Thursday, November 23, 2017

SO MANY BLESSINGS

So many Blessings, so much Gratitude.   Thank you all.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

HOME AGAIN



Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing, tree and outdoor
Central Park Bears


We’re HOME, We’re Home!!  Our trip to New York was all that I’d ever dreamt and the great and powerful THEN SOME which wouldn’t cover the half of it. 

Such sweet chillun to see and hug and talk with, such a beautiful, happy baby GIRL to meet and snuggle and sing to, and such a parade of wonderfuls---unexpected wonderfuls, which I’d never thought to do or see, and so much good talk and travel and dining and just being together---it will take ten posts to tell it.

And so, two buses, two trains, (the last one four hours late arriving, occasioning our wild, wind-whipping ride in a three-car luggage-cart, careening around corners with nail-biting leans over the precipice toward the tracks, as our lost Andretti Brother took us on an uncontrolled Indiana Jones mine-cart tour of the underground of Union Station), nine Ubers, five subways, forty-leben escalators, a skyscraper worth of stairs, hundreds of blocks walked, and one taxi home, here we are---a lifetime dream fulfilled and a camera full of photos.  

And of those, moirĂ© non---it feels like Monday to us, and that makes just a two day week.   Hope you’ve all been well and warm and happy!!


Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, hat

Dylan's Candy Bar 9'  Chocolate Bunny

Thursday, October 26, 2017

NEIGHBORS

Image result for 22nd St houses in Shawmut, AL   images
All pictures from the Internet

Years ago when Chris and I were first married, we moved way over into Alabama to be nearer his teen-and-pre-teen children.   The little house we lived in was in a “mill town,” one of many which dotted the quiet shady streets; the older lady who had lived there all her married life had gone into a nursing home and left the house in the hands of a nice lady realtor, who showed us around and directed us toward churches and stores and the library.   It seemed as if the occupants had stepped out for a moment, leaving all their worldlies just as they’d like to find them when they arrived home.  

We slept in their beds, with their linens freshly-dried on the line right out the back door.  We used their dishes, their appliances, their roomy old claw-tub and their floppy wooden five-times-covered ironing board, clattering it out of the special narrow slot in the kitchen wall and shaking the unwieldy legs straight---I loved that clumsy old thing, and when we left, I asked to buy three things, and the realtor lady pressed all of them upon me, just for my asking.   We lived there for almost two years, attending the welcoming little church right down the block, and having a wonderful time amongst all the long-time residents of the neighborhood.   My next-door-neighbor, Miss Bobbie, told me many, many tales of the town’s history as we’d sit on her porch or mine, shelling peas from the tee-ninecy garden plot out back or just enjoying the afternoon at that lovely time of day when it’s too late to begin any real chores, and too early to start cooking supper.

She was a lovely older woman who had moved there as a young wife in the Forties, and had loved her neighbor very much---they were almost sisters, she said, as they’d both moved into those little houses when their husbands had “got on at the Mill,” right after they got back from WWII.  They’d seen each other through some tough times and helped each other with raising their  children, as well as all the assorted happy and sad of daily life in a small town.   And then each clung to the other in her widowhood, not too many years apart.

Image result for 1940s women on porch


I was mesmerized by all the simple happenings she related, and grew to know the former residents of our little home as if they’d been family and we’d inherited the place from a familiar Aunt and Uncle.    


One weekend when the children were all with us, the boys were outside, up trees with the neighbor kids while Chris chatted with the neighbors. Only Karrie and I were at home, and since on another visit,  we’d said we’d wait till a quiet moment to have a peek into an immense old black trunk beside the bed in the spare room, we decided that NOW was the time.   We spread a fresh-dried sheet over the beautiful Chenille counterpane, and gently laid item after item, doily and dresser set and calendar, every pen set and brooch and immense stack of ironed hankies, all the keepsakes and souvenirs and bronzed baby-shoes and diaries and khaki-crumbled report cards, out onto the bed.   
Image result for 1940s bedroom white chenille spread
I don’t know how to express the sunlight and the shine of that small moment, handling the precious things of a family’s past---we two shared such gentle regard for each item, as we took it from its place, admired or read or smiled, and laid it down softly in that room where it belonged.  We were like those white-gloved archivists and curators of precious things for those few hours, I think, giving each piece a moment of quiet respect, and then laying them all safely away in their resting place once again.

And one small leathery case--out of ALL, there was one small object which captured my heart so that I had no words.   I was so struck by a pang of dolor and love and wishing it had been different, that I was all teary over the discovery, and in a moment, so was she. 

   And Moire non in Chapter II. 






Image result for child in thick glasses 1930s

Friday, October 20, 2017

I GOTCHA COVERED!




Now that the weather is cooling a bit, with sunny skies beaming down onto the leafpiles (ours still merely an unaccustomed-for-this-time-in-October BROWN, like all the Autumns of my life, until we moved here twenty-seven years ago), we’re enjoying putting out a cozy thing or two---a soft throw across a chair back, the “cold-weather pillows” in burgundy and deep greens, with needlepointed teacups and other things comfy and warm.

And, with the ushering in of the cooler season, I’m remembering the HOT days of my Southern past, as well---especially those gosh-awful clear shrouds of heavy plastic made-to-fit for the “good” furniture in living room and den.  Remember those unspeakably uncomfortable, complain-when-you-moved, stick-to-your-bare-legs monstrosities which were the pride of every household with a “living room suit”?   Those lovingly-guarded, hard-won sets with the immaculate gold upholstery were more tenaciously defended with their prophylactical plastic than any furniture in history---even that in the never-used, daylight-forbidden parlors of Victorian households.   At least there, the distance between bee-hind and brocade was mere clothing, but that PLASTIC---oh, my.   What conniving, evil minds thought up THAT stuff? 



Related image

Some of it was a little bit subdued---a translucent softer kind of plastic instead of that noisy stuff that gave the couch the gleam of a well-loved Camaro, but STILL.



Related image

I can remember sliding off Aunt Lo’s clear-covered sofa (and glad to be free of it) after I’d wiggled and crinkled and made all sorts of effort to keep my velvet Christmas dress demurely down, and my abrupt descent beneath the coffee-table in a flurry of red petticoats was a story repeated every year by and to all the older generation.   And even when I was grown up and attending a shower or tea party, or even a morning “Coke party” with dainty tunafish sandwiches cut with Karla Kay’s Mama’s bridge-set cutters, and frilly crocheted panties on the icy Coke bottles---still we fidgeted in the Summer stillness and tried to keep decorum as we struggled to stay in one spot.


Image result for Joan Crawford living room photos
Miss Joan Crawford, 1973.  Look at the shine on that chair and sofa, and imagine how many famous bottoms struggled to keep their balance, whilst balancing cocktail, conversation and cigarette.

The next one could be any one of my three Memphis Aunts, this anonymous woman of the Internet, sitting with one steadying foot on the floor in her pretty pink boucle, and making all sorts of creaks and crackles as she leans toward the ashtray.  I try to think back to who DIDN’T have these---we didn’t, but then there was that pesky brown naugahyde, which is a whole nother story.  And there we also those who, after putting a “slipcover” on the precious upholstery, would THEN cover the whole thing with Dupont’s finest, shielding the $3.95 rayon with the $14.95 plastic, and totally hiding the expensive brocade.  And By Golly Gosh---are those drapes and sheers covered in their own shower-curtain-liners as well?




Image result for vintage photos of Plastic furniture covers



And this one---this is a doozy---where in the Blue Heck did they GET that thing, perfectly fitted and tailored, and are there immaculate little holes in just the right spots for those little spindles?   Didn’t you always wonder who they were saving them FOR?  



