Living the Virus Life: Making Lemonade Out of Lemons, April 8, 2020 episode

This blog post is here on Frostproof Musings only because it turned out to be too long and complicated for a Facebook post.

Looking for something productive and helpful to do, my mother-in-law and I partnered up a few days ago to explore making face masks for those who don’t have them or can’t get them. I have been mining the internet for information and resources and decided to document our journey a bit and share some ideas and information that may be helpful. Please feel free to share this post and comment with useful ideas and suggestions if you wish. I include a link to an article from the NYTimes that gives a good summary of the pros and cons concerning fabrics and materials for making facemasks. As always, thank you for your time and attention!

Wendy White Goddard


I went to Senior Hour at Publix this week for our groceries and was heartened to see almost every customer wearing masks–many of them homemade in a variety of designs. My mother-in-law and I have been working on making masks, trying out different dimensions and designs, changing up materials, and looking for people to sew them if we supply the materials and cut and pin the fabric together. The options making their way around the internet are creative and inspiring.

I will say that we are pleased with our idea: creating a pocket between the fabric layers so you can insert a rectangle of H100 Sequential Sterilization Wrap (made by Halyard Corp, one of many other manufacturers). This is the material that the University of Florida is now repurposing, and sterilizing (they have ultra-violet sterilization machines), and fabricating into surgical masks. They have received approval to re-sterilize the face-coverings up to 9 times before disposing of them.

Click on the image to enlarge it and see details.

Of course, the general public does not have access to such sterilization equipment, but we found that we can cut 16 pieces from a single 20 X 20 sheet of the surgical wrap to insert into the fabric masks. We think this is a practical alternative and can maximize mask usage as well as providing better protection for the average “civilian.” Of course, you will want to sterilize your fabric mask frequently by laundering it in hot water and detergent or immersing it in boiling water for 2 minutes. Then, just insert a new piece of surgical fabric. Per UF’s anesthesiology team, this surgical wrap is 4% more effective in blocking microbes than the N95 surgical masks.

I will attach a picture of our design as it stands today. Who knows what it will look like as more and more people suggest improvements? Reach out, team up, find quilters in your community who are willing to donate fabric. For the nose-guards use large paper clips, or florist wire, or pipe cleaners. Now get to cutting and sewing! You might also consider using iron-on seam tape if you don’t have a sewing machine to assemble the masks.

In the meantime, mind your lemons, and stay positive!


NOTE: we use a piece of fabric cut 18 in X 7.5 inches for an adult size mask using 8 inch long elastic pieces for those who need a larger reach across their face to their ears. For smaller faces or children, a length of fabric cut 16 in by 7 inches will do. Cut the elastic into 7″ pieces for those with smaller faces.

Here is the link to the NYTimes article.


Lights and Icicles and Holiday Memories

This season, my life-long, best friend and I have been chatting and texting stories about battery-operated candles gone rogue, misbehaving Christmas lights, and human folly amidst some fa-la-la memories. The candles in her windows, although programmed to a specific schedule, turn themselves on and off at will. We wonder if the timing is portentous and significant, sort of a “da-da-da-dum” punctuation to our phone conversations or her musings as she sits drinking her morning coffee?

David and I broke with tradition this year and only put up a table-top tree, sifting through boxes of decorations for the most memorable (and in some cases the smallest) ornaments to adorn the artificial evergreen. We bought it for our daughter last year on a shopping rampage through Home Goods, the size suitable for her 750 square foot apartment in downtown Jacksonville. Ally left the tree in storage with us when she moved to Charlotte, NC, this spring. We rescued it from the back of the garage during a clean-out-the-clutter flurry at the beginning of the holiday season. I adore our little tree because it is a bit clumsy, better than a Charlie Brown tree, but in need of love: a crooked homemade bow for a topper, only half the ready-wired lights working, not much room for presents. Well-suited to our scaled back gift giving this year, the tree modestly and quietly reminds us of the reason for the season. But it went a little rogue the other morning when I shuffled into the kitchen to make coffee before dawn. I plugged the tree in, and all the lights worked!

