A Haunting at the Harrison Street Inn

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Just stumbled on this story I wrote a few years ago. A little story to put you in a lovely Halloween sort of mood.IMG_5134.JPG

Mysterious Heartland

by Timmy Valentine

Several years ago my Husband John and I purchased The Harrison Street Inn. The Inn is a lovely old home tucked into the sleepy little town of Sullivan, Illinois. We fell in love with the Inn as guests. Both of us more than enjoyed staying here and when we found out the property was for sale, we jumped at the opportunity to live in the Inn full time. This place is special, you can feel it when you walk up the front steps. You feel as if the house smiles at you with that big front porch. This place feels like home. The history here envelopes you. Its not over whelming or stodgy in any way, it is comforting. Like your favorite pair of jeans or a warm bowl of soup on a snowy day. You just feel like you are a part of the place…

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Let one ripple sing for me.

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Today Tyler and I took a day off from the store and went on an adventure. We took some new friends to one of my absolute favorite places on the planet. An antique shop situated between the highway and a Dairy Queen in St. Joseph Illinois. Winter Wheat Antiques has been a part of my life for close to twenty years. I would even dare to say the contents of those unassuming buildings have fueled my imagination since the first time I stepped through the doors and probably caused some of my more attractive quirks and eccentricities to surface and be celebrated. Some of my most prized possessions have once hung on the walls or occupied shelves here. It’s easy to get lost in time among precious heirlooms and stacks of books while being stared at by a tiny stuffed elephant with button eyes and his companion a monkey that at first glance appears to have once actually swung from vines in some remote jungle. On closer inspection the painted features and delicate time worn fabric reveal the monkeys true identity, a well loved very realistic children’s toy.
This paradise captures my love of juxtaposition. Today I sat in a chair built around 300 years ago its sturdy arms proudly showing the wear of countless hands that have caressed its gentle curves while surrounded by Christmas ornaments from the 1950’s.
I must admit I am equally in awe of both. Rendered breathless by the thought of the owners that this chair has outlived while mesmerized by the glitter clinging to the snow capped rooftops of miniature houses built to prepare mantles for the arrival of St Nick. It doesn’t stop there, standing in an isle filled with delicate China and precious dishes no doubt handed down through generations and fought over by squabbling sisters before their mother’s death bed has even grown cold, I spy a tall vessel atop a cupboard that has been filled with aboriginal arrows carefully bundled and labeled. The chaos is kept at bay by careful and deliberate organization. I live in a world where random things are treated with great respect as long as the madness is neatly organized. I thrill at opening a drawer and finding it filled to the brim with blown glass ornaments from World War Two each nestled among its kin, each sporting a hand written tag tied on with thread. Pure bliss. Ceramic statues of sleepy looking saints may share the company of chalk ware dogs in hats carried home from depression era carnivals but they must remain on their own shelves. Each object your eye falls on in this kaleidoscope of color and texture is a time machine. I learned as a child accompanying my father to antique auctions that the things we create are destined to out live us. This is very clear at Winter Wheat. The things that crowd around you are not clutter. They are memories. Each whispering for attention. Recognition. Most hold great value more in sentiment than in the worth of the materials that they are constructed from. You will not encounter boxes clad in gold and rare gems. You are more likely to find a box stuffed with twenty sock monkeys. Each one different. Each one reflecting the child it was made for and the person who made it. That’s what these things are to me. Memories. Proof that people are capable of truly extraordinary acts of love, like making a sock monkey or keeping a shoe box filled with letters from a lover who’s words caused you to read and reread them so many times the envelopes are tattered from your touch.
In this place you are not surrounded by things but objects. Belongings.
I have spent hours impossible to calculate bent toward boxes of old photographs here. One of my passions. Tiny time capsules. Fragile but potent. Photographs carry the weight of human history. They summon up the reality that our world has been shaped by many individuals whose names you will not read in the history books passed out in high schools. I rummage through history. Not imagined history but history in vivid truth. Weather studio portraits of siblings in their Sunday best posed for posterity wearing button shoes or candid shots of a picnic where blankets are spread out near a model T. These are windows into a real world. Echoes of real people. The people who truly built the world we live in today. I love looking at these faces and knowing that this group of women fought for their right to vote or that these workers were the ones that paid for the railway they are standing near with sweat and determination. Knowing that the couple standing on their front porch holding a newborn would see the dawning of the civil rights movement. That is real history…. And some of them are just strange as hell. I mean come on, two old ladies from a hundred years ago standing on a porch holding up a chair with a white cat perched in it. What the hell? That one is coming home with me. I only buy the ones that speak to me and I never know what that is going to be.
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Today Tyler and I were caught off guard by three autograph albums. We joked before we opened them about the famous signatures we would discover inside. Instead we found beautifully hand written notes of encouragement to friends moving away or pieces of poems penned in 1893 to the host of a New Year’s Eve party. To say I was moved wouldn’t even come close. I was transported. To a time when friends spoke of the love for one another in words that suggested that their friendship would endure any hardship including time itself. One sentiment has stuck with me all day. ” in the river of your memory let one ripple sing for me.”
Beautiful. Priceless.
As I left today the amazing woman who owns and curates this collection met me out in the sun with a gift. She presented me with something I will treasure always. An album covered in soft leather the embossed flowers barely visible. This book contained a handful of remarkable photos and enough blank pages to inspire more collecting. As I looked over the album again this evening I noticed that several of the pictures were of a lazy river. “In the river of your memory let one ripple sing for me.”

