Saturday, May 30, 2009

Welcome to my blog Marvin. Good to see you here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My camera arrived today! Wish me luck on figuring out how to post some photos. I'll take good thoughts and prayers from anyone willing to share.

clearing my head

Hubby and I have a small fire pit in our back yard. When we have enough sticks and branches gathered from the yard we treat ourselves to a nice fire on pleasant evenings. The last couple of weeks we have cleaned out some well aged dead lilac branches that have needed to come out for some time. This gave us enough wood for a really good fire last night. It was a perfect evening and the soft sounds of the birds and the crackle of the fire were soothing and restful.
By the time the fire was down to embers it was
dark and hubby was ready to call it a night, but for me we were just at the best part. I have a real thing for sitting in the dark watching fire embers. I stirred them all up and sat close to feel the heat on my face. I was there with just the company of little critters I could hear in the leaves behind me and a few cricket. I could hear the soft sound of traffic in the distance and an occasional airplane fly overhead winking at me with it's blinking lights. Ember staring gives me time to just sit and clear my head. The living glow of shades of orange and red are mesmerizing and thoughts and ideas flow like crazy. I receive more inspiration in this kind of atmosphere. Everything goes away and I'm surrounded by calm and clarity.
We didn't have fires at home when I was little. Only if we went to a state park or camping or something. I have always been a person that needs to clear my head however, so I ran for the woods. We lived on a dead end street on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi river and lake Rebecca. There are woods surrounding the whole lake and I spent countless hours there through my childhood. So when things got to be too much for me I headed for the woods where it was quiet and easy. I'd find a good walking stick and just meander until I found the spot that called to me that day and sit and just soak it in. Wild life was everywhere and once in a while I could hear a fish jump in the lake. The best part was that there were rarely ever any other people around. It wasn't park space so there wasn't any reason for people to be in our woods. We had the space all to ourselves.I had a lot of freedom to wander. I was a good girl and didn't give my mother reason to worry. Also it was a more innocent time and we weren't concerned with things happening at the hands of others unless it was just mischief my brother or one of the neighbor boys was up to.
I loved our woods. They spoke to me and were my best friend. I still long to get back to a place where I have space to roam away from the eyes of humans. Someday I hope to have that space again. Perhaps I will.

© 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


© photograph Grace Albaugh 2009

This is actually the wash basin I used. Mother still had it in the garage.

I have a beautiful perennial garden in my back yard. Nestled in amongst the Lamium - sitting on a low pedestal - is my bird bath. It is a shallow dish about 15" across that is glazed in muted tones of brown, gold, and green. There is a little iron frog that lives in it and keeps vigil while the birds come and go. Whenever I'm out in the garden and see this frog it reminds me of the turtles Lisa (my neighbor friend) and I had when we were girls.
There was a time when you could buy little tiny turtles at the pet store. They've since been outlawed because of a condition called soft shell disease that could be passed on to humans. But when we were girls we had several turtles. Our turtles were the luckiest alive. We spent hours creating wonderful living quarters for these guys. I had an old 10 gal. fish tank my brother wasn't using at the moment and turned it into turtle heaven. I loaded it with rocks of all sizes and put enough water in the bottom so there was swimming pools and sunning rocks. Morticia (my turtle) and Mable (Lisa's turtle) had a wonderful time in there. I bought a plastic palm tree that was the perfect size to create a tropical feeling. It was class. These turtles were living the life.

As if the tank weren't enough we decided to create a recreation spot for them too. Mother had an old metal wash basin. The kind with two handles on it fixed on each side. It was fairly low, only about 8 inches deep and about 15 inches across. We found a piece of driftwood down by the lake that was the perfect size and shape for a diving board and affixed it to one of the handles with some twine. After filling the basin about half way full we placed the girls, one at a time, on the "board" and off they went. Running toward the water and off the end of the driftwood. Plop into the water they went. We thought it was great and they must have too because each time we placed them on the board they took off running. It was great fun! We were easily entertained. That's what I love the most about my childhood. We truly were easy to entertain. We found everything amazing and a gift.
Hours of fun with turtles. They did come down with soft shell disease eventually and died. Of course we had a funeral and marked their little graves. They died about a week apart. WE were sad but knew that one would be lonely without the other. Even at our young ages we were compassionate beings. We knew that animals had feelings too.
Here's to you Morticia and Mable. Hope you are having as much fun in turtle heaven!

