Missouri History Lesson 101 – Kaskaskia, Illinois

20150118_123352_resizedWhat happens when you go down south on I-55 a bit in search of the town of St. Mary and it’s huge Antique Mall?  Well, if you leave St. Mary and head east with intentions to follow the river back north a bit to the town of Ste. Genevieve like we did today, you’ll come to a bridge that crosses a creek and takes you across the Illinois state line. Confused?  Yeah, we were too.  Where was the river?  We thought you had to cross the Mississippi River to get into Illinois.  Well, not here you don’t.

It turns out that when the river flooded in 1881, the channel shifted east of Kaskaskia, Illinois, cutting off the town from the state.  Kaskaskia was even an island at one time until the river continued flowing in its new channel and deposited earth into the old channel which caused the town to become connected to the west bank. Kaskaskia has a Missouri zip code but an Illinois area code, and today it is the hometown of only 14 residents thanks to the flood of 1993 which put the town under nine feet of water. Kaskaskia is the second smallest town only to Valley City which has 13 residents.

So what is Kaskaskia known for?  Well, it was the first state capital back in the early 1800s.  And in the 1700s before that it was a major French colonial river regional center that provided lots of crops and supplies down the river to New Orleans. It’s also the place of the state’s first execution – a slave was burned at the stake for witchcraft! In 1741, King Louis XV sent a bell to Kaskaskia for its church.  And guess what?  This bell is still there!  It’s older than the Liberty Bell and hangs in a small museum there. The museum was closed today but we got to see the bell through the window, called The Liberty Bell of the West.

Leave it to me to find something even more interesting there though – this old pecan tree and the polite sign that let’s you know not to pick the pecans because the church uses them!

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

cabinetDo you have one of these?  A pantry that you love because it’s so big and there’s so much space?  Or maybe you installed it yourself because your kitchen needed more storage space?  Yeah, one of those.

Our kitchen is small and has a built-in pantry in the wall  in the space that goes back over the basement stairs. It’s not very big, but its deep. It reminds me of one of those mortuary drawers for dead bodies you see on CSI.  I wish it pulled out like that because you have to practically climb inside to reach the back.

And we got tired of doing just that, so we bought a tall freestanding pantry to put on the free wall in the kitchen. Oh wait, we actually bought two of these and backed them up side-by-side. Yay! Double the pantry space now. That’s awesome, right?

Nope.  It sucks.

Instead of climbing into a deep cave, we now have to have a small step stool just to reach the top shelf. And there are only 4 shelves in each pantry, including the bottom, so yeah, things are stacked three and four high. It’s impossible to keep clean because I live with a pack rat. Speaking of, last night he couldn’t find Ranch dressing in the fridge for his pizza, so I told him to check the pantry because I thought I had recently bought a new bottle.

Well, telling him to go look in the pantry is like telling a kid to take out the trash or clean his room when his favorite TV show is on. It ain’t gonna happen!  And I’m the same way. I don’t want to tackle the pantry to look for something he needs when there’s pizza to be eaten.  So he did without. And this morning when I went to make the coffee, guess where I found the Ranch?  Take a look in the picture for yourself.

Yeah, we’ve added those nice little wire drawers meant for canned goods – a sad attempt to be organized when you just end up piling shit in front of them and have to unload about a dozen or so things just to reach a can of soup!

I frequently think it would be a neat challenge just to consume everything in the pantry – not all at once of course – but to go without buying anything else that would end up in the pantry until we’ve emptied out some of what we have. Even before writing this, I wanted a cup of hot tea and found a half-empty bag of black licorice in the recesses of pantry hell. Any other time I would have overlooked it, but I just yanked that bag out and threw that shit away.  Man, that felt good!  What else can I throw away????

And speaking of tea, we have enough to change the color of the Boston Harbor again. If I drank nothing but tea, I still couldn’t consume all that we have in a year!  And believe me, we drink a lot of tea.   And you guessed it, what happens when you can’t find what you are looking for? You assume you don’t have any and you buy more. Every time we make chili, I buy a new bag of Fritos and I’m sure there’s at least one unopened bag lurking somewhere in the bottom of the pantry. If not, there’s at least four or five half eaten bags that we could combine into one.

I’ve pulled unopened stuff out of the cabinet before that had an expiration date of two years ago!  Yeah, it’s that bad and it sucks and I hate it. I hate it even more when I buy groceries and spend an hour putting things away because I’ve got to put together a magical Jenga stack of items just to get everything into the cabinet.  Twice now we’ve been abruptly awakened in the night to a shelf crashing down in this monster bitch.  But nothing ever breaks!  And we never learn. We continue to restack that Jenga game of canned goods and macaroni boxes and cereal we never eat just to play again.

This has got to change!

It feels good to vent about it, but excuse me now, because I made a meatloaf for dinner and you have to have macaroni with meatloaf, right?  So I’ve got to go face the beast.  Maybe we’ll have a canned veggie too.  Ha!  Counting the licorice, and the macaroni box, and a can of peas, that’s 3 things I took out of the pantry today!  This could be fun…

Tea,anyone?

2014 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

365 of Me: 365/1 The End of a Year in Pictures

Well here we are… It was my 2014 resolution to post a picture a day here on my blog, and while I wasn’t faithful to it every single day, I did backtrack and keep up and today I can proudly say I’ve reached the end of a year in pictures.

Posting a picture a day wasn’t as tough as it was to find things to take pictures of. If you follow my blog, you might have grown bored by the numerous pics of flowers, plants, and vegetables I posted during the spring and summer. But those were the things that are/were part of my life and that I found important and photo-worthy. If you don’t believe me, then you try taking a new and different photo a day starting tomorrow.

I’ve been asked what I’ll be blogging about next year. I don’t know yet, but I do know I won’t be posting every day. So only time will tell.

And I hate to end on a somber note but I’m posting two pics today. The first is the picture of my grandparents from their gravestone that I took the day of the funeral.

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And the second is the sunset I saw as I was driving back to St. Louis on Monday afternoon.  Life is precious, and no one knows how many sunsets we’ll see. So when you have time to stop and admire it, just remember it could be your last. And because of that, you should admire every sunset as if it were.   See you next year!

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365 of Me: 364/2

Sunday night after the funeral we gathered at my aunt’s house to eat and visit. It’s the first time that much of my family has been together since the mid-eighties so it was really special despite the circumstances. I snapped these photos of my grandparents from photos hanging on my aunt’s wall.

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I never met my mom’s father. He died of a heart attack in 1965 when his youngest child, his only son, was just 5 years old. I love this photo of him. He looks like an old western movie star.

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365 of Me: 361/5

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I know I just posted this picture a few days ago, but I wanted to post it again today in honor of my dear Grandma. She passed away yesterday at 2:30pm quite suddenly. She was 93. She leaves behind 5 children, 14 grand children, 14 great grand children, and if my count is correct, 11 great great grand children.

I love you, Grandma, and I miss you already.

365 of Me: 357/9 through 360/6

Wow! And with this post I’ve made it down to the single digits with how many days are left in the year!  Here are 4 more pics from my trip home last weekend.

Mom’s tree is up first. Always a pleasure to see it and it brings back memories. For years, it was one of those trees that rotated and had the color wheel shining on it. Then I think there were a few years without the wheel and no lights. When I was in college, I finally convinced Mom to put lights on the tree. And guess what?  The lights you see on the tree here are the same ones I bought for her that first year!

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This is a pic of me and my 93 year old Grandma! Granny is going to outlive us all!

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Grandma and her kids! That’s my Mom in the middle!

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My sister and Grandma!

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365 of Me: 353/13 through 356/10

My holiday trip home this weekend was great. I took lots of pics to share but since I’m several days behind on my pic a day posts, I thought I’d combine a few over the next few days. Here are pics of me and my sister with my Mom in front of her tree and pics with my Dad in front of the tree at the center where he lives.

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365 of Me: 352/14

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I know I said I was done for the year with my Putz House posting, but I have one more to share. I made this one last night from start to finish in about 3 hours while watching TV. I was quite proud of myself for finishing it in one night.  I have a coworker friend who bought all of the Putz Houses I made earlier this year, and she was so nice to ask about them again this month. Every Monday when I came in she wanted to see pictures of the houses I had finished over the weekend. She even brought pics to show me where she’d put the houses she bought from me, and she told me about how her friends had commented on them too. So, I decided to make one for her. She loves snowmen, so this is a special house made just for her.

I’d like to continue making them into the new year for a while, and maybe I will if we get snowed in. But with a new year approaching, it seems there are lots of other things that are already in line for my attention.  If anything, I’d like to start practicing on traditional putz houses. Only time will tell.

I’m leaving this afternoon for my Christmas weekend with my family, so there will be pics from there to share for the next few days. I can’t wait to see my Mom’s Christmas tree.