During April 2018 I will be blogging about my memories as MOM OF 6 from A to Z . These challenge posts will also be found at Creation and Compassion http://marcyhowes.blogspot.com/

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Did you visit the zoo when you were a youngster?   We didn't go very often, but I do have memories of the zoo.   One of my Aunties would usually plan an outing over the labor day weekend for her family,or sometimes another summer day, and our family would usually be invited along.  Most of the outings were to places that would fill one of the cub scout requirements for visiting a local historical attraction or bird watching or some such thing.   Since we did some such activity every year, we ended up visiting a lot of fun and interesting places that we may not have done otherwise.   The Zoo is one of the places I remember visiting together.  Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Lions, Tigers, Monkeys, Polar Bears, Birds, Reptiles . . . and so much much more.  The zoo also features a petting zoo and a train ride, features that attract any child.

I couldn't find any photos of our visit to the zoo back in the day, but here are some more recent photos from our local zoo's facebook page.  I think it's great for children to be able to see and experience as much of the world and it's creations as they can, and I feel that our local zoo does a tremendous job of providing natural habitat and careful care of the animals.

Do you have fun memories of the zoo?

Friday, April 29, 2016


Yhatzee is one of the many games that we had in our house when I was growing up.   In reading a quick history of the game at Wikipedia, I am thinking that we must have first received the game sometime around 1973 when the Milton Bradley company bought  the game from the E.S. Lowe Company that first introduced the game back in 1958.

I must confess that Yhatzee was not my favorite game, but I did play it fairly often and managed to even score decently sometimes, which was not always the case with other board games.  We played a lot of board games during school vacations, especially at Christmas time and during the early weeks of summer vacation before the haying season was in full swing.    As one of the youngest of the family, I lost at board games more often than not, which somewhat soured me on board games for many years.   Monopoly, Risk, Life, Sorry, and even Chutes and Ladders and Candy Land were the games I remember playing, and losing, the most often during my childhood years.  Sometimes our family Monopoly marathons would last for days at a time . . .and of course I was usually one of the first ones to go bankrupt.

It wasn't until my Adult years when I discovered that I was a fairly reasonable player of Trivial Pursuit and Scrabble that I began to enjoy, and remember the enjoyment of sitting down together with family and friends over a good board game.  Possibly I have matured a bit too, and the winning vs the losing don't quite matter as much any more.  It's more about the time spent with those that I love.

(PS.  I'm still not a fan of Risk or any other strategy games!!)

What are your favorite board game memories?

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X-Rays and X-tra Teeth

One of my claims to fame is that I have never had a broken bone.  (Perhaps it is due to the calcium from all of the home grown milk I have consumed over the years).  I do vaguely remember having an X-Ray of my hand or my arm at some point in my childhood, but I don't remember exactly why.  I do remember the huge X-Ray machine and the heavy blanket (is it a lead blanket?)  that was used to cover me to protect the rest of my body from the harmful rays.

I do remember getting dental X-rays almost every year.   Every June Mums would schedule an appointment with the dentist who lived and worked in the neighboring town, and the entire family would load up in the car and travel to visit the dentist.  It always took the entire morning, or longer, for him to examine each of the eight sets of teeth and take care of whatever cavities or extractions were necessary.   I dreaded the visits to the dentist office that was located on the second floor of an ancient office building.   The old wooden stairs creaked as we climbed them, a foreboding sound as I pondered the tortures to come.   The high ceilings and linoleum floors accentuated that echoing of a frequently ringing telephone in another office down the hall.  It seemed there was never anyone there to answer that phone, and it would ring and ring and ring over and over again.

The waiting room was comfortable enough, filled with magazines and books to read.  I remember admiring the glass covered barrister type bookcases filled with important looking books.  But eventually my interest would wane, and the seemingly endless waiting for my turn in the chair would continue.   But my turn did eventually come, the dentist would poke and prod and clean, and sometimes the x-ray machine would be pulled around to check for the inevitable cavities or to see just where that new tooth or that extra tooth was.  Yes, one year I did have an extra tooth erupt from the middle of the roof of my mouth.  And no, I did not miss growing any other teeth, except for wisdom teeth.  I have never had a wisdom tooth.

The reward after the day of torture?  We would usually stop for hamburgers and ice cream before driving back home!

What are your memories of X-rays?  Did anyone else out there ever have an X-tra tooth?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

West Hills

Although I grew up on the family farm, it was not the same farm that my father grew up on.   The house that my Daddy grew up in was several miles to the west of the current family farm, nestled right up against the western foothills that bordered the little mountain valley filled with farms and lumber yards.  This house tragically burned to the ground in January 1939 when Daddy was 15 years old.  The family moved into a home in town several miles away for several years and moved the cows to a friend's farm nearby until Grandpa was able to sell the property on the west side of the valley and buy the farm where I grew up.

Daddy and his sisters and neighbors spent much of their free time as children exploring and playing in the West Hills.   They would go hiking and find pretty rocks and Indian arrowheads and an Indian Spear Head that Daddy still has in his collection.   They would swim and fish in the nearby Beaver Creek.   They would ride the horse up into the hills to round up the cows and sheep that were pastured up in the hills during the day and bring them back to the farm at night to protect them from the coyotes.  I even remember hearing stories about an old abandoned mine that they knew about, but had been warned to not play in.

Of course Daddy wanted to share his childhood memories with us too, so sometimes he would take us over to the West Hills to go hiking among the sagebrush and prickly pear cactus and lichen covered boulders.  The valley was always lush with green meadows, but the hills were much dryer and had little grass.   I remember  the constant sound of crickets, seeing rabbits and lizzards, and keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes.  We would hunt for arrowheads too, but I never remember finding any.  The town dump was located in the West Hills, and sometimes we would take a load of our trash over to be dumped, and sometimes find treasures that had once belonged to someone else!  Sometimes we would go over to the West Hills with our cousins to pick chokecherries for our mothers to use to make chokecherry jelly.

