October 1, 2014
Clear sky
  • 84.2 °F
  • Clear sky



Treasure Hunt

More than a few times a year I travel to Indianapolis for meetings, my sons’ swim meets, or concerts. While I’m fairly familiar with downtown, the city is full of neighborhoods I’ve never explored. Recently, for the annual meeting of Indiana Landmarks, I spent the weekend in the Old Northside neighborhood of Indianapolis, where the organization has been headquartered since 2011.

The statewide preservation organization operates in a Romanesque Revival-style complex at 1201 Central Avenue. It began life in 1891 as Central Avenue Methodist Church where for decades it housed the largest Methodist congregation in the state. When the congregation merged with another in 1999, the church was vacated.

Rescued and repurposed as Indiana Landmarks Center, the complex reopened in 2011 after a nearly $20 million renovation. The late Bill Cook, his wife Gayle, and son Carl, all of Bloomington, Indiana, directed the restoration and funded $16 million of the cost.

For this visit, I stayed near Indiana Landmarks in the Old Northside Bed and Breakfast, an 1885 Romanesque Revival structure operating as one of a handful of bed and breakfasts, or inns, on the Old Northside. The B & B was full — most of the guests attended the weekend’s Notre Dame vs. Purdue football game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Old Northside, listed on the National Register since 1978, is a residential neighborhood near downtown Indianapolis located between 12th and 16th Streets, and Pennsylvania and Bellefontaine Streets. At the end of the 19th century, the area was home to some of the city’s most prominent businessmen, merchants, and politicians. The President Benjamin Harrison home is located in the neighborhood. (It was closed during my Sunday stroll.) Novelist and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for literature Booth Tarkington, grew up in the Old Northside. His most famous novel is based on the second Indianapolis neighborhood I’ll write about, next week — Historic Woodruff Place.

Cub Mom

I’ve been a sports mom for nearly every season (never soccer, though) as my sons have grown to be teenagers. This is the first year, though, I have been a Cub Football mom. My youngest son Jackson, who plays wide receiver and safety on Memorial High School’s 7Th grade cub football team, is the kid I never see.

The team practices six days a week, plays up to two games weekly, and is run alongside the high school football program. It’s the big time. He has the bumps and bruises to prove it. Earlier this week we played North at the beautiful, huge Bundrant Stadium with the turf field. (The turf saved a washing of the already grungy football pants.) We’ve also played Castle North at Castle South’s nice new stadium. Of course, we play at Memorial High School, too.

In the early 1970s, I was a cub football daughter. My father, who had taught for two years what then was termed special education at Lincoln High School, was hired in 1972 to teach special education at Harrison High School. Coaching cub football came along with the job. My father had coaching experience; in Iowa, before we returned to his hometown,

I was in third grade at Caze Elementary. My mother taught at Caze; she was hired there after teaching at Wheeler Elementary her first year in Evansville, before it was torn down in 1972. I was impressed that the boys in the upper grades, whose names I knew from my mother, played on Coach Reeder’s Harrison cub football team. Caze, along with other East Side schools, fed into Harrison, of course, comprising the Harrison cub team. I don’t recall attending many games, but I have great memories of the team photo.

Sports daughter or mom, the sport I most enjoy is the one being played today.

Thank you, Laura!

What’s not to like about tomorrow? It’s Friday heading into Labor Day and at the office, we’ll complete the September/October 2014 Evansville Living deadline.  It will be a day of celebration — and sadness: Tomorrow also is the last day Creative Director Laura M. Mathis will drive from her Owensboro, Kentucky, home to design and lay out magazine pages.

Laura, a Louisville, Kentucky, native, has been creative director (first she was art director) at Tucker Publishing Group for 15 years, since the company began. She learned about TPG in a chance encounter as she  prepared to leave the printing company where she’d worked for nearly a decade, Link Graphics. Laura planned to offer freelance graphic design services while she stayed home with her newborn and 3-year-old daughters. Laura competed for the job (freelance, at first) to produce all graphic design for Evansville Living and won.

We have said that the early issues of Evansville Living were produced by moms — Laura and me — with infants on our laps (my oldest son was just one), working from home offices at 1 a.m.  As TPG has grown, so have our families. Laura’s daughters have become teenagers with both parents working in the print media business; Mark Mathis writes sports for the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer. This family knows deadlines! Laura has, by our count, presided over 341 deadlines of issues and special inserts.

Laura leaves us to work as the new Marketing Director for First Security Bank, in her adopted hometown of Owensboro. She’ll do a great job and bring a lot of energy to the bank.

TPG magazine brands are very much the result of Laura’s design aesthetic and her refined ability to combine images and words to tell engaging stories.

If you know Laura, please consider thanking her for her contributions to our city and our magazines and wish her well!

Thank you, Laura!

At the company’s 10th anniversary party, photographer Daniel Knight shot mocked-up magazine covers of employees and guests.

Nutrition Numbers

My 50th birthday and the corresponding physical examination has me more closely monitoring my health. As I’ve done at various times in my life, I’m logging my daily nutrition and exercise, this time in an app on my iPhone, the highly rated MyFitnessPal. I know many people who wear daily fitness trackers, like Fitbit; I think I will buy one soon.

I grew up in a calorie-counting household. My mother was a dieter; there always was some sort of calorie index in the kitchen. In my own kitchen, propped in a corner cabinet, is a cutting board calorie counter from an antique store (that my husband can certainly name, but I cannot). It lists calories and cholesterol content – High, Medium, Low, O-none) for all the food you’d need to count in the middle of 20th century: chicken a la king, fruit cocktail, bass and mackerel, caramels, cranberry sauce, Parkerhouse, liverwurst, turnips, lady fingers, Tom Collins, and martini are among the daily food choices. Yogurt is listed with 115 calories for a cup and low in cholesterol.

There are dozens of nutrition and exercise tracking apps, in addition to the devices, that are worn, like the Fitbit, that of course count steps and physical activity. I did a bit of research and downloaded the free version of MyFitnessPal. The easy-to-use app tracks your complete daily nutrition and shows it in a number of formats, like a pie chart. On this day, I had a balanced diet. To log a food, like the Oikos Bananas Foster Greek Yogurt with Caramel on Top I ate earlier in the week, just scan the bar code on the container, which confirms this yogurt packs 31 grams of sugar and 210 calories. The times, they are a’changin.

Urban Wildlife

Residents on the East Side of have been intrigued for several years by the urban foxes setting up dens in our neighborhoods.

Since the largest tract of virgin forest located inside any city limits in the U.S. — Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve — is nearby, and the Evansville State Hospital grounds across the Lloyd Expressway, wildlife has a virtual gateway to my street, Lombard Avenue.

A pair of red-tail hawks have taken up domicile, a very large groundhog, and now, foxes are calling the corner of Lincoln and Lombard avenues home.

Last week, the gigantic groundhog was spotted slipping in the storm sewer. It’s the storm sewer that is providing two foxes — a very mangy fellow and his better looking comrade — a route under the street to our neighbor’s yard.

We’d had glimpses of the fox for a few weeks. Imagine our surprise when my family saw a woman placing a dog food bowl in our yard – leaving food out for the fox!

Dr. John Scott Foster, executive director of Wesselman Nature Preserve, says, “Foxes have discovered that the mature landscaping, big trees and kids at school all day in the suburbs of Evansville, and have found it filled with tasty mice, squirrels, voles and the like – it’s a wonderful place to live. They are street smart and happy to be here and aren’t going away.”

About the dog food, Foster cautions: “Don’t leave your dog or cat food outside and if you think they are getting too close (they won’t let you get close enough to catch them) spray them with a hose. Problems will only arise when people feed them (on purpose or not) and the foxes start to associate people with food. As long as that doesn’t happen, they are a wonderful addition to the squirrels, raccoons, possums, skunks, occasional coyote, deer and the like that end up in our back yard.”

Hi, I’m Johnny Cash

Bill Miller was a lucky boy. Because of his luck, we — legions of Johnny Cash fans — can be immersed in six decades of “original rock and roll” at the Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, open just 14 months (and already on Forbes and National Geographic "must see" lists).

Miller was just 12 years old at a 1971 Johnny Cash concert in Denver, when Cash looked straight in the eye at the boy with the Brownie Instamatic camera (who had traveled 500 miles from New Mexico with his father to see the concert) and tossed him a harmonica. That moment was the first of thousands Miller shared with Cash; Miller became a Cash preservationist, the steward of a collection of Cash treasures now on display in the Johnny Cash Museum that Miller founded and owns with his wife, Shannon.

The museum is located just a few steps off Broadway in downtown Nashville; I visited with my sisters. It brought back memories, as Cash, Glenn Campbell, and the Statler Brothers were always on the record player in our home. (A video in the museum theater highlighted a 1971 Cash concert where he performed with the Statler Brothers, who sang “Flowers on the Wall,” which I’ve been humming ever since.)

We spent two hours in the museum; I would go again tomorrow and the next day if I could, there is so much to marvel at.

Though Cash’s death (Sept. 12, 2003, in Nashville) is absent from the museum, included is a poem he wrote for his beloved June on the day she was buried. Visitors see many guitars and costumes; silver, gold, and platinum records; school photos; personal notes; military records; Cash’s artwork – a complete range of Cash memorabilia, authentically telling the life story of the Man in Black.

A Speakeasy

I first learned about The Patterson House, a speakeasy in Nashville, from Laura Mathis, creative director at Tucker Publishing Group. Recently, the Wall Street Journal included The Patterson House in its story, “A Pitch-Perfect Long Weekend in Nashville” in the recurring column, “Take Monday Off.” Following that advice, I met my sisters in Nashville for three days of fun.

I had read up on The Patterson House. We arrived early, taking a taxi to 1711 Division Street. It’s open seven days a week, 5 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Patrons waited on the steps and porch of the historic-looking house. Only the small letters on the door identify the establishment. A nattily dressed host in a vest and a Windsor knot greeted guests in the library waiting room.

Two women were in front of us.

“Table for two, please.”

The host, peeking behind the blue velvet curtain separating the library from the bar, told them “It shouldn’t be too long; we’ll seat you as soon as we can.”

“How long?”

“Not too long, it’s hard to say.”

“Can we wait in the bar?”

“The bar is what you’re waiting for. You can have a seat here; we’ll let you know.”

“Can we go in to get a drink?”

“No, that’s what you’re waiting for.”

They hadn’t read up on the protocol: guests wait in the library — we sat on stools by the velvet curtain — to be escorted into the 30-seat bar that’s attracting national attention. Once inside (our wait was 20 minutes), you’re treated to the complete attention of the authoritative wait staff and bartenders, who put on a real show shaking and concocting the inventive cocktails — 50 are described on the pressed paper menu.

I enjoyed “Blood and Sand,” a classic whisky drink, and “Around the Bend,” made with bourbon.

Consider adding The Patterson House to your Nashville must-see list; I’ll definitely return.

Sugar Sand and Sea

Long before the first issue of Evansville Living (March/April 2000) was put on the press, I was interested in dialogue about cities. It wasn’t the political organization of cities that interested me; it was their Main Streets and neighborhoods.

My interest was inspired by a term I learned only in the early 1990s: New Urbanism. It arose in the United States in the early 1980s, and has gradually informed many aspects of real estate development, urban planning, and city land-use strategies. (The first Evansville Living Idea Home was built in Evansville’s Sutherland, a neighborhood developed by John and Susan Pickens using the principals of New Urbanism.)

During a trip to Panama City Beach, Florida, before we had kids, we visited Seaside, Florida, the master-planned community on the Florida Panhandle renowned among architecture buffs for its proportions, scale, and walkability — all tenets of New Urbanism. We have visited Seaside for close to 25 years, most recently over the Independence Day Holiday. Its iterations continue to fascinate me.

Time Magazine, in its Jan. 1, 1990, "Best of the Decade" issue, called Seaside, “the most astounding design achievement of its era and one might hope, the most influential.”

Buzzfeed, the social news company, last year named Seaside to it’s "17 Quirky Cities and Town You Totally Need to Visit" list.

What makes Seaside so special is its whole: the pastel houses, front porches, picket fences, narrow lanes, and pavilions to the sea, leading to the star attraction – the acclaimed sugar-white sand beaches of Florida’s Northwest coast. If this sounds like a movie, it is: Seaside was the filming location for The Truman Show, which debuted 16 years ago.

The town of Seaside has more than 340 homes, cottages, town homes, and penthouse apartments. More than 200 are available to rent from the town’s Cottage Rental Agency.

Media Day at the Track

The 92nd meet of Ellis Park Thoroughbred opens today with a 12:50 post time. On Tuesday owner Ron Geary and his staff — along with a dozen or managers and employees of the Evansville Ice Men (Geary’s team) — hosted their very nice, annual Media Day in the park’s Gardenia Room. Geary welcomed members of the media and noted the first meet was in 1922 and that the “annual Media Day seems to come around quicker than Secretariat.”

Dan Bork, director of racing, began his remarks by saying, “Yes, we are having ostriches and zebras. I’m going to worry about the horses and we are getting great horses again this year.” Bork noted that Preakness runner-up Ride on Curlin broke his maiden last year at Ellis Park. “We get excellent 2-year olds.”

Again this meet (29 race days, through Sept. 1), Ellis attracts the top trainers. Kenny McPeek and Dale Romans (who had 10 wins in 2013) have horses at Ellis. Jockeys at the meet include Calvin Borel, Corey Lanerie, Robert Morales, and Jon Court (though The Courier-Journal reported yesterday that Court was “sidelined.”)

Ellis Park is known for its fun promotions, and they’re changing it up this year. Indeed Weiner Dog trials and races are back this year. They’ll also have lots of instant racing machine promotions. After working with the exotic animal trainer, Joe Hedrick in Nickerson, Kansas, the park had contracted with for ostrich and camel races, zebras are replacing the camels this year. A few other racetracks have races zebras to great fun and success. Expect every local headline on the day’s races to read, “Horses, Ostriches, and Zebras, Oh my!”

After the presentations, Geary invited us to lunch where we were offered salmon or pork chops, vegetables, salad, and a dessert bar including homemade banana pudding. They’re proud of their food at Ellis Park, too, and they should be.

50

Besides me, the First Lady, and all of the tail-end Baby Boomers born in 1964, there many things turning 50 this year. I joined the club on Tuesday. Mental Floss, the cool magazine and website, curated this list of 50th birthdays. Here are a few.

The Beatles
We truly grew up with the Beatles; it was in 1964 that the U.S. finally met them, on The Ed Sullivan Show. The door was opened for the British invasion.

The Ford Mustang
The 1965 Mustang was introduced in April 1964, and was known as a “1964 ½” model.

8 Track Cartridge
This magnetic audio-tape system was the second in popularity to vinyl from the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, when CDs took over.

“You Really Got Me”
It’s impossible this classic pop song by the Kinks is 50 years old, but it is.

G.I. Joe
Hasbro gave little boys what Mattel gave the girls — a line of dolls. G.I. Joes were World War II themed.

Gilligan’s Island
This can’t be 50, either. The series lasted 98 episodes and became a pop culture icon.

Lucky Charms
My favorite cereal as a kid.

BASIC
Gen-X kids studying computers in 1980s high schools learned this early computer language. BASIC was invented in 1964 by John George Kemeny and Tom Kurtz.

Smoking May Be Harmful
Surgeon General Luther Leonidas Terry released Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General of the United States detailing the risks of cigarette smoking.

Buffalo Wings
The spicy chicken wings were invented by a bar owner in Buffalo, New York.

Goldfinger
My favorite James Bond movie was the third, and the best, even today, I think.

The U.S. Civil Rights Act
Lyndon B. Johnson was president in 1964 and, completing the work begun by John F. Kennedy, President Johnson signed the most far-reaching set of civil rights laws in American history.

1964 – I’ll say it was a good year.

Me at 4 ½ months, with my mother, Mary Gladys Midgorden Reeder, at age 31.

A Night at the Palace


 

Tuesday evening I had the treat of seeing Elvis Costello, one of my favorite musicians since my teenage years, perform solo at one of my favorite venues, the Louisville Palace.

