Meet my Arizona, mobile-home dwelling, sun-squinting family. No one wants to look at the photographer (my grandparents on my dad’s side who had come for a visit).
My daddy is the tallest in the back (of course), mommy is holding baby James, Tracy Jo is holding something over her eyes, Mark David is totally looking away AND covering his face, and I’m standing in the middle with my gorgeous poncho, making an avoiding-the-glare grimace. Family photos at their finest!
I’m 7 or just turned 8 (my birthday is in November), second grade. The beast of our mobile home towers over us, the desert landscape (dirt and weeds) lends atmosphere, and the white station wagon waits as our trusty steed. This 3 bedroom, 2 bath deluxe model was truly mobile. In this picture, we are living on Hamel Road. But we moved to Presidential Estates further from town and on that property we moved one more time. Then we loaded up again and moved north to the White Mountains. Four total moves and she still held together! Alas, when we finally moved back to Washington state in 1978, the beast stayed south.
I loved living on Hamel Road! Two of my best friends lived on my street. I use the term ‘street’ loosely. Dusty dirt road. We rode our horses all over that area, creating dramas, rescuing invisible persons-in-distress, escaping from the bad guys, setting up picnic lunches, and camping out in the horse pasture.
This Throwback Thursday is sponsored by “Way Back When.”
What “Way Back When” memories do you have? Anyone else wear plaid or ponchos? Or both? (Yes, I once had a warm winter cape that was both plaid and poncho!)
Talk to Me Tuesday presents “Living in a Small Community.”
It’s true. The part about the rumor mill running well on schedule.
My honey of 33 married years ran into someone we know today. This person said she just HAD to ask him a question, HAD to know if it was true.
“Is Angie pregnant?”
At first, flabbergasted, my honey thought it was my youngest brother and his wife, since this is true for them. But no, the acquaintance was sure it was me.
Pregnant at 55 (and a half). Now ladies my age, what are the chances that you can get pregnant? I mean there might be a small tiny itsy bitsy chance that you could get pregnant. Minuscule. Having reached the age of hot flashes and the Big “M,” to mention other circumstances, my getting pregnant is impossible (times 3).
When my honey came home and told me he had something to share, this was not even on the horizon. Not an inkling of pregnancy gossip floated through my mind. Lots of other gossip fodder about our personal lives are making the rounds, but preparing for a newborn. Nope. Though I adored being pregnant and having precious babies, this body is retired from fecundity.
Then again, I could say yes and ask for a baby shower. That would be fun! I would ask for gift cards and dark chocolate treats, maybe a very funny game to play.
Seriously people. Judging from personal experiences and everything I’ve ever read about small communities, gossip (true and false) travels from lips to ears in the blink of an eye. If I were one of those tricksy people, I could have lots of fun with this.
Alas. I. Am. Not. Pregnant.
There are plenty of other true things I would rather talk and pray about. Babies needing a new heart, a mother missing for several days, a pastor who committed suicide (depression and anxiety) and left his family behind. And the true not so bad things like back-to-school of the grands and valley students, a new restaurant serving great food, a friend who needs help with a yard sale, or the burgeoning garden which threatens to overtake the RV with tendrils, vines, and butternut squash.
I’d rather spread gossip about good things, like how the Lord has blessed my family, or how gorgeous is His creation, and oh, yes, I can’t wait for the magnificence of fall colors!
A mouth-running-over checklist:
*Is it true?
*Is it kind?
*Will it hurt someone?
*Is the source trustworthy?
*Is is necessary to repeat at all?
*Can I keep my mouth shut?
*Will God be pleased if I share this (or listen to this)?
*What should I do with this information? (Hint: Ignoring it is usually a good choice, unless someone truly needs help.)
Talk to Me Tuesday. Talk about positive topics, uplifting events, good news. Though I have to admit, this is pret-ty funny. AND I truly appreciated the question coming directly to us, instead of being whispered behind our backs. Thank you for asking if this was true!
Talk to you later.
From a small community (non-pregnant) woman.
Not saying I’m perfect AT ALL. This verse is a prayer for my mouth.
“Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”
Photo credit: Me, pregnant with our first baby, Taylor. Taken in May 1988.
Nature abounding in the woods and along mountain tops strips away the stresses of the modern world, the work world, the life-filled with garbage. In the woods, I find home. I imagine places I could build shelter or a cozy cabin and projects for harvested pinecones and rocks. I dreamily discover that perfect rock chair so I can just simply sit and listen to the burble of a small stream or the wind whipping through canyons and treetops.
I relax. The fragrances of wilderness, fir trees, clean dirt, evergreens, mountain breezes. They cleanse noise-city-dirty air-vehicle polluted senses and engage my entire sensory system.
