Wednesday, September 24, 2014

It's Jocelyn's birthday

And I couldn't post a less-relevent picture of her, really. She wasn't, like, way into cats, and the picture was obviously taken nowhere near her birthday, because even in Arco, Idaho there isn't usually a foot of snow on September 24. Plus, I'm mad at Cats In General today, after finding about a dozen rude brown lumps in our yard yesterday. However, there's something about this picture that keeps pulling me back to look. Maybe is the surprise at seeing Jocelyn with a cat, or her cute little nose. Corregated tin? Snow? But probably just that Jocelyn is in it.

Nevertheless, today is her birthday. I sometimes ponder on how she'd be as a 32-year-old. What would she like now? What wouldn't she like? Where would she live? Would she have moved to Ireland? Become a crazy cat lady? It's impossible to say, since she is forever half that age and obsessed with glitter.

Happy Birthday full of glitter and cats, Joss!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Thedford, Nebraska home where Dave and Juli Stricklan live. April 1989. Andy Stricklan 1 yr. Juel Aikele and Melissa Stricklan, 4 yrs.

Caption is the title of this post, written by my grandma Ada on the back of the photo.

Here are my brother Andy and I at the same ages my kids are now. Four and one. True, I was a closer to five than four since this is labeled "April," but I am surprised at how much I remember about that place. And that dress, which I loved to shreds and have thought about trying to duplicate hundreds of times.

Jocelyn and I lived in that upstairs room you can see with the gabled window. We thought it was really awesome because the ceiling was sloped and there was a little cubby closet area. (I still think those things are cool.)

Once I was running through our room and I caught my knee on my dresser handle and it gouged me straight in. I remember the yellow stuff my mom put on the wound. I also remember getting my kindergarten shots while we lived here, and they tuckered me out "sick" for the day. I lay on the couch, and felt very coddled.

My mom tried really hard to rid me of my finger-sucking habit in this house. Mittens, foul-tasting concoctions brushed on my fingernails. It must have worked eventually because I don't suck them now. Jocelyn learned to ride a bike and tie her shoes here, but I didn't. I actually don't remember learning those things at all.

I remember the upstairs landing. It was in the middle of the top storey, and our room was to the left and the bathroom straight ahead. Downstairs, the kitchen had a built-in bench seat, I think, around the table.

Jocelyn and I started our scavenger hunts while living here. My dad would make a list of things to find, and off we'd go on a walk to find them. White car, maple tree, lime green house with upstairs gable. I remember Andy's big Easter meltdown when he won a huge Easter basket at the local market, but that was probably the following Easter after this photo was taken. He cried and cried even though he won, and they took our family picture for the paper or something I believe. It is funny what you can't call to mind, however, and I don't know if he was howling in the picture or if he wasn't in it at all. Let's all read the comments to see what my mom has to say on the subject.

Things I don't remember: it being crowded, though it must have been with six Stricklans living there; it being hot, though it must have been because I doubt there was air conditioning; lots of dishwashing, though my parents must have done because I doubt there was a dishwasher. Those are my main housing concerns these days, by the way, until I remember they really don't matter an extreme amount in the long run if even I and my elephant of a memory can't remember anything about them.

My Calvin boy has the craziest memory I've ever witnessed. I hope he will stay that way and come across pictures of our little house and say that he remembers the crazy blue shag carpet before we ripped it up, and the day we got our new toilet because he kicked the lid off the old one, which ricocheted off the wall and smashed the bowl.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

hard times

On February 26, 1922, Hannah wrote in her book, "Oh yes I must not forget Ostlin came in early Friday morning to tell us a boy come to their house. All getting along fine. That is our 13th grand child good luck to him." Sadly, all were not fine after all, and the mother, Mary Marinda Johnson Hanson, died on March 4th, just a week later from complications (probably blood poisoning, guessed Hannah).

Hannah said, "We are all broke up," and took into her house Ostlin and the three girls: Ada, my grandma, age 5; Connie, age 4; Leona, age 2. The baby boy went to live with the maternal grandparents. Hannah doesn't even mention his name, come to think of it, but she says that the girls went to visit him often on Sundays. (His name is Kenneth, by the way.) About a month later, Leona came home from Grandma Johnson's with this cut-out baby head and said it was baby brother. Hannah thought it was sweet and pasted it in her book. I am home from church with a sick baby today who looks an awful lot like that, too.

Throughout her entries in 1921 and '22, Hannah lists the prices of potatoes, hay, butter and eggs. Eggs go from $.40/dozen down to $.16 the day of the baby head picture, and then back up to $.30 later that year, and by selling that and butter they get along, but just barely, since I think potatoes were their main crop, but there were too many potatoes and no one to buy them. She says they have enough to eat and "ware," but no money. "Taxes & interest are killing us," she scribbles in the margin at the end of an entry. " Her sons are off working elsewhere, too. "We will all have to leave the farm to work for wages, for anything is better then farming but I don't think it can stay that way for people will have to eat," she foresees, being both pessimistic and optimistic as I guess you had to be as a farmer.

It is easy for me to romanticize the past; it is what I do, it is why there is even this blog. Of course, though, I know it was not an easy life. I know our 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom, air conditioned house would seem like a luxurious vacation to Hannah. But here I am, and I wonder why we can't seem to acquire funds for a house with a better layout, where the table doesn't have to be in the living room and with a dishwasher that doesn't roll. I wonder why Nate's parents could buy their first home for $40,000 and sell it for twice that just a few years later, when our house would probably not sell for a dollar more than we paid for it four years ago. I think our times have got to be just about the worst. Insurance prices are ridiculous and it doesn't even cover doctor visits anymore; after four years we have barely made a dent in our principal balance for our mortgage because of interest; our kids will wake each other up all night long because of sharing a room. And of course, in the most cliche way, reading the old journal brings some good old-fashioned perspective right back to me.

However, I must honestly tell you that even with this refreshed perspective, I am not 100% convinced that it is better to live in this absurdly comfortable era. I have half an idea that if I could, I would jump into the pages of Hannah's book, roll up my sleeves, and help her put up 500 quarts of berries.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Mink Creek

 In Mink Creek, Idaho there is a tiny settlement and a tiny cemetery. Nate's forefathers Rasmus Christian Petersons Sr. and Jr. were some of the founding settlers of that picturesque spot between Preston and Bear Lake. We stopped to say hi on our way to the lake on Labor Day.
Finally we have a cool headstone in the family! (Uh, well, since 1916) RC Peterson, you have a nice view.