Monday, June 30, 2014

Sacred Ground

                                                     Today I hear the echoes
                                                     so many ways and more
                                                     this place where I live
                                                     my mind goes back to explore

                                                     The ground was not barren
                                                     it was trod upon each day
                                                     the busy sound of a gristmill
                                                     I still hear the old time way

                                                     Wagon tracks were plenty
                                                      back and forth, to and fro
                                                      hauling corn to make bread
                                                      from the fields where they'd grow

                                                     The grinding noise still lingers
                                                     I can hear it so plain
                                                     turning corn into cornmeal
                                                     for everyone that came

                                                    A clear picture I cling to
                                                    as I go on my way
                                                    I see my dear grandpa
                                                    with hair and beard of gray

                                                    The door was always open
                                                    he was everybody's friend
                                                    his goal was to make sure
                                                    they had bread once again

                                                    Oh what a wonderful, place
                                                    and a privilege so much to be
                                                    this cherished, simple time
                                                    in my mind each day I see

                                                    This ground where I live
                                                    nestled away with each sound
                                                    it's an honor to walk upon
                                                    I call it sacred ground

                                                    © Susie Swanson, 2014

In memory of the Grandpa I never had the privilege to know. He died in 1937 but he lives on in the Legacy he left behind and in the many hearts he touched.. Today, I live on the exact same spot where he had his Gristmill. I can just hear it sometimes in my mind. So many people depended on him to help put bread on their table. Rest In Peace Grandpa, you will never be forgotten as long as the words from my pen never runs dry.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Milk Factory

When I was growing up everyone tried to keep a cow fer their milk. Comin from a big family, a gallon of milk wouldn’t go through the house. We wanted our milk every meal and when we were between cows, we’d get it from the neighbors.
Some didn’t charge a dime cause they had more than they could use and they’d got milk from us before. The few that did, we never paid more than fifty cents a gallon. We’d leave an empty gallon jug and pick up a full one. I couldn’t even count how many gallons I’ve carried before.

In the summer we always went barefoot and after they paved the road I stumped my toes almost off. And it seemed to be my big toe that got most of the licks. It would just start to heal and it‘d happen again. One evening I was carrying a gallon of milk home and stumped it one time to many. The jug went flying and milk spilt all over the road. You’ve heard the ole sayin, “cryin over spilt milk” I just knew I was in hot water when I got home but what hurt me the most was knowin we wouldn’t have any milk to drink till the next day. We thought we couldn’t go a day without it. I was ready to gag at the thoughts of drinking that awful, powdered milk. That’s the reason daddy and mama always tried to keep a cow and we had several different ones over the years.

I remember this one ole cow we named Ole Bessie the most. She was always so gentle and anyone could’ve milked her. She’d just stand there chewin her cud and switching her tail back and forth.  But some of us never did learn to milk and some could care less. Since my oldest brother learned how to milk early on he wanted to be the one to do it all the time and we let him. He’d go out towards the barn and holler, “Suk Heff” (that’s cow language in our neck of the woods) and she’d come down through the pasture towards the barn just a trottin. He’d milk her so fast it’d make ya head swim. He used both hands, beat all we’d ever seen. He’d take time every now and then to squirt a little in the cat’s mouth sittin over in the corner waitin patiently. He’d be done before Ole Bessie even knew what hit her. Mama’d strain it through a white rag into a glass milk jug and put it in the frigerator to get cold. Before we got a frigerator we kept it in the spring house.
She’d churn some later fer buttermilk and that butter was the best I’ve ever eat. When it came time to churn, me and mama would trade off. She’d churn till her arms got tired and then me. We’d open that churn and ya could see that milk when it started curdling and the butter rising to the top. When it was done, mama would take it in and skim the butter off of the top and pour it into a mold and put it in the frigerator to chill. Ya talk about good eatin at the breakfast table the next morning, if there was any left after supper the night before. Daddy, mama and the others liked it with sweet molasses or jelly. I could eat it on a hot biscuit by itself. It was good smeared on anything, even new taters when they first came in. It never did have the chance to go fer cause we’d eat it fast as mama churned and drink the milk too. Sittin down to a big bowl of milk and bread fer supper is the finest eatin in the world. Daddy had to have buttermilk and bread. Us younguns didn’t care fer the buttermilk except to pump it as mama used to call it. She always said, uns younguns can pump more milk than two cows could give.

