Monday, March 31, 2008

Singing in the Rain

These days, we are having replenishing and cleansing spring rains off and on. The frogs are singing what seems to me 24/7. We hear Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers. Richard can pick out an occasional Tree Frog.

Mostly they hang out at the lagoon and this season, these small critters are singing at the top of their lungs. Their exuberance for the spring is nothing short of amazing.

Walks in Early Spring

We had 2 guests this past week. Nick Hamilton, a friend of Melanie's from her Juneau days and now a middle school teacher in Columbus, Ohio, spent some of his spring break with us. It was wonderful to visit with him. Among walks and shared meals on the Farm, we discovered that he too has Croatian roots. Melanie and I shared memories of our trip to the villages of our Grandparents in 2003. He has plans for a trip to Croatia as well. I dug around and found Grandmother Dora Budiselich and Grandfather Kazimir Blaskovic's copy of the ship's manifest, the official record of their passage through Ellis Island in 1908.

Jess Larson stopped by on her trip inbetween a meeting at Squaw Creek National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Missouri and a return back to the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife Refuge. One of Richard's former graduate students, Jess is now a Biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We laugh because both she and Richard "graduated" last spring. She received her Master's and Richard completed 32 years with the Wildlife Biology program at the University of North Dakota.

It is wonderful to share dreams, discoveries, concerns for these times, and efforts to live sustainably with fellow travelers. So many beautiful things are happening in the midst of the struggles in our world. One needs to walk carefully in tender times, always being aware of what is important in each step.

As we walk about the farm during their visits, paths are wet and muddy, so we walk carefully. The Earth still wears that soft brown of Winter. On closer look, little green plants are carefully and eagerly sticking their heads above the soil. Wild Strawberry leaves abound.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Beginning Gardener

I have been gardening 20 years. As a “beginning gardener”, I started out with what I could now call “Glinda’s little plan for the redesign of Nature”. As I look back, that was more than a little pompous of me. At the time, I was willing to spend dollars, time, energy, chemicals to surround myself and my family with my own personal definition of gardening beauty. I was long on physical energy and a little short on smarts.

Enter Marcia Melberg. Marcia, our neighbor across the street when we lived in North Dakota, became my gardening mentor extraordinaire. She believed any plant which would not survive the wild variations in North Dakota climate and was subject to diseases and pests, just didn’t really belong there.

Once again, I was a beginning gardener. I took her little pearls of gardening wisdom and experience, and began to reshape my knowing, my plan, and my garden. Chief among them was the planting of indigenous varieties and hardy robust heirloom plants. These plants wanted to be in the place I also called home. Gardening became a lot more enjoyable and a lot more fun.

Enter Native American views on Nature. Over time, I came to know that earlier “Gardening Glinda’s” had brought unexamined views of my culture into my garden. I was practicing like everyone else in my immediate world. I came to know that my culture believes Humans are both separate from Nature and Master Manipulators of Nature. Over time, I began to see that these belief systems got me and my fellow Humans into a lot of trouble in Nature. Was there more?

I began to seek everything I could find to examine other belief systems about our relationship with Nature. Native American (or rather Indigenous) views began to draw me in. I began to see Humans as part of Nature and the interconnected web of life. Once again, I became a beginning gardener. With every step, my garden and I began to take on a different spirit. It and I began to glow.

I walk in my garden and all of Nature differently now. I am filled with awe, humility, and perhaps even grace.

I now know that when I was confronted with those little challenges in the garden, it was not Nature crying out for the newest chemical from the garden center and my culture’s industrial complex. Rather, Nature was rearing her robust head and offering me, her student, yet another teaching, another opportunity to learn and grow.

With our move to the farm, we are greeted by new soils, climate, plants, diseases, weeds, bugs. Once again, I am a beginning gardener. The more I know, the less I feel like I know and the more questions that I have. On 2 evenings this week, I had wonderful opportunities to hear from Jennifer Schutter, a horticulturist with the University of Missouri Extension Service, who could help me on my quest to know the special Nature of this place.

With each new day, I am once again a beginning gardener. I walk a new path with new questions and new knowing. I am more awake and more aware than I once was. I eagerly open to the infinite wonders that Nature opens to me next. Is that not how it is supposed to be?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Another Man Who Planted Trees

Last fall, Richard ordered 625 trees and shrubs from the Missouri Department of Conservation. They arrived 3 days ago. As of today, we have 105 in the ground.

Almost all 625 are indigenous varieties. These new residents on Butterfly Hill Farm include: Black Oak, Black Walnut, Bur Oak, Elderberry, Hazelnut, Large Northern Red Oak, Large Pin Oak, Northern Red Oak, PawPaw, Persimmon, Red Pine, Shellbark Hickory, White Oak, White Pine. Plus we ordered 3 bundles: Pecan Variety Bundle, Conservation Bundle, and Extra Large Nut Tree Bundle.

Richard has "heeled them in", which means digging them into a trench and covering their roots with soil. This temporary move protects the little seedlings and gives the planters just a little time to consider placement and to plant. Richard checked the moon sign book and discovered that when the moon is in Scorpio, it is supposed to be a good time to plant trees. Scorpio is Richard's sign. This falls in the 3rd and 4th quarter of the moon cycle we are now in, which makes the best time for planting trees these next 2 weeks. We are right on target. We don't know a lot about moon cycles but we try to follow the signs when we are aware.

While the little trees and shrubs sit in their little trench (or their new homes) planning their adventures in their new home, we Humans are touring the farm and dreaming. The planting of trees, almost more than any other activity we have undertaken so far, encourages us to dream and plan what the farm will be like in the future.

