Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rural America - a tribute to poets

With national poetry month fast approaching I decided to showcase some collectible plates that remind me of expressive, almost lyrical scenes of poetry.

Many of the scenes decorating these particular plates have a common theme in some of my favorite poems: home and hearth. Scenes like a cool, crisp stream or willowy green pastures. Even blustery snow-covered roofs on sturdy farm houses built long ago has the power to send my thoughts back - like a well written poem- to a soft, dream-like state where I have been most happiest. I believe too, that many of the authors also felt the need to reconnect with the place that meant so much to them by sharing with the world. Poems, describing a vision so endearing, it stayed forever in their hearts and mind. Home.




This bowl is a soft buttery  yellow with a scene that reminds me of John Chapman- best known as Johnny Appleseed. On the back of this dish is simply titled 'Bucks County' with a cute old-fashioned post.



And the poem, from Disney's Melody Time. I grew up singing it and always shout it out at the top of my lungs, especially when I'm having a bad day. Helps push those clouds right out of the way.


The Lord is Good to Me
and so I thank the Lord
for giving me,
the things I need.
The sun and the rain
and the apple seed.
Yes, he's been good to me.

I owe the Lord so much,
For everything I see
I'm certain if it weren't for him
There'd be no apples on this limb
He's been good to me.
Oh, here am I 'neath a blue, blue sky a-doing as I please
Singing with my feathered friends, humming with the bees

I wake up every day as happy as can be
Because I know that with his care
My apple trees, they will still be there
Oh, the Lord is good to me.




Another favorite


Reminds me of poet John Burroughs



                The Return
He sought the old scenes with eager feet,
The scenes he had known as a boy.
"Oh! for a draught of those fountains sweet,
And a taste of that vanished joy."
He roamed the fields, he mused by the streams,
He threaded the paths and lanes;
On the hills he sought his youthful dreams,
In the woods to forget his pains.
Oh, sad, sad, hills; oh, cold, cold hearth!
In sorrow he learned the truth,
One may go back to the place of his birth,
He cannot go back to his youth.

* fitting to know Burroughs was buried at the foot of a rock he had played on, affectionately referred to as "Boyhood Rock."



And these plates 






This favorite poem is titled Trees by Joyce Kilmer

* Trees was written from an upstairs bedroom at the family home that looked out to a hill and a well-wooded lawn. 


Trees 

I think that I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth's sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear,
A nest of robins in her hair:

Upon whose bosom snow has lain,
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me, 
But only God can make a tree. 






And last but not least, Walt Whitman and his poem simply titled:



The Farm

Through the ample open door of a peaceful country barn,
A sun-lit pasture field, with cattle and horses feeding; 
And a haze, and vista, and the far horizon, fading away. 

     




Maybe he was referring to life and the idea that each moment is passing, like breath, fading away on the horizon.


I'll wrap up with a poem I had published years ago in a volume of Garden Blessings, Poems, Prayers, and Prose Celebrating the Love of Gardening.


The Garden

Whenever I am troubled
With a burden on my chest,
I hurry to the garden
A spot that I love best.
Down on my knees, I close my eyes
And lift my arms up high
Release a torrent weight of pain,
Beneath a clear blue sky.
A cool, fresh breeze surrounds me.
It soothes my troubled heart,
And I know that God is here
And has been from the start.
The proof is all around me
As I look upon the sod,
A harvest of life protruding
Indeed a gift from God.  




April is the month to celebrate our favorite poems and their authors. These are just a few of mine, along with some pretty plates that inspire me. 









Monday, March 10, 2014

Story Songs






Story Songs



I love driving along the back roads listening to the radio, don’t you? It gives us a chance to connect with ourselves and those sharing the world around us. In just a few phrases, I can be 13 again with a hopeful airlessness of looking at each day through rose-colored glasses. Driving in the country allows me to take the opportunity and turn the volume up. Not for the music or sounds a guitar makes- which is nice, but.... Seriously, it’s all about the lyrics painting a picture attached to the melody coming from the speakers. I don't want to miss a word. For a few minutes I'm looking through the artist’s mind and able to see the story as it unfolds.


