In September, we had a wonderful visit from Julie, William and Bronwyn. William came to stay for two weeks, and Julie and Bronwyn thought they would accompany him on his way to Papa's house. We all had such a good week together.
One morning miss Bronwyn had on my apron, and had her sippy cup. But she found Grammie's big one in the cupboard.
She is queen of "I can do it myself, please". So she tried to use the water in the door of the refrigerator to get a drink. Then with the top on, she was all set to go.
Success, and a happy girl!
Can you tell Grammie was delighted to have her visit?
I was 22, newly released from Fall college classes due to morning sickness earlier that spring. We were expecting our first baby, I was in my 3rd trimester, and feeling great. I had a lot of free time on my hands, with my husband working night shift, and finishing his undergrad classes to graduate in December. The weather was warm and sunny, with beautiful blue-sky days. I often spent my mornings doing chores, then sorting and re-organizing my stash of baby clothes and things, smelling each precious sweet item before folding it and laying it away.
After lunch, I went walking along the sidewalks in LaGrande, under big leafy trees bright with their autumn colors against the vivid blue sky. John would sleep in the afternoons, and being a light sleeper, I left the apartment so he could get his rest.
I ate a fresh crisp apple every day as I walked, and I was amazed how healthy and good I was feeling. I had been told how miserable pregnancy was, and how swollen and awful I would feel, yet none of that happened. I canned jars of golden peaches in our small apartment, and John helped me make applesauce from Rome Beauty apples on the weekend. We even made bright red apple jelly from the apple peelings. We had so little, and we had so much. Each day seemed golden and blessed as they blended one into the other that autumn.
Then came the early morning on November 4th, that John got home after getting off work at the hospital. I was sitting up in a chair as he came in and found out that we were going to have our baby two weeks early. Later that day, our lives changed and so did the weather, as our beautiful daughter Joy Emily was born in the middle of a huge snowstorm. I remember holding my new daughter tight, all bundled snugly in a new blanket, and watching the snowflakes whirl and swirl past the hospital window. Autumn gave way to winter and the two of us gave way to life's new season.
While we were visiting the Cascade/McCall area of Idaho, my brother-in-law wanted to show us a remote area close by where he lands his small plane and camps with others of like mind. It's only open a few months during the summer, and was closing up Labor Day week-end after we visited. The closest 'town' to the airstrip is this, Yellow Pine. We drove around and checked everything out, and saw the few hardy souls who call this place home. Again, most of the people and business's were packing things up and leaving for the winter. We did find one café open, so were able to have lunch there.
Honestly, it was the worst burger I've ever had! Burnt, dry and tough, but enough to get us by and quiet the stomach rumbles. I don't think they get many customers. Nice enough place however. It was a fun day's trip driving up through the mountains and seeing some beautiful county.
Back in Cascade, we stopped by some friends who own a Dodge dealership and enjoyed their Dodge Ram made out of barbed wire. You know you are in the backwoods when their sculptures are barbed wire....
and that night we enjoyed a movie at their old theatre. It was all fixed up so cute, and the doors and handles are made to look like old-time movie reels. Inside it's decorated all red and black, with tile floors and cute bathrooms. Who cares about the movie??
On Labor Day, the insurance guy and I took a trip with my brother and sister-in-law to the McCall Idaho area. They usually fly in there, in their small plane, but they had discovered a treasure that they wanted to share with us, so we all drove in one vehicle. The treasure is called http://www.theashleyinn.com/and is in Cascade, Idaho.
A front porch like home greets you as you enter.
This is part of the lobby, and there are small sitting areas all around, complete with china tea cups and saucers. My eyes were huge as we entered and I saw all the beauty of this special place. It is full of wallpaper, and I am a huge fan! I thought wallpaper had all gone away in favor of paint, but it has all gone here (big smile!) Another special feature of the lobby is soft music playing 24-7, basically instrumental hymns and classical string quartet music.
This staircase right out of a fairytale leads you upstairs to their three floors of rooms. Our room had been reserved and was on the 3rd floor.
This loveseat was out in the hallway across from the alcove where our room door was located.
Room address outside each door...
4-poster beds in each room, gas fireplaces with a mantel, small desk, bay window alcove with another loveseat....
and white wicker table with tray for late night snacks? and did I mention the beautiful wallpaper?
The bathroom was another huge room, complete with white shuttered windows, a jetted spa bathtub, and this cute sink.
