Thursday, May 30, 2013

Echoes of Savannah

So I've been adventuring in Savannah again. That makes two times in as many weeks, and I haven't even yakked about the first trip yet.  I'm sure you've all been hanging on the edge of your seats waiting.

This purpose of this second trip was actually practical rather than whimsical. It started at the  Savannah/Hilton Head Airport.

 Guess who's coming to dinner...

If you guessed the Practical One, you would be correct. I drove to Savannah to retrieve her yesterday, and this afternoon, I'll drive her 60 miles in the other direction to Augusta to be a bridesmaid in a wedding.

I have exactly one more day to spend with her.

In lieu of a post about my recent Savannah adventures, I thought I would venture back three years into the echo chamber and repost my first post about Savannah. instead. To the half dozen people still around who have read this, my apologies.

To the new friends who haven't,  
Welcome to Savannah.

If I'm asked one question more than any other about Savannah, it's this one:
How does it compare to Charleston?

Well, I love them both, and I highly recommend a visit to each, especially when kids are old enough to enjoy the history. They are similar, true, but they are not really identical.

I guess I would sum up the difference this way:
Charleston is a city with great character.
Savannah, on the other hand, is a city with great characters.

Savannah is full of legends, and it gets a new legend with each generation.

Spanish moss covered live oak trees line just about every street in the Old Savannah, whether residential, commercial, or historic. I’ve enjoyed just about every version of the Savannah tour, and the legends of the mossy stuff vary about as much as the modes of tourist transport. Basically, every legend includes a maiden, a suitor, and an unfortunate hair snagging incident.

In truth? It’s just an hairy distant cousin to the pineapple which may or may not be infested with red bugs depending on whom you ask. I personally wouldn’t recommend eating it or sleeping on it, but that’s just me…

The Waving Girl

Florence Martus was the unmarried sister to the lighthouse keeper on a nearby Island who waved to greet every shipevery day, for 44 years. During the day, she waved a white cloth. At night, she waved a lantern.

Legend says that she was waiting for her long lost love, a sailor who never returned from sea, but there has never been any evidence to support that. Personally, I wonder if she might have just been a little odd and in need of a hobby. Today, she would probably blog all about it.

Tomo- Chi-Chi’s Grave

If you believe the 4,789 Savannah ghost stories, you will not want to visit Wright Square at night. It's the grave site of Tomo-Chi-Chi, a Yamacraw chief critical to the settlement of Savannah. Actually, that monument behind the marker is not his grave site.

It's really this big rock. 

Legend says that if you run around his grave three times and ask, “Tomo-Chi-Chi, what’s for supper?” he will appear with the answer. I once took a group of 6th graders on the Savannah tour who insisted on trying to conjure up the hungry native. I have no idea whether he appeared or not. My eyes were closed.

The Olde Pink House

This is an absolutely lovely old home which is now a wonderful restaurant. The husband and I went there once on an anniversary. The thing that I did NOT like about it is that the restrooms are located downstairs in the historic creepy old tavern. During dinner, I ventured down there out of necessity, but could not turn the knob on the ladies’ room door.

So I waited…
and waited… and waited.
Then, I tried the knob again. It still wouldn't budge.
Finally, I knocked on the door, but no one ever answered.

Years later, I heard the legend of the Olde Pink House According to legend, it is inhabited by a mischievous ghostie whose favorite haunt is that very ladies' room. Apparently, women claim to feel someone touching their hair and blowing in their ears. Upon trying to leave, they find themselves locked in by a knob that will not turn.

No wonder I have a complex.
 I am the only woman of record  to be locked out
 by a dirty old ghost.

There are so many more, but this post is way too long.

 However, I probably should answer the other most commonly asked question about Savannah.
It's about this place:

Legend has it that this place is inhabited by a silver-haired southern lady
who is the biggest character of them all.
  Apparently, you'll know her when you see her.
She cackles… and then tosses butter willy nilly into every pot.

Personally, I think that last one is a bit far fetched,
but stranger things have happened in Savannah...

(Possibly) sharing this tomorrow at Oh! The Places I've Been!

Monday, May 27, 2013

They Will Not Rest Though Poppies Grow

I'm ashamed to say that in the town where I live now, Memorial Day is nothing more than a three day weekend known for BBQ and retail sales. Aside from some flags here and there, it might pass with no remembrance at all. 

