Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A VISIT TO THE NEW VAN BUREN LIBRARY

My first presentation of this year took place last week at the fabulous new Van Buren Library down in the Arkansas River Valley. The day was beautiful, I was relieved to be out of the house after all the storms and snow, and I sang along with the CD player as I drove over the Boston Mountains and down south.

At long last, Van Buren has its new library. These folks have been plagued with problems, the worst of which was the library burning before construction was finished. That meant starting all over again. Who could blame them when they scheduled a week-long grand opening to celebrate. I was invited as a special guest of the Genealogy gathering. I followed simple directions and didn't even have to turn on the GPS. This is a gorgeous library with plenty of room for expansion. The grounds outside have been landscaped beautifully.

No matter where I go, the best thing, of course, is always the people. The group I was scheduled to speak to were the Friends of the Genealogy Department. What a friendly and happy bunch of people they are. We had a wonderful time exchanging stories, discussing families, and one grand lady even shared a recipe with me for cantaloupe butter which sounds scrumptious. This is a recipe I never heard of, so I'm anxious for those melons to come in season so I can try it. She told me that it smells terrible when it first starts to cook, but not to worry, it soon develops a delicious fragrance.

Speaking of recipes, we recently ran across a spaghetti squash at the store, the last one left and priced just right. We brought it home and I got online to refresh my memory on how to prepare it. I hadn't had one in many years, but remembered how good they were. After learning that I needed first to poke some holes in it and bake it for an hour, I went to work. I would serve it as if it were spaghetti and had some frozen sauce which I make from scratch from a recipe I obtained while we lived in New York. A real Italian recipe for what those friendly people call gravy. They never eat what we call gravy.

Once I cut it in half, dug out the seeds and strings I went to work with a fork on the pulp which magically turns into a huge pile of "spaghetti." It takes on the flavor of whatever you serve over it and is a bit crunchy. High in vitamins and as is all squash, very good for you. Made a delicious meal.

For a lot of authentic Ozark recipes, some as old as 200 years, check out my book, Arkansas Meals and Memories, available here. All are made from scratch. Happy eating.


Monday, February 14, 2011

TWO WEEKS SNOWED IN

Yesterday, Sunday, I drove my car for the first time in more than two weeks. My husband and I went down to the field below the house to get his truck, stranded down there ever since he tried to get home before falling snow blocked our driveway. He didn't make it. You see, we live on the south slope of a pretty steep hill. We call them mountains here in the Ozarks, but you'all who live out west in the Rockies snicker at that.

What's it like to be cooped up in the house, just hubby and I? Well, you see, it's like this. I remained in my office most of every day so he could loll out in the living room, reading, watching TV and scrolling the Internet. Had we been forced to remain in the same room, I'm afraid chaos would've reigned. Not that we don't get along, we do . . . for the most part. Our biggest arguments revolve around the thermostat, in our case a propane heater and three electric heaters that heat our entire house. He likes it hot, I want it cool. So he turns his back and I flip the thing down a tad, I leave the room and he jacks it back up. Seems I'm the only one who sees dollars flying out the window when that thing gulps down propane.

Other than that, though, we have no trouble getting along. One thing I realized right away was that I needed several projects to keep from getting all hunched into one position for the entire day. So closets got cleaned out, scrapbooks brought up to date, well more or less, till I ran out of plastic sleeves and had to order more. I'm now waiting to finish that project, but everything is sorted into stacks.

But the best thing about the entire deal was the writing I could do. No one calling to ask me to go interview someone . . . though emails flew back and forth over upcoming features; no one called to ask me to speak to this group or that group, except for the NPR thing that didn't work out. In fact the only phone calls were from daughter to make sure we were all right. Every day or so she bundled up and walked over to bring us our mail and newspapers, which are both delivered at the bottom of that steep drive I talked about earlier.

Well, the snow's mostly all gone now. The north slopes and places where the "sun don't shine" are still filled with ice and snow. The creek that runs through our place has a few icy designs along the quieter edges. But for the most part, we're in good shape. Planning a run to the grocery store tomorrow because just about everything is getting scarce. But we made it all right. Proved we weren't too old to live in the wilderness, more or less, and didn't go cabin fever crazy either. Kept the water pipes from freezing when it dropped to 14 below one night --- shades of Alaska.

Also signed a contract with Wild Rose Press for my western historical romance, Stone Heart's Woman. I'm thrilled to have that coming out as an Ebook. Trying for some others as well.

Hope all my readers came through unscathed as well. Hope you all did a lot of writing or reading or both, and are ready for spring and visiting libraries and other organizations to see your favorite writer. I'll be at the grand opening of the Van Buren, Arkansas new library Thursday, Feb. 17 to present a workshop for the genealogy department. Maybe I'll see some of you there. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine, but remember, it could happen again before spring, so be prepared.