Archive for the ‘Family History’ Category

Why I Write


This was one of the prompts at our last Summer Writers’ Group, and it was a great one! Easy to write, and fun to listen to everyone else’s answers. Do you write? Why?

I write to make people laugh, and to help myself cry.

I write to educate, elucidate, enumerate and illuminate.

I write because in seventh grade, Mr. Durbin told me to never stop doing so.

Sometimes I write to reason things out for myself and others.

I’ve written a few moral inventories to save myself from myself.

Lately I’ve been writing to advertise, trying to build a dream and share it with the world.

When I was a child and young adult I wrote because I knew my brain would forget the important, terrible truths of life. Even at 5 I knew the inexorable nature of denial. It took many years to see denial differently; a tool the mind uses to protect itself.

Sometimes now I write for posterity–hoping future generations will be a fraction as grateful as I am toward previous generations efforts, to capture the present for the future’s past.

Dancing in Graveyards


I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.

I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.

When we got older,  Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)

As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.

This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.

Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 017 Saying Goodbye--Harley and Katherine 023

This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town.  And though they are not human, the loss of  Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn  has been hard, too.

If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:

Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards  is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please,  please, please watch the video!!  “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”

Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.

It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop.  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.

This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving. 

So back to my Fairy Cemetery…  A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,

fairy cemetery, fairy garden, grieving, loss, venus fly trap, terrarium, halloween

fairy cemetery, terrarium, venus fly trap, pajari girls, halloween, graveyard

As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.

Loveyabye.

A Few Memories for Lois (Another Update)


Years ago, my sister began storing some of her personal belongings in the basement of the Dollar Barn, thinking they would be safer in waterproof tubs in a brick building than in a 100 year-old farmhouse…photo albums and all her Christmas decorations were what she cried for the most after the fire.

Before the official clean-up began, Lois, Steve and Jill poked through the rubble and managed to find something for almost every tenant–Randy’s grandpa’s gun, Deb’s mom’s silverware, John’s wallet, Jo’s necklace, Harley’s favorite clothes, Wade’s computer, and Justin’s letterman’s jacket were among the items found.

After three months under the summer sun and 7 feet of black, sludgy water, a few of my sister’s things were recovered.

The Water

The Workout Room

Lois' Stuff

Fire, Dollar Barn, Pajari Girls, Coca Cola, Christmas

The barn from her Coca Cola Christmas village.

Fire, Candle

And a candle. A candle!!

Family Photo

Great Grandparents’ photo album.

Mad Bird

Mad Bird 2

And the pictures of Mad Bird!! She had him 27 years, from our friend Rich W,. who passed away recently.

It’s not much, but it’s something. Now SHE can decide what to keep and what to throw away.

Another Treasure


I first found this old jar full of rose petals several years ago, while cleaning out my grandparents’ basement. I vaguely remember placing it on the shelf between the two giant sets of doors that Grampa Ralph drove his school bus through.

A few months ago, I stumbled across it again. Mr. Wonderful and I tackled the basement last fall, and somehow, this didn’t get thrown away, even though the glass jar had at some point fallen from the shelf and broken. The light from the naked bulb in the 10-foot ceiling was just enough to make out  a handwritten note in pencil taped to the jar.

rose, petals, mother's day, family history

I brought the jar up the steep steps (hand-hewn by Grampa Ralph I assume), to the sunny living room corner windows.

family history

The note reads: “Petals from the boquet of Red Roses Ralph gave me one Mother’s Day. M.P.”

Ever thrifty, the note was written on a piece of scratch paper.

Bus, school bus, jack couper

bus

lilacs, family history

Grampa Ralph and Gramma Marge Peterson, and some gorgeous lilacs.

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy Grampa Ralph (More Treasures)

Two Adventures in One Day!


Yesterday, I had two adventures at The Farm. On the first adventure, I took along a basket to collect pine cones for a craft idea and ended up walking down memory lane.

If you are new to the blog, you may not know that my sister and I live next door to each other; she and her husband and creatures live on the land (and in the house!) our great-grandparents homesteaded in 1900; and I in the house our Grampa Ralph built next door. When we were little, our grandpa’s brother, Uncle Uno lived in the Farm house, and we spent hours between both places while our parents worked. Every day, grandpa would go next door to visit his brother, who was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Several days a week for the last 11 years, I have gone next door to let assorted dogs out (or in, or whatever their little hearts desire). Our family has watched this land and the humans (& creatures) that live here grow, reproduce, mature, die, and begin again for nearly 113 years, and the land has watched us right back.

Come for a walk with me. I’m sorry the captions are in white….I can’t change that 😦

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grampa Ralph (More Treasures)


A couple of weeks ago, my boyfriend Paul and I traveled to North Dakota for the funeral of his grandpa. I never got to meet him, but I enjoyed hearing all the family memories and seeing pictures of his life (and his beautiful guitar). It got me thinking about my own grandparents, who are all gone now.

I suppose every family has secrets, and drama, and feuds. But today, I want to share some good memories of my maternal grandfather, Ralph Peterson.

Good things I remember:

  1. He was 6’4″. To this day, when I have to calculate the size of something I picture how many Grampas end-to-end. (60 feet=10 Grampas.)
  2. He drove a school bus. Nearly everyone in Cook rode this bus. He  parked it in the basement of the house he built–the house I’ve raised my kids in, too. Everybody who goes to the Cook end of Lake Vermilion has seen this house. It’s kind of a landmark. We used to sit on the stone steps and wave to the tourists.
  3. He had one lung (tuberculosis took one), and one kidney (cancer, I think).
  4. He built wagons for Lois and I. (He and Gramma Marge cared for us while our parents worked.) These wagons had brakes and steering, and went like hell down the gravel pit banks.
  5. At his house, there was a  plastic school bus toy, a life-sized doll with red hair, and four million National Geographic magazines.
  6. He let me have Hamburger Soup (Campbell’s Sirloin Burger) anytime I wanted, and gave me all his little hamburgers.
  7. He drove his green Ford pickup SLOWLY because it took less gas, (he remembered rationing well) and had a whisk broom in it to sweep out the sand.
  8. He smiled a LOT.
  9. He liked to grow things. My garden is now in the same spot, and the apple and plum trees, asparagus, and chives feed our family to this day. Many of his perennial flowers are still here, too: tiger lilies, campanula glomerata, rugosa roses, and lilacs.
  10. His brother Uno lived next door in their parents’ original homestead (The Funny Farm), where my sister lives now). Uno was housebound with severe Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Grampa maintained that place, too. We’d visit Uncle Uno several times a day, driving through the gravel pit that’s between the homes. We got to ride in the back of the truck sometimes, since we weren’t going on the highway. Sometimes we walked the deer trails through the woods to get there also. My kids have run those trails too, and I love the continuity that comes with living here.

This is a WordPress Gallery of my favorite pictures of Grampa Ralph. Clicking on any picture will start a slide show, but I recommend starting at the beginning. Here’s another gallery of green things I found while we were hunting on Sunday.

I’d love to hear your stories about my Grampa or yours… Like, share, or comment if you enjoyed this. Pleeeease?

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