The next morning we came down the staircase for breakfast, which was in this special breakfast room. You can only see the one bay window table here, but it is a huge room with lots of seating and food all around 2 sides of it. They have homemade biscuits and sausage gravy, homemade cheese and egg casseroles and lots of other fruit and cereal and pastry choices. It was delightful.
Outside there is a large deck where you can eat when the weather co-operates. In our case we opted for this window seat as it had rained all during the night. They also have a lovely white gazebo, of course, with seating, and complete with a small waterfall.
In the evenings they serve fresh baked cookies with coffee or milk for a bedtime snack. Wow! This is my cup of tea! There is lots more I could say about this treasure, along with the rates are just great, but that's enough for a tantalizing bit. If you're ever in the area...
Today is the day we switched from opening windows for cooler air in the evenings and at night, to opening windows and doors for warmer air in the mornings. A touch of the next season is upon us.
Elias Pitzer Williams was the insurance man's great, great grandfather, and a pioneer of Oregon. He led a fascinating life, and I have written a series of stories from his life, and have decided to share them here occasionally. The following is story #2...enjoy!
On the Death of Mother, Anne
Ten year old Elias hurried through the house and up the wooden stairs to mothers' bedroom. His steps slowed with anxiety as he approached the opened door. A small oil lamp was burning low on the table beside her, and she lay against several pillows, hardly making a dent on the mattress, so small and frail she looked. The red, green and yellow quilt she had made for her marriage covered and engulfed her. She heard him and turned her head so that her big eyes looked full at him. The love in her eyes pierced Elias' heart as he rushed to her and fell on his knees. He laid his head on her quilt, and his tears dripped slowly.
"Mother...mother...," he choked out.
"Hush, Elias," she soothed, her voice little more than a whisper. She lifted her hand weakly and placed it on his cheek.
"My first born, my only son," she breathed out with a sigh. "How I have loved to see you grow, and I am proud of you. I wish to tell you what large burdens will be on your shoulders. You must help father to take care of your sisters and help him to bear the sadness."
"Mother, I will help him, you know I will. But how are we to stand the sadness?" He raised his head to hear her answer.
"Elias, son, God has given us this good land, our good family, and His blessings. We can trust Him now in the hard things."
"But I will miss you so," he sobbed into her hand, even as the thought crossed his mind that he should be too old for crying.
"Will you get my bible, son?" she asked, her voice faint.
Elias stood while brushing his cheeks, and wiping his eyes. He looked around the room for her small Welsh bible, and saw it lying on a table beneath the window, in a patch of moonlight, beside a low burning candle. Picking it up he felt the soft, worn leather in his hand, and returning he brought it to mother before sinking to his knees once again.
"Elias, find Romans chapter eight, from verse twenty-eight to the end, where it says God has good plans for us."
Elias had to lean close to her lips to hear her words. Turning frayed pages he found the verses she wanted. He looked at her, and her eyes encouraged him. She wanted him to read them to her he knew, as he had often done before. She had taught him to read Welsh, her native tongue from this little book.
"And we know, that all things work together for good..." his voice left him as he wondered how her sickness could work for good, and he waited, until presently he tried again.
"to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." She nodded, and he continued slowly reading the words until he finished chapter eight with "neither death, nor life, nor angels nor things present, nor things to come, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." He looked up at her.
"Do you really believe this?" she asked him. "Do you believe that God has purpose for me and you?" Elias struggled for an honest answer.
"Mother I do believe, but I don't understand the sadness. It hurts too much to see you sick and weak, and know you are leaving us."
Elias closed the little black bible, then got up and sat beside her on the edge of the low bed, picking up her work-worn, blue-tinged hand. Mother spoke only a few words at a time between short breaths.
"You are my big son now, and must find faith and strength to believe. The words say that nothing shall come between us and the love of our God, and nothing will come between our love for one another, not even death. God will go on being good, and I will be safe, with Him. Remember forever that I have loved you, but God loves you more, and He will be with you. It will be your choice now to trust Him."
She moved slightly, and motioned Elias closer. Slowly, she brought her arms up around his neck, and Elias buried his face in her shoulder, feeling the sharp bones press into him. They stayed together for long moments until her arms dropped away.
"You must take my bible," she whispered into his ear. "Father will have the big family one." She closed her near hand over his on the lined leather.
"Read it and love it and think of our good times when you do. Now, please Elias, to send father in."
Elias got to his feet, his face wet and his nose running.
"I love you mother," he said one last time before turning away and walking to the door.
He quietly closed it and carefully holding the precious bible, he went down the narrow stairs, feeling a painful knot tight in his chest. After telling father that mother wanted him, he ran outside into the blackness. The darkness of the night matched his insides. He was no longer hunger, he just wanted to be alone.