Image result for vintage photos of Plastic furniture covers
Wish Y’all could come sit a  while on MY sofa so we could have a good long chat---some kinda contretemps betwixt Google and Blogger lets me sign IN enough to post a blog post, and recognizes me when I write a comment on YOUR blogs, but the words then just disappear when I hit POST and never show up.   I’m sorry to be incommunicado, but I’m still reading, still enjoying, though I can’t get through to say Hello.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

GIVE US THIS DAY .. . .




Image result for loaf of Shapiro's rye bread images


The mention of that corned beef in yesterday’s blog post reminded me that I always tell Chris when a pot of corned-beef-and-cabbage is on the menu.  (I can never write that magical combination without thinking of the comic strip Maggie and Jiggs---she of the opera and caviar pretensions in their New York mansion, and he longing for the simple homely fare of his childhood).  Chris will “run by” whichever branch of SHAPIRO’S is in his line of travel for one of their still-warm, incomparable loaves of RYE BREAD.  That crust!  The damp, cushiony texture of those beige slices falling beneath the knife with a little scatter of crust-crumbs and plump caraway seeds!

I am a whitebread (actually cornbread, if truth be known) convert, Southern raised and deli-deprived. Though I don't remember any corned beef, any pastrami or lox, there was one close approximation, especially for that Deep South area. There was a little hole-in-the-wall "cafeteria" in an adjoining town, the town where “the” dress store was, for a special occasion which called for store-bought. The small "hot-line" could always be counted on for sauerkraut and some enormous juice-bursting sausages, two per order, with a dainty string-bow holding the little garlicky garland together. Another pan held slumpy stuffed peppers, the beef-and-more-garlic bread stuffing wafting its siren-call up and over the other fragrances in the display.
Image result for shapiro's LATKES
Scalloped tomatoes, crisp latkes the size of thick saucers, their tiny frill-cups of applesauce and sour cream awaiting your choice, a deep pan of the yellowest noodles I'd ever seen, halves of shiny-brown baked chicken and their roasted potato-wedge accompaniments.

And the first and only "green" green beans of my experience, barely poached, then tossed with oil and onion and peppers. They were a far different breed from the low-cooked snap beans of our table, and had a "beany" tang to them that ours never had---perhaps the long cooking in our kitchen removed all 
trace of their former lives, imbuing them with the salt and hammy, porky goodness of their additions, making our beans merely the conveyor for all the rich tastes of Southern seasonings.

But way down on the end, after the deep-meringued desserts, the tapioca in little cut-glass dishes, the high-standing squares of kugel with its proud golden crust, stood THE LADY. The lady with the high-piled hair and the moustache to rival my Uncle Fate’s, the avert-my-eyes-so-as-not-to-stare-at lady, who took our measure, our unused-to-the-fare tenor with all of  our redneckness shining through, and asked, in a charmingly lilting accent, "RRRRRRRoll or conbraid?"

I would draw up my shoulders, nodding knowingly and cloaking myself in all the worldly air assumable by my ten-year-old clunky little self, and say, "Rye, please."




\Image result for Shapiro's rye bread images


She'd smile conspiratorially in approval, reach beneath the counter, and bring forth two slices------inch-thick grayish-tan, soft, pillowy caraway-studded slices, crusted in gold. Onto a tiny plate they went, slid across the silvery counter to my waiting hand.

I LOVED that bread. It was Dorothy's door after a lifetime of black-and-white Wonderbread movies. It was always freshly made, sometimes still warm, with a lovely silky crumb, a stretch-and-chew to the crust, and a little ping of sour-sharp surprise when you crunched one of the seeds.

I remember that little twelve-foot counter as one of the brightest memories of my restaurant past. And now, when we enter the sanctity of the fluorescent brightness of Shapiro's, with its tantalizing scents and tastes and tables to seat two hundred, I still take up that little plate of rye and bear it to my table with the same child's anticipation.

And it never fails to live up to the memory.