Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Dear Mad'm by Stella Patterson: A Book Review

Dear Mad'm Decides to Move to the Wilderness


Dear Mad'm is the name by which many readers know Stella Walthall Patterson who wrote a memoir with that title.  She did something I'd be afraid to do. Her Arcata friends and family were ready to retire her to a rocking chair and wait on her when she  turned eighty. But a doctor had told her she had "young legs." She wanted to see how far they could still take her. She preferred a life of adventure to a life of ease.

Dear Mad'm by Stella Patterson: A Book Review
Photo by get directly down, Flickr, modified. CC 2.0


By the time she was eighty, Stella Walthall Patterson had lived a full life. Born in Stockton California on October 14, 1866, and orphaned at seven, by the age of sixteen she had graduated from Mills Seminary (later Mills College). She had published her first story in the Oakland Tribune when she was only fourteen. Later she studied in Paris and became proficient in art and music.

Her first husband was Judge Augustus Belcher. She lived with him in San Francisco, socializing with other writers, including Jack London and Ambrose Bierce. The 1906 earthquake and the fire that followed prompted her to leave that area. She had lost everything.

Judge Belcher liked to hunt in the Trinity mountains, and he sometimes hired James Patterson, a rancher in Willow Creek, to act as his guide. Thus, he had occasion to meet Stella.  In 1907, Stella surprised all her friends by marrying Jim Patterson and moving to his Hawkins Bar Ranch in Willow Creek. During the years in Willow Creek, the couple adopted two children -- Ralph and Thelma.

By the time Stella was eighty, she was separated, but not divorced, from Jim Patterson. At the time this book begins, Stella was living in San Francisco again. Not long before her eightieth birthday, while visiting with friends based in Arcata, she injured her leg. After her X-rays in the hospital, the Sister in charge told her she had "young legs."

 She had lived an active and busy life. She had traveled to Europe and mingled with the cultured people of San Francisco. After marrying Patterson she was a rancher's wife, and the couple also had some contact with miners.

The day before her eightieth birthday, as she sat at her friend's house recuperating with her leg propped up, she still felt young. She didn't want to stick around, "waiting to be carried out feet first" when she could still be enjoying new adventures. She wanted freedom to do as she pleased.

 She decided to go live in an old mining cabin she had bought two years earlier as part of a placer mining claim. It had no modern conveniences. She imagined that in the wilderness of the Siskiyou Mountains overlooking the Klamath river she would have solitude and the space to live as she pleased with no human interference. She decided to go for it. She packed her bags, took leave of her friends, and took a bus to Willow Creek. From there she planned to take a mail stage to her cabin. It was 1946. She had promised herself to stay there a year.


Getting to the Wilderness Cabin


The mail stage driver Tom left Stella and all she'd brought with her at the foot of the fifty-foot trail that led UP to her cabin. Evening was rapidly falling. She was exhausted. She pondered the mound of luggage and boxes that somehow had to get up the steep trail to her cabin. She writes:

I had been feeling young and gay all day. Now I felt as old as Methuselah. There was work ahead and no one but me to do it. 

She lugged her belongings up to the edge of her property. Her mind was filled with doubt. She asked herself what she was doing "sitting on a box in the Klamath National Forest far from electric lights, plumbing, inner-spring mattresses" and everything else she had in San Francisco. She contemplated how she would get her things up the trail and into the cabin. She decided to take only what  she needed for the night in one load and come for the rest in the morning. Once inside she took a jar to fill outside at her water barrel. She could feel the scary darkness all around. She recalls:

The feeling of being alone on that vast mountainside, no neighbor within hailing distance, was working on my nerves. I might scream, yell, shout. None to hear. Just an echo from the bluffs cross the river to answer me. 

After taking every safety precaution she could think of, including putting a chair against the door and loading it with pots and pans that would clatter if moved, she crawled into her bed and fell asleep.

Dear Mad'm by Stella Patterson: A Book Review
Klamath River Photo courtesy of Tony Webster on Flickr, CC 2.0 License


Meeting the Neighbors


Life in the primitive cabin (actually a shack) did not quite offer the solitude Stella hoped for. First, she did have neighbors closer than she thought They were the "boys" she had hired to take care of her mine assessment work. She called them Dearsir and Up'nUp. You'll need to read the book to find out why. They just called her Dear Mad'm. The names stuck.

Very early that first morning she heard a knock on the door. She was still barefooted with her hair down. The door opened and Dearsir announced he and his partner had brought her luggage up to the cabin. She learned they had moved about half a mile up the mountain to Bent Pine Cabin. She offered them coffee and then realized that wasn't enough. She didn't have much, but she fed them bread, butter, and all her strawberry jam with it. She did manage to grab one slice herself. The men invited her to come along with them to shop at the grocery in Happy Camp in a couple of days.

Another neighbor was the eccentric Frenchy. He roamed the trails with a book in one hand an a bulb of garlic in the other. He always offered a helping hand when needed.

One day sixteen-year-old Milly came to call from across the river. She wanted to be very proper, but she was very lonely. Once Stella discovered her stilted Victorian speech came from Emily Post, she encouraged her to just be herself. They became great friends.

