Sunday, November 7, 2010

Personal memory book...the BEST family gift ever!

My middle sister hatched the idea for this memory book for our parents, who had unceremoniously wrenched us from our comfortable Southern California subdivision ranch house to the wilds of 60 acres in Southern Oregon's beautiful cascades when I was a junior in High School and my three sibs were just pups.

Talk about culture shock.

That said, it's the best thing they ever did for us besides birthing us and raising us into the hardy souls we are today.

Thus, years later, the project was conceived in appreciation and loving nostalgia. Behold the book of our childhood....

Props go, once again, to Insanely Creative Christy who gave me a crash course in the construction and binding of a simple journal style book. She totally rocks, my daughter does! I used every bit of natural twigginess and embellishment that wouldn't deteriorate in time and then we went for it. The burlap and the scripty paper were a natural choice.

So my classy cool middle sister suggested a beautifully written collection of our memories and asked that I illustrate it with some pen and ink, colored pencil and even watercolor paintings. Ah, what a fine idea it was at the start......

...and indeed, the first pages off the press were pristine and lovely, courtesy of my youngest sister (known as Fantastic Singing Voice Sister) who edited our gleefully giddy emails and contributions to this work and delivered these crisply printed sheets to me for embellishment with fine artwork and beautiful sketches.

I had good intentions, really I did. I pictured wonderful pastel watercolor landscapes of the beautiful hills, creek and fruit trees. But the memories and my own sense of humor just wouldn't let me be After a quick warning email to my sibs, I just went for it and illustrated the margins with lots and lots of fun sketches. LOTS.

Our first winter was HARD and snow quickly lost it's glamor. We quickly learned that the survey stakes left by our friendly country road crew made great fishing poles and brush beating sticks.

Our mom discovered her green thumb extended to vegetable gardening. A half acre of vegetable gardening. That hill of beans is no exageration. And we raised goats. Even today we love the miserable creatures and think of them with malicious nostalgia, the little buggers.

The main charm of our Oregon home was our very own Creek. Not fenced off like in California, but free flowing and wild and fringed with fern, blackberries, mint and willow thickets laced with animal trails. Brings tears to my eyes remembering that Creek. Love it so.

Ah, the plastic bags + socks + red top rubber boots are still fashion riguer, I hear. We learned fast.

Oregon banana slugs, ahhhhhhh!

And the pros and cons of our country hot home delivered pizza, no Disneyland trips on a whim, no ballet lessons. But we also did not have gang activity, save for the goats at feeding time, and we did have an endless supply of fresh hot apple pies made with fruit from our own heritage trees and warm tea and hot cocoa and EACH OTHER.

And we'd do it all again, you betcha! Our first summer was spent in a camp trailer with a tin roofed deck built underneath a HUGE pear tree. If you are watching reruns of Twilight Zone or Psycho, there is NOTHING like the sound a ripe pears hitting the tin in a horrendous clash and clatter to give your heart a workout. Ah, sweet memories are made of this.

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for abandoning the relative ease of city life and moving us all out into the woods for our own good. We love you.


  1. What a wonderful gift of love & memories with the lovely illustrations. Reading the little little snippits around the illustrations reminds me why I live in Oregon also. I am sure that your parents will forever cherish this lovely tome.

  2. That is not only a great idea, but I think you made it better with your illustrations. A gift in a gift. Love the litte details and appreciations for what you parents gifted you with a life in the country.(The Crips thing is pretty fun, sad, but funny.)

  3. Yeah, what Mom said! Thanks to my grandparents for ensuring I didn't end up a Crip! Ann is my mom by the way- the twig book was even better in person.

  4. When I read your post the computer screen got blurry. As soon as it clears I will post my comment.
    Love you Girls.

  5. How beautiful! I know the familiar sounds of Pecans at high velocity crashing onto a tin roof! Makes you say your prayers over and over!

    Loved this post.


  6. And, I am especially glad for what they did because if they had not, I would have never met and married this wonderful lady.

    the Welder-Man.

  7. What a tongue in cheek life! My parents did the same thing to us- uprooted us from town life in the city to a huge house and lots of gardens in the country.
    It builds character- hauling poop and digging in the dirt. I so love your idea of doing this book. I hope you made a copy for all of you, too.
    Your illustrations are wonderful. Such a sweet thing to bring all of your talents together for one cause.
    Excellent, my dear, you all get an A+!
    Hope you are feeling well- Hugs, Tete

  8. Right now I am speechless.


  9. WOW! What an incredible gift.

  10. I thought about you today when I was reading my newspaper. There is a woman here who does something amazing for other women who've had breast cancer. I would REALLY like to send you the article. Would you send me your snail mail or I can even scan it in and email it to you.

    wererich2 @ gmail .com

  11. we built our house and everybody helped.Piped water from the spring behind the house and had wood heat
    our first winter when the house was not quite done our first snow fall had snowball fights built snowmen until our hands got so cold we retreated to the wood stove to warm up..Remember ????

  12. How awesome! I really love it! Lezlee

  13. Not to many people ever get the approbation to a decision made in the past Norma and I are lucky to have two of those events. In August We will celebrate our 60th. wedding anniversary. Our decision to marry was the right one.
    This month with the posting of "L is for Louis Creek" The second approbation was reached.
    42 years ago Our decision to move the Family to Oregon was made. Norma and I was not really sure how the children took to this move.
    Now we know.

    Love You Girls,
    And Thanks to you our Grand children & Great Grand CXhildren
    Mom & Dad

  14. Incredible post!! I so love your illustrations. I, too, am an artist. I wrote a story from my childhood for Children and have yet to do the illustrations. Thank you for inspiring me to get busy!!

  15. What a wonderful gift. I really like the way you did the illustrations in the margins.
    Thanks for stopping by and nice comment.

  16. Oh wow! This is wonderful! It would make a great wedding gift!
    Thanks for commenting on my blog :)

  17. Your book is truly inspirational, and the family full of talented people! The illustrations are so professional-looking. Have you thought of taking it to publishers?

    I have, myself, written about events in my life but only as snippets. So far, I haven't made the leap from writing my odd thoughts and memories to bringing it all together as one piece of work.

    Seeing your completed book makes me think that every family should do this. The best stories are from real life, and childhood memories (good and bad) are the stuff of literary dreams.

    If I ever get round to making my disjointed pieces into a book-form, I'll be sure to share it :)


I love your comments and read every one. They let me know if I'm on a good track with my blog. Thanks for stopping by!

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