Friday, May 27, 2011

My kids made the front page of their school newspaper, so I've heard.....

Michael gives me forms to fill out for credit recovery (athletes version of summer school).  I was upset with him, told him he needs to straighten up over the summer and get these missing credits made up or no football camp, no sports whatsoever.  You want to be a student athlete?  STUDENT IS THE FIRST WORD IN THAT PHRASE BUDDY!

He says, "Hey, at least I was on the cover of the school newspaper with Jen."  I said, "What?"

OH YEAH, Both of my kids are on the cover of the school newspaper at the same time, a school of over 2,000.  Michael, for Tennis,  Jen, for her role in Pink Panther.  I hear there's even an article about Jen inside as well.

Neither one told me, they didn't think it was a big deal.  Jen said she "threw it away.  Why?  Did you want to see it Mom?"

Statements like that are one of the reasons I have high blood pressure.  Damn teenagers.

YEAH, I WANT TO SEE THE PAPER!!!!

I WANT TO SEE IT, SCAN IT, SHARE IT, FRAME IT, 
COPY IT, ACCIDENTLY BRING IT WITH ME TO PARTIES, 
LEAVE COPIES EVERYWHERE, ETC."


YEAH, I WANT TO SEE THE DAMN PAPER!!!

I've told both of them, that if I don't get one of those school newspapers by the end of today, I'll hire a photographer, go to the school, (wearing my big sunglasses, as my photographer snaps pictures of me), and announce LOUDLY, THAT I'M THE MOM WHO'S KIDS ARE BOTH ON THE COVER OF THE PAPER (and who are not in any trouble), HOORAY FOR ME (I mean them)!!!!

Note to other teens:  if you're in a newspaper, ANY NEWSPAPER, for something good, MOM WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT IT!  And even if its for something bad, MOM STILL WANTS TO KNOW ABOUT IT!  (So we can hide you.)

Brats.

So, I don't have any pics to add to this post........ YET!

But I am REALLY, REALLY PROUD OF BOTH OF THEM...... Brats.


Update, 5/28/11:  Yay!!!  I got the newspaper!!!  No cameraman needed, lucky for them.  I would have taken it out of their allowance.  You can barley see Michael on the cover.  I told him that picture of him isn't big enough to get him out of trouble, LOL.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I got an e-mail (and read it this time), FROM OPRAH!!!

Recap of my yesterday:  After years of trying to get tickets to the Oprah Show, I sent her one last e-mail, told her my story and asked her for tickets to her last ever show.  They replied and I was sent an e-mail for tickets to the LAST EVER OPRAH SHOW.  But I forgot to check my e-mail and didn't see it until it was to late.

I'm happy, go-lucky Bev.  The name of my blog is Thats Life, Might As Well Laugh About It.  THROUGH IT ALL (AND THERES PLENTY), I NEED TO FIND THE HUMOR. (its not in this post, I'm not quite there yet).

So I tried to prepare myself for missing the opportunity.  And then last night, I realized I wasn't going to miss ANYTHING.  I was THERE with her, for 25 years!  I heard ALL the advice, words of wisdom, heart felt sympathy for others that were on her show that had been through what I was going through.  I felt the therapy through my T.V.  It was a personal joke of mine,  "Well of course the Oprah Show is about that today because thats what I'm going through RIGHT NOW!"  I've said thank you to her a million times through my T.V.  Her show and its guests validated MY OWN struggles plenty of times.

Yesterday, I finally responded to her e-mail from Friday, offering me tickets to Mondays taping.  I told her yes, I know, I missed my 1 and only chance.  I was crushed but I still loved her.  Not her fault she was dealing with Bev/Lucy Riccardo.

My cable TV was not working yesterday.  So before bed, I thanked God for my TV not working.  There would be no way for me to watch that show today, the show I should have been at, good.  I saw it as a cosmic gift.    I feel it was because someone up there was trying to lessen the blow for me down here.  My T.V. was turned back on at noon today, after the show had aired in Chicago.  But isn't it funny, that the 24 hours it wasn't working, was when that show/my show aired?  Isn't it ironic?

