Thursday, January 27, 2011

Time Changes All Things

I just finished reading "Bead on an Anthill, A Lakota Childhood" by Delphine Red Shirt. My dad recommended this one to me, being a fan of anything Native American.  This one was especially interesting since she is a Nebraska author, living here the greater share of her life so far. 

I enjoy reading stories about real life, most especially the kind of real life where it is just a simple story about the way people live their lives, especially when they are children. 

The theme of the story is the loss of the Lakota way of life, the loss of traditions, songs, language, and the way of life, interwoven in between how she lived as a girl.  What I found most disturbing is the role of the government in this loss in the 1960s and 1970s.  It isn't mentioned very much, but you can get the idea very clearly.  It seems rather too close to modern times for that kind of control to be allowed. 

My overall impression of the idea of the loss of "the old ways", is that it happens all the time.  The way we are living now isn't anything like living two generations ago, and very, very different from the way we lived 150 years ago, even to several hundred years ago.  This subject could be very well worked up into a medium sized paper, or even a book. 

In thinking about the topic of losing what we know of the old ways, I was thinking especially about the pioneers, since just off the top of my head they are the group of people I know most about.  This piece isn't intended to be a well documented piece of work, but a work on a few of my impressions.

We no longer get around using horses or other animals.  Most of us don't know anything about horse and wagon lore, care and keeping.  We don't know how to cook on the ground with wood or whatever fuel was available.  We don't know how to kill and clean meat.  We don't know how to make soap, render lard, identify edible plants growing wild, or make cloth.  Many of us don't have any idea how to make do with what we have. We don't know how to build oruselves a house or furniture.  Many of us, would think even making clothes an extreme hardship.  We don't know how to manage our money; we think using something that someone else has used is unthinkable. 

And sure, we don't HAVE to do any of those things.  Some people do know how to, and sell their knowlege and ability to the rest of us.  I for one, though, am sad that many of these skills are gone.  There are a few people who care enough about these skills, that they want to learn and pass them on.  There are people who make soap, bread, meals from scratch, spin, weave, sew, knit, crochet, build, plant, grow, harvest, preserve, and more.  They are teaching others because they don't want these old skills to die out. 

It works the same way with any set of skills for any people.  Every kind of people has special foods, skills, traditions, language, clothing.  When many people come to the United States, they are eager to lose their traditions and embrace new ones.  Then a couple of generations go by, and they are disappionted those tradtions are being lost.  Many people blame the culture of the United States itself for their loss.  It is the responsibility of each individual to decide what is important to remember and what isn't, and then take the time and the effort for those things to be remmebered. 

The sad thing about the Native American loss, is that the government thought of them as a people that needed to be "managed."  I believe, that if the reservation system had not been instituted, that after assimilating into the popular culture, like any other group of peoples have done, they would have had the resources to revive old traditions.  Some of that is happening now, but I believe it would have happened a lot sooner, and with less bitterness.

I don't know how far out into the world of cyber space, this little piece will go, but I am reminding those that read it, that this is an undoeumented opinion piece, and I am not inviting rude comments. 

One last comment about the reseveration system, if it is beneficial in perserving some native lands and special areas, that is a good thing, Perhaps some of those lands could have been made into National Parks and designated as such.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

There is a story behind every picture, so I looked up the origin of the phrase that is the title of this post, and gist of the matter, is that you can use a picture to tell a story rather than the words. 
Well, I like words, and these pictures have a story.  The first part of the story is that they are all found together with hundreds of other pictures in my "doubles and extras" box.  Those are the photos that would be used when a kid needed one for a school project or something.  They don't happen so much anymore now that digital photography has taken over the world.  One can choose the photos printed or not print them at all, instead of printing doubles of all 36 photos of the 35mm roll that resided inside the camera in long or short periods of time. 

Grandpa Kleeb

Jim's dad lived with us for three years when the kids were little.  Lynette was almost one, when it was decided by the powers that be that he couldn't live on his own anymore.  So, he came to live in our chaos until he needed more care and spent over 5 years in the nursing home, increasingly succumbing to Alzheimer's, until he didn't know anything anymore.  It is very sad to watch a relative living in that condition, and hard to understand what lessons we might be learning in watching another suffer. 
Jim's dad was 91 when he died in the summer of 2005.  It was one of the hottest summers we had for a few years, and Jim's sisters came to be with their dad until the end.  It was pneumonia at the last. It's what used to be called the "old man's friend."

