Monday, July 21, 2014



Carlisle Emerson’s Aint Pell didn’t have a grace note to her name.   She was a short, squared-off woman, with a little gnome-woman face; her pinkish square teeth protruded in a sort of circle, as if she still took a passy to bed every night, and there was a slim gold wire around an eyetooth, to hold her bridge in place.


She always “spoke her mind” and “said her piece,” no matter whose feelings got hurt.   She was definitely a chips-fall- where-they-may sort, with no scruples about inquiring into other folks’ business. She’d make a big brag about her daughter that was married to a chiropractor, and had a son that played for State, and then cut her eyes sly to the side to ask about Mrs. Strong’s youngest, who she knew good and well was in the pen over in Louisiana.


 Family gatherings were egg-walking occasions, with everybody leaving as much space as possible between them and her.   Wherever she entered, whole rooms of folks funneled out doors like water down a craggy hillside, leaving only a purse on a chair, a wet ring or two from the grabbed-up drinks, and the mingled scents of Emeraude and Old Spice wafting in their wake.


Only the ones nearest her entry-spot were trapped, and even the first moment was enough for her to let fly with a quick opinion of a niece’s hair, an offhand snark regarding her Sister-in-Law’s waistline, and several pointed questions to the host concerning the cost and provenance of the new love seat in the living room. 


If Aunt Ossie’s little house had been a boat, it would have listed violently several times each holiday, from all the people fleeing and clustering in any part of the house that Aint Pell wasn’t.   

But occasionally, they’d find themselves caught, captured by those steel-blue eyes like a rabbit by a snake, and since she was a little dumpy woman, their own eyes were drawn sorta hypnotically to her scalp, because it was almost always stained a rusty brown from the henna she used on her thin crisp hair.  You could see clear through her sparse pate, like looking through a cornfield from one end, and you could just about read the Press Scimitar out the other side.   She always seemed to be surrounded by rich colors---royal blue or royal purple---always with stress on the "raw-yul" part, or burgundy or mustardy gold knit or linen or shantung dresses and two-piece suits, and there were always stray wisps of sumpn-nother on her shoulders, with a drift of Coty Natural Shade down her impressive bosom.   Her discolored old chunky gold jewelry just summed her up---squarish and hard and sharp-cornered and way tarnished in places. 


Her voice was a smokey purple, too, and it always pronounced or pointedly inquired, leaving folks with hurt feelings and anger and tears, and fuming from the probing questions and even sharper uninvited opinions.   Carlisle could never for the life of her understand why they just kept INVITING her to stuff.


Unca Bunch-who-was-married-to-her-sister-Maude told a big crowd of men at a funeral one time that at any gathering, Aint Pell couldn’t be satisfied unless she could be the bride or the corpse, one.
And the questions remain:   Do we all know one of these people, and why do we tolerate them?

Moire non: Part II---A Wedding and a Peabody Brunch


Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Pink is my very favourite colour of all, I think.  I inherited this from my Mammaw, I’m sure, though perhaps it’s more my time of life and gentle taste, in the pinks and florals and pale pastels I love to surround us with in our home.


My Mammaw loved pink more than anyone I’ve ever seen---she planned their house for years before they tore down the old one and built the new one in its place, and had been gathering paint samples like baseball cards.


She and I would sit in the “swang” on that old weathered porch, our feet on boards which had been hewn back before the last turned, when beadboard walls were always painted white, yellowing with time to a speckly umbrish shade with only the shapes beneath the pictures still harboring any imprint of the original paint.   We’d discuss the merits of salmon or shrimp or carnation, or baby and blush (though we’d none of us heard of “bashful” at that time), and we’d go in and stick a strip of pink squares onto a wall with a thumbtack, til the old house bore little strips of various shades dangling all over walls-not-long-for-this-world, just so we could see them in the light from all sides.     We both liked the idea of “shocking” in maybe pillows or edging on drapes, and we’d spend countless hours going back and forth over how they might look in the morning, or under a ceiling light in the evening.   

The new house, built in 1958, had pink asbestos siding, and the paint on the big concrete porch was almost the same hue.  

