Sunday, April 26, 2015

my obituary in progress.....

after reading a column by Kevin's Uncle Duane, decided now was as good a time as any.
Debra Lynn Axsom was the first born child of Bernard & Janet Axsom, entering this world Dec. 8 1964 at Wright Memorial Hospital, Trenton, MO. She was raised on dairy farms as the oldest of four children. Her parents were hard workers. The milking had to be done twice a day, every day. The first farm was her great grandparents Axsom. There was a rental farm near Modena. Her parents bought the farm near Halfrock when she was in elementary school. I remember coming home in 4th grade to the wonderment of our first color television. And the party line....everyone knew everyone's business. Went to school at Trenton, then Princeton, graduating in 1983. Member of choir, band, NIKE, FHA, National Honor Society, pom-pon squad, and VICA. babysat, worked at The Snack Shack, and two summer Manpower jobs. Met Kevin Dailey Jan. 7 1983 on a school bus to a VICA event. We were married September 28 1983, United Methodist Church, Mercer MO by Rev. Virginia Belt, with Shirley Slaughter Thomas and Brad Riggs as attendants. Kevin was going to Chillicothe Vo-Tech. Kevin graduated from Vo-Tech 1985, I was pregnant with our oldest daughter Koren.
lived in rented houses in Eagleville, Rock Port, Montgomery City, & Mercer MO, and apartments in Bethany, Chillicothe, & Albany, MO & Indianola, IA. and a couple of summers with the inlaws.
Deb worked in fast food, home day care, long term care facilities, and hog confinement. Kevin worked in factories, a feedmill, farm jobs, as a retail store asst. mgr. & manager, and loading trucks in a grocery warehouse.
we raised our three K's: Koren Marie Wills, Karl Joseph (KJ) & Katie Scarlett.
Deb loved to travel, that is, if you could convince her to get out of her jammies and turn off her crazy tv shows. she especially loved anything with Bigfoot or swamps. We went a lot of amazing places.....The Badlands and Mt. Rushmore...Pike's Peak....The Smokey Mountains...Villisca Axe Murder House.....Gulf Shores....The French cabins in the Ozarks where we could BBQ & just hang out...Carnton Plantation....The Myrtles...Jean Lafitte Swamp. Deb volunteered at school with Band Boosters and the Elementary Fall Festival and was a Girl Scout leader for years. She loved cheering for her kids....whether they were riding the bench in varsity basketball, had a part in the play, played soccer, dance team, spelling bees. She always thought the best thing she ever did was have children. Her house wasn't the cleanest, she wasn't a big fan of cooking, and loved her weiner dogs Sasha & Daisy more than her kids thought appropriate. She cried when her kids feelings were hurt, when they graduated from preschool, sixth grade, eight grade, high school, AND college; when Koren got married; when her grandson Ian was born. She loved to go to the movies, although her & Kevin had to take turns picking movies since he was more of an action/adventure guy and she was more of a ghost story/Johnny Depp/Paul Blart type gal. She loved to read, The Stand, The Outsiders, and Gone With The Wind were her favorites. She also liked to write, do genealogy research, take pictures, and sew. She threw ridiculous theme birthday parties for her children until they outgrew them. And countless sleepovers.
Deb climbed trees to read books as a girl, then developed a crippling fear of heights as an adult. She battled gray hair, wrinkles, and dentures. She loved to shop online and had quite the collection of Etsy handmade jewelry....homemade soap.....TeeSpring tshirts...Deb also loved books. She bought and sold books. She also went through a severe Frontierville addiction on Facebook....
Deb really enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom the first years of Koren's life. She made every effort to make every kids activities...and felt awful when she missed something. One of her pet peeves was people saying "I could NEVER stay home. I'd be so bored. I need adult interaction." Not Deb. she loved the days she didn't work. Deb had a soft spot for animals, over the years we've had many orphaned and stray pets. and she always fell for con artists. she'd believe about anything....

today Kevin & I were witnesses at a wedding. A private, top-secret, invite only wedding.

my father-in-law and his Donna were married today a bit after noon at Princeton United Methodist Church, Princeton, MO by Rev. Sean Hammond. we had flowers, they gave us thank you cards with gift certificates to Kohl's and Cabela's, AND they took us out to lunch at Washington Street!
Congratulations, Lije & Donna Dailey!

You could be the best writer for your own final words.

