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Mississippi: A Family Celebrates Memories with a Cookbook

blueberry cobbler may 14

My kitchen is filled with light in the crisp late afternoon. It is the perfect time to bake cakes and other decadent desserts. This is a special afternoon since I am baking a blueberry cobbler for my father. Tomorrow is his birthday and there will be a celebration in his honor. The recipe for the cobbler is from a handmade cookbook made for a similar celebration many years ago.

Memories float back to that day in June as family and friends gather at the nursing home. It is a beautiful sunny day and the weather is warm. Meme had been in the nursing home for several years and had informed the family that she was ready to pass into the next realm of existence. After this day she had planned to cease eating food and let nature take its course.

Carefully I pour over the cookbook trying to decide which cobbler to make for this occasion. The cookbook has several cobbler recipes all of which Meme liked. I choose the blueberry cobbler recipe and pull out the ingredients. Hoping that the cobbler will turn out well I continue to remember that day.

Several months prior to that day in June my aunt gathered the siblings together to discuss what to give Meme on this special day. After much discussion it was decided to put together a cookbook of the favorite recipes from years of family dinners. Each sibling would put together a list of dishes she cooked over the years. The siblings would gather at a later date to decide which recipes would be included in the cookbook.

My father had several favorite dishes to contribute to this cookbook. Often the family would gather and have grilled food. One of his favorites was barbecue sausage. For many years the barbecue sausage would appear at family gatherings. My father would prepare the sausage a few days in advance to let the seasonings marry each other. On the day of the family gathering he would be standing in front of the grill with barbeque sauce on one side and a pair of thongs on the other. I can still smell the aroma of the cooking sausage. It is a wonderful memory.

grill guitar chair may 5

My uncle also contributed a meat recipe to the cookbook. In their childhood barbecue ribs would appear each holiday in the summer. These ribs would be seasoned with his special rub and then cook on the smoker for hours. Served with baked beans and potato salad this was a feast for the eyes and taste buds. It was a must have recipe for the cookbook.

My older aunt was fond of banana pudding. Each Sunday this pudding would appear on the table as dessert. My aunt learned to make this banana pudding as a young child when Meme was teaching her how to cook. A simple recipe that a young child could contribute to the family meal. A wonderful addition to the cookbook.

The younger aunt loved to bake blueberry cobbler for family gatherings. A blueberry cobbler would appear at many family reunions. This is the cobbler from the cookbook that I am preparing this day.

blueberry cobbler may 14

About a month before the birthday celebration the siblings gathered to survey and discuss the recipes collected. In addition to the favorite recipes there were a few included that the grandchildren enjoyed. It was a wonderful afternoon as the siblings sat sorting out and finally settling on the recipes for the cookbook.

Along with the recipes it was decided that little bits of family history would be included in the cookbook. There would be stories to accompany each recipe. Every sibling would contribute at least one family story.

The cookbook was copied and bound with a simple binder. My younger aunt was artistic and liked to draw so all recipes were illustrated by her. Meme was asked to tell a story about cooking for the family which was included on the first page. In relating this story she did not know it would be the foreword of the cookbook.

On that afternoon in June Meme was taken into a gazebo by a lake at the nursing home. Surrounded by her children and grandchildren she was presented a copy of the cookbook. A great speech was made by my aunt’s husband about how special she was on this day. Tears came from her eyes as she smiled at the gift.

Meme passed away about a month after this celebration of her life. Meme had signed a copy of each cookbook that was given to each sibling and grandchild. I cherish that cookbook and the love contained in it.

My blueberry cobbler is finished and the sausage is marinating for my father’s birthday. He will be standing by the grill with his barbecue sauce and thongs. The blueberry cobbler will be dessert and the memories of family will continue to be alive and well.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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celebrations culture daily prompt history inspiration intentional living life lifestyles memorial day Mississippi

In memory of a Mississippi soldier on Memorial Day

american flag may 5

The small Mississippi farm has been the source of survival for the family for a long time. It has been 10 years since the father of the family committed suicide. As the oldest son it has long been his responsibility to take care of the family business. Things have now changed as his mother has remarried and now it is his time to explore the outside world.

The young man is excited as he rushes home to the small farm in Mississippi. He is almost out of breath as he reaches the house with the news. The army recruiter at the small country school has informed him that the college scholarship has arrived. There is now hope for a new life. His smile radiates as he tells the family.

The Mississippi university has been a wonderful time in the young man’s life. The army program has given him structure and confidence. The days are filled with classes and study. There are football games and parties on the weekends. The years pass quickly and soon it is time to move to the next phase of life.

Graduation is here and the air is filled with anticipation and excitement. The engineering degree being awarded today has given him a job with the highway department and entrance into the army reserve as an officer. There is great hope for the future.

There is a war going on across the world in a small country. The army has requested his presence in this foreign land. The young man is frightened as he boards the plane. Life will be hard again and survival is not certain. He is deeply moved by the suffering surrounding him. His view of life will never be the same.

The young man has a wife and children. They anxiously await his return and read the letters he sends with great joy. The war will end soon and he will return. That day will be glorious indeed. The years he spends in a foreign land are difficult but there is a home in Mississippi waiting for him.

The young man is now home and returns to his career in engineering at the highway department. The army reserves are now his secondary job. This is an exciting time in life as his family and career grows. There are birthday parties and family vacations that make his life complete.

The years pass and the young man is now middle-aged with a career, house, and family. The army is still part of his life because of the army reserve. He serves his country in a dual career as an engineer and an army reserve lieutenant. The income from each of these provides him a comfortable living.

The middle-aged man now has time for recreation. His favorite past times include fishing at the local reservoir and playing guitar at his home. This day the sun is out and he is strumming the guitar by the pool while cooking food on the outdoor grill. Life is wonderful and he reflects on his blessings.

grill guitar chair may 5

The world is at war again and the older man reads with great interest the newspaper. His rank as a major with a career as an engineer make him an important part of the war effort at home. He wonders if the world will ever be at peace again. The army reserve has sent him to war college to learn how other countries in the world operate. The older man views these and hopes that diplomacy instead of war will bring the world to peace.

The older man has been promoted to the rank of colonel and is now at the time of retirement from both the army reserve and engineering career. He is looking forward to more time to be spent with his family. Both places of employment give him fond farewells and congratulations for a job well done.

The older man’s family is now larger and spread out. There are now grandchildren to sit and listen to the stories of his life. He again pulls out his guitar and plays around the pool. The grill is sizzling with his signature barbecue sausage.  He smiles with gratitude at the life he has been given.

The man has reached old age and his health is failing. Time grows short as he reaches out to his family and others in a time of reflection. The old man tells of how peace is how the world should be. He reflects that war should be a last resort. There is no glory in seeing the suffering of others. In the end war only brings misery to mankind.

As an engineer the old man has built things throughout his career. Wonderful bridges that he has pointed out to his family every time they drive through the state. He reminds them that bridges connect people to one another.

The family mourns as their father has passed away.  Through the comfort of hospice care he has been granted a peaceful passing. They reflect upon the blessings of having known and lived with this man. His life lessons will remain with them for life.

strawberry patch park memorial april 24

The spirit of the man looks down upon his loved ones and smiles. God has granted him this one final glimpse before moving on to Heaven and eternity. He reflects upon the love given and then turns and walks into eternity.

**In loving memory of my father and uncle who heeded the military call and truly believed that peace between all nations would bring us together. They are gone but never forgotten.

Copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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An Adventure in Skipper’s Tall Tales

IMG_4191

Piper and I were in the yard playing ball. It is such fun for Piper to throw the ball and for me to chase it. Sometimes she can be good leader of this pack.  After returning the ball to Piper several times I notice a squirrel in the yard. They are more fun to chase than a silly green ball.

I laid down in the grass in a strategic position so the squirrel would not see me. Slowly I inched closer to the squirrel. The squirrel was munching on some bird seed in the feeder and did not notice me. At just the appropriate moment I sprang into action and began to chase the squirrel.

squirrel eating grass in park march

We ran across the yard until we reached the six-foot fence. The squirrel leaped to the top of the fence and onto the roof of the house. The squirrel turned around and laughed at me. I quickly spread out my large golden ears and began to fly onto the roof. The sudden realization that I could fly startled the squirrel and the chase continued all over the roof.

I almost had him until my ears hit a lull in the wind and I slid to the ground. Fortunately I was given a reprieve from the fall on the ground and was uninjured. Piper was upset with me flying onto the roof but calmed down once she realized that I was not hurt.

It was time to return to the park for the family’s Memorial Day picnic. I decided to let Piper drive this time since there was so much traffic. We arrived at the park and headed toward the picnic area. The table was filled with all sorts of great smelling foods.

There was the aroma of the barbecue sausage cooking on the grill. A piece of this wonderful meat fell on the ground and I quickly grabbed it. It had a slight spicy taste as I was eating it. These people have a talent for cooking.

The table had baked beans, potato salad, and several other great smelling dishes scattered in a pattern. Then I saw the most wonderful dish of all. It was an apple pie with a brown crust. Apples are my favorite snack in the entire world. That apple pie would be mine.

Sitting in the middle of the table it was going to be a challenge to get the pie. The wind was calm now so flying was not an option. But then I saw the trampoline sitting close to the table. I formulated a plan and sprang into motion. Jumping on the trampoline I began my routine. There were several children around so I decided to add some acrobatics to this adventure.

Skipper

First came the normal up and down motions and then I decided to spice things up a bit. It was fun to do somersaults high in the air. Jumping this way also made it easier to get to that apple pie. After a few extremely high twists and turns I aimed my next jump toward the apple pie.

Flying into the air I flew across the table and grabbed the pie. Landing on the ground with my prize intact I scurried to a spot behind a tree and began to enjoy my feast. Every bite was a joy to the senses. The aroma was of a freshly baked pie and the taste was super sweet.

Soon after finishing the apple pie I did not feel very well. All of a sudden my super powers seemed to have vanished as I fell into a deep sleep. The shade under the tree provided a cool space for my nap.

About this time Piper noticed that the apple pie was missing and came in search of me. She panicked as my breathing began to labour from eating all of that sugar. For a few minutes it appeared as if I might die. But God gave me a reprieve. My breathing quickly returned to normal.

I slept for eighteen hours and then awoke to find Piper gathering our things for the return trip home. The sun was shining brightly as we prepared for our trip home. I took one last trip down the path by the lake.

This time I decided to stand in the water and take a cool swim before returning to the car. Piper was ready to leave so I left the water with only a small fishing bobbin as a prize.

We made it home safely without any issues. It was a fun trip and I anxiously await our next adventure.

copyright 2017 Debbie Pierce

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