Healing Machines. Work of an Eccentric? Or a Genius? By Pam Crooks

I recently read a fascinating story about an artist that once lived not far from me in the sandhills of Nebraska.  Emery Blagdon was born in 1907, the oldest of six children, and a farmer’s son.  He ended his education at a country school to work on the farm, but at age 18, he left home to drift around the country for ten years, riding the rails for adventure.

Once he returned home, however, he stayed home, surrounded by family. He never married, never had children.  He rarely bathed and wore his hair long, unusual for a man at the time, and donned baggy clothes that often needed laundering.  He chopped wood every day for heat, drew his water from a well, and grew all his own food.  Always a loner, his niece remembers him as being very kind, very gentle and quiet.  When his uncle died, leaving him the family’s 160-acre farm, Emery didn’t work the land but instead leased it, which provided him a modest income and allowed him to do what he loved best.

On the farm was a 800-square-foot shed that Emery devoted the next thirty years to making what he called “my pretties.”  He created metal sculptures using only what others called junk and a pair of pliers. Yet each creation, never measured, was symmetrical.  After the deaths of his parents, brother and sister from cancer, he hoped to heal people with the energy from his art.

Some called him crazy.  While the farm deteriorated from neglect, as did his personal appearance, neighbors couldn’t help but have reservations about him.  Yet inside the shed, which was practically falling apart around him, beams of light touched on bits of foil, wire, colorful beads, and ribbon.  Strings of blinking Christmas bulbs wound around the room.  Visitors report being light-headed, feeling overwhelmed, even out-of-breath.

Emery possessed books on science and physics yet depended on the elements for his energy fields, using ionic salts purchased from a pharmacy in North Platte, NE.  He befriended the pharmacist, and they became lifelong  friends.

Unfortunately, Emery succumbed to the cancer that took family members before him, and just as it seemed the healing machines he’d created to protect himself and others from illness would be dispersed and lost through an estate auction, his pharmacist friend bought the entire lot, including the shed, to preserve Emery’s works.

Over the course of several decades, Emery’s 600 ornate wire sculptures and 80 geometric paintings traveled the country and were eventually displayed in a New York gallery.  Pieces sold from $2,500 to $25,000. The remaining works, including the shed, was acquired by a foundation and donated to an art center in Wisconsin where they all remain today.

As far as the healing machines?  Did they really heal?  Well, they were indeed found to emit measurable electrical energy, but perhaps it was only the sheer rush of unexpected beauty that ripples through one’s body, giving him or her a dazzling hum of appreciation for Emery Blagdon’s passion.

Do learn more about Emery, you can watch a fascinating documentary about him:  http://netnebraska.org/interactive-multimedia/television/emery-blagdon-and-his-healing-machine

Have you ever known anyone who was a little odd? Crazy? Eccentric?

I can name several, but my favorite has to be the matronly elderly woman we all called the “Chicken Lady” in my hometown of North Platte.  I remember her still in her baggy coat and walking cane.  She truly seemed to love children and, eyes twinkling, always greeted them with loud squawks of “Bawk, bawk-bawk-bawk-BAWWKKK.”

I don’t recall ever hearing her talk normally to anyone, be it children or adults. Surely she knew words.  I don’t know – shrug – but I never knew if I should laugh or feel sorry for her.  One thing is certain, though.  I’ve never forgotten her!

Not Your Grandmother’s Farmers Market

With spring’s arrival, my thoughts turn to planting a garden. I love gardens, and it doesn’t matter what kind: flower, bee, vegetable, whatever. I have fond memories of my Grandma Walter’s huge garden filled with green beans, potatoes, onions, cucumbers, strawberries, and what else I can’t remember anymore. Unfortunately, while I received her crafty, DIY, and gardening soul, I didn’t inherit her green thumb. My vegetable/fruit gardens have been dismal failures except for growing green beans.

When my boys were young, planting a garden was a spring break tradition. Each kiddo picked what he wanted to grow and together we nurtured the small plot along. Again, as I said with limited success, but what mattered was doing the project together. Now that my sons are on their own, planting a garden isn’t the same.

