Friday, December 17, 2010

Memorial Candy Cane

When I was about 3 years old, Santa (a.k.a. the Mayor at that time), lifted me on his knee and asked what I wanted for Christmas. Not knowing how to respond, I glanced over at the tree dripping in lead tinsel and an inventory of ornaments, spotting one that caught my eye. “A candy cane” I said emphatically. Santa blinked and nodded simultaneously with approval.

A few weeks later, there was a knock at the front door. A friend of my parents' stopped by unexpectedly. Mr. Bullard was a very tall, large man who had a terminal smile sculpted across his face. It was his most prominent feature that stood out opposite his deep blue eyes and balding head. He proceeded to sit down on the floor, “Indian style” and address me at my eye level. His strong arms moved from behind his back as he presented me with the biggest, giant candy cane any of us had ever seen. The candy cane was a colossus of twisted red and white confection no less than a yard long and an equal match for my height and weight! For a seemingly lengthy time, no words were spoken, just gasps and chuckles in ecstatic disbelief. There was much chatter about how to best consume it and how it would conceivably last a lifetime. The story and the memory behind his generous act have and will continue to last as long.

Mr. Bullard was a Father, a business owner, the founder of Habitat for Humanity a philanthropist by nature and, Mayor of Timberlake. I grew to learn that being the Mayor that year, Santa was able to make good on my Christmas wish. What I didn't understand at the time is that he had lost his wife of many, many years, just a couple of weeks before. In spite of his profound grief undoubtedly amplified by the holidays and his unique Mayoral duties, Mr. Bullard listened to a mere child and made a special point of fulfilling my modest request in the grandest and most thoughtful gesture . The real gift came realizing that years later. He had the largest heart of anyone of my Parent's many wonderful friends I was blessed to know. Just before he passed away, I stumbled upon the largest candy cane lawn ornament, that had his name written all over it. I missed what would be our last visit by just a day, but knew in my heart the connection we shared all those years that will last forever.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

“Gobble Gobble Gobble”

Every Thanksgiving as children, we begged our Dad to tell his now famous “Gobble gobble” story. He rolled his eyes and sighed, reluctant to share this not-so-happy memory of his childhood Thanksgiving. Over the years, we even corrected him while telling his own story. Imagining how our grown folks ever being young and disobedient was such a kick to hear after having spent a lifetime being told how good they were.
It began one cold November day while living in Wichita Falls, MO., a few days before Thanksgiving. Dad and his older brother were excited with the anticipation of a holiday when school was suspended and everyone observed a day of friendship and feasting. For hours on end, day after day leading up to the event, Dad kept charbling “Gobble gobble gobble” in his best turkey imitation. His Mother patiently reminded him to stop or his Father would have a say. Like all young boys, the repetitive sound was too much fun and since boys will be boys, he kept at it, “gobble gobble gobble”, all about the house. The night before Thanksgiving, his Dad, who was not quite as patient as his Mother and undoubtedly tired from his strenuous job, was tried by his youngest son's silliness, thus threatening him at the utterance of anything remotely sounding like a bird or any other barnyard animal. When Grandpa spoke, it was law. Dad was rather miffed at having been chastised by his Father and went to bed a bit chaffed, plotting his revenge.

When the sun came up it signaled the beginning of Thanksgiving Day with all the food and fun that was yet to come. His parents put on their coats and explained that they had errands to run, assuring them they would return momentarily while reminding them to be “good”. As Dad watched his parents back out of the carriage house garage behind their home, their Oakland Eight rumbling slowly past the corner of the old house, he felt a safe distance between himself and the “old man”, of whom he affectionately referred. Almost in the clear and certainly out of range, Dad felt compelled to throw up the dining room sash and yell out the window at the top of his lungs his best “Gobble gobble gobble”! With that came the screech of brakes and a slam of the front door which resulted in a very sad and silent little boy. From that day on, he never, ever dare say “Gobble gobble gobble” again, at least not while his Father was still alive. Grandpa died many years before any of us were born but we still had to coax Dad into sharing his ill-fated story.

