New baby HERE!!! Finding Your Silver Lining
Our own lovely Sandiquiz inspired this blog! When my husband and I were experiencing some very grim times, many of you here helped us to keep our chins up, but Sandi's way of helping to keep our focus on the good things was to tell us to look for the silver lining. There's always something to appreciate; watching a flock of Canada geese winging determinedly through the chilly air, honking vigorously as they go, seeing the season's first snowflakes waft earthward, settling on the frozen ground like a dusting of sugar, gazing on the evening stars as they appear one by one on a black velvet sky. Having a nice gentleman run to beat me to the grocery store's door, so he can hold it open for me when I enter, or getting an impulsive hug and "I love you" from my grand-daughter. Even in the hardest times, I revel in these moments that are so easy to miss unless you look for them.
Now that Thanksgiving is just a few days away, we are hopeful that the worst has passed for us - as long as our new jobs survive the roller coaster economy- and that better days are ahead. I will be baking shoo-fly pie pies and beer bread in preparation for the holiday dinner, which will be held at a relative's house, who is bravely hosting about 30 people! We are all contributing something to the meal, so it will make for a broad mixture of folks and foods; and I hope we have good weather that day, as we will surely need a long walk after a feast like that!
But, returning to my silver lining theme, I am very thankful to be able to enjoy the little things that life graces us with and I am very grateful to have met many friends here on these blogs. You have been kind, supportive, generous and so much fun!
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!
~ with love, from Beth, Lorne, Sammy & Triton
Shoo – Fly Pie (makes two pies)
2 unbaked pie crusts in pie pans (see pie crust recipe below)
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter flavor shortening
Stir together the dry ingredients and then work in the shortening with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
1 cup molasses
2 egg yokes
1 teaspoon soda, dissolved in 1 ½ cups boiling water
Pour a deep layer of liquid layer into the pie crusts, using a little more than half between both pies. Sprinkle a layer of crumbs over the liquid. Gently pour in the rest of the liquid and finish with a heavy layer of crumbs, being sure to cover entire surface of pie. (If you cover the whole top, it helps seal the pudding layer and keep it from bubbling over the sides of the crust.)
Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to 350 degrees for the final 20 minutes. It helps to place a large cookie sheet on the oven rack under the one the pies bake on, to catch any drips.
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 table spoon sugar
2/3 cup butter flavored shortening (plain shortening okay)
5 tablespoons ice water
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vinegar
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together and then cut in the shortening, 1/3 cup at a time, until you’ve created lumps the size of small peas. Blend the ice water and lemon juice OR vinegar and sprinkle them over the flour mixture. Stir until just moist enough to form a ball of dough and chill for about an hour. Divide dough in half and rolls out your pie crusts on a floured surface to at least 1 inch larger than your pie pans.
1/4 cup of water
3/4cup of beer
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 table spoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
4 ounces of Velveeta Cheese
1 package dry yeast
2-1/2 cups flour
Mix the first six ingredients in a saucepan over low heat and stir until smooth. Cool ‘til luke warm. Mix the yeast and flour in a large bowl and add beer & cheese mixture – blend until the dough forms a ball. Knead on a floured surface for about 3 minutes and then place dough in a greased bowl (turn it over in the greased bowl so that all sides are lightly coated with the oil) and cover with a damp linen towel. Let rise until double in bulk and then put the dough on a floured surface again, punch it down to squeeze out air bubbles and form into a rectangle. Cut the rectangle into three long, equal strips and braid. Let rise 30 minutes. For a softer crust, brush with eggwhite. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
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Updated: 1:11 PM GMT on December 14, 2008
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THANK YOU, VETERANS! Freedom is Never Free
We on this continent should never forget that men first crossed the Atlantic not to find soil for their ploughs but to secure liberty for their souls. ~Robert J. McCracken
We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights. ~Felix Frankfurter
These quotes remind us that what the freedoms we enjoy in the United States were bought at much suffering and sacrifice at the hands of our ancestors. They could have easily remained a group of colonies to a faraway sovereign nation, but they chose to rebel so that they might be free of a foreign ruler and the heavy taxes he imposed. They risked everything so they might win their independence, and so their descendants could also be free.
The Revolutionary War was finally won in 1783, but our Veterans have gone on to fight for us again and again. It is our privilege to honor them on November 11th, and thank them for their service to our great Country. We could not be who we are without them!
