Monday, August 22, 2011

Micro-Trip Sunday

Busy Sunday! It was yard work, and then it was a micro-trip.

Recent Yard Work

The yard’s been a fright all summer. I got behind this spring on account of my busted ankle. (And spring is a bad time to get behind.) Then we had all that rain and bad weather. (I’d like to propose a new word just for the spring of 2011: tornadoiest.)

Then it got too darn hot! And who wants to do anything outside in hundred-degree heat? Might as well ask me to do yard work in two or three feet of snow!

So with the somewhat cooler weather we’ve been getting, I’ve started banging away at the yard again. It’s sheer biomass out there—the weeds, plus all the stuff that simply needs trimming on a regular basis. I would love it if one day Jeff City had curbside pickup of yard waste, like Columbia has, but I guess that would be too much like socialism or something, so it won’t “fly” here.

Anyway, I finally got around to weeding and dressing up a few of our flowerbeds. Mulch hides a multitude of sins. This year I discovered a brand new weed: black nightshade. We had (and probably still have) it in abundance in a flowerbed along the back of our house. Durn stuff snaps off easily right at ground level—I’m sure a lot will resprout.

After reading about the plant, I’m going to tentatively blame the catbirds for its presence in our yard—apparently black nightshade produces juicy, black, edible berries. And you know how catbirds love them berries. For a while this spring, the catbirds were building a nest in the mock orange right near that flowerbed.

Ah well. Just like catbirds love them berries, we love them catbirds.

We’ll find a way to deal with the black nightshades, mulberry seedlings, wintercreeper sprouts, poison ivy starts, and all the other catbird-distributed berries that take root in our yard.

The Micro-Trip

I like that term, don’t you? I made it up just now—though I suspect others have used it, too. It’s something shorter than a “staycation,” even shorter than a “day trip.” It’s more than a single-destination trip; it’s a miniature tour, an adventure that starts at Point A and leads to several more points, including a few surprises, before returning home.

What got us out of the house, after we’d cleaned up from the work outside, was the summer picnic at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in St. Thomas, a little burg south of Jefferson City.

One of the things we like to do at church picnics is step inside the church and look around. It’s really cool to see how different congregations (and denominations, and religions) have decorated their holy spaces.

St. Thomas has a really nifty old pipe organ up in the choir loft. I think it’s being repaired or renovated, as there were pipes lying on the floor next to it. (I hope all goes okay with that process!)

I’ve blogged about the St. Thomas summer picnic before, but here’s a refresher: Fried chicken and roast beef, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, fresh tomatoes, sauerkraut with potatoes in it, applesauce, homemade bread, and a dessert, chosen by you off the opulently enticing dessert table.

At St. Thomas, the dessert table is actually organized by dessert type: Slices of peach pie, strawberry pie, blackberry pie, rhubarb pie, pumpkin pie, coconut cream pie, lemon meringue pie, cake, cookies, etc. It’s even labeled. I don’t know of any other of the church suppers in the area that are that careful. Usually, the desserts are spread out on tables willy-nilly, in glorious disarray, and you might have to guess about what kind of pie to choose.

Anyway: St. Thomas! Good fried chicken. Long wait. We had tickets #1770 and 1771, I think, and about the time we got in the door, we saw people with tickets 2120 or something. And this was still three hours or so before the end of the serving period.

Quilt auction. Cake walk. Country store (bake sale, homemade preserves, fresh produce). Stuff for the kids to do, including pony rides. The beer wagon. Country music. And much more. I’ve told you about these local church suppers before.

Sue’s been using an old twin-lens reflex camera—you know, the kind that uses film—and developing her own black and white negatives. (She can scan negatives herself, so she doesn’t need an enlarger or whatever.) So we walked around the town of St. Thomas, where she found lots of fun “textures” to photograph.

Also, St. Thomas has one of the post offices that, according to recent announcements by the U.S. Postal Service, will probably soon be closed. We had to get a few pictures of it. They don’t build ’em like this anymore.

Back on the road, and we drove through the town of Meta, whose big industry is the making of pet foods; formerly, it was a hub for charcoal manufacture.

Meta is a town that reminds me of Eureka Springs, sort of; it’s hilly and decorated with some truly nifty old houses. Unfortunately, Meta hasn’t experienced much of a renaissance, and many of the old homes are quite dilapidated.

We drove on, cruising through the “wide spot on the road” known as Babbtown, and stopping next at Koeltztown. You generally hear it pronounced “kelts-town.”

By far the most prominent building in Koeltztown is the St. Boniface Catholic Church, which in 2008 celebrated its 150th anniversary; the congregation dates to 1858, though the current building apparently went up in 1877.

It’s a lovely church, adorned with remarkable paintings, including the Stations of the Cross on both sides of the sanctuary.

Perhaps more remarkable is the large, elaborate, handmade stone grotto or shrine outside the church. A plaque on it reads: “Donated by Henry J. Lueckenhoff, in memory of Joseph and Anna Lueckenhoff.” It’s really something to see.

The stones were carefully chosen and placed. At certain places, whoever built this (Henry J.?) attached particularly intriguing or beautiful specimens—big chunks of crystals, or rocks with prehistoric mud cracks, and more.

It’s kind of like a geology field trip, just looking at it.

And of course, after a morning of yard work, I couldn’t help but look at it and think, “Hey, maybe I could make a planter like this. We sure have lots of rocks I could use . . .”

From there, we drove back home, stopping briefly at Westphalia, which I guess will have to have a whole separate post.

All in all, a satisfying day—good yard work accomplishment, good country food, and a relaxing drive. And we needed it.


Osage Bluff Quilter said...

Loved this posting.
You actually drove right past my drive way!! Remember see Giggins Creek Rd, and Busche Rdd ( was Busch but the kids kept stealing the sign) my road is next, Hidden Valley, when you crossed the Osage River, you had already past my road by about 3/4 of a mile.
My husband's mother family is from St Thomas. The spring of her wedding a tornado came through St Thomas, damaging the church, she had to get married in Westphalia, the grooms church.
That same tornado, she heard lightening, stood up from her bed on the second story, and the chimney fell into her bed. That house still stands and is still in the Monat family, It's behind the post office.
We usully go to the picnic but the blacksmith left early in the day for his annual "squirrel" hunt on the current river.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Hey, there! We wondered if we were passing by your house, or your driveway! That's a really beautiful part of Missouri.

That's an incredible story about the chimney falling. Those tornadoes made a huge impression on early/immigrant settlers in this region. The house my mom was born in (two houses down from us, 218 W. Elm--it's currently for sale) was built with doubly-thick brick walls because my mom's great-grandmother had experienced tornadoes and wanted that extra "insurance."

Now, is the St. Thomas tornado you're talking about the same one that damaged the steeple of the St. Thomas church, which used to be taller and more pointy and is now more abrupt? I don't have a good grip on that date--I thought it was in the 19-teens when that happened, so maybe we're talking about completely different twisters here.

I'm sorry we missed you at the Wardsville picnic. Will you be working at the Wardsville fall supper--?

Anonymous said...

I believe the tornado that damaged the steeple's in St. Thomas and Koeltztown was in 1948.

Julianna Schroeder said...

Thanks, Anon, for commenting. I recall there being some framed photographs on display in the narthex of the St. Thomas church showing before and after views of the building, including (if I remember correctly) at least one photo taken soon after the tornado.

I didn't know that Koeltztown's church was damaged, too. I guess that explains why it, too, has an abbreviated steeple.

Thanks again,