Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Kolden Report: Last days in Nicaragua.

     Hello, kids!

I've been thinking about my Gramma Thale who passed this earth 18 years ago, on July 4th.  Those of you who knew here, saw her fierce loyalty to her only "chick" (my Mom), which also meant that fierce loyalty encompassed her grandchildren as well. 

Bess Hovey told me that her Mother, Maude Stone Terry,  thought my Gramma Thale was the "most beautiful girl" she had ever seen.  Bess also told how Gramma's Mother, Kittie Scott, loved to play bridge and would round up anyone she could to play.  Once, in order to get enough players, she told a young mother with new baby who needed diapers washed,  that the "dummy would wash the diapers." 

We saw  Gram's  OCD when it came to cleaning her house, from top to bottom, every Friday.  This meant floors swept and scrubbed, even if no one set foot on them and the rug was raked neatly in one direction immediately after vacuuming!   She decorated her house out of Better Homes and Gardens and between her and Bruce had some unique and interesting pieces (but I'm getting ahead of myself).   And of course she'd burn the garbage every day.  OH how she loved fire.  When we lived North of town, she burned leaves and branches in an old steel tractor wheel, once almost burning the place down. 

She hated snakes and would wish to see them chopped  up with a hoe if she saw one.  One day, she was cleaning her car (which also didn't need it).  Vacuum running, I watched , frozen with horror as a very long snake went right between her legs, as she remained bent over the car.    When she finished, I told her a "rattle snake" had gone under the car and she immediately dispatched my brother to KILL it.  Now, I wish I hadn't told her but she was very definite in her ways, even though they were usually soft and kind.

Each of us Grand kids felt that WE were her favorite, while I am SURE that I was.  She called me "Kitten" and clucked her tongue to express her disapproval for bad manners.  Gramma used to say, "Down comes your meat house" as a threat for ills such as not eating over the sink, running in the house, not taking your shoes off at the door, taking bites that were too big or chewing with your mouth open.    Gramma never raised her voice and often cried tears of joy or sadness when visiting with friends and relatives.    I never really understood this until now that it is happening to me.

  I once heard Gramma swear.  She was driving a Ford Fiesta and attempted to pass.  The Fiesta did not have enough engine to get the job done and she said, "Damn sewing machine motor" as she pulled back in behind the other car.  Gramma was used to Thunderbird (two seater) and Cougars and other fast cars and when she stepped on the accelerator, she EXPECTED an immediate response.  The Fiesta didn't last long. 

Soon, Gramma had me drive her.  It was not legal whatsoever for a person of 11 to be driving but she felt I needed to have the experience.  "What if there was an emergency?", she said.  I never forgot that and taught all of my brother's children to drive, under that same mind set. 

Gramma expected us to know how to set a proper table and that meant salad forks, knife rests and all.  She made sure that I knew which side to serve from and which side to clear from and I often waited on whoever was lucky enough to sit round the dinner table. 

Gramma sewed us the latest fashions and raised Dad's eyebrows a time or two when we girls came home with hot pants!  She also made bikinis for us that barely covered a thing.  Gramma knew.  Dad, on the other hand,  didn't like us going around with our "cheeks" hanging out or "painted" up faces.  I'm sure this was an inner battle fought by all fathers where their daughters were concerned.

Gramma had a trailer house in our back yard and being a widow who didn't like to be alone, she kept me most nights and weekends when she wasn't working.  I remember one particularly hot summer day when Gram stripped down to her underclothes and laid on the floor.  This was likely something she'd learned from her Mother, my Gramma Kittie Fallgatter Scott, who had homesteaded multiple times in the state of Montana. 

When Gramma and Bruce rekindled their relationship from their youth, both being widowed, big changes were on the horizon.  Gramma moved to Minnesota to live with Bruce and we didn't see near as much of her.    Gramma and Bruce came and got us girls one summer and took us back to Minnesota for a big part of the summer.   I learned to twirl a baton (can you imagine!) and memorized half of the Morse code.  Being only 6, that was an accomplishment.  The older girls memorized the whole thing for a buck and I asked if I memorized half, could I get 50 cents?  Bruce was fairly taken with my pluck and over the years, we became close.  I loved to listen to his stories and especially the stories of their youth together.  Bruce was strong minded and would disappear from his Glasgow home on his motorcycle.  Gramma said that he gave his Mother fits but he countered that she always knew he'd be at Scott's South of Oswego, since he, Jim and Russ were big pals.  Imagine a time with no phones - she couldn't easily check up on Bruce and had to wait for him to return home!  Poor woman....

When Gram and Bruce moved back to Wolf Point, they bought Dr Moses house and it had a pool.  That changed my life!  I taught myself how to swim and Gramma and I would swim all summer.  Bruce only got in that pool once and got right back out, claiming that it was "too damn cold!" although he took fabulous care of it.  He taught me how to skim the surface for leaves, mice or other items that did not belong and also how to add chlorine for times when he was gone to Minnesota, consulting for Erie Mining. 

When I started junior high, Gram and Bruce took me to Billings and we stayed in a fancy hotel.  Gramma took me shopping and bought me quite a few outfits of quality and style.  Was I ever walking in tall clover!

Bruce outlived Gram by nearly 10 years and he became sole caregiver when she began sliding down the slippery slope of dementia.  How he must have loved her to take on all the roles they once both shared.    I know it was difficult for them both but him in particular.  When Gram thought John White was her brother, during meals at the nursing home, Bruce would always correct her, telling her that "Jim is DEAD."  Gram would cry, each time learning anew that her dear brother had died.    Sometimes life is not fair!    I think of them both so very often and miss them greatly, even now.   

As with great people, great stories must also end.  Now, on to the final two chapters of our Nicaragua trip.


Happy to be photographed!


Easier to push than pedal?


Loaded.




Pretty in pink.



Baking in hot climates is tricky.  Frosting doesn't hold up.  Neither does filling.  I recommend angel food with tropical fruits although this chocolate triple layer with Dulce DE lech was pretty tasty!



Margina had a birthday while were there! 



Rooftop clothes line.  Again, inside out.


15 pounds of red beans. 


A boy and his papa.



Little Jay jammin'.


Earrings and attitude.


Princess Helena.


Said.  (I think I spelled it right.  Pronounced sigh-eed).


Graciela.


Proud Mamma.


Margina.  (Love this picture of her.  Her light shines through.)


Smart.


After a snack of popcorn on the lanai, we noticed this. 


The ants had a definite destination in mind and were feverishly working together to achieve their goal. 


I wondered how they would manage the edge? 


They didn't even slow down!


They just bailed off the edge, some of the ants riding the kernel.


Then, they arrived at a small hole in the concrete retaining wall.  No way would the kernel fit.


They packed all kernels as close as they could to the hole.


I then noticed the larger ants.  I wondered if they came to help?  Eventually, they got the kernels dismantled and through the hole.  Amazing!


Enamored of the soft light. 


Lucky to have seen the white squirrels.  Also lucky waking to the sounds of the howler monkeys but not lucky enough to get any decent images of the constantly moving acrobats.  Locals claim the monkeys will steal their babies and eat them and from the indoor/outdoor housing, perhaps this is true?  Or was true.....historically.

*****************************************************************************************************************************************
"An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind." - Mahatma Gandhi

*****************************************************************************************************************************************
www.thekoldenreport.blogspot.com
www.kittykolden.com