Thursday, June 30, 2011

Overdue Books and Book Reports

No, I haven't stopped reading books, even though I haven't written about my reading of books since May 26. If I were still in school and had an overdue book report, I'd have to take a failing grade. If I had books checked out from the library and didn't get them back on time, I would have to pay a fine. As it is, I'm not getting a D or F, nor do I owe money to the library, I just have ten books to write about.

Elizabeth Berg is my adopted author at Gibson Memorial Library. Her latest book, Once Upon a Time, There Was You, is a story about love, family and second chances.

Even on their wedding day, John and Irene sense they are making a big mistake. Years later, after divorcing, the only thing they still have in common is their daughter, Sadie. When she goes missing, the couple is brought back together even though they are both dating other people. As they help Sadie deal with her trauma, they examine what went wrong in their marriage and question getting back together.

Berg writes knowingly about the human heart: the dynamics of marriage and family. And in this latest novel, she writes terrifyingly about the abduction of a young woman.

I especially loved the passages when Irene was filling out a profile for an online dating service - perfect examples of Berg's writing abilities.

Both "The Great War" (WWI) and World War II figured in my reading. I read the first three of Anne Perry's World War I series: No Graves As Yet, Shoulder The Sky and Angels In The Gloom. I find I am liking this series as much as I did her William Monk books.

The WWII book was Frank Delaney's, The Matchmaker of Kenmare. This was a much different story than I thought it was going to be. The two main characters are a matchmaker and a collector of Irish folk lore so I was expecting to read a lot of Irish mythology. Instead, it was a telling of Ireland's neutrality during WWII and of two people who got up close and personal with the fighting in France while acting as spies for England.

I've read my way through all the Anne Perry William Monk books until later this summer when the next one comes out. Execution Dock follows Monk as the new Superintendent of the Thames River Police as he tries to fulfill his predecessor's aim in bringing to justice the man responsible for the deaths of several young boys. Perry's mysteries are always good reads.

A Reliable Wife is Robert Goolrick's first novel after writing the haunting memoir The End of the World As We Know It. I love period pieces, so I was almost certain I would enjoy a book about Wisconsin in 1907. Especially one about a mail order bride. This was an interesting book. I did like it. But it is obvious to me Goolrick hasn't put all his childhood demons to rest by writing his memoirs.

I normally bypass Christian books, but I accidentally checked one out - Michael Phillip's, Angel Harp. I read it because of the Scottish setting.

Andrea Kane's, Wrong Place, Wrong Time is an equestrian murder mystery set in New York State.

Friday's Daughter, by Patricia Sprinkle, is set in Georgia with a nod to North Carolina. It is a Cinderella story about three sisters, the youngest of which remains single, takes care of first an ailing aunt, then mother, finally father, with promises of inheriting the family home. When that doesn't happen because Daddy never got around to changing his will, it looks as though this Friday's daughter ("loving and giving") will continue being a caretaker the rest of her life. I'm partial to Smoky Mountains settings in books regardless of the story line.

Summertime.....and the reading is easy......

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day Circa 1948

There is no date on this picture indicating it really was taken on Father's Day - it could have been taken on Dad's birthday (May 6) or any other almost summer day. I'm even guessing the year, but I think '48 is a good guess. Betty looks to be almost three years old which means I would have been almost five, Dad thirty-one and Ron, eight. (Not sure how old Laddie the dog would have been.)

I remember any time we had our picture taken, we always had to look into the sun - which meant Mom was always saying "open your eyes". It was hard to look toward the sun - therefore, we were all frowning or had our eyes downcast - except Betty. She was looking into the camera, smiling as happy as could be - maybe because she was showing off whatever it was she was holding - or maybe she was just happy her Daddy was holding her.

Dad has on his work clothes. He probably stopped only long enough for the picture. It's possible he had been mowing hay or perhaps "laying the corn by" - both June jobs. It would be the first cutting of hay and the second cultivation of the corn fields if it was being laid by, which meant the year's tillage for that crop was done. (I can't remember Dad ever using chemicals to kill weeds.)

I remember one time when Dad was mowing the hayfield across the road. He stopped the tractor and came walking across the field carrying his hat. When he got to the yard he showed us what he had - three baby bunnies. The sickle bar had run over their nest and killed the mama rabbit. I know we tried to keep them alive with milk in a doll bottle, but none of them survived.