It’s good to be reminded that life still has mysteries, and the unknown future exists in tandem with the known past. Moments and people and places to remember balance with anticipation of what lies ahead. This season I hope you have time for reflection. May you appreciate what you have, what you remember, and greet the future with gratitude in your hearts. And may any folly have its fa-la-la drumbeat.

Here is a little story I posted from a prior Christmas that I hope will bring you a little joy.

The year we left Loudoun County, Virginia, to migrate south to Florida in October of 1990, I purchased a set of twenty hand-snipped and twisted tin icicles at the annual Waterford Fair. These colonial-era styled ornaments have graced our Christmas trees for twenty-seven years. Each year, they are the first ornaments to adorn the tree. We parse them out, so each of us hangs a few on the branches. And at the close of holidays, we carefully take inventory.

We remember the year I tied them on with ribbon, and the dog wrestled one off the tree, inexplicably hiding it in a shoe. Or the time we poured too much evergreen tree preservative in the tree stand, and, as the tree aged and dried, the branches curled around the icicles, like a covetous, petrified wood elf in a haunted forest. Only razor-sharp garden scissors and wire-cutters could free them.

Alas, only nineteen icicles remain. But the memories endure.

Wishing you lasting holiday moments.

A Veteran’s Day Memory

As the children of a military officer, we understood respect and dignity are due to those who give the promise of sacrifice for our security and safety. Our father rarely spoke, actually never spoke, of his time at war. Not in World War II, and not in Korea. He told the occasional story of pranks or misadventures for our amusement, like the time his younger brother, Bob, was given furlough from his ship in the Sea of Japan. He came ashore looking for our dad, who was just out of officers’ school with his first Lieutenant stripes. Bob found him in the barracks, running the crap game for the non-comms!

We knew Dad worked in the Army Corps of Engineers, building roads and bridges and airstrips so that our troops could deploy when and where needed around the world. We did not know his actions during wartime until his best friend and last commanding officer arrived in full dress uniform at our father’s funeral. Colonel Clausing stood beside the casket at Bushnell National Cemetary in 1994, saluting his friend as the bugle played and the rifles fired.

Colonel Clausing shared stories of the first time he served with our dad, in Korea. As combat engineers, they debugged minefields, crawling through freezing mud to create safe passage for troops. They built pontoon bridges over frigid rivers and, afterward, dis-assembled them to prevent the enemy from following. Dad never spoke of hardship, the risk of frostbite, the wet cigarettes that would not light, the lack of clean drinking water, the almost inedible k-rations. He did not speak of losing friends to enemy fire, of leading younger and greener men to their death.

The Korean War Memorial remains my favorite place on the National Mall. The Lincoln Memorial inspires. FDR’s monument of rooms allows for contemplation. The Jefferson Memorial provides the perfect spot for watching the sunset over the Potomac River. The Viet Nam Veterans’ Wall breaks my spirit, and I weep at the cost of war. The World War II Memorial offers scope and grandeur, a big gesture for a big war. But the heads-down figures in bronze slogging through the mud in Korea create an intimacy, a humanity that the other memorials lack. It’s not speeches and photo ops, the roar of jet fighters overhead, the bloom of parachutes in the sky when the air corps jumps, that make gratitude surge in my chest. It’s witnessing the everyday sacrifice of our veterans and our active-duty troops.

Thank you, Dad, and Colonel Clausing, and Uncle Bob, all other veterans known and unknown, and our current servicemen and women. Your everyday sacrifice ensures our everyday lives.

Dogs and poems and memories

A friend shared a lovely video on social media of Jimmy Stewart reading a poem about his dog, bringing back memories of our beloved Aussie Shepherd, Harley, who passed almost 4 years ago. At the bottom of this page, I have posted the link to Jimmy Stewart’s poem. Here is the piece I wrote while grieving for the dog we lost.