Occasionally Up'nUp's wife Nora, who lived in Yreka, came to visit and stayed with her.

Later Stella would meet the men's chickens, goats, and English shepherd dog Vicki. She would also meet their mule Pete "the friendliest mule" DearSir ever met. That had not been Stella's first impression.

But Stella's most dangerous neighbors were  her wild ones -- a cougar and a rattlesnake. By the time she met them "the boys" had given her their dog Vicki to be her companion and protector. She turned out to be both.


Peace and Adventure

Photo by Miguel Vieira, Flickr, modified. CC 2.0

One of Stella's first projects was to plant a flower garden. She didn't think she'd be successful with vegetables, but she had always wanted a flower garden. In fact, when she had shopped for her trip she had bought more seeds and bulbs than food. Although the gardening work was difficult, it motivated her, as it does every gardener, to envision the blooming color her labor would bring forth in a few weeks or months.

At the end of the first full day in the cabin she had her first adventure. She came face to face with an escaped billy goat at her door. But the "boys," to whom the goats belonged, quickly caught up with them, took them away, and promised to bring her goat milk in the morning. She didn't like goat milk. Of course, she'd never tried it.

She then puzzled over a way to deal with the rats who lived just between her ceiling and her roof. Her method met with less than success until Frenchy came up with an answer a bit later.

It wasn't long before Stella finally met Pete. Their relationship got off to a rather bad start. It's quite a humorous scene, but you'll have to read it to fully appreciate it. For now we'll just say that first encounter almost made enemies of them forever. That animosity didn't help much when she later had to help trim his hooves.

Dear Mad'm by Stella Patterson: A Book Review
Mule, courtesy of  Pixabay


One day the "boys" came by in the morning to tell Dear Mad'm they were leaving on a trip to Arcada and leaving Vicki with her for protection and company. Vicki was a permanent gift even though the men would return in a few days. She turned out to be a very valuable gift.

That night there was a terrible thunderstorm. Both Stella and Vicki were frightened to death of the storm that might fell the tree above the cabin. Vicki hid under the bed. Somehow, though, they got through the storm without damage and no trees crashed down on them.

Dear Mad'm had another adventure when the men took her to see her claim. It was up a very steep trail -- too steep for her to climb -- so they dangled her on a rope between them. They let her walk back down with an occasional lift where needed.

She did have a few quiet days of birdwatching and relaxing, but one day while she was in her garden with her nose to the ground she heard heard the whirring sound of a rattlesnake. Vicki sounded an alarm, and I'll let you read the book to see how it ended. Their encounter with the cougar that had been raiding the men's goats was also very tense. The men couldn't believe how she'd solved that problem.

But something even topped that. A storm came up when the group of friends were on the way back from Happy Camp one night. It sent rocks crashing down on the narrow mountain road as Dearsir drove the jalopy around the curves. You'll be on the edge of your seat reading that chapter.

Not long after that night Up'nUp's very pregnant wife Nora came to visit two weeks before her due date and stayed a bit too long. Never a dull moment!

You can purchase Dear Mad'm here. 

Never Too Old to Be Needed


As you can see, Stella's expected year of solitude didn't go quite as planned. But she certainly did have adventures on those "young legs" of hers. Near the end of the year in her cabin she had committed herself to, there were many changes in their mountain "neighborhood." Stella had just about decided those changes would make her continued presence unnecessary because no one would need her there anymore. But another big event persuaded her to stay several more years. The book explains what happened to change her mind.

Dear Mad'm moved to a travel trailer in Redding, California, in autumn, 1955, near Thelma, and died on December 23, at the age of 89. She is buried in Redding. She died just before her book was published, so she never got to see it. Stella Patterson's writing sparkles. Her book is also sprinkled with delightful and comical line drawings by Alice Harvey, who was an illustrator and cartoonist for the New Yorker. 

In the years since her death Dear Mad'm has had so many fans wanting to know what happened to her after her book ended that one of her relatives wrote a sequel to try to answer the questions. That book is Dear Mad'm: Who Was She? I'm hoping to read it soon. I just discovered it.

If you are interested in active aging, nature, animals, wilderness living, placer mining, or neighbors bonding and helping each other like family, don't miss this book. It will make you laugh and it will give you moments of heart-stopping suspense. It will show you you're never too old to have adventures when you're young at heart. 




The biographical information that was not in the book came from these sources:

Related Book Reviews You May Enjoy

  • Could You Survive Emigrating to An Untamed Land? A Book Review : This historical Christian novel follows two Norwegian brothers who emigrated from Norway to America with their wives and children in 1880. They wanted to homestead in the Dakota territory
  • Driving Miss Norma Book Review: When faced with months of draining medical procedures for treatment of what is expected to be terminal uterine cancer, Miss Norma chooses not to undergo surgery, radiation, and chemo. She decides to live out her life outside the confines of a hospital and accepts an invitation from her son Tim and his wife to take to the road with them in their RV. It is this coming together that will completely transform all of their lives.
  • Can't Wait to Get to Heaven Book Review: The whole Can't Wait to Get to Heaven adventure started when the elderly widow Elner had just wanted pick a few figs to make some preserves "for that nice woman who had brought her a basket of tomatoes." She didn't know about the wasp nest in the fig tree and the adventures that would follow in her brief trip to Heaven. 









