Monday, 16 January 2017

Vintage Books from my Bookshelf - The Creepie-Man's Poke-Sack

the Creepie-Man’s Poke-Sack
The Creepie-Man’s Poke-Sack
When browsing through book dealers catalogues my attention is often drawn to books with odd sounding names. This is one such book.

It's a simple enough story about a gnome called Be-Wee and a strange little person by the name of The Creepie-Man. The two haven’t seen eye to eye since Be-Wee built his home under the Punker tree which is where the Creepie-Man has his shed. 


Be-Wee the Gnome and the Poke-sack
Be-Wee the Gnome and the Poke-sack

Once in a while the door to the shed is left open and Be-Wee watches as the Creepie-Man prepares his meals. At other times, the Creepie-Man simply sits on his creepie-stool with his poke-sack held tight between his knees. Be-Wee would dearly love to know what's in the poke-sack but the Creepie-Man won’t tell him.

 the Creepie-Man sits on his Creepie-stool
 The Creepie-Man sits on his Creepie-stool

Luckily, the Punker-tree can talk, and it is more than happy to tell Be-Wee about the ‘odd bits of weather’ the Creepie-Man hides in his sack.

Be-Wee longs for a nice bit of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun and wonders if he might find some inside the sack.

Just then the smallest twig on the Punker-tree starts singing, and this is what it sings;

"The Creepie-Man is ever so far, and he has left his door a-jar; 
Come and close it if you can: Heigh-ho, the Creepie-Man!"


Be-Wee and the poke-sack
Be-Wee and the poke-sack

This is my chance thinks Be-Wee as he tiptoes to the door of the shed.  Hurrying inside he seizes the poke-sack and running out tips all the odd pieces of weather onto the ground.

Picking up a piece of bright and pleasant looking weather Be-Wee makes a little hole in the ground and buries it. Alas! The smile has hardly crept across his face when there is a noise like breaking glass and hail stones start raining down, and with the hail comes a cold wind.  Next it begins to thunder, and then to snow! There has never been such a terrible storm.


The Creepie-Man is extremely angry with Be-Wee
The Creepie-Man is extremely angry with Be-Wee

In the middle of all the noise and confusion the Creepie-Man returns and realising what Be-Wee has done tells him “there was not one piece of fair-weather-without-too-much-sun in my poke-sack, for if there was I would have used it long ago!”

With that, there is a rumble-rumble-rumble from the Punker-Tree followed by a strange rustling movement as the branches turn into wings, and the tree now a bird flies away.

The Punker-Bird drew his claws out of the ground and flew away
The Punker-Bird drew his claws out of the ground and flew away

Eventually, the Creepie-Man forgives Be-Wee but only on condition that he fetches the topmost leaf from the Tousle-Bush. The Creepie-Man is going to use it to flavour his porridge, but he doesn’t tell Be-Wee that! 

The Creepie- Man sat on his creepie-stool and waited...
The Creepie- Man sat on his creepie-stool and waited...


Be-Wee sets off and the Creepie-Man finding a tiny piece of weather in a corner of the poke-sack buries it along with a pinch of pepper, thereby bringing an end to the terrible storm and the story.




The Creepie-Man's Poke-Sack
Tales of Happy Common ... No. 4
By Agnes Grozier Herbertson
Illustrated by Lilian A Govey
London: Dean & Son, Ltd.




Having read it, I still have no idea how or why the Creepie-Man got his name.  This is book four in the Tales of Happy Common, so I can only assume the answer is in one of the earlier stories.

I’m also confused by the term poke-sack. According to the Oxford dictionary, poke has a variety of definitions with prod being an obvious one. Did you know tea-pokies are tea bags, and stoorsooker pokes are vacuum cleaner bags?  No neither did I but apparently they are in Scotland.  I’ve also seen poke used to describe a purse or wallet so presumable a poke-sack is just a small bag or sack?




If you have read any of the Happy Common Stories, or you know how the Creepie-Man got his name, please leave a comment, and maybe you can also enlighten me about Punker-Trees and Tousle-Bushes.   I found a reference to a Punk tree (Melaleuca quinquenervia) which is a subtropical evergreen, native to Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.  But I can't find any reference at all to a Tousle-Bush.  


This little gnome looks as perplexed as I feel right now. 

