What follows is an abbreviated account of the history of "THE BLADE" used in the Ribbon Dance. You will find some fascinating information in this recollection.

Excerpted Email dialogue between reporter Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News and several Pine Arbor Tribal Town Elders and participants concerning 3 items mainly: the "New Flint Blade" used in the Ribbon Dance, The Sacred Fire and Trainees. Mr. Weiss spent several days visiting several Pine Arbor families in addition to hosting a visit in Dallas, Texas. The full document passed back and forth several times, suffered numerous corrections for mis-speaks, poor typing and the constant habit of leaving out letters, whole words such as "not" and so forth. This excerpted column was culled from all the achieved and corrected copies. Its amazing what happens when your mind is faster than the fingers--a simple left-out word can alter all unpleasantly!
[Abbreviated and Edited for Clarity]
 

Jeffrey Weiss Wrote (in boldface print):
> And before I forget, another query: How do you know exactly
> how old the New Ribbon Dance Knife blade is?

BECAUSE THE LADIES ALWAYS KEEP UP WITH IT--at Green Corn, there is a little ritual of announcing the age of the blade that year; this is a way of actually announcing the year itself without openly bragging about the Townís antiquity. Truthfully, they're off by some but they'll self correct shortly after next Fallís story cycle in which we review the circumstance of the blades and their creation. SECONDLY, the women consented to a request from the matriarch and the Maker of Medicine to approve an examination by the renowned anthropologist Dr. Judith Bense of the Northwest Florida Institute of Archaeology. She personally examined the blades under the watchful eyes of the community curator. Previously, Lewis Tesar, Calvin Jones and Dr. Thomas Baker (formerly of Smithsonian), all looked at the blades and collectively said---"oh my God!" "These are old but have never been in the ground...but they've been used!" This is definitely a referral question for Daniel T. Penton...chat with him on this matter as he's better at these types of explanation than I could ever hope to be.

(Jeffery, a couple of folks plan to drop you a line or two and may even say some "guud sterff tuya." Another one, though, is embarrassed because many of us cry or have deep emotions in our voices when we remember the ancient misdeed or our anthem, "Farewell to the Creeks"--they hope you don't think us sissies--few Americans realize several thousand years of history can also be a burden as well as a spiritual joy --enough for now, later)

> Jeffrey continued: Will do--call Dr. Bense. BTW (by the way), what I'm asking
> about is the precision. If you'd said "this is a really old knife, maybe a thousand
> years old, give or take a couple of hundred" I wouldn't have even questioned it
> (well, maybe). But I was wondering how you knew the number to the year. I'll
> ask Penton for archeological details tomorrow. But for you, did your mother
> keep the number when she was Matriarch? And if so, who passed the number
> to her? (What I'm trying to do is link some of the current rituals and practices
> back a hundred years or so to "this" square ground. Not that it defines
> "authenticity" (Kent Reilly and I had a "great" talk about that today) but it
> would offer a sense of linkages. I figure if something can be traced back a
> century or so, that hooks it to an unquestionable line back, even if there's
> not a written record...good reporters create their own dilemmas you know)

CRDS (and others) answered:

Jeffery, please note that we only say how many years the new blade has been in use; it is actually older, so we are told. Mother kept the count as did Aunt Alice and just about all the women--its sorta like the Jewish Passover question "Why is this night special?" Common knowledge amongst us, I guess. Moriah (1840-1952) well knew the count as did the noted Black Creek, Lettie Proctor Hill, now all deceased. Somewhere, we have notes from Busks in the 40s and 50s mentioning their (blades) age. Many folks, such as Hopoyv, Brian M., Hokte Eco and others keep a Square Book and jot down events, dates etc. Surely you saw people doing this; glad you met ol' Franklin Kent R. Did he tell you he found ideas & stuff in use here he'd discovered among Olmec but hadn't mentioned to anyone yet? That ol' boy nearly blew a gasket or two!

