Monday, June 19, 2017

A Tale of Two Kitties

I have two kitties... but one cat. By night she patrols the silent house...

Perhaps "patrols" is the wrong word... She surveys...  Seven foot cabinet...  No problemo....

Her identity is blurred so the FBI will not have to divulge the name of this spy.....

By day she hides in broad daylight... All. Day. Long!!!!

And right now Folks, she is doing more than I am!!!!


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day! Enjoy your weekend with your family

Monday, June 5, 2017

And now..... Happy Ever After...

I have mentioned an upcoming special wedding in several posts, and the day finally arrived June 3rd! What a beautiful, beautiful day for my dear friend's daughter and her new groom. I cannot imagine the amount of care and details involved in the brilliant summer party that accompanied this most reverent mass and celebration of vows. First of all, isn't this cathedral simply amazing? It is the tiny Catholic Church in Bevier... from all interior angles, the architecture is glorious. This angle comes from a friend's camera. She sat in the balcony, along with a choir of local talent that simply mesmerized the attendance. We heard such beautiful music, including Ave Maria, The Prayer, and so many more. Featured soloists and choir and pianist...  all worthy of a concert in themselves.

My son joined me for the entire day, and without him... I would have been toast! Literally...  He helped me navigate the uneven terrain and slipped our car as close as possible to make it possible for me to attend. So... I allow him the privilege to photo bomb at least one picture...  He is such a tease!

Cousins of the bride lit the candelabra. Oh, so special to see many members of this family and their friends. And to top it off, of course, almost all were former students. Teaching for a lifetime has its advantages...  but sometimes seeing grandchildren of former students all grown up.....  I have to wonder how all this happened..... while I am pretty sure.... I am still in high school myself.  

The bride and her father entered the church. This beautiful dress was sewn by a magical seamstress who carefully took the bride's mother's dress (a wedding I also attended nearly 25 years ago) and fashioned an entirely different creation. This talented woman also made all the dresses for the bridesmaids and little girls. I have to tell a story I heard about this. During a particularly stormy spring night when tornado warnings came over the radio for our area, the seamstress took all the dresses for bride and brides maids with her when she retreated to the basement for safety. I had to say my heart melted that she was so dedicated to this special time over her own personal treasures. She told my friend, "If I got blown away with the dresses, there was nothing I could do about it, but I sure wasn't going to sit down here and let them disappear in the storm!"  That is what I call going the distance for your customer (and friend.)

After the wedding was over, guests drove to the farmhouse and barn where my friend also celebrated her reception. This year, the little barn was totally renovated and used as the central location for the beautiful party. New cement flooring, new electrical wiring, and yards and yards of gossamer and fairy lights made it a magical venue. A local band played all day, and a DJ came for the evening..  I am not sure of the exact time the wedding was over, but I did hear a bonfire was just beginning at midnight...  I, unfortunately, had ventured home a little before dusk.  The party included dancing and delicious food. Another good friend who runs a catering business cooked those 1500 tortelacci we made earlier in the spring... And there was Italian coleslaw, meatballs, a delicious pasta prepared by the bride's grandmother and family, a wedding cake carefully conveyed from Illinois, created by the father of the bride's sister...  I told you it was a family event. We had fried fish and smoked chicken... and of course, fantastic home-baked bread. My dear friend had baked 56 loaves for her daughter's marriage banquet...  Yep. 56...  

Tradition. It is the stuff our dreams weave through. This carriage ride takes place in a buggy owned by this family for generations. In a beautiful DejaVu I recalled the buggy with the bride's mother and her auntie, years ago...  This year, because the horse was procured from a local Amish family, the buggy had a new driver, the owner who felt he knew his animal best! However, I think... (not verified) the family driver and beloved cousin of yesteryear also rode along...  just for tradition.

All of us who helped were happy to recognize little touches we had offered as small tokens of how much fun we believed (rightfully so) this wedding would be. The barn held a chandelier of paper mache globes, wooden tables several had lent, and little canning jars filled with hydrangeas and bling... and sparkling tea lights... Sweet bird cages graced the tables...  I just loved it all...

Of course, there were hayrides for the kiddos, and a shuttle from a nearby field. That was a given! The humid 90 degree day didn't deter too many activities, but we did see quite a few swift changes from wedding finery to cooler clothes, and the welcomed relief of high heels worn by the bride and her mother, switched to sandals...  Ah....  they deserved the break!

One of my favorite moments was this one. The band began to sing, "We got married in a fever. Hotter than a pepper sprout..."  And boom! my dear friend, the mother of the bride, grabbed her once ago groom and basically schooled us all on how to put on a party like that and have energy to spare. I was not surprised, but I was IMPRESSED!

Later we heard a most tender and beautiful song written by the bride's brother as a surprise. A family member who can quite frankly sing the birds from the trees set it to music and performed it. Most of us cried. The bride was so emotional. Her brother is a absolute gift to us all with his ability to write just what we are all feeling at the moment. This surprise was simply perfect.

Here is the bride and groom, both young teachers at the school where I spent my career. Oh, I wish them so much love, luck, and happiness.

At home, my little kitty was pretty glad to see me motivate into her world again. She spends every evening and early morning dreaming about the birds flying and perching right outside this window. 

So now, you've been to the wedding with me. It was quite a day, and I am sooo happy I was able to attend..... and take you with me...

Whimsy and Hugs!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Memorable Memorial....

Long time tradition for many families.. the annual visit to graves of long ago loved ones and even longer ago ancestors beloved by our grandparents' generation...  I spent all my young days traipsing along with my mother and grandmother in search of graves, placing solemn lovely, tributes... (drooping peonies carefully wrapped in wet paper towels and "tinfoil.") It seemed we had an entire trunk filled with these flowers made early morning and lovingly packed in old aluminum dishpans. As we placed the flowers, the adults would speak of these people either in memory or recited lore, and I learned the story of my past. It was beautiful, and although I was never one to appreciate long days of standing and walking in what usually was pretty strong sunshine and heat by the end of May, I still loved this day. Sometimes we finished by noon and came home to a little lunch made by my mother usually. But sometimes we took a little basket of hot dogs in white bread, wrapped quickly in foil so they would steam and make the bread soft and precious...  long drinks of cold water from a plaid thermos, and if we were super lucky, cookies made from scratch by my gramma...  I loved the cemetery picnics as a little girl.

Flash forward to now, and a new tradition has been in the works for many years. My sister/cousin and I venture forth with pretty silks and a few cut roses to visit the graves of our loved ones. We usually get a little breakfast or lunch (now from a drive through instead of packed at home) and have our own cemetery picnics. One year a well-meaning neighbor spotted our car parked in a rural graveyard and called someone to check us out... There we sat with soft tacos and our colas...  It was a great laugh because the gal who checked on us was a friend...  We wished we'd brought her a taco, too!

We visited the graves last Tuesday a week ago. Dark drizzling morning, but it was indeed a soul-nourishing time.

Our conversation flicked back and forth from old times to now, from loved ones to family legend.

Sweet connections with those who are not with us in the real sense but who will never really travel beyond our hearts' reach.

This past Sunday and yesterday on Memorial Day, my son and I ventured into a time capsule of highest order..  We decided to tackle the two steamer trunks and the cedar hope chest in an attempt to consolidate and eliminate some things, making more storage and finding out if we needed to "keep much" in those things.  Haha...  That determination is still up for grabs. 

