Thursday, September 30, 2010

September on the Road, #1

Kansas sky, Flint Hills on Highway 400

It has been about six weeks of being on the road, going here and there. Some of it has been fun, some has been stressful, some of it has been sad. We have seen so much of the Midwest from Kentucky to New Mexico and everything in between. This last week was sightseeing and watching the fall harvesting and noticing the earth gradually transition into autumn. Farmers harvested corn with combines that looked like massive creatures from outer space. Soybeans, sunflowers, and cotton waited their turn for the harvesters. Yellow was the predominant color as the Midwest was a carpet of wildflowers in shades of saffron, gold, lemon, and shades of raw sienna. Dashes of lavender and sumac in shades of brick dotted the roadsides.

In Kansas fields were covered with tufts of cotton bolls just a few weeks away from picking. If you thought King Cotton was only grown in the Deep South, you would be surprised to see these fields of cotton growing around Pratt, Kansas. It is a grade of cotton that produces strong fibers being used for weaving into denim.

In Santa Fe we visited a Saturday Farmer’s Market. It was wonderful, rich in color, textures, and foods of autumn harvest. Beautiful and abundant, the stalls were full of ristras, long strings of red chilies. Vendors were roasting chili peppers and they tasted
wonderful. DH does not like spice or heat so I left most of the things there, but oh, how I enjoyed looking. I did bring home chicos (dried corn), Anasazi beans, and pinon nuts from the region.

And have you ever had lemon cucumbers?

We were lucky to have perfect weather which made for the most beautiful skies. In Kansas the spaces widened out and the sky covered us like a blue shawl fringed in white clouds. As we got to New Mexico, the skies lived up to their fame of a New Mexico Blue.

Until later....

                                                  High Road to Taos under New Mexico sky

Monday, September 20, 2010

Writing Pays

Writing is hard work and it pays little cash for many of us. More and more publishers are cutting fiction and poetry from their pages. Many ask to publish our work for just the byline, saying we are building a portfolio with them. For every John Grisham, Danielle Steele, Janet Evanovich, there are thousands of writers out there shoveling coal in the writing mine while working a day job.

Becky's contest picture

But for me, writing pays in many other ways. This weekend it paid with a pair of socks for the coming winter when I won a 100 word writing contest at the blog of Becky Povich (Please read my win at Becky sponsored a 100 word contest based on an autumn picture she had taken in Iowa. Of course it was fun to win the socks, book and other things in the winner's circle, but the work started paying when I had fun writing the piece--and it was fun! This is my second online win at a blog after winning another writing contest a few months ago with Donna at

It is also fun and amusing to write the 100 Saturday Centus sponsored by Jenny at Becky led me to this one too. Every Saturday I say I will not get distracted by those 100 words Jenny prompts, but before I know it, the vacuuming waits, the lunch is on hold, or the mowing is accomplished while my mind is elsewhere writing in my head. These Centus prompts of Jenny's are plain fun, fun to read and fun to write. Try it sometime, but I warn you, they are habit forming.

Another fun writing experience this weekend was exchanging emails with Linda O'Donnell ( Linda and I both write poetry among other things, and Saturday we bounced some poems off each other. What fun to see another writer's work in progress, to see how their work takes shape. What pleasure to share your own work and see it through another's eyes, as together you work over the words, make them take shape.

I have never stood in a room with any of these women; I have never even heard their voices on the telephone. I had no mutual friend to link us. I found their blogs while searching for writing tips or writing links. So I consider that my writing or the love of it paid me with new friends, something money can't buy. Writing pays me sometimes in headaches, sometimes in frustration. But usually it pays with fun, friends, and a frolic with words. Sometimes it pays with publication plus a little cash, and sometimes the pay off is a contest win. Sometimes writing pays with new socks, but it pays!

*********Two copies of the October issue of St. Anthony Messenger just arrived in the mail. On the poetry page is a haiku of mine...yea, I tell you this writing can be fun!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Centus #20, Play Ball!

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see: I have highlighted this week's prompt in piece below.

Play Ball!

Shelly finished weekend reports for her boss, folded the last load of laundry and started to vacuum when she tripped over the puckered football, slightly deflated like herself. How many times had she asked Tad to pick it up this week?

She lost her temper, aimed her clenched foot, swung, and connected with a chair leg. Blood squirted over the carpet while her toe transformed into a ripe blue plum.

