Marshall County’s Pioneers

Back in 1855, fifty or so pioneers made their way into what is now known as Marshall County, Kansas. Food was scarce, housing was non-existent. Each of them paid approximately $25 into a general fund for a determined amount of land and agreed to use the money to purchase a steam saw-mill. By 1857, they had their mill.

Daniel Caldwell Auld was one of those pioneers. Born in Pennsylvania, he was raised in Ohio by his Irish immigrant parents. He became the area’s first justice of the peace a year after his arrival in Kansas and his home also served as the second post office ever established in Marshall County. His son, William, took over as postmaster when Daniel Auld joined the army. A staunch union man, he fought many battles in the Civil War and returned home to serve in the legislature and help Kansas become a state.

And here is where my ignorance of pioneer statehood comes to light: Kansans fought ardently to make theirs a “Free State”, the very opposite of the bloodthirsty pro-slavery agenda being carried out by Missourians just across the border.  It turns out Kansans had no intention of creating a Free State for blacks escaping or being released from their lives of brutal slavery in the South. What they really wanted was a Free State for free white people who saw no good in getting politically involved in the slavery issue.

This changes my original feelings for Mr. Daniel Auld, who I spent a week or so believing was an do-gooder abolitionist, but I live a relatively comfortable life 150 years after the fact, so…I can’t judge. Besides, who’s to say back then that having no involvement in the slavery feud was just as bad as, or worse than, being pro-slavery? Was there a difference? Ah, questions for another day.

By now you may be wondering why in the world I’m rambling on about Kansas, the Auld family, and legislative issues from the 1860s. If it helps you at all, I am, too! My story about Marshall County, Kansas, wasn’t supposed to go in this direction but, as you may sometimes notice, I get excited about historical facts that nobody else cares about in the hopes that you will eventually care about them.

It all started with this book my husband purchased a few years ago for $10 at a local antique shop:

Vermillion KS 1866 school bond records

…which led me to me getting all weird about holding in my hands a record book that came to life a year after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination!  

Vermillion KS 1866 school bond records

Vermillion KS 1866 school bond records

The pages of this record book hold school board minutes beginning in 1866 and document who paid their school bonds on time, in full, and who still owed on a payment plan. Daniel’s son, William, was elected to be the Superintendent of the school district they were trying to create and signed off on many a paragraph closing the meetings and passing directions to others. The surnames Barrett, Raiden, Strong, and, of course, Auld are prominent (as were their families in local matters, I have come to learn).  I’m afraid to keep perusing through the book because the fragile pages are beginning to slip from their binding, so I tried my best to make mental notes and employ my usually useful photographic memory to retell what the majority of the pages really hold: recipes and oddly placed bits on how to survive pioneer life.

There are recipes for everything – I lost count of how many types of bread these people baked – and I am utterly confused by the recipe instructions, so Matt and I got a good laugh at the final step for a lot of them, which is to “toss it into the quick oven”. What does that even mean? I need temperatures and measurements to work with, times for which to let the breads bake, and where does one even find lard these days?

Household tips include burning brown sugar bits on charcoals inside your room (“room” was underlined emphatically!!!!!!) to ward off mosquitoes. And if your child is suffering from croup, tie a handkerchief tightly around his neck (but not too tightly) after soaking the cloth in various “vapors”. Uh…what?

And here’s another gem found on a page explaining how to remove stains from one’s silk square pieces (handkerchiefs?) – a tip to treat cholera (is the acid phosphate sold in the same place I can find lard?).

Vermillion KS 1866 school bond records

Matt and I decided to donate the record book to Marshall County’s Historical Society, a small volunteer-run organization that is only open for phone calls three hours a day. I got so excited that I called early and left a message. A nice woman named Ms. Skinner called me back while I was making dinner, long after the three hour window had closed. When I told her the book was from 1866 and rattled off some of the names listed inside, she sounded genuinely shocked and said, “1866? That was before anything!” She took our names to give us credit for the donation and told me to ship it to her at my convenience.

