Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spinning round and round

I was 10 in 1968. What started like any other spring morning turned into a crazy day. I loved spring. My father had gotten 200 baby chicks. I so loved to spend time watching them. We kept them in a brooder house that was just a small 12 ft. by 12 ft building. The chicks arrived through the mail and we started them out in a cardboard circle in the center of the room. They had a heat lamp they kept them warm in the cool spring. I would dig small worms and put them in their pen. I would tap the floor and the chick would think I was their mother and come running. they would grab the worm and go running. Before they had gotten far another chick would grab it away from the runner and take off in a different direction. they would spin and run through the crowd. It was a real bonus when two chick would grab opposite ends of a worm and play tug of war. I could spend a hour watching chicken football. Earlier that spring a farmer has two new born lambs that the mother would not take care of. He offered them to my dad and of course I thought it was Christmas. We got to bottle feed the little guys and I named them Mike and Mary Ann. I milked a cow twice a day which I didn't mind. We got about a gallon of milk twice a day and we used the milk for our family use. Mom often made cottage cheese and at times butter. Most was just used for cooking. It was my responsibility to care for the cow and I enjoyed having another pet.

So that spring day I got off the bus, quickly changed into my play clothes left my shoes next to my bed and headed out to the farm yard bare footed. I got to the barn and hallared for the cow. Sick cow I would yell at the top of my lungs. It didn't mean the cow was sick. It was just what we yelled. It was long before the cow came from the pasture. Usually after a yell or two she would answer me with a bawl. I let her in the barn and she walk to her stantion and put her head in the stall. I grabbed a scoop and grain for her and threw in down. Then grabbed my T shaped stool that was made out of 2 X 4's and got to milking. That spring the cow had given birth a large black calf and I milked what milk I need then let the calf have it's share. I have to muscle the calf back into it pen and then let the cow out.

Mike and Mary Ann had gotten big enough to that they were exciled from the house. Their new home was in the temporaily abandoned hog shed. As I ran across the hog lot. The lamb heard me and baaaa 'd I gave them some of my milk mixed with grain and headed for the house. The rest of the milk by put though a strainer and then put in the fridge. I headed out to the brooder house checked on the chicks then headed for the house. I didn't really think must of the calm that had come over the farm until a few days later. When I got in the house a storm was coming up which wasn't unheard of in the spring. This storm was nasty. My sister had us sit in the middle of the living room in a circle. My mother was out wall papering for a neighbor a few miles away. My father wasn't home either. He hadn't returned form town yet. As we sat in the circle the house shook. I screamed and ran for the basement. My sibling followed me. The basement was an unfinshed dug out basement. our world now was two small windows that turned green. I screamed with fear and my sisters comforted me. When it was over we younger kids were told to stay in the basement as they check out the farm. My 16 year old brother Dale who was an awful kidder told me that Mike and Mary Ann were up a tree. I screamed again. but they were fine. The brooder house was moved several feet and my brother s brought wet little chicks to the basement to dry off. Only about a third of them survived but I spent the night trying to do what I could. Those chickens grew up to be the tamest chicken we had ever had. I had a couple that would sit on my shoulder. I think they were grateful for our efforts. We did finally get out of the basement. The living room windows were blown out. Our farm actually faired well. We didn't go back to school that spring and we had church in the highschool until the church could be repaired. We spent the summer getting paid to pick up twisted metal and other objects out of fields. That to me just seemed like another adventure.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

bleeding hearts

Have you ever had a dream that was so clear that you had to think to be sure it didn't happen? Being the 7th son or the 7th son I was always told I could fortell the future, right? I don't believe that but every so often something happens and I freak myself out. A few months back I dreamed that my niece was going to have a baby boy, and she is. When my boys were growing up I would have mini panick attacks and when I'd find them they would have a cut or scrape or whatever. So just wierd little things.

The other night, I thought I woke up but it was a dream. I woke up to the smell of spring flowers. You know the smell when early in the morning and the dew is still on the ground. It was a light smell that had tough or bark or wood chip smell. I hadn't opened my eyes but was just breathing in the fresh smell. I climbed out of bed, went to the kitchen and grabbed a cup of tea, and went out to sit on my front step and enjoy the fresh morning breeze.