"This is never going to come out," she thought as she scrubbed at the spot on the worn carpet.

She heard Tad and cronies slam car doors returning from the game. “Out damn spot,” she heard Macbeth in her head as she rubbed the blood deeper into the fibers.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Rejections and Dead Poets

New Mexico, photo by Mike Myer

Blogger Linda O’Connell ( encourages writers to practice patience when waiting on news about the progress of their possible publication. It is good advice, and while I usually toss my pieces out into the publishing world and then wait for results, I sometimes feel antsy with impatience on a certain piece or project. How can those editors not get back to me quickly with a powerful and positive response!

This weekend, I got a rejection from Cappers that I had almost forgotten I had submitted. It was a unlikely piece maybe, but it touched on Route 66 info which is popular right now. But the real news in their rejection was that they will no longer be printing fiction or poetry. How sad, another story source bites the dust. I think good fiction is so necessary. A good story is entertaining, informative and lets readers try on situations in their own mind, to see alternative responses to circumstances that life throws at us. Poetry is important as well. A little here, a little there is the music or song we often miss in our daily living. Good poetry is like a tiny, joyous bell in our ear.

Thanks to poet Denise Low ( I was made aware of a new poet event wwhen I read about a 1st Annual Dead Poets Remembrance Day. It is a poetry reading across the nation at the graves of American poets. The date is October 7th, 2010 and you can read more about it here:

“We are launching this tour in order to encourage groups of people in every state to get together on October 7th to honor our dead poets by reading at their graves,” said Walter Skold, the founder of the Dead Poets Society of America. Reading will be done at the graves of the graves of some of the most and least-well known poets in the US, including Robert Lowell, Donald Justice, James Whitcomb Riley, John Trumball, and Sarah Whitman among others. Denise Low, former poet laureate of Kansas, is number 18 on the list of state poets laureate who are endorsing the celebration of Dead Poets Remembrance Day.

Due to many things, I haven't written a thing for weeks other than disjointed emails and checks to pay bills! But I have hope, always hope. Tonight I finally got to sit down with two literary journals and thumb through their jewels. In the back of the latest issue of River Styx is an announcement that the 2011 Schlafly Beer Micro-Fiction contest is open until Dec. 31. Ah, that is lots of time yet-500 words in four months? I might make that one. The nice thing about this contest is the $20 entry fee, a steep one but it gets a subscription to River Styx so writers win for sure. For info go to:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cars in the Family

When I was a kid, our second car was a 1939 Chevy Dad bought off a friend. It had scratchy seats on little bare legs, and the back seat was stifling in summer. The radio didn’t work, but the horn did, and it was reliable on cold winter days when other cars wouldn’t start. Over the years, it began to rust and Dad decided to paint it. I looked forward to seeing a new coat of the original shiny black, but when Dad brought it home, the car was bright turquoise! Not what a teen who wants to go unnoticed wants to ride around in.

Paint history was to repeat itself when DH decided to paint our 1967 short bed pickup. We had picked the truck up at a school auction and knew its history. The original paint was a subtle yellow, but over the years it faded to a dull hue. DH decided to paint the truck while the kids were in junior high. They had visions of shiny black or maybe fire engine red. He choose a muted cocoa; they kids thought the shade of brown a color to gag on…being males, they renamed the truck The Rolling Turd. Forty three years old, the truck still serves well, but it does need a new coat of paint. It is under discussion.

Cars and trucks have always been important topics of conversations. Men sat around at family reunions discussing mileage, time they made, or highways they drove. My paternal grandfather was a mechanic, in a time when that meant wrenches and not computers! He always drove Hudsons, sleek sloping cars that reminded me of bugs. My maternal grandfather always went for sporting or dandified cars. Family history talks about his yellow Stutz Bearcat, but of course I never saw that one. When he died, his care was a fastback Mustang .

When High Hill Press posted a picture of a rusted old car resting in a field and asked for a story about it, I couldn’t resist. Publisher Lou Turner put my story up on her website with the picture. Check out High Hill Press at and read my story while you are there. Thanks, Lou!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Teacup Tuesday/Cups on a Stick

When my paternal grandmother died a few years ago, my friend Mary opted to not send the usual flowers or potted plant. She sent me a gorgeous cup and saucer to memorialize my grandmother. I kept it on the counter and used it constantly; I enjoyed it. One day something fell out of the cabinet above, landed just right shattering the plate to smithereens without even chipping the cup. Another friend knew of someone who was making these cups on a stick for a gift shop. Pat took my remaining cup to her and had it fixed for my planter. Not all was lost.