© 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

memorial day

Today is Memorial Day. The day we set aside to honor those who have fought and continue to fight for our freedom. My fathers fought in WWII. My son in law served in the Navy for 6 years and is now in the reserves. There are other family members sprinkled on both sides of my family that have served our country and I am grateful to them for their sacrifice.
There is no official ceremony or service of any kind taking place in my town today. There are many families flying their flags on their homes. One street down there are miniature flags lining the curb on both sides of the street for a solid block. People doing their part to commemorate the day.
All my years growing up in Hastings we had the same tradition. The war veterans and their family and friends, gathered at Roadside Park in the middle of town for a commemoration speech in front of the war memorial. Wreaths were placed there and then the high school marching band lined up and marched down Pine Street along with our men and women in uniform and the Mayor. There were always a few vintage cars to carry the oldest of the participants and they waved proudly as the people gathered along the streets to watch them pass by.
When the parade reached the end of Pine Street it headed west on 2nd Street. It was at this point that we could hear the drums in the band moving things along. All the neighbor kids and our parents emerged from our homes like little ants and converged mid way up our block. We made our way together up to the corner where we could see the parade approaching. There we waved our little flags and waved our hands back at those who were waving to us. We got a special treat because right as they approached us was the predetermined spot where the band played a patriotic song. We ran along side the parade all the way to the veterans cemetery two blocks up the road. At this point we staked out our favorite spot to watch the short ceremony as the veterans payed respects to those who died at war. At the end of the ceremony there was a three gun salute. We were in awe of the whole thing and it was a tradition that I cherished until I moved away at age 20.
If I close my eyes I can still hear those drum beats coming up the road. I can see the smiles on all of the children's faces and the pride on those of their parents. I can feel the spirit of our small town and the wonderful men and women who participated on this special day.
Thank you to all those who guard and protect us.
Thank you.

© 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009


Our weather the last several months has been really up and down. Cold then hot, wet then dry. Just can't seem to make up it's mind. Wednesday we had 94 degrees and gusting winds up to 50 miles and hour. I was walking across a parking lot when the wind whipped up and it felt like little bullets hitting the back of my legs. Long pants would have been a better choice than short ones that's for sure. It looked like the days of the dust bowl. We haven't had any real rain for awhile and the dust in the air was incredible.
As I was being blown around all day it reminded me of a night I spent in South Dakota out on the plains when I was 11 years old. I had the rare experience of taking an authentic wagon train ride for seven days across those plains in July of 1972. Now the North Dakota plains in July can be hot and dry and boy was it. We started out in our train of apx. 24 wagons, and at least that many men and women just on horseback, at about 9:00 in the morning and traveled until 5:00 in the evening stopping for lunch mid day. It was a commemorative ride celebrating the birthday of one of the historic forts in the area. We walked more than we sat in the wagon that jostled and swayed like crazy. We wore our long cotton skirts, sun bonnets and walking boots to protect us from the elements. It really was stepping into the past and getting a taste of what our pioneer ancestors experienced moving across this northern part of this huge country. Dinner at the end of the day cooked over an open fire was delicious even if it was a little burned or undercooked.
The fourth night we were out we could see big storm clouds brewing in the distance.By about 9:00 as darkness was closing in and we were getting ready for bed in our tent the wind picked up. There were 4 girls including myself, just getting into our sleeping bags when all of a sudden the tent roof was on top of us. We scrambled to find the tent opening and could hear loud voices and horses getting really excited. By the time we crawled out the rain was coming down and one of the men from a neighboring tent was waving us over for protection in theirs. These people were our neighbors from back home who also came on the trail ride and it was comforting to weather this storm with them.
We must have packed ten children and four women in this 6 man tent and four men were outside holding it up. They could see several small tornadoes in the distance and kept a close eye on them in case they got close. There was a large ditch about 50 yards from our tent if we needed to have better protection but it was covered with poison ivy so it was there as a last ditch (no pun intended) effort. Being inside that tent was like something out of a movie. the sides were thrashing about wildly and we could hear the men shouting over the wind and rain. The horses were at the point of hysteria and one even ran off. All of this lasted for about two hours and it was an experience that is etched securely into my mind. Wind, rain, horses, and people all wild and in for the long ride. I am so grateful for those men that were beaten with rain and wind holding up that tent to keep us all safe.
As will happen many times in this kind of storm, when it was over, it was over. Everything died down. The rain completely stopped. The air was still. People started coming out of their protected areas and wandered around to see if everyone was alright. We didn't see until the next morning when it got light just how fierce the storm was. Many of the tents were down and strewn all over camp. Trees and bushes were torn up. Wagon covers were in varying degrees of disrepair. The blessing was that the cooks got to work making breakfast and everyone else just got to work cleaning up and repairing what needed to be done. It was harmonious and natural and a sight that left a huge impression on an 11 year old girl.
The local authorities came out to make sure we were all right and the horse that ran off was found and safely returned. We hung things out to dry until it was time to pack up and move on. We had miles to cover that day and no time to rest. We picked ourselves up and moved forward. Just like the pioneers would have done. I think I did a lot of internal growing that week. I'm glad for the experience.

