Going, Going, Gone

The old house has finally come down.

How well I remember the first time I laid eyes on that old farmhouse!

We had seen the ad for the farmstead in the Sunday paper and had driven two hours with three kiddos under of the age of five to check it out.

We went around the curb, down a hill, up the other side and turned into the driveway.

No. Please no.

It was ugly, tired, saggy and wind blown after a century of sitting on the hill. A horrible 1960’s renovation had removed most of it’s former glory and the farm crisis in the 80’s left it vacant for awhile. Thankfully, it had indoor plumbing – although some of it was a garden hose. The only heat was a wood stove and the floor had a definite slant.

But my husband reminded me that while houses change – the land doesn’t.

And the land was beautiful! Rolling hills, ravines, a farm pond. Beautiful views in every direction! Just what we dreamed of!

We bought it, named it the hovel and moved in.

It sheltered us for more years than I care to remember while we worked on our dream house. Cold winters with frozen pipes. Hot summers canning in the kitchen with mud daubers buzzing around my head.

It was an exciting day when the new house was finished and we could finally move in!

The old farm house has sat empty now for several years.  Every year we said it would have to come down. But year after year other projects were more necessary and there just wasn’t time.

Until this year.

We started August 4th. Piece by piece it came down. Starting with the lathe and plaster.

Windows. Doors.

Then the roof and the second story.

Burning everything we could. What didn’t burn went in a dumpster.

The kids all pitched it. Peter even brought his Bible Study group down to help.

We paused in wonder at the workmanship of one section, and shook our heads in disbelief at the haphazard construction of a later addition.

Almost every day I had a different view.

It was going, going, and then gone.

We saved whatever wood we could and the limestone rock that made the foundation will soon line my flower beds. We had already used much of the trim in our new house.

All that’s left is a dent in the ground.

And the memories.

It was a huge job that we dreaded for years. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s done!

 

Fresh Gravel

DSC_0018There are a few realities that those of us who live beyond the pavement have to accept as a part of life.

Important things – like fresh gravel.

One might think that fresh gravel would be a good thing, after all it fills in holes and those nasty ruts that come after a heavy rain.

But the initiated know better. They slow down to almost Amish buggy speed on fresh gravel. They’ve learned the hard way that fresh gravel is slick.

It just lays on top of the existing surface like a pile of marbles on your living room floor. if you drive too fast it can send you flying where you don’t expect to go.

Like upside down in the ditch.

Just ask Angel Girl.

But that’s not all – they also know that fresh gravel is sharp.

Really sharp.

Like puncture a tire sharp.

As in four new tires in the last two months sharp.

So sharp we punctured a brand new tire within weeks of buying it. Weeks.

I jokingly said, “Those folks at the tire store must really love us after all the money we’ve spent there this spring!”

Then – a few days later – Angel Girl got a card in the mail. No return address but it had a local postmark. She opened it and held up a nice graduation card with a gift card inside.  She looked confused. “Who are these people?” she asked.

A quick look at the signatures made me laugh out loud.

The owners of the local tire store.

I knew they liked us!

 

 

Saturday Date Night

It was a Facebook post Saturday morning that started the adventure.

Some friends are building a home in northern Missouri and had discovered a little country church nearby. They were having a Sweetheart Dinner that night – would we like to come?

Lured by the thoughts of prime rib with all the fixings, followed by an evening of gospel music – it was an easy sell.

Jan and I drove the winding country roads of southern Iowa into the alphabetical maze of back roads the makes up northern Missouri as the sun was setting over beautiful snow covered fields.

It was so peaceful.

We found the church nestled in the hills surrounded by rolling pastures, just as it had been for the last 150 years.

This faithful congregation had been serving up a free prime rib meal and gospel music to the community every February for more than a decade.

They greeted us warmly – wayfaring strangers that we were. The conversation was lively. The company fun.

And the food! Oh my! The food was abundant, delicious, and homemade – a hunk of prime rib that covered half my plate, potatoes, salad, crescent rolls, green beans and bacon, and a table full of desserts.

Then the music began.

It was nothing professional – just some friends who played really well. A man on the banjo with his eighty something year old momma on the bass and his buddy on the guitar.

Joking. Laughing. Strumming. Singing.

It was comfortable – like being invited into someone’s living room for some music.

Gospel songs. Mountain melodies. Old Hymns.

The melodies rang out of the old church on the frosty February night.

And we were a part of it.

When the music ended – we reluctantly said our good-byes and started the 45 minute drive home, navigating those same winding roads under the light of  full moon.

The snow sparkled as we held hands, the music still ringing in our ears.

And my heart smiled.

Blackberry Picking

Just what would make my daughters don long sleeves, jeans and boots in the 100 degree heat and tropical humidity of an Iowa summer?

What would make them venture out on the four-wheeler through hay fields, over trails and into the ravines where ticks and poison ivy are rampant?

Blackberries

In one word – blackberries!

Luscious, sweet wild blackberries.

Last year we found the mother lode patch at the edge of the hay field and down into the ravine.

We’ve been anxiously watching them all summer long.

They are finally starting to ripen and Dagmar and Angel Girl have ventured out every other evening to pick until they get so hot their glasses steam over.

Fresh blackberry scones, blackberry pie, blackberries on ice cream, blackberries syrup on pancakes … <happy sigh>

Some things are just worth the extra effort!

Fishy, Fishy in the Brook…

Fishy, fishy in the brook, Buddy caught them with a hook….

There’s the little guy with his big catch! (Papa Jim actually caught some of them – and he did all the cleaning!)

Buddy fried them in the pan…Well…actually Buddy set the table and mashed the potatoes and cooked the green beans while Mom did most of the frying!

But Buddy did do some – he especially enjoyed dipping them in the flour and putting them in the pan.

Then Buddy shared them like a man!

It was a feast of fish thanks to Buddy and Papa! Now that’s one proud country kid!