Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ode to the Perfect Corn Sticks, Skillet Apple Cake, and Clean Water...

 I love the chance discoveries that we make through blogging that connect us to others, both near and far away.  I love reading Hickory Ridge Studio, which I discovered after Lana stumbled onto the LCC and contacted me.  Lana recently posted about cooking in cast iron, and included a recipe for skillet cake, and talked about corn sticks.  I learned to cook in cast iron cookware, and for so many things, it is the perfect cookware.  
Last night, I found the corn stick pan that had belonged to Great-grandmother Timmons, my mother's grandmother.  I had to scrub it well as it has not been used in so many years I cannot even recall it, and then re-season the pan.  Unless you cook with cast iron, or happen to be around my age or older, you might not know "seasoning" the cookware.  It involves rubbing the surface with oil, or as I learned, Crisco shortening, and heating it in the oven in low heat.  That is done prior to first use of cast iron, and may be needed periodically.  That does something to the surface that prevents food from sticking, and keeps rust from forming on the surface of the cookware when it is stored.  There is definitely an art to maintaining it, and is likely not passed on to a lot of younger cooks these days.

Making perfect corn sticks involves some simple, but highly important steps:

  1. make sure the corn stick pan is clean and seasoned; any residue of cornbread left in those tiny little pockets that are the corn "kernels" will not only be unappetizing and unsanitary, it will encourage rust and sticking of the cornbread, neither of which is a good thing;
  2. use Crisco shortening to grease the pan; I know what you are thinking, and with good reason, about shortening, but nothing seasons the pan and prevents sticking as well; must be Crisco (the Pure Vegetable shortening) for the perfect results achieved above;
  3. rub a generous amount of Crisco onto the surface of the corn stick impression, and then place the pan in a hot oven--hot means 450 degrees;
  4. let the shortening melt, which obviously won't take long in a 450 degree oven; be careful, it will smoke if you leave it in there too long;
  5. remove the pan and use a brush to make sure all the sides of the corn mold are thoroughly coated with grease; there should be a small amount (I have no idea how much that is, but it should cover the bottom of the corn stick mold) of the melted shortening in the bottom;
  6. pour the cornbread batter into the mold immediately--the key is that pouring the cold cornbread batter into the very hot cast iron will cause the batter to form a crisp crust, which keeps it from sticking to the mold.
I baked for 15 minutes, and voila! Perfect corn sticks that easily came out of the pan, no sticking, and with the pretty little corn ear design on the bottom.

 Lana's post about the skillet apple cake--especially when she compared it to a Dutch Baby or custard, had me hooked from the get-go.  I forgot to take the photo before I cut it--dad was hungry and could not wait for supper as he had not felt well earlier in the day and had not eaten since breakfast.
 This was the most incredible (and easy, actually) dessert/breakfast food I have ever made.  Both Mom and Dad loved it.  It is more like a pancake (thus, the comparison to the Dutch baby) but definitely has a custard type of texture.  The flavor is like nothing I have ever eaten--I will serve these at my coffeeshop/bookstore/Internet cafe that I open in Byhalia, and that alone will cause me to become famous all over the county.  I will gratefully give credit to Lana and post a large rendering of her blog page on one wall as part of the decor in my quaint little hotspot.
 We had one as an appetizer, and following supper, had one for dessert.  I am hoping there is still a bit left for serving with coffee this morning, but I won't guarantee Dad did not have another snack before he went to bed last night.
After an incredibly beautiful day yesterday, calm with no wind! and sunshine and blue skies, I went out to clean out the water trough.  In the fall and winter, the leaves from the oak trees next to the fence clog it and foul the water.  I got a gallon ice cream bucket from the barn and scooped all of the old water and dumped it across the fence, cleaned out all the leaves on the bottom, and refilled.  Rio stood beside me, watching me the entire time--Jenny of course, keeps her distance and was nowhere near at the time.  She only ventured back over once I was out of the corral and had refilled the water and put out the feed.

In a world where you do not always see results of your work, I still find immense satisfaction in a simple, but extremely important, task like cleaning the water trough.  Now mind you, last night my hip and knee were screaming "What were you thinking?!!??" but Rio was thinking "thank you for taking care of me."  I love that horse.  Jennybelle and I are slowly developing a relationship--she takes a long time to trust--and I am beginning to feel affection for her as well.  Life is good.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

It's been a long day's night...journey to the center of the earth...and the plans of mice and men...