© 2009

What kind of experiences helped to form you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cat Whiskers

copyright Grace Albaugh 2009

Whiskers of all the cats that graced our home

Mother and dad are getting well into their senior years. I shared in an earlier post that Daddy died when I was eight, but when I was 10 my mother remarried. He is a wonderful man who has been my dad ever since. I make the rather small trek (40 min) from Roseville to Hastings every other Monday to spend the afternoon and evening with them. I help mother with things like sorting the family pictures, making up a new address book that is current and going through and sorting out her closets. It gives her a sense of accomplishment and gives me a chance to keep an eye on her. I have a feeling this will be the year they need to make some sort of move to better address their needs. I'm sure that will be a future post.
When I was there last week I noticed a tiny pottery vase on one of the bookshelves. I could see there was something in it and as I got closer I realized that there were cat whiskers in it. Now you can imagine how small this vase is if cat whiskers are sticking half way out. This little vase used to live in the corner china hutch in the dining room of my childhood home at 106 River St. I haven't seen it for at least 15 years. Mother had it tucked away and recently brought it out.
We had many, many animals in the house over the years of my growing up. At one time we counted 26 non human lives existing in our presence. There were cats, dogs, birds, fish and reptiles. At one point there was even a blind chip monk, living in a hamster cage, that one of the cats had gotten but didn't kill.
Over the years we had five cats. Our first cat was Maude McFuzz. She was a present to me on my 6th birthday. She and I were great friends but she literally hated everyone else. We had to put her away in an upstairs bedroom when ever company came over. If she was left out to roam around she inevitably climbed up on the back of the couch and attacked the head of whoever chose to sit there. She was mean. She was also pregnant when we got her and when those dear little kittens were born she smothered two of them and only two survived. We had to bottle feed them because Maude would not feed them. Maude went back to the farm where we had gotten her and we raised the kittens. Flopsy and Daisy were sweet Little things and grew quickly as cats do but they were wild like their mother and tore up everything in the house. They too met with life on the farm. I'm sure they were happy there.
Our next cat was one my brother had mistaken for a baby skunk down in the woods and tried to hit it with his slingshot. I know, not a very bright idea. But he realized it was a kitten at the last moment when he heard her meow. It was raining and she was soaked and hungry. No mother in sight, so he brought her home. Another kitten to bottle feed and she too grew up strong. We had Pricilla for many years. She was our cat with nine lives surviving one of them after being crushed by a car.
Our final cat was found about a year after we got Pricilla. Mother was visiting a friend who lived out on the edge of town when she heard meowing coming from the back yard. There was a kitten stuck up in a small tree. She was all fur and ears. The woman said just to let her go. They had lots of Ferrel cats that wondered in and out of the area. Well that wouldn't do for mother so after going door to door to inquire, and fining out she was really a stray, she brought her home. She was old enough for solids so no bottles this time. We named her Caroline and she grew to be 16 lbs. It was like animals could smell our soft hearts and just put themselves in our path. I'll tell you about our dog Jack another time.
So all this information and nothing about the whiskers. The whiskers were mothers thing. Every once in awhile a cat's whiskers will fall out. When mother found one on the floor or furniture she picked it up and put it in this tiny vase in the china hutch. I think it was her way of holding on to a connection with these cats. They just pulled at her heart and she kept them. So now there are cat whiskers from all of our cats still around to remind us of them. A small whisker bouquet. Sitting on the bookshelf in the living room. I have to say I'm glad they are there. They pull at my heart too.

copyright 2009

What are your pet memories?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh The Joy

I sing in a 34 voice chorale. Our season runs from September through May and we just wrapped things up on Friday with our final concert. It is such a privilege to sing with this group of men and women. Our directors and accompanists are so talented that it makes rehearsals inspired and enriching. I stand in the center so I am able to have the music surround me as we perform. At times I get so emotional with the music that we are creating I can hardly sing for the lump in my throat. It is a true blessing in my life.

