canning

It seems impossible to me that my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg could be gone now for two years. She was such a fighter, when it came to her health. There were a number of times that we thought we had lost her, but she always bounced back…until she didn’t. The end of her days had come, and with it, there were no parents in our lives again. My parents, Al and Collene Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg were gone, and now my mother-in-law had joined them in Heaven. It felt empty here on earth. The loss hit hard with each of my four parents, but with my mother-in-law, there was also the finality of it. We had no more parents. We, their children, are the matriarchs and patriarchs of our families now, but it feels like we are orphans. The knowledge that you have no parents, really brings that orphaned feeling home.

My mother-in-law, was a homemaker for most of her life, and very skilled in things like cooking, sewing, knitting, crocheting, and canning. These were things she passed down to her daughters, and to me. Of course, my own mother taught me part of these things too, but we didn’t can often, other than making jelly, and the things my mother-in-law cooked were different from my own mom, so that added variety to my abilities. My mother-in-law, was probably best known for her sewing, knitting, and crocheting. She sold many of her crafts at craft fairs over the years, adding to the family budget and to her craft budget as well. She also loved to bake, and her “Murder Cake” was a family favorite.

My in-laws lived in the country for most of the time I knew them, but they moved to town in the last years of their lives. While she preferred the quiet of the country, my mother-in-law did enjoy watching all the activity that took place near their home at the corner of two busy streets in In her later years, my mother-in-law developed Alzheimer’s Disease. Casper. After she had to be moved to Shepherd of the Valley nursing home, she enjoyed the activity there, especially at the nurses station, because she was a “people watcher” all her life. She liked to see what everyone around her was up to, and figure it all out, even wondering why they spoke to the people they did, or did the things they did. I was glad that her curiosity never left her. It made her time in the nursing home must more interesting. Finally, on January 4, 2018, she lost her health battle. Like most Alzheimer’s patients, it was not the disease that took her, but rather that her kidneys gave out. She passed peacefully that evening, after having her family around her earlier in the day. She simply went to sleep, and went home. While we were so sorry to see her go, we knew she was tired of fighting. We love and miss her very much.

Last June while my husband, Bob and I were walking on the path near our home, we noticed a friend’s vegetable garden. Since it had gone from plowed dirt to medium sized plants, virtually over night, we knew that they had put in plants and not planted seeds. This conversation brought a memory to Bob, about his childhood years. The garden that they had on the land that his parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg shared with his grandparents, Robert and Nettie Knox was quite large, and Bob remembers checking the garden almost daily to see if the seeds they had planted had begun to sprout. He and his grandpa would go out into the garden and young Bob would see something green in the places where the seeds had been planted. He would immediately ask, “Is that a plant Grandpa?” Only to be disappointed when his grandpa said, “No, that’s a weed.”

I was struck by the memory of my husband’s grandfather, who wasn’t really a social person most of the time, but when he was in the garden…well, he was really in his element. I could picture Grandpa and young Bob out in the garden, while he worked to educate his grandson on the finer points of gardening. Grandpa knew how to do many things, but it was in the garden that he really seemed at home. As a younger man, he worked on several ranches and so being in the outdoors, working with his hands makes sense. I don’t suppose that many men seriously enjoy gardening, and I don’t know if I can really picture Grandpa in a flower garden, but when it came to a vegetable garden, he took great pride in it and in the food it supplied to the family.

When the vegetables were ripe, he would pick them and the canning would commence. I remember, after I joined the family, the canning taking place. It took all day, but when we were done, there were vegetables to last for the year. I can’t say that canning was always one of my favorite things to do, but there was always a certain satisfaction that came from opening those vegetables to serve for dinner, and knowing where they came from. The nice thing about having Grandpa handling the garden was that truly, he did all the hard work, and we reaped the benefit. I say that because I am not really a green thumb, so gardening and especially weeding are not my idea of a pleasant afternoon. Nevertheless, that was most certainly Grandpa Knox’s idea of a pleasant afternoon, ad it was a very nice memory of him. Today would have been Grandpa’s 109th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandpa Knox. We love and miss you very much.

My husband, Bob’s Aunt Pearl Hein is a very ambitious person. For years, she has raised a garden, and canned tons of vegetables. She and Uncle Eddie have long been very busy people…maybe too busy sometimes. Pearl worked for many years at the IGA store in Forsyth, Montana, and pretty much became vital to the functioning of that place. That did make it hard for Pearl to entertain, and at least when we were in town, she always enjoyed having everyone come over for dinner. We didn’t get to Forsyth often, and she liked to make our visit very special. And she did make our visits special…not just because she is a great cook, but because she always made us feel welcome. Going to visit Eddie and Pearl was always a highlight of our visits to Forsyth.

Pearl married Bob’s uncle Eddie on July 15, 1962, and they had two children, Larry Hein and Kimberly (Hein) Arani. They were then busily raising their family and spending time with siblings and parents. When Pearl’s parents needed help i their later years,she was right there to help them, often spending long hours at their homes. I remember many times that they were not able to take vacations because they were so busy. Now that they are both retired, they have more time to travel a little, and they have made a couple of trips to Texas to visit their daughter, who lives there. I like that they can get away sometimes to a warmer climate, and I’m sure Kim likes it too.

Their son, Larry and his family still live in Forsyth, and for them as well as Eddie and Pearl, that will always be home. I’m not sure any of them will ever live anywhere else, and I can understand that. Forsyth is a cute little town, with a rich history. The family, from many branches, has roots there. While none of my own family were born there, Forsyth, and all of Bob’s family who are still there, will always hold a special place in my heart. And Pearl had a big part in those memories. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s uncle, Eddie Hein has always been a soft-spoken man, who had a big impact on the lives of those around him. I remember the first time I met Eddie. I liked him and his wife, Pearl very much. They were kind and welcoming, and to this day, we love to go to visit them in Forsyth, Montana, although we don’t get to go nearly as often as we used to. Before his retirement, Eddie worked long, hard hours at the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. It was shift work, and it was hard on the body, but Eddie made a good living and supported his family well. The long hours always seemed twice as long as they were…especially at the end of a long week of them.

Coal mining was Eddie’s occupation, but it was not his life…not his heart. His heart belonged to his family. Eddie remodeled their home largely by himself, and did a beautiful job. Eddie worked hard, alongside Pearl, of course, weeding their garden, and growing their vegetables, and then canning the vegetables for use all year long. It was a project they did together, especially after Pearl went to work too. Eddie and Pearl were always there to help their friends and neighbors too. People only had to call, and they would do whatever was needed. I suppose that is just the way it is in a small town, but more likely it is just they way they are. Eddie and Pearl are very helpful people, just ask anyone.

Eddie has always loved tractors. He was always working on one or two, and there were always tractors in their back yard. He used them to help friends with their haying, or digging something for someone when needed. I’m sure he used them in their own garden too, because you can’t really have a successful garden if you don’t plow it and such. My husband, Bob remembers those tractors well, but then I guess he would. It’s kind of a guy thing, and being a mechanic, just like his Uncle Eddie, working on tractors would have a draw for him too. I’m sure those tractors gave them lots to talk about, and I know that they both enjoyed those visits very much. Today is Eddie’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

MomTo be given a mom who is wonderful and sweet is a great blessing indeed, but to be blessed with two of them is twice as nice. Of course, I don’t have two moms exactly, but I have a mom and mother-in-law, and both of them are wonderful and very sweet. They are different in their ways, and really always have been, they are nevertheless the same in many ways. My mom always lived in town, my mother-in-law was a country girl most of her life, and each one probably wouldn’t have changed that for anything. I suppose that the way you are raised has a lot to do with it, since each of them continued to live the same way they were raised for at least most of their lives.

In many ways, their two very different lifestyles have enriched my life twice as much. I had canned vegetables or made jelly, but never had any real part in growing the vegetables or fruits. My mother-in-law really knew no other way. While growing a garden and canning are not things a still do in today’s busy lifestyle, it is nevertheless something I could do if I needed to. And while my mom didn’t grow vegetables, she had and still has some of the most beautiful flower gardens around.

