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Sunday, October 31, 2010

That's My King

We attended some special meetings at a friend's church about a year ago, and this video was shown at the end of the final meeting. I thought maybe it would be appropriate for a Sunday post.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Family Photos

I was going through some old photos and found several that provide a glimpse into life in the fifties, including a few that showed part of the inside of the house where I grew up...you know, "the only barn in the county with a bathroom in the hayloft."

This shows my mom sitting at the piano on which I learned to play. I use the term "learned" very loosely, as I was never very good at it. You can also see what the floor looked like before my dad replaced it with a new hardwood floor. This photo was taken about 1952 or 1953.


This is me at Christmastime in 1952. This also shows the old floor. And that's our radio at the left of the photo.


Here I am with my mother's mother and my new doll that walked when I took her hand and helped her a little. She also closed her eyes when I laid her down, and I think she said "Mama."


This is me, Dad, Mom, and Phil, taken at Christmastime in 1954. I'm not sure where this photo was taken.

This picture, when originally posted, had distracting lines in it from being torn. My new blogging friend, Hilary, took pity on me and repaired it in Photoshop. This is our beagle, Fritz, the one we enjoyed watching as he ran through the circle of the downstairs rooms, sliding on the linoleum and hardwood floors and their throw rugs. In this picture, you can see the hardwood floor that my dad worked so hard to install. He was deservedly proud of how that project turned out.

This is Phil on the occasion of his graduation from high school. That's Mom on the porch in the background.
 
My cousin Jackie, helping me ride her pony. Maybe this is where my love of horses began.
 
And this is Phil on the same pony.

These old pictures might not be interesting to everyone, but I find it kind of fun to look back and see what life was like fifty-plus years ago. Also, it gives me the opportunity to share some of these old photos with Phil's grown children, Dave and Beckie, who were only two and five when Phil died in an auto accident in 1967.
 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hunting Knives and Paper Plates

As I've mentioned before, Doug and I were in our forties when we met and married. During his bachelor years, Doug had been in the habit of using paper plates for his meals at home, avoiding the need for excessive dish washing. It wasn't long after we were married before he convinced me that it just made sense to use paper products. So, for our 23 years of marriage, that has been our practice.

A couple of years ago, a friend gave Doug a hunting knife. A very sharp hunting knife. As he was taking it out of its holster to show me, I was reaching for it and wound up with a nasty cut on my thumb. We headed for a walk-in medical clinic, where a Physician's Assistant stitched it up.

As she was attending to my wound, Doug and I were discussing how we were going to explain my bandaged hand to our friends at church the next day. We didn't want to have to admit to our own carelessness in handling the knife.


Wanting to be helpful, the Physician's Assistant suggested we say that I had cut it while washing dishes.

Doug replied, "We'd have to tell them it was a paper cut."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Old People

Doug has always been somewhat horrified at people who had healthy mature trees removed from their yards. Noting that these treeless homeowners were usually elderly, Doug found himself wondering what it was about old people that they didn't like trees. Well, guess what. Today, we had two trees removed from our own yard. I guess we're officially old.

The trees were silver maples. They have a very shallow root system that sends the roots along the surface of the ground, which is hard on lawn mowers. And the little helicopter-like seeds that they produce in the spring are almost worse than the leaves in the fall. Even the gutter guards that we had installed a few years ago are ineffective against those seeds.

So the decision was made to put them out of our misery.


Before
 
Events like this inspire male bonding among the neighbors.


One neighbor wanted the wood and came prepared with the necessary equipment.

After

The deed is done. It looks pretty bare out there right now, but we do have plans to put something else in that spot to fill the gap. It just won't have helicopter seeds and surface roots.

Monday, October 25, 2010

What Love!

When I was a child, I was very spiritual. By that, I mean that I had a deep sense of the existence of God, although I didn't have any real theological understanding of Him. My family didn't attend church. When I was about 12 years old, a new church was built within walking distance of our house. My brother and I both began attending that church when it was completed. We went through confirmation classes and became members of the church. I even sang in the Junior Choir. Anyone who has ever heard me sing knows that that's a testament to the Junior Choir Director.

I continued attending the church through my high school years. After high school, for one reason or another, I stopped going to church. I joined the work force and eventually began taking some college classes at night. During that time, I was pretty much agnostic. I didn't really believe in God, but I wasn't antagonistic toward Him or toward those who did believe. In fact, I always enjoyed engaging in conversations with people who believed and who didn't feel threatened by my unbelief.

