It’s up and lighted!

Some years we don’t even venture out to cut the tree until Christmas Eve morning, and we certainly don’t bring it in and decorate before then. Often, the lights don’t even go on till dusk. Here it is, finally ready for the rest of the decorations and then the presents underneath. (Photo by Rachel Williams)


Ten things about the Hodgson Mill

In my novel The Secret Side of Jaya, she encounters an old-fashioned, water-powered gristmill when she and Joshua relocate to the Ozarks.

Turns out that the best-known mill in the Ozarks is named after some of my kinsmen who settled near Sycamore, Missouri.

Here are some facts.


  1. The Hodgsons were Quaker millers in Guilford County, North Carolina, before heading north in the 1820s. At one time two cousins, both named William, had mills there. The Missouri line descends from one. I descend from the other. (For the family line before that, see my Orphan George blog.)
  2. For a while after leaving the Piedmont region, that line of the family briefly spelled the surname the way I do. Then they reverted to the original, with the “g” in the middle.
  3. A grain mill has graced the site at the foot of a bluff on Bryant Creek, Missouri, since 1837. The current three-story mill was built in 1897 by Alva Hodgson, who mostly worked alone on its construction.
  4. After 1909, Alva imported top-of-the-line French buhrstones from the Pyrenees Mountains and installed a turbine to provide electrical power to light the mill and surrounding buildings. The electricity also ran a half-dozen sewing machines producing overalls in a neighboring general store.
  5. Alva Hodgson also purchased the site of the Dawt Mill near Tecumseh, Arkansas, in 1901 and rebuilt that mill in 1909. Today it continues to grind grain. It’s also a full-time resort with three restaurants, a concert venue, and float trips.
  6. The Hodgson Mill left Hodgson hands in 1927.
  7. Until its purchase by Hudson River Foods in Castleton, New York, last year, the Hodgson label was still a family-owned operation.
  8. At the time of the purchase, the company’s headquarters and production facilities were in Effingham, Illinois. The milling was still done in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri.
  9. In addition to its signature cornmeal and unbleached flour, products include whole wheat pastas, breakfast cereals, bread mixes, pancake mixes, wheat bran, and pure cornstarch.
  10. Principal competitors include Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods, Nature’s Path Foods, and Spectrum Foods.


Do you ever see your name on a product?

Hodgson Water Mill near Sycamore, Missouri.


I’m feeling suspended in time, as in limbo

A curious set of emotions has set in for me. As much as I love living in Dover, I feel myself separating from it. There’s a sadness, as well as the excitement of new adventure ahead, though we have no idea exactly how soon.

Next week? Next month? Next spring or summer? We don’t know yet.

We had enough surprises in trying to buy this place, in what seems a life ago to me.

So I anticipate a crush of time-consuming work ahead in packing and then unpacking our goods, as well as the rounds of changing address and establishing new connections, and that in turn has me hesitating to step up to volunteer for tasks in the groups where I’m a member. Yes, I’m distancing.

It’s happening at home, too.

Moving around the garden, for instance, when we realized we wouldn’t replant garlic bulbs this fall, not here. Or looking at my fern beds and asparagus patch, knowing I’ll definitely miss them.

Or facing household breakdowns, which seem to be multiplying. You know, let repairing them become someone else’s problem. They probably wouldn’t like the color of paint we use, anyway.

Things we’ve never really liked about the house itself but somehow accepted now are acknowledged as irritants. That sort of thing.

I keep thinking we could easily pour another hundred grand into this domicile, if we had that much, but it would never be want we really want or, at this point in our lives, fit what we need.

This all feels so strange, given that I’d settled into a kind of familiar lazy comfort with things.

All of them about to be uprooted.