All about Me

29 May 2012 08:44 pm


I found this eye on a tree today.


Then I found two more eyes on the same tree.


Then I looked up and saw many eyes on the same tree.


This woeful eye made me feel sad.


When I got home I discovered that my husband had made me some cheese toast…….with eyes.

27 Dec 2011 12:46 pm


I happily worked on my Christmas tree this year, anticipating the reaction when our family (especially my four grandchildren) arrived for Christmas Eve.


No matter how hard one works there are always a few last minute things to do. I almost forgot to hang the stockings.


Almost every room downstairs had some Christmas frippery hanging around. I take “Decking the Halls” literally.


The Santa tree went back up this year and our dog, Penny treated it with respect. (That means she didn’t use the tree as a chew toy.)


The tree on the piano was filled with special ornaments given to us by a dear sister-in-law, some in memory of her two lost children.


The dining room wasn’t left without Christmas touches. This year we hosted the annual Christmas Eve celebration at our house. We had a sit-down Dickens Feast with Turkey, Ham, Scalloped Corn, Baked Apples stuffed with dried fruit and pecans, Glazed Carrots with Pecans, Duchess Potatoes, Salad, Broccoli Cornbread, Rolls, Holiday Mincemeat Pie and Hard Sauce, Kentucky Derby Pie, Rum Cake, Banana Split Cake, Christmas Cookies and Eggnog with Brandy, Rum and Nutmeg. So what that the kitchen was filled with too many cooks? The result was glorious and delicious.


We have lovely bushes beside our house that have holly-like blooms on them that are at their best on Christmas. These berries added some love to the kitchen. I took time to drink in the moments and the wonder of this Holy time of year. We watched Jesus of Nazareth, which to me is the authoritive Christmas Story. We watched Elf and Love Actually.


All the attention and work was worth it watching our grandchildrens’ wonder at Christmas.


Farewell, Christmas, 2011. You were a joyous and hopeful occasion. I look forward to seeing you again next year.

More Christmas Frippery here. I love it!

21 Aug 2011 11:42 pm


Queen Elizabeth ll boards a First Capital Connect train at King’s Cross Station bound for King’s Lynn, Norfolk, en route to Sandringham for Christmas, 2009.

European royals make do with a less lavish lifestyle than the supposed citizen-executive of a so-called republic.

Thus speaketh the Steyn.

The man hits the funny bone of truth and it hurts.

He turns the knife in even deeper.

Symbols are important. In other circumstances, the Obamas’ vacation on Martha’s Vineyard might not be terribly relevant. But this is a president who blames his dead-parrot economy on “bad luck” — specifically, the Arab Spring and the Japanese tsunami: As Harry S. Truman would have said, the buck stops at that big hole in the ground that’s just opened up over in Japan. Let us take these whiny excuses at face value and accept for the sake of argument that Obama’s Recovery Summer would now be going gangbusters had not the Libyan rebels seized Benghazi and sent the economy into a tailspin. Did no one in the smartest administration in history think this might be the time for the president to share in some of the “bad luck” and forgo an ostentatious vacation in the exclusive playground of the rich? When you’re the presiding genius of the Brokest Nation in History, enjoying the lifestyle of the super-rich while allegedly in “public service” sends a strikingly Latin American message. Underlining the point, the president then decided to pass among his suffering people by touring small town Minnesota in an armored Canadian bus accompanied by a 40-car motorcade. In some of these one-stoplight burgs, the president’s escort had more vehicles than the municipality he was graciously blessing with his presence.

When I was a little girl my parents would take me to see my paternal great grandmother Emma Fletcher. She was an immaculate housekeeper so when we visited her we were allowed to snoop all over her house. My brothers and sister and I went into her dining room on our way to her fascinating kitchen and in passing would see Grandma’s hooked rugs. She never stopped working on her beautiful creations and had everything in her dining room set up as a display even though it was a work in progress.

We were intrigued with Grandma’s kitchen. Besides her pies tucked away safely in her old punched tin pie safe there always seemed to be something cooking in the oven. But it was the old ice box that fascinated us. My brother used to dare me to open the door to peak inside. There were always strange things that we never found inside the ice box at home. Things like pigs feet, ham hocks, and chitlins.

Our strolls through our great grandmother’s home were pretty good entertainment for us but one of my most striking memories is of the framed certificate that she had hanging in her bedroom above the framed photo of a young image of her husband, our great grandfather, who had died when I was five years old.