A Meditation on Cooking the Blues Away, February 2016

Ironic that grief brings on bouts of IBS and the best way for me to push through the sorrow is by cooking. David and I cooked together all afternoon on Saturday. The Blanquette de Veau was lovely. I made chocolate dipped strawberries on their stems, Christine’s mom’s recipe for Slavic butter cookies, and the NYTime’s recipe for Chocolate Bourbon Pecan bonbons. The neighbors brought champagne, and we toasted a tender farewell to Harley.

We have been talking about making Cassoulet this winter, what with ducks in the freezer and heirloom cranberry beans in the pantry. So when we were in Orlando Friday morning, we found some fresh pork belly and pork shoulder. David spent Sunday afternoon and evening making garlic sausage. It took four hands to fill the casings, the Kitchen Aid grinder and sausage stuffer requiring constant tending to avoid air pockets, and David slowly meting out the casings, so they were not too full and not too thin. An overnight in the fridge to air dry followed by David smoking them yesterday afternoon and poaching them after to cook through. Close to 6 feet of sausage!

Not willing to wait until the weekend Cassoulet effort (since the ducks are just thawed and making duck confit won’t happen ’til Thursday), I spent today making two kinds of filling for pierogi’s: mushroom and cabbage; potato-onion and cheese. I kneaded and rolled the satiny dough, easing it out into a large circle after many push-and-spring-backs with the rolling pin. The kinks in my heartstrings finally began relaxing as I cut 68 small rounds and filled them one by one, pinching the edges together, crimping with a flour-dusted fork. They chill in the fridge awaiting that pot of boiling water tomorrow night. Louise picked up more cabbage for me to steam and serve with the sausage and pierogi’s which we will sauté and mound with caramelized onions. Hope we have enough sour cream! And good strong mustard.

The lake is quiet after overnight storms. Light sparks the air. The Sand Hill Cranes stand silent. The kitty naps. I miss Harley’s snuffling snores, yawning stretches, and shuffling walk. The post came without her barking greeting.

I distract myself by stirring the glaze for the marinating pork belly. We had leftovers from sausage making, and I found asparagus in the fridge (Thank you, Lynn and Jan, the abundance of food you brought last weekend lives on and on!). We are going new-age Chinese tonight: miso-marinated pork belly, roasted slowly and glazed, pencil-thin asparagus stir-fried with black bean sauce and porcini mushrooms, jasmine rice, of course.

But there won’t be a sweet puppy underfoot when we get out the wok burner this evening. I have never made fortune cookies. My next project maybe? What good fortune we have had in our cherished pets, family, and friends. Pardon me while I cook my way to goodbye.
RIP Harley Goddard. You are missed.

Here is a link to the video:

Who proposed daylight savings time?

I make the usual complaints when we lose an hour as we “Spring forward” or the expressions of delight when we “Fall back” every year. But there are those who rage or fall into depression or just complain more loudly when we change the clocks. I empathize. Truly, I do. I once worked for an employer with headquarters in Indianapolis when the city of Indianapolis refused to recognize the time change. Other renegades are surely out there. Alaska and Hawaii and some US territories such as Guam don’t participate.

Recently, a friend posted on IG the explanation for the origination of daylight savings time in New Zealand: In 1895, New Zealand entomologist George Hudson proposed a two-hour time shift so he would have more daylight to catch bugs in the summertime.

I did my own Google search and learned that Benjamin Franklin proposed the time change in 1784 when he wrote an essay published in the Journal de Paris: “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light,”

For more interesting tidbits, check out Live Science.

Live Science: The Most Interesting Articles, Mysteries & Discoveries
Live Science features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history.

A Meditation on Mulligatawny Soup and the Devolution of a Professional Chef to a Home Cook. Or is it?