The pain improves in jaw; two dental caps are back in place safely for a temporary covering...roots canals, about 3 or 4 in number plus some posts and all that other unpleasant stuff is due--I didn't have periodontal disease or gingivitis as feared but a big abscess in the roots and jaw bone; am now taking antibiotics and a stuff called vicodin for pain. The dentist said how ever it was that I brushed and cared for my teeth, keep it up and convert people 'cause I did it right. Well... off to either take a pill or be one!

On Thu, 17 Apr 1997, Jeffrey Weiss wrote concerning his call to Judy:

> I was caught absolutely speechless for a few seconds. (Believe it or not!)
> I had to repeat what she'd said because I thought I heard her wrong. Nope.
> And she ticked off a variety of clues, from shape, materials to other details
> and stuff that means nothing to me but clearly does to her, that fixes that
> blade clearly, in her mind, in both time and geography. Six-Thousand-Years!
> However. I came up with a possible explanation that reconciles your number
> and hers. What if the "old blade" was made 6,000 year ago. And someone
> busted it about 1,000 years ago. And the folks around at that time made a
> new one using the same materials, etc., as the old? It's possible, she said.
> But she was double-by-damned sure -- I mean, no question in her
> mind -- that the basic structure, materials, etc. were linked to the earlier
> time... Your thoughts, please? (Jeff)

From CRDS (on behalf of the community):

Well sir, the blades were (and are) made in sets. We got a set two years ago-- Thom's last handiwork before his death. They should do us for about 1000 or more years, I hope. Blades in a set are made together--duality, you know. Usually, there were two sets of two each times two. Two went with daughter towns generations ago, two are/were buried at old ceremonial center under Fire along with four "Foundation" Stones. (I forgot to mention that in the late 50s or early 60s, some blades disappeared into the pockets of an archeologist who came down from NYC for a "look/see") One broken blade was first used by the head woman in the original Ribbon Dance which itself was formerly a bloody affair; the women danced with real trophies of either the hunt or war, you know,--heads, limbs, carcasses etc., in those days.

I was taught that the peaceful nature (prayer and thanksgiving) of the Ribbon Dance was not fully understood by us until a few hundred years ago--we're still learning to read and understand the "Peaceful Power" contained therein. About a thousand years ago (it's a long story--but here's a short version) while living along the Chattahoochee River above the falls where the rock glyphs formerly hung out, an original blade was broken in half during a fierce argument between the then matriarch and another townswoman--the argument was about who should dance with the meat trophies (bear, I believe) of a particularly noted and somewhat fierce hunter who never failed to supply extra meats for widows, orphans and elders. The man was not born a member of this town and had no living female relatives--an not an unusual thing in itself according to our own traditions as a "refugee town." He had come to this town, so it was told, because he was tired of war and killing; he'd taken the Creek name for the Sycamore tree as his own since the tree was noted for and associated with peace and wisdom.

The older widows of the town had asked a good-hearted townswoman to dance for the man who had no female relatives. The matriarch, exploring stinginess to the fullest--seeing an opportunity for self-advancement-- decided it was her place to represent him. Apparently, she disregarded the fact that it was she who led the way for all the women to dance for all the men. Like the woman in the story who became a woodpecker because she discovered selfishness, this matriarch, too, discovered selfishness. The two women scuffled--the blade dropped and was broken. It is said that immediately a fierce storm arose and the earth rattled about a bit and collapsed many houses and shook down trees, etc., [though the story doesn't actually say so, I take that to be a tornado on the heels of a quake]. When it was over, both the bad-hearted matriarch and the good-hearted woman were each stabbed in the chest by a separate piece of that broken blade. (Now thatís some heavy karma, dude, some say) There were final words in their death scenes.

