Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Great Smokey Mountains and Moonshine

Today while driving through the Great Smokey Mountains I thought of Esther for some reason. She grew up in the Ozarks in Missouri, but being in the hills here makes me think of the life that was led here and in the Ozarks many years ago. They made so many things themselves, grew their own food and raised their own meat, butchering it themselves. They also made their own "spirits", if you know what I mean. I think all the dandelions along the highway made me think of it. Esther talked about making dandelion wine as a youth. The entire time I knew her, if she had some fruit that had gone bad, it was no loss, it was the beginning of some wine. I don't drink, so I never knew if it was good-tasting or not. I found out later.

When she was about 79 years-old, she and her sister, Venice tried living together.  It didn't work out, but I have this memory from a time we visited them.  Esther brought out a large jar with some foul-looking, thick, pale-orange liquid inside of it.  She drank some and then offered it to Venice, who made a face and in a very disgusted manner said, "No, I like good wine."  Venice then went on to criticize Esther's wine-making abilities, saying that she did it wrong and it tasted bad.  Esther pulled herself up very straight, closed her eyes, inclined her head towards Venice and said in a very firm, flat voice, "It is an acquired taste."

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Retirement is an Adenture

Right now being Swertfeger is pretty fun.  As the wife of Jerry Swertfeger, I enjoy every day, every moment, and I never know what to expect.  We have been busy since we moved to Brush Prairie, WA.  We have helped our daughter Joy move to San Tan Valley, AZ and visited Grant and Mindy in Spring Hill, TN, plus spending a month or more with Alice in Marionville, MO. There are more adventures to come. 

The other day a nice islander fellow, Patrick,  stopped by and asked if we'd like some trees removed, or bark dust put down and Jerry walked around the property with him, talking about what might be done.  It turns out they were at our neighbor's taking down a tree.  Jerry came in and said Patrick was a nice fellow, and his sister was working with him.  She was up in the tree, cutting off the limbs and working with the chain saw.   Today they came back to finish up taking down another tree.  They came into our yard to prune a smaller tree and I saw the "sister":   a very buff,  long-haired fellow.    When I asked Jerry about it he admitted that he had asked Patrick, "Is that your sister that works with you?"  He replied, "No, it's my brother, and he needs a haircut!"  (They work on Sunday because they are Seventh Day Adventist, and yesterday was their sabbath.)


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Here's to Retirement!

It's official, Jerry Swertfeger is retired. I guess that means he'll be able to work all day in the yard, spend some time in the rock house with his tools, ride around on the tractor and go to Missouri whenever he feels like it. The opportunities are endless.

Dad, I hope that you will find enjoyment in your retirement and be able to do all those things that you've been wanting to do and haven't been able to find the time.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hearing Issues

We have one of those soap dispensers that plays a recording when you push the button on top. It's a Halloween one that does a few different crazy cakles with a little background music. It's been in the bathroom for a couple of weeks now. This morning Jerry used it and evidently for the very first time, pushed it in the right place to activate the sound. He was unaware that it was a "special" soap dispenser. He came out of the bathroom, laughing, and asked me about it. He had to tell me how many times he's used it and it never went off before and that he was so surprised. He said, "I thought my cell phone was ringing."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Esther, On the Road Again

Tonight we lost the matriarch of the Swertfeger family. There will be no memorial service, no viewing, no formalities. That is the way she wanted things to be. Once in conversation Esther mentioned that she wanted Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" played after she was gone.

That is how she lived her life, always planning for the next journey she would take. Even though her vision was deteriorated a 30-day bus passes was as good as gold in her hand. On one trip she returned to Portland and arrived at the bus depot at 5am. She decided it was too early to wake someone up so she hopped a bus to Seattle for something to kill the time.

In her last days, after suffering from hunger and thirst, she determined it would be best to sleep away the days. She was at peace in bed tonight when she went.

We will miss the mother and grandmother she was and look back on her life and perhaps grin a little when next we hear Willie Nelson proclaim, "and I just can't wait to get on the road again."

"On the road again
Just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is making music with my friends
And I can't wait to get on the road again."

"On the road again
Goin' places that I've never been.
Seein' things that I may never see again
And I can't wait to get on the road again."

"On the road again
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We're the best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning our way."

- Willie Neslon

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Quoting Poetry

Esther is on her last legs, and she is enjoying quoting her poems for anyone that visits her. I have heard the same poems many, many times now, but it's still a delight to watch the faces of others as she quotes them a poem from memory that they have not heard before. Here is one of her favorites:

The last stanza from "Thanatopsis" (View on Death in Greek)by William Cullen Bryant

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch so
About him and lies down to pleasant dreams.

A hospice volunteer, Melody, came to spend an hour with Esther and was so moved by the poetry that the next time she came to see her she told her that from now on she was going to view the work she did with patients differently and incorporate some of the poetry into what she does. Esther had a profound effect on her. She even came back with her teenage daughter so she could meet her.
That was a nice plus for Esther, to be appreciated.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Why Isn't Everyone Awake?

Jerry and Esther were at Dale's home in Dallas, Texas. They had spent their second night and it was the morning they were to arise and be on their way to Springfield, Missouri by 7 a.m.. Jerry said he awoke about 5 a.m. in the dark, hearing a strange sound. At first he was confused and couldn't figure out what it was then he realized it was someone "tinkling" on the piano. He came out of his room just in time to see Dale, slightly annoyed, asking Esther why she was waking the whole house up at 5 a.m.. She knew the clock said 5 but she got confused and thought she needed to add 2 hours to the time. So, she got creative and "tinkled" on the piano until it was loud enough to wake someone up.