The living room and dining room were painted a rosy shade, to go with all the overblown roses on the linoleum, and the bathroom was a true pink, with pink ball-fringe on the curtains and dark-rose- sprayed-wicker shelves.  

A trio of those pompous little plaster wall-fish blew separate small pearly bubbles all up the wall above the tub.  I want to think that all the fixtures were that sort of ashes-of-roses shade, but neither Sis nor I  can remember, and think that my apt rose-colored-glasses remembrance of those times may be steering me too far.   It DID take  Mother several times to convince Mammaw how very tacky it would be to plaster flamingo decals around the edge of the tub and across the two mirrors.


A border of pink with little cooking  scenes ran around the kitchen ceiling, and there were lots of pink dishcloths and a set of glorious pink Melmac dishes.  I cannot imagine having such riches today---those rosy cups and plates and bowls with cheeks like pink satin.   I do believe that if I had such a set now, I’d be a much better homekeeper and counter-keeper and sink-tender, with those rosily lustrous dishes to spur me on to the next little chore, simply by their beauty and charm.   The remembering of them has been romanced onto a par with coveted doll-dishes and a pink scratchy dress for Easter---so glamoured over time that any food served on such pretty dishes would become ambrosia, and any drink, nectar from Fairy Stores.

Mammaw was persuaded to paint the one spare bedroom in a soft yellow, to go with the beautiful pale green curtains and chenille spread, but even that scheme backfired, when one of the vendors who’d supplied Grandpa’s shop for forty years brought them a gorgeous yellow-and-PINK striped blanket as a Housewarming present.

She lived on for twenty years or so in that charming pink house, content in the rosy shades of her life, and perhaps that’s why I’m so enamoured of pink---any shade, anywhere. 

Linking today to Beverly's PINK SATURDAY.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

1003---FROM MIKE

Y’all know I have to share stuff---little happenings and small discoveries and pretty things and wonders that strike my fancy.   Today’s one of those days, just going along with a long time out under the eaves marveling at the rain, with a damp little girl giddy with the unusual moment.   Then in an instant---a burst of brilliant sunshine which brought out every glint and glimmer of the dripping trees and bushes, gilding the grapevines, turning the whole world into a shining wonder of refreshment and cool.


A long splash-time up and down the puddles in the driveway, in for dry clothes and cocoa and breakfast, and then---then-capital-THEN, was the moment that I happened upon an old friend.   I know him as a kind, smart---uncannily smart---funny friend, with SUCH a way with words, you’ll be there, walking those paths of ago, right with him.


Today, he wrote a reminiscence of Going Home, in the sense that he passed his childhood house, and was flooded with memories of all the moments and days which were his boyhood.  And it's GOOD.  It's so well told that you'll want to go wash your muddy feet and scratch those chigger bites you got in the blackberry bramble. 


Get a big glass of iced tea, or some coffee---or better yet, like I did, a paminna cheese sandwich---and settle into this story.   You’ll be captivated and charmed, and live every bit right along with him.


From my friend MIKE:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


A REAL railroad caboose, a hatful of homegrown tomatoes, tiny strawerries peeping from between their lacy leaves, and their enormous full-ripe cousins on a pretty dish.  Proud lipstick, a flirty silk slip, a cheery kitchen counter, roses and ribbons and Valentine hearts.  Fire trucks and flags and majorette’s uniforms; a faraway balloon drifting in the sun, a stiff, petticoated dress on a tiny girl in white slippers, a sailboat far away on the sound, swimsuits drying over a porch rail.


Oceans and skies reflecting each other in endless colour, like mirrors marching the hall at Versailles.  Indigo is a luxury blue, a wrung-in-dyed-hands fabric, billowed and smooth in the drying.   It’s the deepest of sea-shades, with the purple depths of a thousand Mediterranean days.


Dragonfly blue is the shade of shining wings, iridescent panes of colour which flash like stained-glass windows as they sit, and become a blur of glass as they fly.


Small, unassuming flowers with the scent of Summer afternoons and the smooth faces of children uplooked in bright anticipation.  A wee bouquet in Grandmother's lapel vial, against a Sunday coat, and the clutch-wilted ones plucked by tiny fingers are the most beautiful of all. 