I thought a little this morning about the name Skinner, because it didn’t show up in the record book at all. Marshall County, Kansas, is home to a tiny population of 10,000 and it’s unlikely (according to my amateur observations) that someone would live there unless they had always lived there, at least in the family name. If I am correct, which I think I am, Ms. Skinner is somehow related to one half of the publishing firm Brice & Skinner who distributed a local weekly called the Blue Rapids Times. The paper made its debut in July of 1871 and still runs today.

Maybe Matt and I will be mentioned in it!

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Forgotten History

My mother was born in Marinette, Wisconsin, a small northern town you’ve probably never heard of that sits on the border with Upper Michigan. Marinette is only a couple of miles northeast of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, another town you’ve probably never heard of. And that’s a shame.

I could try to recreate the town of Peshtigo for you from memory, but decades have passed since I last went through the place. I can’t believe too much about it has changed, though. It was (and probably still is) a close-knit lumber town surrounded by pine forests and smelled of the nearby paper mill.  Peshtigo is also divided in half by a river, not surprisingly called the Peshtigo River.

Because I grew up in nearby Marquette, Michigan and passed through Peshtigo at least a handful of times every year as a kid, I know its history. I know its story. I know why nobody else knows it, too. In fact, during my junior year of high school in suburban D.C., Peshtigo’s story was the one thing that helped me graduate from high school on time. My class attendance was awful, truancy-worthy, even, but my history teacher gave me a final shot at passing his class. His challenge:

Teach me something I don’t already know.

So I told him about Peshtigo. I told him about the lumber town, the river, and of one of the driest summers on record. I told him what happened on October 8, 1871, and he asked, “Isn’t that the same date as the Great Chicago Fire?” Why, yes. Yes, it is!

I passed my history class, became a senior, and spent some of my final year of high school helping to grade juniors’ papers with my former history teacher.

***

The reason most people have never heard of the town of Peshtigo is because of Chicago. More people were killed in the Peshtigo Fire, an estimated 2,500 compared to Chicago’s 200 to 300. They both occurred on the same date. Peshtigo’s fire was caused by drought and lightning, not by a legendary cow (I’m looking at you, Mrs. O’Leary!). The firestorm in Peshtigo was exactly that: a storm. It created its own weather patterns complete with cloud-to-ground lightning and tornadoes. But what’s all that worth when a cosmopolitan city on the lakeshore is nearly destroyed by a cow? Forgotten history, indeed.

(I had been struggling a bit to come up with a topic for my upcoming thesis for my bachelor’s degree. When I came across this page in Andrew Carroll’s Here is Where: Discovering America’s Great Forgotten History, I took it as a sign. Also, if you have knowledge of any resources or people, historians or otherwise, that/who may be able to help me with my research, please let me know.):

Hey, Girl: History, Ryan Gosling, and a ton of book recommendations

The three of us went out to eat a few nights ago and my daughter was playing a game called Plague, Inc. on Matt’s iPhone. Elle wanted me to help her choose symptoms, just a few things to support the launch of her virtual pestilence that she and my husband so heartwarmingly named Mother. We discussed joint pain, fever, vomiting, jaundice, and even tossed around the idea of a painful rash. When Matt ordered his dinner, I mistakenly thought I heard him say “barbecue” so I immediately, and very excitedly, went off on a tangent explaining the 1868 Yellow Fever outbreak in Memphis and its likely contribution to the city’s deep African-American roots. Think about it: were it not for that pesky epidemic, we might not have ever heard of rock n’ roll, B.B. King, or barbecued pork.

Matt and Elle both called me a nerd and never before had I felt so sure about my future career plans in public history.

C.S. Lewis once said, “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” This, whatever this is, is not another goal nor is it a new dream. It is simply a more refined goal or, if you prefer to be all woo-woo about these sorts of things, an old dream with much better direction.