My singing career started really early, at about age 4. I sang on many stages in many places. None of them were famous but I thought they were impressive. My favorite stage was the ramp at the top of our driveway in front of the garage. I could ride my tricycle and sing at the same time. Another favorite place was sitting in front of our console stereo and using the front rim like a piano keyboard. That way I could put an album on and sing and "play" to the music. My favorite song to sing was "Belly Up To The Bar Boys" from the soundtrack to the movie "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" starring Debbie Reynolds. And of course there was the bathroom. The way my voice resonated in there was amazing! I sang about everything and anything. The neighbor girls would join in too and we wrote our own songs that we sang while we played our guitars. It was lovely and our parents enjoyed the little concerts we put on.

I gradually advanced to real choirs starting in 5th grade at Tilden school. Then on to Jr. and Sr. High School in both girls and mixed choir. I even had the honor of receiving a few awards at music contest in High School. Needless to say, music has been a part of my life forever. I actually think that I must have started singing in the womb. It has always been part of my life. And always will be.

copyright 2009

Is there anything in your life that has always been there?
Welcome Stephen! It's nice to have you join us. I hope you enjoy your visits.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I tell ya

I don't know why I'm sharing this but you need to know what a big deal this blog is for me. I've been around since before computers. At least before they were in regular people's homes. I was using punch cards when I was in junior high (many of you won't even know what those are). So when I sit down to the computer it is a big deal for me.

I seem to carry some sort of vibe that entices the computer to misbehave when I approach. Honesty, it's almost evil. But I press on. I try to make friends every time I sit at the key board. I send it love and good energy vibes. I can only imagine what would go wrong if I were sending out the evil thoughts it really deserves. So when I sat down at the laptop to do a little blogging at home this morning I hit the touch pad a little too hard at just the right spot and everything turned to Arabic. There I was staring at a language I couldn't read and had no idea how to navigate out of it because I was looking at letters that made no sense.

So I quietly shut down the computer and walked away and got into the shower instead and let the sadness wash down the drain. Yes sadness. It makes me sad and sort of hurts my feelings that my computer doesn't like me. I'm a likable gal, really! As I stood in the shower I thought maybe by the time I got to work the problem would have somehow worked itself out on it's own. Yes I really thought that, but as I'm sure all of you people that know something about computers know that it did not work itself out by the time I got to work and there they were. Those foreign letters still staring at me on my dashboard.

So I sat and remembered that before I logged in I saw in the upper right hand corner that you can choose the language. Then I noticed on my dashboard page in the upper left hand corner that there was a drop down window so I clicked on it and sure enough there it was. The language choices. Hallelujah! Success! I felt a warm glow in my bosom and got a little teary. I did it. I figured it out and with no other human help. Someone upstairs took pity on me this morning and walked me through it.

So for now I will stick to using my regular computer with the regular keyboard at work and stay away from the laptop. We just aren't friends. Nothing I can do about it. My boss doesn't mind if I blog at work. Those are the perks when you are basically your own boss.

Well that's it. My confession of ineptness. I give myself an A for effort though.

Blog on Grace!

P.S. Now I just have to figure out how I erased the layout tab on my other blog (again using the laptop at home) so I can get back to add some gadgets. Ugh!

copyright 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you to everyone that has left comments on my blog. I enjoy writing these memories but it makes it so much more enjoyable when I know they are bringing back sweet memories for others. That's why I write here. That's the whole point.

To and From School

On my way to work in the morning I pass by a boy and his dad waiting for the school bus. The boy looks to be about six or seven and he and his dad play catch in the driveway as they wait. We have gotten used to seeing each other and exchange a smile and a wave as I pass by. It makes for a sweet morning. For some reason though I have not seen them in a couple of weeks and I hope everything is all right. Perhaps they have moved or something. I keep them in my prayers.
When I was in Kindergarten I walked home from school with my sister who was in 5th grade. We only lived two blocks from the school but there was one fairly busy street we had to cross. One day in Spring we were waiting at the corner for a good time to cross. Anne was very attentive and responsible. She judged the cars distances and knew when it was safe to cross over. I never doubted her. This particular day however, she misjudged and said "run Gracie" and I ran. The car was coming from the right and traveling in the far lane, so by the time we met in the middle of the street I actually hit the side of the car. The back bumper caught my right thigh and spun me like a top to the curb where I fell unconscious. All I remember before everything went black was my sister screaming. When I "woke up" I was in my mother's arms on the ground next to the curb. As you can imagine everyone was very concerned. Mother heard my sister scream and came running. The woman who was driving the car was terribly shaken and I heard her saying "They were waiting so patiently". The interesting thing about this memory is that it's one of love and concern. I never have frightening feelings about this experience. Everyone else was horrified, especially my sister. It took her a long time to get over the guilt. Amazingly enough they took an x-ray of my leg and it was just badly bruised. Just a bruise and a great story for the rest of my life. That's what I got the day I hit the car.

copyright 2009

Do you have any memories that have left a surprising response?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The mug

copyright Grace Albaugh 2009

This is daddy's mug.

