The Sands Are Alive With Sunshine


The sands are alive with sunshine,

The bathers lounge and throng,

And out in the bay a bugle

Is lilting a gallant song.

The clouds go racing eastward,

The blithe wind cannot rest,

And a shard on the shingle flashes

Like the shining soul of a jest;

While children romp in the surges,

And sweethearts wander free,

And the Firth as with laughter dimples…

I would it were deep over me!

~ William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)

Painting:  “Shores of Bognor Regis” by Alexander Mann (1853-1908)

The Swing


The Swing
by Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside-

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown-
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

The Scoop on the Ice Cream Cone


The ice cream cone made its debut on July 23rd, 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair and quickly became a national sensation. Then called a “cornucopia,” the first ice cream cone was made from a thin, rolled waffle baked to a crisp and filled with two scoops of ice cream. While the public origin of the ice cream cone is certainly the St. Louis World’s Fair, the details of its invention remain a mystery. Several confectioners sold ice cream cones that day in 1904, and each claimed credit for the tasty innovation. Now a favorite mainstay of sultry  summer afternoons, the ice cream cone turns 111 years old today. Shall we celebrate with a scoop?

Dilly Bean Season


The mere sight of a canning jar musters notions of picnic season. We recall days of dodging honeybees to pluck strawberries for preserves, and canning tomatoes for beefy winter stews when the oscillating fans are traded in for robust hearth fires. Ball, Kerr, and Mason jars rivaled for popularity in hot kitchens when the pressure cookers were spitting and hissing. Mother would put her daughters to work with pinking shears to cut calico quilting cottons for tucking under the rimmed lids with country store charm.

Over the course of many summers, canning “Dilly Beans” has become an annual tradition in our family. A glorious day is devoted to this endeavor beginning with a trip to market in which the beans are hand selected. Then back to the homestead where my four sisters and our respective daughters don vintage aprons, and the pot is set to boil. It is a wholly sensory experience: the pungent aroma of vinegar and pickling spices wafting through the house, the rhythmic snap of bean ends being removed, the stolen taste of a crisp green bean, the wholesome feel of a hot, tightly-packed jar of beans in your hand. Finally, the labels are scribed by the children and floral cotton circles are fitted to the finished jars. And then the wait…best when enjoyed after several weeks (even months) of steeping but sure to make for a tasty snack even sooner.

And now I’ll share with you our family recipe, compliments of my sister, Ann:


Items Needed:
Sealable canning jars: 1 ½ pint

String beans
Whole dried chili peppers
Celery seed
Fresh dill (flowering tops preferably)
White distilled vinegar


1. Into each jar, place 1 clove of garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 whole red chili pepper, ¼ teaspoon of celery seed, and a flowering dill top. Then fill the jar with beans standing on end, stuffing them as tightly as you can into the jar.
2. For each jar you have filled, measure 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of water. Boil the vinegar-water mixture, then pour it into the jars over the beans and spices, to ½ inch from the top of the jar.
3. Seal the jars and place them in a large pot of boiling water for a 10-minute heat processing. Allow 6 weeks for the flavors to meld, then open jars and savor! Store for years without refrigeration.

Theatre of the Mind


I was so cut-out for this. I remember calling dibs on my mother’s McCalls magazine, anxiously thumbing my way to Betsy McCall. Every month beginning in April, 1951, the adventures of the two dimensional pre-teen were shared with readers. Every little girl envied her wardrobe almost as much as her whirlwind adventures. Manual dexterity was required to extract her pretty clothes from the page with scissors. Almost every women’s periodical offered a paper doll, one of the earliest being Ladies’ Home Journal in which children would crayon the color. Celebrities were celebrated on paper, from Queen Victoria to movie stars. From Lettie Lane and Polly Pratt to Dolly Dingle, the cut-out friends would be stashed in shoeboxes for rainy day play. Printed paper doll sets were reserved for the affluent during the Victorian era when the colorful lithographic sets by Raphael Tuck and the McLoughlin Bros. were selling for a hefty fifteen cents.