Also, Ryan Gosling can Hey, girl me any day of the week.

Some fascinating reads on diseases:

Some good reading material on American history and why public history is important:

This post went off the rails about ten links back, but I love to share a good read with anyone who is interested. I am also thrilled to receive new book recommendations so feel free to fire away.

At times, I feel disconnected from the parts of the country that I really love to learn about – Oklahoma is rich in Native American history, obviously, but I’m more of a Civil Rights and Civil War kind of girl. If you know of any war monuments, landmarks, or related places of interest here in the middle of the country, please share.

 

Nantucket on my mind

Sometimes I am rewarded with good timing instead of good karma, unless you’re one of those people who considers them to be one and the same. I am not one of those people. Karma is karma, usually in a singular event. Good timing involves a number of events. Good timing requires good karma, I believe, but they are not the same thing.

Let me explain: Have you ever been introduced to something you knew nothing about only to later find yourself coming across this “something” all the time? I consider that good timing (and good observation skills). It happens to me an awful lot with words and only occasionally with facts. This instance involves Nantucket, which I will throw into the category of facts.

I have no affiliation with the island of Nantucket at all. My New World/New England ancestors got rich in the village of Salem, Mass., pre-witch hunts, converted a bunch of people into Baptists, and then tried to settle in New Amsterdam (New York City – Throggs Neck, anyone?) until the natives slaughtered the lot of them. My man John and the Throckmorton family survived and ran off to Rhode Island to found Providence. Also, the farthest into New England I’ve ever gone was Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Does that even count?

Not too long ago, I finished reading In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, a true story of a whaling disaster that originated in Nantucket. Needing some whimsy to decompress from the horrors of being stranded in the Pacific and the games of chance to see which of your shipmates gets cannibalized next, I took to reading Mat Johnson’s Pym. Again, there is a strong connection to the island of Nantucket. The story itself does not originate in Nantucket, but the story within the story does.

Lake Hefner lighthouse

Lake Hefner lighthouse

Last week while Matt and I were bicycling around Lake Hefner, we decided to stop for a break because, well…the wind, and benched ourselves near the Lake Hefner lighthouse. This was the first time I had ever paid attention to the plaque leading up to the structure itself. And guess what? It told me that the Lake Hefner lighthouse is an 36-foot tall replica of the Brandt Point lighthouse in Nantucket!

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You might think this is very unimportant, and maybe it is. But then you have to ask yourself: Why is there a replica of a Nantucket lighthouse in Oklahoma City? I haven’t figured this out yet. The reading of the books and the bike ride all occurred within three weeks of each other, which means this Nantucket thing keeps showing up in my life. Why? I haven’t figured this out yet, either, but I am a believer in good timing and weird little coincidences. Something is afoot.

What I’m Reading

What I’ve read lately (and highly recommend):

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck: I may never have read this had I not moved to Oklahoma. These Okies are a prideful bunch and Steinbeck is never far from their thoughts, it seems. I’m just sorry it took me so long to finally start reading it.

Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin: This book was purchased at a Half Price Books for less than four bucks. One of the best book buys I’ve ever made. Also, why is this not required reading for high school students? Or college students, for that matter?

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick: My paperback copy had been sitting on the bookshelf for a few years and I only decided to read it because Black Like Me was weighing heavy on my mind and I needed more tragedy…I guess? This actually works in my favor because I have yet to read Moby Dick and Melville’s tale was based on the Essex disaster. Happy accident. The timing of my book choices, not the Essex getting rammed by an angry whale.

All three of these books seem to have led me to Pym by Mat Johnson, another happy accident. I’ll be honest with you: I only chose Pym because I saw it listed as a “current read” by a blogger I read just so I can catch a glimpse of the wonderful foods and cakes she’s always cooking up and posting photographs of. Plus I liked the cover (yes, I do judge books by their covers). But Pym combines the lessons of all those other books mentioned above (friendship and hope, racism and slavery, woefully unprepared seafaring crews) in just this one tale. I can’t even begin to explain it to you.