Thirty-nine years ago, on October 2nd, we opened The Purcellville Inn in western Loudon County, Virginia. One of my favorite comments regarding our journey to successful restaurant ownership is, “We didn’t know how much we didn’t know!” But we learned and, over six years, I evolved as a working chef. Each day started with the sound of a hose turning on below my bedroom window when our daytime dishwasher, Loretta, began washing the kitchen mats we dragged outside the night before. I would stumble down the stairs, stopping to turn on the Bunn coffee maker and unlock the kitchen door. I would begin another day of preparing lunch and dinner specials, writing the latest holiday promotional menu, interviewing and scheduling staff, calling suppliers, checking in on the local farmers and growers and, always just before service, declaring the “Soup of the Day.”

You don’t need a plan to make soup. My favorite children’s folk story was “Stone Soup.” Three starving soldiers returning from war pass through villages bereft of food stolen by marauding armies. The soldiers stop in one town to find all the doors barred to them. Undeterred, they place a large cauldron of water over a fire and put one stone in the bottom of the vessel. One by one, villagers creep from their homes, asking the soldiers what they are cooking, and a soldier replies, “It is stone soup, but it would be even better with a few carrots.” Or a few potatoes, or a bit of meat, or some herbs and seasonings—and one by one, the villagers run back to their houses and return with a few offerings. Before long, everyone shares the feast of nourishing soup.

“Use what you have” served as a practical business application in my work kitchen and my menu planning, resulting in a profitable food cost at the restaurant. And as a home cook, I continue to plan meals by first looking in my pantry and refrigerator. I follow food trends, frequent Amazon Prime for exotic vinegar and spice mixtures, update and rewrite old recipes. But Stone Soup continues to inspire me daily, as does the Cooking column of the New York Times and their frequent reference to the “no recipe-recipe.” As I ruminate on whether or not, almost forty years on, I am a better home cook than I was a working chef, I offer up a recipe (as well as a few no recipe-recipes) that was requested recently.

The Purcellville Inn update on Mulligatawny Soup

The first key ingredient here is the best homemade chicken broth you can find: not too reduced and dark, but clean tasting and full of flavor. A whole chicken will give you the best result. Make your broth base by adding rough-cut vegetables (carrots, celery, onions) to the pot with dried thyme, bay leaves, and whole peppercorns. Simmer in several quarts of water before adding the chicken. Cut up the pieces of a whole chicken so as the pot simmers, you can pull out the white meat and debone it, throwing the bones back in the pan and thus not overcooking the meat. Set the white meat aside for an excellent chicken salad or shred it for the soup.

Do the same with the dark meat: you can shred or dice up the cooked chicken for pot pies or enchiladas, or prepare a poultry version of Hunter’s Stew. Sauté mushrooms with minced garlic and shallots and thyme and set aside. Next, sauté carrots, onions, red and yellow bell pepper. Add white wine, a few cups of that great homemade stock, the mushrooms, and some wonderful oven-roasted grape or cherry tomatoes. Halve the red orbs, and toss with olive oil, shallot slices, garlic and thyme, S& P–cook them low on 325 F in a casserole and stir every so often until they release their juices and begin to caramelize, but not burn. Finish the Hunter’s Stew flavor profile with fresh Tarragon. Thicken the stew to your liking with a paste of soft butter and flour (a Beurre Manie). Serve over Polenta!

The second key point for the best results is the flavor and quality of your yellow curry powder. I don’t have a go-to brand anymore. I can no longer find the brand I bought in quantity all those years ago at The Inn. I just keep buying and tasting. Look for something that is bright yellow and has a clean and not bitter flavor. Don’t focus on heat. You can always add warmth by splashing in your favorite hot pepper sauce or my current go-to: ground Aleppo pepper. Don’t sauté the Aleppo with the veggies and other spices. Let it bloom when you add the liquid to the soup. It won’t taste spicy right away. Let the flavor develop. This is low and slow heat, not tongue burning.