Dad left most of the child rearing to Mom, so I have many, many more memories of her during my growing up years than of Dad. I do remember what it felt like when he picked me up. He was so tall (six feet, six inches) that I could reach up and touch the ceiling. He wasn't very demonstrative, yet I knew he loved me just as I loved him. And I was very proud of my Dad - somehow I knew he was a good, honest man.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Not Exactly A Royal Watcher

The world was watching as Prince William married the beautiful Kate Middleton April 29th. I don't feel I qualify as a 'royal watcher' because I didn't get up in the middle of the night to tune in to the nuptials in real time. But of course I watched the replays of the big day.

So, if I'm not a dedicated royal watcher, why did I buy this commemorative tea caddy which was created in celebration of William and Kate's marriage? I found it at Marshall's in West Des Moines last week. There was also a royal purple, hinged, tea container which if I was buying just as a wedding commemorative I would have chosen instead of the silver one, but......

I chose the silver one because it contains 25 Ahmad Tea of London English Breakfast Tea bags. If it had been Ahmad English No. 1, it would have been perfect. But English Breakfast is good, too.

Thinking of English royalty and tea (especially the tea) got me wondering if I would ever find out for certain that I did have a great-great-great English grandmother as I had been told. On a whim I did a google search of "Rosina Edwards Hull" and discovered YES! She was born in England!

Not only that, but here's a picture of her. Rosina Edwards was born in Seton East Riding, Yorkshire, England on 1 December, 1825 to William H. Edwards (1786-1881) and Martha Bennings (1788-1871). I already knew from the tombstone in Walnut Grove Cemetery in Corning, IA that she had married John P. Hull (1820-1887) and that she died 1906. (Website gives her date of death as August 26. Tombstone gives her year of birth as 1824.)

The website lists John's middle name as Palmer which I didn't know. So with that and the info from the tombstone that he was a member of Co. E, 13th Reg, VT Vol., I can probably find out much more about him. I can also go online to read about East Riding Yorkshire. (I loved the PBS Masterpiece Theatre series about South Riding.)

Rosina and John had nine children, C.C., Martha Rebecca, Louisa Jane, Agnes Georgeana (Georgina?) (my great-great grandmother), Christopher P., Henry F., Isabelle G., Alice Victoria and Ida J.

My first big surprise of the day was finding out more about Rosina on a website. My second big surprise came when I referred back to a blog I had written last September 26 about post cards (wherein I had mentioned Rosina) and discovered a comment posted there on February 21 this year which I hadn't seen before. Seems a distant cousin in California discovered my blog and wants to exchange family history. Gotta go now to e-mail her and apologize for not answering her sooner. Who knows where this will lead? She does mention a hand-written Hull family history.

Addendum: Re: Rosina Edwards parents and siblings:

William H. Edwards, Born April 13, 1786, Seaton, East Riding, Yorkshire, England. Died July 2, 1881, Moriah Center, Essex, New York. Married Martha Bennings April 15, 1816 in Sigglesthorne, Yorkshire, England. Martha Bennings, Born 1788 Northumberland, England. Died July 15 1871, in Moriah Center, Essex, NY. Wm & Martha had nine children all born in England except Robert born in Vermont. Family came to America in 1833 aboard ship "Clarkson". First names of children: Thomas, Elizabeth, George, Henry, Rosina, Henry (named after his brother), Hannah, John and Robert.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Using Leftover Rotisserie Chicken

Seldom do I buy a rotisserie chicken knowing it is too much for one meal for the two of us. (And Bud doesn't care for leftovers.) During the winter I make chicken noodle soup, but what to do in warm weather? That question sent me searching online. I was thinking along the lines of chicken pot pie or some such. What I found was a delicious chicken and biscuit recipe. I did not have all the ingredients called for, so I did some creative compromising. This is what I did:

Put the chicken carcass in a heavy pan, added a cup of water, put the lid on, turned the heat to medium high and let the chicken simmer for fifteen minutes to make it easy to get all the remaining meat off the bones. I ended up with about two cups of meat which I tore into bite size pieces. Pour the broth off, keeping a half cup. Saute a small onion in two tablespoons of butter - using the same heavy pan. Add to pan: one can cream of chicken soup, the half cup of broth*, 1/4 cup of mayonnaise, 1/4 cup of sour cream, two cups of frozen peas, the chicken and pepper to taste.

