Saturday, May 28, 2011

Writing Op Coming

It is certainly no secret the world around Joplin has been on tilt for days. One doesn't have to lose a house or a loved one to be affected by the deep pain and sorrow of Joplin residents. The pool of anguish leaks out like an oil slick on the ocean, reaching far and wide eventually. Even simple things that one takes for granted like a doctor's office, source for car parts, a favorite sandwich, a grocery store with low carb foods, and more are suddenly off the radar for everyone, not just the immediate area people. Local towns and shopping areas have to pick up the slack. With a boil order in Joplin, even the restaurants are closed or an hour behind in service due to complications of cooking.

But no words of praise are enough to shout the thanks to everyone in this area and beyond who came, many without even being called. The need was there and good people answered. Team after team, church after church, individual folks both trained and untrained showed up to shoulder the cleanup, the work, the worry and even the sharing of tears.

The highway is full of wagons and buses and trucks hauling food, water and necessities into the Joplin area. Coming back from a Springfield doctor appointment this week, we passed a school bus loaded with diapers, water, non-perishable food items. We all thumbed up each other, shared the lump in our throats. This need won't be over in a week or two, not even a month or two. We must remember to pray and support Joplin for quite a while.

With that in mind, the Joplin Writers' Guild and the Missouri Writers' Guild are going to join forces to produce a small book of weather related stories and poems. The proceeds from the book sales will all go to the Joplin school system to buy books for the libraries they lost. Two grade schools, a high school, and a Catholic grade school were lost that I know of right now. Estimates are in the millions to replace these schools and the fall term is only three months away! So be thinking about your poems and stories of storms-snow, ice, wind, rain. The JWG officers met today to develop some guidelines that will be posted soon. Watch here for more information as it develops.

Sunday afternoon: Guidelines just went up at:
Feel free to pass this info on and to ask me any questions.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How Do You Like Your Eggs?

This post was actually written on Saturday before things got crazy here in the southwestern corner of Missouri. Tea cups and eggs seem frivolous with what is happening here, but life does go on.Guess I will go ahead and post it today, hoping more of us don't blow away with the dicey weather that is forecast for this evening!

This old flag rooster had something to crow about today because the sun was out all day long and there wasn’t a drop of rain! How nice, what a break, I am so grateful! I know more is coming, but at least we had a little break after days, no weeks, of rain.

For Mother’s Day our friends took us out to brunch at a Granite City Brewery because it is their favorite place. The food was good, but the draw for them is a special bar where the chef makes a plate of Eggs Benedict for patrons. That runny egg yolk with cheese sauce on it was not enticing to me at all. I like eggs but not smothered in sauces. I remember my Dad talking about the many plates of Eggs A La Goldenrod he ate when my parents were first married because it was the only dish my mom could cook. Thankfully, I wasn’t in the family yet for that treat!

I was a sickly child, and I do remember my mother bringing me breakfast in bed. It was something we called Egg in Cup. It was a soft boiled egg chopped up and served in a coffee mug with lightly buttered toast on the side. How I ever recovered eating that runny egg yolk I’ll never know, but I did like this dish then.

So many people have asked me what a coddled egg is. Actually, it is close to a poached egg, the yolk usually served runny. But for me, I coddle my eggs longer, almost like a hard boiled egg. When using egg coddlers, most people boil them 5-8 minutes. I cook mine 9-11 minutes.

See below on how to use egg coddlers.

1. Butter the inside of the coddler. (Or use Pam.)

2. Break the egg into the coddler. Notice the small egg coddler just does hold one egg. The larger ones hold two or three. Salt and pepper your egg or add shreds of bacon if you like.

3. Put in boiling water for however long you want you egg set, how you like your yolk.

4. Lift out with a wooden spoon handle through the silver ring.

5. You can remove from the coddler or eat it right from the coddler which is fun! Yum.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Joplin, Missouri

The predicted Rapture did not occur at 6:00 Saturday night, but almost exactly twenty four hours later the end of the world came for people in Joplin, Missouri when a suspected F-4 tornado wiped out life as they knew it.

We had not had the television on all day, but we knew the air felt as thick as a piece of Wonder bread caught in the back of the throat. DH had been painting on the house before the coming rain, and after a lunch on the deck, I switched on the television to hear tornado watches for the entire area and coming our way. So we jumped up to put things away for the night. I went to return a bag of DVDs to the rental store a few blocks away.

