Pine Pine


"Off The Wall" ~ Country Life

Hi, Come on in. I just finished baking & have a fresh pot of coffee. We can relax awhile & just let the world go by...

This story is light-hearted; but has things I learned living a "Simple Lifestyle" that later on saved my life. Without finding out what was really important to me in life, and how to enjoy the simple things in life, I would not have survived! I was left with $15.00 cash, $1000's of debts, & not much of my sanity. I found courage in my cabin, & strength. It took leaving the worlds' shoulds & should nots, far behind! After all, it is not written in stone that to be happy we MUST have "things". I think to appreciate whatever we have is the true sign of happiness. Hope you enjoy the "Off the Wall" Country Life...

I've been asked what I do aside from research and genealogy, what I'm like as a person, and my interests...

I spend a lot of time at my Uncles' cabin in Missouri. I've found total peace by being there and enjoying the simple things in life. The cabin is heated by a huge fireplace and the first "simple" thing I learned to appreciate was my gas furnace back home! (The wind chill factor on the river is 10 degrees colder than in town.) To appreciate my new love, you have to realize a few things... I am 5'4" weigh 100 lbs. soaking wet, and HATE cold weather with a passion!

The cabin is built on a hillside, the back facing the river. It was built for Summer use only ~ or Eskimos that brought their own igloo.


A few years ago, I decided a friend & myself needed to take time to "smell the roses". For those of you that admire my intelligence, forget it! I decided this in January during the coldest Winter we've had in years - no roses this trip.

You walk into a cabin that has: 2 bedrooms and living room upstairs, a full basement with kitchen/bath downstairs and a MONSTER fireplace that eats wood like it's free. By the way, during the Winter months:


(1) The water is shut off at the pump house.

(2)The fireplace takes days to heat the walls enough to build up heat... during this, NO WATER can hit the pipes! You take every drop you use from the pump house, and heat it on the stove. The "used" water only runs on two feet, down the hill.

(3) There is a wonderful item called a "Thunder Mug" that saves you from the mile and a half path to the outhouse.


If you felt like having a new experience you took the path, and found out just how tough Grizzly Adams was! Myself, I discovered a new use for knee socks with the toes cut out ~ a throne slipcover for sub-zero use! Wonder if I could patent it?

(4) You do have electric and all the comforts you can get out of a 1500 watt heater.

The vacuum cleaner was another story: When cold, you work awhile & forget the nip in the air, so to speak. I plugged it in only to find out there was no suction and it sounded like a bucket of bolts being shook up. I figured the bag was full , no one had used the cabin in years. Well, the bag was gone, but I did find an irate chipmunk & three pounds of acorns! I shut the hatch and took the whole mess on to the patio. The last I saw of the critter, he was solid gray, chattering up a storm, and in a hurry to find a more peaceful home. The rest of the Winter I used a broom and dustpan!

(5) No matter how hard you try, you still have to get up for the fireplaces' 3 A.M. feeding. I'm still getting teased about taking a 4 foot long piece tree trunk and inching it into the fireplace as it burned down. After finding the water bucket skimmed with ice, it was my answer to the energy crisis!

We cut, split, stacked and carried 4 cords of wood and bought 2 more. The kindling was what most people burn in their Ben Franklin stoves for heat. I doubt if Vic Tanny could do a better job toughening the body.

We spent 4 months in conditions I would have considered "impossible" before. I found out, if you don't think about how "impossible" something is, you find ways to do it, and CAN do it! We didn't hunt to put food on the table but it gave me insight of what our ancestors' life was like. I figured if I grew or hunted food, I'd need 48 hours in each day to do it.

I baked daily and got to the point where I could haul water, ashes, wood, and start a fire in 15 min. by then the fire was ready for the dough to raise good, and coffee was ready. It's amazing how quickly you can adapt and learn.

I loved finding out that no matter what happens, my common sense kicks in and I can make it. It isn't something I'd advise, but "fighting the elements" sure teaches you about yourself.