For 145 minutes Costello (born Declan Patrick MacManus in England in 1954) tore through his marathon set of 29 tunes — old and new — on his five acoustic guitars. With a discography of 33 albums, Costello’s tune selections are legion.

Costello began his music career as part of London’s pub rock scene in the early 1970s. His father was a bandleader who grew his hair long and played songs about “peace and love in Twickenham supper clubs in the 1960s,” Costello told the audience. “My father would say, ‘You’re a disgrace to the family; grow your hair long.’”

Though billed as a solo show, Costello invited Louisville native and My Morning Jacket singer and guitarist Jim James on stage for a few numbers, as well as local songstress Brigid Kaelin, who performed the musical saw and accordion.

Costello has played the Louisville Palace in the past and clearly was pleased to be back. Opened in 1928 as a Loew’s Theater, the Palace was designed by architect John Eberson to mimic an exotic Spanish courtyard, with dimly lit grottos and a deep midnight blue ceiling sprinkled with twinkling stars. Eberson designed the theater as part of a series of “atmospheric” theaters — with 100 movie palaces in dozens of states and even abroad.

Tuesday night’s performance was constructed around a theme: “A Year in Exile,” which Costello quipped about a few times. He also said a complementary theme was “the last year of my youth” and played a new tune of that name, which he says he still is writing. Costello, who will be 60 in August, reached for an electric guitar for that number in his encore.

16

Today my oldest son is 16 years old. In fact, he already is — he was born at 6:25 in the morning on a Friday at Welborn Baptist Hospital (which closed the following year). When I checked into the hospital, I was surprised that my chart said I was allergic to latex. I was sent to a room with no carpet and special equipment; no maternity suite for me. This also meant no epidural for me.

Maxwell William Tucker was born the next morning, June 12. Like all of you with children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, and pets — we wonder where the years go.

Max has grown into a fine young man. He’s a junior at Reitz Memorial High School and swims on the sectional-winning boys’ swim team. Most of his friends are driving. (Indiana drivers now wait until age 16 ½ to be licensed). He’s young for his grade; he entered kindergarten two months after turning 5. Max has heavily researched the car he wishes to drive — a 10-year-old German sports sedan.

Like his second cousin and best friend Brandt Hudson, who grew up in Tennessee and now lives in northwest Georgia, he is car crazy. Max’s favorite entertainment personality is Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear, his favorite television show. It’s a British television series begun in 1977 about motor vehicles; the irreverent Clarkson is one of the show’s extremely popular hosts.

Max began his birthday at morning swim team practice. We’re taking him and his younger brother, Jackson, to lunch. This afternoon he will work at his summer job at the Holy Rosary baseball fields; he is earning money to contribute to the summer car purchase.

Your 16th birthday no longer means keys to the car — but when it’s your oldest son’s birthday, it sure does mark the years, and the car will come soon.

Maxwell in Neyland Stadium at the University of Tennessee, during a fall college visit.

Summer Interns

Welcome 89, 90, and 91! For 15 years, Tucker Publishing Group has welcomed student interns. We’ve hired 91 to write stories, design ads and pages, and market TPG magazines.

Meet our summer intern staff:

Erin Miller began her internship in January; we asked her to stay for the summer. Erin will graduate from University of Southern Indiana with a degree in journalism in the fall.

“Jennifer Rhoades told me on my first day ‘We love our interns. We use them a lot, so be prepared!’ She was not kidding. I’ve learned everything from office printing etiquette to how to improve my writing skills. As an Evansville native who attended Harrison High School, I’ve always read Evansville Living and want to continue feature writing as my career.”

Alissa Byrne is a graphic design intern. The Castle High School graduate is a Purdue University senior majoring in visual communications design.

“I am still unsure about the area of design that I want to pursue. After being here for a week I have gotten a glimpse of the magazine creation process and I’m looking forward to seeing how I will be able to contribute to its success”

Celeste Zuber, editorial intern, is a senior public relations major at Purdue University and a Reitz Memorial High School graduate.

“I’m excited about being an intern and getting hands-on experience with writing and publishing to help me reach my goal to work for a publishing company in a city like Chicago or Indianapolis! Before I started, I wondered if magazines had editors like Miranda Priestly (a fictional character played by Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada”). Thankfully, editors I have worked with so far have all been nice and energetic people!”

We have all summer to work on that. Still, we won’t bark: “By all means move at a glacial pace. You know that thrills me!” We’re more sensitive. That’s all.

Best Cooks Ever

My friends are great cooks. I know this because I’ve enjoyed meals they have prepared, and because my kids tell me often what excellent cooks they are. My oldest son, Maxwell, to be fair, has, like me, enjoyed many meals cooked by these talented women. It is my son, Jackson, 12, whose compliments are so vivid:

“Mom! Do you remember that really fancy meal Mrs. Haynie cooked for us at her new house? She made that really fancy chicken, cut up, and that really fancy kind of rice? It was so good!” Of course I remember. The fancy rice was couscous.

“Man, I don’t know how the Millers manage to put out the meals they do. I’ve eaten over there a lot and every meal was great.” Yes, of course! Like us, the Millers are both working parents.

“Mrs. Brougham is a really good cook. Everything I’ve eaten there has been good. She is Italian, Mom.” Really? She’s Italian?

“Mrs. Zimmermann’s potatoes (at the Holy Rosary 6th Grade Fiesta) were the best food there. They were the best potatoes I’ve ever eaten.” I have no doubt about how tasty the potatoes were; I didn’t know you really liked potatoes.

While my kids don’t really complain about the meals I serve them — they are grateful — they tell me they want more variety. Our standard weekday supper is grilled protein, rice or potatoes, vegetable, and salad; for dessert, maybe some ice cream. (Not long ago, Jackson claimed I’d never made brownies; that is untrue.)

Over Memorial Day weekend, seeking to please, I shopped for what I needed for Jack’s Chili, and made a big pot on Sunday.

My family was full of compliments.

For your summertime enjoyment, I offer you Jack’s Chili.
As you will note, the recipe is flexible. This time I stuck to the recipe, with these alterations:

»  I used 3.71 pounds of ground beef. I did not buy extra lean variety; I don’t believe it was available when my father penned the recipe in the mid-1970s.

»  With the extra beef used, I overcompensated on all ingredients, including beans, tomatoes, and seasonings.

»  I purchased good quality canned whole tomatoes. As the chili cooks, I mush the tomatoes down.

»  I added two large bay leaves, brought back from the Grenadines, and about a teaspoon of paprika, also from the Grenadines.

»  I also added a generous pinch of a Mediterranean seasoning mix received recently as a gift (sea salt, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs).

»  I did not add beer.

»  I added two squares unsweetened baking chocolate.

Enjoy!

Fire it Up

Last Friday, my oldest son Maxwell completed his sophomore year at Reitz Memorial High School, and brought home his treasures from the semester. Unlike his younger brother who brought home a locker full of clothes in a tote bag (enough to outfit an entire sports team), Max carried home two laundry baskets holding seven pieces of ceramic pottery. Max didn’t bring home clothes from his locker. He never went to his locker — not even once — the entire year, instead, carrying his books with him every day.

Max had told me what he was making in ceramics, a class taught by Mark Shoenbaum, who has also teaches ceramics at the University of Evansville. I had seen his study drawing for the art deco pitcher he was making and knew he was learning Raku glazing techniques. Still, I was surprised by the beautiful pieces that we quickly set out for display.

I love the art deco pitcher, which is constructed with slabs. His coil-formed vase, standing more than a foot tall, features rustic impressions made with the eraser end of a pencil. On the Raku bowls, made on a wheel, Max cut the sides to produce angles and stylized the rims. My favorite has horsehair fired into its surface — a popular technique with potters — which creates localized carbon markings.

Growing up I spent a lot of time drawing — a pastime I no longer indulge in. While I do believe I am creative, I would never call myself artistic. The only subject I could draw really well as a young girl were stylized ladies, resembling women in 1950s fashion advertisements — just as my mother sketched. Max’s father has one artistic talent: he draws funny dog-like animals with stitches in their faces, arrows in their heads, wearing blankets that he personalizes with someone’s name. Maxwell is raising the bar on the family’s artistic endeavors.

Endangered Species

The rare 1925 patented above-ground pool, Anderson Athletic Park Pool, designed by engineer Wesley Binz allowed dressing rooms under the structure. Postcard courtesy of Evan Finch.

A cool pool in Anderson, a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired home in Greenwood, and a diminutive home in the Rosedale neighborhood of Evansville — a Usonian home — all have made Indiana Landmark’s 10 Most Endangered places list for 2014 of Hoosier landmarks in jeopardy. The statewide preservation organization, with a field office in Evansville, announced the list in April at their annual “Rescue Party.”

The Mills house designed in 1955. Photo credit: Indiana Landmarks.

The list carries no legal weight, but it’s a way for preservationists to sound the alarm. Of the 99 historically significant structures that have made the list since 1991, 48 have been restored; 14 others are either being restored or have at least been stabilized. In 2010 and 2011, Evansville’s Washington Avenue historic corridor made the list.

The Peters-Margedant home in 1934-35. Photo credit: Indiana Landmarks.

Also on the list, since 2012, is the Harmony Way Bridge over the Wabash River from historic New Harmony to Illinois. It’s a 1930 iron toll bridge on the National Register. It shut down, deemed unsafe, in 2012. A study commissioned by Indiana Landmarks indicates the span could be reopened with minimal investment.

The Peters-Margedant House, at 1506 E. Indiana, made the list for the first time this year, though preservationists — local and statewide —have been watching it for years. This 1935 house likely ranks as the first Usonian house in the nation, predating even Frank Lloyd Wright’s inaugural Usonian home built in 1937. William Wesley Peters, who was Wright’s first apprentice at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin, designed it.

The Peters-Margedant home in 2014. Photo credit: Indiana Landmarks.

Indiana Landmarks reports that a local person has optioned the home and plans to move it to Warrick County unless advocates raise the money necessary to buy it and relocate it to the campus of University of Evansville. The architect Peters grew up in Evansville and attended Evansville College before graduating from MIT. He designed the home in two weeks for a family member. I will keep you posted.

The Azaleas Are Blooming

The gates have been open for a few weeks, though the azaleas, as we all know, are at least 10 days “late” this year. For decades, interlopers have been welcomed to the gardens near the corner of Lincoln Avenue on Roosevelt Drive to enjoy the azaleas. Each spring I make a point to drive down Roosevelt Drive (between Lincoln and Walnut Avenue, east of Boeke Road) to admire the beautiful, old azaleas that line the street, giving it the look of an impressionist painting in the dappled sun.

Joe and Linda Scott, now retired, have lived in the home with gardens for 18 years. Linda says more than 90 percent of the azaleas were planted by the original homeowner in 1930.

“We had lived in Evansville for 25 years before we bought this house,” Linda says, “yet we never knew about the azaleas. Our real estate agent showed us photos and the next spring, we were pleasantly surprised.

“A friend asked us if ‘we would continue the tradition,’” Linda says, who learned the tradition was opening the gate and announcing, with a sign, the “azaleas are blooming.” 

The Scotts are pleased to open their yard to visitors. “We enjoy it; we’ve met a lot of nice people,” Linda says.

Several years ago, our friend Billy surprised his wife on their anniversary with a picnic dinner and champagne on the garden’s lawn. I recall the picnickers were warmly welcomed by the homeowners, who came outside to introduce themselves.

Linda says this year the azalea blooms are about two weeks behind normal bloom time, which can bloom as early as mid-April.

The name azalea is derived from the Greek word “azaleos” for dry; this refers to its proclivity to thrive under trees and bushes that get little rainwater.

Alpha Dog

Jed needs discipline. Our 2-year-old mountain cur turned 2 earlier this month with no obedience training behind him. He is a good, loving, fun dog – just a bit undisciplined. “He’s still a puppy,” is what we say. During most days, Jed either visits the office or attends O’Hair’s Happy Dog Daycare; he sometimes stays home alone.

Last week my husband saw a segment on 14 WFIE News about the Humane Society of Henderson County offering obedience classes beginning that very night, for five weeks, at no cost to donors. At 5:30 p.m. Jed and I were driving across that dog-behavior-improving bridge.

Kent Preston is the executive director of the Humane Society of Henderson County and is conducting the training. Nine dogs joined us the first night. After the first class, I reported to my family that Jed was the third wildest dog there. After the purchase of a training collar and practice, I know, like any dog, Jed is trainable; he already is making progress and can heel appropriately – a big change from the jerking and lunging at cats, squirrels, and other dogs that previously defined our walks.

I thought we were doing just great until Jed’s willfulness came out. He heeled, halted, and sat – but not where Preston wanted him to sit – on my left side, beside my feet. Instead, he pivoted and sat in front of me. He wasn’t jumping or straining, so I began with the praise. From the inside of our circle, Preston, in an affable manner, called me out: “No, momma, make him sit where you want him to sit; not where Jed wants to sit. He’s got you: He’s the alpha dog.”

The Alpha Dog! I knew it. Jed has much to learn. The training, Preston reminded us, is as much for the owners as it is the dog.

Spice Islands

Last week I returned from the Caribbean with my husband to celebrate 25 years of marriage. We flew to Miami, where we stayed a night, then to St. Georges, Grenada, where we stayed before boarding S/V Mandalay, for a seven-day sail through the Grenadine Islands with Sail Windjammer. We stayed in St. Georges for two days after we disembarked.

We invited our friends, Larry and Kristi, to come along. We were to meet them in Miami; they were flying out of Louisville a day before the ship sailed – a day after we flew, still a day before the cruise departed. Their flight from Louisville was cancelled. (Cruise ship passengers, sure to miss their cruises in Miami, were in tears, Kristi said.) After a few hours of worry, Larry and Kristi were on a flight to Miami, then Trinidad, and on to Grenada, where we met Sunday morning at the family-owned hotel we’d booked on the secluded Morne Rouge beach. We spent the day at the beachside pool. We witnessed a baptism on the beach and the daylong celebration that followed. We ate delicious West Indian food at the two beachside restaurants associated the Gem Holiday Resort – foretelling the tasty Caribbean food we enjoyed on the ship.

S/V Mandalay — Photo by Kristi Epplin

Ten days spent in the Spice Islands on a 236-foot sailing ship and in Grenada was an immersion in West Indian culture. Most of Mandalay’s crew was local. Captain Bernard took us to Bequia and Mayreu, islands where he grew up. Purser Meivon, pointed out to me, in the distance (I have no concept of nautical miles) Petite Martinique, where he grew up. Later, in Carriacou, Meivon said that he where he was born. (There is no hospital on Petite Martinique.)

The Caribbean Sea was mostly calm.

The weather never changes – 80s high, 70s low – and the sun is intense from sunup to sundown, at 6:18 p.m. on our last night in the Grenadines.

Milestones

This year I will celebrate two milestones. The first is next Tuesday, when my husband Todd and I celebrate 25 years of marriage. We were married at the then newly renovated Clearcrest Pines Golf Club on Evansville’s North Side. I was 24 and Todd was 26. The wedding was fairly small – my sisters were my attendants and Todd was attended by his father and cousin. My mother made my dress. A harpist played Pachelbel’s Canon in D and Handel’s Water Music, though Todd had convinced my mother Hail to the Chief would be played when he and his father walked down the aisle. It was April Fools’ Day, after all. We honeymooned at the New Harmony Inn, and then in Key West, Fla., helping to move his cousin, living in Boca Raton, Fla., along the way.

Todd and I had dated for eight years prior to our wedding. His story: We met while I was parading my dog Skippy back and forth in front of his house. He noticed me and brought out his English sheepdog, Fanny, for a walk. My story: Our mothers were friends (single school teachers socializing together) and I knew he wanted to meet me. He saw me walking in front of his mom’s house and asked if he could walk his dog, Fanny. I was pretty sure Fanny was not accustomed to long walks.