But  thirty country miles away,  my hometown remembers.  There, they mark the names of the fallen with crosses.  

They start on the north end of Main Street
and line the road every twenty feet or so, 
all the way out of town. 

Cross after cross and cross.  

Some decorated with flowers from a family member.

All decorated with flags from a grateful nation. 

On my last post, I remarked that the poppy was the traditional flower of Memorial Day, and  I shared part of the poem that inspired the tradition. It's among the Duchess's favorites, one she's fond of reciting on days like today.  In our home, it was as familiar as The Night Before Christmas.  It's a short poem, but one that I think is worth sharing ... and then sharing again...  because it's far more than just a poignant bunch of words.  

It's not a tribute; it's a charge. It wasn't written to the fallen soldier. It was written from him, and it was written to all of us.   

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below

We are the dead. Short years ago 
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunsets glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders Fields

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high
If you break faith with those who die
We will not rest, though poppies grow

In Flanders Fields.

I wonder sometimes how our fallen patriots would judge our torch bearing today. I wonder if they would find  us faithful. Oh, I have no doubt that they would be proud of the soldiers of the field. Generation after generation, the American soldier has carried the torch well.

But what about the rest of us?

There are two kinds of torch bearing, after all. There's the kind that takes it across the world into the desert or the jungle, and then there is the kind that is supposed to carry the torch at home. Have they found us faithful? 

The battle never has been against a people after all. We didn't fight the British, or the Germans or the Japanese. We fought an ideology.  We fought the freedom fight against tyranny and every form of -ism behind which it was trying to hide.    


And  fascism and imperialism and socialism...

And communism...

And terrorism... and radicalism...
The list goes on.  Thank God the crosses don't as yet.

 The -isms change, but the goal is the same.
 They all seek to create a government over the people
 instead of by the people and for the people,
and create in that government a whole new god.

If we settle for it,
Or make excuses for it,
Or, God help us, begin to embrace it
and call that evil good, 

We break faith with those who die, even if we never set foot on a battlefield.

And they will not rest, though poppies grow,
in Flanders Fields. 

Comments off

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Picnics, Poppies, and Patriots

I guess if I were going to claim an official holiday of 2013,
 it would have to be Memorial Day.

After all, my  color of the year this year
 is a pop of red,
 otherwise known as  poppy. 

And  the poppy, of course, 
is the traditional flower of Memorial Day. 

When I found these bowls earlier in the year to celebrate my
  poppy theme,
I also thought they would be perfect  Memorial Day dishes. 

So I was pretty excited when Cuisine Kathleen 
announced her May challenge for Let's Dish! 
to be a Memorial Day table.

We wanted the poppy bowls to the focal point
so we kept the rest of the place setting simple
 with red and blue stoneware
 and a white charger.  

A single piece of red Stemware on some
crafty decoupaged coasters. 

Casual red flatware
 and a blue checked cloth turn it into a picnic.  

The centerpiece is actually more of a backdrop on this one.
 We wanted it to tell a story.

It reflects the way we celebrated Memorial Day
in the little village where I spent my childhood.

Pots of red geraniums and flags to decorate the graves of the fallen.

The laying of wreathes 

And the two poems which inspired the use of
poppies for remembrance.

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row...

And that's about it.

I don't really have much else to yak about where this table is concerned,
but maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Memorial Day isn't really a time for filling up the silence.

It's a time to reflect in the silence,
and to remember.

And to honor those patriots who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

How will you be remembering them this year?

Also sharing with Tablescape Thursday

Monday, May 20, 2013

Oops, I Did It Again!

Despite my good intentions, I floated right out of Blogville at the end of last week.  I'm not exactly sure how to float back in so I guess I'll pick up where I left off...

...which was heading out to make at least one adventure a day while my daughter was home.  You see, when you think about it, you don't really take adventures. You make them. That's the way it rolls around here anyway. When you live in East Podunk with very few obvious options, you just have to make an adventure out of an otherwise ordinary day.

It really boils down to trying something new.

For our first adventure, we tried a new coffee shop.  For our second, we had lunch at a new restaurant. We even tried a whole new menu item at this whole new restaurant. I'm happy to report that I am a new member of the lettuce wrap fan club.

