This is a continuation of Agnes Sligh Turnbull's short story When Queens Ride By, first published in 1932. You are reading the diary of Jennie Musgrave and her journey back to the heart of her home. Jennie is a farm wife living in the 1940's in rural Massachusetts. Her diary chronicles her account of returning to the role God made especially for her, that of help-meet to her husband and loving mother. It is my sincere wish this diary bless you. ~Suzanne

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I was there once: part one

After church yesterday, Edna Beaton, head of the church meals ministry, asked if I would bring a home cooked meal to a young mother in our church who had a baby several days ago. After I gave it a moment of thought I said sure I could do that. Is tomorrow too soon Edna asked and I said no I could throw something together for her. I didn't know this gal even though our congregation wasn't that large , but Edna said they had only been coming to worship for about two months or so. Edna also confided they had moved into the old Bennett place right outside of town just a few months back and the woman had four littles and seemed a bit overwhelmed often times. Edna gave me the gals information and we all headed home.

This morning after chores and getting the breakfast dishes done I sent the boys off with John. He had fences to check and they went along with him. RuthAnn and I set to work baking. Since this young mum had four boys I figured they must eat a heap. I knew I was going to bake another strawberry and rhubarb pie so I got the dough made and chilled. I figured those boys could use some cookies so I had RuthAnn set to work on some oatmeal raisin ones. The house was smelling right delicious with those cookies baking. I was so happy for a low temperature and humidity day! While RuthAnn watched the cookies I set to making my Swedish meatballs with gravy and noodles.  I had a large pan finished when John and the boys got back and they were after me to sample the cookies. I let them all have a couple cookies and got the milk out of the icebox and poured 'em all a glass. Nothing like a cookie with ice cold farm fresh milk! John took the boys back out to check fences and I sent them off with left over fried chicken and potato salad with a jug of lemonade. Then I got the two pies made, one for them and one for us.

I packed up a basket with the meal and I don't know why, but I had a feeling I should take over a few of my herbs and teas for after baby care. Funny feeling had snuck up on me and I listened to it. I got the baby changed and headed out bout three. We pulled up to 38 Olde Country Road and I wondered if anyone was home. The house looked sort of deserted.

I knocked and a young boy answered and said his Mama was lying down right now and wasn't seeing visitors. I told him to go tell his Mama I was from church and had brought a meal for the family. He race off pulling the door open some and I peered inside. Boy hardy the living room was strewn with laundry everywhere. Baskets of clothes were on the floors and nothing had been tended to.  Mrs. Williams came to the door with a baby in her arms swaddled in a pink blanket, she seemed very nervous as she introduced herself and young boy. I told  her who we were and that we brought over a meal. That church often sent a weeks worth of meals to families who just had a baby. She seemed pretty surprised and I asked if Edna hadn't called to notify her. Seems she didn't know the receiver was off the hook the better part of Sunday and today, must have been one of the boys she said. Very reluctantly she let me in and showed me into her kitchen..... be continued.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Every July there is plenty of pie!

Sweet, sweet July, I do love ya! Well now the gardens are flourishing and life is good. The good Lord is blessing John an me plenty. We are diggin' out of our pit slow but sure. I am so busy keepin' home I have neglected my poor journal. I find myself with a bit of time on the porch tonight. The children have all tucked in early after a full day of helping weed the garden, collecting eggs, house chores, and then a long dip in the pond with a picnic supper there in the grass. It was fairly hot today, oh bout 82 or so and a bit muggy. John and I enjoyed a swim in the pond too. The children love climbing up on their Daddy's strong shoulders and being hoisted in the air. Poor John, he might need a back rub tonight after all that play.

We had a tasty supper by the pond. I fried up some chicken out in the summer kitchen John rigged up for me so as to not overheat the kitchen and house. I snuck in making a strawberry and rhubarb pie for dessert. Boy did they gobble that pie up! Our strawberry and rhubarb grew so abundantly this season I have three whole shelves canned! I just made a good crust in the morning while getting breakfast and set it to chill in the icebox. After weeding we came in for lunch and a little rest and I got that pie baked with no one noticing. I had it cooling in my bedroom window to keep it a secret.

Summertime already seems to be going by a bit too fast. Sitting here in my rocker I am piecing together some hexagons for a quilt I am making for RuthAnn's bed. I hope to have this done for Christmas. I found me some darling fabric for a steal and I have some of her old dresses that I am using too. I think it will be real sweet.