My imagination runs wild at times, inspired by pencil-thin bouncing hooves of deer and bunny-tail rumps disappearing under shrubs. What was that noise? Is a bear nibbling berries on the other side of this patch? Will mosquitoes or wasps or ticks invade my body? Is a hungry cougar lounging over the trail, ready to pounce? Should I perhaps be thinking about how I would survive if I became lost? Is the birdsong loud and joyous or absent and ominous?
I am at home. I feel free to dream and imagine and just be. I drink deeply of the mountain air, listen intently to the sounds of God’s creation at its most pure.
It’s been too long without my woodsy home. To the mountains, to the woods, I must return.
This is me with my third horse, Blaze. Royal Blaze.
Actually you can count her as my first horse, since the other two, Sissy and Lady, were more like family horses. Sissy and Blaze were both quite happy to dump me somewhere along the road and run home like horses on fire. And sometimes Blaze ran home to the fancy barn at the neighbor’s house, just for spite.
Maybe I spent more time walking than actually riding, but I did get better at holding on to the reins for dear life, forcing Blaze to stop so I could get back on. Spooking at ANY little thing. Like a rock, or a leaf, or maybe a butterfly. That was Blaze. Sissy just bucked you off and took off running if your heel came within 12 inches of her ticklish flank.
Though, as I think back, some sounds were spook-worthy. Maybe the giant crashing sounds in the shrubs along the road (bear, cow, mountain lion, elk?). Snake in the road? Check. Barking dog. Check. Shadow. Check.
Perhaps I took my life in my hands each time I headed out riding through the forest and range lands, but God looked out for me and kept me safe. Yes, He did.
This photo was taken sometime between 1976-78. I was probably 14 or 15 and we lived out in the middle of NOWHERE in the White Mountains of Arizona. Going to school was a 35 minute (or so) ride to Springerville/Eager on a mini-bus over a mountain pass. Yes! If snow was in the forecast, we got out of school early and headed home before the pass got bad. No sirree, the school did not want to have us spending the night! Going shopping or to work (Dad) was another 30-40 minute drive in the opposite direction to Show Low. Our mailing address was actually in Vernon, about 6 miles away, and our property ran up against fencing for forest land.
Blaze. How much I loved thee, knothead that you were. Mom and Dad bought her for me when she was about 4 months old. You can’t tell from this photo, but she was a roan Appaloosa. When we picked up ‘Fancy’ from the previous owners, she was the cutest thing! Spots were noticeable along her rump, but only if you looked hard. A sparse tail was the only other clue to her breeding. Her daddy’s name was Royal something (this was a LONG time ago, folks) and she had a blaze down her forehead, so Royal Blaze she became.
This horse provided me with hours and hours of adventures and companionship. Every day I’d head outside with our collie, Jody, tell her to get the horse, and whistle. Within minutes, thundering hooves and joyful barks raced towards me from the nearly 8 acre cedar-covered pasture. If if was a good day (for the dog) the three of us would head out for a couple of hours, exploring and playing. If it was really a good day, the dog would find something dead to roll in and stink to high heaven. If it was a bad day for the dog, I would try to sneak outside without her. This never worked, but sometimes I knew other dogs would be an issue, so she had to stay home. These days always crushed our girl.
Some fun things to remember:
-a broken off piece of salt block in my pocket to lick as we went for rides
-making up adventure stories involving cute boys and big events
-freezing my toes and fingers off (not literally) while riding in the deep snow
-cleaning out the horse tank and taking the first drinks of clean water
-climbing, circling, admiring Timber Knoll
-the cool deserted cabin behind Timber Knoll
-forgetting I had on my dirty old cowboy boots and wearing them to school
-Poky, the cat, riding atop the horse, playing catch with branches trailing along Blaze’s back as we walked through the pasture
-snakes, lizards, tarantulas. Oh, my!
-surviving exit (of me) attempts by the horse brushing as close to the trunks of trees and shrubs as possible, hoping I would come off
We really did have loads of good times together. One just needed to be prepared for her to pull a trick! Good old Blaze!
What’s a favorite memory of adventures you have?
P.S. See the tree on the right side of the photo? That’s the spot the cougar/mountain lion spent the night! In. Our. Front. Yard. The dog was having a fit, but we didn’t let her out.
The Wheetley sisters had a weekend get-together a few weeks ago, hosted by my cousin and me. Ranging from 73 to 90, the four siblings are getting to the age where each trip just might be the last.
But persist, we did. Now I’m not going to mention age-related issues, but let’s just toss out a few things to consider if you are planning a cabin-in-the-woods adventure for the mature crowd.
