Saturday, April 30, 2011


Y'all, I've been on a DRY SPELL lately---I don't know what's happened to my words, but I just haven't seemed to HAVE any.   I can't think of a subject, I can't find anything interesting to say, and somehow it's not seeming to bother me as it should.    I've hardly ever been so down that a little bit of Verbal Remedy couldn't help, and the Dispensary has been closed.

Anything I've posted in the last little bit has been just plain flat, or culled from the reams stuck back in storage from whiles ago.   Maybe it was the dark of January, the lingering cold of February, the incessant rains and pours and clouds---I'm just DULL.

Today's sunshine and a whole lot of house-cleaning, as well as an unexpected half-hour visit from Sweetpea and her Mama on the patio, have done a great deal to lift the personal clouds, and just now, Chris came back with two Flea-Market CDs and downloaded them onto my player---an infectious Jelly Roll Morton and, of course, a Joe Cocker.   I just loaded the dishwasher to Chain of Fools, doing the Michael-dance with the little sparring steps, the windshield wiper side-slip flipping drips from my big ole pink gloves, and the roof-waves and a fairly good tailfeather-shake, in a big red apron in place of the coat.

Chris picked up Sweetpea's little tambourine, and it was like a vitamin pill for a bit there---dancing and music and all that clink and rattle.   

When it finished, Chris came into the kitchen and gave me a hug.   "You smell like cookies,"  he said, Bless his smarty-pants Heart.

Friday, April 29, 2011


Travis Keene is a forty-something man, slim and dark-haired, with a little dress shop on Main Street.  The other stores in town are called “dry goods stores” or “clothing stores” or even “department stores”---which they might deserve, for there certainly ARE departments delineated throughout the stores---the Men’s and the Ladies’ and the Children’s sections, with a small side-room or other areas with shelves and racks and tables of shoes for everyone.

One store still stocks “dress material” on wide bolts down one wall, with a notions section for buttons and thread and such, and the scents of gabardine and taffeta still perfume the aisles.

But Mr. Keene’s store has always been called a Dress Shop.   The ladies of the town and several surrounding towns and communities shop there for special dresses---for Country Club doings and sometimes weddings and other fancy occasions.   Even the women who would think nothing of flying to Dallas to Neiman Marcus for a whole Spring wardrobe drop in more often than you’d imagine, just to see what’s in and what is new.

He has an eye for the becoming, the flattering, and the well-made items, stocking a variety of evening wear and dainty accessories, as well as what has always been known in the stores in the big-town-two-towns-over as “Better Dresses” for afternoons and teas and club meetings and church convocations, when your best foot goes forward and your shoes should shine.

He still travels several times a year to fashionable places, to keep an eye on what is fresh and COMING;  he and his Mother used to fly to New York once or twice a year just to get away and to keep up with trends.  They stayed in lovely hotels and had tickets to Broadway shows, with one afternoon reserved for tea at the Plaza, for that was where she and his father had honeymooned. 

Travis is a nice man, still living in the house he was raised in---a lovely small-columned two-story over on Belleview Street.     He came home from college to tend his Mother in her early days of MS, and has a wonderful reputation amongst the ladies of Paxton, for his tender concern and gentle care as she grew weaker over the years, just whispering away as they still kept their social calendar and their Season Tickets to the Memphis Symphony and the Opera.

He helped her dress every morning, as she always had, in smaller and smaller sizes of pretty dresses or a demure skirt and blouse, her stockings rolled just beneath the knee on her ever-thinner legs, her watch and her rings spinning on her fragile bones, and a lacy handkerchief in her pocket.   She passed the days in that beautiful sitting room with its pale-green silk wall-cloth and its shining small chandelier, at times able to sit up in her favorite chair, and at others tucked up onto the chaise with a light throw over her feet.  

The living room of the house is a tall room, with the ornate iron stairway up to a matching balcony---a sort of mezzanine effect all down one side of the room, suspended over the first floor, with doors opening off into bedrooms, another sitting room, and a library scented with old books and well-polished wood.

At the far end of the room, rising to the ceiling twenty-some-odd feet, is a smooth-wood wall, satin-varnished, and pale as heart-pine.    It was especially constructed at Mr. Larrabee’s carpentry shop, in four pieces which were transported on a glass truck, standing against the sides like the big show windows that had had to be replaced in Edelstein’s Dry Goods when Old Mrs. Prather hit the accelerator, not the brake, trying to diagonal-park in front of the store.  

(Nobody was hurt in the accident at Edelstein’s, and it was talked of as a miracle, because Miss Avis Little was in the very front of the store, right by the glass, looking at a table of sale shoes.  The glass rained all around her, and the brick wall bowed in a little bit, but she only went to Doc’s office to get the glass out of her hairdo).

Against that tall wood wall stands Travis Keene’s Hammond organ---a big church-size one with two ranks of keys and lots of stops and diapasons and tremolos, and with an immense footboard which he can fairly dance upon, both feet flying, as he spins out those DEEP bass notes.     He is a lifelong Methodist, but he’s played the huge pipe organ at the Presbyterian church in a nearby town for years, and his yearly recital the first Sunday in December is marked on many a calendar, county-wide and in a big radius around.

Sometimes, on a Spring Sunday afternoon, with the windows open and the sheers drifting softly in the breeze, you can hear the gentle notes begin, a small nocturne feeling its way into the light of the day.   Then, perhaps Clair de Lune, of the ethereal octaves, or Brazil, with the bright tempo and infectious rhythm, then a Gospel tune, and a segue into Bach or Handel, the whole depth of that tall room resounding and channeling the notes like the shell of an amphitheater orchestra.
When he moves on into the haunting notes of Traumerei, the whole street seems to take on a different air, with the hedge-trimmers stilled and the swish of the brush on shining hubcaps slowing with the tempo; the two Mahan boys  raise their heads from beneath the hood of the 74 ‘Cuda they’ve been restoring for three years, and their grimy hands move gently to the familiar tune---familiar to them because of long-time hearing, though they have no notion of title or composer.  

Big ole Bubbas out stretching their halftime legs, grabbing another Bud from the patio cooler, sit down to take in the melody like cool water, never thinking to scoff or make light of the miracle floating across their lawns.   And later, they never know just WHY they’re smiling as they gather up the empties, even though their team just lost.   

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Photo by Marty Kittrell

I have no words for the destruction and havoc and loss which have swept across our country in the past little while.   I know that so many are affected and hurting because of the storms and the devastation left in their wake, and countless lives will never be the same.

Lives were taken, whole towns were lost, Heroes emerged at uncountable price.

My thoughts and prayers, sincere and constant, for every person to be comforted their mourning, soothed in their recovery, uplifted and strengthened in their re-building.   And my utmost confidence in the triumph of their strong, unconquerable Human Spirit in this terrible time.

Friday, April 22, 2011



Instead of our Easter Lunch this Sunday, we had our Spring Lunch last weekend, because of DDIL's family's big gathering at her Grandmother's house this weekend.     There were six of us at table, one of whom enjoyed her lunch from the Princess plate.   The lunch plates are called "chop plates" and I love all their beautiful pastels on a Spring Table; goblets are pink Fostoria, and candle-ring of silk posies was made by Caro   This was such a casual thing, I forgot to get out "real" silver, and we just scooped some knives and forks from the everyday drawer.   

We started with a bowl of grape tomatoes and pink salt:

Cream Cheese and Pepper Jelly:

Paminna-less cheese, because I forgot we didn't have any---both spreads served with crackers:
 Chris' morning-grilled ham, in the smoke for about five hours, was sampled repeatedly as he carved---Sweetpea made at least ten dancing trips into the kitchen for a tiny flick of it before we sat down.

Devilled eggs and pickled beets with cocktail onions---I love the little pale lilac pearls. 

