|Prinny with Aunt Pat and Emily|
We got a Border Collie when we moved to Green Bay, and named her Princess. She wasn't all pampered or anything, so her name didn't actually fit super well. We usually called her Prinny (people probably thought we were saying "pretty"). She was a very good dog, largely due to the training school my mom took her to. She obeyed simple commands well, and never dreamed of jumping on the furniture. When we told her "Prinny, go lay down", she'd trot away, panting happily at you, just in case you changed your mind and wanted her to come back so you could scratch her head. She was a great dog to have in the country because she sounded the alarm if ever anyone drove down the driveway. I'm sure she protected us more than we knew. When I was a teenager, I enjoyed going for walks into town, and I was only allowed to go alone if I took Prinny with me. She was a great walking buddy. Mom walked with her for years, and I walked with her for a few years as well. Early on, she wore her leash all the time, which we thought was normal. Apparently most people don't leave their leash on their dog in the house. When we had a pool in Montana, Prinny had to stay inside where she couldn't see us, because she'd freak out, thinking we were drowning. In fact, she made her little feet pads all sore from running around and around on the cement by the pool, barking at us to get out of the water. Poor dog had cancer while I was in college, and Mom had to take her to put her down when I was a junior. That was the only dog I had.
Mom was a great one for teaching her kids to work. We always helped with stuff around the house as long as I can remember (for instance, I recall washing dishes standing on a chair). There were several eras in which we had EXTRA work to do, when we were moving, and showing the house frequently, when Mom was pregnant, etc. There were long stretches of time when the 3 of us older kids woke up, made our beds and tidied our own rooms, wiped down a bathroom each, vacuumed and dusted our assigned rooms (I had living room), all before breakfast. It actually went incredibly fast because we did it every day so it never got horribly dirty. We also had several experiences with "once a month cooking". Mom wanted to have meals planned out for several weeks when she was pregnant, so we helped in the kitchen ALL DAY on those occasions. That was probably when I really learned about cooking. Before that, I learned small things, and even "made dinner" a few times, but when I think through knowing about food and ingredients, it's those "Dinner's in the Freezer" events that stand out in my memory. It was so smart of my mom to teach us that!
When I think of chores, I cannot help but tell about "post people". Mom had seen this idea for making little people to stand by your front door, you know, decorating the stoop, and decided for herself and the 3 of us to begin a little family business. Mom had taken some woodworking classes and built a quilt hutch, so she was all about saws and things. This business began when we lived in Montana, where we mainly made scarecrow post people (for fall decor). The body of the scarecrow was made from a telephone post cut down to 3 feet or so, and his appendages, including a crow were all painted separately and attached. Anna and I did the majority of the painting after Mom showed us what she was thinking. Nate did a lot of the woodcutting and sanding and assembling. Mom painted the details, like faces. These sold incredibly well. Think about the early '90's and the craft/country craze! We added snowmen, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Angel to our Christmas collection. . . all sold well. We did Uncle Sams in the summer -- he was the dreaded order because you had to paint striped pants and a jacket and vest which was way more work. I tell you I could paint a Santa beard on a telephone post in my sleep to this day. When we lived in Illinois, we used the basement as our primary work area (the saw was in the garage, so Nate worked there). Some days, right before big events or rushes, it felt like we stayed in the basement from morning til night. . . Anna and I got a little loopy from the paint and the hours (she was staining the bases, so I'm sure she inhaled more fumes, haha!). I invented this idea that a creepy "Mole-man" lived in the crawl space off the basement, and lurked there watching us paint (he was very white because he did not go into the light). Surely he was the one who left paint cans open or forgot to rinse the brushes, right? The Mole-man legend has endured over a decade, and just so you can truly imagine him, his voice sounds like Joe Paterno (can you tell I was into college football when I invented him -- haha!). Our business did pretty well, and we all had decent money in our savings accounts from it. We sort of halted once Nate and I got jobs at the IGA, but the post people and the Mole-man live on.
One really fun thing that I did as a teenager was model vintage clothing for the parks district. We would wear these outfits owned by one of the employees and she would talk about them at lady's teas or WWII vet lunches. Since I LOVED history, and LOVED experiencing other eras like this, it was a fantastic experience for me. When I went through my heavier phase I was limited to wearing only certain gowns (this one green suit from the Victorian Era was one). My friend Misty had a teeny waist and got to wear the bicycle bloomers outfit (which everyone ADORED) as well as the corset/undergarments (which everyone freaked over). No fair! After I slimmed down, I could then wear cuter 40's suits and things, which I loved very much. Anna and I and quite a range of our friends all modeled together at some point, and started buying some vintage things ourselves. Enter my love for red lipstick and nail polish and cat-eye sunglasses. Once Susan (the lady who owned all the clothing who we volunteered for) took us on a big shopping trip to these places she knew had amazing collections of vintage clothing. It was seriously one of the best shopping trips ever. We tried on 50's wedding gowns, depression-era formals (almost had Mom convinced to buy it for me!), and gobs of DRESSES. I have had many dreams about those stores in my life. I bet the clothes didn't even cost too much, it just seemed like it to us because we were broke teenagers who shopped at Goodwill.
So I have REALLY enjoyed this journey with Mommy's Piggy Tales. In fact, I just am not able to end it here. So this 15th post, which is supposed to be the last, will be followed by at least 2 more. If you want to continue to journey with me in my youth, feel free to check back the