Monday, June 30, 2008

15- SO...WHAT IS LOVE? II.....

"You keep such a mess around your chair, Florence. How do you find anything?"
"Now, Lorraine, I like to keep special things close to me."
Both sisters were 80-something, with Florence being a year older. They had lived in the same home that their father had built back in the late 1800s. The two-story white frame house by a creek in the older Westend section of the Valley town was still in good shape. A small bridge crossed in front, with a front yard and cool porch in the summer from huge maple trees. A white picket fence, in need of repairs, seemed to guard the entrance.
Imagine two sisters living under the same roof for over 80 years, with both now invalids, using walkers that they called "Model-T" and "Cadillac." Florence barely made her way around downstairs with her early Ford. She was the only sister able to get as far as the kitchen. Someone came each day to tidy up and prepare a cold lunch and a hot supper, knowing that the two, for years, would not agree to practically anything. However, the two sisters resolved, each day, to eventually eating whatever the caretaker prepared...maybe.
"I'm not eating her macaroni and cheese for supper, tonight!"
"Well, I want mac and cheddar cheese, baked, for supper tonight!"
Both had their own overstuffed armchairs downstairs in the living room, close to the floor furnace register. The upstairs, with a bathroom that had an old-fashioned clawfoot tub and three bedrooms, had long been off their visit list; the stairs were simply too steep to climb.
But one morning, in a December, Florence awoke, with the telephone always next to her, and called 911. She was taken quickly to the hospital. Lorraine remained behind in her overstuffed chair, not understanding any of the commotion.
Friends, some going to the hospital and others to the old home in the Westend, kept a vigil on both. Lorraine never spoke a word for five days, just gazing straight ahead.
Well, Florence made it, though, and was brought back home, over the little creek with a simple bridge and carried into the living room by two husky men and gently lowered into her familiar overstuffed armchair...and home. She enjoyed that attention but continued to guard her phone, though.
Lorraine intently followed the entire process with her curious eyes, not missing any of the return of her older sister. But, unknown to Florence, there were tiny tears streaming down Lorraine's aged, wrinkled face....and then a tiny smile. Both dined on homemade baked mac and cheddar cheese that evening, and they ate slowly and without a word.
And that's what I believe love...is. III is around the corner!
Ready for an adventure in spelunking, spelunkers? And a harrowing moment or three deep inside a "wild" Valley cave? Ah, adventures!

Friday, June 27, 2008

14- COVERED BRIDGES...Kissin' Bridges!

"Shhh, no one can see us...no parents, no neighbors....!", as the pair slowly rode in their buggy through the covered bridge. The muffled clopping of the horse's hooves on the old warn wooden floor planks was the only sound from inside, to the outside world.
"What about that big owl perched up in the rafters...or is that an...owl?"
This native Virginian, educator, author and Americana aficionado fell in like with those wooden bridges built over a 100 years ago long before Clint Eastwood spent a week in Iowa photographing them for National Geo and washing up for Merle Streep's supper. I've spent a decade or so saving their charms on film and in my mind, though.
Giles County, way out past Blacksburg, has three. And Shenandoah County north of New Market is home to two. Two of those are my faves.
The obvious quesion is why? Some believe that is was for a safe ride through, portal to portal, for horses, so that the babbling water wouldn't spook them. The most logical reason was to protect the wooden undersides from wear and weather.
You need to go on an ADVENTURE, exploring one of these wooden constructions soon and add to your list of things to do. My list of lifetime adventures began in college and continues today, marking off the ones accomplished or experienced. And adding more fresh ones that tweak my adventurous and challenged mind.
The bridges were designed and built by hand, with simple tools, long before current trends. And they just don't make them anymore. That's why we MUST value the wooden works of art and save them for posterity...we must.
The long Meems Bottom Bridge in Shenandoah County north of New Market beckons me whenever a trip to the Shenandoah Valley is on my agenda for photograpy and research. My Sociology classes, each semester, loved to end their "Culture Trip" on a 44-seat Oleta bus there, as darkness approached. I always told them the ghost story about the Rebel soldier...hmmm. When our school administrator decided, on his own, that our trip was not associated enough with learning, the fabulous trips were no more. It's great not to have to go through narrowminded administrators ever again! Hundreds of sosh! students remember the "Culture Trips" so well!
My fave, though, is a small covered bridge off Rte. 42. Picture perfect. The little gem sits in a small valley below the country road betwee the mountains, in Giles County. That's near Blacksburg...a romantic setting, by gosh, for my date.
Ready for "So...What Is Love?" II?...the next "the squire's way" blog, please.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

13- COLLEGE FOOD II...MY "IMP!"

After trying the "Zeus" from my novel, The Serpentine Bond, another original 'wich for college students, and anyone, is the "one-eyed cheeseburger"...curious? Grill up, slowly, a 1/4# of fresh ground round patty...and have a good round roll ready. Also, in the same skillet, grill a fresh egg, sunny-side-up. Place the burger on the roll bottom, and the grilled egg on top of that. Lay on some good sliced sharp cheddar over that...maybe add a fave condiment...flip on the roll top, ready for chums to ask for a shared snippet. This comfort food is a fave, according to a special coed, amy arghh, after a late study on the Corner near my fave U.Va.
And your original college dessert? An "Imp" for everyone.
Cut off a slice of home made pound cake and pop into that small dorm toaster oven for a brief moment but watch closely! Should come out toasty brown around top and edges. Heat up a small pot of thick hot homemade chocolate fudge sauce, too, and have ready. A hearty scoop of "dirty vanilla" ice cream (specks of vanilla bean) is scooped on top of that warm pound cake. Quickly ladle some of that hot fudge sauce over all---oh mi ga, again! The smells of CHOCOLATE and toasting pound cake will seep through the dorm halls and all the way out to the pastures beside JMU, or across the Lawn from a dorm on the campus of my fave University of Virginia. Sure, you can head for the campus rec center later.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

12- COLLEGE FOOD I....MY "ZEUS"!.....

Here are two secret recipes for college food aficionados when I created and owned some 'wich shoppes between teaching stints. For the "Zeus": use a good 6"hoagie roll, open and spread a thin slathering of Guilden's over both insides. Place, evenly, two ounces of thinly sliced good roast beef or grilled very thin steak on bottom half. Even out some thin fresh onion rings over the beef or steak. Two slices of Provolone cheese goes on top of the roast beef or steak and onion. Lay two slices of crispy grilled bacon on top half of roll. Now, place both under a toaster oven for less than 30-seconds, to melt cheese and toast edges. Pull out on plate and add small dollops of real sour cream across bottom half. Leave open-faced for smells and smiles! Oh mi ga!
You'll have to wait for the next Squire's Way for the "IMP" dessert recipe, please! While waiting, check out the squire's blog "in here" for his bio...thanks.

Friday, June 13, 2008

11- THAT FIRST KISS!.....

"I'll try another one of those anatomical juxtapositions of two oribicular muscles in a state of contraction, please. They tingle!", I whispered to the most beautiful girl in the seventh grade during a movie at the local mall. I had one bag of popcorn between the two of us. Whenever she reached over to share a handful of popcorn, she would touch my hand and fall in like with me, I had cleverly planned.
And she did, touch my hand. She then turned to gaze into my blue eyes gazing back at her, and we, uh, kissed for the first time, but I missed, kissing her nose.
Did I, and she, try again?
The Walt Disney movie was ending, and I had to act quickly. We both slowly turned inwardly, locking in on the goal and...SUCCESS. Wow!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

10- FATHER'S DAY...My Little Buddy!

Pets were never, I admit, in my vocabulary, but one Father's Day my normally stoic father brought home a very shy little dog for the family; his way of saying happy Dad's Day. And my sisters immediately named him Frisky. To me, however, he became my little buddy and was named FritchFrotch.
We bonded.
Whenever I said the magic word, "adventure", he ran to the kitchen door, waited for me to open it and then raced to the right all the way around the house and back to me, plopped down, for an adventure, walk. We did that all through school.
I eventually went off to college and didn't get to see much of my little buddy. The summer after graduating I came home, finally, and opened the door and quickly called out "adventure".
My much older little buddy zoomed out the door, ran as fast as he could all the way around the house and plopped down at my feet...and died. FritchFrotch had waited.
I carefully picked him up and took him for another walk, an adventure, with a tiny tear or three streaming down my cheeks. And buried him in a hidden place. There were no more little buddies for me, ever.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

9- THANK YOU!...GONE EXTINCT!

"Excuse me, ma'am, did you forget something? I just paid $19.95 for my new Beatles T-shirt."
"Why, NO, I didn't!"
"How about an old-fashioned, respectful 'thank you'?"
Turn signals on cars, a polite 'thank you', allowing the next shopper in line in a market and the Dodo have all gone extinct in our American society. And this Socology educator doesn't understand.
To prove my point, I carry an extra ten dollar bill on some shopping forays. The first clerk to respond with a 'thank you' when I purchase something, gets it, with a smile and big 'thank you'. A stop yesterday at a popular convenience store, for a cold Dr Pepper reward? The bill was kept. And, after shopping out and about, the ten dollar bill continued to remain with me.
As I slowly drove along Richmond Road, in front of William and Mary's Wren Building, America's 2nd oldest college, an elderly lady entered the crosswalk. I stopped. She had the right of way. Halfway across she paused, glanced at me, smiled and said 'thank you'.
Guess who opened my car door, quickly walked over and handed her the ten dollar bill? She hugged me, said 'thank you', again. There were smiles behind me, NO irritated horns blowing around me...hmmmm.