When I was 22, my parents bought the 20-acre farm, where I would eventually have my horses. The week that they were moving into the new house, my dad had to go to the hospital for emergency gall bladder surgery. A week later, to the day, my uncle died suddenly of a heart attack. This was the carpenter uncle who had converted the pantry into a breakfast nook in the house where I grew up. Two weeks later, to the day, my brother was killed in an auto accident. Three weeks after that, to the day, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Five or six weeks after that, my dad had a major heart attack. He was only 52 years old. He survived the heart attack, but the heart suffered damage. This was before heart transplants. He lived 19 more years, but he suffered with congestive heart failure during many of those years.

Meanwhile, my mom had a mastectomy and had a pretty good life for eight more years. She died at age 61, when I was 30, just after her own mother died. And, in between the deaths of my mother and grandmother, my closest cousin was killed in an auto accident.

My 22nd and 30th years were difficult, to say the least.

My dad was an alcoholic and had been for basically his entire adult life. When a doctor told him he was killing himself, he joined Alcoholics Anonymous and had achieved 16 years of sobriety when my mom died. Then he started drinking again. AA maintains that alcoholism is a disease and that it continues to progress even when the alcoholic is not actively drinking. That seemed to be true with my dad. Or maybe it was just his depression over losing his wife of 36 years that made his drinking so bad.

I was living in a house trailer on Dad's 20-acre farm, so that I could be there to take care of my horses. I was obsessed with worry over my dad's drinking and the fear that he would kill himself or someone else in an auto accident. I used to turn the lights off in my house trailer at night, pretending to have gone to bed, while actually sitting up and watching Dad's house until I knew he was safely home. Even then, I couldn't turn off the worry. I knew he had a shotgun in the house and feared that he was depressed enough that he might even resort to suicide.

My dad actually remained active in Alcoholics Anonymous during this time of his resumed drinking. But he no longer attended meetings where he had been known during his sober years because he knew that those folks would recognize the symptoms of his drinking. Instead, he found new meetings to attend and even continued to reach out to help other struggling alcoholics.

Over the years of Dad's association with AA, I had heard many recovering alcoholics give testimony to God for helping them in their recovery. During the years of Dad's renewed drinking, my feelings of aloneness and anxiety drove me to my knees in prayer. I can remember kneeling beside my bed and praying to a God that I didn't really believe in, and telling Him that, if He was there and if He could help Dad and me in the way that others said He had helped them, I was ready to meet Him on His terms.

I think it was less than two weeks after I prayed that prayer, on a Saturday, that my dad told me that he was going to be driving to a nearby town to pick up a man named Ted, who was being released from a detox center. Ever worried about Dad's driving, I offered to drive him there.

We picked up Ted and took him home. That afternoon, Ted called me and invited me to go with him to an AA meeting that night. That was the last thing I wanted to do, but I agreed for Ted's sake.

At that meeting, I met Bruce, who was a pastor and also a recovering alcoholic. Bruce had gone there specifically to talk with Ted and invited Ted and me to join him for coffee at a local restaurant after the meeting.

Over coffee (Pepsi, for me), Bruce asked each of us if we knew for sure that we would go to heaven when we died. Well, I didn't think that was something anyone could know for sure, but Bruce said that the Bible said it was possible to know. Then he followed that question up with another, even more thought-provoking question: If you WERE to die and God were to ask you why He should let you into Heaven, what would you say?

Well, I think my answer was pretty much along the lines of, "I've always been a pretty good person."

Bruce explained that the Bible says ALL are sinners and are, therefore, unable to earn entrance to Heaven by our good deeds, since no sin can enter Heaven. He explained that God had provided His own Son, Jesus, to take upon Himself our sins and to give His own life to pay sin's penalty for all who would put their trust in Him. If we would believe and ask, Jesus would take our sins and, in exchange, give us His righteousness. As Bruce explained it, we choose whether we will stand before God to be judged on our good works (which the Bible describes as being "as filthy rags") or whether we'll stand before Him trusting in what Christ has done for us.

Bruce concluded by inviting us to visit the church where he served as pastor the next day. Ted and I both made excuses, but we wound up going to church together that Sunday. I was interested in what was said and sung during that worship service, but I was still holding back. I couldn't stop thinking about the things Bruce had shared, though. They permeated my thoughts, even in sleep. Finally, after about two weeks of that, I called Bruce to see if I could talk further with him. He invited me to come on over to his house, saying that there was another guy there that he was talking to and that I could join them.

This time, Bruce had a Bible out and showed us the passages of scripture as he talked about them. In the end, he invited us to pray with him to ask Jesus to come into our hearts and to forgive us of our sins. Such a simple prayer, but so life-changing.