The certificate was from President Truman, an acknowledgment and thanks to my great grandfather for being the engineer who drove the train on one of the legs of President Truman’s whistle-stop campaign tour through the United States.

I was always in awe of my late great grandfather. I knew that he had been an engineer of the Frisco train and that he had told my father that he had put a million miles on the engine. Reading that certificate just put a little more burnish on the memory of the man who, in my last memory of him, had been cutting roses from his prized rose bushes and let me pick out my favorite rose.


President Truman (not an Ivy Leaguer but most certainly a buck stopper) engaged in a re-election campaign in 1948 that was “made in America”.

Truman’s 30,000 mile whistle stop train tour through the heartland of the United States was taken on the Ferdinand Magellan, the only car custom built for the President of the United States in the 20th century. Originally built in 1928 by the Pullman Company and officially the “U.S. No. 1 Presidential Railcar”, the Ferdinand Magellan is currently on display at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in Miami, Florida.

But to undertake this feat, in each railroad region it took an engineer and an engine to power the railcar and it’s hard to imagine the U.S. Secret Service allowing that to happen in this day and time. It would take more than one massive train to carry the load of Obama advisers, aides, press handlers, political hacks, advance crew, mother-in-law, staff, cooks, hairdressers, dog-walkers, babysitters, golf-walkers, page-turners, and the like heading to Martha’s Vineyard.


And what a bummer for Obama! Now it appears that Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi has flown the coop for parts unknown. (perhaps Algeria) Chaos and euphoria are reigning in the streets of Tripoli and Obama must be terribly worried about his golf game plans for tomorrow. Should he make a statement right away or should he wait a few days to take credit?

How dare Gaddafi interrupt his ten day vacation only two days in?

29 Jul 2011 09:17 pm

Life before fast food was slower.
It sure was a much more meandering pace for our family. For the readers who were not born during the fifties: there were no microwaves, but there were stoves and ovens and ice boxes (refrigerators). Although many women did go to work during and after World War ll, most women were still at home raising children during the early fifties.

  1. They were cooking. Cleaning. Reading cookbooks. Cracking eggs. Chasing their kids around the house outside with a switch when they didn’t behave themselves. (hmm umm)

The food may have even tasted better.
I remember taking my own good time at the supper table. I liked to linger and count the peas left on my plate. Make faces at my little sister. The food was pretty simple back then but it was fixed by my Mother who just happened to be one of the best cooks in the world.

Anyway, I thought so. My mother graduated from high school and married my Dad several weeks later. When I came along she was already an accomplished cook because, as she told me, she made straight ‘A’s in Home Economics.

Mother could cook anything without measuring cups or spoons but she always had her high school home economics text book on the kitchen counter which helped her to prepare wholesome, healthy meals. I always liked books even before I could read and I remember poring over the menu section. Mother never cooked duck that I can remember but I used to wonder what it tasted like. In the cookbook were menu suggestions for everyday of the week and for holidays.

I remember one menu for a January dinner:

Avocado Cocktail salad, Duck with Sauerkraut, carrot and celery souffle and Hot Mince Pie with Rum Sauce for dessert.

The only way we ate saurekraut at our house was with weiners. It wasn’t one of my favorite dishes. Being a Baptist family, household rum wasn’t consumed but I often wondered how Mince Meat Pie tasted with Rum sauce. That sounded yummy to me.

Anyway, there were, of course, grocery stores in the fifties. I remember going with my Mother a few times when I was really little but she usually managed to do that chore without us. We had chickens and ducks when we were young and I recall gathering eggs and bringing them in to the kitchen. We had a milkman who would deliver milk in glass bottles. I used to watch in a mixture of horror and awe as my mother cut up a chicken. To this day I cannot do it. I just don’t have the pioneer spirit I suppose.

We were of English/Scotch/Irish stock and when it came to the partaking of meals, we called them: breakfast, dinner and supper. No one had lunch. That was for people who lived in Missouri.

My Dad was a finicky eater so when my Mother strayed from the meat and potatoes route she received scant appreciation. She used her creative passions (and she had a lot of them) on her desserts. Mother made the best date candy, pumpkin, and apple pies, cobblers and cakes.