Pym is just that weird and just that wonderful.

To See the Sea Again…

I started reading In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex earlier this week. My bookmark is resting on page nineteen but already I’m pining for salt air, sea breezes, and the stinkeye one gets from those mean ol’ pelicans. I don’t know if I really miss Florida or if I just miss the small fishing and shrimping villages located up and down along the Atlantic coast. Either way, reading about this whaleship and the crew and the harbor town and the island of Nantucket and all the things that remind me of home just seem to remind me of…well, home.

The ocean, the rivers, the marshes, the bridges. Even the cargo ships and cruise lines have a special place in my heart. I feel silly for even entertaining the idea of not returning to Florida this summer. So, so silly.

our camping float-by

a container ship on the St. Johns River, heading out to cross the Atlantic

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Mayport shrimp boats – it’s a way of life

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Mr. Ed is our favorite tugboat.

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Atlantic Coast pelicans are much nicer than Gulf Coast pelicans.

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another container ship, returning overseas

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at the harbor-front in Fernandina Beach

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more Fernandina boats

Dames Point Bridge

Dames Point Bridge that connects North Jacksonville to Arlington, Southside, and the Jacksonville Beaches. A cruise ship makes it way out to sea by navigating under this bridge with barely a few feet of clearance at low tide.

What I’m Reading

As I crawled into bed last night, I reached over and grabbed the book I’m currently reading from my shelf. This book is on my own personal bookshelf, of course, much to the surprise of my husband who looked at me and said, “You’re reading that for fun?”

688 pages of things I should already know

Yes! Then I blabbered on about all I had learned in just the first three pages (sadly, I don’t have a lot of free time these days for fun reading). What isn’t entertaining about hearing how Christopher Columbus set into motion the complete extinction of the Arawak people in the Bahamian Islands beginning in 1492? He was a schmuck, a liar, and a manipulative bastard who managed to pocket an annual pension away from a sailor named Rodrigo. Apparently a reward was to be given to whoever spotted land after more than a month at sea and Rodrigo saw white sand on the horizon on October 12th, legitimately having claim to the reward. Well, here comes Christopher Columbus who swore he’d seen land the night before. C’mon, really? What a jerk.

How Columbus managed to persuade the king and queen of Spain to completely finance his wackadoodle sea voyages to capture gold and slaves (and slaves were way more plentiful than this gold he kept yammering on about) astounds me. Was he like the Rasputin of the New World or something?

Moving on…

Matt is sometimes baffled by how I can manage to read more than one book at a time. He is faithfully committed to finishing any book he starts and never gives attention to another until the current book’s last page has been read. Aside from my textbook readings that require about three hours of my time a day, I have four books on my current bookshelf. These are the books that I read at night to decompress and I’m honestly pretty thrilled when I can manage to get through more than two paragraphs before I fall asleep.

Howard Zinn: The People’s History of the United States – I only read the first page yesterday while waiting in the car pick-up line to get my daughter after school. Three pages in, I was hooked. I know history books are usually written by the victors of wars or the mentors of a struggling government and everything comes out in the end hunky dory, but I have a feeling this isn’t one of those books. Do I believe everything Zinn writes? Of course not, and therein lies the responsibility of the reader – research, research some more, then research even more! There will always be people who disagree with your conclusion.

Sarah Vowell: Take the Cannoli – I love this woman. Sometimes I find her writing style difficult to appreciate when she tries too hard to describe certain events with run-on sentences that I have to read more than once. This book is more about her personal life, though, and includes often hilarious essays such as how her Cherokee ancestry affects her opinion of Andrew Jackson or how she hid her obsession with The Godfather movies from her roommates so they wouldn’t think she was weird (if only they’d known she used to ride her bicycle to town as a teenager to hear presidential debates). Her book Assassination Vacation is one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read. I only wish it had been around in my D.C.-livin’ days. Ford’s Theater will be seen with fresh eyes the next time I visit.