First...  we opened the huge trunk with the most messages from the past. Luckily I am familiar with all "historian" handwriting, so I could decipher the many "my mother's baby dress... and my father's work gloves, etc."  All notes fluttered to the ground penned on tiny wisps of check stubs and the backs of grocery receipts. I really wonder at the scarcity and preservation of paper in those days. We could have saved so many trees if we still used every scrap like they did. The steamer trunk, purchased new in 1919 as a wedding necessity for my grandparents, was in great shape. We laughed so hard at the quilt I had always thought my mother embroidered for me, carefully wrapped and marked, "FOR GERRED."  He gave it to me any way since it was covered in autumn leaves and acorns and all things I love.  I gave him all the military items, all the old money, foreign money, and memorabilia from Wars 1 and 2. We marveled that the ones from WW1 simply said, From the War of 1917 or The Great War...  innocent of any succeeding involvements yet to come. 

As you can see, the other trunk was beautiful inside and also filled with family keepsakes. Our stacks of treasures grew alarmingly and our pile of throwaway was just a little sparse. We kept saying, "Well, they kept it this long..." and "It doesn't take up any more room than anything else."  And so it goes. I guess we did manage to get it all condensed into one trunk, and my son is going to take all of it to his house because he likes the trunks!!!  Oh, I have more trunks and I am thrilled. 

The rising sun flags and silk kimonos, the old serge suit shirt and tie worn last by my great grandfather Willard...  "my daddy's second best shirt." --- penned by my gramma.... (Because we all know he was buried in his finest.)----  All looked and felt brand new, thanks to the wonders of cedar. It's a definite thing...  Cedar really preserves the past.

 And in the old foreign money, I spy this bill, signatures faint and proud. We read about the currency and the use of pesos in the Philippines during the war on Wikipedia...  and I search the names for one or two I might recognize. I finally found Norm Helgestad, my dad's war buddy from Wisconsin. I then knew it was a Victory Bill, signed by my dad's unit...  except, of course the one signature I wanted the most...  my dad's. It's understandable he wouldn't sign his own bill...  Here he is in uniform...

The last wearing of the doughboy WW1 uniform from France was by my son many moons ago at a Roaring 20's New Year's Eve party...  Gotta love the addition of the non-standard-issue little red snowboots!  It makes my heart melt to see this from over 30 years ago...  

All in all...  back to the usual today with a visit from a dear friend who lives pretty far away...  Why is she here? Why, she is bringing flowers to her family graves in the area. How appropriately perfect. May we never forget and ever remember....  which on the surface sounds redundant, but based on this weekend...  I see the two as profoundly different.  Happy Summer... it's on the way.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Bits and Bobs

Can a cat talk? Yes. My son picked out a different kind of Meow Mix the other day. It had a blue package...  Evidently not a fave. I noticed Callie seemed to be on a bit of a boycott, so I ordered some DeliCat, always the choice of my Sally....  I sprinkled a little bit on top...  Yep. This spoiled brat pulled all the new out on the floor and ate it there...  Sheesh...  She didn't even leave a tip!

Had a good day Sunday. My son was here for round steak and vegetables in my favorite cast iron Lodge... and deviled eggs... He brought petunias for my porch... and he detailed my car!!!!!

And in other news, here are cupcakes I took to celebrate my friend's birthday. They were Krispy Kreme doughnuts with the icing glaze in the box....  Really did taste like doughnuts!

Have a fun week!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Wearing of the White Corsage

It's funny how memory keeps a flash drive of images, times spent, moments from an "ago" that seemed so commonplace, so unremarkable they defy calling up. Yet, suddenly there you are, standing in a kitchen in a home long demolished, getting all antsy for your grandparents and parents to come on...  I was about five years old, and it was Mother's Day. Our family was going out to eat, probably in Moberly at Reed's Corner Restaurant. My mother had told my father in no uncertain terms we needed to get moving or the restaurant would be full. I was always up to speed and in my Mom's opinion corner. I knew I needed to be... or else.

This is the car we were taking, my grandparents' '51 dark green Chevy. I scrambled in the back seat between Gramma and Mom, ponytail no doubt slicked back and perfect. My mother was one of those Mommies in the Dick and Jane Books...  nothing if not perfect.  Then Daddy and Paw-paw turned around and produced three corsages, three colors of carnations all ready for their "girls." Red, pink, and white.

