Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Rainy Days

Yesterday and today have been almost steady rain, drizzle and fog. It's perfect weather for resting up from our trip to Chattanooga and catching up on small tasks like laundry and housecleaning.

I did not fill the hummingbird feeders before we left so I was surprised to see one small fellow still here, braving the rain to scold me. His feeder was quickly filled! I cannot remember if the hummers have stayed this late in the year before, but it seems odd, especially given the recent turn to cooler temperatures.

This cooling trend is so welcome. I am tired, tired, tired of sweating, of heat and humidity. It has not been a nice summer in my region. Either too much rain or not enough, day after day of temps in the 90's and humidity over the top. I have never been a fan of summer; last year was great, but this year I was ready to pack up and head to Canada. Well, not really, but their cool weather was sure tempting.

I packed several eBay packages yesterday. This one was the most difficult:

I ended up cobbling together several boxes to get one big enough. Now my fingers are crossed that it will make the trip to Massachusetts safely.

The other items sold recently included some Hofbauer Byrdes crystal coasters,

a mug made in Hungary by an obscure pottery (Barakonyi),

a vintage nurse's uniform,

a brass plaque of a palm tree, embossed with the words Saudi Arabia and some other words in Farsi or some other mid-East language,

a Heisey decanter with a married stopper (mis-matched but works),

and a chocolate brown Fiesta Ware tray.

I love the variety of things I sell. It takes time to research each one to be sure my description is correct. Today I received a message telling me that a pitcher I listed was not quite what I thought it was. I appreciate people who share their knowledge so that my listings are accurate. I try to do the same when I can.

Yesterday afternoon I worked on the upcoming ghost walk. I found several details I'd previously overlooked and that sent me back to my research and the computer to try to find more information. These stories are like a scavenger hunt, really, as I hunt for facts, details, and connections I may have missed. Sometimes I find I can develop a whole new story, and that's always satisfying.
Books, books and books. What would I do without my books? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Before we left for Chattanooga I completed the last step of getting another CD finished: calling the production company and giving them my credit card number. The CDs should be here by the weekend or early next week. That makes two new ones this year! I am trying to catch up on getting my stories recorded as I haven't released a new CD in a long time. Look for another one in the spring of 2019, and possibly another in the fall of that year.

I have been listening to the news about the Supreme Court hearings and thinking about this moment in our history. So many women are now sharing stories of what has happened to them in the past, and why the did not come forward. I've had my own experiences and understand the reluctance. I remember feeling ashamed, and remember the boys/men involved each time making me feel like I was a prude, didn't have a sense of humor, thought I was too good for them, owed it to them, etc, etc. As a young girl, shy, sheltered and unsure of myself anyway, I could not even begin to bring myself to tell anyone. As a woman, I thought perhaps they were right--I was a prude and had no sense of humor. I feel for this judge, facing accusations from so long ago, and I also understand why the women may never have mentioned it before. I can only hope that this lady receives better treatment than Anita Hill did, and that both she and the judge will have a fair, objective hearing.

Well, back to work. I've had enough coffee to keep me going even though the rain makes me sleepy. Tonight, another fire like the one we had when we came home from Chattanooga? I think so.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Monday, September 24, 2018

There and Back Again: Chattanooga!

It was a long, fun weekend with family, travel and most of all, volleyball!

Ally in the center
Granddaughter Allison has been playing ball for UT Chattanooga and this is her last season. This weekend her team was honoring miltary veterans, and since we have so many vets and currently serving military in our family, our daughter-in-law Jennifer decided to have as many as possible to come to Chattanooga for the event and for the start of the conference play-offs.

We had a blast. We got there in time for the first match of the series, and it was a cliffhanger event. Chat was down by 2 games, and if they lost the 3rd game, that was it. In women's volleyball, there are 5 games per match so three wins (or losses) determines the winner. But the Mocs as they are called came back to win the next three games. Whew!

More and more family arrived throughout the weekend until in the end there were 15 of us sharing a large Airbnb house: two of my sons, two daughters-in-law, five grandchildren--two with their partners, my sister Theresa and her husband, Larry and me. We came from all directions: two flew in from Los Angeles, one drove up from his vacation in South Carolina, several came from Northern Virginia, one drove in from National Guard duty in northern West Virginia, and then there were some of us from various other places in West Virginia.

I slept hard that night, so unusual for me when traveling, and woke early to get ready for the next day. Breakfast was a real feast of eggs, bacon, biscuits, gravy, fruit and toast.

Then we were off to do a little exploring in Chattanooga. It's a beautiful, vibrant city, full of good retaurants, arts and crafts and things to do. The Tennessee River runs through the center of town and provides all kinds of recreation opportunities. We visited Coolidge Park by the riverside where the World Canine Disc Championship was going on. Fun to watch!

There were other dogs there too:

And then: an antique carousel! I love these things! I've visited two others, one in Mansfield, Ohio and the other in St. Augustine, Florida. Chattanooga's website offers this description of the carousel:

"This 1894 Dentzel carousel is a central feature in Coolidge Park. The antique carousel was restored by local master wood carver Bud Ellis and a devoted team of craftspeople and volunteers at his studio "Horsing Around" located near Chattanooga. The carousel provides a delightful old-fashioned experience with 52 whimsical hand carved animals, a calliope band organ, and ornate gold leaf benches."

Of course I had to ride, and a few other family members joined me. I mean, for $1.00, why not?
I didn't realize that when I took photos of the mirrors, I was photographing myself!

There was a pretty cool fountain too, but apparently it was already turned off for the season.
Grandson Jared and bro-in-law Jay horsing around with the lion fountain--there was a circle of various concrete animals.