Living in the country made participation in sports more difficult, due mainly to the distances that must be traveled, when a bus could have brought the kids home without the extra Mom Schulenberggas needed for the trip. Living in town made it easy to participate in sports. It isn’t that sports is always important, but there are other activities that I would have missed and I know my kids would have missed.

My life is probably very little like the lives of either my mom or my mother-in-law, mostly because of the changing times we live in, but I think that the influences of these two wonderful women have made my life twice as nice, and with the passing last Sunday of my father-in-law, and my dad going on 6 years ago now, they are more precious to me than ever. Happy Mothers Day to my two moms. I hope your day is as beautiful as you are.

My father-in-law has always been a hard working man. He worked hard all his life, beginning at 13 when he went to live at a ranch not far from his home, to work milking cows and hauling hay, for a mere 50 cents a day for milking and 1 dollar a day when hauling hay. He learned very early on, that it took hard work to get where you wanted to be in life. That work ethic has taken him a long way in his lifetime. He is a respected man to all who know him.

He worked hard to provide for his family and insure that my mother-in-law could be a stay at home mom. Together they raised six children. She kept house, as well as, knitting, crocheting, sewing and canning. He worked long hours to make enough money to support the family, and was often away from home for days at a time. It was a hard way to make a living, but he did it so his kids could have their mom at home. That was how things were back then. The men worked and the women kept the house.

These days my father-in-law still works very hard. At 83 years of age, he spends his days taking care of my mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. He cooks, cleans, and makes sure that she has the things she needs to stay home. Yes, he has help, but during the day, he is on duty alone most of the time. It is a hard day for him, and it wears him out much of the time, but whenever my mother-in-law has to be in the hospital, he is terribly lonely. Once again, he chooses hard work in order to support his loved ones. The unfortunate thing is that my mother-in-law has no idea just how blessed she is.

Today is my father-in-law’s 83rd birthday. For the past 7 years or more, he has been faithfully and lovingly caring for my mother-in-law, without complaint. His love for his family runs deep. He always puts their needs ahead of his own…no matter how tired he gets. Happy birthday Dad!! Have a wonderful day. We love you!!

Bob’s family lived out in the country when I first met and later married him. They wanted to be able to raise farm animals, if they wanted to, and they later did do, as did we, but they also liked having a vegetable garden, and canning the vegetables they grew. It was a good sized vegetable garden, and Grandpa Knox took it upon himself to be the caretaker of that garden. Every day of the growing season would find him out there tending to that garden. And as a family, we all reaped the benefits of his labor, so we were glad he did it.

Grandpa was a rancher from way back, and so raising his own food was…just normal for him. When I met Bob, his grandparents were living on the same land has his parents…just across the yard in fact. That was not something I was used to, but it was a very efficient plan, and allowed Bob’s parents to take care of his mother’s aging parents as well. Everyone worked together to meet the needs of the family as a whole. With so many kids moving far away from their parents, to see this family pulling together for the greater good, was very cool.

When it was time to harvest the vegetables, we all went out and helped, and then began the women’s work. We prepared and canned the vegetables for later use. All of this was new to me, because having grown up in town, we didn’t normally can our fruits and vegetables, although I had made jelly before. Still, I felt a little…no, a lot…out of my element, but I quickly got the hang of it and later canned my own vegetables too.

Grandpa was a man of very few words, and one who always seemed most at home when he was out in the garden or doing other outdoor tasks. He may not have talked much, but he sure knew what he was doing when it came to gardening…a feat that anyone who knows me well, knows is not something I would put on my resume…much less write home about. To put it mildly, I have a brown thumb…except when it comes to roses, which I have no problem with. Don’t ask me why, because I don’t know. That said, when Grandpa’s gardening years were past. I found myself very much missing all the wonderful vegetables we got out of Grandpa’s garden.

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