Sunday, November 11, 2018

Children of Soldiers

That's me on the left and my playmate beside me. 

We were at the seventh base our fathers had been sent to during their Air Force training, this time in Columbus, Ohio where they both were in Transition School, from training planes to combat planes, the B-17. 

I've written in other years of blogging on Veteran's Day about my father's training and his brothers' service and once wrote about a woman veteran [here], but today I'm thinking about the children of soldiers and the spouses and partners of soldiers. 

I was too young to remember any of my father's days in WW II but I grew up hearing stories of this time and the wonderful families Mama and I stayed with near the bases, waiting for our Saturday afternoon to Sunday afternoon time with Daddy. 

In Columbus, Ohio Mama and I both found a friend, another Air Force wife who was married to a Japanese American pilot and their daughter. 

I don't remember many of Mama's stories about my little friend and her mother, only that they were both young and in love with their husbands and looked forward to the weekend when the men were free to be with their families. 

Between that time the two women watched us play together but I can only imagine the conversations they shared, these two young mothers, far away from their own mothers and families.

My friend Tammy talks often about her beloved nephew who serves in the Air Force and his wife and their two sons who are growing up seeing their father deployed. I won't share her personal stories of them here but this family is just one of the thousands who sacrifice time with their loved ones in service to our country. And trust me, they are an amazing family.

I don't even remember the name of my playmate. I wish so much I had written down more of my parents' stories. But when I look at her photo I hope she had a lifetime of growing up with her father, just as I did. 

And today I'm thinking of the children of soldiers, hoping for the same thing for them.

Are you a child of a soldier, of a veteran? If you are, you know it would make me so happy to have you write about him or her here. 

Friday, November 9, 2018

Fall of the Berlin Wall

On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall came down.

Many of us know and even remember the day two years earlier that U.S. President Ronald Reagan spoke the memorable words, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," but do we know the other story?

The story of how the people of Leipzig, East Germany prayed for peace touches my heart every time I read it so I decided to share it here in case you've never heard it.

In the spring of 1989, Christian Führer, the pastor of St. Nicholas [in Leipzig] decided one Monday evening to hold a prayer service for peace in the world. A few people attended. Pastor Führer held another prayer service the next Monday. More people attended. Into the summer, the Monday evening prayer service continued--and the numbers grew. The sanctuary of St. Nicholas can hold 1,000 people. By the end of the summer, the people were spilling out the doors. Every Monday night--no sermons, no political references--just prayers for peace.
On Monday, October 9, 1,000 people were in the sanctuary, and 70,000 more were in the streets, holding candles and singing hymns. The next Monday, October 16, there were 120,000 people praying for peace. The following Monday, there were 320,000--two thirds of the city's population. On the following Monday, 500,000 people prayed and sang for peace. Ten days later, on November 9, the Berlin Wall came down. 
Jim Munroe
The Mockingbird Devotional 

Isn't this story powerful?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Does Mrs. Smith Get the Job?

September 7, 1950
8:45 a.m.

How do you like my new suit? I've been busy sewing a small business wardrobe all summer, but for my first job interview I spent all my birthday money on this oxford-gray flannel suit and the chamois vest and gloves.

Do I look professional to you? A good suit is a must for business and I didn't trust my dressmaking skills enough to tackle a suit, but I've made three blouses I can wear with it and two jersey dresses. I think that will do until the paychecks start coming in.

The twins are in third grade this year and my husband will be home working on his dissertation so it seems like the perfect time for me to find a job.

Here goes, I don't want to be late for my interview. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me, please.


9:45 a.m.

The balding man frowned and stood up, holding out his hand, her cue to stand up too.

"Mrs. Smith, I'm sure you were top of your college class when you graduated in 1940, but you have no real job experience since then. I need a girl with leadership skills, someone who commands respect from the girls who will work under her, someone who knows how to train other girls thoroughly. I'm afraid you..." He paused, turned both hands palm up and shrugged.

