Parsley and Memories

My first experience with herbs was in the backyard of the farmhouse where I lived as as a young child. Parsley was the only herb my foster grandmother grew, but it made a great impression upon me.

I remember picking the pungent stems, just the way she showed me, chewing a few of the curly little leaves while I worked. The taste was pungent, savory, peppery, the flavor of spring, of tradition. My grandmother told me stories as we harvested, of life in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when she was young.

She was nearly ninety, when I was born so the tales she told of tradition, of gardening, and just plain living, were nearly forgotten by most, even then.

Some years I’ve cultivated nearly a dozen varieties of herbal plants. This spring, I lacked time and energy for so many, but I couldn’t resist starting a couple pots of parsley, in memory of Grandma Lee.

Parsley loves cool weather. It’s sometimes healthy and full at Thanksgiving, ready for use in holiday turkey dressing. I’ve never planted it in late summer, but perhaps that’s a possibility.

A New Crop of Hay Rounded Into Bales Dots the Landscape of a Local Farm

They don’t make hay like they used to, and that’s a good thing I suppose. Less labor, but more expense, perhaps, with the need for a more expensive baler and a tractor attachment to lift the cylinders and move them.

Plus, you can’t build forts and horses, and all manner of creations with them, as kids used to on rainy days playing inside the barn. Here’s another view that includes the house and outbuildings.

So sad that family farms are disappearing, consolidating into mega-businesses without a sense of pride and connection the land, plants, livestock, the people who purchase their products.

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A STILL ACTIVE FAMILY FARM IN THE AMERICAN MIDWEST

 

 

Of Blue Willow China and a Vintage Eatery

My parents possessed a pair of tea cups in the blue willow pattern when I was a child. I always loved the bright cobalt and white design, understood it was a respected, traditional pattern.

I can’t believe I’d was never told of the design’s origin. I hadn’t heard any of the number of variations to the tale, which includes several whimsical verses.

My search for such today, took me to several interesting sites, sites, my favorite being that of the International Willow Collectors, where these versions are listed.

Basically, the story takes us to China, long ago, and to a pair of lovers, forbidden to wed. The fair lady was betrothed to a selected groom, an arranged marriage. It seems the bride managed to escape with her chosen lover, but later the couple tragically met with death by fire during an attack by those who had forbidden their betrothal.

They flew from the ashes, not as phoenixes but as doves, and will forever soar together across willow ware plates and mugs.

Well, I admit to taking a few liberties with the wording, but I believe I’ve captured the essence of the legend.

There used to be a restaurant in a quaint little town nearby, christened The Blue Willow in honor of this lovely patterned china. Efficiently operated by a sweet lady, Mary Lou. I’m sure she knows the legend well, and related it, in her day, much better than I, to the loyal customers who enjoyed her carefully crafted meals, begged for the recipes to enjoy at their own homes and culinary businesses.

Do any readers have a set of blue willow? Had you heard the tale of it’s origin previously?

Of Evergleam Frosty Aluminum Christmas Trees and Other Mid-Century Designs

Enjoyed this post about the aluminum Christmas trees of the mid-twentieth century and other unique designs . . .

Discovered it in a search prompted by a co-worker’s reminiscences of her childhood tree which she still puts together every few years. Not every year, as it’s getting a bit fragile, as we all do as we age.  She hopes it will last through her lifetime. She’s not certain her children would even want to keep it and the other traditional decorations she cherishes, in spite of their dilapidated state.

I have a photo of my first Christmas, held in my mother’s arms. We had an aluminum tabletop tree then. I think by the next year, we had the green one I helped her assemble for many years after.

I’ve always wanted an aluminum tree, in silver or blue . . . a local drug/variety shop features a row of them this year, in a variety of colors – less than a foot tall . . . perhaps I’ll indulge myself.

Do you have an aluminum tree, or did you as a child?

These People Know How to Make Waffles

French waffles are a county fair tradition for us and this trailer is the only one who serves them properly – fresh made and packaged in paper bags.

Other companies try to compete, but since the simple yet special confections aren’t their specialty, they just don’t compare. Worse yet, they package them in sealed plastic bags that make them soggy!

The real ones, made by this trailer that’s been in the same family for decades cost a bit more but the flavor and texture is worth the extra expense. The fair only comes once a year, so I consider it okay to splurge for a few special treats.

 

Book Review – Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

What a wonderful read. A masterfully woven tale of family, failings, and new beginnings, set in the charming Cape Cod town of Chatham.

An emotion charged accident prompts a father, Cecil to leave his family, believing his absence is in their best interest. A new man, Hank, eventually assumes his role, serving as a source of strength for wife, Lindy, and three daughters, Shannon, Wren, and Piper.

Later in the lives of everyone, and toward the end of his own life, Cecil feels a need to return to his family. Hank, Lindy, daughters and grandchildren hold varied opinions regarding his return. In the end, a special project, and chance happenings in the lives of each daughter come together to bring understanding which offers hope for the future of all concerned.

A great book club read, with a lovely list of discussion questions at the end.

I was captured by the cover, the unique beach scene and the casually classy bright blue cursive of the title. I found the story even more intriguing than I imagined.