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Peas, Peas, Peas

In Views from an Empty Nest, you may remember I wrote a little tale extolling the many glorious attributes of “The Perfect Pea.” Robin and I love pink-eyed purple hull peas! Every summer we do all we can to find them and put them up for the winter.

We don’t have room in Hot Springs Village to grow purple hulls, so Robin usually lines up a local source from which to purchase two or three bushels. However, this year, due to the cool, rainy weather, our friendly farmer had barely enough purple hulls for his own family, he said. It looked like we’d be out of luck

Then we were invited to a 50th wedding anniversary of friends back in Tupelo, and Robin had an idea. He called his sister, who lives about 20 miles south of Tupelo, to see if she could scout us out any peas in Mississippi. Carolyn called back and said she had found a fellow who had some—he was selling them already shelled for $16 a gallon bag, and there were two bags to a bushel.

Wow! We were so excited! “Go ahead and pick up six of those, and we’ll pay you for them,” Robin said. So on Saturday afternoon, before the anniversary celebration that evening, we made a quick trip down to Hatley to give Carolyn a “thank-you” hug and gather our precious cargo.

Robin’s sister proudly opened her refrigerator. There were the twelve gallon bags of peas she had for us! Holy moly! She had misunderstood and thought Robin meant for her to get us six BUSHELS of peas instead of six BAGS!

After catching our breath, we all laughed and laughed! Then Robin and I paid her for all of them. That was quite a chunk of change, but we figured we could sell some of the gallons to friends back home.

We had brought one ice chest with us, but Jesse, Carolyn’s husband, loaned us another one, and we loaded our twelve gallon bags of peas into the two coolers and covered them with ice. When we returned to the motel in Tupelo, we were able to store seven bags in the small refrigerator in our room, and we left the other bags in the cooler, adding more ice to keep them fresh through the night.

The next day we made it back to the Village with no problems, and then we began washing, blanching, and freezing. It took us two more days to put up the eight gallons we kept after selling four to one of Robin’s golfing buddies. But we still ended up with fifty pint packs and three quart packs, so we were thrilled!

Now we’re all set for many delicious meals of purple hulls, fried okra, cabbage slaw, grilled pork chops, hot cornbread, and maybe even some homegrown tomatoes to go along with them. Yum!

We were back in Tupelo last Saturday, helping our dear friends, Dan and Frances Brasfield, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. And this Friday, August 8, Robin and I will celebrate 56 years together. Doesn’t seem possible! Those are a lot of years to hang with one fellow!  : )

Life is strange, though. Sometimes our saddest times are mixed right in with our happiest times. This weekend we’ll be bidding farewell to two other dear friends– Sherry Barefield and Dottie Montgomery.

In 1956, Sherry and I graduated together from Byrd High School in Shreveport, Louisiana. Later, during the 1960s, Sherry and her husband, Woodie, and Robin and I all attended the same little neighborhood church, John Calvin Presbyterian Church. The four of us and our young children were active members there. However, Robin and I moved to Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1971, and we didn’t see the Barefields again until we moved to Hot Springs Village in 2003.

One day soon after we arrived, Robin was playing golf with a new group, and the guys had played several holes before Robin and Woodie even recognized one another. They were talking about once living in Shreveport, and Woodie said, “Yeah, and you went to John Calvin Presbyterian Church!” They both laughed, and that was the beginning of eleven more years of great times together.

Several months ago, Sherry discovered she had ovarian cancer, and she slipped away from us on July 17. Her memorial service will be at Presbyterian Kirk in the Pines this Saturday morning on August 9, and we will be there with all her friends to say “farewell” but to also celebrate her life.

My other dear friend is Dottie Montgomery who will be leaving, too, but who is moving to be closer to her family. Dottie has been my “role model” at the Kirk—actively serving others well into her eighties, singing in the choir, and sharing her time and talents with so many in our church and community. Our congregation will honor her with a special cake during the coffee hour after the worship service this Sunday, August 10.

So celebrations and farewells– all mixed together this weekend. Tonight I am thankful for many happy memories.

Escape!