As each of us grew older, college and marriage put distance between us. We always managed to send our holiday sentiments in a greeting card or a long distance phone call, reduced to 3 simple words in our familiar family code; “Gobble gobble gobble”!
Both our folks are long gone but we have children and friends who now know the story. With this Thanksgiving I wish everyone “Gobble gobble gobble”.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Guardian Pigeons

It was a beautiful day, almost Indian Summer like, even though it was still early for the eminent Fall. We were in central Ohio visiting my Mother-In-Law at her new residence. A three story Victorian-esque manor complete with a turret , gables and a wrap-around porch lined with crisp white spindled rockers. After strolling (more like rolling) back from our over sized lunch that satisfied our every sense, we stopped short of the door to pull-up a rocker and sit for a moment to admire the surroundings and the day. The sun had been shining and some clouds were moving in as predicted, but only to add to the dramatic fall skyline and contrasting colorful canvas where flowers were still in bloom and the grass still a vibrant green soft carpet leading up to the porch. The birds were busy feeding on seed from the nearby bird feeder banging off the side of the house. All at once there was a whoosh of ornithological activity when I spotted a pigeon perched on the edge of the steeply pitched roof line. Soon after another joined it, followed by more where they sat together looking at us, we looking at them, mimicking each other.
It wasn't until the following day that my husband shared an interesting story with me. He told me how his Father kept homing pigeons as a boy while living in Pittsburgh, PA. Periodically, his parents would take him and his pigeons out into the country to release the birds in free flight. The birds were often reported to be home before they arrived, hence the saying “straight as the crow flies”, or as in this case, “pigeon”. I believe he kept pigeons for many years, watching and learning from their behavior and interactions with the world. I suspect the pigeons that appeared spontaneously on Z's rooftop that day were also carrying a message, watching over loved ones like guardians.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Housewarming Blessing

When our friends recently purchased their new-old house in an historic part of the city, it reminded me of “going home”. In recognition of this event, I created a few herbal concoctions and composed this blessing for their home:

Bread, so that you may never know hunger
Wine, so that you may never know thirst
Pet Nutrients, to welcome all family members home
Bug Repellant, to prevent unwelcome guests, and
A Besom, to keep your threshold clean and to leap over hand in hand so that you may always know love.

They will be celebrating their 28th wedding anniversary this weekend together, in the timeless beauty of their blessed home and the love, they share, with everyone.  Congratulations!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Morrow Family Tree

For 89 years and through many generations, the Morrow Family holds an annual reunion in Tidioute, PA. I was given the Morrow family name as my middle name upon birth, and have proudly kept it over the years, whilst other names have come and gone! Betty Morrow Stevens recently introduced me to our “Cousin Bob Morrow” and included me in the growing “B. Morrow” clan within the family tree, which began nearly 200 yrs. ago with Robert Wallace Morrow. She forwarded this cleverly scribed poem of quite a prolific bunch, outlining the Morrow lineage in rhyme.

The Family
MORROW, (Robert and Sarah Nancy) was our ancestor's name
From hardy, pioneer stock they came.
With the sweat of their brow and the toil of their hand
They established a home in Penna.'s rugged land.

To grace this union, in due course of time
Susanna Jane was first in line.
When to womanhood she grew, she had not long to wait
For Andrew Robertson, whom she took as her mate.
To them, Robert, Harry and Raymond were born;
Tragic death took two. Raymond only to manhood grew.

With the passing of time, as the records will tell,
The stork's second visit brought Juliette Isabelle.
Belle married John Shanly, and with him by her side
Her two motherless sons she took over with pride.
Then Maudie, Bert, Rob, Bessie, Edna and Fannie
Appeared with a regularity almost uncanny
Little Maudie had not long to stay; the hardier five
Are still with us today.

Johnathan Lenz came third, a fine sturdy lad.
With wife Gertrude Palmer, Robert, Joseph and Adaire they had
Three handsomer lads one seldom would see;
How they've remained batchelors is a mystery to me.

Harriette Seville came fourth, a true bundle of joy.
Hatti married Jerome Morrison, himself quite a boy
Came Jim, Bill, Agnes, Tom, Bob and Harry—six children in all,
Three are still here, three have answered the call.

Then came Mary Elizabeth to gladden the house.
The handsome Will Bimber she took for her spouse.
Grace, Harry, Walter, Ray, Archie, Marion and Edmund--
a fine family are they.
The second one (Harry) has now passed away.

Next William Sherman came into this life.
Isabelle Chambers he took for his wife.
Eight children they had--Charlie, Marshall, Rusell, Luella,
Fred, Annabelle, Sara and Walter--
And 'tho left alone, Belle's stout heart did not falter.
With courage undaunted she tackled the task
and raised a fine family from first to the last.

Nettie Matilda next raised her sweet voice.
The gallant Bruce Fairchild was the man of her choice.
Helen, Irene Robert, Frances, Mary, Jim and Ted—four girls
and three boys
is the family that came to add to their joys.
They brought them all up with more or less ease,
Now they're doing real well with their college degrees.

