Posted in Children

1 month old

My Darling Emma Kate,

I’m writing to you, my precious, even though I know you can’t read yet.  But you’re so smart, I’m convinced it will probably only take you another couple of months at the rate you’re going!    I want to capture your life and all its milestones, stepping stones, and rocky roads you travel until that glorious day when you string sounds together on paper and read words.  Then we can write your life together.  Won’t that be fun?

The first time I got to hold you.
You were already thinking, "I know this old gal."

You’ve walked this earth for one month today.  Technically you haven’t walked this earth.  You haven’t  crawled, scooted or even rolled this earth.  Rather you’ve been lugged and toted,  passed from person to loving person who simply adore you and practically come to blows over whose going to hold you next.  Truthfully, I’ve actually witnessed 2 grown men holler, “I’ve got her”  and race each other to your crib when you made the littlest possible squeak.  Teenagers used to do that when the telephone rang, back when I was a girl.

This is where your feet are while I type this, causing my mouse to move all over and my screens to disappear.

You are simply adored.  You have no idea how many people love you, and I do mean love you.  Full, unmeasured, unconditional love.   I update my Facebook status regularly with posts all about you and show your pictures and can you believe that people who aren’t even your blood kin call you beautiful!!  And that’s because you are.  Just remember to always act beautifully, okay?  What your insides look like is more important in this life than your outsides.  Beauty fades, sweet girl.  But right now, you own it.   You have the sweetest round face, the longest eyelashes, and the best smile of any baby I’ve ever seen. You’ve been smiling since we first saw you.  People say it’s gas, but I believe you’re happy to be here.  You had to wait a long time, but now you’re here.

Your pudgy belly hangs over your little newborn britches, making you absolutely squeezable.  You are weighing in at a hefty 9 lbs .3 ounces and are 20 7/8″ long.  The doctor says you look great, you are about in the 50th percentile in height, weight, and head size, which is just a big way of saying you’re absolutely perfect!  Your lungs sound good.  You are a healthy girl, fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, and oh how I thank Him daily for you.

You, one month old

You are strong and are beginning to hold your head up for longer and longer periods of time.   You were alert from day one, and other than beautiful, it’s the second most commented aspect of your personality.  Sometimes, it’s as if you are just going to open your mouth and start talking.  Your aunt Jolea said it’s as if you have an old soul.  My friend, Mrs. Z said you act like a 3 month old in a newborn outfit.

Having some tummy time on the Boppy.

Lots of people say you look like your daddy, a few say me, and a handful say there are parts of your grandpa in you.  Even I see that sometimes, especially when you first wake up all groggy acting, and tufts of hair from your balding head are  sticking out on the sides.

I already think you’ve grown so much this first month, and I want time to slow down, but at the same time, I can’t wait to see who you’re going to be.  Are you going to be outgoing?  Daredevilish? Reserved?  Quiet? Creative? Outdoorsy?  Will you like peas and bananas or will you spit them out?  I already know you’re going to love strawberries because I dreamed it.  I can’t wait to hear you laugh, and I look forward to our future.  We are going to have such fun.

your favorite pastime these days

You are the light of my life.  My sunshine.  You make me happy all the time, when skies are gray or blue.

You will never, never, never know how much I love you, baby girl.

XOXO,

Mommy

Advertisements
Posted in Animals, Children

Really, Mom?

My baby’s got hats.  She’s got a lot of hats.  I am nuts for a knitted hat.  Or crocheted, since I don’t really know the difference.

But my baby’s also got problems.  Her head is small and her hats are big.

So while I’m waiting for her head to grow, I thought we’d try out a headband.  I’m not crazy about headbands, but decided she needed a different look rather than just her bare head.

This is what we got.

I don’t know, but there’s something vaguely familiar about those feathers on her head.

Oh, I know.  She kind of reminds me of one of these, only pink.

image courtesy of mypetchicken.com

Except of course, my baby girl is much cuter.

So, instead of toting her around looking like a white silkie rooster, I’ve decided we’ll wait for her to grow into her hats.
(and the whole world nods in agreement and sighs in relief)

Posted in Animals

Small Miracles

So why did the chicken cross the road?

