Saturday, December 03, 2005

An Authentic Thanksgiving

Jessica as Mary Brewster in the children's 1st Thanksgiving skit.

Alex and Ethan out by the fire at Indian Camp.

Ron and Chandler - our two Indians.

Sue teaching our younger Pilgrims how to make butter from cream - it really works!

Our Thanksgiving table with a shell of salt and a shell with five kernels of corn.

And some of the pilgrims.

We had a truly authentic Thanksgiving out at my friend Brenda's house. It was really awesome. We started out at the Indian Camp outside, which Stacey had set up with a teepee, cooking fire, bow and arrows, duck and squirrel cooking on a spit over the fire - after skinning the squirrel first. Everyone was to come either as a Pilgrim or an Indian. I spent lots of hours making our costumes and they turned out alright. Ron's Indian costume was only a 30 minute job - can you tell? He and Chandler were our only Indians though. It was a beautiful day - not too hot, not too cold. It was pretty nifty watching Stacey skin the squirrel. Some thought it was really disgusting and others thought it was pretty cool. Brenda commented that had she lived back then, she would have probably died of starvation! As for me, it was really no big deal, as my Dad gave me my 1st squirrel gun when I was only 10. (I still remember going hunting with him and being totally overwhelmed by the kick of that 410 shotgun. I never actually hit anything. But growing up in rural Mississippi, I experienced lots of hunting, fishing and eating "game". My Uncle Jack was a prolific hunter and fisherman, bringing home lots of dove, quail, deer, and lots of trout. Daddy never really got a lot of chances to go hunting. But he did pass his hunting and fishing bug on to my little brother, Michael.)
After our time out at the Indian camp, we went inside to an authentic Thanksgiving meal using authentic recipes - at least as close as we could come. We researched the recipes and each family prepared some of the dishes. Our menu was as follows:
Roast turkey (of course), venison stew, roast duck and squirrel.
Smoked oysters, pickled eel and baked mussels.
Stewed pumpkin, sweet potato pudding, hominy, boiled onions, and succotash.
Cornbread - but not like what we eat today. You boil the cornmeal first, then mix in whole
wheat flour, then dip out onto a cooking sheet like biscuits and then bake.
Regular yeast bread - homemade by Sue - ymmm.
Butter, made by shaking cream in a jar.
Surprisingly, most everything was pretty good. No one went hungry. I liked everything except the hominy. Nothing was really sweet. Back in those days, sweetener of any sort was scarce. Before we ate, we each took our 5 kernels of corn and shared what we were thankful for. In the end, the little pile of kernels represented our blessings.
After the meal, we sang some scripture songs, and then the TT's put on a play about the original Pilgrims and the signing of the Mayflower Compact. It was quite good. It was a little comical to see "Bogey", the pet dog, wandering in and out of the play. I guess they had pets back then! All in all, it was a really good time with good friends, good food and lots of laughter. It really causes you to stop and thank God for your blessings. My bowl of kernels runneth over.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Mamaw's Table

This photo was taken in 1982 when I visited my grandmother, Mamaw Byrd, also known as Maggie B. It was either at Thanksgiving or Christmas, but I am not sure which. I also have some outside shots that reveal the time of year. Ron was also with me, since I have some photos that he took of me there. Anyway, the thing that was so interesting to me about this picture that I came across recently was how so many things on the table brought back vivid memories to me about Mamaw.

Mamaw and I always had a very special relationship. She thought I was terrific and I thought the same about her. She always squealed with delight when I came to visit, whether I was 4 or 40. I used to love spending the night with her and having her all to myself. She and I would lie on her bed and count the pine knot holes in the paneling. My dad and his Dad (Papaw) and his brothers built that house when my dad was just a boy. It was a simple house, but built of quality stuff. Mamaw was the type who always had time for the grandkids. She would go outside with us and help us make play houses and mud pies. She was always around to encourage and give us extra supplies. We used to make play houses out back by raking up pine straw and outlining our "rooms" with it. I spent countless hours with my cousins outside with our imaginations running full steam ahead.