The second milestone? I’ll turn 50 in June. (I will have been married one-half of my life!) Since First Lady Michelle Obama began the parade of the last of the baby boomers turning 50 in January, I’m reminded daily I have plenty of company: Nicholas Cage, Matt Dillon, Sandra Bullock, and Rob Lowe are among those turning 50 this year. I’m not there yet, though, so I’ll save space for those words when it’s my turn in the parade.

Good morning, Captain, Sir!

Soon I will sail on this beautiful ship, the Mandalay. My husband and I, along with another couple, will celebrate 25 years of marriage on her as we sail from Grenada.

We’ve sailed on Mandalay before, in March 2004, with the “old” windjammer. Last year Florida tourism entrepreneur Charles J. Kropke brought back the freewheeling sail cruises through a new version of Windjammer Barefoot Cruises. He purchased the defunct company’s three-masted Mandalay and based his company, Sail Windjammer, on the heritage of the old company started by Mike Burke in 1947, after a night of drinking. Burke woke up the next morning and found himself the owner of a $600 sailboat he named the Hangover.

Despite all its troubles at the end, Windjammer Barefoot Cruises through the years gained a legion of wildly devoted fans. “Windjammer did not die because it was more than a company. It was a culture,” Kropke has been quoted as saying.

The Mandalay was built in 1923 for financier E. F. Hutton and his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post. On our first trip aboard, we sailed from Panama. Arriving on the isthmus a day early, we enjoyed the hotel’s views of the Bridge of The Americas, spanning the Pacific entrance to the Panama Canal.

Aboard Mandalay, our destination was the San Blas islands, an archipelago of 378 islands, of which only 49 are inhabited – by the Kuna Indians. Unlike other windjammer trips we’d taken, which visited popular yachting destinations like the U.S. and U.K. Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and St. Thomas, the only boats we saw during our week in the San Blas islands were the dugouts used by the Kuna, who eagerly sold us crabs from their boat — to be prepared for us by the chef!

I’m eager to board Mandalay again — this time in Grenada.

A Whale of a Time

You don’t have to travel far, less than an hour, for an authentic St. Patrick’s Day celebration. As luck would have it, I drove through Ireland, Ind., last weekend on my way to and from the Age Group Divisional Swim Meet at Jasper High School with my husband and saw the town of 600 decked out for it annual festival. With the opening of Interstate-69 two years ago in Southern Indiana, travel to Ireland and Jasper is much easier. Just hop on I-69 and exit onto Indiana 56 toward Jasper.

Ireland is an unincorporated town in Dubois County. It first was named American City, but changed to Ireland when its residents discovered there was already a town with that name. Its first residents in 1816 were mostly Irish. Just four miles from Jasper, you’ll know you’ve arrived at your destination when the painted green water tower is in sight.

Ireland’s first St. Patrick’s Day celebration was held in 1982; it was discontinued in 2002 and established again in 2009 with two full weekends of events. Residents participate in a home lighting contest, festival goers enjoy a barbecue contest, Toast to the O’Blarney Drop Mug Holding contest, an Irish Road Rally, Miss Shamrock competition (held last weekend so Miss Shamrock and her court can reign over the festival), the St. Paddy Whack (a rock/paper/scissors contest, held last weekend), an Irish dance, a parade, mass with Irish music, and of course Irish food. The town’s popular restaurants, the Shamrock Café (established in 1940) and The Chicken Place are the hub of the celebration. During the festival, the Shamrock offers corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew, green bread, and green beer. The Chicken Place attracts “road food” seekers year-round, who return for, of course, their perfectly fried chicken.

Isn’t it Grand?

Recent research for a City View story on Evansville’s founding families led me to the Reitz Family Monument in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. I had not driven in the meticulously groomed cemetery recently, so last week I took a quick detour returning from a meeting in German Township.

In operation since 1841, St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery is owned and operated by 18 Catholic parishes in the city of Evansville. The cemetery was located northeast of the city, in an area that now is bounded by Columbia, Michigan, and Garvin streets; it operated until 1871. Two sites were studied for relocating the cemetery: the present day Johnson Place on Lincoln Avenue, and property that was selected, 115 acres on Mesker Park Drive. In 1872, the grounds were ready for burials, and by 1879 all bodies were reburied in the new cemetery.

The Reitz family monument is located on highest ground in St. Joseph Cemetery, overlooking the park-like grounds and the West Side of Evansville. Francis Joseph Reitz erected the monument in 1919 to commemorate his parents and siblings. Reitz, his parents, and six of his siblings are buried here.
The website Art in Indiana calls the Reitz family monument “one of the most extraordinary private family burial monuments in the U.S.” The website is a project of art majors at the University of Southern Indiana.

I researched the monuments of the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Fords, and Asters. Only the Vanderbilt family monument stands as grand as the Reitz family monument. The Vanderbilt family mausoleum, located in the Moravian Cemetery in New Dork on Staten Island, N.Y., was designed by Richard Morris Hunt and constructed in 1885. It is part of the family’s private section within the cemetery and is not open to the public today.

If you’ve never seen the Reitz family monument, I encourage a visit to St. Joseph Cemetery.

Ice Cave Man

I was delighted to find in my email yesterday Al Perry’s Lake Superior ice cave photographs. The nature photographer’s images are a fitting tribute to this winter. I asked Al, who was featured in the July/August 2008 Evansville Living, if I could share his images and what inspired his mid-February trip.

Ice caves in this area are part of the Apostle Island National Lakeshore in Northern Wisconsin.

Q: Why did you visit Lake Superior?

A: My wife, Joyce, saw a clip on NBC News about something that occurs only every 10 years or so — ice caves on Lake Superior. After viewing the clip, two hours later my RV (a converted Mercedes-Benz van) was packed with food, cold weather clothing and camera gear. I departed Evansville at 10:30 p.m. Sunday and arrived in Southern Wisconsin at 4:30 a.m. to get ahead of another snowstorm. As an example of my affinity for cold weather photography, in the last 18 months I have been to Iceland twice and Alaska three times.

Q: Where are the ice caves located?

A: The ice caves are located along a 3-mile hike on the shoreline of Lake Superior in Wisconsin (near Cornucopia, Wis., east of Duluth, Minn.). Every 10 years or so, Lake Superior freezes over and people walk on the ice to view and enter the ice caves. Ice is formed as water runs over the top and through the sandstone cliffs. Caverns are formed by the waves of Lake Superior beating against the red sandstone cliffs.

Q: What will do you with your ice cave pictures?

A: I make multiple uses of my photos including prints for sale at my gallery in McCutchanville and sharing with others on Facebook and photo-sharing websites.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: Ninety percent of my time is spent with nature photography and motion photography (slow motion, time lapse, and real time nature sequences). Ten percent is spent managing my farmland in North Central Indiana where I grew up.

Al Perry’s photo gallery and office are located inside the old McCutchanville School on Petersburg Road North of the airport. The gallery is open to the public 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.


Blue ice cave. / Sunset on Lake Superior as viewed from inside the cave.

A Movie, A Prison, and Connections

Last weekend my oldest son and I watched Captain Phillips, nominated for six Academy Awards. The movie, starring Tom Hanks, is based on the true story of the 2009 pirate hijacking of the Maersk Alabama, whose merchant mariner Captain Philips was taken hostage (in the Alabama’s life boat) in the Indian Ocean, led by Adbuwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi).

The siege ended after a rescue by the U.S. Navy on April 12, 2009, when President Barack Obama ordered the marksmen shootings of three of the pirates.

A footnote in the movie’s credits informs that the real Muse, whose full name is Abduwali Abdukhadir Muse, is in a U.S. prison in Terre Haute, Ind., serving a nearly 34-year sentence for his role in the hijacking.

That piqued my interest.  The USP Terre Haute is a high-security federal prison for male inmates. It also houses a Special Confinement Unit for federal inmates serving a death sentence.

I wondered what life would be like for a 23-year-old Somalian pirate living in a federal prison in the middle of America.  I contacted the prison’s administrator, who replied the Federal Bureau of Prisons would not comment.

Many high profile criminals have been housed at USP Terre Haute, including  terrorist Timothy McVeigh, convicted for killing 168 people (19 children) in the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Evansville native Larry Mackey, now an attorney with the Indianapolis firm, Barnes & Thornburg, served on the legal prosecution team, delivering the trial’s closing arguments. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection on June 11, 2001, at the USP Terre Haute, the first federal prisoner to be executed by the federal government since 1963.

Mackey recently visited Evansville to promote the annual Dan Scism Golf Scholarship, of which he was the second recipient in 1968.

Hello Kitty

When an email from my sister-in-law arrived in January with the subject line “Hello Kitty,” she wasn’t writing me about the ubiquitous Japanese fictional character. I read the note right away — Tracee had news to report: a big cat sighting, possibly a cougar. We had discussed big cats in Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky before. Tracee is an avid horsewoman who’s lived in rural Monroe County, Ind., and rural Henderson County, Ky. — places where big cats have been reported.

Tracee sent me a picture from her friend Shane Rorer (used here with permission), of Elberfeld, Ind. The Evansville Sheet Metal worker was hunting on his family’s farm — in his family for more than 100 years — in Delaware, Ky. (in Henderson County), in January when he noticed property damage. He and his cousin installed a trail cam to monitor the farm. His cousin checked the cam a few days later and discovered the picture of the cat. Rorer says he is skeptical it is a cougar, but admits he has no explanation of what it is. “If it is a cougar,” Rorer says, “it’s a bit scary because I was walking through that woods in the dark.”

The cougar, also known as the mountain lion, puma, or panther, is native to the Americas. Its range, from the Canadian Yukon to the southern Andes, is the greatest of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Reports of possible mountain lion sightings across Indiana continue coming in even though state wildlife officials haven’t confirmed any sightings for nearly four years.

The state Department of Natural Resources has received about 300 reports of possible big cat sightings since early 2010, agency biologist Shawn Rossler told The Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.) in a story on Jan. 31, 2014. The animals had last been confirmed in the state during the 1860s.

Snow Day Slow Food

Snow days call for comfort food, cooked slow. Visiting Healdsburg, Calif., last month I spent an afternoon at the Relish Culinary Center where our group prepared the mushrooms featured alongside a delicious braised pork shoulder. Sonoma is known not only for food and wine, but mycology, I learned, which set the stage for quite a few “fun guy” (fungi) jokes at lunch. Try Aihua International Market on N. Green River Road for more exotic mushrooms this time of year.

Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with Garlic and Herbs

•  4 lbs boneless pork shoulder roast
•  Herb-Garlic Rub (recipe provided)
•  1 Tbsp vegetable oil
•  1 yellow onion, diced
•  1 cup dry white wine
•  1 cup rich chicken stock
•  6 sprigs fresh thyme
•  peel from one-half medium lemon
•  10 cloves garlic, whole

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

Wipe shoulder roast with a damp paper towel and rub all surfaces with the Herb-Garlic Rub. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

Place a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add vegetable oil and brown the roast on all sides. Remove the pork from the Dutch oven and pour off most of the fat. Sauté the diced onions in the remaining fat over medium-low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the wine, stock, thyme, and lemon peel to the onion in the pot. Top with the browned pork. Return the Dutch oven to the stove and bring the liquid to a simmer.

Remove from the burner, cover tightly with a lid or foil and place the Dutch oven in the lower third of a 275-degree F oven. Roast for two hours, then flip the roast in the cooking liquid. Add the garlic cloves. Cover and cook for two to three hours more, until the pork shoulder is very tender when pierced by a fork. Let pork cool, uncovered. When cool, refrigerate covered overnight.

Skim the fat that has coagulated on the surface of the liquid. Transfer the pork to a platter or carving board. Discard the thyme branches. Reduce the jus on the stove on high heat to thicken.

To serve, slice or shred pork. Top with some of the jus and serve the excess jus in a sauce pitcher.

Herb-Garlic Rub

•  1 Tbsp fennel seed
•  1 ½ Tbsp minced garlic, sautéed in a little olive oil until fragrant
•  2 tsp black peppercorns
•  1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
•  1 tsp sea salt
•  olive oil to make a paste

Grind fennel seed and pepper in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Mix with remaining ingredients.

Maggie Glisan, senior food editor at Better Homes & Gardens — headquartered in Des Moines — declared the pork perfectly embodied the “taste of Iowa.” I believe it is completely at home in Indiana.

Chef Donna del Rey, owner of Relish Culinary Center, suggests pairing the pork with a winter green salad topped with sautéed mushrooms, like black trumpets or Maitake mushrooms, in photo, cultivated locally in Sonoma by the company Gourmet Mushroom.

Salad

•  Clean winter greens, such as arugula and frisée.
•  Whip up your favorite vinaigrette to dress. Toss with greens.
•  Plate the greens, top with roasted mushrooms.

To Roast Mushrooms:
Clean dirt from 1 pound black trumpet or other wild mushrooms and trim with a small knife. Toss with ¼ cup of olive oil, 1 Tbsp kosher salt and 1 clove garlic, minced. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast about 20 minutes in a 400 degree F oven. Leave the mushrooms in the oven long enough for the liquid from the mushrooms to reabsorb and for them to lightly brown.

To round out the simple meal, serve with bakery crusty bread. [Serves 6]

The chef, whose husband owns a winery, suggests pairing the meal with an Anderson Valley Pinot Noir for its purity of red fruits like cranberry and cherry and its food friendly zing — perfect for a snow day or Valentine’s Day.

The pork recipe can also be found online at www.relishculinary.com.

(Thank you for reading the extra words in this blog post to accommodate the recipes!)

Travel Writers and Terroir

Last week I was invited on a press trip, also known as a familiarization trip or editorial research trip to Healdsburg, Calif. In two and one-half days, I visited six Sonoma County wineries and learned about the area’s winemaking history. I’ll write about traveling to Healdsburg in the May/June issue of Evansville Living, and in this blog over the next few weeks.

I am always interested in the journalists I’ll meet on these trips — more than a few now freelance for the magazine. On this trip, I traveled with journalists from AAA Journeys, Canadian Geographic, PHOENIX Magazine, Tallahassee magazine, Better Home and Gardens, DeSoto magazine, FIDO Friendly magazine, Tampa Bay magazine, and Lake & Sumter Style magazine, in addition to 15 freelance travel journalists on assignment. It’s fun and rewarding to share ideas and story angles.

I was in Healdsburg for only 60 minutes when I heard the word terroir, and would hear it many times, as winemakers described the importance of Sonoma’s world-class terroir, where the Alexander River Valley, Dry Creek Valley, and Russian River Valley meet.

“Healdsburg is a unique place on the planet,” says Bill Williamson, president and founder of Williamson Wines. “Napa is more singular; here we can grow a great variety of grapes.”

Does Indiana have a unique terroir for grapes?  Certainly, says Jeanette Merritt, marketing director for Indiana Wines. “Indiana soil is very different from north to south, east to west. Where you may find great limestone rich soil in southern Indiana, northern Indiana will have soils that are heavier in clay. That means grapes grown in one part of the state may taste different than grapes grown in other areas. This is beneficial to the consumers so there are many different styles and wines to try from our 73 wineries in Indiana.”

The Red Carpet

I was the only person with tears in my eyes at the Red Carpet arrival last week to the premier of Michael Rosenbaum’s movie, “Back in the Day” — and they didn't last long as the mood of the guests invited to Showplace Cinemas Newburgh certainly was celebratory. As friends and supporters lined up for pictures with Michael in front of the cool "Step and Repeat" screen (designed by Tucker Publishing Group), I dabbed my eyes. I was happy for Michael and his brother, Eric, part of the team,  along with a veteran Hollywood producer Kim Waltrip. Michael wrote "Back in the Day" 10 years ago; he also stars in it.

The Rosenbaums lived a few houses down from my family in South Broadview, the Newburgh subdivision where I grew up. Michael and Eric are more than a few years younger than me. My sisters and I hung out with the older Rosenbaum children. Their mother, Julie, was my first yoga teacher, and Julie has written for Evansville Living. When I see her — I did at the premier — she always says something kind about my mother.

