Memory Lane

We had another little walk down memory lane last weekend as I met my siblings at mom and dad’s for our second annual sibling weekend.

Rain and cold kept us from many of the outside projects that we had planned – but we braved the north wind for one last visit to grandpa’s barn – which is scheduled to come down this weekend.

It’s listing even more than last year – if that’s even possible.

We rescued barn doors and gates and wrestled off century old siding to be passed out among children and grandchildren and great grand children to be used in projects and flower gardens.

All the while sharing memories of our times at Grandpa’s farm. Laughing about the time grandpa paid us to paint the barn – and we painted the snouts of his curious pigs as they came sniffing around the side. Grandpa was not impressed. Or happy. And we were asked to not do it again!

The cold, rainy weather also gave us time to dig through some heritage boxes in the afternoon, meeting ancestors, hearing family legends and uncovering treasures.

Like my Grandma’s diary – giving a rare glimpse of her daily life as a farmer’s wife and mother. Seeing her through new eyes and appreciating her all the more.

And my great, great Grandma Foltge Jurgena’s passport. She emigrated from Ostfriesland, Germany in the 1800’s with her husband and children.

We held in our hands a piece of history. Our history. And I wondered why they came? Was it hard to leave? How did they say good-bye to family? Pay for the trip? Start over in a new country with a new language?

But I’m so glad they did. Or I wouldn’t be here. Thank you Albert and Foltge.

We spent the evening as we did many times growing up – gathered around in the living room eating popcorn and watching family slides.

Remembering family trips and birthdays.

Laughing hysterically at our younger selves in all our awkward cuteness.

Reliving the joy and craziness of everyday life with five siblings, vivid imaginations, and an old farmstead for a playground.

 

Precious snapshots of days long gone.

Glimpses of who were and how we lived.

And of those who went before us – parents, grandparents and great great grandparents – who made it possible.

We are truly blessed.

 

 

The Story Quilt

I’ve been working on a very special quilting project this winter.

I call it the story quilt.

I didn’t piece the top together – I don’t know who did. My friend Amanda discovered it at a craft show.

But as soon as I saw it – I knew how special it was and I volunteered to quilt it for her.

This is a vintage quilt.

A scrap quilt.

A quilt that my grandma would have made.

A quilt that tells a story.

Each square is a bit of fabric that holds a memory for someone – carefully saved bits of cloth that when sewed together become a piece of personal history.

It’s a quilt that spans generations – a time capsule of style and fabrics.

Vintage cotton from the 1940’s.

Checked gingham from the 1950’s.

Fun prints from the 60’s.

Polyester from the 70’s.

And even a few calico pieces from the prairie looks of the 1980’s.

All sewn together – with no rhyme or reason.

A delicate dotted Swiss next to a sturdy denim next to fake wool next to a piece of a work shirt like my grandpa wore – so faded and paper thin that I worry my quilting stitches are the only things that hold it to the quilt.

Bright 1970’s colored print next to a mustard and brown stripe next a pink floral next to a juvenile cowboy print.

Every square vaguely familiar as if I’ve seen it before.

These patches of fabric aren’t from my life – but I can see them in it. Their colors and textures and designs are all woven through-out the times and places that I’ve been.

Memories come flooding back as I hand quilt each square.  This Raggedy Ann print reminds me of my curtains as a child. My sister has a skirt in a plaid similar to this one.  That piece of blue cotton looked so much like Grandma’s house dress that I cried.

This quilt is special – a work of art.

Not because of how it’s put together – the squares are uneven and the whole thing buckles and curves – but because of what it contains.

Hundreds of stories. Millions of connections. A patchwork of history.

People don’t make quilts like this any more.

Maybe we should.

Angel Girl’s Big Adventure

Angel Girl had a pretty epic adventure over Spring Break.

She saved her money and bought a plane ticket to Hawaii.

Yep, Hawaii. Land of sunshine, pineapples, palm trees and miles of breathtaking ocean views.

And…. her good friend Grace who is studying there.

The two girls wasted no time!

They toured the Dole Plantation.

Hiked up Diamond Head.

Spent time at Pearl Harbor.

Drank tons of coffee.

Good coffee.

Ate fancy foods in fun places.

And sent us drool-worthy pictures.

