Memories During Rhubarb Jam Making Time

James was busy this week, and the results were tart and sweet all at the same time.  The making of rhubarb jam filled our home with that old-fashioned scent that carries one backwards in time.  The results are perfect with toast and peanut butter….can it be even better drizzled over ice-cream?   This experiment will need to be undertaken soon, but mind you, only for the sole sake of science!  The fact that this ‘experiement’ seems to be required annually should only underscore the seriousness that I give to everything.  

The rhubarb plants came from my mom and dad’s garden in Hancock which produced amazing yields every year.  All through my life the row-length of the huge-leafed vegetable  ran alongside a white fence that denoted the start of the garden, which was separated from the large flower area that mom tended. 

About three years ago James and I brought some of the roots to our home, and they have been nurtured every step of the way.  Every winter James comments that he can not wait until the snows melts, the soil warms, and the plants start to grow.  I think the rhubarb plants are one reason that James’ favorite window to look out is from the kitchen that overlooks the large leafs.

My mom would use a kitchen knife to cut the stalks, while my dad always used his jack-knife stored in the garage for the same task.  Regardless of the knife used the same admonition would be given about the poisonous nature of the rhubarb leaves.  The warning seemed as much an annual event as the promise of a bountiful harvest.

There is no way to look at the plants in our Madison yard now and not see the white rail fence from back in my childhood.  There was no way not to smell the boiling sweetness this week and not to reflect.  All good memories.

Gallup Finds Clear Majority For Gay Marriage

Only Republicans seem to have a problem with modernity.

For the first time in Gallup’s tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The increase since last year came exclusively among political independents and Democrats. Republicans’ views did not change.

This year’s nine-percentage-point increase in support for same-sex marriage is the largest year-to-year shift yet measured over this time period. Two-thirds of Americans were opposed to legalized same-sex marriage in 1996, with 27% in favor. By 2004, support had risen to 42% and, despite some fluctuations from year to year, stayed at roughly that level through last year.

Democrats’ and independents’ support for legalized same-sex marriage increased this year by 13 and 10 points, respectively. Republicans’ views on the issue did not change from last year. Clear majorities of both Democrats and independents now support gay marriage, 69% and 59% respectively, contrasted with 28% support among Republicans.

Final Days Of Bill Haley Were Tragic; Drunk And Alone

A truly insightful look at the final days of one of rock-and-roll’s pioneers can be found in Texas Monthly.  Bill Haley will always be fondly recalled from the iconic “Rock Around The Clock”, but as  Michael Hall writes in a powerful article the end of the music legend is a tragic story or booze and loneliness.

From this….

Bill Haley was a shy boy who dreamed of cowboys, especially singing ones. He was born in Michigan on July 6, 1925, to a Kentucky father who played mandolin and banjo and an English mother who played classical piano and sang. When he was four, doctors botched an operation on his ear and accidentally severed the optic nerve of his left eye. For the rest of his life, that eye would look off in a slightly different direction from his nearsighted right one. Other kids made fun of him, and he became something of a loner. He found comfort in music, and after the family moved to Booth’s Corner, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, he played guitar all the time, especially Gene Autry songs. He was a big, good-looking kid, six feet one and 175 pounds, and at eighteen he formed his first band, the Texas Range Riders. His real talent wasn’t his voice, which was high and thin, but his ear: He could hear a song on the radio and remember the words and the melody. He taught himself to yodel and performed as the Rambling Yodeler. Even in those early days he learned to comb the hair from his cowlick into a big curl over the right side of his forehead. It was distinctive. And it drew attention away from his crippled eye.

to this….

But something else was happening too. In May Haley went to South Africa for three weeks of shows that proved to be his last. Martha went with him, so he wasn’t drinking much. But she says he started acting strangely onstage. “One night,” she remembers, “he spent most of the set just talking to the audience, rambling on about things. They were all looking around, embarrassed, like, ‘What’s going on?’ ”

Justice Clarence Thomas Easily Pleased

This was not the story to read with a mouthful of tea this morning.

 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose writing is clear but dry, said her style owed something to Vladimir Nabokov, the author of “Lolita.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, whose opinions can meander, said he aspired to Ernest Hemingway’s stripped-down language, sharing his distaste for adverbs.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer, who has been known to cite foreign law in his opinions, said he looked abroad for literary inspiration, mentioning Montesquieu, Wittgenstein, Stendhal and Proust.

Justice Clarence Thomas said a good brief reminded him of the television show “24.”

Saturday Song: Yodeling Jean Shepard “Second Fiddle To An Old Guitar”

Jean Shepard will  be inducted into the country Music Hall Of Fame this weekend, an honor that is long overdue.   Today I feature one of the top-charting hits for Shepard along with her signature yodeling.