Friday, April 20, 2012

Life in My World -- Visiting the Ellsworth's in Oklahoma

I was perusing the sizeable Ellsworth bookshelf and told my niece Maddie, “This is better than a library.” 

She said, “I know, ‘cause every book here is liked by someone so you don’t have to sort through the junk.”

Earlier we had named our favorite reads as well as our biggest-waste-of-time reads.  My sister Rachel had said that she loves Huckleberry Finn and as I was looking over the books I came across two copies.  I told Maddie, “I think I’ll ask your mom if I can borrow one.  I’ve never read Huckleberry Finn.”

She said, “Sad.”

I said, “It’s sad?  I didn’t know it was sad.”

She said, “No.  It’s sad you’ve never read it.”

Sad.  That’s the word if you've never spent time with the Ellsworth family.   Last week Calvin and I went to visit them and wish our nephew Cache well on his mission to Thailand.  My sister Chris and my niece Charlie also went.

Here are a few highlights from our trip:

Hydn and me

Chris, Rachel, and I grew up looking for arrowheads.  At the Ellsworth's we look for fossils instead.  It’s much better than looking for an arrowhead.  One, fossils are plentiful; two they are big and easy to spot; three, they are unique.  We all found several.  I found a little rock that looks like a swimming pool for fairies.  I brought it home to put fairy-sized things in it.

The walk to and from the fossil beds go past Pal's trap line.

He has set (and made) several traps to catch animals.  Here he is with a raccoon trap:  a hole in a log with something shiny in the bottom and a bunch of rusty nails pounded in at an angle.  Just like the one in Where the Red Fern Grows.  The idea is that the raccoon will grab the shiny object , but when his paw is fisted around the object it won’t fit back through the nails, thus trapping him.
Pal is named perfectly.  He's everybody's buddy.  He's pleasant.  He's willing.  He's funny.  He's agreeable.  He's
the kind of kid you wished you could order out of a catalog for every family.  He also loves Shakespeare . . . and
doing magic tricks and playing games. 

This is his snare trap.  It has a brick slung over a branch and when the animal steps in the snare it triggers a stick which makes the brick fall.  It fell on top of him while he was showing us how to set it.  It had to have hurt.  (His shirt appropriately fits him:  "If history repeats itself, I'm totally getting a dinosaur."

We walked back to the house via the shop where Calder and Cache were rendering fat into tallow for their Grandpa Ellsworth's saddle making.

We also visited a lot.  

Calder is an incredible young man.  He has lots of common sense and a happy personality.  He loves history, but
has a lot of strength in the sciences.  He figures things out.  He's also good on the piano.
As Calvin said, he's a young man of great integrity.

Jesse is remarkable.  A few years ago after seeing her drawings on the sidewalk drawn
with chalk, her folks suggested she start her own business painting scenes on the
windows of stores in town.  She's had her own business for a few years.  Jesse reminds
me of Snow White.  All she has to do is whistle and animals come.  She's very kind to
animals and people.

All of the Ellsworth family are very well read on a variety of subjects.  In fact, one time while Hy and I were paddling on a kayak I was telling him a story and he said, "I already heard that story.  My mom read me the book."  I started to tell another story and he said, "I heard that one, too, my mom read  the book at home."  The only story he hadn't heard was one I made up about a little boy and a turtle.  

Visiting is one of my favorite things to do at the Ellsworths.

Hydn on the other hand would rather have sword fights and gun fights with Calvin.  They fought every day.  Calvin said lying on the trampoline was his favorite fighting position as he just had to bounce every now and then and wave his sword.

  We also had a sling shot contest.  Hy did not win.  Cache did.  Some of us went down to the pond and rode around in the paddle boat.

Rachel parking the boat.  She's kind like that.  Sometimes I so wish Rachel had been older
than me so that I could have learned from her earlier.  She really is one of my heroes.
I'm just so grateful our kids have her as a friend and mentor now.

As you can see, their place is a perfect place for kids to grow and thrive.  It's a place where each child has been able to develop his talents and abilities.  Rachel's kids seem to go from childhood to young adulthood without ever being a "teenager".  She and Bert have taught school to each one of them at home.  As a result, they have been given an extraordinary education and have bought them a long and healthy childhood.  And then, after they've had all the sword fights and turtles, and set all the home made traps they can think of, they become young adults with firm ideas and opinions about their values and future, our country, books, and ideas.  They're very respectful to everyone, and loyal to each other.