"Then I am just the woman you are looking for, Mr. Williams." She stood up but looked him straight in the eye as she gathered her handbag and gloves. 

"I have been busy raising two children all while managing a house, even when alone while my husband was overseas in the Army. But I've also volunteered at the Red Cross two days a week, taught Sunday School to three-year-olds, mowed the grass so my husband could study for his degree on weekends after being honorably discharged.

"I got up at 4 a.m. to cook breakfast and pack his lunch so he would be on time for the early shift at work before he attended classes in the afternoon. I have led a Girl Scout troop every year since high school when I won the highest award given by the Girl Scouts.

"I do know how to train women under me. There's not a lazy bone in my body and now that my husband is through with classes and is writing his dissertation and my children are well into school, I am ready to pursue my own career." Her shoulders thrown back, she forbade herself to blush, or cry.

"That sounds admirable, Mrs. Smith, it certainly does." He glanced at his watch and said, "But you have young children. They may be in school but who is going to take care of them when they get sick?"

"My husband will this year, Mr. Williams, and after that when he is teaching at the university we'll make other arrangements."

"But I can't be sure of that, can I? How do I know you won't decide that Johnny needs you if he breaks his leg on the playground or if Susie goes to the hospital with appendicitis?"

"Maybe not, Mr. Williams, but then you can't be sure that every woman in your office won't come down with influenza at the same time or that the men employed here won't end up hospitalized with a serious illness. All I know is that I have two children who will need to go to college someday and I plan on seeing to it that they'll be able to."

She decided to go on quickly since Mr. Williams looked at a loss for words. "That unmarried woman you're looking for, with no responsibilities at home? What happens when she falls in love and gets married and her husband is transferred? How can you be sure that I'm not a better risk than she is?"

Mr. Williams shook his head, "You certainly are persistent, Mrs. Smith. I'll give you that and you've given me a new perspective on this, but...."


Okay, dear friends, now YOU get to finish my story. Does Mrs. Smith get the job or not?

How would you end this story?

Mrs. Smith's suit courtesy of Ladies' Home Journal, August 1950.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Heavens to Betsy!

Just when I'd gotten fairly regular again in posting here at the Window and in being a faithful blog visitor, the flu struck, followed by bronchitis. So far RH hasn't caught it from me but let me tell you that after skipping the flu shot for two years I will be a faithful flu vaccine believer from now on, no matter some negative news about it.

I just can't go through this every year, folks. I've been sick since September 25th and am just now crawling out of it. 

I missed celebrating our wedding anniversary and I missed an experience that I look forward to all year round, a trip to the Nashville Farmers Market to stock up on pumpkins and gourds to decorate our house for Autumn.

That was really a bummer but at this late date I'm just going to skip it and start decorating for Christmas in early November, God willing and the creek don't rise--I've learned to add that phrase to every plan because who knows what the next day will bring, right? Just ask anyone who lost everything they had in the monster storm Michael. My heart goes out to all of those without a home to return to or returning to months before things are normal. 

That makes blogging seem a little trivial, comparatively.

But please let me throw up a post here now that should have been written three years ago as a followup to a post on November 19, 2015 when I promised a dessert recipe from the meal I wrote about here in Pine Cones and French China.

In searching back through old Autumn posts this last week when I finally came out of the worst brain fog, I discovered this post that never got written. I would have given the directions back then but now I'll just show pictures and tell you a little background of the woman whose dessert recipe it is.

Michèle Morgan's Pineapple Caramel Ring dessert is from Mildred O. Knoph's Memoirs of A Cook. The cookbook author herself is worth a post someday.

She was married to movie producer Edwin H. Knoph. Even if you're not familiar with him, I bet you recognize his brother's name, the publisher of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. 

When Mildred and her husband dined with Michèle Morgan in her Paris apartment on the Île de la Cité overlooking the River Seine, she served them this dessert after an elegant lunch.

Not familiar with Michèle Morgan? We might have known her as well as we do Ingrid Bergman if Warner Brothers had been willing to pay RKO Studio enough to release her to play opposite Humphrey Bogart in a little film called Casablanca.