Not much has gone according to plan or schedule this week, and I suppose one good thing about having been a social worker for so much of my life (almost half of it) is I have learned to be flexible, and that one cannot control other people and their choices.  And at this point in mine, I find I generally don't even want to do so, but it is amazing to me how many folks are out there who think we should just "make" someone do something because it might be in his or her best interests....and at the same time, resist any efforts to change the things in her or his own life that are just as problematic.  But, that sort of questioning doesn't get us much of anyplace--best answer is one I learned back in the 1970s: "People do what they do, and don't do what they don't do."
 It was a fairly sleepless night around here last night, so when it quieted down at 7 this morning, I napped on the couch in the den until the caregiver arrived at 10...which meant Rio and Jenny waited for breakfast for a while this morning.  I had gone out at 6:30 but it was below freezing and they were still in the barn.  After feeding and forking hay, I walked over to the fence row where Sis had mentioned a t-post in the creek rusting out that needed to be replaced.  I wanted to check it and see if it was an immediate need, or could wait for two more weeks when I am really on "break" and don't have work to do in the few minutes each day when I have a few free moments.
 I noted a stone in the creek bed, worn to rounded edges from the water, and pitted from the salt in the rockbed around the creek.  I love river rocks, which are worn smooth from the running water, and have a few prime specimens.  For some reason, I felt compelled to pick up this little stone, and add it to my collection.  While I had always sort of entertained the idea that I would come back here to this place at some point in retirement, more and more, I don't see that happening, for a lot of reasons.
 My grandmother loved rocks, and collected them over the years--whether a sandstone from the pasture behind her house, or a petrified piece of wood Dad dug up at the gravel plant and brought to her, or anything in between in the few travels she ever made.  She used them for borders for her flower beds, and most of them were still there on my last visit to the house.  While on the one hand, I find as I age that I am less interested in keeping up with things I have to haul around, or take care of, a little rock that would fit in my pocket doesn't seem like a great deal of effort.
On my last trip here, when Dad was in the hospital, I had commented to my sister that "someday" I wanted the teapot I brought Mother from Amsterdam, and not to let it get away in the frenzy of Mom deciding to get rid of a lot of things to make it easier to take care of things around here.  She had collected miniature tea sets, and even a few toy tea sets, so I brought her this little teapot on one of my trips to South Africa.

I decided this morning to make tea in it--I bought some loose leaf Earl Grey while in the Metroplex on our way down Sunday, and it just felt like today was a good day to use this teapot that still had the lid taped on.  I had some work to do, so once Cam arrived to take over at 10, I brewed a pot and retreated to my room...where I discovered that the tiny little spout on this teapot clogs with the long leaf tea, and when I went to pour it, whilst dripping out, dripped all over my book, the table top, my notes for an article...I guess this teapot is one that will be best used with a teabag.

So, once again, it is almost noon, and I have accomplished nothing that I intended this morning, and while I am really good with chilling out and rolling with the flow, it does not get me closer to the conclusion and final edit of the paper that is due for submission by Friday, and especially when tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I will be somewhat busy, and Friday, I will cover from 7-3 by myself.

However, once Rand gets here at 3 or thereabouts, the evening shift takes over and we are headed back toward Mississippi, having decided to travel part way Friday rather than do the whole 12 hour trip on Saturday.  Small gifts for times when small things matter...a lot.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Thankfulness in Texas...I am getting there...maybe...by Thursday