Yesterday, we returned from a wonderful get-together with 62 of our extended family in Tupelo. However, while we were there, we also saw firsthand the terrible tornado damage the town suffered this spring. We were shocked! Our old neighborhood was a mess with hundreds of huge oaks uprooted, tall pines broken off, roofs everywhere covered with blue tarps, and several churches, hotels, and restaurants severely damaged. One place really caught our eye!

Our young friends, Jane and Karl Hansberger, own the franchise to Steak Escape, a small restaurant on Gloster Street. It was completely demolished! Before leaving town this week, we dropped by Baskin Robbins, the other store the Hansbergers operate, to see how our friends were doing. We were so thankful to find them both okay, but Karl told us a harrowing story.

About 2:40 on Monday afternoon, April 28, no customers were in Steak Escape, but Karl and one of his employees were still working. Suddenly, darkness enveloped them, and he heard and saw  an electric transformer out front explode. They ducked into the men’s restroom in the back of the store. The walls around them were shaking and bulging, he said, and when the roar stopped, he had to shove the door hard to push it open.

The rest of the place was gone! Karl’s car outside had all the windows blown out, and it was covered with dents from the flying debris. Somehow, he managed to drive it out to Baskin Robbins at the mall to let Jane know he was okay.

The Baskin Robbins store wasn’t hurt, but they were without electricity for four days, so they lost all their refrigerated items, including dozens of Mother’s Day cakes they had already baked. It was quite a blow for the two of them! Fortunately, insurance covered most of their losses, but they are still dealing with the paper work. They don’t plan to renew their Steak Escape franchise. They’ll just work at Baskin Robbins. They do have a great business there. In fact, they said they’d baked almost 400 cakes for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since the tornado!

Jane was a high school student at Belden in Lee County when Robin was principal there in the 1970s, and Robin was like a mentor to her. The two have remained close friends, and Jane continues to send him a birthday card every year. She calls Robin her “adopted dad.”

Now we hope our “adopted daughter” and her husband will have a safe and happy summer!

Today I’ll brag on my man again. Robin shot his age in golf yesterday– scored an 81 on Cortez Golf Course. That means his name will appear in the Village Voice—right there in the “Ageless Wonders” column. : ) He came home a happy man!

This exciting achievement is a great way to end the week because he’s been dealing with some other much less happy things the past few days. For one thing, the deer got into his garden while we were out of town last weekend. They chomped down several of his tomato plants and ate almost all of his bell pepper plants. So this week he’s had to rig up a way to try to keep out the intruders. He went to Village Home Center and bought some tall metal stakes and some bird netting, and he spent all Thursday afternoon getting that strung up around his garden.

Before fixing his “fence,” though, he had an appointment with his hearing aid specialist. However, she couldn’t test his hearing because she discovered both of his ears were plugged with wax! She suggested he go see his doctor, so he left there and went to Mercy Express Care where the nurse practitioner flushed them and cleaned out all the wax. However, in doing that, she irritated his right canal, so she prescribed some antibiotic drops, and now he’s been treating that four times a day.

When he came in from golf, though, he grinned. “Maybe it’s because I’ve been feeling so discombobulated that I was able to play better than usual.”

Could be. : )

We hope all of you have a happy weekend.

 

Happy Easter! This is always such a glorious day. I hope you have enjoyed it.

One year in Sheveport, our young family had an experience that still brings a chuckle.

Our oldest son, Steve, was a happy, healthy seven-month-old, and I was still breastfeeding him. However, he wasn’t nursing as often as during the earlier months. So when my dad (whom I wrote about in my last blog) asked if I would help him with the music at our community’s annual sunrise service, I agreed. He would lead the crowd in all the familiar Easter hymns and also a musical rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer,” and I would be his accompanist on the piano.

Robin said he’d be glad to babysit while I was gone. When I left the house before dawn, all was quiet.

It was a beautiful morning, and the service at Centenary College amphitheater was well attended. Young people reenacted the roles of the women coming to the empty tomb on that first Easter morning, and as the sun burst above the horizon, the angel announced “The Lord is Risen!” The congregation joined in singing, and everyone left the service, smiling and full of joy.