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Today was an adventure, a red van with a handsome man and a couple of feisty gypsy women. A good burger, an even better beer and of course I can’t forget about the time traveling.
A good day indeed.

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You are my bread and butter.

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The guys and I have fallen in love.
We have a family owned bakery just a few short minutes from our house and we can’t stop eating their pumpkin cookies. They are not of this world. I am pretty sure that angels deliver the baked goods to this bakery each night while we are all safely tucked into our beds. The first time Ty and I tasted one of these pumpkin cookies we found ourselves whispering to each other. We whispered things like, I can’t believe this is real, my mouth is full of happiness and sunshine. We laughed at each other while trying to describe what we were eating. We found it was impossible to detail the experience without using words and phrases often heard being used by Care Bears. The creamy icing was so thick. So rich. The cookie , I use the word cookie for lack of a better word. The cookie was a little plump pillow of perfection. Subtle flavors all joining together to make me want to throw on some leg warmers and dance the entire audition scene from Flash Dance including the break dancing sequence. Yeah. They are that good. If unicorns exist they eat pumpkin cookies for every meal.
The Homestead Bakery is just a few minutes from Arthur Illinois. It is located on the family farm best known for it’s yearly transformation into The Great Pumpkin Patch. The Bakery is tucked into beautifully tended gardens and has breathtaking views from its front porch of the surrounding farm. You can look south and see fields stretching out all the way to the horizon. It’s easy to breathe here. It’s easy to shift gears and relax. Walking up to the front door of The Bakery you are greeted with their sense of humor.IMG_3737.JPG The gardens that surround and shelter the front porch are filled with beautiful plants. Some decorative and some beautiful and edible.