My son Zachary and the carrots he grew one year.

With my grim gardening skills, I’ve started doing the next best thing to growing my own fruits and vegies. I shop Farmers Markets. By doing so, not only do I get fresh produce at a great price, but the farmer receives more for his product. A win-win! But these “farmers” markets have broadened their horizons. No longer are they a group of folks selling produce from the back of pickups along the roadside. A lot are big shopping events. Communities, apartment complexes, and mall parking lots now host these farmers markets. They still have tomatoes, peaches, apples, green beans, squash along with an array of other fruits and vegetables. But now, they have products you might be as surprised as I was to find. Here are some of my favorites non fruit or vegetable items.

  • Candles
  • Plants for my house or yard
  • Pottery (I bought my mother-in-law a cool mug with a bird on it for Christmas last year.)
  • Honey
  • Dog treats, dog bandanas and other dog related items (I buy something from these vendors almost every time because you know me…I have a house full of dogs!)
  • Lotion candle (I love these, but they’re hard to find. When the candle melts  the warm liquid is lotion!)
  • Jewelry
  • Bath products: soap, body wash, shampoo, lotion, lip balm, bath salts

                           

 

Talk about one stop shopping!

To be entered in the giveaway for the cool T-shirt, yes I have this one, too, leave a comment on this question. What’s the most unique or your favorite produce item to buy at a farmers’ market?

Texas Snowmageddon

Hello from wacky weather Texas! The last of the snow melted here in Dallas on Friday. By Monday, our temperature was 81 degrees. Today as I write this, it’s 48, but that’s Texas for you. A weather roller coaster ride!

Here’s a picture of my view after the first snow.

 

What my family went through during Snowmageddon Texas Edition was nothing compared to what others endured. We only lost power for a day, and we never lost water service. Others were without power for a week or more. While our house pipes didn’t freeze, our pool froze over, though. My youngest son had fun doing a photo shoot with his penguin, Tama, to memorialize our adventures. The only damage we sustained was broken pool equipment pipes. Unfortunately, so many others have not been as lucky. Houses have been destroyed by burst pipes and for some safe water is still an issue.

   

My small adventure brought back memories of my grandparents’ northeastern Iowa farm and reminded me how difficult daily life could be in the past. My grandparents’ house had electricity but lacked running water and indoor plumbing. A gas heater warmed the downstairs. I can still picture it—a giant brown rectangle that stood in the living room. It had a glass window through which we could see flames. It was the monsterish kind that scared poor young Kevin in Home Alone. Upstairs we went without heat.

My grandparents’ farm in Decorah, Iowa

A simple task such as bathing a preschool me and my brother Saturday night to attend church on Sunday was a major project. My grandma would pull a dented round galvanized tub into the kitchen. Water had to be hauled from the pump by the milk house. After that, she boiled water on the stove to mix with the colder water to eventually get bath water. No wonder folks in the past only bathed once a week and didn’t have to worry about exercising! Daily life provided all the workout they needed. Sleeping upstairs in the winter meant wearing the warmest jammies possible and sleeping under mounds of blankets. And don’t even ask me about the outhouse…

I’ve always loved reading historical romances, but the recent snowstorm reminded me how we romanticize 🙂 the past. My small taste of life without electricity during Snowmageddon reminded me how past generations had to be strong, determined, and tough or they didn’t survive. Our favorite historical authors incredibly weave the feeling of the time period and daily life into their stories. They transport us to a time we often wish we could visit. After my recent short technology deprived stint , I’m thankful they don’t make the trip too realistic, and now I appreciate their talent of knowing what of past time periods to leave out even more. The past is a nice place to visit in a novel, but as for me, I wouldn’t want to live there!

Please continue to pray for those struggling to overcome the effects of the snowstorm. For many recovery will be a long, expensive process.

