Wednesday, August 29, 2007

4-H Recipes

When I was growing up in Walworth County the fair signaled the end of summer. We went to the fair everyday, ate burgers at Loomers stand, cream puffs and sweet corn from other tents, rode the Tilt-a-Whirl a couple dozen times, and after the last day (Labor Day) we went back to school.

All summer I had 4-H classes in various subjects, child care, art, sewing (I never bonded with that one) and foods and nutrition. We took field trips to places like the Nestle factory in Burlington, where we got to inhale chocolate fumes and watch chocolate chips like sparkling black diamonds roll off the assembly line. We learned to comparison shop. We learned how to set a table. We learned the rudiments of nutrition in a state that considered butter a basic food group. But the most fun was meeting at neighbors' houses to make muffins, cakes, cookies and other sinfully delicious foods. We even planned a whole meal via a kid committee, and managed to get it all done at the same time. I loved it. But not as much as I loved getting all my entries ready for the fair. The day before entries were due there'd be a baking marathon at our place. Sometimes all the angelfood cakes, oatmeal cookies and fresh fruit centerpieces were created and packaged without a hitch. Other times there were disasters (dreaded tunnels in the muffins, or broken cookies). But to me it was worth it. I was a glutton for fair ribbons.

Looking at this 4-H photo from a foods class in 1962, I am reminded how styles change. I didn't dress up for the class; I used to actually wear dresses and aprons to cook. It startles me to see it now, considering I only wear dresses to weddings and funerals these days, and I haven't donned an apron in decades. I just try not to think about those dorky glasses.

Anyway, here are two 4-H recipes from 1962, written on stained index cards in my baby handwriting. That salad actually was sort of good (a way to get kids to eat fresh veggies), but not as tempting as the cookies. All that sugar and fat made for blue ribbon cookies.

Sunshine Salad

1 package lemon Jello
1 1/2 cups water (part juice from pineapple)
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup shredded raw carrot
1 cup crushed canned pineapple, drained (reserve juice)

1. Put the lemon Jello in a mixing bowl.
2. Drain the juice from pineapple and add water to make 1 1/2 cups liquid
3. Bring the liquid to a boil and pour over the Jello.
4. Stir the Jello until dissolved. Let mixture cool in the icebox until somewhat thick.
5. Prepare the vegetables.
6. Add the vegetables and pineapple to the cooled Jello. Pour into a fancy mold.
7. When firmly set, unmold on a bed of lettuce. We used to top with a dollop of mayonnaise.

Amish Sugar Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup buttter, softened
1 cup corn oil
2 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Beat the sugars, butter and oil together well. Beat in the eggs. Sift together the dry ingredients and stir into the creamed mixture. Roll the batter into balls the size of a walnut, and press flat with the bottom of a drinking glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. These end up being crisp, which I prefer over chewy cookies.


Monday, August 27, 2007


There is nothing like a rainy day to encourage me to work on my sketches. We have already had about sixteen inches so far in August, so we really don't need or want any more precipitation. But it's raining anyway, forestalling the city from coming in to finish the roadwork in front of our house. Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day.

These bunnies were at the 4-H fair last month. Both of them captured my interest because of their stylish black and white coats. It was hot that day, and they were conserving their energy, resting in their cages. The challenge for me in using a black pen is to get the shading, and to make the darks really dark.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Poetry Sunday

The Everyday Matters challenge a few weeks ago was to draw somebody doing something. I went to the fair and photographed young people on rides. This little drawing was completed in Graphitint colored pencils.

The Circle Game
by Joni Mitchell

Yesterday a child came out to wonder
Caught a dragonfly inside a jar
Fearful when the sky was full of thunder
And tearful at the falling of a star
Then the child moved ten times round the seasons
Skated over ten clear frozen streams
Words like, when youre older, must appease him
And promises of someday make his dreams
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Sixteen springs and sixteen summers gone now
Cartwheels turn to car wheels thru the town
And they tell him,
Take your time, it wont be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
Therell be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return, we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Peek Into the Past, Pt 2

Howard Funk Tess, about 1925

This is a short excerpt from my grandmother's autobiography. The events described happened in 1925 and 1926 in the village of Troy, Wisconsin. Some of the popular movies from those years included The Gold Rush, Ben Hur, The Freshman, and Son of the Sheik.