Third decision point: Heavy cream or unsweetened coconut milk? Your preference.

4th: Add rice to the soup, or serve the soup over rice? Make your choice.

5th: What kind of apples? As the year progresses, go for the freshest ones you can find. The sweet/tart, crisp/tender flavor of Envy suits the recipe well this season. Try roasting them with other vegetables for an easy and economical sheet pan supper (cauliflower, carrots, onion, bell peppers–the timing varies for each one. Put the longest cooking vegetables on first and add others as you go. First, toss each addition with olive oil and your choice of herbs and seasoning. Add the apples last. Finish with a small drizzle of good white wine vinegar). Don’t want to heat your oven? Throw peeled, and diced apples into a sauté with chicken or pork chops. For a “Sauce Normand,” deglaze your pan with a little apple brandy and cream and a dash of chicken stock. Serve it with partially steamed and then roasted Baby Dutch (small Yukon Gold) potatoes and a lovely green salad. If you decide to indulge in a bottle of French Calvados to make this dish—drink it as an aperitif with a little sparkling water or wine, garnished with an apple slice. Maybe we should call this drink a Kir Normand?

6th: Serve your Mulligatawny with condiments? Why not? Make a party meal out of it: a big crockpot on the buffet or pot on the stove, bowls laid out with rice ready to scoop, and toppings to add to your family or guests’ preferences: toasted unsweetened coconut, toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts, yellow raisins or sliced dried apricots plumped in dry vermouth or white wine, diced raw apples, slivers of fresh jalapeno and serrano chili peppers (remove seeds and stems), fresh herbs of your choice (parsley for sure, maybe cilantro?). Thin some plain yogurt with a little coconut milk to swirl over the top.

7th: No side dish required. Make a citrusy olive-oil cake for dessert with a dried-cherry compote. Or, if it’s the berry-picking season, slow roast some strawberries with a little turbinado sugar and finish with some aged balsamic vinegar. You’re welcome!

Okay, finally, the recipe:

Mulligatawny Soup


2 medium white or yellow (not sweet) onions, ½ inch dice, should yield 2 cups
1 cup celery, ½ inch dice (about 2-3 stalks celery)
1 cup peeled carrot, ½ inch dice (2-3 medium-sized carrots)
1 red or orange (go for color!) bell pepper, ½ inch dice
1 leek, washed of grit, dried, sliced in half lengthwise, and cut into thin half-moons
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced or grated
3 TB butter, preferably unsalted
3 TB neutral oil
1 TB fragrant yellow curry powder
3 TB all-purpose flour
½ cup extra dry vermouth or dry white wine
5 cups chicken broth, heat before adding to the pot
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp ground Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes (start with ¼ tsp) or your choice of hot sauce to taste
2 Envy apples, cored, but not peeled, ½ inch dice–if it looks like too much apple, save some to use as garnish
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken—add more if you are making this more of a stew
½ cup heavy cream or unsweetened coconut milk
S&P to taste
Garnishes as recommended above
Steamed white rice (I recommend Basmati!) for serving
**I prefer NOT to add the rice to the soup. It gets overly soft and soaks up the broth too much for my taste. Or have warm rice ready and stir into the soup just before you serve it up into individual cups or bowls.

Melt butter with oil over low heat and add vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, frequently stirring over medium-low heat until onions are translucent and everything begins to soften.

Add garlic and turn heat to low, stir, cook for 30 to 60 seconds until it becomes fragrant.

Add curry powder, frequently stir to “bloom” the spice in the butter/oil.
When it becomes fragrant (don’t let it brown or burn), add the flour, stirring continuously to coat all the vegetables. If it is sticking to the pan, add a little more neutral oil or melted butter.

Deglaze the pan with white wine, stirring and scraping up the bottom and sides. Slowly add in the hot broth, stir to make sure each addition is incorporated, and any lumps dissolve.

