Wednesday, April 29, 2009

JEWELS: Priceless!!!

Visiting London Julie and I had the pleasure of visiting her Majesty"s Royal Palace and Fortress, more commonly know as the Tower of London. The first keep of the fortress, White Tower, was built on the east bank of the Thames by William the Conqueror in 1078.

The history here boggled the mind. Although the tower's primary function was a fortress, a royal palace and a prison, it has also served as a place of execution and torture, an armoury, a treasury, a zoo, the Royal Mint, a public records office, an observatory, and since 1303, the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.

Seeming out of place on the extensive greens are plain old black crows, or ravens, They have been in residence at the towers for centuries. An astronomer convinced King Charels II that if the ravens ever left the Tower of London, the entire kingdom would fall.

Although they are free to roam the grounds, the crow's wings are clipped to keep them from flying away. A Ravenmaster, a Yeoman Warder, is responsible to keep their individual names, gender and age. At the present the oldest crow is an 18 year old male named Gwylum. The oldest crow ever had a name familiar to Americans. He was "Jim Crow" and he lived to be 44.

The "Tower" is well known as a place of execution. Common people were hanged at "Old Bailey" but royalty was beheaded. The beheading of Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, took place in 1536. Although charged with adultery, treason and incest her real crime was to be in the way of her husbands lust for another woman. It is said that the ghost of Anne, with her head under her arm, still haunts the grounds.

The description of Anne's beheading was grusome. Seems as how, as the axe descended toward her long, graceful neck, she jumped up and bolted for the sanctuary of the church. She was chased by the axeman who just kept hacking away at her.

Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned in the Bloody Tower with his wife and two children from 1603 to 1616, 13 years.

The future queen Elizabeth I was imprisoned for two months. The longest held prisoner was Sir William de la Pole. He was imprisoned for 37 years for supposedly plotting against Henry VII.

The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, such as the official queen's crown below, have been kept at the Tower of London since 1303.They are protected by Beefeaters guards.

The caution given by the beefeaters to visitors viewing the crown jewels include the notice that if the glass of the jewel enclosure is so much as touched, the building will then be AUTOMATICALLY locked down for 24 hours during which time everyone present would be stripped searched.

Although not guarded by the Beefeaters, today Julie and I possessed a treasure more precious to us than the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.Julie and I both have had the flu for over a week now, Julie much worse than me. Our jewel tonight has curly hair, a michieveous grin and sparkling eyes. The jewel is named Carla Ludwig, pictured below with a good luck cake for me.

She is my "go to girl" in all of my foolishness, which can be often and much, and she is an up close and personal confident of Julie's.

To encourage her two sick friends Carla brought a pot of steaming hot, homemade, chicken noodle soup and a still-warm loaf of bread she had just baked.

The Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom are priceless. Just as rare and more valuable to us are friends who, like Carla, are beyond price.

We are thankful for all our blessings, including the blessing of friends.

William Penn:

"A true friend unblossoms freely, advises justly, assists readily, adventures boldly, takes all patiently, defends courageously, and continues a friend unchangeable"

God Bless!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

CHANGE WAS PROMISED: We're about to get it!

I have heard it said that the only thing constant is change. Everything changes. To some degree that is true. Somethings, however, never change--my love for my children or my children's love for me. That never changes.

This weekend Julie and I, who are both ill with the flu, have two of Julie's granddaughters for the weekend. Jillian is 16 and Chelsie will soon be 18. Although we are ill, it is a joy getting to share a bit of their lives. At those ages children seem to be involved with everything except two old codgers, uh, sorry Julie.

Normally I do the day-to-day cooking in our home. Julie does all the special cooking. I can get it on the table in a jiffy, Julie takes forever and a day. Uh, maybe a day or two. Great Aunt Debby has nothing on Julie. We are both cooking this weekend.

Yesterday morning I fixed the girls french toast with bacon and ham. I do french toast right! Well, maybe not as good as Julie's Blueberry French Toast, but mine is pretty good. I've developed a mix that is tasty.

For the four of us I used four large eggs. I beat the eggs adding a quarter cup of half-n-half, a quarter teaspoon of vanilla, a liberal amount of cinnamon and four packs of sweetner. After cutting the slices into pointed halves I soak them thoroughly. They are very "tender" so I put them onto a buttered, black iron griddle by hand and brown them slowly.