 And Ole Bessie sure could produce good milk till she got into the wild onions. Yep, every now and then she’d find a patch of wild onions in the pasture. They always came up in the early spring and I can still hear mama now when my brother walked through the door with the bucket of milk, “Take that milk to the hog pen and throw it in and get it outta this house now.“ Needless to say, those hogs sure did live in hog heaven as if they wasn’t fat enough.

I’ll never forget the evening my brother grabbed the milk bucket and headed towards the barn and we heard an awful commotion. Us younguns were all outside playin and daddy was over at the chopping block splittin the night’s wood fer the cook stove. Daddy dropped that axe and went trottin towards the barn, when out came the bucket wham bang, bang. Next came my brother runnin like the dickens with his cap in his hand. Daddy asked him what was going on and he just scratched his head (he always had that habit when he got excited)  and after he caught his breath he said, I don’t know, she’s never done me like that before. She just went crazy all of a sudden. I thought she was gonna kick me out the door. Daddy took off towards the barn really fast and we were all scared to death fer him. Everything was quiet, to quiet and we thought she’d done and killed daddy when he walked out and said come here son, I wanna show ya somethin. My brother was skittish about going back in there around that crazy cow but he mozed on in tryin to be brave. By that time we’d all got up the nerve to make it to the door and peep in. Daddy leaned down some and said, here’s the trouble. It seemed Ole Bessie had been in the briar thicket sometime during the day and scratched up the milk factory. When my brother grabbed it with both hands and started to milk, it was sore as the dickens and she went to kickin. He admitted he jumped back against the wall and stood till he could make his escape.

After that daddy took over the milkin fer a few days till the factory healed and my brother had gained enough courage to tackle it again. Then when he finally went back to milkin, he’d tell us siblins to stay away from the barn while he was milkin. We thought he was awful bosey fer his age till daddy told us the same. He said, “uns younguns stay away from the barn and let him do his job.” Not that we really cared one way or the other cause we loved drinkin the milk better than wrestling with Ole Bessie any day.

Daddy knew a lot about handlin cows and  knew how to doctor em when they got sick. Folks would come far and near to get daddy to come doctor their cow. He helped deliver many a young one too. The calves were bad to get the scours and he knew what to do for em. I never did rightly know how he became a cow doctor but he helped save many a milk factory. When we’d ask the only answer we ever got was, “ya learn early on in this life or you’re in a whole heap of trouble.”
 He also knew a lot about doctoring mules and horses. I vaguely remember him using a lot of natural medicine. Most of it probably was the same that folks used fer their own sickness. Back then nobody went to a doctor, they doctored their own self.

Now days people buy their milk and pay big prices fer it. It makes me appreciate Ole Bessie even more. Although, she’s long since kicked the bucket fer the last time and that good, ole milk and butter has played the hob. I know she’s bound to have received her grand reward along with all the others that quenched many a milk thirst by keeping the milk factory going.  She’s probably up there in some brair thicket in the green onions right now

                                                   © Susie Swanson, 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Come Sit With Me

                                                    Come sit with me
                                                    Beneath the weeping willow tree
                                                    We'll talk away the hours
                                                    In summer's peaceful tranquility

                                                    We'll watch the beautiful sunset
                                                    Sinking low over the horizon
                                                    Feel the breeze blowing gently
                                                    As the whispering branches liven

                                                    A bright full moon is shining
                                                    Casting shadows oh so bright
                                                    What more could we ask for
                                                    On this perfect summer night

                                                    Come sit with me
                                                    On the treasured, old porch swing
                                                    We'll swing away the hours
                                                    Listening to the crickets sing

                                                    The fire flies are dazzling
                                                    A perfect summer time show
                                                    Smell the honeysuckle blooming
                                                    With sweet fragrance to grow

                                                    We can listen to the whipper wills
                                                     As they make that unique sound
                                                    They never fail to please
                                                    My home is their stomping ground

                                                    Come sit with me
                                                    At the break of a new dawn
                                                    Say hi to the morning glories
                                                    Hear the birds sing each new song

                                                    The roses are cascading
                                                    A round every curve and bend
                                                    Pretty flowers are covered with dew
                                                    The mornings so happily send

                                                    Apple trees are blooming in the lane
                                                    Oh how sweet they can be
                                                    Decked out in pink blossoms
                                                    Waiting for you and me

                                                    All the cows are in the pasture
                                                    Nibbling on the fresh, green grass
                                                    Happy as can be in the sunshine
                                                    Basking in the warmth in high class

