Sunday, December 30, 2012

We Bought a Lake!

Uncle James and Aunt Vanita's husband fishing at Crystal Lake

My  Uncle James Bane passed away quietly in his sleep on January 3 of 2012. He was a hard-working man, just like his siblings, which included my dad, Kermit, Uncle Curtis and Aunt Vanita. James never married nor had children. He worked as a welder for Associated Mining from 1968 to 1989, and he also farmed. He enjoyed flying, inventing and building. His pride and joy, though, was Crystal Lake, which he purchased and by which he placed a small two-bedroom home. On January 6 at the graveside services, the people who came and shared stories of his generosity touched us.  My sisters and I went out to Crystal Lake, and it was at that peaceful moment with the wintery sun reflecting off the water that I felt compelled to buy it and keep it in the family.  My vision for the future includes family fish fries and barbecues and spots for family campgrounds, complete with a shelter house. Fortunately, Blaine supported my decision. I could not have tackled the project without him.
The two geese on the end of the dock think they own the lake.

Son-in-law Stanley helped Blaine install the sliding doors and surprised me!
 Now, the name Crystal Lake sounds idyllic, and it is beautiful, but as our son said when he first saw it, “It’s pretty, but it’s a project.” We repeated that often as we repaired the hole in the dam, scrubbed the house, ripped up carpet and painted walls. Family members and friends pitched in, carrying out old carpets and furniture, trimming trees and mowing the grass, rolling paint on the walls after much careful deliberation in deciding the perfect colors, mudding cracks in the walls, installing beautiful white crown molding and baseboards and amazing sliding glass doors in the kitchen, which provide a gorgeous view of the lake. It was hard work, but I will treasure the memories of talking and laughing with Blaine and my family as we worked together over the summer to fulfill the dream.

An added bonus is that the property came with our original home – a mobile home that we first started housekeeping in back in 1972.  James bought it from us when we moved to Atlanta and put it on his property to rent out. He also bought two more trailers, and the property includes a falling-in house still to be removed. The property has a fascinating history.  Civil War soldiers camped there, as evident in the old lead bullet that a metal detector located in the trees. The abstract documents the transfer of a female slave and her “increase” (children) to be shared by a man’s wife and son.
Our first home together. It was olive green from end to end.

Men with mules and scrapers built Crystal Lake in the early 1900s. They also cut ice from the lake in the winter to be used in the summer. Cabins surrounded the lake, and a big pavilion provided a place for music, dances, and skating. It was also a private pay lake, where people paid a small fee to fish.  I love the trees, the house and the lake, including the ducks and geese that call it home.  I recently took these pictures of snow at Crystal Lake. 

I hope Uncle James is happy that we kept it in the family and is smiling down on us like he is smiling in the picture above.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My Knight in Shining Armor/Overalls

     It was my gray roots that instigated this adventure. I decided to go to Wal-Mart in Kirksville and take my chance on a makeover. I wanted hair color with highlights, and the random hairdresser whose turn it was to take me obliged. The process took four hours. I arrived in daylight, and darkness had fallen by the time she was done.  I also bought shampoo that would enhance the color, had my eyebrows waxed, and my Discover card charged in excess of $100 for the whole process. I am embarrassed to say I just tipped the hairdresser two dollars, because I was in shock from the total bill.  When I looked in the mirror, I barely recognized the trendy striped hair woman in the chair. “Your husband won’t know you,” my hairdresser said.  H-m-m-m.    After what happened next, would he want to know me? 
     I rushed out to my Jeep and headed home. I turned my wheel a hard right, and that is when I noticed a thumping sound. I stopped, got out of the Jeep and looked at my tires, but saw no flat, so I kept going. It still made an alarming sound, so I called Blaine on my cell phone. The thumping became even louder, so I told him I had to get off the road and hung up.  I turned into a suburb and parked near a stop sign. I looked under the Jeep and saw that a long piece of metal was under the wheel instead of connected to it. I called my husband back and felt tears burning my eyelids.
     “I don’t know what to do. There is a long bar under the left wheel of my Jeep. Do I keep the Jeep running? Do I keep my lights on?”
     “You can keep it running. You have enough gas.  Is it the tie rode end or the steering rod end?” he asked.
      “Um, how would I determine that?” I asked.
     “Look at your front tires. Are they both pointed in the same direction?”  I climbed out of the Jeep with my trusty little flashlight that he insisted I keep in my glove box and looked at my tires.
     “One is pointed to the right, and the other is straight,” I reported.
     “The tie rod end came off,” he said. “I am on my way.”
     Immediately, I feel better. Blaine has been rescuing me for years. Flat tires, broken washing machines and dryers, electric problems, house remodels, he is the man to fix me. One time grandson Logan’s Hot Wheels car was run over by a car. When he saw the flat toy, he said, “Maybe Grandpa can fix it.” Blaine has that kind of reputation.
     I plug in my Tom-Tom and find my location on the map, which I report to my hubby, then sit and wait. Finally, the green “tool truck” is in sight, and he sees me sitting there, waiting for him.  I jump out, hug him, tears in my eyes, and he says exactly the right thing, “I like your hair.”  Gulp. True love. But then he tops it.
      “Look at the dent in my truck,” he points. He had slain a dragon on his quest to save me. A deer ran onto the highway. “I knew if I hit him head on, he would ruin my radiator, and I wouldn’t be able to make it to you, so I turned hard and made him hit me in the side.”  
      He proceeded to lie down in front of the Jeep, instructed me to turn the wheel, and wired the tie rod end up, so I could drive it back to the Wal-Mart parking lot. He did not want me to risk driving it home like that, so we found a parts store that was open and bought a new tie rod end. We drove back to the parking lot, and I had what our children know is the worst job in the world -  HOLDING THE FLASHLIGHT FOR THEIR DAD! You must hold it on what he needs to see without shining it in his eyes. To complicate matters, the temperature had dropped dramatically, and I did not take a jacket, so I wrapped myself in the blanket I keep in the car, and held the flashlight. The miracle worker I call my husband lay on the hard asphalt and fixed my Jeep.
     We drove home, following each other, “whither thou goest, I shall go,” back to the farm.  This man, to whom I have been married 4O years, is my knight, if not in shining armor, in shining overalls. I have loved him for most of my life and, God willing; will have many more years with him. Who can resist a man who can fix me and everything else in my life? Not me!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Cape Cod Trip - Day Nine

Of course, we bought matching Cape Cod shirts!

We wanted a picture of our feet in the water, but the tide surprised us.
Today I felt kind of like our old horse, Bonnie, when she knew she was headed back to the barn. She perked up her ears and trotted home. We spent the whole day traveling back to Macon.  Janie and I had a wonderful time on our first bus tour, but we were also ready to return home. I am so glad she asked me to go with her. Who knows where we might go next?
We climbed up to the top of this lighthouse, but I can't remember which day!

Cape Cod Trip - Day Eight


We continue to head west and stop in Cleveland, Ohio at the Museum of Natural History. I saw dinosaur skeletons for the first time: a mastodon, t-rex, triceratops, and velociraptor. Amazing!