They spent hours at the beach.

Swimming.

Watching the surf.

Sitting in the sun.

Relaxing.

And taking artsy pictures with perfectly manicured nails.

Spending every second soaking up the sunshine and time together before they had to say goodbye.

Then she boarded the flight home – sun soaked and tired with sand and salt still in her hair.

Already planning the next trip.

Aloha.

Calf Races

It’s Teen Pact week for Buddy!

While he is at the Iowa State Capitol running for office, passing legislation, playing ultimate Frisbee and hanging out with friends – I’m doing his chores at home.

So of course – a cow gets out.

I spotted it eating grass in the ditch on Tuesday. My first response was to call Buddy – who would have grabbed his boots and coat and calmly taken care of the situation.

But then I remembered that he was gone.

So I called Angel Girl – who thankfully had the day off from work.

“Can we do this ourselves?” I asked.

Angel Girl took one look and said, “It’s just a calf – no problem – I got this.”

“Do you need my help?”

She shrugs, “You can come out if you want to.”

By the time I went to the bathroom (at my age you don’t run anywhere with a full bladder), found shoes and socks and a hoodie, she had calmly walked out and with a few waves of her arms had that calf were he belonged.

Seriously.

In yoga pants, flip flops and a t-shirt.

I was impressed.

Fast forward 24 hours.

I look out the kitchen window and see that same varmint calf in the ditch.

What? I thought the fence was fixed?

Buddy’s gone. Angel Girl’s at work. It’s just me. But if they can do this, honestly, how hard can it be?

I went to the bathroom as a precautionary measure, found shoes and socks and a hoodie and walked calmly down the road just like the kids.

But that calf took one look at me and started running. The opposite direction. Fast.

Seriously? Do I look that scary in the morning? Maybe I should have combed my hair?

We run back and forth along the fence line a few times before he bolted for the yard. Under the clothesline, past the house, and through the garden with me in hot pursuit.

He hooked a right just as we got to the gate, ran back to the yard and we did the whole thing again.

Twice.

As we rounded the corner past the house for the third time I called it quits.

Varmint calf won.

I walked in the house and called my husband.

I can’t tell you what I said, but it worked.

He drove home.

He calmly walked to the ditch where he found the varmint calf resting, obviously exhausted after our race.

Then he waved his hands.

And that varmint calf miraculously found the hole in the fence and jumped back in.

Boom. Just like that.

I give up.

I think I’ll stick to quilting.

A Super Soup Supper

It started with a random comment at a 4H meeting.

The swing set at the park in our small rural community was in sad state and the baby swing was broken.

“We should take it on as a 4H project!” they said.

Great idea! But we’re a very small club. We would need to raise some money.

The easiest fund-raiser for a club of six kids? A soup supper.

 

Excitement built as we set a date, planned a menu and and printed hand-outs.

The kids made posters and the leaders and the moms (all five of us) started baking, cutting veggies, and making soup.

The food started arriving early on the night of the supper.

And so did the community.

Lots of them.

On a raw March evening with the skies threatening snow, we packed the tables in our community hall.

Moms dished the soups, but our 4H kids were a part of everything else – keeping veggie plates filled, plating desserts, pouring drinks, busing tables, washing dishes.

And they were excited! You could see it in their eyes. This was big. Way bigger than we imagined.

Half way through we started adding to the soups to stretch them.

And still they came.

A cross section of community. Retired couples, young families, grandparents with grandchildren.

All there for the kids. For the park. For the future.

Some even brought desserts to add to our offerings.

The tables were never empty and our donation box was filling up.

When the last guest buttoned up and headed out in the cold and those now exhausted kids had helped clean up, we opened up the donation box and counted the money.

Their excitement was infectious as the pile of bills added up!

And up and up.

The total surpassing our expectations by many, many dollars.

This went way way beyond just a new baby swing and some fresh paint!

This could get memorial trees for our two 4H members killed in a car accident last summer!

This could get a handicapped swing!

The ideas were flying as we turned out the lights and headed home.

Exhausted but exhilarated.

Those six kids learned some very valuable lessons that night.

About having an idea and how to make it happen.

About working hard and serving others.

And about community and what can happen when we work together.

It was a pretty super soup supper!