Then, we decided to try a whole new food.


I probably should stop right here and point out the obvious: My adventures tend to run heavily on the edible side. I'm sort of a culinary adventurer.  Miss Whimsy, on the other hand, is not.  She inherited the Mikey gene from her father, a man who would gladly subsist on candy corn and nachos if I let him.

This week was dubbed adventure week, however,
 so she sucked it up, and Mikey left town.

Trying a new food is not the same as trying a new recipe. Around here, we just call that cooking.  I'm talking about trying a food item that you have never tasted before. That's an adventure.  We took a little field trip to the grocery store to find something new.

It's amazing what you can find if you look.

Yeah... no. 
We passed on the chicken feet.
I'm not even sure how one goes about eating food that needs a pedicure.
 I just took this picture because I'm a blogger.     

We passed on all sorts random body parts and settled on turnips instead. Now, this might not be an adventure to you, but it was to us. You see, the Duchess is a legendary turnip hater. She inherited it from my grandmother, the Queen Mother of all turnip haters. In Grama's world, turnips hovered just below "the dope"  on the  Just Say No  list. It's a generational stronghold that Mikey  was more than happy to pass down to the next generation.

Are you following me here?

Not long ago, the Farm Sister was given the gift of fresh turnips by someone too ignorant to know better and felt that it was a good time to break the cycle. She fixed them for lunch, and then she made a beeline to the phone to herald the good news. Behold! Turnips are delicious!  Even better than a potato!  

After which, she apparently headed outside
to hang those pants on fire off the telephone wire. 

I am almost positive I got punked.

I fixed them exactly the way she told me, and I am here to report that they are not better than a potato.  They are only slightly better than a carrot, and carrots make me vomit.  I consider it a great victory that we kept down two bites before giving them a ceremonial burial.  Good thing I didn't serve chicken feet to go with them or we would have starved to death... which would have been preferable to a third bite of those noxious nonpotatoes.

Blech. Pooey.

I shall remain solidly on Team Duchess in the Great Turnip Debate.
Just say no, folks. 
Just. Say. No. 

So why am I wasting a blog post on them?  Because I never would have known if I hadn't tried,  that's why. 

Plus, we laughed.  
The laughing is what made it an adventure.

We had several other adventures during the week as well, but this post has gotten too long already. Friday we adventured all day in downtown Savannah.  I'll try to get to that later in the week, but for today I'll just close with this:

Not all roads named South Fork have oil wells and Ewings on them. 

Sometimes, a dirt road is just a  dumb old dirt road.

But  how in the world will you know if you never take an intentional turn
and get out of your rut?

So that's all for me. 
How about you?
What adventure, culinary or otherwise, have you taken lately? 
And where do you stand on the Great Turnip Debate?

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Father's Fence

Some time ago,  Dayle @ A Collection of This and That  wrote a wonderful post about a fence that her father had built to surround his property. It was an enduring fence, she said, and had served as a  silent witness as her family had grown through the years. 

I loved that post, and it's the inspiration for my yakabout this Sunday morning. It made me think of a fence built by another father I know.

It surrounds this house which belongs to some family friends. 

It's a wonderful picket fence, lined with flowers and interrupted with trellises and enchanting little gates that lead who knows where and hide who knows what.

I love it. 
This isn't the part of their fence I want to yak about this morning, though.

This is.

This big old stockade fence predates the other one by about two decades. It's not nearly as whimsical as the picket fence, but that's OK with the fence builder. It wasn't built for whimsy. It wasn't built for privacy, either.  It was built because of the street.

You see, this home sits on corner lot in an older section of town. The area has blended with the commercial district over the years, making their street a busy thoroughfare and their corner a dangerous intersection.

And this man was trying to raise a family with four small children. 

 Wouldn't you have built a fence?

It took him a long time to build it, too. He's not exactly a hammer-and-nails kind of guy, not in the traditional sense anyway.  He's a pastor, and  he had exactly one day a week for fence building.  It took him months, but when he finally finished, he had built something really special for his children.

Do you know what it was? 

A spacious place. 