Stephen Hawking: A Brief History of Time – The simple fact that Hawking is a scientist intimidates me but I read this book for an astronomy class years ago and actually enjoyed it! I wouldn’t have this on my bookshelf again were it not for the fact that I’m taking yet another universe-evolution class. Hawking has a unique writing style that reaches out to those of us who don’t understand even the basis of how stars are born and he explains everything clearly. On the flipside, he adds personal touches to his narrative by discussing his earlier fears regarding his ALS diagnosis and (false) life expectancy and at one point even admits that even he no longer believes in the theory he worked for 20 years to prove. It is now one of his goals to convince all those other scientists that he was wrong. You gotta love a guy who can admit he’s wrong, amirite?

Jonathan Weiner: The Beak of the Finch – Again, this is another book I am reading for a class on biology and evolutionary progress, but it is very well written! I have enjoyed this book more than I expected and I actually packed it for our camping trip (and no other books). My spring break vacation was spent camping, hiking, and reading about the evolution of finches’ beaks while the campfire roared away. Weiner is sometimes repetitive with his information but I don’t find it distracting. In fact, I quite appreciate it. Perhaps this is why the book is so popular – not only does it break down the decades’ worth of work put in by the Grants on the Galapagos Islands, but it is written so that anyone can understand it. Have you ever read an entire chapter on how a single millimeter can make or break the evolutionary cycle of bird’s beak? Neither have I but it was fascinating! Evolution doesn’t take millions of years. It can happen over the course of one or two generations.

Behold! The finchy beaks of Darwin’s darlings:

Perspectives and the Moons, Part Two

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Because I only have a limited time with this particular book, Earthtime Moontime by Annette Hinshaw, I know that I am rushing through it and focusing on the pages that relate directly to me. I hate to say it, but amidst final research papers and an upcoming trip to Dallas, I probably won’t have time to study the other pages as intently so I feel even more pressure to at least get something useful out of it before it’s due back at the library.

Only from a different perspective can we reach toward removing some of the invisible limits with which we bind ourselves. Putting ourselves inside the skin of another culture can open up our personal possibilities.

~ Annette Hinshaw

**********

If you were born between August 29 through November 26, some or all of this may apply to you.

I was born under the Harvest Moon and just before the Sorting Moon. If we’re talking horoscopes, I am a Libra.  My tarot card (Justice) tells me I believe in karma. Oh, do I ever.

All of this ties together in a neat little package. It’s so simple, but complex at the same time.  For now, I will write only about my moons.

My Harvest Moon tells me that I was born with four primary energies: gathering, ending, responsibility, and fulfillment. Each of them has everything to do with my sense of accomplishment. Gathering reflects my ability to accept praise or criticism, from myself or from others. Ending means that I have a difficult time coming to terms, not only with what I have, but also with what I don’t have. Responsibility highlights how I accept that things are what they are, favorable or not. Fulfillment highlights my ability to gain for myself what I may be jealous of others for already having. And, of course, there are contradicting energies that come from the Seed Moon, my Harvest Moon’s lunar opposite, the impatient part of my personality that also fears failure and running out of time.

Harvest Moon babies are strong believers in self-accountability. We also have a hard time bringing relationships to a proper closure. However, we know when to move forward and we know when to quit. Our lives are spent constantly questioning justice, believing that we get what we earn and pitying those who get more than their fair share. Again, there’s that karma. It’s a karmic kind of justice that we believe in so strongly.

My six Sorting Moon energies are all about choice (again, refer back to the self-accountability factor of Harvest Moon babies): discrimination, choice, analysis, specialization, free will, and order. Oh, do I ever love me some order.