                                                    Come sit with me
                                                    On the bank of the little creek
                                                    We'll sip on a tall glass of lemonade
                                                    Then jump in with both feet

                                                    We'll enjoy every moment of the day
                                                    The nights are wonderful too
                                                    Here in my simple, country home
                                                    I promise it will all come true

                                                   There is splendor all around me
                                                   The sky is big overhead
                                                   I live in a heavenly paradise
                                                   Oh what a beautiful spread

                                                   The taste of heaven is sweet
                                                   The air is cleaner here
                                                   If you reach up your hand
                                                   On tip toe heaven is near

                                                   Come sit with me
                                                   In my paradise so green
                                                   This summer time country living
                                                   Is the best I've ever seen

                                                   © Susie Swanson, 2014

Friday, June 13, 2014

My Hero

                                              When I go home across the hills at evening
                                               My little flock of memories gather in
                                               A gentle peace and quietness will settle
                                               I look back and remember my hero once again

                                               The man I always knew and called daddy
                                               That worked so hard to keep us fed
                                               With a wrinkled brow and callused hands
                                               He provided a roof and a place to lay our head

                                               I see him in the garden come early spring
                                               With his overalls on and his favorite hoe
                                               He stayed with it from beginning to end
                                               Nary a weed was allowed to grow

                                               I see him in the winter in the fallen snow
                                               Splitting pine for kindling to start a fire
                                               Gathering in the night's water and wood
                                               In his plaid coat and gloves, his favorite attire

                                               Each day I hear and see him with his dog Toby
                                               I'm going out to the old place, he'd say
                                               As they happily walked through my yard
                                               Oh what a keepsake memory today

                                               I see those big apple trees he planted
                                               Tall just like daddy, oh how they grew
                                               So many treasures I've come to enjoy
                                               When it comes to my daddy, I'm like glue

                                               He'd tell straight out, he never had much school
                                               Couldn't read or write, certainly no degree
                                               The gift of knowledge flowed through his veins
                                               For ninety four years he taught constantly

                                               To all that listened and wanted to know
                                               Wisdom from the most wise is a gift to behold
                                               As my daddy eased on down through life
                                               So much joy came in pouring out his soul

                                               He walked each road, climbed every hill
                                               He knew everybody for miles around
                                               If they didn't know him, they came to know
                                               He owned and had many a stomping ground

                                               So many examples he set before me
                                               So many memories, such good times
                                               From when I was little and even grown
                                               He taught me life's lessons, only he could design

                                               My daddy is now walking and talking in heaven
                                               Up there where fathers are a chosen kind
                                               I'm now left with my precious flock of memories
                                               And my hero's love he gladly left behind

                                               © Susie Swanson, 2014

Happy Father's Day to my daddy in heaven and to all Fathers. I'm so glad they have a special day for all of you. Ya'll are so deserving and a whole lot more. God Bless each one..

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Old Timey Home Remedies

I remember back when I was little we hardly ever went to a doctor when we got sick. Mama would doctor us with home remedies and she really knew a lot of em. She used a lot of Save the Baby. She’d put a drop or two on sugar in a teaspoon, hold our nostrils together and blow in our face till we swallowed it. You talk about stopping a cough and curing the croup, it did. It sure did break it up and she always said a cough has got to be loosened up before it’ll stop.

I know everybody’s heard of Soltice. It came in a jar and was used to open up a chest or cough. It’d even open up ye head and make it run.  Daddy thought he needed some on his chest every night before bed. Mama said, it was just a habit.
She’d even cook up some onions and make us eat em. Supposedly, they were good for a cold and cough.
No worries when we got a chest cold or cough, we either got some good ole tasting Save the Baby, rubbed down with Soltice,or Vick's Salve, or eat a lot of cooked onions. There were lots more remedies, to many to mention.

Daddy made up his own cough syrup every winter. He used a small amount of white liquor, honey and lemon. He’d shake it up good and hide it so none of us kids could find it. Mama always accused him of sipping on it to much.

For the sore throat it was vinegar diluted with a little water. We had to gargle it but mama gargled the vinegar full strength. She wouldn't let us younguns do that for fear it’d strangle us to death.

For a nose bleed she’d take a small piece of a brown paper poke (bag) and fold it up real small and put it under the upper lip and it’d stop the blood. But most of the time she’d read the verse in the Bible, Ezekiel 16:6. It really works with faith and I'm living proof of it. i still read that verse today when needed.
 And camphor was used for the swimey head, also known as fainting and sick stomach. One whiff under ye nose and the sickness was gone.