Richard and I note that we will not see many of these trees as they reach maturity. That gives us pause. We are doing this for someone else. We sure enjoy them now as they push their tiny heads about the soil and we will enjoy them on every day of our journeys here.

A few years ago, Melanie gave me a book called The Man who Planted Trees, which in effect is about the difference one makes across space and time by such a simple action. At the farm, Richard has taken the lead on the planting of trees. He just has this special knowing and drive on trees and natural landscapes. Certainly, we all are churning ideas and energy into the mix. As I look at his journey in this dimension, I find something quite magical about those special people who plant trees to preserve the rich natural heritage of which we are all so blessed to be a part.


We have been working toward living a simple life here on Butterfly Hill Farm. We have lived the fast-paced life for a very long time. In that life, we tried to catch up to our culture's ever faster high speed train. We 3 partners now seek a slower, more mindful way of living. We desire to live fully and richly in the present moment as if time stands still, and the past and future simply drop away.

I have found one exception. In the present moment, our internet server is slow, way too slow for my tastes, interfering with my daily habits of journaling on this Blog.

I simply have some more to learn.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Melanie and I headed to Quincy today to take care of Mother's car. It was one of those factory recall things. While there, we did errands as the car was being fixed. When finished, we headed home as quickly as we could.

I do not know what it is about going to town. I may take some good, peaceful, calm, serene country energy with me. After a little while, my energy deflates like someone had stuck a few pin holes in a balloon. Whoooosssshhh.... Leaks are sometimes slow, sometimes fast. Take me home.

The car dealership was a nice place and they did a wonderful job taking care of us and the car. For that, I am grateful. But I experienced sensory overload while there. From where I sat, I couldn't see anything living, other than Humans hurriedly moving about and 1 defoliated Poinsettia by the door.

The television was on with no one watching it. I asked kindly if I could turn it off. I do this wherever I go if there is a television present with no one watching it in a public room. Staff were on phones engaged in at least 3 different conversations, which were loud enough that I could have participated. The sounds of their voices ricocheted off the hardened walls, windows, ceilings, floors. Busy music was playing through the speakers in an adjoining area.

An older woman came in with 2 Chihuahuas in sweaters. Everyone seemed to relax a bit and play with the dogs. I suggested that such critters would be a wonderful addition to car waiting rooms. An employee, who was playing with the dogs, laughed and said that lounge dogs would be a great idea for the waiting room.

We moved about in the city which is relatively new to us. Signs of stores blared out wanting attention: "Pick me!" Each sign was poised to be brighter and more attention grabbing than the next. No attempt had been made to blend them together for a soothing city experience.

We went to an office supply store. When looking for specific products, I walked the aisles looking for someone, anyone who could help us. You get the picture. Only one person was there who would be able to wait on us, except he really didn't want to. You could see it in his eyes. When leaving, the clerk asked: "Did you find everything?" It would take far too long for me to answer her question. Her time would not allow for it. Plus, I am not sure she would understand.

Traffic wasn't bad, but people were in a hurry. The 4 lanes were filled with people running about and surely behind schedule. I am sure that some were headed to jobs and places they really did not want to be.

We knew where we wanted to eat. We had to park a block away and look for just the right opportunity to dash across the street as the traffic madly rushed north. The coffee shop boutique was lovely, but visual stimuli and differing scents abounded. The waitress was not quite sure what "Fair Trade" tea might be.

On our way home, we passed through small communities with boarded up store-fronts. Everyone seems to want to go to a bigger town or city. Small Mom and Pop stores which are the lifeblood of communities cannot compete.

I have concluded that cities and towns are over-rated. Yes, they have their purposes and I do need to go there once in a while. But I love the quiet of the country, the frogs singing their spring songs, birds sporting their spring plumage, newborn calves magically appearing, and the quiet loving support of family and friends. Speaking of...

Richard knew we would be tired. He had homemade soup waiting for us. I didn't even do the dishes. UPS arrived. Dear Sarah Cummins and her family way up in Minnesota had sent us a package of summer sausage, dried venison, circle sausage, deer sticks made by her Uncle Greg.

I just don't seem to find that kind of energy on my trips to town. Town and cities are over-rated. They simply cannot even approach what we have right here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Rain Check

Molasses Cake is one of our favorites. We use Richard's Mother's recipe and the family's own homemade Molasses. We make it regularly.

My plan has been to take a picture of the cake fresh out of the oven. Or, cut a piece, place it on a pretty plate with a fork and napkin beside. Maybe even with a bite missing. Then take a picture, post it with the recipe on this little Blog.

The problem is we just don't keep the cake around long enough. You make it and it just disappears. We almost always give some away too.

Melanie just made a cake about 36 hours ago. Piece by piece, it just disappeared. In fact, Melanie just ate the last piece. Guess we will have to call that post on the Blog a raincheck for now.

Great idea.

Sweet Taters

March 18:

When I was growing up, I remember the ladies used to sprout Sweet Potatoes. In my active childhood mind, I just noted it was sometime after Christmas. The ladies would carefully pick out Sweet Potatoes with baby sprouts on top and then place them in jars of water. As the winter season went on, you would see the Sweet Potatoes (and later just the magical vines) with their beautiful foliage trailing down window sills with the stark contrast of winter into spring outside.

Since I still hold that childhood fascination of Sweet Potatoes plus we love eating them, I knew I had to sprout some myself this year. I asked my sister-in-law Deleta and a long time family friend Ilene about their tricks of the trade. I soaked up all the information I could hear.

I began to sprout Sweet Potatoes February 20-24. (Ilene starts after February 19th.) As the sprouts grew and the vines flourished, I have been pulling them off and placing them in their own jars of water on the kitchen window sill. I kept looking for roots. On Sunday, I noticed no roots. On Monday morning, the roots were springing from the stems into the water.

As a child, I wasn't sure how the Sweet Potato does these things. As an adult, I still wonder how.

Chicken Snacks

March 16:

Melanie prepares "Chicken Snacks" for our feathered companions on Butterfly Hill Farm: wheat sprouts and oat sprouts (because Chickens need greens too), yogurt (for good digestion), eggshells (for calcium; shells are washed, dried, crushed), and anything that needs to be cleaned out from the fridge. You can just hear them: "Yum!"

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tell the Stories

Glinda writes:

In our culture, we are encouraged to live only in the present and future. We turn away from the past. Our view of the past is cut away, as if it can be separated from us.

When someone passes, we are told to live in the present, and not look back. Should we do otherwise, we are chastised, sometimes gently, other times not. The voices that chastise are of those around us and our own inner voices. In many ways, I think these voices come with good intentions. We are simply speaking in the way we have been taught. But perhaps there is another way.

Last November, Mother, Melanie and I went to the Memorial Service honoring my Father and other veterans who had recently passed. The service was at the Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans' Hospital in Columbia. Dad had passed in July, so the numb had gone and the reality of his absence in the form we had known so well was sitting starkly right in front of us. The Chaplain focused his message on grieving and letting go to the packed audience of people who were also dealing with their own losses. The Chaplain gave one point which has really stuck with me: Tell the stories of the one who has passed.

This simple statement has been very healing for me, like a soothing balm. While I had been doing this before, I began to take this on more intently. I have been telling Dad's stories and I have been blessed by others who are telling his story too. Blessed with 89 years, my Father lived a long time and this very busy man couldn't sit still for most of that time. So there are a lot of stories to tell and many to hear for the 1st time.

I keep chewing on these things trying to make meaning of them. Telling his story has been about honoring who he was, honoring the significance he has had (and always will have) in the lives of those he touched, making meaning of life, and making meaning of how I choose to live my life. At first, telling the stories was awkward and always tender. Now we are laughing more and celebrating joy. Through it all, we feel the fullness of his presence in our lives, always.

In that spirit, we sent postcards to family members and friends this St. Patrick's Day of the Shrine of St. Patrick in St. Patrick, Missouri. Papa was 1 of 3 stonemasons in the construction of this church in the late 1950s. As was usual fare in those construction days, Burr Searcy and Gus Snell worked along side; they have also passed. When asked in the latter years the project of which he was most proud, Dad would always say: "The Church at St. Patrick."

The Shrine was the "Impossible Dream" and vision of Father Francis O'Duignan, who wanted to build a Shrine in honor of St. Patrick, a patron saint of his native Ireland. He solicited donations, particularly from Irish Americans throughout the United States from 1935-1957. This was a big dream and a big job, as St. Patrick was a very small rural community without the capacity to raise the $250,000 among themselves. Under Father O'Duignan's leadership and resulting widespread support, the goal was accomplished.

The Church is absolutely beautiful, towering over the landscape and tiny town that now is home to 15. The Shrine is fashioned after the Church of Four Masters in Donegal, Ireland. It has a rose window, round tower, marble from Italy and Spain, and 37 stained glass windows made in Ireland.

Signficant events in the construction of the church were held on St. Patrick's Day: groundbreaking in 1935, cornerstone laying in 1936, and dedication in 1957. In celebration of the dedication, shamrocks from Ireland were dropped from a plane overhead, in days when air travel (and air travel for plants) was not usual fare.

What you see above is the postcard of the Shrine with some stickers that we added. And yes, my Father was 1 of the 3 stonemasons. Isn't that amazing? How is it possible Dad could have built a church which is a replica of 1 in Ireland, which he had never seen?

When you look at this image, you need to know that Dad was a Master Brickmason, known widely for the quality and attention he put to his work. I believe my Father found many of his happiest moments when he was building, when he was working with his hands, when he was solving problems in the construction trade which meant so much to him. You could just see the wheels turning while his hands were busy at work.

Down below, you will see the picture of Father O'Duignan and my Father laying the cornerstone. Dad was 37 years old when this picture was taken. Father O'Duignan is using Dad's trowel. You can see in the spirit of the photo that both of these men are living their dreams. Father O'Duignan's "Impossible Dream" was becoming reality. My Father was able to use his gifts to build a beautiful church. He was further working toward the fulfillment of another man's dream.

These 2 men were living their gifts and facilitating the achievement of the gifts of another. Are not these the things that give meaning and fullness to life? Is that not what we are supposed to do?

I shall keep telling the stories. In their telling, I remember my Father and the many meanings of life.

Friday, March 14, 2008

A Chariton Collector

Glinda writes:

In the 1980s, Richard's Mother sent us 1 issue of the Chariton Collector, which I devoured. The Chariton is a major river and thread through these parts. The Chariton Collector was a magazine featuring northeast Missouri history, legends, lore. Unfortunately, the magazine was a short-timer, lasting only through the 1980s.

I would love to get my hands on copies. For now, I found the next best thing. The Chariton Collector is available on the web as a result of the efforts of Katherine Goodwin, a Truman State University student who was completing requirements toward her Folklore minor. She graduated in 2006. The site is maintained by the Special Collections Department at Truman. Talk about a treasure. Check it out if you are interested.

I think every region should have its own archive celebrating its uniquenesses, if it doesn't already. That archive should surely be written. But more importantly, it should be carried close to our hearts wherever we go.