The all-consuming worry that I had had about Dad and his drinking was lifted. I had a desire to know everything that the Bible had to say and couldn't get enough of reading and studying it. I began attending the church where Bruce pastored, as well as a group Bible study at his home. When special services were offered at other churches, I would attend those, too. I was amazed at the simplicity of the gospel message and that I had lived to age 34, without ever understanding these truths. And yet, the Bible confirmed everything I was hearing, as did the many hymns that we sang.

I was sure that none of my friends and acquaintances had ever heard these things and that they, too, would believe if they only knew. Unfortunately, in the thrill of my new faith and my zeal to tell everyone I knew, I'm afraid I scared some of them, including my best friend of 16 years. She didn't really want to be around me anymore, and I felt the pain of that loss for many years. We had been closer than many sisters, and the loss of her friendship left a gaping hole in my life. Fortunately, God was busy leading me into new relationships that would help me to grow in my new faith.

Bruce told me later that he had really thought I was already saved, based on my comments about my early church experience. Both times that he talked to me about salvation, he thought the Lord had brought him there to talk to Ted and the other man. But those guys were never heard from again. It appears that, all along, it was me that God wanted Bruce to talk to about these things. He was answering my prayer.

About two years after I trusted Christ for my salvation, the Lord led Bruce to drive out to my dad's house and talk with him. My dad became a believer that night.

It's been 31 years now since I asked Jesus into my heart. I have absolute confidence that, when I die, I will go immediately to be with Him. There's no pride in that statement, because it isn't because of anything I have done. It's all because of what He has done to secure my salvation for me. What love!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Neighborhood Children

Before I was married, I owned a small house in a neighborhood that had lots of children. The house was just right for me and my Doberman Pinscher, Brandi; but I have no idea how the family who lived there before me ever managed, with two teenage daughters and two large dogs. The rooms were small, and there was just one very small bathroom.

The previous owner had apparently been a hunter because, when I looked at the house before buying it, there were hunting trophies on display around the family room. In fact, one time after I had moved in, my doorbell rang. When I answered it, there was a little boy standing there, who wanted to know if he could come in and look at the animals. He was disappointed to learn that the animals had gone with the previous owner.

There was a nice fenced yard for Brandi, although not as roomy as she probably would have liked. The small size of the yard made it important to keep it scooped.

Once, after not having scooped for awhile, I cleaned the yard and ended up with a pretty good supply of doggy waste. I put it in a garbage bag, then scooped up some sand that had accumulated at the curb and put that into the bag with the other contents. Then I put the bag by the curb to be collected by my trash pickup service the next day.

The next afternoon, when I came home from work, I found a group of children at the curb in front of my house, flinging something at each other from the ends of sticks. Then I saw what had happened. The trash bag had torn when the trash collector picked it up to throw it onto the truck, and the contents had spilled out. With their natural ingenuity, the children had quickly come up with a fun new game.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Old Neighborhood

My brother was two and a half years old when I was born. Our family lived in a small two-bedroom bungalow, where we continued to live until I was about five years old. At that time, Mom and Dad began looking for another place to live, where Phil and I wouldn't have to share a bedroom and where I could have a real bed instead of the crib I was quickly outgrowing.

They found a place that had five acres, with a house that Dad referred to as "the only barn in the county with a bathroom in the hayloft." In other words, he was going to have his work cut out for him to make improvements to the house. But the price was right; and, having been raised on a farm, Dad was pleased to have a little land where he could do some gardening.

That is the home where I grew up and where so many memories were made. We lived in that house 12 years, moving away the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. (We stayed in the same school district, though, so I didn't have to change schools.)

There was a mobile home park bordering one side of our five acres. Later, my parents would sell a lot to my aunt and uncle, where they would build a house between us and the trailer court. On the other side of us was a small house with a family that had five children. In the next house down from them lived a grandma and grandpa who were raising their two granddaughters, one of which was my age and the other, Phil's age.

That grandma and grandpa owned some rental houses at the back of their property, two of which were known as "the chicken coops" by those in the neighborhood. The chicken coops may or may not have ever been occupied by chickens, but they were small and rather depressing looking and had no indoor bathrooms.

There were a brother and sister that lived in one of those chicken coop homes. The girl was one grade behind me in school, and the boy was only about a year younger than she was. They didn't have an easy life. There were occasional black eyes and bruises, compliments of their step-father. I know they were taken from the home and placed in a children's home at least once or twice, but I don't believe it was ever permanent. And, as bad as their home life was, they preferred it to the children's home.

That "barn" and five acres that my folks purchased provided just a wonderful place for my brother and me to grow up. At least, we thought it was perfect. Phil and I each had a little place in the woods that was our special place. In addition, there were three small sheds on the property that may have actually been chicken coops at one time. Dad let Phil and me each have one of those little sheds to make a special play place for each of us. I think the third one was used for tools and such.