The fireflies are starting to come out so I shall pack up my needle and thread and finish my iced tea and close up the house and get this tired body off to bed. But not before I write my recipe for strawberry rhubarb pie here. Maybe some day when I am old I will need it or maybe one of my children will read this journal and see it here. Perhaps they will all try baking it after remembering how tasty their Momma made it.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A New Year's Eve Bonfire!

Tonight I will be hostess to a New Year's eve party. I am hopin' I can pull this one off. All John's idea and a right surprise too. After church  on Sunday he told me that he offered our place to hold a New Year's eve bonfire for fellowship. Before I knew it I had so many ladies asking me what they could bring! I was so taken back I told them whatever they please for their family and some to share. What that is gonna look like I haven't got a clue.


I put up some large crocks of my grape juice on the back porch to chill and I have ten pies baked, apple, blueberry and peach, all from my summer canning. John has a large smoked shoulder warming and I have about twenty taters cooking in the stove. John told me to keep it real simple and not to overwork myself, so I am takin' his advice.

He has hay bales all outside the bonfire pit for folks to sit on and I do hope they remember quilts to cover them with. I got extra, but it is chilly so they may need them for warmin' up. Pastor is takin' extra chairs from the fellowship hall with a few long tables too so spreadin' the food and having a place to sit and eat is taken care of I reckon. I am  glad we still got the tree up cause it looks pretty in the parlor.

The children are so excited they are runnin' around here like jack rabbits asking me the time every few minutes. Thank goodness Harriette showed up to help and offer her hostessin' skills. I am just havin' a sit down with a cup of tea writin' this all down. Please Lord, let this all turn out good and let me hostess a good party here for my husband. I ain't seen him smiling like this in a long time. The boys even have the pond all shoveled for some skatin'. This old place hasn't seen such happiness in a good long while!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry & Bright

(For Laura-Merry Christmas to you and yours!)

Oh what a Christmas! It's been a lovely season for sure. The children enjoyed their gifts so. John made a beautiful set of wooden building blocks for Virginia. Sanded them smooth as silk to the touch.

 Ruth Ann got a big dollhouse, just a plain kind of house made of maple. The kind of dollhouse a child needs to use their imagination a bit. There is a tiny staircase and a few twig beds with little quilts I made. She has been playing with it nonstop! The boys got themselves new slingshots and some coon skin hats. They reckon they are Davey Crockett.  John made me a beautiful new cutting board for the kitchen and surprised me with a pair of leather shoes from the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

I had the page bookmarked and was saving for them. John said he got stumped about a present for me and wanted something pretty when he grabbed the catalog and saw my notation on the page. They are a perfect fit and just right pretty to look at. I ain't never had a shoe so fancy before! They are a soft brown calfskin with what they call a military heel and they have a smart design across the top. I just kept putting them on and walking in front of the full mirror half the day!

Christmas eve service was beautiful, it just felt holy. That's the only way I can explain it. Like the Lord himself had come on down from heaven and was singing with us. This year Mrs. Dunmire had a children's choir and they sang five darlin' songs for us. Boys were real good too, didn't fidget once. They had smiles wide as town and sang their hearts out, a bit off key at times which made us adults smile and laugh softly , but they were putting forth their best effort indeed.  Christmas eve was quiet here after service which was kinda nice. Harriet was tired out so we dropped her off and came home and had some hot cocoa and sugar cookies then the kids tucked in for the night.

 John and I got the gifts spread under the tree and had an early night of it too.

Today was just wonderful, but I am plumb tired out. My sister and her family arrived around noon and I had a root vegetable soup simmering with my biscuits just waiting for them. The menfolk headed to the barn to talk about whatever men talk about in barns and my sister and I got the big meal ready. John had traded a smoked shoulder for a nice rib roast and we had that with creamy mashed potatoes and roasted carrots, beets, and parsnips. What a delicious meal we had!

After dinner we opened gifts and Emma gifted me the prettiest apron I ever did own. The fabric has little mauve rosebuds on a celery colored background. She added a nice ruffle and embroidered my initials on the bib.  She made a matching one for Ruth Ann. The boys got new marbles and John got a whole jar of his favorite black licorice!

