Saturday, December 27, 2008

O Christmas Tree


Here's Mom playing her favorite song to play on piano, Redwing:

Christmas tidings

Christmas day is over but I plan on continuing its celebration throughout the year! I'm glad the mild weather enabled my parents to celebrate with us. Dad really enjoyed receiving a blue and gray South Kortright cap, a memento from the school where he and mom first taught and met at a teacher's meeting on Labor Day, 1940.


Here is a copy of my Christmas morning "interview" I did of Dad to send to the SK alumuni who donated the cap for Dad and Mom, when they found out they taught there nearly 70 years ago:

Dear Bob and Cathy:

Today is Christmas 2008 and we gave Dad and Mom a South Kortright cap. Dad absolutely beamed when he opened the gift bag and exclaimed, “S.K! Blue and gray!” He wondered where I found one, and I explained about seeing MaryAlyce’s husband, Andy, wearing one at line dancing one night, and I wondered how to get one. I jotted down some notes, recording Dad and Mom’s South Kortright days.

My Dad, Lawrence N. Cook, grew up in the midst of the great depression on a small, family farm with 8 brothers and 2 sisters in Rome, PA, and graduated from Cornell‘s Ag program in 1940.(He roomed at the Ithaca firehouse and worked as a dishwasher in sorority houses for his meals). My Mom, Marion E. McKee, grew up on a very small farm on the outskirts of Afton, NY, and graduated from Albany State teachers college in 1940 with a business education degree.

They met on Labor Day 1940 at a teachers’ meeting at 1 p.m where they were served coffee and cookies. Since Dad was sitting at the end of an aisle, he had to pass out papers. Dad was the newly hired ag and industrial arts’ teacher, and Mom was the new business teacher. Dad said that Mr. Burke, the superintendent and principal, made it clear that all teachers were expected to remain in town during the weekends.(To be accessible to their students?)

Dad said that at that time, elementary teachers at South Kortright were paid $900 per year, high school teachers received $1,200 per year, and that the ag teacher received $1,800 per year, since he worked during the summer as well, visiting projects at over two dozen area farms. He also received 5 cents per mile, gas money. The principal and superintendent were the same person, Mr. Burke, who hired both of them. His salary was the highest at $3,000 per year. Mr. Burke’s wife, Betty, served as the school librarian at that time, and expected Mr. Burke to help put supper on the table, since she worked, too. Mom and Dad stayed in touch with the Burkes throughout their lives. The Burkes even attended Mom and Dad’s golden wedding anniversary celebration in Afton, NY, on July 10, 1992.

South Kortright was in a brand new building at that time. The school day started around 8:20 to 3:45. Each class was 45 minutes. All students were bussed to school except for the Tylers who lived on a farm next door.

While in South Kortright, Dad roomed over Lew and Sadie White’s funeral parlor. Mr. White also served as mayor at that time. They later moved to Cooperstown, NY.

Dad had a car that he was making payments on- a black 1936 Oldsmobile. He used it to visit his students’ projects. His brother, Jake, was able to sell it for him when he entered the service for the same amount of money he bought it for- $350.

Dad taught at SK until he left for serving in the army air force Air cadets in Oct 1941. He even taught some night school courses to make some extra money before his enlistment. He had started CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) while in Ithaca, and completed the program at Hartwick in Oneonta, where he soloed in an airplane with skis.He passed the traveling aviation board exam in Oneonta and volunteered for WW2 service instead of getting drafted even though Mr. Burke felt he could get him a deferment for essential work service. Dad spent most of his time during the war, flying the aerial gunners’ training planes in harlingen, TX. He was slated to report overseas to Italy when the war ended in 1945.(His gear had already been shipped over)

Mom continued to teach at SK until February 1943. She had married Dad in July 1942, but continued to teach while he was in TX. (She taught until she began “to show” her pregnancy, since those were the days that obviously pregnant women were not supposed to teach. My brother, Jack was born in July 1943).

The first year Mom taught at South Kortright, she roomed with Ellen Russ, the language teacher (French and Latin) and Mary Trainer, an English teacher. They lived in an apartment owned by a man who ran a Texaco gas station, so they were nicknamed the “Texaco Trio”.

The following year, Mary Trainer and Mom lived with an elementary teacher named Phoebe Snow.