When the cupboard was bare Mother still managed to whip up magic with the use of a little white cornmeal, sugar, milk and hot water. I was fascinated by an old cookbook Mother inherited from her New England grandfather. I spent many hours thumbing through the cookbook to find exotic receipts such as Turtle Soup and Johnnycakes. Yes, my Mother made the Johnnycakes from the recipes she found in Grandfather Whitmarsh’s cookbook. So, it’s true, a little bit of Yankee cooking was handed down through the family.

We didn’t drink soft drinks or eat potato chips. Mother taught us that vegetables and fruit should reflect the color wheel during our daily meals. She enforced the drinking of milk unfortunately. I always hated milk. The first thing I did when I went away to college was  stop drinking it.

Food was cooked from scratch.
There were no mixes, no MSG, no shortcuts in our family’s larder. According to some food writers and experts the time after World War ll brought many modern conveniences to fifties housewives with processed foods such as Cheeze Whiz and frozen products. They tended to be too pricey and lacked nutritional value for my Mother’s uses. Sometimes I would find myself sitting on the front porch swing shucking corn or snapping green beans.

My favorite meal was a dish my Mother called, Arkansas Pie, which was yellow cornbread covered with butter beans, and topped with a slice of onion and a dollop of ketchup.

Along with the Arkansas Pie we had fresh cooked green beans, fried ham, and coleslaw. There were usually tomatoes from the garden. Daddy was a frustrated farmer who always had something growing: kale, asparagus, corn or tomatoes.

Sometimes on the weekends, Mother would make banana pudding which she always served with meringue topping.

  • No, none of us had weight problems. We weren’t couch potatoes, there was no such term back in the fifties. We were active, busy kids, spending most of our time outside.

Oh, but the fifties pressure cooker. It was a big, aluminum pot that scared me something awful when Mother had it going. It hissed and splattered and seemed to always be on the edge of exploding. But Mother operated it like a cool scientist who understood her science. She used the cooker often to cook chicken and other meats. When she finished preparing the chicken the dumplings she made after wards were worth the terror the pressure cooker caused. Mother wouldn’t allow us in the kitchen when the pressure cooker was at work.

It never did blow up on us, although it did explode many times in my imagination.

Another delicious dish Mother made in the pressure cooker was her beef and vegetable stew. Mother put pretty tough slices of beef in the cooker, along with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery and other vegetables and within twenty minutes or so, have a great stew. The meat was tender and tasty and most of us were right on time when called to the table for supper.

Leftover roast beef was made into a special treat by the use of a hand-crank meat grinder that clamped onto the side of a counter. Feeding the ingredients into the little mechanical miracle was some kind of thrill for me and I was always up for helping my mother make the roast beef salad. She added chopped pickles, salt and pepper and mayonnaise. We served it up on Wonder Bread and it was delicious. My siblings liked to have a side of cottage cheese with the roast beef salad sandwich but it made me gag. The sandwich alone was good enough for me.

Fishing at Silver Bridge

My grandparents were fishermen so we went fishing a lot when we were young. The family’s favorite destination was a place up in the Boston Mountains called Silver Bridge. Most of the fish fries occurred at our grandparents’ house, but I got the feeling my Mother didn’t much care for cooking fish. Still, she made great Salmon croquettes. The salmon fillets came from a can but she managed to make it taste like something special by adding green onions, an egg, bread crumbs (or crackers) and frying it in some vegetable oil.

We were never allowed to eat much popcorn or peanut butter because our family doctor advised against it. He suspected that popcorn and peanut butter might cause appendicitis. Anyway, that’s what Mother told us. After I grew up I made up for that deprivation. I love popcorn.

When t.v. dinners came along they were too expensive for my parents’ budget and my Mother wasn’t convinced that they were nutritious. I remember wanting to try the Mexican t.v. dinners once for my birthday so Mother made an exception for that. There was a little Mexican Tamale place downtown and occasionally our Grandfather would pick up some tamales and bring them over to us. The t.v. dinners didn’t compare to the downtown tamales so I never asked for Mexican t.v. dinners for my birthday again.

In the fifties people didn’t go out to dinner that often. Sometimes when Mother took us downtown to see our grandparents at their dry-cleaning shop, The Rightway Cleaners, on Garrison Avenue we were treated to dinner at Woolworth’s counter. My sister and I loved their mashed potatoes and brown gravy and rolls, which is what we always ordered.

