This is a continuation of Agnes Sligh Turnbull's short story When Queens Ride By, first published in 1932. You are reading the diary of Jennie Musgrave and her journey back to the heart of her home. Jennie is a farm wife living in the 1940's in rural Massachusetts. Her diary chronicles her account of returning to the role God made especially for her, that of help-meet to her husband and loving mother. It is my sincere wish this diary bless you. ~Suzanne

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Thanksgiving to remember! Part 1

Well now, finally I am finding time to get to puttin' my thoughts and memories of Thanksgiving in this here journal. I don't want to forget a minute of it, it was all too wonderful! My sister Emma and her husband Frank arrived Wednesday around 4pm with their boys Thomas and George. My how those boys have grown! Babes the last time I saw them. I must have hugged my sister for 5 straight minutes before I let her go, we both had tears streaming down our faces we were so happy to see each other.  The menfolk brought in the bags and I started a pot of coffe and got us a supper of potato soup and ham steaks going. Emma just couldn't believe how grown my children got to either. We both realized that time was speedin' by.  Us two got supper together while chatting wildly about this and that. My we had years of catchin' up to do. A lovely sup was had and we enjoyed some apple buckle with our coffee. Frank and John went out to do the evening milkin' with the boys while us ladies cleaned up. Emma sat with Ruth Ann and enjoyed Honey and the kittens. Ruth Ann kept telling my sister how she loved her blonde hair and her hairdo. Emma had a very fashionable bob and Ruth Ann was quite taken with it.

When the men came in from milkin' John asked about Thanksgiving eve service, but I said I thought maybe we should stay home as Emma and Frank may be all in with the ride and all. Well, to my surprise they said they would love to come to service with us. So, we all got presentable and were on our way.  It was a nice time of fellowship. We went around the room and each family got to say what they were thankful to the Lord for. Ruth Ann said she was so thankful to have a Thanksgiving turkey for dinner tomorrow and have her Aunt , Uncle, cousins and Granny Harriet with us for the day. It brought a tear to my eye it did to hear her say this. Communion was taken and after service alot of folks came by to introduce themselves to my sister's family.  They were made to feel so welcome.

At home, we got the children all tucked in and I made a pot of cocoa.  Frank and John were listening to a radio show in the parlor and Emma and I stayed in the kitchen and talked and talked and talked over our cocoa. We both agreed we needed to make more effort to see each other. Couple of times I had to tell the men to quiet down they were hootin' and hollerin' too much! Too much Amos and Andy I think.

By 10 pm we all headed up to bed. John told me he really enjoyed Frank's company. They both got along good talkin' farm stuff.  John said Frank really missed farming. Since losing his arm in the accident 5 years ago, keeping a large beef herd was near impossible.  Frank lost his arm during hayin's season. I remember they thougth he wouldn't make it' cause he lost so much blood , but he pulled through alright. Now they keep sheep and he uses a special herdin' dog to deal with rounding up the herd. Frank also works part-time at the spinning mill in town and Emma says that helps alot. They're keepin' it above water, but just barely.

As I drifted off to sleep John remarked how nice it was havin' guests under his roof. Yes, indeed it was.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Aprons and Kittens

Tonight I stayed up much too late. I was finishing up a new apron for myself. My others were showing terrible signs of all the work I have undertaken over the last two months.  I 'spose I could wear those aprons as a sort of badge of honor! Well, I didn't want to be a sight on Thanksgiving with my company so I picked up a very pretty light blue cotton check at Percy's store.  I was able to barter eggs for a nice cut of it   A bit of a ruffle on the sweeping edge and a ruffle around the bib too. Not only is it functional, but so pretty and right ladylike.  I also finished up my new dress which this apron compliments beautifully.  Fancy Jenny on Thanksgiving is what I shall be!  I also made a plain apron from the check fabric too, that way if a guest wants to put one on to help out, there is a nice, new apron to offer them.  My treadle has seen more treadlin' in the last few days than in the whole time I have had her since my Mum passed on.  When Mum passed I took her beloved treadle. So many memories of sittin' by my Mum's knees watchin her foot work the treadle as she sewed us all new dresses for Christmas or Easter.  I miss her so at times.


