Expressing Sorrow

We just returned from the funeral of my 17-year-old nephew. As I cannot express it all adequately, I turn to greater writers, two of the most honest and raw:

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not

–Emily Dickenson

King David knew the pain of losing a child:

Psalm 102

3 For my days vanish like smoke; my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass; I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.

(Psalm 102, Bible NIV)

Yet, in the midst of it, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law have hope.

Psalm 102 ends with this:  “The children of your servants will live in Your Presence…” (Psalm 102:28 NIV).

To this, we all cling.

Popular Baby Names in Classic Literature

According to the most recent data from the Social Security Administration, new parents are choosing names once prominent from the 18th through the early 20th centuries. Here are some well-known female characters and writers from literature and their name rankings from the current decade (2010-2019 so far):

Emma (ranked #2) -This name is popular in the fictional world, as well as the real one. Think Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time) and Emma Frost (X-Men).  Now over 200 years old, matchmaker Emma Woodhouse shows us that it’s attractive to be confident. In a time when it was unusual to do so, Jane Austen’s famous protagonist insists she will never marry, and, though she does in fact accept a proposal, she stays true to herself by holding out for true love.


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Emma, 1896 edition, ill. Hugh Thomson

Isabella (ranked #3) – Jane Austen assigned this name more than once (including to Emma’s older married sister). Yet, it is Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey who leaves the stronger impression. Flirtatious and beautiful, Isabella is the friend no other girl wants too close to her man. If alive today, she might go by Isabel or Bella.

Northanger Abbey, 1907 edition, ill. C. E. Brock


Emily (ranked #5) – Fiercely independent Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights, gave us one of the most haunting, but strangest, love affairs in history. Baffling to researchers and readers alike, this talented writer never married and in all probability never even had a love affair. She could have fooled us!

Emily Bronte

Lily (ranked #22) – Trapped between a high social standing and financial destitution, Edith Wharton’s Lily Bart (The House of Mirth) seems to always be one step behind the security she seeks. Still, she lives up to the class and dignity of her name by choosing honor over reputation. Edith Wharton well understood the world of high-society New York as shown here around 1880:

Edith Wharton


Grace (ranked #20) – Even a secondary character, especially when she is mentally-disturbed Grace Poole from Jane Eyre, intrigues me enough to place her on this list. However, author Grace Livingston Hill deserves first place for creating an entirely new genre of writing known as the Christian romance and for writing well over 100 novels in the early- to mid-1900’s. She understood well the meaning of grace.

Barbour Publishing, 2000

Elizabeth (ranked #10) – “Elizabeth, Elspeth, Betsy, and Bess…” This children’s rhyme displays the versatility of this classic name. Memorable Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice lives on as a model of the strong, sassy female protagonist. In contrast, Elizabeth (Beth) March (Little Women) lives on as the girl whose sweet nature influences all those around her. [Note the illustration drawn by the real Amy (May Alcott).]

Little Women, 1896 edition, ill. May Alcott

I like to think that at least some of the many names that remain popular decades and even centuries later can be attributed to the writers and characters of our favorite books. Perhaps Anne Shirley said it best:  “I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage” (L. M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables).



Kitchen-Klatter, Scones, and Vintage Recipes

Vintage recipes and recipe books create some nostalgia thing within me. I envision myself in my Grandma McKinney’s kitchen, with her milk glass mixing bowls and wooden spoons (used on occasion for spanking a certain mischievous granddaughter), creating a meal from scratch in those days before internet searches, round-the-clock TV cooking shows, and magazines devoted to food. Of course, I wear a floral apron and use fresh ingredients (from the farms down the road).

Trying these recipes in real life is sometimes another story. Since scones are one our favorites around here, I scoured my old recipe books for vintage recipes.

My favorite recipe book is an old Kitchen Klatter three-ring volume of thousands of recipes. This brand is well-known to many from Iowa, and many of the recipes encourage the use of their bottled flavorings. In this book alone, I once counted over 160 recipes containing Jell-O! In real life, I can’t remember the last time I made Jell-O. But, it was apparently an important staple in the 1950s and 60s.

This cookbook had only one recipe for scones, as did several others. I decided to combine a recipe for wartime scones (using oatmeal) with the regular recipe I had already found.

IMG_20150703_1157007_rewind IMG_20150703_1157109_rewind

We buy our dry goods at a Mennonite bulk food store. (I am new to the photography thing, and I notice shadows in the pictures, but it is too late to go back now!)

Even as I was mixing, I suspected these scones might be bland and heavy, but I wanted to experience the taste of the old recipes, as well as the methods. Here is the final result:



I was right about the taste, as they were missing the whole grains and spices we tend to use more of today. Did they even think of counting carbs or even really know what a carb was?? However, I LOVE this cookbook and rely on it for everyday recipes, from main dishes to desserts.

When I purchased the cookbook, it had its cover already missing, so I’m not sure the year it was published, but with over 460 pages, and a purchase price of a couple of dollars, I feel like I won the jackpot. I searched online, and found it has had many re-printings (mine seems like it may have come from the 1970s with its clipart of housewives in little black dresses with white aprons).

Kitchen-Klatter Cookbook

Here is a link for purchasing the above item at Amazon (new or used): Kitchen-Klatter cookbook.

I highly recommend the many baking recipes, even the scone recipe was just a bit before its time!