My work

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Have You Ever Had a Day Like This?

Yesterday, I spent the entire day trying to make a simple pair of earrings and post a photo on my blog. Everything I did turned into a major production.

I would get one thing done and then find it wasn't right so I had to do it over again. Maybe I was being especially OCD or something. LOL. I wrote a few paragraphs in my blog and couldn't find the photo I was going to post. Anyway by the afternoon I decided to give up and finish my blog the next day when I could actually think.

Later in the evening, I was looking at my e-mail and found a comment was posted on my blog by my dear friend, Chris. What? Is she psychic? How did she know what I was going to say? I quickly checked and yes indeed, I had accidentally published my partially finished blog instead of saving it. Technology, you got to love it.

Last Friday, Sally Russick's blog, The Studio Sublime, was delivered to my inbox. I opened it eagerly to see what prompt she would give for our weekly photo challenge.

The prompt was "Knock, knock!" and she showed a picture of a book inside which she found an old Christmas card with a door on it. Well, I was elated. My husband and I love to travel and I take a lot of door and gate photos and house photos. I spent hours looking at photos and frankly I got a little overwhelmed. So I went back and re-read her wonderful post and her story behind the picture. Then I realized it wasn't the knock, knock that was important, it was the "Whose there?" that interested me. The story behind the door.

The old Swensen family farm
I took this photo in August 2007 and is of a small farm house in East Leroy, Michigan. The woman standing at the back door is my Aunt Sonja, my mother's youngest sister and she is asking permission from the owners for me to photograph their home.

The door to this house is the gate way to so many happy memories for so many people and to see it again and have this photo was a precious gift for me.

One story was of an immigrant who came to Battle Creek from his home in Oslo, Norway at age 19, named David Swensen.

It is also the story of a young woman, Nettie Brunt, who met this man when she worked in the laundry at the Battle Creek Sanitarium where he worked in maintenance.

A side story is"The San" was first opened on September 5, 1866 as the Western Health Reform Institute. It once employed a young man named W. K. Kellogg as a bookkeeper. "The San" and Kellogg were lampooned in T. C. Boyle's 1993 novel, The Road to Wellville, and the 1994 film adaptation.

Alma Swensen at the chicken coop beyond the back yard

David and Nettie raised their six children on this farm as well as dogs, cats, chickens, cows, and lots of crops. My mother, Alma, grew up here along with her brothers and sisters. My brother, Bill, began his life here when my father, Edwin (Bill) was away during WW2. And I spent my early years living here when the Army took my dad back to fight in the Korean Conflict in 1950.

Edwin "Bill" Watkins during the war

There used to be a tire swing hanging from a limb of that tree to the right of the photo. And that huge lawn was the center of so many activities from family reunions to my brother, Bill, and I practicing our Circus Acts. We spent hours and hours learning to walk on top of a rolling oil drum all around the yard. Our cousin, Lynnda, on my dad's side had her very own trapeze on which she practiced daily. We could not let her join the Circus without us.

All I can say is, thank you, Sally, for giving that prompt. I truly enjoyed the happy memories behind that door.

David and Nettie Swensen 1979?
Have a warm and fuzzie weekend.

Julie Panusis

Another wonderful internet photo


  1. Hahhhaaaaa!!! Yes, I AM psychic! Or is it psycho?? Julie, I do so many things just like you~ I was texting my hubby on Thursday and wanted to end it with "Praise God!" Well, I sent it off "Praise Goda".....hmmmmmmm! lol! Love the old farmhouse~~parents grew up in Indiana on farms. :-)

  2. Maybe you were trying to text, "Praise God and Yoda". I guess it is good to cover all bases. Hugs!

  3. What a wonderful story! I had never thought about the "who's there" part. I agree, so very important!

    1. Thanks, I love your door photos, especially the one with your reflection.

  4. From my cousin, Christine Elliot:
    In response to memories about Grandma and Grandpa's farmhouse. I remember the swing. And I remember your brother running over something in the yard with the push lawnmower that hurt is leg/foot. I remember going in the barn with my cousins :D and finding little baby mice and bringing them into the farmhouse to show everyone. Grandma said very nonchalantly to" take them back out where they came from." nonplussed. I guess that was trivial to the pony that our parents brought into the kitchen.

  5. From my baby sister,Debra Goltiani. What a great flood of memories rushed over me when I scrolled down & saw this picture. I remember when we went there and you took the picture of Grandma & Grandpa's farm.