Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas Greetings

May you and yours be blessed this Christmas and during the coming year!

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Victorian Domestic Arts

Something which never fails to interest me is what everyday life, especially in the home, was like for people at different times in history.

The cooking stove to the left comes from the Victorian period. In my kitchen library I happen to have a reprint of a book originally published in 1879 titled Housekeeping in Old Virginia. Most of what the book contains is recipes. But in this book the author explains what is needed in a well equipped kitchen of the times. Funny thing is the author didn't mention a microwave. (wink).

Taken from this book:

"The furnishing of a kitchen is so important that I must here say a few words on the subject. First, the housekeeper must have a good stove or range, and it is well for her to have the dealer at hand when it is put up, to see that it draws well."

"Besides the utensils furnished with the range or stove, she must provide every kitchen utensil needed in cooking. She must have a kitchen safe, -- a bread block in the corner, furnished with a heavy iron beater; trays, sifters (with iron rims) steamers, colanders, porcelain preserving kettle, perforated skimmers and spoons, ladles, long-handled iron forks and spoons, sharp knives and skewers, graters, egg beaters (the Dover is the best), plenty of extra bread pans, dippers and tins of every kind, iron moulds for egg bread and muffins, wash pans, tea towels, bread towels, and hand towels, plates, knives, forks and spoons for use of the servants, a pepper box, salt box, and dredge box (filled), a match safe, and last, but not least, a clock."

"In cases where you cannot have cold and hot water conveyed into the kitchen, always keep on the stove a kettle of hot water, with a clean rag in it, in which all greasy dishes and kitchen utensils may be washed before being rinsed in the kitchen wash pan."

"Always keep your cook well supplied with soap, washing mops and coarse linen dish rags. I have noticed that if you hem the latter, servants are not so apt to throw them away. Insist on having each utensil cleaned immediately after being used. Have shelves and proper places to put each article, hooks to hang the spoons on, etc."

"If you cannot have an oil cloth on your kitchen floor, have it oiled and then it may be easily and quickly wiped over every morning. Once a week, have the kitchen and every article in it thoroughly cleaned. First clean the pipe of the stove, as the dust, soot and ashes fly over the kitchen and soil everything. Then take the stove to pieces, as far as practicable, cleaning each part, especially the bottom, as neglect of this will prevent the bread from baking well at the bottom. After the stove is thoroughly swept out, oven and all, apply stove polish. I consider "Crumbs of Comfort" the best preparation for this purpose. It comes in small pieces, each one of which is sufficient to clean the stove once, and is thus less apt to b wasted or thrown away by servants than stove polish that comes in a mass."

"Next remove everything from the kitchen safe and shelves, which must be scoured before replacing the utensils belonging to them, and these too must first be scoured, scalded, and wiped dry. Then wash the windows, and lastly the floor, scouring the latter unless it is oiled, in which case, have it merely wiped over."

"Never let a servant take up ashes in a wooden vessel. Keep a sheet-iron pan or scuttle for that purpose. At night, always have the water buckets filled with water and also the kettles, setting the latter on the stove or range, in case of sickness or any emergency during the night. Have kindling wood at hand also, so that a fire may be quickly made, if needed."

So there you have it ladies. If ever you should acquire a Victorian kitchen in the future, you will know how to equip it and keep it clean. If ever you should acquire a Victorian kitchen, I hope and pray you have servants to go along with it. Looked like a lot of work to me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Let us all be thankful for each other.


Friday, August 18, 2006

RASCALS, INC. - Part One

(Cousin Jimmy and me)

As I said in my preview post, my parents and my aunt and uncle opened the 54 Diner shortly after WWII ended. My cousin Jimmy and I were about six years old at the time and had not started school yet. Since all the adults were busy serving customers, supervising Jimmy and me was a challenge for them. Jimmy's sister Betty, who was four years older than us, was expected to watch us when she wasn't in school. But Betty preferred twirling her baton and playing her accordion instead.

With little supervision and not much to do (we lived in the dark ages...no TV, no Nintendo, no computer games, and only a handful of toys) Jimmy and I had plenty of reason to get into trouble. This is when Rascals, Inc. was launched. It turned out to be a huge success! Years later after the shock had subsided, the family gave our escapades rave reviews. They became the centerpiece of the family lore.