This dessert was delicious but the instructions are long so I won't type it here. If you really want to make it just email me and I'll scan the page and send it to you.

I hope to follow this post in a few days with a few of the many October posts I had originally planned--the Autumn decorating that never happened won't be there--and in the meantime I'll be visiting my blog friends and admiring your own Autumn decor or various thoughts.

As I look out my windows now I see absolutely no pretty Autumn colors yet. Have the leaves turned yet where you live?

Happy rest of October, dear friends! 

Friday, September 21, 2018

My Canna and Povel Wallander

[I'm sneaking one more summer garden post in before the calendar says Autumn is here tomorrow.] 

What possible link could my canna have with Povel Wallander?

Are there any Wallander fans out there? I watched it years ago on PBS and am now enjoying it all over again on Netflix.

Povel is the father of Kurt Wallander, played by Sir Kenneth Branagh, once married to Emma Thompson who he left for...wait, this is not a gossip blog so I'll get back to Povel and my canna.

Did you recognize David Warner, above, as Bob Cratchit in my favorite version of A Christmas Carol with George C. Scott as Scrooge? 

What is your favorite version? We'll be watching it soon, won't we?

Now David Warner has that marvelous craggy face that I'm sure any Star Trek fans will recognize--I had to throw that in for my Trekkie sons. 

And in the Swedish drama Wallander, he plays an important artist in declining health who is not on very good terms with his policeman son.

And every single picture Povel paints is the same scene of the rocky wooded coastline of Sweden where he lives.

Every single painting.

And now we come to my canna, the canna musifolia bulb (or is it called a rhizome?) that I ordered from 
Horn Canna Farm, a family farm in Carnegie, OK. 

RH planted it for me in a favorite heavy old concrete pot from the old house that had lost its bottom. It is beautifully aged, much as Povel's face is, and is sunk into the ground in the butterfly garden.

I've taken hundreds of pictures of this canna because I wanted it so badly. RH was prejudiced against cannas. He won't admit that but I know he was. Many people are, maybe remembering them planted in the middle of old tractor tires out in a country yard. To me they always said, This is a farmhouse and so there must be cannas.

While a baby, my canna had to be protected from BreeBree jumping into it in her obsessive desire to catch a chipmunk, but it grew...

And grew until RH began to be fond of it too.

Finally it flowered...

Okay, the flowers aren't what sell cannas but the hummingbirds do love them.

We took pictures of it from every angle...

It put on more and more stalks...

Soon RH got used to me yelling to grab the camera and go get pictures of my canna, the light is just right.

I mean, is this plant not gorgeous with the sun shining through its bronze leaves?

This brown-eyed Susan has been a beautiful companion on one side, even though mostly finished blooming by now, the seeds drawing goldfinches.

And this Autumn Joy sedum has been a nice contrast on the other side. It's beginning to pink up for Autumn. [The plant is much more rosy now as I wrote this post a week ago.]The deer keep our other three Autumn Joy plants nibbled to the ground in our front garden but they can't get to this one.

I'm tagging my other canna lover...

                    Carla from The River 

before I close with a quote about cannas from a beloved book by Richardson Wright that stays on my bed table, The Gardener's Bed-Book.

Give a dog a bad name, and he may eventually retrieve his reputation, but let a flower suffer the sneers of the gardening cognoscenti, and all the fine hybrids of it that some faithful soul may create will flower to little advantage. Cannas are a case in point. Mention them, and across the mind flashes unlovely memories of dreary park, prison and hospital flower beds. For years the Canna was an institutional flower, and that's enough to damn any plant. Yet some very beautiful hybrids have been created and at the sight of them we waxed ecstatic over their subtle pinks and yellows. They have ceased being institutional.
Richardson Wright
The Gardener's Bed-Book

 What about you? How do you feel about cannas? Or if not cannas, is there a plant that you just would not have in your garden?

if you've never loved cannas planted in the ground, have you ever thought about putting them in pots?