A tart Dijon-vinaigrette salad with thin sweet onion and Mandarins:

My Mother's table had Cheese and Macaroni on every holiday---this one is Penne with Four Cheeses:

Bright steamed Broccoli, a refreshing note amongst the other rich fare:

Sweet potato casserole with two toppings: one side Streusel with brown sugar and pecans, and the other half with marshmallows the size of Princess Diana’s weddin' sleeves.    Those big ole things are like flat-sided baseballs, and except for putting them on a casserole or on a stick at a weenie roast---well, they’re just a conversation piece.    I don’t think you could actually EAT one.  It would be like that old dream joke:   I woke up and my pillow was gone.

Plain little carrots, slender and elegant in their own right:

Yeast-Riz Rolls:

The Buffet---we also had some cooked-low snap beans in place of the usual asparagus (which we had last night, roasted with grape tomatoes, olive oil and Parmesan---a treat on a cold night).   That's my Mother's white china bean bowl, and Mammaw's egg plate.

Dessert served right from the table:

Lemon Trifle, with layers of Lemon Icebox Pie filling, whipped cream and crumbled Madeleines:

Coconut Meringue Pie:

Big Pretzels, dipped in White Chocolate and colorful sprinkles (look at the shiny little pearl ones): 

The two desserts are family favorites, and though they're pudding-y and a bit alike, there were enough chocolate treats in the house to satiate ANY chocolate-tooth.

I wish everyone a wonderful celebration, and a Happy Spring!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


 The other night after supper, I went to take FuzzyPup out for his evening constitutional, and this was the golden light which greeted me as I looked up into the big tree just outside the back door.   What settled us on buying this house so long ago were three things:   a marvelous neighbor I'd talked to across the fence quite a few times (proved perfectly right on that one). a second kitchen downstairs, and this TREE.

Tree has her drawbacks---she grows and drops freezillions of tiny green berries, hard as marbles, which rain down onto lawn, patio, rooftop and steps in Summer.   They quickly darken and are small enough to stick inside shoe-treads, and thus make their way into the house, getting kicked down the stairs, all over the downstairs floors.   And in socks or bare feet, it's like stepping on a single little pebble unexpectedly---a sharp pang in the sole of your foot which sends you hopping, perhaps onto ANOTHER of the crafty little imps lying in wait.

Vacuuming the floors of these things sounds like a little woodchipper-gone-wild, as they rattle around madly in the hopper, clicking and clacking their way into the bag.

The "limes" in this dish are smaller than peas, and the dish would not cover a penny.

But we LOVE this tree---she's WAY tall---like a six-story building, and her shade spreads even wider over the back lawn.   You can just FEEL the cool shade when you step beneath her out of the hot Summer sun, like driving past a green afternoon grove in the South and feeling the cool, moist air across your skin.

And her bark is almost like that sharkskin fabric so beloved of gangsters in movies---shiny and reflective in the light---just beautiful at this time of year.    I caught the day just right, and I wish the golden, satiny sheen of that old tree skin would show up as beautifully lustrous as it is---for now, anyway. 

Soon she will be laden with leaves (and those treacherous little berries) and the cool of the patio will be sought often---with a welcoming chair, a book, a glass of something tall and cool to drink.   How I'd like you to come and sit beneath My Tree---we'd have tea and talk the afternoon away beneath the shusssssh of the boughs. . .  She's very welcoming, and she's very good at keeping secrets.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I'm just back online, after a big BOOOOOMMM about noon, which took out all three services---phone, internet, and TV.   (Trying to stay on hold on a new cell phone, when I don't know how to put it on speaker yet, and having someone telling me step-by-step how to unplug and re-connect a succession of wires, with the tee-ninecy phone snugged up to my ear by one shoulder, was the Electronics-Age version of Twister, and if there had been a camera, I'd be a You-Tube sensation).

Today has also been another session of the towel-dance, for the rain was so intense that the downstairs has some dampness AGAIN.   Four more days of this, with tornadoes included, are predicted, so I may be signed off for a while.