Another feature I only got to see a little bit of (our time was limited) is a fantastic arched walking bridge that crosses the river. The bridge was full of people enjoying the river breezes.
The walking bridge

Along the riverbank on the opposite side I saw a large riverboat--next time, that's on my list to visit.

We were off to a tailgate party with the team parents then, lots of good food and conversation, and then it was game time. The Mocs were playing Furman this day, and easily won three games in a row, so chalked up another victory in the series.
Granddaughter Ally autographing a poster for Poppa Larry

We had discussed going out exploring again after the game, but with temps in the 90's we opted to go back to the bnb--a good decision as we then had plenty of time for visiting and catching up. We were off to bed late, after finally getting everyone in one place for a photo. The only one missing is a girlfriend, who took the photo.

It was a fine weekend, and I am so glad we were able to go. I was also glad to get home to much cooler temperatures and a nice fire in the fireplace.

I am proud of Allison, who worked hard for years to get her scholarship to  UTC, and I am happy that so many of our large family got to see her play.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Welcome, Autumn: Charms, Poems and Recipes

Although the temperatures do not feel like it, autumn in all her glory is just around the corner. Today, it was 91 degrees (F) and felt like full-on summer, but surely this will soon pass. I browed through some old photos to remind myself that yes, fall is coming. This one is of our road, taken a few years ago:

So, to get us ready for the season, here's a charm you may want to try that is supposed to be done around the autumn equinox:

"The following charm used to be thought effective if spoken during the time of the Harvest Moon--that is, the full moon occurring within a fortnight of the autumn equinox, September 22 or 23.

When you go to bed, place under the pillow a Common Prayer Book open at the part of the marriage service in which is printed 'With this ring I thee wed'. Place on it a key, a ring, a flower, a sprig of willow, a small heart-cake, a crust of bread, and the following cards: the ten of clubs, the nine of hearts, the ace of spades, the ace of diamonds. Wrap all these around in  handkerchief of thin gauze or muslin. On getting into bed cross your hands and say:

Luna, every woman's friend,
To me thy goodness condescend; 
Let me this night in visions see
Emblems of my destiny.

If you dream of a ring or the ace of diamonds, it means marriage; bread, an industrious life; cake, a prosperous life; flowers, joy; willow, betrayal in love; spades, death; diamonds, money; clubs, foreign travel; hearts, illegitimate children; keys, great trust and power; birds, many children; geese, remarriage."
Harvest moon, 2010

While I am not planning to try this charm, I would truly hope that there is no marriage, death or remarriage in my future! I'd take the children, travel and joy, though.

One of my favorite writers is Thomas Hardy. I know he's out of favor these days, but I am still a fan. One poem I particularly enjoy is his Night-Time in Mid-Fall.

It is a storm-strid night, winds footing swift through the blind profound; 
I know the happenings from their sound; 
Leaves totter down still green, and spin and drift; 
The tree-trunks rock to their roots, which wrench and lift 
The loam where they run onward underground. 

The streams are muddy and swollen; eels migrate to a new abode; 
Even cross, 'tis said, the turnpike-road;
 (Men's feet have felt their crawl, home-coming late): 
The westward fronts of the towers are saturate, 
Church-timbers crack, and witches ride abroad. 

And another by Hardy:

Autumn in King's Hintock Park

Here by the baring bough
  Raking up leaves,
Often I ponder how
  Springtime deceives,---
I, an old woman now,
  Raking up leaves.

Here in the avenue
  Raking up leaves
Lords' ladies pass in view,
  Until one heaves
Sighs at life's russet hue,
  Raking up leaves!

Just as my shape you see
  Raking up leaves,
I saw, when fresh and free,
  Those memory weaves
Into grey ghosts by me,
  Raking up leaves.

Yet, Dear, though one may sigh,
  Raking up leaves,
New leaves will dance on high---
  Earth never grieves!---
Will not, when missed am I
  Raking up leaves.

A bit of a melancholy note in this one, perhaps, but then Hardy's work tended that way usually.

And finally, to get you in full autumnal spirits, a recipe for mincemeat. If you have never made it, take my word, it's delicious. I preserve mine in jars, and process by modern requirements. Here's a recipe I posted eight years ago (I've been blogging quite a while, it seems!):

About 20 chopped green tomatoes--sprinkle with a tablespoon of salt and let sit for one hour, then drain the tomatoes,cover with boiling water and let sit for about 5 minutes; drain again. NOTE: You can omit the tomatoes and add more of the apples  and other fruits.
1 orange--grate the rind and chop the pulp
Mix the tomatoes and the orange in a large saucepan. Then add:
12 apples, chopped fine (peel or not, it's up to you)
1 pound of seedless raisins
1 1/2 cups of chopped suet (I know, I know, sounds weird. I've actually made the mincemeat without it and liked it quite well).
2-3 oranges
1-2 lemons
3 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed firmly
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon each ground cloves and nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Cook the mixture until it's boiling hot. Pour into hot sterile jars and seal. Process pints at 10 pounds pressure for 25 minutes. This recipe makes about 10 pints.

You can vary the amounts, add lemon, nuts, golden raisins, etc. It's really up to you; just be sure to keep the proportions of ingredients the same to have great-tasting mincemeat.

For more autumn ideas check out some of my older blog posts:

How to make dried apple and orange garlands

Pumpkin recipes

Fall weather superstitions


Hardy, Thomas. The Complete Poems of Thomas HardyMacmillan, London: 1976.

Radford, E. Encyclopedia of Superstitions. New York: Reprinted by Greenwood Press, 1969.

The Autumn Book: A Collection of Prose and Poetry Chosen by James Reeves. William Heinneman, London: 1977.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.
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