Luscious peaches and tangerines and cantaloupes, the daintily-cut sections of fruit scattered onto crisp romaine, all the mingles of a sunset, an Autumn aspect of lush fiery leaves and great knobs of pumpkins dotting a field beneath a Hunters' Moon...
YELLOW is a rolling schoolbus, a cartwheel, a field of jonquils nodding in the sun, a #2 Ticonderoga just whirled through the sharpener and smelling of pine, ready for all the letters and words you want to write.
GREEN is a lush spread of ivy, the scratchy sound and smell of an ear of corn rent from the stalk, the hundred shades of afternoon lawn shadows, that last quiet calm ray as the sun sets over the sea, the honest, shining eyes of a four-year-old gazing at you with trust entire.
PINK is a softness and a whisper of powdery scent, the pale roses and candles on a little girl’s birthday cake, a thin, gauzy dress for a Summer day.  Pink is a feeling, I think, as much as a shade---it’s a cuddly hug, a laughing baby, a cold flute of champagne, a shimmer of flamingoes as they bend and delve in a pond, or take flight against the sky.



Sunday, June 29, 2014


A couple in Kroger:  She in a red Polo, tucked into slim-legged dark blue jeans which touch her absolutely nowhere except at the waistband ---she’s “kept her figure,” but has never had any interest in showing it off.  She wears immaculate small shoes, the usual “wedding set” on her left hand, and a more elaborate “dinner ring” on the right.    She probably wore this outfit, maybe with little espadrilles, when they’d been married twenty years, instead of forty, and probably still wears Norell or Estee, though I didn’t get that close.    Her hair just touches the back of her neck, curled under gently, and swept back a little from her face, revealing tiny ruby studs in her ears.


Her purse is solidly hooked on her left arm, and her glasses ride pretty low on her nose, as she takes down boxes and cans, reading labels and ingredients, and looks up and over at the prices in the slide.   A wide neat wallet of coupons is clipped to the edge of the cart’s baby seat, arranged, of course, in order of their sequence in the store aisles, and as one is removed, it’s slid to the back into a slot.  She’s also one to remove a great sheaf of them from the little plastic hooks on the shelves, as long as the dates go pretty far out.   She stands tearing apart the pads of them gently, unsticking a few for right here, right now, collecting the right number of items, and sandwiching the little packet into its spot in the wallet before rolling on.


I could see her checking off items on a printed list, against a matching check-mark on the left---she apparently shops like my long-ago friend Betty, who typed up one master-list, Xeroxed it fifty times or so on her lunch hour, then stuck a whole bunch of them on her fridge.   She’d see she was getting low on bananas or Clorox or grits, and put a check to the left of that on the fridge list, with a corresponding check on the right when she picked up the item in the store.    


He walks ahead of himself, leading with his shoulders and bent just a bit, but not to that stage of older men who lean forward and paddle the air with both hands behind them---for balance or propulsion, I've never known.    His flat-butt jeans are a thick, long-worn denim, with that pale square wallet-print on one hip pocket like any man who owns two dawgs, a little bit of land and a really swell pickup.  He wears a red polo, as well, bought to match for a cruise, but the color of his is more intense, for hers gets worn and washed for everyday wear, and his is saved for more important events, like the monthly trip over to the big Kroger, or out to supper at Shoney’s with some friends passing through town.  His shirt is tucked in, of course---he’d no sooner wear an untucked shirt than he’d leave his HANES tag above the top of his Levis.   His slight paunch hovers gently over a big round belt-buckle, and his immense white New Balance shoes draw your gaze to the floor with every step, like those flashes-in-the-dark of a playing-card stuck into the bicycle spokes of a kid out past supper-time. 


He’s the reacher, the lifter, the get-down-on-the-bottom shelf grabber, and she list-keeper, the chooser and weigher and side-panel reader.


I surmise that he’s driving, though she may write out the check, and she’ll grab a couple of bags from the back seat when they get into the driveway, unlock the house and head in, already snugging things into fridge and cabinets before he’s got the first load out of the truck.  


They probably stopped for lunch at Bob Evans, after he mowed the lawn and she made two pies for Church Supper tonight, before heading to the store.
A totally satisfactory duo for an ordinary Saturday.