Long Ago & Not Far Away

I cannot believe how many years have passed by...on days like this, beautiful June sunny days I think of riding out under the sun and then I remember no, those days are gone, but boy I wish they weren't. 

I can still smell my horse's sweat and the leather of the saddle. 

Sarina, knee deep in clover, alfalfa, and timothy.

Summer 1973, it was her first day at our place in the new pasture that Dad & Ed Falk helped put up corner posts on. The tiny barn that was once my grandparents' garage up here then down at their uptown home, now brought back to where it started...but this time on the old barn's foundation - with a fresh coat of oil-based paint courtesy of my Dad.

Dad was my right-hand man in getting everything ready for my dream-come-true that I had worked so hard to save money for ...


Weighted Blankets, Heavy Quilts

"Weighted Blankets" - I grew up with them. 

We called them homemade quilts made out of Mom's old polyester double-knit pant suits. 

Trust me, they were "weighted" (read: heavy!)


Mom's Secret Weapon

My cat Dusty - who loved me to pieces just like I loved him - was sent like a guided missile by my Mom every morning to push me OUT of bed. First Mom would yell up the stairs for me to wake up and get up, I'd eventually mumble, " getting up." I lied and Mom knew it. She'd yell again. Then I'd hear her call Dusty and I'd hear him run up the stairs a-thump-a-thump-a-thump...He'd jump on the bed, and come and STAND on me and start making serious biscuits...About that time I would surrender, laugh, pet him and get up.


Meeting my Irish Author

I'll always remember that night. 

I went alone, as I often did back in those days. 

Professor Sandra Manoogian Pearce had brought Irish author Edna O'Brien to Moorhead State University to read from her new novel HOUSE OF SPLENDID ISOLATION
It was October, 1995 and I had just bought a copy of the book at Zandbroz Variety, and O'Brien was going to do a signing after her reading. 
I arrived early to Weld Hall auditorium, where the event was taking place. I had not been there before, and I instantly loved its oldness and character. 
I settled in, and read from the book. I often will come very early to a venue to get a feel for the place before it comes alive with an audience. 

To hear Edna O'Brien read her own work was to forget where you were.

[Below is the rest of the interview shown above of Edna O'Brien, that was done the evening before the reading in Moorhead...]



I learned how to handwrite in 1967 in third grade.  Mrs. Knutson was our teacher for that year, and I remember her as a competent, pleasant woman but one that you just felt inclined to pay attention to.  I became very engaged and fascinated with learning to write in longhand.

The class was called Penmanship, and the activity itself was called handwriting.  I never heard it referred to as cursive until my own children were in school many years later...

An actual example of my handwriting from 1967 that my mother kept...

And another thing, what is the deal with how kids nowadays hold pens and pencils? It looks downright awkward. No wonder that many of them can't write very well! I also can't help wondering if they're not even making excuses for it...


Reading Aloud

I had my father make up (very good) stories on-the-fly many times he shared and acted out with various voices for me. 

I had out-loud reading done for me as a child, and later as an adult by family and friends. 

I read to my children entire books a chapter at a time, and have read short books to grandchildren. 

I have read to myself out loud many times just because it helped me understand the story better to HEAR it outside my head. Reading itself, speaking the words, is just FUN, too! 

I have read to other adults, in both reading theatre and to partners, entire books - it can be a very fun, social, and intimate activity!


So I says, says I...

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick  1887 - 1974

When I was a little girl, I'd often run down to my Grandma's house down the road, and hang out with her for an afternoon, day, or a sleepover.

When there, I'd more than likely be hanging out with not only my Grandma, but sometimes her friends and neighbors.

The old ladies would sit around having pots of tea, with cookies, bars, or slices of cake.  And always the visiting.

L to R: Great Aunt Hannah (Fitzpatrick) Fox, Grandma Elizabeth (Fitzgerald) Fitzpatrick [1969 in her home]

They would often regale one another with stories or sharing happenings that the others didn't know or hadn't witnessed.  It was the Facebook of their day.

And the way they told their stories, was unique and colorful...1
So I says to him, I says, "-------------------" And then she says, "-------------------" (and on it would go...)

1 - Historic Present (tense) is often used in usual discourse; Jespersen said that "The speaker, as it were, forgets all about time and recalls what he is recounting as vividly as if it were now present before his eyes."

The historic present is its own separate tense:

It is interesting to note that the rules for the distribution of -s in subject-verb concord do not apply in the "historic present", where -s even occurs with an adjacent, non-coordinated personal pronoun subject. Consider the following examples from Irish English (3a) and from north east Yorkshire (3b-c)

(3) a. And I goes down and gets him by the neck

b. I says

c. in comes I

This suggests that the historic present, which is used to bring dramatic effect to the narration of past events, is a special marked tense and not merely the present tense used to refer to the past.

(From: A subject-verb agreement: Evidence from analogical change in modern English dialects by Carol Chapman)

Conversations inspired by the photo above, on Facebook...

