birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Spunky and Strong

She was born 90 years ago this week. She loves her little dog best, but horses used to be her number one.

My grandma was a tomboy who was spunky and strong. She was the youngest, the baby of the family. As a fairly young girl, her dad trained her to help work the field with plow and ox. She loved the candies her mother would make, but she didn’t learn to cook, instead preferring to spend time with her dad. When she was a young teen, she lost her dear dad to a heart problem and her sister in childbirth. It was a sad time, but ever independent and requiring her own space, she moved out of the family house and got an apartment in the nearby town to finish high school.

After graduation, she was briefly engaged to someone, but she broke it off when she saw his car at another girl’s house. She said she went right after him, told him what for, and smacked him.

She met my grandpa later on when she worked at JCPenney. Soon after they were married, she was thrown back into farm life and needing to cook for the farm crew. She still didn’t know how to cook, but she got a copy of “The Joy of Cooking” and just figured it out.

She was not a typical farm wife. She was a business partner to my grandpa, sometimes more like CEO, CFO, general errand-runner, and even truck driver during harvest. He was a gentle, quiet guy who was good at growing things, and she wasn’t afraid to talk. She could identify the opportunities and then make things happen. In fact, even at 90 she is still paying the farm invoices with her checkbook and updating spreadsheets in Excel.

Pachelbel’s Canon in D

17 to 22