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As you approach the door the smell of fresh baked goods greets you like an old friend. As people come and go the door opens releasing the scents of cinnamon rolls and warm bread. I found myself drawn inside nose first. The memories of my childhood rising up around me. I could see myself on a step stool covered in flour rolling out cookies. It’s impossible to visit here without also visiting those memories.
Stepping inside the store you are gently coaxed in by shelves neatly arranged with loaves of bread. Cinnamon rolls lovingly covered in homemade frosting. Banana bread that will make you want to smack your mama. You will become very aware after stepping the first foot into the store that this is the real deal. If you would even hold onto a tiny shred of doubt that this place is legit all you have to do is take another few steps and you can peer into the kitchen through glass windows and watch the Amish Bakers at work. Watching the Bakers work fresh dough into cinnamon swirled confections is amazing to say the least. They make it all look so easy. Effortless. It’s like watching your favorite cooking show… But it’s real, and happening right in front of your face. The best difference between the two is that when you are done watching these artisans work, you can taste their masterpieces. You can take home their work and share it with your family. An experience like that is rare and only one of the things that make this place a must visit.
In the store you will also find the most incredible selection of Angel Food cakes. These cakes are made from scratch and the Bakers pride themselves in being able to get their cakes to stand taller than any others. Anyone who has ever attempted to make an Angel Food cake knows. It’s not a simple process. It takes skill and patience. The Angel Food Cakes alone require hundreds, Hundreds of egg whites. I learned during my last visit that each egg white is separated from the yolk by hand to insure that not even the slightest bit of the yolk enters into the cake batter. Hours and hours of work go into just preparing the egg whites alone! I also found out that the yolks from the eggs are then used to create the bakery’s pumpkin noodles. Their pumpkin noodles can be used for a million different things, our favorite is to use them as a substitute for traditional noodles any time we roast a chicken or turkey and are craving a comfort food side dish and beef and noodles… Forget about it!! Your life will never be the same.

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As the guys and I sit here and talk about The Bakery we get all giddy. The baked goods are out of this world, but we can’t help but also love the fact that they are homemade. The family that owns this little slice of culinary heaven are real people. Down to earth and lovely and real. The sort of people that you wish were your neighbors. We feel good about supporting them. Good people selling a quality product. What could be better than that? Not to mention the prices are very reasonable. You can pick up a jar of homemade apple butter for around $3.50!!!! That’s right locally made for under four bucks. Don’t get me started on their pumpkin butter. Soooo good.
With pumpkin season growing close make plans to visit The Homestead Bakery while you visit The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur Illinois. If you visit in October you will most likely walk right by The Bakery as it is between the parking area and the entrance to The Great Pumpkin Patch. You can sit out on the porch of The Bakery and sample some home baked goodness and sip one of their very own ice cold glass bottles of root beer. It’s the perfect place to start your visit and a great place to unwind and enjoy a little extra time out on the farm before you head home.
Plan your visit today!! Maybe we will see you there!

Learn more The Great Pumpkin Patch

The Homestead Bakery
don’t forget to follow my blog!!
http://www.timmyvalentine.com

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What a crock of…..

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Summertime can be so busy.
Here at the shop we have been putting in long hours but getting off work at 8 pm isn’t bad when the sun is still shining.
The guys and I get pretty caught up in what is happening at the store so it’s not always easy to prepare a meal after work. We have been wanting to take advantage of our crockpot recently. I have heard myths retold of crockpot meals. I have only ever used them for keeping bean dip warm at parties or the occasional ( and might I add usually sensational) roast beef and veggies. That is where the adventure into hands off counter top slow cooking usually ends for me. I know people make claims as to the amazing results they get with their crockpots, so I started poking around on the internet looking for some fail safe recipes.
Last night it became my obsession. Home alone I scrunched up in Johns favorite chair, bowl of above mentioned roast beef in hand and surfed the web for some ideas. Pinterest is full of lots of pretty pictures. Perfectly positioned and proportioned plates complete with garnish and background music. Chicken thighs staring out at you from the grocery meat cooler, not the most appetizing. With the right lighting and an out of focus but obviously well decorated background,,, Voila!!! Internet food porn. Bon Appetit!! If only real life were that easy. Seriously, let’s be honest with each other. Nothing that pretty ever crawls out of a crockpot at my house.
My surfing for answers and inspiration continues, countless pictures of scrumptiousness have given me a bit of a complex. Feelings of food inadequacy are inevitable. You look around long enough across the internet and through stacks of cook books,, where does it get you? Slightly depressed and hungry. Real cooks make it look so easy. Ina Garten god bless her, can juggle sticks of butter, sauté chicken, bake homemade croutons, stir cocktails and finish a strawberry tart simultaneously. I would even bet she could do it while riding a unicycle through a French farmers market. I once screwed up microwave Mac n Cheese. Ok. More than once. There are so many steps. I bet Ina doesn’t even really own a crockpot. I bet she has to borrow one every time she wants to make Italian Beef.
In my efforts to uncover the secret underworld of crockpot cuisine I have also found a few instances of actual human beings attempting to share their hard won success with the world. 20140626-170458-61498613.jpg