Some songs hit close to home. This one reminds me of sunny weekends, juggling kids and coolers while working to clear off the property what would become home. Hot afternoons would turn into cool evening and standing around the firepit. I wish I could experience those times again. But thankfully, with this song, I can.


The House That Built Me by Miranda Lambert:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQYNM6SjD_o

'You can't go home again, but I just had to come here one last time.'



And others are just plain fun.

This one always cracks me up. It's about a bad marriage, a low-down rotten husband named Earl, and two very good friends, Mary Ann and Wanda, and the lengths they go to protect each.

Goodbye Earl: Dixie Chicks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqnrXRuebWg

'Ain't it dark? Wrapped up in that tarp, Earl.'

Have You Seen My Wife Mr. Jones by The Bee Gees

I didn't know what this song was until I heard it several times. Written by Barry and Robin Gibb. The song recounts the story of a miner trapped in a cave-in. He's showing a photo of his wife to another miner while they wait to be rescued. 'Have you seen my wife, Mr. Jones.'

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H24z1m7uzUE

Diary by Bread
This song shows why you should never read anyone elses diary.

'I found her diary underneath a tree. Her words began to stick and tears to flow.'




((Big sigh………….)) There’s just something to be said about listening to life from someone else’s perspective.


Do you have a favorite story song?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Some say love...


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
In honor of Valentine’s Day I thought I share a few thoughts on love. My outlook anyway. Especially since I am a romance writer, love is essential to achieving the satisfying happy-ever-after.

 

When I think of love my earliest memory is my mother’s love. The smell of her hands when she braided my hair. I believed that even if I were to ever go blind (you know how weird kids are) anyway, I believed I’d be able to pick out my mother just by getting close enough to breathe the soft trace of flowers. Roses, Honeysuckle or Lilac. The famous toilet water she purchased from the Fuller Brush man. But to me, the smell was love and it’ll always evoke memories of my mom.

 

Later, during my hippy-era of peace and free spirit, my love for plants, trees and every living organism began the mind-blowing decade of my teenage years. Have you ever just loved a ‘thing’ so much and imagined it personified? Back in the groovy seventies, love was a statement. Meant to be shared and embraced.  

 

Years later, after wedded bliss, loving on my babies and then grandchildren, love has taken on more important meaning. Now my mind’s eye sees that love is actually a gift. Everyone has experienced what it is to love and be loved. Love is power. The strength to endure, the power to achieve, to recognize their heart’s desire. Because of love.

 

 

Last night Bette Midler and The Rose  came on the radio and although I’d heard the song hundreds of times, for some reason the lyrics really spoke to me.

 

Phrases like: love, it is a hunger,
                     An endless, aching need.

 

                     It’s a dream afraid of waking,
                     That never takes a chance.

 

                     Just remember that in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows
                     Lies a seed that with the sun’s love
                     In the spring becomes the rose.

 

 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3SVXz3TFr8

Monday, January 27, 2014

Home timey recipes to warm the body and soul


This winter has been brutal and with so much snow, they've declared a state-or-emergency.
Which means there's nothing much to do. Oh, I could find plenty to do. I would love nothing better than to hole-up and read a good book, the bigger, the better.
I've already spent the weekend watching Centennial. And shoveled a neat path to the wood boiler outside, also to the dogs (we have four) and farther down to the chicken coop. Yep, it takes lots of hard work to keep everything watered and fed, and snuggly in their homes.
And then what??

Anyone with a family knows the next thing on the to-do list is what's for supper? I'm hungry.

So here's a few choice recipes to help keep the body warm on this chilly winter days.

Chicken & Dumplin's


Boil one chicken in salted water till done. Remove - cool and de-bone.