What are your thoughts on the story? I would love to hear from you. 

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71 comments:

  1. This sounds to be a wonderful and fantastic story, with beautiful illustrations. I know the term poke as a verb and as a bag, my great Auntie had an old, drawstring purse and called it her poke....Thanks for telling us about a very interesting book. Have a great week, hugs, Valerie

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    1. That is really interesting Valerie. I’ve never encounter anything called a poke but your great aunt obviously had so maybe the word has just fallen out of favour over the years. Thank you for leaving a comment I’ve been puzzling over this little book for several days. Barbara

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  2. Could tousle just be a reference to it being untidy, like tousled hair?

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    1. That could well be the explanation, I honestly have no idea.

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  3. I just love the Creepie Man - what a face.

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    1. I agree Sue. He's not creepy at all – just a bit old and wrinkly – like me! :-) xx

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  4. I enjoyed the story very much...but then l have
    'that' sort of mentality...I love the fantasy world!
    "Willie..you live in it most of the time". Nothing
    wrong with that...! :).

    All the names are brilliant! But, l think 'Creepie~Man
    is just a name given to a man who looks creepy!
    Can't seem to find a reference to it anywhere...!
    And..l did find this regarding the author, so l
    thought l'd print it below...Very interesting!

    Agnes Grozier Herbertson
    Born Oslo, Norway...
    GenreChildren's Books, Literature & Fiction
    edit data
    Born in Oslo, ca. 1875, to a Scots family, Agnes Grozier Herbertson was the daughter of James Grozier Herbertson, and his wife Jessie Peattie. Her father's employment with a shipping company kept the family on the move, with the Herbertsons married in Norway, and their children born in Norway, France, and Scotland. Herbertson's younger sister, Jessie Leckie Herbertson, was also a writer, and the two lived together from the late 1930s, eventually retiring to the Edinburgh area.
    Herbertson authored children's books, plays, and poems, as well as six novels for adults, beginning with A Book Without A Man!, published in 1897.

    P.S. Love the Punker~Bird...Wonder what there like to eat...! :).

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    1. Thanks for trying to find out about the Creepie-Man Willie, I couldn’t find anything either but I think you could be right about the origin of the name. But then as Sue pointed out he doesn’t look at all creepy, just old and rather sweet.

      I was really interested to read about Agnes Grozier Herbertson. I kept wondering if she had any connections with Australia, the Punker tree, etc., sound like Australian words to me. Maybe her dad being with a shipping company could have something to do with it; perhaps they even visited Australia on their travels.

      If the Punker-Bird is the size of a tree, it would take some eating and just think of all those feathers! Best stick with the pheasants me thinks – not that I want to eat one, I much prefer a bit of green stuff as you know. :-)
      PS. I really appreciate your help with my queries and I'm happy to know you enjoyed the story. xx

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  5. Quite the unique tale but wow, what a terrible name for Creepie-man. Like any parent would want their kid reading that.

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    1. I don’t think parents worried too much back then. Have you ever read Struwwelpeter (Shockheaded Peter)? There are some truly awful tales in that, which were routinely read to children. it was a case of scaring them enough to keep them away from matches and the like.

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  6. What a fun story! I wold not have thought a book with a Creepie-Man as a character would be so fun. But it had a great story, didn't it? I know a poke to be a small bag or sack so I think you got it right on that one. Reading everyone else's ideas of what the words mean is very interesting. Thanks for a fun read this morning.

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    1. Hello Beth Ann, it is a fun story if a little strange. 
      The comments are the best part of blogging as far as I’m concerned, and thank you very much for leaving one. Barbara

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  7. Dearest Barbara, good morning! That is SO interesting, the language of these tales; I am constantly in awe of the English language and though we share it, the vocabulary varies from shore to shore for the United States to the UK. Oh, I could continue to study the history of our languages and be totally happy, but when words and histories meet in story telling, then the plot thickens.......you know I just LOVE the illustrations found in these books, but the references to unknown names and places is so intriguing. Have a fantastic day my friend, and thank you for always coming to my Instagram!