The girls "ONLY" eat white bread. Although Julie and I eat anything we try to avoid white bread for health reasons. I used white bread for the girls, about four slices each, and a slice of whole grain bread each for Julie and I.

Yes, we go to any length to spoil our grandchildren. Or any guest, for that manner. I know the kids love us but they also love being pampered. At 2:00PM they are still loungeing around in their night clothes. Doing what? Talking on their cell phones Watching movies. Eating. Drinking. Did I mention talking on their cell phones?

The kids know they can count on finding something special here that they don't always get at home. As everyone was up late last night Julie planned a cold cereal breakfast. Julie and I eat high fibre cereal, which the kids wouldn't touch. She bought them a cereal they both liked, Honey Nut Cherrios.
The kids count on our having fruit all the time, in season or not. Today we have the dependable apples but we also had bananas and fresh pineapple. We also had blueberries, straw berries and black berries.

I put bananas and strawberries and black berries on their cereal. As the berries can be tart I sprinkled a pack of sweetner over each of their fruit. Julie offered them sweetner to go with their cereal. I exclaimed that they didn't need any more sweetner as the cereal was already sweetened and I had put sweetner over their tart berries.

They drink coffee. I don't know how much sweetner Jillian started out with in her coffee but with less than a quarter cup of coffee left in her cup, she added two more packages of sweetner! I regret not letting them use more sweetner on their cereal as I'm sure they would if I'd kept quiet.

We have candy containers in every room. This is a home of a type II diabetic. As I was taking the pictures Julie reminded me of my own sweet tooth, reminding me that the one candy container was my allowed dark chocolate. Ummm. Did I really need to hear that? Not really.

I like spaghetti. When we eat out I more often than not order spaghetti. Julie makes great, make that G R E A T spaghetti, although it is not for the faint of heart. Before we knew the kids were coming she said she would make spaghetti for me today. I'm holding her to her word. But there is a problem. Jillian doesn't eat noodles of any kind, including spaghetti. She explained that she will eat rice but not noodles.

I asked Chelsie if she would eat spaghetti. She said she didn't care that much for it but she would eat it adding that she would also eat rice. I asked what she wouldn't eat. Don't recall it all but she doesn't eat raisins and oatmeal. She will eat raisins. She will eat oatmeal. She will not eat raisins and oatmeal. She will not eat raisin oatmeal cookies. Oh, Yes! She likes jelly. She like peanut butter. She will not eat peanut butter-jelly sandwiches.

Where do the kids get this? Well, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Their mother won't eat chocolate with nuts. She will eat chocolate. She will eat nuts. She will not eat chocolate with nuts. She likes salads but only if it is made with iceberg lettuce. Only iceberg lettuce! No, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I was born two years into the great depression when Americans gladly stood in soup lines to keep from starving to death. Like them I learned to eat whatever Mom fixed. And, to be thankful for it. In my lifetime I have eaten snails, alligator tail, beaver and bear and, in London, I had cow innards. Yes, the English gave it a fancy name but it was cow innards and it smelled like it I can tell you.

Do I like everything I have eaten? Not really! I have had fresh shucked oysters on the half shell but I didn't like it. I don't care that much about lobster. I eat it as often as we get to Boston. I'm not all that much into crab legs either, although we frequently serve them to guests.

When I was a child my Mother always managed to feed us. I do not remember ever going hungry when I was a child. I remember eating a lot of beans and potatoes as well as a lot of biscuits and gravy. Also, squirel and rabbit and ground hog and possom. I've eaten muskrat and turtle. I ate a lot of quail that Mom caught on fish hooks. And fish. Lots and lots of fish. We lived by the river.

Thankfully, we also lived alongside a railroad track which we walked as young children. The B&O. Two short steps and a big step. Don't step in the hot creosote with your bare feet. The track kept us out of the mud in the winter and out of the dust in the summer. It also provided us railroad ties for the fireplace and coal to be picked up by hand for Mom's cook stove.

We always had railroad hoboes at the door asking for food. Mom always fed them too. Unless Dad was home the bo's ate in the wood lot. If Dad was there he'd always invite them in, share the jug and get them to tell stories. I never heard one bo say "I don't eat that".