Hometown Boy
by Duane Dailey
The Mirror
April 15, 2015
I read obituaries. The joke is as old as vaudeville: "I look at obituaries to see if my name is there."
I notice obits get more personal these days as ages of the subjects get younger. More accumulated fewer years than me.
The stories hit closer when more are people I know. People I expected to know forever just up and leave.
Often the obits bring news that makes me say: "I wish I had known that about him (her)."
I find surprises in people I kind of knew, but not well enough. And, then there are stories of people I never heard of but I wish I had known and sought their wisdom.
Then there are those furthur removed who I appreciated and felt I knew but never met.
For example, The New York Times reports the death of Ivan Doig, author. He's in that younger group at age 75.
I am awaiting his new book coming out. It's an autobiograghical novel: Last Bus To Wisdom.
It'll be a "riding into the sunset" story as Doig was a wonderful western writer who told of Montana. The first of his books that I read, This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind was written in 1979. Then I found he fit into a network of writers important to me: Wright Morris, Wallace Stegner, Wendell Berry and more in their galaxy.
I liked westerns by Zane Grey and Louis L'Amour. But, Doig was a notch above, with writing more profound.
He's quoted: "I came from the lariat proletariat, the working-class point of view." He preferred not to be called a regional writer.
"I don't think of myself as a 'Western writer," he put on his website. "To me, language-the substance on the page, that poetry under the prose-is the ultimate 'region' the true home, for a writer."
The obit reveals more. Doig started as a journalist before switching to books. In between, he earned a doctorate in American history. Not bad credentials for a writer.
A nugget: He wrote 16 books, but his only goal was to write 400 words a day. That indicates a lot of honing.
Now, back to obits. Every one should get their name in the paper a couple of times. When they were born and when they die. The first is a one-liner. The second should be a story of substance.
Here's what should happen. Everyone has a story. If a reporter doesn't come seeking you to write it, you should take that assignment.
Newspapers need good stories. Start writing.
Everyone has a book in 'em. It might be "how-to-cook book" which wouldn't be just recipes. Or, it could be "How to Care for a Cow." That would be about the caring, not the cow.
My daughter, who is a good planner, sent a book--a blank book--when I was laid up with a broken leg. It's for things to write before I die. One of them is an obituary.
A terrific idea, but it causes writer's block. However, I tell students that's no excuse. The cure for writer's block: "Put your butt in a chair in front of a keyboard (to word processor) and start typing." I know that works. It has all my writing life.
I have a new writing idea: When school supplies go on sale, buy a 39-cent spiral bound notebook. Use the Doig goal of writing 400 words a day. Fill it up, then buy another notebook. Your life story will be preserved.
The goal isn't lots of words, but to gather vital, fact-filled words. Feel free to add bit of poetry under that prose.
That's another column: Poetry. I'm not talking rhynmes but words that feel good on your tongue when read out loud. That's different.
Journalism deserves a future column as well.
Send prose to or 511 Worley, Columbia, MO 65203.

My niece Katie going to her first prom... wearing the prom dress worn in 2003 by her her older sister Koren. LOVE IT!!! Prom doesn't have to be about having the best dress and nails, the rented limo, the expensive fancy meal, etc. Yes, that is all fun, but sometimes SIMPLICITY trumps all that.

Friday, April 24, 2015

I Love Trains

by Mary Johnson 3/20/15-4/24/15
In the wee hours of the morning, I heard the rumble followed by the train's whistle clear as a bell off in the distance. These sounds always evoke memories of long ago. I lay awake thinking of the role trains have played in my life.
I vaguely remember, when I was a young child, our famly going to a train depot to pick up a gasoline operated, wringer washing machine. Our farm house just off Pea Ridge in Harrison County was beyond electrical power lines.
In March, 1951, three months before my eleventh birthday, we moved to a farm near Route A and Highway 65 and 4 1/2 miles north of Trenton in Grundy County. The Rock Island Railroad tracks ran smack dab through our farm, probably 1/8 mile from the house. Another 1/8 was a crossing, so we heard the warning whistle of each passing train.
By this time, Dad was farming with a tractor, however we still had two draft horses and a Shetland pony. The passing trains spooked the horses causing them to race to the far end of the pasture. My sister Freeda (9), my brother Bernard (6 1/2) and I were an exception. We were captivated! Oft times, we would count the number of cars, usually exceeding one hundred in the passing freight trains. If close enough, we would greet the train crews with waves. We were excited when the engineer in the massive locomotives and the conductors in the little, red cabooses waved back to us.
The passanger train was aptly named the Rocket. It's shiny, silver cars seemed to zip by. Sometimes, on nice summer evenings, Freeda and I stood in awe seeing the lighted dining cars with a waiter in a white jacket. My goal was to dine is such elegance one day.
Alongside the tracks grew many beautiful wildflowers and wild strawberries beckoning us to pick them. If a train wasn't approaching, we would walk on the rails. Gingerly placing one bare foot in front of the other and with arms outstretched for balance it was fun and challenging.
My first train trip was the summer I turned twelve when Freeda and Bernard accompanied me to Des Moines to visit Grandma Shafer. Mom packed sack lunches containing Hostess cupcakes for us. They had a creamy filling that neither Freeda or I was fond of, but Bernard loved them. He ate his and some of ours. This bad habit of making a pig of himself on something he especially liked often turned him against it for the remainder of his life.
In the middle 1950s, a freight train derailed a few miles north of Tindall. People from all around the community drove to the site. I recall that one of the twisted cars that had been hauling piccalilli left quite a mess.
(deb had to google this: like a pickle relish mix)
My seond and longest train trip was my senior class trip to Dallas, Texas in April 1958. We had been dedicated in our fundraising efforts to make this trip possible. Most of us had never been so far away from home, so our excitement escalated as we boarded the train.
Soon every other seat was turned around, so the passengers seated there were riding backwards. A party like atmosphere prevailed for several hours as we laughed, talked and shared snacks. A few hecklers traipsed up and down the aisles pestering anyone they caught dozing.
We had one splendid day in Dallas highlighted by Six Flags and a monorail ride, then all too soon a weary group was homeward bound.
After daybreak, an enthusiastic, black conductor pointed out jackrabbits as we chugged across the plains.
In barely two months, I was packing a suitcase along with Freeda and three girlfriends for a train trip to Chicago. Older sisters of two of the girls had extended invitations to us.
On the day of our departure, the train was quite late. I don't recall the reason, however our wait was not boring. Our parents visited while a drunked woman (put off an earlier train for causing a disturbance) "entertained" us.
Every little bit she'd whine between trips to the rest room (where we suspected she nipped from a bottle in her purse), "That train didn't even have a place to go WEE WEE!" Her claims sent my little brother Roger and our little neighbor boy, Stephen, both 6 years old, into fits of giggles. I can still visualize these two tykes in their merriment.
Finally, we were on our way along with the tipsy woman. She must have fallen asleep right away, as we heard not a peep out of her.
While in Chicago, we saw mummies, took our first roller coaster ride, rode the el train and went to Lake Michigan. I learned the hard way that a bad sunburn is possible on an overcast day.
The trip honme was miserable as my every movement was aggravated by the train seats harsh upholstery.
Then, it was time for Freeda and me to fulfill our promises to care for our Great Grandma Boyd (94) in exchange for an advancement of funds allowing us to go to Chicago.
The summer passed quickly. When my siblings were in school, I decided to seek employment in Kansas City. Dad wanted Mom to accompany me and neighbor girl Phyllis and help us get settled into an apartment.
After we had boarded the train, stowed our suitcases in the overhead luggage rack and got seated, I looked out the window. Gazing up at us wtih a trembling lower lip was my beloved, little brother Roger. Needless to say, this departure was not easy for me.
Thank God for the trains! Nearly every Friday evening found me at Union Station boarding the train for Trenton. Home was where my heart was and I was always eager to return.
My train trips home decreased after I met the love of my life, Al Beck adn was married November 30, 1960.
Before the demise of the Rock Island, I visited my sister Freeda and her family twice in the Quad Cities.
Finally, during the summer of 2013, my hope to eat in a dining car becomae a reality. Palmer Senior Center offered a day trip to Columbia, Missouri that included a dinner train. Friends Bonnie, Roberta, and I quickly made reservations.
The train excursion took us one hour down the tracks and one hour back past scenic countryside while being servede a gourmet meal complete with elegant table settings on white tablecloths. As I've always known, food just tastes better when it brings people together.
This day was a long time in coming, but it's never too late to fulfill a dream.

A Bottle of Fragrence Went a Long Ways

for 4-16-2015 class, subject: SMELL
Only once have I had a bottle of Chanel No. 5. It was a gift from my first husband Al.
One day, when I was getting ready for work, the bottle slipped out of my hand, hit the bathroom sink and shattered. Stunned, I heard the prized liquid go gurgling down the drain. I hurriedly picked up the pieces of broken glass and left for work.
In the evening when I returned home, the house reeked of fragrance. I could literally taste it!
Pouring Clorox (bleach) down the drain and leaving the bathroom window open all night helped to rid the house of the potent fragrance.
Now, forty plus years later, I can laugh and proclaim, "My house once smelled like a French whorehouse!" Mary Johnson
Grandma's Lilacs
Grandma Daisy had two large lilac bushes behind her old, weathered farmhouse. They were close enough together that the branches overhang formed a tunnel. This became a favorite oasis for me and my little sister and brother to play or daydream.
When the lilac bushes were in bloom, we got an extra bonus. The fragrance was OH SO heavenly.
Bad Tasting Coffee
The former Waid's Restaurant near my home usually had good tasting coffee. But one time I recall when it wasn't.
Late one evening my ex husband and I, Richard ( a cook) and a few others were just sitting around visiting. A guy I'll call, "The Village Idiot" made the first intelligent remark I'd ever heard him make. After taking a big swig of his coffee, he spit and sputtered and muttered, "This coffee would sure make good carbureator cleaner!"
Unfortunately, I find that many restaurants serve coffee that smells bad and tastes even worse.
The Subject Literally Stunk
I once won third place in an essay contest when I was a sophomore in high school in Trenton, Missouri. The subject matter was not one that was near and dear to my heart. It was a class assignment. The subject literally stunk!
At the time, Trenton did not have a sewage disposal plant and desperately needed one. When one drove along old highway 65, near the bowling alley they were wise to roll up their car windows when nearing what the locals called "SHIT CREEK."
I was happy with my small monetary prize. And Trenton residents were even happier to get a sewage disposal plant.
Mary Johnson