I keep imagining how magnificent two of these would be in large urns on either side of a path leading somewhere. What do you think?

And let me know if you want to see more pictures of my gorgeous canna that adds a vertical feature to our garden. 

Just like Povel Wallander, I have a million of them.

Hey, sweet readers, thank you so much for visiting me here at the Window! And thank you so much for your thoughtful and kind comments on my previous post about our darling granddaughters. 

You are the best!

"And what would life be like
if we paid one another no compliments?"
wonders Isabel in
The Careful Use of Compliments
by Alexander McCall Smith

Friday, September 7, 2018

Family, Food and The Gruffalo

Does this photo of our granddaughters that their father took while they were visiting us last weekend not personify the last lazy days of summer?

I am in love with it and with the two models and was beyond excited to learn they were coming to visit Mimi and PawPaw.

I remembered their dad, our son, once saying that he liked New York cheesecake so I baked my second one of the summer from Ruth Reichl's Garlic and Sapphires, a book my friend Melanie of Comfy House sent me, knowing I was a Reichl fan.

This time I remembered to wrap the springform pan in heavy foil and avoided butter dripping all over my new oven. What a mess!

Here's a recipe link for it.

BreeBree kept checking on me while I was cooking.

I marinated chicken the day before our company was due, using another favorite recipe from Reichl, this time from her My Kitchen Year, Food Cart Curry Chicken, recipe here...

I also made a 1940s recipe Cucumber Aspic, but knowing how the majority of you feel about aspics I'll skip a pic of that dish!

The next day RH and I went into our usual time to clean up, company's coming mode and then I set the table...

and went out to the garden to clip some blooms for the table.

Soon it was time to cook our simple supper. I love Reichl's chicken curry recipe because it only takes a few minutes to sauté the chicken and only 20 minutes for a pot of rice cooked in chicken broth.

One of the best sights in the world is these two girls hopping out of the car for a visit. 

Our beautiful daughter-in-law is hidden behind my flower arrangement...

And for pity's sake, remind me to remind RH not to take pictures of company at table from this angle. Or to at least put the lid down on the toilet in the bathroom first! Wouldn't you think that he'd have learned his lesson, Poppy, Tammy and Doreen, after leaving the seat up a couple of weeks ago? That cost us two trips to the chiropractor after I fell in it. 

I am very glad that RH doesn't have a blog himself, right? Payback time would surely come!

But since this is my blog, here's a shot of the dreaded aspic, after all. 

And since this is Ratting on RH Day, let me 'splain why my New York Cheesecake looks so pitiful.

When you're running a knife around the rim of your cheesecake before releasing the springform latch and your husband insists on helping, be sure he knows you don't want it pried out of the ring, just loosened.

Oh, I would so get it if he were a blogger.

However, his son, and mine, took the pictures of this cheesecake. Does he ever know how to make a messy cheesecake look beautiful, or what?

Now's when I have to highly recommend a children's short movie for you--and I'm not a cartoon-type fan at all. Are any of you familiar with...
Charming movie! I've watched it twice by myself on Netflix since the girls went home.

All too soon it was our last day and a beautiful morning in the garden after breakfast.

Believe it or not, I took these two shots with my phone but how could they help but be good, with my two beautiful models? 

Who knew that grasshoppers liked potato chips?

Ah, the last lazy days of summer, they can't be beat, can they?

So you don't like aspic, dear readers? 

How do you feel about New York Cheesecake?

Not like that either? 

Then how about joining the Gruffalo for a meal of:

Roasted Fox
Scrambled Snake
Owl Ice Cream

Just watch out for the poisonous wart on the end of his nose!

Want to join me for a dish of Gruffalo Crumble?

Monday, August 27, 2018

MFK Fisher's Gazpacho Salad

If it's still in the 90s in the daytime and 70s at night, it's still Summer and it's hot, I don't care how many Autumn pictures I see on Pinterest.

It's still aspic weather in the South and will be in my house as long as the hot weather lasts, although I've been known to serve tomato aspic on Christmas Eve.