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At first glance and to the untrained eye these photos may look like failures. But to those of us fully in tune with reality, we know, this sort of thing happens. Just picture these dishes served on antique ironstone platters saddled up to some fresh out of the oven biscuits and garnished with sprigs of fresh herbs. They could totally be saved. Some mood lighting and a quirky name like ” Abe’s famous cowboy stew” or ” rib stickin finger lickin southern beef and veggies” Well that sort of thing would go viral. Every hard working family in the country would make either of those a go to meal. It’s all about the garnish my friends.
With any luck my efforts will produce an endless supply of easy recipes. I will dance around my always clean kitchen with a Gin Gimlet in hand and pretend I’ve slaved all day over the stove. The guys will say things like, how do you do it all and still look so young…or Martha Stewart has nothin on you baby.
Being slightly apprehensive about testing some of the recipes I have stumbled on online is probably a good thing? It’s sort of like the idea of internet dating. Looks good in the pictures but doesn’t live up to expectations. I don’t fully trust someone who blogs about how good a dish turned out but doesn’t provide real proof. Let’s hear from your kids lady. Did they eat it or slip it to the dog under the table when your back was turned. I want the truth. Everyone has a phone with a camera these days. Mysteriously yours went AWOL when it was time to document your “easiest chicken dish ever!” Or the guy named Tweeker touting his fine tuning of Ben’s no worry one step perfect crockpot pork chops. Where is Ben? Why can’t we talk to him, and how did you go about fixing his recipe if it was already perfect? Can you make something more perfect? Not to mention one step? Really? Just one. Because in my life one step means you open a box or call for delivery. One step does not involve the full list of chopping dicing, marinating and pre-browning in a skillet that your reincarnation of Ben’s recipe requires.
I’ve decided to reach out and ask for help. A sort of busy life,, need some easy meals intervention. If anyone has a tried and true crockpot recipe that they have tried and love. Then let’s have it! I want to try it. I’m counting on you. Don’t be shy. There are men going hungry in my house. They need your help.

Have a recipe or a link to one that you enjoy and want to share it with us?
Feel free to post it in the comments section!

The images of crockpot disasters in this blog were found on pintrest, if anyone wishes to take responsibility for them, please let us know.

