Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Closures

It is Labor Day Weekend and that means things are beginning to change to oranges and burgundy shades now. When I was a child, it meant end of summer and beginning of school. Now school starts much earlier. DH and I rarely travel on this busy holiday, but hunker close to home feeling the change in seasons as if it were a mantle laid over our shoulders. It is still warm out, in fact, it is hot and steamy. The sky has haziness to it, like a layer of summer dirt has rested over the sun waiting for a clean wash from autumnal rains.

After 30 years, our garage door opener gave out so DH has been replacing both sides. It has been slow due to health and heat.  But today it is done and now clean up begins. While buying the openers, I saw a clearance sale on fountains. I have had a wooden one DH made on the deck. It was nothing pretty…just all we have had for years. Now I have a real one, a small waterfall really. I love sitting there with my tea pot early in the mornings listening to the water dance across the rocks. I can shut my eyes and be by any stream I have or have not seen in my lifetime…and all without worrying about a bear biting my behind!

Thanks to Martha at Lines from Linderhof ( our lunch was a Shady Gables chicken salad and tomato spice bread. Shady Gables is a wonderful English tea room in Missouri that we once visited, and the salad has both apple and onion in it. The tomato bread is a lovely autumnal crimson shade made from end of the season tomatoes. Email me if you would like the recipes.

Happy Labor Day to all my readers!

Monday, August 25, 2014

August Is Passing!

This morning I noticed how dark it was at 6 a.m. It felt like the middle of the night instead of a time for dawn. I read in my chair a while before starting the kettle. Then Miss Biscuit and I took our tea tray outside where it was so obviously a late week in August.  The wrens were gone; the hummers had begun to migrate and hit the disappointment of red geraniums before moving on; the verbenas had yellow leaves and marigolds were drying up. The crickets were singing, reminding us that autumn was coming. Spiders were spinning webs from deck posts to flower pots.  The summer was passing right before my eyes.

While early mornings whisper autumn, a few hours later summer’s force lets us know he hasn’t gone yet. Temperatures are so hot that breathing is a challenge. Sweat pours off our skins with any exertion. Lunch is no longer pleasant on the deck so we retreat to the kitchen for cool salads using the last of the tomatoes. Afternoon means a “sit down” in recliners with books.  Evenings might be (boring) television because the air still burns the skin, and then there are the “no seeums” which blister my bare legs and ankles being a high price to be outside at dusk.

This afternoon I looked through a book that did not live up to my expectations. Consider the Fork: a History of How We Cook and Eat by Bee Wilson is packed full of facts, but something about the presentation left me uninspired. The one chapter on spoons was more interesting than most. There was quite a variety of spoons such as bone or pearl spoons for eating soft boiled eggs since egg yolk tarnished silver. There was also some info on silver marrow spoons. The 18th century Georgians had a fondness for bone marrow and a special spoon for digging it out was useful. But the most interesting was the development of the teaspoon in the 17th century when the English began adding milk and sugar to their tea cups. The teaspoon moved from being just for tea service to the dining table.

The summer has slipped by fast. After winter woes and spring situations, summer has been loaded with issues too. September looks inviting at the moment. I can hope that this year will end with some good things maybe. I am ready for cooler air….some writing….some walks…some pleasant moments outside other than just morning tea. I pulled my Cranberry Autumn tea out this morning, but I thought, “No, not yet. It will be savored more in a week or two when real autumn arrives.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Please Meet Ernie Pyle

When I started teaching writing lab, I had never heard of Ernie Pyle. I had done a lot of WWII reading, and I was familiar with Bill Mauldin who drew famous cartoons and Andy Rooney who reported for newspapers during the war. So I was pleasantly surprised when our textbook had us study Ernie Pyle for writing clear details. My students knew little about WWII and thought war was some glorious Rambo romp. So I was thrilled to see them learn writing but also take a realistic look at war through this journalist’s eyes.

Pyle grew up in the flatlands of Middle America among the corn fields of Indiana. Last fall as we drove to Kentucky, I caught sight of a small sign near Dana, Indiana that mentioned Ernie Pyle’s home. I had DH put on the brakes! Dana itself was only a spot in the road surrounded by an ocean of corn. But there was a beautiful white house next to two Quonset huts serving as a museum. Unfortunately they were closed. But this month on a return to Kentucky, we routed ourselves right by Dana again to visit the Ernie Pyle Home and Museum.