When all the chicken broth is added, add the dried thyme and Aleppo pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently and scraping sides to keep anything from sticking and burning.

Once the soup thickens, add the apples. Cook until apples are almost tender.

Add the chicken and the coconut milk or cream, being careful not to let it boil or the cream might break.

Season to taste with more pepper sauce/S&P.

Serve as suggested above.

The Mimosa Tree

The mimosa tree spread its roots, finger-like, over the northwest quadrant of our front yard, bordered by razor-trimmed boxwood hedges and flanked to the east by my father’s prized hydrangeas, the soil beneath them carefully monitored for the proper acid content, their blossoms leeching color from green to gray to clouds of periwinkle blue. The picket fence propping them up was joined to the house by an arbor, canopied by heirloom rose climbers that reached across the garden path and offered scented shade. I spent my summers reading among the branches of the mimosa and, each spring, I marked the days until summer vacation by the number of blossoms left upon the tree.

I could see Rosensteel Avenue dead-end into Rock Creek Park from my seat among the first tier of branches. The street became a path leading straight down to the winding creek, guiding all the neighborhood kids deep into the woods. In summertime, we waded through the stream, sometimes chest-deep, National Geographic explorers discovering dark Amazonian tributaries. In winter, we ran pell-mell down the street where the hill dropped off just past our house. Gripping our snow saucers tightly to our parkas, we belly-flopped onto the beginning of the path and skittered wildly among the trees, bouncing from trunk to trunk, landing with a thunk and a crunch on the frozen stream. If you hit the path with just the right amount of momentum, your first collision would be with the giant oak, fifty feet into the woods. A bounce off that tree sent you flying over the water and down the slope towards the school crossing bridge. Once, on an exceptionally bright and snowy day, Cathy Lawlor cut school and slid halfway across the bridge on her first run. By tough luck, she forgot about the kindergartners walking home through the woods at noon. The school patrols on the bridge whooped her on but were obligated to report her.

Cathy and her sister Lisa lived at the top of Rosensteel Avenue, just one house from the corner. I could barely see Lisa’s bedroom window from my perch in the tree. Each day, when she finished her homework, Lisa would tie a red bandanna to the window sash and signal me to rescue her from Cathy’s taunting. Lisa’s mom was divorced and worked two jobs, leaving the older brother, Andrew (known as Buzz), to oversee homework. All the kids in the neighborhood held Buzz in high esteem. The first boy in the county to run a five-minute mile in high school track, Buzz stood patrol over his sisters, usually releasing Lisa to my custody. He hoped I’d put in a good word with my sister Pam, who had yet to say yes to his request for a date.

Pam looked out for me, and my sister Sherry, much like Buzz did for Lisa and Cathy. Rather than standing over us as we did our spellings and sums, Pam counted on us to get good grades. We studied hard for her. She never seemed to mind when I would plunge into the woods with Lisa in the late afternoon. We built dams across the water and searched for secret messages we had hidden in leafy bowers months before.

During the spring of 1963, in May, the month of my eighth birthday, the mimosa blossoms burst forth in concert, heralding the closeness of summer with aromatic notes. Evenings after dinner, my father would come and stand beneath me as I read in my tree, his breaths deep, his speech low, his pauses long. Dad talked about his job as an economist for the Department of Labor, describing his traffic-congested commute down to Constitution Avenue. He found irony in the museums and national monuments, crowded with tourists and schoolchildren. Did they wonder about the majestic buildings saluting the Capitol from either side of the National Mall where he and thousands of other civil servants toiled in office cubicles?