Several years ago in a gift shop, I bought a cup and saucer on a salvaged table leg. Originally meant for a bird feeder I think, I used mine to plant a succulent (hen and chicken in) or left it empty during the summer. I loved it, but every year a little more wood rotted away, even though I pulled it up for storage every winter. This summer a chunk broke out of the saucer. Hum, squirrels? Age? A falling tree branch, maybe?

Anyway, DH had some wood in the shop that he tried turning some legs for me. They aren’t as thick and the turning is not as ornate or smooth. The wood did not turn well on the lathe, but that is fine, since we were painting shabby chic white anyway. Now that we know how easy they can be done, we can whip out some more. One of these is for my sister, one is for a friend, and one will replace mine. I hope these workout well, and that maybe we can make more. It is a great way to recycle cups with chips or issues that keep them from being used on the table but are too good to trash.

Autumn Is Coming....

Light rain threatens now after an early sun. Can it be mid-September already? Stepping out on the deck is almost chilly as the nights cool and days warm. There are no longer singing wrens; in fact, there is very little bird song and no wing flutters in our bird baths now. But at dawn there is a boisterous chorus of crickets chanting autumn on!

Crisp days make for nice tea parties on the deck which require hot tea and cookies, cakes, and goodies! Autumn means pumpkins...and pumpkin pie! Autumn brings out fire pits which means hot dogs on a stick, roasted over open fire and burnt marshmallows spongy on the inside and filled with smoke. Autumn means a Maple Leaf Parade here and many other fall festivals that show funnel cakes and maple syruped things. Autumn means football games which bring out hot sugared pecans, popcorn, and hot cocoa.

What does autumn mean where you live?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Prairie Days at George Washington Carver

No matter whether you call it Autumn Daze, Harvest Festival or Prairie Days, this area is loaded with events to celebrate a gathering of folks. For several years, the National Park at the George Washington Carver site in Diamond, Missouri has hosted Prairie Days to celebrate farm life of the 1860’s and 1870’s. We have never been able to go due to some conflict of interest. Today ignoring some clouds and hoping they would vanish, we headed south. The day turned delightful and it was great to walk around the park seeing the events.

Dutch oven cooking...buffalo stew and biscuits...

                                                                                              How to do laundry the old fashioned way...

There was music and food, storytellers, wagon rides, prairie walks and working displays. Some of the working displays were spinning, weaving, soap making, candle making, corn shelling, Dutch oven cooking, butter churning and there was even lessons on how to do your laundry once you had made some lye soap. There was no way we could get it all in, but we did as much as possible. One thing I learned from a native plant booth was that passion fruit is native to the area. I had no idea! I thought it was tropical. Do you grow any passion fruit plant?

What caught my eye was nationally known and award winning story teller Bobby Norfolk. I had never seen Bobby Norfolk in person, and I was so glad to enjoy his talents today. Norfolk worked as a park ranger at the Arch in St. Louis for about ten years during the late 1970’s. It was there the storytelling bug bit him when the first Storytelling Festival was held there. Norfolk did selections from Paul Lawrence Dunbar and he did a Civil War history lesson taking listeners through Lincoln’s time, slavery and stories of the Underground Railroad.

Be sure and check around you for a local autumn celebration. And if you are anywhere close to Bobby Norfolk, go have him tell you a story! You will be mesmerized with his talent.

Saturday Centus #19/ Remembering

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see: I have highlighted this week's prompt in piece below.

Today's Centus was so very hard because it is grueling to return to those moments. It is hard to be creative or find a new set of profound words for this repulsive horror even with years of distance. It was even painful to read Centus entries today. At first I thought I couldn't do it at all and then I decided to give it a shot. I fear my own entry is trite.

The boys’ rooms leaked silence since they were back at college. Hubby had lumbered off to work, and I packed my bag dreading another teaching day. This year’s student crop was lazy and spoiled; already I tired of pushing sentence structure and literature into fallow minds. I glanced at the television screen. A horror flick? Then I turned up the sound. My blood turned to ice while the ordinariness of my days fell away like a husk on a dead bug. I felt stripped, naked, and alone in a mean world of terror. I stood frozen in front of the flickering images on my TV.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Writer's Guild

The latest tropical storm reached into town with fingers of steady rain today. We were warned of heavy rain accumulations, but the rains were gentle throughout the night and morning. Afternoon was misty, but I got what felt like a hundred errands made in Joplin before the Writer’s Guild met at the public library. I was dragging, sipping on caffeine, and a little damp, but I perked up when the meeting got going. I probably won’t sleep tonight!