The restaurant was on Route 54 just north of Kankakee, Illinois. Right behind the restaurant was Aunt Sue and Uncle Art's house, their garage, and the chicken coop where they kept laying hens for the eggs they could supply the restaurant. Behind all of that was a corn field. Up the road from the restaurant a little was Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market where Jimmy and I spent many memorable moments tormenting Mr. Divit by mauling his fruits and vegetables with our dirty hands.

To say that Mr. Divit was not fond of Jimmy and me is an understatement. Judging from the expression on his face whenever we showed up, I'd say we caused the hair on the back of his neck to bristle. To add to our unpopularity at Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market, it still was not clear in our young minds that you just don't help yourself to a banana or an apple in a store without paying for it. Otherwise, we were fast learners. We quickly learned that Mr. Divit would usually shoo us home as soon as he saw us. So, we learned to be sneaky about our arrival so that we could nose around all those fascinating fruits and vegetables as long as possible before Mr. Divit discovered us.

The metal roof of the Divit's store was low and slanted so that the rain would roll off. Alongside the building was an assortment of interesting things including an inviting stack of wooden crates that seemed to whisper "Come. Climb me."

The sky was clear on the day the rumbling started at Divit's Fruit and Vegetable Market. It was intermittent, and to Mr. Divit it surely must have sounded like a cross between thunder and B52 Bombers flying overhead. At first he thought it must be a thunderstorm coming. But when he looked outside, there was not a cloud in sight and no darkness on the horizon. He began to worry that it might be his furnace. He checked it out. But it was okay. Then he began to get concerned about his refrigeration units. Maybe they were going bad. But there was nothing wrong with them either.

The rumbling continued. Mr. Divit ran outside to take another look at the sky. Still not a cloud was in sight. I am sure by then he was scratching his head and beginning to question his mental health.

Finally, he decided to get up on his roof and check it out as the rumbling was indeed coming from directly overhead. So, he got a ladder and leaned it up against the building and climbed up it. And what to his wandering eyes should appear, but Jimmy and me. We were squatted down on his metal roof and rolling a pop bottle back and forth to each other.

It would be the last time we fiddled around on top of Mr. Divit's roof and a long time before we would be allowed to return to his fruit and vegetable market.

To be continued.............

Monday, August 07, 2006

Coming Soon - Rascals, Inc.

Trouble and Trouble-ette
(Cousin Jimmy and me)

World War II had just ended when our parents decided to become restauranteurs and open The 54 Diner. Rascals, Inc. came into existence shortly afterwards. It was the natural outcome of giving two six-year-olds complete freedom nearly to do exactly what they pleased while the parents worked the whole day long dishing up food for hungry truckers.

Although our antics produced no permanent harm to anyone and we all made it out of that period of time alive, it is not a pretty story. Certainly it is not a story that children 13 and under should read.

The ugly details are coming soon. But don't hold your breath; I'm a busy woman lately!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Fourth of July

I am late with this post due to computer problems. But I wanted to say a few things about America before the day is over.

I love America. To me it is an idea that became a nation of people from all over the world. As Americans we have no tie to any one particular ethnic group. We are a conglomerate of ethnic groups. This makes America and Americans special in this world of many nations.

Today my husband and I enjoyed an afternoon at Cantigny Park. We spread our blanket out under some large trees and feasted on a picnic lunch while we listened to the band playing and watched people from all sorts of ethnic groups strolling across the large open lawn between us and the band. It was an American afternoon on a very special American day.

Ending on a light note, America is a young nation. This really hit home when my husband reminded me that he and I have been around more than one fourth as long as this nation. Ha! He just had to tell me that.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, June 30, 2006

With Abandon

With abandon I go
Into the Sweet Night
Feeling my way along
Trusting the Dark
Tasting its fruit
Waiting for Dawn to break
And fill me with Light

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day, Daddy

The little boy in the above photo is my Daddy when he was about five years old. I am telling on him today. I have every reason to believe that he is going to get a chuckle, too, out of my telling on him. He loved to laugh.