Going on 79 I may not live through it all but I suspect what was will be again. We were promised change, remember? Spoiled as some Americans have become the change they are about to get will make for a difficult time for all. Could this all really happen again? Be reminded that the 30's followed the Roaring Twenties.

May the good Lord help us, we ants, honey bees and squirels! The locust and grasshoppers are on the way, and more than a few rats, too. They are hungry but not for noodles. UMMM

Linda Henley:

"If God had intended us to follow recipes He wouldn't have given us Grandmothers"

God Bless!

Friday, April 24, 2009

STORY TELLING TIME: R e a l l y ! ! ! !

All the kids were great storytellers when I was in the 2nd grade. We had to be. If the truth came out we had a close up and personal encounter with the teacher's paddle. Yes, the big one with the holes! We told our stories and exchanged National Geographic pictures quietly with a friend or two behind the school. Now they give the kids a microphone and applaude.

Today it was my honor to be invited to attend a Story Telling Time at Canton Country Day School with my lovely daughter Kimberly. The "story tellers" would be the dozen or less in the second grade with my granddaughter "Rosebud", (Delaney Rose Pierce Boggs).

Canton Country Day is a private K-8th grade school. The tuition for Rosebud and her brother, Riley, is equal to my annual income.
Unfortunately, the tuition does not begin to cover the schools expenses. Teachers, employees, parents and the community all pitch in to make the school work. (This computer bank is for the K-1st grade!)

While there are a goodly representative of the Hoover, Diebold or Timkin families in this private school, as the older, well used cars in the parking lot would indicate, there are also a goodly number of families for whom their children's education represents deep love and much dedication.

All my grandchildren have attended private schools, some K-8 some K-12, but Canton Country Day is truly special. The student to teacher ratio is maybe 12 to 1, at least in the two 2nd grades.
As one would expect from such an investment, the families of the students are fully involved on a daily and weekly basis, year after year. The teachers talk to the parents daily as the children are personally taken by their teacher to their parent's cars at the end of the day. Of course, parents were at today's story telling. But so were grandparents and great grandparents.

The most frequent stories seemed to be about gift exchanges on Chrismas Day. There were other stories, however, from a boy who described being in an automobile accident and a girl who described getting her ears pierced.

Following the group presentation the students went to their desks and the visitors visited with the students one-on-one and heard their other stories. It was interesting seeing the different individual development. Some were shy and some were just matter-of-fact. One little girl's words just gushed out, plain but rapid . Kimberly and I grined and said "The Mary Alice Factor".

Maya, who told about getting her ears pierced, had freckles. I told her that in my nearly 80 years I have found that the prettiest girls all had freckles. The big grin she gave paid me for once again "not letting the truth get in the way of a good story". I told her mother that whatever Maya pursued in life, she would be a winner. She will be too, I'd bet on it. So will Taylor. So will Rosebud. They are three "amigos".

The lack of personal committment by so many of today's parents has resulted in a down turn in the quality of the nation's children. That, along with political "dumbing down" to the lowest level, will be a heavy debt to be paid in foreign competition. When educators are more interested in their union benefits than in proving their own merit with results, little hope exists for improvement in the public school system, as a whole.

And, it is not money
! The public High School in Smithville, Ohio, an older school in a small town, turns out some of the nation's top students and great athletes. I am of the opinion that never in our history have the best students been better. Children are all born perfect. If only parents who worry about affording the "good life" would realize what a true treasure has been entrusted to their care.
We viewed their art work and enjoyed a small reception. The visit was over. This day was encouraging. Thank you Kimberly and Jack. Thank you Country Day School.

John W. Whitehead:

Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see"

God Bless!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

SPRING BEAN SUPPER: United Methodist, Easton

In the 30's, during the great depression, food was very scarce for a lot of people in America and throughout the world. Isnt that hard to believe in this day and age?

Responding to this need in their community the good folk at the Evangelical United Brethern Church in Easton, (prior to combining with the Methodist in 1968) held a bean supper.
Delbert Rausenberger was there then and is here now with Connie, his lovely bride of about sixty-three years..

