Look Up!

When on a scenic drive — as passenger, not driver — be sure to glance UP at the scenery.

This particular bluff is located between two small river towns on the Upper Mississippi (in this case, upper equals north of the Ohio River) . It also happens to be named The Maiden Rock.

Yes, at one time (perhaps still) you can buy a printed copy of the “legend”. In this one the princess is named Winona and her father is Chief Red Wing. And like similar stories at other bluffs along the river, she gathered her dead lover — from the wrong tribe — into her arms and leaps off into the waters below.

Please to remember — the road and railroad were not carved into the foot of the bluff at this time.

True story? You can decide.

Beautiful bluff? You have my vote.


At the Heart

At the heart of the home is…the kitchen.

In the Midwest farming community where I grew up — many of the houses (town or rural) had the entrance into the kitchen. Often this was via a back porch — sometimes open, sometimes enclosed. This was the door that was used.

Yes, every house had a front door which often opened to the living room. But the traffic pattern here was light. A knock on the front door signaled strangers.

Step back a few generations and the same pattern emerges.

Time was spent in the kitchen — by residents and visitors. This is where the women did a great amount of work preparing food for either immediate or future use. Family and guests gathered around the table for meals. Visiting and evening tasks were accomplished close to the heat and light of the fire.

This two room frame house with a central fireplace was a common floor plan in the 1830’s. The kitchen side of the fireplace was at the literal center as well as the functional heart of the home.


Be Careful…

I visit the Missouri Botanical Garden to:


Walk in the sunshine

Check on some favorites

Collect “pretties” for social media

But the Garden has a serious side as this building and monument remind us. This is a place of science and learning. (And you thought science was blowing up the chem lab.)

So be careful during your next visit. You might learn something.


Separating Spaces

Mending Wall

Good Fences make Good Neighbors

Growing up on the farm — I was acquainted with several different types of fences.

Keeping the “line fence” in good repair was important. This was the marking of your property “line”. Often owners of adjacent properties shared the responsibility — one farmer took care of one stretch — the other the remainder.

Pasture fence and hog fence functioned to keep the animals where they belonged. Yard fences did the same — think barn yard and chicken yard instead of house.

And some fences were temporary — confining animals for a season or a year.

And while the farmers in our area used a variety of materials — wood posts, steel posts, barbed wire, woven wire, chicken wire, snow fencing (slats & wire) — they didn’t follow this historical model below.

Look, Pa! No posts!


On the Lawn

To steal a phrase from a sweatshirt: EARTH without ART is EH.

Art takes many forms: movies, plays, books, photos, and sculpture to name a few. From simple lines or the familiar phrases of a nursery rhyme the world of art expands to large, intricate works.

Recently I stepped out the back door of a familiar St. Louis institution and discovered a few examples of art too large to be confined within normal walls.

She sits and thinks while the wind ruffles her hair.



Before Tupperware

Storage is necessary for every household. You need a safe place — away from insects and vermin — to store food for tomorrow, next week, next month.

Today we have freezers, refrigerators, staples sold in cans and jars, and the ever present plastic container with a secure lid (when you can find it) to keep food for future meals.

But what about before every home had electricity? What about the homestead where you couldn’t get to town more than once a month? And town didn’t have the well stocked stores of today.

Earthenware. Crockery. Pottery.

Storage jars, many with lids, of this material have been made and used almost since man tamed fire.

This museum collection shows examples from the latter portion of the 19th century. Our household, and most in the neighborhood, had a few “crocks” in various sizes. A great-aunt used one for her cookie jar. (On the back porch–always ask first.) Ours were missing lids, but a dinner plate with a weight (rock) served well when my brother made a batch of wine.




Last week in this space we explored summer and ended with a large sculpture of a Monarch butterfly. Today we continue with another sculpture — but think smaller– or not.

Delicate. Fragile. Near to life size. But…

The glass artist didn’t stop until he had 1,000 orange glass butterflies to mount on the tree. It’s a swarm. A true reflection of the Monarchs in migration mode.



Revising Thinking

Do you read historical novels? Or biographies set in previous centuries?

I’ve been reading them in some form or another since I pulled “On the Banks of Plum Creek” from the school library shelf. One of the many things which fascinated me in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, and others, is the way common chores and household tasks were performed.

As an adult, I enjoy touring historic homes and seeing first hand some of the items in daily use. Some of them were very clever. Some I was familiar with. (It happens when you grow up on a small farm using second, or third, hand equipment.)

And every once in a while I’m touring a place and have an AHA moment.

The lady of this house kept her fine needlework in this corner to take advantage of the good light from the window. Candles, and later oil for lamps, was too precious to use for this task.