Daddy was about five years old when he set the chicken coop on fire on the family farm. He was probably standing right there next to that very tree as his father passed by him going back and forth bringing pails of water to the chicken coop in an effort to put out the fire. According to the story, every time Grandpa passed by Daddy, he mumbled some choice words to him which I am reluctant to put in writing. But a mumbled tongue lashing was no doubt the extent of Daddy's punishment for setting the chicken coop on fire, because he was an only child and I think Grandma and Grandpa sort of spoiled him. In other words they spared the rod.

I don't think he ever received a spanking even though he probably deserved a few. In spite of being spoiled, he turned out to be a decent man and never again did he set a chicken coop on fire.

Daddy passed away from cancer in October, 2000. When I think of him I remember how much he loved to laugh. He was always full of jokes. Every time I visited him either in person or on the phone, he had a joke or two to tell me. They weren't good jokes either, in his opinion, unless they were slightly off color.

But the thing that really sticks in my mind about Daddy is how real he was. When he died, a friend of his said to me, "Your dad was a genuine article." I began to think about it and I realized that what the friend meant was that Daddy was real and human. There was nothing fake about him. He was honest in every way. He was not given to pretense. He was outspoken. If he had an opinion, you learned about it. He did not try to hide his emotions. He was unable to do that. If he was sad, you knew it. If he was happy, you knew it. If he was angry, you knew that too.

There was one time in particular when Daddy got angry during dinner. My sister and I still laugh about. It had to do with butter and its proper place on the dinner table. As it happened, my sister and I were in the habit of reaching for the butter dish, taking a slice of it for our bread, then keeping the butter dish right next to our plate. Well, Daddy got fed up with having to hunt down the butter dish each time he wanted some and, so, one day he blurted out angrily, "PUT THE BUTTER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE TABLE!" Immediately, we all burst into laughter including Daddy.

Daddy was not a deep thinker who wrestled with philosophical problems. I remember trying to engage him in conversation one time about the Holy Eucharist and whether or not it really was the body and blood of our Lord as the Catholic church claims. Daddy's response more or less was, "I have never been a very good Catholic." End of discussion.

Since Daddy was so obvious with his emotions, I learned from him how to get angry and then get over it. I learned that it was okay to get angry sometimes...even about butter. I learned that you were not a big sinner for getting angry. His anger was short lived. The sun never set on his anger. This kept him out of a lot of trouble. If in that emotional state, he ended up saying something hurtful, there was a flood of apologies that followed in short order. So, I learned that I could say sorry when I hurt someone with my words. I learned I could ask for forgiveness, and all of that was good.

Daddy had a rich emotional life I think because he allowed his emotions to flow. He did not try to bottle them up. Consequently, he was able to empathize and feel what the other person was feeling. This made him compassionate. One time after my boyfriend broke up with me, I was feeling a lot of emotional pain and was crying my heart out to Daddy about the break-up. There wasn't anything that Daddy could do to mend the situation. He knew that. But he did the most compassionate thing a person can do when trying to comfort another in pain. He sat down on the sofa next to me and placed his arm around my shoulder. Then he cried with me. We both sat there for the longest time crying together. I will never forget that tender moment.

Daddy was a family man who insisted that we adhere to certain rules of conduct as a family. For instance, he was a stickler about everyone sitting down to eat dinner at the same time. You were not allowed to dilly-dally in front of the TV, or in earlier times listen to your favorite radio program, and be late for dinner. No one was allowed to start eating till everyone was there. And dinner had to be served promptly at...well, I have forgotten the exact time it had to be served. And, of course, the butter had to be kept in the middle of the table.

I could tell you so much more about this lovely man who in his prime resembled Dean Martin only Daddy was much more handsome.

Daddy loved his family. He loved Mother. He adored Mother. He fought with Mother. But that was because he had a rich emotional life. He loved my sister and me, too. He loved all his grandchildren. When he died, almost all of us were there crowded around his bed in his small bedroom at the moment of his death.