This morning, I sat down and listened to the POURING RAIN, THUNDER & LIGHTENING rolling through Chicago from 9:00am-10:00am, while I thought everyone else was watching that show, the final ever Oprah Show.  I called friends of mine later to ask how the show was.  They told me they couldn't watch it because many of their TV's in the Chicago area were going in and out because of the storms during that hour.  I told God, its OK, I'm over it, but thanks for the storms, LOL.

So today,  I figured I should go check my e-mail.  I should probably check it EVERY DAY now.  Yes Oprah, I learned my lesson.   Guess what was in my in-box?  An e-mail from Oprah!!!!


YES, I KNOW, it was probably sent to a million other people too. 
 But it started with: 
"Thank you from Oprah Winfrey, 
Got your email." 
And it made my day.


Here's the e-mail I received today:

Thank you

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 1:41 PM
From:
To:
bevybeny@YAHOO.COM
Got your email.
Thank you for watching the finale.  I could feel your beating heart, along with mine, through the TV screen.
I'm off to take a little rest, and then I'll get busy working on OWN.

Take care of yourself.

I'll write soon,
Oprah


Well Oprah, I couldn't watch the show so my heart was actually beating to the sound of the storm, but I felt like I had been cosmically rewarded.   A reward for getting in the right frame of mind last night when I realized that I wasn't going to miss a thing today except her re-cap of the 25 years I've already shared with her.   I can watch the re-broadcast tonight at 11pm with a smile.  


People have already commented to me, "Oh Bev, I'm sure it was sent to millions" (please read the bold print up above, yes, I know this already.)   It doesn't matter to me.   That e-mail from Oprah Winfrey (probably sent to millions, yes, I already know this as stated above twice already) was the perfect gift at the perfect time.  


Thanks one last time Oprah!






Take care of yourself. b bb

I'll write soon,
Oprahay.  No regrets, no resentment.  Must mean shes sa

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bev/Lucy Ricardo found out 5/24 she was invited to the FINAL OPRAH EVER, on 5/23

   
So, I e-mailed Oprah recently and attached a link to this blog, hoping to get tickets to one of her shows.  


I hadn't checked it since Thursday, 4 days ago, thats way longer than normal.  So I checked my e-mail this morning.  


Guess who was trying to reach me on Friday? I had until Saturday to respond. And I'm finding this out Tuesday....... THE OPRAH SHOW, FOR THE FINAL TAPING OF THE OPRAH SHOW.... YESTERDAY!  ARE YOU F'in KIDDING ME?  NO, I AM NOT.  AND NOW YOU BELIEVE ME WHEN I SAY I'M BEV/LUCY RICARDO.  


THIS WAS THE E-MAIL I SAW THIS MORNING, 5/24/2011, FROM THE OPRAH AUDIENCE TEAM:


We received your email. We have some limited availability for our 5/23 B taping. The time commitment would be from 11:00am until 3pm. If you are available to attend this taping please respond to this email by 10:00am CST, Saturday, May 21, 2011 with the following information:

1. Your first and last name 
2. Your email address 
3. The first and last name of one additional guest who also has never attended a taping before(your guest must be at least 18 years of age) and MUST be able to make the time commitment.
4. Your primary phone number 

If there are still seats available when we receive your email, you will be sent a confirmation sheet with all the details about attending this show. Please understand, you are NOT confirmed until you receive this confirmation email from us. 

PLEASE NOTE:  If you have already attended a show this season (since September 2010) as the lead of a party OR the guest of a party, then you are NOT eligible for these reservations.  Do not reply to this email if you have attended already.

Thanks! 
-The Audience Team







Maybe I can laugh about this one day, just like I can now laugh about that Camping Trip from Hell.  Today, I shed a lot of tears.  But, in the words of my daughter, "it's not cancer mom, its just spilt milk."  Thats why shes a straight A student, she's right.