It was very peaceful and quiet. The sun was just coming up and was sending out rays of sunshine. It was kind of a woodland feeling but I was right here in Clinton, Illinois. Everything looked green... like super green ...... like the green before a storm. When my eyes focused I realized that the plants around me were bleeding hearts. Their red flower shaped like a heart split at the bottom to expose a white tear drop. To me they have always been a reminder of the tears I shed as I remember those we have lost. In my flower garden I have bleeding hearts they bloom all summer long. In this dream they were everywhere. The wonder I felt at their beauty was replaced by sorrow as I realized that each one was a symbol of a lost love one.

I walked through the flowers and took time to think of each one of my friends or family that had crossed over. All too soon. Then I thought for a moment of my own mortality. Just as I felt the panic of the moment, a wave a peace came over me. I felt the presense of my people. Then as if I was in some old movie of a christmas carol, I looked down on an unmarked grave. Where the headstone should have been I saw a small plant breaking through the earth. It was the beginning of a bleeding heart.

I woke and began checking myself to see if any part of what seemed to be happening had happened. I stretched as I walked through the house and grabbed a cup of tea I walked at side and it was freezing. There was no plant life at all. There was still snow on the ground. I went back in the house and made my breakfast.

The reason I thought this was worth writing down is my wish. When I die I don't want flowers. I don't want a casket only a pine box. I don't want a mass. Only a opportunity for my friends to confort each other. What I would like is for each person who felt I made a difference in their life to plant a bleeding heart somewhere as a reminder that even though the tears may fall, life will go on.

It will be totally freaky if I die on a cool spring morning. I guess it would be freaky no matter when I die......... I mean from my end of the experience.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Just Another

My new great nephew is named Justin Other Droke Jr. after his father Justin Other Droke. Just another Droke ......good gravy..... I started thinking about this and thought I bet when I started school they thought just another Karr. I was the 14th child. Little did they know I was like no other.

One day when a neighbor visited our home the elderly woman looked over my sisters admiring their beauty. She said "Rozanne you have such beautiful daughters and they all look alike, except this one, pointing to Peggy, she doesn't look like them at all. Apparantely she wasn't just another Karr girl. The other girls where brown haired, Peggy was a blond. Peggy took this to mean that she wasn't beautiful and that she didn't belong to the family. She was convinced that mom had adopted her. She asked me and I told her she was a loon. I asked mom after she cried and Mom said "Peggy do you really think I would adopt my 13th child?" Peggy didn't take this as an answer. She pointed out that mom takes in strays off the street all the time. We did from time to time have people stay with us. Since I was just younger than Peggy I couldn't attest to anything about her birth. The older girls teased her and she became convinced she was left on the doorway.

I was born early and grew slowly. It never stopped me from talking. My older sisters took advantage of my small size and pushed me around in a buggy. Of course I was moving, so I was happy. They would dress me in their doll clothes. I'm sure I was adorable. When they would get bored with me, I climb out and go visit the animals. I remember one cow who must have thought I was a calf 'cause she would lick my hair. It didn't take much to amuse me. I would spend hours digging in the chicken yard with one of my mother's spoons. The chicken pick the ground clean of vegatation so great place to make roadways . My sisters also loved to teach me things they had learned in school. Then they would stand me on an old stump and I would give shows. The shows consisted of me reciting a poem or stomping out the answer to a math problem. Nothing that a trained monkey couldn't do. Cookaberra sitting in the old gum tree, merry merry king of the bushes hee. laugh cookaberra laugh how gay your life must be. I can remember all the words 47 years later.

i was always anxious to see what there was to see. One time I followed the ducks down the creek to pasture a couple miles from home. I was sure I was columbus discovering new land. i must have been missed 'cause mom found me and took me back home. She told me that I was to stay on the 40 acres. so I would walk the parimeter of the farm. and scare up rabbits from the multi-flora roses that filled the fence around the farm. My dog cootsy was usually at my side. I just laughed at myself. The dog was everyone's dog. She was a beagle and they had named her cutey but I couldn't say it so her name became cootsy. a quarter mile from the house I wouldn't ask mom to kiss my wounds. Just a good licking from cootsy and I was good to go.

on our few outings I was more than happy to talk to strangers. Not only talk I would dance, sing, and recite my abc s. If they would take me home with them I was more than happy for the adventure.

