Advice From A Pro

Advice From A Pro

From the Family Circle Magazine of March 27, 1978, I tore out a page and each time over the intervening 35 years that I ran across it, I’ve reread that page and tucked it away again. I think it was because I saw myself in the person the writer described. I just found that page again after another move, and I really must share it with others.

Ted U Are

I do not like it Ted U Are

I do not like tactics bizarre

I do not like them in a car

I do not like them from afar

I do not like tactics bizarre

I do not like them, Ted U Are

Remembering Dad

My father Merrill Pepperd was known as an unusual man, but not for the obvious reason that he was deaf. He was perceptive, charming, intelligent and adventurous. He was born in 1897, the second in a family of six. This picture was taken of him in 1922 in Klamouth Falls, Oregon. That is a long way form Comanche County, Kansas where he was born and grew up. I've often wondered what drew him to that place, but he became known to the family for his wanderlust. That wasn't always good with young mouths to feed.


On the farm we had a rather small black dog named Nicodemus. Brother always claimed the family dog, and this one truly lead a dog’s life. My sister and I used to dress him up in girl’s clothing, paint his nails red, and push him around in a doll buggie. Nicodemus rather liked the attention, but it drove our brother crazy. Mind you, it was a short drive, and Sissie and I were experts at finding our older brother’s raw nerves. Any entertainment on a busy farm is sparse, but dressing a male dog in drag was an unthinkable outrage from brother's perspective.

Love of Spring

 No fooling, it’s spring

            And so come what may

Outside it’s gorgeous,

            A beautiful Day

White swirls on the ridge

            Are clouds in the sky

Come frolic with me

            Just you and just I

You say you feel down,

            Please look above.

What do you see?

                                                                                                 What’s not to love?

Grilled Spinach 'Shrooms

What do you do with the bag of spinach cluttering up the produce drawer? Put it together with leftover baby Portabellos, of course. I'm sure it has been done before, but these turned out to be very tasty after 15 minutes on a medium grill.

The Elusive Tricocereus

The bloom of the tricocereus is exquisite, but fleeting. This cactus is so stunning that you put it in your garden where it will stand out. Where you should plant it, however, is where you would normally fall over it on any given day. I use the word "day" with purpose because the bloom will unfold and disappear in a single day. If you miss it, well, you missed it. If you are lucky, the plant will have more than a single bloom and your finding the spent bloom and additional buds will alert you to watch like a hawk for additional bloom.

Rocky the Intrepid

Rocky was battling the mean roads of Louisiana when our son Kevin rescued him from the pizza pickup driver who was doing his best to run over him. He put up a good fight, but he was out of his weight class. Ever after he planted his feet and barked fiercely at all other pickups except Kevin's red one. I'll always wonder what he was called before, but the name Rocky seemed just fine with him.

Breakfast Time for Birds

It all started as a cup of water and some dried bread crumbs for the local doves and quail. Little did we suspect that it would become breakfast at the patio wall for birds, but it certainly has become a source of family entertainment.

After two or three broken cups, local research turned up small pyrex storage dishes that would fit on the wall and still support the weight of a thirsty bird or two. But that was just the start.

Thanksgiving Memories

alley family gathering 2x4The horse didn't know the way, and there weren't any woods on the Kansas prairie, but to Grandmother's house we went. Actually, it was great-grandmother's house and Grandmother went too. Those were wonderful times with lasting memories. I was too young and full of myself then to realize that when I entered Grandmother Alley's house on such occasions, I was witnessing an academy performance of cooking skills. Grandmothers, aunts and even cousins qualified as entrants, but I think Great Aunt Maude Alley would have won the Oscar. After all, it was her kitchen.

The greatest delight of country children was to get to play with cousins of the same age. At home I usually had duties to perform at meal time, but with so many grown women in the kitchen and dining rooms, we younger cousins roamed free. Toys? Who needed toys? There was a bike or two to be shared.

Jackie, the Girl Who Threw Out Two Boys of Summer Legends

_-mitchelljackie-vs-ruth-and-gehrigJackie Mitchell was a natural but never made it to the big leagues because she was born into the wrong gender at the wrong time. Still, she made a splash by fanning two of baseball's greatest: the Sultan of Swat and the Iron Horse, in succession. Instead of a big league contract, Jackie's achievement got her minor league contract invalidated by the baseball commissioner because baseball was too strenuous a game for delicate women. She didn't know that of course.

She Flew the English Channel in 1912

brave harriet 2brave harriet 3Brave Harriet by Marissa Moss tells us all of a little known pioneer of air flight. Harriet Quimby preceded Amelia Earhart and Berl Markham by 20 years and was the first woman to fly across the English Channel. Imagine if you can a beautiful socialite and reporter in a purple satin hooded airsuit landing in France to the amazement of other newsmen. Then imagine news of one of the most famous disasters in history also reaching newsrooms just as you achieved your goal. So sadly, but understandably, most school children have never heard of this daring prerunner to Charles Lindberg.

Character is Made, Not Born

imagesimagesIt may not have been her father's bitterness and disappointment at her not being a son that put the steel in Sarah Emma Edmonds spine, but certainly growing up in pants must have helped prepare her for her masquerade as a male when she ran away from her home in Canada to Michigan. As Frank Thompson, she became a bible salesman and then joined the Union Army.

June BlogTalkRadio Red River Writers Live Show with Peggy and Jon

robin_falls_symbolMarissa Moss is the guest author, and we will talk with her about her biographical picture books for young children. We will be talking about a number of amazing women: daring seamen, soldiers, pilots, spies and even a professional basesball pitcher. We will focus on the following books: