Thursday, September 29, 2011

HATTATT

Y'all know I always enjoy sharing a new discovery, and I've recently been absolutely immersed in the loveliest blog:  HATTATT       They just appeared one day, having joined us at LAWN TEA, and when I went to say Thank You---I was captivated.     

The photos of their travels and their interests and gardens and sightseeing---Oh, My.     And you KNOW how I am about WORDS------theirs are absolutely mesmerizing.    They share their time between England and their other home in Budapest, and I've just been wrapped up in their touring and entertaining and all the rest    And I marvel that somehow, they manage to answer EVERY ONE of their hundreds of comments, and look in here, quite often.

I've been meaning to mention them, and today, the words were just so absolutely breath-taking, I could not resist---reminiscent a bit of du Maurier, or perhaps Forster, and painted such a vivid (albeit bleakly heart-touching) picture that I hope you'll look in.

Above is blog address, and the post is entitled "A Nightingale Sang," and it's WELL worth going to see.

rachel

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

IT DOESN'T NEED US

Just yesterday, I was mentioning to my friend Keetha that it's often surprising how well the world gets along without our constant attention.    She'd been on a long hike to some secluded waterfalls, and the hidden scenery, there for the taking, but requiring a good-sized effort, was a lovely reward.

In my usual side-tracked fashion, I thought of early-morning airports when I saw those pictures she took on the trail. When I take a before-daylight flight, I am always astonished that so much of the world is out there, busy and cheerful and going places, and WOULD be, even without my presence.. They bustle on, even on the 364 other days when I'm still stumbling for the percolator.

Those waterfalls and bluffs and beautiful secluded places reachable only by steep paths would be right there, have been, will be, without witness or hearer. What a treat to be able to share in something so timeless and primal.    And the micro-universes going on in our own backyards are equally stunning, equally awesome, doing their own thing for eons without contribution from any being.   

The honeysuckle trees of Spring have become the bright berry-bearers of Fall:




Last year, we picked a few of the little berries for garnishing a mud pie or two, but this time---grander things were in store:   We were picking great droves of the darling little glowing BBs for making a cake for Sarah, who has been much in conversation lately.   I don't know if she's real, but Sweetpea speaks of her often, and she's real enough for some studious work.    We stood and picked, stood and picked, and finally I handed her a little stem.

(And lest anyone think we're playing around with dangerous plants of any kind---it's hard for me to believe that the same stems which yielded the honeysuckle from which we greedily sucked the nectar back in the Spring to no ill effect, would have turned into some sort of toxic fruit, luring us in with its glowing beauty).  Besides, the birdie-blessings on the lawn chairs and patio plants attest that the berries ARE, indeed, edible, though we would not dream of it.

She sat on the warm asphalt with the genes of a thousand countrywomen in her knowing.    Sit and pluck, sit and shell, sit and peel---save the standing for something you HAVE to.


I noticed the lengthening of the shadows as the air grew chiller; we called her for a photo.    She kept to her work, not budging except to ask for another stem of berries, so we went to her.     She's WAY short in the pictures, for she just would not shirk her duty long enough to stand up.


 We discovered other things going on without us all around the yard---the tomato vines are heavy with what we hope will ripen before frost, but we'll keep watch.    This beauty hiding in the Weatherbush would fry up just LOVELY about now.



I always love seeing things through a child's eyes, fresh and new and full of hope.   And it's still rewarding past words to stumble upon them, through my own.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

CHEESE, PLEASE!

Monday nights have become Cheese Plate nights, due to Caro’s lovely choosing of several nice cheeses for the last course of our dinner.    She’s always kept several really special ones in her fridge, or under the little bell, for a tiny bit of treat with some of her WW meals.

I was totally convinced that I DIDN’T LIKE Bleu Cheese.   It looked odd, it really didn’t smell pleasant, and since my my earlier experiences with it were of unexpected chunky globs in not-really-tasty salad dressings, or the unpleasant whoosh of air when a lid was opened on the box, I held firm.

Until one night a couple of months ago, she brought down several cheeses and cut us each a small bit of each onto pretty plates with a dab of our OWN just-made fig preserves and some dried fruits.    I took the little knife provided with my plate, sampled them all-but-one, and heartily approved.

Then, I experimentally cut the tiniest sliver from the TOP of the little wedge of bleu, avoiding the small flowerings of mold beneath---admiring their beautiful configurations, like millefiori in clay, but still a bit apprehensive about all the reasons I’d collected over the years NOT to like the cheese.

And it was simply divine.   Salty and rich and firm for a moment, then melty and soft and (dare I use the overused unctuously?) rich.    So now I’m hooked---I crave a taste of the Gorgonzola marvel every now and then, and will go up and unsnap the Tup for a teensy taste.   

Last night was cheese night, and after the char siu chicken, rosy and delicate as peach-cheeks, and gently perfumed with five-spice, the lo mein and the stir-fried cabbage, we had cheese, prettily arranged, and served with the marvelous Cherry Chutney which had been simmering away, sending its gentle fragrance of big maroon cherries and vinegar and Autumn sweetness through the house all afternoon.

From One O’clock:

Belletoile Triple Crème Brie
Morbier with ashes between layers
Dried date
Caro’s just-made Cherry Chutney
Dried Fig
Port Salut
Gorgonzola
Laudel Double Crème Brie

Center is Fontina
And a sweet little chapeau of Champagne Grapes

Naturally, he caught me wiping a drop of cherry sauce from the plate edge.  

Monday, September 26, 2011

RAIN REIGNS

photo:   Planet 99---Chicago

We had quite a lovely evening, with lots of togetherness, shouts of OPA! to welcome the flaming cheese, and great plates and platters of wonderful moussaka and spanakopita and olives and lamb, with  candles in the baklava.   

 Sweetpea came home with us to spend the night, and we've just now had breakfast.     We'll probably be hibernating a bit upstairs today, for the outside atmosphere is still WET.    We're right at that brown-leaves-on-the-ground, too much rain stage, with the lush greens of Summer fading, and not yet into the glories of October colors.

Everything on the patio is plastered with damp clumps of limp leaves, and we're gonna occupy ourselves with Dragon Tales, Little Golden Books, and maybe baking one of those lovely CARROT CAKES with cream-cheese frosting.    That should perk up our spirits AND the ambience of the house.

Perhaps today should be the get-out-our-own-leaves for hanging and festooning, and we'll bring a breath of clear, golden Fall in, in spite of its reluctance to arrive.

Happy Monday, Everybody!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
PS AT 12.:30---We've been out for a long walk in this lovely SUNSHINE!!!   I must have lied about the drab skies, for we went out into golden rays and 60 degrees, and when we returned, some debris on the front stoop led us around to get the broom.

Which led on into great swoops and sweeps of the front eaves, the siding, the forgotten spider-lairs and hoblets' nests, THEN segued into another trip for the shears, to mow down all the expired, languishing dried stems of Queen Anne's lace.

Is it too early to prune roses?   I just did---probably six plants, whose long tentacles reached up from the great forest of past beauty.  Just one little pulling of a coupla weeds (out of multitudes) in the beds led to what looks like a pile of new-mown hay lying in the front yard.  (Separating the thorny stuff from the smooth stuff is one of the most important steps, when you're gonna grab at it).  

In for a thorough hand-and-forearm wash with Dawn, just in case there was a bad plant in there, and we're just BEING for a moment.  That's a thing of itself, and also important.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

BIRTHDAY WISHES!!


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR CARO!!!

I think you’d love a trip to an Asian Market today, with a side-step into Penzey’s and then a bookstore or two.   We’ll head home early, for we’re meeting several of your favorite people for dinner:  

The elegant, genteel, well-spoken Miss Jane:

The gentle, kind good neighbor from Mitford, Miss Jan:




And that quirky, funny super-smart Miss Charlaine:


That should make for meaningful, interesting, hilarious dinner conversation---a writer whose heroines call their husbands,  "Mr." before and after they're married, across the table from one whose take-no-prisoners protagoness has a boyfriend who calls her "Sucky."