The matriarch--it is said, died bitter and angry. There are many in the world today who are probably her "still-angry" descendant kin. The good hearted townswoman died, too, stating that she should have just handed over the blade to the matriarch when it was demanded and none of this would have happen. An elder said, "yes, that would have been the right thing to do--then when the fierce winds came and the earth rattled, she [matriarch] would have stabbed only herself." Not to follow the right action or decision when it is known always brings bad consequences--at least this is how the old ones tell it. Another blade was taken from the original set in the bundle for the dance, our new blade--new to the dance, that is. We count the cycles in which it has been in use--but remember, the ceremonial cycle is in sets of four; thus, one cycle is the same as four Anglo years at a minimum. What we call a year is actually 25 of your months. Of late, some ladies count individual years in English instead. Thatís like trying to make a recipe with half the ingredients measured in metric and half in ounces. Soon, they'll realize their error and correct it or they'll get sternly told by us men!

> Another couple of queries as the vicodin sets in, wrote Jeffrey:
> How old were you (about) when you moved to the Tallahassee area? Did you
> find a square ground in that area? Actually, here's what I think I want to
> know: Can you list the places where you've busked since you were a kid?
> (I'm looking for that thread of continuity to follow back, back, back...)

In reply, CRDS said:

For many years my father was a real traveling salesman for Southern Wholesale Furniture Co., in Jacksonville and for a toy company which included the Thayer line of baby bassinets, playpens etc.; (and, there are a couple of half siblings met in adulthood to prove it!) I traveled with him quite a bit during many summers, weekends, holidays or anytime he could think of a reason to spring me from school. Had actually been living in the Tallahassee area off and on since late childhood. However, I settled into Tallahassee as a largely permanent resident about 62/63? don't remember perxactly but it was in Aug.

By traveling with dad, I was always being shown old Square Grounds, historic sites, meeting very old and interesting relatives and other people here and there all throughout Fl., Ga., Al., Miss., Carolinas, La., and Tenn. This is what Iíve done some with Eric, Townsend, Penton, Mary and others as time permits and they are willing and/or available--take them places and show them all these things I still remember. (Such early travels and the oral histories learned have even helped to solve archeological mysteries for the state such as the bones found in Tampa which I correctly identified, even to the number of individuals and the type and amount of grave goods BEFORE they were even excavated.) I did attended middle school at a military school courtesy of the court system, family friends and Col. Carl Ward, commandant and my father's relative from Kentucky. Dadís mom was a Ward and her own grandmother was reported (with some embarrassment, I might add, to have been one of Dan Boone or his sonís "Indian wives." It makes some sense, since his other grandmother was one of the Castle family women whose father owned Castle Woods, the vast expanse with the Boones spent much time with Cherokee, Shawnee, Creek and Delaware, especially around the old Salt Licks and Springs, many of which my father showed me in person in my teens and which I passed on to Jim Isenberg, now a pharmacist in the area.

Up to the late 30s and a little bit during 46 to early 50, there were four main locations for the Busk, the Mother Town and three daughter Towns. Most people then only Busked once a year at the Grounds nearest to them because of difficulties in traveling--during the late war, none traveled because of rationing and so forth. One Dance Ground was outside of Jacksonville, Fl., between Yulee and Fernandina, one was in the Tallahassee area--now under a interstate 10, and one just south of Macon, Ga., in the actual Swift Creek area. The smallest one was near present day Bruce (where John Thomas and I took you, at old Antioch (near cemetery); it moved over to Blountstown-Bristol area about or just after about 1900 (...unsure which year without notes or consulting Dr. Ramseyís aunts or the notes left me by Elberta Hinson, now there was a lady with a helleva lifeís story). Anyway, that Square ended up where Dr. Andrew Ramsey was raised and now lives but the old house itself, with the built-in open square ground inside, burned just before the war--if truth be known, Iíve heard from several old-timers, including the late infamous Mr. Atkins, that the local K-clan set it ablaze but we will have to ask Andrew to be sure. There were smaller outlying community practice Grounds (which was common for all larger Squares at one time) in Wakulla near where we stopped at Hardees; one community practice Grounds was near St Mary's, Ga., on the river. Several of my cousins, under aunt Elizabethís direction, bought that land back recently. Harvest Busk was at Macon because it was cold earlier there and Harvest could happen about a month earlier than in Florida. Berry Busk was at Tallahasse where it was warmer earlier. Green Corn was near Jacksonville and Little Green Corn over in West Florida. The leaders traveled to each Grounds but most people just attended the one closest to them because of time and financial constraints--Penton can tell you how in the 20s and 30, economics broke up the little communities--people had to follow the timber, turpentine camps, crops or other means of employment available to them. Those times were roughest on rural mix bloods and blacks,

