Friday, March 11, 2011

Seed Catalogs, Gardening and memories of my Grandparents

    It is that time of year.  Seed orders have arrived.  Many seeds have been planted and tiny green shoots are reaching out from small dirt filled pots waiting to be large and strong enough for their migration to the dark earth outdoors.  I listen to my family and friends as they plot and plan this years gardens.  From flowers to vegetables some traditional varieties and always the exotic one that just might grow this year.

     When I was growing up my parents occasionally had a garden.  They always planted corn and every time they plotted a better fence to keep the deer and milk cows from pilaging that years bounty.  It didn't matter what they did the milk cows always got to the corn before we did.  My Dad would announce that the corn was just about ready and he was right but the cows (Minnie and Evelyn) always knew the minute it was ready.  I thought that was why they planted corn so that the cows could have a treat and it didn't matter the fence they would find their way to the tall stalks and crisp sweet corn and we would buy corn from the store or the hutterites.

    My grandparents lived next door in the cabin.  They had a garden (they each had a garden).  I remember when the seed catalogs would arrive the gleam in their eyes as they secretly planned what they would order.  They would sit back to back with a metal TV tray in front of each them and fill out their orders making certain the other didn't see what was being ordered.   When the seeds arrived the contest began: who would raise the biggest of this or the oddest shape of that, who would have the most peas or the best corn.  Their gardens were amazing but if you stole a pea from one of them you had better steal a pea from the other one. 

     Our neighbors are a young family with a lot of energy and strong backs.  They turn their small back yard into a beautiful organic garden each summer.  (We reap what they sow)  It is wonderful to sit on our deck and watch the transformation happen.  They plant and water and weed and prepare the food to last them through the winter.  They seek sustainablity and from our vantage point across the yard they are achieving just that.

     My friends, the Hermity Farmer Women are also itching to put trowel to dirt and begin their summer romance with mother earth.  They just brought home 3 baby goats have ordered their chickens they are planning the conversion of a childhood play house into the chicken coop.  They will have beautiful flowers and luscious vegetables and sweet strawberries and I will be invited over for tea in the garden.

     Bill plants beautiful flowers in our yard each spring.  We have cabbage roses that flank our front steps and when they are in bloom the smell is intoxicating.  (those roses have been blooming there for over 60 years) The sunflowers and sweet peas  wave to people as they pass by on the sidewalk.  His grandmothers peonies guard the back fence and the day lilies wiggle in the wind beside the garage.

     I love the winter but there is something about spring that breathes renewal. 


Books, Books, Books with my thoughts and reviews

"Twisted Tree" by Kent Meyers
I found this book to be intriguing, captivating and hard to put down.  There is a murder and there is a serial killer targeting anorexic young women.  As the author explores the nature of a rural town and its inhabitants the crime moves into the backseat leaving room for the deeper exploration of the people left standing.  This novel is constructed of short stories told by those that knew the victim (some only slightly, some very well)  Their stories are their own: missed opportunities, cruel parents, mental illness, abandonment, dreams, (some broken some still with a glimmer of hope) murder and suicide.  Meyers slowly peels back the layers of this ranching, rodeo town and exposes the raw underbelly boiling beneath the surface.   Kent Meyers is also the author of "The Work of Wolves" 

"Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand
Hillenbrand, the author of "Seabiscuit" has turned her attention to a World War II story of survival, resilience, and redemption.  The reviewers called this book: "Monumental, Mesmerizing, Moving, Gripping, Marvelous, Ambitious, Powerful, Thrilling, Triumphant, Amazing, Unforgettable, Harrowing, Chilling and Inspiring." They are right.  This book was our bestseller for the holidays and we continue to see it flying off the shelves.  You may never have heard the name Louis Zamperini but once you read this book you will never forget him.  You will follow our hero from his boyhood days as a delinquent to the Berlin Olympics.  He went from being an athlete to being an airman on a doomed flight.  He was flying a plane that went down then he was on a tiny raft drifting to the unknown.  We follow him breathlessly and see a man against all odds eventually find peace and forgiveness.

"Sweeping up Glass" by Carolyn Wall

This is the next book for the Treasure Club Book club sponsored by the State Bank and The Bookstore.  I have just started it and to be quite honest I am annoyed that I am at work and not home reading this book.  Following is the publishers review:

Synopsis (from the publisher-Poisoned Pen Press): 1938: Olivia and her grandson, Will’m, run Harker’s Grocery and live in the cold-water kitchen behind the store. Money is scarce; business is bad. Out back, Pap is buried near the outhouse, and Olivia’s crazy mother Ida is living in a tar paper shack. For 30 years, Olivia has loved Wing Harris, who plays a mean trumpet and owns the Kentuckian Hotel. For decades, they’ve shared only howdies at Ruse’s Cafe. This may be the coldest winter on record in Kentucky, but that doesn’t keep the elusive Hunt Club from tracking silver-faced wolves on Olivia’s strip of mountain. It falls to her and Will’m to figure out why as the hunters turn their sights on them, too.  One frozen night, Will’m’s mother comes back for him. Then some terrible secrets explode among the Rowe Street community. Now there’s blood on Olivia’s hands, and nothing is as she thought it was.  Olivia is responsible for the very people who betrayed her. While she searches for answers that might save them all, the day comes when Olivia must shatter the shackles that bind her and her community.

"Models don't eat Chocolate Cookies" by Erinn Dionne

Celeste is perfectly happy in her sweatpants and hoodies.  She knows she is "round", rounder than her best friend,  and certainly rounder than her perfect sized cousins Kirsten and Kathleen.  Kathleen is getting married and asks Celeste to be a junior bridesmaid.  The dress is hideous, it doesn't fit correctly and is a reminder of why she is happiest in sweats and hoodies.  Her meddling aunt (the mother of the beautiful cousins) secretly enters her in a Miss Husky Peach Pageant for "larger sized girls" the prize is a $5000.00 scholarship.  The 8th grade heroine is horrified and terrified of what her tormentors will say when they find out.
She hatches a plan of her own.  Deciding that if she loses enough weight she would no longer be eligible for the contest.  This notion gives her the motivation she needs to skip her favorite snacks and get out and exercise.  She has to face the prospect of losing her best friend to the very group of girls that taunted her.  Along the way she becomes comfortable with who she is and finds her own individuality.  This debut novel  told in first person by Celeste shares a good view of middle school, friendship, family and of finding ones own place among it all.

(personal note:  This book at first can appear to be fluff because on the surface life gets better as she loses the weight.  The message could be one of those with a cloudy happy ending:  informing the reader that with some determination you too can be like a model.  But the fact of the matter is that she never goes overboard with an obsession to be "perfect"  I think it is important to point out that she ends up at a healthier weight and that there are some important issues raised about body image and health as well as relationships among families and friends.  Her family may seem to be all about the looks but they really are in her corner wanting her to be healthy and happy. I will admit that I did get annoyed with some of the aspects of this book but all in all it is one that I will be recommending to my customers.