There was an aura about that Sunday afternoon when he died. You sensed the presence of his parents coming to bring their only child over to the other side. You sensed the presence of something supernatural, something rare and unearthly. You sensed the Divine, the Christ. You sensed the spirit of God in that room, in that house by the river's edge.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

I remember Mother and the four-gored skirt!

I remember many things about Mother. I remember the floral drapes and sofa slip cover she made for the living room in my first childhood home. I was about seven at the time.

I remember that she always insisted she was incapable of making decent pie crust, but she took great pride in her cakes. She loved angel food cakes. She made many of them much to my disappointment as I loved devil's food cakes.

I remember her contagious laugh and how Daddy would tickle her, sometimes chasing her around the house in order to tickle her, just so he could hear her laugh. He called her Butch back then. Why I don't know.

I remember that she did not like dogs in the house, but she put up with them, one after another, dog hair and all, to please Daddy, my sister and me. We three loved dogs.

I remember the time Mother made matching dresses for my sister, me and herself. I remember how proud she was of them. Then there was the four-gored skirt that she made. For some reason memories of that four-gored skirt have surfaced in my mind on this Mother's Day.

I was about eleven when I joined 4-H. My project for the County Fair that summer was to make a four-gored skirt. Either Mother lost patience with me as I fidgeted with the four-gored skirt and her treadle sewing machine, or I lost interest in the four-gored skirt and her treadle sewing machine. Anyway, she ended up doing most of the sewing of the four-gored skirt. She was ever so proud of her sewing accomplishment, too, and she was most confident that the four-gored skirt would receive the much sought after blue ribbon at the County Fair.

When the four-gored skirt did not receive the much sought after blue ribbon, Mother sulked about it for a good month. She could not understand how a four-gored skirt put together by an adult who knew how to sew would not qualify for the much sought after blue ribbon intended for children. I can imagine that, as a way of comforting herself, she might have entertained the thought that the 4-H competition at the County Fair was in fact rigged.

What would youngsters do if their mothers never pitched in at the last minute and covertly finish for their child that science project for school or that 4-H project for the County Fair? What would we do without our moms to take over?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Guest Contributor - Sharon Robinson

Introduction: Sharon and I have been good friends ever since we met in a creative writing class back in the 1970's in Southern Illinois. Although I moved away a few years after we met, we have kept in touch with each other. Currently Sharon is working on her grandmother's biography. It was my privilege recently to read an excerpt from it about a famous tornado her grandmother witnessed as a youngster in 1925.

Sharon has been writing poetry and short stories for many years. She has a knack for taking ordinary things, such as dried Lima beans, and instilling them with meaning. She admits that her poem about dried Lima beans has "hidden" meaning which she hopes will manifest itself if the poem is read slowly and thoughtfully. So, read it slowly and thoughtfully then tell us what you think about it.

Sharon Robinson

Dried Lima beans...in an old...blue...quart...Mason jar.
They were displayed...on the cabinet
.........just for decoration.

A long time.... they had been....in my grandmother's jar.
I am not....particularly fond
.........of dried lima beans.

For almost 24 hours...they soaked...in the refrigerator.
I knew these..."now old"...Lima beans
.........might be "dried out."

They started on high...and cooked...on low...now five hours.
The thought of... "slightly soft"...was...in reality
......... "hard as a rock."

I should have given...those dried Lima beans...to my mother
...years go. I should have displayed...Great Northern
...in my grandmother's ...old...blue..............Mason jar.

I was...,once upon a time,...fond of Great Northern
....flavored with a ham bone. They would not have..."become old,"
..."dried out," ..........and "hard as a rock."

Now, those Great Northern beans...in the jar...are
NEW...ready to soak and cook.
I am fond of...Great Northern beans...
cooked with an onion...
and served with

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Why I believe in the Resurrection

Darius, who left a comment regarding my Easter Greetings post, wants to know why I believe in the Resurrection.

I can't give him scientific reasons as to why. I can't provide a philosophical argument to justify my belief, and Christian Apologetics is beyond my scope of knowledge. What I would tell him resides in my heart.

Yesterday in the Catholic tradition, my grandson Nikolas received his First Communion. He was one among several children to receive it that day.