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    1. A little intrigue coupled with beautiful illustrations make a book as far as I’m concerned. This one has both in spades.
      Your Instagram pictures and words are always glorious, and I wouldn’t want to miss them. Hugs Barbara

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  8. delightful story and gorgeous images.
    Jean

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  9. Just seen Creepie is a Scottish word for a low stool. So it's what he is sitting on and not creepy at all :)

    Jean

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    1. I didn't know that Jean, how interesting. It makes me wonder if Creepie-Man is also a Scottish expression, I must do some more research. I was sure it would turn out to have something to do with Australia but I'm not so sure now, Thanks for commenting, Barbara.

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  10. Sounds like a very strange dream. Seems like if Creepie-Man had just told Be-Wee what was in his sack disaster could have been avoided, but then... there wouldn't have been story, would there? :)

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    1. Hi Bish, I hadn’t thought about a dream but that could be a possibility it is certainly strange enough. The problem was the Creepie-Man didn’t want anyone else living under ‘his’ Punker Tree, and you know what these neighbourhood disputes can be like. :-)

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  11. Yep! Ere! Ya ! Go! :).

    Creepie
    /ˈkriːpɪ; ˈkrɪp-/
    noun
    1.
    (mainly Scot) a low stool
    Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition

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    1. Thanks Willie, now we just need to know why Creepie-Man. One of our neighbours is Scottish, so I will ask him if he has heard the expression. Readers of my blog are the best for finding out things (and that includes you).

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    2. Yes! And, l also found this on line from the
      Scottish Dictionary....

      creepie three legged stool
      creepie-chair stool of repentance
      creepie-stuil child's stool

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    3. I've been trying to say creepie-stuil with a Scottish accent - but Terry advised me to give up, and I think he is probably right. My spell checker keeps changing creepie-stuil to creepier-still, but that would be a whole other story! :-)

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  12. This is fascinating and not too creepy after all. :) What got my curiosity is why Be-Wee buries a little piece of weather. Maybe he learns that's how it works, earlier in the story? I also wonder why both of them have hyphenated names. Great fun to see the illustrations!

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    1. Hello Marcia, not creepy at all but certainly a little odd. I had the same thought as you and actually read the story twice to see if I had missed something, but there is nothing. I guess we have to put it down to magic, unless there was something in one of the previous books. Same thing with the hyphenated names, I really have no idea. The title aroused my curiosity and I assumed reading it would satisfy that curiosity but if anything it made it worse. Still half the fun is the not knowing and I suppose we only question these things as adults.

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  13. This is such a delightful story and I absolutely love the beautiful illustrations, Barbara! What joy! :)

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    1. I absolutely agree Linda, I so love these early children’s books, even if they are a little strange. :-)

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  14. And all it took was a wee pinch of pepper to set thing right! I loved reading this story with the odd and interesting names and events.

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    1. I loved the bit about the pepper, and then wondered if the author was suggesting we should take the story with a pinch of salt. Maybe trying to make sense out of it was where I went wrong. Believe the magic and let it go. :-)

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  15. What a wonderful story Barbara - the illustrations were fabulous too. Since I am not familiar with this book have no idea how he came by his name. Just such fun to read this tale. Hope you are having a super week.

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    1. Hi Debbie, the most important thing is you enjoyed reading the story, just as I enjoyed sharing it. Thank you for leaving a comment, hugs Barbara

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  16. oh dear Debra i really want to thank you for this so lovely so adorable story!!!
    reading it took me to my school days when i used to borrow story books from school library and read them while enjoying them along with my imagination [which is really deep and strong].
    yesterday i di my laundry and today i was feeling little tired and low but your story brought my inner child back to life and movement who loved wondering about that sack and curiosity of bee wee .
    photos go beautifully with story !
    loved it so much ,thank you again dear1

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    1. The school library was a place of magic for me and that feeling of wonder as I opened a new book has never left me. I honestly believe most avid readers have good imaginations. It's the thing that allows us to see pictures in the words.
      I’m so pleased you enjoyed the adventures of Be-Wee. Have a happy day, Barbara.

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  17. I have heard the expression 'a pig in a poke' as in buying something where you don't know what's in the package. Interestingly enough, this is called 'buying a cat in a sack' here in Germany.

    What an imaginative story!

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    1. Hello Sue, I had forgotten the ‘pig in a poke’ saying. It was in common use when I was young, but you don’t hear it so much now. As for ‘buying a cat in a sack’ I can honestly say I’ve never heard that before, I suppose it’s the same thing just a different way of expressing it.
      Thanks for calling in, Barbara.