Carrie Leona now joined the gay throng,
With husband, Fred Holcomb, two children were born.
She was left a young widow; then Will Tapp came along
And their forces were joined to raise quite a throng.
With her Gladys and Raymond, his Bill, Margaret, Harold and Ted,
They had a full house from the day they were wed.

The stork, somewhat weary, now paused for a rest
'eer Bertha Luella was placed in the nest.
She married Robert Fairchild, a man of much sense.
And William and Marjorie were their blessed events.

The descendants of those mentioned in this bit of a rhyme
Are too numerous to mention in a brief space of time,
But they're here in great numbers, and together the crowd
Makes a mighty fine family, of which we're real proud.
And 'tho many have gone to the rest they well merit,
I'm sure that today they are with us in spirit,
And happy to know, that 'tho they are gone,
The tradition they started, we still carry on.


By Miss Edna E. Shanly.
July 20, 1952

I sincerely hope we can join you this year. I look forward to seeing you again for the first time!

Brightest Blessings to All,

B. Morrow (Holcomb Tapp Miller Feeley) Evans...whew!

Morrow Family 2006

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

“Frozen Banana” Shake

I was recently inspired by “Tommy’s” restaurant on Coventry in Cleveland Heights who is offering a free milkshake for Facebook fans who post a memory.  Tommy’s is best known for their sensational and unique combinations.  I purchased a bag of really ripe bananas then baked and shared as many of them as I could before I began to run out of ideas.  In an attempt to risk their sacrifice, I decided to make a banana milk shake.  My personal challenge was to make it as healthy as possible preserving the food value, while avoiding “unfriendly” dairy.  Not sure how “good” it would be sans the ice cream, I satisfied both sweetness and creaminess with whole, ripe bananas and it goes something like this:
3 lg. Ripe Bananas
1 ½ c. Almond Milk
Generous dose of Organic Chocolate Syrup
Sprinkle of Penzey’s fresh Cinnamon
½ tsp. Penzey’s Cake Spice
Several Ice Cubes
Blend on High Speed until smooth
Variations on this recipe include: Oat Milk or Rice Milk (also naturally sweet)
½ tsp. Agave Syrup to sweeten, in lieu of the Chocolate Syrup
A dollup of Yogurt, Vanilla Pudding or Orange Sherbet; if you have no dietary considerations.
1 tsp. of Pure Vanilla Extract for added dimension!

Have fun and try your own combinations you may crave, and please, share your creations.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Heart Day Cookies

When I was 4 years old, I received a parcel in the mail from my Grandmothers. A shoebox wrapped in brown paper and tightly tied with white cotton string contained a greeting card inside wishing me a “Happy Valentine’s Day”. The card was particularly special because inside was a metal heart-shaped cookie cutter with the best cookie recipe for rolled butter cookies. Beneath the lumpy card was my first doll, a “Raggedy Ann” doll whose face is painted with the most sincere smile. What made Raggedy Ann especially significant for Valentine’s Day is the heart tattooed on her chest that reads “I Love You”. My Raggedy Ann had an additional heart, a pink candy heart that also read “I Love You”. I remember asking my Mom if I could have the candy heart and she told me that I could since Raggedy Ann would forever have a heart with the message of love.

The Valentine Cookie recipe became a tradition in our home. My Mother would make a production baking these cookies every year to share in our classrooms, for neighbors and at home. We all took part individually decorating the carefully rolled, crisp and flaky heart-shaped butter cookies. I remember seeing the cookies in stacks 6 high once they cooled, parsing them into equal numbers for each of the lucky recipients. Mom made royal icing from scratch adding a couple of drops of red food coloring to turn it the most perfect pink. From that first bite, I knew what “pink” tasted like! In the center of the heart, we positioned a candy heart with a selected message, just like Raggedy Ann’s. I topped-off the surrounding 3 points of the heart with heart shaped-cinnamon red-hots, later becoming a staple in our home for these annual cookies and Mom’s homemade signature pink applesauce come fall. I remember placing three cinnamon hearts to represent “Home”, “Family, and “Love” because “with these, what more did you need”. As I became the “Mom” and the daunting task of making these Valentine Heart Day Cookies became my legacy, I soon realized the huge responsibility with which that commitment came. It did not take long before I took a year off and made them biannually. With my daughter fully grown and family separated by many miles, it has been so long since I have made them and am long overdue! I have been craving them recently which reminded me of our “Heart Day” tradition and our reason for making them altogether…”Home”, “Family” and “Love”.