By habit I turned on the radio only to hear an updated announcement that the watch was now a warning. In the few minutes I made the drop off at the video store, the air tightened and so did my chest. DH was outside when I pulled back into the drive; he had no idea that tennis ball sized hail and funnels were headed our way. We ratcheted up our movements a gear and took down hanging flower pots, put away ladders, moved vehicles inside without any dallying, finishing as the first rain drops fell.

Shortly sirens blasted and a tornado was on the ground that about 15 miles west of us and just that fast moved into Joplin. I gathered blankets and flashlights as we followed the storm on radar. About a quarter of mile wide, the monster was already tearing up western side of Joplin, stomping down 20th street, and veering slightly south. We did not know how bad things were there as it began to hail and the sky was yellow. Oddly our own wind was lesser than expected.

We were still trying to learn info and after more sirens here when our Kentucky son called to see if we were okay. The amazing feat of technology allowed him to see on the weather channel what we were not seeing, that Joplin was flattened, our stomping grounds a mere nine or ten miles away from our back door. The phone continued to ring as people far away called for assurance we were still here.

We were, but we were drained. Having lived through this kind of weather for years, one becomes lax in winding up to storm watches. We prepare, watch, and it blows over. Only once have I been under our house in 35 years, but we have been at the door ready many times. Last night when we went to bed, I could not rest. I heard helicopters all night long and with each turn of the whirly blades, I was torn between feeling anguish for a soul or relief there was someone getting help.

It is incomprehensible the amount of damage and how fast it occurred. Once again life shows us that things can turn in a flash, evaporate before our eyes. It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs are, a tornado shows humans that in the end they are NOT in control here.

This morning the local channel reports the death toll at 89 so far.

It also warns of hail and rain for today and more severe storms forming by this afternoon.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Saturday Centus/In the Flesh

I was feeling a little overwhelmed by things yesterday and Jenny's prompt of the reflection in the mirror, while a good one, just didn't "cook" for me. I thought I would just pass this week. Then this morning a little scene popped into my mind and made me laugh. I decided to write it down. What do you think?

For full Centus rules and more stories go to:

                                               In the Flesh
Cate loved doing housework in the nude, and when she did laundry simultaneously, she felt empowered by everything being clean at once. Today she was meeting Sam for lunch so she dashed through her chores while listening to Footloose’s pounding beat. She stepped out on the deck to shake rugs. Old man Stevens was mowing his backyard on his riding mower, but he tossed her a terrified gaze when he saw her. What’s his problem today anyway? Gathering rugs, she stepped back into the bedroom where, oh no, the reflection in the mirror showed pink nipples starting at her like headlights on a dark night!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

How Do You Write?

              Been a long time since I have seen a sky like this; I am ready to see a bright sky again!

So how do you write? There are so many tips on how to beginning working on a piece of writing. You can free write, journal, outline, use a note taking device, interview, lean on divine inspiration, or write on a dinner napkin. I have used all of the above, but sometimes I want to write a story without knowing where to begin. I mean I don’t even have a word or thought to start me off on my work.

For example, I am not a western writer, but I have bumped into two writing ops this month that wanted western settings. Okay, I loved Bonanza, Wagon Train, Louie L’Amour, and Jack Schaffer. Schaffer wrote the world’s greatest western, Shane, without ever traveling west of the Ohio. So…how hard could it be to write a western?

But my mind was blank. I couldn’t “see” any point where to begin working. I would think “cowboy” and nothing appeared but Levi jeans resting on pointed boot toes. I pictured a stagecoach…nothing came. A corral and a squeaky leather saddle…nothing came. My mind’s screen was blank! Then gradually a pair of lavender drop ear rings came. Well darn, a cowboy doesn’t wear ear rings for gosh sakes!

But doing dishes, vacuuming the rugs, or going to sleep those ear rings kept appearing. So I began to let them come and asked who was wearing them, where did she live, what was her story. It was a saloon in cattle country and she was a shady lady! Okay, so that is partly a western, right? I went with it, let this gal dance in my head for a couple of days, and then I sat down yesterday to write for four and half hours straight. When I was finished, I had a story but was it a western? I don’t know. I do know this is not a story like I would normally write and there is even blood in it! I printed it out and put it away to gel for a while.