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    2. Have I wished you a Happy New Year? We were away ski-ing, so now that I'm back: Happy New Year!

      There are so many sayings, maybe those with 'country' origins, that have got lost in the mists of time. I have a 'Dictionary of Historical Slang' somewhere on my bookshelves which makes fascinating reading!

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    3. Hello Sue, I don’t think we’ve ‘spoken’ since before Christmas, so we may well have missed wishing each other a Happy New Year. Happy New Year! I’ve just read your post about ski-ing. It made me smile but also reminded me how much is changing in the world. Terry and I live in a small village in Somerset, UK, where time has more or less stood still for the last 50 years while change goes on all around.
      A dictionary of historical slang sounds very useful. I do like a good dictionary, although I do tend to turn to the Internet more and more.

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    4. HaHa! Sorry...I have to but in...
      I to have a special dictionary....
      It's a dictionary by James Morton called..
      'Gangster Speak'...A dictionary of criminal
      and gangster slang..! First published in the
      UK in 2002..!
      So if your not sure of a gangster saying....
      you just look it up....Of course...I don't
      need to...! :0).

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    5. You are more than welcome to chime in any time you like Willie, and it’s nice to know we have a friend with insider knowledge! Any gangster who comes a-knocking at our door will get an immediate referral to you. :)

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  18. What an odd title and character names! Mind you, probably no more odder than the names kids TV comes up with these days :D

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  19. Hope you're having a great one.
    Hugs,

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    1. Indeed I am, thanks Sandra & hugs back.

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  20. What a delightful little book and a delightful story too. I knew the word poke as a prod and also heard about a little bag but so interesting to know tea bags as tea pokies and the vacuum bags too. I know it used as a I guess as a slang word where we would say in a pokey little corner. I do love both the characters they are so delightful. Thanks for sharing Barbara

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    1. Hi Shashi, they are sweet characters aren’t they – would they make good dolls do you think? Not that I could create them, but I know you could. My parents often described things as pokey – as in ‘a pokey little flat’ or ‘what a pokey room’, but I’ve not heard it used very much recently I suppose other words come along, and some go out of fashion.

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    2. Yes Barbara they would make good doll's that's exactly what I was thinking too. Maybe one day I will.😀

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    3. If you need scans of any of the images, I will be happy to send them to you. I had a lovely day, thank you. It began with a trip into Salisbury on the train, then a haircut, lunch with a friend and a walk around the shops ... perfect! your day was equally good. :-)

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    4. Thanks Barbara that is really kind of you. I will certainly ask if and when I get round to it

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    5. Please do Shashi, it will be simple enough to send them to you.

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  21. I really love the beautiful illustrations and this sounds to be a fantastic story, with beautiful illustrations. Thanks for telling us the story. Have a lovely day :)

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    1. It was my pleasure, thank you for taking the time to read it. :-)

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  22. Barbara! You do find the most enchanting books. I love the illustrations. The little Gnome is adorable! Just as perplexed as you are about some of the vocabulary.

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    1. I'm glad it's not just me Colleen. I've been over to your blog a few times, but you've not been at home :-) I will call in again soon. Love Barbara.

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  23. Well, well, well! Another fine story and once again I am a tad late finding it. ( I have a reasonable excuse this time..duff router! So got that fixed and then priority search...March of Time Books.. and no surprise...fascinating! Also some of the replies you got are very interesting and informative. Me? I went down the silly 'root' as usual. Creepy man.....his mums surname was Ground, her christian name was Ivy. That plant creeps over the ground, he being a son.. nickname.. Creepy Man! Now Punker tree...a bush, shrub or tree that thrives if near a source of loud, fast moving rock music. Tousle (tangle) bushes....there is nought better at creating a tangle than Brambles. Now, I mean no disrespect to the Scottish here, but 'creepy' a low stool? I do wonder about Scottish descriptions of things... like what do the chickens look like in Scotland? I mean have you seen Scotch Eggs. Now 'poke'...bag or sack, yes I agree with that as Mum in Law ( bless her cotton socks ) told me that Cornish farmers would put piglets into a sack for transportation to market. You can imagine how messy that got. So hence anything untoward for Mum in Law was always described as "A pig in a Poke!"
    Nice one Barbara, inspirational as alway. John