The house itself had a kitchen, dining room, and living room downstairs, with doorways into the kitchen from both the living room and the dining room. Dad put in a beautiful hardwood floor in the living and dining rooms, replacing the old board floor, which had spaces between the boards that were wide enough to look through to the basement. The kitchen floor, of course, was linoleum. We used to have great fun getting our family beagle excited and watching him try to take the corners on the linoleum and hardwood floors as he would run the circle through the three downstairs rooms. Throw rugs would just go flying.

There was a pantry off the kitchen which my carpenter uncle made into a breakfast nook for us. He built a table and two benches that fit perfectly in that space, and that's where we ate all our family meals. The dining room was just for company, although it also served as a place to send me when I refused to eat the food that was put before me. I would have to sit alone in the dining room, staring at the now-cold food on my plate, and listening to some member of the family singing, "Slow Poke." I had a stubborn streak.

Upstairs were three bedrooms and a bathroom with sink, tub (no shower), and toilet. There was also an area for a dirty-clothes basket, where my white cat, cleverly named "Whitey," liked to sleep, when he wasn't in my bed.

The house was heated with a coal furnace located in the basement, and the heat radiated up through the first story and to the second story through grates in the floor. Actually, the only grate on the second story was in the bathroom, but heat did also travel up the stairway. Bedroom doors had to be left open if heat was desired in the bedrooms.
 
I don't remember the house ever looking this bad, probably because I was just too young to remember.

This is the way I remember the house. The white building behind and to the left, partially hidden by the house, was the garage built by my aunt and uncle after my parents sold them a lot from the five acres. You can see the sheds in the back of our house, two of which were given over to Phil and me for play areas.
 
This was the view from my bedroom window. The cement slab to the left was where my aunt and uncle's garage would be. You can just see the row of house trailers in the trailer court on the far left.
 
These are the brother and sister who lived in one of the "chicken coop" houses, with the neighbors' dog, Boots. They're standing in our driveway. Our 1950 Nash, Nellibelle, is parked in the background.


This is my cousin, Steve, taking my picture as I took his. This shows the back of the house and a little of the view back towards the street. There was a gravel road at the end of our driveway, where we kids loved to ride our bikes because it had a good hill that we could race down. (Keep in mind that it doesn't take much of a rise to be called a "hill" in our neck of the woods.) Also, at the top of the hill was a place where a basement had been dug for a house that was never built. The water that collected in the hole was home to a lot of tadpoles, which fascinated every kid in the neighborhood.


This shows more of the back of the house, and you can see a little bit of the bay window that was in the dining room. I can tell that this was taken about 1960, because of the Corvette and the 1959 Nash Rambler parked in the drive. The Corvette belonged to a visiting uncle.

This is a picture of me, holding a small black baby doll that is wearing no clothes, probably because it was a doll that would wet itself. If you put liquid in it's mouth, it would come out the other end. I think that's my baby buggy, too, although I don't remember it being that dark. The picture is in the yard of the neighbor with the five children, one of whom is looking on. The outhouse in the background was no longer in use, but the little houses glimpsed further back and to the right still used outhouses.


This shows my brother and the two sisters who were being raised by their grandparents. It was taken in our yard, under the clothes line (the clothes dryer of our day). There was a swing hanging from the clothes line supports. Also visible is a corner of my aunt and uncle's house and some of the trailers in the trailer court.

This picture is of Phil and me and our dog, Nosy.


And another picture of Phil and me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

More Memories of Canada

You know, the post about our summer vacations in Canada triggered more memories about those times that just begged to be shared.

Over the years, there was another family, close friends, who would join us on these trips once in awhile. Red and my dad worked together, and he and his wife were close friends of my parents. Red was a character and fun to be around.

We seldom saw any dangerous wild animals while we were at Desbarats Lake, although we were always warned about bears and such. One year, we were told that a cougar had been seen in the area. Well, Dad and Red were cleaning fish late one afternoon at the fish-cleaning bench that had been set up between two large pine trees, about halfway between the cottage and the lake. As they worked, they were discussing what they had heard about the cougar, when a squirrel jumped out of a tree and landed on Red's shoulder before scampering on down to the ground and away to safety. Needless to say, Red nearly had a heart attack. He was sure he'd been attacked by a cougar.

On another occasion, a squirrel had built a nest in the outhouse and wouldn't let anyone near that important structure. I mean, she was ferocious. No one wanted to see the baby squirrels perish, but going into the woods to take care of business wasn't really an option, either. My dad finally saw an opportunity to remove the nest while Mama Squirrel was away from home.

