Friday, October 2, 2015

Cherished Memories

Fall has always been her favorite time of the year. Pretty blue skies, cool nights and after a hot summer it feels so refreshing. God’s beautiful, painted landscape and scenery takes her breath away and gets more beautiful every year.
 It also brings many memories to mind and October is and will always be her favorite month. Her most cherished memories are of a young woman that just turned eighteen that summer and her soldier and future husband that had just returned from Vietnam a year earlier.

To say they had a world wind courtship is putting it mildly. They met and started the courtship in August while he was on leave from Fort Bragg N.C.
When he left after his leave she was so lonely and heartbroken but they made use of their spare time writing letters. It was in one of those letters that he proposed. It was the middle of September and he told her he could get a ten day leave the first of October. They told their parents and started making plans for a world wind wedding on October 10th. It was to be a small affair with only family and friends since there was no time for anything else plus they didn’t have the money to spend on anything big or expensive.

He was to wear his Army Dress Uniform and she in her white dress. It took her and her mama a couple hours to find the dress and veil. She wasn’t to impressed with the dress till she saw the price tag and it said ten bucks. She told her mama it just looked to plain and her mama said,, “plain my hindend, I got married in a flour sack dress.” Ten bucks was a lot of money back then but they still had to get their Physicals, Blood tests and license so the cheaper the better.

They’ll never forget the day they went for their physicals, blood tests and license. First came the physicals and blood tests and when they walked out of the doctor’s office they were so happy they ran with the paper work straight to the courthouse. They walked into the Register Of Deeds Office and he must have been really busy that day cause he looked up and said, ya’ll here to get ye marriage license? They said yes, and he then said, can either one of you type? They both answered at the same time with, “I Can.” They neither one had taken any typing classes in school but what he didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.
He told them he had to make a little trip down the hall and he’d put the necessary paper work in the typewriter and they could type in the info. He probably hadn’t eat lunch yet so he took off like a hot streak. They both sit side by side at that typewriter and he’d type a letter and then she’d type one. Needless to say, by the time he walked back in his office they didn’t have it all typed out and there stood another couple waiting to get their license. He finished it up and they paid him the three bucks and both of them tried to get through the door at the same time they were so happy.

They’d already met with the preacher at his house and he gave them a little talk about how important it was to know what marriage meant, so on and so forth. All they wanted was to get married the sooner the better.

The next couple of days they were busy as a bee. They had to pick a place to have the ceremony so both their dads would possibly come cause they knew they didn’t take to kindly to weddings. The groom’s father had 12 young’uns and hadn’t come to either one’s wedding and the bride being the oldest and first to get married in her family, she was also skeptical about her daddy being there too.

They chose her future sister in law’s house cause it was middle ground and that beautiful little fireplace looked like the ideal spot. She was overjoyed and told them she’d take care of the flowers, food etc. Between her future sister in law, her mama and his mama and all those beautiful Fall flowers in the yard they never worried a lick about it. Another reason they chose to have it there was the future father in law stayed at his daughter’s house a lot.  He’d come and stay a week at a time if he took the notion. He loved to work outside, planting apple trees and shrubbery, etc. and her daddy loved to visit and did it quite often. All the while the future sister in law cooked dinner (lunch) and any other meal for that matter cause she loved to feed everybody and could whup up a table full of food in no time, they’d both sit under the shade tree and shoot the bull, the bride’s daddy more so till they heard, “dinner’s on the table.”
 She heard her mama say to her daddy many times “keep your hindend at the house and let that ole feller do his work.” He’d just look at her and grab his walking stick and hoof it up the road.

Come the big, anticipated day, it was drizzling rain and on any other given day it would have been so dreary but no sirreee, not that one. Sure enough, the groom’s father came but the bride’s daddy said he had to slop and feed the hogs. Her mama said, “any ole excuse beats none a-tall.”

That beautiful, rainy Saturday became a day to remember and cherish the rest of their lives and they set out on a long journey following their hopes and dreams. That was forty five years ago come October 10th and the memories are still as fresh as the morning dew and beautiful as an October sky.

They’ve fulfilled their hopes and dreams and then some. Life may have knocked them down a few times but they have been there for one another through it all. Marriage never promises a Rose Garden without the thorns.

 Enduring love that’s meant to be will last forever, especially

when you’re with the one you’re suppose to be. Love knows no boundaries and can stretch into eternity.