Inside the theater, Michael and Kim enthusiastically welcomed their guests, chided Julie not to videotape the premier, the reel ran, and the raucous laughter began.

That 275 adults laughed uproariously should be no surprise. Earlier that week, Michael was introduced at halftime of the University of Evansville men’s basketball game. “He’s hilarious,” my son Jackson reported. “Funny Guy” was the title of the story I wrote on Michael in 2007. 

Michael made a movie in Newburgh about growing up. You’ll see familiar scenes — like the Knob Hill. The movie is comic fiction, not about “growing up in Newburgh” as a misplaced clause might suggest. “Back in the Day” is rated R and is playing at Showplace Cinema East and Newburgh.
 

Michael and Eric Rosenbaum on the red carpet at the premier of "Back in the Day."

We Like it Hot

Dreaming of warmer temperatures? Step into a hot yoga studio. Practiced in a room heated to 105 degrees with 40 percent humidity, the hot yoga taught at the city’s original studio, Yoga 101, is rooted in a yoga style introduced in the U.S. in the early 1970s by Calcutta-born Bikram Choudhury.

I began practicing at Yoga 101 not long after Nicole Tibbs and George Barnett opened the first studio in June 2001. Nicole (who has been featured on the cover of Evansville Living’s “Healthy Living” magazine) moved here from Irvine, Calif. Barnett, a local attorney, had visited hot yoga studios. Before they opened the studio, Nicole completed the 9-week teacher training at Bikram’s Yoga College of India, Los Angeles. Though neither own Yoga 101 today, Nicole instructs several 60-, 75-, or 90-minute classes weekly. A Bikram-style class focuses on 26 postures — asanas — each completed twice, though other class formats also are taught. The heat and humidity remain constant to flush impurities from the body through hard work and sweat.

Readers of Vanity Fair now know that the hot yoga guru, Bikram, has been accused by former acolytes of sexual misconduct. Here’s a photo of the story in the January issue, next to my copy of Bikram’s book. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office has investigated police reports and has declined to prosecute.

“l love all types of yoga and I will always appreciate Bikram yoga for what it has brought to my life and to the lives of so many people,” Nicole says. “It's difficult for beginners because of the heat. But at the same time it is specifically designed for beginners. It's for people who have no yoga experience whatsoever and need to rehabilitate their bodies. We can't truly have healthy, happy spirits without healthy, happy bodies. They go hand in hand.”

94 Percent

94 percent — that would be the mark I would receive for the quantity of this blog since Evansville Living launched it on Christmas Eve 2012. This is the 49th post. I believe in continuous improvement, so I will strive to post 52 times in 2014. I have plenty to write about each week in 300 Words.

So, what topics have I posted about? Four posts were about Evansville issues — poles, parks, pools, and the new downtown hotel. My personal interests (but not yoga, surprisingly … yet) were the subjects of 12 posts. Architecture, largely of my own street, Lombard Avenue, covered seven posts. Two blog posts were about cooking or baking. I wrote about the magazine business three times. Travel was the subject of seven posts. I wrote about the Tucker Publishing Group staff, teachers, Indiana University basketball, and our pets. Twice I wrote about the weather. I wrote about the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden’s fabulous winter respite event, Orchid Escape (coming soon!), and I wrote about Downton Abbey — among other topics that I didn’t note in a quick scan of the roughly 14,700 words for the year in the blog.

If you have a topic you would like me to consider exploring in “300 Words,” please send me a note to letters@evansvilleliving.com.

To close the year, I’ll again leave you a few words short.  I wish the year 2014 to bring you peace, and what you need.

Tale of Two Cities' Hotels

When I received an invitation to visit Branson, Mo., in October, I was excited to accept. I wrote about the trip in this blog and I’m writing the story for print, as a Travel Journal in the January/February 2014 issue of Evansville Living, this week.

Not only would I visit the legendary Ozark Mountain town, but I planned to connect with the folks at HCW LLC, the Branson-headquartered developer of Evansville’s newest Downtown hotel, a Doubletree Hilton set to open in 2015.

I reached out to the City of Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke; his staff helped me contact HCW Vice President of Operations Robert Allen to establish an interview. With help from the public relations firm to the city of Branson who had arranged my trip, an interview with HCW LLC CEO Richard Huffman was set for Oct. 18, at its headquarters. I would have to miss visiting Branson’s Silver Dollar City.

HCW LLC is headquartered in its own development, situated on the Payne Stewart Golf Club. Allen greeted me and shared the HCW story through large format “beauty” shots of the company’s development — and indeed they are beautiful.

Erin Meyer, a reporter for WFIE-TV 14 News, drove to Branson that day to tape the interview for the station’s ongoing coverage of the hotel development. When Huffman arrived, Meyer and I talked with him, on tape, for more than 60 minutes. You can read the interview in the December/January issue of Evansville Business. These were among his first impressions of Evansville: The University of Evansville men’s and women’s basketball teams play in the Missouri Valley Conference; our city looks old driving in from the airport; our business leaders lead; our mayor never gives up; and the Ford Center is world class. Groundbreaking for the hotel, conference center, and residences is set for Jan. 23.

New Traditions

On Monday, the 112-year-old Social Literary Circle celebrated the holiday season with its annual Christmas party. Fourteen women who desired intellectual engagement organized the club on Nov. 4, 1901 — few women then were afforded the opportunity to get college degrees. The group’s first minutes described the circle as “a society for sociability and enhancement.”

What’s not to like about that? I have been a member since 2006.

By tradition, the holiday party is hosted at the president’s home. This year, the S. Alvord Boulevard address of the hostess was swept free of snow by her husband and helping neighbors.

This club is nothing like Bunco clubs — we do not drink at meetings; our bylaws state wine may be served at the holiday party, and we all enjoy that.

The protocol for the holiday meeting is: Attach a poem, a favorite Christmas memory, or a favorite family tradition to your gift bag. Place them both in a plain brown paper bag. (Oops, mine was white.)

Arriving at noon, we enjoy wine and social time first.  Then, an always-delicious meal is served. Sometimes, hostesses arrange for a bit of catering help in the kitchen. On Monday, we enjoyed a great chicken casserole, spiced pears topped with something good, and rum cake.

After lunch, we gather around for roll call and our program, which at this special meeting is the gift exchange. We each draw numbers. The poems are read, and we try to guess whom the gift is from; and the gifts are opened. Our members are very talented; the submissions are creative, thoughtful, nostalgic, and fun. Mine this year? A page from my baby book, Christmas 1965. I was 1 ½ and my mother wrote that I told Santa I wanted, “Bike! Baby! Horsey!” She wrote that I got all three!

A Mountain Holiday

While national retailers conspired to speed through Thanksgiving, we spent a leisurely holiday in Greeneville, Tenn., with my husband’s cousin’s family.

Cousin Lee Hudson and his wife, Deanna, have two sons — great friends with our kids. We visit several times each year, but Thanksgiving is celebrated, as it has been for eight years, in a special and unique way.

We arrived in Greeneville, home to 17th U.S. president Andrew Johnson, after lunchtime on Wednesday. Immediately, Coy, their oldest, loaded Maxwell and Jackson in his car and headed to Granny’s house.  “Granny,” or Miss Carol (as Jackson calls her), is Deanna’s mother who lives with her husband on a large country estate.

Waiting anxiously at Carol’s is Coy’s brother Brandt, and their cousins Cody and Calen from Memphis and Blaine and Morgan from Knoxville. Here are the kids in a picture from Thanksgiving 2012. For five days they all hang together, are spoiled by Carol, eat great food, play with the dogs and horses, hike the property, and still overdose on video games.

Back in Greeneville, we spend five days without kids, seeing them only on Thanksgiving Day when we drive to Carol’s house for dinner.

Lee, Deanna, Todd and I visit, listen to music, read, competitive nap, eat., and drink wine with friends. My husband brings his drum kit so he and Lee can play music with friends. Deanna and I knit, and talk about travel. We usually drive to Hot Springs, N.C., for dinner at the Iron Horse. About 25 minutes from Greeneville, the rustic town of Hot Springs is known for hosting Appalachian Trail hikers and its historic hot springs.

Sunday morning the party breaks up out at Carol’s. Coy, Brandt, Maxwell, and Jackson arrive back in Greeneville in time to play for a few hours before the seven-hour drive home.

Vintage Pies

Happy Thanksgiving.  Our family festivities began last weekend. Our nephew Kirk, a captain and pilot stationed at McConnell Air Force base in Wichita, Kan., will make his third deployment to Qatar before Christmas, so we celebrated early with my husband’s father’s side of the family.

When my mother-in-law Diane asked last week what I might bring for dinner, my 15-year-old suggested I bring carrot cake or pumpkin pie. Great carrot cakes are bought, I told Maxwell (at Maxine’s Café & Bakery or even from Pepperidge Farm); I’ll make the pumpkin pies. 

My children claim to have never seen their mother make a pie. Most families, said the youngest, bake pies all the time, like it’s no big deal.

I suppose I wanted my pies to be a big deal. The best pie recipes, I thought, will be old recipes — how pies were baked before we could buy pumpkin pie custard in a can and refrigerated crusts. I pulled out my mother’s first edition (1953) “Better Homes & Gardens New Cookbook.” My pies would be vintage. I pulled them from the oven just minutes before we left for the family dinner.

Of course, the pies caused commotion on the drive. With every bump in the road, one of my boys shouted, “Oh, no, the pies!” When the hatch of our SUV was opened at our destination, they screamed as if the pies had slid to the pavement.

Our family, together for one of the few times during the year, had plenty to talk about during our celebration. But my kids also interjected their tally on the pie: “No one’s eating the pie, Mom” … “Kirk has the first piece” … “Is it burned?”

Among the thanks I will give, I’ll add thanks that my sons can no longer say I’ve never baked a pie.

Getting into the spirit in Louisville

"Lewisville," "Looeyville," "Looavull," "Looaville," and "Luhvull."  However you pronounce it, I like it. Our family did not visit Louisville when I was growing up. We ate pizza all over the Midwest (my father co-owned a pizza restaurant in Newburgh), but I don’t recall ever visiting the largest city in the Commonwealth for a piece of pie or any other reason.

Today, my family finds many reasons to visit Louisville. We were afforded one of these opportunities last weekend when we holed up there for “Christmas at the Galt House.”

The Galt House hotel is massive, with 1,290 rooms, including 650 suites — great for families. In recent years, the owners have invested more than $70 million in the hotel, also adding a beautiful $4 million conservatory connecting its towers. 

In the hotel’s Rivue Restaurant, our sons liked dining in a revolving room — there are two! The swanky restaurant and lounge bears no trace to the former Flagship Room, decorated like a Spanish ship.

New to the property is the Down One Bourbon Bar, located at Third and W. Main streets. I attended a bourbon tasting on the evolution of the spirit from corn whisky to small batch, single barrel, like John E. Fitzgerald’s Larceny Bourbon, aged for 12 years, and made with wheat as the secondary grain.

The highlight is the KaLightoscope Attraction — massive luminaries handcrafted by Chinese artisans from Zigon, China. The Christmas Village showcase displays feature three-dozen restored animated characters from downtown Louisville’s old Stewart’s Department Store.  Maxwell and Jackson soared across rooftops in Santa’s sleigh in front of a green wall.

Holiday festivities at the Galt House include a dinner show, The Colors of the Season, featuring regional talent by a Nashville-based production company.

When the fun is done, what I like best about visiting Louisville is the short drive home.

Publisher’s Picks

This is the time of year in the Tucker Publishing Group offices that we tabulate the Best of Evansville winners. It’s always fun, and somewhat challenging, because of the varied spellings voters give their write-in choices. We’ve written before about some of the more amusing votes:  Cod Stone Creamery was selected as best ice cream; Fiji, the South Pacific Island, has been noted as best local sushi; and Germania Maennerchor was spelled one year 22 different ways.

To tide you over until the Best of Evansville is revealed in the January/February 2014 issue of Evansville Living, today I offer my Publisher’s Picks — completely with bias and opinion.

Best Ice Cream: Lic’s Peppermint Stick.  It is in stores now!

Best Pizza: I’ve been a fan of The Slice, in my neighborhood, since it opened and my favorite pizza is easily their spinach and feta.

Best Workout: Hot yoga at Yoga 101. If you have not tried it, you must. I do believe it cures nearly everything.

Best Hairstylist: Mark at Posh has cut my hair for years. He reminds me that he “highlights” my hair; he does not color it.

Best Beer: Among local beers, I like it blonde or lighter. I’ve long enjoyed Turoni’s Honey Blonde Ale.  At Tin Man, I like their Bohemian Pilsner.

Best-kept Secret View: My husband and I enjoy eating lunch at Fifth Third bank’s top-floor cafeteria in their Downtown tower. The views of the city are great; the food is good and moderately priced.

Best Gift Shopping: A gift from Nance Galleries is special. The East Side store glistens with beautiful gifts and each is specially wrapped with an information card — a treat to give and receive. The extra touch makes your gift seem bespoke.

Best Entertainment Venue: The Ford Center!

The View

Each year, before the onset of fall, we wonder if we will have pretty color in SW Indiana.  Have we had enough rain?  Was spring too dry?  Was summer wet enough?  We fret about it as we pose our concerns in small talk.  Then, each fall, our disquiet is allayed when we are rewarded with a rich swath of crimson and gold.  In Evansville, some of the most dramatic color is seen right in the city – in Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve, our 240-acre tract of virgin forest on the East Side of Evansville. It’s the largest tract of virgin forest located in any city limits inside the U.S.!

The demolition of Roberts Municipal Stadium this year makes the fall color of the preserve easier to enjoy for the many commuters who drive the Lloyd Expressway.  New to the view is an eyesore that the city says it is committed to removing: The light pole farm on the Wesselman Par 3 Golf Course.


(Photo by Jerry Butts)

According to Denise Johnson, director of the Evansville Parks Department, 60 lights mark the course.  “The lights for the Par 3 have only been on twice in the last several years and that was for National Night Out,” Johnson says. “Most of the golfers play during the daylight hours. If there were a special request for a golf outing – they could be turned on but this hasn’t happened in years.”

“In all my discussions about Roberts Park and Wesselman Nature Preserve, no one has expressed a desire to keep the lights. Most people reference the sea of light poles and how that’s all you can focus on. It is our goal to remove the poles when we begin construction of the new Park.”

I’ll look forward to the improved view next fall – and worry not if it will be pretty.

First Jobs

Inspired by the book selected for the annual community read-along, “One Book One Community” — Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make this Country Work by Jeanne Marie Laskas — the October/November issue of Evansville Business featured “On the Clock, Behind the Scenes.” In that spirit, Tucker Publishing Group staff members revealed their first jobs on the magazine’s masthead. Here again is where the folks who bring you local magazines earned their first paychecks.

Victoria Grabner, Managing Editor
Taco Bell. I know the secret of the cinnamon twists.

Jon Haslam, Editorial Intern
I worked at a laser-tag venue for six years and loved every second.

Theresa Scheller, Editorial Intern
My first real job was as a lifeguard at Burdette Park. I was there for three summers.

Laura Mathis, Creative Director
Arby’s. “Would you like fries with that?”

Heather Gray, Art Director
I mixed powdered pigments to color plastic at GE. Two words: technicolor snot.

Hannah Jay, Graphic Designer
In eighth grade, I taught swimming lessons all summer long.

Adena Rasure, Graphics Intern
Repairing houses after tenants left — what a sight.

Hannah Theiring, Graphics Intern
Lifeguard/swim lesson instructor at Newburgh Pool and for Newburgh Sea Creatures.

Jennifer Rhoades, Advertising Account Executive
I washed dishes one summer in high school at a Poseyville, Ind., restaurant named T's.

Jessica Hoffman, Advertising Account Executive
Dishwasher at T's restaurant (now closed) in Poseyville, Ind., with my sister.

Krista McDonald, Advertising Account Executive
I wrapped gifts at Thiele Pharmacy & Gifts in Alliance, Neb.