  The house is clean and awaitin' the guests. Tomorrow is baking and prepping some of the vegetables I will serve. I will not tire myself out though. Harriet is bringing some pies so my baking is really just some nice clover leaf rolls and two pumpkin pies.

The children have been taken with the new cat and her litter of kittens.  Mama kitten has a new name too, since we don't know if she had an old one .  Ruth Ann decided she should be called honey, as her fur reminds her of the color of it. Bobby piped in with his suggestion of tiger and little Jim suggested flluffy, but honey won out.  They wanted to give all the kittens names too , but since we haven't figured if they are boys or girls yet we persuaded the children to hold off a bit .

I have been enjoying a little book of sermons by C.H. Spurgeon called Farm Sermons. Pastor Miller gave it to John and I a couple of Sundays ago to help us get started in a daily quiet time with the Lord.  Today I read The Joy of  Harvest and I quote a bit of it here to remember the wisdom of Spurgeon's preachin'. This really hit home with me as we are sharing our harvest with family and neighbors and I feel the joy of the Lord just explodin in my heart most days!  I do hope the Lord provides a time for me to share this with my sister while she is visiting.

The Joy of Harvest
"They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest."—Isaiah 9:3.

The joy of harvest generally shows itself by the farmer giving a feast to his friends and neighbours; and, usually, those who find Christ express their joy by telling their friends and their neighbours how great things the Lord hath done for them. The grace of God is communicative. A man cannot be saved, and always hold his tongue about it: as well look for dumb choirs in heaven as for a silent church on earth. If a man has been thirsty, and has come to the living stream, his first impulse will be to cry, "Ho! Every one that thirsteth!" Do you feel the joy of harvest, the joy that makes you wish that others should share with you? If so, do not repress the impulse to proclaim your happiness. Speak of Christ to brothers and sisters, to friends and kinsfolk; and, if the language be stammering, the message in itself is so important that the words in which you couch it will be a secondary consideration. Tell it, tell it out far and wide—that there is a Saviour, that you have found him, and that his blood can wash away transgression. Tell it everywhere; and so the joy of harvest shall spread o'er land and sea, and God shall be glorified.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A furry surprise!

We had us a weekend full of surprises! One of our gals that was expectin' birthed a nice little calf on Saturday. John had estimated that she wasn't due for another two weeks ,but when he went to do the evenin's milking she was in labor. About 8 o'clock a little brown fella came slidin' out and proceeded to try and get up not too long after. That calf was pretty funny trying to get up on his wobbly little legs. The children were cheering him on! 

John had let the children watch the birth. I wasn't too sure about the little ones seein' but it all worked out and they were quite amazed. Little Jim decided the little fellow would be named Stanley.  John and I had a good chuckle and asked him why Stanley and he told us in school he had read a story about a little boy who was clumsy and kinda wobbly named Stanley and this calf reminded him of the boy. Well alrighty then John said--we'll call him Stanley.

Today we attended church and Pastor Miller was preachin' on why we need our church family.  He was in the book of Ephesians and I wrote the verses down so I could study them later. I must say that it has been so nice being in fellowship with other Christians. Sundays are a day we all look forward to all week long. The little children ask me each day how many more days til church .  We don't do work like we did before, we do rest and have us a family day. I do wonder if us keepin' the Sabbath has anything to do with us getting more work done than before?

When we pulled up to the house after church the children just bolted out of the car to check on Stanley. A few minutes later Ruth Ann came running to the kitchen all excited asking for a flashlight. Seems they heard some strange noises in the hay loft but it being dark up there they needed some light.  I asked Ruth Ann what kind of strange noises they were hearin' but she couldn't say for sure. John and I exchanged a glance and decided it would be best for us to take a look . John climbed the ladder to the loft and hollered for us to come on up. Why layin' in the hay was a momma cat with her litter of kittens!  Now where did she come from we wondered?  You just never know what you might find in a big old barn .  The children were so excited they could barely contain themselves.  They were asking questions all at the same time a mile a minute. John held up his hand and said whoa now---this little mama and her kittens need some rest. Ruth Ann was concerned she wouldn't be warm enough , but her Daddy told her the bed of hay was very warm.  Throughout the day the children checked on the little kitten family and brought warm bowls of milk to the momma cat. 