                                           © Susie Swanson, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

God's Canvas Of Colors

                      The calm beauty of a sunset on a beautiful, painted sky
                      With big, puffy clouds softly floating by

                      A red rose in bloom kissed by the morning dew
                      Sparkling in the sun under a sky of blue

                      A long, rolling meadow of emerald green
                      With a light, fluttering breeze and quite serene

                      An ocean so blue as far as the eyes can see
                      With each stroke he painted far across the sea

                      The eyes of a child smiles with a tender caress
                      His gift to this world filled with joy and happiness

                      Teardrops falling from an old mother's face
                      He captured them all with sorrow and grace

                      A multi-colored rainbow after a shower of rain
                      A wonder of beauty only God can explain

                      The twinkling of stars on a moon light night
                      A measure of his power on a canvas so bright

                      A tiny, yellow butterfly fresh from its birth
                      A token of his love and a heart full of worth

                      A snow covered mountain standing so high
                      With breathtaking beauty it creates a great sigh

                      The song of a turtle dove at morning's dawn
                      Brings peace and love for everything that's wrong

                     I marvel at the tapestry so beautiful and grand
                     Painted by the master with a gentle, loving hand

                     His canvas of colors are a sight to behold
                     He painted a masterpiece more precious than gold

                                      © Susie Swanson, 2015

                    Happy Fall Ya'll. My Favorite one of all.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Country Bride

The dress hangs in the closet
Yellow and gray with age
Time has erased its beauty
Like winter turns grass to sage

Memories, oh how they linger
The day it was brand new
 A country bride so happy
A soldier’s love so true

Autumn’s sun was shining
The day of harvest moon
A day of glorious beauty
To be sanctified at noon

She looked across the meadows
Grass was turning brown
Seeds of love were abundant
Early harvest cleared the ground

Church bells were calling
A country bride to be
A soldier’s wife with honor
To love and raise a family

The meadows are now green
Her hair is silver gray
The fruits of her labor
She enjoys them everyday

The country bride is now older
A more wise mother and wife
She truly discovered the blessings
Of a full and grateful life

© Susie Swanson, 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Not A Care In The World

Every year when fall starts comin in with that little, cool nip in the air and the skies are crystal, clear and blue as far as the eye can see, it takes me back to some good memories of those long ago falls, when we didn’t have a care in the world.
Having to hit the ole school bus after trompin through the thickets all summer wasn’t somethin we looked forward to but after we got back into the groove of things we found it wasn’t so bad after all, till we got the yellow bus fever. We found out the hard way after cryin wolf a few times, it doesn’t work.
Mama used to say she wished school went the whole year round. But that was because we worried the daylights out of her.
I asked her one time what worryin the daylights out of her meant and she told me it meant drivin her crazy as a bess bug. We were always into one thing after the other, it was no wonders she had so many gray hairs in her head. I never did ask her what a bess bug was.

They had some funny, ole sayin’s back then but we grew up listenin to em so much we took em at what they meant, not what they said.

Every year when the remnants of the garden were gone and mama had canned everything she could includin the leftovers from which she made the chow chow, ( man was that stuff good with a big pot of pinto beans )  the whole family pitched in and took up all the taters and carried em to the tater hole. Daddy and the boys would get busy clearin off the patches before cold weather set in. They’d be nice and clean come spring when garden plantin time rolled around.

They’d pile all the corn stalks, bean vines, etc. in a big pile in the middle of the patch. Sometimes they’d have to make two or three piles. Us young’uns could hardly wait till daddy decided to burn em. That’d usually come on a nice calm night or late evening when the wind was still. He always said it was better to wait till after a good rain and the ground was kinda damp. He worried about catchin the woods on fire a lot. He’d only burn one brush pile at a time and let the others go till later on.
If we were lucky we’d manage to save a little money and have some marshmallows to roast. We sure did look forward to playin in that fire and roastin marshmallows.
Mama would scold us by sayin, “every one of ye is gonna wet the bed tonight, playin in that fire.” I don’t remember any of us ever wettin the bed but it sure got me to thinkin sometimes. Just another ole sayin to get us out of the fire .