The food was cooked outside then in a big kettle, over a wood fire. In addition to cornbread and relishes the ladies of the church brought their best baked goods. Some 70 or 80 years later, spring and fall, the now United Methodist Church, continues to hold a bean supper for the community.

All food and labor are donated. There is no charge. In this time of plenty, however, people do donate as they wish. This year the donation was $551.00. Over the years these donations have been used to help families struggling through the cost of cancer or to help the many displaced people in Hurricane Katrina.

Julie and I participate with the food and labor. Truly giving is more blessed than receiving. After a 6:30AM breakfast I started cooking at 7:05AM with the help of a cup of strong, black coffee.

The night before Julie made two turns of corn bread and baked a Doctor Bird cake. Julie is a better cook than me but her cornbread is too "polite". Beautiful golden colored but too "polite". Corn bread takes buttermilk. She uses skim milk. UGH!

She doesn't use bacon drippings, something about clogged arteriers. Now I'm sure the good Lord meant for us to pour that batter into a black iron skillet with about a quarter inch of smoking hot bacon drippings. He also meant for us to cook it until the crust is dark brown and solid. Nope! Julie's cornbread is too "polite".

When Julie and I were married I tossed all her heavy aluminum cookware replacing it with copper bottomed Revere Ware. When each of my grandchildren are married I give them a complete set of cookware plus one black iron skillet. They get to choose the cookware they want and not one grandchild wanted that copper clad cookware. Go Figure!

My six pounds of beans went into my 16 quart stock pot along with a ham bone and maybe a pound of ham trimmings which I saved when I carved the Easter ham.

I baked a peach pie and that along with three pounds of sweet onions Julie had chopped the night before was our donation. Now to church to join the 4-6 work shift.

There were workers in white shirts and workers in black shirts. Every body had a lot of work to do. Difficult to believe, the sign said dinner 5-7PM but the same as always the first people came at 4:10PM. Wanted to be the first ones to the dessert table I guess.

The sanctuary was empty. The easter lillies which some of the folks didn't take home with them made a pleasant odor in the church. If only we could get the bean eaters to come out for the worship service.
In the basement the line was soon formed to Sally Wilson who was ladeling out the hot beans. As the food was served the kitchen workers became really busy. In the first two hours I poured coffee. Others refilled the relish dishes and carried the used dishes to the kitchen.

Don Wilson and Bill Ludwig washed dishes for the first two hours. In the last two Richard Stefanko and I washed the dishes.

The people who came early for the dessert table need not to have worried. The dessert table was full. Carol and Barb couldn't put it all out. We have dessert left for Sunday School and also for the "We're still here" party tomorrow evening.

A good time was had by all.

God Bless.


Dottie (Thomas) Campbell is a Class Mate in the Class of 1948 Point Pleasant, WV High School. When I graduated from high school six weeks past my 17th birthday, I joined the Navy.

After my four year tour of duty I relocated to Northeast Ohio. Dottie and I renewed our acquaintance at our 50th and again at our 60th Class reunions. We are both proud grand parents.

In a prior blog I described my grand daughter Bethany who is an accomplished artist and author. Dottie knows I blog. I have no reason to believe that she follows the blog on a regular basis. Shamefully, I wanted to brag a bit. In an email I suggested that she check out my blog site at . She did.

In an immediate return email she acknowledged that I had reason to be proud of my children and grandchildren. She then proceeded to describe her grand daugher, Brittany Lincicome. It seems that Brittany has just won the Kraft Nabisco Championship Golf Tour, which used to be the Dinah Shore Classic.

In addition to a major trophy, I'm sure, Brittany also won the cash award.

In her proud grandmother's opinion $300,000.00 was not bad pay for four days work.

You have every right to be proud of this young lady, Dottie. In her picture Brittany resembles her grandmother. She is very pretty with very light colored hair. She, too, is a winner. She looks like she enjoys life.

The moral of this blog? All my life I have heard that in the Pierce Family who ever tells their story last always tells the "biggest". Now, Dottie is not a Pierce, but you get the idea, huh? I am happy for both the grandmother and the granddaughter.

Grandmas are earth angels
Grandmas are angels in training
Grandmas are just ancient little girls
Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting

God Bless!