Please remember Molly's (Molly's Country Memories) Grandson  in your thoughts and prayers.   He is in the hospital from a severe car accident, and I know that when she took his picture several weeks ago, she did not know that it would be such a source of inspiration and comfort to them all---do take a look and see the wonderful  and inspiring photo.

And my friend Tonja's (GATHERINGS) little grandson Levi, just a few weeks old, is recovering from the RSV virus and will be several more days in the hospital.     Both families would so appreciate your thoughts and prayers.   

Thanks for your perseverance, and I hope all is well where YOU are!!!   Be safe and well.

moire non,

Monday, April 18, 2011


Come sit a while in my early-morning room---it's warm and quiet, with just a little peek of the sun through the sheers.   We'll talk about our Spring Lunch yesterday, and the nice time we had together.    Just a little quiet conversation before the household stirs.

There are  coffee and tea in bright yellow cups, and a big basket of lovely Nonni Biscotti from Caro, and it's a cozy day to spend a little time with a friend.    

I hope it will be YOU.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Kisses, move over; Cadbury’s---look out.

These new Hershey’s eggs ARE blissful---the most meltingly creamy chocolate you ever put in your mouth.

They’re like no other candy I’ve ever tasted; Godiva and all the rest are far behind for taste and texture---these are silken on the tongue, deliquescing gently until the chocolate “meltaway center” just floods your senses.

The only chocolate I can remember as tasting better is when a dear friend returned from a mission trip to Africa, coming home via Belgium.    A great group of us from the churches in our area went to the airport to meet her, and after we all hugged hello, she walked around the entire group again, bringing out little wrapped chocolates from her big net shoulder-bag.

We each accepted the little golden nugget and as if by ritual, we waited until the last person had received her chocolate, then we unwrapped them and all put them into our mouths in a kind of unspoken sweet Communion, born of the spirit of that moment.

The taste and the feeling and the sweetness of the welcoming home are still a vivid, wonderful memory of that impromptu little rite among friends.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Y’all know I’m not a critic of much---I might mutter a zinger under my breath (sometimes quite clever ones, wasted on the air) and when I get home and think what I should have said, I can just go on and on.   But I don’t put it down in writing very often.   

And now I’m again wasting one of my turns at “CAN you BELIEVE THAT?” on a silly TV show.    I DID think better of Miss Ina, and now she’s just gone and let me down.

She donated a “lunch for six” to a charity auction---well and good and beyond the call, etc.   And the hammer fell at $100,000.00.    One Hundred Thousand.   What a windfall, and what a great thing!!

And I know it was partly for the cachet of meeting her, and of being able to say they’d dined at her HOUSE in the HAMPTONS.   And she had Mariska H. setting the table and Alec By-Damn Baldwin going to the market gardens and GATHERING the vegetables, for goodness’ sake.      SURELY a chef/cook/hostess of her stature could have done a better lunch than she made.  

I can’t imagine that even the allure of being entertained at her home could elevate that one-note, cobbled-together meal.   Foie gras and truffles were mentioned in passing, but not for such a FUN lunch---accustomed as they must be to such delicacies, it would be so much more fun to surprise these people with simple fare. 

Starter was a cold cucumber soup---cucumbers whizzed with scallions, dill, yogurt and lemon juice and two tablespoons of salt in the processor.   It was probably wonderful---I LIKE cucumber soup.

Alec had gathered corn for the salad.   Ina set down the basket on the counter, shucked a cob, and cut it right there, with the silks just raining down like doll-hair, all over the kernels, and it went on, shuck-and-cut, til the great pile on the counter resembled an abandoned blonde wig.    It was worse than the time all the Good Church Ladies had to scrub Mrs. Prysock’s backsplash and windowsill of the dried corn-cutting debris before the kitchen was presentable for the Funeral Collation for Mr. P.