Despite ugly weather, the meeting was well attended. During “brag session”, several of our members told of being published. Sandy and Ina Mae were in Ozark Reader; Pat was in Chicken Soup Book of Miracles. LeAnn Campbell had a copy of her new book, Old Shack Mystery. It is a mystery for the nine to twelve year old age group. I have not read it yet, but only because of a time shortage. I bet it has a nice Midwestern flavor and wholesome values for young readers.

Our guest speaker tonight was Jane Ballard who launched her own magazine a few months ago. Jane is a feisty gal, and she just makes you smile to be around her because her energy is infectious! She was originally in retail for twenty years running a gift shop and kitchen store in an old caboose because Jane is a real train aficionado. Because she always said twenty years was her limit to retail, she closed her business and launched a motorcycle magazine because, you guessed it, cycling is another love of hers.

Tonight she told us that she was looking for an endeavor that might pay her to ride so she launched a cycle magazine. She says her publication is a travel guide for the four state area and is designed to help riders see this area from the saddle of a cycle. The magazine has pointers for choosing good roads, places like gravel roads to avoid, includes pictures of reader bikes, and a column called Ride to Eat directing readers to good road food. It is a quarterly magazine that focuses on Route 66 for 2010; the Jefferson Highway will be the focus for 2011.

A year’s subscription to Two Wheels, Four States costs a mere $16.00. You can subscribe by writing Jane at 1100 N. Prosperity Road, Joplin, Missouri 64801 or . Or visit a budding blog at

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Reading for Writing

Ah, yes, somedays the road of life can be a sticky situation!

When I was teaching, I urged my students to read the books that had voices they wanted to write in themselves. When they wanted to write fantasy, I urged them to set their mood with Madeleine L’Engle or J.K. Rowling or even AVI for example. I followed my own advice, reading Anne Morrow Lindbergh when I wanted to write diary memoirs and Willa Cather when I wanted to capture the prairie settings. I actually dabbled in several favorite genres, but lately my reading has jumped all over the place, not settling on anything that provokes writing. I seem to be like a piano that is out of tune. I still hit the notes but the tone quality is poor.

In an interview published in the October issue of The Writer, author Thomas Lynch says the following: I write because I read, and I think it’s part of the same conversation. I returned to read his quote several times, thinking how many times I have heard that writers must be prolific readers, how writing and reading go hand in hand. I certainly have done my part by reading, reading, reading.

When I read that Louis L’ Amour started keeping a journal of all he read when he was a young man and filled crates full of these journals, I decided to do the same. I started in 1999 while I was teaching and many of my entries are YA novels that I could encourage my young readers to tackle and enjoy. Gradually, these titles gave way to my personal writing interests, to book club lists, and my own peculiar choices.

Out of curiosity, I checked my journal list to see just what the last ten books I read this summer were and to see if I could find a pattern. The list:
Wildflowers of Terezin…Christian fiction
Mennonite in a Little Black Dress…funny and sometimes off color memoir
The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read…memoir
My Life if France…Julia Child, memoir
Without Mercy…mystery
The Whole World Over…novel
Flannery: A life of Flannery O’Conner…biography
Writing the West…Dusty Richards, writing
Whatever It Takes…biography of educator in Harlem and a book club choice

What have you been reading and do you read for voice and mood just before writing?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Lee and Grant

Our local Power Museum is working hand in hand with Missouri Humanities Council to bring a special Smithsonian Exhibit to our town. The traveling Lee and Grant exhibit opened this past week, and it is drawing a nice crowd. Many events are planned during the month or so stay. It is timely that Carthage, site of a first Civil War battle, should have this exhibit and during the Civil War Sesquicentennial year.

I made a fast sashay through and hope to go back again and to attend some of the special programming. One of the most unique things on display is the Lee Bible which he carried during the war. The fork and spoon that Grant used in the field was also interesting to me.

                                  Grant's fork and spoon used in the field.

