A few years ago I created a project blog I titled An Old Recipe Box. To quote from the introduction: “While cleaning out a house in Villisca, Iowa I found an old, rusty green recipe box. I decided to scan each recipe, from the front of the box to the back, in the order that the box was found. I also decided I would not go through the box ahead of time but rather explore it with the reader, week by week, until finished.” Not too surprisingly the blog generated little traffic and today it receives about 500 pageviews a month. There are dozens of scanned recipes and other ephemera on the blog that give a glimpse at Midwestern life during the mid-twentieth century.
Once a month I highlight a piece of art I have created and posted on my Fine Art America site. This one is titled Bones And Teeth from the Scan Art Collection.
I was introduced to Ponyboy when I was in my early teens, like most people who know him. I immediately liked him and his extended group of greaser friends and family created by S.E. Hinton. I went on to meet Rusty-James, the Motorcycle Boy, Bryon and Mark. My teenage brain was a little taken aback when I found out the S.E. part of the author’s name stood for Susan Eloise. A young woman was creating these cool characters, almost all young males. It didn’t bother me or make me stop reading. When I hit my later teens and had moved on to Hemingway and Fitzgerald and the crew, I found I couldn’t resist rereading some of her books even into my twenty’s. Maybe the main reason I reread them is because the characters are so likable, which made me care about them and what happened to them. The books are mainly about relationships, and how they change. Four of her books were made into movies, two directed by Francis Ford Coppola and three featuring Matt Dillon. It is hard to adapt a well loved book into a movie that fans like, and while the movies were not awful they also did not come very close to how I imagined the characters to look, to talk, even to move. That is my fault, not mistakes by the actors or directors. I have not read Hinton’s later books, so I have no opinion on those, but I would recommend you introduce a teenager you know to at least the first three she wrote, The Outsiders, That Was Then, This Is Now and Rumble Fish. And if you haven’t read them yourself, well, there’s still time.
Wild Edible “is about merging primal roots and instinct with a passion for preparing and eating good food. It’s about foraging for wild food and medicinal plants and herbs, and it’s about locally and sustainably grown veggies, as well as humanely raised meat, and how they all mesh together to nourish and sustain our bodies and souls.”
“Since 1980, Guitar World has been the ultimate resource for guitarists. Whether you want to learn the techniques employed by your guitar heroes, read about their latest projects or simply need to know which guitar is the right one to buy, Guitar World is the place to look.”
The Creation Research Society “is independent and unaffiliated with any other organization, religious group or church body. The CRS advocates the concept of special creation (as opposed to evolution), both of the universe and of the earth with its complexity of living forms. Membership in the Society requires agreement with the CRS Statement of Belief. Members of the society include research scientists from various fields of scientific accomplishment who are committed to full belief in the biblical record of creation and early history.”
BookScouter “helps you sell textbooks and used books for the most money by comparing offers from over 30 book buyback vendors with a single search.”
When we purchased our first desktop computer in 1996 and got online it added another tool to our road trip and vacation planning, previously accomplished only with road maps and travel guide books. As the years went by I increasingly used the Internet to supplement my hard copy materials until I got to the point of starting with the Internet, then checking my books and maps. I don’t think I will ever get rid of the books because they contain information that could be hard to find online, and having a physical map is so ingrained in me I can’t imagine traveling without one. The following are several resources I have used over the years to help plan our trips.
State Maps and Guides – These are a must for me. Two drawers of a filing cabinet in my garage are full of these from past trips. Each time we go to a state for the first time, I add a new file, and the states we return to I order and add the new information. You can search for each state by typing the name and “tourism” or you can visit Free State Maps and Travel Guides. Make sure to check out other freebies on the site while you are there.
Off The Beaten Path – While most of us want to check out the usual main attractions of a given state sometimes visiting the lesser known gems can really make a vacation memorable. This series of regional travel guides have been a must for me when planning a trip. You can view the series here.
Free Campsites – If your vacation will include camping (and why wouldn’t it?) this site could help shave the budget.
Home Away – There are dozens of hotel booking sites, and everyone seems to have a favorite. Home Away is a little different in that they offer houses, condos, apartments, bungalows, cabins and cottages for vacation stays. We rented a beach house using this site on Green Bay a few years ago and it was an inexpensive and wonderful experience.
There is off the beaten path and there is oddball, and I have always liked to mix them up when planning vacations. Roadside America is an excellent guide to find “offbeat tourist attractions.”
If you want to sample some of the best food where you are headed make sure to consult Roadfood. You might want to strap on a bib to catch the drool before you visit this site.
The neighborhood I grew up in is a few blocks away from the Des Moines River, on a hill overlooking the valley the river carved. The river is somewhat tame now because there is a reservoir and dam to prevent flooding in the capital city below, which works about half of the time there are the “500 year” floods. So it was to this river that we neighborhood kids fished from, swam in, boated on and roamed around. Down at the river we would endure the bugs and snakes, catch huge carp, build rafts and forts, light campfires on the sandbars, and the bravest among us would jump from the top of the train trestle into the water below. There were usually homeless people living in makeshift camps in the surrounding woods, but they never bothered us. They would come and go but the river was always there, making its way along the the same old course, trees hanging over it and the sun shining through them, coloring the water dark green in the summer. The thick cottonwood trees would shed their seeds and the wind would blow a white fluffy storm everywhere, clouding the surface of the water and covering the grass. Sometimes the river was raging in flood, other times meandering in drought. In the winter it took on a different kind of beauty, framed by the black and white of the surrounding trees and showing the hundreds of animal tracks left in the snow crossing the frozen river. The experience of growing up around water can last a lifetime, be it a creek, a pond, a river, a lake, an ocean. Whether it pools up, flows, or comes in waves, it is one of the life givers, and you know it and love it like the sun and earth and sky.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”