After hugging my dad, I headed for home, pulled into the carport, and entered the kitchen. The house was dark. Walking down the hall, I glanced into Steve’s room. His crib was empty. Back in our bedroom, our bed was empty too. Where were my husband and son?

Suddenly, Robin emerged from our walk-in closet with Steve in his arms. “This is the only place I could get where he would stop crying! It was dark, and he couldn’t see anything.”

Steve took one look at me, scrunched up his little face, and tuned up again. “Oh, dear. I guess he was hungry!” I gathered our son into my arms, and we settled down.

My husband laughed. “Happy Easter, Momma! Welcome home! Now we will all have a happy Easter!”

Today, April 11,  I’m thinking about my dad. Since I wrote about Mom on her birthday last November, I thought today I’d share a few memories about the man whose “larger-than-life” personality dominated my early years and whose loving example still influences me today.

Marion Edmond Mischler (everyone called him “Misch”) was born in Vincennes, Indiana, on April 11, 1911. Today’s date is also significant, because on April 11, 1992—Easter Sunday that year—my sister Cathy and I scattered Daddy’s ashes in Caddo Lake, north of Shreveport, Louisiana. This was a favorite fishing spot for Dad, who would row out onto the lake every chance he got, pull in a couple of nice bass, bring them home, clean and filet them, and pan fry them for supper.

Fishing was a lifelong hobby. Before moving to Shreveport in 1953, we lived in Kansas City, Missouri, and I can remember many a Sunday afternoon, he’d load all of us into our 1939 Mercury and off we’d go to Prairie Lee Lake. Mother would rest and read, and Cathy and I would play around the picnic grounds while Daddy stepped down to the lake with his rod and reel.

Daddy was  a Y.M.C.A. executive his entire career. As a youth, he became active in the “Y” in Chicago during the late 1920s where he worked in the community with other young people who were caught up in street gangs. Daddy talked about how he often met with Al Capone, even in his home for dinner, where Dad would discuss how particular programs and sports activities sponsored by the “Y” could help the boys escape their dangerous life on the streets. Al was hospitable and supported Dad’s efforts.

When we moved to Kansas City, Dad served as the Northeast Y.M.C.A. executive secretary. I remember he would take me on field trips with the young boys to exciting places like Swope Park Zoo. I would be the only little girl on the bus! I wondered if he sometimes wished he had a son, but he always seemed quite happy to have his daughter along on these trips.

My dad believed in strict discipline—he only had to tell Cathy and me one time to stop our quarreling or to come home from playing with our friends at a certain hour. If we disobeyed, he would spank us—never with a belt or a switch, but with a firm hand as we bent across his lap. However, Daddy played with us, too. We would go bicycle riding together. I can also remember he would help us construct homemade kites, and our family would have a great time flying them high on the bluffs overlooking the Missouri River.

Dad was a faithful elder and teacher in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. all his life. He had an outgoing personality and often played a strong leadership role in the church and in the community. People looked to Dad for wisdom and strength.

In his later years, he took charge of Mom as she dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease, structuring her day and attending to all her needs. With his guitar, Dad loved to lead group singing at local nursing homes, and he would take my mother along. Amazingly, she remembered all the words to the “golden oldies,” and he seemed delighted that music could help her find enjoyment when all else seemed so bleak.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  I will always love you.

If I’ve counted right, we’re shivering under our sixth blanket of snow and ice this winter! Highly unusual for us here in central Arkansas! Our narrow streets, winding up and down hills and around sharp curves, are slick with ice. Robin and I will stay holed up again today.

I think about all the creatures outdoors in the woods around us. These wintry “blankets” must be wearing thin for them as well—deer hunkered down under brush piles, coons and possums buried in frosty piles of leaves. Soon they will venture out to forage for food to satisfy their gnawing hunger.

In our homes, we humans stay snug and fed, but only if our electricity stays on and only if our cupboards are full. If not, then soon we will share the same struggles as our creature cousins.

Right now, our outdoor thermometer says 16 degrees!  Today’s high is predicted to be only 28 degrees.

Stay warm and safe today, my friends.

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