Tuesday, September 20, 2016

THE MYSTIC


My friend Val loves the serendipity of finding hearts, and she does---in clouds, in a salad, in a crumpled paper from a straw. She claims them as luck or fortune or just as her special talisman in life.

I just had a hankering this morning for some Van Morrison, and let the music just fill the house, as I went about my little doings on this superlative Cusp of Autumn day.  

Go fill your eyes with HEARTS, and your heart with the MYSTIC.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

SHAG DANCING


Image result for shagging on the pier charleston sc

I’ve just been rocking all morning, after reading Debbi’s post on Shagging on the Pier.   Still got the music going in the background while I’m writing---consider all typos a product of energy and rockin’ in my chair.

I just LOVE the idea of this---the night air, the energy, the music ringing out over the ocean, and all that fun and foot action.   I first heard of Shaggin’ on the Beach about twenty years ago, when Chris’ Sis and her new husband took Shag Dancing lessons and then went to gatherings all over NC.   It just seemed like the funnest thing, ever---going out with your partner, having such a wonderful talent in common, with the free-hearted steps and movements as effortless and easy together as breathing. 

I think of those long-ago, fun evenings often now, with a bit of gentle dolor, for that dear, young-hearted couple have since taken in and adopted FIVE of her daughter’s children, each as they were born, and and are now raising this second set of kiddos, ages eighteen to five, with all the attendant school and soccer and all the other joys and problems of parenthood---at OUR AGE, with grandchildren older than the younger ones.

They’re our Heroes, and they’re in my prayers and thoughts every day, with all this later-in-life burden and blessing they’ve taken on, embracing it with all of their dear kind hearts.  I like to think that they take a moment, now and then when a familiar song comes on, to lose themselves in a spin around the kitchen in that effortless, easy grace.


And I still think of them as dressed and shining, all that energy and rhythm and music filling the evening breeze in that happy gathering.   As they DANCE.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS

We have been waiting for this lovely weather for a long, long Summer---it’s been HOT and it’s been rainy, but there were so few weekends with pleasant skies for celebrating outdoors..   So we celebrated Sweetpea’s birthday a week late, but it was a wonderful day.   She’d had a sleepover with friends and a dinner out with her other Mammaw and Pappaw the weekend before, plus several soccer games into the mix, so last Sunday was the perfect day.   It was just us five, plus our dear neighbor Honey, who has been a sweet part of her life since she was born.





Rainbows in a glass---I ordered these expandable beads online, because of a recommendation from my friend Tanya.   A couple of hours in water, and they grow to many times their little bb size, with their colours glowing in the sunshine.   When everyone arrived, we set up the little row of glasses and she so-carefully counted three beads into each one, in rainbow order (except for Indigo, so we went straight from blue to purple).   We watched them from time to time, and by the end of the day, they had swelled to jewelly slick marbles in the glass.

Lunch table---I ordered a little pack of rainbow/prancing steed  cloth,  napkins and plates on Amazon, along with a few charming little rubber-ducky unicorns and rainbow candles.   We used the colorful old fifties Melmac for eating and serving most of lunch, and the tee-ninecy “favor cups” hold the most beautiful pearly beads of pastel-coated chocolate, like Gucci M&M’s.   



You know when you cleancleanclean a room, and have nine unrelated items left with nowhere to go, so you just stick them in a drawer?  Well, that’s how all our parties are---days and weeks of planning and ordering and making and preparation and arranging, then when it’s TIME---there’s always extra stuff in the pictures.  



Presents and games.



She made the Unicorn/Pegasus banner herself several weeks before, inking in each figure with shades of teal and blue, and she smiled in delight when she saw it hanging between the trees.



 She mostly chose the menu:  Ganner’s grilled ham, rolls,  bowties and cheese, low-cooked snap beans, and Watergate salad; we also had stuffed eggs, confetti bean salad and lots of green munchy vegetables.  All the photos were quick-snapped with phones, and the shade sorta dimmed the colours.




Rainbow cupcakes.   Strawberries, several-colour grapes, and hot fudge dip on the side.



Nine and Ninety.   This pair are the youngest of us all.


Monday, September 12, 2016

DADDY'S FIREHOUSE SALAD



Image result for Iceberg lettuce tomatoes radishes

Sis and I were texting about the “firehouse salad” Daddy used to make, and just talking about that old familiar rich tang sparked so many memories for me.  The local firemen used to have a big fish fry, or a barbecue, or just a big “feed” to raise funds or salute a retirement or for some charity event.   And Daddy made the salad for every one of them, for years.

The salad was always composed in little steps.   Oil first, to coat all the cut-up iceberg and radishes and onions and bell peppers and tomato and sometimes celery.  Daddy flatly refused to let me wash the lettuce for this, saying the oil wouldn’t adhere---I’d peel off four or five leaves, just to kinda get inside where maybe dirt and germs hadn’t got to.


 And you know---I’m not making this up, nor am I taking credit for something not mine, but I’m the one who made the first of these salads.  Just barely a teen, I was just prinking around in the kitchen, and we had sorta a bland supper going. 
I remember putting cut-up tomatoes in the bottom of that old salad bowl and giving them WAY more garlic salt than I should have.   Juices all started forming in the bowl, and I glugged in some of the vinegar and a bit of oil and tossed it, then tossed in all the other cut vegetables.  