"Howard and I were married rather suddenly. He had asked me to marry him many times, but I always put him off... Mother liked Howard, and thought because he was eight years older than I was he would be able to take care of me.... In the end we set February 28, 1925 as a wedding date.

Our wedding was very small, just Howard’s dad and stepmother, and Mother and DuRell (her half brother). We were married at Milwaukee at the home of the Congregational minister, who held services in East Troy. He wasn’t ordained yet, and had another older minister at his side to pronounce us man and wife. Howard loved to tell people we had been married by a school teacher, which Mr. Powell was, while studying for the ministry. We went to Chicago on our honeymoon, where we were invited to stay with Howard’s half-brother, Dave Thompson. Dave was head of WLS radio, and had arranged for us to go to the station and watch a broadcast. It probably would seem laughable now, just a small room with a man talking into a microphone and another man on the sidelines prompting him. Dave also bought tickets for us to see a stage play and a musical. It was our first experience with that sort of entertainment. I loved it; Howard said he preferred a movie.

Back in East Troy we set up housekeeping in a small three room apartment, tacked onto the side of Howard’s parents’ home. It was a good thing it was small because we had very little money to buy furniture and live. It was winter time and Howard wasn’t working, so we only had his small savings to live on. Mother had given us a big old cast iron cooking stove for a wedding gift, and that served not only for cooking but as a heater for all our rooms. We burned coal in it. What furniture we had was bought on time. We didn’t have a bathroom, but then I didn’t have one in Troy either so I didn’t consider that a real hardship. Howard’s folks had a nice new bathroom on the side of their house and we were given the privilege of using it, though we preferred not to...

The spring after were were married, Howard got a mason job, working on the big church at Holy Hill. We moved up there for a summer. We had a nice house, near the church, very secluded in beautiful hilly country. We enjoyed that summer. For the first time we were completely alone. Out little apartment in East Troy was far from private. My step-mother-in-law insisted that we keep the connecting door between our apartment open at all times and was insulted when we closed it. It didn’t make for a relaxed atmosphere. Sadie also enjoyed ill health. She was overjoyed to have a strong young daughter-in-law to help with cleaning, washing, ironing, and often nursing. Howard’s father, Charles Tess, was a semi-invalid, with a bad heart. When he took to his bed, Sadie often followed...

Considering all this, our home that next summer at Holy Hill was a great pleasure... It was wonderful being by ourselves, and I enjoyed cleaning and making the house comfortable, On Sundays we toured the beautiful countryside on our Model T Ford looking for perfect places to unpack our picnic lunches. Saturday nights Howard was apt to invite some of his friends to play cards. Mother and DuRell came out different times... Our house was nestled between the hills and those hill were covered with hickory nut trees. When DuRell came out we would pick bushels of hickory nuts and spread them out to dry on the empty bedroom floor. The next winter we ate hickory nut cake and hickory nut fudge for every occasion.

Another memory I have of that summer was when we went to Hartland one night to see a movie. The manager interrupted the program to tell us that Rudolph Valentino was dead. Everyone in the movie cried out in disbelief and when we left most of the audience was crying loudly, disrupting the picture. He was the biggest movie star of his time."

Friday, August 24, 2007

A Peek into the Past - Bernice

I have been scanning old pictures and arranging family history information so much that a movie of other people's lives seems to play in my head all day, and even at night in my dreams. It's interesting to me to be able to put together old photos with written material. Each one begins to come alive in a new way.

Back in the 1990's I was very interested in storytelling and oral history projects, and I had my grandmother make tapes and write memories for the family. This is a little piece from her recollections of being about twenty or so. I can drive to the places she describes, but today they're hard to recognize. The cherry orchard she describes is overgrown, the old white painted cherry stand I remember has been swallowed by brush. I think Linden Terrace is gone too.

From the autobiography of Bernice Adams Tess (1903 - 2002). This part of her story takes place in the early 1920s.

"The summers at Troy were my favorite time. The DeWitt boys were there then, and they had a big Hudson. We were really good friends, and I was invited to go to most of the places they went. Our special spot was the beach on Booth Lake, where they kept a canoe in the boat house belonging to Linden Terrace Hotel. We had grand times there, swimming, picnicking and canoeing. Linden Terrace is still there but no longer a hotel. It has been remodeled. and now is a supper club. The boat house and the beach are gone.

Bill DeWitt was especially nice to me. He used to take me dancing and to Elkhorn to see the movies. I looked upon both the boys as big brothers, until Bill surprised me by proposing. I wasn’t ready for that. I had just been having a good time, and I felt bad, because by refusing him I was afraid of spoiling our friendship... Bill started dating other girls then and I went out more often with the East Troy boys. There were three rather special ones. Vince O’Connor, very Irish, had black, curly hair, George O’Malley, also Irish, who owned a filling station and was a marvelous dancer, and Howard Tess, who was the boy I finally married. I went with Vince first, but broke up with him when he pressured me to turn Catholic and to marry him. George O’Malley was next, and he showed me a wonderful time. We went all over the county to dances, and got very good at it. I used to be very flattered when the other dancers would stand on the sidelines and applaud us, but George was such a marvelous dancer that he could make any partner look good. After a year, that also came to an end, for much the same reasons that I broke up with Vince...

I started going with Howard when my friend Virginia came out from Milwaukee to spend the weekend. The boy I was going out with at the time brought Howard along as a date for Virginia. I don’t remember where the boys took us, But I do remember that before the evening was over we had switched partners and I ended up with Howard. I was very impressed with him. He was quiet and a little shy, but I didn’t have to worry about fighting off unwelcome advances. Our courtship would probably never have gotten off to a good start except that Howard’s best friend, Bruce Aldridge, was married to my best friend, Grace. They lived on a farm in Spring Prairie, and that winter Howard stayed with them and helped build a small barn. Howard was a mason by trade, but in those days masons couldn’t work in bad weather, and that winter was one of our worst. Grace and Bruce had a big bobsled, and they would hitch up the horses and come to Troy to pick us up. I’d stay for several days at a time, and once we were snowed in for a week. The four of us had a lot of good times that winter, and if we wanted to go anywhere we had our sled and horses to take us. One weekend Grace and I wanted to go to a big celebration in East Troy. Bruce and Howard spent all that day shoveling out snow banks on the big hill between our farm and East Troy so the horses and sled could get through...

The next summer Howard bought a Model T Ford to take us around in. We were sure proud of that shiny new coupe, and spent nearly every Sunday exploring the countryside. The year before the road that passed our Troy home had been paved with concrete. It was a magic ribbon of a road, stretching from East Troy to Elkhorn and beyond. We could go to Elkhorn to the movies in record time, and we felt very citified. The side roads, however, were still bad, filled with ruts and dust in the summer and mud during spring and fall. None of this mattered to us, though. We were just happy to have a car to drive and places to go.

We also saw radio come into being while we lived in Troy. My first look at the magic box came when a boy I dated casually asked several of us to meet at the East Troy bank where he worked. There was a great deal of static, but in between the strains of music floated out and voices talked to us. It was unbelievable. We could not imagine anything more awe inspiring. I am sure that if anyone tried to explain television to us we would have considered them candidates for the mental ward.

Another big change happened when the DeWitt boys decided to turn their farmland, which they had been renting out, into a cherry orchard. All the neighbors thought they were crazy. Cherry trees, they were told, would never survive our harsh winters, and if they did survive, the late spring frosts would surely kill the blossoms. The boys were determined though, and spent all of their combined capital on cherry trees. I had expected small trees, and was dismayed when I saw the dried up sticks they were planting. I couldn’t imagine that they would ever turn into fruit bearing trees. It took a lot of hard work, and before the boys got their irrigation system going, many hundreds of pails of water were carried. Eventually it all paid off. The trees grew beautifully, and though we didn’t live in Troy long enough to see them bear fruit, in time they produced a beautiful harvest. The DeWitt boys made a nice living from them. Bradley DeWitt still lives in East Troy with his wife. Bill DeWitt helped out with the orchard, but moved to Milwaukee where he owned a wholesale carpet business."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Recent Reads - In the Lake of the Woods

“In September, after the primary, they rented an old yellow cottage in the timber at the edge of Lake of the Woods.” So begins Tim O’Brien's 1994 novel of suspense, In The Lake of the Woods.

When I taught freshman English there was a sure way to sort out the students who liked to think about possibilities from those who wanted definite answers. The ones who courted imagination, and the ones who went after fact. It all depended on their reaction to the old short story by Frank Stockton, The Lady or the Tiger?