With no electricity, there weren't many options for evening entertainment; so the four of us often spent our evenings playing card games around the table together. That wasn't something that we did a lot at home, so it was kind of special during our two-week stays at the cottage.

There was a little store in town, where Dad would take some of our fish, to have them put on ice and held for our trip home. What I remember most about our visits to that little store is that that's where I could get Jersey milk chocolate bars. They were the best milk chocolate bars in the world (well, in MY world, anyway). The closest that I can get to them here in the U. S. is Hershey's Symphony bars, but they can't quite measure up to my memories of those Jersey candy bars.

There was an old log bridge that had to be driven across, just outside of town, requiring a careful lining up of the car's tires with the two boards that would support the car's weight as it crossed.
 
The bridge we had to drive across was similar to the one pictured above, but not as long and with no railings. (By the way, that's Harvey the RV and Doug in the background. This picture was taken during our Alaska adventure.)
 
My brother would get out of the car and help Dad line up the tires just right for the bridge crossing. As a kid, this short crossing always made me nervous. That bridge surely didn't look as if it would support our vehicle. But it never let us down. (Ha! A Pun!)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Conversations

Doug and I have some interesting conversations, sometimes because of his (not mine, mind you) hearing problem, but sometimes just because he (not I, mind you) has some communication issues.

One example occurred on a kind of dreary day, when I came home from running some errands. He was in the garage when I raised the garage door to pull the car in. He stopped me and said, "Just leave the car out of the garage. I want to clean it." Well, in my humble opinion, this was no day for washing a car; but I did as he asked and left the car outside.

Quite awhile later, when Doug came into the house, I asked him if he had washed the car yet. He gave me a dumbfounded look and said, "Why would I want to wash the car on a day like this?" I gave HIM a dumbfounded look and reminded him of his instructions to leave the car out of the garage so he could clean it. He laughed and said he had wanted to clean the GARAGE.

When we're vacationing in national parks, we're always on the lookout for wild animals. We've learned that the best way to find them is to find a place where cars are stopped along the side of the road, with people standing outside and pointing. Whenever we see a car stopped, one of us usually wonders aloud, "What's he see?"

On our recent visit to Yellowstone National Park, I spotted a car pulled over to the side and said, "What's he see?" Doug turned to me, surprise on his face, and said, "You saw a tepee?"

Doug is a self-proclaimed tightwad...he calls himself TW...but he can be very generous when the occasion calls for it. We were both single until we were in our forties. When we were dating, he lived about 65 miles from where I lived. One Saturday, he had invited me to a Christian concert in a city another thirty miles or so from his home. Because of the distance and the lateness of the hour by the time the concert would end, he wanted to pay for a motel room for me in the town where he lived. That would save him from having to drive the 130-mile round trip to take me home. Plus, we could go to his church together the next day. Well, he was already driving 65 miles to pick me up for our date, then about 95 miles to the concert, and I hated to have him also have to pay for a motel room for me. So, as we were driving to the concert, I suggested that the cost was too much to expect him to pay and that I'd like to pay for my own motel room. His response was, "I've had a long time to save up for it."

A few years ago, we drove a motor home to Alaska. It wasn't Doug's favorite vacation. We sold that motor home as soon as we got home from the trip. Since then, I've tried to talk him into buying another, more modern and powerful, one. It's not working.

Recently we were talking, and I was reminiscing about the two Doberman Pinschers that I had owned in the past, at different times. He said, "When I die, I suppose you'll get another Doberman." I said, "Yes...a Doberman and a motor home." Now, it's become a saying with us so that, whenever Doug does something that could be hazardous to his health, I make a reference to my getting a Doberman and a motor home.

Sometimes, often at the most unexpected times, Doug will come up with a comment that touches my heart. We were driving and talking and laughing awhile back, when he looked over at me and said, "I wish you could see what I see." Since my poor vision is often a subject of our conversations, it took me a minute to realize that he was complimenting me. He was saying that he liked what he saw in me and wished I could see it, too.

How could I NOT love a guy who would say something like that?! Wait! You don't think he was looking at my milk mustache or a smear of melted chocolate on my face, do you?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Black and Gus

I just thought that, after such a long post yesterday, you might just want to sit back and enjoy this short video today:


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Cherished Memories of Childhood Vacations in Canada

When my parents were young marrieds, they began spending a week or two every summer at a cottage on Desbarats Lake in Desbarats, Ontario, Canada. (I don't know the correct pronunciation of "Desbarats," but we've always pronounced it "Deb'-ro.")

My mother's mother lived next door to an older couple, Mr. & Mrs. K, who owned the property in Canada. They were getting to be an age where it was difficult for them to travel the 500 miles or so to the property, and they were thrilled to have a responsible couple to go at least once a year to use and attend to it.

