I was asked about my hobbies and interests recently, and I have quite a few, but they all revolve around the same thing: anything old. And I mean OLD. I love to do stained glass work, having been inspired by old church windows, and I enjoy needlework; the same kind the ladies learned to do by working on samplers hundreds of years ago. I also love hunting for antiques. My house is full of them. The older something is – and the more nicks it has it in – the better. I also have a passion for old homes, I’m intrigued by creepy cemeteries, I love Art Deco jewelry, and black and white movies. Heck, when I was a little kid, I really liked old people! Weird, I know.
There’s just something about the uniqueness of old things, and the fact that they survived long enough to have gone from being a “new” something to being an “old” something. I wonder about the stories attached to them, and the amount of probable “near misses” they had that nearly prevented them from achieving the rank of old age.
As far as I’m concerned, one of the best places to see many wonderful antiquities is in the South. Now, that’s not to say that the North doesn’t have their fair share. I know they do. But since I live in that part of the country where collard greens and peanut butter pie are staples in any respectable household, I guess I’m just a bit partial to that place south of the Mason Dixon Line, with all of its glorious and not-so-glorious history. I love it enough to write stories about it, and many of my characters were inspired by true life characters – both the young and the old.
The South is certainly home to me, and has been for many generations of my family. Some have been gone for so long now that they can only be identified by their faded names written in script on the backside of a black and white scallop-edged photo or old tintype. But, even without having known so many of them, I believe they’ve manage to leave their unique marks on my soul somehow. To prove it, just ask me how much of a fool I am for collard greens and peanut butter pie.
Our longtime friend from Charleston, Roberta Hoeffecker, made one of the best peanut butter pies I’ve ever eaten. It’s easy to make and even easier to eat, and a big slice of it goes great with a good book. I know a couple that’d go nicely with that pie. 😉
Peanut Butter Pie
8 oz. of cream cheese
½ cup creamy or crunchy peanut butter – your choice
1 cup powdered sugar
8 oz. of cool whip
Beat first three ingredients and fold in cool whip. Pour into graham cracker crust, then sprinkle with chopped nuts. Swirl chocolate syrup on top. Chill overnight, or freeze for later.
When Kathryn Cavanaugh steps over the threshold of the Pelham Sanatorium in 1954, she has no idea when, or if, she will ever leave it again. Despite the rise of promising new treatments, Tuberculosis is still feared and often fatal. But twenty-four-year-old Kate has proven her resilience before, leaving her Blue Ridge Mountain home for a very different life in the city with her ambitious attorney husband, Geoffrey. For the sake of her family, especially her young son, she’s determined to get healthy again.
The sanatorium is a strange battlefield, with every patient fighting for survival amidst a numbing routine of tests, treatment, and enforced rest. Kate quickly finds camaraderie among the women on her ward—and a growing kinship with fellow patient Philip McAllister. As weeks pass, the hospital’s confines come to offer more independence than Geoffrey’s preoccupation with status ever allowed. And with this surprising new discovery comes the courage to contemplate the choices she has made—and, perhaps, the chance to breathe freely at last…