I did not have cream of chicken soup on hand, so I used cream of celery. I let all this heat through while I was stirring it together before turning it into a greased 11x7 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Remove from oven, sprinkle one cup of shredded mild cheddar cheese over the baked mixture. Top with a can of refrigerated biscuits. I used Pillsbury's Southern Style Biscuits which were perfect for this. Sprinkle the biscuits with more grated cheese. Return to oven until biscuits are baked - about another 20 minutes - at 350 degrees.

I think you could be very creative with this recipe. For instance, sauteing some chopped celery or red peppers with the onion; adding frozen broccoli instead of peas - or even mixed vegetables. I did not have enough shredded cheddar cheese, so I used some grated Swiss to make a cup. For the cheese on top of the biscuits I used shredded mozzarella.

This was one recipe Bud didn't mind eating leftovers. We had the first half for lunch yesterday and finished it for lunch today. It was just as good re-heated. So very, very yummy. I have added the recipe to my favourites file, but will continue trying new variations each time I make it.

*Original recipe called for one cup milk. I used the broth instead of milk.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Iowa Veterans Cemetery

I did something on my way to West Des Moines yesterday that I've been wanting to do for some time - I drove through the new Iowa Veterans Cemetery north of Van Meter. (I-80, Exit 113)
All honorably discharged veterans became eligible for burial in national cemeteries in 1873; previously the criteria for admission centered on the soldier being a battlefield casualty.
The State Cemeteries Grant Program was established in 1978 to assist states in establishing cemeteries and providing grave sites for veterans. It was under this program that the Iowa Veterans Cemetery was established.

Before this, the only National Cemetery in Iowa was located in Keokuk. Keokuk's location at the confluence of the Des Moines and Mississippi Rivers made it an ideal location for the establishment of five army hospitals. (The College of Physicians and Surgeons was located there.) Thousands of sick and wounded soldiers were transported up the Mississippi River from the Southern battlefields. Most of the initial interments came from these hospitals. Just after the Civil War there were 627 interments - 600 known Union soldiers and 27 unknown. Eight Confederate soldiers who died as prisoners of war in Keokuk were also buried at Keokuk National Cemetery. (Keokuk hosts an annual Civil War reenactment each April.)

The establishment of National Cemeteries was a direct result of the Civil War. Bud and I visited some of those Civil War Battlefields and Cemeteries during our trip back east in 2008. They were Shiloh National Military Park along the Tennessee River, The Lookout Mountain Battlefield (but not the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park) on the Tennessee-Georgia border and Antietam National Battlefield in Maryland.

There is something striking about these orderly, identical grave markers. Thoughts here are much different than those when visiting cemeteries with their diverse memorial stones or the cemeteries where all the markers are ground level.

The Iowa Veterans Cemetery already has several sections with these rows. Is each section for a different war era? Someday I will go back and spend more time.

Bud (nor, I) does not plan to be interred. But if he ever changed his mind, I think I would try to influence him toward this Veterans Cemetery overlooking the Raccoon River Valley. There is peace here. And honor.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Fifth Force

One of the first things that attracted me to this man was that he was a runner. The first time I saw him out jogging was in January, 1981. He had icicles in his beard. I thought anyone who would run in such weather must be either dedicated or crazy.
When I dug this picture out a few days ago, Bud was chagrined about the long socks. I reminded him that was the fashion thirty years ago - short shorts, long socks.
This photo, with the 102 River valley in the background, was taken in August, 1981 after Bud's evening run. After cooling down some, his next thing would be to hang from his gravity boots.
Gravity, or inversion boots, were a popular fitness tool during the '80s. Purported benefits were relief from back pain and increased blood flow to the brain. Inverted crunches added extra challenge to a workout.
I was never brave enough to try hanging upside down by ankle boots from a bar in a doorway.

