The Sunday Scoop

We got the countertop installed last Wednesday! There’s always something more to do, but we’re calling it done-for-now.

There’s more storage, more workspace, and it feels so New — something rare in this old shanty.

The Jr. girls were here Thursday and Friday and we had a blast going to the mall, the zoo, and to the Theatre to see Sing 2. Another Spring Break is behind us and I wish the time didn’t go so quickly…

I must make a decision today — tomorrow at the latest — regarding my visit to London. >sigh< Let me explain…

This trip was planned and paid for in 2019, kids, and there have been so many changes that I can’t say that I care about it much. You see, the Goal was to see The Queen at Royal Ascot; back then she attended Every Day and I was assured, veritably certain to get a glimpse of her from the Queen Anne Enclosure as she arrived in a Royal Carriage from Windsor. She was only 93 at the time and was still making all of her usual appearances. Then Covid. Three years later, she is having problems with walking and currently doesn’t want to be seen in a wheelchair. Since Prince Philip died last year she has appeared to be increasingly frail and her appearances are few and far between. She is determined to be at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Memorial Service this week and to take part in as many Platinum Jubilee events as possible, especially Trooping of the Colour in June, but her family have had to take over Most of her duties.

So here I am with a hotel reservation for The Jubilee Week, her birthday week and the week of Royal Ascot. Face it, the crowds in London that week will be insane and I’ll not get Close to Buckingham Palace to see her, though I may be able to find a spot on the Trooping the Colour parade route as her carriage goes by if I manage to get my butt on a curb the day before, but I’d be better off watching it all on the telly. I’ll be very surprised if she makes it to Royal Ascot more than one day and what day will that be?? Probably not the day I’m there!

To make matters worse, the Price of the plane tickets has Doubled for that week! When I chose those dates I underestimated the power of the Platinum Jubilee to make it all so much more expensive! What with the price of everything — Everything — inflated, I have to admit that I just can’t afford this trip…not in June, anyway.

What I can do is go at another time, if our hotel will allow us to change the reservation Again. I’m looking at late April now, just one month from now. I’m going to contact the Queens Gate today and see if they’ll cooperate. If they do, Wow, we’re going to London next month! If they don’t, I’m okay with that, as well, because I’m tired of thinking about it.

You’ll be the first to know when it’s all settled…

Peace

Poems by heart

Happy Spring to you! Today is the Equinox, when the daylight is equal to the night. Having planted peas, beets, radishes, carrots, and spinach three days ago, I’m ready for this week’s predicted rain, though I dread the gloom.

This time of year always reminds me of a poem, one that I know by heart. I’m not even googling this, so it may be off. I must have memorized it more than 50 years ago, possibly closer to 60!

The year’s at the Spring,the day’s at the morn.

The morning’s at seven, the hillside’s dew-pearled.

The lark’s on the wing, the snail’s on the thorn.

God’s in his Heaven, All’s right with the World!

Robert Browning…

Over the years I’ve often quoted that “God’s in his Heaven” line whenever I am immersed in Nature’s Beauty. The All’s right with the World, is encouraging and I look to the perennial changing of the seasons to reassure me. Just like Life, Spring is not lived in just one day, but in a succession of days spent seeking sunlight and warmth; it is a process of steady renewal that culminates in verdant color that All God’s creatures enjoy!

cardinal on the lamp

It was a busy week here at the Acres and I have acutely missed the hour we lost. I read an article that said Napping is a sign of creeping dementia, so I’ve forced myself to pull All-Dayers this entire week. Well, dozing in front of the TV doesn’t count, does it?

We’re getting our countertop put in this Wednesday, but Casey has to pull out the old one and the countertop people will pick it up and use it for a template to cut the new. This means I won’t have a kitchen sink or workplace for 2-3 days. I’m down with that and looking forward to eating out!

Olivia and Samantha aka Nova and Unicorn, will be here Thursday for a sleepover to celebrate their Spring Break Week! Last year we were at Disney with them, so we can’t top that, but we’re going to have Two Days of Fun and Feasting, an event that may become a tradition — one never knows…

One really does never know, does one? Who knew that the poems we memorized as kids would bring us such comfort and joy in our old-ish age? I believe I always knew how precious Springtime is, though we try to hurry it along when it insists on staying cloudy or cool or rains incessantly.

magnolia tree buds

Despite its whimsical nature, Spring always brings to me the desire to refresh and renew, to try again: This time my seeds will grow; this time I’ll really quit; this time I’ll really begin, this time I’ll get it right. There is Hope as the trees and shrubs bloom and we watch the birds mate and feather their nests and it seems appropriate, even necessary, to remember the poems of our past.