You remember the story. A king obsessed order and power has a beautiful princess daughter. He also has a method of justice that is unique. People in his kingdom who are accused of a crime are put into a great arena where they are forced to choose between two doors. Behind one door crouches a terrible tiger, ready to rip the accused to bloody shreds; behind the other waits a blushing and trembling lady, one most suitable to the age and station of the accused. The accused holds his fate in his own hands, and is immediately either punished or rewarded, and the masses watching are entertained in either case.

So, one day a lowborn lad has the misfortune to fall in love with the daughter of the powerful king, and in accordance with law, is thrown into the arena.

A little background. The princess loves her young man with a semi-barbaric passion. Stockton tells the reader how the princess discovers the secret of the doors, which one conceals the ravenous tiger, which the lovely lady. Gold crosses palms and she learns that the lady is one she knows well, and she is not happy. The princess has to make a tough decision. Should she send her lover to certain death, or into the arms of another woman? Sleep is lost, tears are shed, but the inevitable day arrives and the princess decides.

The crowds wait in the arena. The king and the princess have prime seats. The lover is in the middle of it. He glances up and instantly he knows that she knows. She knows that he knows that she knows. The tension grows. Her hand twitches bit, and the lover walks confidently to a door and opens it.

That’s it. Stockton leaves the reader to decide if the lady or the tiger waits on the other side of the door. That is the title, after all.

The story is wonderful to discuss, but it causes howls of protest from students who don’t see the ending coming. But it happens; those who are interested in analyzing the psychology of the semi-barbaric princess begin to think and to talk. Slowly it dawns upon them that the story is not so much about the princess as it is about the reader. What would the reader do in that impossible circumstance? Would love or barbarism prevail?

I suspect that the same people who hate the ambiguous ending of the classic short story will also be frustrated by Tim O’Brien’s book, but for me it is as compelling today as it was when it was first published. Today’s news is full of stories of campaigning, of politicians maneuvering to win the confidence of their constituents. We’ve seen it before, a slip of the tongue, a skeleton in the closet, and the game is over. The masses watch it all on television or read about it over morning coffee, and they wait to see who falls next. The other story that is unfolding before us is that of our military entanglements overseas, in Iraq and Afghanistan. We hear of soldiers maimed and killed in roadside bombs, of suicide bombers and of snipers. Stories emerge of women and children killed, and once again it is clear that nothing is really clear at all. Deja vu for those able to remember Vietnam. What will the future hold for those men and women who return home from the carnage they witness and participate in during wartime?

The reader of O’Brien’s novel is put in the same position as my hapless freshmen. He or she must decide what happened to Kathy Wade, wife of John Wade, defeated politician, former Vietnam soldier, magician and fatherless son. Did she run off to begin a new life, meet with a simple boating accident, or was she murdered by her husband? Was she an innocent whose life was violently taken, or did she take her fate into her own hands? Is Wade a murderer? Or is he a survivor who does whatever he must to live with what his life has handed him?

Some people will crave a resolution, but others will enjoy piecing together the whole story as it flips between the present the past, shifts point of view, and presents bits of evidence and hypothesis. In the end it will be up to you to decide what really happened in The Lake of the Woods.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Retro Cool - Slip and Slide

My friend Marianne, me, Patty Sue on the Slip N Slide, about 1960

It has been hot in Wisconsin, and elsewhere, so our AC has gotten a workout. The past few days have been cooler though; we’ve had so much rain that I’ve been spending time inside reading, drawing, and working on family history projects. While reviewing old photos to scan and upload I came across these 1961 photos of me, my sister and an elementary school friend. There weren’t a whole lot of ways to keep from melting before we had air conditioning. We had fans, of course. Sometimes our neighbors took us kids to Turtle Lake for an afternoon of swimming. I especially enjoyed hiding under the pier, but that's another story. Orange Popsicles from the Millard Store were a good treat on a hot day, as were Fudgesicles. We had a kiddie pool we’d blow up and fill with water from the hose if we couldn’t beg hard enough to go to the lake. And then there was Slip-N-Slide, from Wham- O, the folks who brought the world Hula Hoops a couple years before.