But fast forward thirty years to a time when age and activity (or lack of) has added to our aches and pains. After some research, Bud decided to order this Ironman Gravity 2000 Inversion Table, mostly to help with back pain.
This looked safe enough even for me to try. The first time I got on it, two things happened: 1) I felt/heard a lower back vertebrae go back into place. 2) The blood rushed to my head and I didn't think I could stand the pressure. But I didn't let that stop me from trying it again.
Now we both use it twice a day. I actually look forward to my hang time. The stretching feels good. Whether the increased blood flow to my brain helps my thinking (as Uri Geller believes) is ????
My biggest question is how many hours a day would I need to be inverted to send some of my gone south slippage of body parts back north?

In the interest of fairness, I'm including a picture from my very brief running days. It was fun attending road races. Bud would do the 10K, while I would be doing good to run a 3K. The last time I ran was the 1985 KMA Road Race in Shenandoah. My knee hurt so bad, but I made myself finish. I think it took three weeks to recuperate.

We were just a couple cute 'kids' back then. And we're still cute today - before using the inversion table, one of us will flash the other a 'gang sign' and say, I'm gonna' go hang.
(Insert groans here.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"Do You Collect Restaurant Ware?"

That was the question Angela asked last Tuesday on her tea blog. Do I collect restaurant ware? Not anymore. But I once did. Most of it went when we down-sized into retirement, but I did save a few favourite pieces. I had several little individual cream servers which I adored, but saved none of for some reason.
The above 7" oval platter reads "Albert Pick & Co. San Francisco-Chicago" on the bottom. Albert Pick & Co. was a hotel chain but they also provided restaurant wares to other businesses. The insignia on this plate looks like a Y over double B's with a crown on top. At the sides are two stylized black birds. What might have been served on this small platter?
On the left is a 2-1/2" mustard jar without a lid. It is labeled " D.E. McNicol, Vitrified China Clarksburg, W. Va." The larger lidded pot looks very similar with its green stripes. However, it is from Shenango China, New Castle, PA.

And it says, "Made for Regnier & Shoup Co., St. Joseph and Kansas City, MO. I'm not sure what this piece was designed to be used for. At first I thought the heads on the sides were women, but now I wonder if they are supposed to be Indians - an Indian being one of the identifying marks used by Shenango China Co.

The little cup on the right has been the hardest to identify. It is marked "O.P. Co., Syracuse China." Of all the Syracuse China patterns named online, I could not find this one. Also, this 2-1/2" 'cup' has an inside rim - as though it once had a lid. And the handle looks as though it might have been glued on. Could this have been a condiment pot originally which someone modified? Regardless, I like its dainty size and swirly green design.

This set was purchased at Antiques on Main in Corning. It is also O.P. Co. Syracuse China. O.P. stands for Onondaga Pottery which was the original company name before being bought by Syracuse China. Although my pieces look like a set, the covered bowl was made in July, 1951 and the plate in June of 1943. (A very good year.) The creamer and butter pat do not have date stamps. The pattern is the same as Syracuse's "Mystic Blue" which was discontinued in 1915, but the colors are different. Mystic Blue is dark blue with a gold rim while these dishes are a light blue with red rim.

Looking through 140 pages of Syracuse China on e-bay, I found a few more pieces in this pattern, but never a name for it nor any pieces like these. I'm wondering if my pieces were made for a hospital or hotel, maybe a railroad? It is the covered bowl which makes me wonder that.

When I first started looking on e-bay, it was so interesting to see all the different patterns Syracuse China made/makes. And finding the first piece like mine - a large platter - it was exciting. But after 140 pages, it is tiring.

I did learn about this cute little cup, though. There was one on the Syracuse China pages. It read, "Sarah Siddons Pump Room Syracuse China". It is exactly like mine but mine reads: "Duraline Super Vitrified, Grindley Hotelware Co., England." It was made in November of 1966.

Sarah Siddons was an early English actress (1755-1831) portrayed on this cup as she performed in Bath England. This design was exclusive to the Pump Room in Chicago's Ambassador Hotel in the mid-20th Century.

Butter pats were another part of my collection. This "W.H. Grindley England" is the only one I kept. I think it was made between 1914 and 1925. I have yet to page my way through all the Grindley china patterns to determine which this is.

Angela says "when you've got three of something, you're a collector", so I guess I'm still a collector, just not an active one. I think why I always liked the restaurant dishes was because of their heft. They seemed more usable than fine china - less likely to break. And they were less expensive to collect.

I always find it so interesting to research old pottery and china. One open door just leads to many more doors to be opened........