Where Does the Time Go?

End of May we got together with an old friend. He lives in Maryland but was going to be in Wisconsin for a funeral. I estimate it has been over 30 years since we have all seen each other face to face.

We met Jon, and at that time, his wife Molly, when we were in graduate school at Northern Illinois University. Curt was a Graduate student in Ceramics and Jon was one of his ceramics professors. The unusual part was Jon and Curt were the same age, separated by 25 days, Curt being the older. A friendship and a mutual respect developed between the two of them. I got to know Molly better and the four of us became friends. Once we graduated, we left Illinois. There was no email then, no Facebook so  but kept in contact with each other through letters and Christmas cards. Jon and Molly visited us once in Green Bay and we visited them once in Maryland.

Then: Curt and Jon

But over the years the cards and letters got fewer, life happened, as it does, and we lost track of each other. A few years ago I found Jon (or he found me) on Facebook. Our mutual interest in birds, love of food and Jon’s connection to Wisconsin (he was born here) brought us together. He was going to be in LaCrosse in May and then planned on doing some camping in Door County, so we knew this was the time to rekindle an old friendship. In the intervening years there has been homes in 5 states, 3 children raised (He-2, Us-1), careers built, a divorce, less hair, gray acquired and a couple of retirements. But here we were again eating and talking and laughing.

Now: Curt and Jon

Funny thing with good friends, the conversation picked up like we just saw each other yesterday. And with that many years gone by we had a lot of catching up to do.

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BFFs

Last week I spent three fabulous days with two dear, dear friends from high school  (graduation: June 1967). We have been getting together on and off over the years either going out to Colorado to where Lynn lives or up here in Wisconsin with me or to Arlington Heights in Illinois, Audrey’s stomping ground. Last year we got together in Santa Fe, New Mexico and vowed that we would not let years go by before getting together.

Reason 1) We ain’t getting any younger.

Reason 2) We heard about the untimely death of one of our former friends.

Granted we had lost touch with Sue but it still was a shock to hear of her death in a car accident. In high school we used to be a “group” of five but Marie left us very early from a severe health issue. Then we were all working on marriage and kids and everything else that comes with life so we hadn’t even started to think about our mortality or getting together to celebrate old times, since those times weren’t that far in the past.

But hold on, this wasn’t supposed to get so maudlin. This year was our 2nd consecutive gathering and I was not going to miss it no matter what. That meant hobbling around on my arthritis riddled knees (coming up this fall: knee replacement ). So with drugs and a knee sleeve, I made it. Of course my besties sure made it easy. We held back on the walking (the tram around the Chicago Botanical Garden was great) and Audrey even had a small stool for getting into the back seat of the van. However the bag of frozen carrots I iced my knee with in the evenings might never be the same. The rest of the time we talked and ate, and laughed and drank, and talked and ate some more. Another year, solving all the problems in the world. We’ve all had our trials and tribulations, our health issues and setbacks, our joys and celebrations. It was good to share them. So I am ending here with some pictures that I know Audrey is going to kill me for posting. I subscribed her to my blog last week but I think I heard her say something about not wanting to see herself on it. Close your eyes Aud!!

Then: circa 1967. Looks like Aud and Lynn went to the same hair salon. Hmm, so that's what they did on those weekend outings without me.

Then: circa 1967. Looks like Aud and Lynn went to the same hair salon. Hmm, so that’s what they did on those weekend outings without me.

Now: circa 2016. Looks about the same to me except Aud and I have exchanged smiles.

Now: circa 2016. Looks about the same to me except Aud and I have exchanged smiles. (from left – Jeanne, Audrey, Lynn)

Saying Goodbye

butch5A dear member of our family passed away during the night. His name was Butchie, and he was a cat. He hadn’t been well for about two weeks and when we first noticed that his eye didn’t look good and he was sort of listless we took him off to the vet. To make a long story short, after various tests and shots and pills, he just wasn’t getting better and finally, about four days ago, he stopped eating and became very weak and could hardly walk. That is why I found it strange that he had made it up the stairs to the second floor of our house and went to sleep for the last time outside our bedroom door. That is where Curt found him this morning. You know, even when you are expecting something like this it still takes you by surprise and the tears can’t be stopped.

