“where were you and what were you doing when you heard about world war 2?” i ask my mother. i’d never thought to ask her that before, and i can’t tell you why not, but at least i ask her now.

she tells me that she was at school, so she didn’t hear about it till the day after. says she was 13 years old, so most of her reaction came from watching her parents. she can still remember the look on her daddy’s face, she says, then she goes on to tell me about how her mother preserved food – a lot of food, even canning biscuits and water. “if she’d thought about it and we had a place, i’m sure she would’ve built a bomb shelter,” mother says, and though she was remembering down one road, i remembered how i set about building a bomb shelter in 4th grade, complete with food and pillows and books and board games and safety/preparedness drills.

i knew my grandmother canned food – her pantry was always filled from her larger than large summer garden – but i never knew till that day last week that grandmother and i had preservation and planning for the future – our future and our loved ones’ futures – in common.

[insert face-size smile]

don’t you love stories that connect you with your ancestors? that help explain quirky characteristics about yourself? what questions would you ask one of your ancestors? you can do it without sitting next to them in the car, you know. just get our your pen and paper, write the question, then be quiet and see what appears.

one of the best questions i asked my now-deceased daddy is “what would the 40-year old you like like the 40 year old me to know about being 50?” (hint: you don’t have to ask living people face-to-face, and you don’t have to ask only deceased people these questions that your inquiring mind wants to know.)

:: – ::

p.s. my mother also told me that because of world war 2, there weren’t many school teachers to be found, so they had to take the fella who got lost walking the 3 blocks from boardinghouse to school. she also told me about one c harkness, a young woman who daddy asked out once. but, mother hastened to add, they never actually went out. i’m thinking there’s more to this story. stay tuned . . .

:: – ::

i spent this afternoon cooking and filling the freezer of my son who lives in denver (note: far too far away, if you ask me) with vegetable soup, lasagne, and spaghetti sauce. (that’s when i remembered the story my mother told me about grandmother preserving food in anticipation of possible ripple effects of world war 2.) today’s altar is about nourishment . . . from stories and food and love.


More about 365 Altars


  1. noelrozny

    I ALWAYS feel empty when my pantry is empty. 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      me, too, sugar! my son will be home in about an hour, can’t wait to see his face and his girlfriend’s face when i open the freezer. which reminds me . . . i best go wash those dishes!

  2. Karen Sharp

    I cannot say how much I love this one, Jeanne!

    Food is such an anchor of the sacred. It’s no accident that the act of breaking bread together is one of the most fundamental sacred acts we have. Sustenance and nourishment, love and life.

    And while I’ve only just started canning (so far several different kinds of jams, and a tomato sauce that came out delicious) it’s also something else I love. Opening a jar of something I put up months ago is like a love letter from the past to the future, as concretely tangible an instance of love as the kiss you feel on your cheek afterwards. And giving it to others to have them open it is even better… except for the fact that it’s tricky to arrange to be there for their first taste. 🙂

    And of course stories and food go together like, uh, well, like bread and butter. 🙂

    • whollyjeanne

      “an anchor of the sacred” – how i do love that phrase, karen. i so enjoyed and did so love the way this whole post, altar, experience came together, and the way it did braid together, it sure seems like an anchor of the sacred. 

  3. ☆little light☆

    Went to the farmers market and nabbed some hot house strawberries from a organic gardener I adore..
    And today I made Strawberry jam, the sweetest of nourishment!

    • whollyjeanne

      and wouldn’t you just know that i’m the only person on the first four rocks of this galaxy that doesn’t eat strawberries. or tomatoes.

  4. Merry ME

    This is what an altar is all about, isn’t it? Love for each other, memories and nourishment for body and soul. 

    • whollyjeanne

      Very nicely said, my wise woman friend.

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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