So, I guess I either need to find the humor in this or 
change the name of my blog.  This is what I've got so far:

Good things about not checking my e-mail for 4 days: 

#1 didn't have to see that NO ONE wanted to offer me an interview for 4 days. 
#2, didn't have to see that the diet pill spammers made it onto my inbox, (like spam protection told them, "yeah, you can go on through to her inbox, we won't stop you, she really needs what you're selling"). 
#3, I didn't have to see e-mails with my sons progress reports until today, lucky him. 
#4, thats all I've got so far on the "trying to find humor" in this Bev/Lucy moment.  


Enjoy the Oprah show tomorrow everyone.  
I'll see it someday, 
I just can't bear to watch it tomorrow.
If she gives away cars, I'll be at the bar.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bev figures out the firework mystery, 5-21-11

So I kept hearing fireworks last night.  


They were coming from different directions at different times.  Then I got on FB and noticed other posts about people complaining about fireworks in other towns up to an hour away from me.  I thought I had missed a holiday.  So my neighbor was one of the ones having a party and when I heard some more fireworks going off, sending my dog running for the basement, I walked over to their house.  I asked if I missed something on the news, or is this a holiday?

He looked at me like he was in shock I didn't know and said it was a "Rapture party, of course".

I said "Oh yeah!" (because I had heard about that silly preacher guy on the news).  I waved goodbye, embarrassed.  I felt really stupid......for a second.

Then, as I was walking back home, next door, to a house that was still there, because there was NO EVENT,  I realized people, more than 1, in more than 1 city, were having "rapture" parties.

OK, I stopped feeling stupid before I even 
got back to my house, 100 feet away.

Here's some pictures and a video clip I found on YouTube, 
I don't own them, they're not mine:



Friday, May 20, 2011

I don't have time to blog about Princess, my bad dog....

I don't have time to blog about this, because I babysit in 1 hour, but I must.  So as my friends know, I've been trying to get out of doing housework for 2 days.  Then I heard some people say the world is ending on 5/21.  When my husband called to ask how my housework was coming along I told him I thought housework would be an unnecessary way to spend my last days on earth.   He said something like, if I put the same energy INTO my housework, that I've put into trying to get OUT of it for the last 2 days, it would have been done already.
So I was trying to be a good little housewife and get it done.  I did my dishes and had just swept and mopped the floors in the kitchen and front room when it was time for his doctors appointment.  He stopped at home to pick me up, he wanted me to go with him.  Perfect.  The floors needed to dry anyway and it was an excuse for me, once again, to get out of any more work.  I figured, oh well, at least the dishes and floors are done.

I need to get to the point, because he keeps yelling up the stairs that I don't have time to blog about this.

So, we come back from the doctor, open the door and this is what I see: The Jewel bag that the 2 loaves of stale, French bread were in, on my kitchen table is now in pieces, in various places, all over my kitchen and front room floors.  The 2 loaves of French bread are missing.

Lorens starts screaming at Princess about her taking food off of the table.  But I told him, "You can't just blame Princess, you don't know it was just her.  I look at Princess, she looks at me, because we both know it was her if its missing food.

Princess is the black lab (mama's baby) - young, crazy, fat, usually a bad dog seconds after being left home alone.
Angel is the yellow lab (daddy's baby) - old, usually innocent, except shes a digger outside.

But then I also see what looks like dirt, or MUD, all over both floors!  I say, "Yeah, but what is this?!"  I picked up a chunk of it, and it was mud!  I said "Angel  must have gotten into a house plant too!"

I thought good, at least they're both in trouble now and its not just my favorite dog, Princess.

The trail of dirt and mud leads into my front room to my largest house planter, about 2 ft. high.  I said, "Angel must have jumped up to get her paws in here, that's a lot of trouble to go through just for the urge to dig!  At least Princess had a good reason for being bad, she must have been very hungry to eat all that bread!"

Then I see something sticking out of the dirt, just barley, it was pretty covered up.  I pulled it out, it was a 1/2  loaf of French bread, about 12", buried in my giant houseplant!  Princess had dug a hole about that deep and put the loaf in, longways even, and then she covered it up with dirt, probably with her nose because the planter is pretty tall and she's not.

The dirt she dug out went right into the toy box for my Grandniece that was sitting next to the planter.  I babysit in 45 minutes, there's mud all over all her toys and books.  I really don't have time to blog about this (which is what my hubby keeps screaming upstairs to me right now).