By the late 40s to the early fifties there were maybe four to six familes regularly at most Grounds--maybe representatives of about two distant families--mostly really old folks. Tallahassee was centrally located, war was over, gas available and travel now easy. Tallahassee became it--the main SQUARE. Four stones where moved to Tallahassee in about 53 or 54. Many remember the Green Corn of both 1955 and 1956; nearly 300 were in attendance including Dode Mcintosh of Oklahoma; more than 100 women danced! Though I've attended the three other Grounds as a kid, I've always busked primarily in this area until 1985 when we moved the grounds to Blountstown on purpose...only we got a public park around us now but it doesn't seem to matter. Meanwhile, for much of my youth and adulthood, some of us regularly attended New Tulsa in Oklahoma near Holdenville and visited other Grounds periodically in addition to visiting with Josie Billie (one of my teachers) regularly in south Florida when he wasn't up visiting my folks near Jacksonville or Fernandina. Even though I recollect showing you many photos of some of these people and places, THIS IS REALLY AN ABBREVIATED VERSION--TO THE MAX.

> And. Why did you not start training a successor until so recently?
> Shouldn't there be some sprat my age or younger who has suffered, er,
> enjoyed your teachings since his teen years?

Started training Thom Hyfield in mid 70s along with two others. But Thom got transferred to Saudi Arabia for several years in the 80s and got behind--married inappropriately, had three kids, went in debt badly and died of leukemia last August at Baylor in Dallas--where I attended his death and played flute for the whole floor to hear. (Nurses loved it and asked my to play for some other patients--didn't have the heart to tell them the music was a guide for souls to leave by--they were working so hard to save people...so I just played a little for them).

Tried to train several others who either quit, gave up, joined churches or just plain died. Nice dark looking nephew with ability with languages considered it for a while but then started abusing power and perverted it to help him rob stores--he just got out of the big-house not too long ago--I turned him in when my suspicions were confirmed.... heís trying to be a good guy now but he doesn't/can't think native-like anymore nor has he any interest and, heís lost his language skills. Many are interested but few qualify to try. Or, they learn some procedures, a few songs, get well-egoíd and make a mess of things. Procedural knowledge and knowing a few plants and songs does not guarantee one wisdom or even good judgment!

Have considered just letting the Grounds die peacefully of old age--all things do have a season you know. But then, the Fire said it had not called all its sons home yet and after about 25 years Penton showed up again (we were in college and on projects together). His grandfather once held my current position. He seems a logical choice for my successor but he hasnít been tested under fire yet but in time. Language will surely be a big problem for him, donít whether he just canít learn or hasnít really discovered the internal need to know it yet. Another considered training right after I started but he decided he didn't believe in power and went on to become a professor of philosopher--a PhD somewhere in Ga. Started working with Ďpvske in 1989. His thinking, though, is very linear; he has a lot of internal stuff I donít understand but which guides him into strong interests into controlling people and their actions, heís hell bent on becoming a cop one day and really gets excited by law enforcement or just enforcement. Cepane Rakko is a nice kid but harbors too much imaginary anger, false resentment and hasn't learned to let go of old things. Doris' son Chris has to finish raising his own family before he turns his thoughts and heart to it--he doesn't yet know he is interested and he may never get around to hearing his own heart or his motherís longings. I don't choose them, the Fire does. However, by the hardway, Iíve learned the Fire chooses by a class and leaves the sorting out to the whatever leadership in ruling at the time--damned nasty trick, if you ask me but thatís duality for you! Some will make it and some won't--but, the Grounds will make it now--rough, maybe, but will make it nevertheless. Some others tried but simply abused power and it shattered them beyond recognition. Trainees? Well Ö It ain't because I ain't been trying--maybe trying too hard is the problem.