You haven't seen a picture of Maddie yet.  That's because she's the one behind the camera in nearly every one of these pictures.  About a year ago she discovered she likes photography.  Not only does she like it, she's discovered she has a talent for angles, ideas, colors, shapes, and subjects.   Compare the picture I took of her below, to the next six she took after that and you'll see what I mean.

Maddie in the tree house the kids built on their property.  There is a pulley swing that
runs between two of the trees and Maddie is getting ready to ride it.

Bert is a vet.  His specialty is horses, though he works on all kinds of animals.  They have
several horses on their place.

I showed this picture to my students when I returned from our trip and a few said, "Hey!  You look like your sister."
I wish I did.  It was the nicest compliment I'd heard all day.

There's a small town near the Ellsworths that has an old five and dime store.
It also has a main street (where the funeral home has a loading dock in front of it) and a great museum.
While we dug around the garters and toys in the five and dime
 (there is Polident from the 70's for sale on the shelf), Calvin sat on the park bench
and slept and visited with the kids when they got bored of five and dime treasures.

We went crawdad fishing while we were there as well.  Here's a baby one.

Even barb wire looks artistic through Maddie's eyes.

As does fire.  I think the flames are amazing.

Cache.  The impetus behind the trip.  Cache left Wednesday to serve a mission in
Thailand.  Besides handsome, Cache is determined, driven, brave, smart, and a good
conversationalist.  He recently returned from a trip to China where he taught English
to young children.  It wasn't part of a big safe group program, rather it was an
opportunity he sought out.  After he'd filled his contract, he did a two week
walk-about China by himself, staying in hostels.  

Maddie's a good photographer, isn't she?  She's also very idea oriented and conscientious.  She's a natural leader.

I mentioned my sister Chris and niece Charlie went to visit the same time we did.

Charlie can weld metal, bake a cake, and is an Art major.  She is a jack-of-all-trades.  She's also a fast, determined and
hard worker.  She loves shopping at thrift stores and is frugal, so she's rich, too.

Chris is a grown-up Charlie.  She is also a hard worker.  She is very good with cattle.  She might be gathering them
in the hills one day, doctoring them in the pens the next, and then down at the sale yard selling them the next.  She
is also very generous with her time and money.  She doesn't hesitate to give.
She also looooooves sugar. 

We met them at the Dallas airport and drove up with them.  It was fun to spend time with them as well.

The day before we came home we went kayaking.  I think it was Bert's suggestion.

Bert is a great man and it shows through each one of his children; they all have some
of his attributes.  Bert sacrifices a great deal so that his kids and Rachel have the
opportunities that they do.  He commutes four hours a day and spends every other
 weekend on call at the clinic.  He has a very stabilizing influence and I'm grateful he's
my brother-in-law.   He's always encouraged Rachel's and my friendship. 

Oh man.  What a fun, fun time we had in the boats.

The people we rented the kayaks from wisely suggested we not take our cameras or wear our glasses.  Best suggestion they could have given me, Calvin, Chris, and Bert.  We all tipped over.  Three of us more than once.   Oh man kayaking was fun.  It was beautiful.  There were enough rapids that you felt like you were moving, but it was calm enough Pal and I could handle our own kayaks.  I came through one little run of rapids and there was Pal perched on top of a rock like Yertle the Turtle.  I thought he was playing while waiting for the rest of us to come down the river, but as I went past I realized he’d lost his boat.  I grabbed him and was trying to pull him on my boat, but Cache and Calder hollered at him to let go as I had to go over a little waterfall that I didn’t see coming.  I biffed it soon after.  Good thing Cache and Calder told him to jump ship.
We saw well over 200 turtles sunning on the rocks.  Calvin, Cache, and Calder caught several.

Right before we pulled out of the water several of us hit a snag.  A big snag.  A tree-across-the-river snag.  It tipped all but a few of us into the water, and once we'd all bobbed safely to the surface, it was very, very funny.  

And that was our trip to the Ellsworth's.  We had a grand time.   And now Calvin and I are . . . sad.  And waiting for the next time we'll be with them.


hennchix said...

It sounds like the perfect vacation! Can I go in your suitcase next time?

Maddie is a talented photographer- beautiful shots!!

I laughed out loud when Calvin said his favorite fighting was in the trampoline- I can just see him kicked back with his toothpick in his mouth and armed with a sword. The Ellsworths are also lucky to have you for family and friends. Charlie and Callie have similar profiles- fun!! Chris reminds me of Lila.