Valerie Wire, Marketing Coordinator
My first job was working at the Burdette Park Aquatic Center one summer.

Sara Short, Business Manager
"5-6-7-8," Point your toes! — Teaching dance.

Todd Tucker
Being the lowest form of life on a construction crew during a hot summer.

Kristen Tucker
Selling Bobbie Brooks pants at The Main Thing in Washington Square Mall.

Jeanne Marie Laskas will speak at the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library’s One Book One Community of Southwestern Indiana presentation at 7:30 p.m. tonight (Oct. 29, 2013) at the Victory Theatre. The event is free and open to anyone whether or not you have read the book.

You’ll Love Branson!

Just because I grew up with a poster of Donnie Osmond on the wall of the bedroom I shared with my sister growing up on Evansville’s East Side doesn’t mean that I would love Branson, Mo.

My mom visited Branson, Mo., with my stepdad twice a year — in the summer and at Christmas — for most of the 1990s. She returned saying, “Kristen, you would love Branson.” I said, “Really?” Branson, Mo., didn’t sound quite like us. We were busy with our magazine company, raising small kids, and when we did vacation, it was to the beach, Caribbean sailing cruises with an advertising partner, and even to Europe. 

Branson, with its Ozark mountain beauty, down-home attitude, entertainment galore, and unabashed love for God and country was certainly right up my mom’s alley. Would it be mine? She was sure it would.

When an invitation came my way toward the end of the summer to join a group of travel writers at the “live music capital of the world,” I quickly reserved my space. With a destination PR firm organizing the trip — ensuring we experienced all that Branson has to offer — I knew I could do Branson right and share the story with Evansville Living readers, which I’ll do in an upcoming issue.

In four days, I saw five shows with dozens of entertainers (many whom I met), road a scenic train, cruised on two boats, splashed into a lake in an amphibious truck (and also drove it), shopped in beautiful developments, visited a Titanic Museum, enjoyed lots of delicious food, visited a unique college dubbed by the Wall Street Journal as “Hard Work U,” and had the opportunity to visit a great theme park – Silver Dollar City – and cave, which I passed on due to my still-healing ankle.

Did I like it? I sure did.

Cream City

I like Wisconsin. I was born in Iowa, after all, and how different can Wisconsin be? The areas of Wisconsin I most enjoy, though, are along Lake Michigan and the many beautiful lakes created by glacial activity.

Todd and I traveled to Milwaukee last weekend for the City & Regional Magazine Association Publishers Roundtable. If you’ve not driven U.S. 41 toward Chicago in the past five years, you’ve likely not seen the remarkable site of the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm in Benton County, Ind. Spread over 50,000 acres with 355 turbines, it is one of the largest onshore wind farms in the world. That seems to be all that has changed along U.S. 41 in years.

Milwaukee has long been known as the “Cream City” — not for the state’s dairy industry, but for the cream-colored bricks that form many of the city's buildings. The beauty of Milwaukee’s architecture and its location on Lake Michigan make it a very pretty city.

We stayed at the conference hotel, the Pfister, built in 1893. The swanky lounge on the 23rd floor offered great views of the city and the lake, including a dramatic view of Milwaukee’s Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. Built from 1892 to 1899, its Richardsonian Romanesque architecture is the same style of and strikingly similar to Evansville’s Old Post Office built from 1869 to 1875.

Just a few blocks from the hotel, on the lake, is the Milwaukee Art Museum, where the city hosted a private party for our group at its Quadracci Pavilion.

The Museum’s signature wings form a moveable sunscreen that open and close daily. Beginning Friday through Jan. 5 at MMA is a Thomas Sully exhibit. Unfamiliar with Sully? Peel a $20 from your wallet — Sully’s portrait of Andrew Jackson has been used to denote $20 since 1928.

All in the Family

Come and listen to a story about a dog named Jed. Don’t think he’s too special — he’s not the first pet in our family to be bestowed the Clampett name.

Jed is a 1 ½ -year old Mountain Cur adopted from It Takes a Village Canine Rescue. He had been living in a pigpen in Winslow, Ind. Mountain Curs are working dogs bred for trailing and treeing small game, like squirrel and raccoons. Jed loves to play with footballs and he jumps really high. During the week, Jed often visits our offices. He also goes to O’Hairs Happydog Daycare, where his best friend is an English bulldog named Maceo.

Jed was preceded by two really great dogs. Pearl Bodine was a beautiful blonde rescue retriever collie mix. Her X-rays showed she had been shot with pellets. Pearl’s successor was Jethro (he had the middle name Bodine, too), a black Labrador who died at the age of 16. In his prime, Jethro weighed 105 pounds!

Our cats are Lucky and Lou. Lucky, named because she dined on salmon soon after being adopted from the Vanderburgh Humane Society, is indiscriminately affectionate; repairmen to our home know her well, though she does have a knack for throwing herself on cat lovers. Her folded ears result from hematomas, surgically fixed, that she had in both ears as a kitten.

Lou is a plush gray cat, much larger than he looks in this picture. He is very sweet, never misbehaves, and has a small meow for a big boy.

Before these cats we had Cassandra, a sweet calico; Leona Helmsley, a blue point Siamese that characteristically liked my husband best; Lance, an orange tabby that sadly died young, named after the famous cyclist; and Hiawatha, years ago discovered as a tiny kitten up under my husband’s van.

Live at a Ballpark

While rooftop owners surrounding Chicago’s Wrigley Field seek to preserve their view during the $500 million renovation of the legendary ballpark, Indianapolis residents, too, are preserving a view of their storied ballpark — Bush Stadium. Now residents of Stadium Lofts can walk out their patio door to home plate.

Built in 1931 for the minor-league Indianapolis Indians, the team used the Art Deco park until 1996, when it moved into Victory Field downtown. For a time, Tony George leased it as a dirt racetrack. From 2008 to 2011, it held cars traded in the “Cash for Clunkers” program. The building, on the National Register of Historic Places, was on Indiana Landmarks’ “10 Most Endangered List” for about a decade.

John Watson spent most of his career revamping existing buildings in Indianapolis and served as a volunteer board member of Indiana Landmarks. In August, his company, Core Development, unveiled Stadium Lofts — the redevelopment of Bush Stadium preserving the shell and historic façade while turning it into a 131-unit apartment complex. Another 132-unit apartment complex, Stadium Flats, will be built at the site and the remaining land will be developed into up to 118,000 square feet of commercial space.

Watson’s group preserved many intriguing qualities of the ballpark. The former owner’s office — with a fireplace and hardwood floors — is incorporated into one of the apartments. The diamond — once made of dirt — is made of colored concrete and surrounded by grass.

More than 100 of the units already are rented, ranging from $699 to almost $1,500 monthly.

Indianapolis’ preservation efforts take the national stage this fall (Oct. 29 to Nov.2) when the city hosts the 2013 National Preservation Conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Indiana Landmarks serves as a host and sponsor. Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, is chairman of the conference.

See you next year, Chris!

Sunday evening my husband and I, along with another couple, saw a concert in Nashville, Tenn. For the right show, we’ll drive to Louisville, Ky., Nashville, or Indianapolis — or further. Seeing Chris Isaak is always the right show for me. This was the fourth time I have seen him perform; I’ve been a fan of the retro-cool crooner since my husband introduced me to his music soon after we were married.

Isaak is a 57-year-old singer, songwriter, and actor from the gritty California town of Stockton. He borrowed his brother’s guitar and started writing songs as a teenager, inspired by his parents’ music — Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Johnny Cash. He’s also a former boxer.

Isaak is a very prolific artist: he has recorded 13 albums, starred in two short-lived yet acclaimed television shows bearing his name, and has an impressive, eclectic, acting resume.

The MTV generation remembers Isaak for the Herb Ritts’-produced video of his biggest hit, “Wicked Game,” in which Isaak famously nuzzles model Helena Christensen on the beach.

Reviewers describe Isaak as the “incorrigible showman” and note his “matinee-idol good looks.”  His voice has amazing strength and he’s an excellent guitar player. His 5-piece band, Silvertone — most members together since Isaak’s early days — are tight and have fun.

Wearing a blue paisley sequined suit (from the famous rodeo sequin suit maker, Nudie, I’ve read), we saw Isaak preserve the legacy of rock and roll at Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium.

“I want to thank you all for coming out tonight to support live music,” Isaak said early in the show, “because if you didn’t I’d be walking around Nashville in a sequined suit like a sparkly monkey like everyone else.” He asked who in had seen him perform before – nearly ¾ of the crowd raised their hands and cheered. See you again next tour, Chris!

September Issues

The September issues are arriving. In the magazine world, the September issue often is the largest issue of the year. Among the fashion magazine glossies, it always is the issue with the thickest spine, because September is the the month of fashion. The making of Vogue’s September 2007 issue was documented in a film, The September Issue. The magazine was 840 pages and weighed 5 pounds. A Wikipedia reference notes that the September 2007 Vogue has sold on eBay for $80 to $115.

I’ll share with you a few of our colleagues’ September issues, which are arriving in our office. (September/October Evansville Living will be in your mailbox next week.)

Louisville features Teddy Bridgewater. Actually, the popular University of Louisville quarterback is featured on two covers. The editors explain Bridgewater’s photos were so compelling they ran a split cover. We see Bridgewater looking straight at us; other readers will see Bridgewater hugging a teddy bear. Consumer magazines regularly split covers. This means sending a cleaner cover look to subscribers, while newsstand buyers get a magazine with more coverlines — more stories referenced on the cover to attract sales.

Milwaukee styled a rustic marquee for its arts guide cover.

417 — the area code for great Springfield, Mo. — created a retro family vacation cover.

Pittsburgh invites readers to “think green” with a hand-drawn chalkboard cover.

St. Louis produced a 200-page issue with a nice plunk factor. It features its Restaurant of the Year and its Butternut Squash Agnolotti. (I looked it up; it’s a flattened ravioli.)

The surgeon who removed actress Angelina Jolie’s breasts (genetic tests showed she was at great risk for breast cancer) is featured on the cover of Los Angeles.

I checked the eBay price of Vogue September 2007 — $15.45. The March/April 2003 issue of Evansville Living featuring Don Mattingly is offered by an eBay seller for $24.99.

The Analog Editor

I recently bought an Olympia SM3 typewriter, circa 1955. It’s a manual typewriter, German-made. Its keys make the perfect clickety-clack, and the margin bell chimes clear. I typed on a manual typewriter in college, pounding out dozens of term papers. High school buddies at Western Kentucky University paid me to type their papers. Somewhere along the line, I got rid of that typewriter, also an Olympia, a later model. Recently, I began to wish for it back. After a little research on manual typewriters, I set about buying an Olympia SM3. After striking out locally, I ended up on eBay, where I noted these typewriters were attracting bidding interest. I set my price, allowing that the typewriter might need to be worked on, and it was mine.

I plan to use it primarily for writing notes and cards, though already I have typed household lists and instructions. My sons think it is pretty neat, though they, along with their father, are predicting the Olympia typewriter will meet the same fate as the much longed for Pfaff (also German made) sewing machine, given to me years ago by my in-laws. My mother was an excellent seamstress and typist; she could just as easily adjust her justified margins as she could expertly finish a hem. I couldn’t imagine a household without the whirl of a sewing machine. It is true the sewing machine is long gone, but not before I completed the promised piece — an Indiana University cape for our rescue Golden Retriever mix, Pearl Bodine.

I’ve learned about my Olympia typewriter. Mad Men’s Don Draper types on a dark green SM3. Writer Don DeLillo and screenwriter Woody Allen also compose on the model. Be assured, I won’t type this blog (called typecasting) on my typewriter, though I do plan to enjoy it.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 7

As development continued on Evansville’s East Side, a survey was conducted to determine if East Siders would support a church; most of the city’s churches were within the city’s core. The First Community Church, 3407 Bellemeade Ave., was established in 1940 to “embrace all doctrines and creeds.” Designed by a St. Louis architectural firm, the church on the corner of Lincoln and Lombard avenues was erected in 1950 for $100,000. The church is a French Normal style and was built with St. Meinrad, Ind., sandstone. Today, it is the home to the Church of God of Prophecy.

Back across Bellemeade Avenue are the three remaining homes in the architectural inventory of Lombard I’ll present in this blog.

The home at 663, built in 1925 for the Walter Karsch family, is similar to another the home on the street, 823. Karsch was Secretary of American Trust & Savings Bank, located at 6th and Main streets. The home is defined by its massive front chimney and has been significantly expanded through the years.

Next door at 659 is another John R. Mitchell spec home. Mitchell was living in this Dutch Colonial at the time of his death in 1944. This home, too, has a twin — on Parkside Drive in Akin Park.

My family lives at 601, at the corner of Lincoln and Lombard. Our home, a Colonial Revival, according to Marchand’s notes, was built in 1938 by Roy Ryan of Ryan Construction Co. as his personal residence. In 1943, the Ryans moved to McCutchanville and Bernard Schnacke, brother of E. F. Schnacke, who lived across the street in the French Provincial home, purchased the home. It, too, has been renovated and expanded, and extensive landscaping now largely shields it from Lincoln Avenue — much busier today — where John R. Mitchell first began to plan his beautiful meadow.

Sources for this series of posts include the archives of former Evansville Preservation Officer Joan Marchand that are located at Willard Library, as well as current preservation officer Dennis Au. Michael Schopmeyer also provided research materials. Nick Hebebrand assisted in research.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 6

The founder of one of my favorite stores lived at 963 Lombard. It’s known that Frank A. Baynham moved here from 768 Lombard in 1941. Preservation officer Joan Marchand’s notes make no mention of the Baynhams’ monkeys ever residing in the charming English cottage — they didn’t come along until the store expanded in the 1950s and monkeys were displayed in glass cages. (I remember buying Aigner purses and shoes and watching the monkey at Baynham’s Shoe Store in Washington Square Mall — and stopping for Libs candy, too.) For more than 50 years, customers flocked to Baynham’s on Main Street and later at Washington Square Mall, North Park, and Eastland Mall.

Marchand’s notes from her 1994 Historic Preservation Week tour tell the story of the sprawling ranch home at 901 Lombard. It was built on two lots in 1940-1941 by George E. Cameron, described by Marchand as having “breezed into Evansville on the late 1930s oil wave.” Cameron’s brother, Arthur, built the white brick Colonial mansion at 411 Hebron for his actress wife, June Knight Cameron.

This painted brick cottage at 807 with an arched porch entrance was built in 1928 for Frank J. and Laura Lohoff. He was a sales representative for Evansville Tool Works.

A grocer, Philip Hoelscher, was the first owner of this 1921 bungalow at 773, promoted as having five “spacious rooms,” including a breakfast room and pantry. I admire the breezy porch.

A lovely classical portico and porch define this 1926 home at 761 built for Jode and Mada Hay. He was associated with the Orr Iron Co. and made a mortgage loan for $2,900 with Peoples Bank for the home.

One of the oldest homes on Lombard is the attractive 1915 bungalow at 753 built by Mitchell as a spec home.

Next week will conclude my series of posts on the history of one of Evansville’s oldest subdivisions, Bellemeade, and the houses that line Lombard Avenue.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 5

Amid the backdrop of the Jazz Age, before the stock market crash of October 1929, subdivision developer John Mitchell built this handsome Colonial Revival home at 918 Lombard Ave. The first owner was John L. Martin, who was associated with the Ideal Dairy Company, founded in 1919 to offer pasteurized milk to the city. Later owners of the home were Jim and Emily Fowler, who moved there in late 1965. Emily, who became fondly known as the “Mayor of Lombard” for her watchful eye and neighborhood spirit, lived here until her death in 2009.

Next door at 928 is a beautifully restored Colonial Revival, built in 1936 by the Stovall Lumber Co. for Robert Burkert, a salesman with Burkert Walton Inc., a printing company founded in 1906 that is still operating in Evansville today.

The charming brick and limestone English Cotswold cottage at 952, designed by renowned Evansville architects Anderson & Veatch, was built in 1937 for Harry B. Bourland, president of the Evansville Paint & Varnish Co.  — known today as Red Spot. The home’s unique façade is dominated by a large fireplace in its living room.