Steps. There will be steps. Unfortunately our cabin had NO handrails for the stairs climbing to the deck and front door. Gorgeous building, plenty of room, majestic pine trees, amusing chipmunks (squirrels? we could never decide) living in the roof of the cabin next door. But NO handrails.
The rule of thumb became: No one goes UP or DOWN the stairs unless Melissa or Angie is offering arm support (and perhaps humming the bridal march). I won’t mention names, but one of us did not follow the rules. And fell down the stairs. So there is that to consider.
Stubborn independence. We Wheetley’s are an independent lot. I think this character trait strengthens with age. Maybe even quadruples. Just be forewarned.
Food. The two of us planned excellent meals, if I don’t say so myself. But we planned way TOO much. I went to the cabin with an ice chest full of food. I came home with an ice chest full of food. Not the same food, but most of the leftovers. I think smaller meals and lots of tasty snacks (zucchini bread, blueberries, fudge, fresh fruit, and cheese seemed to be the favorites). Keep that in mind. And always ALWAYS check the lid on new fresh pepper grinders before adding pepper to a pan of quiche that’s ready to go in the oven. Ah-hem.
Hot tub. We enjoyed the in-deck hot tub surrounded by towering trees and blue skies. And neighbors going to and fro on the nearby road, but who’s worried about an audience? The STEPS rule came into play at the hot tub, with the added element of danger due to the slippery water. I’m convinced we could have videotaped us trying to maneuver all of us into and out of the water and won big money on American’s Funniest Home Videos. But the only one who fell in was Melissa, I mean, a younger person who was in charge of keeping everybody else safe.
Games. Puzzles. Crafts. Oh, my! Surprisingly, these were not the hit. Socializing, grazing, and sipping before meal drinks were the favored activities. Three of us enjoyed working two puzzles. I colored in an adult coloring book (and later turned that paper into stamped cards, thank you very much). So I wouldn’t worry too much about planning extra activities. Family stories and funny incidents made up most of our adventure. And toting along a few chick flicks is a good idea. We enjoyed movies after dinner.
Giggling. This will happen. At any time of day or night. And certain somebody’s might sneak into the sisters’ bed to warm up and giggle some more. Can we say adorable?
We did make 2 short outings. One day we hit the thrift store and fudge shop, bringing back probably 2 million calories in a variety of fudgy flavors. A different day we took a drive to see the lake. No getting out, just a scenic tour.
Where does the RV genetic link come in? My husband and I have been living in an RV two years this month. This is temporary (I hope) as we figure out the building a small home process, but still, we are living in an RV. During our many trips down memory lane, I realized that three of the four sisters spent at least two years living in RVs! Let me say that in no way have I ever wanted to live long-term in an RV, yet here I am. Genetically predisposed? Or environmentally influenced?
Either way, I love my Wheetleys, whether it’s their fault I’m in the RV or not. Wink, wink. And we had a great time and made new memories.
SURVEY TIME: Are there any other Wheetleys who live (or lived) in an RV? How about the Hill side of the family?
Thanks to seeds from a friend (Hi, friend!), magic unfolded in my night garden last night!
Moonflower seeds. I will admit I was accepting defeat at the beginning of the growth cycle. Never have I seen a plant grow SO SLLOOWWWW. Chances of actual blooms appeared nonexistent. Then came the heat. The smoke. The long summer days.
And poof! Cigar-shaped flower pods grew amidst the large leaves. BTW, the stems are out-of-this-world interesting to look at and touch. Once the flowers began to poke from the covering, they transformed into green taquitos.
Then came lavender-edged swirls.
which burst open into extravagant balloons!
Old-fashioned rose fragrance, glow-in-the-dark coloring, large, inviting. I wanted to stay awake all night to see which nocturnal pollinators took the bait and visited the deep blossoms.
Marvelous Monday indeed. What wonderful flowers inspire you? Do you know of any other night flowers? I hear moonflowers are perennials plus they offer abundant seeds. Moonflowers, anyone?
Stamping is always a holiday of sorts, taking me away from the regularly scheduled program. Mixed media (stamps, inks, water colors, markers, patterned papers, trinkets, ribbons, glitter glue) form the foundation of creativity.
One other ‘most important’ component of rubber stamping and creating is engaging with a partner. The back and forth bouncing of ideas, materials, and suggestions energizes the joy and productiveness of the hobby.
In addition, two or more crafters mean combined stamps, tools, and resources! In essence, the community of supplies multiplies opportunities for creativity!
Besides, it’s much more enjoyable to chat and solve the world’s problems with a friend while I’m involved in a fun pastime.
I suppose this habit of working with a partner to be applied to nearly every pursuit in life: writing, rearing a family, hiking, building a career, preparing meals, cleaning, going to college, pursuing spiritual growth…