I have on my desk at work a small mug with a broken handle. It's sides are thick and have what look to be an Indian designs on it. American Indian that is. If I think back and guess as closely as I can I would have to say that this cup is about 45 or 47 years old. It pulls double duty for me. It keeps my tea and hands warm as I drink my tea but more importantly it warms my heart as I look at it. It is one of the few things I have left of my dads'.
Daddy passed away from a painful bout with lung and kidney cancer in 1968. He was in and out of the hospital having surgery and who knows what else for over a year. I was 7 when we found out he was terminal and he quietly slipped away in his own bed at home one morning four days after my 8th birthday.
This particular mug was daddy's work mug as well. It sat on his desk everyday and I looked for it when I went to visit him at the office with my mother. Daddy always said it was the perfect coffee mug because it was small enough and thick enough to keep the coffee hot from the first drink to the last. The handle has been broken for as long as I can remember but neither dad nor I could give it up. It is the perfect mug.

copyright 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Welcome Kathleen. Good to see you here. I hope you enjoy your visits.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stopping For A Bite

There is this wonderful little Thai place right next door to the salon where I get my hair cut. I purposely go an hour early so I can stop for lunch before hand. The place is small and has a warm and wonderful atmosphere. I order the same thing every time I go (which is really out of character for me) - the coconut noodles! I can conjure up the their fabulous flavor in my mind and my mouth literally waters. It is like an explosion of pure delight. It has become my very favorite thing to eat (which is also out of character. I never have favorites.). It does bring back a memory of routine however.

In the town of Hastings where I grew up there was a little cafe down on 2nd Street. This is the main street of the old downtown area. Our house was just up the hill on River Street. On nice Saturday afternoons in the summertime I rounded up my best friend Lisa, who lived behind us, and we walked downtown with our books in hand. The walk was about ten blocks long and the sidewalk ran along the small cliff that overlooks the Mississippi River and Lake Rebecca. Our plan was to sprawl out on the grass down at the levy and read the afternoon away. By the time we got all the way down the hill we were bushed and thirsty. The cafe was on the way to our final destination so we stopped in for a bag of onion and garlic potato chips and a coke. Always onion and garlic potato chips and a coke. For a girl who likes to mix things up it was odd to have this ritual but I think it was just because it was a part of this activity. Reading at the river and a stop at the cafe. We didn't do this more than a few times a summer and for only about a three year span of time. But we felt so grown up at 10 to 12 years old. It was a time of innocense and safty in a small river town. I miss those days

copyright 2009

What have become your rituals?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

freedom on a bike

I was driving down the street last evening and saw a young lady on her bike. She was coasting down a gentle slope on a bike path and was steering in that gentle back and forth meandering way. As though she didn't have a care in the world and all the time she needed.
Not more than a few blocks from this spot is where I rode my bike when I was a girl. It was the most lovely place in the whole town. Narrow dirt roads that wound amongst huge Oak trees. Fragrant flowers everywhere. The grass always beautifully manicured. It was quiet and the wind spoke to me as it rushed past my face while I rode. It was the cemetery.
I know it must sound a little weird for a girl to spend so much time in the cemetery, but honestly it was my favorite place to be. And it wasn't just the things that I've already mentioned. I actually like being amongst all of the souls that reside there. There were a few people I knew like Mr. Ganfield our next door neighbor, but most of them were strangers. It was peaceful and I felt peaceful being there. It was a great place to ride our bikes because there were hardly ever any cars. And because the roads were dirt there were dips and ruts from the tree branches that were oh so fun to ride over. I knew where every one of them was and when I came to the longest dip, that happened to be on a curve, I closed my eyes and navigated it perfecty. It was thrilling to feel my stomach go woozie and be able to do it all with my eyes closed. I'd done it one hundred times I'm sure. I knew just how much and when to turn the handle bars. It was one of the best 30 minutes of the day that bike time in the cemetery. Oh how I miss it. Maybe someone in the neighborhood has a bike I could borrow (I don't live there any more) and I'll take another ride.

copyright 2009

What are your biking memories?