And of course, almost every winter we would need to take a trip over to the West Hills to our favorite sleigh riding spots.  It was there that one of our favorite family movies was shot.  Mums was sledding down the hill, with Daddy shooting her ride with the camera.   The sled she was on hit a big drift or bump and off she flew, landing in the snow and tumbling down the hill a ways, the sled continuing on without her.  This particular film was originally shot with a 3 mm camera, then later converted to VHS and then digitized.  This is probably our very favorite film of our dear mother, and we would stop the film, and then reverse it, watching her fly back onto the sled, zoom up the hill, and then start the film forward again, watching her repeat her now famous ride back and forth, over and over while we would laugh and enjoy the memories.   Of course Mums was always a good sport and would laugh right along with us, remembering her sleigh ride in the West Hills.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The last week of May was always a very favorite time of year.  School was out!   The weather was warming up, we planted the garden, and almost every year we prepared for a family vacation.   The family vacation varied from year to year, but almost without fail we would pack up the car with our suitcases and a box of easy to prepare food, and leave the farm in the capable hands of Grandpa and some cousin or local young man to help with the milking.   It would be several weeks before the hay would be ready to cut and haul, so we had time for some family recreation.

Most years our trips would be to visit various relatives who lived a day or two's car ride from our home.   It was a tight fit to get all eight of us in our four door sedan, and yes there was always a bit of bickering amongst the kids.   We would read books, sing songs, and play the typical car games such as seeing how many different states license plates we could spy, or the ABC game:  who could find a word beginning with every letter of the alphabet from road signs and billboards along the side of the road.  Sometimes we would rent a motel room or a cabin along the way, and we would almost always visit national parks and monuments or places of historical interest along the way.   One year we stayed at the lake several hours north of our home,  and one year we traveled to Yellowstone National Park.  One year we visited Zions and Bryce Canyons, another year we visited the World's Fair in Spokane, Washington, and another time we visited relatives in California and made the drive along the California coast.  Some years we stayed close to home, pitched our tent in the nearby mountains, and spent the days hiking.   No, we never visited Disneyland or went on a cruise, or traveled to Hawaii or Europe, but the family vacation was always a highlight of the summer, if not the entire year.

What are your favorite vacation memories?

1974 World's Fair, Spokane, Washington

Grand Coulee Dam

 Camping 1975

Camping 1973
Hiking 1973

Monday, April 25, 2016

Under the Willow Trees

Family Reunion Under the Willow Trees 1962

 Under the trees was the popular gathering place during the summers when I was growing up.  When my Grandfather bought the farm, he planted a row of golden willow trees as a wind break to the west of his home.   Willow trees grow quickly, and within a few years this row of trees provided not only a wind break, but a nice area of shade from the hot summer sun.   Most of my Grandfather and Grandmother's siblings and their families lived down the mountain in the city, so each summer there would be family reunions up on our farm.   For as long as I can remember there have been rows of picnic tables under those willow trees.  One Saturday in July and one Saturday in August were set aside for these reunions.   Great Aunts and Great Uncles, my own aunts and uncles and myriads of cousins would descend on the farm for a day of picnic lunch under the trees, tractor drawn hayrides through the meadows, horseback riding, volleyball, horseshoes, watermelon and ice cream.  Of course everyone was interested to wander out to the barn when milking time came around to watch the cows being milked.

Those same trees are still there.   My nephew now lives in my Grandfather's old house with his wife and children, and my brother build his house on the other side of the row of willow trees.   We still gather under the trees several times most summers to celebrate holidays or other family events with a picnic lunch and games and visiting.   The huge extended family reunions under the trees are mostly a thing of the past, though we did gather together with my cousins for an afternoon picnic and visit at a different location this past summer.   It is good to get together with family, whether it is under the trees or some other location.

Does your family have a favorite traditional place for reunions?

 Family Reunion 1964 

Family Reunion 2015

Under the trees 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Tire Swings


This is a photo of the tire swings that my Daddy made for his kids many long years ago.   I have spent hours in these swings dreaming lazy summer dreams as I gently swung under the blue sky, or feeling the thrill of racing back and forth as high as my Daddy or Mums or older siblings could push me.  This is no ordinary swing set, and it has lasted well over 60 years.  The tire swings themselves may have changed once or twice over the years, but the huge log standard has stood it's ground for over half a century and held up under hundreds of children, including myself, my siblings, and countless cousins, friends, nieces and nephews and grandchildren.   I'll admit that my Daddy is one amazing, talented, and thoughtful man.   Don't you agree?

Friday, April 22, 2016

School Days

I was four years and ten months old when I first began attending kindergarten.  Back in the day, the cut-off date for starting school was October 31st, and I met the deadline by mere days.  I believe that I was always the youngest in my school class throughout my entire 13 years of elementary school and high school. I have often wondered if this contributed somewhat to my shy and reticent nature. There was one small school district in our mountain valley with two schools. There were seven small towns and many farms in between that belonged in the school district.  The elementary school served grades K-6 and the High School served grades 7-12, with the 7th and 8th graders only attending classes with others of their grade and not being allowed to dances and participation on sports teams or clubs and activities.  

Most of the students in our school district were bused to school because of the 15 or more miles from the north to the south ends of the valley. Because our family farm was less than one mile from either of the two schools, our family was not technically eligible to ride the bus to and from school, but the bus passed directly in front of our house each day, so we were allowed to ride.   The bus arrived in front of our house at almost exactly 8:00 AM every weekday morning during the school year.   The bus ride lasted about 45 minutes and wound through a large portion of farmland and one small neighboring town where we picked up the other riders, then stopped first at the elementary school  and then at the high school.   The morning bell rang at 9:00 AM at both schools, usually allowing us a few minutes on the playground before school started.

Kindergarten was only half day for us.  There was only one kindergarten classroom and teacher, but two kindergarten classes.  Students who lived on the south side of the valley were in one class and students who lived on the north side of the valley were placed in the other class.  I believe that we switched time slots half way through the year so that both classes had the experience of both morning kindergarten and afternoon kindergarten.  During our three hour block of class we learned our ABC's, and how to  write our numbers and our names, and other important things like colors, art, and getting along nicely with others. We had playtimes outside on the playground, and inside playtime with the trucks, blocks, play kitchen, dolls, puzzles, clay and other playthings.   We had story time and snack time and nap time together. 

In First grade we made the transition to a full school day that lasted from 9:00 am to 3:30 PM, with lunch time and both morning and afternoon recess time.  At first I was excited to take my brand new lunch box to school with a sandwich and thermos of milk for my lunch, but the Thermos soon leaked and I tired of having only sandwiches for my lunch.  For most of my school years Mums would hand us our lunch money every Monday morning and we would buy a lunch ticket that would last us all week.   Hot school lunch received many a verbal complaint, but for the most part I remember very good home-cooked type balanced meals with homemade bread and rolls and desserts . . . a far cry from the pre-fabricated chicken nuggets, french fries and pizza lunches I see presented in the schools today.

First grade also brought reading and books!  We had our readers to take home each night and practice our reading with our parents.   We learned more about numbers and math, and history and science too. And of course we also had art and music and PE and recess.  Third grade brought the introduction to cursive writing.  In fourth grade we started switching classes during one or two periods each day. One of the fourth grade teachers specialized in Reading and English while the other specialized in Math and Science.   That way we benefited from even more teachers and came to know even more of our classmates.  One of the highlights of fifth grade was the science fair.  One of my friends and I did our project on Volcanoes with a handwritten report, display board and the requisite model volcano that really erupted, with help from vinegar and baking soda of course.  

Recess was looked forward to every single day, even when it was cold and snowy.   On good days we would swing and slide and play on the monkey bars.  There was hopscotch and four square and kick soccer.  Sometimes we brought jacks to play, and sometimes there was kissing tag, "going steady"  breakups, and  even  the occasional "weddings".  There were field trips and class parties and the end of the year clean up day where everyone helped clean up the school grounds and then participated in relays and other contests and were rewarded with a walk to the drug store or the drive in for an ice cream cone.  

The students in the two classes in my grade were shuffled around each year, so we were able to get to know other children from the valley very well.  Of course people moved in and out each year, but for the most part we ended up getting to know each other very well.We formed friendships that would last throughout not only elementary school, but also junior high and high school and throughout our lifetimes.   Many of my classmates still live in the valley towns where we grew up, and now many if not most of us keep in contact through Facebook and other social media.  Even after all these years, a big part of who I am definitely comes from those long ago school days.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


I was ALWAYS reading when I was growing up.  Well, maybe not constantly 24/7 reading.  I do seem to have memories of other things like chores and school and animals, and family and TV and movies etc.   But reading was my very favorite thing to do.

I remember the summer after kindergarten when we children made the daily race to the mailbox after seeing the mail truck pass on down the road, and finding my very first Weekly Reader  magazine that Mums would subscribe to for each of us children in the summer time.   Our parents and grandparents were wonderful about giving us books as gifts, and we had a huge collection of the classic Little Golden Books. Much of my monthly allowance was spent on the Scholastic Book Orders through school.  Our house was filled with books and magazines, including shelves and shelves of The National Geographic magazine and The Book of Knowledge Encyclopedias and Scripture Story Books.  The Bobbsey Twins, Little House on the Prairie, Trixie Beldon, Black Beauty, Heidi, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island, Harriet the Spy, and others were among my favorites.

My favorite place to read was my bedroom, lying sprawled out on the bed.   The next best place to read was curled up in one of the big easy chairs in the living room.  Sometimes I would sneak upstairs to the quiet bedrooms of my siblings and read on their beds.  But no matter where I ended up, I could stay there all day reading, oblivious to any of  the noise and activity going on around me, oblivious (mostly)  to the reruns of the TV shows blaring next to me, and especially oblivious to the eventual entreaties of my dear mother to put the book down and do my chores or my piano practicing, or eat my dinner, or turn out the light and go to sleep.

Where was your favorite place to read?   What were your favorite books to read?

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


My dear Mums spent a lot of her time sewing and quilting.  I imagine she learned these skills from her own mother and from several maiden aunts that lived with her family from time to time.  I know that I have slept under the quilts that these ladies have made many times, and these quilts still reside at my Daddy's house.

When I was a teenager my mother began quilting quite often.  She made several patchwork quilts for gifts for my cousins weddings, and my sisters and I were allowed to help sew the squares of scrap fabric to male the patchwork tops.  We would then stretch the quilt top onto the quilting frames that Daddy made out in his workshop with fluffy cotton batting in between the layers, and hand stitch the quilt along all of the seam lines.  Mums made several quilts for each of us as we married.  Some were patchwork and hand quilted, and others were tied quilts of gingham or other patterned fabric.  All of these lovely quilts have been used and appreciated over the years by my family.

When I was in Jr High and High School I sewed many of my own clothes.  I didn't sew nearly as much as my mother and older sisters did, but I sewed a lot more than I do now.  It was a good way to make productive use of my time, I suppose.  And I did get clothes out of it!  What more could a teenage girl who didn’t have close neighbors want?  Anyway, I can’t remember exactly the timing, but eventually I decided to make myself a patchwork quilt from scraps from my many sewing projects.  This is something my Mother and Grandmother had done before me.  However I didn’t want just squares,  so came up with my own design or pattern.  This is a photo of the quilt.  

This is the first quilt, and so far the only patchwork quilt that I have completed.  My mother and sisters and aunts helped me to hand quilt it.  It has traveled with my family to our various homes in various states and is still often used on one of our beds in the winter time.

Do you have good memories of quilts? 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Piano

The above piano lived in my parents house for many years until last July when Dear Son 1 arranged to have it moved to my house.   The piano was an important part of our lives growing up.  It was first purchased by my dear parents when my older sister was about  8 or 10 years old, and she began taking piano lessons.  She became quite the accomplished pianist and currently teaches piano lessons on her own piano in her own home.

We gathered around the piano every week on Monday evenings during our Family Home Evenings, and sang a hymn or two.  During the Christmas Season we would play Christmas Carols, and there were always music books of folk songs, popular music, and classical music in the piano bench waiting for us to play.

Music was always important to Mums (as mentioned in my "M" post) and she spent hours and hours driving us back and forth to piano lessons every week.   Our piano teacher, Mae, would devote almost an entire afternoon to our family for piano lessons each week, right after school during the school year and first thing in the morning during summer vacations.  I began taking piano lessons when I turned eight years old, and had a weekly half hour lesson almost every single week for the next ten years.   The goal was for each child to practice the piano for a half hour every single day.   Unfortunately, there were very few days when I actually practiced for my entire half hour.  Most days I would quickly play through all of my assigned pieces one time (we usually had one assigned piece from each of four to six different piano lesson books, and as we progressed far enough, an assigned hymn also) and then I would run off to play outside or read or watch TV.

Mae was also the organist at our church, and she taught piano lessons to many of our friends, always watching for young people who were talented and dedicated enough to eventually help out with the music at church.  I was asked to play the piano for the young Primary aged children at the Tuesday afternoon primary meetings for a few months when I was in High School, but was not the best piano accompanist due to the slothfulness of my practicing habits.  But I did learn to play well enough to play most of the Hymns in a pinch, and enough to sit down and play a bit for my own enjoyment now and then.

I am truly blessed to have this piano in my home and the many lovely memories that it brings to me.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Open Spaces and Open Gates

One of the things that I love most about growing up on our family farm was the wide open spaces.  During the summer months especially I loved just wandering around the farm with my siblings and cousins or even just all by myself.   I love being out in the open fields with hardly any one else around: just me my favorite people and the animals . . . the cows and the horses and the cats and the dogs, and the birds too.   We children were mostly free to wander wherever we wanted on the property as long as our work was done.  With acres of pastureland, hayfields and sheds,  willow trees,  a big canal and multiple irrigation ditches, trees, natural springs, there was always a new place to play and new worlds to imagine.

We were taught to avoid the hay fields when the hay was growing, as our wanderings might tramp down the hay and ruin it.   Once or twice though, we had been known to create "tunnels"  or mazes in the tall hay in the small field behind Grandma and Grandpa's house.   Have you ever been to a corn maze before?   A maze in the hay field is much, much more fun, especially if the hay is taller than you are!

Another thing we were taught at a very young age was to never leave the gate open.  Fences and gates are extremely important barriers when dealing with cows and horses.   Most of the time they keep the animals in the pastures or corrals where they belong, and out of the road, the garden, they yard, or the neighbors fields.  One of our daily jobs during the summer was to herd the cows (really just follow along after them as they all knew the way very well) up the road and across the canal bridge to their summer pasture each morning, and then to return in the afternoon and herd them back home in time for the evening milking.  Since the cows knew the way, our main job was to open and close the gates that kept them safely in the pasture.  Many of the gates to the pastures on our farm are made of three or four strands of barbed wire stretched from the last fence post in the fence to another lose fence post.   To close the gate, you must stretch the barbed wire taut and place the loose post right next to the last post in the next fence.   A loop of strong gauge wire is then slipped around both the post in the ground and the loose post to hold it in place. This is not always an easy feat for a small child, but a skill that is learned early on the farm.  No one wants to be the one that let the cows out of the pasture!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Night Time

Photo Source:   

Night time can be a hard time for children and adults, winding down from hectic days and relaxing enough to get to sleep.   During the winter months night time comes early, or at least darkness does.   I remember winter days when the sun set almost as soon as we arrived home from school.   Of course there was homework to be done, and piano practice, and often times a favorite TV show or two or three or more that needed to be watched.  And of course there were chores.   When you live on a farm with animals, there are daily chores year around.   During the winter months the cows were kept close to the barn in the lounging sheds, so there was no need to bring them to and from the pastures, but they still needed to be milked and fed, and all of the other animals needed to be milked and fed too.  With so many older siblings I didn't often have the milking chore, but I did have the chore to feed the calves every evening for most of my teenage years.   Milk from the most recently freshened cows (those who had most recently calved)  was set aside for all of the young calves who were separated from their mothers shortly after birth.   I would carry a big bucket of this milk out to the calf pen and portion it out in small buckets with a nipple attached.   The calves looked forward to their supper, and didn't take long to eat.   That only left the washing up of the buckets before I could return to the house for my own supper and homework.

When I was very young, my bedtime was almost immediately after supper time.  I remember sleeping on the bottom bunk in my bedroom for a few years, with an older sibling sleeping above me.  When my baby sister was old enough to graduate from her crib, the bunk beds were moved upstairs with the older siblings and she and I shared a double bed that was inherited from some friend or relative.   In spite of the hot water heated radiators under the two bedroom windows, the bed was usually somewhat cold when we climbed in on the dark winter evenings,  I must confess that as the "older"  sister I claimed the privilege of sometimes warming my cold feet on my sister's warmer legs, probably not the nicest thing in the world to do.  Truth be told, we both helped to warm up the bed under the layers of covers and blankets.

I often had  a hard time falling asleep.  I'm not sure if it was all of the activity of a busy house full of six kids and their parents, an over-active imagination of all the scary things that could happen, or what, but sometimes I would still be awake when my parents were ready for bed.   I'm sure it must have been trying for them, but they were good to comfort me with soothing backrubs, comforting words, calming music, and sometimes even a snack of crackers and milk.  I believe that I always did eventually fall asleep, as I cannot remember staying awake all night until the night after High School Graduation.  (Now that's a story for another day . . . not terribly eventful in case you were wondering.)

Summer nights hold much more pleasant memories for me.  I don't remember having nearly as much difficulty falling asleep, unless I was away from home visiting relatives or on vacation.   Long days full of play and work and activity made for a tired Marcy who was more ready to fall asleep.   We were also allowed to stay up later since there was no school the next day, and would usually stay outside as long as possible  riding bikes or  playing night games like hide and seek or colored eggs,  I don't know exactly who thought up the game of colored eggs.  I don't know of anyone other than my siblings or my cousins who has ever played it before.  One child is selected to be the big bad wolf and stands on the front porch or stoop of the house, and all of the other children are eggs.   The eggs gather close by on the front lawn.  Each egg thinks of a color, and then the wolf starts guessing colors.   If the wolf guesses your color, you then take off running around the house, trying to beat him back to the front porch.   If the wolf tags you before you reach the porch, then you become the wolf and take your turn guessing colors.  

Some nights Daddy would build a bonfire in the homemade fire pit in the side yard and we would roast hot dogs and marshmallows and tell stories and sing songs around the fire.   We would usually stay up late and look at the stars, and Daddy would point out the different constellations.   The night summer skies in our mountain valley were usually clear, and the stars very bright and felt oh so close to the earth, and make the earth feel very close to heaven and to God.  To this day I love photos of the night sky and the universe, and photos from NASA or Hubble are my background of choice on my computers both at work and at home.  

Here's a recent blog post that I came across that echos the same, calming feeling that the night sky can bring: Are The Stars Still There?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Mums and Music

This is a photo of my beautiful mother in about 1946 while she was still in college.  Several years later she married my Daddy, and a bit more than a decade later I was born into their family.  My mother was a busy lady, with a family of six children and a farmer husband, but she always made sure that she had time for her children.  As a former school teacher, she knew how to teach and encourage and love her children.  She played with us, read to us, sang to us, and listened to our problems and woes.   She cooked and baked and cleaned and washed and ironed and gardened and canned.  She put bandaids on scraped knees and encouraged us to always do our best.   She drove us to school and activities and church and piano lessons.   She encouraged us to turn off the TV, do our homework, do our chores, and practice the piano, and to love one another, and not fight or quarrel one with another.  Occasionally she was even known to deliver a well deserved spanking!

When I was small, I called my mother Mommy.  As I grew older, I no longer wanted to use that child's name, but I didn't want to call her Mom either, as that seemed to ordinary for my wonderful mother.    I knew from reading that the British often called their mother's "Mum" or "Mums", and since we have a heritage of British Ancestry, that just seemed right to me.  She was also born the very same year as the Queen!

Mums was always a lover of music.  She began playing the violin as a young girl and practiced faithfully all throughout her growing up years.  She played with the Orchestra in High School and College, and was in demand to play for weddings and parties and church meetings.  She was even invited to play her violin on the radio.   She tried to teach me to play when I was young, but I became discouraged and gave up too soon.  I wish I had tried again, later, as I loved listening to her play.  Three of my own children have learned to play string instruments, and I love to hear them play too.

Mums also loved to sing.  She would sing to us children, and dance to the radio as she worked.  She had a nice collection of classical records albums that she often played for us.  She sang with the Choir both at church and with a Community Choral group after we children left home.   She has always delighted in music, and encouraged her children and family to enjoy good music and develop their own musical talents too.

It will be one year ago this coming Sunday that my beautiful mother left this earth and joined the choir of angels in heaven.   I miss her.  We all do.   But we know that she is happy there, playing and singing and helping, teaching, and influencing others for good, both here on this earth and in heaven.  I feel her influence often and am comforted by my beautiful angel mother.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


There was no public library in our town when I was growing up, so we had to rely on our own family library, the school libraries, and the bookmobile.  When Daddy built our house, one of the things that he included was built in shelves and cabinets in our front entryway.   We never have used the front door very much.  Normally only strangers and door to door salesmen come to the front door.  Most people come around to the back door entrance into the back porch laundry area and then into the kitchen.  But I digress.   Library.  A large portion of my parent's personal library is housed on these homemade bookshelves in the front entryway.   While I was growing up, at least one large shelf was filled with several years worth, probably over a decade worth, of  National Geographic Magazines.  I loved National Geographic!  I spent many long hours with those magazines!  I still love the magazine, but no longer subscribe due to budget restraints.  If I happen across one in a waiting room, I get dibs!