And, while we were sorry Jim's dad had died, it isn't so hard because he lived a long, full, productive life.

So, on to the funeral.  Jim had to have new boots, his Sunday ones being all worn out.  And I bought a new pair of shoes.  I wanted something that didn't look like they came over on the Mayflower.  I love those shoes, and I still remember why I bought them.  They are just a little bit too big, so I have to wear inserts.  My feet were swollen because of the heat. It was SO hot.  It was at least 110 degrees. Wearing funeral clothes and all, you just deal with it, because there isn't anything else to do.

And Nathan had to have a haircut.  We were having a hard time finding someone who would cut his hair so that both he and I would like it.  And who would do it for less than $20.  This wasn't it. 

But, here we all are, gathered for our yearly family photo. It's where family gathers.  

It's a time when the family you don't see very often can get together, to comfort and remember. 
And take pictures. 
We don't have so many of the "three kids together".
Pictures will be taken at funerals.  They always have, and they always will.  It is a gathering time.

Friends--for Now, Forever.

I don't remember when this photo was taken.  In the early 2000s I assume, because Luanne hadn't been living in her "out in the country" home for very long.  This was a ladies only outing.  I don't remember exactly the occasion or the date.  What I remember is that these are my friends.  Some I know well, some I don't.  Some I've know for a very long time.  Some for not so long.  We would look different now, all lined up together.  But, this is the way we looked that day.  And we enjoyed it.

My Cousin

My cousin Michelle was the first of our cousins to leave this life.  It is hard to say "the first one who died." But, she was.  She LIVED her life.  She did a lot of things.  But, she didn't win her battle with cancer.  It's been 2 years and I still cry. 

My mother's side of the family seems very healthy and especially long lived.  We've taken that for granted over the years.  I've always thought belonging to the Appleman's was something very special, and I felt sorry for the people that didn't belong to my Grandpa and Grandma.  Grandpa died the same year Jim's dad died, 2005, two months to the day, shy of being 100 years old, He'd had skin cancer surgery, but didn't make it through. Two years later Grandma died.  This photo was taken at her funeral.  Michelle was between cancer treatments and was feeling really good.  Her hair had grown in for several months and she was beautiful and full of life.  But, there was a dark spot in there, one that we weren't really looking at.  Those numbers, that tell somehow in blood work, that there is probably cancer there, were going up.  We had no way of really knowing that the next funeral would be hers. They sang my favorite hymn there, the whole congregation:
"Precious thought, my Father knoweth, In His love I rest, For whate'er my Father doeth, Must be always best.  Well I know the heart that planneth, Naught but good for me, Joy and sorrow interwoven, Love in all I see.  Precious thought, my Father knoweth, Careth for His child, Biddeth me to nestle closer, When the storm beats wild. Though my earthly hopes be shattered, And the teardrops fall. Yet he is himself my solace, Yea, my All in all!"

My Little Girl

I just think Lynette is cute here.  We always took our nicest clothes when we went visiting anywhere.  We wouldn't want people to think we just wore any old thing.  It sure seems like when the kids have a lot of choice, it wouldn't be mine.  I'm also guilty of saving too many things for "good", and then they don't get worn.  Lynette is on the play set of the elementary school where I went to school.  Only, they didn't have any fancy play sets, 30 some years ago.  Now the school is abandoned, and a new school is built.  So, someday, that school will likely be torn down.  What sort of use would a large two story building be used for.  It had too many problems to fix for school children.  It will have too many problems for anything else, too.

My Son

I love this photo. And his dad loves it too.  Every dad hopes his son will one day follow in his footsteps.  So, Jim was especially pleased to watch Nathan take to the excavator like a pro.  It seems to be one of those things, that comes easily, or it doesn't come at all. I can't remember what we needed the hole for.  Perhaps we only needed it for Nathan to learn to dig.

Matching Dresses

These are some of my favorite photos of all time.  Lynette's sewing Auntie, did the smocking for these dresses, and I sewed them up.  I was going through a spell of whatever I made for Lynette, I made one for her dolly, too.  We went out to some of our friends in the country who had a picturesque setting for the photos, and made ourselves at home.  (They weren't.)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

My Daughter at Home

I went to see my daughter today.  We thought we were going to have company and invited them to come and see us and the company this weekend.  But, they couldn't. Finding money for gas these days takes some doing. And the company didn't come either. So I went to visit.   My daughter, Lynette, who hasn't seen them living in their new home, came along. I wanted to visit Jim's auntie as well.  (The nice thing about Lorene being in Grand Island is that I can see both of them in one visit.)

I don't know what I expected this time when we visited.  I have been there before.  Mostly just drop off mail and presents sort of visits, not the kind of just relaxing and enjoying ourselves kind of visit. 

We were invited this time.  Invited to have lunch with them.  With the whole little family.  And so we came.  We came to a nicely lit, tidy house, to smiling, welcoming people.  We hugged and laughed and talked and looked at each other, and ate our lunch on a table brought out of the corner to the middle of the living room so they could use the couch to sit on.  They only have two chairs. 

And all these words don't really tell what it is like.  I could write about what we saw, and I might yet.  But to say exactly what we felt, that is harder.  I felt comfortable there.  It was homey.  Sure, it is about the tiniest place anyone could hope to live in.  But, they are doing it and they are enjoying it.  Oh, I don't think they'll stay in that situation forever.  It isn't ideal.  You can tell when you walk into a house, what kind of people live there.  It's the feeling you get when you're there.  It's the people that make a home.  It's the kind of feeling that a mother wants to feel when her daughter leaves home to make a home for herself and her family.  It's the feeling that I must have done something right.  

Part 2

When we first saw this place that Lorene and Aaron chose to begin their new life together,  Jim and I were rather appalled.  It is TINY. I mean really tiny.  And it was dirty.  They live in a little apartment that is made from two very small motel rooms, where one bathroom was made into a kitchen.  And into that little space they have put the three of them and a cat.

They had to clean every inch of that space with bleach and spray for bugs.  They had to decide which of their things were the most important things to keep.  There isn't room for it all.

And, you know, they're doing it.  They have what they need, and keep things they aren't using, put away.  They are teaching Zane to play with a toy and put it away again. They are enjoying themselves and each other.  They can't have everything they want now, they are just starting out.  But, they act like they know that, and are living accordingly. 

I don't have any pictures of how their place looks now.  But this is how it looked when we were moving things in.

The Millers at Home

I'm proud of those two "kids". I'm proud of the way they are starting out their life. And I like they way they are raising Zane.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

I like to make candy.  A homemade candy project is so satisfying once it is all done.  Actually, it is fun in the beginning when the ingredients are assembled in a (hopefully) clean kitchen and it is fun at the end when they are all done and beautifully lined up for all to see.  It is only in the middle, that I wonder why on earth I ever make candy at all. 

I've been hungry to make Chocolate Covered Cherries, they are a little bit of a challenge, but fun for dipping in chocolate since they come with nice little handles.  (I have a problem with the "sticking a toothpick in to dip", they usually fall off and make big holes in my candy.)

So, this time, I decided I was going to go slowly, making sure I had plenty of time and not try to rush getting them done when I'm supposed to be cooking supper or something like that.   I made the powdered sugar/butter filling the night before since it is supposed to chill an hour.  I think they say an hour because that is the optimal temperature for forming dough around drained cherries.  I found that it was sticky when too cold and too warm.  There was a spot in there that was "just right"  (Just ask the three bears.)  So, I formed and put the done ones in the freezer to quick chill, and then I dipped the cold ones while the rest of the dough chilled in the fridge. It worked really well.

Drain the cherries well first.

Form the dough around the cherries in misshapen balls.  (I guess you wouldn't HAVE to do that, but it sure looks like that's what I did.)

Dip in chocolate and drizzle with white chocolate.

 Put in little candy papers for a fancy presentation. 

Candy really should "ripen" a bit before eating, at least a couple of weeks.  The sugar in chocolate covered cherries will liquefy inside if they are left long enough, but I can't remember how long that is and it wasn't written on my recipe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

You Call This a Vacation?

