Friday, February 26, 2016

Anna's eyes

I recognize those eyes, deep-set like mine. But the eyes of Margaret Anna Jamison saw much horror in her short life.
       Anna -- she went by her middle name just as I do -- was my grandmother's grandmother. Grandma, by the way, had those deep-set eyes too.
       Ten years before the Civil War, when Anna was 17, she married Coatsworth Pinkney Tharp. He had been the husband of her sister Jane who died in childbirth. Anna married a ready-made family with her sister's three-year-old daughter, Eliza Jane.
        In the 1850s, C.P. acquired 420 acres in the southern Missouri hills of the newly formed Dent County. As the farm grew, so did the family. By the time Lincoln was elected president in 1860, they had five children.
        But as the country fell apart, so did their lives. Missouri was a border state. Most of the people didn't want to secede,  but they didn't support the war either. As a result, Union soldiers marched across the state and treated everyone as the enemy. They attacked farmers, took their livestock, burned their homes.
        Anna's brother, James Jamison, was arrested for defending his home against the soldiers. He escaped from the federal prison and rode with the "bushwhackers" like Bill Wilson and Quantrill's Raiders.
         Family tradition says the soldiers invaded Anna's farm too, and hung C.P. Anna cut down her husband, and he survived. But her babies didn't do as well. Two infant daughters died during the war years. But Edwin, born in 1862, survived. He was Grandma's father.
         Anna's last baby, Evaline, was born in 1866. The war was over, but all the fight had gone out of Anna. She died two months after Evaline was born.
         Anna was only 32.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Stuck on single ply?

Toilet paper is so taxing! Which is the better buy? Eight mega rolls or sixteen super rolls?. Both packages claim to be equal to 32 regular rolls, and neither package is small enough to fit under the bathroom sink.Take your pick for $10. That's a lot of green for the ultimate throw-away.  But wait. Here's a package that claims to be equal to 32 regular rolls and it's only $6.
            I was debating these high finance options in the grocery store the other day when a woman I didn't know joined me with the same lament. We compared inches and centimeters; claims of softness and strength. Then we spotted the truth. The $6 option was "single ply."
             In other words, not enough thickness to keep your hand dry.
             "I've worked too many years to save money on single ply," I said, tossing the $10 package of mega rolls into my cart.
             The other woman sighed and settled for the  $6 option. "Once the kids move out maybe I can splurge on double ply."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Don't be coy, Koi

A small square pond behind the Audubon House in  Key West boasts some of the biggest Koi I've ever seen. The flashy orange and white fish  almost burst out of the space.
      Somehow it seems appropriate for a house that naturalist painter John James Audubon never entered. In fact, when Audubon visited Florida in the 1830s, the house wasn't even built yet. The house that was on the property at that time was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1840s, and the current house built to replace it. Turns out, the only connection to the famous painter is that he used a plant from the property as the background for his painting of the White Crowned Pigeon.
       But the legend that a famous person had something to do with the house saved it from destruction in the 1950s and inspired a lovely restoration of the home of Capt.  John Geiger, including three floors of Audubon prints and a lush tropical garden.
       If it was called the Geiger house, however, it wouldn't attract nearly as many visitors. In the end, what difference does it make if an 1830s painter sat in the parlor or painted on the porch or never set foot on the property? The restoration is well done, the tour guides informative, and the visit well worth the time.
         The lesson here is to crow about yourself. Take that claim to fame even if it is a thin thread. Don't be coy, be Koi.