The front entry library also housed a shelf or two of encyclopedias, several sets of classics, a well used collection of stories based on Walt Disney Movies, many biographies and many of my mother's favorite novels, as well as old college text books, books of quotes and poetry, and books on religion and scriptures.  Over the years Daddy built many other bookshelves.   Each bedroom has bookshelves, as well as the living room and both the upstairs and the downstairs hallways.   Our house has always been brimming with books, and my children have always loved finding a good book at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

The best thing about going to school was reading, and being able to check out library books!!  In kindergarten, first and second grades, the school librarian would visit our classroom once each week with a cart filled with picture books.   That was wonderful, but the two picture books that we were allowed to check out each week were not nearly enough reading material for me.   I would have those books read from cover to cover on the school bus ride home.   My very kind older brother introduced me to the Bobbsey Twins chapter books when I was in first or second grade, and would almost weekly sacrifice one of his two library selections and check out a new Bobbsey Twins book for me to read each week, being content with his own Black Stallion book or whatever his choice for himself was.   He loved to read too, but didn't spend quite as much time as I did with my nose in a book.  Once I reached the upper grades in elementary school it was so satisfying to be able to visit the school library each week and make my own selections from all of the offerings.  Some of my favorites were the original Box Car Children books, Cherry Ames Nurse series, and Ballet Shoes and the others in that series, Donna Parker, and Trixie Beldon,

When I was very young, the school library would be open one morning each week during the summer vacation.  My siblings and I would walk the 1/2 mile into town just to check out our books.  After a few years the Book Mobile started coming into town every week and the school library no longer opened.   It didn't really matter, we still looked forward to library day.

The high school/junior high school also had a wonderful library, and that was where my friends and I spent most of our free time before school and during lunch hour.  Of course at that time we didn't do much reading, but more visiting, often while working on homework assignments.  But rest assured, I still made sure that I had at least one new, unread book to take home with me for leisure reading pleasure after chores, piano practice and homework.  (And if you must know the truth, often times before!!)

What library memories do you have?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Kitchen

The Kitchen is probably the room of the house where I spent the most time growing up, if you don't count time asleep.   It definitely was the place where my mother spent most of her time, and so as a young child, I was most likely to be there too, right by her side trying to help, and most likely getting in the way.   Yes my mother was a stay at home mom, and a farm wife.   She baked her own bread every week, cooked three meals a day, washed dishes, and folded laundry, and sewed and ironed clothes in that kitchen.  The radio was playing in that kitchen most mornings, and my mother would often dance to the music as she worked, so of course, I would dance too.

My Sister and I sewing and reading at the kitchen table

I learned to wash dishes, cook, bake bread and cookies, can fruit, and fold clothes, iron shirts, and sew in that kitchen.  I remember being excited to wash dishes as a toddler, standing on a kitchen chair next to the sink filled with soapy water.  It was a privilege to be allowed to help knead the bread dough every week, and I also remember being paddled for attempting to mix up a batch of cookie dough all by myself while my Mom was out doing some other chore.    It was fun to sit with my mother as she showed me how to fold the shirts and the socks after they had been washed and dried on the back porch laundry room next to the kitchen.  All of this happened before I ever set  a foot in kindergarten.  When I tired of helping, the bottom drawer right next to the refrigerator was filled with toys to entertain a young child.

Daddy built our house with the help my Grandpa and Uncle, and only paid for help from an electrician and a plumber.   He built all of the kitchen cabinets, installed the counter tops, and laid the vinyl tile floor.   Of course this was all done long before I was born.   We have always had both an electric stove and a coal burning stove standing next to each other in that kitchen as Daddy is a firm believer in being prepared for any situation that he can be.  Several years ago a microwave oven was added to the appliances, but there has never been an electric dishwasher.   For over sixty years, all dishes have been washed by hand.   We all have taken our turns, with our mother doing the lion share of the work. I really don't mind washing the dishes by hand in that kitchen, at least not now, but I'm sure that I have spent plenty of time dawdling and complaining in front of that kitchen sink,  It's a good place to think and get something useful accomplished, and the window above has a nice view of the back pastures and the beautiful valley.  The windows have always been home to several geranium plants, carefully watered by my dear mother, and now by my sister,

My siblings and I have spent many hours at the big sturdy wooden kitchen table, doing homework, coloring, painting by number or creating our own water color master pieces.  That is where we created and addressed our valentines every February, and created our valentine boxes for school.   It's where we colored our Easter Eggs every Spring.   We've all played underneath the table too.  It has been a house, a cave, a town built with blocks, and many other places in our imaginations. Daddy too has spent his own fair share of time at that table, especially during the winter time, fixing things, balancing the check book.   And of course that's where we all gathered together for family meals, treats after Monday night Family Home Evenings, and it's where we all kneeled together for morning and evening family prayers.

The kitchen table is where just a year ago  we once again all gathered together again for a traditional supper of oven toasted cheese sandwiches, milk, and chocolate chip cookies and ice cream as we prepared to say our last good byes to our dear mother.  She is now gone, and Daddy spends many hours there alone.  We try to visit often, because in that kitchen, that's where we find home.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ, painting by Del Parson

I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Jesus Christ was an important part of my life as a child, and still is to this day.   Our family attended church meetings every Sunday.  When I was young, the men would attend Priesthood Meetings in the morning, then come home and bring the whole family back for Sunday School at 10:00 AM.  In the evening we would all return back for the Sacrament Meeting worship service at 7:00 PM.  It was a long day of worship for young families, but we were together.   Later in the week we would return to the church for different auxiliary meetings and activities for women, children and youth.

On Tuesdays after school, my friends and siblings and I would walk the three blocks from the elementary school to the church for Primary.   We would learn songs about Jesus and divide up into classes according to age to hear stories and learn scriptures and participate in other activities.   When I was about seven years old we were each given a small 5 x 7 copy of a painting of Jesus Christ, which I treasured.  We were also given a New Testament, which I also treasured.  When I was eight years old, I was baptized as Jesus was, by immersion.   I knew and felt his love for me then.

