Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Traveling Tea!

A group of us took a small road trip and went to Baxter Springs, Kansas for what we called a Traveling Tea Party. Actually, all we had to do was travel because hostess Bernice Moss served us tea. She also showed us her pretty Victorian house and talked to us about manners and etiquette in Victorian times. She had her house decorated with vintage clothes, hats, and some lovely tea pots and china pieces. The whole afternoon was a feast for the eyes.

Bernice also served a feast for the stomach too. She had cucumber sandwiches, lemon curd bites, a lovely blueberry coffee cake, and an outstanding cheese to served with a new tea. She likes English teas best, ones grown in China. She says they are softer teas. She also likes some

While we usually have tea at home, it was a nice treat to travel and share tea with another's pretty things!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tea Cup Tuesday/Occupied Japan

The quick trip into a flea market a few days ago yielded a few finds. It was very interesting because the store had several booths with many things marked Occupied Japan. I asked the clerk if they were all booths owned by the same person. No. they were all different people. The clerk also said that people had been coming in for a year or more asking for Occupied Japan things and she had none. Suddenly this summer many vendors were bringing in various things with the mark. Now, what goes with this market, I wonder?

I was not looking for a thing, just cruising around with an open mind. The things I bought were not extraordinary finds for me, but they were so cheap I could not leave them there! The first was a bone china cup made in England. Roses are always nice and the cup is delicate under the waffling gold lip.

The second cup was pretty enough, but it was also bone china and made in Occupied Japan. This cup has a lovely heft to it, and the china is so thin you can see shadows of your fingers behind it.

The milk glass styled vase was practically a giveaway. One can always use a nice white vase for flowers any time of the year.

For more teacups visit Martha at Tea Cup Tuesday at:

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rainy Day and An Answer

Yesterday it tried to rain all day, but clouds and humidity was the best we got. The day was gray and oddly enough several trees on our street are turning colors already. The days inch towards autumn...a mixed blessing. Of course a lot of trees and shrubs are dying after this blistering heat coupled with rain shortages two summers in a row.

The rain came today, a divine gift of slow and steady showers all day, an answer to many prayers. Reminded me I needed to answer on the mystery item. But first I read and read...and read. I have done some laundry, fixed a meal of leftovers, but I have read the rest of the previous 12 hours. I read something that is not me at all, and I won't pursue more of it. But I can now speak intelligently from knowledge about these books instead of an emotional response. Enough said.

This is a button polisher! The wedge closes down on buttons on an army uniform. Then the "brass" can be polished with a cream or paste that won't get on the freshly laundered shirt or jacket. How smart is this device!

Friday, August 24, 2012

An Award Today

Dear Becky over at  won a Reader Appreciation Award and then passed it on to me. The Reader Appreciation Award is given to writers who have supported other writers’ blogs. I hope to do my own award justice! Becky writes humor and works on a memoir that is in the development stages. Visit her for grins and giggles.
There are just a few guidelines for accepting this award:
l) Acknowledge the giver of the award and provide a link to his or her blog. 
2) Copy and paste the award to your blog. 
3) Pass the award on to up to ten bloggers. 
4) Notify the selected bloggers of their nominations. 
And now for my nominees. (Please do not feel obligated to accept and/or pass this award on to others, due to whatever reasons.)

1.Rebecca at  Actually Rebecca writes many blogs. How does she ever keep up?!? I first found her at her thrifty blog. She is a Thrifter Deluxe. When she finds a bargain, she shows readers a picture, sometimes before and after. Her home is charming with tidbits from here and there that are added to a dash of her own originality.

2. Linda at Linda writes a bit of everything with humorous poetry being a special forte. She shares writing ideas and writing ops along with sharing her daily living escapades. I met her once for only a few minutes in St. Louis. Hers is a blog you will want to follow and she will lead you to more interesting bloggers too.

3. Martha at  Oh Martha is who I want to be when I grow up!! She won my heart with all the tablescapes she shows in blue and white dishes. She has a love for all things British and has spent long spans of time visiting England. She is a tea lover too! Meeting her in person is on my bucket list because she lives not that far from me in Kansas, a state I love.