Lorens looked right to Princess and she looked away, knowing,  if its stolen food, she's busted.  I said, "There's no way to know for sure which dog did it, they're both guilty!"   So he walked away and I thought Princess was a lucky, bad dog.  


Then he came back with a wet, white, wash cloth.

Utt Ohh
I had butterflies in my stomach.  
I felt like we were at the doggy police station,
both of my dogs were about to get paw-printed,
and I knew what was about to happen.  
Princesses' paw prints 
were going to be a 
crime scene match!

He rubs the cloth on Angel's snowy white paws, as she wags her tail and licks him.... RAG COMES BACK CLEAN.  Angel was released with a pat on the head and a "YOU'RE a good girl."   

Then he rubs the rag on Princesses black paws (which I was hoping was just the color of her fur).   Princess has her tail between her legs and her head down..... THE RAG COMES BACK MUDDY.  
Lorens yells at Princess shes a bad girl, go lay down and no din din for her tonight, she's eaten enough.  Then he tells me, this house is just as dirty as when he left this morning, thanks to me and "my" dog.  Earlier, I was sure the smell of floor cleaner would distract him from the fact that not much else was done today, but thats not working any more, thanks a lot Princess.

So I'm holding a loaf of muddy bread in one hand, cleaning MUD off of my clean floors with my other hand.  Floors that smelled like muddy Murphy's Oil Soap in the front room and muddy Lysol in the kitchen because they were cleaned AN HOUR AGO and the floors were still wet.  I started laughing and couldn't stop.  I felt I needed to blog about this real fast.  Lorens told me I don't have time to blog about this, he's said it about 10 times already, while I continue to blog about this.  The baby's things are still full of mud and she'll be here in about 20 minutes.  He's right, I really don't have time to blog about this.

(I just screamed downstairs to Lorens that the new rule is, if I'm holding a loaf of muddy, stale French bread, I get time to blog about it!)

Princess better be careful because now that I'm writing this stuff down, this is the second time shes been the bad dog in my blog.  I probably would have forgotten about the other time too if it wasn't written down, mama's memory of bad dog is short, shes my baby.   OK, Well, I don't have time to blog about my many Princess excuses either.

Time to go finish cleaning my floors, AGAIN, just my luck, thanks Princess.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Oprah shows a mom with grace, and her name is NOT Bev.


So, I was sitting there this morning, watching Oprah, balling my eyes out listening to her talk about the mom with cancer that left the tapes for her daughter & hubby before she died.  Tapes teaching her daughter all the lessons she wouldn't be able to.  That way, her daughter could hear her mothers voice and get words of wisdom at different milestones in her life.

Then they were talking about the tape when she told her daughter to embrace her new step-mom if her dad chooses to move on, which she hoped he would.  Oprah was saying how "gracious" she was to encourage them to move on.  I STARTED CRYING HYSTERICALLY AT THAT POINT.

My hubby said, "God Bev, I agree, her bravery and grace were amazing, this is really sad, but CALM DOWN!  I said, (mumbling through tears), "I, I, I, know, but thats not why I'm so sad.  I, I, I'm sad because I just realized I, I, I, don't have any grace."  As I'm still trying to talk through the tears I say, "Cause I'll, I'll, I'll come back and haunt your ass and your new wife too if you re-marry and have new kids without meeeeee."

He hugged me, laughing, and promised me he would "pine" for me forever.  That should have made me feel better, but it didn't.  Damn it.  Thanks Oprah.  Now I was feeling guilty, thinking maybe I should work on my grace and say its OK for him to move on if I die.

Then he looked at me, all concerned, and as I waited for him to say something lovey-dovey he said "maybe you should take 2 Midol's."  I looked at him with daggers in my eyes (cause how dare he blame my sadness on..... wait a minute, what day is it?  Damn it,  it never even occurred to me, and now it infuriates me even more that he knows the cause of my mood swings better than me), I suddenly stopped crying and didn't feel guilty anymore.  And I thought.....

LET HIM PINE AWAY FOR ME FOREVER!

