Trains in the distance

train_plum_blossomsAs a small child I spent time with my Grandmother Schumacher in the summer.  Nights I slept on the couch, next to her dining room window, and listened to the train  whistle blowing as the train headed through Marengo.  I dreamed of  where the train could take me, the mystery of adventures I would enjoy.

Now what seems like a century later, near our house, across the road and past the swamp is a railroad track.  The sound comes through our open windows in the summer evening,; drifts across on the cold air, like wisps of ghostly sighs, in the winter.  The glory of it’s song wakes me in the evening, and I lay awake wondering where it is heading, who else is hearing its music.

During the day, I can see the train passing, cars heaped with coal, tankers with oil, corn syrup, flat cars holding massive equipment, and trailer cars with names like Evergreen, Pacific, Burlington,Hanji.  The train for all of it’s fundamental use is a magical mystery for me.  Graffiti adorns the sides of it’s cars, art from place and people unknown.

At times, the train stops on the tracks across the road, across that swamp, and its brakes chime a large sweet chime.  The first time I heard this, I thought perhaps fairy had broken through the veil, bringing song.

I am happy trains exist, transporting life.

 

 

 

Birthing Maggie

This morning I woke dreaming of a letter I was writing to Maggie, My oldest daughter, telling her about the day she was born.

So…

Dear Maggie;

I am sure you do not remember the day you were born, except perhaps in a deep spiritual way.  But now, after you yourself have had two children, you do know the feelings that surround a new mother.  Glory, happiness, fear, relief, exhaustion.170463_10150998581569870_1412500758_o  maggie and michael

I had all of those with you and with Sarah.

With you, I decided to have a natural birth, at home, with a physicians assistant in attendance.  I woke the first morning with cramps, not sure if I was indeed in labor.  The cramps increased, and we called our PA to come.

I was a queen with attendees for a while, your aunt Laura, came, her husband Mike came, My friend Bev Gardner came.  Everyone was there for the party, Sitting around my bed, talking with me, holding my hand and helping me breathe during the contractions.  It was a time!  And the time drug out, and drug out.  In retrospect, I should have been up walking around, not laying on bed, although the night before I did scrub all the floors of our apartment on my hands and knees, cleaned the counters, washed the stove, refrigerator, did laundry, put fresh sheets on my bed, dusted.  I nested.  So that day, I had little to do other than lay in my bed and hold court.  Which became a little boring.  For everyone.  But the contractions continued.  It became late. people went home, the PA napped in the spare room.  Your father, Jef, was down in the living room with a few of his cronies, having a party.  I was getting a bit cranky,  I had images of my nice clean home being partied animaled, and was not well pleased.    I rested through the night, quiet, with my contractions, and communing with you.  Waiting for you.23612_1154317597445_1812849527_296478_2334656_n

The next day, the contractions continued but did not increase.  The PA went home, said to call him.  Then something happened.  HOO BOY!  The contractions continued big!  The PA was nowhere to be found, so we decided to drive to the hospital for your birth.  Over railroads tracks, bumpy roads, snow falling,  I did not know I had such a large capacity for enduring pain!!!

I smile when I write this, because it is true that the pain memory goes away, and a mother is left with the glorious glow of warmth and love of having a small child in her arms.

So, you were born in a hospital after all,  and very quickly after I arrived.  Your were beautiful, perfect, lovely.  I loved you so.

We were in the hospital for two days, a very crowded ward, with women having babies, and in beds in the hall.  Everyone had a baby that week.  Friends came to visit, I cuddled you, loved you.

The day we went home was glorious, your bed was a small basket in our room.  I slept near you, with you, and when I was not in the room I tiptoed upstairs on a regular schedule to check you, listen to your soft breaths, feel the rise and fall of your chest, and nuzzle your downy head.  I was in love.

That my dear is how you were born.  I love you always,scan

Mom

May your season be blessed

 

pagan-christmasMay your spirit be joyful, your hearts full of love, your families and friends warm and safe.

May the spirit of God help heal our world with abundance and health on this Christmas day.  Amen

Re-Define Neccesity

I am thankful.  I have more than I need.  I have more than enough.  My home is filled with stuff, my cupboards with food, my car with gas.  I have love, I have family, warmth, friends, joy.

I have employment, enough to live, not enough to immerse myself in conspicuous consumption. 

During my youth I embraced minimal living, reveled in it.  As I grew, I forgot the beauty of less, fell more and more into the trap of gain for the sake of having.

At this stage of my life, I am returning to the basics of life.  And I delight in this.  I am remembering gardening, canning, raising chickens, and glory in the prospects of the fantastic freedom of recreating my life in a simple, less hectic fashion.

 For Thanksgiving, redefine your necessity.  Give thanks.

Memories

Today, I sit at my laptop, logged into by remote to my office computer, my i-phone and kindle charging on my desk.

Life was so different while we were growing up.

We had a party line for our phone, when we had a phone; party lines are a great way to keep up on the neighborhood doings.   I remember many lovely conversations, overheard as a child.  My hand covered the mouthpiece, muting my giggles.  Children, (and nosy neighbors) learned how to quietly pick up the phone, and quietly replace the receiver in its cradle.   If I did not know what time it was, I would simply pick up the phone, dial O and ask the nice operator.