I love knowing different parts of your family! Thank you for sharing them with me!!

Ben or Cortney said...

What a wonderful trip! Loved seeing all the pictures. Wow, what a really neat family you have.

Deanna/Mimi said...

I sure did enjoy "my" trip to Ellsworth and the chance to meet this most extraordinary family. I am so impressed.
I did notice lots of similarities with the Payne family....not only do you resemble one another but you both have fun, inventive, educated, spiritual lives.
Oh to have been born from one of your twigs on your family tree...what difference my life could have been.
Just absolutely remarkable Jane. I have noticed a very strong "Jane Payne" look in all the faces of your sisters but I especially see it in Rachel's.
You have been mightily blessed dear Jane with good genes, good heritage and surrounded with people who excell in the finer ways of life...those things are what you take into the next life. So very blessed.

Nikki said...

Wow! I love to hear about Rachel and her family. Maddie is an AMAZING photographer-- and at such a young age!

I would love to be the kind of homeschooler Rachel was/is and turn out fantastic children as she has.

And of course, I love to hear your take on things.

And you do look like her. You radiate that same light of Christ in your face.

Brenda Goodrich said...

I've finally figured out who the Ellesworth's remind me of. It's The Waltons!

michelle said...

It definitely looks like a grand time.

You do look like Rachel!

Great photos. My favorite (and Eva's) is the horse.

Becky said...

Wow -- what a fun trip!

You forgot to add a caption that says: "This is me, Neighbor Jane. Jane sees so much good in everyone around her, appreciates and learns from the strengths of others, and shares her amazing life and talents with the world through her blog."

Maddie's photos were stunning!

Kathy said...

Jane, I love your blog, I have to say that this is my all time favorite post! Not just of your blog, but of all blogs. (With the exception of Jeremy 's "Feeding Noah to the ducks").
If I could have a wish, it would be that this one post be made into a little book! I would have it out on the table in my living room and I would read it to my grandchildren often.
I fell in love with Rachel's family, you two are definitely sisters, you have both created a wonderful life for you children. Rachel is the missing link between you and Lila, she connects the dots.
So glad you get to read Huckleberry Fin. Let me know if you love it!
Did you know the we have fossils in the hills behind our home in Lost River? I'll bet there are some down in Southern Idaho also. I must say, that green place in Texas looks a lot more inviting for fossil hunting than our bare naked hills do. I could never find an arrow head :(.
I want to "mail order" Pal, he would be a perfect "pal" for my witty grandson, Chase. The traps he invents shows a total lack of mind numbing TV time.
Jesse is beautiful and reminds me of your girls, and Charlie too! Would love to have seen some of her art work.
I love love love the riffle and sword fights with Hy and the picture of both of you with your green shirts is darling. Maddie is so talented, as are the rest of Rachael's brood. I think your photo of her in the tree house is precious, shows great talent on your part as well.
Me thinks Calder is going to miss Cache, good thing he has had practice. They are stunning young men and they will have a tremendous impact on the world around them.
Such an "idealic" childhood Rachel and Bert have provided for their family. I agree with Brenda! The Waltons! Although the Ellsworths (not Ellingfords) have created a life that reflects simpler times, it couldn't have been "simple" to create. I can see why you were sad to leave, I have spent a lot of time reading, rereading and looking at the pictures on this post and I am "sad" to leave it. This make me want to be a better person! Thank you for taking the time to share! (I had to repost my comment because I have made some typos).

Lucy said...

This post makes me happy. Not only because you got to visit your sister, which is the best kind of trip an adult woman can make, but because you reminded me how I want life to be. What a delightful family.

Ande said...

Oh the Ellsworths are the best. You made me miss them and their house (even though I've never even been there).

Tiffany said...

Hi! I'm one of those occasional readers (a high school friend of Amy and Kelly's who introduced me to your blog a while ago). I can't remember if I've ever commented? I know I should because whenever I visit I always enjoy your thoughts and attitude and come away from reading uplifted. Thank you!

Well, I'm sitting here in Texas going through your posts and think--the Ellsworth's--that name is familiar. Aha! We are in the same stake! They were my oldest daughter Amberly's trek ma and pa! She loved getting to know them on the Trek in March. I'll have to find a way to meet them in real life, too. So fun! What a great connection.

Thank you for your wonderful blog.