According to the ritual of the Mass, the bread and the wine were presented to the priest to be blessed and transformed into the body and blood of our Lord. One of the communicants, a little girl, carried the bread and Nikolas carried the wine down the long aisle to the priest who waited at the altar. Even though he was apprehensive, Nikolas carried the glass vessel of wine carefully and cautiously with respect. He did it with dignity and import. He displayed an emerging sense of the Sacred.

His success is meaningful to me for reasons that reside in my heart.

So it is with the Resurrection. I believe in it for reasons that reside in my heart, Darius. And one of those reasons is my grandson Nikolas.

In the words of Pascal, "The heart has its reasons that reason does not know at all."

Friday, March 24, 2006

Whirling Wind

I sit in the dark........

I hear the wind blowing......

It hugs my house....... I know it is hoping
To find a slit through which it can ooze and sing
To me
Its Anthem of Truths

Oh! Woo me whirling wind of the ages!

Persuade me with the wisdom of sages!

And I will fly with you through the night
Through the sky......
....Till the world
.....Is washed
.....With Light


Monday, March 13, 2006

Little Orvalette

AGE 8 (approx.)

"I won't actually hit you. I promise." This was roughly what her older brother Paul said to little Orvalette when he was trying to coax her that first time into putting on boxing gloves and sparring with him in the attic of their Illinois home. I can see her reluctantly trailing behind brother Paul up the steps to the dimly lit attic with its musty smells and collection of cobwebs that swayed in the draft.

Paul didn't mean to hurt her. He had good intentions. He would not have hurt her on purpose. But with all that weaving from side to side and dancing about like a pro, he must have gotten caught up in the moment, because he bopped her on either the chin or the nose and, with that, their first sparring match ended abruptly. Unfortunately, Orvalette was gullible and trusting. So, a few more sparring matches followed with always the same empty promise made beforehand "I promise this time. I won't hit you....". Finally, after receiving enough unintentional jabs from the left and from the right, she learned her lesson. She learned that you can't believe everything your brother tells you even when you want to. Orvalette gave up boxing for good.

The youngest of seven children, Orvalette was born in 1922 in the hills of Kentucky. She started out in life as a hillbilly. As an adult, she used to joke about being a hillbilly, but at the same time she was embarrassed by it. Her parents were hill people. They knew folklore and folk songs and folk remedies. Her mother was married by age 14. Both her parents were uneducated having gone no further than the third grade. Yet, they managed to acquire the life skills they needed to make a living and get along.

When she was a baby, Orvalette nearly died. She contracted an intestinal disorder that threatened her life. The only nourishment she would accept was buttermilk. The doctor and everyone else warned her mother that the buttermilk would make the child's condition worse. In spite of the warnings, her mother fed Orvalette the buttermilk anyway. She decided that if the child was doomed to die it would not be on an empty stomach. Orvalette did not die. She recovered. Was it the buttermilk that was responsible for Orvalette's miraculous recovery, or was it the magic of her mother's nurturing? I lean toward the latter.

Living was hard for Orvalette's family in the hills of Kentucky in those times. Laundry day for Orvalette's mother involved hauling water up from the creek, which was some distance from their house, and heating the water in a big kettle over a fire built outside in the yard. In spite of hardships like this one, her mother was a clean woman who was so meticulous about it that she would sweep away the dust that accumulated on the bare, hard clay soil in that yard.

Switchings were the preferred method of disciplining a naughty child back then in the hills of Kentucky. Orvalette was no exception. When she was naughty, which is hard to believe she ever was, her mother would send Orvalette outside to find a switch. She would return with the smallest switch she could possibly find only to be sent back outside to look for one that was sturdy. In those days, switchings were considered necessary and part of being a good parent.

Orvalette's family moved from Kentucky to northern Illinois when she was about six years old. Shortly after they moved to Illinois, she was playing outside in their front yard when a Catholic priest walked by. He stopped to chat with her. As the story goes, he asked her "Are you Catholic?" Orvalette replied, "No, I'm English American." Apparently she had never been exposed to Catholics and did not know the meaning of the word. Later on in life, she fell in love with a Catholic, married him, and became a Catholic herself.