I've read some of your family histories and understand what life was like then. You worked together to survive. Clothes had to be WARM, it didn't matter what you wore, just so it was warm! I would have sent Dior & Bob Mackie to an early grave. They have yet to design a needed piece of clothing: Long Johns or the infamous "Union Suit"!

I envy our forefathers, they judged people on what they were like as people, instead of what they wore. Somehow, I think we tend to think people who dress simple are "simple" I was born a 100 years to late. I still belive it's what is inside of a person that counts. My favorite days are those I meet people that takes time to look "inside" of another person.

The one saving grace for me, was a couple in their 70's that lived by the cabin. Their Great Grandchildren called them "Grandmaw & Grandpaw River", they think of their grandparents and the river at the same time.

Charlie & Edna are happy together, and live by morals hard to find anymore. They know how to have fun and enjoy whatever they do. (An old belief of matter what you do, take time to enjoy it!)


Our first Winter at the cabin, March rolled around and put January to shame. We fed the fire, and had coffee in bed, and tried to forget the wind chill factor; downstairs we heard something at the door...It was St. Patricks' Day and Edna & Charlie were singing "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling"! They brought over a DRY log, and a wall hanging for us with a green bow on it. We laughed until we cried, and had the best St. Patricks' Day I've ever had! Over the years I've learned alot from them, I just wish there were more people around like them.

As to what I'm like & what I like to do...I believe in helping each other along the way, and appreciate "old-fashioned" ideals.

I used to follow the Society Horse Circuit, and learned at an early age money does NOT buy happiness. I was lucky, Urban Palmer took me under his wing after my Dad died. He would tell me about comings & goings at the Palmer House Hotel, his Fine Harness Horse, Duke of Daylight, & my favorite Bellissima.

Urban gave me a new interest in life when I had little to hold on to: Tom Moore of Knolland Farm, doubt Tom would appreciate being a gift, but Urban thought I'd be hooked once I saw Tom ride. He was right, for me, it was pure magic just watching him ride. People around me thought I was crazy going to shows just to see someone ride, but then again, they weren't horse people! I still love to watch Tom ride & get the same feeling I got the first time I watched ringside with Urban.

The people at Knolland Farm made me feel a part of things, when I needed it. I've tried a lifetime to help others when they needed someone to count on & faced difficult times. One can seldom pass a favor along to the person that helped them, but they can give it to another person. Who knows? May make this world a better place one piece at a time...

I enjoy antiques, books, classic cars, & my Moms' birthplace "Ye Olde Homestead".

I spend alot of time working on "Ye Olde Homestead"; everything from fixing gutters, painting, caulking, to restoring antiques. The house is perfect for teaching patience! It started out as a log cabin and was built on from there, 150 years worth of add ons. As a result, nothing is plumb and repairs take more brains than brawn. The house has much of the original furniture and is more comfortable than "showy".

The dining room is my favorite. It's done in Western Red Cedar, with built in china cabinets & phone desk, across one wall. I love candle light and usually have a few there. Last year at Christmas, I had a few candles with my open Christmas cards nearby, and someone walked by quickly & caught a few on fire. Someone bought me oversize lamp chimneys to save on excitement around here!

Christmas is when the house is at its' best. Mom & I put up a 9' live tree and decorate the house. A snow village on the living room mantle, complete with a sheet made to look like snow & "built up" with bowls underneath to look like hills & figures of skaters on a mirror edged with cotton balls. The Italian Nativity Carousel & Angel Chimes Carousel is in the living room, on Great-Gr. Mothers' Melodean. A small tree in the dining room on a Queen Anne buffet with MORE candles. Hot Buttered Rum is sipped slowly, & treasured times are remembered.

Ray usually gets in the spirit of things, once the tree is upright and isn't scratching him anymore. His sister, Debby and her husband, Don, usually come by to see the end result. We have coffee, and swear that next year, "Just a small tree would be fine"...Never Happen!!

I am like a kid at Christmas time. Old friends show up to see how the tree turned out, or if I've "changed" during the past year. I enjoy whatever I do and take pride in it - regardless of what "it" is! A few years ago, I had a rough time during the holidays. My sister sent me a quip that just about covers it all:

"If you don't find Christmas in your heart, you won't find Christmas under your tree"!