One of Dad’s industrial arts students in the 7th grade was Hugh Rose who later served as a pastor atthe First Pres. Church in Binghamton, where Mom and Dad are long time members. Hugh Rose’s sister , Ruth, taught at SK, and married Floyd Maney (Sp?). Some other names of students Dad remembers are: Hans Wechs (Sp?), Chauncy Whitney, Walter and Howard Rich, and the Fox boy. He remembers visiting the Macalusso (Sp?) farm where they made wine, and had eggs, vegetables, and cauliflower. I’m sure he remembers many other students, too, but that’s all we chatted about on Christmas. He wore his new hat home!

Thank you so much for your generosity! Dad and Mom love having a tangible reminder of their South Kortright days!

Friday, December 12, 2008

My Christmas card to you

I'm sending out my Christmas cards by regular mail so thought I'd post one, too-This is the front of our card and it shows J holding Jazz, the cat he got for his tenth birthday...

2008 Christmas card

The inside our of card reads-"TAKE JOY in this SEASON & all through the YEAR!" And here's the back:

Back of xmas 2008 card

And D wrote a new poem for the inside, too:

D's 2008 card poem

Friday, November 14, 2008

Family, Fix-it and Fleeting Clouds

My oldest son fixed my sewing machine this week, and it's given our whole family peace of mind.  They no longer hear the horrendous metallic squeal emanating from my tiny sewing room when I try to make anything.  The deafening squeal turned out to be from one of the rods on the very bottom of the machine that a drop or two of oil remedied instantly. I'm so happy my machine is operative again.  I don't know if I'll get any more sewing done, but at least now it'll be a pleasurable experience to go in and sew.


Source of Squeal

On Tuesday, Dad, Mom and I drove done to Rome, PA, to have lunch with Dad's youngest sister, Ruth.  Dad and Ruth are the only two Cook "children" remaining of the eleven children of Robert and Edna Cook, who were everyday saints in the eyes of the rest of us. I think all my aunts and uncles (Dad included) have achieved this status also.


I noticed some neat clouds over Nineveh as I drove down to meet up with Mom and Dad. 



Tuesday, November 4, 2008


My daughter sent D and I matching t-shirts that have today's date on the front and "Rock the Vote" on back. It's a nice shirt to commemorate our 30th anniversary, which equals 10,958 days according to D. Last night, I finished adding binding to a bird quilt that is now on our bed, another momento of the day. (Someday, I'll tie or quilt it, I have another 30 years to get around to it, right?) It's also a reminder of this historic election day.  Well, can't wait to go cast my vote with millions of others, so that regardless who wins, I have a legitimate right to complain. Actually both candidates seem like men of integrity, but I'm hoping O wins and brings a sense of renewal, promise and potential to the country. That's about as political as I get.

Election Day '08 (10,958 days of Mrs. D)














Monday, November 3, 2008

November Already!

I hope to do a better job posting in November than the past few months. I'll start with posting a few photos from the weekend.


This is the south side of Main Street Afton, caught in a web of overhead wires on Halloween.


Looking up Main Street.


Eye Candy on Halloween



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hot, homemade bread and real butter!

Rye Bread, Ready to eat

It's spitting snow outside but the house smells great! Butternut squash soup is simmering on the wood stove, and I'm all alone in the house with four small loaves of rye bread, just out of the oven! Maybe I should say I made only 3 loaves, because it's hard to resist temptation- hot bread and real butter is heavenly! In fact, I just sampled three slices to verify that statement. I never tried making rye bread, but I think it's easy enough. The recipe I followed emphasized not to knead the dough, and to use wet hands when mixing in the last of the flour, and later, when shaping the loaves. My Dad is truly the bread maker in our family. He started making homemade bread over sixty years ago, and has made it ever since. He makes a lot of wheat bread these days, and has experimented with beer breads (a little too dense for my taste), cottage cheese dill bread from a magazine recipe from skater, Peggy Fleming, (remember her?), anadama bread (a favorite of mine because of the molasses taste and the story behind it -I don't remember the exact story, but it involved an ice fisherman griping about his wife, and the punchline was "Anna, damn her!") I used to cringe at lunchtime in elementary school when I pulled Dad's sandwiches out of my lunch bag. I wanted to have soft, white Wonder bread sandwiches like everyone else had. Dad may have even conceded to my pleas for awhile and packed store-bought bread in my lunches. (Dad made all our lunches. He spent Sunday afternoons making several loaves of bread, slicing them, and assembling at least thirty PBJ sandwiches for the whole family to last the week, which he'd pop into the freezer and put into lunch bags each morning as he made breakfast. Dad and Mom taught at the same school where my three brothers went, so that's a lot of bag lunches! When the boys were hungry teens, Dad often packed double sandwiches in their bags. Nowadays, we aren't even allowed to pack peanut butter sandwiches because of the chance of exposing kids with nut allergies to peanut oil.) It's enjoyable to make bread- it tastes great, it's a nice way to connect with and honor my Dad, and it's also a great way to pound out anything bothering you, if you are making dough that requires kneading. The only downside is the possibility of gaining a couple hundred pounds by Winter's end!

Bread and butter

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkins and Pansies

Planting more daffodils is one of my Autumn rituals and in my search for a bag of inexpensive bulbs I've been browsing the flower bins at KMart, Walmart and Lowes. Bags of bulbs seem hard to come by for some reason this Fall, but I did get a bag of 45 mixed bulbs to keep my tradition alive. (I do plan on going out and digging up some of my existing bulbs to give them more room to grow, just haven't done it yet!) Happily, I chanced upon a great deal on pansies at Lowes, where they seem to be getting rid of their end of season floral inventory. Great deals on mums and pansies! The hardest part is using restraint not to buy up all the flowers! I've purchased a trunk load of pansies for less than $5, and have popped them into pots, porch boxes and my front borders.Don't make the mistake of calling anyone a pansy unless your intention is to refer to their strength, resilience and natural beauty! These perky flowers withstand freezing temperatures and will continue to bloom until Thanksgiving, and then survive the harsh Winter and resume growth in Spring. A win win flower that makes me grin!

potted pansies and pumpkins

Yellow pansy

Orange Pumpkin and Yellow pansies

Pansy trio

J o' lantern

Jumping out o pumpkin

J jumped out of our porch pumpkin yesterday.

Pumpkin snow

This morning we woke to our first dusting of snow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

October's Waning

October 2008 is drawing to a close. Leaves in our region are off the trees and have already been raked into piles or bags or left for the winds to distribute. We took R back to New Paltz yesterday and felt like time travellers as we experienced Autumn's dazzling peak colors the further south we dipped. Leaf-peeking traffic on the mountain ground to a halt when a tour bus filled with red Hatters ground out on a tight hairpin turn. Troopers stopped traffic to give a monster tow truck room to winch to bus free, to the applause of many. We had front row seats to the benign mini-drama since we were first in line to be stopped in the line of traffic headed back over the mountain.

Fleeting Foliage

View of the Catskills

Red hat ladies waiting for bus to be towed out of hairp[n turn near New Paltz

Stalled in traffic tie-up

Fall is in full swing at the Town Hall Theater in Bainbridge, NY. On Saturday night, thoroughly enjoyed Cabin Fever, a Bluegrass band from the Adirondack region, a great group with good chemistry and sterling talent.

Town Hall Theater, Bainbridge, NY

Cabin Fever Band

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Autumn Ritual

R came home from college this weekend to grab a few essentials for school and Halloween (She'll dress up as Clue's Miss Peacock) We spent a rainy afternoon carving a few of our pumpkins while vegetable beef soup simmered on the wood stove.

R carving Pumpkin

Pumpkin time


I finally notched a few things off my never ending to-do list- turned in all my GreenPrints' assignments and finally tinted the biggest ink drawing I've ever done, now I just have to deliver it. It's almost time to purchase new Dr. Martin's watercolor dyes! I set my makeshift studio up at the dining table.

makeshift studio

Dr. Martins ph watercolor dyes

ready to work

My friend M is an inspiration to whoever she's around. She's a talented artist, quilter, cook, and is a genuine good hearted, and kind person. Her zeal for living is contagious and I like being around her. She invited a few of us who couldn't make it to her one-night, one woman art show to a preview. Lucky us! We also had lunch afterwards and I enjoyed meeting her sister from Florida

M's Show

M's Show

The quilt I made two years ago for Mom is finally hanging on the wall of her living room. It dominates the whole room, but I think Mom enjoys looking at it with fond memories of a very full and busy life. She sent me a keepsake letter, thanking me profusely for it and the love that went into making it.It 's new each time she looks at it. I wasn't sure if some memories would be too painful. (My two oldest brothers have died tragic, untimely deaths. In fact 39 years ago tonight, our happy family life was shattered by the news of one of my brother's death. Twenty years and two weeks later, another one of my brothers also took his life. Time eases the pain, but their memory remains an integral part of who we are.) I think our family has chosen over the years to celebrate life instead of wailing over what we no longer have. It's the only way to cope!

Memory quilt installed finally!

Happy couple