Last week I stumbled upon this image, which incredible as it is to realize, is approaching 75 years old. The man, who looks almost exactly like my dad, is actually my grandfather, Roscoe Jobe. The little boy is my late brother, David. The setting is the same pasture where my pony grazed in the late 1960s, early 1970s. The building is the summer kitchen and the house where I grew up is on the other side of it.
I love this old photo for many reasons. For one thing, in decades past, people didn’t take bunches of pictures as they do now, so you’ve got to figure the photos that were taken and survive today represent special occasions or milestones of one kind or another. This picture is between 70-75 years old. I’m guessing that its significance is that my grandfather, Roscoe Jobe, had just bought this pony for my brother, the late David Jobe.
I also love it because this picture was taken in what I knew as “the pony lot,” or, referring to another era of the same location, “the chicken yard” (due to chickens residing there before I came along). My pony, Ginger, and later my horse, Buck, grazed and were saddled up in that same space 25 years after this photo was taken. By then, my grandfather had passed on and my brothers were grown. (Remember, I came along late in my parents' reproductive years.)
I love the continuity that this old farm photo represents, but there is more.
After my dad died, my brother David and his wife Janet built a home steps away from where this photo was taken. They are both gone now but their granddaughter lives in the home they built, and that granddaughter’s sister lives in the house where my grandparents, then my parents lived, and where I grew up (on the other side of that summer kitchen in the photo. It still stands as well).
One of my future projects concerns creating some kind of order for these old photos. And wouldn’t the best of them make great gifts, enlarged and framed, for particular loved ones?
I have century-old and older photos that are in perfect condition, clear, sharp and although they have not been cared for especially well through the decades, heaped into boxes and shelved, and who knows what else before that, they have come down through the generations intact and beautiful.
I have to wonder what photos (the current term has evolved to “images”) will survive from the digital age. I am as guilty as the next person of taking family pictures, posting the best of the lot on Facebook – and forgetting them.
Up until a couple years ago, I was good about making copies, at least. Before that, until about five years ago, I was good about not only copying them, but filing them in order in albums. I’m not so good at either now.
We see how technology changes rapidly, and we change right along with it more gradually, but change we do. So the camera cards and smart phones of today that produce beautiful images will become obsolete and if the photos aren’t printed, ones depicting entire childhoods, vacations and special events, may be lost forever.
It’s something to think about. Will my kids and grandkids, let alone great-grandkids, give a hoot about old photos? Will there even be remaining images of their ancestors or will today’s selfies be tomorrow’s long-lost fad?
I’m curious about how others manage their vintage, as well as more current photos. How do you store them? Do you still print and fill family albums? Do you ever print photos anymore? Do you trust the “cloud” to house your content on into the future or will it be lost when the “next big thing” comes along?
And even if you trust the "cloud," will your descendants be able to access those images?
Every six weeks or so, the Literary Lounge convenes at members’ homes to discuss their latest read.
Be it a mystery, biography, historical fiction, fantasy or – as luck would have it – inspirational fiction – they talk about their books and so much more.
Friday’s stop was at Cindy Bay’s home. It was unavoidable that some of the discussion centered on her delicious luncheon menu and charming home. And then of course, we asked for recipes and Cindy obliged, even providing blank cards and pens. Member Melody Radford also offered her foolproof Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles and we copied that one too.
Oh, but I digress. That’s what happens when good things are on the table.
At some point in the luncheon, the members decided on the next read, Jim Kraus’s book, “The Dog That Talked to God.”
Previous volumes have included “The Light Between Two Oceans,” and when the movie version came out, they went together; “Ladies With Options,” which Cindy mentioned loving, and “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs.
The reason I was there was pure treat. They read my book, “That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.”
Book sales are a fine thing, programs are labors of love, but for an author to be the guest at a book club venue and discuss obscure details and insider decisions about elements of her own book is, well, yummy. Especially while tasting Cindy’s chicken and broccoli casserole.
Thank you Literary Lounge ladies for reading my book and having me in for the discussion.
Here’s a couple of the recipes that were shared.
Chicken Broccoli Casserole
Cook 2 10 oz. broccoli spears
Add 3 cups boned, cooked chicken
1 can cream chicken soup
Mix with 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1/3 cup milk, ½ cup shredded cheddar, 1 tsp. lemon juice, dash of curry. Cover with buttered crumbs (she got these at the Amish store on U.S. 27 at Fountain City, delicious). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
- From Cindy Bay
Slow Cooker Chicken & Noodles
2 cans cream of chicken soup
2 cans chicken broth
2 cans water
2 big chicken breasts, raw
Cook above items on high 4 hours in slow cooker. Remove chicken; shred. Return chicken to slow cooker. Add 12 oz. uncooked Amish-style noodles. Stir a couple of times within half an hour longer. Serve!
- From Melody Radford
It’s all about Springport, Indiana, for the next three days.
In a couple of hours, I’m heading to the home of Cindy Bay for one of my favorite things to do as an author: attend the book-club discussion about a book I wrote.
Cindy’s book club read my first book, and today they are reviewing the second, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland.
We’ll gather around Cindy’s massive party-room table (the joke is, courtesy of her brother, “it sleeps 17”) and enjoy lunch and discussion. It will be a cherry-on-top experience, if for no other reason than being with the women gathered there. Can’t wait!
In an unrelated book-tour stop, tomorrow and Sunday, I’ll be not far from Cindy’s house as a vendor at the Whitetail Farm Pumpkin Fest, also near Springport.
I hear it will be hot but the wagon rides, pumpkins, corn maze and all the fall-fest goodness will remind everyone that it is, indeed, autumn.
Saturday’s bonus is that Walker County performs from 5 to 6:30 p.m. there at the festival! Hearing their performance (bring your lawn chairs) is included with admission to the festival and if you have never heard these Henry County-native girls and their dad, Billy, perform, wow, are you in for a good time.
I’ve followed the girls since they were in elementary school, and closely followed their collective dream of hitting it big in country / Americana music ever since I featured them on the cover of The Courier-Times her magazine for women a few years ago.
Well, guess what? The family got a contract. Yes, a big ol’ Nashville, Tennessee-styled contract, and they all live there where they write music and perform all over the country on weekends. Aside from their talent, I cannot tell you how nice these girls are. In fact, the whole family is just as nice and down-home as ever! Whitetail Tree Farm brought them home for Saturday.
I look forward to hearing them!
I’m also looking forward to enjoying a new purchase. Brian and I didn’t like “bumming” awnings for outdoor book events from people, and although there has always been someone generously step up and offer to loan us theirs, he found a great deal on a small awning. So I’ll be trying it out (and seeing how I do at putting it up and down) this weekend.
If you want a fun, fall way to spend Saturday or Sunday, Sept. 24-25, come out to the Pumpkin Fest, located just east of Ind. 3 between New Castle and Muncie.
In other news from the week, last night was a unique experience. I was invited to give the opening program at Family Involvement Night at Blue River Elementary School. I spoke about finding and recognizing your gifts and talents early on, and encouraged parents to nurture those things in their children through reading and the abundance of activities and opportunities out there today. Thank you to Christie Fouse for the invite! I enjoyed the evening.
It goes to show, we never know what unexpected opportunity awaits us in this life. Enjoy your weekend.
Fall rolls in tomorrow. No one in this house is complaining.
Autumn isn’t my favorite season, but every time it gets here, I wonder why not. It's pretty splendid. This year we're completely over the humidity and heat! There hasn’t yet been a single sweatshirt day, and while the pantry is stocked with my favorite Twinings Green Tea, I haven’t steeped that first teabag in months (I prefer iced tea until it cools off outside and that sure hasn’t happened)! Oh, but of course that will happen soon, and it will be delightful.
I’ve promised my newsroomies that we’ll start the new season with our Chew This! columnist Blaise Doubman’s Pumpkin Crunch Cake from his new cookbook, Blaise the Baker Dessert First, served first thing in the morning at our Thursday staff meeting.
I have to work on my Bible Study Fellowship lesson, get some things ready for working a long day tomorrow, including a first – it seems that I'm “opening” at an elementary school’s Back To School Night tomorrow with a program on literacy.
Oh, but more decisions on the garage-door saga! I had one color in mind from the ones offered with the style we chose, but true to form, I'm re-thinking the choice. Maybe it should be the lightest color among the standard choices, the almond over the desert tan.
I’ve noticed a lifelong pattern whereby I have trouble deciding on color when it comes to large spaces – paint, carpeting, and now the garage double doors.
I’m digging out the fall decorations and have gotten started with a few.
So let’s get it started: a new season, back-to-school night, Pumpkin Fest out at Whitetail Tree Farm this weekend, leaves, color and sweater weather. Bring it.
The Whetsels of Brownsville, Indiana, about 1900. As did I, my grandmother Hazel arrived later in her parents' life. Far right, seated, is her mother, Sally Ann, who interacted with Indians as a girl, and saw the Abraham Lincoln Funeral train. Her youngest daughter -- my Grandma Hazel -- stands next to her. Hazel's father is seated in the center. I recognize Grandma's sister, Etta, in the back. The little kids are probably Hazel's nieces and nephew. Mine are nearly my age, too.
I had the pleasure of sharing a meal and an evening with the women of Young Moderns Home Extension Club last night. We met in the beautiful farmhouse of Brenda Wiley near Mooreland.
As I listened to these friends share time and life together, I started taking notes because, well, I had an idea. I thought I’d post a blog about them. Instead, I’ve decided to talk about them and their club, which dates to 1964, and has met every month since then (with the rare winter-weather exception) during County Club Night in October. I don’t want to spoil what I’ll have to say (no worries, it's all good) but suffice it to say I’m honored to have spent the evening with them.
When I’m with Extension Homemakers, I’m home.
For now though, here’s their photo, and a thanks to the ladies for having me, and to Brenda for inviting me.
Mail call …
Isn’t it exciting to get a surprise in the mail? When I reached into the box today, I pulled out a medium-sized package from my friend Debbie McCray from Ohio, and thought, What in the world?
Debbie has been on a family trip, and is busy with her volunteer work with an organization called Cancer Hope, which is very important to her, and we hadn’t had any recent email conversations that would indicate something was headed my way.
I opened it up to find something wrapped up and tied with a bow in tissue paper. It was this … a Sweet Land of Liberty ornament / decoration! I love it.
Debbie had come across it at a friend’s sale and thought of me. Debbie, thank you! And with it came a lovely homemade card (she is an expert at making beautiful, one-of-a-kind cards) explaining the gift, and with the fall colors and phrasing on the front of it, expressed how she looks forward to the fall just ahead. Me too!
Speaking of Mail …
Yesterday’s mail also brought a surprise card, this one from our friends John and Debby who spent a chunk of Labor Day with us here. Debby thanked us for the meal, for catching up, and said we need to get together more often. That we do. That we will!
And thanks to them for coming up to visit. Next stop together: Jungle Jim’s in Ohio! And Red Lobster on the way home.
Give me Liberty …
Sweet Land of Liberty is, of course, our great nation, the U.S.A. To me personally, the phrase also relates to my love for my hometown of Liberty, Indiana, and to my book that takes place in a fictional bed and breakfast, and novel by the same name, Sweetland of Liberty Bed & Breakfast.
This weekend I’ll have copies of that book, and the sequel, That Sweet Place: At Home in the Heartland, at Founders Day(s) on the courthouse square in Liberty, Indiana. I’ll be wearing this, a pioneer-ish ensemble. (emphasis on ish). I’ve got some storytelling to do tomorrow. Come see me!
It’s fall-festival time of year in the Hoosier state. Most every weekend from now on until it turns into church-bazaar season, there are festivals throughout Indiana.
This year the festivals are even more jazzed up because it’s Indiana’s Bicentennial.
This weekend I’m heading back to the mid-1800s.
This week I’m gearing up for my debut as a pioneer woman. Well, make that a pioneer-ish woman. I’m wearing a long, borrowed, old-timey skirt, (thanks John Guglielmi and First Nighters Theatre) a not-so-old-timey apron, cameo jewelry and spending Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11 on the Union County courthouse lawn.
Periodically on Saturday I’ll be doing some readings. I’ve chosen William Miller Herschell’s classic, “Ain’t God Good to Indiana” and some James Whitcomb Riley. I’ll also be talking about Mary Alice Smith. You might know her as Annie.
Back in the 1800s, Mary Alice lived on a small farm outside of Liberty. This explains why the folks of Union County have a particular interest in Riley, the famed Hoosier poet. Hang with me, here.
At age 9, due to her mother’s passing and either her father’s death or incarceration (it is unclear which), Mary Alice was left an orphan and relatives found room-and-board for her as a hired girl for the Riley family in Greenfield.
She came to what is by accounts the benevolent Riley household with her share of stories – which surely fed the imagination of young Jim “Bud” Riley. Years later he wrote his most beloved poem, “Little Orphant Annie,” about this charming girl and her tales.
The poem is credited with eventually inspiring the story and musical, “Annie,” and even said to have inspired the Raggedy Ann doll.
Nevertheless, only in recent years did I learn (or it register with me) that Mary Alice, aka Annie, was from my hometown. If you were a sixth grader in Mrs. Ruth Lawson’s reading class in the 1960s and 70s, you memorized the poem and I’m betting that you can recite it still. Back then, I don’t remember an emphasis on Mary Alice, but from here in my late 50s, I'm curious about this girl who spent her childhood on the same place on the map that I did and fame found her to an extent she probably never knew.
There are other things going on this weekend at Founders Day in Liberty, small-town doings, you might say. I’m posting the flyer, below. I am grateful, once again, to Kelly Finch who asked me to be there to be a part of things and bring along my books. She’s even providing a tent for me next to hers.
Kelly is one of those people who for no reason other than she totally rocks, has taken a special interest in my book journey and I owe her for presenting me with several opportunities.
So if you’re in Liberty this weekend (and why wouldn’t you be?), stop and see me on the courthouse-square lawn. Oh, you’ll find it easy enough. Follow the scent of the ham and beans. The butter will churn. There will be a Raggedy Ann and Andy contest, bluegrass music will play, and jugglers juggle, and there's an old-fashioned cake walk.
Small-town stuff. Hometown stuff. Simple, almost-fall pleasures. Maybe you'll catch a glimmer of why I love this place so much.
And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. – Exodus 13:21-22
I attend an international, non-denominational Bible study nine months a year called Bible Study Fellowship. Each year is a different in-depth look at a particular topic, with references taking you all over the Bible.
BSF resumes the week after Labor Day and this session, which runs through early May, we’ll be in the book of John.
In the six previous years the studies have included (in no particular order here) Isaiah, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Matthew, Revelation, and Life of Moses. I have loved each study as part of my lifelong pursuit to become biblically literate. When you study the Bible, it comes alive to you because it is the Living Word of God.
If I had to select a favorite study so far, I’d pick Life of Moses. His life, and the miracle of God bringing His nation, Israel, out from slavery in Egypt on a journey to the Promised Land, is alive for me on so many levels! The year of the study was the same one I literally experienced that Promised Land of Israel for myself with a group from my church and I will never be the same. The Word came alive as we physically walked upon the pages of the Bible in 3-D color.
I keep thinking about God manifesting Himself before the Israelites as a Pillar of Cloud by day, and a Pillar of Fire by night. How did the ancient Jews ever get over that? How could they quibble and complain when God led them on a daily journey where they saw Him in those forms, protecting and leading? Man, would I love a selfie with God the Pillar of both Cloud and Fire!
Oh, but I do the same as they did. Don’t we all? And today, God is living inside me as He is inside all Christians. Yet sometimes we take Him for granted or we rail or complain or doubt. I say this often: I’m being an Israelite again.
Still, I can't quit thinking of God appearing as a constant Pillar … leading and protecting.
I think of the manna He provided daily for His people, Israel. It was perfect nourishment, the supply to meet their daily needs. Yet they were not to store it away as spares for tomorrow in case God didn’t show up with more. No, He promised that He would provide it daily. They had to trust.
The thought of the manna is with me lately. When I want more than He has provided, want a spare something, want more than I need today, I am tempted to ask God why I don’t have that reserve.
He shows me the manna. His showing me the manna is in the form of supernatural, spiritual provision that keeps coming to mind. It is enough to trust Him. I even wrote the word MANNA on a slip of paper and taped it to my computer. He’s that serious about this topic, and I’m that serious about remembering it.
Lately, the Hoosier skies have been putting on a show of wonderment. They are just clouds, I know, but they are part of His creation and they are spectacular, and I think of God as that Pillar of Cloud, leading, protecting. Facebook posts have been full of beautiful skies filled with clouds and sky, stunning sunsets and starry night scenes. It's all at once as new as today and as ancient as creation. I could spend hours looking up.
These photos were taken yesterday during my drive home from work. Enjoy the scenery, and don’t forget to look up.
The Bible Study Fellowship I attend is Monday nights at the host church, the Middletown Church of the Nazarene. This year’s study is Monday, Sept. 12 at 6:55-8:55 p.m. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for information. OR, just show up! There’s an introduction class that night. BSF is free and you’ll be surprised to find a couple of hundred women there too from all manner of denominations and backgrounds. Regionally, BSF also meets Tuesday mornings in New Castle, and there is a Richmond class. Wherever you are, there's likely a BSF class close enough for you to attend.