DH’s grandmother was born in Georgia, reared in Arkansas, and always spoke of it as the War Between the States. We have visited  battlefields of defeat and victory for one side or the other, and we have visited the Grant home in Illinois where he lived after the war. We have respect for the intelligence and moral stands of both Lee and Grant.We also have visited the Jefferson Davis home in Biloxi (before Katrina) and found a soft spot in our hearts for that man.  While we know that men in Blue acted in devilish ways same as those in Gray, we can not help but feel the right side won because keeping our nation unified was a great achievement.

                                   Lee's Bible carried throughout the Civil War.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Tea Cup Tuesday

This is part of Tea Cup Tuesday, a tea party lead by Martha and Terri. Please read, enjoy, and join in with your own tea cups. Check in at their blogs: and

Thanks to the Tea Cup Tuesday ladies, I became aware of Aynsley tea cups. I did not have one, but I put that mark on my list to find. In a tiny shop near the Ohio River I spotted one, and it is a beauty! The background tends to a shade of rich cream and does not show well in the photo. Oh, it is a pretty cup with is wide band of cobalt blue, and I have had tea from it several times already. The heft of the cup and handle are perfect. Claridge is the pattern of this Aynsley cup.

On the same trip in Lebanon, Illinois I lingered in an antique story full of tea cups, pots and beautiful china. They had several knife rests, Blue Willow pieces, and egg coddlers too, but I felt like I had enough of everything. That is until DH asked if I had seen the one lone blue knife rest. Oh, I had not and at first thought it black since it was so dark. But DH said to hold it up to the light, and when I did, I saw the most luscious cobalt blue. Well, it had to come with me even though it looks like the proverbial black sheep with the crystal ones.

A second cup today is one I have had for a while. My sister gave it to me after seeing it in a flea market. It is Royal Daulton and also has a creamy background. It has an interesting shape in that it is not round but sports an octagon shape. It is a nice cup and saucer.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

It is a cooking day!

When my friend Tracy sent this picture of her grand dog Coltrane, she said I would smile. I did more; I laughed out loud and thought how much I could learn from him. Coltrane was a feisty pup with a great personality. But a few months ago, he lost his sight. But Coltrane never lost his cheerfulness, his good disposition, his loving nature. I think we could all learn something from this blind dog!

The beautiful vegetables of harvest season are our compensation for losing summer sun, gardens, and brightly hued flowers. This morning we went to the farmer’s market on our town square which was only two vendors today. But I got luscious red tomatoes, three kinds of squash, Gala apples, and the last of this year’s peaches from a local orchard.  They are all lovely representations of nature's colorful palette.

Earlier in the week we had visited the new Mennonite store outside of town. This proved to be a wonderful place as well, and we will go often I am sure. They sell bulk grains, fresh produce, have a bakery, sell dairy, and will even make you a sandwich if you want out one made from the meats in their case that looks like an old time butcher’s showcase. We bought a small loaf of apple bread that was so good I may never make my own again.

Last night we ate the last of a  light lemon chicken soup which put me in the mood for other fall like foods. So today turned into a cooking day. I made a new recipe called kidney bean casserole. Its ingredients were risky for DH’s taste buds, but he liked it. Two unusual ingredients for us were Coleman’s mustard and sorghum. I learned that the British Coleman’s mustard, which you make with water as needed, is much spicier than our prepared mustard here. The sorghum I had picked up at the Mennonites. I had hated sorghum as a kid, but age has made the strong earthy flavor more palatable, and it worked wonders in this casserole.

I also made four dozen of my favorite fiber muffins from grains I bought from the Mennonites. This recipe uses oat bran, ground flax, and wheat bran. It also uses two ground oranges, peeling and all, along with golden raisins. I tossed in some dried cranberries too and baked them all in muffin top pans which makes for dandy eating early in the morning with a cup of hot tea on the deck.

I cooked the last of my wild rice from Minnesota for later use, and I have enough beans left to make a nice chili pot for tomorrow which will go well if the weather stays cool yet one more day. I also baked and pureed a butternut squash and an acorn squash which will be come our supper in a new recipe for curried squash soup.

Now I think I will pour the last of the iced Caribe tea, take a book, and go to the deck to soak up air that smacks of autumn's coming.

Saturday Centus, Night Travel

This is Saturday Centus . The prompt must be used word for word somewhere in the story on not more than 100 words.The prompt is highlighted. For complete rules see: I have highlighted this week's prompt in piece below.