And then we're all invited out to wind down the evening at a really fun, interesting place:




Hope you like our plans!!

Love, 

Mama

Saturday, September 24, 2011

HEART CHILDREN

One of the brightest spots in the  wedding weekend had nothing to do with bride and groom, though they WERE the center of everything and certainly provided their own share of BRIGHT, with their sweet personalities and their dear whimsical touches (especially a FIRST DANCE that warrants them a place  on DWTS, SYTYCD, or Broadway, take your pick---of that, moiré non).

My own immersion in Grandma Heaven began on Friday, when our DDIL and our littlest drove over to spend the afternoon with us.   We’d been out and about in all that sunshine, checking out light levels for the photos, just enjoying the beautiful of the wedding site, and had come back to the hotel to meet them.    She appeared in the peep-hole, and as I opened the door, there stood this TINY little fellow, who took one look, turned, and dashed back down the long hall.    After all, he hadn’t seen me in months, and only when his Ganner stepped out, did he make a similar dash for him.

After a few moments of very quiet play with Mama’s keys, handing them around, did he just naturally make his way into my lap, and then we were OFFFF.   Back to the big wedding hall, to do lots of girl-stuff, whilst I chased after and loved that quicksilver little boy.   His way with door-handles and drawer-pulls is something to see, and I’ve never SEEN anybody under twenty pounds go that FAST.

Then, at the Friday-night dinner party, the rest of the GA clan arrived---Gracie, Kit and Cal, making their way through the buffet crowd for big hugs, and you know, the only moment apart in the whole 36 hours until we all parted ways on Sunday, was the time it took for them to go get into their wedding clothes and ride to the ceremony with their parents.

We were TOGETHER---playing and crafting and showers and baths and talking and snuggling before bed, with the girls on the pull-out in our suite, and Cal (first time sleepover actually in our ROOM) on the air-mattress we’d brought.    Somehow our room had a dozen downy white pillows, and we made fairy nest and dragon-lair of all the beds.   Bedtime, of course, entailed the sharing of ONE icy Dr. Pepper, sparkled over small cups of ice, and the big cigar-pretzels we always bring.

We’d taken fruit and milk and all the coffee set-up for our room, though they had a nice layout in the little kitchen.     Everybody had a bath, got into jammies, and even Chris settled into his bed early after such a sparkling day.   They all got settled with all the lamps off save the one by my bed (lampshade dressed as is traditional, in a spiffy red T-shirt, leaving just enough rosy glow for me to read a bit later).

Kit requested “The Princess and the Pea” and so I sat over in their “room” in the dim light, telling the uncomplicated little story I first read in my own Little Golden Books, embellishing and soothing, and by the time the 12th princess came to the castle to audition, climbing that golden ladder, up the pearly steps to the top of those twenty mattresses beneath the sky-blue canopy, Little Cal was sound asleep (he who his Mama said would NOT stay in bed, and to count on a romping bedtime), and I could hear the gentle soothe of Chris’ sleeping, as well.

The girls stayed awake til the end, then Kit settled grinning that sleep-smile into her pillows, and Gracie read for a little bit, under her own soft-draped lamp.

I cannot tell you how that feels, that enthusiastic welcome and that settling into the old, comfortable routines as if we saw each other every weekend---the easy, unfailing bond with these Heart-Children is one of the loveliest parts of my life.   There’s never a YOURS, no MINE---just OURS---with no thought that it might be any other way.   (And the call from DD this week, that Cal keeps nagging her to take him back to the hotel where we live--that’s just lagniappe).

And we slept, in that quiet, brimful room, resting til the percolator sent the fragrant signal to rise for the WEDDING festivities.   Moire non of our wonderful weekend. 


Friday, September 23, 2011

WAYS TO SAY "I LOVE YOU"

There are lots of ways to say "I Love You."   This is one of the everyday ones---Every Day.    Chris spends an early hour on Sunday mornings, while I snuggle in for just a little more sleep, in getting together our medicines and vitamins for the week.

He gets out all the little prescription bottles, along with the great assortment of vitamin-and-supplement containers, and sets up a little assembly line on the battered old freezer---one of our very first acquisitions when we moved here twenty years ago.