Ina boiled the little shell pasta while she cut scallions, peppers, an immense amount of dill.    Into the water with the shells went the corn kernels, with silks intertwining and floating up all around, then a quick dash into the colander, poured hot into a big bowl, and the vegetables tossed on, the perfect garden-crisp freshness marred by all the steaming  heat taking place in that bowl.

Even the two pounds of lobster wouldn’t have compensated for the limp scallions and discolored dill---it was just mish-mash mounded on a plate, with a teensy dill sprig atop---that’s it.   

And so, in the soup:
3/4 c   lemon juice
2 T. Salt
1/4 c. dill
9 scallions
Shrimp on top

In the salad:
½ c. lemon juice
5 t. salt
12 scallions
1 ½ cups dill
Lobster pieces, hairy corn and peppers

It was like she had a lot of a few things, and just put together what she got out of the fridge, somehow, with no thought of how the two very similar dishes would play as successive courses.

And dessert!   I’d have eaten that dessert in a heartbeat---it was “Eton Mess,”  which I’d always heard of, and it looked divine in the parfait dishes (above).  Fun was mentioned time and again, and I know it was, just being there.    In that same Spirit of Fun, all the guests were to make their own desserts, from the fun-filled tray containing the cooked and fresh raspberries and the whipped cream still in the mixer-bowl straight off the KitchenAid.

Bought meringues?   Why not---they're easy and delicious, but tossed on the tray still in the cellophane packs like Twinkies?    It just felt Tacky.

I don’t know how long it lasted, nor how delightfully witty and fun the repartee around that table in the marvelous Garden of Ina, and they all hugged and air-kissed and thanked her profusely.    I hope they got what they came for.  But I couldn't tell if it tasted WAY better than it looked, if they just didn't know any better, or if the Empress was naked as well as Barefoot, and they just ate it and smiled because, after all, INA made it.

It was all for charity, and that’s a great and noble thing. They contributed a Hundred Thousand Dollars for that experience.  It was also a lunch I’d be ashamed to set out for a hundred  DOLLARS.

Monday, April 11, 2011


I do not have this book, with Thing One and Thing Two, I have Ganner and Ganjin; we have to make do.

It’s been raining all day; it was muddy---I slid. So we stayed in the house, and here’s what we did:












Sunday, April 10, 2011


The sun is blasting down the stairs, I've finished almost a whole percolator of very rich YUBAN, and Chris is dismantling a huge pork butt which went onto the grill after the burgers came off last night. It had its own gentle, smoky nap whilst we slept, and now is at the beyond-slicing stage, on into kinda wobbling apart beneath the big knife into rich, moist clumps. The aroma from the kitchen is about to lift me bodily by my nose and drift me in there, like Bugs Bunny. We're going to have some for breakfast, and get ourselves out into that sunshine and take aholt of that Winter-wrecked patio. I swear, if you don't hear from me in the next few days, send a search party---we'll probably be either buried under lawn chairs and bushels of leaves and limbs, or the neighbors will have US hauled away by the Health Department. Everybody have a GOOD day! PS Is ANYBODY else having trouble lately making Blogger recognize paragraphs? I seem to be making big blocks of words, with no divisions, and no amount of EDIT will fix it.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


In the past few days, I’ve just been hanging back, hanging out---just looking in and refraining from posting much. The two pieces posted here since my return were cobbled from bits which I’d just doodled down in the past---just little memories of things and fragrances and and tastes, childhood remembrances, the feel of the air’s flush moisture in the Summer shade.

I’ve just been looking in on old friends, new sites, unknown treasures, through other sites, following the bricks and steppingstones laid down from place to place, through the recommendation of one I know, to one I regret that I didn’t know sooner, to another whose bright chirpy joy and colors lure me in to the young family activities, or a smooth glimpse of crafts and travels and books and lifestyles and colors past numbering.

And some of you list Lawn Tea in your own sidebars. That’s one of the loveliest compliments I can think of---the sharing of a blog that you like well enough to recommend it to your own readers.