There is another Spring poem, or verse of it, anyway, that I quote to myself often, though it has only been lodged in the old brain for about 30 years:

sweet spring is my time, is your time, is our time, for springtime is Love time and viva sweet love…

e.e.cummings

Peace

Plantin’ o’ the green…

My family are Irish by my great-grandmother, Kathleen Kinkade, a Most-Honored Ancestor, and we attribute most of our talent, smarts, and wit to our Irish DNA.

Have you noticed, though, that most of our cherished Irish traditions are actually American? Surely the Irish-Americans have been involved, but the wearin’ o’ the green in rivers and beer is all-American, as are the parades and excessive drinking. In Old Ireland, the taverns were all closed and the churches were open for “celebration”. It wasn’t until 1995 that Dublin organized a parade (NYC’s is still bigger) and week-long festival to attract tourists.

Leprechauns, of course, are real, as are fairies. My grandie asked me last week if I believed there was a pot of gold at a rainbow’s end. I cannot prove it one way or the other, but that’s the magic of leprechauns, dwarf elves, usually shoe cobblers, who love a good practical joke. Though they originated in Ireland, many emigrated to our country over the years and we now have a sizeable population who live peacefully amongst us. It’s true with fairies, also, who used some family-chain-migration to populate our wooded areas. I’m sure there is a fine Leprechaun living in our woods, but he prefers his solitude and I respect that. Our fairies are definitely Irish, as I’ve heard the sound of their dancing in the grove.

My traditions are corned beef and cabbage, in the crockpot right now, and planting peas. Planting peas on St. Patrick’s day is supposed to bring luck; I guess most celebratory traditions are to bring Luck, aren’t they? I do it because it’s a good time to get cool-weather crops started, even in cold years.

This year we’ve cultivated our newest garden bed and it’s ready for some early crops before we use it for melons this summer. The area is 3.5′ x 16′; beets and carrots will be sown in the front 12″, and spinach and radishes in successive plantings in the middle 12″. The peas will go up against the trellis along the back 6″.

I’ve never grown beets or carrots well, trying several years ago with absolutely nothing to show for it. I’m determined to bring in a crop this year! My peas don’t always do well, either, but I usually get Something for my efforts. I must confess, in case you didn’t know, I can’t control the weather…

But we’ve got a beautiful day here today! There’s lots of good Irish music to play while we work –it’s more of a “Whisky in the Jar” day than a “Danny Boy” day, and I believe some Irish beverages are in order.

My NYC Irish Dancers have been Busy this week, marching in parades and performing in bars, country clubs, meetings… For your St. Patrick’s Day pleasure, here’s 5 minutes of fierce Irish Dancing from 2020 starring Emma and Eliza O’Casey Jose’…

Peace

Finally Finished

When I started researching my family tree back in 2018, I thought I’d just work on it for about a year and be done. Turns out there is enough mystery and intrigue in the research to keep me occupied for what has been 4 years now. I have taken breaks from it and I’m ready to take another, but I had set a goal of covering the paternal grandparents to 1945. Today I finished and I feel free to move on to Gardening — just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, too!

Not only do I feel the relief of moving out of the 1940s, but I’m super excited that we bought a garden cultivator/tiller.

Casey is like a kid in a candy shop and I’m very grateful that he likes this stuff as much as I do because I have Plans for that tiller!

This week’s weather is predicted to tease us with Spring. I try to plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day, so thanks again, Universe. Though our average last day of frost is April 8, my garden journal from 2021 records that we had a snow on April 24. In 2020 the temps were struggling to get above 40 in early May. I must remember that Spring is fickle.

My family story has obsessed me for a while now, but I’m ready to fill my head with garden plans. I’ll be back on Thursday for a St. Patrick’s Day Planting post. Don’t forget to wear Green or I’ll have to pinch you.

Peace

Old News, hardly a scoop…

I didn’t give enough space to our local birthday party, celebrating Samantha’s 7th and my 69th birthdays. Here’s a little montage of that day, February 19th…

I have now officially ridden Every Ride in the Walt Disney World parks, knocking out my last two at Animal Kingdom. I had put off the Rite of Passage ride when I was having some back problems several years ago and I wish I’d ridden earlier! It is now my Favorite Ride! We were pretty chill after our early mornings and spent a lot of time hanging out at pool bars (and pools) around the resort. I marked off “visit Nomad Lounge” from my must-do list, too. We had perfect weather…

Spring greeted us when we arrived back here at Sonnystone, and it was so beautiful last week that we were outside cleaning up and planning this year’s gardens. It’s time to start seeds inside, we plant our peas and potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day and I am impatient, as usual. I hope to start a Gardening Series on Thursdays and keep you up to date on how the garden is growing.

I used the nice weather as an excuse to procrastinate finishing up my Ancestry to 1945. I’m really going to get it written this week, I tell myself. I’m very ready to wind up that blog and spend more time here at the Acres providing you with plenty of Blather and Balderdash.

Peace

Let the Wild Rumpus begin!

Birthday Week started off Grandly yesterday with Miss Samantha and me making Wishes as we blew out our Encanto candles.

Today we’re cruising through Georgia — even Atlanta — on our way to celebrate with Mickey and the gang.

It’s been 2 years since my last Birthday trip to WDW and so much has changed and then changed again.

One thing is certain: we’re gonna have a Good Time! I will be reporting in all week, so stay tuned.

Peace

The Great Backyard Bird Count!

There’s a neat activity for us this week, one that costs nothing, takes very little time, and helps the environment. Our very own Bird Lady, Sharon Sorenson, talked about it a couple of weeks ago.

Sharon Sorenson’s article on The Bird Count 1-28-22

 Here’s all you need to do to participate…

Step 1: Decide where you will watch birds.

Step 2: Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 18-21, 2022.

Step 3: Count all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings.

In order to submit your info to this “largest community-science event, sponsored by Cornell Lab of Ornithology, National Audubon Association, and Bird Studies Canada: visit this site:
https://www.birdcount.org/participate/.

It’s really fun! Write down the dates: February 18-21. Get a head start on identifying your backyard birds and spread out to count birds in the parks, too!

I’m headed out to see “MAC BETH” –not Macbeth– with Cousin Lana today at the UE May Studio Theatre. I don’t think flat-Ronna wants to attend, but she’s due for a mood-swing, so ya never know.

The kitchen is now completely ready for new counter top and we hope to order it this Monday. I don’t think we can exactly match our old stuff, but we’ll do our best.

Casey would like to paint some more walls and such, but we’re gearing up for Birthday Week. We’ll start Saturday 2/19 with a party for Samantha, who turns 7 on 2/22/22, a Tuesday. The next day we’re leaving for WDW for another Very Disney Birthday, my 69th on 2/23/22.

Check out those websites and get started with the 25th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count, friends. Watching the birds is so zen- I think you’ll like it!

Carolina Wren, picture by Gary Mueller 2021

Peace

The Sunday Scoop

There is an upside to a sleet/ice/snow storm…the birds flock to our food. We moved the feeders to a spot under the porch so the ice couldn’t cover them and brought them in at night to dry and warm. There were never less than 30 birds in the area, lots of juncos on the ground, dozens of cardinals, finches and wrens of all sort, woodpeckers, and those damn grackles, too. One awkward pileated woodpecker showed up, too…

The kitchen has come along swimmingly! I’m never good at the “before” pictures, and we’re not done yet…

It’s a good thing you didn’t click on those Ancestry posts last week (and I Know you didn’t). Turns out I got a major part of the story Wrong and I had to un-publish and revise. It was kind of a bummer, as I rather liked the story the way I told it, but I came across some newspaper articles that contradicted it. I’ve changed the original posts, but haven’t yet gotten time to continue writing the tale.

Two weeks from today we’ll be on our way to WDW to celebrate my birthday, #69 to be exact. I’m calling this year my “Farewell to the 60s” event. Naturally, we start at Disney; naturally, we’ll end at Disney, too. That’s us.

Because of the ice, I postponed my usual visit with Grandies #2 and #4 from Saturday to Sunday (today). Lo and Behold! Samantha lost her first tooth and then her second soon after!

Peace

The Sunday Scoop

I’ve got not just 1 scoop, not just 2 scoops, but 3, maybe 4, scoops this week!

Kitchen Remodel Update: All of the cabinets have been painted (and cleaned), the glassfront cabinet has been painted (white for now because we’re almost out of blue). Everything looks clean and crisp.

Phase 2 includes moving the refrigerator, hanging some new wallboard, putting in a base cabinet (already purchased), new countertop and lots more behind-the-scenes stuff like finding a place for everything. We hope to be done in 2 weeks, but availability of countertop may affect that goal.

I had the honor of accompanying my #2 grandie in the Indiana State music competition where she sang “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme”. We’ve had a lot of fun preparing and practicing, and she was awarded a Gold medal for her efforts! #2 is an 8th-grader now, a sweet girl, and I am so proud of her…

I have been busy with genealogy research and was able to write and publish two posts last week.

The first is The Maynes of Albion 1910-1925.

The second is The Stallings Family 1910-1925.

I’d love it if you’d click on over and read those; I think you’ll enjoy the stories. Update 1/31/2022: I have unlinked those posts to edit them… I have discovered new newspaper clippings that tore holes in my timeline. I don’t have to start completely over, but there’s a lot that needs to be corrected. >sigh< I really liked the story the way I told it…

Sometimes I feel a little haunted by all these greats and grands living in my mind, but then I wonder if it’s not really me haunting them

So that’s the News from Sonnystone Acres for this week.

Next week will probably be more of the same, but you never know…

Peace

The Sunday Scoop

Any writer can relate to the current state of Mind dominating my days: wrapped up in my characters and plot, living in a different time and place from good old Sonnystone Acres. Since these characters are also my relatives, there’s another level of imagination added — putting 2plus2 together from stories and facts.

Right now, I’m living 100-years in the past, WWI, trains and automobiles, bobbed hair and suffragettes. In particular, my great-grandfather and his family moved from the farm in southern Illinois to Evansville, Indiana to work as a brakeman for the L&N Railroad in around 1914. In addition to my great-grandfather, Ed Stallings, the family included my my great-grandmother Gainsey, and their children, Vivian, Verla (my grandmother), and Maurice and they lived in Howell, a neighborhood on the edge of the train yards that had been built by L&N for its workers; it was literally surrounded by the tracks and the trainyard.

I lived in Howell in 1974 when I was pregnant with my daughter and remember that my then-mil was worried that the trains would trap me there when I needed to get quickly to the hospital. It’s true that we often waited forever when they were hooking and unhooking the train cars, but I didn’t have a problem.

There were train tracks everywhere in Evansville when I was growing up; the “highway” came right through town and the tracks impeded any kind of traffic flow going north-south. The “highway” going east-west had a train track right down the middle — I was terrified to drive on it when the trains were wobbling back and forth a foot from my car!

Since my great-grandfather worked for L&N, his family got to ride for free and the Stallings ancestors rode the trains to visit relatives in St. Louis frequently during those days. I only was able to take one trip, from Chicago to Evansville, when I was about 6 or 7. I remember my sister getting mad at me because I got the hiccups and kept saying “excuse” me after each hic…and also the conductor going down the aisle announcing “Terre Haute, next stop! Next stop, Terre Haute!”.

It wasn’t just Evansville, of course, where we were accustomed to hear and see trains. The highways often had tracks that ran parallel and I remember my uncle “outrunning” one as I rode in a 3-hole Buck packed with cousins, aunts, and grandma to visit my Aunt Almeda in West Frankfort, IL.

The sound of a train in the distance transports me to my childhood, fills me with a nostalgic yearning for “the good old days” when I was a kid. As John Prine put it…”I can hear the train tracks through the laundry on the line.”

The kitchen cabinets are looking good…

I’ve got to get back to my imaginary world and move the ancestors on to 1920s, another mind-blower…the prohibition of alcohol from January, 1920 to December, 1933. Can you imagine how people would take to Prohibition today? With all the screaming about constitutional rights and citizens united, can you imagine what would happen if the government started tearing down businesses and destroying their product? Interestingly, it was during the Prohibition years that my family began to drink! I carry on the best I can…

Peace