After a time he found his way to the barn. Putting the bible down on some hay, he went back to the unfinished work of brushing down Rob, their big work horse. He put all his strength into each stroke, trying to work out the knot in his chest. He felt some comfort in the familiar routine. When all the horses were contentedly munching on forkfuls of fresh hay, Elias slid to the packed earth floor and sat for some time with his head between his knees. He heard the barn door open and felt father sit down beside him. Only soft animal sounds and the occasional creaking of barn wood disturbed the quietness between them.
"Son, yer mother has gone," father said, choking on the words as he said them. Elias remained silent, burdened by his own pain.
After a while, father got up and went back outside. Elias finally gave in to his grief and lay on the floor sobbing until he was cried out. Sleep found him there, and held him the rest of the night.
The next morning Elias woke at daylight, as bright rays of sun picked their way through cracks in the barn walls. Someone had put a blanket over him in the night, probably father. He all-too-quickly remembered that this day would not hold his precious mother in it, but he also felt his empty belly growl with hunger. He sat up and reached for mother's bible lying next to him in the hay. Looking around he saw a good hiding spot between some cream cans on a wooden shelf. After safely tucking it behind one, he started on his chores. Although he was hungry, he knew it was too early for breakfast to be ready. Somehow doing what he always did helped him not to think or feel. Father did not appear, and that made everything strange, because he could not ever remember a time when father was not doing chores alongside him. When he was through with the chicken house, he went to the pump to wash up. His sister Mary came out and stood beside him. She didn’t speak, but just looked at him with
her soft brown eyes, as if waiting. He dried his hands, and then put his arms
about her. They communicated and shared their pain without saying a word. Resolutely
they turned, climbed the stairs and entered the kitchen. His Aunt Carys was
busy over the stove, and his cousins Drystan and Brin, along with Elias’
younger sisters, five year-old Martha Claire and two year-old Cecelia, were already
eating at the table. The girls were too young to understand that their mother
was gone for good, but the feelings of grief about them had subdued the
children. Aunt Carys turned to Elias and Mary and told them:
has gon to tak car of things, and yer ta eat nohw. Yer modder will lae in da box in da parlor later, an folks will be comin. Yer ta cleen
up and be widd yer fadder.”
Aunt Carys’ Welsh brogue was thick, but they
both understood. Elias had a feeling of dread rush over him at the thought of
seeing mothers' body, and he quickly sat down. He ate his porridge rapidly,
filling his empty stomach, and thought his Aunt Carys a good cook. He
guessed they would not be going back to the farm for a few days, and that his
uncles would be there taking care of the work. After finishing her breakfast,
Mary rose to clear the table and clean up the little ones. Elias turned and
escaped back to the sky, trees, and sun.
people came and went from the house. The parlor and kitchen were full of food
and people. One of his aunts took Martha Clair and Cecelia to her house, while
Mary helped to provide for their guests. Just before supper Elias came back to
the house, knowing father expected him,and went upstairs. He changed into clean church clothes, then went to the barn
and got down mother’s bible. He held it, and sat on the back steps. He ran his
finger over the well-worn cover and thought of her giving it to him. He decided he would
keep it with him no matter where he went. It would be his connection to mother. Father came
out the back door to find him.
you must come in to see Mother, and pay respects.”
“I don’t want
to see her gone,” Elias told him.
“I know, but you will have to trust me tis good, and will do
yer good,” Thomas replied as he sadly and knowingly laid an arm across Elias’
“Death is a part of life, and yer need to learn of it. God is wise and
takes as He gives. Come now.
Father led Elias through the
crowded kitchen to the parlor. There were only a few folks standing there, and
the wood coffin seemed to entirely fill the room. Thomas left him, knowing
Elias needed to be alone to grapple with death. Elias slowly approached, and
felt himself gasp as he viewed mother’s face. She was so peaceful and pretty,
the way he remembered from when he was younger. Suffering had left no marks,
and her pain was gone. Tears started to choke him, but he swallowed them down.
He was done with crying. He walked nearer and studied her face, trying to etch
every detail onto the slate of his memory. He stood there for a long time, not
wanting to touch her, not wanting to feel the difference. He desperately wanted her to open
her eyes and smile at him with her special look, to get up and hug him, but he
knew that would never happen again. He wondered what it would be like for her
now in heaven, and if she could see him here with the body she had left behind.