To get back home from her Mexican vacation, that’s why.

Yes, it’s a small miracle, but I’ll take it.  My missing yellow chicken that I wrote about in this post here, has returned safely.

I don’t know where she’s been, I only know that she’s home.  She was lost, but now she’s found.  The prodigal hen has come to her senses and returned to her chickie mama.  And there was great rejoicing.  And a small bit of befuddlement as to where this yellow bird has been the past couple of weeks.

I have a sneaking suspicion that she’s gone broody in a place I haven’t discovered yet.  A broody chicken is a good mama chicken.  More than anything, she desires to sit on a nest of eggs and hatch them, fertilized or not.  A broody hen gets a little cranky if you try to get her eggs from the nest, she may growl (imagine that) or peck you.  Sometimes a broody hen will not even leave the nest to eat or drink.

From past experience, we have found 8-10 eggs lain here or there.  One time, we discovered a nest up on the stacked hay bales.  Another time, some kids discovered a nest out by some big round bales of hay while out playing around the place.  So, if I was a betting woman, I’d put some money down that the yellow hen has spent many days sitting on a nest of eggs somewhere around this Chicken Ranch, hoping beyond hope to hatch a few little chicks, knitting her pink and blue baby blankets……. all for naught.

Or she’s been vacationing in Mexico.  Anything’s possible, right?

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #42—Neighbors

“Wish I could move my family, live up on Highway 10, where the beavers chew on sycamores and the neighbors are your friends.” Highway 10 by Dan Garber

Once upon a time here in the wooded hills of Eastern Oklahoma the word neighbor had special meaning. But that was before the days of moon shots and divided highways. Before speed became of the essence and everyone was in a hurry to make it to the local discount store. Before Tahlequah became a Mecca for canoeists and rafters, and highway 10 wasn’t as dangerous as an impact area.

Your neighbor was a strange duck, and they all seemed to be cut from the same bolt of cloth. He not only came by with his help when some catastrophe struck, but he also showed up to help with the celebration of any event that you deemed important. He would sit in church with you listening to the message, or he could pull a cork with you with equal aplomb.

He came by during the long evenings of summer and gossiped with your parents about the going on’s in the community of which we all were a part, while his kids chased lightning bugs and dodged bull bats with you in the long shadows.

If you took sick, your neighbor could always find time from his own busy schedule of hoeing corn or the many chores that go with living on a farm to check on your health. If your sickness lingered, your neighbor also took his turn sitting up with the patient, giving medicines and plenty of TLC. He was a good guy, your neighbor.

If your family suffered a death, your neighbor didn’t just come by with the usual flowers and the old “call me if you need me” before hurrying off on a sojourn of his own. He helped prepare the body for burial, opened and closed the grave and generally made himself handy around the place. He was also the first if called upon to heap praises on the newly departed, even if it was only a “I’ll say this for old Claude, he was a good ol’ boy.”

The neighbor showed up early on the chilly mornings during hog killing time. He had with him his favorite butcher knife and whetstone and he knew just how hot the water should be to ensure you a good scald. He could trim hams and shoulders, and he could look at a hog and tell you how much meat you would have that winter.

Your neighbor didn’t count his visits nor did he wait for an invitation to dinner.  Many times I’ve been sent out to catch a couple of fryers just because the neighboring family showed up. While I was chasing fryers, Mama was going through her canned goods, looking for that jar of green beans that was so pretty or that half-pint of strawberry jam that had that special clarity. Now it seems that if we have unexpected company, we head for the Colonel’s for a bucket of his extra crispy.

If your house was destroyed by fire, as ours was back in ’53, nobody asked about insurance, there wasn’t any. Neighbors just went quietly about the community gathering clothing for five growing kids without the benefit of any money changing hands.

Sunday was sort of a Roman Holiday at the community of Briggs back during the 50’s. The grown ups sat and talked while the littler children played about their feet. The bigger boys flirted with the older girls while some of us might have sneaked off to take a swim in our birthday suits, flashing and frolicking like young seals in our exuberance.

Today we don’t wait for our neighbors to come for a visit. In fact, many of us leave the house in fear that very thing might happen.
We hurry through the day to get on the road ahead of traffic to go nowhere and to do nothing when we get there. We join a caravan of cars, cussing and calling the other drivers imbeciles for slowing down the traffic in our lane. We hermetically seal ourselves in our own vehicles, insulated and air conditioned against our neighbors while the latest tunes waft from our stereos. Nobody comes aborrowin’ anymore. No one can find the time from the everyday rush to sit a spell and whittle. Night time finds us down at Ned’s where we might find escape from the misery that is eating us alive, or we sit and stare at the boob tube.

We don’t have hog killings anymore because we find it simpler to drive down to the supermarket. The discount center is a short drive away so we don’t borrow a cup of sugar anymore and not many people even know what a framing square is, so there’s no reason to borrow one of those from your neighbor.

If things get too tough we can take a valium and make another appointment with the shrink.
The thought makes me sad that we don’t need neighbors anymore, because we all need to be needed.

Written by R.L. Briggs on July 20, 1996

 

 

 

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #41—All About August

The last week of July was uncommonly cool, but we’ll still have the fragrance ridden nights that are filled with the smell of honeysuckle. Nothing stirs the memory for me quite like the odor of honeysuckle and lilac.

I recall crushed and faded flowers in the old family Bible, maybe alongside a curl clipped from the head of a loved one.  And, the old Sycamore tree that has my initials, with hers, carved into the bark.  That old tree is still standing.  How many families of hawks have lived there in its lofty branches?  How many times has the old tree heard the raucous cawing of crows or the first chatter of a fox squirrel’s young during the passing years?

July is a fine time to go about cherishing all your favorite memories so as to build a cushion for your coming old age.  Now here comes August with her full, lazy, warm days and star-studded nights, filled with the rasping of the Cicadas.  August is the old age of summer, it is a good time to plant a rocking chair in the shade of a live oak tree and let the last month of summer lull you into contentment.

Recently while fishing the upper Illinois, I watched canoe after canoe filled with partying teenagers and young people float past my fishing spot.  I inquired of my fishing partner, “wouldn’t you like to trade places with those young ‘uns?”  He stared thoughtfully at the water a little while then said, “No, I don’t believe I would.  They have yet to climb all those rugged hills that we have already climbed.  They think life’s all peaches and cream, bu they’ll have more trouble in an hour than I’ve had in my whole life.  Let them have the youth, I’ll be perfectly content to just sit here in the shade and watch them rush through life.”

August is also the time for school to start.  At least that’s the way it was in the country schools when I was attending school.

Country schools let the students out earlier than the schools in town, so we always ended up starting back in the middle of the dog days of summer.

My first grade teacher was one of my heroines.  Well, let’s put things in a plainer light—I was head over heels in love with her.  She was a petite woman, soft and she smelled cuddly.  She taught me to read and write, and to cipher my numbers.  She was awfully proud of my reading prowess because she would take me into another room filled with older students and have me read to them.

Grades 1 and 2 had one room in elementary school, grades 3, 4, and 5 were in the second room.  Grade 6, 7, and 8 were taught by a male teacher and that’s where the elite were firmly entrenched–the softball team.

I swore that I would make that ball club someday.  Little did I know that to make the team all you needed was a warm body.  School attendance was at such a low that we even played girls on our team, and as I recall they were pretty good players, too.  One thing that I learned about girls by playing ball with them, was that softball is just a game and not a life or death situation.  And that an 8th grade girl certainly fills out a softball uniform better than a guy

But back to my first grade teacher.  She used to capture all the guys and comb their hair just before the school photographer took our pictures every year.  I didn’t fight too hard on these occasions, just a small token struggle to let the other guys know that I was all he-man.  She would pull me to her breasts, comb my hair into a big pompadour all the while telling me how cute I was.  I was determined to marry that woman and put her in such a nice place that she wouldn’t have to look at anyone else but me.  I don’t know which was the bigger heartbreak, finding out she was already married, with a daughter near my own age, or the fact that she told all the guys how cute they were.

