Down to a Few Cents

[No date. Between 4-8 and 4-13]

My dearest John,

About time for me to get another letter off to you. I didn’t intend to wait so long, but each morning has been busy and I’m no good in the evenings. Makes me wonder if I will be good at anything this summer. Just now I was sweeping — rather, trying to get the downstairs swept up in time to get a letter written before the mailman came. And suddenly I broke out in a sweat and got so weak that I had to quit. I’m glad that I go to the Dr. on Monday and maybe he can help me out.

Margaret is home again today. Had a little temp. but nothing much seems to be wrong outside of that. So many things are going around that I decided that I had better keep her here and see if anything develops.

More snow last night. It seems that spring will never come.

I’ve been thinking about the summer. I can think of worse things than living at the school [In Oak Park, IL] all summer. Just being here without you for instance. With a gym and swimming pool handy. An office for you to study in when you wished. I suppose we’d be eating and cooking in the kitchen for those around. The little ones could play down there. Perhaps eating with others would be good training for our mannerless crew. Might be embarrassing for awhile, but they are not so dumb but that they would catch on. And you will be in the position to get ready for fall better than if you were at camp. Of course being out at camp all summer seems almost ideal, but I actually doubt if I would be up to taking Girls Camp responsibility.

I’ve just been thinking on the typewriter. I’ll be glad when some decision is made as I’ll know what to do and what to work towards.

Tomorrow I’m invited to a shower for Wanda Garden down at Twitchell’s. They are the folks across from Millimans. She is expecting next month. I want to go because it will be a chance to get acquainted and I feel that I’ve not been a very good neighbor and you certainly can’t witness if you can’t neighbor to them.

Looks like Easter [is when] Fluffy is going to have her family, if she waits that long. A big mess all over the place again this morning. Yesterday we had wash water all over again. Just one mess after another. If she has them in the house some day, I’m likely to do something drastic, even if it puts me in the dog house!

I hope to hear from you today. No mail tomorrow under the new postal curtailment plan [?]. And we are down to a few cents. Rather awkward needing the money here when it all goes to you there. This is really the first time this has happened though. Usually there has been more here than I need. And if I don’t hear from you I’ll not be surprised as I know you have that income tax to work out this week besides all your other tasks.

Well, I’m about at the end of the page, and I’ve quit trembling so much, so I guess I had better close and get back to the work here. I love you and miss you so much. I would like to have a week or so together with no other responsibility but to catch up on all we’ve missed this winter. But we can only dream of such a time with all the cares of this world upon us. Take care of yourself – I’m afraid you’ve been going too hard and it will tell on you sooner or later.

All my love,
Nellie

Patience and Perseverance

Monday 4-8-57

My Dearest:

It was just this morning that we said good-bye but I’m going to start out a little better than last time and get at least a little note off to you. I just finished a letter to my folks. I hadn’t written since they called me, so I did that.

I can’t imagine how tired you must feel – I’m weary and you must be just so much more so. I did listen to the radio and it sounded as though the most snow you had was here and that it got less going west. Bill M. said that it was about two inches there, and I know it was all of four inches on the car this morning.

David went off to school without his books, his gym shorts, and called to ask me to bring them in. I refused at first, but he called again and I guess Mrs. Rerick had scolded him and he seemed about in tears, so I broke down and took them in.

Most of the snow is off the trees now, but it is not melting as quickly as I thought it would. It is staying down around freezing.

Jimmy asked if he could buy a record player, so he could listen to the children’s stories record. Danny crawled out of his bed, looked for you, then hustled down to look for the record player and for your car. He concluded that you had really gone to Oak Park this time. Yesterday afternoon he wasn’t sure, but really cried his heart out that you were gone. [Our family had one portable record player. Evidently my dad took it with him at his teaching job, but brought it home on weekend visits.]

Did you find your Mother there or had she gone to St. Louis? With that she could come up here now, but I know that is impossible.

And was Dean ready, have you heard more from him, and did you get to school on time? ‘Nuff asked. I expect that you would answer all those things when you write, even if I didn’t ask — but, being me, I ask the questions and wait for the answers.

We will be praying as a family, and I will try to set aside time to pray for the work of the summer. Whichever, or whatever, if we know that it is His place, we know that He will help us to do the work required.

Jimmy is out fixing a sandwich for his lunch and I had better go help him out a little. He’ll get enough but Danny won’t fare so well. However, he doesn’t look underfed!