This story was printed years ago. Since then my life was turned upside down. After being best friends for 22 years, Ray & I split up. His family, whom I loved with a passion, was lost to me at the same time. This often happens when a couple breaks up. It happened on Christmas Eve; I've since learned, this really happens more around holidays than any other time.

I had $15.00 in the bank, & found myself $1,000's in debt. I moved to my Missouri "hide out" to find a job & get what was left of my life back in order. This was the best move I made! Thanks to the hills, wildlife that I never tired of seeing, & a "simple" lifestyle, I was able to put things back into perspective & get over the "what did I do wrong?" routine.

The cabin in this story and the "country life" gave me peace of mind to go on. The jobs around Mid-Missouri are 100% better than Illinois, both in pay scale & in treatment of employees. A big plus when you need to re-build your life.

Dot Trunk Dot

I'm not living in Missouri now, but what I learned there is in my heart. I found a saying that I think of when I miss my cabin, hills, & rivers:

You Never Really Leave A Place You Love ~ Part of It You Take With You; Leaving A Part Of You Behind...

I think of the warm, loving people in Missouri often & miss their openness. I'm a better person for having been around them!! I may not know them as friends, or by name. They smile often and say hi or ask how you are today, it makes life worth living. I take what they taught me where ever I go. All that really matters is a sense of belonging, & these people go out of their way to make others "belong" My thanks to all of them...


In 1993, my Mom died. She left me "Ye Olde Homestead" & this caused a split in the family. I was always closer to Rays' "family" than mine, but you can imagine, it was hard for me at the time. Mom and I had been best friends more than Mother & daughter; we worked hard to keep the house going many years, it wasn't easy, but looking back I'm glad we had each other. I sold most of the antiques from "Ye Olde Homestead" to cover bills. Seeing things Moms' family collected many generations & things I grew up with being sold, was hard. Harder, was knowing my close knit family ties were all gone.

I have re-built my life carefully. I tried renting the house to continue my life in Missouri, which didn't work well. I moved back to the house & am finding new interests. Internet has been a real help to me. I've found it is easier to deal with your own problems if you try and help someone else along the way. I've always tried to do this in my life, & it helps me as much as someone else! I guess I wanted some of you to know that others have made it when the outcome looked bad & you can get through it. (Not easily... But you can do it.)

This "story" isn't about failure, though I've had a few of those. It is more about taking what has happened to you & learning to appreciate what "was" & letting go of the rest! I have wonderful memories of many people I've loved; I may not like something they did...but this is seperate from the people. I believe this is what helped me to get through many things.

I know many people are hurting, alone, or without family or someone they can share problems with. I don't have all the answers, I can tell you there are some wonderful people in the world worth knowing! You may not have them in your life right now, but they are there. I leave you with one thought:




I'm in the process of having my Dad's 1934 American Austin restored, and spend time pouring over parts books and paint charts. I study antique/classic cars where ever I go. My love of fine machinery is one family trait I picked up from my Dad, Pete Jensen. He was re-building cars at 10 years old, and designing machinery for manufacturing companies later on.

He designed the first "robotics" in the 1950's. Didn't get credit for it in the text books, but his "mechanical arm" was made for a uranium company in Weldon Springs, Missouri. It was one of my favorite "toys". (My toys, by the way, were unique & ended up at places all over St. Louis, Missouri & everywhere else as well! My "toys" were machines Dad made for major companies & ones I got to "play" with first.)

The story above was one I published years back & I still get requests for my "Off The Wall" articles about Missouri, my love of the hills & people found there, & things I notice that most can pass by without a glance.

I'll be adding to my country page, so grab a cup of coffee & stop by anytime... we can sit awhile & relax, & enjoy the simple life...



Sept. 20, 2003

Photo Album: Life Was Simple Then... Missouri, 1900's Pics of Towns in Mo/ILL, and Family Pics

August 9, 2002 Feeding Hummingbirds

March 8,2002 Life From A New Angle

June 22, 2000
Mr. Teddy~ Dog Training Teds' Way






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1997 Crystal Jensen
Ye Olde Homestead