For burns, scratches or cuts, Turpentine was the best remedy there was.
Mama would rub a little around our belly button to worm us. Turpentine has to many uses to name but we sure did get wormed quite often. It was also used to remove Tics. She'd rub a little on the Tic's behind and it'd turn loose. It was good for chiggers too, believe me I know.

For bee and wasp stings she’d take a dab of snuff out of her mouth and rub on the sting to stop the hurting and draw the poison out.
For poison ivy or sumac she used white, shoe polish. believe me when I say she went through alot of it. I got it all over my face one time and it was spreading to my eyes. she rubbed that shoe polish all over my face till i looked like a dead person or ghost. I had to wear it around all day and night for a couple days. It dried the poison ivy up.

I don’t reckon we ever got snake bit. I’d hate to think what she would've done.  It was pure luck that we didn't. I've heard of a lot of home remedies used for snake bite.

Oh the uses of Sassafras Tea.  The root or bark was boiled into a tea and sweetened. It was used to cleanse the system of the winter blahs as they called it and whatever else was ailing ye. It was good for the kidneys, cleansing the bladder, arthritis and other aches and pains.
All the older folks spoke of it highly and was a firm believer in it’s healing and cleansing.

I sure can’t forget the famous Castor Oil that she loved to punish us with. Yep, that’s what I called it at the time but now that I look back on it, I can honestly say it worked. The older folks always said a good cleaning out would take care of what ailed ye, especially come spring of the year and just the thoughts of the taste of castor oil still makes me gag today.

We jumped for joy when Castoria came out. It actually had a better taste even though it was syrupy and we didn't mind taking it. It'd run us to death till we didn't have anything left to clean out. But when she came out with the Castor Oil we’d run and hide. Still had to take our medicine though. Take ye pick, Castor Oil, Castoria, Black Draught, or daddy’s all time favorite Epsom Salts and who can forget Exlax. I slipped and eat enough of it one time till I run for a week. It tasted just like chocolate candy, but can't bare the taste today, makes me sick just thinking about it. The older folks sure did believe in the cleaning out part.

My oldest brother had the earache a lot when he was little and mama would lay him over her legs and drop warm sweet oil in his ear from a teaspoon that she’d heated on the stove eye. Then she’d cover his ear with a warm rag and it’d ease his ear. And if that didn't do the trick,  she’d take a puff off of one of daddy’s Camel or Lucky Strike cigarettes and blow in his ear. Cigarette smoke was the best medicine in the world for the earache mama proclaimed. I’ll never forget the first time we saw her do that. We all just stood there gawking. We’d never seen mama smoke in our lives and we told her of it. She said, that ain't smoking it’s medicine.

I remember her growing a lot of catnip for the babies around. She’d boil it into a tea and add a smidgen of sugar just enough to sweeten it a little to get em to drink it in their bottle and it was good for the belly ache (Colic). She said it’d even make em sleep better.  Daddy would even slip in a few sips every now and then, especially at bedtime, said it made him sleep better.

 And of course there was the Thrash (Thrush) remedy. She used some type of plant or tree leaf. She never told anyone what it was except daddy and one of my brothers. She did that so they could fetch it for her. Mama cured everyone around at one time or another over the years. Most were younguns but quite a few grown ups came to her with their mouths covered in blisters. She said there were three kinds of the Thrash, yellow, white and red. She could tell by looking at the blisters in their mouth what kind it was. Word soon got around and even her doctor started sending his patients to her. She never charged a dime, said it wouldn't work. No one ever knew what she did. The younguns sure didn't know and grown ups were blindfolded but it did the trick and there’s a lot of folks walking around today that can attest to that, including me.

Yellow root was used for the sore mouth, among other things and ye had to chew on it. Daddy sure did chew a lot of it. He said it was chewing that old backer that made his mouth sore. It grew on the creek bank or the branch bank. He’d strip the leaves and bark off before he chewed it. Back then a lot of folks paid many visits to the creek bank getting Yellow Root for various reasons.
 It could also be made into a tea and drunk for stomach problems. It’s been said that it helped the kidneys, liver, digestion system, etc.