Now, I would like to add the saga of one of my personal heroes. Both sides of my family came to America in the 1630's, so were well established by the time 1776 rolled around and I am descended from many Revolutionary War veterans, but this man's epic tale has survived hundreds of years as a verbal bedtime story told by my Grandpa Meigs, to my Dad when he was a little boy. My Dad thought it was just a wild adventure from Grandpa's vivid imagination, but we were all surprised to do some research for a family genealogy book and read that the bedtime stories where true, and more besides!
Return Jonathan Meigs
He was born in Middletown, Ct., December 17th, 1734 or 1740 depending on whose account you trust. “He had inherited his strange name from an ancestor who had been courting a pretty Connecticut girl in vain. After being refused for the third or forth time, this earlier Meigs had ridden sadly away, giving up the pursuit. He looked so crestfallen, the young lady changed her mind and called out, “Return, Jonathan!” Remembering his joy at those words, the happy husband had converted them into a name for his first born son.” (Taken from Boy’s Life, June 1977, “Meigs Evens the Score” by Thomas Fleming) It is a wonderful story, except that there are no earlier Jonathans. But, his father’s name is Return Meigs, so maybe Grandpa- who was Capt. Janna Meigs, decided to name one of his children “Return” in honor of his wife’s weak moment. In different recorded variations of the tale, the bride-to-be is a 'Quaker maid', but again, I haven’t found any evidence showing that his mother or any of his grand-mothers were Quaker. It would be interesting to know if any part of the legend is true.
He was one of the first to volunteer when the war with England began in 1775. He was appointed Captain of the “United Colonies” when they were organized in Cambridge. He soon advanced to the rank of Major. Maj. Meigs volunteered for a dangerous mission, led by Benedict Arnold. They paddled up the Kennebec River and slogged through the frozen Maine woods to attack the British fort in Quebec, on New Year’s Eve, 1775. The mission failed with hundreds of American troops trapped and forced to surrender, including Maj. Meigs. While jailed, he plotted to overthrow the guards and gain control of the city, but he was betrayed and he and his cohorts spent several months of their jail time in chains. The British and the Americans eventually made a prisoner exchange and Maj. Meigs was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel when he returned to the Army.
In 1777, they set their sights on Sag Harbor, NY, where the British had 12 sloops and brigs making ready to take 120 tons of hay, oats and corn to New York, primarily to feed horses in a planned attack on Philadelphia. Long Island had been taken over by the Brits in the fall of 1776. About 100 American Loyalists were keeping watch over this fleet and additionally, there was a British fort nearby. Col. Meigs and the troops of the only just organized 6th Connecticut Regiment, which included many rebels who had abandoned their Long Island farms and homes and were now refugees in Connecticut were all personally invested in seeing this expedition succeed. Two of those refugees, John White and Sergeant Elnathan Jennings acted as guides. They set out on May 23, 1777, in the midst of a storm, which, although it made conditions unpleasant, provided excellent cover for what they were about to do. The British ships that usually patrolled Long Island Sound were snug in their berths at Long Wharf because of the foul weather, but Col. Meigs and his followers rowed whaleboats a grueling 40 miles between Guilford Ct., and Southold, L.I. in about five hours. Upon landing, they met up with locals, who gave them the encouraging news that most of the British had left this part of the Island so they could gear up for their attack on Philadelphia. The men then carried their whaleboats across the width of the island- one mile- to the Peconic Bay on the other side.
It was now dark and luckily, their Long Islanders could guide them with confidence. Around midnight, they fetched a stretch of shore just four miles south of Sag Harbor, and leaving twelve individuals to watch the boats, Col. Meigs made two columns of 111 men each and they disappeared into the forest.
They were attempting to achieve total surprise and planned to use Indian warfare tactics. The men were ordered to affix bayonets to their muskets and to leave their guns unloaded. Making as little sound as possible, they crept the four miles to Sag Harbor where one order was given by Col. Meigs; “Attack!”
One column went over the walls of the fortress, where they gave the sleepy occupants a rude awakening and they soon took control. At the same time, the other column was wreaking havoc up and down the waterfront. Their weapons of choice were fire making apparatus which were lighted and thrown upon the ships. The crews were forced to swim for the docks, where they surrendered to the Americans. In the meantime, the 12 gun sloop began hurling volleys of cannon balls, to no avail. All in all, 120 tons of hay and grains, 10 hogsheads of rum, 12 ships (including the 12 gun sloop) and other misc. merchandise were destroyed. Ninety British were taken prisoner, but approximately a half dozen others had escaped and there was concern that one of them might be able to warn the Brits of their presence and ruin their chances of making a clean getaway. At 3 AM, May 24th, Col. Meigs and his troops were reversing their trip back to Guilford Ct. in hopes of reaching home by daylight. As the first rays of the sun appeared, they were still only about half way home, but there was no indication that they were being pursued, so Col. Meigs gave to order to slacken their pace- as they’d had no food or sleep for some time and finally made a weary shorefall at 2PM, 25 hours after they set out on their heroic adventure.