After gifts Rosealee came over with her family and brought a delicious cake made with lemon and ricotta cheese, my I ain't had cake so tasty in a long while. I had made quite a lot of different cookies and put those out on a platter with coffee for the adults and cocoa for the children. John read the Christmas story from the Bible and we sang a few carols then Rosealee and her family headed home.  Emma and I cleaned up and we are all in bed tired out from a full, but very wonderful day. Time to put the pen down and blow out the light. Emma's husband wants to get on the road early and I want to send them off with a hearty breakfast.

But I must write down a verse from my favorite Christmas hymn here to always remember that this Christmas, this touched my heart.

God rest you merry, Gentlemen,
Let nothing you dismay,
For Jesus Christ our Saviour
Was born upon this Day.
To save poor souls from Satan's power,
Which long time had gone astray.
Which brings tidings of comfort and joy.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

June Day Picnic

What a lovely June day we had! After a glorious mornin' of worship the family headed home for our lunch. There was a slight breeze on this warm day, so I thought, why not spread a cloth and have us a picnic. My dear friend Rosealee and her family joined us too! What a delight to have our new and dear friends over to share an afternoon of relaxin' and fun.

I spread a nice red checked gingham over the old table out back and cut a few apple blossoms and decorated the table with a jar full of those. I am glad I had the foresight to fry up a bit of extra chicken last night. Lately, I always make more than a couple of pies on the weekends, just in case we have the opportunity to share a meal. Boy, now that would not have been me a short year or so ago! Haven't I changed some!

We lunched on fine fried chicken from last night's supper, stewed tomatoes, chilled pickles , a pepper chutney from Rosealee I have never had the likes of, simply the tastiest chutney ever. Roselaee's homemade cheese and crackers couldn't be beat either! Fresh watermelon and rhubarb and strawberry pie rounded out the dessert. The children went through two bottles of my homemade lemonade too.

John hooked up the sprinkler and the children all enjoyed a good soak from it. What a little water will do to keep children amused always amazed me. The babies dozed quite dreamily in the shade of the willow tree and John and Dominic had a nice stroll through the orchards. Rosalee and I had a chat near the babies and talked of what the summer would bring. Yes, I think this is hitchin' to be a fine summer indeed.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Decoration Day Festivities!

Well now hasn't it been too long since I wrote a bit in my diary! Life is just rollin' on by faster than a filly in a derby, my John would say. My Granny Nettie loved Decoration Day, she told us stories of all the parades in her day. My they were grand! Granny Nettie made the most delicious 4 layer cakes you ever did taste and every Decoration Day she made a lot of them for the church table. Everyone wanted a slice of Nettie's cake. Her husband Sam, my Grandpa used to tell us stories of folks fightin' in line to get a slice. Granny always shushed him, but he kept on. He always had a good laugh which Granny weren't none too happy about. I most remember the vanilla ice cream done in the old crank ice cream maker. Was it delicious! I do hope there will be a bit of ice cream there! I am gonna ask John to get our ice cream maker down from the attic. Seems there was never time to do things like that--now it is so different. Won't the children love some homemade ice cream!

This Monday we honor all those who gave their precious lives for freedom. I don't think there is a family in the county who can't say they have a loved one or two that has served.

The past several holidays John and I just kept pluggin' along farmin' as usual. This year we are going to take the children to the parade. See the town brass band and the volunteer fire brigade ring their large brass bells. Guess we'll listen to the local politicians give a bit of speech concerning the day and those in town that have served, God bless them all. It is really exciting to be a part of it all.

Yesterday the children and I helped put flags on all the veterans in the church cemetery graveyard. There were 56 in all. Mrs. Gretchen Dillon has been in charge of coordinating all this for years-she does a fine job. 

After church service and the parade our church ladies are organizing a picnic on the town common. I have to bring two huge bowls of my potato salad which everyone seems to love and my homemade pickles. I am guessing 6 or 7 jars may be a good number. Good thing the garden is gettin' put in again as all my canning is runnin' pretty low. But that is common for this time of year. I also got some pretty little tussie mussies made for decorations on the tables. Oh they will look fine and the ladies can take them home after. I had red, white, and blue ribbon in my box to add a touch of patriotism to them too.

I do believe this will be a fine day! All the children are so excited and even John is lookin' forward to the festivities. He even helped construct the bandstand where the speeches are given with Deacon Henry from church.

This Mama is off to bed after a tiring day taking care of my home. I am ever so grateful for this home, my husband and my children---thank you for the second chance Lord!