In our western dominator culture, we focus on urban sameness which is in rapid and constant change. Call it fashion, style, trend, the latest-newest-most improved version. Whatever that is, we elevate people, places and the material far away from the humble local place that is (or was) home. No matter where we live, we need to balance this with coming home and celebrating that which surrounds us and gives us meaning and identity. Forcing urban sameness on us homogenizes us and creates a dis-ease. To be O.K. in this kind of world, we must leave the familiar. We must leave who we are.

Consequently, we Humans chasing this world view have traveled a lot searching for that which is deemed by someone out there as superior. I believe that it is time we came home and made peace with who we are and where we are from.

That's a big reason for my family's return to Adair County and settling on this little farm. There is a whole new world here that I left a long time ago. As I return, it is as if I am seeing it for the 1st time. Sure, the place and people have changed. So have I. I am excited. It is like returning to the comfort of a dear friend from long ago. After being apart for so long, we are settling into the comfort of just being who we are.

Glinda's note: Jay Bulen passed on the information about the availability of the Chariton Collector on line. Thanks, Jay!

Nature Notes

Glinda writes:

We awake to a dense morning fog. As I carefully move my own fog out of my sleepy being, I note the Sun is just beginning to wipe the outside fog away. So I head downstairs and ask if Richard is up for a walk. The answer is "Yes!" We quickly put on our boots, grab our walking sticks, camera and head outside for a walkabout.

Our great circle walk takes us to the East side of the Farm. We look back and see a milky white Rainbow shape. Here you see the "Rainbow" ending in its own "Pot of Gold". This time it touches down in the chicken coop of the Buff Orpingtons, our Golden Girls as Richard calls them.

We smile. Every day is a new day on the farm and every moment is a new moment. We don't want to miss a thing.

Nature Notes

March 12:

Melanie and I walk to the mailbox. Temperatures hit 70 today and Spring is definitely in the air. The little kid in me says: "Let's skip!"

Outwardly, Nature is tawny brown, slow and perhaps non-commitmental. She's smart. We Humans think Spring and Summer seasons are automatic now. Once it hits 70, it should stay that way. Not!

The Plants and Critters know we are in that inbetween. Snow is predicted again. It makes no sense for tender things to arise too quickly. While definitely in retreat, Winter can still make a guest appearance.

On our walk, Melanie said she can hardly wait to mow. So she carefully parted the decomposing vegetation to see what was below. Sure enough, green plants are pushing up from the Earth. She laughed and said that just as soon as she mows a few times, she will have enough.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Glinda writes:

When I was a young reader, I loved a good mystery. I was especially enchanted with the Nancy Drew series and read every one I could get my hands on.

As I work through our family's history and the random pieces of information found in various expected and unexpected places, I feel like I am in the midst of unraveling a wonderful mystery. I wonder: Why didn't I pick up this book before?

1909: Happenings in Adair County

As Grandmother Lottie Hart skillfully traced her fingers over the piano keys and the melody flowed, what was happening in 1909 in Adair County? Most of the information that I was able to gather at this stage was in the order of "facts" or "data". Such things are usually the 1st to gather. They represent yet screen the everyday lived experience of the people. I am ever mindful as I wonder: what was life like? I know these facts below are good starters for me, but they are part of a longer journey of discovery:
  • R.W. Hart was Judge of the Second District. (1, page 53) (R.W. Hart was Lottie's Uncle; Lottie's father, Robert Nelson Hart, was R.W. Hart's brother. Mother remembers her Mother talking about "Uncle Dick".)
  • Of children of school age, enrollment of pupils in school had increased substantially from 1868 when only 1/2 of those enumerated were enrolled. In 1909, 5538 (87%) were enrolled of the 6402 enumerated. (1, page 175)
  • John R. Kirk was President of the Normal School. In 1909-10, 42 were listed as faculty with 59 graduates. (1, page 239)
  • The 1909-1910 Principal or Supervisor of the Training School at the Normal School was Miss Gertrude Longnecker. (1, page 215)
  • "In 1907 there was erected on the campus the Model Rural School House, which stands as the most distinctive feature of the institution. For years President Kirk has been a close student of rural schools. He has thought deeply upon the many problems of the rural school system, but he has been most interested in the country school houses." ... "A model rural school has been maintained in this building ever since it has been completed. A high grade teacher has been employed to conduct the school, and country children near town have been brought to school daily in a covered wagon and taken back again in the afternoon." (1, page 211)
  • Marie Turner Harvey was employed as a critic teacher in the Normal School practice school and later developed the model rural school on campus. (1, page 208) (Mrs. Harvey would play an important role in the early education of Lottie and Fred's family.)
  • Friedman-Shelby Shoe Company Factory was completed in 1908. Violette reports that the factory employed 300 people with total wages of $2,500 per week. Daily output is 1200 pairs of shoes. (1, pages 298-300) (If my calculator serves me correctly, that is $8.33 as average wage.)
  • Coal output for the county in 1909 was reported at 564,328 tons. (1, page 304).
  • In about 1910, the Sojourners Club raised money for providing a fountain for horses and dogs on the square. (2, page 168)
  • 1910 populations were listed as follows: Adair County: 22,700; Kirksville: 6,347; Connelsville: 652; Novinger: 1,711; Brashear: 458; Gibbs: 229. (2, page 215)
  • Vaudeville likely played at the Opera House in Kirksville. (3) (See picture of the Kirksville Opera House as you scroll down on this site.) (I need to check on the details of this.)
  • Violette reported that "The strongest denominations are the Methodists and Baptists." (1, page 114)
  • The Presbyterian Synod of Missouri convened in Kirksville. (1, page 143)
  • W.C. Templeton was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. Two Mission Sunday Schools were organized in 1909, with one on Centennial Avenue and the other on West Patterson. These were the only Mission Sunday Schools in Kirksville at that time. (1, page 143)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1902 reported 2,696 farms in Adair County on June 1, 1900. (1, page 289)
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated 1909 county production of wheat as 2,148 acres (with average yield of 17 bushels/acre), 62,296 acres in corn (29 bushels/acre), 3,640 acres in oats (25 bushes per acre), 73,309 acres in hay and forage. (1, page 287)
  • The county assessor's live stock census for 1909 listed: 9,409 horses, 1,335 mules, 42 asses and jennets, 24,209 cattle, 11,108 sheep, 9,623 hogs. (1, page 290)
  • The Selby Poultry Company was incorporated in 1901 with headquarters in Kirksville and branches in Edina, Hannibal, and Quincy. Eggs, butter and poultry were chief products bought and shipped to market; hides, furs, pelts, tallow and feathers were also purchased but in variable quantities. This firm paid $40,000 for produce to people of the county in 1896 and $75,000 in 1910. The chief market for produce was New York. (1, 290-91).
  • Regarding Farmers' Markets, "Adair County farmers---mostly the women of the household---raised flocks of chickens, perhaps 50 to the farm. Every farm had a hen house, but the laying hens also found comfortable places in the barn and in the machine shed in which to lay their eggs. Once or sometimes twice a day some member of the household gathered eggs. They were accumulated in cases, in buckets, or in crocks for several days before being taken to the store where they were bartered or sold. Home storage at best was a damp, cool cellar but because the eggs did not get to the buyer every day their quality was not tops and Missouri eggs did not bring the highest prices when they arrived in St. Louis, Chicago, or New York. New York was the principal market for Adair County poultry and eggs." (2, pages 178-179).
  • In 1911, Violette reports the miles of track in the county owned by railroad companies: Wabash Railroad: 24 miles; "O.K." Railroad: 32 miles; Santa Fe Railroad: exact amount not listed; Iowa and St. Louis Railroad: 21 miles. (1, pages 318, 322, 323, 325)
  • "For some years recently there has been some agitation in favor of trolley lines connecting Kirksille with towns in other counties. Among the routes proposed the one most talked about was to run from Hannibal to Kirksville. During the year 1910 the matter was talked of very extensively, but as yet nothing material has developed." (1, page 326)
  • 135 students graduate from A.S.O. (American School of Osteopathy). The student body is described as cosmopolitan with men and women from all parts of the country and some from foreign lands. R.E. Hamilton is Dean of faculty at A.S.O. (1, page 264)
(1) Violette, E.M. (1911). History of Adair County. Published by The Denslow History Company. Kirksville, Missouri: The Journal Printing Company.

