Gramma’s Dandelion Wine

Grandma & Me at Two and a HalfIf you’re foolish enough to hang around with me for any length of time you won’t escape hearing about my grandmother. Her name was Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette and I spent most weekdays with her until she died when I was seven years and three days old.

She was a proper English lady though she’d be quick to tell you she came from good common stock rather than the highborn kind. She was proper all the same so I’m not sure how she’d feel about being represented by a recipe for spirits. But this is such a writers’ treasure kind of story I can’t resist. Please, forgive me, Gramma.

I found the recipe in a very old notebook written in a lovely but substantial hand. Substantial enough to be read many decades after it was written. The ink is faded of course. Real ink like the kind that used to come in bottles and inkwells. The pages are soft with age and worn off at the corners. I handle them carefully for fear they’ll disintegrate into powder.

The pasteboard covers are separating at the spine. The original brown was probably dark but is now a dusky shade. She wrote “Cook Book – Mrs. Boudiette – 467 Holley Street – Watertown NY” on the front cover. She refers to herself in what was once considered appropriately modest for a married woman. She doesn’t use her first name.

This inscription tells me something about the age of the notebook. Grandma lived on Holley Street long before she and my scary grandfather moved to the tall brown house on West Main where I spent the happiest hours of my 1940’s childhood with Gramma in her kitchen. But I always had to be gone before Grandpa got home which was fine with me.

I run my hand over the letters she wrote on the faded brown cover of her small notebook. The sensitive skin of my fingertips touches the place where her hand had been and of course I weep. She died going on seventy years ago but she is still deeply entrenched in me. Everything good that has happened in my life began somehow with Gramma.

Only two actual dates appear in the notebook. November 1, 1927 after her recipe for Apple Jam and March 9, 1931 above Tasty Salad. Other entries include How to Remove Ink from Clothes and Receipt for Tanning Hides. Bless you Gramma. You were the first and among the best blessings of my life. Here is Alice Jane Rowland Boudiette’s Dandelion Wine in her own words.

6 quarts fresh heads of dandelion blossoms in stone jar or granite. 1 gallon hot water poured on the blossoms. Put aside for 3 days and nights, then strain through a cloth. Now add 3 pounds sugar, juice of 2 lemons and 3 oranges. Add one-half yeast cake.

Pour mixture into a stone jar and let it stand 4 days and nights. Then strain again through a cloth. Bottle. Let stand in bottles with corks set in loose until it stops working. Otherwise it will blow off or break bottles. After it stops working cork tightly and store where cool.

Shared by Alice Jane’s granddaughter Alice Orr – www.aliceorrbooks.com. The picture is of me and Gramma in her garden when I was two and a half years old.

 

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The I-Can and I-Will Path

Path in Woods toward LightMona’s excellent post “Competitiveness” got me thinking about the crucial question she asks at the end. “Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” I commented on that question at some length. Sorry. I natter on sometimes especially on the topic of Success, what it is and how we measure it in our own lives. I’m going to natter some more now.

In preparation for writing this post I looked at some of the motivational talks I used to give. I loved doing that back then. Words would fly out of my mouth with a laugh line thrown in every now and then because I have a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisited my seminar and workshop notes I wasn’t in search of laugh lines.

I was listening for words I’d heard myself say before and needed to hear again. This is what I found on the subject of Success. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there and of course it was a talk for a group of writers, specifically romance writers. Here’s the irony about that. Our romance stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear.

There’s no getting away from the scary things in life. They’re always going to be with us. Just like they’re always going to be in our stories or our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see that glass shatter and hear it too.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We have to struggle against fear of the sharp shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. We do that in order to survive, the writing life and life in general, and then go on to thrive.

One way to fight back fear is to change our thinking in terms of the goals we set for ourselves and what achieving those goals really is. We need to stop thinking of our goals as far away. We need to stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow. By the way when I say “we” I really mean “I” because I really need this advice.

I know from my own experience that thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It’s the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

I’m in testing times right now so I’m going to talk to myself for a bit. I need to see my goal as right here right now, and to see me as progressing toward that goal today. If I manage even a small step or two, this is a successful day. I need to know what I want to accomplish and make sure I’m being realistic, not defeating myself before I start by filling my plate impossibly full.

Back to all of us. At the end of each day, if you don’t think you achieved your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not in the same place you were yesterday? To measure that, ask this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to overcome.

If you can say, “Yes, I’ve done what I could as well as I could do it,” then you’ve succeeded that day. Think of each of these successful days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

That smells like sweet success to me. It feels like happiness too. Now all I have to do is remember to take my own advice. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. I guess I must be human.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

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A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

What Most Folks Don’t Know About Me

Grandma & Maya - Thanksgiving 2015I’m going to follow  Gina Ardito’s good example and introduce myself. I’ve spent much of the past thirty years being fairly visible in the writing world. I loved it while I did it. Traveling to conferences and writers’gatherings. Giving talks and workshops. Wearing my tailored black suit.

Now I’m going to tell you something most folks don’t know about me because it happened very recently. I’ve settled down and I intend to stay settled down. As I said – I enjoyed the crowded itinerary while I lived it. Now I don’t care if I ever pack a suitcase and catch a train or plane again. With a few exceptions.

Trips to visit family – especially when my grandchildren are involved. That’s me and granddaughter Maya in the photo. Also occasional getaways with my husband Jonathan. Such as to southwest Colorado and Monument Valley in Utah this coming spring. Plus a jaunt every now and then to hang out with a faraway friend so we can stay up talking and laughing together until the wee hours.

The only business traveling I plan to do is to the infrequent conference where I’ll be there as simply and purely and wonderfully a writer. No podiums to stand behind. No stacks of workshop handouts to lug around. No tailored black suit. Instead I’ll collect other presenters’ handouts and stay up talking and laughing with author friends until the wee hours.

In between these once-in-a-while travels I mostly occupy the pleasant nest that is my home. In particular my nest within that nest – the room where I write. The walls are covered with family photos on one side and my grandchildren’s artwork on the other side and memorabilia of my writing career in between.

There are bookcases and file boxes and a daybed couch I prefer to the desk for just about everything. Whether it be making up stories or struggling with marketing or indulging in a daydream. I walk in here with my mug of coffee in the morning and exhale fully because I’m fully at home.

My mug was given to me by my grandkids and it says this. “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” Finally I’m truly doing exactly that.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.

A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.

Two New Authors on Main Street

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We are thrilled to announce  Alice Orr and Gina Ardito are our newest Authors of Main Street.

With so many wonderful applicants it was very difficult to vote.

Alice Orr

Alice Orr, author the Riverton Road Series, comes to us with many years of experience as an author. She is well known as a powerhouse speaker.

 

Gina Ardito

 

 Gina Ardito, author of The Bonds of Matri-money, impressed us with her writing.

We are excited to have them here on Main Street. Please take a moment and welcome them.

 

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