We got him as a kitten from the Humane Society 17 years ago and promptly lost him the first day. We searched the house, the first floor, the second floor, the basement. No kitty. At the time he didn’t have a permanent name so mostly we called kitty, or Snowball ( ha ha, black cat named Snowball) or Kuro Neko ( black cat in Japanese). We went outside, all over the yard, down the road…calling, looking. Finally we went back into the house, he had to be here. I think it was my son, Nathan, who finally located him behind a bunch of boxes and the parts of a dismantled loom in my studio. Waaay far back, underneath, in the dark, a little black smudge. Later he officially became Butchie.IMG_0087

He soon got used to this crazy family who had taken him in and became, as we liked to say, a “good dog”. Butchie would come when you called (Butcha, Butcha,Butcha), he would cuddle on your lap, he was a food freak, he would be constantly underfoot from following you around. Never aloof. He liked to sit on the washer in the laundry room (right off the kitchen where he could see any food falling to the floor) or “help” out on my work table or on the computer keys while I was typing.butHe was a keen observer of nature.

butch&chipbutch7He had a cuddle buddy in Zelda, who we got just a bit later.

Butchie and the Zel

Butchie and the Zel

He was a member of the family and as much as he drove us crazy at times, he was much-loved.

Butchie and Nathan

Butchie and Nathan

He will be missed. Hope there are lots of jingle balls, catnip and tuna treats in cat heaven sweetie.

Goodbye old pal.

Goodbye old pal.

Like finding money in the street

banner.1
When I was a child I often had dreams of finding money in the street. Usually it was small change, nickles, dimes and quarters that I would find lying in the gutter. First a single coin or two which I would pick up, then look around to see if anyone else had noticed these unwarranted riches. Seeing no one else interested, I would look along the gutter and invariably find more coins that I would gather up. Sometimes even silver dollars. Now this dream is no doubt rife with psychological meaning. In my dream I always felt both elated at finding this money but also slightly guilty because I knew it wasn’t really mine. And why find the money in the gutter? We lived in a semi-rural area and we didn’t have gutters on our street.

Vegetable havest

Vegetable harvest

This is the season of harvest. I don’t always plant potatoes but this spring I found a bag with three types of potatoes that I had bought last fall at our local farmer’s market, and promptly forgot. I don’t have a picture of them as I found them but I’m sure you can imagine what they looked like; shriveled, spongy and with ghostly spindly roots and sprouts entangled with each other.

Being of frugal German stock, I thought why not plant them rather than toss them. They were already well sprouted and if they failed to grow I wouldn’t lose anything but if they did grow so much the better. Well, they grew – at least most of them did after a late spring frost – and vigorously too!

Yesterday I dug them. When I dig potatoes I’m taken back to my childhood dream of finding money in the street. Digging potatoes, to me, is magical. You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots. And seemingly unwarranted for the little effort on my part.

Loosening the potato vine

Loosening the potato vine

You loosen the earth around the plant with a fork and when you pull it up, magically, there are jewels attached to its roots

Jewels hidden below

Jewels hidden below

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

Invariably, a toad has found a resting place in the shade beneath the potato vines

I don’t know what variety these potatoes are. The small beige one is probably Russian Banana, a fingerling type. The dark blue, almost black is of the type sometimes called All Blue. And the red is a mystery.

Dusty jewels

Dusty jewels

Washed jewels

Washed jewels

Cut jewels

Cut jewels

 

 

 

 

When cut they are quite the surprise. Creamy yellow, shocking blue/violet and rich pink inside.

 

 

 

One of the benefits of the season is a quick harvest lunch.  I am quite pleased to say that all the fresh ingredients; potatoes, onion and garlic come from my garden.

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Potatoes, sliced and starting to fry

Fry.2The three potatoes were sliced, tossed with a little olive oil and salt and fried until barely tender. Then a sliced onion and a clove of minced garlic were added and the potatoes continued frying until they and the onion brown a little and maybe get a bit crispy around the edges.  Add salt and pepper to adjust the seasoning.  Sit down and have lunch and dream of finding riches lying in the street or hidden under a potato vine.

Another Turn of the Page: My Madness (it just happens to be March)

“There were two sets of double doors leading out of the antechamber, one marked STACKS and the other TOMES. Not knowing the difference between the two, I headed to the ones labeled STACKS. That was what I wanted. Stacks of books. Great heaps of books. Shelf after endless shelf of books.”
Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

 

stack-of-booksI love stacks of books too. I’ve been reading since I was a kid. My Mom would take me to the branch library where we lived in Chicago and we would both get books to read. ( My sister, not so much). I probably got my love of reading from my mother who was always reading a book as far back as I can remember. But I don’t think I really fell in love till I visited the main Chicago Public Library at Adams and Lasalle in downtown Chicago (in the 60’s). There were beautiful mosaics on the walls and ceiling, reading rooms and a lot of books. It is now the Chicago Cultural Center and its replacement is the Harold Washington Library Center (built in 1991). The next library that I loved was the old Swen Parson library at Northern Illinois University where I did my graduate work. I recall there being narrow metal stairs that went up into some of the stacks. The aisles for the books were narrow and sort of dim. By today’s standards it would be old, creepy and the perfect place for a murder mystery. But I thought it was an adventure. You never met too many people in the stacks so you felt like the whole place was yours. I remember browsing in the sciences and finding great resources and images for my art work. So my March Madness is a book madness and I think my fellow book group people are similarly afflicted. We once again gathered on the second Thursday of the month and this is what we read.

march1. The Undertow by Jo Baker (2011) 352 pages. Jo Baker was the subject of our author presentation this month probably because many of us have read her book Longbourn and enjoyed it. Undertow was her first published novel and it is a story of four generations of a family from WW I to the present.

2. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (2014) 256 pages. After not having great luck with holiday reading, Pete finally found a Christmas book he truly enjoyed. Winter Street is the name of the inn that Kelley Quinn owns with his 2nd wife Mitzi. Between them they have four grown children with problems of their own. Kelley is looking forward spending the holidays with them until he catches Mitzi kissing Santa Claus, and not under the mistletoe.

3. Behind the Scenes by Judi Dench (2014) 256 pages. The autobiography of British actress, Dame Judi Dench. A candid blend of reminiscences and photos.

4. The Pearl by John Steinbeck (1947) 87 pages. Our classic of the month. Really a novella, The Pearl is the re-telling of a Mexican folk tale. The story is of Kino, a poor pearl diver, who finds an enormous pearl. He sees it as the path to dignity for his family and an education for his son, but it brings tragedy instead. This was a pretty quick read so our reviewer also read Tortilla Flat by the same author. Tortilla Flat has more humor and is a nice contrast to The Pearl and before you judge the attitudes and the language, remember it was written in 1935.

5. The Same Sky by Amanda Eyre Ward (2015) 270 pages. In this novel, Carla is a girl being raised by her grandmother in Honduras.  After Carla’s grandmother dies she is left to care for herself and her younger brother. The area they are living in has become quite dangerous so Carla decides to leave Honduras and attempts to make the treacherous journey across the border. A very timely story and one that might give you a different view of immigration.

6. The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (2013) 432 pages. This debut novel by Swedish author Zander, is written in a similar style to Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo but the story is more on par with the spy novels of Ludlum and Follett. Fast-paced and filled with suspense and subterfuge, you might just read all night.

7. Mister Owita’s Guide to Gardening: How I learned the Unexpected Joy of Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall (2014) 294 pages. Probably the most unusual book in today’s mix. Not a gardening book, not a self-help book, but a memoir of an unusual friendship between two people who seemingly, on the surface, have nothing in common.

8. A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan (2014) 288 pages. You won’t remember Mr. Heming, he was your realtor, but Mr. Heming keeps a copy of the key to every house he has sold. He then “visits” when no one is home. Eating some food, looking through their things, their papers. Sometimes he hides in the crawl spaces and attics to listen and view them through the cracks. To him this is all normal because he is doing no harm. Definitely creepy.

And there you have the March books. As a bonus feature I have added pictures from the two libraries I spoke about earlier.

Staircase to the reading room and stacks of the Chicago Public Library

Staircase to the reading room and stacks of the Chicago Public Library

 

Stacks in the Swen Parson Library, NIU

Stacks in the Swen Parson Library, Northern Illinois University

Dinner was Served

It has been a week since Curt and I were shopping and cleaning and prepping for our Foodie Group dinner. But last Saturday did finally arrive. There were a few minor blips like forgetting the salad forks (my husband suddenly turned into Emily Post as the salad was served) and not spreading the vegetables out on the dinner plates (that remaining empty area next to the potatoes looked like we missed something). But everything tasted good and there was a lot of lively conservation and laughter, so I think it was a success.

We got so caught up in the cooking and plating and serving that I didn’t take any pictures but here is my table setting. It was fun having the dinner on Valentine’s Day.

tableAnd I know I was being coy about the menu last week but now that all is finished, this is what was served.

UntitledThe salad was very good, the potatoes were interesting, the carrots and beets could have been more attractive though they tasted good, the meat was fine but not special and maybe a little overdone. I could have had a 2nd and a 3rd of dessert but restrained myself. But in my opinion, the star of the evening was the chowder. Curt based the chowder on an escargot/mushroom appetizer he had at Le Petit Chatelet when we were in Paris. This restaurant is right next to the famous “Shakespeare and Company Bookstore.” You can get a glimpse of it in the last seconds of Woody Allen’s movie, “Midnight in Paris.”

credit: Paris for Epicureans, 2014

credit: Paris for Epicureans, 2014

In Paris, Curt’s soup/chowder appetizer arrived with a puff pastry on top and was quite amazing.  Hidden under the puff pastry crust was a rich escargot and mushroom chowder.

Escargot en Croute: le Petit Chatelet, Paris

Escargot en Croute: le Petit Chatelet, Paris

We tried doing the puff pastry top but that was pretty much a failure so our version had puff pastry croutons instead. And since snails are not a widely shared taste treat in our group, Curt used side-stripe shrimp and sea scallops instead. It was truly wonderful. Sorry about the lack of photo but here is the recipe we served.

Seafood & Wild Mushroom Chowder after le Petit Chatelet
serves 6

1 quart corn stock
Mushrooms: 1/2 c. Chanterelle, 1/4 c. Morel,
3/4 c. Chicken of the Woods, 3/4 c. Brown Beech  – all cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large shallot, minced
4 large sea scallops, quartered
12 small shrimp, we used side stripe
1 c. heavy cream
3 c. seafood stock (Swanson’s or homemade)
white pepper
salt
saffron, pinch
2 T. flour
2 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
1 dash hot pepper sauce, like Frank’s

Saute chanterelles in 2 T olive oil till tender, add 2 T. flour and cook to make roux. Add 1 T. butter & remaining mushrooms and saffron.  Cook I minute, stirring. Add corn & seafood stock. Stir to incorporate roux. Simmer 20 minutes. (to this point all can be done ahead)

Add scallops, shrimp & hot pepper sauce, cook 5 minutes.
Add cream & 1 T. butter, bring to a light simmer.

Serve with puff pastry croutons & a drizzle of shellfish oil.

For croutons, just buy a commercial puff pastry. Cut dough into 3/4 inch squares and bake according to directions on the box.

Shellfish oil is made by combining a pile of shrimp, lobster. or crab shells in a sauce pan with 1/2 C. grape seed or canola oil, 1Tbs. tomato paste and 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika.  Saute for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit until cool.  Strain out the shell bits and reserve the oil for garnish on chowder or soup.

Note: We had corn stock that we made at the end of last summer from fresh corn cobs after we cut off the corn kernels for freezing.

Hope your Valentine’s Day was as fun as ours.

 

Black Friday Purge

bugs3My son was home for Thanksgiving and on Friday it is always a mystery on what to do to occupy our time. He’s not ready to drive home, we don’t shop, we’ve played board games already and going to the movies is out because if the crazies aren’t shopping, they are going to the show. One of our theaters is next to a mall so parking is non-existent anyway.

So I suggested going through boxes of his old toys. He is 27 and hasn’t looked at them in years. Also he doesn’t have kids but would like to keep some of his old stuff, just in case, he gets married, has kids…I don’t know. I don’t ask.

He’s got a great Lego collection that any kid would love to have but that is sorted and boxed in the basement and off-limits! The stuff I was interested in sorting, donating or tossing was a lot of miscellaneous toys. I had found two shoeboxes under his bed that held a jumble of things so since he was game, we started there.

Three piles:
1.) Geez, this might be collectible or too good to give away – keep
2.) Has some play left in it – donate
3.) Crap that no one wants – toss   w/ sub-heading – recycle

I was really happy that the toss and donate pile was actually growing. It didn’t take us long to get through those two so I suggested we look at the additional boxes in the back of his closet. On we went. It was slow going because of all his reminiscing. It was also amazing to me that he knew where every little part went or what set it originally was from, even if that set, toy, game…no longer existed in this house anymore. Tiny missiles, lone little soldiers, fins, legs, helmets, game markers…my son with the steel trap mind remembered it all. So there we were getting through 4,5,6,7 boxes of stuff when we came upon the …insect collection.collectionThese were real insects. But they had died of natural causes (we presume) and were found by my son, who saved them. I know you’ve seen neatly organized insect collections in probably a museum. All are laid out and displayed with a pin attaching them to the board they are exhibited on. Those insects were captured alive and put into a “killing jar.” Those insects were then relaxed and dehydrated and pinned. A delicate and tedious process but you have a very nice “mount” in the end. Nathan never killed insects. If he found them alive in the house, he captured them and released them. Live insects outside were left alone. But finding one already dead, well that was different. The problem was these guys usually didn’t die peacefully and were found in contorted positions. These little bodies weren’t going to be “relaxed” and pinned to a board.

Is that your head over there?

Is that your head over there?

Some were missing parts, all were in some state of rigor. And many had recently met their maker so they weren’t all nice and dehydrated. I remember one especially fat beetle who smelled pretty bad. What to do?

Old smelly

Old smelly

Enter my husband, with the solution.

Curt buys a lot of stuff at garage sales and flea markets and one such purchase was a wonderful collection of glass jars. He gave a bunch of these to Nathan. Thus, the dearly departed could be viewed and not smelled because these jars had nice tight lids. They sat on a shelf in his room and were added to, as deaths occurred. Later, once Nathan had moved out, I put them in a box in his closet and forgot about them.

Butterfly, Bees and ??

Butterfly, Bees and ??

We had fun looking at this old collection, but in the end, they weren’t worth keeping. Nathan discarded the bugs, outside in the snow. Their little husks, no longer smelly, fluttered away.  The little glass jars were washed and scrubbed and went back with my son who plans on storing spices in them. They will still look nice and smell a lot better.

 

A Simple Dinner at Home…in Paris

I believe I mentioned earlier that we had rented an apartment for the week we stayed in Paris. It was delightful. Sure there were minor problems but not enough to ruin a holiday. For breakfast we all pretty much stayed in with our coffee and fruit and baguettes and blackberry jam.  Most days for lunch we all scattered to various sights and then found a bistro or a brassiere for our midday meal. Evenings were spent together at local restaurants where we usually went over our budget but had a marvelous time. One evening we all were just a bit too pooped to search for a restaurant. Everyone wanted to kick off their shoes and just stay in for the night. And why not? We had a comfortable apartment with a dining area (and a kitchen).

paris aptdiningrmA great view from our 7th floor windows.

crow at dusk

Notre Dame from our front window at night

And our apartment was about two blocks from Blvd. St. Germain where there was a patisserie (bakery), a boucherie (meat,sausage), a fromagerie (cheese), a poissonnier (fish monger), a charcuterie (prepared foods), fruit stalls and wine shops. (Curt wants to live on this street forever or really near it). So it was agreed that this night we would get take-out. Two of us set the table and the other four went foraging. With the requisite bon jours, mercis and au revoirs, they returned with a wonderful selection of food.

A short while later, shoes kicked aside, forks and wine glasses at the ready, this was dinner at “home”.

dinnerAll the bread in Paris is fresh and crusty.
Those potatoes with the chicken drippings were heaven and we all wanted to lick the container clean.
Pate, Brie and Comte…rich yes. C’est la vie. Besides we probably walked it off the next day.
Wine. Yes. Every bottle was wonderful. Merci to the vin connoisseurs in our group.

Commercials have Fried my Brain

This morning I got out of the shower, dried off, started spraying on that new Vaseline Spray and Go lotion and in my brain I started singing, Vaseline Petroleum Jelly, Your first aid kit in a jar.” Yikes! Where did that come from? The winter has been too long and too cold and my brain is regressing to my formative years -the 50’s,the 60’s- where those commercial jingles and phrases were burned into my fragile cortex. It happened just last week too. We were driving with a friend and one of us (only God knows why) mentioned the old Ipana toothpaste commercial, “Brusha,Brusha, Brusha, with the new Ipana…” and our friend countered with “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.” Her brain had been infected as well. Ah, the lovely toothpaste melodies of the past.

So it got me thinking about the recent Superbowl commercials and all the vitriol that was spewed on Twitter over the Coke commercial where Americans from various backgrounds sing America the Beautiful in different languages. I started wondering about what those same idiots would be saying on twitter if it existed in the 50’s and 60’s?

In 1967 there was that politically incorrect Frito Bandito with the droopy mustache, unshaven face, sombrero and in broken English, singing, “Ai, Yi,Yi, Yi. I am the Frito Bandito.” and telling us to “Munch, munch. Munch a bunch of Fritos, Corn Chips.”

Frito Bandito: Frito Lay 1967

Frito Bandito: Frito Lay 1967

I imagine the tweets started out like this and just got worse.

Send that Mexican jumping bean home #weHateeveryone
I ain’t buying anything from an illegal immigrant #Ihateyou

Back then the National Mexican-American Anti-defamation Committee went after Frito-Lay and the bandit lost his stubble and gold tooth but he wasn’t officially retired till 1971. I don’t think he would have lasted a week today. Now I’m not defending the bandito, I’m just saying things moved a lot slower and advertisers got away with a lot of crap for a lot longer. He was replaced by the Muncha Buncha, a less controversial band of cowboys.

I’m a bit surprised Mr. Clean ( “gets rid of dirt and grime and grease in just a minute…”) made it to the present day. Back in 1958 an earring and no socks was pretty suspect. And would it have been okay to have a sailor come to clean your house because that’s who Mr. Clean was based on, a real sailor from Florida. I’ve read that most people thought he was a genie because he appeared magically to get rid of that dirt. But then shouldn’t he be wearing harem pants?

Mr. Clean: Procter & Gamble

Mr. Clean: Procter & Gamble

Is that an earring? #Mr.Cleanisafag
He doesn’t look like an American to me #weHAteeveryonetoo
Hey, where are your harem pants? #andyourturban

And then there was the violence. “How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?” says the little guy in the Hawaiian shirt and straw hat.  “Sure”, says the other little guy before he gets socked in the face. Okay, it’s a play on words but huh???

Punchy: artist Martin Mandelblatt

Punchy: artist Martin Mandelblatt

Where is Hawaii? #arrestthatlittlefreak
What the f**k? #HawaiiansAreViolent

Please don’t be offended by my make believe tweets. If I tried to write like the ones I read online for the Coke commercial you would report me to the WordPress police. Now of course there was no twitter back then, the really sad thing is no one noticed the political incorrectness or the violence or the stereotyping that was regularly portrayed.

Ah well that’s my little trip down memory lane or a little trip into my warped mind. Who knows what my brain will be singing the next time I get out of the shower. All I want is for the winter to end so I can go out and “See the USA in my Chevrolet” because right now, I can only dream about Spring in my Maidenform Bra.

Maidenform circa 1955

Back off, you’ll put somebody’s eye out. #PutaShirtOn

Got a boo boo?

When I was a kid and I got a scraped knee or a minor cut, out came the mercurochrome. Part of the application included blowing on the wound, to cool off the burn once the mercurochrome was dabbed on. Oucheewawa!

NOTE TO JEANNE:::::  Mercurochrome didn’t sting nearly as much as Iodine!!!!!  that was a real ouchee!!!!!   Love, Curt

Bactine was another item in the medicine cabinet used mainly for sunburn and minor scrapes that didn’t bleed a lot. There was Vicks VapoRub that went on my chest when I had a congested cold and finally a shot of whiskey in some hot tea was the soothing drink I was given when the cramps from my period sent me into the fetal position. (it put me to sleep, the best medicine of all).

But when we had a burn, out came Gramma’s Salve. Well it probably really was Uncle Henry’s Salve. He was Gram’s brother and when my Mom’s Dad died (Grampa), she and her brother and Gram moved into his house. This was their magic cure-all but nobody ever knew what was in it. This past Christmas my Mother (she’s 88) brought over the jar she still has to show my son. Brownish in color, in a Wyler’s Beef Bullion jar, with a hand written label that said,

” SALVE – USE SPARINGLY. COVER WITH A BAND-AID” 

It looked nasty. We opened and took a whiff. Sort of medicinal, sort of industrial greasy, sort of animal fatty but not rancid, sort of what?????  Hard to identify.

Gramma's Salve

Gramma’s Salve

My Mother said when the salve got low Uncle Henry would go down to the butcher shop to get it refilled. That might explain the animal fat smell, maybe. But whatever the butcher added is lost in the past. This jar she brought at Christmas must have been over fifty years old because Uncle Henry is long gone and my Mom is no spring chicken. But she swears by it, says it has taken the sting out of burns and healed them quickly. Cuts and scrapes too. I do remember, far in the back of my brain, situations where I was the recipient of its healing powers but I am not able to give you any details.

After the holidays Curt went off on one of his junking days. That’s where he and his friend Carol, spend the day hitting up flea markets and antique stores. He came home with this.

Dream Salve

Dream Salve

The printed can said:

WONDERFUL DREAM SALVE. Hannah D. McDonald
Prepared only by
Wonderful Dream Salve Co.
Detroit, Mich. U.S.A.

Price 30 Cts.
An effective remedy if used as directed
The Great Healer
FOR MAN or BEAST

For Burns, Scalds, Cuts, Bruises, Fever Sores, Chronic Sores, Chilblains, Felons, Ivy Poison, Bites, Scald Head Barber’s Itch, Etc,

Directions: – Always spread the salve on oiled silk or wax paper and apply.  Cleanse the sore and renew every 12 hours – See special directions on circular for various uses.

Wow! Chilblains and felons (those little tears at the edge of your fingernail) and that pesky scald head barber’s itch! And we can only guess at the ‘various uses’ since the circular was no longer in the box. We opened it up and there were tiny traces of something brown, it smelled medicinal, industrial greasy, animal fatty, maybe. Interesting.

So my questions are, did Hannah know the butcher, did they go into business together, or did she seduce him and then run off to Detroit with the miracle formula for salve? Was Uncle Henry really visiting the butcher or was he going to Hannah’s house? Was Uncle Henry and Hannah an item? We will never know but we still have the salve. Lucky us.