4. Susan at  Wow, Susan lives a long way away, but she is one of the first bloggers that caused me to hit the Follow button. She writes from New England, and she too is a thrifter. She has a beautiful home and sets a lovely table, often with Polish recipes! I won a giveaway once from her blog, and it was a box just full of fun things. She likes color, collects dolls, and takes many great photos.

5. Lynn at is another Missouri writer who I met indirectly from the Joplin F5 tornado! When my writer group sponsored an anthology of weather-related pieces in order to raise money for school libraries victimized by the tornado, Lynn won a spot in the book. Then when the book launch occurred in December of that year, she drove down from St. Louis and also brought a van load of books for children who had lost their homes.

I do appreciate these blogs and the many more that I read regularly. If you are a blogger, you know it can be time consuming to visit everyone every day. If you are reading here, I appreciate you too. Please leave a comment and come back to chat often!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Longwell Museum

WWII Signal Corp Trainees....

Our St. Louis friends swooped in for supper and were gone by noon the next day. We ate too much and talked not near enough to get it all said. We dined on baked sandwiches, stuffed mushrooms, and a salad of mixed greens, peaches, blueberries, feta, and caramelized pecans. The next morning breakfast was Mexican eggs, Paula Deen grits, biscuits, bacon, and a mixed fruits bowl. Both the evening meal and breakfast on the deck had lovely tablescapes…and I forgot to take pictures! We left much unsaid, but they were anxious to head out on a Southwestern adventure. Jim has recently retired from McDonnell Douglas, and they were headed to    Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado.

After they left, we were stuffed as toads and felt the quiet too much. So we ran down to Neosho a mere twenty miles away to check out a museum that I had recently heard of. The Longwell Museum is located at Crowder, an old army base of WWII and now home to Crowder College.
A couple of months before Pearl Harbor was bombed, America was already gearing up to face war. Thus Camp Crowder was started as a training facility for Signal Corps. In the end, it was also to house POWs. All of this was quite a culture shock to the quiet Ozarkers of the time. How I wish I could have seen this area then.

                         Carrier pigeons, part of Signal Corps, trained in Camp Crowder

In 1963 parts of the peacetime Camp Crowder were turned into a small two year college. This project was promoted by Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Longwell who had had successful careers with Doubleday publishing and Time, Inc. Mr. Longwell worked with the likes of Edna Ferber and Ogden Nash. So the tiny museum on campus is dedicated to the Longwells and bears their name.

                                        Painting done by WWII POW in Camp Crowder

                                          Original barracks now used for college dorms

One half of the floor space in the museum is given over to WWII memorabilia from the camp days. The other half is an art gallery with rotating exhibits of artists. Right now Steve Henton, glass artist and Tim Booyer, metal and welding artist have works on display.

After the museum, we went into Neosho for a quick gander at a couple of flea markets where we found a few treasures…but that is another story. 

              Know what this handy dandy items is? Take a guess!!!  Hint: it was sold in the PX.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Acceptance at Tending Your Inner Garden

This week I received a contract from Tending Your Inner Garden for a poem to be used in their book Spring. The poem titled “Abdication” is about the transitions in my mother-in-law’s kitchen, a metaphor for entering a new stage of living. It was painful to write when I penned the lines; it still freezes a moment in time for me. The editor told me that my details allowed her to hear the clinking of dishes, to smell yeasty rolls. Just what a writer wants to hear!

The book editors have had the poem for nearly a year as I submitted it for Winter, but the editors held it for future use. I am happy to be in this anthology because the blog and newsletter of TYIG are very uplifting. Here is what they post on their blog at The Tending Your Inner Garden® program invites you to discover your deeper self and your relationship with all that is sacred. Using the seasons as a model for change, we help you develop a spiritual practice, tuning in to your own inner guidance so you can live in alignment with your true self. Join our community of women for support and friendship as you dig deeper and grow what you want most in your life.