Add one can Campbells Chicken & Herbs soup into the chicken stock and stir until dissolved.
Turn the heat to a gentle med-low heat and add the chicken peices. Add salt, pepper to taste.

In a medium size bowl, add 2 cups all purpose flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. baking powder, two tablespoon of oil and milk (about 1/2 cup) to make a nice sticky dough. On a floured surface, pat out and sprinkle generously with more flour. Flatten out gently with a rolling pin a little at a time, to about 1/4 in thick, cutting into squares and dropping into the pot. I work and cut a few at a time making nice bite sized dumplin's.
Cook with the lid on for ten minutes, then remove and continue to cook - gently stirring to prevent sticking. If the chicken wasn't very fat, you can add 1-or 2 Tbsp. butter to make a richer gravy.

Enjoy!



Fruit cocktail upside down cake


One large can of fruit cocktail
1 cup. brown sugar  and 1/2 cup melted butter. You can sprinkle cinnamon on this and nuts if you'd like.
1 yellow cake mix

Using a square cake pan add melted butter and sprinkle brown sugar. Next, drain the fruit cocktail and add to the pan.
Mix the cake mix according to directions and add on top of the fruit.

Place in a preheated oven at 350 and bake until done.

Line a cookie sheet with foil and allow the cake to cool for aprox. 5-10 minutes before flipping onto the other pan.

Yum! Best when eaten warm.




Southern fried Apples



5 or 6 apples, cored and sliced with skins on.
Heat 2 Tbsps. butter or margarine in a skillet and add the apples. Sprinkle heavy with brown sugar- about a cup, and cinnamon. Cook and stir until tender. I sometimes add raisins too and serve in a dish with vanilla ice cream or cool whip.



Got a craving for an icy? Try this :


1 glass milk, 1 tsp. vanilla and sugar to taste. Mix in a blender with crushed ice. You can add berries, or choco syrup or even strawberry jam to make a delicious icy.

Stay warm...stay inside...and stay safe!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

A most joyous Christmas memory




I love Christmas!! Always have and always will. I love the shopping, the cooking, the visiting and even the cleaning. Everything that goes along with making Christmas bright makes me happy.

Imagine my surprise when my granddaughter asked if I'd ever thought about doing Christmas in January? She'd been considering it so she'd have the money to buy everyone on her list, and those even remotely related to her a present. I used this opportunity to reveal my thoughts about celebrating Christmas and what it means to me.

I celebrate because one night, eons ago, a star shone so brightly that even Kings dropped what they were doing and journeyed on foot (or on the backs of camels) to witness this miraculous event.
Common barn animals looked on in awe as the newborn uttered his first sounds while his mother wrapped him in swaddling clothes despite the expensive gifts laid at the babe's feet. Even though only a few were witness to this event, here we are, thousands of years later re-telling the tale. Peace, Hope, and Love.. God's greatest gift to all of mankind. To be celebrated. To be embraced. To be treasured and shared in our hearts and in the hearts of our children and their children on Christmas day. Family and love is a gift all its own.


And then, because grownups love to talk about how things were in their childhood, I went back. A long, way back-in-the-olden days, and shared with her a Christmas memory of mine and what made it so special.


The Tree

It was the first Christmas my brother and I would have without my father living in the house, since he and mom had divorced. Back in the sixties, women made very little money and I can remember our mom was always busy, ironing clothes or caring for the old lady down the street. We didn't have much money to buy things other than the necessities, like food and heat. Presents were definitely not on the list.
Still, as December progressed, my brother and I believed something good was bound to happen. We had faith that Christmas would prevail...somehow.

A snowy Christmas Eve we were hanging around the Xmas tree lot (a roped off  part of the Marathon gas station)  and trying to decide which of the remaining trees were the biggest. We brushed against thick, fluffy spruce and I remember the sticky feel and smell of cedar pine clinging to my fingers. It was nearly dark and the attendant- Mr. Pen, asked us if we had our tree yet. "No," we didn't.