  • My Mother and Grandmother could always be counted on to go down the block to The Wide Awake Cafe to get a cup of coffee. I hated milk but loved the cream that was served with the coffee and my Grandmother always shared her cream with me. I also loved the red headed waitress who always served us. That was my Aunt Jeanine.

The Fun Guy in the Kitchen

  • My Dad never ventured into the kitchen unless our Mother was really sick and the only foods he knew how to make were fried potatoes and pancakes. He’d open up a can of pork and beans and serve it along with the fried potatoes and his children thought he was some kind of cool chef from outer space. He made his pancakes in the shape of animals.

Lucy and the Liver

  • When my Mother fixed liver for supper my sister, Lucy hightailed it over the little foot bridge to our neighbor, Ellen’s house and hid in her room. She couldn’t stand the smell of liver. My Mother would send us out looking for her. We knew where she was but would take our time looking for her because we knew there would be the usual scene at the table. Lucy was really clumsy and spilled her milk at almost every meal. She didn’t do it on purpose either.

Unlike my sister, I liked my Mother’s Liver and Onions. In fact, it had something to do with my romance with my future husband. One of the first times Bob came over to our house my Mother was making Liver and Onions for dinner. I was sort of embarrassed about the humble food she was preparing but Bob’s eyes lit up and he invited himself to eat. Mother had fixed mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade biscuits, the liver and onions, peas, etc. Bob was smitten.

He sat down in the onlooker’s chair. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Onlooker’s Chair

  • The Onlooker’s chair was just an extra chair at the dinner table that a neighbor or friend who dropped by unexpectedly was invited to sit down in to have a meal with us. It became the “onlooker’s chair” one day when our friend,Tommy came over.  When we invited him to eat supper with us, he said,”no, I already ate, I’ll just look.”
13 Nov 2010 07:14 pm


Life has been hectic lately. I’m deep into the art competition season and was at the art conference last week which took away some days of preparation for the so-called Reflections competition. This is a national competition sponsored by the National PTA and the art teachers in my district are required to participate. If there were no requirement I would drop this “competition” like the big bag of drudgery it is.

First of all, each year there is a “theme” to which students have to adhere and just as many classroom teachers complain about No Child Left Behind, in many ways, The Reflections Competition is teaching to the test. Worse, creativity is not important unless it is a child’s original portrayal of politically correct art reflecting hackneyed themes.

This year’s theme is Together we can. Oh yes, Together we can. Shades of Yes we can.

I’ve never been one to follow the crowd and I do not think that I am doing my job if I am not encouraging my students to be their own creative selves. Therefore, when we “brainstorm” about the themes of the Reflections Competition I stay away from cliches.

Still, public education has done its bit.

As a result, several of my students have rendered art worthy of a Miss America contestant. “Yes we can go green”, “Yes we can achieve world peace”, “Yes we can recycle” were some of the results.

But happily, other students followed their own unique minds and took a more personal approach to the theme.

Some of the most pleasing art reflected the students’ own personal life. “Yes we can clean our room.” was a funny take on the theme.

“Yes we can win the soccer game”, “Yes we can bake a cake”, “Yes, we can go to church”, “Yes, we can join the Army” were very well done pieces of art reflecting everyday life, which has always been the art that touches hearts.This kind of art fills the art museums of the world,and is more reflective of the cultures of the time. It is doubtful that the political thought that has been enforced throughout K-12 American schools will produce brilliance.

My favorite take on this years’ theme? A sixth grade girl created an artwork depicting girls fighting against nazi zombies. On her statement she wrote, “Yes we can fight the Nazi zombies” The art was clean, crisp, stylish and funny.

(this young lady has an ironic sense of humor, she is not a candidate for the school counselor)

I can’t imagine Vincent Van Gogh collapsing to mediocrity when being confronted with creating to a theme. Perhaps he would have chosen to portray the Potato Eaters (Yes, we can eat potatoes) he painted in his dark early days. Throughout the Renaissance period the greatest artists became great despite the demands of the Pope and Lorenzo de Medici.

I can just imagine Leonardo da Vinci’s reaction to a PTA lady’s demands that he fill out the Reflections entry form which is in itself one of the most excruciating experiences for an art teacher who has no active PTA at his/her school. If he even deemed to respond to it he would have filled it out by writing everything backwards. Nor would he have bothered to fill in the section that requires the particular schools’ PTA digits or the dates the school PTA paid their dues or passed their bylaws.