 It is not a trip home without a picture of feeding time in the mornings for me, and an update on the status of Jennybelle and Rio.  I got here Sunday night, but it was late and after dark so I did not get to feed until Monday morning.  Rio was happy to see me, took his handful of oats and nickered for me.  Jenny brayed, but would not permit ear scratching yet.  This morning, Rio was out waiting for me by the gate.  He has his winter coat on, and though a few short weeks ago he was sleek and shiny, he has that ruffed fur look now--like the feral cats.
 I had put out hay yesterday morning, and made a note to remind everyone that it has to be checked every morning in the winter.  I put out fresh hay again this morning, and then took a minute to walk over to the fence and look at the variety of winter colors evident in the pasture.  The predicted freezing rain missed us, but we did get some rain and the creek is running with a little water for now.  The little golden spots next to the fence row are the neighbor's chickens, as usual.
 When we bought this place when I was 15, there was nothing out here but pasture land--no roads, no houses, and certainly no businesses.  Several years ago, someone bought the land behind dad and put in a business.  Not long after, the secretary came over and asked dad if that was his windmill.  He confirmed it was.  She said, "Well, it squeaks, and it really bothers us and we would like for you to do something about it."  He told her he would give that some consideration.  My response was if you move to the country, don't expect it to be like the city--windmills squeak when the wind blows.
There is something about this time of year in this part of Texas that always makes me feel rather melancholy, and the cold and the wind today--even if the sun was shining--enhanced the feeling.  It has been a long, non-stop day since I got up at 6:30 this morning and started my chores.  I am thankful it was Taco Tuesday and I did not have to cook--especially after waiting an hour and a half at the pharmacy for Dad's new script and the 3 interchanges between the pharmacist and the doctor.  Welcome to small towns.  On the other hand, when the pharmacist came out for the 3rd time to tell me about the new prescription, he said, "How is Bob doing?" and sent him a personal message.   Welcome to small towns.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Citizens Bank: Where was it, and what did they do with the post office?

 The former Citizens Bank, now serving as the Chamber of Commerce, was the building that started my interest in Byhalia all those years ago.  It sits on the corner of Church Street and Hwy. 309 as you pass through town.  According to Helms & Kaye, 1995 National Register nomination form, the building is a Classical Greek Revival constructed in 1910, and altered in 1919 and again in 1929.  The one-story brick veneered building has three bays delineated by concrete pilasters.  The round arched bays have voussoirs and concrete keystones and sills.
 The entablature is marked with Citizens Bank, and an insert in the pediment reveals the dates of the remodeling.  The building was originally a wood frame building, and the brick veneer was added in 1929.
I like the detail on the concrete pilasters, as well as the interesting concrete raking cornice.

Here's where the detail on the building gets a little fuzzy: comparing the nomination form with the MDAH database.  Per the nomination form, the post office was located there 1910 to 1929 according to the South Reporter.  As we discovered in yesterday's post, the post office was located in 1919 in the former Boswell's Service Station building.  Did that indicated the post office was temporarily located in the other building during the 1919 remodel of Citizens Bank?  However, the 1915 Sanborn map lists the post office as being in the Citizens Bank building location also (Helms & Kaye, 1995).  And even more confusing, Helms & Kaye note that the post office was located in the McCutchen/Chalmers House on Church Street prior to 1916, and Ms. McCutchen was the post mistress until she married Mr. Chalmers and sold the house to Dr. Fite, who constructed his office next to it in the mystery identified in the following paragraph .  That post office sure got around.  Did they never have a building solely for a post office? And how could it be in two places at one time?

It gets more complicated.  The current Citizens Bank of Byhalia is headquarters for this "locally owned and operated since 1919" bank.  Although in a new location, and with branches in Victoria and Barton, they only indicate their establishment in 1919, which means this building pre-dates the bank being established.

Now, it gets even more complex.  When you refer to the MDAH database, it identifies the former Citizens Bank building as a circa 1916 Craftsman, located several blocks away from the building pictured above and labeled Citizens Bank, and is the same building as described by Helms & Kaye as Dr. Fite's office, which you note above, he built following moving into the former post office/McCutchen/Chalmers/boarding house home. 

This is enough to make me tired today, what with traipsing all over Byhalia, even if it was a virtual traipse.  I have pulled up Byhalia on Google maps so many times today, I am probably going to trigger a secret database, most likely operating in the basement of the former Citizens Bank building, if we knew where that might be.  I hope during interrogation, they don't ask me where the post office is.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Boswell's Service Station, aka 'bank', old post office, and Ruth B. French Library...could a coffee house be next?

For over 10 years now, every time I have driven through Byhalia on the way to Memphis, I have said I was stopping some time to take photographs.  (Yes, I have been known to procrastinate--I am always 'fixin' to do' something...or as they say in Mississippi, 'finny do it.') Yesterday, I took the camera intending to stop on my way to Memphis, but a number of things conspired to prevent my having that much time in advance...I was 15 minutes late for my appointment instead.  However, as luck would have it, I finished the appointment earlier than anticipated, and was able to make it back to Byhalia a wee bit prior to sunset and although not optimal, had enough light to take some photographs of one block.  Over the next few days, I will showcase a few of them, but if you have never been to Byhalia, take note that you need to spend a few hours there touring the Byhalia Historic District, and look up the National Register Nomination form--you will learn a lot about this little community.