To be entered in today’s giveaway for the thankful, grateful, blessed sink mate and llama chip clips, comment on this question. What would be the toughest modern day item or technology for you to do without if you lived in the Old West?

A Favorite Christmas Candy From My Childhood

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. Can you believe Christmas is just a few short days away? December just really got away from me. I only just managed to get my tree decorated and stockings on the mantel this past Sunday. But better late than never I suppose.

 

When I first thought of what I might produce for this post, I let my thoughts run to the Christmases of my youth. And one of the first memories that came to me was of my momma in the kitchen making Christmas candy, so called because she only made these treats at Christmastime.  She would make fudge, pralines, divinity, and bar cookies. There was one in particular that was my very favorite. I know everyone thinks of pecans when you think of pralines but they do come in other flavors as well. One of these flavors is coconut. Since I’ve never been much of a fan of pecans, these were a real favorite of mine. And come to think of it, I’ve never seen coconut pralines anywhere else – just those produced by my mom and grandmother.

And the fun part of these candies, besides the fact that they were oh so delicious, was that momma would buy fresh coconuts still in the shells and once she cracked them open, drained the milk (which I loved!) and dug out the meat, she would give them to me and my younger sister to peel and grate. with a hand crank grater. My sister and I really enjoyed this, especially since once the pieces got too small to work with we would eat them – so yummy! I still have that old grater to this day, though I haven’t used it in years.

 

And here is the recipe, named for my Mom:

Shirley’s Coconut Pralines

Ingredients

    • 2 cups of sugar
    • ¼ teaspoon of salt
    • ½ cup of whole milk (coconut milk can be substituted for all or part)
    • 2 cups of shredded coconut
    • ½ teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract

 

Directions

    • Combine the first 3 ingredients in a 2-quart or larger saucepan.
    • Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
    • Continue cooking, without stirring, until contents reach the soft ball stage (235-240°).
    • Stir in the shredded coconut; then continue cooking until it reaches the soft ball stage again.
    • Remove from the stove and allow to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes.
    • Stir in the extract and then beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens and turns creamy in color.
    • Quickly, before the candy hardens, drop by rounded tablespoons onto waxed paper, forming patties. Let cool before removing from wax paper.

 

Wishing you all a joyous and blessed Christmas regardless of your circumstances.

 

 

Favorite Lullabies

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  Around our house we’re currently on baby watch. My oldest daughter is pregnant with her first child and it’s due in a matter of days. Her pregnancy has put me in a mood to reminisce, to remember when she was just a little one herself. And one of my very favorite memories is of tucking her (and later her siblings) into bed with lullabies.

 

Singing lullabies to young children seems to be something ingrained in all of us – it crosses classes, cultures, and generations. I sang them from an early age myself. I have a sister who’s ten years younger than me. When she outgrew her crib and moved into the king-sized bed with me and my middle sister I began singing her to sleep.  It was a ritual we both enjoyed and I continued singing to her at bedtime until I headed off to college eight years later.  I also did quite a bit of babysitting during my high school years, and I reached into my stock of lullabies when I had a fussy child that needed soothing. 

 

So when I had kids of my own, it became a much-looked-forward-to  part of the good night ritual. I allowed each of my four children to pick their choice of songs when I tucked them into bed.

 

But I rarely used conventional lullabies.  Our repertoire included silly children’s songs, show tunes, vacation bible school songs, hymns and even Christmas carols.  I thought I’d share links to some of this eclectic collection (I’ve starred their favorites)

Little Bunny Foo Foo   

       * The Ants Go Marching  

Flowers Are Red   

        * In My Own Little Corner   

Ten Minutes Ago 

Impossible  

White Coral Bells 

       * There Once Was An Ugly Duckling  

Oh Be Careful Little Eyes 

Zacchaeus Was A Wee Little Man   

Rise and Shine (Arky, Arky)  

       The First Noel

Gloria In Excelsis Deo

 

What do you think – Are any of these songs unfamiliar to you?  Do you have a favorite lullaby of your own?  Or perhaps special memories associated with lullabies? >
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