I read somewhere that there were lawsuits in the 1990’s, brought by older teens and adults who were injured doing what we did as kids with no ill effects. The Slip-n-Slide was just a long piece of plastic that had a coupling where a person could attach a garden hose. Cold water spraying through perforations made the plastic slippery. We’d just take a running start, throw ourselves on the ground, slide to the end of the plastic runner, get soaked, and laugh like maniacs. The grass was rarely smooth; little stones and bumps added interest to the ride. We made that part of the front yard a morass of mud, and that was fun too.

Today I have my share of aches and pains, and cannot imagine a time when I was able to launch myself at the ground with joyful abandon, but pictures don't lie. Apparently we were indestructible. It all seems so low tech now. No aquatic centers, no wave pools or fancy water slides. But we had fun. I don’t even want to think about dancing the Twist.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Everyday Matters Challenge #128 - A View into a Room

It has been a while since I posted an EDM challenge picture. I become absorbed by projects, like my family history project, and other interests shift to the back burner. I haven't worked out. I've left drawings half finished, books half read.

Anyway, this challenge was "Draw a view through a doorway." The sketch is done with colored pencil, and is a view into our study. This is where I spend hours, reading, working on the computer. It's a comfortable room, but nothing very decorative. In the picture you cannot see my oversized office desk with all my files and my Mac computer. What you can see is our favorite comforatble chair, a gold corduroy Lazy Boy recliner, bought for our first house in 1980. There is the old lamp that came from my grandparents house, that I had rewired by a shop teacher where I taught. There's a little half moon end table for the piles of books checked out of the library, and you can see our bookshelves. The dictionary stand with the huge unabridged dictionary was built especially for us by a friend of my parents when we were first married. It holds our collection of dictionaries, including one my husband published (The Portmanteau Dictionary). We have many books, both of us being English majors in college. One holds mostly classic fiction and cookbooks, the other poetry, drama, and nonfiction. The sketch was hard. I left out the patterned carpet, and didn't attempt the reflections on the varnished wood door. In general I am not confident about my ability to render architectural detail, but I suppose that is a reason to draw that sort of thing more often.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Of Great Aunts, Grandmothers and Geneology

Will Hodgson and Emily Bates

Dora, Jenny, Nellie Hodgson

Aunt Gertrude and Bernice Adams

This whole thing started about ten years ago when I was sitting eating lunch with my maternal grandmother, who was in her 90s. For a reason I've forgotten, she said she hated salmon. I asked her why. She offhandedly said that her mother, my great grandmother, had been raised by an uncle onLopez Island, Washington State, and that they ate canned salmon almost everyday. She couldn't bear the taste or smell of canned salmon any more. She went on to describe spending time with her mother's relatives on the island, and how lovely it was.

The incident stayed in the back of my brain until this year, five years after her death. I have file folders I made of material collected from both my late grandmother and mother of various family members, including photos, letters, clippings, and partial family trees. This summer I decided to start filling in information on a software program that would help me sort out the dates, names, and relationships. One story captured my special interest, and is unfolding slowly.

My great grandmother, Sarah Ellen Hodgson, was from Ontario. Her mother, father, and two sisters came to the United States in the 1800s. They were in Iowa for a time, but heard that there was good farming in Washington. They packed up and headed West. On the way her mother stopped to nurse a sick woman, contracted typhus and died. Sarah's father, William Hodgson, continued with the girls and settled on Lopez island, where his two brothers already lived. William died there (must discover when and why), and relatives raised the girls. The picture of the man and woman is of William and Emily Bates Hodgson. The three young women in the next picture are their daughters, Dora, Jennie, and Sarah (aka Nellie). There is some question about the older woman with the little girl in the hat. The child is my grandmother Bernice, but there are two copies of the photo in my files. One identifies the woman as Aunt Gert, the other as Mary Graham. Who is it, really?

One sister, Jennie, married an islander, James Buchanan, and they had nine children. I gather there are Buchanans all over Lopez today, though some won't be related to my great aunt Jennie, since she and James were divorced, and he was married two other times.

My great grandmother, Sarah, married Len Adams, a railroad engineer, and they also were divorced, but not until they had produced my grandmother, Bernice (who hated salmon). Sarah was close to her Lopez relatives and they visited often until she remarried and moved East. When Bernice and Sarah visited Lopez, I gather salmon was on the menu quite often, not a surprise since one Hodgson owned and operated a cannery.