Ernie Pyle was an only child. The home was moved into town from the farm where he grew up. It is reminiscent of all homes of the 1920 or so era. His mother pushed Ernie to get an education, and after graduating from college, Ernie went to work as a newspaper reporter. The rest is history. He never intended to cover war, but the work swallowed him and became his life for a few years. His approach was slightly different. He looked for the untold details, for the aftermath and suffering to humans that war cost. He was on the beach after the invasion of Normandy and painted pictures for readers not of gunfire or dead bodies but of letters from a mom covered in sand, an open Bible marked with favorite verses, a cigarette lighter, a dog lost and looking for the man he knew….heartbreaking details that moved readers beyond belief.

He never was a soldier but he lived a soldier’s life right with the armies. He was with infantry troops and lived their own rugged life. Pyle covered all of the war and wanted to quit, but one last venue remained. He had not covered the Pacific and there were still Americans fighting on islands. He wanted to give them coverage too. So he went. It was there that 44 year old Ernie Pyle was shot down and died.

                     Imagine a small boy doing his homework here while his mother peeled  apples or 
             canned corn. The kitchen was the center of activity for the Depression era homes.

Depression Era bedroom in the Pyle farm home. Note the quilt. Each block is a signed one. People paid a quarter to sign a block and then the church ladies quilted it and put the quilt up for raffle. They made $200 which was a load of money at the time. 

In Dana, Indiana you can tour his childhood home. The two Quonset huts are a delightful museum of his war life. There are constant running sound effects that one would have heard if they had stood in Pyle’s shoes during WWII. The sound of fighter pilots, bombers, exploding firepower, and grenades going off are not gruesome but so amazingly authentic that it adds to the museum experience. This museum is a tribute to a journalist, but also to a war hero too. It is so worth your time to visit here, and although it once was a state site, now it is run by the Friends of Ernie Pyle. They struggle to keep the doors open, but honoring a hero is always a good thing. We need more of them to look up to and to remember.

DH is never surprised anymore when I drag him off the beaten path. This time he thought “just another writer” site. But when the car pulled away he told me he was SO glad he saw this place and learned about Ernie Pyle. I definitely will be reading more about Pyle’s life, and I bet DH will too!  

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Short and Troubled Road Trip

                                 Beauty of Kentucky while rain was stopped!

The Ruby Slipper has not been much of a recreational vehicle the last seven months. Instead she has been a real work horse and with more loads to come. Soon we will move my sister and help her start a new life.

What should have been a pleasure trip last week to see our kids turned into a real trial. Sickness, heavy rain, wrong turns, wrecks on the interstate slowing traffic to a standstill in the wet, lost clear down into a corn field when a bridge was out, no phone service, and a lot of other bits and pieces turned the trip into a challenge. But there were at least three small areas out of the five days that will be worth keeping in the memory bag.
           1. We saw the Ernie Pyle home and museum in Dana, Indiana. We had spotted it last fall when we went to Kentucky, but then it was closed. So this trip we went that way again and made sure it was a Friday when we got there. Great stuff to be shared at a later date.

2                                                   Ernie Pyle home in Dana, Indiana
            2.  We saw our grandbabies who are now 3 and 5, who have grown a bunch since last October! On Saturday we went to a petting zoo and on a picnic. PawPa built with Legos; Grammie taught about eggs and cheese!





      3.  On the way home, we pulled off the interstate and drove right up to The Hill in St. Louis. Here sits a lovely old Italian community. GPS helped us find a favorite Italian grocery store. We limited ourselves to one stop as we needed to move on another four hours to home. But I loaded up on frozen handmade raviolis of various kinds and some spinach cannoli too. Our whole backend of the Ruby Slipper was Italian. 

      Although it was early, we drove by Rigazzi’s, an Italian eatery we had never been to before and saw it was already open for lunch. What luck and we stopped. We learned Al Capone was arrested while eating here in the wooly days of gangsters. 

      Wonderful food here!!!  We had toasted raviolis and then manicotti and chicken with risotto, along with powerhouse garlic bread. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Friday Fictioneers/Genealogy

Please read Rochelle and rules for picture prompt at:

My picture story comes in at 98 words this week. 


The trees had taken over the German structure like aging hands wringing a hanky. Walls crumbled and branches reached through broken glass. Geneva thought of the relatives she never knew. Felt them reaching for her across time just like branch fingers.

Ben’s voice broke her thoughts vibrating her back to the moment, “You’re so white. Feeling okay?”

She looked at her sliver bracelet embossed with feathers and thunderclouds. She felt turquoise stones framed in the cross at her neck. As a Catholic, as an Indian, she wouldn’t have been desirable. She shuddered remembering all sides of her forefathers.