 Easter and Christmas were definitely fun holidays that we celebrated in the traditional American way, with colored eggs and candy, Santa and giving of gifts, and always plenty of good food, but we were taught the meaning behind these religious holidays too.  We knew that God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a baby born to a mortal mother.   He taught his fellow men to love God and to love one another.  He taught by parable and he taught by example.   He suffered in Gethsemane and died in Golgatha, and was resurrected after the third day.   Because of the life and sacrifice and atonement of Jesus Christ, we can all repent, improve, and one day become perfect, as He is.   After we die, we will all be resurrected, never to die again, because Jesus died for us, and was resurrected.  He broke the bonds of death.   We have no need to fear.

 I have always known that my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ love me.   I was taught at my mother's knee to pray each evening before I went to bed.   We prayed as a family, morning and evening to God, in the name of Jesus Christ.  I know that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ hear our prayers, love us, and guide our lives as we learn to listen to the promptings they send to us.

Every Monday evening our parents would gather the family together for a Family Home Evening where we would sing hymns, learn to lead music, practice giving talks to each other and sharing our talents with each other, and teaching lessons about the gospel of Jesus Christ to each other.   We would read a chapter of scripture from the Bible or the The Book of Mormon:  Another Testament of Jesus Christ, each one taking their turn to read several verses.  And of course, at the end of the evening we would take turns providing a treat for the family!

 When I was in college a change was made church wide, so now each congregation holds a three hour block of meetings sometime during the day on Sunday, beginning with the Sacrament Meeting, then Sunday School, and ending with the Priesthood meeting for men and the other auxiliary meetings for the women and children.  This consolidated scheduled has proved to be a blessing as families now need to travel only once on Sunday to church.   This leaves us more time to spend together as families.

When I turned 21 years old I made the decision to take 18 months away from my college studies to serve as a Missionary for Jesus Christ.   I spent a little over two months studying the Spanish language, and then spent the remaining 16 months living in Colombia, South America teaching people about our Savior, Jesus Christ and his gospel.   I know that Jesus Christ lives.  He is our brother.  He knows and loves each one of us personally, deeply.  He wants the best for us.  He wants us to become like him.  I knew this as a child, and I know it still today.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Ice Cream

Was Ice Cream an important part of your childhood?  It certainly was an important part of mine.

Growing up on a dairy farm, we had no need of milk delivery.  Daddy would bring several gallons of fresh milk from the barn every day to feed our family of eight.  Every other day the milk man would come to the farm with the big tanker trucks and pump the rest of the milk from the refrigerated tank next to the barn into the tanker truck and deliver it to the dairy down in the city.   The milk was then homogenized, pasteurized, and sold throughout the state in the form of milk, butter, cheese and ice cream.   Yes, the Milk Man came to our farm to take the milk away.  It was the Dairy Man that stopped by our house every week to deliver butter, cheese, and, of course, Ice Cream for our family.

At our house, ice cream was not just for birthdays, or even just for Sundays.  I'm sure that for many weeks of my life I enjoyed ice cream almost every single day.   If there weren't cookies or cake on hand for after school snacks, there was probably ice cream!  The flavors varied from week to week, and we tried them all:   Vanilla, Chocolate, Neopolatin, Maple Nut, Rocky Road, Strawberry, Burnt Almond Fudge, Chocolate Chip, and Mint Chocolate Chip. Fudge Bars, Orange Bars, and Ice Cream Sandwiches.   I don't remember having cookies and cream or bubble gum, or anything with peanut butter or chunks of candy bars.  Those flavors came along after my childhood.

And of course, we also had a hand-crank ice cream maker.  You know, the kind where you mix up the cream and sugar and eggs and vanilla, add some fresh strawberries and/or peaches, pour it into the freezer can, then plop it into the wooden bucket and ad crushed ice and rock salt, and then take turns cranking the old ice cream churn for an hour or so on a hot summer afternoon.   When it gets too hard to turn any longer, it's done enough to pull out the paddle.   Daddy would scrape off most of the ice cream, and someone would get to lick the paddle.   That ice cream didn't ever last very long!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

With Humble Heart

Help me remember, I implore,
Thou gav'st thy life on Calvary,
That I might live forevermore
And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.

(With Humble Heart, Text by Zara Sabin and Music by Thomas L Durham)

Sunday, the Sabbath, a day of Rest.  How grateful I am for a day of rest!  Aren't you?  Hopefully in your own busy, sometimes frantically so, lives, you are able to make room for a day of rest, not only for your physically body, but for your spirit.

Our family traditionally sets Sundays aside as a day for church attendance, rest, renewal of the spirit, and time for family.  The past several Sundays have been filled with conferences, which have been lovely and uplifting, but today it was good to return to our own local ward congregation, visit with our friends and neighbors, and hear their sweet testimonies and lessons.   It was also wonderful to once again partake of the ordinance of the Sacrament, where by partaking of the blessed bread and water we remember the atonement, sacrifice, and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and promise to remember Him always, and to keep his commandments.   There is no better way to renew the spirit than to partake of the Sacrament and to ponder what changes I need to make to be more like the Lord.

May you enjoy a blessed Sabbath.

With Humble Heart
  1. With humble heart, I bow my head
    And think of thee, O Savior, Lord.
    I take the water and the bread
    To show remembrance of thy word.
  2. Help me remember, I implore,
    Thou gav'st thy life on Calvary,
    That I might live forevermore
    And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee.
  3. To be like thee! I lift my eyes
    From earth below toward heav'n above,
    That I may learn from vaulted skies
    How I my worthiness can prove.
  4. As I walk daily here on earth,
    Give me thy Spirit as I seek
    A change of heart, another birth,
    And grow, dear Lord, to be like thee
    Music: Thomas L. Durham, b. 1950. (c) 1985 IRIText: Zara Sabin, 1892-1980. (c) 1985 IRI

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Hauling Hay with Horse Teams

Load of loose stacked hay on horse drawn wagon

One of the biggest jobs on a dairy farm is growing and hauling the hay that is needed to feed the cows during the long winter months.  It is a primary focus during the  summer months.  Our family farm is located in a mountain valley where the weather is cooler and the growing season shorter than most, so time is always of the essence.   School generally let out for the summer at the end of May.  June was spent getting the garden started and doing fence repairs and other preparatory work before the haying season began.   We had quite a bit of freedom to relax and play outside during June, and we usually managed to get away from home for a short vacation, but once July and August hit, harvesting the hay crop was the main focus.

When I was young, my  Dad and my Grandfather were still using horse teams for much of the farm work.   We had two sets of horses, Kit and Queen, and June and July.   Both teams were mother and daughter.   As I remember, Daddy would first mow the hay.  We did have a tractor, and bought another, larger one when I was older, and in most of my memories he did use the tractor for mowing.   The hay would dry in the fields for several days,  (and we always prayed it would not rain.  Rain meant days of delays, and if the hay was already cut and got rained on, it could spoil before it would dry sufficiently to be stored in the hay stack without molding and spoiling.) When the hay was sufficiently dry, Grandpa or one of my older siblings would rake the hay into long windrows with a horse drawn rake.

 Next Daddy or Grandpa would push the rows of hay into piles just the right size for the tractor, or the horses to carry by wooden forklift to the site of the haystack that was currently being built.  When I was young we stacked much of the hay loose in big haystacks out in the hay fields.   The tractor would push the pile of hay onto the forklift or into the net of a derrick which would then lift the load of hay up to the top of the haystack by means of a horse-drawn pulley.    Daddy would be at the top of the hay stack to distribute the hay evenly over the top of the stack with a pitch fork.  Yes, it was hot, strenuous, itchy work.  Long jeans and long sleeved shirts and leather gloves are necessary apparel for hauling hay.   We younger folk would have the chores of leading the horse that powered the derrick on each trip or using a pitchfork to gather up any hay that dropped off the load, set it to the side, and then add it to the next load of hay before it was lifted to the top of the pile.  The older siblings would be in charge of driving the tractor or using a horse for raking or pushing the hay into piles.

I wasn't too very old before Daddy bought a hay baling machine and the new tractor, and we switched from loose stacks of hay to building the stacks of baled hay.  This changed the work processes quite a bit.  There weren't very many jobs for a younger child with the hay bailing and hauling process.  One needed to be old enough to drive a tractor or strong enough to lift a hay bale from the field onto the wagon.  Somehow at this point I usually ended up inside helping my mother with the cooking or cleaning instead of outside helping with the haying.  As I grew older there were usually male cousins or young men from town who were hired to help out with hauling the hay.

Daddy pushing hay into the barn with the horses, long before I came along.

Friday, April 8, 2016


 Growing up living next door to grandparents is a wonderful thing.  Some of my earliest memories are of my grandparents.   Grandma was my most frequent babysitter, and I loved visiting at her house.  We would read stories, the classic little golden books.  She had coloring books and crayons, baby dolls and blocks and cars to play with.   The house always smelled wonderful, like sugar cookies and freshly starched and ironed clothes.   The cookie jar was always full, as was the big white candy tin where we could find lollipops and circus peanuts and other treats.  There was also a beautiful cut  glass candy dish in the living room filled with mints.

  Often times we would visit for Sunday Dinners of Roast Beef, Mashed Potatoes and gravy and vegetables from the garden, peas and carrots and parsnips with cake for dessert.  Grandpa always grew a beautiful, carefully weeded garden, and beautiful sweet pea flowers, and of course would be out working with Daddy and we children, milking cows, hauling hay, and caring for the animals.  And of course, all of the Aunts and Uncles and Cousins would make frequent trips to visit Grandma and Grandpa, so we would also be able to enjoy the visits and acitvities, sometimes weekly, especially during the summer time.

Sometimes we would sit next to Grandma and Grandpa during church on Sundays.   Grandma not only always had fun treats at home, but she could always produce a treat of animal crackers or Wriggley's Juicy Fruit gum from her purse.

My Paternal Grandparents wedding photo

My Paternal Grandparents in 1960's 

We didn't see my Maternal grandparents quite as often, since they lived a good two hour drive away from our house, but we did drive up to see them several times each year, and Grandpa would always drive to our house with a bushel or two or three of peaches from his orchard in late August or September, my favorite fruit that did not grow in our cooler mountain valley.   We were also the recipients of cherries from his orchard in July, both sweet and sour.   Both grandpa's were farmers, but my Mother's father was also an agriculture teacher and county extension agent.  He always expected us to do our best in school, and would ask us about our studies etc whenever we visited.  He typed a letter to my Mother every week that I can remember and would tell of his drives throughout the countryside and relate stories and memories from his life.

  My Mother's mother was often ill, but she was very beautiful and gracious.  We were allowed to play downstairs in the basement where there were fun treasures like two huge teddy bears that were bigger than we were.  I believe that these teddy bears eventually ended up at our house.  Grandma was also a wonderful cook, and often entertained and fed important visitors along with Grandpa.  I don't remember very many cookies, but I do remember being treated to twinkies and sometimes going out to eat or out for ice cream with my grandparents.   During their later years, Grandma and Grandpa invested in a winter home in the southern part of our state where the winters were much milder.  It was fun to visit them there too, and to see the different varieties of plants that Grandpa was able to cultivate there.  

What are your favorite memories of your grandparents?

My Maternal Grandmother as a young woman

My Maternal Grandfather as a young man

My Maternal Grandparents in the late 1960's or early 1970's.