Sunday, September 18, 2011

Memories and Changing Seasons!

Top photo is view from back yard
Second photo is of a black bear and cub digging around on the hill side
Third picture is of Marvin and his horse, Spike...ready to get in the saddle
Another picture of the channels of water out back door
Last picture is of Marvin and I in 1970, around Christmastime

I began this post on our wedding anniversary, September 18, 2011...and then got sidetracked! We did not have a traditional wedding by any means. I had always wanted a small wedding if I ever married -- I thought it really foolish to spend all that money on a expensive wedding when you could put it into a down payment on a home or other important life necessities.

However, our wedding was "way small"...we were married by the Marriage Commissioner in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada...they had to call in two clerks as witnesses -- now that is "way small"...we have no pictures of that day, which is really a shame. I remember I wore a lovely light colored turquoise (Vogue pattern) dress that I had made and wore lovely gray leather pumps and gray leather purse. I wore my turquoise jewelry -- my birthstone. Marvin wore western. We stayed overnight in Lethbridge and when we returned to the ranch, Marvin's dad wanted to know "what took us so long"...and the adventure began.

I remember there was a lady at the lodge that told me to go home and think it over and if I really wanted to do this (get married) then to come back. What did she know that I did not, always thought that was an interesting comment to make. However, I did not go home. My parents came out before our marriage and we really should have gotten married when they were here but for some reason I cannot remember now, we waited until September. We planned on getting married on September 11, 1970...but a very big snow storm hit and the roads were really bad -- we spent the day pulling tourists from the ditches. This snow brought on the change of seasons. (One should probably stay a winter in the place they will call home and check out the weather extremes prior to making any long-term commitments.)

Winter did come that year and it never left! We stayed at the guest lodge for the first winter...

We could have lived up at the lodge with Marvin's dad, but I saw the "writing on the wall" and knew that I would be taking care of his father and the lodge from then on if we stayed there.

There was an old homestead on part of the ranch and I thought with a little "fixing up" we could live there...good golly, cows had used it for shelter at some time with all the cow pies in there. Toilet full of "stuff"...we later found out that people would camp out in the old home in the summers. It was certainly going to be a challenge. The home had begun with a log cabin maybe one and then another section attached. A large living room was added on as well as a large kitchen. The bathroom might have been an afterthought or because of circumstances was put in later. There were two porches. I did like the sink by one of the back doors. We had a local person fix up the house inside as much as possible. Outside it was an early gray chipped stucco shack-type construction. There was frame and then chicken wire and then stucco which was chipping off. The roof was tar paper with a full shingle-type paper laid over it. The ceilings were low, like maybe 7 feet. Flies came out like a swarm of bees during the winter whenever it warmed up. I did not know that many flies existed, anywhere. The toilet/plumbing never really worked...we discovered why many years later. Marvin came with a bit of a "hope chest" -- some furniture, dishes, stuff like that -- good thing. I always thought and expressed that a hope chest was rather foolish and that if the person I married could not afford the necessities I could not afford to marry him -- silly me -- I did come with a sewing machine, however!

My first real shock came when I found out that farmers/ranchers lived on borrowed money until the end of year when they sold their product and then got "paid"! These were the days when the fuel companies, farm implement dealers, and other farm enterprises kept a "tab" going until the end of the season when calves, hay, grain was sold and then the farmer/rancher would "settle up" with them. Astounding! (I remember when I worked positions in the Chicago area and they paid once a month -- I thought that was very strange! But once a year!)

My husband put up those sticky fly strips...I cannot tell you how many times I caught my long hair in those darn things hanging here and there! Awful!

Quantity grocery shopping was another eye opener for me. How on earth could you shop for a whole season in one day at some kind of huge food warehouse. (I do remember that this same warehouse did home deliveries in a big truck -- astounding to be sure.) Back in Illinois we shopped for, maybe, a week of food...we had the refrigerator with a small freezer on top. My new family had these big chest freezers. I do remember buying way too many kidney beans and tomato soup that year -- hard to ever buy any more. It had something to do with my Mom's Hungarian Goulash recipe.

I found so many interesting items out in the piles of old cars, wagon wheels, etc...that I would drag them in and decorate our little home with them. The inside was mostly knotty pine with knotty pine cupboards -- a whole lot of knotty pine cupboards! I loved knotty pine, which was good thing.

Marvin brought down an old cook stove that they had in Nebraska. It was really unique (I thought, anyway) was nice and large with a grill in the middle and had a cover that folded up and when you were not using it, you could fold it back down and cover the burners. Now, the real problem that I found with this stove was that it ran on Propane...propane was totally foreign to me and the only thing I had heard about propane was when someones home blew up because of a propane leak and that the propane tanks can take off like jets and cremate anything in its course! Then I found out we were going to heat with wood!

Well, all these concerns paled when Mr. Wind arrived on the scene...we lived with tornadoes in Illinois...good golly...the wind was like have a tornado come every day -- day in and day out and all could it blow that hard that long?

The old homestead was not a warm home by any means...the wind howled in and around all the cracks and the old windows rattled...I assumed there was insulation in the walls...however, the cotton and paper had slid down many years ago and there was nothing much to stop the wind and cold and flies from coming in for a visit. We had to get an old bed out of storage that had a headboard so our hair was not rearranged during the night. I used to joke that if I put my arm beyond the headboard to stretch, the wind would blow it back in.

I now had made the inside of our home as comfortable as possible and my "rules of the house" were very strictly enforced. Absolutely no shoes in the house -- we, after all, did live in very close proximity to a corral full (at times) of cattle and very smelly stuff. I had a sign posted at the top of door jam as you entered the living room -- it stated "absolutely no dirty bodies beyond this point"...this sign was hung with yarn and would blow in the wind most of the time -- nice fresh air coming from the ceiling, I assumed!

The wood stove was in the kitchen...there was no heat in the back bathroom (the only bathroom) with crazy a "mind-of-it-own" toilet. No heat in the bedrooms...we were finally able to buy a used propane (Propane!) heater for the living room. The electric power would go off and stay off for days, weeks at a time. Thank goodness for the channels of water outside our back door and for the -- Okay, I am going to say it -- the wonderful propane cook stove and propane heater! We could boil our water for baths etc and could keep cooking food.

We lived in this home for about 10 years until we had a new home built beside, all new and clean -- no mice, flies, bats, skunks, shrews, and so many other critters were left behind!

By now we had a new well and septic system another real plus.

Well, the day is beautiful outside and I just have to get out to this great weather before Winter comes I will leave this adventure for now.

Everyone take care of each other!


  1. Happy belated anniversary. First homes are usually an adventure. The stories that can be told. I like yours...

    Congratulations on so many years of marriage.

  2. Great story! Roxie