Oh, and yes, every art teacher entering their one fifth of all the students they teach (about a hundred students) in the Reflections Competition has to list each student who is entered and turn in five copies of five forms.


06 Jul 2010 12:41 am


Reminiscing about my excursion to the country a few weeks ago. While driving out with my husband and his friend to my sisters’ house in the woods we had to slow down to let two deer cross the road.

We were up early and arrived in the country around nine a.m. My sister, Lucy was our guide, leading us down the mountain through the woods to the place her husband had set up as a make-shift range.

The guys had quite a few different kinds of guns. They were carrying way too much gear so I ended up helping them out by carrying one bag which got heavier and heavier as I went down the hill.


The guys had forgotten to bring a target so a small white sticker was stuck to the wood.


My husband’s friend, Mike knows how to shoot. He is a former Army officer and is now a policeman.


Lucy tried this gun and so did I. It didn’t have as much recoil as I expected which was fun.


We spent about an hour down at the range in the woods and then packed up to make our trek back up the hill. It was hot and we were all tired, except for my tiny Amazon sister, Lucy, who beat us up the hill.


I took a slow walk up the hill, taking photos along the way. Bob and Mike decided to go on back to town but I stayed to visit with Lucy. She made me a cup of Irish tea. We practiced singing a song we were to sing at church the following Sunday for Fathers Day.

The tea was so good. Then came a lunch of bacon, eggs and tomato juice. Yum. We enjoyed our very American day even though a thought came to me at the time…Guns, bacon, eggs, tea. None of these delectations and items of self defense are popular with the political elite and yet most Americans enjoy some or all of these American standards.

13 Feb 2010 04:01 pm

Do you know where your Valentine is?


I made this Valentine for my then boyfriend, Bob when he was a plebe at West Point. We married two weeks after he graduated from West Point.

I don’t claim that this Valentine sealed the deal but it didn’t hurt. After all, ours was a long distance relationship for the four years he was at West Point. We both took advantage of every form of communication that was possible back then. Phone calls, letters and special missives helped us to stay in touch. There were no facebook, twitter, cell phones or text messages back then.

In fact, Bob could not use the phone at West Point very much at all when he was a plebe. The cadets were not allowed phones in their rooms. When Bob was a firstie he was allowed to call me more often, and I told him to call collect. My parents were shocked when they saw the phone bill but I was good for it.

But, it was the specially made Valentine that made an impression I think. When Bob graduated from West Point and moved out of the barracks I found the Valentine in his army footlocker. He had thrown everything else away but the very amateur Valentine.


When I was fifteen I discovered the writer Thomas Hardy through the movie, Far from the Madding Crowd. The film, starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terrence Stamp absolutely captivated me.

Julie Christie starred as Bathsheba Everdene, a highly spirited, independent young woman who had inherited a large estate from her uncle and become very wealthy. She had earlier rejected the attentions of the honest, reliable shepherd, Gabriel Oak, played by Alan Bates.

On an impulse, Bathsheba sends a Valentine, sealed with red wax, anonymously to the richest farmer in the county, William Boldwood, played by Peter Finch. On it she writes, Marry Me.

This impulsive act causes heartache and tragedy for both Bathsheba and Boldwood.

The movie inspired me to read all of Thomas Hardy’s books but Far From the Madding Crowd taught me at that early age about steadfast, faithful and selfless love. I witnessed that kind of love everyday with my own parents but seeing it displayed in a movie and reading about it through the richness of Hardy’s prose embedded the eternal ideal in my heart.

When I began to date at the age of sixteen, the young men had to embody the attributes of Gabriel Oak. Very few did.

My West Point cadet did and continues to do so.

For all things having to do with Valentines Day, check out my niece, Marlane’s blog.

Happy St. Valentines Day!

28 Nov 2009 02:47 pm


My maternal great grandparents and their children. William Chase Whitmarsh and his wife, Jemima Haseltine Stiles had four children together and each had one child from their first marriage. My grandmother, Hazel Alabama is on the left by her father.


My maternal great great grandparents and their children and grandchildren. William Leonard Webster, a confederate veteran of the Civil War and his wife, Nancy Ann Pearson settled in Paris, Arkansas and built houses for each one of their children when they married. Nancy Ann was known for nursing ill children back to health. She favored feeding them sweet potatoes. The Websters adopted a native American boy. My grandfather, Guy Smith Webster is standing on the right with his arms folded. His father, Albert Webster is standing behind him.