As a child, Orvalette liked to comb her father's hair. She would stand behind him while he sat in a chair and she would comb his hair and sing to him. She sang That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine. Gene Autry wrote that song. It was popular during the early 1930's. Orvalette would have been nine or ten at the time.

Orvalette's father had a pet name for her. He called her Dinktum which is from the folk song Teedle Dinktum Dinktum Day. He also had the annoying habit of flicking her on the head with his index finger. He thought he was being affectionate, but she thought it hurt.

We take for granted the abundance of food that exists today. It is not uncommon today to allow the last few oranges in the fruit bowl to shrivel up, or to neglect those last few oranges in the refrigerator bin until they grow moldy. But when Orvalette was a child, an orange was something children might discover to their delight in their stocking on Christmas morning.

Since her mother was from the hills of Kentucky, Orvalette probably ate plenty of beans and cornbread as a child. In addition to that, she probably feasted on biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, black-eyed peas, and wilted greens. But her mother's signature dish, which she would have prepared on Sunday for the family, was chicken and dumplings.

Sugar was inexpensive during the Depression years while Orvalette was growing up. So to satisfy everyone's sweet tooth in the family, Orvalette's mother would have made plenty of fruit cobblers. She would have used the fruit she canned herself. She would have brought the sugared fruit to a low boil and dropped dumpling strips into it. That was her version of fruit cobbler.

The radio entertained families at home when Orvalette was a child. She would have had her ears glued to the radio back then and she would have listened to such popular radio shows as Amos and Andy, Fibber McGee and Molly, George Burns and Gracy Allen, The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, and The Shadow. Fibber McGee's trademark was his closet which was packed with everything under the sun. Each time the closet door was opened during the program then, the radio audience could hear the clatter of things falling helter-skelter out of the closet onto the floor. It must have enlivened the imagination of a child. The expression "Fibber McGee's closet" became popular. As an adult Orvalette used that expression when describing a closet that might be in that much disarray.

Orvalette would have gone to the movie theater as a child during the Twenties and seen silent movies featuring such greats as Charlie Chaplin. Once sound arrived, she would have seen It Happened One Night with Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable which came out in 1934.

By the time Orvalette was twelve years old, she knew how to drive a car. At that age she was chauffeuring her parents around who never did learn how to drive a car.

Once she became a teenager, Orvalette did what other teenagers did during the Thirties. Since money was an issue back then, a date might be nothing more than the boy and girl going to the drug store in town, sitting at the soda fountain there, and sharing an ice cream soda. Often teenagers double-dated and took in a movie if they had the money. If they really had the money, they might get a hamburger after the show. Money or not, necking was not unknown to teenagers in those days.

Due to the Depression, children were forced to grow up fast back then. After her sophomore year in high school, Orvalette quit school and went to work. Just a month or so shy of being 17, she got married. A year later I was born.


Sunday, March 12, 2006

"Moi" Knows Best

If everyone would just do as I say
If everything would just go my way
If others would just think like me
What a happy world this would surely be

For I know best how things should go
How things should work, how things should flow
What folks should think, well, I know best
I know best more than all the rest

If only folks would think like me
If only they would act like me
If only they would BE like me
What a perfect world this would surely be

St. Moi

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Gift

I could not have been more surprised by what I pulled out of my coat pocket that winter night years ago as I sat on the back steps of the old farm house with Norton and Tasha.

(We make a mistake when we underestimate an animal's capacity to love and its desire to express that love.)

Years ago while I was visiting my younger daughter, Margaret, shortly after her second child was born, I became friends with a small dog. She was an affectionate pup with floppy ears and brown eyes that seemed to speak volumes. My granddaughter who was about two years old then had named the dog Norton.

Margaret and her husband were renting an old farm house at the time. I had gone there to help her with the children.

Each night, and sometimes during the day, I would take a break, bundle up, and go outside to sit on the back steps and relax. It wasn't long before Norton the dog and Tasha the cat would appear from out of nowhere to join me and keep me company.

Out there in the cold night the three of us would huddle together like bosom buddies on the back steps of the old farm house. The crisp cold air felt good against my cheeks which were usually flushed from working inside the warm house. In the distance by the barn was the yard light which created an illuminated oasis in the otherwise pitch darkness of the night.