If you go to the Tending Your Inner Garden, you can sign up for a newsletter sent to your email address. It is always an interesting piece to read even if you do not want to follow the blog or read at the website. The editors draw from many traditions and share tidbits that help readers find their own definition of sacred, enhance their own creativity or maybe just face fears. It is women helping women.

Speaking of women helping women, I just finished my book for the September book club which is A Train in Winter. This was a hard book to read for the subject matter and for the French names since I do not have any French background. This detailed and minutely reached book follows women of the French Resistance during WWII once they are caught and sent to the camps. Many were turned in by fellow Frenchmen, very disheartening information. Then in the camps…the writer details daily life including every horror possible. I have read a lot of WWII literature, but this book held new tortures and sufferings for me to ponder. The overriding theme is that women formed groups that men prisoners did not. They bonded, supported each other in any way possible, and they thrived by sticking together. Lots of thought-provoking material here if you can stomach the sad truths revealed!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Joy of a Byline!

Nothing like a byline to make a good day great! My article on the local labyrinth at the Episcopal Church is out today. I had just announced to my Guild on a Thursday night last month that I was finished trying to place non-fiction pieces. Then I came home to an editor’s email saying she wanted this piece. I have since written a second article for her and am waiting to hear her thoughts on a piece about WWII Red Cross activities.

I find non-fiction more draining to write for me than fiction because I am always worrying if I have every fact correct. Have I portrayed and quoted people both to their liking and with the truth?  I see non-fiction article possibilities everywhere, but often pass as I don’t know how to begin or what angle the market needs. Then if I suggest an article topic without writing the piece first, often an editor wants it in a week and then I have time pressures on top of all else.

However, fiction I make it all up and that is okay. Well, actually I have written some pieces that family members could see themselves if they looked! We use our own lives as springboards sometimes when we write. I know a piece of fiction is easier if I “see” someone or some event from past and then let the story develop.

Recently, I won first place in the Saturday Writers essay contest. It was about a fishing day I had with my husband. Now DH always says “Nice” when I win or publish, but he never reads my writing. When he heard me tell someone about this essay, he blanched because it tells the tale of his forgetting the boat plug. (Did you know a boat has a plug just like a bathtub? Not this gal who is NOT a water person!)

“Are you making a laughing stock of me all over Missouri?” he asked.

“Not really, but I did tell you what I was writing…you never bothered then to read or ask questions. So whatever…..” I warned him and the boys, Erma Bombeck laughed all the way to the bank on her family inspirations. I might give it a try!!!

So how do you find your own writing inspirations? Which do you prefer, Fiction or Non-Fiction…or are you Poetry buff?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Superman Museum and Dark Chocolate

After looking at bergs in Southeast Kansas on the weekend, we continued to follow Route 66 home. This took us through Carterville, Missouri and right by the Superman Museum! It is really more of a man’s hobby, but it is a neat collection of Superman memorabilia!

Also housed here is a small ice cream shop. Six small tables and a tiny counter, but the ice cream is way above average. You could also watch old Superman movies that were running while eating your ice cream. This one was a 1950 version--even before the George Reeves Superman I knew in later 50's!

The ice cream man gave very generous samples! Among my samples, why Superman ice cream of course! 

However, he sold me on Zanzabar Chocolate, the best chocolate ever tasted. It is made from a high grade dark chocolate and is as dark as river mud! Wonderful!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Southeast Kansas Treasures on a Beautiful Day

This has been a beauty of a weekend. Yesterday we got up to cool air, unbelievable after living in furnace air for so long. Everyone’s mood changed with an uplift of hope. At the farmer’s market, people were down right cheery. The vendors showed the first butternut squash, spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes. Autumn was lurking nearby, planning her arrival even if the searing temps returned. The cool air let her fall produce begin to appear as harbingers of harvest time.

After some reading on the deck, DH and I went for an adventure…in our own backyard neighborhood of towns about 25 or 30 miles from us. What history we saw! For me it was personal history because while growing up in Southeastern Kansas, the Erie Red Devils played football against Baxter Springs Lions, Riverton Rams, and Galena Bulldogs. Riding on a bus dressed in red pleated skirt and red wool crop top, I was too busy with pals in the front seat to bother with looking out the windows! So, now I investigated those Kansas towns with an eye for history of the mining, the religious settlements, and oh, yes the brothels too.