The first year that my parents went to Desbarats, my mother was appalled by a snake that would appear on the doorstep every morning, so my dad killed it one day. When they returned to Indiana after that trip, Mr. & Mrs. K asked them if they had seen their pet snake. Mom and Dad could never bring themselves to tell them the truth about the snake's fate.

My folks had begun these trips to Canada around 1940, before my brother, Phil, and I came along; and they continued going each summer without us, leaving us in the care of two aunts, until about 1949, when I was four years old. Mom said that I wouldn't have anything to do with them for awhile after they returned from their trip that year, so they decided it was time to start making a family vacation out of it.

Those yearly trips to Desbarats are the source of multitudes of warm memories for me. We would usually begin the trip on Friday afternoon, as soon as my mother got off work. Dad worked in a factory and got home a little earlier, so he would get the car loaded; and we would go pick Mom up from the law office where she worked downtown and be on our way.

I remember that we never packed suitcases, but used cardboard boxes instead, because they could be squished into the car's trunk a little easier. In addition to normal clothes and jackets for four people, we also had to take our bedding and towels, as well as food for two weeks, fishing gear, and a boat motor.

In those days, it took about 12 hours for us to travel the 500 miles from our home in Indiana to Desbarats. There was no interstate highway going up through Michigan; we traveled on U. S. 27. There was no bridge across the Straits of Mackinac, and we would often have to wait quite awhile for a ferry to take us across. The ferry ride itself took about an hour. Mom would take Phil and me up to the upper deck and let us throw bread to the seagulls, while Dad napped in the car on the lower deck.

Then we would have to take another ferry from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan to Sault St. Marie, Ontario, which didn't take long at all, once the ferry was underway. By the time we reached "the Soo" on the Canadian side, we could hardly contain our excitement because we knew we weren't far from our destination.

There were two cottages on Mr. & Mrs. K's property at that time. The Road Cottage was located near the Desbarats Lake Road, where we turned onto the private lane that led to the Lake Cottage, which was the one that my parents always rented.
 
The Lake Cottage
There was no electricity or running water in the cottage. We used kerosene lamps and Coleman gas lanterns for light. Mom cooked on the wood-burning kitchen stove. We heated lake water for washing dishes and bathing. There was a spring, just up the hill from the Lake Cottage, which had wonderful drinking water. A metal cup hung on a post by the spring; and, as I remember it, any and all used that cup to dip water from the spring and enjoy a drink. Of course, we carried water down to the cottage to have some on hand there, too.
 
The Kitchen
In addition to the kitchen stove, there was a pot-bellied stove in the living area to provide heat for the cottage. There was an icebox, for keeping perishable foods cold. It was always a treat to go into town with Dad to get a block of ice for the icebox. It was a marvel to this city-raised kid that ice could be stored in an old barn, all summer long, with nothing but a layer of sawdust to keep it cold.
 
The Living Area

Bedroom

The icebox was small, so only things that might spoil could be kept in it. Things like soda pop, which was a rare treat for Phil and me, who never got it except for one a day while on vacation, were kept in a shallow place near the shore, where the spring-fed lake water could keep them chilled.

Of course, an outhouse was located on a rise a short walk from the cottage. When we were very young, we children were provided with a pot to use during the night. If we did go to the outhouse at night, one of our parents would go with us.

My dad loved to fish, and there was good fishing in Desbarats Lake. We always fished with "drop lines." I didn't know until much later that that was in an effort to evade the Canadian fish and game wardens who, when flying over the lake, would see only one or two poles and not realize how many lines were actually in the water. For years, I thought drop lines were the only way to catch walleye or northern pike. We would hold the line in our hands, drop it until the sinker hit the bottom of the lake, then raise it just a little. Then we would use a finger to gently move it until we felt a fish hit it. Then we would pull it in for all we were worth.
 
Linda and Phil with Fish

There was a world of exploring available to Phil and me, and not much fear of anything harmful happening to us; so we were given a lot of freedom. The lake shore near the cottage included a hill of rock that we referred to as "The Slab" which provided hours of fun for us kids. We had some great toy car races down that smooth slab of rock, in addition to just climbing around and investigating every nook and cranny of the place. Other formations around the lake, which we visited by boat with our parents, were called "The Steps" and "the King's Highway."
 
Linda Playing on the Rocks Near the Cottage

In later years, Mr. & Mrs. K's son took over the property and added another cottage, closer to the lake. Mom and Dad began to look for another place they might be able to rent. They found a place on a narrow channel of the same lake. The cottage was much nicer; the kitchen stove even had a reservoir on the side, where water could be heated while the meal was being prepared. And it had a pump at the kitchen sink, allowing lake water to be pumped directly into the kitchen instead of being carried in in buckets.

Across the channel from the new cottage was a Finnish family, with four little girls: Sinikka, Hilkka, Sirpa, and Seija. One of my school friends went with us one year, and she and I became acquainted with the Finns. The girls taught us a few phrases in their language. Their father spoke some English; I think their mother understood some English, but she was too self-conscious to speak it in our presence.
 

Sirpa, Sinikka, Hilkka, and baby Seija
 
When I learned that Mr. & Mrs. K's son had died, maybe 25 years ago, I looked into the possibility of purchasing the property where I had spent so many happy summer vacations; but the cost was prohibitive.

Sometime later, Doug and I revisited the two sites of these long-ago vacations. At Mr. & Mrs. K's property, the cottages were in varying stages of collapse. The Lake Cottage was in the best condition of any, but even it was sorry looking. And the spring had been left untended, the water no longer safe to drink.
 
The Road Cottage, About 1988
 
The Lake Cottage, About 1988
 
In comparing this photo with the one taken when we were using the cottage in the fifties, it doesn't seem to be the same cottage, although it was positioned where the old one had been. They might possibly have moved the original cottage and built another in its place, because we found the ruins of another cottage down by the lake, a cottage that hadn't been there when we were frequenting the place.
 
Looking Through the Window of the Lake Cottage, About 1988
 
Doug at the Spring, About 1988

On the other hand, we found the owners of the cottage on the channel at their cottage when we visited. They were so pleased to see us that they even took us for a boat ride out on the lake.

Mr. & Mrs. K's Property, As Seen from the Lake, About 1988
 
This is another picture of Mr. & Mrs. K's property, taken from the lake, about 1988. That sort of bald spot to the right of the cottage is the rocky area where we played as kids.

I imagine that my folks originally began these trips because it was a pretty cheap vacation (about $80 for two weeks, if I remember right), and it provided great fishing for my dad. I can't imagine how my mom ever thought it was fun, though, with having to cook on a wood-burning stove and doing without all the conveniences of home. But she seemed to enjoy it as much as any of us.

It's hard to imagine a family in today's technology-addicted society being content with this kind of a vacation, but it might do some of them good to give it a try.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Visor-Challenged

A couple of years ago, Sandra (from Add Humor and Faith...Mix Well) and her Hubby attended a charity auction, where they purchased a week in a Gatlinburg, Tennessee condo, and they generously invited Doug and me to join them on vacation there.

During our stay in the area, the four of us went to the Dollywood Amusement Park. The weather was very hot, and I was wearing a visor to shield my eyes from the bright sunshine. At one point, we went into a restaurant in the park, and I took the visor off while we were eating. With no place to put it as we sat at the table, I just put it around my leg, above the knee.
 
My Knee Visor

The restaurant where we were eating was one where you order your food and pay for it at the counter, then take it to a table to eat. While we were eating, I was looking around for some napkins. I located some on a counter across the room from us and got up to go get napkins for all of us. I was aware of a tightness around my left knee but didn't think too much about it until later, when we were getting ready to leave, and I prepared to put my visor back on. Suddenly, I thought about the picture I must have made, walking across the busy restaurant with my visor on my knee.

Doug, Sandra, and her Hubby all had a good laugh over it and have never let me forget it.

Fast forward to this summer. I had gone to the reservoir to walk and had arrived at the same time as another walker and her dog, so we were walking together. I was carrying my visor this time, not wanting to put it on until I was walking toward the sun, because it begins to hurt my head if I wear it for the full three-mile walk.

As my new friend and I walked and talked together, I saw something that I wanted to take a picture of. So I quickly put my visor on my head to free my hands for handling the camera. After I took the picture, we continued our walk. After awhile, I noticed that the visor wasn't shielding my eyes as well as usual; and I reached up to tug it into a better position. That's when I realized that, in my haste to get my camera out, I had put the visor on upside down.
 
Visors don't work so well in this position.

We all have our little challenges. I have a friend who likes to say, "It gets worse."

Monday, October 11, 2010

Change...not my favorite thing

For the last year and a half, we've been attending a little church that isn't really a church, at least not in the legal sense. That is, the pastor doesn't receive a salary; and the church isn't officially licensed as a church with the state. It's actually more of a home Bible study that outgrew the home.

We meet in an old schoolhouse, which the members of the congregation have worked hard to fix up so that it is suitable for holding worship services and Bible studies and fellowship dinners. Any money that is donated goes toward paying rent and other expenses related to the building. Whatever is left over is given in support of Christian missionaries.

It's not a church with which everyone would be comfortable, but it works for us and for the others to whom it is a church home.

Unfortunately, our beloved pastor announced yesterday that he will be retiring from the ministry at the end of this year. It's highly unlikely that the church can continue without him. Who else would be willing to, not only lead Sunday services, but also to assume the spiritual responsibility for this little flock of believers, and all without compensation?

Yes, we could go through the process of formalizing our status as a church and hire a pastor; but doing so might mean that we would also have to move out of the old schoolhouse and find another place to worship. Some of us have been through the process of starting a new church, and it's not an easy thing to do or something that we really want to do again.

So it looks as if we'll be having to find a new church family with whom to worship. The search is never fun, but we are confident that the Lord is uprooting us for a reason and that He will lead us to a place He has prepared for us.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Autumn has come to the reservoir

It was good to be back walking at the reservoir this morning after a couple of weeks away.

This is a Belted Kingfisher. I'm sorry the picture isn't sharp. I had to zoom in from some distance away.

Milkweed Pod
I think this little daisy-like flower is Boltonia.

We loved seeing the yellow aspen out west, but it was good to come home to the variety of fall colors that are common in Indiana.
The reservoir is a great place for people to exercise their dogs, especially those of the swimming variety.
And this dog was definitely of the swimming variety.
She looked as if she could have done this all day.
She was very well trained, though. She brought her toy back to her human, then sat at her human's side, even after the toy was thrown back into the water, until the okay was given for her to go after it. Then it was as if she was launched from a catapult.
I'm going to miss the reservoir when it closes for the season next Friday.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

We made it home tonight by about six-thirty, after stopping at the car dealership to get an oil change for our vehicle, then at the grocery store to pick up some milk for our cereal tomorrow morning, and then at the pizzeria to get carryout for our supper.

We don't like driving through Chicago, so we decided to take U. S. 24 from Peoria, Illinois to our city. That took us through the Illinois city of Fairbury. I have a second cousin who lives in Fairbury; but, although I thought that sounded like the name of her city, I had the idea that she lived closer to the Chicago area. So we pushed right on through. Then, when I got home and checked my address book, I felt badly that we hadn't tried to look her up. It's been years since we've seen each other, although we do e-mail occasionally.

It was a pretty drive along U. S. 24, and more relaxing than the interstates we had been traveling, although it was a little hard to adapt to the slower pace.

We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, but it is nice to be back home. The vehicle has been unloaded; the laundry has been sorted; and some of it is being washed right now. We still have things to unpack and put away, but we're making headway.

Tomorrow, we'll pick up our mail and life will begin to return to normal for awhile. Probably not for long, though. Doug is thinking about a trip to the Smokies within in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

In Nebraska, 900 Miles to Go

Tonight, we're in North Platte, Nebraska and one time zone closer to home. There were some things I would have enjoyed doing near where we stayed in Rock Springs, Wyoming last night; but, when Doug is headed for home, there's no stopping him. Besides, the wild horse viewing that really interested me involved a drive of about 50 miles, 24 of which were unpaved.

The literature I saw about the horse viewing trip said that high-clearance vehicles were recommended, and drivers were cautioned to be sure to have a spare tire on hand. It also talked about how quickly the weather can change up on the mountain and advised preparedness. We decided we just weren't prepared for that kind of adventure. We had seen a few wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park last week, but the literature looked as if there were larger herds of them at the Rock Springs location. Maybe another time. In a Jeep.

We're still about 900 miles and at least two days from home. I'll probably not post again until I can do it from there.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Homeward Bound

We left Yellowstone this morning and drove down to Grand Teton National Park.


Horses and Teton Mountains

It wasn't our intention to spend any time in the Tetons, just to pass through. Our main goal was to locate and photograph the T. A. Moulton Barn, possibly the most photographed barn in America. You may have seen pictures of it on calendars and postcards.



T. A. Moulton Barn


T. A. Moulton Barn


T. A. Moulton Barn
My photos don't look like those calendar shots. It couldn't be the photographer. Let's blame the weather! The time of day could also have something to do with it. I guess most true photographers arrive at dawn to get the best pictures. Unless I sleep next to the barn, it's unlikely I'll ever get a picture at dawn. Even then, it might be questionable. Those who know me know that I'm not an early riser. Night time is my time.

After getting our pictures of the barn, we drove south on U. S. 191 to where it meets I-80 at Rock Springs, Wyoming. That road passed through some beautiful countryside. But we're homing, so there are no pictures to share of the scenery. I did, however, manage to get Doug to stop for some antelope that were right beside the road.


Pronghorn Antelope

And that's about it for today. As always, thanks for sharing our trip with us.

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