Extra love to "Dad S." (Arnie) for his appreciation and acknowledgment of my cookies and me. He took great pleasure in sharing his portion with others!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

“Thankfulness Thursday " and every day of the week

As we move into the New Year, I am faced with many notes of thanks to those who created and shared another wonderful holiday season. As time passes, it becomes a more daunting task, overwhelming me as an assignment rather than a sincere gesture. Ironic since my first blog article was about the etiquette of writing “thank yous”.

I have a list of business tasks and phone calls to make, cookie dough in preparation of baking cookies and “eleventyninethousand” other things going at once and am putting all that aside to write my mass “thank you”.

First, I wish to thank you, my readers, for your cherished feedback since I began writing creatively this past year. Your comments and memories are as pleasant for me as remembering my own! Social media like Facebook has put me in touch with many familiar old friends and introduced me to many additional new ones. Through these mediums, I am able to share my experiences and knowledge while gaining even more from you. Thanks Charisse for your personal instruction how to best use these mediums. Thanks Beth for ‘hooking me up” with this technology in the first place, and the lap top with which to put it in motion. I should also thank your husband Jim, for keeping my equipment and software updated so that I may participate functionally. I also will thank you for feeding us unbelievably well throughout the year. Beth procures culinary gifts that exceed any expectations she herself may have and presents a feast of surprises every time we are in their presence. Some of these inventive recipes of which I have boasted over the holidays are featured on Windespherewitch. When Beth is involved, there is always food whether at their home, our home or her Sister’s home, where we reveled in the annual solstice supper with friends and family. This year really rocked with additional folks I had the opportunity to meet as bartender! Good food, great fun and the most excellent gingerbread brownies, Molly & Ellen! Thanks so very much Ellen and Peter for your warm hospitality you generously bring here to share every winter from southern CA. We also appreciate your giving us Sting’s Christmas CD “If on a Winter’s Night”, to which I am currently listening for inspiration. For those who are not familiar, this music was recorded during winter of 2009 in an old Tuscan home, Ceilidh style, with a group of Celtic musicians and their authentic instruments while gathered around the kitchen fire drinking hot beverages to keep warm. Your Solstice and Christmas get-togethers set a similar scene created in your cozy traditional hearth-centered home overlooking the valley.

The Christmas cards flowed like molasses until just the week before, when a deluge of greetings in colorful and sparkly artwork donned our bookcase from top to bottom. Among them were letters from family with whom we have not seen in many years. What a treat to hear from them and read about the rich memories of Christmases past; like our German Christmas tree, that we shared every year throughout my childhood. I have already composed responses to you all to which I keep adding thoughts as they resurface in my heart and mind. Of course, we received most recent kids’ photos from dear patients and of our own grandchildren. Daughter Laurel’s family continues to grow with their 3rd son due in March. Eldest son, Brandon, turned 5 yesterday and Christopher 3 on Christmas Day! That is one heck of a present.

Shortly into what is already proving to be a pleasantly hectic New Year, I came home one night to find a message in my Facebook inbox from someone I was not familiar, about a subject that helped mold me into who I have become. “Robileth Lodge” it read, which would be pretty cryptic for anyone who has not experienced Robileth Lodge personally. A really long story shortened, another family had also spent summers in Ontario, Canada as guests at the exact same private place we stayed from 1967 into the 1980’s. Never having known this until now, I have been spending time nearly every day reliving the precious memories with new friend “Robileth Lodge Karen” and her brother, swapping stories and photos of many summers past. Having just missed each other in passing by a day or even hours, what a gift it is to find someone in space and time to relive those life-shaping events. This has been the inspiration for me to send “Happy Holiday Thank You Greetings” in January in the future. The New Year typically brings bills and tax information and necessary dietary changes that remind us we may have overindulged. I am thrilled to know so many of you and thank you Karen, for introducing yourself and family into my life. If the film “The Lake House” had not already been written, this would be our story!

As gifts we exchanged on Christmas Day, Beth especially expressed the pleasure and ease with which she magically found her presents for everyone this year. “They simply presented themselves” she proclaimed, like the perfect cocoa pot for our early am coffees or late evening teas in the privacy and peacefulness of our bedroom. It occurred to me that the other side of giving as well as receiving was the cheer we miss hearing about all the wonderful things others receive. As Beth reviewed her list of thoughtful gifts, I found myself as excited to hear about them as she was obtaining them, so on this “Thankfulness Thursday”, I wanted to share my many gifts with you too with wishes of spreading that same holiday cheer into the New Year and New Decade this 2010.

Special note and thanks to Facebook friend of a friend, Mr. Higgins, for sharing the concept of “Thankfulness Thursday”.