Thanks so much for taking care of the checkbook. And I feel awful about the income tax being thrown in your lap. As a help-meet I seem to leave all the work to you. But though I don’t do my share, I do love you, and your patience and perseverance does inspire me to work harder and more carefully. Take care of yourself and I hope you can get more rest these next few weeks. Now I must close.

All my love,
Nellie

[All Nellie’s letters to John can be found by searching Mom’s Letters.]

Mom’s Letters: 12-10-56

Sunday, 12-10-56

Dearest John,

Here is something that you will like. We went out on the front porch one
Sunday and took this picture. Only 5 of the 8 turned out good. David is learning
and will be doing better all the time.

We celebrated something today and had steak for dinner. Lyle’s had rib steak
for 39 cents so we got one. And the youngsters were so extra special today that
I broke all the rules and got them some ice cream. We went to morning meeting too, and they all sat very nicely.

Mike Miller is getting better so they are not going to even explore to find
out if it was the kidneys or bladder that was injured. He has stopped bleeding
and the pain has subsided. The petrol boy that drug him along on his bike was
relieved of his duties. He will come home from the hospital tomorrow, but have
to keep down quiet for awhile.

I enjoyed Mr. McNeil this morning. They announced that Mr. Fuller has a
program on the Kendallville station. I was in the nursery but Dorothy said that
it is a 15 minute program at 1:45 on Sundays. She told me after it was over:
I’ll try to listen next week.

Dean Cornell called today and asked about you. He said he would try to see
you when you were home during vacation.

the Bill McPhersons are out of service now and home until Feb. when he wants
to go to Ann Arbor to school to be a Physicist – he has aspirations of being a
Dr. in that field according to his wife – which means 8 years of study. Chemical Engineer.

Quite a lot of snow yesterday out it is beautiful today. From the forecast I
wondered if we would get out as it was drifting a lot. However, the storm fell
far short of the prediction.

Friday I picked up the kids at the high school and took them up town to see
Santa and a team of real reindeer, with an eskimo in his native garb to care for
them. Each of the children (over 2000 candy canes were given out) were allowed
to get in line, speak to Santa, and receive a candy cane from him, walk up on the
float and by the team of deer and down at the other end where the eskimo was.
They weren’t so interested in the Santa as they were in the deer, which was something
to see. They were on a conveyor belt on this float (which made them high enough
so that they could be seen better) and when the float was moving, so would the
belt and the deer had to keep stepping to stay in place. It gave the appearance
of them pulling Santa and his sleigh. After that we went and shopped. I let them
pick out a good many things to send to the cousins. That night after the 3 youngest
were in bed the others wrapped gifts. How they love to do that.

[Handwritten] Now I must close. Danny just got up from his nap. Yesterday we made Christmas cookies! Lovingly, Nellie

Carol’s note:
On March 23, 2020, we celebrated my mom’s 100th birthday. Nellie Stover Harper died suddenly when she was 48, most likely from undiagnosed Addison’s disease. She left behind her husband, John, and seven children.

After my dad died in 1987, my brother Jim collected letters my mom wrote my dad while he was teaching at Emmaus Bible College in Oak Park, IL. For economic reasons, my family stayed in a farmhouse outside of Sturgis, MI, while he was working in IL. This letters are our family’s jewelry box, displaying the gems of my mom’s work and devotion. My goal is to include these letters on the blog so they can be searched by word and enjoyed by all of Nellie’s descendants and friends.

At the time of this letter, Nellie had six children at home: Dorothy – 10, David – 9, Margaret – 8, Johnny – 6, Jimmy – 4, and Danny – 2.

A Winter Travelogue

We wanted to honor our friend (my next door neighbor from Lombard, IL) and his family at his memorial service six hours away. The Pacific Northwest has been pounded with winter storms this weekend. As we studied the radar it looked like there was a break in the weather, when we could thread the needle and get through. We decided to give it a try. Except for a few dicey spots, the trip was a blessing.

Chapter 1  Setting Off

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This, my friends, is Eastern Oregon.

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Dry pavement. Yes!

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Deer crossing

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Welcome, Holly! This sign has been a source of delight for decades.

Chapter 2  Investment Opportunities

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This stark landscape reminds me of the Midwest. Or Scandinavia.

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A fine barn

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I imagine homesteaders lived here once upon a time. Or, perhaps a school?

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The detail on this fine old barn thrills me.

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Roof needs repaired. Air conditioning free.