After supper John told me tomorrow if our furry friends are a bit stronger he would move them into the kitchen near the woodstove. I wasn't so sure about that, but he assured me he would check the momma out carefully. Of course, the children will be thrilled.  As I was tucking Ruth Ann in she asked me if we should give her a name. Give who a name I asked? Well, momma kitten. Hmmm...I told her we could think on it tonight and ask Daddy. That seemed to satisfy her little mind enough for her to doze off pretty fast.

I told John what she had asked me and he kind of slyly smiled and said naming animals kind of means keepin' 'em.  Might be good to have a few barn cats 'round he said, keep the mice in check.  Well now you might be right there I told him.  So now we have Stanley and whoever with a bunch of kitties. I had to laugh a bit--what a day full of surprises!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chenille and old quilts

I am so incredibly tired! Right now I am in bed with my pillows puffed up behind me writing in my diary by lamplight. My feet are aching and even my back is a bit sore. John brought me up a nice hot water bottle to put on the small of my back and it feels so good. John told me to get myself to bed, that I looked plum tuckered out. I admit I am .  The last couple of days have been busy with getting the house ready for Thanksgiving and our guests.  I tackled the spare bedroom and boy I wasn't prepared for just how much work was needin' to be done in there. This room hadn't been touched since my Momma passed away 7 years ago.  Steppin' into this room and having to really look at it brought back a flood of memories of my Momma.  She died too young she did--from the polio.

 I did snap out of it and opened the windows to let the fresh air in. It became so cold I had to put a heavy sweater on! The curtains were so dirty and old that I took them down and got the windows cleaned up then went searchin in my Momma's old steamship trunk and found a white ruffled pair. After a quick soak and line dry I ironed them and hung them up. Brighted the whole room up. John brought up a pail and rags and we both washed the woodwork and gave a light going over the wallpaper. It was old, but kind of pretty still. Little lilac print John's Mum put up many years before.  John took the rag rug down and gave it a good beatin' on the line and I damp mopped the hardwood floor. On his way up he brought a heap of wood and kindling for the little pot bellied stove, the only heat in the room. He made sure it was all set and lit a nice fire and the room was warm fast, bless that man! Both of us gave the mattress a turn and I put some nice fresh sheets on the bed. I also aired out my Momma's chenille bedspread a spell and dressed the bed with it. I added a couple of quilts with cheery colors of pink and green and the room was looking invitin and comfortable.  I dusted and moved some old boxes to the attic and polished the oil lamps and got them all set. I set some towels and soap out and got the old pitcher and wash basin cleaned up and put it on the vanity. I daresay the room looked spit spot and I was very pleased with the results.  I feel much better knowing my sister and her husband have a nice room to sleep in.  John found some old army cots for the boys down the basement, cleaned 'em up and I got some blankets and pillows on them and we arranged them in the room too . Everyone should be quite all set for a night.

All the children helped so much.  Ruth Ann helped me get all the laundry done and little Jim helped clean the cots up. Bobby was trying his best to dust and was doing a fair amount of sneezing , oh it was all too funny.

John hollered up to me some hours later to come outside. Why he and the boys had cleaned up the yard of all the trash, coal scuttles and milk cans. I just couldn't believe how neat and clean the yard around the house looked. He had also tacked back up a few of the shutters that were hanging. It was all too much! It looked like real prosperous kind of people lived here. Course prosperous ain't a word that applies to us, but that was what I thought when I stood off the porch and looked around. John and the boys were so proud and I know the smile I had on my face made them feel good too.

When I got the room all done I sat down on the my Momma's chenille spread and just passed my hands over it. She loved that spread so, saved a long time to have herself a store bought spread. White background with little pink rosettes. I remembered how each Spring  she would taket it from the trunk, give it a wash and line dry, oh so carefully. There was no sittin' on her bed when the chenille was on. Come the fall she would air it and pack it back up and put the heavy feather quilts on. We all knew when the chenille was on the line Spring and Spring cleaning was right around the corner.

I am closing to do a bit of praying. Praying for my sister's family to get here safely and that I can get all the Thanksgiving preparations done. And I am going to be saying alot of thanks to the Lord too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Company coming for Thanksgiving!