Former preservation officer Joan Marchand’s notes indicate that one of the city’s finest examples of the bungalow style of architecture is at 968, near Washington Avenue. It was built in 1927 for Simon A. Schmitt, who owned a plumbing and heating business and also installed suburban water systems. In 1938, the home was purchased by William C. Welborn, an attorney and founder of the Conrad Baker Foundation. The foundation supported the Old Court House in its transition after the construction of the Civic Center.

The home’s brick features an unusual diamond pattern. The house is adorned with half-timbering, as well as curved-topped windows and eave brackets. Indeed, it is one of my favorites, too.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 4

Lombard Avenue has long attracted the attention of preservationists and historians. According to the records of Joan Marchand, historic preservation officer from 1978 to 1996, Lombard Avenue between Washington Avenue and Lincoln Avenue was identified in 1993 as a possible historic district. No plans were pursued. Today, Evansville has two neighborhoods listed on the National Register of Historic Places: The Riverside Historic District and the Washington Avenue Historic District.

Continuing the tour of this tree-canopied street, the English Tudor Half Timbered home at 822 was built in 1925 for the Christian Becker family. Becker owned Becker Brothers Wagon at the turn of the century. Marchand noted that daughter Esther still was living in the home at age 92 in 1990.

The stately Colonial Revival at 862 occupying two lots was built in 1938 for Robert and Elaine Pott. Pott was an engineer and inventor best known for developing the impact wrench that was patented by Ingersoll Rand. He also is the namesake of the University of Southern Indiana’s Pott College of Science and Engineering. The Robert and Elaine Pott Foundation also has significantly endowed the University of Evansville.

While I do not know the history of the charming Arts and Crafts style bungalow at 872, I admire its lovely gardens.

The English Revival at 908 was built by the developer Mitchell as a spec home in 1929. It did not immediately sell. In 1936 it was rented, and then purchased, by the Phil E. and Elizabeth Drachman, owners of Drachman Chevrolet, the precursor of Kenny Kent Chevrolet. Drachman served as president of Evansville’s Redevelopment Commission in the 1950s and was an amateur artist and azalea grower — those efforts can be seen each spring in the home’s pretty bushes. Well-liked and widely admired, Drachman died in 1991 at the age of 89.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 3

"A Daring Neighborhood: An Early 20th-Century Developer took a Chance with a Subdivision Called Bellemeade."

A story published in the Evansville Courier & Press on May 3, 1994, by Anne Schleper about Historic Preservation Week activities ran with this headline. A Lombard Avenue tour was to be led by the city’s historic preservation officer, Joan Marchand.

"The Lombard Avenue development was daring at the time because it was so far from the city limits,” said Mrs. Marchand in the newspaper story.

''It was an unusual suburban residential development because it was out in the 'boonies.' It didn't develop fast because of that, and also because World War I intervened," she said.

The developer, John R. Mitchell, named the north-south street within the subdivision Lombard Avenue because he liked the sound of the name, Mrs. Marchand said.While Mitchell lived in the farmhouse on Lincoln Avenue, the first homes he built on Lombard were between Bellemeade and Washington avenues. Marchand’s notes indicate this bungalow, 722, was likely the first house in Bellemeade, built in August 1915 for Julius and Tillie Myer. He was a manager at the Home Federal Savings & Loan Association, established in 1914.

Next door to the earliest house on Lombard is one of the newest renovations. Last year, this home was a movie set — several scenes in Michael and Eric Rosenbaum’s movie, “Old Days,” were filmed in this attractive Tudor.

I don’t know much about the home at 772, but I love its two sets of porch steps.

The beautifully manicured home at 808 Lombard was built in 1930 and is one of the larger homes on the street. It also is set further back from the street.

Next week, we’ll continue on down to Washington Avenue, then back up to Bellemeade on the west side of the street.

Street Life: Lombard Avenue Pt. 2

Buy lots in Bellemeade. It’s a pleasure to show them. 

That was the message of Evansville veterinarian turned real estate developer John R. Mitchell as he marketed the street that now is Lombard Avenue in the years approaching 1920. For the next 40 years, Mitchell’s subdivision slowly grew; progress was impeded by war and the Depression.

He named his subdivision Bellemeade — beautiful meadow — and promoted the convenience of the nearby Bell Street street car extension, which terminated at the State Hospital, as well as the large size of the building lots. Lots on the east side of the street were 50 feet across and 395 feet deep.

The best-known house on Lombard, 600, gets its acclaim from the famous oilman who lived there, Ray Ryan, allegedly murdered by the mob in October 1977. After working out at the 21st Century Healthclub on Bellemeade Avenue, Ryan was killed when his Lincoln Mark V blew up when he started the ignition. The home, as it appeared when the Ryans purchased it in 1946, is pictured in the 2012 book, “Mob Murder of America’s Greatest Gambler,” by Herb Marynell and Steve Bagby.

The French provincial home was built in 1938 for E. F. Schnacke who was the president of the North Star Furniture Co. It has been expanded through the years but retains the original character. 

Next door, 654 Lombard is a busy home. Known as The May Home, it was gifted to University of Evansville in 1980 by real estate developer Guthrie May, who lived in the house for more than 30 years. The home was built in 1940 for Robert Gray. Today it is the official residence of the University of Evansville president, and is often the site of university functions, including the freshman class ice cream social held each August.

(My next blog post will continue to focus on homes on the east side of Lombard Avenue to Washington Avenue.)

Street Life: Lombard Avenue

My family lives on a shady East Side street that shares a name with one of the most famous streets in the world, in a city, I, unfortunately, have never visited. In San Francisco, Lombard Street is famous for having a steep, one-block section consisting of eight tight hairpin turns. Our Lombard is an avenue, the principal street in a moderately successful real estate development called Bellemeade that was promoted as “a home site for the person tired of the city,” begun 100 years ago.

In this blog post, and over the next few weeks, I will share some of the research I have studied recently on the history of Lombard Avenue. Our city is fortunate to have had dedicated preservation officers who created and maintain excellent records — the late Joan Marchand and today, Dennis Au; I’m also thankful for Willard Library, where Ms. Marchand’s archives are housed. Mike Schopmeyer, a neighbor with an interest in history and preservation, shared with me useful records of his home. Evansville Living intern Nick Hebebrand contributed to the research.

In April 1913, Evansville veterinarian John R. Mitchell bought 40-plus acres approximately two miles from the city boundary of Kentucky Avenue. The south end of the tract was bounded by Washington Avenue and the north end was bounded by Lincoln Avenue. The tract was just south of Woodmere, the state hospital. Mitchell platted the land into 89 lots and named the north-south street Lombard Avenue.

Mitchell bought what was known as the McCallister-Terry farmhouse at 3515 Lincoln Ave. to live in while he was developing Bellemeade. This home was constructed in 1830 and, over the years, it has been enlarged and embellished.

The 89 lots, which cost $300 or $500, were advertised as “large enough to give breathing space and have your own flowers, fruits, and vegetables.”

Next week, I’ll write about the homes that line the east side of Lombard Avenue.

Happy Independence Day!

On the eve of Independence Day, I offer an even briefer blog post — we’re all eager to celebrate the holiday. Here is a last look at our patriotic Evansville Living cover — as we anticipate the arrival of the July/August issue — and a few of the images that inspired cover artist Cedric Hustace.

Rock Show

I love rocks. As a child I always had a rock collection. I loved visiting the rock and mineral shows at Washington Square Mall. I bought rocks on family trips and polished rocks in my own tumbler.

When the agenda for last weekend’s Indiana Landmarks board of directors’ retreat held in Bloomington, Ind., at the Indiana Memorial Union Biddle Hotel and Conference Center informed directors of Friday night’s “Limestone Adventure,” I was excited.

After a half-day of meetings, we boarded a bus to Woolery Stone Mill. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Woolery Stone Company began quarrying this site in 1930. Scenes from the 1979 movie "Breaking Away" were filmed here. (Filmed in Bloomington and about Bloomington, “Breaking Away” is a story about the “cutters” — boys with a limestone legacy — and “townies.”) The quarrying operations are closed today, and the mill is available for special events. We enjoyed a catered dinner, local beer, and we learned about the history of limestone in Indiana.

Indiana limestone exists in a swath varying in width from one to ten miles and stretching 30 miles long, from Stinesville to Bedford. The stone belt was formed about 300 million years ago, from the calcium carbonate deposits of decomposing marine animals at the bottom of the inland sea covering the area.

Even prior to Indiana’s admission to the Union in 1816, a light-colored, fine-grained native stone had been used by settlers for cabin foundations, door sills, milling burrs, and memorials. The first organized quarrying effort of record was established in 1827 in Southern Indiana near Stinesville.

Our home landscape features lots of Indiana rock. Native stone of all variations — some of my favorite is variegated limestone — creates paths through our yard that lead to benches crafted from irregularly cut stone and limestone barn foundations.

Birthdays and Baby Books

Fifteen years ago, on a hot day that would end in storms, my first son was born. Just two days earlier, my husband and I had made the anxious drive to Welborn Baptist Hospital, sure I was ready to deliver. We were sent home after a few hours, without a baby. We watched movies; I remember watching “As Good as It Gets” — both of us love Jack Nicholson. Finally, late on June 11, we again made the trip to the hospital. At 6:25 a.m. on June 12, Maxwell William Tucker was born after a fairly difficult childbirth. Todd and I had lost patience in the childbirth class. We couldn’t keep our “hees” and our “hoos” straight, laughed, and were scolded by the nurse; we didn’t return for the second class. I don’t know if not having practiced Lamaze-style breathing made it harder for me or not.

As we welcomed friends and family to meet Max, I recorded these visits in my neatest handwriting in his baby book, a gift from my sister. Growing up, I loved looking at my baby book. My mother — a schoolteacher, readers may recall — chronicled my earliest days and milestones in a journal called “Here I Am.” On my 40th birthday, she gave me the book, with a note that it was mine to keep and that she hoped I cherished it as much as she did. I did. When my mother died, I found another baby book — a tiny photo album and journal made for my grandmother.

The pages of Max’s book now are completed with memories and milestones of his first five years, a diligence that continued with his brother’s baby book. Though there’s no page for a 15th birthday, I might make a notation: Maxwell enrolled in driver’s education today!

My Husband the Rock Star

My husband is in a rock band. He’s the drummer. Every great rock band needs a drummer. What would the Beatles be without Ringo Starr? The E Street Band without Max Weinberg? Or the Rolling Stones without Charlie Watts?  Still — and if you know my husband, maybe you think this is appropriate — in the lexicon of a band, drummer jokes are rampant. Websites are devoted to drummer jokes: How can you tell when a drummer's at the door? He doesn't know when to come in.


Todd began taking drum lessons 8 years ago. As a kid, he quit piano, though there are plenty of musicians in his family (his cousins). He has two drum kits; one in our home and one in a warehouse on the East Side that the band, “Acquired Taste,” leases for practice and jam sessions with friends. 

The band began as an instructional band operating out of the Guitar Lab. Additional members were added and a few other band names inspired by random thoughts were considered. You know the drill: You’re having drinks with friends when someone remarks on a news item, like “Margaret Thatcher is dead,” and someone exclaims, “That’s a great name for a band.”

Acquired Taste stuck when a friend remarked that Todd, and his music, were just that. 

Some might say Motley Crew (I know how to spell the heavy metal band’s name) would be a more appropriate name. Members include an engineer who plays guitar and sings, an ophthalmologist guitar player, a therapist female singer, a marketer keyboard player, a corporate trainer who sings and plays guitar, a CPA guitar player, and a retired heart surgeon bassist. 

Acquired Taste brings its loud and fun brand of rock-and-roll to the Roca Bar North patio this Saturday night at 8 p.m. I’ll be there!

Polish the Silver

While I look forward to nearly every aspect of summer — sunny weather, sunnier attitudes, weekly swim meets, baseball, my birthday — summertime also means my Monday lunch schedule clears, and that has me already looking forward to fall. 

Since 2006, at least two Mondays a month from September to May (barring magazine deadline conflicts), I’ve attended lunch meetings of the Social Literary Circle. Founded on Nov. 4, 1901, Social Literary Circle now has 19 members on the roll. Our longest-term current member, Susan Enlow, who joined in 1963, practically grew up in the circle as her mother, too, was a member. Our hand-made annual directory, featuring the circle’s flower, the purple violet, lists 54 members in remembrance.

When I was invited to join the literary circle, by a lovely and gracious member, Virginia “Ginny” Schroeder, I eagerly accepted. Though I was the child who competed every summer for the reading award given by the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library — the Golden Apple — I had never before been a member of a book club.

With more than 100 years of tradition, the Social Literary Club keeps its rules simple. Unlike most book clubs, members do not read and  discuss the same book. Rather, each meeting is organized by a hostess and a program presenter. The hostess hosts the every-other-Monday meeting; the member with the program introduces and discusses the book she has read. Traditionally, members choose non-fiction books of significant historic, cultural, or biographic context.

Each member gives careful thought to the book she’ll present and the menu she’ll serve. The club’s requirements of hosting and presenting are not concurrent. While I sign up to host and present on the same meeting day, other members prefer to keep the duties apart — prepare a book report for one meeting and polish the silver for another.

Summertime Blues

Yesterday afternoon, I sat down at my MacBook to write this week’s “300 Words” entry about the beginning of summer vacation, which began Friday at noon for my oldest son, Maxwell, and will begin Wednesday at noon for my youngest, Jackson — after a field trip yesterday to Lincoln State Park and the school’s Field Day today. I planned to write how thrilled I was to shelve the school morning chaos of searching for clean uniforms and socks until fall. (Even so, it’s really not that different in the summer — we’re searching for goggles and swim jammers.)

I can’t write that story. My thoughts are consumed with the children and adults in Moore, Okla., who were killed in yesterday’s deadly tornado outbreak — children who won’t play in Field Day or look forward to the summer months. For the community of Moore, life this summer, and forever, will be very different. Like Evansville, Moore, Okla., has experienced the pain before.

We remember the unusually warm Sunday, Nov. 6, 2005. Around 1:50 a.m., a tornado touched down two miles north-northwest of Smith Mills in Henderson County, Ky., near the Indiana/Kentucky border, and then crossed the Ohio River into Vanderburgh County, Ind. Staying just south of I-164, the tornado traveled to the northeast causing extensive damage to parts of Evansville, Newburgh, and Boonville. The tornado lifted in Spencer County, 1.5 miles southwest of Gentryville. According to the National Weather Service based in Paducah, Ky., the damage path was at least 400 yards wide and 41 miles long. The tornado’s maximum wind speed was estimated to be 200 mph, making it a high-end F3 on the Fujita scale. It claimed the lives of 25 people; 21 in the Eastbrook Mobile Home Park on Evansville’s Southeast Side, and four in Warrick County.

We remember.

Sam, Alice, and Bill

We sent the May/June 2013 issue of Evansville Living to print last week before I left on a press trip to Arkansas. This week, I returned to Evansville and was met by the new issue, hot off the press. It’s always exciting when the new issue arrives. Yours should be in your mailbox this week; it’s on newsstands now.

“Why are you going to Arkansas?” That’s what I was asked before I left on a five-day tour of Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas. (Our lack of information about Arkansas was met by their unfamiliarity with us. Even journalists on this trip had little knowledge of Evansville. Those who did know of our city were surprised to realize it was on the Ohio River.)

The State of Arkansas and the convention and visitor’s bureaus of Little Rock, North Little Rock, Bentonville, Fayetteville, and Fort Smith are working hard, together, to promote the assets of the capital city and Northwest Arkansas — which now include the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The state promotes its many Clinton destinations as a “Billgrimage,” and certainly the privately-funded presidential library is the first stop.