You miss me?  You miss having a wife?
Watch the damn tapes!
My kids miss me and want motherly advice?
They can watch the damn tapes!
I spent the last months of my life making tapes?
WATCH THE DAMN TAPES!

Sincerely,
Mother with no grace.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My mom, Fran Richardson, the adventurer.

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!!
(my mom & me, 2008)

ABOUT MY MOM, FRAN RICHARDSON:
I had the best mom in the whole world and all the other moms were jealous of MY mom.  Ok, well in my mind thats how it was.  My mom passed away suddenly last year, on January 31, 2010.  I thought I'd share with you what kind of mom she was on this Mother's Day.

As a kid, my mom took me on adventures of her own making, spur of the moment, free adventures.  Trips all over Chicago.  We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo, the beach, walks through woods, teaching me about nature, hikes across Chicago, learning to look at the top of the buildings at the history and beautiful architecture in Chicago.  We would walk through cemeteries looking for headstones of famous Chicagoans, teaching me Chicago history.  Then there were trips to parks all over Chicago, bike rides, walks along the Chicago River, collecting boysenberries that we'd go home and make jelly with.

There were the occasional trips to the Chicago museums, the Planetarium, the Aquarium, movies and plays.  There were trips to Kiddyland, and even a family vacation to Disney World and a new puppy when my brother graduated 8th grade when I was 7 years old.  Our Halloween costumes were handmade by her and usually won the awards.

And thats just the tip of the iceberg of the kind of mom I was lucky enough to have.

In the late 1960's, my mom once heard a woman screaming in the hallway of our apartment building on Christiana & Sunnyside.  She had 3 small kids and a sleeping husband.  She went into the hallway and saw a man was attempting to rape/kill a woman.  My mom went back inside our apartment, took an old antique gun we had, with pieces missing, went into the hallway and scared the guy away.  When my mom got an award from the Chicago Police Department for bravery, my dad (who was sleeping when it happened and had no idea) was furious.  I was proud of her bravery.


In the 1970's, when Roosevelt High School didn't have money for the Soccer team to go to the state finals, and the football team didn't have a grass field to practice on, she had fund raisers and bake sales and went to local businesses asking for donations to earn the money for it.  The principal wrote a letter to her saying the Soccer teams ability to go was all made possible because of my mom's hard work.  And then, at the football banquet, they called her up, made a speech about how great she was, and gave her a special award and plaque they had engraved for her, with the football team and staff cheering her on!!!  She was just a mom, helping out her community in her opinion, and was embarrassed once again.  I was only 12 at the time, but I knew how proud I was of her once again.

In the hot Chicago summers she took all of the neighborhood kids of every race and color to the family swims at the local pool and said, "Yes, they're all my children" so all the kids could swim.

In the winter, she kept a sled in the trunk of her car in case the urge hit her.  She lived right by the big sledding hill in Springfield.  On January 28, 2010, it was a Thursday, she was driving by and saw all the kids sledding down the hill.  So she pulled over, got out her sled, climbed that hill numerous times and went sledding with all of them.  She was 72 years old with as much spunk as them.  She died suddenly of a heart attack, 3 days later on Sunday, January 31, 2010.


GIRL SCOUTS:
My mom was also an award winning Girl Scout leader for over 20 years.  Some Tuesday nights, my older sister and I hated the fact that our mom was one of the leaders and therefore, there was no way out of Girl Scouts on any Tuesday night, ever, for any reason for us.  Its only now, as an adult that I realize what a gift it was.  Thats the reason I have great childhood vacation memories.  Because of the fund-raising we did, we got to go on trips.  It was a way for my mom to give her girls vacations that would otherwise be impossible at our meager income.

Girl Scouts was an escape for me from the reality of being a poor kid in a big, urban city like Chicago.  And the core values of the Girl Scouts were the same as my mom taught us in our home. When there was an earthquake in Guatemala, we had a bake sale and sent them money, things like that.