*******************

Gypsying about the backroads of Eastern Oklahoma I recently saw a sad sight.  A motorist had run over a small mongrel dog while hurrying on his way to get nowhere and to do nothing when he got there.  A small waif-like boy weeped by the dog’s side.

Having raised two sons myself, and helping them to bury at least nine of their pets, I could empathize with the young boy.  I thought of a line from a poem that my own sons used to read at the funerals of their pets:
“Don’t worry master, I am here, out in the backyard under the bright grass where you left me.
It’s been a long year since I drowsed at your feet.
It is good now to feel them pressing the earth above me, like a warm quilt.” 

*******************

August is a good time to start neglecting your garden that you worked so hard to get started.  The sun is like molten lead and if you stay out in it too long it will cook your brains.  The weeks and long grasses are firmly ensconced in good old Mother Terra-Firma and need a most firm hand to discourage them to grow another foot or so overnight.

*******************

Art Webster is a first class Water Witch.  He has drilled hundreds of water wells and has yet to come up with a  dry hole.  I will be his witness on this, since I have helped him drill at least a dozen or so, and we hit water on everyone.

I’ve tried witching but can’t seem to get the hang of it although my brother claims to be able to feel the pull of the water.  He said it feels like a hand reaches up from the ground and gently grabs hold of that stick and pulls it down.  “It’s eerie,” he says, “you can’t hardly pull the stick back up.  You have to back away.”

No doubt water witching is almost as old as time itself.  If you are a non-believer you should hurry to the nearest library and pick up some information on the subject.  You may be a first class Water Witch your own self and not even know it.

Have a good August.

written by R.L. Briggs on August 3, 1996

A Chicken is good for a laugh or two

When we drove to a nearby city on Friday, January 27th to check into the hospital to give birth, we thought we’d only be gone a couple of days, and so we prepared for being gone only a couple of days.  But as fate would have it, it turned out to be seven.

J-Dub drove back to our home about 3 times during that week to check on things, get the mail, do a little work, overall, just tend to the things that needed to be tended to.

Of course in a situation like this, a lot of necessary tasks are overlooked for a short time, one of which being the chickens.  We left the chickens out, as is our custom, to free-range the place.  They had plenty of food and water and fresh air.  The day after we returned, I quickly went out to do a head count. Thirteen is the magic number.  But only twelve chickens did I find.  A yellow one was gone.

Naturally, I assumed the worst.  My mind returned to the coyote snatching that occurred a few months ago.  I quickly did a half-way-walk-around-the-place for any signs of demise like a plethora of feathers scattered about.  I checked the horse tanks, as we all know my chickens are fond of nearly drowning in a horse tank.  There were no signs.

I counted my losses, allowed myself a moment or two to grieve, and returned to the house.  Since then, J-Dub’s been penning them up for me at night.  Their range is no longer free.  They are jailbirds, for their own good.

Yesterday evening, a guest speaker was speaking at the church.  J-Dub was asked to play the drums for the praise and worship time.  He didn’t bother to unhook his horse trailer from his pick-up as he would be using it this morning to haul some horses to a nearby town for breeding.  Shortly before the service was to begin, I received a text from my husband informing me that a yellow chicken was in the church parking lot.  Evidently, she had hitched a ride to church in the horse trailer and then flew out once they were stopped.

Fortunately, some friends of ours recognized her and as the music was gearing up inside the church, I can only imagine our friends running around the parking lot chasing a stow-away chicken.

She was captured, trapped, and returned safely to her home later that evening.

I’m glad she’s home, and plus it gives me hope.  If one chicken can hitch a ride to church, perhaps my lost chicken is not dead after all.  Maybe , just maybe, she crossed the road and hopped a train.  Perhaps right now she’s drinking a Pina Colada in Mexico.  Living the life.   I can see her.  Beach chair, sunhat and shades, bikini, sipping on a long straw.  Because, after all, the winter’s do suck here.