Small towns everywhere are fading away, and it is hard for them to survive now. But these little places yesterday are struggling and hanging on with some flair. Look at the Baxter Springs Visitor’s Center. This darling little filling station has been refurbished and is worth making the trip to see. My grandpa had a DX station so I am partial to old filling stations in the first place. So much memorabilia and a grand Route 66 gift shop are inside along with area visitor info. 

Then two blocks away we went to the local museum which neither of us knew existed until this week. This is a grand place to visit, and we could not absorb it all in one visit. 

                                                                                  Victorian bedroom

Baxter was found near a mineral spring in the Cherokee Neutral Lands. But that is another story. There was a fort here in early years, a Civil War Massacre, and right after the war in 1868 the town was incorporated.  

                                                                  1930's hair salon....anyone for a perm?

The museum shows mazing exhibits of different eras of Southeast Kansas and is loaded with special items. The place is all the more amazing when one thinks of how much is done, nearly all, by volunteers.

                                                                1930's Kitchen

Most interesting piece...a slave cradle...note wheels...this cradle could be pushed to fields to pick and hoe while keeping an eye on the baby. Note hooks on each end allowed the piece to be taken apart for storage--between babies. 

We had a wonderful lunch downtown at Angels on the Route and visited one flea market next door where I found a Spode Towers saucer, blue and white of course, for a mere $2. Then we went on to Riverton and on a wee bit more to Galena. 

Galena has a rough history due the mining days. The town has a mining museum (next time!) and it is known for its Hell’s Half Acre and Red Hot Street where saloons and brothels abounded to help relieve the miners’ of their money.
Galena has another item of interest. It is the home of the original Tow Mater from the movie fame. While there, we visited with a couple from Spain that was photographing Tow Mater; a short ways down the road we met a couple from Italy on their way down Route 66.  This little corner of Kansas is full of goodies!

                                                           Grammie and PaPaw Visit TowMater

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Winner and Book Talk

Last night at 5:30 p.m. I drew for The Divorce Girl giveaway. Only three comments in one week made me sad, but I was happy to see a winner's name come out of the bowl. Joy over at I've Been Thinking is the winner. She has sent me her address so I will be mailing the book at the first of the week.

Actually fifteen people read the blog entry but only three left comments. I have noticed that few people do leave comments on the books I review. Ah, maybe I am reading the wrong books? :)  Or maybe I write poor reviews? Well, books are a big part of my life and always have been. I doubt if stop pushing books!

This summer I have read a lot of different kinds of material and some books have been heavy reading. I have been working for weeks on BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. It is heavy on theology and doctrine at first...I waded slowly through the pages but would not give up.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor during the Nazi years. He became part of plot to eliminate Hitler, and he died for his struggles against a Nazi Germany. He was a principled man who lived what he professed. He challenges me to be more than what I am.

I have been careful to not mark lines in this book because I wanted to share the book with others without coloring their own responses. I made a mistake and now will just have to reread the book with pen in hand. Today I let myself put inky brackets around the following line he wrote in a letter after a student pastor had died in the war. "Where Got tears great gaps we should not try to fill them with human words." What a powerful line!

I am not finished with the book yet, and I probably won't review it here. The subject matter alone should interest readers enough to try the book. It is a challenge but full of history, theology, and thought-provoking paragraphs.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Divorce Girl and a Give Away

I always loved sharing YA novels with my students, but during the last couple of years at school, the trend was for more vampire and werewolves. Not my thing, but the students went for them. I always liked historical or contemporary novels. Even those changed some in that they became very representative and harshly detailed of real life. I continued to read YAs after retiring but gradually faded away from the category. Now two new YA novels have drawn me back with Bill Cairns Into the Hornets’ Nest (  ) and Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg’s The Divorce Girl.