In the winter there was Juniper Knoll Girl Scout Camp in Wisconsin and in the summer it was Butternut Springs camp in Indiana, (I think those were the names, it was long ago).   But my favorite camp of all, my favorite vacations with my mom, forever and always, will always be the ones at:

WHITE PINES DUDE RANCH IN OREGON, IL.  
It was heaven on earth for me. 
http://www.whitepinesranch.com/pages/weekendprograms.htm

White Pines Dude Ranch with my mom, a ranch just for kids:
The ranch was incredible to me.  Nothing a kid like me from Chicago could ever imagine.  I'm the baby of the family, my sister was already to old for Girl Scouts and so this is a special memory of  vacations of just me and my mom (and about 50 other girl scouts, and 5 other leaders).  I didn't know why I loved it so much.  I was a poor, inner city kid from Chicago, but I loved everything about the ranch.  

On your first day there, you got to go down to the horse barn and choose a horse and that would be your horse  for the entire week.  We learned how to groom, feed and saddle our horses, and we were responsible for doing our chores for our horse for the entire week.  We got to horseback ride, like twice a day, on trials through the beautiful hills and countryside, You could choose to do different activities, say, if you didn't like horses.  I, obviously, don't remember much about anything else except that I loved horses and did every horse activity I could with my mom.  All because of my mom and Girl Scouts.  They were such great adventures.

After my mom passed away last year, I found out that my Grandmother lived on the family farm in North Dakota and rode a horse to a one room school house with her siblings.  I also found out she WALKED across the Grand Canyon to see her grandmother, my great grandmother. Maybe that's where our love of outdoor life & adventure came from.  (see my story, My Grandmother, Ethel Litchfield, The Adventurer.)

As I got to be a teenager and dropped out of Girl Scouts, my mom still tried to find adventures for us to do together.  I thought I was too old to go on adventures with her, I thought I had outgrown them.  Sometimes she would pick me up from school and say, "you're kidnapped."  I would protest, I wanted to go home and watch T.V.  But she drove me and my dog to the woods, we'd get out and just hike and talk, and before long, laugh and relax and enjoy nature.  Or she would drive to an apple orchard in Wisconsin to go apple picking, out of nowhere.

One time she booked a weekend trip for just me and her to the breweries in Wisconsin.  At the end of the tour they give you a small sample of their fresh, cold beer.  It was Wisconsin.  As long as you were a teenager with a parent, it was OK to have a beer.  And my mom let me!!!  She adapted to the fact that I was a teen and still thought up fun adventures she thought I'd like.

My mom was an incredible Grandma to mine & my sisters children.  She was the grandma you always wanted.  She would often kidnap my kids for adventures.  She also planned major vacations with them, a way for my kids to go on vacations that I could never give them.  In 2005, she took my daughter by train to the Grand Canyon for a week.  In 2008, she took my son by train to Washington D.C. to explore the capital for a week.

My mom was an active member of her church, went to aerobics twice weekly, and walked to work almost every day.  She never smoked a day in her life, was a volunteer at the nature center teaching kids about nature.  And she was the #1 Chicago Cubs baseball fan.

Below is the link to the slide show from my moms memorial service. Its full of pictures of my mom with friends and family that were special to her.  There are many pictures of my mom and dad, they were married for 45 years before he passed away suddenly in 2000.  There are many pictures of her with her best friend Bobbie, whom she traveled with on many adventures.  There are pictures of her with my 2 children, who are the younger of her 4 grandchildren.  There's one of them on the lawn of the State Capital on the 4th of July and another on a boat together, I love both of those pictures.

My favorite pictures in this slideshow below are the one my son took of her on their adventure to D.C., 3 years ago, when he was only 14.  Its of her looking out of the train window, her beautiful reflection looking up.  And my other favorite one is of her and my daughter at the top of the Grand Canyon.  My mom was walking  in the footsteps of her parents, where they met and fell in love 70+ years earlier (see my story, My Grandmother, the Adventurer at http://bev-benyamin.blogspot.com/2011/05/my-grandmother-ethel-litchfield.html)

Thought I'd share to honor my Mom on Mothers Day.   
Happy Mothers Day to the spirit of my mom and to all the mothers of the world.