The Italianate building on the corner of Church and Brunswick has seen multiple uses since its 1900 construction date.  According to Candace Z. Helms and Samuel H. Kaye, 1995 National Historic Register nomination form, the building's history includes life as a bank originally, then in the 1910s, served as Boswell's Service Station.  It was used as the Post Office in 1919, and later, as the Ruth B. French Library.  The building appears to be vacant now.

The public library in Byhalia was established in 1940, and renamed the Ruth B. French library in 1990 in honor of a teacher and library board member.  The library was relocated in 2003.
The features include the double arch brick headers over the windows, and the pilasters between windows.  The parapet features "denticulation" (Helms & Kaye, 1995).  The doorway has been replaced.

In one of my alternate lifestyle fantasies, I would open a little coffee house/bookstore/Internet station in this charming little building, and while I was busy blogging about preservation in Mississippi and New Deal research, I would chat with my one or two patrons of the day, and the high school student I hired to serve coffee (and lattes) would become my mentee as I passed on a love for history and the importance of community and relationship.  My friend Gigi would drop in for working vacations from time to time (she has always wanted to own a bookstore) and give guest lectures on recent books she had read, and her husband, the executive chef, would surprise patrons with his wonderful culinary creations.  During their visits, patronage would double or maybe even triple to 8 or 10 folks--just the perfect size for a group!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday pleasures

 Cinnamon chai tea, with milk and turbinado sugar...fragrant, sweet, delicious.  I believe I will have another.
Lunch at Newk's with my sweetie, and then he helped me transfer files to my new computer and set up my new iPad for the classroom.  It's good to be married to a computer geek. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The week in review and teachers' houses built by the National Youth Administration

I arrived "home" in Mississippi from "home" in Texas last Monday night, considerably worse for wear and tear.  I always book an aisle seat, with my left leg to the aisle because of the difficulty sitting with the knee bent at angles required when flying while ensconced in a tiny little shoebox of seat.  I had signed up for pre-boarding, and was standing there looking stupidly at the seat and my boarding pass when the flight attendant came up to ask if I needed assistance.  Yes; they have reassigned my seat and I am now in a middle seat and I cannot do that.  Turns out, yes I can--in pain and very uncomfortably sitting on the front edge of my seat so I could lean back and stretch my leg as far as possible, but I did it.  I will just leave it at that, and pay more attention next time when the desk agent says "I am moving you closer to the front" to also ensure she has kept my aisle seat, which is the issue more than having to walk 3 more rows to the back of the plane.

The rest of the week was insanely busy, and I spent every day and night "just doing the next thing due" which is a philosophy I adopted some while ago.  Priority: what is due next, which is more important, what can be postponed, and how well does it have to be done to pass?  I ended my week with a Friday trip to Tupelo to present at the Families and Communities Together Conference.  I had been asked to speak about poverty issues.  We all know about poverty in Mississippi, and the numbers and impact on our children and families.  I had recently located some new research that looked at the effect of poverty on children's mental, emotional, and behavioral health, very solidly based in empirical evidence, so I decided to tackle it from that direction.  One of the major issues is that we address poverty by trying to mediate the effects of it, child by child, family by family, as opposed to a strategy to reduce poverty, and thus, its effects.  At some point, one would hope we could get the idea that all of us are better off if we do not have folks living in high poverty and that we could generate the political will to determine to change that.

I did not think many people would attend (after all, who wants to talk about poverty--it does not make splashy headlines like violence, abuse, and drugs, which by the way, are often co-factors of poverty), so I made 8 copies of handouts...and the room was filled.  Two of my graduate students were there, and three former undergraduate students as well, and the sister of a former student who came up to introduce herself to me and thank me for what I had done for her sister.  That made it extra rewarding to talk about something near to my heart: reframing the concept of child welfare to include community welfare, that is, nurturing and safe communities where people can get their needs met, and implement broad strategies that reduce poverty and blighted communities.  Critical studies have shown that reducing poverty and increasing income leads to better outcomes for children and families, regardless of any other factors.