Night Travel
When they had left North Platte heading west at sunset, they drove into darkening skies. As they made miles across rolling prairies, dusk fell. Janice shoved in a Nakai CD, the notes springing out of his cedar flute like field grasshoppers in wheat stubble. When they turned north towards the reservation, distant jagged lightning ripped across the sky like a broken zipper, splitting the darkness momentarily. She wondered if she should be afraid, if First People spirits were watching them.

Sam reached over for her hand, caressed her palm. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”

She smiled. It was going to be a beautiful dark and stormy night.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sites in Ohio and Kentucky

While Mason was playing at daycare, we chose to visit a few things close by. Only eight miles away from the church daycare was the Freedom Museum dedicated to educating about the Underground Railroad. We crossed the Ohio, found a parking place which was not easy as downtown Cincinnati was in heavy construction mode. Once there we found out the museum did not open until 11:00. So we walked up to sit for a while in a fountain area amid skyscrapers. It would have been fun to see the whole city I guess, but downtown cities are losing appeal for me. We did stop at a Greek café on the way back down and had a BLT on pita bread which was delicious! We took ours out to the tables on the sidewalk and ate outside. Fun!

Then we went back to the Underground Railroad museum. It was interesting but rather lightweight in information we both thought. It was huge building of five floors and only one floor was complete with exhibits. Too much wasted space and space given to administrative offices. What was there was gorgeous and state of the art in how it was displayed. I was disappointed there was nothing on the quilts used to signal Underground Railroad paths and safe houses. There was a wagon with a false bottom that was interesting to see. Maybe I had read too much because nothing outstanding in the way of new information for me. The gift shop was huge and packed with great educational materials however.

Just outside was the Roebling Suspension Bridge that crossed the Ohio River. It was closed to traffic while it is being repainted the original blue it was painted over a hundred years ago. The bridge was started before the Civil War, finished after the Civil War, and was an inspiration for the Brooklyn Bridge. Although closed, we were to learn too late that one foot path was open across the bridge. We would have loved to walk out over the Ohio and back into Kentucky.

On Friday we did up laundry and cleaned house and picked up toys for a fresh start while Mason was at daycare. Then we had lunch before picking him back up. We went to Yesterday’s Café and Tea Room. It was a gorgeous place and quiet. I had Matcha Lemonade made with matcha green tea. Very refreshing and tasty! I chose gazpacho soup and quiche for my lunch and presentation was lovely.

When we picked Mason up, the church parking lot was full of an afternoon farmer’s market. We walked him around looking at the colorful fruits and vegetables. We brought home some Molly Delicious apples which were new to me; they had a nice flavor. Mason ate them well! I also picked up a small box of heirloom tomatoes that were delicious.

When our children returned and we headed home, we were going to linger on the drive. We followed the Ohio River on a winding side road rather than travel the super highway. It was a lovely area despite the industrial sites sitting right next to the river. The plants all looked new, shiney, well-maintained, and were huge. Then we found a great bridge over the Ohio which DH was looking for. We crossed right into a gorgeous old river town. Madison, Indiana was gorgeous wth brick storefronts and smartly painted Victorian homes. There were great shops and antique places, although everything was closed on Sunday. We were discussing staying so we could look the town and shops over in the morning, but a phone call that DH's mother was in the hosptial sent us back on the highway to push for home.

We drove until midnight, crashed, and started on the highway again. We made only one stop on the way home and that was small town Lebanon, Illinois. We had found this town on a business trip to Indiana years ago. It is a couple of blocks of antique stores, a tiny tea room, and shops. At that time there was a British shop I loved for its tea choices. But being a Monday this time almsot evertyting was closed. We grabbed a bite to eat in a cafe we knew, but the food was not great this time. The British store and tea room were gone. Frankly, the economic hard times seemed to have slapped the town a bit. However, there was one antique shop open and we walked around there for a while. It was grand place because it was nothing but tea cups, tea pots, dishes, serving pieces, knife rests, egg coddlers, and all of it was beautiful.

Lebanon's claim to fame is the fact that Charles Dickens slept here. Dickens was on his American tour and wanted to see the prairies. However, while here it rained and he stepped out into mud! He stayed at the Mermaid House that you can tour for free. We had done that on the earlier trip. The rooms are so tiny and stairs so steep it is hard to imagine living in it everyday.