Grit Blogs >

Fine Fettle and More

In Honor of Mom

CEMy mom passed away yesterday at the age of 80.

Throughout her lifetime she celebrated countless ‘rites of passage’ in her life.

For me this is one of those ‘rites of passage’ that is not celebrated, just like when Dad passed away in 2010.


Mom and Dad 

My parents were divorced when my siblings and I were very young and in an age when divorce was not acceptable. Our years growing up were difficult in many ways, so much of it related to the turmoil caused by the breakup of my parents’ marriage.

As children should, I loved, and still love and miss, my parents dearly. There were times, however, when I was not close to them.

Then my husband and I married.

And the grandkids came along.

Sister and little Brother

And we started farming.

Family gatherings were initiated, and my parents even put aside their issues and joined their children and grandchildren on our farm. Not just for holidays either.

CatfishingOne of my favorite memories happened sometime in a seven-year period when we rented an old farm. There was a large stock pond with a wonderful variety of bluegill, catfish and bass. My dad would come out to visit, and he and my husband and the kids would fish. Here’s a photo of Dad and my husband after a successful fishing expedition. Dad had to shoot it so they could land it. That cat fed us for several meals. (In truth, every fishing expedition was successful thanks to the bounty in the pond.)

My mom started dealing with health issues when my kids were young. So my hubby and I helped her in ways we could. For several years she was ‘house mother’ to girls in a dorm on a local college campus. I’d found the ad for the job, and she was a natural. That was one of her favorite times in life. Then when she needed a little more help, we found the perfect little home for her (close to us) and moved her. When we took the plunge and bought our own farm, we moved Mom to a prime spot on our farm. She always loved being close to the grandkids.

Mom and grand-daughter

My husband and I have enjoyed watching our kids grow into marvelous adults.

Our daughter is artistic and a talented cook like her grandmother.

Our son is military and gregarious like his father and grandfather.

And my favorite ‘rite of passage’ to date is that we now have precious grandchildren.

I’m so grateful for the years we all had with my parents. While my family was splintered as I grew up, ‘family’ became the most important virtue in all of our lives, as adults, because my parents were willing to make a better future for their grandkids.

(Just a sidenote – my husband’s side of the family was large and so we fit in easily.)

In the past two years as I’ve watched my mother’s health and strength falter, I ‘remembered’ with her – lots of times and events from the past – so she would know how much I treasured our memories. Even though we had this time to prepare for the day we’d have to say goodbye, I wasn’t prepared. I will never be prepared.


CEA distinct phrase in a movie included “... a mysterious and compelling issue ... parenthood.” The “mom” in Spy Kids 2 said this. The topic of important missions was part of the storyline. So, I think the phrase should be restated as ... a mysterious and compelling mission ... parenthood.

(If you have not had the opportunity to see the Spy Kid movies, don’t hesitate any longer! They’re fun and fast-paced and remind us how much fun our kids were in their ‘hey (hey Mom!)'days."

It does not seem possible that I have 30 years experience as a mom and a few years as grandma to precious young ones.

We often hear about folks who have lived long enough to remember the radio being the family hub for entertainment. Board games and storytelling were also important family activities. Yet, both of these past-times seem almost obsolete.

With wonder I remember when my parents brought home our first television. It was a small cabinet-like package that broadcast exciting adventures with Disney, and heart-tugging stories about Lassie, all in shades of gray. Oh! I can’t forget to mention the evening news for Dad. My homework assignments often included current events. No longer did I have to refer to newspapers alone (b-o-r-i-n-g!).

The only time I’ve lived without a TV was during four years in college and for a short period after college.

It’s a remarkable how much ‘TV’ has changed in my lifetime (and I’m NOT old, kiddies). Our current TV is a thin, digital projector that is nothing like the old-fashioned sets. It projects the most beautiful, high-definition programs. Just in time for my aging eyesight, wouldn't you know! My hubby plugged the DVD player into the BOSE, so now I have no trouble with my aging hearing either.

I get tickled when I consider America’s youngest generation. They’ll not only grow up used to a broad and enormous variety of TV shows, but also using a watch that does not tell time, or a tiny cell phone to do anything and everything electronic.

How special it would be if I could witness my grandma seeing everything through our eyes. She marveled at all she could watch on her TV, including her ‘stories’ (soap operas). Her electric wringer washer was used heavily and lasted at least twice as long as a modern ‘marvel’ washer does. Her laundry was hung outside to dry, year-round, until she could no longer do laundry. However, she never used the Kenmore vacuum that my dad purchased for her when I was a wee girl.

