conversation

When we think of eavesdropping, we think of trying to listen in on the conversations of people around us for the purpose of malice. However, not all eavesdropping is like that. I like to sit quietly in a room listening to the conversations going on around me, because you can learn so much about what other people think. My Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, who wrote a wonderful journal about her family’s lives and the world they lived in at that time. Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, who in 1890 said, “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” I feel that way about eavesdropping.

If we are honest with ourselves, we all listen to the conversations going on around us. I can’t tell you how many times several tables in a restaurant end up in a conversation, because someone at one table said something that struck a chord with someone at another table. It is impossible for a person with good hearing not to hear the conversations going on around you, and I don’t think of it as being snoopy. Our ears were designed to listen to things going on around us. Maybe it was originally so that we could hear impending disaster, such as a growling bear, a tornado, a rushing flash flood, or screeching car tires, still our ears can’t avoid hearing the child saying something hilariously funny to its mother, the couple talking about something they don’t understand, or just the family saying something that you passionately agree with. We hear it, and eventually, our mouth cannot help itself, and we find ourselves engaging in the conversation we were just eavesdropping on.

Yes, sometimes people get annoyed when we try to engage in their conversation, but often, they do not get upset. Today, while my husband, Bob and I were riding the 1880 Train in the Black Hills, a trip we take every year when we go to the Black Hills, overheard the couple behind us talking about the many cars that stop and wave and take pictures of the train at every crossing. As I listened to their incredulity, I could stand it no longer. I turned and told them that people loved the train so much that they followed it from stop to stop to wave and take pictures. I was not being rude, just telling them about the love people have for the 1880 Train. They loved it. They asked if we lived in the area, and when we said that we just came every year, the conversation was on. We talked about the Harney Fire Lookout Tower on what is now Black Elk Peak (Formally Harney Peak), and that Bob and I have hiked it 14 times. Then I showed them a picture of us at the top. After they looked, the people behind them wanted to see too. I think they might have been traveling together, but I’m not sure. They might have been eavesdropping too. It was a great conversation, and no one was upset by the eavesdropping, in fact, they and we enjoyed the resulting conversation very much.

Denny FredrickMy cousin, Dennis Fredrick and I have been emailing back and fourth for a few weeks now, and it has brought our relationship back to what if used to be, years ago. Time and distance make it difficult for people to stay in touch…even relatives. That is what happened with Denny and me, and now that we have begun to move our relationship back where it should be, I think we are both much happier about it. It’s amazing just how much you miss of someone’s life. The years go by so fast, and before you know it you can feel like you hardly know them anymore, and that is a sad thing to see happen between cousins. The good news is that it’s not too late to change all that, and that is exactly what Denny and I have set out to do.

Denny recently retired, and that has given him more time to devote to the family history. It’s perfect timing, because I have some pictures that I wanted his opinion on, and he has found some great documents that most of the family had never seen before. Denny’s mom, my Aunt Laura Fredrick has been working on the family history for years, and being the oldest of my grandparents’ children, she had the opportunity to have a copy of her parents’ marriage certificate. With her passing, her years of hard work on the family history were passed on to her son Denny. Now, with Denny’s extra time, and my knowledge of Ancestry.com, it is my hope that we can make some the information available online, as well as to other family members who are online, but maybe not on Ancestry.com.
Just Me
Of course, the family history is not the only thing that Denny and I have been talking about. There are so many memories to talk about. Our families were so close when they lived in Casper. we loved it when they came over. There was always something fun going on. The conversation was interesting, and there was a closeness between the families. After their move to Oregon, we didn’t get to see them as much. That is the part that both Denny and I feel a loss over. Nevertheless, it’s never too late to catch up on the past, so that’s what Denny and I intend to do…making up for lost time. That is our ultimate goal. It might be a long road, but it will be worth it in the end. Today is Denny’s birthday. Happy birthday Denny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

CCI06282012_00072cIt seems that with any gathering you have with a bunch of people, at some point, the men gather in their group and the women in theirs. That way the men can talk cars, crops, trains, or whatever else men find to talk about, that women would find quite boring. The men would be just as bored with girl talk, so it is really to everyone’s advantage. There is still one little problem though…the kids. You would think that they would just go play, thereby keeping themselves occupied and out of everybody’s hair, but just like the younger sibling, these kids, as often as not, tend to want to be right in the middle of the conversation…with the adults. It isn’t that these men are necessarily discussing something that the children shouldn’t be hearing, but often just that it is a little bit above their heads, and most kids tend to ask a multitude of questions.

Quite likely the men tried to get this little boy to go play, but then he either went crying to his mom or he just got into mischief and so she sent him to sit with the men. It was probably what he wanted to do anyway. Hanging with the little kids…or especially the women…would be a horrible thing to have to do. I suppose he figured that it was worth the risk of getting a spanking to have his mother send him to sit with the men…especially since his dad would not be too likely to go against what his mother said, when she said that he was to watch him.

I also noticed that the men were not looking at him like they were ready to “kill” either, so my guess would be that he figured he had better behave himself so he could stay there. A little boy being as quiet as a church mouse is less likely to get into trouble in a place he can’t just leave either, because now that his mother told his dad to keep an eye on him, he has to stay put. That could get ugly if he caused problems. So my guess is that he just sat quietly and listened to the guy things the men were talking about, and probably learned a few things, if he paid close attention.