You see, without the fence, playtime was problematic. Without the fence, his children had to be watched every moment and kept on tight leashes. It wasn't that this father didn't trust his children; it was just that he knew his children. He knew that like all children, they were prone to wander.  He built the fence to give them a wide open space in which to play.

The father in him likes to yak about that fence. "I didn't build it," he likes to say," because I hated my children.  I built it because I love them." 

And then, the pastor in him likes to compare it to another fence built by another Fence Builder.  God's law, he says, is nothing more than a Father's Fence. He didn't build it because He hates his children. He built it because He loves us.     

Enough said. 

Let's face it folks.  This world is nothing but a busy thoroughfare and a dangerous intersection. Yet right smack dab in the middle of it, our Father has satisfied our adventurous souls by building a spacious place  for his children to play in freedom.  Make no mistake about it though,  we are hemmed in behind and before by the Father's fence.

Because we need that fence.

When was the last time you truly thanked your Father for building it?

You have not given me into the hands of my enemies 
but have set my feet in a spacious place. .
Psalm 31:8

comments off for Sunday

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Wherever The Wind Takes Us

It's time for another Notecard Party at A Haven For Vee.  I love that party.  It's kind of fun to look back through the archives and see photos you completely forgot having shared and getting the chance to share them again.

I always choose a theme for my cards,
 and this month my theme is a color.  

Can you guess what it is?

pssst... pink

That picture doesn't count, by the way. I've already shared it at a Notecard Party. It's just the photo I like to use to introduce a Pink Occasion around the home place.  We happen to be having one such Pink Occasion this week. Miss Whimsy has completed yet another year at Mercer University...

... which means that she is about to begin her senior year!
How did that happen?

In other years, we would have packed her up and brought her home for the summer by now. This summer is different, though. This summer, she is staying at school to complete an internship

Yeah, I'm pretty bummed about that.

I do have her home for a whole week, though, so I  plan to fill it to the brim

And refuse to let any blue creep in to surround my Pink.

No siree,.. 

Every day, 
we've decided to step out of our usual and try something new.  

Yesterday, we tried a new coffee shop.
It doesn't have to be big to be an adventure, you know.

Sometimes, it's a simple as going wherever the wind takes you. 

Anybody want to come along?  

I'm going to try something else new this time around and not float off the face of the blog planet in so doing. Let's see how that plan works out....

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Blaming Mother's Sofa

Dear Young Mother,

I know it's hard to believe this, but once upon a time,  I was you. Once upon a time, long before we even used the term minivan, I was a young mother. My life was filled with with dress-up clothes and play dates, crustless sandwiches and sippy cups. I was pretty content with it all, once upon a time.

I was pretty content with the home place back then, too.  We had purchased it before the first little one arrived... according to plan... and I had decorated it stem to stern with every piece of '80s oak two childless incomes could afford.

It was pretty grand, in a mauve and blue country kitsch kind of way. Very trendy for the times. Very in.

But trends have a pesky habit of changing. I'm pretty sure it's a conspiracy between the furniture manufacturers and the design magazines, but every decade or so... even faster these days... what was in goes out. '80s oak goes the way of the wood paneled station wagon.  The cool table is made of cherry, and mauve and blue head to the yard sale to make way for jewel tones.

Trust me, it happens.

Suddenly, your perfect little well- appointed fairy tale house isn't so well appointed any more. It's what we women like to call dated. For me, it was a major source of discontent. I wasn't alone, either. Pretty much on a regular basis, play dates turned into gripe sessions as my fellow mommies brainstormed ways to squeeze new furniture into the single-income-with-kids budget plan.

It was during one such gripe session that the pity party took a walk down memory lane. It all started when one griper began to wax poetic about the beautiful living room in the home where she grew up. She remembered every detail, right down to the print of the sofa.  

And that's when I started thinking.
'Cause even back then, I was always thinking...

For the life of me, I couldn't remember what the sofa in our living room looked like when I was a little girl.  I have a pretty fantastic memory, too (at least I did back then), but for the life of me, I couldn't remember that sofa. In fact, I couldn't remember much about the whole living room.  Aside from the fact that the long white drapes made for wonderful hide-n-seek, and the pine floor was great for sock sliding, my mind was blank.

