Friday, April 27, 2012

Elmwood Cemetery

Our homeschool group had a tour of Elmwood Cemetery in downtown Memphis.  This cemetery dates from around 1850, and is still in use.  Many of Memphis' most prominent families, black and white, are buried here, and Memphis history is woven through out it.  It was built as a typical Victorian cemetery, as a park like setting, where families would come to picnic at the family plots, clean the markers, and plant flowers and such.  You enter this city of the dead by crossing over a bridge, shown above.  On the other side is the cemetery office inside a Victorian cottage with a bell tower.  The bell rings whenever a funeral procession enters, which it did while we were there.

Near the cottage is the obelisk marking the grave of E.H. Crump (Boss Crump), who ran a political machine here during the first half of the 20th century.  His political machine filled the gap left by the deaths and departures of much of the Memphis economic and academic elite following the decimation of the three successive yellow fever epidemics in the latter part of the 19th century.

My 14 yr old and one of her friends decided to dress in black and carry black umbrellas throughout the tour.

There are several "ethnic neighborhoods" within the cemetery.  Below is the section that the Irish Travelers favor.  Memphis has a fairly significant Traveler (Rom, or "gypsy") community.  Notice the caravans and tents depicted on this marker.

Here is the Chinese section.  A significant number of old Chinese families in Memphis are descended from a group that was emigrating from China to California in the 19th century, but somehow ended up stranded in New Orleans and made their way up the Mississippi, settling in Clarksdale, Mississippi and Memphis ultimately.

The Chinese families come visit the graves and leave paper notes and messages on the markers.

Another rather crowded section of Elmwood is the area where the Confederate war dead of Memphis are buried.  The Union war dead (which also included native Memphians) used to also be buried at Elmwood, but they were all moved to the National Cemetery (for Veterans) when it opened in Memphis.  Unfortunately, the people moving the bodies and markers put notes on the caskets noting who was in which, but a storm came and blew them away and smeared what was left, so nobody could tell who belonged with which marker.

more Civil War markers
There is a marker for the people lost in the explosion and sinking of the Sultana steamboat a few miles north of Memphis, where 1500 lives were lost -- more than the Titanic.  This was a ship carrying Union prisoners of war upriver back to their homes at the end of the Civil War.  The boiler exploded.  This huge disaster only made the back pages of the nation's newspapers because Lincoln had been shot that same day.

The marker for "No Man's Land" marks the mass grave where thousands of yellow fever victims from the big epidemic of 1878 were buried with no individual graves or markers, as there were too many to deal with and too few healthy citizens left in the city.  Although it is a mass grave, the people did their best to note the names and identity of each body brought over the bridge for burial in the mass grave, and those records are available.

a wider view of No Man's Land

Another area of Elmwood without individual graves, but now holding a commemorative marker, is the area where slaves were buried.  Unfortunately, there are few if any records of the individuals buried there.  I didn't get a picture of that area, as there was a funeral in process in that vicinity.

Now, this guy is Wade Bolton.  He was a slave trader, business speculator, millionaire, duelist, and all around no good son of a gun.  He carried on a 13 year feud with his former business partner, engaging in duels and ambushes, along with members of their respective families.  In the final altercation, Bolton was shot in the shoulder and although the wound was not fatal, he decided he would get revenge on the ex-partner by not getting it treated and letting it kill him, so he let an infection set in and died.  He left directions for his body to be buried at his favorite plantation on Pleasant Ridge in the northeast part of the county (what is now known as the Bolton community), but his wife had him buried in Elmwood (she and husband #2 are buried at Pleasant Ridge).  He gave each of his children a bequest, but made it conditional on them carrying on the feud and getting vengeance on his "killer".  He had also left instructions that he was to be depicted in utmost dignity by a statue on his memorial.  His niece (who in the meantime married a son of the ex-partner who had shot Bolton), took charge of that.  She made sure the statue showed him with is vest mis-buttoned, a shoe untied, rumpled clothes, and one hand behind his back with his fingers crossed.

Elmwood Cemetery is a fantastic place to go just to walk and look around and take photos.  They also have self guided audio tours, and guided group tours, as well as special events where people dress up to depict the various people buried there.    

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Have Mail!

Look at the nice package I got today from Sweet Bee over at Sweet Bee Cottage, from a give-away she had on her blog.  Finding a present in the mailbox is an ever so pleasant event, especially when nicely wrapped, along with a charming note.  Inside:

A magazine I've been coveting since I first saw it at Barnes and Noble.  Soooo -- in just a little bit, I will fix me my new favorite warm night time drink (it's been cold here lately -- highs in mid 60's, lows close to 40 and I refuse to turn back on the heat!):  a cup of almond milk, heated, with sprinkles of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove on top -- it's like drinking a muffin -- and settle in for a perusal through the magazine.  Tomorrow afternoon, when the temperature is up to a delicious mid 70's I will take it outside, with my afternoon chai of course, and sit in the garden with it and do some serious note taking and marking of things to try.

Thank you, Sweet Bee, for making my day!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Easy Spring Dinner

We have a Penzeys Spices store in our town, so when I get their monthly newsletter with a coupon for a free bottle of spices I hustle down there and pick it up.  This month I had both a coupon for a free bottle, and a coupon for $5 off of a $10 purchase, so I came home with these three.  Now, I didn't use any of these in this dinner, but I did use a salad recipe in the newsletter.

As usual dinner was practically all dished out when I decided to take some pictures.  But it was too yummy and easy not to share.  This is the main dish:  fresh asparagus and red onion chunks roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, served over rice, and topped with fried eggs (since there are four of us, I cook 8 eggs -- from our chickens of course -- at once in my big sauté pan, and put all of this in a shallow serving bowl.  Then I sprinkled some grated parmesan over the whole mess.

On my plate here, you can see the salad also.  The original recipe called for baby spinach, with diced cantaloupe and sliced strawberries and spicy glazed pecans.  I used salad greens, cantaloupe and strawberries, and almonds instead of the pecans.  This is dressed with 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon of chocolate syrup and was wonderful!  Two cups of almonds (or pecans) were mixed with a syrup made of 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne.  Make the syrup, let boil 2 minutes, turn off heat and add the nuts, stirring for 1 minute until all coated, dump in single layer on a cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper or foil, separate as much as possible, put in 350 degree oven for 10-13 minutes, slide paper or foil on to cooling rack and separate the nuts and let cool.  This made plenty for our salad, with quite a lot left over for snacking over the next few days -- they are totally addictive.

linking to Show Off Your Cottage Monday

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Salad Table Update

Back at Christmas, my husband built me a salad table.  I planted it up with various salad greens in late January/early February, covered and nursed it through a hard freeze or two, stuck forks in it to protect it against lounging garden kitties who were drawn to its southern exposure warmth, and the result now in mid April ----

Not so great.

In fact, kind of a failure.  The salad greens have stayed small and puny.  The seeds I planted in the garden proper have far outpaced their growth, as you can see here.

salad table lettuce
lettuce in a garden bed planted 3 weeks ago
I am thinking the salad table may work better planted in the late summer/early fall so that lettuce can put on more growth before the day length shortens too much.  Also, I was so anxious to get the table planted that I used some bags of plain old topsoil lying around.  I think I should have invested in (or made up) some really good quality potting mixture.  I KNOW in my heart of hearts (mind of minds?) that excellent soil and good soil preparation is 75% of what is needed for good harvest/good garden, but I am so bad at remembering that come planting time!

In the meantime, in the vegetable garden itself, lettuce is coming along nicely scattered in several beds.  Here is some, along with a very beautiful red-veined sorrel, which I got from Anthony's Herb Farm several years ago and which comes back reliably every year.

And I am picking a handful of strawberries every day from my strawberry bed made from concrete blocks.

I've been worried about my sugar snap peas since we have had record breaking heat -- in the 80's -- through out March and most of April, but we have had a cool down this past week and the sugar snaps are blooming (while very short! maybe due to the heat?), so hopefully I will get a harvest before it gets too hot again.

On Thursday I'm heading about an hour north to Anthony's Herb Farm up in Brighton, TN to see what Miz Anthony has available.  Maybe I'll remember to take my camera (and remember to take it out!) and get some pics so you can see her Tennessee Heritage Farm (designation as a heritage farm means it has been in farm use for 100 years or more), and Miz Anthony herself (who is about 4 ft tall, well in her 80's, refers to her plants as "she" and "he", and who will insist on carrying your plants to the car for you because "they're heavy!".  A few years ago she gave me a recipe for Amaretto Chocolate Mint (as in, it uses chocolate mint, the herb) Pound Cake, which was fabulous.  I need to get hold of some amaretto and make it again soon.

Linked to Tuesday Garden PartyHome and Garden ThursdayFarmgirl Friday

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Going to Prom

Last night Hannah (in black with fairy wings) and her friend since they were 5 yrs old, Nicole (in green), went to the Senior Prom for our local high school where Nicole is graduating from.  Even though we have always home schooled, most of Hannah's friends have always been in our neighborhood and/or attend the local school.  Hannah's boy friend is in college in Pennsylvania but one of their guy friends served as Hannah's escort to the prom.  They had a group of about 20 friends that met ahead of time for dinner and attending the prom together.

The boy is Nicole's boyfriend, Dylan, looking spiffy in his coordinating vest and tie.  Nicole was going to drive, being the only one of this trio that owns a car -- but then found she couldn't really manage in that dress, so Hannah ended up driving them and Hunter (her escort) in one of our cars.  Nicole's mom and I managed to corner them on the sidewalk between our houses for some pictures (they thought they were going to hop in our car and zip off unnoticed!).

I hear they had a great time (Hannah just got up, at noon) and Hannah got huge compliments on her dress and fairy wings.  And Nicole discovered that ball-type gowns (hers has a lace up back and actually has stays!) are best suited for ballroom type dancing and not that great for driving and modern dancing, beautiful though it is.

Hannah, thrifty homeschooler that she is, used a dress she had bought for a dance last year on sale for $14, chosen because the style looks relatively classic, borrowed the wings (surprising none of our extensive collection of fairy and butterfly wings accumulated over the years with 4 girls, suited her), and her knee high converse, creating her unique look.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Shrimp and Broccoli Quesadilla

Finally getting around to sharing this.  Ever made a lunch that was so good you wanted to cry when it was gone?  This was one of those.  Usually when I have that kind of meal I am so anxious to get to eating, I don't think about taking a picture until I'm 3/4 done, and that does not make a very esthetic picture.  Even here -- you see I had the fork in my hand, ready to take a bite, and then I thought "Wait!!  Let me take a picture!  Because this is going to be so good I need to share it!"  And I did, and it was, and now I am.

It was so simple -- a bag of frozen precooked shrimp, some steamed broccoli, some caramelized onions (from that big batch I did), and then -- the thing that totally elevated the dish to a sublime level -- Mango Cheese from Costco (this is a block of cheese with pieces of mango fruit in it -- sooooo good!).  Some guacamole on top, along with some of my homemade green tomato chutney.  It was unbelievable.  I'm crying right now because I don't have anymore.

linking to Masterpiece MondayShow off Your Cottage MondayHomestead Barn Hop

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Garden Visitor

The other day I had put Trixie Lou McMuttsley outside, only to have to go back out after her to hush her incessant barking.  She had found this guy?lady? lurking in the depths of the daylilly foliage between our driveway and our neighbor's driveway.

Look at the bright orange markings on this eastern box turtle's legs!  I have found box turtles before (last year there was one in our yard), but I have never seen one with such bright orange on the legs.  I am guessing this is probably a male, since nature usually favors more subdued, camouflaging colors on females for the safety of the species, and he seemed to be on a mission.  I picked him up and found him a nice spot under my blueberry bushes in the back yard.

Then on Sunday my husband found him heading to the other neighbor's yard under the fence, and moved him back to a "better" place.  However, yesterday that neighbor had the fence torn down between our yards to replace it, so now there is no fence, their fence builders are committing "crape murder" (cutting the crape myrtles down to nubs -- which at this late date probably means no blooms this year) and otherwise demolishing their landscaping.  I hope this turtle with a mission to head north manages to avoid the generalized mayhem and destruction over there, as well as their swimming pool!

Linked to Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage; Show Off Your Cottage at The House in the Roses; Home and Garden Thursday at A Delightsome Life

Monday, April 9, 2012

Helping Grandpa

You know, it's funny -- I am totally comfortable calling myself Grandma or Grammy with regard to the grandkids, but I have a really hard time referring to my husband as Grandpa.

We had our 4 yr old grandson Aydan here over Friday and Saturday, so Aydan and Grandpa got to have some guy time (unique for my husband, as we have 4 girls) -- a day of painting the house.

I set him up with a bucket of water and a paintbrush and he commenced to a good hour of serious painting.

He loves to help!

He found a basket from the Easter Bunny of course on Saturday morning (since he was going home that evening) and earlier in the day we dyed eggs.  When the eggs dried he wanted to eat one, and he would carefully put a cheerio on each bite.  When the yolk came out leaving half an egg white, he filled the half with cheerios and ate it.

Look at that great job he did on the eggs -- he was so careful, he didn't drop or crack a single one.  His favorites were the blue ones and the green ones.

Aydan's stay was unexpected, though welcome one -- but not the leisurely child focused time I would hope for.  Our homeschool group had a field trip on Friday to a historic cemetery downtown, I got Aydan at the end of that, we ended up home about 2 hours later than I had planned since we ended up eating lunch downtown, then Saturday afternoon I was hosting and presenting a meeting on "Getting Started with Homeschooling High School", and Sunday had my parents coming for dinner, for which I never made it to the grocery store!  I had thawed the turkey I had bought on sale in the winter, but had to rely on what we had for the rest -- so no asparagus.  By Sunday night I was totally worn out!  But Aydan and Grandpa had some really good guy time, with painting, and then during the meeting Wade took him to Auto Zone (which Aydan totally loved -- he is so in to cars!) and the park.

linked to Farmgirl Friday

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Calendar for 366 Challenge

This year I am participating in the 366 Calendar Challenge of Kate Crane at The Kathryn Wheel.  Each month the participants create a calendar page, and then through the month write, draw, or journal a small something for each day (this is a leap year, hence 366 days).

Here are my March pages all completed:

And here are my new April pages, with April 1 filled in.

I really like how they turned out.  I acrylic paint for the backgrounds, some gesso for the day circles, a bit of stamping with sequin waste and some other tools using the paint smeared wipey, and then some water color pencils to make flower petals.  I made too many circles on one of the branches on the right side, so in the extra circle I wrote a quote from E.M.Forster that I read on a blog yesterday: "What is the good of your stars and trees, your sunrise and the wind, if they do not enter into our daily lives."

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March Altered Book page

Last week we had our monthly altered book round robin exchange.  The theme of the book that I had to work in for March was "The Outrageous Theater of Life" or "The Outrageous Life of Theater", depending on which direction you read the title.

The bit of text on the left side says, " All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream", a quote from Edgar Allen Poe.

I used an image from The Graphics Fairy, a steampunkerish woman with goggles, and added some collage sheet elements.  The bottom panel of Caribbean women with gourd drums is from a box of tea.

The white dots on the top and bottom of the pages are from a bottle of "Americana Writer", an acrylic dimensional writer from DecoArt.  I am loving that product -- as it's pretty easy to control and seems so much better than any white pens I have found.

I did some swirls with pencil, accented with some white charcoal, and lightly wrote the Poe saying around and across the pages with pencil.