The slideshow below is from her memorial, so it is a LONG slideshow.
Slideshow link, Fran Richardson 1937-2010


(Christmas time, 2009, a few weeks before she passed away)

I


My Grandmother, Ethel Litchfield, the adventurer

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!
This is my story of my mom's mom, 
my Grandmother (whom I never met) Ethel Litchfield:

When my mom passed away last year, I inherited many of her personal possessions.  Among them was a book titled The Olden Days by Annabelle Litchfield  (my Grandmothers older sister) about my ancestors on my mothers side.   


Up until now, I had thought of my mom's mom as the crazy relative from New Jersey that we avoided talking about.  Because all I knew about my Grandmother was that she had a breakdown in New Jersey during the Great Depression when my mom was 4.  She lost it one day and she tried to jump off a building holding her 4 year old daughter/my mother.  She was sent away for the standard back in those days for depressed, overwhelmed housewives, shock treatment.  She was unresponsive the rest of her life after what that did to her brain and she lived the rest of her days in a "home".   I knew nothing about who my Grandmother was as a young girl.  

But this book, now in my hands, The Olden Days,  
was talking about my ancestors on my mothers side.
But it wasn't talking about  the stories I had heard, 
about struggling to survive in the 1930's,
in Newark, N.J.,  during the Great Depression.  


IT WAS TALKING ABOUT THE DIVERSIFIED FAMILY FARM,
IN NORTH DAKOTA!


All I could think to say was, 
"What?"  
How in 1902, my ancestors, the Litchfields, went by the motto "head West young man" and took the Northern Pacific Railway train to as far West as the tracks had been laid, at Gwinner, North Dakota.  They bought, "160 acres of fertile Red River Valley virgin prairie land of original buffalo-type grass in Sargent County, North Dakota, famously called 'The Bread Basket of the World."  Arrows made of flint-stone were found in our pastures..."  Indians had once hunted buffalo there.  It was a diversified family farm.  It was the family farm for generations.
What?

The book has a chapter about my grandmother, Ethel Litchfield, the tomboy.  When it was time for chores, Ethel was no where to be found.  She would rather be out playing with the boys.  


Ah Haaa, so maybe thats where my tom boy spirit comes from!  
Who wants to do housework when you could be on an adventure?   

It talks about how "At lunchtime, Ethel would bring to the cow barn her mothers fresh-baked homemade bread and butter together with radishes from the garden along with all the fresh warm milk we could drink.  Warm milk, right from natures source!"   


Ah Haaa, so maybe thats where my love of  
all things dairy comes from!  


Theres even A PICTURE OF HER RIDING A HORSE WITH 2 OTHER SIBLINGS TO THE ONE ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE.  Ethel loved horses!  


Ah Haaa, so maybe thats where my love of horses 
and country life comes from!  


Growing up, as far as I knew, all my relatives were from New Jersey.  I had never met my Grandmother and had no idea about pioneers, settlers or this "diversified family farm" life in North Dakota.  I often said, as a young girl, I wished I was Laura Ingels from the TV show, Little House on the Prairie.  I was addicted to that show, strange for a kid living in a giant apartment building in inner city Chicago.  And the trips to White Pines Dude Ranch every summer with the Girl Scouts and my mom were heaven on earth to me.  I longed for that type of existence, it was paradise to me.  It all makes sense to me now.  


But most important to me in this book,  are copies of the two letters that my Grandmother wrote in August, 1933, when she was 21 and decided to leave the family farm and HITCH-HIKE,  AND WALK, ACROSS THE COUNTRY, ACROSS THE GRAND CANYON, TO VISIT HER GRANDMA!   

AH HAAA, SO THAT'S DEFINITELY 
WHERE MY ADVENTUROUS SPIRIT COMES FROM!  