Perhaps this summer, he would say, Pam would bring Sherry and me to his office. We would search him out among the miles of seemingly endless corridors and lunch in some congressional watering hole. Or we could hike across the mall, scale the steps to the Museum of Natural History and pass beneath the trunk of the great elephant on our way to the basement cafeteria. We’d jostle for a place in line among the tourists and government workers and fill our trays with composed gelatin salads, grated carrots, and canned grapes embalmed in their jiggling mass. Following lunch, we could explore the Smithsonian, crisscrossing the mall from the old castle to the National Archives, ending our journey at the foot of the Washington Monument. The shadow of the great obelisk would shelter us as we dangled our toes in the reflecting pool and craned our necks for a glimpse of the Potomac River to the west. Late in the afternoon, we’d return home. Pam, weary from pleasing us, would escape to her room. Sherry and I would take refuge in the shade of the garden to await Dad’s return from the city.

But that summer, Pam’s last summer in high school, she joined Dad in his commute to the city. A family friend found Pam a secretarial position. She and dad carpooled down Connecticut Avenue, where he would drop her off and cut across Dupont Circle toward the Federal Triangle. Pam would read The Washington Post aloud as they zigzagged through traffic. Dad turned the daily commute into lessons in social responsibility for Pam. She would register to vote the following spring, and Dad believed an informed citizen was a productive citizen. In the evenings, standing beneath my tree, he continued his lessons with me. As I gazed out over the neighborhood, my father gazed out upon the world.

The Cuban Missile Crisis from the previous October pushed the Cold War into the mainstream of American consciousness. In the spring of 1963, novelist John Le Carre published The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, which quickly found its way atop the reading pile on my father’s bedside table. Towards summer, our government struggled to negotiate test ban treaties with the Soviet Union, and our national pride grated from the successful launch into orbit of the first female cosmonaut on June 16. In the summer of 1963, the headlines resonated with civil unrest. Klansmen shot Medgar Evers in his front yard. Martin Luther King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference gathered momentum for the freedom march on Washington that was to take place in August.

My sister Pam moved closer to maturity each day, drawn outward toward the world beyond our boxwood hedges. Her rush hour conversations with Dad continued at dinner as they discussed the importance of the civil rights legislation being batted about in committee at the Capitol. But Pam would quit her summer job before the Freedom March on August 28, and Dad observed, alone, as the civil rights advocates and protestors poured into the city. Church buses from Alabama and Mississippi lumbered down the narrow one-way streets. Schools and assembly halls became campgrounds for Christian youth groups. The minister at our church, Woodside Methodist, borrowed portable fans, cots, and bedding from the congregation. Sherry’s scout troop collected care packages, waxy brown paper sacks stuffed with toilet tissue, toothpaste, and Ivory soap. Mom cooked casseroles for potluck suppers hosted by the church ladies’ league. Our dinner table discussions, my father’s eloquent twilight defenses against employment discrimination, would pale once the newspaper headlines played out. More people than we envisioned, two hundred thousand strong, marched for freedom and roared, “Yes!” to Martin Luther King’s dream of brotherhood and equality.

By late August, savoring the memory of scented blossoms long fallen, I watched the pale fern-like leaves of the mimosa tree curl inward, parched from summer’s drought, dropping as I mounted my seat and sent shivers down the branches of the tree. Seedpods, bleached and brittle, scattered on the ground below. My sister Sherry placed a husk to her lips, blowing warm breath. The papery walls of the pod expanded; the seeds rattled. A high, hopeful note curled up into the afternoon air, in counterpoint to the sound of twigs and leaves crunching and rustling beneath her feet. I imagined summer’s other debris scattered over the mall in Washington, D.C.: tent cities quickly dismantled, poster boards discarded, speeches and marchers and dreams moving on to the next assembly, the next call to brother and sisterhood. I looked out over the neighborhood. I saw the world.

Monday musings . . . .