There is no longer the income I had earlier, so students could come live with me and the family full time for the required amount of study without worrying about finances--now, half of each day is spent just figuring out how to eat tomorrow (except for Thursdays when Penton or Mrs. Chou buys supper). Nowadays, I must make use of the modern technologies to preserve things for the time when someone will recognize their own call and come seeking. It is my firm hope and belief that they will be able to access what we've saved and study hard, listen and learn. When ready, the Fire will consecrate them and anoint them with proper activated power, which the community will then confirm (if they can handle it properly) or deny (if they can't). "We use the tools of today to preserve the past for tomorrow."

(ITS LATE--and weíve probably left out important stuff or confused it a bit, apologies if I have---really need to start referring to those old notes if I ever find everything again--damn, not having the full museum set up is really wearing heavy on my mind...if something happens to me soon...how will anyone ever figure out how to match up all the scattered papers and pieces? Damnation!)

> At 11:36 PM 4/17/97, Jeffrey Weiss wrote:

> A general comment: Vicodin seems to promote straight answers.
> Out of our friendship, I'll tell nobody else at Pine Arbor or
> they might slip it into your red jello on a regular basis...

> (a wonderful story -- parts snipped from here)

> You stated: Not to follow the right action or decision when
> it is known always brings bad consequences--at least this is
> how the old ones tell it.

> So is the current blade the remaining one of the set? Or was
> the other member of the set buried with the other a thousand
> years ago? Thanks for the abbreviated history lesson;
> Thanks, again. I now turn to my own ritual preparations.
> Matzo balls. Chicken paprikash. A "passover roll" that is a
> sort of mazto meal turnover. etc. Did I mention that I was
> doing the cooking for the seder? Oy. Jeffrey Weiss

On Fri, 18 Apr 1997, CRDS wrote: SO--That's what the problem
was--no red-doctored jello; next, it'll be kool-aid....tsk tsk.

There are two original blades only left--I think; not a matched pair. One which you saw in the dance and the other stored in the museum. Each is only a remnant of the former full set. There are about four or five others in the Bundle, too, but they're only a couple thousand years old--they were captured (adopted, I believe) from another subjugated town which we absorbed according to another long story dealing with the migrations of the other Muskogees into the old Hitchiti south where they sat down with us and had a chief in common--but, I've really got to get unpacked and find those old notes in the museum.

However--Thom had caused to be made a beautiful set, new but really beautiful blades. He took years to select the appropriate flint. He brought them to Green Corn about two years ago and Doris danced solo with the blades in a most dignified and holy manner--she held her head up with smiling determination with the blades gently arrayed on a leathered platter in her hand and her steps slow and stately. We all stood respectfully--Power was invited to come and rest with the blades...many cried; it must have done so. Those blades are now safely packed in the Bundle. The story of Thom's life, his infamous burning of the antique tobacco basket, illness and death by his choosing the conditions and when to disconnect the respirator, etc., will be a story told for all times to come. This time, we have pictures, too!