Sandy McVicker strikes again

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Today is the first day of the 57th season of The Little Theatre on the Square here in Sullivan. The theatre draws visitors to our town from all over Illinois.
The performances are top of the line. It’s not a rare event when an actor or technician works here on their way to broadway. Here at the store we celebrate the theatre season. It’s the time of year when the streets are filled with happy theatre goers bumping elbows with tomorrow’s broadway who’s who. The season means new faces in the store and visits from old friends. Today has been no exception. The shop has been filled with people. Everyone laughing and visiting and having a good time. I love the sound of people laughing the first time they pick up a bag of our Weed soap or notice a bottle of our May Baily’s Lotion for Loose Women. It makes my day. Getting a giggle means a job well done here at Astoria.
I was surprised to see an old friend wander into the shop this afternoon. By old friend I mean we have known each other for a long time not old as in she went to school with Jesus… But if his high school year book shows up on eBay, I’m almost 100% sure you would find her picture in there. Sandra McVicker is one of the funniest women on the planet. She is known around the world by many an alias. Powerful men have sought her arm since her debutant days back in Ivesdale. It’s safe to imagine that Marilyn wasn’t the first starlet to be smuggled into the White House. A visit by the notorious McVicker means two things. 1. She is up to no good or 2. She is really really up to no good. Today was no exception. It was a combination of both 1 and 2. A dangerous combination to say the least.
Sandy and I have spent years exchanging the most unusual gifts. Once while she was on summer vacation I slipped into her house and installed a Christmas tree complete with orange and yellow twinkling lights. The tree was decked out in diaphanous cellophane clusters in in the most brilliant red. I left the house with the tree all aglow hoping she would walk in and gasp at my sneaky brilliance. Before she got a chance to see the tree in all it’s glory… The neighbors woke in the middle of the night, spotted the fiery flashes from their kitchen window and knowing Sandy was traveling, promptly called the fire department. On another occasion I created and installed a life sized Egyptian mummy in her shower. I have surrounded her house with crime scene tape, an entire roll of crime scene tape. I have dumped a box full of tiny rubber ducks in her back garden. I may or may not have also placed her house unofficially on the market by borrowing a realtor sign from another home in the neighborhood. That little prank went unnoticed by her as I’m sure the realtor found the sign before Sandy returned home from visiting Betty Ford. These are just a few of the little gestures of love that we toss back and forth.
My pranks have not gone un-returned. I once walked out my front door only to turn around and find that my house had a new sign announcing an open invitation for an upcoming NRA rally to be held at my address. I also often receive mail addressed to me where she has scrawled on the back of the envelope threats that suggest she and I are ladies of the evening embroiled in some sort of turf war concerning workable corners. I am also pretty sure she is responsible for all of the unsolicited magazine subscriptions that Show up addressed to me that I have to call and cancel. Today after Sandy and her accomplice left the store John discovered that she did not skip the opportunity to retaliate against me for filling her yard with vintage foam curlers a few months ago. I had deposited the curlers on her lawn by the handful. John waited patiently in the get away car as Tyler and I made Sandy’s yard look like a beauty shop had just exploded. This afternoon those turquoise beauties showed up in my garden. They surrounded plants in pots and were stuffed in any available nook and cranny. I couldn’t stop laughing. It was like a demented Easter egg hunt. All I have to say is, if that is all that she found in her yard… She better look again.
Tonight as I sit here wrapping soap I have been remembering all of the exchanges between the two of us. I am not quite sure how we got started tormenting and teasing each other. But I adore it. Every time I go to the mailbox, I imagine what may be hiding in there. A note written on an oversized postcard for everyone at the post office to see from a fictitious company confirming my engagement to a mail order bride?
Thanks to Sandy McVicker that and more is totally possible.

Happy Opening to John and everyone at The Little Theatre on the Square! You make Sullivan a must visit destination and we love you for that. Thank you all so much for bringing the arts into the community. Happy 57th year!

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If you love me, you will take these turnips.

