around here.¬† ūüėČ

Back in 2011 I¬† stumbled across the poetry of Elsie Strawn Armstrong on-line. She was a pioneer mother who lived from 1789 to 1891.¬† She wrote a series¬† poems called “Sketches Of My Life.”¬† One of the most powerful accounts happened in 1831.¬† They lose their provision of salt, which in that time apparently was a life and death situation. ( I know it had to do with food preservation for the coming year, but not sure how that all works…)

“Our salt was in a gum,

And was standing on the loft,

But met with a bad accident,

when the cover got shoved off.

I had some in a box,

That was standing down below,

Not enough to last till spring,

And we knew not where to go…

Elsie asks¬† a man who had been selling salt if he had more to sell?¬† He didn’t, and didn’t know when more would be in.¬† He said...”If I go for salt, I’ll freeze to death, and perish in the snow.”¬†

She goes home,  and tells her children the situation.

When I got home, I told my children

What the man had said,

Then William said, I’ll go myself,

And take that big old sled.

“Mother do not be uneasy,

None but lazy people freeze,

Because they will not exercise,

They are so fond of ease.

There is no fear for me Mother,

I will jump and kick the sled,

I will keep myself in exercise

Run, and kick the wagon bed….

Their team was good and active,

All four year olds and strong….

The account goes on…

Fifteen year old Will and his little brother take off on a 90 mile trek in the dead of winter with their team. They have to cross a frozen river, deal with winter storms, not get lost, be on guard for  roving Indians, (all while mom is at home second guessing herself, with the rest of her brood).

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This week, just to make sure I was on my game¬† because the weather man said we were in for it, we were going to get a “Polar vortex”,what ever the heck that was, I decided to add a third story to my winter attitude folder.

I decided to reread a portion of  novel The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

It was perfect!

It was just what the Dr ordered!

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Pause.

I am torn.

Torn because I love winter.

I love winter storms.

I love being snowed in.

I love busting through drifts with my 4 wheel drive pick up.

Last thing I want to do is mock someone to whom the winter storms are a heartache.¬† (My parents are in their 80’s and I know it can be hard on both of them).¬† ¬†The thing is, from my vantage point, all of the negative, naysayers are the only voices I hear.¬† Fellow lovers of winter weather¬† seem to be either a dying breed or keeping their thoughts to themselves.

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I grew up on a farm.

On the farm, when you have livestock, you don’t get to stay in the house when it gets cold.¬† Sometimes just the opposite.¬† Those are the times when stuff starts to break. Water lines to the cattle get frozen or the pilot light to the tank heater won’t stay lit, etc. etc. Christmas morning if you have milk cows (like we did)¬† the cows still need milking, haying,¬† might even have more manure to pitch than normal if you keep the cows in the barn overnight so they don’t freeze their utters off. ūüôā

So here I am now in the year 2019.

All of our children are grown.  No longer have cows to milk, tank heaters to keep lit. none of it.

Predictions of winter storms stir up within me feelings of thankfulness.   I feel like some little creature tucked away deep in my burrow,  Cozy.  My larder is full.  The house is staying warm. Smell of freshly baking bread is in the air. Garden seeds have started coming in the mail.  The new little heating pad that goes under the seed starting tray is working like a charm.

I  feel better.   Now you know.

I got into a conversation yesterday with a young mom¬† about this past weeks weather.¬† She asked me what I thought about it.¬† I paused, looked her in the eyes and told her the same things I’ve just told you here.

She smiled and said,¬†“I feel the same way.”

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Here’s a picture I took earlier in the week in front of our house:

Got to run.  Need  to go to the bank before they close.   Take care. DM

 

Mom’s Birthday Gift

My mom turns 85 this month.

I wasn’t sure what to get her.

What do you get for someone who doesn’t want or need more stuff?

Decided to take her out on a date.

A coffee date.

I am scheduled to pick her up tomorrow morning at 9.

Just the two of us.

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I’m her first-born.

If you were to ask me to summarize my relationship with my mom in a word, I would say Confidant. (And it goes both ways.)

Confidant:  One to whom secret or private matters are disclosed.  A person with whom you confide things.

Mom lost her father when she was three.¬† Raised by a single mother.¬† Grew up during the Depression.¬† Told me once, “She never realized she was poor, because everybody was poor in those days.¬† Her grandmother helped to raise her while her mom worked. There was no social security in those days. Your family was your safety net. They ate pigeon pie.¬† Fish her grandpa would catch.¬† Her grandma has a big garden.¬† Took turns sharing the bath water with half a dozen other kids on the back porch every Friday night.¬†”

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Here’s where you (my blog readers)¬† come in… ūüôā

Mom and I will have no trouble carrying on a conversation when we are together. It never is.

BUT, I wouldn’t mind taking the opportunity to ask her a question or two about something of substance.

Any suggestions?

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Early picture of my mom and three of us.

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24 hours later….