“The Sorting Moon is about decisions and how we make them, free will and how we use it.” Sorting Moon babies collect and categorize outcomes from every other decision we have ever made (no matter how great or small) and determine how our choices affected us or others, good and bad. This wisdom helps us to recognize that we still (and always will) have a choice in how we shape our own lives, no matter what kind of decision we must make. Not all decisions are pleasant, but by accepting our own accountability (I’m such a Harvest Moon baby), we express our gained freedom by making a choice, any choice.

(My Libra brain does cause me to shut down when given too many choices, though. Keep that in mind when dealing with most people born in October, FYI. This also rings true for those born under the Sorting Moon as details tend to overwhelm us and cause procrastination, which is still considered to be a choice. Interesting…)

Sorting Moon babies have a “special talent” for analysis and evaluation. In more realistic terms, we are good at dissecting the fun out of nearly everything with our constant nitpicking and categorizing. We also see the hopeful bits of humanity, too, and this explains why sometimes decisions are difficult to act upon. We sit “on the fence” for longer periods of time. Notice, though, that when a choice has finally been made that the commitment to follow through is propelled by our loyalty to the choice. And intuition. Sorting Moon babies go from the gut sometimes but are very good at helping others focus on what details are more important than others. It seems easier for us to do this for other people than for ourselves, though.

Sadly, that isn’t explained at all. Maybe that has something to do with Scorpios, whom I’ve never really read much about. Also, the Sorting Moon’s lunar opposite is the Mating Moon. Those people tend to thrive in groups, in the kinds of activities that center around community and uniting with others to fulfill the needs of a group.  Sorting Moon people celebrate the individual. That doesn’t mean just ourselves, but other individuals as their own people. This is apparently our way of validating the choices we’ve made to assure ourselves (and each other) that we can continue to make good choices. And that is our contribution to the group, to society at large.

I have a difficult time believing I am a full-on Harvest Moon baby, because so much of the Sorting Moon seems to rule my life. But perhaps that’s the balance I must strike – learning how to feel comfortable as both, because it’s perfectly okay to do that. That’s the biggest Harvest Moon challenge, I think, is that ability to live in both worlds, under both moons, and accept it.

Thanks, Harvest Moon and Sorting Moon. There’s one less decision I have to make.

Perspectives and the Moons, Part One

The way people think about things, how a thousand individuals can experience the same event and walk away with a thousand different conclusions, completely fascinates me. It’s probably why I have been seeking out information in self-help books lately. At the moment, I am content with my life. Interestingly, my husband finds the word content to have a somewhat unfulfilled connotation, as if being content means one should still strive to seek out just a little bit more. I tend to use the word as meaning I am happily satisfied and in no need, for the moment, to seek out anything more. But that just encourages this idea of why I am so taken by perspectives and points of view.

I’m not sure that I would resort to a self-help book if I were ever in desperate need for answers on how to endure any hardships or other unfavorable aspects of my life. I have a deep well of contempt for diet and nutrition books and, to be fair, parenting books of all kinds (though I just finished Bringing up Bèbè and found it quite entertaining and enlightening) and I believe there is no such thing as a one-book-fits-all solution, no matter what you’re trying to do for yourself.  I simply like the idea of there being so many ideas!

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading a bit more about other people’s struggles, their versions of the meaning of life, how they came to believe certain things about humankind and the world in general, and how to incorporate some of these trains of thought into my everyday life. (Of course, now that I read this sentence back to myself, it sounds like I am contradicting my previous statement about being content and my use of the word. Perhaps my husband and I can simply decide to agree on a middlemost.)

Again, I don’t think there is a one-book-fits-all solution, and that includes books on the meaning of life. But just as I am encouraging my daughter to accept some afterschool instruction to help her improve her art skills, I hold strong to the idea that perspective skills are just as important. If I am never introduced to another’s method of thinking, I may never know how comfortably (or uncomfortably) that method fits into my own.

Take, for example, Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I tried so hard to get through the first section of this book and I just couldn’t do it. For some reason, I even felt disrespectful for putting the book down, if just to rest my brain from his toggling back and forth from actual events to his professional psychological evaluation of one’s ability to endure hardship and survive, happily. He survived Auschwitz, for cryin’ out loud, and he’s happy and I could not bear to read anymore. I wasn’t put off by his descriptions of life in the camps (in fact, those are what made me want to keep reading) but I was put off by his belief that those who died did so because they lost the will to live.

And I disagree with that. Sometimes, a body just quits. It is likely I missed a particular point in the latter pages of this book that would have tied it all together, but I just couldn’t keep reading. I don’t think I even made it past the thirtieth page. For that, I am sorry. I want to know your story, Mr. Frankl, but perhaps we’ll meet in another way.

I moved on quickly to another book, one that actually seems to be more up my alley. While stacked on my bed’s headboard shelves are a number of non-fiction stories about yellow fever, the Great Influenza of 1918, and a few other books on epidemics (a shining gem featuring cholera is being held at my local library for me as I type this and I’m so excited!) so there is no shortage of morbidity and human suffering happening here, but I did manage to get my hands on an uplifting book called Earthtime Moontime by Annette Hinshaw. It turns out she’s a local celebrity of sorts and was a fervent activist for religious freedom in our neck of the woods (she passed away in 1999 but was a prominent member of the Pagan movement in nearby Tulsa, Okla.).  Unfortunately, my borrowing time has been reduced by the pesky but ever-so-helpful interlibrary loan by which the book was acquired. I have only a few weeks to study Hinshaw’s words before returning the book to its rightful home in the Dallas (Texas) library system. (Seriously, the whole state of Oklahoma has not one copy? Shameful.)

I will leave you with this, a blurb from Hinshaw’s book that captured my attention right away: “Once upon a time, there was no time…” Think about that. I’d be utterly lost without a clock but maybe we’d all be more in tune with the seasons and with ourselves. Even with each other? Hmm, thoughts for another time.

But now, says that darned clock, I must go pick up my daughter from her afterschool art instruction that I so feverishly pushed for her to attend. If I learned anything about myself from Hinshaw’s book (which whimsically describes me to a tee based on which moon I was born under in 1976), it is that I must be more assertive in my decisions and accepting of their consequences.  Or, as Hinshaw so delicately put it, “you may dissect things into so many pieces that you lose the beauty of the whole…”

Wasn’t I just writing about this a few weeks ago? I’ll promise to write more on this later, if anyone’s interested. And probably even if you aren’t.

Conquering the Quiche

This is quite possibly the first time I have ever started a recipe from this cookbook and had all the ingredients to finish it without having to ad lib with other recipes to make up for my unpreparedness. Finally. I did something right!

You wanna know how prepared I actually was this time around for my first quiche? Let’s just say I ordered collard greens at the beginning of the month from the food co-op and bought my stone-ground cornmeal about three weeks ago. The only mistake I made was to guess-judge the amount of collards by how many would seem appropriate for a 9-inch deep dish. The recipe called for a bundle of collards, and I don’t know how much a bundle actually is (I ordered a “gallon of collards” that were delivered to me in a plastic bag so you can see where I came out confused) but Matt did a fine job chopping those suckers into “thin ribbons”. Next time, we’ll chop up a little more.

We were rewarded with deliciousness and plenty of leftovers.

The recipe for Winter Greens & Cornbread Quiche is a full page of instructions, ingredients, steps, and stages of readiness so I’m not typing it all here. Besides, you really need to get your own copy of Ashley English’s A Year of Pies. So far, I’ve made one pie and a blackberry grunt. Later this week, I’ll be making a Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pie (page 64!) for Thanksgiving dessert. Seasonal baking, seasonal pies. Most are sweet but some are savory, too, if that’s your thing. This fun cookbook includes pies, sonkers, quiches, crostatas, tarts, and galettes, which I’ve seen elsewhere referred to as “lazy man’s pie” (that’s my kind of pie considering my first one took dang near 6 hours).

Bring on the brown sugar and buttermilk…I’m ready.