* * * * * * *

"Life doesn't have to be perfect to be wonderful."
- Unknown

"That which does not kill you, makes you stronger."
- Handed down through the ages.

"Life's tough. It's even tougher when you're stupid."
- John Wayne

A Special, Special Day!

Today is a very special birthday for a very special man.  The very first man I ever loved, as a matter of fact.  My daddy!!!

(Reader warning:  this may be the longest post I've ever put up.  BUT, it's almost all pictures and few words, so you won't have to think too hard!)

Long, long ago . . . in the Land of Lincoln (that's Illinois to the rest of you) . . . the third child in a family of four kids was born.
Now, I'm not going to tell you what number this one is other than to say it's a big one.  I'll let the photos speak for themselves.  They're posted in chronological order.  Can you figure it out?

Hmm, someone dressed for a wedding; someone didn't!  The birthday boy with his little brother, my Uncle M.
I love this picture!  This was at their short-lived vacation home in Indiana.  Cousin K, doesn't your dad look a LOT like your daughter in this one???  It's the nose and the mouth, I think!

Uncle M sitting, Papa Pea standing & Grandma (their mom).  Grandma was only 47 (!!) in this picture - seven years older than I am now!
This picture has always been a favorite of mine:  Aunt R and Uncle E in the back; Grandma & Grandpa; then Papa Pea on the left front and Uncle M who was born when Grandma was 42 - UNUSUAL for that day & age!
I love this one, too.  I call it 'The Brothers Grin'.  Papa Pea on the left with Uncle M who will be here from California in about 3 weeks!

January of 1961.  Papa Pea decided he was going to take his cycle to South America via Florida.  He didn't make it.  He crashed & burned, literally.  (Well, not the burn part!)  And, WHO would start a trip like this from Illinois . . . in January?!
Enter the gorgeous Mama Pea!  This is another favorite picture - taken in the very early 60s.
This picture and the one below:  Mom and Dad had been married for 2 years in 1965.
That's Gus, the first of 3 long-lived family dogs.  (Gus, then Max, and Zoey.)
Arguably one of Dad's most favorite machines invented, the Gravely.  He has . . . how many now, to date?  Five?  More?  I think they're my . . . uh . . . inheritance.  (Sigh.)
Dad, Grandma / his mom, Mama Pea; circa 1966.
This is, hands-down, my most favorite picture of Mom & Dad - overlooking the 80 acres in northeastern Minnesota that they'd just bought and Dad had so long dreamed of owning.
We go back to Illinois now for a couple of years until they finally make the move to MN in 1973.
Uncle M, Dad, Grandpa & Grandma.  Grandpa is a year older in this picture than you are now, Uncle!!
Summer 1971:  extracting honey with Papa Pea's mom / Grandma.  Mom, you must have just had me?  You certainly don't look PG in this picture!

Above and below:  getting ready for apple cidering while still in Illinois.
With his dad / Grandpa.  Fall of 1971.  (A particularly auspicious year!)  ;p
Enter . . . ME!  ;)  Spring of 1972, hiking in to the Minnesota property while on (Easter?) break from teaching in Illinois.
Daddy 'n' me:  same trip in the Spring of '72.
Hard working family.  Mom and me driving the tractor while Dad (it looks like) picked rocks in one of the fields.

1975:  We'd lived in Minnesota now for 2 years.  These are the neighbors whose cabin we would ski to in the wintertime (remember Mama Pea's 'Burrito in the Snow'?).  At the back left is the young woman who "rented" from us (worked, in-trade, for us) for a couple of years.
Dad with Shoshone, Traveler, & Prince (???).  Please clarify . . . 'cause that almost looks like Geronimo at the right.  I'd love to see Dad ride again.  I remember watching him once out in the southwest field.  I'd just seen 'North & South' on TV, and I thought he looked like one of the soldiers, he rode so smoothly.
Mr. S. teaching his students the intricacies of an apple cider press.  Two-room log schoolhouse on the rez circa 1970s.
Papa Pea teaching my BFF (since we were 5 - that's, gak, 35 years now!!) how to ride a two-wheeler.
Summer 1976.  Dad with some of the neighbor kids, trying (to no avail) to maintain the one sand beach we'd tried to install at the biggest of the 3 ponds.  Mom, have you ever written about that (exercise in futility)?
Christmas 1976.  Me 'n' Daddy makin' root beer.  Notice the two windows behind us?  How they're covered with thick, stiff Styrofoam?  I can't imagine what dread you, Mom, must have felt each fall when those went into place in an attempt to keep the badly-insulated trailer / house warm:  the natural light in that room would have vanished!!  Talk about S.A.D.!!
Christmas 1977 visiting Dad's paternal grandma in Illinois.  She was born in 1884.

