Labor Day Weekend | Work It!

Monday is Labor Day.  It is the quintessential day off.  A (more sweet, than bitter)  bittersweet 3-day weekend.

Many see it as the official end of summer.  The end of vacations and lazy days.  Or some see it as the beginning of a new school year or the coming of fall and a respite from the heat.

It is all of those things and so much more.  Labor Day is the day we celebrate the contribution workers have made in the strength, viability, prosperity, and overall well-being of our nation.

While nationally, our first Labor Day was the first September Monday in 1894, it had been celebrated in many states in the decade before.  It began as a holiday created by carpenters and machinists as a “workingmen’s holiday”.  A way for the backbone of our nation to celebrate and honor each other, the work that they do and the role that they play as the bedrock of American ideals, standards, fortitude, and freedom.

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In 1909, the first Sunday of September was deemed “Labor Sunday” and is dedicated to the educational and spiritual well-being of working Americans.  Be sure, this weekend to not just embrace Monday, but the importance of Sunday as well.

© Copyright 2010 CorbisCorporationThis Labor Day weekend, pay homage to those generations before you that marched, sat in, fought, lived, and died so that workers of all creeds, colors, backgrounds, nationalities, religions, genders, and ranging abilities had economic, political, and social rights that resonated in the grander fabric of a nation.

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Whatever you have planned for this weekend, WORK IT!

Take a road trip with nowhere particular in mind.  BBQ.  Play.  Swim.  Laze.  Do whatever it is you want to do.  Have fun at a kegger pool party.  Go crazy rooting for the home team at the ball game.  Enjoy dinner with friends.  Don’t feel guilty about sitting on the couch binge watching Marcella on Netflix with a bowl of cheesy popcorn in your lap.

Don’t fret if you have to actually work.  Frankly, we celebrate and thank you the most!

Raise your coffee, tea, lemon water, beer, fine (or box) wine, or cocktail and toast to those we’ve loved and lost due to poor and unsafe working conditions. It is because of them that we work safer and healthier today.

Once you’ve done that, get to celebrating!  This weekend is about you.  This weekend is about the working role that you play as a critical brick in the foundation of a nation.

Whatever you do, be safe, be well, and take good care of each other.  We, each and every one of us depend on you – as we are all one from the many.

Happy Labor Day Weekend, y’all!

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Books, Tomato Pie, and Aunt Cathy – Oh My!

This next series of blogs will be dedicated to sharing family stories and recipes that elicit love, comfort, and wonderful memories.  The best part is at the end – read all the way through.  You’re welcome.

culwells minus baby franAnd, since this is “onefromthemany” – one of the many that I’m from is Catherine “Cathy” Louise Culwell.  She was the 6th of the 7 Culwell children.  She is the littlest one in my mom’s lap in this photo.  Aunt Fran was next to come and would round out the Culwell 7!

Aunt Cathy passed away several years ago now and I have some of the fondest memories of my life with her.  I’ll share them with you.

When I think of Aunt Cathy, I think of books, juicy ripe tomatoes, and a deep love of nature.

Aunt Cathy was one of my best friends as a kid.  I spent summers with my Grandparents at their house in Mt. Airy, MD.  Since my Grandparents were busy most days at my Granddad’s medical office in town – if I wasn’t in fish mode at the local pool – the Ridge Swim Club (my Gram was one of the founders) – I was with Aunt Cathy.  I’d call her “My Cathy”.  For years, I called her that.  Actually, until she died, I called her that.

The Culwell House

culwell house

The room at the very top of the house with the air conditioner in the window was her room, her floor actually.  I spent so many hours up there with her, that it was a second home to me.

She was a voracious reader.  I mean, she’d read several books A DAY!  She would suit me up many days, even as a kindergartener – and we’d walk down Main Street to the library.  She would get stacks of books each week.  So many that we’d have to take breaks walking back to the house so that our backs didn’t seize up from the weight.  She read all kinds of books, mostly romance, art, and nature.

She was a lover of nature – oh boy.  Animals, horses mostly, flowers, plants, bugs – she didn’t discriminate.  When I was 4 or 5, I remember announcing to her that I wanted to be a horse when I grew up.  Or a back hoe.  I don’t know, so don’t ask.

She also loved flowers.  She was a talented artist.  Drawing, painting, needlepoint.  I have many of her pieces now that my husband and I cherish.

When my Grandparents passed away, she moved to Rainsville, AL in the years following to take care of an elderly woman that needed close watching over in her twilight years.  The family was so grateful to Cathy – that they gave her land — or maybe sold her land for a dollar — and she built a cute, little house.  A place all her own

Rainsville is a beautiful place!  It sits atop Sand Mountain on the northern end of the state.  It is one of the prettiest places in the US.  And… home to … drum rollllll…. the band Alabama!  They even have a museum in their hometown, neighboring Fort Payne.  While interesting, I don’t recommend making the trip just for the museum – sorry guys.

Trivia Alert — little known fact about the State of Alabama – it is the most populous rural state of the 50 United States.  Why?  Um, because it’s beautiful, aren’t you listening?  You’ll drive along the hillsides and see them peppered with homesteads, big and small.

Aunt Cathy’s next door neighbors (the family of the woman that she had taken care of for years) had dozens and dozens of animals.  Goats, dogs, donkeys, geese, and lots and lots of martin houses.  Ne’er did see one of those elusive birds, but sure did see lots of houses.

Some animal pets from her neighbor’s place.

goose duck donkey rainsvilleme and goats rainsville

When we visited My Cathy, one of our favorite things to do was to go to nearby Mentone.  A gorgeous small mountain town.  We’d go the slow way – riding through small country towns and lots and lots of chicken farms.  She’d point out where damage was from this tornado or that tornado.  See, I told you she loved nature.  All nature, even Mother Nature’s fury.

During one of our drives, she wanted to stop by and see some horses.  One of her nurses had a place with champion ancestor Appaloosas.

Cathy and the Appas

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They are just magnificent!  Majestic.  Strong.  One could watch them prance and play for days.  How Cathy loved them.

During our long, winding drives, we’d always stop by two places – Miracle Pottery – a gorgeous little hillside shop and studio – and a little cafe that had an attached country store – the Wildflower Cafe.

miracle pottery alI have some of my all time favorite pieces from Miracle, including a microwave omelet and bacon maker!  This is their cobbler bowl.  What I love most about their pieces is that they are oven and microwave safe.  Functional and beautiful.

Check them out!  http://www.miraclepottery.com/

The Wildflower Cafe – now, now, y’all – they had the most amazing… I mean to consider selling your first child… amazing Tomato Pie.  Here’s their website: http://www.mentonewildflower.com/  If you ever find yourself in that region of the country, go!

And because I care for your well-being so much, I’ll share the recipe here with you.  I’ll message you my address just in case you do want to send me that first kid of yours in gratitude.

The Wildflower Cafe’s Tomato Pie

6 Roma tomatoes, sliced
2 cups balsamic vinaigrette (I make my own, but I s’pose store bought is ok.  Don’t skimp on quality or you’ll be sorry)
1 baked pie shell (you can show off and make your own)
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, gratedtomato pie
2 tablespoons basil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Marinate sliced tomatoes in vinaigrette for 30 minutes. Drain.
Layer tomatoes in baked pie shell.
In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, both cheeses and basil.
Spread mixture over tomatoes.
Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly brown. Cut into slices. Serve warm.

Wildflower served it as I remember with slices of buttery toast – the kind that you butter, then slap on the griddle.  Alabama’s version of Texas Toast.  You don’t need the toast, the pie alone is enough to sustain life for centuries to come.

Since it’s summer – and summer comes with juicy, ripe tomatoes.  I also remember platters of freshly sliced tomatoes served at my Grandparent’s House.  Straight from the garden.  Oh, I can still smell that smell – you know the one, when you pick a fresh tomato…earthy, green, fresh.  It lingers on your finger tips, like a natural perfume.  Gram and Cathy would pick them, slice them up in thick slices and would put them on the dining room table.  That alone was dinner some nights. Cathy would plop a dallop of mayo on top of those bad boys and go to town.

eddie murray cal ripkenWhen Granddad got home from birthing most of Carroll, Frederick, and Howard County’s babies; we’d listen to the O’s on the radio.  I thought I was going to marry either Cal Ripken or Eddie Murray back then.  Ray Knight, a close third.  Maybe he would’ve been the best man.  Although if I had stuck to my 4 or 5 year old dream and been either a horse or a back hoe, I don’t know how that would’ve worked.

So… that’s My Aunt Cathy.  Part of her anyway.  A gentle, kind woman who loved books, nature, and her family – more than anyone I’ve ever known.  I’m grateful to be one from the many like her.aunt cathy and me sand mountain

Big hugs and big kisses.

Hello Great Big World! A new blog built with love.

Introducing my new blog!  Well… really, my first and only blog.

The blog is called “onefromthemany“.

It is inspired from two things.

One.

My family is big – REALLY big.  My friends are many – REALLY many.  My love for them runs deep – REALLY DEEP.

Family.  Friends.  They are the “many”.  I am “one from the many”.

Without them, there is no me – this one big girl.  Without them, there is no Great Big Wonderful World.  This is dedicated to them.

Two. UnumBabeShield

It is a historic nod to the motto of our great country “E Pluribus Unum” – which means – “From Many, One”.  It is meant to describe the strength in the union of many and for Ben Franklin and his fellow Statesman in 1776, it was meant to inspire strength and cohesiveness modeled after early European mottos – we are not one country, one organization, one organism – without the strength of many coming together.  The banner is carried by the great American bald eagle on our US currency, but it’s more than the dolla, dolla bill, y’all – it’s about a vision for a world united by the strength of each of its individual parts.  Us.

What to expect from this blog:  It is dedicated to putting down on “paper” memories, dreams, inspirations, and good stuff that we all need more of.  You may see some family stories, some shared adventures, some mouth watering shared recipes, some equally mouth watering beer/wine/spirit experiences (I just couldn’t not include those), some embarrassing and funny stories about friends, and some uplifting photos or links.

[Note: Names of said family and friends may be changed to protect… well… me from them.]

What not to expect: It will not bitch, moan, or otherwise provide unhappiness.

Why now?

It was created, rather unexpectedly, out of a sad event in my family’s life – the passing this week of my Uncle Paul Warfield Culwell.  He had a long struggle with cancer and is survived by his wife – my Aunt Pat Culwell.  Our hearts are with her. Uncle Paul and I actually went through cancer treatment at the same time in 2006 and I swear he wore bald much better than I did!

See, I come from a big family, as I mentioned.  My Uncle Paul was the eldest of 7 in the Culwell clan.  Son to Dr. William “Bill” Burk Culwell and Margaret Eugenia “Jean” Warfield Culwell.  My Gram – Jean – was the eldest of 10.  My Gram was my heart and soul.  My happy, safe place.  Neither she nor my Granddad are with us anymore.

Gram’s family was raised at Historic “Bite the Skinner” or “Heritage” Farm – one of the first brick federal style homes built in Howard County, MD.  The house was built in 1812, the year her great grandfather returned from fighting in the War of 1812.

Bite the Skinner

bite the skinner picture original The ancestors of her parents – Bernard and Josephine Warfield – are my aunts and uncles and cousins and they are MANY.  Hundreds of them.   I’m proud of them and most of all I’m proud that my husband Chris and I are in their lives.

This is just my generation of cousins and many were missing!  Lots y’all, lots of us!

my generation hashawa 2015 Back to my Uncle Paul – he was big brother to – in order of birth – Mark, John, Jane (my mom), Carol, Cathy, and Fran.

Here they are as the family grows.  SO cute!

paul mark johnboys w mom culwellsculwells w gram and granddad p m j jculwells minus baby franculwellsculwells hashawa My Mom, Uncle John, and Aunt Cathy have also passed on.  Other than me, the 4 of them have no children to keep their stories alive in our hearts.  My husband and I weren’t lucky enough to have kids of our own, so the buck may stop here.

This blog is designed to do that – to not stop the buck.  To keep their memories alive in our hearts and to create and share new ones.  If angels have computers or blogs reach heaven (and I think they do), they will see this.  Hi!

The Culwells aren’t exactly open books, so they may be collectively rolling their eyes.  Oh well.  A risk I run.

I hope I’m up for the challenge.  Most of all, I hope you read and enjoy this labor of love.  Please contribute!  Please share!  Please tell me if I get details wrong.  And please, please share and add more.  Guest bloggers are welcome!

I hope to also include stories and memories from my Dad’s family – the Stanleys – as well as from my married family – the Mitchells.  If they’re up for it, that is.  They are wonderful.  The more, the merrier.  The more the many, the stronger the one… right?

Big hugs and big kisses.  Stay tuned!

EPURotunda