I'll tell you what I did remember, though. I did have a vivid memory of all the adventures we had in that place.  As the other woman wokked on about her house, my mind wandered to our home.  I remembered the picnics and day trips to Umpachene falls. I remembered the weekend trips to Fort Ticonderoga and Story Town, USA. I remembered the cross country adventures to Laura Ingalls Wilder's home in Missouri and Lincoln's New Salem in Illinois. Pretty grand adventures for a single income family of six.

I'm pretty sure I know where Mom squeezed out the money for those adventures, too. I'm pretty sure they came at the cost of new furniture and accessories for her home.

That's the way it appears, anyway, because when I called her to ask about the sofa that we had when I was five, she laughed and told me that it was the same one we had when I went off to college. Apparently, it was entirely possible to have a blissfully happy childhood in house with dated furniture. Who knew?

Mom did.

I made a decision that day. That day, I decided to get off the trendy tree house merry-go-round and spend my limited time and money on the stuff my girls would remember when they were thirty. So what if my living room decor completely missed the Tuscan craze. I promise, I don't regret it. Had I missed the adventures, though? That I would regret.

Because now that the dated nest is empty, I have plenty of time on my hands to redecorate our house, but I will never, ever have the time to re-create our home.

So there you have it. 
The reason I blame my mother for my dated furniture.
And the reason that I thank her for everything else. 

And today, because it's Mothers Day (and maybe just because)
 I will take the time to tell her so. 

Happy Mothers Day  
to The Duchess...
my mother,
the woman who wrote the book on family adventure
and taught me that the lively art of homemaking 
doesn't really have anything to do with furniture at all. 

Comments are off
(But I'll bet you can relate...)

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's A Piece of Cake!

Really and truly...

It is a  piece of cake. 

When you see how easy it is to create that cake I showed earlier in the week, you'll stop being impressed that I remade it a third time just to blog out some pictures.

'Cause you were impressed, right?

In full disclosure, I technically remade it because I  decided to invite a new woman from church and another friend over for a spontaneous lunch on Tuesday.  I took the photos because words like glob and smoosh make a little more sense when accompanied by a picture.

So here you go.
 I've named this cake Piece of Cake Cake
but you can call it 
Berry Grahamilicious Cake
if you have a mind to.  

You will need:  

1 package (as in package, not box) of graham crackers*
1 jar berry preserves (I used strawberry, but I think raspberry would be even better)
Cream cheese mixture:
      8 oz. cream cheese
      8 oz cool whip
      1 tsp.vanilla
      2/3 cup sugar or splenda
Extra whipped cream for frosting

Spread about 2 tablespoons of  preserves on the pierced side
 of 6 graham crackers

Then, glob some cream cheese mixture over the preserves

Stack the crackers carefully and top them
 with another cracker,  pierced side down

Gently pat it down to smoosh it together. 
Don't smoosh too hard,
 just enough to get the strawberries and cream cheese to the edges.
 It will ooze out so clean up the sides with a butter knife.

Wrap the stack firmly and refrigerate overnight.
(I put mine on a little piece of wax paper and then wrapped it with saran wrap.)

Unwrap in the morning
 and clean it up with the butter knife again.

Frost with a little whipped topping.

It's a cute little cake. You can get 5 large pieces or 6 smaller ones from one cake. 

That cream cheese mixture above makes enough for
  at least two and probably three little cakes.

I would know for sure but I ate my leftover cream cheese mixture on
National No Diet Day

Slice and serve

Trust me, folks. This is really yummy. The graham crackers puff up to have the texture and taste of a layer cake. Both groups of cake eaters thought it was a layer cake until I told them how I made it. 

Best of all, even though graham crackers are notoriously sugary,
 you can still reduce the sugar by using sugar free preserves, splenda. and cool whip. 

And that's all there is to it.
It's a Berry Grahamilicious Piece of Cake  

Sharing with Foodie Friday

One more thing...

Do not use Honey Maid graham crackers on this one, folks. They have scrunched their crackers down in size in that sneaky little way that food companies like to do. Your cake will be much smaller with Honey Maid than with a store brand like Great Value.  Plus, the Honey Maid cracks and crumbles easier. You don't save money when you waste half the crackers in the assembly. 

I can't believe I'm shouting out Great Value, but in this case I am. 


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