We loved to poke at it with sticks and throw a little kindlin on it as we called it. The longer that fire burned and the higher the flames, the more we liked it.
It’d smolder all night even after daddy got it burnt down enough to risk leavin it till morning.
Before we had to leave to catch the school bus come morning we’d run back out to the smolderin fire, grab a stick and poke some more till mama’d put us down the road before we missed the bus. She said, “uns are gonna ruin your clothes and they’ll smell like smoke all day long.” We were used to that since we had wood heat in the winter we smelled of smoke anyways, didn’t bother us none.

All the brush piles would be burnt by frost and we had to figger out other ways to have fun. We never did have to look far. We made up our own fun as we went along.

We always had to walk out to the main road a purty good ways to catch the school bus. We’d dare one another to stick their tongue to the mailbox on a frosty mornin. It’d freeze our tongue to it and it was hard to get lose without pullin the skin off. One morning my youngest brother stuck his to it just about the time the bus came and he tried to get it lose and finally had to jerk it off. When we all got on the bus I looked at him and he was close to tears but wouldn’t let on. I knew he was hurtin somethin fierce.
After that happened and mama and daddy found out about it they put a stop to it in a big way, or so they thought.

When the weather came in even more cold and daddy was home and not off workin he’d walk out with us to the road and build us a fire so we could get warm. He’d tote a little kindlin out and just enough wood to get it going good so we could warm our hands and when the bus run he’d be the one to put it out before he went back to the house.
My oldest brother kept on till he talked daddy into lettin him build it and it’d save him walkin out with us. Daddy didn’t take much to that idea at first but he finally gave in. I’m sure he came along behind us and checked on it after we caught the bus.

My brother was always good at buildin fires in the wood heater and cook stove and he could build a nice little fire, if I say so myself. The only problem was, when the bus came one or two of the other boys like to kick it and send that fire sailin.
After a couple times of doing this, it all came to a kietis and we had to do without a fire. It’s a thousand wonders it hadn’t caught the woods on fire or worse.

When the first snowflakes started fallin we jumped fer joy. We loved the big snows that came in knee deep. We’d get outta school quite a while. One time I remember schools shuttin down fer two weeks. It was all we could do to plow through it to get to the barn to feed the cow or to milk, but that didn’t stop us.
All we had to put on our hands was an ole pair of worn out socks. We were in one door and out the other. We’d throw snowballs at one another, make snowmen and slide down the hill in the cow pasture on anything we could find. Sometimes it’d be an ole piece of cardboard or if we were lucky an ole car hood. It’s a wonders we didn’t all get killed with all the chances we took.
We’d run inside long enough to warm up and eat a bite and back out we’d go. We’d eat enough snow cream to get the sore throat but as fer playin outside in the cold it never hurt us none. We were used to it come spring, summer, fall or winter.

 Some of the stuff we got into and done may not seem like much fun to some but we were just a bunch of young’uns having the best of times and enjoyin the simple pleasures in life and puttin more and more gray hairs on our mama’s head.

There was always plenty to do and we never had a care in the world.

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Making Do

My mama came from a family of ten kids, two girls and eight boys. She grew up in a close, knit family that believed in working fer ye keep and learning early on how to survive and get by. Many times she told how they survived the depression and made do with whatever they had.

Back then everybody grew their own food but the basics were hard to come by. During the depression they gave out coupons and they’d pick em up at the little local store. The storekeeper would hand em out each month according to how many was in a family. He always had to keep records of what he handed out fer the government. He helped people out a lot too. They’d bring their canned goods in and exchange em for something they needed. There was always someone in need and he knew he would be able to get rid of it all.

Mama said most of the time they’d just get a couple pounds of coffee to do a month or five or ten pounds of flour, and a bucket of lard with their coupons. If they were lucky to get an extra coupon they’d get a small bag of sugar or an extra five pounds of flour. The flour came in cloth sacks and their mother saved them up and sewed them into dresses and shirts.

 Mama said that grandma would boil the same coffee grounds over and over till that coffee was so thin ye could see through it. Even after the depression started easing up and grandpa went to work fer the WPA and they had a little more to live on grandma was still in the saving mode and kept boiling the coffee grounds over and over. My grandpa got tired of it and told her one day, now Sarie (Sarah) stop boiling them coffee grounds over so much. What ye doing, straining it through a white rag, you can stop now I want some real coffee not stained water. It was hard for grandma to change, she’d been in the saving business to long.

They always had plenty of cornmeal for bread since they grew the corn and grandpa carried big toe sacks to my other grandpa’s old grist mill every week. She said they only used the flour for breakfast cause they sure did love them cathead biscuits and gravy. There was many a morning they had to eat cornbread with their gravy cause they didn’t have any flour. Of course, cornmeal gravy and cornbread is the best eatin around.

She and her brothers used to trap rabbits and take them to the little country store in exchange for some of the basics they needed. This was after they cleaned the rabbits up good and the head had to stay on them. My grandma knew exactly what the rabbits were worth by how many they had caught. He paid by the pound and she knew it. She’d make out a list of what she needed and send them to the store to fill it.

One time she and one of her brother’s that was the closest to her in age caught ten rabbits and took off towards the store with the rabbits on a stick and grandma’s list. On the way to the store her brother told her we’re gonna get us somethin good today. Mama told him, no we can’t cause mommy knows exactly how many rabbits we got, she’s made her list. He stuck his hand up under his coat and pulled out another rabbit. He said, I told you we’re gonna get us somethin good today. The only problem was the rabbit didn’t have a head. Apparently, while they were cleaning them one lost its head someway and he’d stuck it under his coat. The storekeeper always wanted them with their heads intact. He had a little shed over to the side of the store building that people hung their rabbits in.

When they got to the store and hung their rabbits they went in and told him how many they had and gave him their list. He walked outside and went in and looked at the rabbits from the door and counted them. He said, somebody’s counted wrong this time, you’ve got eleven instead of ten.
 Mama said her brother spoke up and said alrighty, we got enough to get us somethin good this time. The storekeeper told him ye sure do, so pick out what ye want. Her brother pointed to a big jar of candy sitting on the counter and said we want a whole, paper bag of that candy. He filled their list and the bag of candy and they headed home. The candy was chocolate drops and can still be bought today, especially around Christmas time and they’re rich as can be.

On the way home they eat the whole bag of chocolate drops and by the time they got home they were sicker than a buzzard. They started puking and they puked all night. My grandma didn’t know what in the world to think. She was up with em all night trying to clean up the messes and do what she could fer em.
The next morning they felt and looked like death warmed over. When grandma seen they were on the mend she asked em what did they eat to get so sick. They’d been taught all of their life not to lie and knew if they did they’d be in worse shape than they already were so they told her the truth. She marched them back over the road to the store and made em tell the storekeeper what they’d done. He just stood there and looked at em fer a bit and then he spoke up and said, well I guess they’ve been punished enough this time but it better not happen again.
From that day forward they didn’t take another rabbit without its head and they never eat another chocolate drop as long as they lived.

To say times were rough is an understatement but they survived the best way they knew how and mama said they never went to bed hungry a night in their life. They always had something to eat even if it was an old possum baked in the oven. I guess that’s why she hated the sight of an ole possum. Back then times were so hard they had to make do.

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2015

The picture above is my mom, her daddy and mama back when she was young. 
Notice how tall the corn is. Blessings, ~Susie

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Finest I've Ever Seen

                                          We no longer raise gardens, chickens and hogs
                                          No more smoking chimneys, we now use gas logs

                                          There's no more hog killings on Thanksgiving Day
                                          Only turkeys and hams grace the tables today

                                          We no longer carry water in for the night
                                          There's plenty of running water and baths delight

                                          There's no more sitting by an old oil lamp
                                          A light hangs from the ceiling, an electric revamp

                                          No more traveling preachers, a thing of the past
                                          Big new churches, log churches are in the past

                                          There's no more Store Truck making its way through
                                          Like kids in a candy store, we stood like a statue

                                          An orange and an apple used to be a Christmas treat
                                          Now days electronics are the only thing that's neat

                                         Keeping a milk cow and churning our own buttermilk
                                         They now snarl their nose if its not store bought milk

                                         There's not many clothes now blowing in the wind
                                         We now have clothes dryers and washers that spin

                                         No one takes time to visit their neighbors or the sick
                                         My daddy's not here with his big walking stick

                                        The canning and jelly making days are almost gone
                                         Just a few old timers left to carry on

                                        There's no one left to cure the thrash (Thrush) anymore
                                        My mama's gone and her cure is no more

                                        There's no more prayer and recess in school
                                        It seems everything now has become man's rule

                                        Those old aporns they wore with money tucked away
                                        Is gone too, like their hair tucked in buns of gray