I like to take pictures, I like to have pictures. There is something missing in my brain.  It seems to be the part that remembers events that I haven't taken pictures of.  It doesn't. 

So, what happens if I forget my camera.  Or what if I remember my camera but photos don't get taken?  What if whatever else happens is SO startling that there isn't time to take pictures.  I think I will remember that.  Especially, the events that actually DID happen.  There won't be any forgetting this vacation, no way, no how. 

Part 2 of the of the Unending, Very Long, Too Exciting, Unbelievable Week.

Monday we left for Salida, Colorado to ski/snowboard at Monarch Mountain for a couple of days.  We were planning to meet my brother's family and some of their friends. The trip went well considering, nine hours isn't much fun to sit in a vehicle and go up and down and around mountains, and get sickish in the stomach.  There was no yelling, complaining, and etc., ....after the first 100 miles or so, when my daughter decided she COULD live without her computer after all. 

I didn't ski this year.  I haven't exercised consistently for two years.  I figured it would be safer for me and more enjoyable for everyone else if I didn't.  I thought it would be fun to hang out at the lodge and crochet and read and have lunch ready for everyone else.  Which it was...sort of.  It was also boring.  And I didn't see anybody for a very long time, since the room for people who bring lunch in is separated from the places where you can buy food. 

The big-kid part of the party found me at lunch time, and  my older nephew's friend was acting strangely, so strangely in fact, that I sent them to find my brother.  He had hit his head.  So, that was the end of any more skiing on my brother's part as they took the boy down to ER with a concussion. 

Anytime there is an injury it spoils every one's fun.  But, we thought everyone else would be able to enjoy the second day.  However, in the evening the other mom of the party wasn't feeling well, so my sister in law took HER to the ER and they kept her overnight, with altitude sickness. 

The party heading out to the slopes the next day, was much diminished.  I stayed, the injured ones stayed, and the younger boys stayed. So, Jim and my brother took just the three cousins up the mountain, agreeing all to meet again for a photo session. 

But, it didn't happen.  My brother was watching when Nathan took a jump and it didn't go well.  He landed on his face, and when he came up, his arm was broken.  So, down to get first aid, and on to Salida to the ER, where my sister in law and I met them.  And then as everyone gathered and left and gathered again, we settled down to a very long wait in the ER.  We were fairly high on the list, with Nathan's injury. There were others that waited a lot longer.  But, still it is waiting.

Nathan found ways to entertain himself. 

Eventually, after we found that Nathan had broken the large bone in his arm just above the wrist, we waited some more before Nathan was sent up for a very short surgery.  They put three pins in and after going home and getting settled in again.  Lynette and Nathan asked for a steak dinner.

We had a long ride home, but Nathan did fine with the high powered painkiller he was taking. I was glad to be home.  It was Thursday again, and the week was over.

Thank goodness.

We stopped on the way home to look at the Royal Gorge Bridge.  It was neat, but for the amount of money we spent the the very short time we spent there, I'm not sure we did the right thing.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Time Goes By So Fast

In case you haven't noticed, it is January already.  Not only that as of today we are half way through January, and I don't really know where the rest of it has gone.  I should have the W-2 forms ready to go and be thinking about getting stuff ready for working on taxes for our business.  I said THIS year is going to be different.  Well, it is different all right, but so far not in the taxes direction. 

So, pretending it isn't January, but back in December, where so many things happened in one week back there, that it is almost unbelievable.  Here is Part 1 of the Unending, Very Long, Too Exciting, Unbelievable Week.

We very often celebrate, our end of the year birthdays on Christmas weekend, since it is a good time for our family to gather together.  Or rather we celebrate whenever we DO get together, whichever holiday weekend it is.  This year, we celebrated Christmas weekend since it just worked out that way.  There are way too many involved circumstances that I am not going to go into here, why or who ended up at our house for a few days.

Lorene would turn 19 on January 3, and Zane, 2 on the last day of the year, so my folks came down to eat cake and watch present opening.  I very carefully made two cakes, one for each of the celebrants, thinking about being able to pull off cake baking and decorating for an upcoming reception.  Well, IF I would have read the frosting recipe more carefully, it might have been more of a success, as it was, the frosting was better to look at, than eat. 