(2) Kirksville-Adair County Bicentennial Committee. (1976). A Book of Adair County History. Kirksville, Missouri: Simpson Printing Company.

Postcards from Aunt Della Brenz's correspondence. Above: State Normal School with President John R. Kirk (inset). Below: Scott J. Miller Rural School, Kirksville, Mo.

Glinda's notes: I almost always share entries that relate to family history with Mother before I post them. We talk about them. I have more questions and Mother has more memories. Often, she says she will ask her sister Ruth.


We are amazed at the contrails we view from our rural out-of-the-way setting in northeast Missouri. The above image is not always the case, but did happen today. This little blog entry is not really about contrails (you can read more about that if you want) but rather about the thoughts they trigger for us:

(1) We wonder about the pollutants we humans are putting into the air. What contribution do such things make to global warming? What of these are we sending ahead for future generations?

(2) Believe me, the 3 of us (especially Melanie and I) have done our fair share of traveling and hope to travel selectively in the future. I checked out my Carbon Footprint for just one trip which I hope to make: Kansas City to Croatia (the land of my ancestors on my Father's side) and return. The Carbon Footprint site defines "carbon footprint" as a measure of the impact our activities have on the amount of greenhouse gases we produce. My little trip would produce 1.872 tons of CO2. Yes, you read it right. That's tons. And that doesn't count getting to Kansas City and return, going from Venice (which is the closest I could come on this site) to Croatia, or doing anything else after I get there. Yikes! That's a lot to think about as I look up from the ground. (I don't think I will be sending packages overnight delivery any time soon. I did quit this some time ago.)

(3) The seemingly random pattern of contrails makes me wonder if we humans really know where we are going. Now that is something else to ponder.

(4) This morning , Richard and I were standing outside and looking at the contrails. I asked him which contrail he would like to follow. He pointed up and said: "That one." It was a flock of Snow Geese making their way along their spring journey. We smiled.

(5) Clearly, my family and I have some more work to do on this issue.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday, Berkley!

Glinda writes:

Friday was Berkley's 1st birthday. The big Numero Uno.

My plunge into family history, particularly on the Brenz-Hart sides has given me pause to do some thinking about this special little one, this special day, and what it all means (if one can ever completely know). In our family, Berkley is Bransen and Leigh's 1st child, and Brian and Diane's 1st Grandchild. Berkley is Mother's 1st Great Grandchild. Although Lottie Hart Brenz passed in 1950, Berkley would be her 1st Great Great Grandchild.

Reflecting on it all, we have been richly blessed with the gift of beautiful children in our family. I am not just speaking of physical beauty. I do not know what it is about babies, but they fill one with love and joy right to the core. They can light up just about anybody. It is almost as if you hold the great mystery of life right there in your hands. Those tiny toes, those 10 little fingers, that 1st smile, that bubbling laughter, those 1st steps, the tender words "Ma Ma" and "Da Da" just sink you right to your knees in the most gentle and humble of loving spaces.

