Alyce Faye Bragg: Passing time the homemade way

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With our thoughts and minds filled with the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and news of it everywhere you look, I find it hard to go to sleep at night.

I realize the best thing we can do is pray about it, but even then, our minds still dwell on the situation and our families who may be exposed to the virus. Last night as I laid in bed, I tried to think of happier times to overshadow the worries we have now.

Williams River and camping trips always come to my mind, and I imagined myself on the riverbank, listening to the water surge and ripple. That didn’t work, so I thought about Hickory Knob and the times we pitched a tent under that old hickory tree and listened to the night sounds. I heard the rustling in the branches as a squirrel jumped from limb to limb, and the hoot of an owl claiming ownership of the tree.

That was short lived also, so I thought of the seacoast and walking along the beach. It was always mesmerizing to watch the waves roll in, and the edge of the water come closer and closer. Then as the tide turned and the waves rolled out, it was such fun to explore what the water had brought onto the sand. There was always a perfect seashell and treasures to be found. I went to sleep walking the beach.

We are all in this situation, and I find myself repeating that I am not the only one. We all need to follow the guidelines put out by the medical experts and our government in order to see this finally subside, even if we are tired of “staying home.” It will be so good when we can finally gather at church, visit our families and be able to shop once again. Until that time, we must do the best that we can.

On a happier note, we have had the best morel (mushroom) season that I can remember. Maybe it is because we have had so much rain, but avid mushroom hunters have harvested huge baskets full of this delicious mushroom. I got a stuffed morel recipe from nephew Doug’s wife Sally, and they are scrumptious! She also sent some that she had prepared to us, and they must be one of our wild foods that is gourmet fare:

Clean and split large morels, and then stuff them with softened cream cheese mixed with crabmeat. Dredge them in flour, and then dip them in beaten milk and egg. Roll in breadcrumbs, and then deep fry until golden. These can be frozen.

Sally is not only an excellent cook, but is an accomplished artist, as well. She must pass her days by cooking or painting.

Since most of us are “shut in” these days, we need to do something to pass away the time. I had a request for making homemade soap, the kind my mother used to make. My sister, Mary Ellen, sent it to me and I want to share it. I have made it, and it is satisfying to create something the way our mothers used to do. I have found this an excellent stain remover. When it is rubbed on spots on your clothing and then laundered, it works really well.

It can be used to shampoo your hair, and is a good remedy for dandruff and itchy scalp. I can remember when Mom used to shave a cake of it in her hot wash water, and the dirty dungarees came out stain-free. It may come to the place when these old remedies can be put to use.

Mom’s homemade lye soap

Mix one can of lye and five cups of cold water in an enamel or iron container. Don’t use aluminum or plastic, as the lye will eat the bottom out of it. Stand way back and stir with a long stick or broom handle, as the fumes are murder on the eyes and lungs. Stir until lye is dissolved, and then add one half-cup of household ammonia, one half-cup of Borax or Borateem, and one half-cup of sugar.

To this mixture, add 11 cups of fat (this can be beef tallow, lard or grease.) If desired, add oil of sassafras or perfume oil. Stir until mixture starts to thicken, then pour into a cardboard box that has been lined with a white cloth. Cut into bars within 24 hours, or it will become too hard to cut.


Times are troubled, and yet we can see that spring is overtaking our hills. White dogwood trees are in full flower, and those are one of the most beautiful sights in eastern North America. When the redbud (also called a Judas tree) blooms beside it, it makes a person rejoice to see what our hills offer. The reason that it is also called a “Judas tree” is because of a myth told that Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus) hanged himself on one. The white flowers then turned red with shame or blood.

The sun is shining today on the Jack-in-the-pulpits, the pale anemone, also called “windflower,” and the delicate bloodroot flowers. God is shining His light on His children, and we will get through this pandemic with His help.

I Saw God Wash The World

I saw God wash the world last night

With His sweet flowers on high.

And then, when morning came, I saw

Him hang it out to dry.

He washed each tiny blade of grass

And every trembling tree;

He flung His showers against the hill,

And swept the billowing sea.

The white rose is a cleaner white,

The red rose is more red,

Since God washed every fragrant face

And put them all to bed.

There’s not a bird, there’s not a bee

That wings along the way

But is a cleaner bird and bee

Than it was yesterday.

I saw God wash the world last night.

Ah, would He had washed me

As clean of all my dust and dirt

As that old white birch tree.

Funerals for Friday, June 5, 2020

Holstein Jr., Gary - Noon, streaming live, see obituary.

Moore, Anna - 1 p.m., Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, Cross Lanes.

Smith, Dolan - 11 a.m., Jackson County Memory Gardens, Cottageville.

Tanner, Billy - 4 p.m., Odd Fellows Cemetery, Diana.

Wilson, Rosa - Noon, Koontz Funeral Home, Hamlin.

Young, Dollie - 11 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.