We first began keeping our days' supplies, handy for setting beside our plates at breakfast and supper, in little black film cannisters---but over the years, the supply dwindled, and technology banished the small plastic cylinders to history.

Then he settled on using the same-size snap-top ones from his test-strips, and they worked just fine.   And THEN---one day at a Flea Market (or Gun Show---probably that, as improbable as kitchenware at such a meeting might seem) he found these cute little Tupperwares, bright and tight and easy to find.   And that last attribute is right up there in their glories, for we misplace one every couple of days, and orange IS easier to spot than gray, when you're scrambling under a chair or in a dark corner, which is where they inevitably escape to, or we've set them down amongst books and bags, where they blend in like ET in the toy-closet.

He sets out all the big bottles and jars, counting out and dropping in all the "real" meds first, so as to keep proper count and be able to see that they're all there.    Then a big handful of each vitamin, one in each gaping little mouth, til all the containers are filled.   The pink marker-circles on the numbered lids are mine, for all my day's worth fit into one, and his have a pale green mark, for both morning and night.

We HAVE graduated from those huge old horsepills on top to the tiny red jewels of Krill Oil, which fill your mouth with the lightest essence of vanilla as they go down.

And if this is too much boring information for one day---it's just one of the ways he richer and poorers, in sickness and in healths.   The tiny orange box at my place at the table says "I love you," as loudly and clearly as a dozen roses, every day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

BOILED PEANUTS

It's been a busy-but-not-much-accomplished time since we returned from the wedding, and my brain is just a big ole fuzzy spot where my putting-together-words section used to be.   I hope to get it cranked up and running again sometime, or at least find the spot where it IS, but for now, all I have to offer is one of those lick and a promise memories of a little moment, repeated every time we travel South.   

When we were in the roadside stand in GA last week, Chris asked the yearly question:  "Do you have any GREEN peanuts?"    Green ones are pulled up, and grow actually ON the roots, beneath the ground.   They're actually a legume, not a NUT, and I always find myself wanting to mutter that as Leg---yooooom-uh, in the manner of a haughty waiter.

My memories of growing them are of the great pickup-loads of the entire plants,  yanked up from the earth bringing roots and dirt, and laid all over the front porch.    We'd take them stem by stem, pulling off the little nodules for tossing into tubs for washing, and throwing the plants back into the truck-bed for plowing back into the land.   It's fun, like digging potatoes and looking for that next lovely little nugget, only they come to YOU.

And we seem to be early or late, every time for the crop, settling for the dry heft of a couple of the orange-net bags.    Of course, there was the usual bag of hot ones straight from the big old boiler, salty and soft, which I cracked gently on the fault-lines and handed to him on the half shell, one after another as he drove.   He tipped each tiny bowl into his mouth like a little oyster and followed each dozen or so by a big swallow of ice-cold Dr. Pepper.  

We have that thing down to a science now---I cover my lap and his front with paper towels, open the bag of peanuts inside the plastic market bag, and crack them one at a time, leaving half-a-shell in the laid-out outside bag.   I hold the full half right at his hand, and then he flips the empty back into the open bag in my lap.   Of course, I'm a salty, grubby-with-brown-juice mess halfway to my elbows, but a quick wash with a bagged washcloth and the next rest-top tend to that.   It's a silly little ritual we do when we head home---every time. 

He enjoys it a lot, because we’ve usually been out of the freezer ones for a while.

See?   Anything I try to say comes out like being stoned to death with popcorn.  

moire non, I hope.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

MARGO WON!!

I TOLD YOU SO!!




YOU GO, MARGO!!!

Friday, September 16, 2011

SCUPPERNONGS

I didn't think to try get a photo til I had them bagged for the freezer.  This is a peek down into the Ziploc.

We stopped at a wonderful little roadside market-stand on the way back from Georgia last Sunday---the bright yellow boards and the crookedy signs of "HOT BOILED PEANUTS" and "GEORGIA PEACHES" beckoned us in, and we browsed the still-hot aisles perfumed with all sorts of vegetables---the shucky snap of crisp corn, the dry rustly scent of net-bagged peanuts, the sharp, thickety sweet of the scuppernongs and musky-dines.   (I had to say it, just once).