When one becomes a parent, one begins to see oneself as part of a long line of humans extending way back, even to the beginning of time. In becoming an adult and a parent, that "1st place" (or "1st generation") that one held as a child now moves back. In embracing even a tiny bit of this, a kind of awe, humility and grace unfold. Words just cannot describe what it all means. You just have to sit there and soak in what you can. We are richly blessed beyond our deepest knowing.

This little letter is a celebration of Berkley and her special day. It is further a celebration of all those wee ones to whom we have been entrusted (or will be entrusted), and who we have once been (and will forever be). We have been a part of the launching of wee little ones as they find their own very special place as adults in the world.

1st Generation:

Happy 1st Birthday,
Berkley Kate!

2nd Generation:
Cousins gather: Becky, Bransen (to become Berkley's Father), Christy and Melanie (about 1977). I think this was at Brian and Debby's house. Debby is Bransen's Mother.

(Family: Can you help me out here? What was the date? How old are these wee ones? I think this picture of Melanie was taken the Christmas before Grandpa Crawford passed, which would make it December 1977. Does this sound right?)

One more cousin (Brennen) arrives in 1991. This photo, taken some time later, is one of my all time favorites. Cousin Melanie hugs Brennen, while Diane (Brennen's Mother) smiles, Brian (Brennen's father) snaps a picture at precisely the same moment I snap another. Children (especially our own) have the capacity to fill us with joy beyond our wildest knowing.
3rd Generation:
Brian (Berkley's Grandpa) and his sister Glinda (Berkley's Great Aunt) have smiles for the camera and the picture taker in about 1955.

Brian reaches for his birthday cake on his 1st birthday in 1955. Note the stack of presents with Jingles, the stuffed dog which was a gift from Cousin Russell, Jr. He carried this dog (who if I remember correctly had bells in his ears) on many a childhood journey.

Russell Jr. with 2 very proud Aunts (left to right): Ruth and Dorothy. Russell Jr. is 1st cousin to Brian and Glinda. This picture was taken by Fred A. Brenz (Russell Jr.'s Grandfather), September 14, 1941, at Memorial Park in Kirksville. Russell Jr. (called "Junior" because his Dad was also named Russell) was 2 years old. Aunt Ruth was home from Michigan.

Grandmother Lottie Brenz clipped and pasted this article into her scrapbook about some very special birthday celebrations in 1940.
4th generation:
The 3 sisters (Ruth, Dorothy, and Louise) sit amidst baby chickens and what must be the Mama henny. Looking closely, one can see that Dorothy is holding a dish (assumed for feeding) while Louise is holding a bird (assumed to be a chicken). This picture is a photocopy. In my perusal through the family archives, I hope to find the original. As would be true to form, Mother will have detailed information on the back (which is much needed inspiration to me). Mother looks to be about 2, which would make Ruth about 5 and Louise about 10. This photo is assumed to be about 1924.
5th Generation:
This is Lottie Hart at about 4 years of age which would be about 1888. I think she would be very proud of all of the little ones (and the big ones too).


March 9:

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of the 1st trip of our move to Butterfly Hill Farm. A year ago, we headed down across those expansive Great Plains in our 4 car caravan: Melanie, Sarah, Richard and me in our stuffed vehicles. Sarah Cummins had eagerly volunteered to help us with the move. "How can I not help you move home?"

As we have made this trip routinely over the course of 3 decades, the 3 C's were very familiar and perhaps even in love with the roads, turns, landscapes. Sarah was not familiar as she had not been along this route before. We kept her tucked right in the middle of our caravan, especially as the night came.

We are reminded of the wonderful community of folks who have supported and held us in this remarkable transition. We shall always be deeply grateful and in awe of it all. Isn't that what the human experience is about? We are to give tender care to others, every moment and especially during those special transitional markers of life. We are richly blessed.

Hay Time

March 6:

Richard and Hollis bring home hay from LaPlata. The chickens love it. You should see them rearranging their pen. Not only do the chickens love playing in the fresh hay in their pen and house, but the hay will help protect some of the muddy spots which surely are emerging as winter turns to spring.

As the ground thaws, the mud emerges. The ground is very vulnerable. We are eager to do all we can to protect this soil.. Isn't that what humans are supposed to do?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Grandmother Lottie's Home in 1909

Glinda writes:

Mother and I had erands to run at the Court House on Tuesday. On the spur of the moment, I suggested we stop at the Recorder's Office. I hadn't told her the reason. I asked the attendant if we could find the exact location where my Grandmother lived in 1909. I assumed the farm would have been listed under her father's name Robert Nelson Hart. We were led into an area in that office that surely came right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Without an exact date of transaction, finding the listing was not as easy as I expected.

But Mother, who was right beside me, said: "I think Dwight and Judy Hart live there now." I chuckled. She is amazing.

Later in the week, I talked with Dwight, who I now know is my 3rd cousin. His Great Grandfather Richard Warren Hart and my Great Grandfather Robert Nelson Hart were brothers. Both of the brothers (with 1 other brother, their mother, and 2 sisters) are pictured in the photograph put on the blog earlier.

Dwight and Judy do indeed live in the same location. The old house is gone. It was torn down in 1945 when his parents built and moved there. What intrigued me most was that he said that the name "R. N. Hart" is in the old cement stairs out front.

I told him the story of Great Grandfather Nelson taking Lottie to the train depot at either Greentop or Sublette every week as she was on her way to the Conservatory of Music in Kirksville. I asked him how far the farm would have been from either of those 2 locations. He said it was 6 miles to Greentop and 7 and 1/2 miles to Sublette. I can imagine that driving the horse and buggy over those roads in those times would have been quite interesting.