The deep silence of the country intensified the sounds of the night so much that no sound went unnoticed. During my visit a thin crust of snow covered the ground and revealed clumps of brown grass here and there prepared to green up with the arrival of spring.

It will not surprise fellow animal lovers to learn that it felt quite natural to me to talk to Norton and Tasha about all sorts of things out there on the steps in the seclusion of the country.

Norton seemed especially attentive to my every word. She would tip her head from side to side as if to hear me better. She'd wag her tail as if to say she understood what I was talking about. However, Tasha, being an independent cat, would slip off now and then into the night to hunt for field mice, I assumed. This left Norton and me alone together to grow closer to one another.

In no time, a friendship developed between Norton and me. Something magical took over and transformed this dog and this human into kindred spirits who were sharing a small slice of life together. I could have told Norton practically anything. I could have unburdened my soul to this dog, and I swear she would have understood.

One night toward the end of my visit with my daughter and her family, I was sitting outside on the steps with Norton and Tasha when all of a sudden Norton jumped off the steps and ran off toward the barn. She was gone for about 10 minutes.

When Norton returned she hopped up onto the steps alongside me and immediately dropped something into the gaping pocket of my coat. It startled me. What in the world...I thought.

Norton's enthusiasm was obvious as she waited for me to react. Cautiously with my gloves on I reached down into my pocket and pulled the object out. I took it to the light that was pouring through the kitchen window nearby and looked down at what laid in the palm of my hand. I could not have been more surprised by what I saw.

Gradually, as I stood there in the light staring at the object, it occurred to me that this might be a gift from Norton. Perhaps she had given me something she thought, in her doggie mind, I would like and appreciate. I became convinced that it was her way of expressing her affections for me.

When I finally turned around to show Norton my gratitude, I found that the small dog had disappeared into the night.

A day or so later when it was time for me to leave and head home, I said goodbye to Margaret and her family. I said goodbye to Tasha the cat. I said goodbye to the small dog who had given me so much.

I will always treasure the memory of Norton and her humble gift. I will always be grateful for the brief friendship I had with her and the time we spent together on the back steps of the old farm house.

(In case you have not guessed already what it was that Norton dropped in my pocket that night, you can find out by going....Here.)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Sarah Turns Two

And there's that Nana helping little Sarah blow out her two candles.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Our Snow Angel

(Double click for large view)

Take a look at this beauty. That's our buddy Max playing in the snow early this morning. He is still wearing his Christmas bandana around his neck that he got from the groomer. I need to throw that thing in the wash.

I'll have to tell you about Max someday and how we adopted him through Collie Rescue. I'll have to tell you how we can't say the word "walk" within earshot of Max without his going crazy with excitement.

Sometime I'll have to tell you how Max thinks he should be in the bathroom with my hubby and me when we are putting on our jammies at night and getting ready for bed. Our bathroom is not small, but when you get two people in it plus a big dog roaming about, the space gets a little cramped.

I'll have to tell you someday how Max hides when he knows we are about to leave the house to go somewhere and about to put him in the utility room. He thinks if he is out of sight, he is out of mind. Well, he would like the run of the house in our absence so that he can get into things while we are gone. We know what is on his mind.

Sometime soon, I will tell you how much Max loves his daily treat of a slice of Roman Meal bread. In the morning he follows me around the kitchen relentlessly until I give in and get him his slice of bread. Then he leaves me alone about it unless he hears the bread wrapper rustling later in the day. He could be at the farthest end of the house and still be able to hear the rustling of the bread wrapper.

What a dog! I'll have to tell you about him sometime.


We woke this morning to trees weighted down with snow and sparkling in the morning sun. Here are a few shots my hubby took of this winter wonderland.

(double click for a large view)

Scenes like these are what make winter tolerable.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Canvas Mural - Garden Scene

(double click for a larger view)

My artist son painted this canvas mural for one of his clients. He has done Trompe L'oeil and murals for several clients in the Chicago area. I will be featuring his work here from time to time. Enjoy!