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Anniversary Gifts For Him Reviewed

Celebrating Your Marriage

Anniversary Wine image courtesy of Pixabay.com
My husband and I are about to celebrate our 20th Anniversary so I have been looking for gifts for him and I thought I would share some of the finds with you today. Although the ones that I sought out were for a specific milestone, most of these anniversary gifts would work for any year. 

I don't know about your special sweetie but mine is rather difficult to buy for. If he sees something that he wants, he just goes out and buys it. If you ask him for ideas, he says that a gift card is just fine. Well, dang it; gift cards are not much fun to give! Sure, they are practical and the person can spend them on whatever they want but there just isn't any excitement in the entire process. Since a couple doesn't celebrate a milestone of 20 years but once; I want to give him something better than a gift card. I plan to give him several small gifts instead of one big one.

One gift idea that I think he will really appreciate is a new wallet. Now, hold on! I saw you roll your eyes! This isn't just any wallet, it has an inscription on it that I think will make him smile and think of me every time he takes it out. 

We both enjoy watching the birds in our back yard. He likes to sit in the chair at our table that looks out at your yard. So I found a terrific coffee mug that he can use in the morning while he drinks his coffee and eats his breakfast. I chose one that says "Sharing the nest for 20 years." I won't show you a picture of it because they are just about sold out of that one. There were several options for an anniversary sentiment if it is something that you would like to give to your dear hubby. Getting a mug might seem a rather silly choice but in this case it fits with the tradition of the 20th anniversary being the year for giving china as a gift.

My sweet man wears a lot of t-shirts so I found one that fits our anniversary for him to wear. It has the sentiment of "Cruising together for 20 years". We don't go on ship cruises but we have cruised through life together quite happily. We used to cruise down the back roads just enjoying the ride and each other so that shirt just seemed to fit. I am sure you could find one that fits your marriage, too.




I'm still shopping around because my thought is that I will give him 20 gifts to open on our anniversary. There are so many things that I think will say, "I love you" in both romantic and humorous ways. I do like to pick whimsical things for him because that is one of the things that brought us together and has held us together; laughter. He has always made me laugh even when we were kids in school. Before we started dating, he came to me as a friend to help me heal from the loss of my first husband. He was so very sweet (still is!) in offering his shoulder for me to cry on. He made sure to tell me a joke or a funny story every time he called or stopped by. He still tells me jokes and funny stories and I still laugh. It is one of the many things that I love about him; his sense of humor.

In my search, I have found some key chains and different items that have anniversary sentiments on them that I think you will find easily too. Personally, most of those 20 gifts that I will give him are not necessarily traditional gifts for an anniversary. Instead, they will be little things that I know he likes. Something silly like his favorite candy bar. Think about that, when I give him his favorite it tells him that I know him well enough that I know that it is his favorite. To me something like that screams "I love you" even more than the words do. I know when he comes home grinning and hands me my favorite chocolate treat that it is yet another way that he is telling me that I am still the love of his life. He doesn't need to say the words at that point. I know because he obviously thought of me and wanted to make me smile.

So, I guess my point is that when it comes to finding anniversary gifts for him that it doesn't have to be something one might think of as a traditional gift. It honestly, doesn't even have to be something that you purchase. Perhaps fixing him his most favorite meal is something he will find very romantic because you made it for him and knew that it was his favorite. I think that it becomes easier when you think of your man and why you fell for him and still fall for him and know what will make him happy. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Monday, August 13, 2018

I Can Only Imagine - Movie Review

The Bart Millard story.
I Can Only Imagine is a movie that was recommended to me by one of the young people I work with. That speaks volumes alone. If one of my work children tells me that a movie meant something to them, I watch it as soon as possible. And I'm here to tell you that you should consider watching it as soon as possible. This is a movie about pain, abuse, life, choices, anger, and eventual forgiveness.

I Can Only Imagine is a movie based on the life of Bart Millard; his abusive father, runaway mother, his hopes and dreams, and the anger that he can't release.


I Can Only Imagine The Movie


Bart Millard is growing up in a rural area. His father is abusive to both Bart and his mother. The abuse is both physical and verbal. Mr. Millard shames his son during what seems like every waking moment - pushing him to follow in his high-school-star football footsteps.

I ache from the irony of an abusive parent pushing a child to be like them.

Mrs. Millard drops Bart off at camp, which becomes the best week of his life. Only to return to find that she has left the family. Leaving Bart to learn to navigate living with his father on his own.

Bart attempts to become a football star too. He outgrows his dad physically. But is still finding his own way as an emerging adult. We hope that he outgrows his dad emotionally. But he waivers and also begins to hurt the ones he loves. 
The Very Best of MercyMe album

Clearly, he eventually finds his way and it leads to the record hit crossover song I Can Only Imagine by the group MercyMe. 

The messages of the story (and song) are far greater than the number of records and movie tickets sold. It is a powerful story of those who struggle, of real relationships, and how to find your way.

Cast: J.Micheal Finley, Dennis Quaid, Trace Adkins, Madeline Carroll, Cloris Leachman and more. 



My Personal Take


This is a Christian movie. Should that keep you away from watching it if that's not "your thing"? No. A resounding no. I probably would best be categorized by others as a non-believer. This movie is full of real human experiences. And how to be a better person. Don't limit yourself based on genre.

This is a movie about redemption.

Redemption:
  • the action of saving or of being saved from sin, evil, or error
  • the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt

Which of us don't have debts (the relational debts that are a part of being human) that need to be cleared? 

There are lessons in his story. And one of those lessons are that what we experience as children can be the baggage we carry with us for the remainder of our lives - impacting us in ways we don't want to be impacted.

There are no eloquent tel-prompter type monologues. The conversations are simple and real. Too simple according to some negative reviews. I did not share that opinion. 

In my opinion, people of the Christian faith and things related to that faith are currently the victims of the bullies. I truly believe some of the negative reviews online are based on the reviewer's personal feelings about faith rather than on the movie itself. And interestingly enough, seem to parrot what mean Mr. Millard would have said.

This may not be your cup of tea. That's okay. It definitely touched me. And at least one young person I know, who liked it enough to recommend it. My only complaint is that it wasn't long enough. I wanted more. More details about the journey.

Good thing there is a published memoir by Bart Millard. I'm ordering it today.


The Movie on Amazon





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

How to Get Your Bed to Look Like a Professional Decorator Made It

Photo Design by Funkthishouse.com
photos via Pixabay
The problem for most of us is that our bedding lacks style, quality and most probably, fluffiness!

If we're being honest, we tend to keep our Comforter/Duvet Sets for much too long without changing them. When we're stuck with the same bedding, we're stuck with the same drab look.

Beyond the bedding color, pattern and design, there are certain items that can give your bedroom a pick-me-up.

Below are a list of basic items or variations of them that you'll need in order for your bed to look like a high priced decorator assembled it.

Duvets Versus Comforters - Which One is Better?

With a Duvet, you buy the fluffy insert separately and it's the quality fluffiness that gives your bed it's professional look. The benefit of buying an insert separately is that you can choose one that's long lasting and of higher quality: The higher the quality the longer it will stay fluffy.

Since it's an insert, you can change the actual duvet cover, and thus the look of your room, anytime you want.

Next you'll want duvet clips to secure the Insert to the Cover so it's free of lumps, bumps and wrinkles.

Comforters are all-in-ones, in that the comforter and insert are one piece thus eliminating the need to buy an insert or duvet clips. Also, they usually come with pillowcases, a comforter, a bed skirt and sometimes bed sheets.

However, the downside to a comforter is that if the quality is lower (and many times they can be), it will lose it's fluffiness and start to look flat on the bed (like a bed sheet does).
Here's an 8 Piece COMFORTER Set (Not a Duvet Set) Rochelle Pinched Pleat Gray Comforter Set QueenHere's an 8 Piece COMFORTER Set (Not a Duvet Set) Rochelle Pinched Pleat Gray Comforter Set Queen
A flat comforter will take away from that professional look you're going for, unless of course you're aiming for a simple almost Japanese look to your room.

Pillows Finish the Bed's Look:

Have you noticed that a bed with a duvet or comforter looks decoratively unfinished with only two pillows on the bed? Especially on a king size bed.

To give a bed that professional decorator look, you'll want to have at least four standard or king size pillows, and then finish the pillow-look with a few decorator pillows.

Bolsters also work. They're a long oval pillow you can use against the bed frame or the wall for the other pillows to lean against.

They do exactly what their name says, 'they bolster' the pillows in front so you have a fuller look of pillows on the bed. If you don't have a bed frame, they're also a way to get pillows off the wall. However, even if I have a bolster, and I do, I still use 4 pillows.

Make sure the pillows are fluffy as well. Flat, over-used pillows will make the bed look drab. So if your pillows aren't fluffy and you can't go out and buy more, put two old pillows, or even three old pillows inside one pillowcase. I've done this several times and it works well.

I've overstuffed the pillowcases at the back, and put two new fluffy pillows at the front. That way I only had to buy two new pillows instead of four, saving a bit of cash while still maintaining that fluffy full look.

Pillowcases, Don't be Afraid to Mix and Match:
With pillowcases you can go two ways. 
Either they can exactly match the duvet or they can be complimentary in pattern and color to the duvet. 
If you have a lot of extra pillow cases, you may already have some that are complimentary with your new duvet thus saving you the expense of having to purchase extra pillowcases. 

Bed Skirts for Duvet and Comforter Sets:
Some people like bed skirts, and some don't. 

My mom isn't a fan of bed skirts, so rather than a duvet or comforter, her bed has a bedspread. A bedspread goes right to the floor to hide the box spring, thus removing the need for a bed skirt. 

However, if you don't like to see any part of the box spring when the bed is unmade, then even with a comforter, you'll want a bed skirt.

Bed Sheets - They Don't Have to Match the Duvet or Comforter
This is misunderstood by many bed makers.

If you already own bedsheets that are complimentary to the duvet/comforter set you purchased, then use them!

That way you can focus on buying the most important elements to making your bed look professional: A high quality duvet insert, duvet clips and at least four pillows, decorator cushions and a bed skirt if you don't already have one.

Use an existing bed skirt if you have one that's complimentary! Again, it doesn't have to match exactly.

Pull it All Together:
  1. You have your fluffy bedding - either a comforter set or a duvet set with a quality insert and duvet clips
  2. You've got a bed skirt to hide the box spring
  3. You've got at least four standard (or King) pillows and a couple of decorative pillows.

However, Making the Bed is Where it Will Get that Final Professional Look:
  1. Fold down the top part of the duvet so the reverse side is showing by about six to twelve inches. You can even fold it down a couple of feet if you have a lot of pillows and you want some of the bed sheets exposed because of their design and quality. However, the standard fold down of the top portion of the duvet/comforter is about one foot.
  2. Pull the wrinkles out of the comforter/duvet
  3. Make sure the comforter/duvet is even all the way around
  4. Details matter, don't let the bed sheets hang past the duvet cover/comforter on the sides or ends. If they're too long, tuck them in

There you have it! Think fluffy and you'll nail it.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Reviewing Arbonne's Focus Blend - An Aromatherapy Blend of Essential Oils

Focus Oil
Purchase here!
I do love using essential oils so when Arbonne released a new blend of essential oils I couldn't wait to see what it smelt like!   Their Focus Oil has a very pleasant fresh & herbacious scent that isn't overpowering or divisive in aroma.

This blend of oils contains basil, rosemary, frankincense, bergamot and lemon.   The combination of these oils helps to clear the mind and uplift your emotions which is perfect for increasing your focus and productivity.

I have been using it in a diffuser while my daughter studies (she's in her last year of high school).  Now I think her attitude has changed as she's been more diligent even before I got the focus blend, however she does seem to be able to concentrate a lot easier since I started using the blend and is really excelling with her assignments.

So why these particular oils?


Basil oil is great for clearing the head as well as being uplifting, let's face it when we're happier we can concentrate better so this is a good start for the blend.  Don't take my word for it though according to Robert Tisserand (The Art of Aromatherapy) basil oil 'clears the head, relieves intellectial fatigue, and gives the mind strength and clarity.'   He goes on to say that the oil is ' uplifting, clarifying and strengthening.'

Now we add Rosemary oil to the blend.  Rosemary has traditionally been used for memory and is also a classic remedy for headaches and migraines.  I think this makes it ideal for use when we need to focus on something as that can lead to headaches so another great addition to this Focus blend.

Frankincense was one of the most highly prized substances of the ancient world hence the offering of frankincense by the Magi to the infant Jesus.  Although in centuries past frankincense has been revered for it's skin care preparations it also has an elevating and soothing effect on the mind and emotions.

Bergamot doesn't really seem to help with focus and concentration as such, but it is one of the more uplifting oils and is regularly used to help with depression and states of anxiety.  I think the inclusion in this blend is because of it's uplifting qualities.   You can concentrate on things a lot easier and your mind stays a lot clearer if you're happier than if you're sad.

Lemon is another oil that is uplifting - all of the citrus oils seem to promote happy feelings.

When to Use the Focus Blend

Anytime you need to focus or concentrate on something you'll find that the Focus Blend is ideal so whether you're writing a blog post, a proposal for work, studying for an exam or trying to balance the books - Focus Oil is the one for you!

Another time when I would be using this blend of oils is on a long car trip.  You can easily buy car diffusers these days and I would definitely advise investing in one if you travel alot.  This blend can keep you focused on long journeys or if driving home from work after a long day.

If you don't have a car diffuser you can still use the oil in a car, back when I first discovered the power of aromatherapy I couldn't find an affordable car diffuser so I simply placed a few drops of oil on a handkerchief (or even a tissue on occasion) and attached it over the air vents of the car.
You can also use this oil in the home when you feel people need more focus or clarity, like if they're suffering from grief, depression, recuperating from sickness.

If you're an anxious person, or you have an important meeting, event and are nervous about it then you could use a few drops of the focus blend in an aromatherapy necklace or on a tissue in your pocket to sniff throughout the day/ before the meeting.

Could You Use Some Focus Blend in Your Life?


I definitely have days when my mind feels like it has about 50 browser windows open and a 100 sticky notes stuck all over it so I really do need to use the focus blend in order to get things done!  I'd love to know if you need this oil or not.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Touring and photographing Ernest Hemingway's "home" and studio in Piggott, Arkansas was a fabulous way to spend a day, and a wonderful memory.  The house actually belonged to the Pfeiffer family, but it was "home" to Hemingway when he was in Piggott.

I admit, while I have read several books by Ernest Hemingway, he is far down my list of favorite authors, but he is on the list.  He is also one of my husband's favorite authors.   When we discovered we could tour his home in Arkansas, we were definitely up for the adventure.  

Prior to visiting The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum, I didn't know a lot about Hemingway's personal life.  I was in for a lot of shocking details!  We were basically given a private tour of the home and our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable.  Because we were the only two people there, we asked lots of questions and I had plenty of opportunities to take pictures.   Expecting to be in for a real treat, I had packed two cameras and all of my lenses.  I am really glad I did.  It turned out that I needed them all to get the shots I wanted! 

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Home in Poggott, Arkansas - Ernest Hemingway - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



Ernest Hemingway & Pauline Pfeiffer


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Ernest Hemingway & Pauline Pfeiffer
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Our guide give us a great deal of historical detail.  It was clear that she greatly admired Pauline Pfeiffer.  She bragged to us about how Pauline Pfeiffer was a journalist for Vogue magazine in Paris, France.  It was there that Pauline met Ernest Hemingway and his wife.  According to our guide, Hemingway was immediately enamored with Pfeiffer and they engaged in an affair.  When Hemingway told his wife that he was in love and wanted to marry Pauline, she suggested that he take some time to think about it.  If he wanted a divorce so he could marry Pfeiffer, she would grant him the divorce.  And, so it was...

Pauline and Ernest married in France that following spring.  When Pauline discovered she was pregnant, they moved to Piggott, Arkansas to live with Pauline's family and to await the birth of their child.  That home is now a part of  The Hemingway-Pfeiffer museum.  It is also the place where Hemingway wrote parts of "A Farewell to Arms" in the barn studio located on the property.  



The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum House & Home

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Stickley Chair in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

By today's standards, you might not think the house is very big.  However, I have no doubt it was considered quite large in Piggott during the late 20's & 30's when the wealthy Pheiffer family owned it.  

Much of the furniture in the home today, was furniture owned by the Pfeiffers and in use when Hemingway was there.  That alone, makes the tour very interesting.  I could easily imagine Ernest Hemingway sitting in this front room with a romantic fire.

Apparently, the Pheiffers loved Stickley furniture as much as we do!  This is the front room on the right as you enter the Pfeiffer home.

If you look carefully, you will see that the photo of Ernest & Pauline is sitting on the end table.  Of course, I had to take a close-up photo of the couple.

 Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Front Room of The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

On the left, as you enter the home, is a grand piano.  The comfortable chair would certainly be inviting to sit and listen to an accomplished pianist.  

Photos from The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum taken by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
The Grand Piano in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

The stairs to the bedrooms is directly across from the front door.  You could literally run through the front door and up the stairs if you desired.  Again, I could easily imagine Ernest Hemingway doing that very thing.  Then calling out to Pauline as he reached the landing at the top of the stairs, all excited about news of a new hunt.

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Stairs in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Top of the Stairs at The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse


Prayer Room in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum


I found it extremely interesting the Pauline Pfeiffer's mother, Mary Pfeiffer, had a prayer room in her home.  Our guide explained that Mary required a prayer room since there was no Catholic church close by to attend and she was a devout Irish Catholic.  

The existing prayer room was set up to look like Mary Pfeiffer's prayer room.  She had a real altar there, but it is currently being used by a church.  You can see the real altar in a photo that is sitting on the makeshift altar.


Prayer Room in The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Mary's Prayer Room in the Pfeiffer Home
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

Mary also had a quilt closet upstairs. This was probably my favorite room. Not because of the room itself, but because of the story of the room. According to our guide, the Pfeiffer's were surrounded by people who had very little.  Many of the women of the community would quilt and sell their quilts just to get by.  Mary Pfeiffer never refused to buy the quilts.  She stored them in this room and when they were needed, she gave them away.  

Of all of the people I heard about the day of our tour, I think I would have liked Pauline Pfeiffer's mother, Mary, the most.

Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas
Mary Pfeiffer's Quilt Room
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

The Display Case Held Ernest Hemingway's Autograph


One of my favorite photos was taken upstairs in one of the bedrooms.   There was a display case that contained a book from the Hotel Taube in Schruns, Austria.  This book was not interesting because it was an alpine skiing manual, but because it held Ernest Hemingway's autograph in the upper right corner.  The glass display case sits right under a window, which is why you see the curtain details reflected in the photo.


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum
Alpine Skiing Manuel from Hotel Taube
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Ernest Hemingway's Autograph - Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse
Ernest Hemingway's Autograph
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse




There were several other rooms in the home and I have lots of pictures, but I chose some of my favorites to share with you today.  Perhaps, one day soon you can tour the home for yourself and see it all in person.  


Reviewing & Photographing The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott, Arkansas

 

The Ernest Hemingway Barn-Studio in Piggott, Arkansas


Apparently, the upstairs studio of the barn was Ernest Hemingway's place of solace and the place where he went to write.  

Due to the time of day, I was not able to get a great shot of the exterior of the barn-studio.  As you can see, I was staring straight into the sun.  

Hemingway's studio was located up the stairs on the right.

Hemingway Barn-Studio at Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum - Photographed and Reviewed by Sylvestermouse
Hemingway's Barn-Studio
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse



I'm not pro big-game hunting and I really hated what I saw inside the studio.  It truly put a damper on my day and I admit, I stopped listening to the guide for a while.  However, I will still share the photos with you. 

Ernest Hemingway's Barn Studio
Hemingway's Barn-Studio
Photo by Cynthia Sylvestermouse

 Stove in Hemingway Barn-Studio Game Table in Hemingway Barn-Studio



No doubt, I would have been better prepared to hear the stories that day of Ernest Hemingway's life if I had read any of the books featured below.  


 

 

 See More Photography Reviews On
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House of Sylvestermouse





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Thursday, August 9, 2018

Fastest Things on Wings - Book Review

 Fastest Things on Wings Book Review
She huddles over the ice-cold, lifeless body wondering if any resuscitation effort can make a difference at this point.  It appears that Gabriel is gone, but Terry tries one last-ditch attempt to revive him.  While tenderly cupping the tiny hummingbird in her hands, Terry gently bathes Gabriel in the warmth of her breath, in the heat of her life-giving essence.  Against all odds, Gabriel responds with a twitch of the teeniest of feet.  And so the real work, magic, and mystery of rehabilitation begins.  Though the healing journey will be long and arduous, Gabriel is fortunate to have landed in the hands of Terry Masear, the miracle-worker you would want if you were an injured or desperate hummer fighting for your life.

To read Masear's Fastest Things on Wings: Rescuing Hummingbirds in Hollywood, is to enter the mesmerizing world of the astonishing hummingbird, along with gaining a deep sense of gratitude and reverence for the extremely rare individuals who choose to give all that they've got to save the lives of these magnificent creatures.  This book is far more than a fascinating chronicle of what it takes to rescue and rehab a day-old nestling the size of a bumblebee.  It is truly a love letter to be cherished by each of us who has ever known the romance of being in the presence of a hummingbird's majesty.  The rescue stories shared provide glimpses into both the human heart and the heretofore misunderstood, or unknown, nature of the world's mightiest warrior on wings.

Though seemingly fearless, Masear's patients reveal a tenderness and vulnerability few people ever get to witness.  Take Pepper and Gabriel, for instance — two birds that had previously experienced the kind of dazzling flight not even known by the highly vaunted Blue Angels.  Pepper and Gabriel could fly backwards, upside down, in a 360-degree spin or barrel roll, and dive at the speed of 385 body lengths per second.  As Masear notes, the grounded hummingbird, the one with serious back or wing injuries, is the one that often elicits the greatest heartache in the rehabber.

"Young hummingbirds like Pepper who have lost everything at such an early age hit me hard, even after all of the tragedies I have seen in rehab.  Their memory of flight and overpowering desire to float freely again drive every fiber of their being and make me want desperately to help."

As we accompany Masear on her daily rehab rounds tending to hummingbird victims, we meet birds that have somehow survived being driven down the Los Angeles freeway at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour, while trapped under flapping windshield wipers, for over 90 minutes, plus victims of limousine windshield collisions, and birds trapped in sky-diving wind tunnels, along with victims of encounters with cats, dogs, tree-trimmers, soccer nets, and hummingbirds injured by both their own species and the human species.

You are sure to develop an affection for Brad, Iris, Pepper, Gabriel, and any number of other rehab patients.  These extraordinary hummingbirds teach us all vital lessons about nurturing others, about the nuances of healing both body and spirit, and about the powerful connections that defy previously held notions about the relationships that are possible between humans and hummingbirds.  You don't have to be involved in animal rescue or rehabilitation to appreciate the intricacy of Masear's ministrations to the baby hummers she affectionately calls the "naked babies" (newborns), the "bobbleheads," or the "dinofuzz."

But, if you happen to have previously engaged in saving the life of a precious animal, this book is likely to touch your heart in unforgettable ways.  It is now the height of hummingbird season where I live.  I found this to be the perfect time to immerse myself in Masear's mission to help all hummers not only survive, but thrive.  Though I have read volumes about hummingbirds in my quest to know as much as possible about these birds that I adore, I was delighted to gain so many new insights.  I highly recommend this book.  It is the type of tribute to beautiful creatures, and their loving champions, that will bathe your spirit with life-giving warmth.








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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

10 Spices That Are So Easy to Grow & Great in Recipes

Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, there are so many spices that are so easy to grow!  Let's review some of these spices and maybe they might help trigger some creative cooking too!

spices, easy to grow, spice bible, tasty cooking, review, flavor bible

Gardening is about enjoying what you and the earth can produce.  Nothing tastes as good as fresh from the garden.  That's why many people decide to go out to the country on the weekends to stock up on fresh from the farm goodness.

Having a spice garden is relatively easy and when it really starts to grow, it can become bountiful.  What a tasty treat for all your home cooked meals.  Let's get on to the list of easy to grow and great to enjoy spices that are just a few steps away from the kitchen.


10 of the Most Used and useful spices:


1.  Parsley:  either curly or flat leafed.  Wonderful for dressing up salads, potatoes, stews, and more.

2.  Chives:  Great with stuffed baked potatoes, salads, soups and more.

3.  Peppers:  These can be hot (hotter than Hades) or sweet as in bell peppers.  Some can be used for a meal as a vegetable and others for spicing things up.  Be careful, some of the peppers that are being grown today are so hot, you need to handle them with rubber gloves.

4.  Basil:  There are several varieties of Basil, from large Green Leafed Basil, to Purple Basil and even small leafed basil.  One thing is certain, tomatoes with fresh basil is a little bit of heaven right here on earth.

5.  Dill:  Great for making home made pickles, but also added to salads it adds just a little bit of a different taste sensation.

6:  Cilantro:  This is one spice that you either love or dislike(dare I say "hate").  It depends totally on your own taste buds.  Some people when eating anything with cilantro will taste a "soapy" flavor.  They are sure not to like this spice.  But others find cilantro to be refreshing with a crisp clear taste!  Great in salads and stews, soups and even sandwiches.

7:  Mint:  There are all kinds of mints available and all of them are really easy to grow.  Some might even be considered invasive.  Mints can be used in cooking as well as making teas (hot or cold) to enjoy on a hot summer's day.

8:  Sage:  Pretty in green or purple sage has a very strong flavor that will pack a punch of flavor in your cooking.

9:  Oregano:  Easy to grow and will often overwinter.  A great spice for all Italian dishes from spaghettis to pizza.  Added to soups and stews it adds a lot of flavor with a tangy zesty taste.

10: Rosemary:  this spice is easy to grow and can be used not only for cooking but as a decorative plant.  It prunes really easy and can be used as small topiaries.  This spice is great for lamb and grilled or roasted vegetables.  Taken indoors for the winter months, it will continue to grow without any problems.

This is my list of 10 favorites, but there are so many more and each one will add a dimension to your cooking that you may not have realized yet.  Below you will find a "cookbook" to help you make the most of the spices you grow yourself and the ones that you need to purchase because they just need a climate that we don't have.  Either way, home grown spices will definitely make you think twice about the way you cook and the way you enjoy your meals with your family.


Guide to Using Spices


If you are looking for help in pairing spices to make your recipes pop and sizzle, then I would highly recommend this Cookbook!  I use the term "Cookbook" with a certain amount of caution, it is not so much a "cookbook" as a real guide to using spices in combinations that will make your food preparation and your family's taste buds sing.


With a rating of 4.5 stars from Amazon, and over 1,000 verified purchases (mine included), I know that you will enjoy this addition to your cookbook collection!  As with many books today, there is a "Kindle" edition.  Alas, the Kindle version does not get very good ratings at all. (This decline in ratings I'm sure dropped this from a 5 star to 4.5 star rating) With the Kindle book, there is not the same ability to skip to other pages easily and quickly.   Some books just need to be in a paper version!

This truly is a REFERENCE BOOK  that every kitchen should have.  You will use it more often than you ever thought possible.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Project MC2 Spy Bag Reviewed

Fun Spy Kit For Little Girls

spy camera
Spy camera image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Last weekend my granddaughter and her mommy came for a visit. The Project MC2 Spy bag came with them so that Grandma and her budding little secret agent girl could play together. We play a lot of things when she comes but currently she is really into playing detective and spy type make believe. She has quite the imagination and Grandma is thoroughly entertained!

Project MC2 (pronounced project MC squared) is a web television series featured on Netflix that encourages girls to have a growing interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathmatics). OK, so I already love it! Their logo has the words "smart is the new cool" and you know that I love that, too! The series is based around the adventures of McKayla McAlister and her best friends who are agents for the NOV8 (innovate) organization. Young girls are entertained in each episode with the various assignments of these very smart young teens while being exposed to how cool and helpful the various aspects of STEM can be. 

When little McKenna came into the house carrying a plastic bag that looked like a pink quilted purse, I commented that I liked her new handbag. She winked, grinned and replied, "It is a special purse that I bought with my very own money. Wait until you see what is inside, Grandma!" After they were all settled in, she opened her bag for me. Oh my goodness what fun things were inside!

The shimmery make-up doubles as fingerprint powder. The lipstick has a secret compartment that can launch messages when you need to. The compact has a fake mirror that swings out to provide a magnifying glass when needed. The perfume bottle can act as an air blower when squeezed. Oh the fun we had using these tools to find clues and help save the world last weekend!

As a mother of two daughters, I repeated the motto of Smurfette on a regular basis: "Girls can do anything!" As a Grandmother, I am thrilled that my granddaughters are being encouraged further by their own mothers and society to be all that their hearts call them to be. I love that they are being given the message that being smart is a cool thing to be and that their gender is not inferior. It lightens my heart to think that when they are grown women perhaps true equality will be a reality no matter the race or gender that a person is. I believe the real change will come from children being given the examples and beliefs that we are all equal in our abilities rather than any laws that have been or might be passed. It is perception that will make the biggest difference, in my humble opinion. Sorry, I guess I stepped up on a soapbox for a minute.

Suffice it to say, I love this little toy and the series that encourages little girls to be curious, to be interested in science and to use their brains to solve problems. If you have a little girl in your life, you might consider introducing them to Project MC2 if they are not already aware of it. I think they will love it and that you will too.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.