He further talked about 2 barns on the property, which he believes are original. One is now covered with tin. Originally, it was red with "battens" or strips inbetween the boards.

I shared this will Mother. We know a field trip is coming up in our future. Further, we smile about the barn. Mother has a picture of her Grandfather Robert Nelson Hart with 2 of his horses standing in front of a barn which matches the description Dwight provided. Aunt Lula Hart had written on the back: "I think this [is] your Grandpa Hart and his horses on west side of barn." Is it the same one? We shall be excited to see what Dwight says.

This is like mystery unfolding all around us.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

1909: Events, Facts, Life Styles

Glinda writes:

In thinking about Grandmother Lottie Hart (later, Brenz) and her experience at the Richard Wagner Conservatory of Music and Languages, I am also wondering about her life and times. While she was practicing her piano during those long dedicated hours and en route to something that meant a great deal to her:

What was happening in 1909 in the world around her?

I had fun with this. Here is a look at what I found. Please note that the more I found, the more I wanted to know. (Sources are numbered at right and shown below.)

Events and facts:

  • 76,000,000 Americans live in 46 states. Source: (1)
  • Shackleton’s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole. (2)
  • The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is founded. (2
  • Theodore Roosevelt completes his Presidency and is followed by William Howard Taft. (2)
  • Construction of the Titanic begins.
  • Joan of Arc is declared a saint by the Roman Catholic Church in Rome. (2)
  • Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22 year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey, is the first woman to drive across the United States. She is accompanied by 3 female companions, none of whom could drive a car. Her adventure takes her 3,800 miles from Manhattan, New York to San Francisco, California, in 59 days. Her vehicle: A Maxwell. (Alice is one of my new heros!) (2)
  • The United States Navy founds a navy base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (2)
  • 259 miners die in a fire at the St. Paul Mine in Cherry, Illinois. (3)
  • Benny Goodman (2) and Katherine Hepburn (3)are born.
  • Frederic Remington, Geronimo and Red Cloud (Lakota) die. (2)
  • The United States invades Nicaragua. (3)
  • Bird banding society is formed. (3)
  • Louis Bleriot is the first man to cross the English Channel by plane. (3)
  • Orville Wright tests the 1st U.S. Army airplane, flying 1 hour and 12 minutes. (3)
  • A subway car with side doors goes into service in New York City. (3)
  • Serbia mobilizes against Austria-Hungary. (3)
  • Workers start pouring concrete for the Panama Canal. (3)
  • The 1st Lincoln head pennies are minted (3) marking a time of putting dead U.S. Presidents on coins.
  • The world's 1st air race is held in Rheims France. (3)
  • The first credit union in the U.S. is established. (3)
  • Comte de Lambert of France sets the airplane altitude record of 300 meters. (3)
  • The Sultan of Turkey Abdul Hamid II is overthrown. (3)
  • Robert E. Peary (a white), Matthew A. Henson (a black) and 4 Eskimos are believed to have reached the North Pole. (2)
  • Nannie Helen Burroughs (1879-1961) opens the National Training School for (Black) Women and Girls, combining classical and trade courses with required black history classes. 7 students enroll. (4)
  • The average worker made $12.98/week for 59 hours. (1)
  • Life expectancy for females was 47.3 years, males was 46.3, blacks was 33. (1)
  • "Full suffrage" (which means the right for all groups of women both to vote and run for any office) would not happen for 11 more years. (9) (I wonder about Blacks, American Indians, and other groups historically disenfranchised from power?)
  • The Model "T" Ford (or "Tin Lizzy") was beginning to roll off the assembly lines. (13)
  • 1909 was a very dark time for the nation's natural resources due to drastic overuse, unregulated use, and the fact that people were not self regulating. Deer and Turkey populations were way down. Bison had been reduced from 30-40 million before settlement to less than a 1000. Elk had been eliminated from most areas. The land and wildlife were treated as commodities without a conservation ethic. (14)
  • The last Passenger Pigeons could only be seen in zoos. Passenger pigeons were slightly larger than Mourning Doves and common to deciduous forests in the eastern half of the United States. At one time, they numbered 2 billion. (14)
  • Laws regarding environmental protection and food safety associated with industrial processing were only beginning to be enacted.
  • As a result of Teddy Roosevelt's 1908 White House Governors' Conference which focused on national conservation policy, states began forming conservation departments.
  • The biggest problem (for education) was cited as population growth due to the influx of immigrants to America. (1)
  • Teacher education improved during this decade. (1)
  • I wonder about American Indians who had been pushed off their lands and were now living on reservations in most cases far from the familiar. What are the stories of these Grandparents?
Life Styles:

  • People were very clothes conscious. Gibson girl styles promoted the feminine ideal. Huge hats were in. Skirts brushed the floor. (7)
  • George Eastman developed the lightweight, easy to use Kodak box. (1)
  • People could buy homes from Sears Catalog of Modern Homes. (1)
  • Many novelists produced 'happiness novels' because women were the greater readers of fiction. Popular novels of the time included: Frank Baum's The Wonderful World of Oz, Jack London's Call of the Wild. (1)
  • Leisure time was spent in family get-togethers, baseball, picnics, long Sunday drives (mostly horse and buggy). In the evenings, families gathered for sing-alongs around the piano. (1)
  • "The Great Train Robbery", was America's most popular film. This story-driven film is considered the first true Western. (10)
  • Silent films were in. (11)
  • Music reflected changing events and times: "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis". Others showed racial prejudices of the period: "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home". (1)
  • Radios brought music to the countryside and the 1st hand-cranked victrolas allowed those privileged to have them to listen to opera stars. (1)
  • Vaudeville was in. (1) and (12)
  • Scott Joplin made ragtime popular. (1)
  • Irving Berlin and George M. Cohan were opening on Broadway. (1)


(1) Kingwood College Library; (2) Wikipedia, 1909; (3) Hisdates; (4) National Women’s History Project; (5); (6); (7) Wikipedia, 1900s fashion; (8) Wikipedia, Gibson Girl;(9) Women's History. (10) The Picture Show Man: 1890-1960; (11) Silent Era (12) Wikipedia, Vaudeville; (13) Wikipedia, Ford Model T (14) Richard Crawford.