That thought brought a small easing of the knot inside, and he somehow knew he could
carry her with him. In the end he clasped his hands and bowed before mother,
showing his respect and love. Acknowledging the finality, he whispered his
good-bye and walked across the room. Father came up to him.
“Elias son, I am sending you to the
farm tonight to do yer grievin’ there. I know how ya love the farm, and I will
be there in days to come. Yer Uncle will take you after supper. Work hard, I am
counting on ya.”
Elias was glad to be going. Now
that he had paid his respects to mother, and was carrying her in his heart, he
wanted to be away from this room, from sickness and death, and this house. He
went upstairs, changed back into his farm overalls, then went to the barn and
retrieved mother’s bible. It was his bible now, to carry with him always.
Elias stopped while putting a night
crawler on his hook and looked up long enough to watch the geese flying south
in their customary arrow-shaped pattern, honking back and forth boisterously
and flying just over his head beneath a clear blue sky. The hot sun on the
water before him drew lots of bugs which helped attract the fish, and made him
glad for the coolness here under the tree branches along the bank of the river.
He looked back at his hook, finished baiting it with the fat worm and cast it
into the river, watching it drift around in the eddy. He sat, leaned his back
against a cottonwood trunk and relaxed. He dug his toes into the damp mud
feeling happy and quiet after finishing his day’s work. This was his favorite
spot, where the river eddied and formed a kind of pool and the bigger fish lay
quietly in the depths. He eyed the cottonwood branches over him, thinking that this
was the perfect time of day, the sun slanting its last hot breath across the
river before fading into the hazy purple of twilight. Small water noises and
the droning of bugs were all around him.
Elias held his new pole with pride. He had turned ten last
month, and his father had given him this pole after work that day. Elias knew
his father had no time to spare, but the gift was his way of letting him know
he was proud. His father had cut a good cottonwood branch, shaped it and set it up
with string and a real hook. It was a reward for doing his work well. For a
while his thoughts drifted back to that wonderful day, then he sat up and
checked that his line was still free and bobbing along in the current.
Satisfied, he settled back and grew drowsy with the humming of insects in the
been one of the rare ones where he had worked in their sawmill, getting lumber
ready to sell. Elias enjoyed those days. He liked the smell and feel of raw
wood, he liked working with his father, and it was much cooler working inside. Father
said they had the only sawmill in all of northwestern Ohio. These days there were more and
more people buying land around them and they all needed lumber to build houses and
barns. The town needed their lumber too as more buildings went up. He knew he was old
enough now to really help and that felt good.
Other days he worked out in the fields, where father grew
oats, corn and hay. Father bought this land for farming just before Elias was
born and he had told him many times how fertile their soil was and how he could
grow about anything. On most days, though, he worked with his uncles, cleaning
out the barns, working with the cows, pigs and chickens, or hoeing weeds in their
large garden. Whatever the day held, Elias liked best to be working alongside
his father. He liked being the only son and being needed. Suddenly
Elias jumped to his feet as he felt his line jerk sharply. It felt like he had
a big one, and he pulled up hard on the string to firmly hook the mouth. This
was the moment he loved, when the fish tried with all its strength to win the
battle of wills. He let the fish fight him for a while, and then he slowly
backed up to bring the fish to land. It flashed at the surface then jumped a
couple of times, and Elias could see that he had caught a blue catfish. His
mouth watered as he thought about fried catfish for supper. In a short time
Elias emerged victorious, and the fish flopped about on the grassy bank.
Pulling his hook from the fish’s mouth, he put more bait on it and threw it
back into the river. He turned and noted with triumph that the fish was one of
the bigger ones from the bottom of the eddy, a good catch by any standard.
Tossing his fish further up the bank, he slid back
down to his spot against the cottonwood tree, and all fell silent once again. Elias
was free to return to his thoughts. One thing Elias didn’t like about staying on the farm was
being away from his mother while she was sick, and he frowned as he thought
about it. He missed mother, who was at their small house in town. He knew father
felt the same. In winter father and Elias spent every night in town, and
sometimes part of the days. But during spring and summer thework and chores were never ending at the
farm. Father drove the two of them into town whenever possible, and they always
spent Sundays with mother and the girls. Once in a while father would leave
Elias in town to help mother with the chores there. This burden had become larger and
larger for Elias of late, as mother was able to do less and less. Now his thoughts became worried ones, thinking about
mother and how she had grown weaker, and as often before, he asked
God please to make her stronger.
started, as a hand came to rest on his shoulder. He had been so absorbed in his
thoughts he hadn’t heard father approaching. He looked up into his worried
face, and knew instantly that something was wrong.