The third sister, Dora, is the one who has really disappeared. I vaguely remember stories about Dora marrying, perhaps having a daughter, about her traveling in California and Alaska. I have a quilt she made. But she is a mystery.

So, all summer I typed information into my genology program, I scanned photos, and I Googled names. I made an intriguing hit when I discovered the Lopez Historical Society. I emailed the picture of Bernice and "Aunt Gert" and asked if anyone knew anything about the Hodgsons, especially Pearson Hodgson, the uncle who raised my great grandmother. Bingo. A nice man wrote back and said that the man in question had been a postmaster, that the family was well known, and that if I ever stopped by he would have more information for me. In the meanwhile, my husband and I signed up for an Elderhostel trip to the San Juan Islands in September, and I plan to hop an interisland ferry and visit the Lopez Historical Society.

Will I find out more about the Hodgsons? Will I discover what happened to Aunt Dora? Will the question of the women in the picture be answered? I don't know, but I'm looking forward to visiting and seeing a place that figured in my family story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

We're Married Thirty-Two Years

Thirty-two years ago my husband and I were married in a county park. I wore a Gunne Sax prom dress and a sun hat from a local store that I trimmed with lace. I also made the wedding cake, which wasn't so hard to decorate, but was terrifying to transport to the reception in August heat and humidity. Our wedding didn't come close to resembling the affairs I'm invited to lately, or that I see on television on shows like Whose Wedding Is It, Anyway? But we had a good time and the marriage has lasted, so I don't regret not having a more elaborate shebang. At least we had a live dance band.

But the most amazing thing about our wedding had to do with photography, or lack of it. I hired a college friend to take casual pictures, and one of my sisters-in-law took home movies, the Super 8 variety. We didn't see the movies until twenty-five years later. The sister-in-law lived miles away, and eventually became sick with cancer. The movies were stashed in her basement, and after her death, years later, my husband's brother found them and passed them on to us. We didn't have a movie projector or a screen, so we had the films transferred to video tape (which I had tranferred to DVD disk this summer). On our twenty-fifth anniversary we watched a silent home movie of our wedding and reception. It was amazing and sad. There we were in our younger selves, and there were our parents, all gone now, dancing. It was like stepping back for a moment to a very happy day, with everyone there to share it with us. It was almost unbearable.

Anyway, we're off today for a couple days in a nice inn with an excellent restaurant. We'll bicycle, play some scrabble, read, drink some wine, and remember that happy day thirty-two years ago.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Market Artistry

I haven't felt very creative lately. Obsessive compulsive person that I am I've been working on family history and scanning old photos. But recently I walked out to the Janesville Farmers Market, thinking to get some sun, see some friends, and maybe find something good to eat. I am always amazed and pleased by how some vendors display their produce. This display was created by a young man with a green thumb and an eye for design. It brought to mind our senior high school motto, "To do a common thing uncommonly well."

Friday, August 3, 2007

August Surprises

August is the time when I begin to lose interest in fertlizing, weeding and watering in my garden, but there are still surprises to be found there. Yesterday my husband called me to the deck to see a strange creature, a walking stick. They are from the Phasmatodea order of insects, of which there are over 2,000 varieties worldwide. I think there are only about ten types in North America. We both got down on our knees with a magnifying glass to look at this critter. It appears to have only four legs, but we discovered that the little pincers in front are actually the other two legs, It was probably headed out to munch my roses, but I didn't bother the insect, who looks like a magically animated twig.

Naked lady. Ghost lily. Resurrection lily. Magic lily. Surprise lily. I can't remember who gave me my first bulb, but at a time when most of my other flowers have started to dry up these luminous pink flowers shoot out of the ground and boom seweetly under the trees. I understand they were imported from Japan and were popular in the 1800s. They are actually not a lily, but rather an amaryllis, Latin name Lycoris squamigera. In the spring they send up vigrous green strappy leaves that die away completely in the late spring and summer. But then in August, often after a rain, the stalks shoot out of the ground and are soon topped with pale pink blooms, tinged with lavender, and with a glowing yellow center. In the evening they have a sweet scent, not so strong a perfume as the Stargazer lilies, but still pleasant. I like them because they are hard to kill, and they like the dry shade under my maple. I mix them in with my hostas, because when they bloom they have no leaves, and the hostas provide some clothing for my naked ladies of August.