The Divorce Girl is Mirriam-Goldberg’s first YA novel but certainly not her first book. She has published a memoir on dealing with cancer and several poetry books. She happens to be the present Poet Laureate of Kansas, and she teaches at Goddard College.  So Mirriam-Goldberg does know how to write. Her figurative language is sharp and original. For example, “rare as rainbows in the house”, “turned fields as beige as housing developments”, and a description of a Cadillac described as “a white steamship of a car” helps the reader visualize Deborah Shapiro’s world.

The novel begins as Deborah’s 1970 urban world collapses. Divorce rocks her world and is unusual in that her parents try living in the same house so she is continually thrust into taking sides in a small war. The father is unscrupulous with emotional bribes to gain his oldest daughter’s loyalty. He uses flattery, privileges, and feigns special love for her. Deborah understandably takes the bait and turns on her own mother. Eventually, father and daughter move out together after going to court and with a judge’s approval. It is then that more emotional confusion results forDeborah as she begins to see her father as he really is-not a particularly nice guy!

With hatred for her mother, disappointment in her dad, what is Deborah to do? She exists. She throws herself into her hobby of photography using her camera to capture her world at every turn. She joins a photography group, meets some radical people, and watches her dad move thorough women. Her camera becomes a type of buffer between the world and herself as Deborah tries to makes sense of what the camera sees in her own life.

While both parents are hard to appreciate with their sad behavior, Deborah is a likeable character. She is saucy and curious, often sad, angry or both. Like many a child of divorce, often she questions if she has done something wrong to cause all the problems in her family. In her world where the adults use her as a pawn in their own lives, Deborah somehow manages to be herself, to hang on to the spunk and plucky determination necessary to survive the tortuous world that adults around her have created.

Because I am an adult reader, I saw the parents’ sometimes psychotic behavior and understood how life might drive individuals to extreme. But a young reader would see only the chaos that came when parents revealed human imperfections and desperation to control their crumbling world. The world of divorce is a painful one and Shapiro experiences all the pain that many young readers will be able to identify with in the story. Both the language and story details are realistic and not always easy to hear. But the heroine does walk through fire to the other side showing young readers and victims of divorce that it can be done.

The 1970’s will be a trip to a new world for young readers; it will be a revisit to the past for older readers. Goldberg tosses in leisure suits, avocado kitchens, denim with multiple zippers, macramé purses (which she charmingly calls a pocketbook!), scenes of the Partridge Family, and 8 track tapes among other retro items for a brush with 1970 memories.

Beneath Deborah Shapiro’s gutsy language and struggles is something for young readers facing the same situation. The Divorce Girl would make a good book for discussion between young girls who are facing the ripping sensations of divorce and their parents or counselors.

For a chance to win a copy of The Divorce Girl by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, leave a comment below. Drawing on Friday, August 10th

Friday, August 3, 2012

Chilled Soup on a Hot Day

The sky was overcast, but the clouds were merely taunting and teasing. No rain. Despite the sun being hidden, the day was still over 100 degrees. Some of the Tai Chi and Tea gals decided to have lunch on a little road trip anyway. It wasn’t far and the clouds helped make us feel it was not burning outside.

We went to see Harry S. Truman’s birthplace in Lamar first. I had been there, but the others had not. Missouri school children learn about President Truman and his Missouri life. 

Note the chamber pot cover! And Harry's outhouse!

Harry Truman was born in this room.

I was born in Kansas, but still I knew a little about Ole Harry. A definitive biography by superb researcher David McCullough will reveal much about this president. Born in Lamar, his family later took him to a farm outside Grandview, Missouri near Kansas City. He and Bess returned to the area after his years in Washington, D.C.  He was an interesting man with humble beginnings who later shouldered the fate of the world with his decisions.

The home is small so it wasn’t a long tour. 

Then we went to the town square where a fairly new Victorian Tea Room served lunch. Sandy's Victorian Tea Room was wonderfully done, a real tea room. Too often places are labeled tea rooms but serve weak tea with no teaspoons to be seen or use Styrofoam cups. Yep, I am a tea snob on some things. Sandy’s Victorian Tea room has china cups and stemware. Tastefully decorated tables were mixed among some great shopping and gift items.  

The menu is typical tea room fare although there no quiche on the menu at the moment.