I really have tried to train successors in the past--mistake, because they were my choices and not the Fire's. If truth be known--my looks sometimes cause otherwise well meaning people...even so called full-bloods, to judge on appearances and not contents. What an opportunity they miss! Economically, the world is different now--none of us have the financial luxury to take the years necessary to do it right--we have no patron with dollars to spare. The most I can do now is to organize a general session each week or so, follow up with individual talking, teaching and question answering. We are left with making do with the best of bad choices--also, we are saddled with a few folks who (as Penton put it so well) are just gentically part Indian but too totally white in their thinking and will never get it--he gave an example from his own kin. Some of those folks need a new hobby instead of "Indians." But then, we aren't provided with a mechanism to shed these folks from amongst us--that's where a cult leader has an advantage--she/he dictates and makes decisions and rules with an emotional sabre and the iron hand that demands blind obedience. That kind of community we aren't!

Penton also suggested that I remind you our use of the word practice Grounds has a different meaning than one would think in English. It is a place in a smaller community where several people live--its where they gather in the evenings, talk, dance the fun dances, play stickball and all that sort of shade-tree culture. Its just they don't take medicine there--its where the local people gather regularly. Then at Busk, all families and remaining individuals gather at main Busk grounds, now Pine Arbor, to take medicine in common with the whole community and be scratched for purification. Penton said think of the Square as the Cathedral and practice or community Grounds as the chapels and churches.

Now, ask your one or two more questions but turn your attention to your own great celebration (Seder) this week which you will regard with new eyes as you contrast and compare to very different people in very different parts of the world struggling with similar survival needs under varying circumstances. To one people the cry is "JERUSALEM" to other "THE SACRED FIRE" Source of Balance and Harmony. (I believe fire formerly played a much more important role in Jewish symbology than currently.)

BUT--Don't mess up the matzo or fiddle with the gefiltefisch or bang up the post seder bagels or bash the beets, cook the candles or fail to bathe in the radiant love all will bring with them this year to your seder table. You have one magic moment coming--choose the time and speak simply but eloquently of your time here and what our ways mean to us and your family will feel a strengthening of their own ways within, too. Bye-- BOF
 

> Regarding "The blade tale:"
>
> At 11:36 PM 4/17/97, Jeffrey Weiss wrote:
>
> Which woman is the "she" refered to in the previous sentence. I'm assuming
> it's the nasty matriarch...?

The good-hearted woman should have simply given the blade to the other woman (matriarch) who falsely and erroneously demanded it. (The Fire is its own keeper and Medicine is its own teacher.) Then, the bad woman only would have suffered the consequences. Instead, the good woman probably felt some [improper?] sense of obligation (I was told) to do right for the kind man. Personally, though, I think pride was discovered on the part of the good woman and she just couldn't bring herself to let go in the example of the Sun who sets and rises quietly that others may have their season of light, too. Had she done that, the lessons of humility and "righteous actions" would have been strong and visible indeed--On the other hand though, we would have missed out on a great story with much to contemplate. These older stories are never simple when you analyze them. New stories can be and usually are simple but these old ones! My, how they'd tax the brain power of a whole "stetl" of "Rebbes" who would never cease finding new meaning for each moment as we do.
 

> Said Jeffrey Weiss:

> In any case, this story tells me something important about the Muskogee
> concept of right and wrong. By my view, the good woman was doing the right
> thing. In a court of American law, she would clearly have prevailed. But MW
> says being "right" in that sense isn't being (completely?) right. That the
> (MW?) definition of right depends on the effect on the entire community,
> regardless of what appears to be equity for or against an individual. Did I
> get the point, rebbe?
 

Nowadays, we live in a sense of community more than an actual physical community; decisions should be made under that consideration--yes, you are right. (Perhaps that is it in the newer sense, those two or three cranky women who are driving the rest of us nuts only make decisions for themselves--never with the whole community or with anyone else in mind unless they can see how to personally benefit themselves, Aelah!)

Yes, Doing right is communal as opposed to being correct or right which is individual. I had never quite thought of it in those simply terms but that's it, sir--a communal right based on individual commitment to the whole. Bye for now--more later. tis himself.
 

> On Wed, 16 Apr 1997, Jeffrey Weiss wrote:
>
> I've been meaning to ask: Why the wood cook stove in your home?
 