It was mainly because Daddy’s friend Joe was there for supper, and he’d told stories many times, of being a POW in Germany, and they barely had anything to eat but dark bread and some kind of broth or beans.   They had a guard who would smuggle them in some salt in his handkerchief, and sometimes a whole head of garlic from home.  They would each take off a little toe-clove and hide it.



Image result for painting of garlic

(VERY STRONG VIVID MEMORY HERE):
Mr. Joe would pantomime how he’d eat that precious small bit of flavor, keeping that little toe going for DAYS.   He’d pull his lips way back from his front teeth and nibble the air like a tiny mouse, showing how he’d just have a teensy nip of the stuff to satisfy the craving for something bright.  (I think I told Sis that I think this would be too strong a visual for putting into the story).  I’ll leave that to you.

Anyway, he absolutely LOVED that salad with all the vegetables and sharp vinegary garlicky taste, and after we finished, he took slice after slice of “light bread” and ran it around in the juice and ate it folded over like Daddy liked a Mannaze sandwich with his meals.  


They all liked it, and Daddy made it that way as Firehouse Salad all the rest of his life.   


Friday, September 9, 2016

GREAT-GRANDPA'S LETTER

Image result for trials of the earth

I’m reading (and listening to on Audible, depending on what needs doing at the moment) a wonderful book called Trials of the Earth, set in the 1890s up to the 1930s, not too far from where I grew up. This woman---this real person who told her own, real story to a reporter in 1932,  does beat all for sheer grit and a spirit of the joy of survival that I’ve not seen in many fictional characters, let alone in the real world.   It’s certainly giving me a deeper appreciation for my own family’s struggles and labor and dedication to the land and hard work.   My family on both sides were mostly from that area, just one county apart, and I look back in amazement at the pure-D determination and keepin’ on Keepin’ on that just keeping a roof over your head must have taken. 
Quite a few men in the family fought in the Civil War, and one of my Great-Grandfathers has been a sort of family legend, for he survived ten devastating battles:
Gettysburg, Falling Water, Bristoe Station,  Battle of the Wilderness,  Spottsylvania, Hanover Junction, Cold Harbor, Ft. McCray, Fort Bratton, and he was taken POW at battle of Hatcher’s Run in April, 1865 and released after taking the Oath of Allegiance in Maryland in June, 1865. 

The following is from a letter written by him in 1915; one of the researchers of our “tree” says that his memory of the order of things is a little off, but I got the above list from his military records.   Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity may recognize the rambly sentences and unrelated tangents which so pepper my own prose---must be a family trait.   I have also seen a copy of the letter, but have not held it in my hands.  I cannot imagine the honor of holding and reading those hand-written pages.

 "I was born in Franklin County, Tenn., the 3rd of April 1838. My father moved to this county the next winter before I was one year old on a place now belonging to Mr. A P Hudson, joining land with Mr. Ruben Cox. He was there when we moved there and was the only man that lived near us. My father then bought a place 9 miles east of Coffeeville on the Pontotoc road where he died when I was about 15 or 16 years old.

"The Indians were in this country when we moved here, also some bears, wolves, turkeys and squirrels were plentiful. Times were altogether different then to what they are now. No railroads were here, then people took their cotton to Memphis on wagons and sold it and brought back their supplies they needed for the coming year. If you needed a little money in the fall, your neighbor had it for you.

"Coffeeville at that time was all on the hill, there was only two business houses there at that time. Messrs. Newburger and Raybourn owned those stores.
"John Murry was sheriff, John Ramsey was his deputy sheriff. Mr. Ramsey was raised in less that one-half mile from where our present sheriff was born and raised. He went to see his best girl one day late in the fall. Her father had killed a hog the day before. The people in those days did not bob the hog's tails like they do now. While the old man was returning thanks Ramsey took his fork and lifted the tail on his plate and said he would have that piece sure. 


Monument to Davis' Brigade of Heth's Division of Hill's 3rd Corps in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia


"The Civil War came on. I volunteered May the 2nd, 1862, and got back home June 15th, 1865. I joined Captain John Powell's company at Coffeeville, went to Grenada and stayed a few days, then to Oxford and stayed a few days, back to Grenada and joined the regiment.   J. R. Miller was our colonel.  


"We went from Grenada to Richmond, Virginia. There we joined Joe Davis' brigade the second, eleventh and forty-second Mississippi regiments and two North Carolina regiments constituted the brigade. We joined Heth's division, A.P. Hill's corps. We guarded prisoners and did picket duty the most of 1863. The battle of the Wilderness was the first big fight we were in.
"The next fight we had was near Spotsvalina (sic) court house. The next was Gettysburg.   I had seven holes shot in my clothing, but I never had the skin broke all during the war.
State of Mississippi Monument at Gettysburg

"I had lived in Yalobusha County ever since I was one year old, except during the civil war. I am now living on a place I moved on in 1867 in two miles of the place my father settled on when he first moved to this county, joining land with the place he died on. I will soon be 78 years old. I never paid any fine of any kind and never have been arrested. I know no man who has been in Yalobusha County as long as I have been. 

"Hoping I will be the oldest resident,
I am, 
Yours truly,"