I got a notice yesterday that a contest in Oklahoma has been extended for two weeks. Hum, I didn’t know it was open in the first place. That didn’t leave me much time. Not wanting to face the western again anyway, I took out this afternoon writing an Oklahoma inspired essay. I wrote for two hours pounding out description of my rides to Claremore in my childhood. When once again I had a decent rough draft, I decided to take a break, but I did go to the web site for more details. WHOA, I should have done that first. They don’t want essays, only documented family stories. Well, do I have family stories, but I could not document them and even if I could, I would probably be sued!

Here I sit at week‘s end with 3,000 words of new copy that might go nowhere. It was good practice anyway, right? My shoulders are sore and my mind is numb, but still the work itself was satisfying and meaningful to me, the first reader after all.

So how do YOU write? Do you sit down to a blank page with no idea and draw something out of nowhere? Do you have a kernel of a story or a scene you carry around with you for days before beginning to flesh it out on the page? Do you write and write even if there is no market at hand, or do you find a market and tailor your words to reach only that possibility?
I got this writing notice on email yesterday. At least it has a longer open window for consideration.

The Festival is pleased to announce our 2nd Annual Poetry Contest. We
will be accepting submissions by mail and online from April 18—August
18, 2011.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Egg Coddlers Instead of Tea Cup Finds

My mood is certainly for a tea party outside, but the weather won't cooperate! It is either rainy, too chilly or both. My spring tea pot waits for use at a garden party.

On our recent Kentucky trip, we stopped at a few antique and flea market places. I saw a few nice cups, but nothing called to me or felt worth bringing home. I had so many at home that were even better! I did find a set of Blue Willow dessert bowls. No, I did not need them, but at $2.10 each how could I pass them up?

A stop at the Goodwill store produced these egg coddlers. Again, I have plenty but these were practically free! I had to bring them home at that price, and they are sweet with a wren on one side and two finches on the other. Do any of my readers need these egg coddlers???? Also, I am wondering if any of you USE egg coddlers?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gorilla Love Plus Writing Ops

During the 1950’s my dad headed us all towards St. Louis for a family vacation. This was an excursion in those days. The St. Louis Zoo was a chief attraction, but I remember none of it except the gorilla that I fell in love with there. My mother thought he was a nasty creature as he lured folks to the bars and then urinated on them! I thought it was hilarious; I have been a gorilla fan ever since. I was lucky enough to go to a college where the team mascot was Gus the Gorilla, and he was as enchanting as the real thing.

Last week when the two year old’s preschool went to the Cincinnati Zoo, we went along. Ah, zoo was a good descriptive word for the trip as the attention span of a two year old is nearly as long as a mosquito’s bite. My son asked me if there was any one thing I REALLY wanted to see, and of course, it was the ape section. I met Jo Jo there and found him fascinating. Look at this gorilla’s face and telling me is not THINKING. Even the signs said to stay alert as sometimes the gorilla’s tended to throw things. Well, why not? The real apes were on the other side hooting, scratching and mocking these creatures.

I know I posted pictures last week of the zoo trip and the historic sites we saw during our trip, but I just have to post this guy again. Isn’t he handsome? Is this gorilla love?

2011 Thomas A. Wilhelmus

Editor’s Fiction Chapbook Prize
RopeWalk Press will award a prize of $1000 and 25 complimentary copies
for the best fiction chapbook submitted under the following guidelines.
Complete Guidelines:
• Postmark deadline: June 15, 2011.
• Page limit: 45 manuscript pages (double-spaced) per each
individual submission. These pages may be comprised of a single short
story, multiple short stories, novellas, or stand-alone novel excerpts.
• Entry fee: $20 ($5 for each additional manuscript
submitted). This fee is non-refundable. Make check or money order
payable to RopeWalk Press or pay with credit card with online
submission (
• Manuscript specifics: Author’s name, address, email, and
phone should appear on the first page of the manuscript; title and page
number on all subsequent pages. If the manuscript includes more than
one short story, include a table of contents. Include an
acknowledgments page listing previous publication of included works, if
applicable. Your manuscript must be available for exclusive
book-length publication by RopeWalk Press. Stories, novellas, or
stand-alone excerpts published individually in journals or magazines
may be submitted, but the writer must hold copyright. Previously
self-published chapbooks and translations are not eligible.
• All submissions will be considered for publication. All
themes and/or subject matters are eligible. All rights revert to the
writer upon publication.
• Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but if the
manuscript is published/accepted by another press while under
consideration, the author must promptly notify RWP in writing to
withdraw the entry.
• All manuscripts will be recycled.
• Include a #10 SASE for announcement of contest results.
• Results will also be posted on the RWP website by September
15, 2011.
Send all entries to:
Nicole Louise Reid, Editor
RopeWalk Press
University of Southern Indiana
8600 University Boulevard
Evansville, IN 47712
To honor Madonna Robinton, past president of the Poetry Society of New