Up the highway in Bentonville, Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton bristles when asked the cost of her investment in Crystal Bridges. “You don’t ask what a gift costs,” is her stock reply, according to the guides we met. The museum, opened on Nov. 11, 2011, attracted 600,000 visitors its first year — more than doubling projections. What also is known is that in 2005 Walton purchased Kindred Spirits, by Asher B. Durand as the museum’s centerpiece for reportedly $36 million from the New York Public Library.

I’ll write more about Little Rock, Ark., and Bentonville, Ark., in our July/August issue.

 

Photo by Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Ark.

Our Pretty City

I had returned from Europe just a few hours earlier. While driving, my husband inquired, “So how are you doing, honey?” “Good,” I replied. “I’m happy to be home to my family and my pretty city.” A look of mock horror crossed Todd’s face. Did he not believe he and our sons were missed? Then it was clear. “You’ve just been through Holland, Belgium, and France,” he said. “Yes, and I am happy to be home to you guys and our pretty city.”

During my 13-day adventure, when spring was just budding in Holland and Belgium and had advanced only a bit further in Paris, a verdant green landscape arose from the chill in Southwestern Indiana. I was greeted with a stunningly beautiful spring. “Pretty enough,” I thought, “to inspire Monet,” the French impressionist still on my mind from various Paris museum visits just a few days earlier.

Of course, the Ohio Valley landscape has long inspired great art. Just three weekends ago, 200 artists gathered in New Harmony for the First Brush of Spring Plein Air Paint Out.

Returning from the European landscape caused me to look at our city with fresh eyes. Our area largely was populated by Western European immigrants who settled here because the countryside was more similar than dissimilar to their homelands. Here, they established many of the European gardening traditions that we enjoy all seasons, and especially in spring. 

As I walked my dog Jed in the Evansville State Hospital park near my house, being happy to be home was still at the top of my mind. How fortunate am I to have a 65-acre park to enjoy across the street from my house? But … if only it were preserved, developed, and maintained to the European standards of parks I had just visited.

Bonjour

(The editor has broken the rule of her blog; please forgive this entry of slightly more than 300 Words.)

Paris in Three Days and a Few Hundred Words
I arrived at Paris Gare du Nord train station on a Sunday afternoon. I got on the right Metro line to the hotel, La Manufacture, I had secured in the 13th arrondissement.  By 5 p.m., Deanna (my husband’s cousin’s wife, an American Airlines international flight attendant) and I were ready to begin our tour of Paris. We left the hotel light on our feet; our pockets stuffed with Metro tickets. With a laminated map of Paris, we were ready to walk at least 15 miles each day and to keep straight which side of the River Seine we were on.

Sunday Afternoon
My first day in Paris was the prettiest day of the year, so we walked up to Montmartre, a hill on the north side of Paris and home of the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur and the famous art district, Place du Tertre. From this stunning view, all of Paris was laid out before us.

Next, we strolled the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to see the Arc de Triomphe and the Place de la Concorde. We walked through the gardens of the Tuileries to the Louvre, where I stood in awe of its scale and beauty.

We finished our evening tour at Notre Dame, the French Gothic cathedral celebrating 850 years! Across the street, we dined at Brasserie de L'Isle Saint-Louis on buttery omelettes, pommes frites, and French red wine.

Monday
Out the door by 9:30 a.m., our first tour was to see the Eiffel Tower from the vantage point of the Trocadero and the Palais de Chaillot, as well as to walk along the Champs de Mars.

In Les Invalides at the Musee de l’Armee (our Paris Museum Pass provided featured no-wait access), we saw Napoleon Bonaparte’s monumental tomb.

We approached the Louvre with ease — clearly we could not do it all.  Standouts for me were: Mona Lisa, Aphrodite (known as the “Venus de Milo,”) and the Napoleon III Apartments.

After lunch of sandwiches in the Tuileries, we visited the Musee de l’Orangerie, home to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies and works by many of my favorite artists: Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, and Picasso.

Strolling Rue du Bac, we found Deyrolle, a most unusual shop. Dating to 131, the first floor of Deyrolle is a very nice garden shop. Upstairs patrons find an astonishing mélange of curiosities: preserved insects, fossils, science books and posters, and a vast assortment of taxidermy animals, both large and small.

We visited grocery stories – the destination La Grand Epicerie at Le Bon Marche and the more common, Moniprix, where just 89 euro cents bought my favorite mustard, Amora. Dinner was near our hotel in the popular Latin Quarter on Rue Mouffetard at a brasserie called Mouff’tot Mouff’tard.

Tuesday
We were out the door by 9:30 a.m. Our first stop was the Musee D’Orsay, designed in a historic train station and displaying art from 1848 to 1914, including Monet, Renoir, Manet, Seurat, Van Gogh, and Degas. 

We toured Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris”), which today continues to serve as the cathedral for the Archdiocese of Paris. Under the flying buttresses of the ancient cathedral, we enjoyed sandwiches and free Wi-Fi in the adjacent park.

After lunch, we walked in Le Marais to Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris, where locals took their lunch breaks in the sun.

Realizing the day was waning (“We need just one more day!”), we took the Metro to Pere Lachaise Cemetery to see, specifically, where The Doors’ Jim Morrison was laid to rest.  Before we could make our way to plot No. 30, stern-faced attendants shooed us from the cemetery — it was 5:45 p.m. and closing time was 6 p.m.  We would not be allowed to pay our respects to James Douglas "Jim" Morrison (Dec. 8, 1943 – July 3, 1971) — at least on this visit.  (“If we only had one more day!”)

Though the Centre Georges Pompidou, located near the Les Halles is closed on Tuesdays, still it must be viewed. With its infrastructure visible on the exterior of the building, the Pompidou houses a vast public library and a vast public library, and the Musée National d'Art Moderne.

Deanna recalled a nice dinner she had enjoyed several years ago at Camille and we easily located it in Le Marais. We dined on the crowded sidewalk; on my right, patrons sampled escargot. To my left, a French family, with its dog under the table, dined on white asparagus nearly as thick as my forearm.

The next morning we took a shuttle from our hotel to Charles de Gaulle airport. Though we had indulged the day before on Ladurre macaroons (we stopped at the store on Rue Bonaparte), I was delighted to find Ladurre in the airport — and that was my last stop.

Vaarwel

I am on a high-speed train to Paris. Just a few hours ago, in Amsterdam, I disembarked Luftner Cruises’ Amadeus Elegant river cruiser, seeing off my shipmates who joined Lifestyle Tours’ “Tulip River Cruise.”

I'm excited about visiting Paris with my husband's cousin's wife, Deanna. What a surprise — the cousins used our Paris vacation as an opportunity to get together, as well. As the landscapes change from canals, polders, dykes, and windmills to gently rolling fields and forests, I will share a few of the highlights of my eight-day river cruise.

The group from Evansville included my stepparents and stepsister and her husband — very much a treat for me. For readers who did not know I had stepsisters, this is a benefit of my stepfather remarrying a wonderful woman (a widow) who, like my stepfather, had three daughters.

The Dutch have a saying: God created the earth, but the Dutch created Holland. This refers to the Dutch’s eight-century history of harnessing the water and taming their below sea-level land. Viewed from the water, I was fascinated by these efforts.

At Kinderdijk, Netherlands, a UNESCO World Heritage site, 19 working windmills dating to the mid 18th century can be toured. They are occupied by individuals or families who apply to live in the windmills and care for them. Applicants must be certified millers. There is a 19-year wait.

Each city and town in Holland and Belgium was as pretty as the last. Bruges, Belgium, certainly must be considered among the world's most beautiful cities, largely untouched by the bombs of war.

On April 30, crown prince Willem-Alexander will be installed during an investiture. His mother, Queen Beatrix, will abdicate the throne. The entire country will take the day off to celebrate.

Next week, “300 Words” will return stateside.

The Kitchen Garden

If there’s a cure for jet lag, it is strolling the grounds of the world’s largest flower garden. Keukenhof, or “Kitchen Garden,” also is known as the Garden of Europe. I spent the first morning of my “Tulip River Cruise” walking about the impeccable Keukenhof, located about 45 minutes from Amsterdam, Netherlands, in Lisse. More than seven million bulbs are planted annually in the park, which also features the most current and creative garden and landscape designs.

Acres upon acres (the property is 32 hectares in size) are planted with spring bulbs, and the astonishing beauty extends to Keukenhof's four pavilions, where more than 30 flower shows are produced annually. More than 600 growers present their most prized flowers, and leading floral designers create shows of stunning beauty and size.

In the Oranje Nassau Pavilion, the show changes weekly; I saw roses. In the Willem Alexander Pavilion, more than 100,000 tulips in the most exotic varieties were displayed. The Beatrix Pavilion presented an astonishing orchid show.

The Amadeus Elegant now is docked in Arnhem, Netherlands, a city just a bit larger than Evansville largely destroyed in World War II that is now nicely rebuilt. The cruise will continue through the Netherlands and into Belgium later this week, before returning to Amsterdam, at which point I will travel to Paris by train. I'll post “300 Words” next week from the City of Lights.

I'll owe you a few words - my word count this week is slightly light.

Through the Tulips

Tulips are finally blooming. I won’t complain about their late show. Saturday I will fly to Amsterdam, where I’ll board the MS Amadeus Elegant for a “Tulip River Cruise” through the Netherlands and Belgium.  After eight days cruising the Rhine and Danube rivers, I’ll take a train from Amsterdam to Paris, where I’ll spend three days.

Todd and I traveled to Amsterdam six years ago. We fell in love with the city of canals. Since I was a child, I have loved tulips and Dutch culture. At age 6, I sang and danced “I Am a Pretty Little Dutch Girl” on the televised Bill Riley Talent Show in Des Moines, Iowa. Please don’t gag or judge – I was only 6 and had a mother interested in performance. (I left the studio with Archway cookies as a prize.)

On the tulip river cruise, I am traveling with a group from Evansville’s Lifestyle Tours, including my stepparents. When I depart the river cruise for Paris, I’ll meet my husband’s cousin’s wife, Deanna, an American Airlines international flight attendant, an excellent guide for my first trip to Paris.

Learning of this trip, people naturally ask, “Are Todd and your boys going?” – after all, we do travel together as a family and for business. But tulips bloom in April, the same time Bronco League baseball begins; and it’s not recommended to take a high school freshman out of school. 

While I enjoy traveling with my family, I hope my trip encourages their spirit to embrace opportunities. I plan to post a “300 Words” entry shipboard next week, and, of course, you’ll read more about it later in Evansville Living. And while I’m gone, I know my family will make it just fine. But feel free to check in on them for me.

Math at the Beach

On April 1, I celebrated 24 years of marriage to my husband. Married on April Fool’s Day, I’ve been married half my life. How fast the years fly was on my mind when we spent spring break in Seaside, Fla.

Todd and I first visited Seaside soon after we married while vacationing with friends nearby in Panama City. Other than for a triathlon Todd competed in, we’ve never again returned to Panama City, choosing instead Seaside.

Seaside is the 80-acre vision of Robert Davis, who laid down the plat for the town in 1981. Davis, his wife, and architectural partners traveled the south studying small towns to create an old-fashioned beach town with a social and cultural atmosphere. Every house in Seaside is colorful and different, ranging in style from Victorian, Neoclassical, Modern, Postmodern, and Deconstructivism.

While we have stayed in many types of homes in Seaside, this year we returned to a special place with our sons that we first stayed in 20 years ago, The Mathematician, a residence in the earliest community building there. Designed by architect Steven Holl, The Mathematician features a tower and rooftop terrace overlooking a green that collects vacationing kids’ beach bikes (kids really can roam free in Seaside, like we did when we were kids), the famed 30A beach highway, and the emerald Gulf linked to the foliage-lined streets by nine beach pavilions. 

Folks who don’t “get” Seaside, thinking perhaps it is a resort, not a town, might not understand how cottages like The Truman House (featured with the town in the 1998 movie, “The Truman Show”), modern buildings like The Mathematician, and retro Airstream food trucks  work together. They do. 

Last year, Seaside was named Travel & Leisure’s Best Beach for the Family in its first Best Beaches on Earth poll.

New Boston and Boscoe

I know Southwestern Indiana pretty well. There aren’t too many parts I have not explored, growing up here, and now publishing city magazines about all corners of the Tri-State.

Last weekend, friends invited us to their rural Spencer County home (near Newtonville, between Santa Claus and Grandview). Because the kids didn’t go, my husband’s drums could come along — but that’s a different blog entry. The occasion of the invite — besides good company, making music, and Sunday morning breakfast — was to see Daniel “Boscoe” France play in Ferdinand. Evansville Living featured France in the November/December 2012 issue, and I’d not yet seen the blues guitarist from Madisonville, Ky., play.

But before Boscoe, we made a stop in New Boston for dinner. I’d never heard of New Boston or the New Boston Tavern. Right after we walked into the crowded, worn roadhouse, I heard a pleasant, “Kristen, Kristen” — Evansville friends with a home in Christmas Lake Village had come for mass at St. John Chrysostom Catholic Church and for dinner at the New Boston Tavern. Our table enjoyed prime rib, steak, salmon, German fries, and green beans. Year-round, it’s all grilled outside behind the tavern.

Then it was on to Ferdinand American Legion Post No. 124 for the Boscoe France Band. Next to a large American flag hung by the stage, France, drummer Jimmy Cummings, and bass guitarist John Gillespie quickly warmed up the house — patrons who were there for the band, and the kick-off and lineup announcement for this summer’s Ferdinand Folk Festival.

France was better than billed. He played his Gibson guitar to the enthusiastic crowd with his incredible and unconventional slide skills, behind his back, over his head, with bare feet, head thrown back and eyes rolled – and then with his teeth.

The fourth annual Ferdinand Folk Festival will be held on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, in Ferdinand’s 18th Street Park. The event is family-friendly, will feature activities for all ages, and is free to attend. For additional information on the Ferdinand Folk Festival, visit www.ferdinandfolkfestival.com.

WHEW!

Over the weekend, my husband was away on a press trip to Rosemary Beach, Fla. I’ve taken plenty of these nice trips; this time, it was Todd’s turn to join journalists in the Florida Panhandle.

Organizing the schedules of our two boys, 14 ½ and 11 ½, is hard enough for two; take one parent of out of the mix, and we get barely ordered chaos. The boys are in different schools, so that means two trips in the morning (picking up neighbor kids, too, on the second school run). If neither son forgot anything (gym clothes, swim bag), that might be it for the morning. After-school coordination requires texts be sent to parents of swimmers to inquire who can take and pick up; it would be impossible to have a set weekly carpool schedule.

Raising an 11-month old puppy, Jed, adds to the coordination. If he doesn’t go to Doggie Day Care (I state that without the least bit of embarrassment — it’s such a great idea), he needs to be let out and checked on during the day. He saves his best behavior for when one of us is gone. This time, Jed chewed up a prescription medicine bottle that we did not know he could get to. I learned that to make a dog throw up you pour hydrogen peroxide in his mouth — a foamy mess. (He is fine, and we think his teeth are whiter.)

When the traveling parent returns, the family always is happy to share a collective “Whew.” It really does take a village it seems to run a household. Small presents and mementos come home with the returning parent: t-shirts, shells — or a wall plaque with a special message that reminds us just how hard and rewarding the parenting job is.

Candy Stripes, Cody, and Calbert

“I was so close to Cody I could smell his sweat.”

That’s what my son Jackson said after watching sophomore Cody Zeller and the No.1 Indiana University men’s basketball team warm up on the hardwood Saturday night before they won against Iowa, 73-60.

Thoughtful friends with tickets sent us driving up Interstate 69 to Bloomington, Ind. Neither of our children had been to Assembly Hall. After eating at the Scholar’s Inn Bakehouse, we arrived early at the hallowed home of the Hoosiers.

My boys were beside themselves with excitement. 

The IU floor was covered in cream, crimson, and candy stripes. A great many fans in the sold-out crowd of 17,474 were wearing candy stripes, too.

I was thrilled to see Calbert Cheaney, IU basketball’s director of operations and a former Harrison High School player, who was featured along with Harrison teammate Walter McCarty on our second magazine cover in May/June 2002. (Both played for the Boston Celtics.) Cheaney was honored Saturday for breaking the Big 10 scoring record playing at IU 20 years ago, a record he holds still today.

