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The Dark Ages of My Youth

Canning Time

Okay, maybe I was unfair to the Home Canning Lobby when I made disparaging remarks in my column about the wax beans and tomatoes I had to eat as a kid. I am not against canning. It was only a few years ago I last spent an entire July weekend joyfully peeling, cooking,...

End of Summer

Have you ever noticed that every year in late August there seems to be one specific moment when summer is over? Suddenly, there’s a new smell in the air, a haze in the light that wasn’t there before, and things we’ve been hearing all summer suddenly have a different...

Dog Days

Dog Days. The words bring back images painted by the elders of my youth, visions of illnesses that you got only in the desperate heat of late summer. Dog Days back then was all about some vague malady that came from dogs and found its way into the lakes, ponds,...

Dad Saw an Ivorybill

Recent news from Bayou DeView, Arkansas, would have had my dad dancing in the street. The news had nothing to do with the town itself. Actually, the place is so small that apparently both Rand and McNally decided it wasn’t worth putting on the map. What happened in...

Mom’s Wash Day

I got another blast from the dark ages of my youth the other day when my wife asked me to take some things out of the clothes dryer while she was running errands. “The dryer is set on ‘damp dry’ so they won’t wrinkle,” she said, “so be sure to take them out and hang...

Buddy Poppies

They’re back on the street corners. Every year about this time they show up wearing their caps and carrying baskets. They are volunteers from Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and their baskets are filled with Buddy Poppies. The Buddy Poppy was born out of a poem about...

Decoration Day

Memorial Day used to be Decoration Day, a day set aside to decorate the graves of those killed in war. Originally, it was the thirtieth of May. Since then, of course, Congress has changed the name and institutionalized the date so it falls on the last Monday of May....

Lilacs, My Favorite Flower

My favorite flower? Lilacs. Definitely lilacs. Partly because of that overwhelming fragrance but mostly because that special perfume and the delicate poetry of lilac blossoms always carry me back in time to a particular summer when life was absolutely perfect. The...

Back Into the Crawl Space

It’s called a crawl space for a reason. Crawling is the only way you can get around when you are down there. You move on your hands and knees at best, more often on your stomach or your back, propelled along by digging your elbows into the ground. I spent pretty much...

Spring Cleaning – Grandma Style

Does anybody do spring cleaning anymore? I’m talking about the old-fashioned, strip-the-house-and-scrub-everything kind that my grandmother tortured the entire family with back in the thirties and forties. Grandpa insisted that Grandma got a certain twinkle in her eye...