My great grandfather, William Chase Whitmarsh’s first wife, Lucy Taylor Whitmarsh. Lucy and William had one son. Lucy was the niece of President Zachary Taylor and inherited the silver tea service that was in the Taylor White House. The son, Toors Whitmarsh and his wife were childless and gave the silver tea service to my great Aunt Ivy.


My maternal great great grandmother, Elizabeth Ann Wright Whitmarsh, the mother of William Chase Whitmarsh. Elizabeth was from New England, born in Milford,New Hampshire in 1823. Amazing that we have a photo of her.

Why have I posted all these photos of my ancestors?

Because I can.


My mother has always let me go through my grandmother’s trunk. It’s full of photos, letters, memorabilia, and family history. This time, however, she let me take the contents home with me. I’ve been scanning photos, reading letters and learning about my ancestors, how they lived, what they thought of then current events and what they valued. My heritage is very much all American. I have ancestors from New England who were here in 1630 on both my father and mother’s side and I also have ancestors who were colonists in Virginia. We are Dutch, Irish, English, French Huguenots and Scottish.


But we also have a native American heritage.

This is a photo of my great great grandmother, Mary (Polly) Miranda Mabry Stiles. She was born in Alabama September 6th, 1836 and died in Fort Smith, Arkansas at the age of 93, July 25, 1930. According to the obituary in the newspaper she was one of the oldest residents in Fort Smith at the time. Polly married Joseph Lafayette Stiles in Alabama. Her father, Parham Poole Mabry was from a family of Virginia colonists. He was born in Fairfield County, South Carolina September 25,1795.

Polly’s mother, Nancy Caroline Payne was the daughter of Mathew Payne and Amelia (Millie) Cooper. Mathew Payne was born in Pennsylvania, fought in the Revolution, was wounded in the shoulder and lost an eye from a British saber thrust in the Battle of Brandywine. He was at Yorktown when the British surrendered. He married Amelia Cooper in Tenn. and then settled in Ala. in Madison Co., when it was just beginning to be settled by the frontier people in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s.

He fought in the Creek war of 1814, and interestingly, he was in the spy company led by a man named Coffee. (Again, I think of the Indian link. Who spied on the Indians? Other Indians.) In this battle he was shot in the hip and left for dead. He recovered, however, and lived to be around 90.

By 1811 Matthew Payne and family were residents of Madison County, Missisippi Territory (now Alabama), where court records indicate he was active in land speculation, traffic in furs, hides, and frontier commodities, often in partnership with his son, John B. Payne.

According to an affidavit on file in the National Archives, executed by him November 7, 1850, at Lawrence County, Alabama, he volunteered in the War with the Creek Nation of Indians in 1813 in the regiment commanded by Colonel John Coffee. He was in Captain Russell’s Company, one of General Andrew Jackson’s spy companies, and was mustered into service at Fort Williams on the Coosa River a short time before the Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

He stated that he had “followed the Army from home with his son John B. Payne (now dead) and upon catching up with it, at Fort Williams, he found Gen. Jackson there in command, who was his neighbor and friend at home and that gallant and distinguished soldier, knowing affiant’s qualities as an experienced woodsman, frontierman, and Indian fighter, pressed him to enlist in Captain Russell’s Company of Volunteers, who acted as Spies, and affiant did so, and continued in actual service in the War with the Creek Nation of Indians until the Battle of the Horse Shoe (Horseshoe Bend) on the Tallapoosa River, on the 27th March 1813 (March 27, 1814) in which battle affiant was left among the wounded at Fort Williams where he remained unable to be moved for about forty days, afterwards he was carried to Fort Strother, and thence home, an invalid for life……

Affiant was left at Fort Williams by General Jackson’s order with his son, John B. Payne to attend on him, where it was expected he would have died in consequence of his wound….”

I went on the search for information about the War of 1812. What I found was this:
Mathew PAYNE
Initial Rank: 2 LIEUTENANT
Final Rank: 2 LIEUTENANT

28 Nov 2009 12:18 pm


Art by Laura Lee Donoho

It’s a quiet morning. Nothing is on the schedule today. There are leftovers in the fridge, enough for a week. Peach praline pie and coffee for breakfast. Almost everyone was together for Thanksgiving and the weather was beautiful.