Hampshire. One winner will receive the $100 prize (sponsored by

Madonna’s sister, Barb Simpson), and the winning poem will be published

in The Poets’ Touchstone. Poems must be no longer than 40 lines and

written in free verse. No poems will be returned. One poem entry per

poet, please. Postmark deadline June 1st, 2011. Send two copies of your

poem, one with all your contact info, the other with no contact info,



The Madonna Robinton Free Verse Contest

31 Reservoir Road

Farmington, NH 03835


Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Guns of War!

There were several smaller battles of the Civil War that took place in Missouri, and actually Missouri’s part in the war was important, although not as well known as say Bull Run or Gettysburg. The Battle of Carthage was the first battle west of the Mississippi, and while the Southern sympathizers pushed the Union soldiers led by Sigel of St. Louis back from the town, it was not really a win. Sigel brought his 1000 plus German soldiers to face more than twice that number of Missouri State Guard lead by a pro-Southern state governor. The numerous followers were untrained, and many did not even have arms other than pitch forks or axes they grabbed at their farms.

The original battle is also knows as the Battle of Dry Fork where the first skirmish was made. The armies advanced into the town of Carthage, and moved on the eastern side of town to the area now known as Carter Park before moving on to Sarcoxie. The battle was on July 5, 1861 and the temperatures were hot and humid after days of rain.

This weekend over 500 reenactors gathered in the local Municipal Park to set up camp and reenact the battle. Soldiers from both sides including many mounted on horses advanced toward town over the Oak Street Bridge and engaged in a fierce battle at the Central Park.

After bursts of cannon fire, mock hand to hand combat and advancing lines of mounted Southern Guards, the battle moved on to the city square where the fighting continued. The day was actually quite chilly and the path not historically correct, but the main thrust of the mock battle gave viewers the idea of the how the battle played out in 1861.

This year Civil War reenactments and historic activities remembering of time period will be numerous to observe the 150th anniversary of this war where brother often fought against brother. Missouri was seriously divided between Union and Southern sympathies. Having grown up in Kansas, my loyalty had always been with saving the Union of these United States. Imagine the shock I received when recently I learned my great great uncles fought for the Confederacy from Cedar County, Missouri!

What a wonderful year to reread Gone with the Wind and pop some corn for a night with Scarlet on a video. Will there be Civil War reenactments in your area, and do you plan to follow them?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A LIttle Rerun

At the end of Friday's post about the week, I put on two writing sites. There have been no comments and I wonder if some writers missed the suggestions. So I am going to repost now, just to make sure. Who knows what might happen for someone if they tried these!

Speaking of writing, one more thing: I got a notification of an interesting sounding contest. However, when I try to go to the site, my virus protector throws a real fit. So I will post here and some of you “beer “writers might be brave enough to check it out!

Yeast of Eden, an anthology of stories inspired by beer, is requesting
submissions.1,000 to 7,000 words, fiction or nonfiction, September 1, 2011 deadline.visit for more information.

Walt Whitman Birthplace Association is seeking poems about food with recipes to accompany them, for a cookbook anthology to be published in 2011. In addition, all poems submitted (only the poems) will be entered into a poetry contest awarding cash prizes!
"Whitman Cooks" Poetry Contest- Deadline: June 30th, 2011

Sataurdy Centus

Every hear the saying "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get!" Well, that is me. I just can not catch up for real, but I want to do a Centus again. So a quick shot at this prompt and back to my chore list on a cold and damp day--again! If you want full rules and to read other stories, please visit Jenny at week's  prompt is highlighted below.