Anyway - back to the table. I am really glad I decided to take those photos that day, because later, when Mamaw was in a nursing home, her house burned to the ground. Everything in it was gone. The table was actually one that Mamaw had given to my mom and dad shortly after they married. Apparently Mama was not interested in having it - maybe it was too old fashioned for her (?). So Mamaw had always told me that she was saving it for me. She told me that my name was taped on the underside, so that when she died it would go to me. (I never looked to confirm that - I just trusted that it was there.) But now it is gone, along with all of her pictures, other furniture and memorabilia.

One of the interesting things about the table is that you can see several things on top of the table that really remind me of her. If you look closely at the picture you will see a part of an egg custard pie there. She always loved egg custard pie - and so do I. I guess I get it from her. Also, you will see a can of Swiss Mocha instant coffee by International Foods. She loved to drink that coffee. Since she lived alone, she didn't bother to make real coffee. She just drank the instant. And for a treat she would have the Swiss Mocha. (And guess what - I have cans of the International Coffee in my cupboard - Cafe Vienna, though.) Nearby, you see a box of chocolate coveried cherries. They were one of her favorites. She loved sweets - although I don't think she ever weighed over 100 lbs. Maybe 110 lbs. in her hay day. She was so slight that she would blow away in a strong wind. Maybe that is one reason she lived to be 94. Plus she was always very active, working outside in her gardens right up until she went into the nursing home. But she had a real sweet tooth - and so did my dad.

Also there is a vase which has Camelias and Camelia bush branches in it, along with a pine cone from out in her yard. She always had living things scattered around in her house - mostly picked from her extensive flower gardens or just things she picked up from wandering around outside. She loved to be outdoors. She had a porch swing that she spent a lot of time in, swinging, reading and enjoying the outdoors and her multitude of cats and dogs.

And last but not least, is her rocking chair. She would sit there on cold winter days in front of her gas heater and tell lots of stories about life. She had lots of young people from around that part of the country who would come and visit her. They wanted to "adopt" her as their grandmother, but she basically poo-pooed that idea, saying that she had plenty of her own grandchildren. (She had 9 of her own.)

Well, it is interesting how much of a story one photograph can tell. I haved enjoyed reminiscing about it and I really don't want the memories to be lost. So here they are for posterity.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fall Trip to the Nature Center

We have had beautiful fall weather this year, and last Wednesday, Kate suggested that we go out and walk around at the Nature Center.
I said, "No Way! I have too much to do."
And Kate said, "Don't you think we ought to make time?"
The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became that she was right. After all, how many more beautiful fall days will I have to share with my two lovely daughters? And yes, I did get terribly behind by taking the time out to go out there and spend time enjoying the beauty of nature and the company of my girls. As a matter of fact, I am still catching up. But hey, so what! What else is new? I'm always, perpetually behind. And we did have a good time. I can even call it "school". Jess is studying American History and Indian tribes. We got to get a close-up look at a wigwam. And Jess particularly enjoyed the cows. She liked petting them through the fence. The heifer was particularly interested in my orange sweater.
After communing with the bovines, we went over to explore the one room schoolhouse and the maple syrup house. The colors of the surrounding leaves were absolutely breathtaking. I have been particularly moved by the fall colors this year. More than I ever remember being. And the crisp fall air has been refreshing. (Maybe it's menopause!) At any rate, I was glad we took the time to go out there. Maybe they'll have a memory worth remembering.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Halloween and Medieval Dresses

This year Katy made some awesome Medieval dresses for our Konos Celebration. She wore it for our end of the year Medieval Feast, and then again for Halloween. Our annual tradition is that our friends come over and all go all-out dressing up to go Trick or Treating. It has been a lot of fun through the years. She also made a dress for Jessica that she wore with her black cape that I made for her last year. We had a couple of characters from Colonial America, a dog, a juggler, a magician and a gypsy that accompanied them. Brenda and I held down the fort and gave out candy.

The Scottish dress.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

A Very Good Day and a Visit From Patrick Henry

Three things are needed for a good life:

Good friends, good food, and good song.