I remember us younguns only going to a doctor a very few times. What was the use in going when we had our own medicines and own doctor. Mama even did surgery on occasion. My sister chopped off the end of her finger with the axe when she was five years old. It was barely hanging on by a little skin when we all got to her. Mama took her inside and grabbed the alcohol, camphor and hand towel and went to work putting that finger back together and bandaged it really good and kept a close watch on it. The camphor was used to put under her nose to keep her from passing out during surgery.  She used enough alcohol to fill the ocean and my sister would squall out like a painter. She had to change the bandages at least twice a day but it grew back and she’s just got a small scar today.

We did have one old doctor that practiced out of his house and his wife was his nurse. We only went to him when we absolutely had to. The first time I ever went to him I was six years old. I’d been laid up for days with the Strep Throat and no amount of mama's medicine helped.  She first thought it was just the sore throat but as time went on, my temperature went up so high she couldn’t get it down. She told daddy to load me up and take me. The doctor gave me a shot of Penicillin and it did the trick. that's about all the antibiotics they knew to give back then. I'd be in a whole heap of hurt today if I took it cause I’m deathly allergic to penicillin.

I know people were a lot more healthy back in the days when all they had to use was home remedies. a lot of it can be attributed to their lifestyle, exercise and eating healthy.

Some things they used like Save The Baby can’t even be bought in a store anymore. They took it off the shelves, said it didn't work along with lots of other stuff, go figure. They said that a lot of the old time ways were old wives tales. Well I’m here to say I’m living proof that it did work or I probably wouldn’t be still kicking. My mama knew what she was doing and she wasn't no fool. She raised to many younguns not to know what to do for em when they got sick. My mama was our doctor and she had plenty of common sense to go along with it. She once said, "if ye depend on a doctor to do anything fer ye now days you’ll die." In my book, she hit the nail on the head.

Personally, I’m thinking about trying the Castor Oil again, if I can get up the nerve. It’ll either cure me or kill me.  Maybe we all need to go back to the old timey ways, probably get better results and a good cleaning out never killed anybody.

I smile to think of what they used
To help us kids survive
But I am now going on 65
And very much alive

My sore throats were eased
I’m still holdin onto my anchor
To think of sucking sugar lumps
With a drop or two of camphor

And camphor mixed with lard for
A winter chest congestion
Baking soda cleansed my teeth
And helped my indigestion

Because of mama’s tender heart
I hereby sing oh Gloria
For the few times she switched
Castor oil with syrupy castoria

Turpentine for tics and mosquito bites
And Turpentine on the scratches
The sickroom was fumigated with
Our sulphur kitchen matches

Somehow there’s quite a bunch of us
That’s never had a shot
But here we are still a kicking
And enjoying it a lot.

© Susie Swanson, 2014

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Glory Of Morning

                                                     They appear in the morning
                                                      In the early mist of dawn
                                                      In all their splendid glory
                                                      Sitting on their throne

                                                      Growing beside the blue bells
                                                      The asters are misty with dew
                                                      Even the black eyed Susan's
                                                      Bow down to them too

                                                      The daisies are so excited
                                                      Snow white with glee
                                                      Such beauty so dominate
                                                      Streaming so elegantly

                                                      Each little passion flower
                                                      Blows kisses in the wind
                                                      Along side the cone flower
                                                      A welcoming transcend

                                                      Even the blue eyed grass
                                                      Grows more proud and tall
                                                      Trying to over shadow
                                                      Each forget me not call

                                                      Those lovely fringed orchids
                                                      Sway their fancy dress
                                                      An orchestra of cattails
                                                      A glorious concert at best

                                                      The cosmos are so happy
                                                      In their own hemisphere
                                                      Among a haven of paradise
                                                      So loudly, they cheer

                                                      Each morning is perfection
                                                      In the bright sunlight
                                                      Even the evening primrose
                                                      Wakes up thinking of night

                                                      Those pretty, little wine cups
                                                      Raise their cup so high
                                                      A toast to such creation
                                                      In the midst of beauty nigh

                                                      Even the reigning queen
                                                      Of Solomon in all his glory
                                                      The lilies of the field
                                                      Stand and bow accordingly

                                                      Climbing, climbing more high
                                                      On a glorious summer stroll
                                                      Those beautiful morning glories
                                                      What a sight to behold
                                                       © Susie Swanson, 2014

This is a Repost from last year but I hope ya'll enjoy... I'm so sorry I haven't been around much. Still having health issues. Some days I just lay around. They're still checking out my glands one at a time. That's what it feels like. LOL.. I miss ya'll and will be around to visit soon as possible. God Bless, Susie.