Sunday Mornings Past

My dad wore gray Key work clothes and black engineer boots made by Red Wing everyday. But on Sunday he donned nice trousers with a slick sheen, topped by a white shirt with long sleeves rolled up his forearm, and a wide tie of vibrant color and bold pattern.  He hated dress clothes, so right after Mass, he would change and head for the kitchen to make his one specialty, pancakes. The humming began, then singing to us as the griddle heated. Sunday mornings brought out a lovely lightness in him. “Hush little baby, don’t you cry. I long to hear that voice again…..

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Week's End

We were tired when we finally arrived home last Sunday evening, but what a nice surprise these zinnias were waiting on my porch. They had been left by a friend and just in time for repotting for the deck along with some other April and May flowers from other friends, including Mexican petunias from the St. Louis friend. I can’t seem to find Mexican petunias here.

So the next few days, warm and sunny, meant mowing, waterproofing the deck, reloading the deck with furniture and birdbaths, etc., and repotting flowers. Then it was a mammoth travel laundry, restocking the refrigerator, getting the mail, tending to small but necessary issues, and finally a cup of tea on the freshly opened deck. We had just finished the nice up of tea in the evening on Wednesday when a storm blew up, and we had to hurry to take down all the flowers I had just hung up! We were driven inside, longingly looking at the deck-our outdoor parlor where we are happiest especially in the spring.

Yesterday, with severely aching bones and muscles from the days prior, we continued on our spring work list. DH measured the house for paint which is the next big job here. We have used nothing but Sears Weatherbeater since the day we moved in, and it has served us well. So with a trip to Joplin town on the books for evening to do Writers’ Guild, we left early for some stops. One was to go to Sears for paint. Whoa! We were told no more paint in Sears, that the closest paint was in Kansas City. We were in shock since the reason this excellent paint has been canceled is that other chains sell lesser quality cheaper and people no longer are interested in quality, only price. Sad, sad. The last paint job has lasted 20 years and doesn’t even look bad yet, only needs a refreshing in our book.

Later that night we went to the Joplin Public Library and my meeting in the large meeting room had just started when every library patron was being pushed in with us. Tornado warning and we had to stay together for 30 minutes. We tried to continue our meeting with cell phones, a scanner, laughter, and a television going. Ah, that was pleasant. Finally, the storm moved on, we finished our meeting and critiquing and went home. What is it about Writers’ Guild that brings on weather trauma? January was canceled due to severe ice and snow, February was dangerously cold and icy so was poorly attended, March was tornado watch night, April was severe thunderstorms with rain so heavy driving was hard, and May we spent “sheltered” from possible funnel. The group blames my magnetic charm as president for drawing storms!

I will spare you the Weatherbeater paint stories with Sears today. Suffice it to say “Push One if..” and no human contact. When you did get a human they did not speak good English and repeated canned information like a robot. I finally found a kind woman after four hours and she helped me. The result was that there is no longer any Weatherbeater paint in any Sears store; you can buy online from third party vendors but…. We made a change, went to Sherwin Williams here in town, made a choice, bought paint and came home to a new rain storm-again. Now tonight it is so cool as to be downright chilly after being 90 degrees two days ago.

Somewhere on the sides of all this, my mind has been working overtime in the imaginary. I want to try to write a western. Shoot (pardon that six gun pun), I don’t know a thing about how to do it. But I am thinking!

Speaking of writing, one more thing: I got a notification of an interesting sounding contest. However, when I try to go to the site, my virus protector throws a real fit. So I will post here and some of you “beer “writers might be brave enough to check it out!

Yeast of Eden, an anthology of stories inspired by beer, is requesting
submissions.1,000 to 7,000 words, fiction or nonfiction, September 1, 2011 deadline.

visit for more information.


Walt Whitman Birthplace Association is seeking poems about food with recipes to accompany them, for a cookbook anthology to be published in 2011. In addition, all poems submitted (only the poems) will be entered into a poetry contest awarding cash prizes!
"Whitman Cooks" Poetry Contest- Deadline: June 30th, 2011
Well, it is raining-again. And it is chilly to boot. But that doesn't stop the chore list, just hinders it a bit. Then the Blogger hang up has set a few things behind schedule too. So I am stealing a few minutes to jump in quickly to Lisa's Friday Book  Blurb. She asks for a 150 words or less to make the picture at the left enticing to readers as a book jacket. My efforts are dashed out below. For full details and more stories, visit Lisa herself at:

                                               Secrets Among the Sage
When Claire Westoff moved to New Mexico, she wanted the comfort of sand, the slow moving sands of time. Her mind had been frayed and riddled by her job in Chicago, not to mention how the wind and cold bit at her body.

