Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Death Be Not Proud

Last weekend the broken gravestone for "Elizabeth wife of Jonas Jones" was dug up by an assortment of wizards and clowns. It revealed a four-line verse, but unfortunately the break in the stone had occurred right through the final line, making it impossible to read.

We carefully brushed away the dirt, then smeared some in the inscription to facilitate our deciphering but still could only guess at the final words. Luckily Cousin Don, telegraphing from a train station somewhere in the Rockies, solved our mystery:

Wouldn't you know... the punch line to the rhyme on the headstone might be the key to everything. Could it be:

Friends nor physician could not save,
This mortal body from the grave;
Nor can the grave confine it here,
She hated drinking, let's all have a beer.


Thanks, Don! We needed that!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Some things run in families; things like male pattern baldness, red hair, insanity – those traits attributable to genetic make-up. In my family, you also inherit pie.

My mother was a great pie baker. Her apple pie was the best anyone anywhere ever made, followed (not necessarily in this order) by her strawberry, blueberry, lemon, chocolate, pineapple, grape, rhubarb, banana cream, and pecan pies. She must have learned about pie from her mother and her aunts.

Apple, rhubarb, grape and blueberry were “double crust,” the tops being decorated with a design resembling three shafts of grain. The design also vented the pie during baking. I’ve never seen her exact design on anyone else’s pies, so as I roll out my own crust, I am aware that I am probably perpetuating a little bit of artistry handed down many generations. I am a link in a chain of women, each one of us carefully adding some sweetness to the lives of loved ones.

As I cut this design of three curved lines decorated with small leaf-like slits, I wonder if my grandmother ever thought back to her mother and her grandmother as she made her pies and drew their design (a sort of homespun coat of arms) with her knife.

I place my pie in the oven. I think sweet thoughts.