It was a blessing just to watch everyone sitting together or spread out around my brother’s house sharing stories and food. My husband pronounced my Thanksgiving dressing as being as good or better than his grandmother, Mama Wera’s. I’ve been striving for that declaration for twenty years. The dressing was popular and none is left. My son called me yesterday asking me about my recipe. He made some more dressing yesterday.

My sister-in-law, the perennial hostess of our Thanksgiving dinner, is known for her beautiful aprons and Thanksgiving decorations and she didn’t fail to please again this year.

New Thanksgiving cooks made their debut this Thanksgiving; both of my daughters made something delectable. One made cranberry sauce from scratch and the other has perfected her sweet potatoes.

I noticed big smiles on my brother and sister-in-law’s faces when they were talking about or holding their grandchildren. It was a blessing to have my father and mother at the table, gracing us with their presence and funny comments.

No one watched the news on Thanksgiving Day. The roads were very quiet. It seems that most people in our city had somewhere to go to share the bounty of our land.

Thursday night we enjoyed more of the feast and watched our grandchildren in their various states of growth, crawling, walking around shutting doors and running and jumping through the room. Tears came to my eyes while watching my six year old grandson sing Hey Jude along with Paul McCartney in concert.

My Dad told me that he had written a new song.

Only a few of us had plans for Black Friday. My youngest daughter and I decided to go on a search for pine cones instead. The tree is in the house and will be decorated tonight.

My daughter-in-law’s favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, she abhors the rush of Christmas crowding out the celebration of the last Thursday in November. I am beginning to understand what she means.

18 Aug 2009 05:02 pm


When I was in junior high I discovered the magic of mascara. Just mascara. That’s all my mother would allow me to wear. No other makeup, no eyeliner, no shadow, and no face powder was allowed. Because my sister and I were singers and I played the guitar to accompany us, my mother allowed me to wear the mascara for our performances but it wasn’t long until I was applying the Maybelline everyday. I thought it was the secret charm that gave me power over boys. I learned to apply the mascara perfectly so that it seemed natural. My friends of course, were allowed to wear much more makeup but I knew I couldn’t push the envelope in our family so I made the most of the mascara.

I was really into music, especially the Beatles but there was something about The Rolling Stones that really creeped me out. I didn’t see what other shrieking females saw in Mick Jagger. He seemed like an effeminate screamer with a very unattractive mouth. The Stones’ song, Paint It, Black really bothered me. One night I had a dream that the Soviet Union conquered the United States and shut down all capitalistic enterprises. I was not allowed to have mascara. It was a nightmarish dream, accompanied by the song, Paint It, Black.

Julie Christie had beautiful eyelashes.

This was my first revelation about capitalism. I childishly began to comprehend that Americans had the freedom to buy and sell, thanks to our founders and system of government. I could blithely save my money and go to the store and purchase my beloved mascara because we lived in a free country.

It wasn’t long before the movie, Dr. Zhivago appeared in the movie theaters. I was captivated by it and began to study history. I learned that the novel the movie was based on had been banned in the Soviet Union as well as the movie. Indeed, it was not until 1994 that the film was allowed to be seen in Russia.

As my sister and I began to prosper with our music I began to draw charcoal portraits of my friends at school - for pay. I bought more history books and historical novels and added to my own education.

I paid my own way through college (with a little help from my parents) and was able to resist the liberal onslaught from several of my college professors.

I married my West Point sweetheart and spent thirty years moving and traveling throughout this country, Europe and Panama. I learned first-hand about the inefficiencies of the military healthcare system. In fact, my recent surgeries are a result of the inadequacies of medical procedures, resources and physicians when we were stationed in Germany from 1999 to 2001.

Our American capitalist system has promoted most of the breakthroughs in medicine throughout the past two centuries. The Obama administration has taken over the banking industry, the auto industry and it now seeks to make health care a governmental concern.

I recall the scene in Dr. Zhivago when Yuri returns home to Moscow after the war to discover that his family home has been divided into tenements by the Soviets. If Americans don’t fight to defeat the Democrats’ dream of government provided health care we will be divided into tenements of rationed health care with little freedom to protest.

We must do it now. Losing our free-market choice to health care is the least of this, our freedom is already at risk. Obama is willing to proceed with the ensnarement of Americans into the “public option” no matter the cost. If that is allowed to happen we may as well paint it all black.

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