-Jason Zebehazy

Today was a very good day. Although there were a few glitches at co-op, as in - we may be losing a teacher - aaargh - the rest of the day went pretty well.

We were graced with the presence of Mr. Patrick Henry - straight in from 1775. He gave a rousing rendition of his famous speech to the House of Burgesses, ending with the ever famous, ever inspiring "I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me LIBERTY or give me DEATH!"

I never cease to be tremendously moved upon hearing that speech. It amazes me of the timelessness of the things he said and how appropriate things he said are to the times in which we live. Truly - these are the times that try men's souls. Ever since Sept.11, I have been often reminded of the sacrifices that were made so that we can enjoy the liberty we now enjoy and so often take for granted. It is one thing to be willing to sacrifice yourself in the cause of liberty, but another thing all together to be willing to sacrifice your son, your child, to the cause of liberty, which so many of our founding fathers had to be willing to do - to sacrifice their prosperity, their posterity, their security and their very lives - in the cause of liberty.

So, on another momentous occasion, did our Father sacrifice his own Son, so that we may have true liberty, true freedom. Tonight, I am very concious of the debt I owe for my own freedom and that of my family.

Tonight, I have a friend in Afghanistan - working for the liberty of that people - true liberty. At the risk of her very life. May God protect her and give her grace. Amen.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

The "Junque" Collector

My dad was infamous for collecting junk. He saw it as a way of ministering to other people, since he always wanted to be able to help out, and if he had something they needed, he could give it to them or loan it to them. He always saw the "useful" in things other people felt were only good for discarding. This habit of his was very aggravating to my mother, but I can totally understand his motivation, since I have some of the same tendencies. I know the happy feeling I get when I have something that someone needs and can provide it for them. I don't know what that says about my inner character, but that's the way it is, just the same. It is not necessarily the most rational feeling, but I really like to be able to help someone out, and I guess I get that from my dad. I can still remember when my brother and I were small, my dad gave away my bedroom set to a family whose house had burned down. My mother was furious with him, but the worst thing that happened was that I had to bunk in with my little brother for a while. And I learned a great lesson about meeting other peoples' needs.

This is a picture of my dad clowning around with a "Junque" sign I gave him one Christmas. The following quote by Benjamin Franklin really epitomizes the way my dad lived his life. He had a remarkable way of saying the right thing or nothing at all.

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
Author:Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Recovery Wednesday

Today is what is affectionately called "recovery Wednesday" around here. There is lots of sighing and breathing and trying to chill out after Tuesday. I've been distinctly feeling like I must do something creative, so I've noodled and doodled with my new altered book and with my new scrapbook pages about my son's music and his performances this summer at Coffee Chaos. I've enjoyed trying to put together a "rugged, masculine" page that won't embarrass him, but that will do justice to his music, so we'll see how it all turns out.

Sitting around with my feet propped up in front of the computer, browsing throught lots of scrapbooking pages for ideas, can be pretty relaxing. I've given up cooking for Lent - oh yeah, I'm not Catholic and I guess Lent's over , but my hiatus from cooking is not. Jess is sick with a cold and Kate has the day off from activity, it's dreary out and Ron is out of town, so today has been a rather atypical kick-back day. Wish I could have a bushel of these, all in a row.

I find myself thinking about my Dad a lot lately. Guess with the old home place up for sale, it keeps him in the forefront of my mind. I hope to do a tribute album to him someday - if I ever get time to focus on that. He was a truly great man - one of a kind - unique, you might say. And never again will another pass this way that is quite like him. He was my hero, my inspiration, and my biggest fan, and I truly miss him every day. I could really use a good dose of his wisdom about now. So many things I could ask him - I've made so many mistakes over the years, and I guess you can't undo them, just hope for grace to get you through.

One of my favorite sayings of his was "I only have two speeds, and if you don't like this one, you're sure not going to like the other one." He took life at a slower than usual pace. He always took time for people - time to stop and ask how they were - really. And then to even listen to their answers.