I just couldn't go off to bed without jotting this down! My sister Emma and her family are coming to stay for the Thanksgiving holiday. Not just dinner but an overnight stay! They're driving up Wednesday night and will leave Friday after breakfast. I am going to have overnight guests in this old farmhouse. I reckon I have never had an overnight guest except for my Ma when she took ill and needed to stay a spell. First thing in the morning I am going to tackle getting the guest room ready. I haven't even thought of doing anything to that room since getting the house in order. I am going to be one busy bee for sure.

And I have another guest at the Thanksgiving table. At church today the Pastor asked if we could give Harriet Pritchard a ride home since she lived up the road from us. She is a sweet old lady with a right peppery streak in her.  Well, John invited her over to have dinner with us to my surprise. Of course, I was secretly delighted that he asked her as it tells me he has confidence in my running the house right. A nice ham dinner with fried potatoes and my special biscuits with apple butter was served and I never seen an old lady eat so much in my life! Why I served this meal to Henry Davis not too long ago and I thought he ate alot, boy I do believe she kept up with him.  She is a mighty interesting lady and I hope to get to know her a bit better. If my children had a granny I would hope she would be like Harriet. 

After dessert John gave Harriet a ride home while I got the washin' up done. When he came back he told me he asked her if she had any plans for Thanksgiving and all and she didn't . Seems she does have a daughter but had some fallin' out few years back so doesn't see her. Well Harriet is coming to dinner too! My gosh I just can't believe this. I pray I can pull it off.

I am gonna start praying now for strength.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November~Getting Winter Ready

Well now, I have right neglected my journal for weeks now! I have so many things to put down here, but so little time. This is good though. I am not spinning my wheels anymore wonderin' where my day got to-no I am seeing work accomplished and it feels pretty good.  All my cannin' was finished and the supply on the shelves is bountiful. We won't starve that's for sure!  I put my garden to bed and have plans to enlarge it next year by just a bit. I am planning on planting vegetables that we eat and maybe some we can sell. 

We did have alot of our apples rot. It is a shame I know. John and I were surprised at how many of the folks from the church came to buy some though. Once word got out about our orchard the ladies came and bought bushels for their own puttin up. I am grateful to God for this provision. Because of the business from the church ladies I have a bit saved up for some shoes for the children.

The milkin' is going good and the barn is full of hay. The wood pile is plentiful too so we will be nice and warm in this old farmhouse of ours.  John is pretty confident we'll sled through the winter right comfortable.  There is a couple of cows on the jumpy side that have been getting out of the fencing, but John is right at it when it happens.  He seems happier and not so tired now. I thought for sure without all my help this place would sink.  I am keepin' a tidy house, gettin' meals on the table, planning for the future and taking good care of John and the children. A very nice older woman at church named Grace told me that I am a keeper at home and to be a good one I got to keep the home, take care of the needs there. She even showed me a Bible verse about it.

We have been at church every Sunday since the harvest party! Our Sundays are so peaceful where just a short time ago they were filled with hard work and worry. John does do the milking of course, but we been giving some of that away to the church folk and I am baking more custards and puddings so we feel like we are giving a bit of a tithe to the Lord on Sundays.  Sunday is now a family day for us. I like coming home and getting us a nice dinner. In the afternoon we will read together or play some games and then at night after a bit of supper we listen to a radio show and get to bed early.  I look in the mirror and I don't see an old , haggard woman anymore. I think I look younger and maybe even pretty.

My knittin needles are clacking away! I have two of the childrens Christmas gifts done and am working on socks for John and a nice warm vest for him too.

Thanksgiving is coming up pretty fast and I am so excited for it. I didn't cook nothing for it last year! We just had us a regular work day as usual. This year will be different. I sent  my sister Emma a letter a week ago and asked if her and the family would like to spend the holiday with us. I am anxiously waitin' her reply and hopin' they will come. I haven't seen her in 5 long years and I miss her so. Her boys must be so big by now. Last time I recollect they were 7 and 9 years of age.  John thinks we should try and see more of our families if we can. Both our parents passin on at young ages it just leaves me with my sister and brother and John's sister Alice. 

Now I am off to knit a few more rows and get myself to bed. I am also prayin a spell before I fall asleep, askin the Lord for help and givin thanks for my blessings which I know are many.