We saw Christian Watford, the senior from Birmingham, Ala. (whose buzzer-beating three-pointer felled then-No.1 University of Kentucky in December 2011) on his knees praying with his father Ernest before tipoff.  Watford’s epic shot was played on the scoreboard during the pre-tip festivities.

As I write, IU still is No.1 and the memories of Saturday’s game will be long in our minds. Zeller, whom we featured in March/April 2012 along with his ball-playing brothers, scored 22 points and had 10 rebounds in the win. Sunday morning, eager to catch SportsCenter’s report, we spotted ourselves in their game coverage. Our kids are absent from the shot. They had run to the restroom to change into their new IU apparel.

Teachers

Last Friday morning, I sat in Mass with Jackson, my youngest, a fifth grader. This Mass was not the normal weekday school Mass. The church was filled with uniformed students with their parents or their classes who were there for the funeral Mass of beloved third grade teacher, Katie (Catherine Marie) Schwenk.

Miss Schwenk taught both my children at Holy Rosary Catholic School. A former sister of St. Benedict, she was a loving and attentive teacher in the Evansville Diocese for more than 40 years. At her funeral, Fr. Bernie Etienne said, “I really did think I was special around her — until this week, when I’ve had so many conversations with you all, and I look around here and realize Katie Schwenk made you all feel special.”

As I have been thinking about Katie, I’ve thought about the qualities teachers – especially teachers of young children – possess. My husband and I both are kids of school teachers. Through the years, we’ve discussed our own experiences with teacher traits when talking about our mothers. Usually, it’s with warm humor.

I grew up thinking most households required popsicles be “checked out” from the freezer – not that they would be returned, but so they could be accounted for.

And don’t all school teachers make buttons? Where else can a son-in-law get a #1 Syracuse Fan button made (for the Kentucky vs. Syracuse, April 1, 1996, NCAA Championship)?

My husband’s family lived in a holiday world, but not the theme park: Their home was decked floor to ceiling in seasonal holiday décor, strengthening our observations about teachers and holidays.

Though I offer humor relating to growing up in teachers’ households (teachers do live in houses, not schools) perhaps it is appropriate to think about and thank, if possible, your teachers today.

Photo courtesy of Holy Rosary. Katie Schwenk celebrates Field Day with Claire Talbert and Allison Compton.

Prizing Pools

This was to be a two-pool weekend. Our youngest son Jackson was entered with his team, the Newburgh Sea Creatures, in a meet in Louisville. Maxwell planned to stay home with his Reitz Memorial High School swim teammates in the SIAC boys sectional meet, held Saturday at the beautiful Castle High School Natatorium.

A short-lived illness kept Jackson home from Louisville, enabling the family to attend the high school boys swim sectional at CHS. It was incredibly exciting; Memorial narrowly edged out Castle with a win in the final event, the 400 Freestyle Relay – a dogfight between the teams’ anchors.

While I was glad to have seen the sectional meet, I had been looking forward to the competition in Louisville. I knew the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center was located in the Crescent Hill Reservoir Park and was the winter home to the Louisville Seahawks Swim Team.  In July, our boys swim in the team’s summer invitational held at the Lakeside Swim Club, a private – but more like community – swim and recreation club built into a quarry in a Louisville’s charming, historic Belknap neighborhood.

It’s interesting to me that the Mary T. Meagher (now 48, she was an Olympic gold medalist and world record-holder from Louisville) Aquatic Center was built in a park with a historic reservoir.

With our plans to attend the Louisville meet altered, I turned to the web to learn more about the aquatic center, where I found this comment, among others expressing pride:

“As a lifelong swimmer, this place just makes my chest swell with pride. Louisville is a very good swimming town with more than one option for first-rate facilities. This is merely the best public swimming facility in this part of America (for) 50-meter pool, swim lessons, masters.”

I believe Louisville prizes its pools.

Stealing Away for Orchids

I stole away to the tropics of the West Side for lunch today. Orchid Escape opened this weekend and runs through March 16 at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden’s Amazonia: Forest of Riches.

The foliage of Amazonia is impressive any time of year; it’s a lovely place to spend your lunch hour in the dead of winter. Now, with the hundreds of orchids artfully mounted amid the staghorn ferns and other tropical plants, the effect is intoxicating.

I have an orchid – a white phalaenopsis on my desk – given to me by Michael Simon, executive vice president of his family’s business, Publisher’s Press, which has long printed our magazines, to mark our company’s 10th anniversary. Orchid lore suggests my type of plant thrives by adding to its pot just three ice cubes a week. That’s what I do, and it is nearly in continuous bloom.

The availability of orchids has changed dramatically in the past few decades, and today they are broadly available as houseplants. My mother carried orchids in her wedding – an exotic gift from her college friend whose family raised tropical flowers in Hawaii.

My intrigue with orchids grew with Susan Orlean’s, “The Orchid Thief” (which I listened to on audio book), based on her 1995 story in The New Yorker about the investigation of the 1994 arrest of John Laroche and a group of Seminoles in South Florida for poaching rare Ghost Orchids in the Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve. The 2002 movie Adaptation was based on Orlean’s book. Though the film is billed as an “adaptation” of The Orchid Thief, its narrative focuses on the screenwriter’s difficulty in adapting the book to film. Most folks I know who saw it were confused.

Take a break from winter and enjoy a tropical respite at Orchid Escape.

My Mom

Five years ago, on Jan. 31, we buried my mother, Mary Gladys Midgorden Reeder Carter. She was 74. My mother’s death made me, and my two younger sisters, “adult orphans” – a term used today to describe adult children whose parents are dead. My father died when I was 14, at the age of 44.

My mom taught in the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. for 30 years – first at Wheeler Elementary School, now closed and demolished, and then at Caze Elementary, which I attended through sixth grade. When friends and relatives speak of my mother, it is almost always about her easy laugh and good sense of humor.

My family moved to Evansville, my dad’s hometown, in 1970, to settle down from the nomadic life of his career as a high school girls basketball coach. My parents had met in 1951 at Graceland College in Lamoni, Iowa. (My dad followed his best friend and W. Florida Street neighbor to college in Lamoni.) My mother worked in a travel agency, department stores, and taught school as they embarked on marriage chasing coaching jobs in small communities across the state. The Iowa communities – mostly small towns not unlike we have in Indiana – where I recall they lived are Osceola, Lamoni, Des Moines, Patricia Park, Winterset, Indianola, Pleasantville, Emmetsburg, New Virginia, Baxter, and Melcher.

Somewhere in the mix, they worked in more than a year in Independence, Mo., and also moved to Montana. Under the big sky, my parents lived near Flathead Lake, and my mother taught school on the Flathead Indian Reservation. They returned to Iowa after learning I would soon be born.

It can be sad to be an adult orphan, yet I’m thankful for healthy stepparents and in-laws – and the opportunity to share a bit of history.

Let’s Make it Through February

Moving toward spring is central in my thoughts, just as it is this time every year. Once the holidays are behind us and we have celebrated the New Year, I count the days till spring. Thank heavens February is short (it won’t have 29 days again until 2015), because a consistent thought this time of year is:  “If we can just make it through February, we’ll have more and more nice days.”

Of course I realize our climate here in Southern Indiana is actually quite temperate compared to most of our state and the greater Midwest. Still, I’m not a fan of cold weather, snow, or ice.

As January comes to a close this week, I’m reminded of this photo, a clipping from the Evansville Press. It sits framed on a library shelf in our family. Evansville Press photographer Don Goodaker (who also was a longtime friend of my husband’s family) took the picture of me walking our dog, Pearl Bodine, along the levee (now part of the Pigeon Creek Greenway), in Downtown Evansville on a nice day in February. Though I didn’t mark the clipping, I believe the year was 1991.  Evansville still had an afternoon newspaper and we lived in the Riverside Historic District with the dog and two cats.

We still have two cats and a dog and I still walk the dog. Like the golden retriever mix Pearl in clipping, Jed, our 10-month old puppy, pretty much walks me, tugging me and lunging at squirrels and birds. (Pearl failed obedience training for posterior sniffing her classmates; I have yet to enroll Jed.)

I’m eager for a few warm dog-walking February days.  It looks like the forecast for this week and early February is in my favor.  And Groundhog Day is predicted to be partly cloudy.

His Lordship Slept Here

I arrived late to the conversation about “Downton Abbey,” the British series on PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater.” I missed the first two seasons. However, I’ve seen all three episodes this season and read about the show’s creator, Julian Fellowes, most recently in the December 2012 issue of “Vanity Fair.”

Settling in to watch this season’s first episode, I was struck by the views of “Downton Abbey.” It recalled Harlaxton Manor, the University of Evansville’s British campus, located near Grantham, England. Then, I heard the show’s patriarch character addressed as “Lord Grantham.” As viewers know, the story is about the family of Robert Crawley, Seventh Earl of Grantham. Though I’ve never heard of any connection between Harlaxton Manor and Downton Abbey, I was curious to explore, especially as I visited Harlaxton Manor with my husband in 2005 to write a story for Evansville Living, “College in a Castle.”

The exterior views of Downton Abbey are of Highclere Castle in the county of Hampshire. Highclere was designed in the 1830s by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Palace of Westminster. Both have a sand-colored stone exterior and Gothic Revival turrets.

Harlaxton Manor is in Lincolnshire and was built by Gregory Gregory from 1837 to 1845 in Jacobean, Elizabethan, and Baroque styles. The University of Evansville began using the property in 1971 as its British campus, though it was owned by William Ridgway, a trustee of the university, until 1986. Since then, the University of Evansville has actively renovated and restored the manor.

Earl of Grantham was a title created in 1698 in the Peerage of England. (Fellowes uses the title fictitiously.) The title is now extinct. Though there are no direct connections, I enjoyed this bit of research and recalling the vision of the only manor house I’ve visited, Harlaxton Manor.

Music and Magazines

Over the weekend, I traveled to the City & Regional Magazine Association Publisher’s Roundtable in Cancun, Mexico. Evansville Living has been a member of CRMA since our inception, and publisher’s roundtable meetings have taken me or my husband Todd to many destinations, most often held in the city of a member magazine: Miami, Chicago, White Plains, N.Y., Palm Springs, Calif., Palm Beach, Fla., and Nashville, Tenn., are a few of the nice locales we’ve visited for the meeting. Though there was no host magazine in Cancun, the 25 publishers who attended made the most a sliver of time between deadlines at a location that proved to be extremely accommodating and even economical.

Todd is on the board of directors for CRMA. At the roundtable, limited to publishers (unlike the conference where employees of member magazines are encouraged to attend), Todd typically attends the meetings and I join in for the group social and networking opportunities. (I more fully participate in the conferences, where editorial and art tracks are held.) Through the years, we’ve made great friendships with these resilient publishers. We share information liberally (we generally don’t compete with one another), discussing best practices, printing contracts, circulation fulfillment, and revenue streams.

We have a lot of fun. Paul Byrne, publisher of Okanagan Life, based in Kelowna, British Columbia, never shows up without his guitar. At our farewell party, a wonderful Mexican buffet with a mariachi band, Paul played and sang songs he composed for his play, “Ink! The Musical,” which debuted in his market in 2006 and tells Byrne’s not-too-far-from-true accounts of Memphis and other CRMA magazines. Plans, I’m told, are forming for a CRMA band at the conference in Atlanta this spring. My husband’s drums fit in our car top carrier. Music and magazines unite publishers across North America.

Sam

I met Sam Featherstone a few days before Christmas. For more than a year, I carried in my briefcase a small book of my family history written by my great-grandmother. My intentions were to drop it by a printer, a friend, to be reprinted for gifts for my sisters and stepfather.  Finally, just a few days before Christmas, I ran into his shop without an appointment with my late request. I was met by the printer, Bob, and introduced to a family – Andy, Tammy, Susan, and Sam Featherstone – gathered around a computer proofing a book.

A few days later, my family history book was delivered to my office. Two days after Christmas, our family volunteered at SamStrong: Search for the Cure. My husband and our employees were very involved helping to market and promote the event the 19-year-old Reitz Memorial High School 2012 co-valedictorian with incurable medulloblastoma organized to raise awareness and money for pediatric brain cancer research.  Still, I personally had not been involved, nor had I met the Featherstones until that day in Bob’s office.

Not quite a week later, on Jan. 2, Sam passed away. His book, “SamStrong” – the book the family was proofing – is a collection of drawings and poetry he created during his three-year fight with brain cancer. It includes a moving forward by his mother, Tammy. Sam’s speech, delivered at Memorial High School in late November, also is reprinted.  Sam’s event, SamStrong: Search for the Cure, raised more than $200,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research. Also, the Sam Featherstone Memorial Scholarship has been established at The Catholic Foundation of Southwestern Indiana, Inc., for a Memorial High School graduating senior who succeeded in high school while overcoming challenges. Sam Featherstone’s light will long shine on our close community. I am grateful to have met him.

Fare for Turn of the Year

Happy New Year! I hope your holidays have been enjoyable; certainly they have been white. My boys say the city looks like a wonderland.

I’m considering what my family will eat tonight and tomorrow. Food for turn of the year is traditional; we’ll have New Year’s Day bean soup tomorrow. Our family will stay home tonight for a dinner we will prepare together  – something a bit more special.

A long-running subject of family jokes is my recipe collection. (It’s never used, of course.) My collection consists of a few dozen recipe books (a meager number for serious chefs), dog-eared Gourmet magazines (I miss it), and several boxes of family recipes on index cards. My family is wrong, though, about my recipes not being used. For inspiration for tonight’s meal, I’m going to one of my most referenced sources: my college Gourmet Cooking Class textbook, “The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook,” (The Hearst Corporation, 1980).

The best feature of the cookbook is the color picture index. For 24 years, this photo gallery has inspired me for special meals. My family requested beef for dinner tonight and indeed the Pinterest-like depiction of Main Dish/Meat in this cookbook offers plenty of recipes that interest me:

•  Filet Mignon with Mustard Caper Sauce
•  Celery-Stuffed Flank Steak
•  Braised Steak Caesar-Style
•  Mushroom Sherry Pot Roast
•  Beef Bourguignon
•  Carbonnade of Beef
•  Marinated Porterhouse Steak

As I finish this post, I’m not sure what we will serve; I likely will derive final inspiration at the meat counter. Whatever recipe we choose, I’ll garnish with parsley, just as the photos suggest. I brought a handful back over the holiday from a Georgia garden; everything improves with parsley.

I wish you a safe and enjoyable New Year’s Eve and a great beginning to the New Year.

Gledelig Jul*

Welcome to Evansville Living's editor's blog, 300 Words. I’ve recently been talking to our writers about the efficiency of telling a story in 300 words. That’s what I’ll do with this blog.

My great grandparents, Ole Midgorden and Mary Nelson, were children in 1871 when they left Norway for the U.S. with their families. They were married in Rock County, Minn., and raised their family of 10 children, in Lamoni, Iowa.  The youngest child, Dennis, was my mother’s father.  For my first post I will share the words of mother’s cousin, Dennis R. Midgorden, who recalled in 1995 the Iowa Christmases of the late 1930s:

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and the day after with the Midgorden family was really a gay affair, with as many as 50 people gathering all day.  What had appeared to be a large house would seem diminished when the clan gathered for Christmas. When we all got there and shared our experiences, with laughter and thanksgiving, these quiet subdued Norwegians opened up, especially the men who had little to say normally.  This was true in spite of the fact that they did not celebrate by using hard liquor.  My father has been known to say as many as 50 words on a Christmas Day, which was way over his allotment on any given day. While the male members of the family were not given to many words and long conversations, the women more than make up for this lack.  Clara, Nellie, Caroline and the other women were jolly and happy, making up for the quietness of the men. Everyone, as I remember, was very careful not to offend anyone else and there was a real congenial atmosphere at these Christmas gatherings, where love and gracious living shined forth.

*Merry Christmas!