I remember a old gray washtub, that  Mom would bring  into the kitchen and fill with hot water for our baths. a privacy blanket over the door, (as the youngest, I was able to bathe first) and going out to the milk house in the cold of a winter night to stand under the cold hose there for a shower, with  a little blue kerosene heater to keep us warm, or in the summer, a hose thrown over the clothesline, and showering with our swim suits on.

Mom worked hard to keep our home comfortable.   Aluminum foil placed over the windows on sunny summer days to reflect the hot sun away, and the bowls of ice  placed in front of the fans for our air conditioning.  In the winter Mom would fill mason jars with hot water,  wrap them in towels, then we would place them at our feet in bed at night to warm us into sleep.

Flashing back to a time I can only imagine, Mom, 16. just a child herself, newly married, and spending her first wedded year living with a mother in law who scared the beejeez out of her, and then, when dad came home from the service, moving out to a lonely farm in the back 40 acres of Iowa.  No running water, no indoor utilities, only a wood stove for heat, pregnant, and working the farm.  Mom persevered, as she always did.

She spent her years out there, working hard, bearing children, bringing more children home to us, and raising us all in a tumble up fashion.

In the summers she raised a garden, canned, worked the fields, put up hay, picked corn, had babies (well she had us in the summer, fall winter, and spring really)

Remember, she was still a child herself through much of this; she raised herself while raising us, and she lived, she persevered…

Flashing to another memories, this one I own.  Sitting outside of a church under a shady tree, our bible school teacher is telling us about Jesus, showing us a picture of him, tiny, standing atop a green leaf, explaining that he is everywhere, even in a blade of grass.

I have had this view of God and Heaven since that time, everywhere all at once, in us, outside of us.

And that is the vision I have of our Mother, everywhere, inside of us, our hearts, and outside of us as well, a bigger view: Mother as part of Heaven, as part of the universe, on a greater adventure than even her life here, Mother now with Linda, her sisters and brother, her Mother, her soul spirit, all together,

Mom is planning her garden now, carnations, lilies, gladioli, and tomatoes.  I am pretty sure a fluffy white kitten has found her way to that garden spot, and sits on Mom’s lap, while she herself sits under a tree, in a comfortable wooden rocker, at her ease, in her glory.  Still living, still persevering.

Celebration of Life

Our Mother has passed, we will mourn her absence, but mostly, we will celebrate her life.  Our Mother lived strong, wild, ferocious, bodacious.  She lived with faith, and joy, and strength.

She left us much, her joy of flowers, her affinity for sunshine, fresh air, natural living.  We will, all of her eight children, numerous grand children and even more countless great grandchildren remember her daily.

Countless gestures; we find our hand placed over our forehead, shading our eyes with exasperation.  hear ourselves with small phrases, “For goodness sakes.”  “Good Grief”.  sound like her, we hear her with our own words.

We enjoy chickens, well, some of us.  Fresh eggs, apples, bananas.  I never could get the hang of Rocky Mountain Oysters and frog legs but I think some of us have.

We have countless house plants, knick knacks, and candles scattered about our homes.  Just like our mother.

We have a a stubborn determination to live and survive, our Mother taught that to us as well.  She lived greatly.

We will miss her, and we will celebrate her always.

Memories of our Mother

Mom lay quietly in her bed these days, her last stroke destroyed half of her brain, her ability to move on her own, and her ability to communicate with more than a few one syllable words. She is waiting.

When I visit her I  sorrow.  Her tiny body is weak, her face still beautiful.  Half of her body does not move.  But her eyes…her eyes sometimes still burn with that flame of life that has carried her through so much.  At those times I feel a surge of hope, unwarranted hope, that perhaps she will pull back from this determination of death.

Each time I visit, she looks at me, and her eyes are tender, telling me so much with a look or a small smile.  As I sit and talk, she watches, nods, responds for a bit.

Sunday we talked of the past, growing up on her farm.

Our Mom had chickens, many chickens that lived in a good-sized chicken house,  surrounded by a tall dog – proof fence that was partly roofed by the large branches of overgrown apple trees.  Watching them was a wonder, they scratched about the dirt, heads bobbing, sometimes pecking at each other, other times mindlessly flapping their wings, chasing one another about the yard.  Autumn days, the apples hanging above their yard dropped down, some would ferment before the chickens devoured them, and then, I swear, the little creatures would eat the fermented apples, and chatter drunkenly about.

In the spring time Mom bought baby chicks, and nestled them in our basement, in a wire enclosure, with straw spread over the concrete floor.  Above she hung a warm light to keep them warm.  We could hear soft chirps and scratching coming up the stairs.  I was forbidden to touch them, but of course I did, cuddling their tiny bodies close to my face, smelling the freshness of their new beginning

At times it was my job to gather the eggs.   The chicken house was magical to me.  I entered it and the warm earthy smells of life rushed to greet me.  Hens laying in their boxes would let out soft, sleepy sounds. Reaching under them, my hands enjoyed the  cozy feathers of the creatures, and quietly as I could I pulled out warm eggs for the basket.

Always since, when I have been able, I have had chickens, and enjoyed again the beauty of new eggs, and mother hens.  One more of many parts of me left to me by our Mother,

Leaving home was the only thought in my mind when I turned 17, but now, nearing 60, I have learned that home has never left me.

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