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I spent the late afternoon yesterday digging and planting. This year we have decided to add to the landscaping in the front of our shop. We are adding some shrubbery that will remain green all winter. The current inhabitants of the front yard all drop their leaves in winter. A bunch of naked branches doesn’t exactly scream welcome. So in an attempt to keep color going all year we are tackling an overhaul. The guys and I decided to incorporate edible plants into our landscaping this year. We do our best to help the environment and thought why not take advantage of the fact that we have to water the yard all summer anyway.
We have amassed a tiny collection of seeds to plant. We will have green beans and tomatoes growing along side boxwoods and spirea. I put sunflowers in the ground yesterday. I have to say it felt a little naughty tucking them in behind the formal plantings that wrap our front porch. The idea that their sunny faces would soon tower over their more traditional bed mates would frighten more timid gardeners. It just isn’t respectable to have such flamboyance scattered about willy nilly where everyone can see.
This year our efforts to keep newly planted shrubs alive in the frustratingly hot and humid Illinois summer will also be putting fresh food on our table. I think that is just sexy as hell. If I have to be bent over out there pulling weeds from between the bushes, then I am going to pick peas while I’m doing it! I slipped some beautiful tricolor sage with purple, white and silver leaves into the pots out front that held boxwoods all winter. Tyler and I found the most amazing oregano again this year. It has the brightest lime green and yellow leaves. I love the way it flows over the edge of pots, so we thought, why not put it out there where everyone can enjoy it instead of hiding it somewhere out back.
In a few days we will tuck some heirloom tomatoes into the ground. I can’t wait to make fresh salsa. There is nothing like the taste of the triumph of growing your own food.
Lettuce will go in soon. Don’t spend anytime imagining that it will grow in neat little rows. That Mr. McGregor stuff doesn’t fly around our house. We will plant it in sunny spots between the established prairie plants out back. There are a few open spaces that the bee balm vacated last summer. It will fit in nicely there. I love the colors leaf lettuce comes in. The bright greens and deep burgundy and purples. Mouth is officially watering. The little rabbit that has claimed our back yard for her own will be in heaven. Our dogs have already given up trying to chase her from the neighborhood. I let them out one morning last week and they began their usual Tom and Jerry chase sequence. This time however that little bunny stood her ground. She didn’t even flinch. Just looked up from nibbling the clover and sort of stared the dogs down. They were baffled. Truly disappointed. They haven’t messed with her since. I wouldn’t either. I have seen it in her eyes, she means business. She will of course have first dibs on the lettuce, I will gladly feast on her leftovers.
I would kill for a fruit tree. I think I have the perfect spot for a little apple tree. I would love a cherry tree, but around here that means sharing your harvest with flocks of hungry birds. I picture myself forced into playing the part of Tippi Hedren. Running about in the yard swatting at ferocious swarms of angry starlings as they peck at my eyeballs. In fact if a cherry tree went in I would spend my summers being suspicious of any birds that were congregating in groups of three or more. God forbid a murder of crows land on the deck. I would pee my pants before curling up in the fetal position and dying of fright. Alfred Hitchcock, you were a bad bad man. Twisted sick and I love you for it. No cherry tree for me. My imagination is way to over active.
Summer is here and I am celebrating every minute of it. I was born a man of the sun . I crave the warmth. Vitamin D. Fresh air. I get lost in that color of blue the sky turns in summer. The way the green leaves stand out against the clouds. The weeks ahead will be filled with much mulch flinging and muddy flip flops. Sunny afternoons and dirty fingernails. Nothing compares to the tired you feel after spending the day outside working in the yard.
Hopefully this year with a little extra effort we can coax a meal or two out of the dirt…. if Mother Nature cooperates. Some groups throughout history have been known to prepare a sacrifice to ensure the soils fertility. I think I will shy away from tradition this year and just light my incense and pour a beer or two on my newly planted green beans.
When my sunflowers bloom I will feel like the luckiest man on the planet. A proud papa. I’m looking forward to having way tooooo many tomatoes. The living is easy. It doesn’t get any better than the joy a person feels when you have to force home grown fresh produce onto unwilling recipients. That watery eyed look of terror on a persons face when you hand them a bag stuffed to the brim with turnips or a box the size of a minivan bursting at the seams with the zucchini you picked that morning. Ahhhh abundance.