I did one post on it at my other blog back in June but MFK Fisher helped me take my recipe to a whole new level when I made her Gazpacho Salad this week. 

It turns out that hers was just a fancier name for it and I guess that gazpacho salad does sound more gourmet than tomato aspic.

The recipe for the basic tomato aspic is back on my blog post here but I updated it with Fisher's recipe in Joan Reardon's delightful book on her called M. F. K. Fisher among the Pots and Pans.

I added 1 cup of beef consommé, 1 red sweet bell pepper diced, 1 sweet red onion, chopped, and 1 cucumber peeled and diced. And I added a couple of chopped jalapeños from my garden. All of these chopped vegetables were so good in the salad!

And I added a cup of chili sauce, something I saw somewhere, can't remember where, and thought would be good and was it ever! Extra spiciness!

I didn't make her dressing of 1 clove garlic mashed into 1/2 cup olive oil with salt and pepper because we love my own dressing of mayo with a little olive oil, lemon juice and snipped basil so much.

I know from emails on my other post that very few of you like aspics. But I stand with Julia Reed (I love her column in Garden & Gun) when she wrote in her cookbook Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties that we congeal everything in the South. 

Her mother once "had a four-day house party during which she served an almost exclusively gelatin-based menu...crabmeat mousse, a strawberry mousse, two kinds of tomato aspic, and a charlotte russe."

I would have been a happy member of that house party! 

Now I can just bet that no one is going to try the Gazpacho Salad recipe and I'll put money on not one of you trying the entree of our meal. But you might just like my dessert recipe, so hold on.

Are you asking what in tarnation is that ugly entree? I never said I was a food stylist but believe it or not this was good.

On a slice of pumpernickel for each of us I spread avocado mashed with a little lemon juice, next I put on some good wild caught canned sardines, next went thin slices of cucumber with black pepper and a squirt of lemon juice and then I topped it off with jalapeño slices. 

And there was our dinner. I know that Poppy loves sardines, although hers are fresh caught ones from Crete. Anyone else out there like these protein packed little fish?

What about pecan pie? That purple is just a sprig of Joe Pye Weed hanging over the pie from a vase on the table. 

Have you ever tried an Authentic Pecan Pie? One without nasty corn syrup in it? 

I've had this recipe for years and the clipping said it was by a Carolina cook. "And don't ever use corn syrup! That ruins the consistency. Authentic pecan pie is jelly-like, translucent with sparkle. Just start with a pound of brown sugar, then add three eggs, about two eggshells of milk, a big splash of vanilla, some salt, and a lot of pecans."

I baked it at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

Easiest pecan pie ever and you wouldn't believe the good flavor. I have several recipes for pecan pie but RH says this is his favorite. 

Is this a weird meal to you? I told my friend Tammy that I've lived long enough and tried so many diets over the years that I'm tired of it all now. And I'm tired of meat and 3 menus. I'm tired of pork, and beef is heading that way too. Chicken's okay once a week but it is fish and seafood that I love the most, and when we're eating out of the pantry and cutting back on trips to the market then sometimes canned sardines, salmon and tuna fish do just fine. 

And I think I could eat an aspic at every meal.

I only had a small piece of the pecan pie and left the rest to RH, and he took a slice to Zack.

And maybe, just maybe, I've been influenced by MFK Fisher's thoughts in Serve It Forth.

For many old people, eating is the only pleasure left...And between gobbling down an indistinguishable mess of heavy meat and bread, or savouring a delicate broiled trout or an aspic full of subtle vegetable flavours, how few of us would choose the distressful insomnia that follows the first for the light easy rest of the second?

Rainbow or brook trout is my very favorite fish and I have an excellent recipe from Judith Jones for that. 

I wonder if RH would agree to trout and pecan pie for Thanksgiving Dinner? 

Oh, and thank you so much for ideas for using the copper gutter in the garden! I think that RH is now thinking about making it into a water fountain if he can find a pretty basin for the water to fall into.