I look down the Feed-line, to the names of the places from which you venture in, and the names are a pleasure to read---bright flags of quite a few nations shining in the far margin, and just in the past few days, such lovely words as Alexandria and Gastonia, Berea and Killeen and Aurora, Calabria and Lilburn and Windermere appear, all seeming like fanciful Kingdoms in a Fairy book.

Good old solid names of places like Black Oak and Eads, Dothan and Winona, Durham, Franklin, Burnaby and Chesapeake; the refreshing thoughts of Big Spring and Destin and Tallahassee. I love the thoughts of Bucharest and Richmond and Vicksburg, the whimsical unknown of Show Low and Fallentimber, the delightful escape of Lyon, Rhone Alpes, with its conjure of lovely vistas and wonderful markets.

One visitor came in on a trail which I did not recognize, and I clicked it, to find a link to my friend Lucy in Lyon, with an unexpected little notation in her own list of favorites:

It is with great relish that I share Rachel's site with you. She spins a web of home and happiness, silver linings, interesting observations, and good storytelling.

What a lovely compliment from a blogger I admire and enjoy so much. And every day here is a great compliment---the faithful readers who simply pass through, those whose city appears with the regularity of meeting old friends, and those who comment either often or seldom---I appreciate YOU ALL.

I wish you all a wonderful, safe, happy weekend.

Thursday, April 7, 2011



Does anyone else find comfort in delving into Childhood Memories or tastes or scents when you’re coping with a sad time? This past bit of time, I’ve been so introspective, I’m barely in the present some of the time. There have been little daydreams of playmates, of hot, shady yards, foot-beaten grass, warped-gray-wood picnic tables where we had tea parties and games of Old Maid and Monopoly, and even odd little games of Jacks, with a careful scrape of the bouncing hand across the splintery old table. Memories of old friends have come to visit, and the sounds and scents of endless Summer days have warmed the drab season. A hand thrust into the ice-water depths of the old store cooler, with the scent of wet metal and deep dark scent of the old black rubber gasket rising as the lid was flapped back. The WISSSSP of the bottle in the side-mounted opener with the raised Coca Cola worn clean through the red paint, and that first long, burning swallow, just before the tooth-rip of the Planter’s packet, with a heedless PTUH of the tiny torn crisp of cellophane upon the ground. A funnel-fist around the bottleneck, a gentle cascade of the golden peanuts, the creamy uproar as salt meets carbonation, the crunchy, salty crispness and the sweet, nutty Coke---all a part of a Southern childhood. A privileged step around the candy counter in Aunt Lou’s store, fingers in the door-slot of the Sanctum Sanctorum---the wooden back of the glass-fronted case. A gentle slide to emit Aladdin’s treasure of color and scent---licorice and chocolate and lemon and cherry and FLEERS.
Of them all, the scent of Fleer’s Double Bubble is easiest to recall---a sweet, sugary, smell which could be no color but PINK, and which you’d know to the end of your days. There’s vanilla in there, and I don’t know What-All else, but there’s just a lovely mystery to bubblegum which trumps any candy in memory.

Back then, they were rosy round mouthfuls in their little Christmas-cracker twists, peeled carefully to preserve the slick little comic paper inside---there was NO biting of that gum. The whole luscious, toothachy hunk went into your mouth, and the first couple of chews were both difficult and the most delicious, salivating moment you could imagine, with the full flavor filling your mouth with that unmistakable taste, dizzying with its gummy, sugary perfection.

I was never in a hurry to get to the bubble part---I could blow bubbles half the size of my head when I got it chewed down just right, but it just wasn’t something to rush. I struggled for a few moments to get that lump into manageable chewing texture, as I read the garish little waxy paper within---Nancy and Sluggo, Lil Abner, Dick Tracy. We saved them all---Fleer's, Tops, Bazooka.