She found the pink adobe walls of her bungalow comforting, evenings of sipping whiskey sours watching the pastel sunsets wash over the sandy horizon. Her mornings sparkled with blue skies as she headed to work the Sunday Side Up Café’s breakfast shift, such a change after her city newspaper job. Tourists wanting explanations of rancheros huevos sat between the truck garden farmers and were the biggest challenge she needed.

Until she began to unearth strange clues that all wasn’t right in Hacienda Azul. People were friendly until she asked her reporter-like questions about the bones in the desert. What were the secrets this sleepy village held?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fun with Grandbabies!

The trip to Kentucky was to help our son with grandbabies. Mason is 2 and Simon is three months. Mommy was going on a business trip, and we went to well as to meet Simon! It was so tiring, but work got done and fun was had. I think the pictures speak for themselves.

Simon is a precious little fellow who rarely cries. He just soaks up what is around him, watching and listening. And in a house with an overly active two year old there is lots to hear!!

Mason talks up a storm, is into everything, rarely sits still, has no time to eat, and loves Curious George on the TV. (One of the nicest thing about the ride home was NO Curious George!)

On Thursday, all the men of the family worked on putting in an ice maker for Mommy's Mother Day surprise on her return.

On Friday, Mason's preschool went to the zoo which is actually in Cincinnati. What a wonderful zoo! The second oldest zoo in the United States, this zoo was full of interesting things and walkways like a park for strolling. Everyone had a favorite from the zoo. For Grammie it was the gorilla; isn't he a great looking guy

For Grandpa, it was the solar powered waste can!!! Mason liked it all, ran and jumped, fed and petted, crawled and rode!

             Then there was finally a rest somewhere at the end of the day, but not for long!

Sites on the Road

Between the chilly, flood-producing rains and life with a two year old for a few days, we actually managed to see a few interesting things last week. Our first history stop was Vincennes, Indiana where William Clark who traveled with Meriwether Lewis up the Mississippi in 1804. George Rogers Clark was instrumental in leading men into what is now Illinois, Indiana and beyond to grab the area during the Revolutionary War. He went against the British with a small force and changed history of this country. I found him interesting enough that I want to read more about the man.

Vincennes was also where President William Henry Harrison had a home Gouseland, while he was a leader in the territorial government of the new territory during the early 1800’s. While he treated the Indians better than some, still he was one who inched their lands away from them. His home was lovely and was built like a fortress as it was prepared so the family could hold up inside during a raid or siege. It was interesting with thick walls, an inside well, and windows built for aiming guns through for defense. The home stands solid even though about 200 years old.

                  Shawnee from the early 1800 period of Indiana history. Would have made a believer out of me!

The next day we made it into Madison which is a city sitting on the Ohio. The Ohio River had been out on the landing but had gone down some, although still very high and covering some benches etc. This town also dates from early 1800’s with gorgeous old homes and buildings of Federal architecture. A man told me that the town was used extensively for movie making during the 1940’s. Here we wandered around the town, visited some flea markets, viewed the J Sullivan house. It was also full of interesting history. We had hoped to visit a saddle shop that had once built saddles and leather things of the period, but it was closed.

How about a bath in this metal tub on a cold winter's night?

Isn't this a charming restored home near the riverfront in Madison?

Coming home from Kentucky, we stopped in Lebanon, Illinois. We have stopped there four times now, and the stop last summer was so disappointing I did not want to bother pulling off the interstate. However, the little berg (known for housing Charles Dickens on his Midwestern travels) was alive and jumping with a Home and Garden Day. The main street was closed with vendors for crafts, food, and plants. The antique stores were open with sales. It was a fun atmosphere. We ate in a corner café that was outstanding! I had the special which was rouladen, cooked red cabbage, and spaetzles. Ice tea was wonderful and we sprang for pie afterwards. I should have taken a picture of the pie. It was the most beautiful and most tasty cream pie we have ever eaten!

My most exciting find for the ay was a new bulk tea store. They had samples out front which were beautiful to see, fragrant beyond belief, and tasty too. I bought the Spring Awakening which is a green tea with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, figs and peony petals! But even better was the Mango Mahalo, an herbal with pineapple, mango, orange slices, tangerine pieces, safflower, marigold blossoms, and strawberry slices…it smelled up the truck all the way home. We made a pot late the night we arrived home. Can not tell you how wonderful it was; I wish I could give you each a cup!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

On the Road Again

Make that a wet road! It rains and rains; creeks rise and rivers flood. Our trip to visit the newest grandbaby in Kentucky had been made weeks in advance, and we thought nothing of backing out the drive under gray skies. If we couldn’t seal the deck, plant flowers or even mow the grass, we might as well be visiting anyway. But the rain is all over the country, not just in our county, our state. I think Noah and his Ark would feel right at home in the Midwest about now!

East of St. Louis and again into Indiana land is always low and swampy. But this trip, Indiana was a sheet of water on both sides from the flooded Wabash. We had planned to go up Route 1 on the Illinois side to come into Indiana at Vincennes. Ah, river out, turned back.

We took the interstate and then came in Vincennes from the south. The next morning was rain free, and we were silly to think the wet siege was over. We headed towards Paoli and French Lick. We had seen the area only in the dark and wanted to visit it again in daylight. When the markers were set up on the side road saying clearly Road Closed Ahead, I was ready to turn back. But DH sees signs like that as a MC for RM (Mental Challenge for Real Men). He thinks he can outwit the signs' providers. Surely they didn’t mean HE was incapable of outwitting any potential hazards ahead.

Now you have to know I am petrified of dark, high water anytime, anywhere. I have floated in canoes, sped in bass boats all in the name of being a good wife. I don’t know how I did some of it. When we headed down the small byway, each mile the water gradually came closer and closer until it was nearing the shoulders on both sides. Then it started to rain. I begged to turn back. My stomach clenched, my breathing was nearing hyperventilation, and I covered my face with maps. Finally, we hit a Y in the road that was completely covered with water. I teared up, put my hand on the door handle. I had my cell phone in hand to call 911 because I was NOT riding into that lake! DH turned around and we made the same harrowing 15 miles back to the main highway again.

Then it really rained…all afternoon. We did not make good mileage that day. We got a motel room and listened to the heavy rains all night. I met a handsome young man from Panama City, Florida; he was riding motorcycles with three other cycle buddies on the way to Chicago. Said it was lovely the first 400 miles, and then they felt the temp drop 40 degrees and the rains started. Never again, he said!

The next morning we hit Madison, a river town on the Ohio which had also been out of its banks. It had gone down enough for roads to be clear on into Kentucky, but again lots of water on both sides of the road. We arrived later than planned. This morning out son told us the forecast is for rain every day now for five more days. Will we get home? Not by way of Cairo where the levee was blown, and then there is the Kentucky Derby crowds around Louisville too for the weekend! Will see!

Knowing we would be taking a road trip in the near future, I had picked up some music CDs from Wal-Mart’s bargain bin one day. While I prefer silence in the miles, DH likes racket like an irritating radio station. We compromise with music that we usually agree on for listening. I got a decent Johnny Cash, a Merle Haggard (Proud of Being an Okie from Muskogee!), an Elvis collection, and the real prize of Willie Nelson that included My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys and On the Road Again. I am not as crazy about Country Western as these selections suggest, but these were easy listening for Midwest miles. I do admit to loving some of Willie.

Willie Nelson is mostly Texan, but he was born with roots deep in the Arkansas Ozarks. His mellow ballads and gentle bad boy love songs are enchanting in their own way. His lyrics and tempo remind me of the music my dad listened to on Sunday mornings while he made pancakes after Mass. He would put on a stack of those old 78s and toe tap and hum while he poured batter on a scalding hot griddle. His music favorites were rooted in the Grand Ole Opry traditions that he had listened to on the radio with his family during the Depression: Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Kitty Wells, Patsy Cline, Bob Wills and the Playboys.

So it was Willie across Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and into Kentucky. He will croon us home too when we are on the road again. I wonder if Willie has a song about High Water?