Lynette drew the car, I can't remember who did the border.

This one is mine, and would be fine except for the caterpillery '19'.  I rather like the squiggles.

Thar she blows!

Wagon from great-grampa.

Trike from Grandpa.

I just love this picture of auntie and nephew.

This is just a funny little picture of Zane licking a ball of ice, that Nathan made with a balloon.  It was cold those days.

So to sum up the first part of the week, Thurs. company came, and we had birthday party.  Friday we made plans for a big dinner and played games.  Saturday we ate our big dinner, and cleaned up and ate leftovers and cleaned up again. Sunday, the company went home and we began to pack for our skiing trip, leaving on Monday. 

End of Part 1.  Come back in a couple of days for part 2.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Confucius Says....

I don't think Confucius is going to say anything in this blog post, but I certainly feel confused.  I've rather had the props knocked out from under me, and after two years of struggling to understand and accept my role as gramma/caretaker, that one is gone, and I have to get used to another one, that includes mother in law, and farther away gramma. 

I know real life isn't "clear-cut and trimmed off, as they are in novels"**, there are struggles every day and I am finding I don't adjust very quickly when I'm stressed and tired.  I'm still raising a couple of teenagers too, thank you very much!  And they like to have me around part of the time, even though they don't act like it most of the time.

It is very hard to work with toddler attention span and teenage attention span at the same time, because it IS at the same time, kids don't take turns when they want attention.

So, here we are.  I am no longer "full time" gramma. I won't have Zane around everyday to enjoy and clean up after, and take pictures of, and blog about, and get exasperated with. 

I will have him some days, and I will enjoy and appreciate him more.  But my life has changed so this blog will change.  I will be able to do more things that I enjoy.  So, I'm hoping this blog will reflect some of those things, now, too.  I like to write, scrapbook, crochet, knit, take photographs, chronicle my kids' lives, and who knows what else will pop up in here.  There will still be Zane around some, but the rest of us are still here, too.  There is more of ME here, too.  So, as I'm still coming to terms with what I'm going to do with myself, mind and body, now.  I hope you'll enjoy being along for the ride

**if any one knows where I got this quote from, I will send them a homemade prize, up to five prizes, just in case there are hundreds out there that I don't know about.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Changing of the Guard

It has been a really long time since I posted any new posts.  I mostly planned it that way, but December is also a very busy month.  We have extra company all through the month of December for one thing, and usually plan some sort of trip and then with kids home from time just ain't happenin'.

So this post is going to highlight just one of the big changes in our lives. 

The marriage of our oldest daughter! 

It is a very different stage of life when your children start acting like adults and making decisions on their own. And in this case Lorene getting married leaves not only one hole in our house and our lives, but two. 

(Of course, since they are still storing some of their things in the basement, some of that isn't noticeable yet.)

I'll admit, I was getting worn out with complete care of Zane 15+ hours in a week, trying to keep my house tidy and meet the needs of everyone else in the house, but still, I find myself turning around to see where Zane is.  We'll have to have him over real soon.  (But, I want to finish my painting first.)

I'm not really capable, (at least at the moment, and maybe not ever) to write beautiful words of love and marriage, loss and gain, but here's the story:

Lorene and Aaron were married January 3, 2011 at the Buffalo County Courthouse at 10 am.  They were attended by their immediate families who were dressed nicely in their colors, dark red and black.  Lorene was 19 years old that day.  After the brief ceremony, very bad pictures were taken at the bride's home and the party had lunch at San Pedro's.  (During which the mother of the bride got sick and spent the rest of the day in bed.  The illness had nothing to do with the food or the fact that her oldest daughter was married, she succumbed to a virus.) The bride and groom are living on the edge of Grand Island in a tiny little apartment. 

Unfortunately, everyone else in this household (except Nathan who never gets sick at convenient times) played host to the virus eventually, which is part of the reason why I'm so late making any sort of post at all.  For those who are dying to see pictures, here are the ones taken by someone who knew what they were doing.  I am  hoping that my very bad pictures can be salvaged, so that they can be used as family pictures this year.