In these letters, shes relaying her journey.  Near the Grand Canyon, my Grandmother met my Grandfather, "a boy just out of college and is he sweet to me!  He looks like Emmet Lee and has insisted on seeing me through the Grand Canyon.  He is on his way to Chicago, but intended to see the Grand Canyon anyway."   She also writes, "We intend to walk across the Grand Canyon tonite.  We have talked over some real romantic plans for tonite."  She appreciates everything she is seeing and experiencing for the first time.  She talks about walking through the desert & sage.  "Ah!  The famous purple sage! Just oceans of it!  There is also samale trees of cactus too."   She went to a "great big real rodeo" in Arizona.  She says, "There are a lot of Navahoe Indians here, (decedents of the Apachies). The real thing!"    But it was a hard journey as well.  She also later writes, "..when we got to the Colorado River there was a ranch.  Phantom Ranch.  We got there awfully tired & hungry Sat. night about 10:00.  They were very unfriendly & wanted 50 cents for a loaf of bread.  So we had to keep walking about half a mile and laid down & went to sleep beside the trail.  It was too dark to go further."  


(BEV'S BUCKET LIST:  #1, TRIP TO PHANTOM RANCH,
LEAVE 50 CENTS WHERE THE SUN DON'T SHINE.) 

"When I got up my legs were so stiff I could hardly walk."  "...We met a couple walking to the south rim.  Guess they felt sorry for us & gave us 1/2 loaf of bread.  They were awfully kind.  The trail was terrible.  I was so weak & my muscles in my legs so sore I could hardly walk.  My shoes hardly hung on my feet and longer, they are so worn out.  I felt like vomiting before we got to the top about 10:00 last night.  I don't think I will ever forget the cruel Grand Canyon of Colorado!"  "I put my shoes in the garbage this morning so I have only my high heeled ones left to wear." 


 (MY GRANDMA HIGH HEELED IT AT THE GRAND CANYON?  
YOU GO GIRL!!!)

Then the journey was over.  Talking about my Grandfather, she says, "Williams, Arizona is where we part.  He goes East and I go West.  I will feel sorry to say goodbye as he has been awfully good to me.  He is such a clean kid (25 years old).  Hasn't tried anything funny and talks a lot to me about me helping him chase dollars back east.  He wants me to go to Chicago with him as he has money waiting for him there.  But I guess I'm not built that way, anyhow, I'm going to see Grandma first.  Hope to get there this week.  Am so glad I'm across the Canyon I could shout for joy...."   They obviously kept in touch and when they were done with their travels, they got married in New Jersey.  They had 2 children, my mom & her little sister.  So my mom was born in Newark, New Jersey.   

I like to think of it as a cosmic force that drew them, from opposite sides of the country, to both walk to the Grand Canyon at that same time in 1933.  What are the odds?  How else would a farm girl from North Dakota have met a college boy from the East Coast, shared this experience and fallen in love?

I feel my Grandmother's spirit with me today, 
on Mothers Day, wanting her real story told.  
So I'll say this for her, this woman whom I never met, 
what I feel she wants you to know about her:

She was not some crazy lady from New Jersey.  

She was a farm girl from a diversified family farm in North Dakota, with an adventurous spirit.  At 21, she went on a cross country adventure, BY FOOT, across the Grand Canyon, to see her Grandmother.  On her journey, near the Grand Canyon, she met a nice boy.  They had a great adventure together and eventually they got married.   But within a few years, she found herself in the poor, sad city, that Newark, NJ was in the 1930's, married, with 2 small children, DURING THE GREAT DEPRESSION.   SHE FELT LOST.


THERE WAS NO MORE FAMILY FARM WITH "FRESH HOMEMADE BREAD & BUTTER WITH RADISHES FROM THE GARDEN AND ALL THE FRESH WARM MILK YOU COULD DRINK, RIGHT FROM NATURES SOURCE"  FOR HER TO GO TO IF HER CHILDREN WERE HUNGRY.   


Here was this woman I had never met and knew nothing about, and yet I was finding out how we shared many of the same characteristics, and shared many of the same struggles, even though our outcomes, hopefully, will be much different. 

I hope I told her real story, showed the real her, through her own words in her letters.  I thank her for showing me how important it is to write things down.  Maybe one day, my Granddaughter will read what I've written and feel my spirit.  I thank you Grandma for showing me how important it is to record who I am. 

Happy Mothers Day to the real, kind spirit of my Grandma,
the adventurer, Ethel Litchfield.