Well, he invited us to the pick of the lot, free of charge! I can still recall the thrill of holding the pointy top-end of the biggest tree left while my brother held tight to the bottom. Working as a team we marched home with our beautiful Christmas tree.

Mom was teary eyed when she opened the door, while we struggled to get it inside our apartment. She agreed we could decorate it but confessed there wouldn't be anything to put underneath it. "We don't care," we said, and grabbed the paper chains and sparkly Styrofoam balls hanging from the window ledge. We strung popcorn and mom hauled out a box of old ornaments. She told us how much she enjoyed stringing the silver icles and her face glowed as she carefully placed them, one long strand after another, shimmering on the tree. At some point she must have put on Christmas music because I heard the soft carols being sung in the background.

Finally, the tree was finished and she turned off the lamp so we could watch the red, blue and green flashing lights. I'll never forget the warm embrace as she pulled me onto her lap and how my brother crawled up beside her in the chair- crowded, cozy and content. And we sang every Christmas song we knew, in the dark, in the chair, together.

That was a Christmas to remember. And I've never forgotten how lucky I felt to have gotten such a wonderful tree. I'll always remember Mr. Pen, the nice old man who dressed in dirty coveralls and worked of cars and repaired bicycle tires, except for last part of December when he made room in his lot for Christmas trees and opened his heart to us.

Oh, and early Christmas morning I woke to hear someone banging on the door. I could smell cornbread and onions coming from the kitchen. I'd fallen asleep on the couch and was the first one to see my dad arrive, covered in snow and carrying an armload of gifts.

It was the best Christmas I ever knew.




Here's wishing you a most joyous holiday with family and friends.

Merry Christmas!!















Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fast and Easy Pumpkin Roll

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup pumpkin
1tsp. salt, 1tsp soda, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup flour



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Filling:

8 oz cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp soft butter
1 cup powdered sugar




Spread onto greased & waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.
bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Will look dry.








Sprinkle a clean dish towel with powdered sugar on it.
Allow cake to cool in pan for about five -ten minutes and then loosen the edges and
flip cake onto the towel. Dust with more powdered sugar.

 
 
 
Roll up gently and allow to cool (I like to put mine on the porch during a crisp fall day)
Unroll and smooth filling eveningly.
 


 
 
 
 






Transfer to a cake plate and one final dusting of powdered sugar.

Enjoy!



** Note: At the time of this photo the family had already arrived. I barely got the picture taken before
they swooped in and gobbled up the rest.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Words


 

 

 

Words are powerful and have the ability to hurt, heal, and seal the deal into a promise of a lifetime.

 

I had never really thought about it when I was younger but I always knew I had the ability to weasel out of a situation by quick thinking and a silver tongue. Sure, it didn’t always work but not because I didn’t try. Seeing my mother standing in the doorway looking at her watch with the dark leather snake hanging at her side was encouragement enough to dig deeper and give it another go.

 

I later learned this is called lying, or stretching the truth. Fabricating. And soon after discovered ways to enhance my …um, silver tongue by using it to my advantage. 

 

I write fiction.

 

That's right. The stories I pen are false. Not real. They happen in my head. I dreamed it all up.

 

It’s funny how something we struggled with during infancy, drooling and gurgling until finally popping out a recognizable word, suddenly opens up a whole new audience.

Not only are Mom and Pop looking on gleefully, but they’re shoving you front and center into a whole set of on-lookers while you proudly babble off this remarkable talent. Seriously, I remember being the only one in Sunday school singled out to sing Jesus Loves Me. My brother sat in the pew making faces. Geesh...what an experience.

 

Um...but back to words and their marvelous magical substance they possess.
 
Upon entering school one of the best thing I remember is my introduction to Jane, Dick and Spot, bold printed simple words that opened up a whole other group of friends. Books. Page after page of words delivered in such a way I’m changed, transformed, no longer the same. Because of words.

 

 

The Bee Gees said it best, “It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away.”