CRDS: The short answer is 'cause I've cooked on wood most all my life. I can't look at an electric burner and tell how hot it is nor move a pot around to another spot for just the right temperature for just the right amount of time. Once lighted, this iron stove is very economizing on wood and holds heat in winter for hours on end without more wood--the iron (porcelainized) simply holds heat well and distributes it slowly. I do okay on gas but wood is better. Electric stoves are hell on me!

The other (real?) answer is: In this modern world and with the loss of my old big house, I no longer have a special room for community members' nor have a special set-aside place for the Bundle and other sacred paraphernalia. Our "stuff" isn't spectacular--just special and meaningful, sacred even--which means set-apart. The little refurbished 16 by 16 feet "chicken coop" I now call home is really a micro-square ground in the city--complete with an outside fire pit, occasional sweats [MERCY, we talked so much at Busk we didn't get around to the sweat! Please forgive--no wonder some have been tight with me this week!] Sometimes, the grungiest old car battery packs the greatest power surge instead of those new slick expensive ones. BUT, to the question at hand. Certain formulae require the Sacred Fire, certain deliberations (to be accurate and truthful) should take place before the Sacred Fire. In this age of fundamentalistically inclined wierdos who go out and shoot people who're different (in Jesus name of course, to make it just), cooking on wood prevents a lot of endless nosey questions; some modern women folk don't like being told they can't visit because of menstruation; they can't even begin to comprehend the sacredness of that act---its just a bloody inconvenience to them and an interference to sex. But, they'll stay away from a heated kitchen and a pile of dishes (I keep some which really look all greasy and filthy--stage dishes, quite clean but gross appearing--keeps some folks away (fearful they might be asked to wash them). But the Creek women just pull up a chair in the yard or at the door should they need to visit at monthly time.

Sir, when the obligation to care for the Bundles and their stories is finally accepted by someone, it is forever. It is just appropriate that I have the stove available--at Busk, you were in the presence of a Fire whose foundation is older than anything else living before which you have stood. Should the ancient Temple be rebuilt in Jerusalem, I have no doubt that when the age of this Fire is known, it'll be requested and of course, we'll share it.

You'll be glad to know a real floor is emerging from beneath the chicken coop clutter; the kitchen is all now back in order with everything scrubbed--oh mercy how I hate dirty. Books are finding their way to shelves and all gets better daily--I'm even gonna send you a picture for proof.

Frankly, wood is better when times and temperature warrant it. Besides, as a good snoopy-reporter, you know now I make not good but the world's BEST POTATO SOUP without question! It is the one thing every woman there (even the outsiders) agree upon without hesitation or deliberation: POTATO SOUP and HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE PUDDING and those countless batches of fresh ginger brown bread biscuits served with strawberry preserves, fresh butter and hot herbal teas almost each winter's evening to waiting crowds at my door. As you may have found out, I still occasionally make my own soap, my own bread etc., pick and dry herbs, gather sassafras and all that. The wood stove is simply a natural part of my life. I can't remember being without one but I remember having three--in the kitchen, on the deck of the old house for large outdoor gatherings and a small one for camping trips and demonstrations which used to travel with us when we went visiting. I could always sell tea, coffee, fresh biscuits and beignets (square donuts) or fry bread to make gas money...hell man, set up your wood stove along side a rural road and folks will fight to take you home for the evening and tell fine tales.
 

> On Wed, 16 Apr 1997, Jeffrey Weiss wrote:

> I had figured out some of it. Thank you. Where do you keep the
> Fire when you aren't cooking? I didn't see a lit lantern. Then
> again, I didn't look...
 

The Fire remains in several places--homes with gas pilot lights such as at Vpvske, Doris, RJ, Kate and others. During summer, I have a small gas hot plate with pilot light. We are a practical people--not a stupid people; adapt and survive... use technology--don't let it just use you!