We swapped them and filled cigar boxes with the heady aroma of sweet vanilla tinged gently with the fleeting brown scent of tobacco. I’ve got two pieces of bubblegum right now---the flat, modern kind which cannot possibly have the chewy charm of remembrance. I haven’t got to the moment of actually CHEWING them yet---I’ve only held them to my face in my two hands, inhaling that timeless scent. I hope there are still comics; it’s been a long, long time. I guess Archie and Veronica are too much to hope for.

Any sweet memories you'd care to share?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


We spent the morning in a long brisk walk in the nippy air, and most of the glorious afternoon upstairs in the living room and sitting room, soaking in the warmth and the light. Even through the sheers, the glints off the hodgepodge of little glass gewgaws on the corner table, and the bright gleam of those old yellow-wood floors---those all were like a blast of Vitamin D through skin and eyes and senses. We’ve been sort of on “Pause” of late, piecing together the days with bits and bobs of activity and conversation and home doings, with little forays out and about for curtain rods, a few Spring items for the GA group’s Easter box, which will wend its way early, I hope. I've immersed myself in GrandBaby pictures til they flash before my eyes as I close them to sleep. And we’ve all been reading like we’re devouring the words.

For one of the rare times of my life, I’ve been reading in the DAYTIME---unheard of, as I’m a bedtime reader, the “don’t waste daylight reading,” instilled by my Mother, whose watchful eye was usually foiled by my perch up one of the huge old pecan trees around the yard. And the fleeting thought has come to me several times that I ought to be hovering fifteen feet above the ground on a big ole limb, soaking up the moist Mississippi heat, hidden and smothered by the great blankets of leaves in my surroundings.

The last book I read up a tree was EMMA. I remember distinctly, for just as Miss Smith was consigning sticking plaster to the fire, a wasp dive-bombed my head and got caught in my hair. I can recall the frantic buzzing, sounding like some sort of model plane, so close was it to my ear, and I also remember dropping (hurling, most likely) the book. I have no recollection of making it down the twelve or so feet via the limbs I’d climbed---I may have even jumped part of the way, with no thought that broken bones might be a tad bit more painful and long-lasting than a sting. I DID have the presence of mind to snatch a big towel off the line, get a BIG handful of hair in it, and squeeze with all the might of both hands. I wrung that dry towel til it almost dripped; nothing short of an armadillo could have lived through the pressure of that panic.

Thus disabled, the little stinging critter was hors de combat, and though I had to comb some of his appendages out of my hair before getting right into the shower, no damage was done except to the wasp. I went back later and retrieved the book, none the worse for droppage, and I was certainly glad, for it belonged to the dear woman across the street---the blessed soul who had taught me to READ.

I’d no more have let anything happen to one of her books than I’d fly. No turned-down corners (I’d seen in third grade what happened to children who creased corners---Mrs. Nelson’s vise-grip on THAT BURTON BOY’s ear, and her menacing inquiry of, “Would you like for someone to do that to YOU?” probably did more good in the school than any number of cheery caveats stenciled on bright paper). No writing inside or out, no tearing out of pages, no underlining or margin-jotting or boyfriends’ names with little hearts dotting the I, though I love finding those, especially the old ones, with pencil flourishes or the careful ink of a first Fountain Pen, of the young lady’s name and little notations of life and events as was.

There’s just something---something special and significant and oddly charming, in a sort of peek-over-their-shoulder way, to find underlined words and phrases in a book I’m enjoying. Or thoughtful or odd or insightful little jottings in margins, or just inside the covers; I find those all to be an added little bit of lagniappe the author never intended---or perhaps DID.

Making people think about words and ideas must be a marvelous feat; causing them to earmark the place with a highlighter or underlining means the writing has touched something in them, whether pleasant or touching or incisive or memory-kindling.

And the lovely thoughts and e-mails and prayers and comments you’ve all expressed---they’ve all imprinted me, and are underlined indelibly in my heart, for taking out and savoring or remembering or simply smiling over, like flowers pressed in a book.. Thank you ALL.

From my own Autograph Book, well over fifty years old:

When Evening draws her curtain,

And pins it with a star,

Remember me and you will have

A Friend, wherever you are.