Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Home is where the Heart is

I have lived in many houses in many places, but one house rises above all others as the place I think of as home.  None of us live there anymore.  After Mom's stroke we sold it to a friend so that Mom could move to Roswell and live with Jamie.  But I think it's safe to say that we all still think of it as home, even Zachary who found it to be the one constant in his nomadic Air Force Brat life.  All roads led back to 921 West Plaza, even after I had grown and gone, when I said I was going home I meant this house. There are so many memories of our life there I cannot begin to capture them all, but here are the ones that come immediately to mind while looking at this picture.  
First I remember our front yard which was made of white rocks instead of grass.  Believe it or not we learned to run across those rocks into the melting summer asphalt and across the street to Cathy Clancy's house barefooted.  The first trip of the summer was always the hardest, but by the time August rolled around we did not even give it a thought.  You might think that because the yard was not lawn that maintenance would be minimal.  You would be wrong.  Weeds would come up all over the yard and because of the rocks you could not mow them down, they had to be pulled, or so Mom said.  Have you tried pulling a weed out of the sun baked sod of the southern High Plains?  I do not recommend it.   Imagine my surprise when my soon to be husband Steve said "why don't you just spray them with round-up"   What is this "round-up" of which you speak I asked.  He turned me on to herbicide that day and it is one of the enduring reasons I love him so.  Speaking of Steve, please notice the mimosa tree growing in the front.  It is what you might call a late bloomer if you think it should be leafed out and in full flower in February.  Steve thought so, and since it wasn't he attempted to cut it down.  We put a stop to his butchery just in time.  We pointed out that dormant and dead are two different things.  We saved that tree and it still stands today, having grown big and sturdy enough to support the weight of three grand kids who climbed up into the cool shade of its canopy each in their turn.

To the left off the garage are buried three dogs,  our beloved Panchito and Conejo, who grew up in that house right beside me and Jamie and Granny's dear Little Bit .  We had thought we would put Milford's ashes there too, but now that the house is sold to another, we'll take Milford with us to our next and hopefully last house.

You can also see poking up over the roof of the house the swamp cooler.  Its a bit of a dinosaur today, but when I was growing up all the houses had them, and what little I know about mechanics I learned working on the swamp cooler.  

Now the road home leads to  Roswell, a town I never lived in.  It seems sad and strange not to take the familiar roads to my old town and my old neighborhood,, until I see all the familiar faces and things surrounded by new walls, and then I realize I am back home after all.  

Friday, May 10, 2013

The bathroom sink

The book asked today if my dad shaved with a straight  razor or an electric one.  I do not know.   I only vaguely recall ever seeing him shave.  I was generally not out of bed yet when he was getting ready for the day, so do not recall how he shaved, though I know he must have.   All men in the Air Force have to shave, and I do not recall ever seeing him with a beard, though I do remember his whiskers. What I can recall about my dad and the bathroom sink was the ever present bar of lava soap and the faint residue of motor oil and grease left behind  after he did his best to scrub clean after work.  The lava soap was not meant for us, but I used it anyway, who could resist soap with bits of rock embedded in it?  And the truth be told, it worked pretty well after a hard day of making bricks out of the ashes at the bottom of the grill, or digging a hole in the ground at school.  I liked getting my hands dirty back then and still do today.  I have tried to wear gloves but they just wind up getting in my way or getting full of holes so on the rare occasion when I do try them out, they are ditched withing the first thirty minutes or so of any given project.   As a result my hands have prematurely aged, but ainokea, it is what it is.  I have more fun using my hands than admiring them.  I suspect Daddy felt the same way about his hands, they were tools to be used and use them he did.  I remember his finger nails were mangled on one hand after an industrial accident, the details of which escape me.  Mom did tell me  though that he had to have a skin graft on his fingertips and they took the skin from his chest, so from then on he had hairs that would grow from his fingertips, but because he used his hands so much they were always worn down.   So how did he shave?  I cannot say, but I think  pumice soap and mangled fingernails is a reasonable substitute.
Update: After reading the blog to Mom she says that Daddy shaved with a saftey razor and shaving soap...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Family Reunions

Me with my Uncle Dale Furney and my coousin Rosanne Brueggman in Golden CIty, MO
August 2009
Banta family Renunion
Me posing near the Banta Road sign near Steve's childhood home in NJ,
It was named after my ancestor
When  I hear the phrase "Family Reunion" it conjures up all kinds of images.  I think of large extended families where everybody is familiar, kind of like I feel when I visit with all of Steve's brothers and sisters and their kids.  We all know each other and have a shared history even if its an aggregate cobbled together from random scraps accumulating here and there over the years.   I also get a mental picture of an over-sized picnic filled with laughing people  in old fashioned clothes.  I know it comes  from the black and white photos I have of an old Bartley family reunion that took place in Thompson park in Amarillo when my mother was a girl.  By the time I came along we had fallen out of the loop and were no longer attending the reunions assuming they were even still happening.    I had never been to a family reunion until the summer of 2009.  I had just rediscovered my Furney family roots and by extension my Banta family roots.   The Banta's were and still are as far as I know having their annual family reunion in Golden City Missouri.  The year I went I met with my Dad's brother Dale who took me all around West Plains and told me about his life there with my Dad.  The next morning we headed for Golden City to be the first people at a Banta reunion to represent the offspring of Nell Banta Riley, the one child of James Henry Banta who had never had representation at the reunion.  She and hers it seems had also fallen out of the loop.  Her daughter, my Grandmother died young so the connection had been lost for a while.   I was glad to go to the reunion and get Nell's family back into the loop, and I hope  I can  again one day.  I did not know a soul in the building, but still felt oddly at home.  Maybe it was in seeing all the double chins; I guess that must be a  Banta trait;  now I know who to blame...Maybe the ease I felt there was the product of genetic memory, being among people who shared so much of my lineage.  Whatever it was, it was powerful and I liked it.  It was not unlike walking through the old church yard in Hackensack and seeing the headstones of all the people I knew  who were my kin, not creepy in the least despite the tilting headstones and heaving graves.  I felt quite at ease in that ancient burial place.  I guess it comes down to a feeling of belonging. A belonging that is a birthright and  not a privilege, somthing to be either  bestowed or withdrawn, but something that is.  Like Descartes said "I think therefore I am."   I say "I am, therefore I belong."