                                        And those old time zinnas my grandma so loved
                                        They now grace heaven with beauty and love

                                        There's no more plowing with an old mule now
                                        They use big tractors but that old mule sure could plow

                                        There's no more hunting foxes, possums and coons
                                        And sitting by a campfire listening to the dogs croon

                                        That good squirrel gravy and dumplins I still smell
                                        My mama sure could make them so yummy and swell

                                        There's no more sleeping with six in the bed
                                        With three at the foot and three at the head

                                        And sweeping the yard with a worn out broom
                                        Praying for some grass to grow really soon

                                        There's no more swinging on those old grapevines
                                        Or playing hopscotch in the sand with hand drawn lines

                                        There's no more crawling through the barbed wire fence
                                        Trying to escape the bull, we didn't have any sense

                                        Playing in the cold creek was a summer time game
                                        Claiming to fall in on a winter's morning wasn't the same

                                        Going fishing at the old mill pond with fishing pole in hand
                                        Losing track of time, the fishing was so grand

                                        Helping mama find Poke Salad in the early spring
                                        Climbing through the briars and snakes was her thing

                                        Or picking creesy greens from the creek bank each year
                                        Not knowing the difference with mama not here

                                        Going to bed with the chickens on hot summer days
                                        No time change did we have, we got used to the same ways

                                        There's no more robbing the hen's nest in the early morn
                                        Those old hens sure could lay, fed good with corn

                                        Those wonderful old days I loved and once knew
                                         Is now gone and the old ways too

                                        The living was so good, the finest I've ever seen 
                                         I love to go back it makes my heart sing

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mama's Gift

I remember while growing up my mama doing some heroic and awesome things that I couldn't quite understand at the time. But as I grew older and learned from watching her it came to me so clear that she knew what she was doing without a doubt. She taught me so much over the years and set examples for all of us to live by. Like so many others she knew and used a lot of home remedies that still sticks in my mind today but there's one thing she could do that I never could do is cure the Thrash (Thrush). It’s a fungal infection of the mouth that can be caused by many things. It comes with blisters on the tongue, inside the lips and can spread to the outside of the mouth on the lips and all around it.

 I remember so many people coming to our house for the much needed cure. Some were young'uns at the time or they brought their young'uns, and there's lots of grownups out there as well that still to this day remembers mama’s cure very well. It was always a secret on how she performed the actual cure and mama always said if anyone knew it wouldn’t work.

A lot of the people that came had been to the doctor to no avail. Mama would look in their mouth and be able to tell them what kind it was by what color the blisters were. There's three types, red, white and yellow. Daddy had the job of bringing in the medicine but like everyone else he never knew what she did. He knew where it grew and how much to get but he played shut mouth his whole life and mama wouldn’t have it any other way.
I saw her carry many a baby in the bedroom and bring it back out and it'd be smiling cause mama always had a way of pacifying young'uns. When it came to treating the grownups she’d put a blindfold on them so they couldn't see and I can attest to that cause one evening we were out in my back yard and I told her my mouth was sore and had been getting worse by the day. She looked in my mouth and slipped across the creek on our little foot log and came back and blindfolded me and I never felt or seen anything and needless to say, it got better. Shucks, I remember her taking my son when he was a toddler into the corn patch one day and treating him. 

She always told everyone that on the third day after she did it, it would get worse but should get better, if not come back and she'd do it again. I know one older lady that came three times cause it had went all the way through her and she'd wore herself out running to the doctors, then she heard about mama. It finally worked and she praised mama till the day she died.

 Mama even went to them when they were to sick to come to her due to other ailments. There were a couple of ladies that had just got through with chemo treatments and their mouths were turned wrong side out. She treated them and they got better. Mama was so honored to help them and anyone else that came along.
 Mama's cure became so popular her own doctor started sending his Thrash (Thrush) patients to her after he learned about it. But unlike him, she never charged a dime cause she said if she did it wouldn't work.

Yes, it got mighty tiring for her but she never complained or turned anyone down till she got down so sick herself with cancer. It hurt her so bad not to not be able to do the things she loved and had done all of her life. It's so sad that there wasn't a cure to be found for her but mama is now healed and living in a new, pain, free body. When mama left us she left some mighty, big shoes to fill and we may not be able to do all the things she did but her Legacy of love and giving will go with us the rest of our days.

Genuine faith is the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. A living faith will be a working faith.

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2015