  • Betty Jeanne Short Thorsvig I have Grandma’s buffet and china closet; Sharon has the rocking chair. I also have her lazy Susan that is on the buffet. My Bill refinished them all; just beautiful.
    • Trish Short Lewis I feel like that room is still there, just like it is in that photo, and just waiting for me to come and visit it and the people in it. And I do...in my dreams...
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      Carolyn Peterson Betty Jeanne Short Thorsvig
      My mom Clara was so upset with her mom for teaching me to snap gum, she was a cool grandma and I loved her very much. The last time I saw grandma is when auntie Grace had passed away and all of us surprised her at the nursi
    • Trish Short Lewis I didn't realize that Grandma knew how to snap gum! I never saw her chew gum period. I learned something!! lol
    • Carolyn Peterson That’s what I was told I may have it wrong.
    • Delphine Mundorf No Carolyn you are right grandma taught me to snap gum too. We took grandma and grandpa on a trip with US to the black hills and grandma chewed gum and that's when I learned to snap gum. Much to my dad's displeasure.

    • Carolyn Peterson I know I have forgotten a lot so thank you .
    • dActive Now
      Carolyn Peterson Grandma and grandpa had strong Love 💕 for each other for all life dealt them , in sleeping 😴 upstairs across from there room they always got on there hands and knees to pray at night.

    • Delphine Mundorf Mom told me grandpa liked to drink in his younger years and grandma hated drinking. One night he went out on the town and grandma was mad so she locked him out of the house. Grandpa put a ladder up to get into the upstairs window. When he got half way up the ladder grandma pushed it over. Guess grandpa slept on the ground that night. LOL

    • Active Now
      Carolyn Peterson I love 💕 that story.

    • Trish Short Lewis Carolyn me, too... 😂🤣
    • Trish Short Lewis Delphine Wow, hidden talents that Grandma had that I never knew about...until now...lol
    • Trish Short Lewis Carolyn I never knew that, about them praying together like that. That is so beautiful! Please, think about your memories, and share more...every bit is precious to me...
  • David Conley Trish Short Lewis, you know, so many times people look different than what our memories of them are. But great grandma looks EXACTLY like I remember her!! 

    • Trish Short Lewis I know! I feel the same way. She was such a strong, positive personality, and was a great influence on my life, as she was to so many others...
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      Carolyn Peterson David Conley Many great memories from my grandma’s home . She would rock I and Corrine in the rocking chair. I Loved 💕 my grandma .Carolyn
    • Trish Short Lewis Carolyn, we all did! So many little ones passed through her homes and her arms! She made each of us feel very special. Can you share some memories of Grandma with us?
    • David Conley Trish Short Lewis my favorite is when I was 6. I was running past grandma who was at the kitchen table. I patted her leg on my way past. (You know, the wooden one?) Something didn't seem right, so I turned around, lifted up her dress, and that leg just didn't look right, so I bit it trying to figure out what was wrong with it?? Grandma laughed for a good 20 minutes!!! 😂😂😂lol

  • Zelda C. Hartje So how old were these beautiful ladies when this photo was taken? We always thought our grandparents were so old, but now realize that they weren’t so old, just looked old by today’s standards. Nothing better than growing up close to grandparents!

  • Diane Lande Johnson Looks like my grandmother’s house. My grandma always wore jersey dresses. I never saw her in pants.
  • Corrine Johnson Looking back at my grandmother I see how hard these women worked they were always amazing to me. I loved her so much. I loved the last summer I spent with her in 1962. I was home visiting from beauty school. That was the best of times and I am so grateful that I get the chance to be with her. Love you grandmother.
    • Trish Short Lewis What did you do with Grandma when you stayed with her in 1962, Corrine?
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  • Carolyn Peterson Eating homemade bread 🍞 and canned peaches 🍑 I

    • Trish Short Lewis Yes, both memories of those I have, also. Food was always a major theme in our family!!
  • Delphine Mundorf My dad loved her canned chicken in gravy. I was always so amazed. We slept upstairs when we visited. and I would come downstairs in the morning and grandma already had a cake and cookies all baked and ready to eat. I don't know what time she got up but bake goods were already done when we got up.

    • Trish Short Lewis Chicken in gravy, canned? wow...very cool! I would have loved trying that out. I wonder what else she canned back in the day. She sounded like even *more* of a force of nature than I already knew her to be. Tell me more memories, Delphine, please...
    • Delphine Mundorf Grandma use to can quite a bit of meat as back in those days they didn't have freezers. Could freeze stuff in a compartment in the milk house in winter is all. I use to love watching grandma separate the milk. And oh my the wonderful cream. If you wanted whip cream I tell only about 2 or 3 turns of the hand beater and it was whipped .

    • Trish Short Lewis Delphine That cream sounds incredible. Wish I had a time machine. At least I got to taste *some* of her cooking those days I hung out with her, and the Sunday dinners in the early and mid 1960s I can remember.
    • Delphine Mundorf She was so amazing and I loved it when she chuckled. I will never forget her endless -pot. At our holiday family dinners she had this little grey T-pot. I never figured out how she could fill so many cups with such a small pot and I never saw her go back into the kitchen to refill it. I mentioned that to her one time and she just chuckled .

    • Trish Short Lewis I remember that pot. She must have done sneaky refills ;)