Coffee date with her eldest

As it turned out, it was the perfect outing.¬† We did talk family history, but it wasn’t forced.¬† Found out mom initially went to college to become a teacher. (I never knew that.)¬† ¬†Two different local businessmen offered to help her out with her tuition. (Never knew that either) ūüôā

 

Lois

I met Lois 13 years ago.

She and her friend Floe had signed up for¬† a class I was teaching at our local community college¬† called “Bible for Dummies.”

Lois was 80 years old.¬† Farm wife.¬† ¬†She had a couple of hundred chickens/ sold eggs on the side.¬† Sharp mind.¬† Quiet, sweet personality.¬† I remember thinking no way is this lady 80 years old…65 maybe. Floe told me on the side Dave her husband could be a little “overbearing.”¬† Said Lois didn’t get away from the farm much.¬† Hard worker.¬† It was “good she was able to take a break and get away from the farm for a few hours.”

After that class ended, wife and I would occasionally stop by Lois’s farm and buy eggs.

We read in the obituaries a few years ago, Lois’s husband had died.¬† ¬†I think we may have gotten eggs from her one time after that.¬† I think of Lois every time I drive by her farm.¬† ¬†Christmas night, feeling nostalgic¬† I googled her name to get the address of her farm.¬† I was thinking about dropping her a note.¬† ¬† ¬†Two addresses came up for Lois.¬† Her place that I knew about¬† and a 2nd local address.¬† It was a care facility.¬† White pages said she was 93 years old.

As I was driving past the exit to the care facility¬† this past Thursday morning I thought, what the heck, I’m going to stop and ask if she lives there.¬† No harm in that.

Walked up to the front door. Doors were locked.¬† Needed a security code to get in.¬† Off to the right, were the instructions and code numbers.¬† ¬†Punched them in, sure enough, this time the door opened.¬† Straight ahead was an office with two secretaries and a resident, so I popped my head in the door and asked, “Does a¬†Lois, so- and so lived there?”

The secretary in charge looked at me as shook her head slowly¬† and said “Nope.”

I went on to tell them the details of why I there…It was spur of the moment.¬† Wasn’t even sure she was there, just that the computer said so.¬† Told her about the class Lois was in years before with me.¬† Told them I’d occasionally stop by her house to buy eggs, but it had been a while…

At this point, the secretary does some non-verbal signals with her eyes toward the resident sitting in the chair next to her desk, three feet in front of me….

It was Lois.

I did not recognize her.

Different hair style and her face was puffy.¬† ¬†I’m guessing she’d put on 20 pounds.
I asked how long she had lived here?  Secretary guessed maybe 3 years.

All this time Lois just sat listening to me banter, then reached up and grabbed my hand…didn’t let go until I left.¬† I looked her in the eyes and asked “Lois, do you remembered me?¬†

¬†“Yes” she said in a quiet voice.

We all  had good laugh.

Secretary said she thought I was joking initially.

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I’m still processing that little adventure.

I did write Lois a letter last night and pop it in the mail.

For the life of me, I can’t imagine going from the¬† active lifestyle that I have currently… where I can do whatever I want to do, make home-made bread, have a big garden, tend 80 apple trees, build furniture in my wood working shop, ferment sauerkraut, have a dog…..to moving into one room where all of my earthly possessions have to fit.

(And I couldn’t bring my dog).

Libby (our dog)

I watched a friend of ours (Helen) transition from living on her own, to moving into two different care facilities as her health declined…She pulled it off with amazing grace.¬† I’m not so sure I want to wind up like that.

(Not so sure I  have too much say in some of those details either.)

Radio DJ Friday morning was talking about her grandmother.  Grandmother lived through the depression of 1929-1939.  She said her grandmother had a remarkable cheerful disposition, in spite of all she went through. She asked her grandmother how she did it?

Grandmother told¬† her…¬†“It is a choice.”¬†¬†

Would love to hear any thoughts any of you have on this issue of aging, transitioning from one  season of our lives to the next.

I am taking notes ūüôā¬† DM

 

Jumble of words

Saw the following picture on our screensaver this morning.

(Our screensaver scrolls through the photos I’ve uploaded on the computer)

Grandson helping dad and grandpa cut wood with his chainsaw

Kasen was born with an extra  Chromosome 21

(Down Syndrome)

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My mind is a jumble of  words when I see that picture.

95% positive

I am so thankful my daughter and her husband did not choose to end his life while he was still in the womb.  6 out of 10 babies diagnosed with down syndrome never make it out of the womb alive here in America.   The odds are even worse in Europe (9 out of 10)

Kasen is as much a part of  our family as any of us.

The Thanksgiving holiday here in America¬† is day after tomorrow.¬† Wishing all of you that stay in touch with me on a regular basis here via my blog(s) a great day…and if you lived locally I would invite you to join us for lunch.

I really would…

Then you could meet Kasen¬† ūüôā¬† and the rest of clan.

Take care. DM