Monday, September 23, 2013

Grandmother's Scrapbook

Scrapbooking is not the new thing everyone thinks that it is. My Grandmother and her sister were scrapbooking back in the early part of the century. They may not have had the fancy cutouts and embellishment that we have now, but they managed in their own way. I recently became the owner of both my Grandmother’s and my great aunt’s scrapbooks. I found it interesting that they saved and wrote about and memorialized the same things that we do. Both of them must have started theirs about the same time. And because there was no scrapbook albums back then, (there was barely any photo albums then) they used old school books. They covered the pages with notices from pages of the newspaper about their friends, current events and things like that. They drew their own embellishments on the pages in colored pencils and wrote about things going on in their lives. They talked about their friends and family and put small mementos from over the years. There were stories about boys and dating. Stories about things they did for fun. Stories about the not so fun things in life like losing friends and loved ones. I found one of the mementos stuck between the pages that I remembered Grandmother telling me about. One of the southern traditions is the cake pull. This is a Victorian tradition of either baking into or placing between the layers, charms attached to ribbons that are pulled from the cake at the wedding. The charms had meanings and each predicted the future of the person who pulled the ribbon. Charms were most often small silver rings, thimbles, hearts, and an anchor. The ring meant a wedding, thimbles meant sewing, hearts a new love and anchor meant adventure. My Grandmother attended wedding of a friend and was chosen to be one of the guest to pull a ribbon from the wedding cake. The ribbon was pink and at the end of hers was a small silver ring. Not too long after that she met my Grandfather. I’m not sure if I remember her showing me the ring and scrapbook or if she only told me the story while baking cakes. But I was excited to have the scrapbooks and to learn so much more about my grandmother and her sister and their young lives.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Oyster Can Delimma

I will never understand people who go to so much trouble to not do their job. All the time spent engineering how to get out of doing the work, when just getting it done would be faster and easier. What is the thought process that brings someone to this kind of decision? I guess that I don’t understand this because from an early age I was taught to do the jobs I was assigned to do. I was also taught that generally there are consequences for not doing the job you were asked to do. Because rarely do you get away with not getting job the done, eventually the truth comes out and then what do you do?

My Grandmother taught this valuable lesson by telling me one of her family parables. This one again involves my father as a little boy. As we discovered before Daddy liked to play and was always more interested in that than anything else. But as all kids growing up in the early 20th century he had chores around the house that needed to be done on a daily basis. And like most families during this time, they had chickens. Chickens were for food, for eggs for trading or eating and the droppings from chickens made excellent fertilizer.  As we also learned before, most of our ancestors, grandparents and great grandparents were green long before it was a politically correct thing to do. Wash water would be saved to water the garden and the detergent from the wash was a good fertilizer as well, scraps from the kitchen were kept outside in a box that would turn to compost for another type of fertilizer for the soil. The garden was vital and kept a family going through the summer with fresh vegetables and the winter with what you can or froze during the summer. Everything could have a 2nd life. So all things come back to making sure that all chores were done and done correctly and completely.  But little boys will be little boys and that’s one fact that has never changed. Grandmother would save the oyster shells from dinner and she would collect them from neighbors who didn’t have chickens and give them to the chickens. Oyster are good for the chickens, it provides grit for digestion and keeps the shells of the egg strong. She would collect the shells in a coffee can and every few days or so she would give the can of oyster shells to my father and he was to take them out and distribute them around to the chickens. A chore that would only take a few minutes at the most. But a procrastinating little boy decided that burying the can in the yard would be quicker and easier.  Really? Again I don’t understand the thought process but this is what he did. He buried the shells over buy the corner of the barn close to the chicken coop and went on with his play. Later Grandmother asked if he had competed his chore and his reply was of course yes.  A couple of days later, Grandmother’s brother brought her a rose bush and she decided to plant it in the back yard.  And you guess it right where he had buried the oyster shells. When Grandmother discovered the shells she asked him why he buried the shells instead of giving them to the chickens. His answer? I didn’t feel like doing it, it was more fun to dig in the dirt.

Moral of the story, you always get caught when the job isn’t done right or at all, Grandmother always said. You can’t hide poor work, it always finds you, it always catches up with you. Always do your job and do it to your best ability. Besides, it’s easier and a lot less trouble than devising ways of getting out of work.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Long Hot Summer

It’s been a long hot summer and I must apologize for my lack of communication. It was busy with good things and a few not so good.  We took a couple of small vacations, visited with family. We had a death in our extended family and one is very ill. And at my job, summer is our busiest time and keeps the brain on overdrive. And to be honest I hate summer. It drags me down makes me want to hibernate. Yeah, I know I’m backwards, nothing new about that. I just wanted to hide until cool weather comes back and I can breathe again. So basically I took a hiatus. Although fall is still a bit away, I can see turning leaves and cool mornings on my horizon. I am starting to get energized again.  Now it’s time to get busy and get back to the things I like to do. My blog is one of those things. I enjoy remembering and talking about my Grandmother and my childhood in her home. Which has just caused me to pause and have one of those” ah ha” moments.  I remember summers as a kid. I didn’t like the sun and heat even then, but I did like the fact that summer meant more days spent at Grandmother’s house. Summer was all about the garden and the garden was outside in the sun. But my Grandmother knew my problems with the sun so I got the jobs that were in the shade. She’d pick and I would snap beans or shell peas under the tree or on the back porch. And then we would go in and cook those wonderful offerings from the garden and make an amazing meal. As we made those meals, Grandmother would tell me stories about our family and the things that had happened with my Dad as a little boy or about her life growing up. Stories about family and where we came from. Stories that have taught me lessons, so I wouldn’t have to learn them the hard way and stories that later would remind me I should have listened instead of learning the hard way. I am looking forward to sharing these stories again with you and getting back into the swing of things. Here’s to the end of summer and the very much anticipated coming of fall.