We got pale-rosy plums, fat with sweet pulp, and two enormous sweet potatoes, big as kids' footballs (I baked one last night, and it served all four of us, sliced into soft-slumpy golden rounds and topped with butter and brown sugar).    

Chris asked the yearly question:  "Do you have any GREEN peanuts?"    And we seem to be early or late, every time, settling for the dry heft of a couple of the orange-net bags.    He'll put a big boiling on in the huge new stainless crockpot in Caro's kitchen one of these mornings, and they'll simmer all day, so he'll have quite a few bags for the freezer to nuke for a quick snack any time.  (moire non re: that one bag I open and crack for him as he drives, every time we head home with our bounty). 

I browsed the jellies and jams and relishes---almost choosing the hot pickles, the pickled okra, the moonshine jelly, just for the lark of it.   But I just made a big batch of the hotsy-totsies, there's still some okra from last year in the fridge, and neither of us is partial to 'shine, especially not to the ruination of a perfectly good Cathead biscuit.

I selected a clear green hot pepper jelly, for nibbles with crackers and cream cheese, while he hand-sacked six pounds of scuppernongs for jelly-making.    Scups are the paler, thicket-cousin of the muscadine---like lightly-bronzed grapes.   Their thick skins are gently veined with the pale, Braillish lace of a cantaloupe, and will pop right off with a squeeze, leaving the round innards intact like the famous "peeled grapes" of movie-vamp and small-town Halloween House fame.   

I washed these and put them in the freezer soon as we got home, for they tend to brew their own liquor  and draw every gnat between here and Memphis, if left in the bag very long.   They will be cooked off, run through Mammaw's "jelly cone" to get that tang-stronger-than-Concord into the juice.   Then the juice will be strained and cut with just a little white-grape juice for the jelly-making.    

It's been in the Forties-to-Sixties here since we got home, and just the having of these familiar old Southern Scuppernongs has left the lingering fragrance of Fall in the house .

Monday, September 12, 2011

JOYFUL WEEKEND

We're home, full of hugs and smiles and good memories, with the tug of Grandbabies and too-grown-up young ladies last remembered with sticker-books and Barbies, and now memory-freshened in fancy dresses, holding bouquets and standing oh, so still in their places in the Atlanta sunshine.    Even the littlest, in a wee tie and vest, carrying a DAWGS football filled with petals, was a bit subdued for a few moments, and then we all just burst with joyful cheers and laughter and hugs and smiles, as our new daughter took our name and came to grace the family.

We're travel-logged with the miles, as filled with glad memories as these bursting laundry bags and suitcases standing to be emptied and put away til next time.

And so---to the work, with a happy heart and the kvell of a bright new presence to bring her charm and intelligence and beautiful sweet spirit into our son's life, and to us all.     We hope to bring her as much joy in the years to come.

And moire non,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

MASON-DIXONARY---MEASURES


We won’t get into distances this time, like “a hoot and a holler,” and “far as Job could spit.”   This will just cover a few numbers and amounts.

SOME SEVERAL:  more than just several---the “some” also used to indicate severity or duration of events

FIFTY-SOME-ODD:   anything from fifty-one to fifty-nine

BOOCOOS:   too many to count.   From beaucoup---many muches, and usually preceded by “just” to amplify

SCADS:   (a number, not an amount)---lots, and usually followed by “of ‘em” and not “of it”

PINCH:   whatever amount thumb and forefinger can grab and put in the pot.

SPOONCLOP:   heaped-up spoon---refers to a big clump of something like mayo or butter, which would make an audible  “clop” into the dish




PALM:  as in "a palm of salt"---usually a measure for pickles or the spaghetti pot

TEE-NINECY BIT:   just a little

TO FLOAT AN EGG:   from an old pickle recipe---when you had enough salt in the water in the churn to make an egg float, it was right

SIZE OF AN EGG:   usually refers to the size of a lump of butter or lard, or to the size you should make roll dough or meatballs into

HALF AN EGGSHELL FULL:  Mrs. Prysock’s eggnog recipe called for six each of rum and bourbon.   The year Mr. Dero brought home the two dozen Jumbo eggs was a memorable party 

TEACUPFUL:   you measured with the measure you HAD, and if you used the same one for the whole recipe, it usually balanced out pretty well, even in baking.


