Posts Tagged With: family gatherings

Tea Cart and Teacher Resources

I enjoy going to garage sales in the summer, and when I saw two sales happening just a couple blocks from home, I convinced my daughter to walk over with me.  We left the first sale with money in our pockets and empty hands. At the second sale, I walked around a table with an abundance of china and crystal dishes, and knick-knacks, which I admired and left on the table.

IMG_0470But then I spotted, covered in dust and grime, a tea cart. A traditional tea cart with beautifully spoked wheels and and drop leaves and everything. “It’s just like Hattie’s!” I squealed. Minutes later, we were rolling a tea cart down the bumpy sidewalk, with our other purchases precariously piled on top. Not quite the spectacle of Hattie and Teddy hauling an upside-down desk to the Soldiers’ Home through the busy streets of Milwaukee, but a sight nonetheless.

After a thorough cleaning with Murphy’s Oil Soap and elbow grease, I found a spot for it in the living room. And the next day, I rolled it across the room, with faint clinking of my grandmother’s china, laden with chocolate zucchini scones and mini-muffins, strawberries, and tea.

I imagined how many other times it may have been used, for women’s meetings or neighborhood card parties, holiday gatherings and family parties. And I look forward to making our own memories with it.

What does this have to to with Teacher Resources? That’s what else happened this summer. We added Teacher Resources for Hattie’s War to our Resource page.  Spread the word–it would make a great classroom read. And if someone needs to borrow a tea cart for a visual aid–I just might be able to help.

Categories: Hattie's War | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Plain Old Summer

Last year, with our book fresh off the press, Hilda and I enjoyed our own Plank Road Summer. We traveled about from one book event to another, eager to share our story with others.  We felt like real authors, which seems a bit more glamorous than our everyday lives.

This summer, for me, has been exceptionally less glamorous. I had very good intentions, when the school year ended, about getting back to writing (We’re working on the sequel!). But on June 23rd, when I was home alone–no husband, no children–it started to rain.  And hail. And pour. Yard flooded.  Basement leaked.  Tornado sirens wailed.  Power failed.  Sump pump quit.  Basement flooded.  

Went outside to get a neighbor to help start the generator.  Fell and broke my right (writing) arm!  Neighbor arrived. Got generator going.

BUT couldn’t get to hospital because the streets were flooded.  My house was an island with water lapping against it on all sides. Called 911. A firefighter came to my rescue.  Waded a long block through knee deep water to the ambulance.  When I sat down on the gurney and lifted up my feet, my wellies flooded the inside of the ambulance….

Some of you can imagine the rest of my summer–a hot, itchy cast well past my elbow, sorting through sodden masses of possessions, drying out and reconstructing.  And family visiting from Japan and Baltimore in the midst of it. A month later came a second flood, and another family member took an ambulance ride through the flooded streets.

Life is what happens when you’re not writing. It’s the challenges, heartaches, celebrations that form who we are and make up our own story. It’s Plain Old Summer, which isn’t really plain at all.  It’s memories, adventures, emotions, family, neighbors.  It’s the kind of thing you could write a book about. Maybe I will.

Categories: On Writing, Plank Road Summer book | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Gift of Story

In a few weeks the entire Demuth family–six siblings and their spouses and eighteen children–will gather in Wisconsin with Mom in the farmhouse on the plank road.  Better than packages, holiday goodies, or Christmas music will be our time together and the stories we tell.

Often we share memories–remember when Cousin Tommy was stationed in Panama and surprised us by calling on Christmas Day? Remember the blizzard when Dad drove the snowmobile to Grandma Elsie’s to keep her furnace running?  Remember when Mom and Dad were away and and we kids–well, Mom doesn’t like to leave the room in case somebody tells a story she hasn’t heard before.

But Mom herself is always good for a story.  We all enjoy a retelling of a Sunday afternoon in the 1960s when Mom went to visit the neighbors.  With Dad in charge, our four-year old brother left the house and rode his tricycle down the highway in search of Mom.  Fortunately, the Packers were playing, so the highway was completely deserted.  God and Vince Lombardi looked after our brother that day.

Family stories explain who we are and help us remember where we have been.   Communities have stories as well. In Plank Road Summer, Mr. Mather tells of a guest putting nails in a feed trough at the Mather Inn.  That bit of local lore is true, according to a letter that Edith McEachron wrote to her nieces and nephews.  Aunt Edith shared that story of the plank road days to help her family remember their heritage and appreciate their community.

As you gather with your family and your community during the coming weeks, may you appreciate the gift of story.    Hilda and I  look forward to sharing with you the families and the community in Plank Road Summer.

Categories: Childhood Memories | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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