So - here's to my Dad!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Welcome to My Mondays

Today is a typical Monday for me. I will spend most of the day frantically getting ready for co-op tomorrow. As usual, I have lots of stress and no where to put it :) Anyway, today is a little unique in that it is a public school holiday - Columbus Day - so the gym has graciously decided to have the session from 10-2, which totally interrupts our homeschooling day. So the girls will lose the best part of their day to do schoolwork :( Why do we need to follow the public school schedule! That is one of the great benefits of homeschooling - so we shouldn't be locked into someone else's schedule. It always annoys me when people "presume" with my schedule.

But on a lighter note, we are planning to go to the dress rehearsal of REDWALL at the Center for the Arts tonight to see Master Alex perform as the "Abbot". It should be really great and I am greatly looking forward to it.

After getting the girls to gym, I will then procede to write out my lesson plan and assignment sheets for Latin and finish the timeline stuff for the TT American History class. If I have time, I will then start working on my lesson plans for American Lit, which I start teaching in 2 weeks. It is like juggling 5 balls at once to try to actually get the girls' schoolwork accomplished on Monday while I am frantically planning for co-op for Tuesdays. I always feel behind.

Yesterday, I took Jessica to her first meet of the season in Shelby Township at Olympia Gymnastics. She did very well. She got her first 9 score! She had a 9.1 on bars and that was her first event. She did very well all around and placed second on her team and 9th overall at the meet. She had a 34.775 all around score - WOW! I was very proud of her, especially since she broke her leg at her first meet last year and I expected her to be nervous. She is also recovering from a sprained ankle, and I wasn't sure how that would affect her. She also just came down with a cold, so I am sure she was feeling tired. Today she gets to add her name to the 9.0 club at the gym.

I am having problems with my computer, so I don't know if I can keep this up. I need to download updates on my virus scan and I keep getting an error message and it won't download. So I will possibly have problems in the future. Any suggestions?

Well, enough for now. I must get on with my hectic day.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Why "Altered Schoolmarm"

No, it is not an "altered" state of mind, as in doing mind altering drugs, as some have guessed. The name refers to "altering" art in such a way as to make it your own. Lots of people alter books, boxes, journals, even small suitcases or lunchboxes, to make them reflect their own creations. People tend to use collage, add on 3 dimensional stuff, like keys, charms, match books, anything they like.

So....I am a schoolmarm (teacher) of sorts - but do it my own, and hopefully creative - way. The title combines two of my favorite things - altering art and teaching my kids at home. There is nothing quite like getting to be around your kids and to really get to know them. That is one of the great joys of my life.

The two scans are of a journal that I "altered" for my daughter, Kate, a couple of years ago for her birthday. It was a cheap journal that I bought at the dollar store and "improved", although I did like the fact that it had scripture quotes all through it.

I think the thing I like the most about "altering" art is that there are no right or wrong ways to do it, so there are no mistakes and therefore no stress. I have enough stress in my life without adding to it with my creative endeavors.
Stop every now and then. Just stop and enjoy. Take a deep breath. Relax and take in the abundance of life. - Anonymous

Mackinac Island

This was taken when Ron and I celebrated our 20th anniversary in June of last year. We had an awesome time. The weather was gorgeous and we spent the day on the island. We rode around the island on bikes. It was a great time of being together and remembering why we got married in the first place. Mackinac Island is one of my most favorite locations on the planet -especially off the beaten track and away from the "fudgies".

The scenery was breathtaking. We got to see lots of wildflowers. The entire weekend was really fun and revitalizing and I highly recommend a weekend getaway for married couples. There is nothing else quite like it to rekindle the romance.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The First Day of My Blog Life

Today, I bit the bullet and set up my own blog. Always wanted a way to journal, and the plus is I can communicate with others about things I'm interested in.

10 things about me:

1. I'm a homeschooling mom.
2. Have 3 wonderful kids - son - age 20, daughter - age 16, daugher - age 11
3. Have wonderful husband Ron
4. Love to teach
5. Love to scrapbook.
6. Love to rubber stamp.
7. Love anything "altered"
8. Love my friends.
9. Love my son's music.
10. Love homeschooling!