My gramma reached out automatically and took the white one, a sweet smile on her face and a proud tear in her eye. "I wear the white." Mom handed me the red, and she took the pink. I don't really think any symbolism rode on those choices except Mom knew her own mother loved pink the most, and mine loved red.

I remember as if I am saying it now, "Why did you want the white one, Gramma?"  She softly told me it was the only one she could wear. "But why?"

"Well, my own mother is gone," Gramma told me. "I picked the white carnation because she has died."  I sat there in silence (thank goodness) I'm glad I didn't rattle on what my mind was screaming. I was pretty sure I wouldn't want to pick a white flower if my mother were "gone.."  I would want a red one to roar out that she wasn't dead at all. I wouldn't want to say to the world, "My mother isn't here today because she has passed away." I honestly sat and contemplated all that pretty much all the way to the restaurant.

Either my gramma was surely intuitive, or I was an especially loud thinker (and I'm fairly certain it was a little of both) but right before we got out of the car, she reached over and kissed me right on the forehead. "I wish you'd never have to find out. It won't be for a very long time... It's okay to wear the white. I love it because I loved Mommy." (I always thought it was so dear to hear her at her old age say Mommy and Daddy...)

And here I sit... over a half century later...  finally having to symbolically choose the white.... because it is the first Mother's Day without my mom. We don't do carnations, or even going out to lunch any more to honor Mother's Day. It's usually something special I love to cook, a barbecue, or even yummy China Garden takeout. As long as I'm able to be with my son, I'm sure I'll be happy.

I'm ending with a beautiful picture of my mother as a young girl, right before she married my dad... and then a photo of my two grandmothers with me as a young woman. Gramma from this story is fixing the blue formal she made me for my second wedding, and Ma, my dad's mama, is showing me a crochet piece she is working on...

We will hug our Mamas or our memories close this weekend and honor them with real or imaginary carnation corsages of red, pink, yellow, or white...  Much love...

I snapped this picture on Christmas morning 2015, two days before Mama's stroke. 

Monday, May 8, 2017

One Woman's Treasure

Imagine my surprise when my son brought this little beauty in his last haul of things from home. I had made this for my gramma in the '70's... when my gifts nearly all included decoupage of some sort. Gramma loved red, so I decided to create her a recipe box with favorite things "stuck" all over.

The really awesome part is that she absolutely stuffed it with her favorite recipes. The cards are in her careful, pointed script and in my mother's beautiful penmanship. And the food is what you might call a blast from the past.

Here and there a neighbor or friend chimes in with her version of a dish. It makes me smile because just reading through a few of these takes me right back to my gramma's red, pink, and green kitchen where her windows billowed with white, airy curtains... windows propped open by various heights of sticks due to the window weights all being broken...  Remember window weights at all? I don't actually recall having any that worked!

The honor among home cooks is fierce in my family. No matter how many times my family prepared a dish, it never lost its true origin. I have often wondered if the donor of the recipe actually prepared it half as many times as we did. I just know we never stole a recipe and called it ours. That was serious stuff.

My kitchen has a lot of red so this will fit right in...  I will probably lose a few of the newspaper clippings. I don't think we ever made many of those "dreams in a box" for our family dinners. Food is the love language in my family, especially the preparation of it for special events. I am blessed to have the opportunity to cook for those I love. I recognize with tears how desperately sad my mother became when she no longer could cook for us. It was, however, never too bad for her to sit at the table and help me cook something. Until that last year, and even then she made it her business to choreograph what we were cooking for this and that.

Sometimes a recipe such as my Aunt Hazel's apple butter transports me to another home, one filled with dolls and antique pine and cedar paneling... and cinnamon air.

And then... I remember the note I cut up to make this....  My mom had written a little Mother's Day thank you note to me on this, so I saved the front for immortalizing.  Now I probably know the interior of the note held more value.

And another glimpse into my mother's cards, testimony to her foreverlove of all things doll...

Rain continues and grey skies... perfect weather for cleaning, for cooking, for remembering...