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    1. Hello John, it is really kind of you to take the time to comment, and you are not late at all. I’m afraid I’m very late in replying as I’ve just returned from Salisbury. It was pretty nippy waiting for the train, but I thoroughly enjoyed the day. A friend moved from Shaftsbury to Salisbury just before Christmas, which means I now have someone to have lunch with. I used to go, get my hair cut, quick walk around the shops and home, but now it’s a day out.
      Everyone who reads my blog is really helpful when it comes to gathering information, I love that! I also enjoy funny replies, which yours certainly is. :)
      You should write a poem about Ivy Ground and her son Creepy – actually that’s a good title! You could include a Punker Tree that likes rock music and a tangle of brambles and perhaps a Scotch egg or two. I didn't know that about piglets and sacks, poor little things they must have been scared to death. Barbara

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  24. Hello Barbara, the author had such an imagination!
    I loved reading all the comments your post generated.
    Just a thought but could it be that the Creepie Man was referred to as such because that was his trade, a maker of Creepie Stools. Whatever, your post is fascinating :D)

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    1. Hello Sue, well that certainly makes sense, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself. There is nothing in the book to suggest he makes Creepie Stools, but it could have been mentioned in an earlier story.
      I think you might just have solved the mystery, thank you. Barbara x

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  25. I was wondering about "Creepie-Man" and the poke sack, too! Thought it meant this guy was somehow creepy, but it turns out, in the story at least, he wasn't creepy at all. Glad that good weather was somewhat restored in the end. I've never heard of a Punk Tree (i thought it was a made-up name) so thanks for letting us learn about it here, Barbara!

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    1. Hello Claudine, I thought just the same as you, but after reading the story I decided he was actually quite sweet.
      I hadn’t heard of Punk trees either but the Internet soon set me right.
      Thanks for coming over.

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  26. When my girls were younger and loved picture books, I would pick them based on the illustrations most of the time. I liked the ones with elaborate drawings with rich colors more than the simple, pastel ones. Love the pictures in this one and guess I know what "pig in a poke" means now: pig in a bag. Now why would someone put a pig in bag?

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    1. I suppose it was an easy way to carry them to market. Poor little pigs I knew I should be a true vegetarian, and that just proves it. I gave up eating lamb years ago, but I do still eat bacon – now I wish I didn’t. :-)

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  27. A delightful post about a book I would have loved as a child. And what interesting comments, too. I feel like I've learned so much! "Pig in a poke" was the first thing to come to my mind, well that and 'poke salad', a dish I haven't eaten in decades.

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    1. I would have loved it too Kelly, although I’m not sure I would have understood some of it. Although as a child, I probably wouldn’t have questioned anything and enjoyed it more.
      I’ve just looked up poke salad as I had no idea what it was made with, Wikipedia tell me its marinated raw fish, I’m not sure I would enjoy that. :-)

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    2. I had to look, too, and see that you found an entry about the poke fish. I'm not a fish person (though I enjoy fishing), so that sounds yucky to me, too. Here's the one I was talking about, though closer research leaves me happy I wasn't poisoned!
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phytolacca_americana

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    3. Hello Kelly, You are absolutely right I was reading about Poke Salad made from marinated raw fish. I definitely wouldn’t have eaten that, but I might have eaten Poke Salad made from leaves and stems. I might also have been very ill. I’m glad you survived to tell the tale. :-) Barbara

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  28. Such interesting names and terms in this one! I am sorry I can't enlighten you to the name or any of the terms. It would be intriguing to read the earlier volumes to see if the answers lie within them. Best of luck tracking down the answers!

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    1. Please don’t worry about that Stephanie. I’ve received some amazing answers already. I do love the Blogging community, there is always someone ready to help. Enjoy the weekend, Barbara

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  29. Good book and great illustrations! Thanks for this recommendation!

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  30. I wish it was fair to use your pictures to illustrate certain poems. That picture of the sad little gnome at the end would work perfect for my garden fairy poem. Fortunately, I had taken the photo of a mushroom where I presumed they hid until I left the garden.

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I really appreciate your comment. Thank you!
Barbara xx

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