Being from the greatest generation and married during the great depression, Grandma did not throw anything away until it died, and she usually found another use for it afterward. Grandma is almost daily in my thoughts – I miss her so much, though she’s been gone 27 years. I like to think I’m a lot like her. Her wrinkles line my face and so I don’t mind them one bit. When I spot her glassware on my cabinet shelf, I remember the Special K cereal with bananas for breakfast in her tiny nook. Because that was her favorite breakfast, it became my favorite breakfast.

Precious photos are safely stashed away that remind me of those days of life with Grandma. Those photos are priceless treasures to me because they unlock my favorite memories. There are even dreams of faint remembrances of special times.

Even Grandma’s house, inside and out, was my favorite place to be. The huge front porch, on the Craftsman home my grandfather built for her, sheltered me from sun and rain when I refused to play inside. For years, the laundry chute from the upstairs bathroom to the basement laundry area was converted to a launching site for plastic cowboys, Indians and army men to dive-bomb Grandma’s laundry below.

Grandmas Craftsman House

In reflecting back to those days, I can’t think there was ever a time that Grandma did not have Cracker Jacks for my snack. Not to forget that we always closed each day with a small bowl of vanilla ice cream.

In my early years, at least twice a year, my cousins and their parents visited. The cousins, my brothers and I had excellent quests all through Grandma’s house and outside in her expansive yards.

Interesting Tree

Family was the most important facet in my grandmother’s life. She truly knew what was important.

There are no greater blessings in my life than the generations of family who have come before or are yet to arrive. Whether my parents and predecessors or those of my husband.

Trials have taken their toll on some relationships, but there are always reconciliation and love in my memories and dreams.

january sunset

Sunrise Cross

Doesnt Everybody Need a PD

CEFarm dogs ... working dogs.

Anybody who’s grown up or worked on a farm knows how invaluable a working dog is.

For years we were blessed with the absolute best livestock guard dog (LGD) and the smartest Rat ‘Terror,’ too ... at the same time. They were excellent canine companions (except after skunk hunting escapades), family guard dogs and thorough pest/predator management staff God ever created. No show dogs but undeniably irreplaceable.

Ben In River
He loved to cool off in the river 

He was a lover, not a fighter

Ben was huge and his heart was, too. He was my best bud. ‘Terror’ Tammy was my feisty little rodent killer and Ben’s pseudo-mom. Ben ran with me while I rode my ATV through woods and up and down river banks. (I am that grandma in the song – “over the river and through the woods ...”!) Tammy never missed a ride and sat in front of me. That was such a treat for them because it was the only time I’d let them hunt squirrels. You know, they never caught one. It was the chase they loved!

Tammys Trophy Mole
Success & happy about it!

When at home, nobody, and I mean NO body, got out of their vehicle or came in my house without my telling Ben they were OK. Once Ben was relieved of his duty, Tammy took over. The house was her territory, and she kept many visitors on their toes.

A gentle giant of a friend once tried to enter the house while I was home alone. He grew up with my son and both dogs knew him for years. That wasn’t good enough for my unbiased guard. He grabbed Charlie in the seat of his overalls and pulled him off the front steps before I could intervene. It was too funny, but Charlie didn’t appreciate the torn seat in a perfectly good pair of overalls. Perfectly good after all!

In 2010, both of our beloved pooches passed away. That was a very tough year. I never wanted to experience that heartbreak again. But you know how dog people are. Once a dog ‘people,’ always a dog people.

It’s taken two livestock guard dogs of grander breeding and greater mass to replace our beloved Ben. Brenda, our abandoned coy/dog, has become the house guard dog. She’s much more loyal than the two LGDs so she’s the people guard, too. Cricket (hubby’s Rat Terrier – no terror in her except toward moles) joined our family a few years ago. But none of these pups became ‘mine.’

Our loyal, beautiful Coydog

I’ve known all along no dog could replace Tammy. So for three years I mourned my feisty best friend. Finally the time came to move on.

Doesn’t every ‘dog people’ need a PD?

Have you guessed yet what PD stands for? Maybe you have.

One day last June, I decided the time had come to “just get a puppy.” Many women (with empty nest syndrome) hear this phrase from well-meaning friends.

The night before she was to be delivered to the local animal shelter, I found her listing on a local Internet site. She was mine by the end of the work day. My PD is very small, black and blessed with a comic’s personality. She’s a Chorkie and that’s my new favorite designer breed. Now to find her a mate. I know somebody who wants a feisty PD like mine. That’s if I can let any of her pups go.

More of PD to come in the future.

My Puppy Dog!