On the way home, I stopped off at Pontotoc and two other nearby rural communities to get some photographs of New Deal buildings.  Now truly, that was a fitting end to a day spent talking about poverty and the effects on children, which means, the effects on communities.  Mississippi is dead last out of 50 states (and District of Columbia, so in reality, last out of 51) in terms of poverty rates (35%), persistent poverty (no change over the last 40 years), and no access to health care.  Only 3 states have as bad a record: our neighbors Arkansas and Louisiana, which share all the same demographics and legacy as Mississippi.

Among the many public buildings constructed under New Deal administration were schools, rural schools, and teachers' houses.  I thought I had located two teacher's houses in Pontotoc a few weeks ago.  Reviewing the National Youth Administration Work Projects Photograph Album, 1937-1939, I discovered I was right.  The digital archive from Mississippi Department of Archives and History includes several photographs of nearby projects, and a picture of one of the houses post-completion was included.
 The stone for this stone veneer house was quarried from Tishomingo County, at the National Youth Administration quarry.  The NYA was a program implemented to accomplish two goals: keep youth in school, including school beyond high school by providing a stipend that would enable them to do so rather than drop out, and provide useful vocational training skills that would enable them to be able to work.  NYA completed numerous projects in Mississippi, including construction and furniture making among others.
 The stone veneer house was constructed by NYA.  The second house was constructed by WPA and used the same floor plan, according to documentation in the Series 2018-NYA archive.  Both projects were started on the same day, but the WPA house took a month longer to complete.
I will hazard a guess that the stone house went to a teacher with more seniority.  The stone house has a covered porch/patio area that was part of the original construction; the carport to the right was added later.  Part of the house with the wood siding is visible in the original photograph of the stone veneer house, but it is only the rear of the house, so impossible to tell if alterations have been made to it.

Countries that have made serious strides in reducing or eliminating poverty include those that recognize education and health as the best macro level prevention.  Eliminating the high gaps between the richest 20% and the poorest 20%--which produces better outcomes for all of us, demands both quality education that is accessible and affordable, and quality health care that is accessible and affordable.  The US is in the bracket with 4 other countries who have the highest gaps between those two.  In a country in which the standard of living has continued to increase in the last 50 years, but the poverty level has remained the same, surely we can do better than this.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Early morning chores

 Morning got here at 5 AM today, but it was dark until 7.  I was up at 5 with Dad, helping out with some morning needs, and then we had coffee and visited until shift change at 7--the caregivers, not mine.  It was a chilly 37 here this morning, but boding a beautiful day I thought.
 I went out to check the hay first as Rio and Jenny were grazing in the pasture and did not come when I called.  Once he spotted me, though, he headed over, so back out to get the feed while Jenny sauntered in.
The neighbor's chickens were over, ready to scavenge any oats that might get dropped from the bin or out of Jenny's mouth.  Rio rarely loses an oat as he pays more attention to his food than he does me, once I dump it.

Dad was napping when I got back in the house, so I worked for 3 hours on a manuscript until time to take Mom on her Friday beauty shop run and go get the mail and to the grocery store while she was getting her hair done.  While I was out, it turned cold and cloudy, and the wind was blowing fairly hard.  Back home, a late lunch and then some more work on the manuscript, and the next thing you know, it was time to put out hay, water, and evening feed.  The beautiful day had dropped in temperature and I had to get Dad's flannel barn coat out again, and go find his leather gloves to go fork hay.  The caregivers love it when I am here, because I always like to feed and they don't have to.  We have wonderful help, and they cheerfully do the few things needed beyond take care of Mom and Dad's needs--take Tinka out and feed and water her, and feed and water Rio and Jenny twice a day.  I had not met the newest addition to our caregiving family until yesterday, but I told her I always fed when I was here, and she said my sister had already told her.  I am predictable.

I made pineapple fried pies and then prepared tomato bisque tortellini soup for dinner.  It has started to rain, but is calm and quiet this evening, and hopefully, all will continue to go smoothly the rest of the evening and night.  Sis had a great time going to see her grandson's concert solo for both programs today, and is enjoying a few days of relaxation.  With the 24/7 in-home caregivers, it is more about being here than having to do much, except on those occasions like this morning when something needs two of us.  It has given me a lot of time to work on assessment, research, and writing without the interruptions that occur at work, so in that way, it is a good trade off.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

How not to clean house until 2014

 With all that has been going on back at home, my sister and I text most nights, and she sends pictures of Dad and I send pictures of whatever is in front of me at the moment.  Sometimes, my brother gets in on the conversation, depending on where he is and if he is stopped for the night or still driving.  It's a fun way to recap our days and keep that sense of family going that we all need right now.  Bro and I are dog lovers, so a photo of one of the dogs is generally included.

 On the evening I had my first chimenea fire of the season, we were comparing our evening meals and I said I won hands down.  I had intended to grill the steaks outside, but what with Mississippi being so far east and the season change, it got dark too quickly. 
I enjoined them not to tell Bobby Flay that I was grilling indoors.  My nieces were at Mom and Dad's and making his favorite--sugar cookies from my mom's recipe.  There are no sugar cookies in the entire world that can beat her recipe.  One year when they first married as he was leaving for the fields, he asked her to make sugar cookies..."a whole dishpan full of them."  When he got home that night, she had a dishpan full of sugar cookies sitting on the table.
 I discovered a beautiful gem from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration this past week, and have noted it as "a festival of fall colours."  I follow an Irish blog, and the writer is featuring that this month as we head into winter and darker days and shorter days.  I loved how the light plays across the texture of the stone on this building, and the way the shadows cause the flora to pop in surprising ways.
 It's hard to say right now whether my house is worse inside or outside.  The yard needs mowing, the leaves need raking, the windows need washing.  Inside, the floor needs raking, the shower needs mowing, and the windows need washing.  I have enough dust on the top of the bookcase to plant potatoes.  I told my sister I thought I would be able to make it to 2014 without having to clean house, though.
 I leave early in the a.m. for another trip to Texas--sort of a last minute, unplanned, in order to give her some time off to go see her grandson's solo concert.  What with being gone for 5 days, I couldn't see much reason to clean house, since it would look about the same by the time I returned.  Then it will be Thanksgiving and I will be gone for 9 days, so no reason to do it.  Then in another week, it will be semester break and I will be in Texas for anywhere from 3-6 weeks, so I am fairly certain I can avoid cleaning house until mid-January.  At that point, I hopefully will have at least 2 months here before returning for spring break, so I might be willing to clean house in exchange for a pleasant place to stay a few weeks...but I am not ruling out the possibility that I can put it off until summer.
The story of the teapot from Amsterdam will have to wait for another time.  I need to go to work.  As Rand said on his way out the door this morning, "Another day, another beating."  Our usual good humor and cheerfulness has taken a beating these last few weeks...or maybe that was the good humor, because it made me smile and think about no matter how tough it gets, we are still here, making it work.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

55 Living New Deal Submissions

I made my first submission to the Living New Deal project, University of California-Berkeley almost a year ago in January.  Since then, I have logged 55 submissions, several every month, primarily Mississippi locations, but 10 in Texas, 1 in Arkansas, 2 in Louisiana, and 3 in Tennessee.

Somewhere along the route, I was asked to be a regional research associate for the project, which just means I volunteer regularly in research and submission of projects.  A few weeks ago, we got business cards identifying our relationship with the project in the event we might find it helpful in the research and documentation of sites.

While I am fortunate to enjoy my "day job" and it actually relates to this project in many ways due to the significance of the New Deal Administration social service policies and programs, I find I want to spend more and more time in the pursuit of this adventure.  There is just something about being part of a national effort to document every project that was part of the New Deal Administration's efforts to help folks climb out of the great hole that was the Great Depression that is very healing and humbling to me at this difficult point in my personal life.

It is kind of like something one of my supervisors used to say to me: "When things are going in a hard way, find something bigger than yourself to get involved in."  The importance of this project is definitely bigger than me and my current issues--which although important and a priority, are no different than the personal issues which have befallen many of my fellow humans on this journey.  Even more so, I know how very fortunate I am to have such tremendous support and resources in traveling this uncharted terrain.
Still, there is something about being part of such a major project, something so ambitious in seeking to demonstrate the power of those programs to create better lives for people and communities that is rewarding beyond measure at the moment.  I was asked by the Franklin D. Roosevelt library project for permission to use one of my photographs in an electronic display of projects.  And no, no one will know anything other than my name on the "photograph used with permission" but it is still a nice little personal piece of feel-good.
I am not naive as to the criticisms of the New Deal, and the political maneuverings--for example, Mississippi and Tennessee efforts to avoid the requirements for equal participation in the interests of not expending funds for projects that benefited black communities, but still, many important things were accomplished and are still part of the landscape of our cities.  Each discovery of one of those projects which still stands and is still in use all these years later excites me, no matter where I find it.