Thanksgiving DinnerTimes have changed as far as what is considered the normal family dinner, but whatever your family does, this is a daily trsdition. Some families opt for the sit down family style dinner, where everyone is at the table, and you eat together. As a kid and still sometimes, such as lunch at my mom’s house, this was how we ate. The meal was prepared and when it was ready, we all came to the table, prayed over our food, and ate together. We always had good conversation, and an ocassional debate between my dad and me, and when everyone was finished eating, we gave thanks for the meal, and left the table to begin the clean up. It was a dinner tradition that has largely become a thing of the past for most families, including my own for the most part. It is mostly because people don’t have time enough to sit for an hour or more to eat and talk about their day…a sad fact that has come about because of our hectic lifestyles.

As families grow, sometimes they simply outgrow the table, or at least they do if friends and family come over for holiday dinners and such. At this time you have to be a little bit Aunt Dixie, Aunt Sandy, Aunt Bonnie_editedinnovative in order to make things go smoothly at dinnertime. It was at this point that many families adopted the idea of the kid’s table. The kid’s table is just what it sounds like. It is usually a coffee table or other small, and usually too low for the adults to possibly be comfortable, table that the kids can adapt to easily. The cool thing is that, for a little while anyway…until the kids decide that they don’t really want to be considered the kids anymore, and they want to be at the adults table, this set up allows the adults to talk easily, and without all the noise that always resides at the kid’s table. It can, however,  be a big problem, when the kids want to move up, because they can’t really add to the conversation in exactly the way they thought, so it just creates problems. Sometimes…if you ask me, the kids don’t know how cool it is to be at the kid’s table. Some even opt to go back there…shock!!

Of course, as many of us know, sometimes it is almost impossible to have any kind of a sit down dinner at all. The kids are rushing out to work and dates, and there is always some game or show on television. For many people, they have to get to the gym, or in our case, our on the trail for a walk…after visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home, of course. Collene on Thanksgivig_editedThere is just so much to do and so little time. For Bob and me, that often means eating separately, and on the run. Since he gets off earlier than I do, he has already eaten, so we can rush to the nursing home and back in time to walk. I might have a sandwich in the car on the way to the nursing home, I know it’s odd, but it works for us these days. And on the opposite side of that coin, is the kid who gets off work after dinner is already over. There is just no choice but to check out the table to see what might be left over, in the hope that they don’t have to make something for themselves. The traditional family dinner is probably a thing of the past for most of us, and has been replaced by a new tradition…whatever works for your family.

Right before Christmas, we were at Walmart doing some shopping. There was a couple and their little girl there, and the little girl had noticed a doll house. As we walked by them, the little girl was busily trying to talk her parents into buying the doll house for her. They kept telling her that she already had a doll house at home and she never played with it. She insisted that she did, and that she would play with both of them if they would just “please buy it” for her. Of course, her parents knew what the end result of their daughter’s promise would be, and as they kept walking away, the little girl followed along behind them, doing her very best to convince them that she would keep her promise.

That little conversation took me back a number of years to when my girls were little, and we got them a doll house for Christmas. I had never had a doll house, and in my mind, it would be a treasured item for any little girl, and I’m sure they played with it for a while, but it never really became the treasure that I had expected. That isn’t really surprising, in that, a doll house can get boring after a while, because the dolls don’t do anything. Like kids today, dolls that do nothing get pretty boring after a very short time…I mean, there is only so much you can do with the imagination, and then you move on to toys with a little more action to them.

As we walked on, I was smiling to myself, because I could see how that little girl’s parents were thinking that they would just have to point out to their darling daughter, in the very near future, that she still wasn’t playing with the original doll house much, so she definitely wouldn’t have been playing with the new one, had they purchased it for her. And if she gave it some thought, I’m quite sure that she would have to agree with her parents, that while she loved her doll house, in her head, it probably wasn’t her favorite toy. The truth is that she just wanted them to buy her something, and for lack of a better choice, she opted for the first thing she saw.

From almost the day he was born, my nephew, Barry was Grandpa’s boy. He wanted to do everything with his grandpa. Barry was highly motivated for a little kid. Oh, he liked his toys and especially trucks too, but he wanted to do man’s work most of all. He was practically a little grown up from birth. Not very many people are like that. Most little kids want to play all day. They don’t want to be bothered with work. Barry wasn’t sure he wanted to be bothered with play. It was always funny to hear Barry say that he wasn’t going to school, because he had to stay home and work with Grandpa. To Barry, there was nobody better than his grandpa.

Barry is all grown up now, and yes…he did go to school, although I’m not sure he was always happy about it. His love for and connection to his grandpa has never changed. There has and always will be a closeness there. Barry is one of the people that I know I can count on to help out with care for my in-laws, for that very reason. If I ask him to help me with them, he is quick to respond to that need. Help just doesn’t get better than that.

Not a whole lot has changed a far as Barry’s interests are concerned. He still likes trucks, motorcycles, and pretty much any type of mechanical work. He has added hiking with his wife, Kelli to that mix, a pass time I can totally relate to and one I don’t think his grandpa ever did. Of course, there are several of us who have taken up that pass time, and fully enjoy every minute that we are able to get out there and enjoy nature.

Barry has grown from a cute little grandpa’s boy to a man that I respect very much. Many times I don’t know what I would do without him. I know Bob feels the same way, as they have to get together once a week for breakfast and good conversation. They can each be counted on to help the other when needed too. Happy birthday Barry!! Have an awesome day!!

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