1977 again on the lake / at the cabin of 'Burrito-in-the-Snow' fame.
American Gothic, eh?  The first home (for 15 years) in Minnesota.  House trailer sided with wood and added, added on to.  (Mom, I can hear you groaning, "Gawd, how did we do all that / make that work?")
1981:  Dad and me on the first bike that he got when they could afford one again.  This was the BSA, right?
Summer of '86 when Dad and I decided, on a whim it seems, to rip out the end of the trailer / back wall of my room!  I know it couldn't have happened "just like that", though, like it seemed it did - Mom, Dad?  Or, DID IT, Mom . . . and Dad and I were just in super-deep doo-doo?!  I know you would have been in town working in the restaurant by this time.
Fall of '86:  Dad and his son me working after school (and weekends) on the family slab-wood and kindling business.  Gad, how I hated that!  (And look at me now . . . a single homesteading woman.  SOMETHING [bad, very bad!] must have stuck from my formative years!)  ;)
Due to their insanely busy schedule, Dad doesn't hunt much, but I think he'd like to.  You know, when he retires and has time.  ;)
Here's a picture of Mama & Papa Pea taken exactly 5 years ago.  Mom was in the middle of saying something and so probably won't love this shot, but I like it!  :)
Sorry, I couldn't resist.  ;p
And, finally, my favorite current picture, taken this summer, of Papa Pea puffing on his pipe. (P-p-p!!!)
Well, WHEW!  (Are you still with me?)  This special post has taken me all morning to get up . . . plus a few more hours it took to pull together all these old photos . . . but it was WORTH it!  Happy, happy birthday, Dad!!!



  1. I just love it when you post with all your family pix! Happy, happy birthday Papa Pea/Chicken Mama's Papa! Hope you take a break from remodeling to celebrate!

  2. Susan, ha! They're busy picking up more supplies today! We've even postponed the b-day celebration until Sunday. ;)

  3. Your father simply does not age. It is aggravating...and amazing! Loved to pic of him teaching me to ride a bike. :) Happy birthday, Papa P!

  4. you forgot to tell everyone this was a porno and to cover our eyes,seriously [ if I ever can be ,I really can ] these are the very nicest thing a girl can do for her dad [[sniff,sniff] oh where are my Kleenex you seem to have a little house on the" not so much" prairie family.your one lucky girl --oh and "happy birthday "to papa pea

  5. What a beautiful post, guard all those photos with your life, what a treasure trove of memories you have there! When C gets home and reads this he's going to be chomping at the bit to get back up there and grill your dad about some of these awesome stories and photos and share a pipe! Your parents are so lucky to have you, and you them... gotta go get a tissue now, sniff-sniff...

  6. Claire, you know he'd say it's their "clean living". ;)

    Judy, yes, the 'Little House on the Prairie' has always been a big part of my/our life. One of my favorite growing-up memories was after dinnertime when I would wash the dishes while Mom read out loud (the whole series and then on to the James Herriot books) while Dad did some task at the table. And, not to say that there weren't some difficult times in the family (oh, from me being about 12 - 20!), but I *AM* a lucky, lucky girl!

    And, Erin, whatever bribery / blackmail I can use to get you guys up here for your next visit . . . I will!!!

  7. Love it. Well done. :)foxylady

  8. So very nice. What a record of love and life. That's a wonderful tribute to a well-lived life, and amazing people. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  9. Thanks for sharing, Chicken Mama. Those pictures do bring back memories. Great job!!!

    Marty S.

  10. I absolutely LOVE that you shared all these photos!


    We love you dearly and can't thank you enough for all the wonderful contributions you have spread around this little world!

    Was it just me or did y'all start singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music?"

    Man o man Chicken Mama, you have some awesome parents. I bet growing up "you" was a real hoot!

  11. I know this was the best birthday present you've ever given your dad. How you came up with all those pictures is beyond me! (Well, I do know how. It's because of the boxes of unorganized pictures I've gathered over the years and you insisting on taking them home to make some semblance of order of them. Good girl!)

    We all could have done without that last picture of me in the orange sweatshirt! Ugly, ugly. (But I WAS vewy, vewy sick at the time. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.)


If you are familiar with me and where I live, please respect my right to retain some anonymity by not referring to me by anything other than Chicken Mama nor mentioning city/town/villages by place names. Thanks!