The Americans were exuberant that the raid had been pulled off so successfully. As George Washington stated: “This enterprise....will greatly distress the enemy, and reflects much honor on those who preformed it.” The General wrote Col. Meigs' superior officer: “my sincere thanks to Lieutenant Col. Meigs and all the officers and men.” Col. Meigs and General Washington became friends and regular correspondents. As noted in the Record of the Descendants of Vincent Meigs” by Return Jonathan Meigs, the 9th: “May 23-24, 1777, made successful expedition to Sag Harbor, Long Island, where he captured and destroyed 12 enemy supply ships, killed six and captured 90 men without the loss of a man. Congress voted him a handsome sword.” Only 15 Congressional swords were given out for deeds carried out during the American Revolution. Modern day reenactments are still carried out to celebrate their feat.
Col. Meigs was also involved in putting down the insurrection that threatened unity of the Connecticut troops, caused by the 1780 famine.
After the Revolutionary War, Col. Meigs retired from the Military and joined the Ohio Company, which was promoting the sale and development of Ohio. In 1788, he moved his household to Ohio frontier and once there, became a member of General Henry Knox's Order of Cincinnati, which was composed of Revolutionary War officers. Later, he became a member of the Territorial Legislature and made up regulations for the first settlers of Ohio, that were posted on a huge oak tree near the Ohio and Muskingum rivers.
In 1800, he wrote his friend Gen. Knox for a job: “I have no preference as to what positions, nor where it requires me to go, provided it will give to me and my family a modest living.” In the spring of 1801 he received a reply from the War Dept. written by Henry Dearborn dated March 24th, 1801, offering him the positions of “Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Cherokee Nation” and “Agent for the War Dept. in the State of Tennessee. After considering the proposal, he wrote back on the first of May to accept both jobs. He was now at least 61 years old, and depending on which birth date you believe to be true, he could have been as old as 67. During that era, those who were lucky enough to reach that age were usually content to retire to their rocking chairs. But Col. Meigs picked up his family once more and moved them to an area near Kingston, Tennessee called Fort South West Point. They were to relocate several more times- first he combined two near-by forts, the South West Point (where the University of Tennessee has conducted archaeological digs) and Tellico Blockhouse into one. In 1807, he moved the Agency down the river where he built the Hiwassee Garrison. Once again in 1814-15 he relocated the Agency to another spot in what would become Meigs County, called Agency Creek. Finally, he took the Agency to Calhoun, which appears to be their last stop during Col. Meigs' lifetime.
In James Douthat's book “Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs Day Book Number 2” he chronicles Col. Meigs’ first eight years in his new career. Most of it consists of his transcribed letters and records of his day to day activities, taken directly out of his “Day Book”, but there are interesting personal notes that shed light on what extraordinarily dedicated man he must have been. Not only did he handle the business of dealing with the Federal government for the tribe, but he interceded on behalf of the Cherokee to fend off the encroachment of white settlers. In the year 1805, he concentrated much of his time on the negotiation of the purchase of Cherokee lands for the tribe. He actively recruited craftsmen to come in and teach the Cherokee useful skills and sought various missionaries to open schools. He wrote endless letters to the government seeking supplies: “....they raise considerable quantities of cotton for their own use....and cannot work it for want of (spinning) wheels and cards. The raising of cotton & making of cloth ....must increase for their hunting is failing them.”
One of Col. Meigs' sons, Timothy, shared in his work and he is often mentioned in his notes in James Douthat's book. One of Timothy's sons; Return Jonathan Meigs III, married Jane (or Jennie as she is sometimes referred) Ross, daughter of John Ross, who was the principle chief of the Cherokee Nation for 40 years.
He retained his jobs until the time of his death on January 28th, 1823 and it was said in his obituary in the Knoxville Register: “The most remarkable feature in the character of Col. Meigs, was stern, inflexible integrity, and yet all this was softened down by so much urbanity, so much dignified condescension and politeness, that, in his intercourse with the world, altho' every man felt an awe, and indescribable veneration and respect in his presence, he was nevertheless conscious of being free, unfettered, and easy.”
As an observer looking back through the years, I would add: Lt. Col. Return Jonathan Meigs was also an industrious man of deep principles, who lived a full, adventurous life. It was men like him who built our nation and endeavored to make life better for those around him and for future generations.
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Updated: 2:50 AM GMT on November 09, 2008
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