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The Big Easy

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We love New Orleans, everything about it. If you visit the shop you will most likely hear early Jazz playing. Today is no exception. The warm weather and the sounds streaming from the radio have put me in the New Orleans frame of mind.
Maybe it’s just that I’m hungry. If I shut my eyes tight, I can almost smell the croissants baking. Served fresh piled high with Louisiana ham. Oh god I may faint. You haven’t lived until you stumble into Desire at drunk-thirty and have a loaf of warm fresh bread placed in front of you. It’s like heaven with butter smeared on it. That’s right, butter smeared heaven. I have been known to eat an entire loaf myself, then turn right around and order one of their famous sandwiches. Yup each one comes on even more of that amazing bread. No wonder I have to avoid gluten every other day of my life. To occasionally over indulge is to live. If you need to fall off what ever wagon you’re currently on, The Crescent City is the place to do it.
The French Quarter smells like incense, and bread and spilt beer. You stop noticing the stale beer smell after a drink or two.
Wandering the streets in the French Quarter is like being transported back in time for me. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, it’s like being in a place where a part of history has been transported into the present. The buildings stand in a state of preserved crumbling decadence. Freshly painted walls hold hands with tattered shutters and crumbling brick buildings dripping decay stand with pride next to the fully restored buildings adorned with ferns. The air is always teaming with ghosts, some are mine but most belong to the city. Bumping into a spirit or two at Lafitte’s is unavoidable. The darkness draws them in and no one can tell the living from the deceased in the flickering candle light. Gathered around a table tucked into the corner, it’s easy to imagine the laughter and hushed conversations as a combination of the present moment and the echoes of history itself. That sounds deep, I know, but trust me. You get a serious tingle and not just from the rum.
I’ve noticed that I see differently there. It recharges my batteries in a way that no other city does. Walking down the street and passing a group of drunk 80 year old women from Iowa, a three foot tall man in a bikini talking to a 7 foot tall woman in a bikini, a man in a gorilla suit followed close behind by a priest. All within the same block. With the addition of music both live and recorded pouring from doors flung open to the street…..It’s my imagination come to life. I am almost 60% positive that it was a man in a gorilla suit and not a real gorilla.
Chaos scares some people, it soothes me. I think it’s a clear picture of the human condition. Life is a beautiful chaos really. No matter how hard we try to keep it all together, it all falls apart in the end. I am terrified by perfectly manicured lawns and neatly spaced houses populating subdivisions, that to me is pure fantasy. 9 to 5 goes against human nature. It must be balanced with a bit of The Basin Street Blues.
At my house, minds have been changed by New Orleans. We are different because we have visited there. The energy that we have absorbed from the place has carried over into our real lives back here in Illinois. Some of our products here at Astoria even pay homage to The Big Easy and it’s more famous or infamous residents. A customer favorite is our May Baily’s Soap for Loose Women. It’s a tribute to a very strong willed woman who wouldn’t stop until she got what she wanted. The scent is real jasmine and other soft florals. The name Jazz refers to the sweet scent of jasmine. Jasmine was used as a lure, it’s seductive smells pulled men into May Baily’s Place and others like it. The fragrance from the petit white blossom kept them coming back for more. Musicians were paid to play background music in New Orleans Brothels. The stimulating sounds and sultry scents kept customers happy and money flowing. This is where Jazz was born. The streets where Jazz still lives to this day.
Our Laveau products were born from our love of The Widow Paris. The stories of the legendary Marie Laveau are woven into the rich tapestry that is New Orleans. The myths and truths of her life are impossible to separate. They live as one story. There is something , alluring and mystical about a woman who has inspired so many tales. Something sexy and mysterious and dangerous. Digging for facts about her life often leads you in very different directions simultainiously. It is obvious that Marie Laveau was known for kindness and generosity along with her ability to heal and conjure love or lust. Perhaps even open the doors to fame or fortune for those individuals brave enough to walk through them. These were no doubt just some of the gifts that made her a beacon for people looking to change their destiny. Combine her talents with the overwhelming respect she had earned from the lives she touched, it’s no wonder she was able to achieve immortality. Although you can find many opinions scattered across the internet and on the printed page claiming to know the facts about her life and death, the truth is no one knows for sure. I imagine Marie as alive and well. Maybe I have even bumped into her a time or two and not even known it. I’m sure she still carries on her work untroubled by such a silly thing like the passing of time. Maybe that’s why she has become such a part of the city’s history? They have the same approach when it comes to time. It doesn’t really exist. I like that philosophy. Live in the moment. Eat the bread that’s placed before you. Relax and let the good times roll.

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