My grandmother had lost her husdband when I was 3 and she often would come and get me for company. She cheated and cards, smoked too much. Actually she usually lit a cigarette then left the room to do something else. I got good at putting the out without damaging the cigarette. She had a tv but I never saw it on. She had a piano but I don't ever remembering anyone ever playing it. The breezeway was my kingdom. I had 2x4 blocks that I could build anything my imagination allowed. It is funny what you remember. Grandma was a wide as she was tall. She wasn't very tall. She would chew on cooked fat that would cut from meat. she made tea but it wasn't wonderful. If I remembered I would bring a quart jar of cream from the farm so I could put that in the tea. but when I was with grandma it was wonderful 'cause I wasn't just another Karr. I was her favorite for the day.

We assume that children today know so much outside their small world they experience first hand. We think well they have have TVs, Internet, Movies, but all too often when we ask children to connect a book or article to their own experiences they have a hard time making that connection.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My Baby is 26

Married less than one year and our first child was on the way. I did a happy dance every day. Cathy was terribly sick the entire pregnancy. She took motion sick medicine just to function.
We had taken Lamaze classes before Josh was born. The weekly trip to the hospital with pillow in hand. We called them the pillow people. One of the things they said was that a lot of new parents rush into the hospital after the news goes off and the contractions start. They cautioned that if we waited til after midnight we wouldn't have to pay for two days. I was at a meeting at The Baby Fold. We had one every Monday night. When your mother called. I got excited and ran right into the door Jam. I about knocked myself out. Everyone laughed at me lying on the floor and helped me up and I was rushing home. Cathy was feeling "funny". She didn't think they were contractions but and after a couple we started timing them. We didn't wait until midnight. The classes said you were suppose to pack cookies for the husband, in case the delivery went long, (Cathy had them frozen in a zip lock in the freezer) and suckers for the woman. Once labor started they would let the expectant mother eat but sometimes they would allow suckers. So off we go in our little compact car through the streets of Normal, Illinois. I had to stop at Krogers for the suckers. I had the clasical music (my smart son was gonna be born to it) I had the instant camera (Poloroid instant brand new, we wouldn't have to wait to delevope them just shake. Cathy got it with coupons of some kind) We had new born clothes and packed clothes. You were a month early so it was a good thing Cathy was a great planner. So I leave Cathy in the car as I run into Krogers. I yelled at the cashier. Where are your suckers. She said "what" I said suckers you know you lick them. I said "my wife is having a baby in the car and I need suckers. She said "your wife is having a baby" I said yes. I started running up and down looking for them. There they were hanging on an end cap. They had the ones that are all strung together with plastic. I grabbed a bunch and thew them on the counter. The manager said "are you alright" I said sure sure, here is the money. and I ran. When we got the hospital I stopped at the emergency door. Cathy was so patient. I ran around and got her out. Then I couldn't decide if I should walk her in or park the car. I leaned her on a pole and away I went to park the car. Jumped over a curb and down so grassy area and was back in a flash. We were all pre-admitted. Thanks to Cathy so that part was easy but I was still spinning. music, camera, cookies, clothes, I was so excited I couldn't breath. We got one of the new room with the birthing chair which was wonderful. You came without complication at 2:28 a.m. I had the classical music playing. I had the camera ready. It was wonderful. I waited until they cleaned Josh up for the first picture. When I clicked the Poloroid Camera all 10 pictures/flashes went off at once. flash flash flash flash flash. I got one of Josh and 9 of the room as I was trying to figure it out. The second roll I took all 10 of Josh and they also all fired at once. I was prepared with 5 packs so I got 10 pictures of each of 5 poses and I'm sure Josh was blind for days. When we called you grandmas neither could believe that we didn't call them when we went in. But both were happy. I called everyone I knew at 3 a.m. to tell them about my new arrival. When we took Josh home I demanded that he be put in a car seat. The nurse said no honey he is too small, let the mother hold him. I got my way. He was strapped down safely. My how times have changed. We had to make a law to make people be safe.

Friday, January 9, 2009

oh ya gotta love plumbing

This is under my house the pipes for the bathtub sink and toilet.  It also is for the toilet and sinks in the upstairs.    Since I took out the floor of the bathroom that was an inch and a half thick.   And the floor I'm putting down is only 3/4 of an inch the pipe for the toilet is too high.   Also these pipes are not vented  so when the bathrub drains you hear it in the sink.   not a major problem but it does slow down the drains slightly.      Well I'm no plumber but I did fix this when it cracked at the bottom with a rubber boot.     So before I finish the bathroom I have to figure out this quandry.   

Gotta love a challenge.