Postscript: I shared this list with Mother last night and it brought up more memories. We are on a roll!


Glinda writes:

I awoke early this morning as the soft light of a new day was breaking through the night's blanket of darkness. The song in my heart was entitled "Gratitude". As the meaning of morning deepened into my fuzzy brain, I knew deep down that I was awakening to yet a new day. I get another day. On this day, I choose to bring more love into the world, to dance the dance my heart is intended, to learn and grow, to reach ever toward my fullness.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Time Capsule

Mother has a scrapbook which Grandmother Lottie Hart kept from about 1906 until the mid 1940s, when she was in her early 20s until her mid 60s. The fragile, tattered and cumbersome book underneath is entitled Woodward & Tiernan Missouri Edition of the Rand McNally Grammar School Geography. A page in the back says in careful fading script: "To R.N. Hart, from Father and Mother, October 25, 1876". R.N. Hart was Robert Nelson Hart, Lottie's Father (b. 1857; d. 1913).

As was the custom in those times, Lottie cut and pasted (or sometimes just tucked inside) into an unused book countless newspaper articles, including marriage announcements, obituaries, news of local social affairs of her family, extended family, and friends. Significant events in the world around find a place in her book: a picture of the sinking of the Titanic, announcement of the death of Carrie Nation, picture of a soldier in New York City surrounded by confetti at the declaration of the end of World War II. Recipes, cartoons, health and hygiene articles, poems, and pictures (some of flowers) find their way into her book under her careful hand. This scrapbook is a time capsule of her life and times.

I carefully turn through the pages and read selectively those articles that jump into view. One of the 1st articles I am drawn to read describes the curriculum at the Wagner Conservatory and her graduation recital. The date must have been shortly after her graduation program June 29, 1909. The article reads as follows:

The summer school of the Richard Wagner Conservatory begins July 6; tuition for this term but $10. Studies in piano, organ, violin, voice culture, harmony and history of music, method of music, German and French. Studio--506 E Harrison St., just opposite the north ward school building.

Notwithstanding the intense heat a large and select audience assembled at the Baptist church Tuesday to hear the delightful musical program rendered by the members of Richard Wagner's graduating class. The class consisted of four young ladies. Miss Lottie L. Hart, Greentop; Miss Edythe F. Kaster, Greentop; Miss Stella Quigley, Melbourne; Miss Eva H. Stuck, Kirksville. The class was assisted by Miss Grace Foncanon, soprano and Miss Senta Goldberg, accompanist. The difficult music rendered showed the careful training of the master in music, and the entire program was well received by the audience, Misses Hart and Kaster, meriting special mention. Professor Goldberg's address, "Wanted--a Musical Atmosphere," was thoughtful, instructive, timely. At the close of the exercises, the graduates were presented with their diplomas and the musical degree, Baccalaurea musical was conferred upon them.

With this virtual time capsule, Grandmother Lottie becomes a guide and companion as we seek to reclaim our family's stories. We shall be treating this precious text with the tenderness that it deserves as an old sage. We shall be looking into ways to preserve it and to copy articles for our families' archives. What a find!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Nature Notes

Glinda writes:

March 2: While I focus eagerly on family history, the face of the Seasons is changing. As we head into early March, we are at the crossroads of the grand dramas of 2 seasons: Winter and Spring. You can almost see and feel them as they enthusiastically push their energy into the space around us. "I shall not let go my hold. I'm Winter!" "No, I'm here. I'm Spring!" It's almost like 2 exuberant kids on the playground.

The last couple of days, Spring has had her hold and we have loved every minute. Yesterday and throughout the night, we had Canada Geese and various ducks making their way overhead. The Canada Geese were low and you could hear their wonderful calls signalling spring. Directionally, they were headed from South to North. Today we have had flocks of Snow Geese flying overhead. At one point, they were from horizon to horizon. Mostly they were heading from East to West and seemed to be riding the variable currents of the wind.

We know these wonderful migrants are headed far to the North. Some may even be flying over the land where we lived so long and the friends we know so well. We look up, send them joyous wishes for their glorious nesting season and ask they say "Hello" from us to those precious human friends below.

Tonight, it is supposed to snow. "I shall not let go my hold!"

Round Robin Letters

Glinda writes:

February 28: I am drawn more and more to family history. With Papa's passing last summer, I am more aware of unanswered questions. Certainly returning to my home county draws up questions too. In reclaiming family traditions on the farm, we find stories and questions tucked into old photos, recipes, seams of quilts, family memorabilia.

The photo above shows some very special written treasures. In the early 1980s, Mother suggested to her 2 sisters Louise and Ruthie that they write "Round Robin" letters between them where they would share stories from their childhoods. Plus, there's more. In 2000, Melanie took a Women's Studies class from Kathy Coudle King at the University of North Dakota where she focused on the female line and women's history in her family. She wrote questions to her Grandmother (my Mother) and Great Aunt Ruthie, to which her Grandmother and Great Aunt gave written responses. Sweet...