Parakeet Park early 1950sHere’s a little beginning-of-the-week humor: at one of the oldest continuously operating mobile-home/RV parks in the area, Parakeet Park has amused locals since the early 1950s by maintaining a tradition of clever, corny, sometimes groan-worthy observations on their “reader board” at the entrance to the park. I look forward to seeing the latest message when I drive up Scenic Highway 17 along the southern end of Lake Wales Ridge.
Today’s message: “Cupcakes are muffins that believe in miracles!”
My favorite saying from several years ago: “Nothing is truly lost until your mother can’t find it!”
I have attached a picture of the park in the early 1950s as well as a picture of a “groaner” that they posted in 2015. 2015 channing tatum sign,jpg
And finally, if you are ever in South Polk County at the end of January, check out their annual rummage sale event when cars line the two-lane highway. You never know if the crowds are drawn more by the goods on sale or the legendary apple dumplings.
Life in the slow lane.
Happy Monday!
parakeet park reader board sign

Southern sayings, summer storms, sweet sounds, and saffron rice

I watched an InnerViews video this morning of Ernie Manouse interviewing Dixie Carter several years ago. She talked of her unexpected discovery of love with Hal Holbrook and experiencing success in her career after the age of forty. Ms. Carter epitomized the Southern Woman with her charm and intelligence. As a practiced storyteller, she was fluent in witty sayings. When asked about what made Mr. Holbrook special, she responded, “There’s a Southern expression: ‘It takes a mighty good man to be better than no man at all.'”

I made coffee, taking a cup to my husband on the back porch. I told him about the interview, finishing with her quote. He got it. David is my “mighty good man.” I never expected him, never hoped for him, never saw him coming. So thankful he arrived.

Our sunny morning became a rainy afternoon but did not deter us from grilling dinner. While the storms blew through, David played Carly Simon radio on Pandora, and I made Persian rice. The tahdig came out a little less golden than I had hoped (I am out of practice), but the butter and saffron flavors made this a perfect platform for our kabobs.

Today was a perfect platform for saying thank you to the love of my life.

If you are interested in good interviews here is a link:


Go 4th and celebrate . . .

wedding poster

Three years ago, I posted on social media about getting married on July 4th and what an excellent decision that was—both the marriage and the date!

This year, we celebrate our 30th year wed, one week from today. David teases that marrying me was only the icing on the cake. He scored highly by (1) having a wedding anniversary on a national holiday–so that he would never forget the date (2) being able to crack wise (endlessly) about how he gave up his independence on Independence Day and (3) there are always fireworks and everybody is celebrating–on our anniversary.

If you are interested, check out the memories in picture form below. Many hands went into making the day extraordinary: from location to invitations to posters to catering equipment to linen to flowers to cake to photos to staffing to music. We had a video thanks to our cousin from Indiana, but a baby-sitter recorded a Disney show over it one night when the kids were little. We can always watch the movie in our head.

This year, our daughter will be making her first visit from her new home in Charlotte, North Carolina, bringing an old friend from high school, and said friend’s mother–who has become a treasured friend. Fortunately, my husband loves company, always encouraging our friendships, ever solicitous and entertaining, the benefits of marrying a chef and caterer, even if that career is long past. As we always say, no one can pay us enough money to cater anymore; we only do it for love. We need to shop for food, mow the yard, check the pool water. We have a rain or shine plan. Love is definitely on the menu.

the house overlooking the Blue Ridge foothills in Loudoun County,

My sister and brother-in-law. Pam and Mike Boyd hosted us in their lovely home overlooking the Blue Ridge foothills in Paeonian Springs, Loudoun County, Virginia.


The bride’s hair before the hat. How 1989!

Descending the staircase to Pachelbel's Canon in D. I know. Please don't judge.

Descending the staircase to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. I know. Please don’t judge.

So in love (2)

So in love.

The flowers (2)

The flowers.

the cake (2)

The cake.

praise for the cake baker (2)

Praise for the baker of the cake.

our happy and generous hosts

Our happy and generous hosts!


My nieces and their exceedingly chill and compliant cat, Domino.

wedding poster

This poster was a wedding present from a friend and graphic artist, Lisa Crews Gillogly. Like us, it has faded a bit, but we still spark!