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It was Tiny before Tiny Houses were cool

 

Chapter 3     Birds and Such 

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We’ve never seen so many hawks on posts. Here, there, here again. Sidenote: I over-helped my son write a paper on the red-tail hawk in 1993. I’ve never forgotten the scientific name: buteo jamaicensis.  Isn’t it weird what sticks to the inside of your brain?

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This horse has been studying and applying the Marie Kondo method.

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 Hawk perched in a tree.

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Waterfowl feeding

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I am drawn to lonely trees

 

Chapter 4  Coming Home on the Rattlesnake

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Driving south towards Lewiston

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I wonder how this highway was named The Rattlesnake?

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Looking down from above

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It descends, slithers along the floor of the canyon (see center of picture),
and slinks upward to the next plateau.

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S-curves superabound

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Sidling up to the mountain

 

Chapter 5  Watch for the Light

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Coming into the Wallowas, spots of blue sky

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A shroud of clouds cannot cover it. The light still shines.

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Light and shadow. And a lonely tree.

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Luminous

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Winter glory

 

Bonus Chapter: Deer and Elk

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Outside of Enterprise, deer feeding

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Outside of Imbler, elk herding

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I don’t have the skill to convey this magnificent sight: about 300 elk

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Walking, loping, bunching together

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Move ’em out!

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Bull supervising the exodus

What Snow’s Made For

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Jane said she’d never heard of anyone liking fogs before but she didn’t mind trying. …

“That’s why Camilla and I got married,” said Denniston as they drove off. “We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It’s a useful taste if one lives in England.”

“How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?” said Jane. “I don’t think I should ever learn to like rain and snow.”

“It’s the other way round,” said Denniston. “Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up. Haven’t you ever noticed it on a snowy day? The grown-ups are all going about with long faces, but look at the children—and the dogs? They know what snow’s made for.”

~ C.S. Lewis in That Hideous Strength

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My grandchildren providing the illustration

Reading Evening

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It was a weekend of colossal snowflakes. Twirling, swirling, pirouetting, waving-to-the-audience snowflakes. So cute, you can’t stop staring snowflakes. Snow that puts the world on mute. Snow that drapes over every horizontal surface and beautifies barbed wire. Snow that provokes stillness. We stoked the fire and settled into a reading evening.

We submerged into our book(s) and sat in companionable silence. We forgot all screens and beeps malfunctioning computers. After an hour of pure silence, I put on a CD (remember those?). This set of four CDs has been one of the soundtracks of my life for the last twenty years. (A great score!)

Furiously reading Martin Gilbert’s Churchill, A Life, trying to finish the 1K book before the inter-library loan ends (this is how I do marathons), the mounting crisis of Hitler’s threatened evasion of Czechoslovakia was creating inner tension.

Slowly I became aware that the music playing was such a befitting accompaniment to the words I was reading. Minor key, evocative, simply sad music. Naturally, it was Chopin. Recorded by the Slovak National Orchestra.

 

Oregon Hygge

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Hygge is that trendy Danish word that fathomaway describes as the art of creating intimacy: a sense of comradeship, conviviality, and contentment rolled into one. We’ve been snowed in recently, but aren’t snow days one of life’s delicious bonuses?

{Before any further rhapsodies, let me acknowledge we don’t have sick family members, stock (countryspeak for animals; think ‘livestock’), emergencies to respond to, or young children going bonkers.}

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Fresh herbs (this is mint) are an affordable splurge.

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My sister-in-law crochets these in small moments. They are a benediction.

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Mid-century house, old cabinets.
Curt and I worked together installing pull-out shelves.
Out with stale, in with organization.

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One of the most hygge activities we do is to  listen together to Harry Potter.
We’re in year five;  Harry is our tidy-up-after-dinner soundtrack.
And then we sit down and listen the way most people watch television.
I cut out stuff from catalogs to put into the small blank spots in my journal.

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The timing couldn’t have been more fortuitous!
A friend gave me a box of Blue Apron meals. (Thank you, Dana!)
We have everything  needed for a restaurant quality meal.
I supplied salt and pepper. Yum!

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The smell of bread baking in the oven has to be hygge!

dsc_0971One way we keep warm.

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Abacus gallery sells poster calendars with artwork by Dana Heacock.

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This is more OCD than hygge, but I’m indexing my journals.

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Candles seem a big piece of hygge. My husband is allergic to the scents.  I roast garlic each time I turn the oven on. The fragrance wafts through the house.

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Hygge.