A WINEGLASS:  who knows what size?

MESS:    in the eye of the beholder---a mess of quail you might hold in your hands, whereas a mess of greens might fill a bushel.    A GOOD mess might be a lavish amount, or a skimpy one, depending upon the speaker’s known generosity.  

A Good Mess of greens from dear Mrs. White would be more than enough, whereas a “good mess” in the eye of Miss Lottie Folger might depict her grudging hand in its meager amount.

CROAKER SACK—burlap sack used to bring home a mess of frogs---like these:


And not THIS:

POKEFUL:   usually a smaller sack, of brown paper, but could refer to a small parcel tied up with string

These three same as everybody's:

BUSHEL   PECK    BALE 

A BAIT:      usually refers to a big amount, AFTER it’s been eaten, and more than you should have.   “I had me a bait of froglegs at Mamma ‘n’ ‘ems last night.”

WHOLE POTFUL:  not necessarily foodstuffs, and not necessarily in a pot.   You can have, variously, whole potfuls of money, luck or misery, to name a few.

And, as my Dad answered, were anyone ever so gauche as to inquire into his financial state, you might have:

ENOUGH MONEY TO BURN A WET DOG.

And to you all:   A Yankee Dime---(A Kiss) and moiré non,

Monday, September 5, 2011

LABOR DAY, 2011

+++++++++++++++HAPPY LABOR DAY+++++++++++++++

I tried to find an online picture of something representing "Work" for about an hour just now---ranging from old gloves to old boots to a hammer and nails, and no image seemed to be right, somehow.  So I'll just leave the pictures to imagination, to represent any and all vocations and jobs, careers and professions.

A Thank You today to all the work-force of our country---millions strong and dedicated.   Our workers have been saluted in quite a few country music songs, so here's an old favorite by  Merle Haggard:

This song by John Conlee will always have a special meaning for me.

And this one by  ALABAMA always touches my heart just to hear it, as does the plight of those who have lost their jobs, or are struggling in the quest for any work to keep their families and lives going.   

  May there soon be better times for us all.


Friday, September 2, 2011

STILL PINK

We're linking with Beverly at PINK SATURDAY today!!




The weather has been lusciously lovely for the past month or so, and then a spike up yesterday and today into the 100+.   We've been out on the patio all morning---a lazy breakfast counting the cereal flakes and little chocolate bits (guess whose bowl was the Total and whose the Brownie crunch?).  And then the carry-out of all the tea dishes---probably fifty pieces in all, ranging from a tiny pot, cream and sugar, to actual wee cooking pots and some of my Melmac---note the little ladle and 'getti-grabber we're using for teaspoons---whatever she could cram into a big old shopping bag.   She looked like a puppy dragging a blanket as she emerged from the back door with her rattly haul.

The cup on the right is mine---she's a BLUE girl, and any shade will do for her, dressed in her bedraggled, many-washed Snow White dress.   Mine is Watermellinlemonilla, poured to order from the pot, while hers is always strawberry (which used to be pronounced "Strahhh-bry"---too much Angelina Ballerina, I expect).   



And perhaps, with the lovely breeze and the sun not quite so grim as predicted, we'll have a little ride off down the street, while the shade is still green and the destinations waiting.    I love seeing all the bikes and toys parked around the back yard.  




We'll go back out in a moment, making the most of this Summer-to-beat-all, before the leaves fly and the cold days come.    I can feel the deepening-down already, the lengthening of the shadows, the quickening of the dark as it settles during supper, rather than long after.  


Some of the maples are golding, one of the hostas sports two huge bright-yellow leaves almost overnight, and the Fall will be welcome.    But right now, we're still enjoying all the Pink, like my new double-double Rose of Sharon, dressed her lovely prom dress: