Friday, December 7, 2012
Amidst these hectic days, these glowing nights of light and gleam, these quiet times of reflection, perhaps THIS is what I need most of all.
I hope you all wonderful days ahead, filled with a childhood sense of joy and anticipation.
Saturday, November 17, 2012
Monday, November 12, 2012
Four years ago today, I sent out the first tentative post of this blog, just blindly casting out words to scatter and scape about the world, and not quite sure what I wanted to say. The deluge of words since has belied my shaky beginnings, for the freshet flows far and wide, too much and too fulsome---just whatever my mind throws on the page before the magical "SEND."
I so thank you all for your faithful reading and dropping in and the comments, so endearing and welcome and kind. This four years has been immeasurably rewarding, and the greatest blessing of all is YOU, my Faraway Friends.
And so a post from the very first week---when words were all I had, pictures a far hope on the horizon, and many, many friends unmet.
The little program at the end (just a tiny bit naughty in places) was sent just this week by Sis, a true-life G.R.I.T.S. Girl her ownself.
And one question, which always arises: Grits. And people also have a great curiosity about G.R.I.T.S Girls---not Magnolia Blossoms or Sweet Potato Queens. G.R.I.T.S.--- acronym for Girls Raised In The South, the down-home, Southern-raised group of women whose company and goodwill have been such a part of life as I've known it. My own membership is a treasured thing, indeed. G.R.I.T.S. Girls (and Guys, if they're lucky) are of a Southern State of MIND, not geography. They are be-mannered at birth, born to be gracious, social, tolerant of others' foibles, and just a tad bit short-tempered with foolishness and unkindness.
They may be young or old, hair ranging from whalespout wisps to blue once-a-week helmets sprayed into submission at their Standing Appointment. They almost all own pearls, gloves, compacts, and several sturdy purses. Hats are optional, though the G.R.I.T.S set probably own as many feathery sweeps and veiled toques as the Royal Families of Europe, and wear them with great panache, as well.
They can take their French manicures straight home from the salon and plunge right into that bowl of buttermilk chicken, flour it up and fling it in that skillet beside the pot of collards as well as they can sashay their satin-clad selves into a country club, the Opera House or the White House. Dirt under those fancy nails just means they've been in the tomato patch or the rosebed or the horsestall, but they clean up REALLY well.
They have a zest for life, for literature, for Family and Friends; both are legion and necessary. Countless generations are remembered and celebrated; Grandma's necklace is a lovely accent to Granddaughter's wedding dress, and the tiniest new member of the clan is welcomed with her own add-a-pearl and a whispered word of womanly wisdom in her tiny ear. The littlest ones know to say, "Yes, Ma'am" and keep their skirts down and their knees together on their trikes...they aspire to be cheerleaders and doctors, mothers and teachers, writers and world-fixers, and usually achieve any and all of those, and much more.
And G.R.I.T.S. of both genders usually have a home-learned knowledge of Nature and the hows and wherefores of where their food comes from. They see the fields---from Spring, when the tillers are crawling the land, sending out that primal earthy scent of First Turning---to the last plowing-in of the Fall-brown stems shorn of their bounty, ground into the land for enrichment during the long cold days.
We know that meat does not spring from the Earth wrapped in plastic, and have witnessed the hard facts of raising and getting those hams and sides of beef into the freezer, have hefted a deer carcass onto the hanger for skinning, and can cook all the above in more ways than Emeril. Quite a few of the G.R.I.T.S. contingent are proficient at bringing down game for the table, having received their first small rifles when most kids are still clamoring for Elmo or Barbie, and more than a few of the female persuasion can outshoot all the males at any Huntin’ Camp.
Tiny girls in the smallest-size camo are proudly loaded into pickups to ride happily out with Daddy for a day at the deer stand or duck blind, taking their own places and turns at very young ages. Nobody messes with a woman holding a 30-aught-six, and many a 12-gauge stands in a closet behind the sweeping skirts of a prom dress. Some with the credentials of breeding and a family older’n dirt get away with owning their own assault rifles.
Martinis and Mystery, Chanel and Chainsaws, Satin and Skillets, White Gloves and Workboots---all are part of a G.R.I.T.S. Girl's makeup, along with good manners, kitchen knowledge, love of animals and the outdoors, luxurious perfume and scandalous underwear and perhaps a good knock of bourbon on occasion. Florence King is the Queen of writing about G.R.I.T.S. and Belles and all manner of Southern Womanhood; Fannie Flagg is an absolute genius with a golden gift for dialogue and character and scene, as well---her Idgie Threadgoode will live on as long as Scarlett O’Hara in the minds of female readers---just as memorable and smarter, besides.
My friend Klary lives over in Amsterdam, but her picture of a fried drumstick, properly marinated in buttermilk, Tabasco, etc., then cooked to the perfect golden-brown, perfect shattery crust, is worthy of any Below-the-M/D-cook in possession of her Mammaw's black skillet and a leftover cotillion corsage.
And G-girls sure DO say “BUTT,” but most of the ones I know say "Bee-hind." In exigent circumstances, they say "ass"---pronouncing it "ice"---as in "Dayum, Bobby Ray! Get your sorry ice in this house 'fore the neighbors see you!"
It's a soothing, sizzling Sisterhood, and location is no deterrent to membership. It's all in the outlook.
Friday, November 9, 2012
Thursday, November 8, 2012
R. I. P. ELLEN DOUGLAS (JOSEPHINE HAXTON) 1921--2012
The South’s HOT. It’s full of mosquitoes and snakes and gators and other hostile life; it’s growing by bounds, and it’s melting into the ground in places. But it’s FERTILE, pretty near more fertile than any same-sized plot of ground on this Earth, and the fertile imaginations are the most impressive crop.
Friday, November 2, 2012
Monday, October 29, 2012
She was a bright little twinkle of a woman, with sparkly jewelry and a bouncing page-boy. The Dukes belonged to the Civic Club and the Garden Club, and she was always scurrying off to Wednesday AND Thursday Bridge, with a colorful purse on her arm and the smiling snap of Doublemint as she went.
So one Christmas when she came into the house preceded by Arpege, perhaps it was the unaccustomed black dress that startled us to begin with---setting a tone of foreboding in its severity, like the one poor Miss Doris Day wore in MIDNIGHT LACE. Her smart little black suede sandal-strap heels clicked across the floor as usual, as she set a cellophane-wrapped present down on our kitchen table.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
I'm linking to Beverly's PINK SATURDAY Breast Cancer Awareness Day..
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Monday, October 22, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Sweetpea is a purist---she'll toast away, holding anybody's stick over the fire til it's like you like it, rotating carefully and getting the marshmallow just so, but she likes hers as Nature made them---two graham crackers with some squares of Hershey Bar and an un-toasted marshmallow---all left cold.
It's quite a feat to eat that, with crumbs and snaps resulting, but it's her way---she won't hear to having any of hers melted.
Chris is an Extra-Crunchy Jif kinda guy, with a nicely browned marshmallow, just gooey ENOUGH to ooze out with the chocolate as you squeeze the halves together.
Mine "Well Done," please---a veritable torch-on-a-stick, before blowing out and scraping that scrumptious burnt-mallow ooze onto the cracker, with all the crunchy black bits of sugary WOW.
That long-remembered taste of the outdoors, the crisp of the air, the susssssh of leaves underfoot, the wavery stretched-out coat hanger dipping toward the coals, and that dark familiar crunch between your teeth of the charred crumbs---incomparable.
I've been known to pause in mid-assembly, to munch all the hot crust off the outside and toast the same marshmallow again. S'mores are like steak---you like them like YOU like them.
And a wonderful, sunny Pink/Autumn Saturday to all!!
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Ben and Lil must have about twelve green thumbs between them, and their energy and talents in the kitchen are amazing. The day last year that we three got into my kitchen and turned out Five loaves of Zucchini-Blueberry-Pecan bread and canned I-don't-know-how-many jars of Fig Preserves, and STILL made it to a late lunch WAY across the state and an afternoon at a Flea Market (edited to add I'd forgotten that we also came home and canned an equal number of Preserved Figs that evening) was one to remember.
We've already sampled several of these delicious goodies, as WELL AS a bag of their Home-Candied Figs which rival any confiture in Paris. These wonderful sweeties will brighten the Winter mornings, and many a Cathead Biscuit will sing their praise.
Thursday, October 4, 2012
I'm determined to get some FALL into this house, folks. There's a surge of energy coming from that great burst of sunshine down the stairs, the air says AUTUMN, and if I don't get some wreaths on the doors and some pumpkins scattered around---well, I just don't know WHAT.
But first I have to dust all the ceilings and under the beds---it's the LAW. I'm wearing a big ole poufy bakery HAIRNET, People!
So, Whilst I huff and swiffer and vacuum in preparation to the REAL fun---I'm posting a re-run of my Southern take on decorating, with the often-asked Gussy vs. Hussy difference:
The key is that you can Gussy up a house, a room, a dress, a tabletop, a package or a window treatment or a hat, but almost the only thing you can call “hussied up” is a person---female persons, at that.
Well, maybe that time Bugs Bunny wore the lipstick, but that’s not a good example, I guess.
Gussying is all in the outlook, I think---you add a little extra touch here, a coat of paint there, a new shade of nail polish or a different centerpiece, and there you have it---gussied. A lush blossom tucked behind an ear, purse-shoes-belt to match, a fresh white pique collar on a plain navy dress, the tilt of an absolutely useless wisp of whimsy passing for a cocktail hat---those fall into the gussy category.
Gussying in a room could include a punch of pillows, a paint color, a mural or bit of trompe l’oeil, some specially-draped and tasseled curtains, a little tableau atop a table, a mantel, a shelf. We all love a special touch, whether our own, in a magazine, in a house in which we feel the warmth of things well-loved.
But Hussied Up, now---that’s a different subject entirely, mostly calling for a state of BEING, for the carriage and attitude count for a great percentage of the aura. The extra touches are there, the attention to detail may be present, the care in preparation and presentation undeniable, but the effect is just TOO-TOO. Too-tight or too bright or too-too is just too much---they run over into “Did you SEE what she was wearing?” on past, “Too much sugar for a dime,” into “Ten pounds of sugar in a five-pound sack,” and the capstone: “Her Mama would just DIE!”
My girlfriends and I used to tease each other about being Hussied Up when we would go out together---a little extra care with the lipstick, an appointment for a hairdo that afternoon, an outfit just bought and pressed Just SO, but those were just nice ladies getting spruced up.
REAL Hussying is either a gift or a curse---a flair for a dramatic look, with a special style that gets you noticed AND talked about, but in an envious or admiring way, though your admirers may be as much detractors as any.
Or the curse of not having The Sense God Gave a Goose in the way you present your person---a painted-on outfit cut down TO THERE, with tottery heels, big hair and too much jewelry AND perfume just ain’t the way you want to go through life. It gets you noticed, all right, but it also gets you Looked At Funny and Laughed At, besides.
Our Aunt Cady wore odd little outfits, with a bit too much powder and lipstick, and Toujours Moi preceded her into the house. She wore TOO MUCH STUFF, too many GeeGaws, too much tarnished or plastic bits and pieces with gappy places where the crumbs of sparkly glass had fallen from the settings. She was like the society woman of whom it was rumored that she just stood in the middle of the room and her maid flung every knick-knack in her jewelry box at her. More was MORE.
On up into the Seventies, her stockings had seams, and there were always flocked butterflies or embroidered flowers scattered up her calves. In addition to all the above, her ensemble for my Grandpa's funeral included a shoulder-strap purse big as a saddlebag, in a big ole Laura Ashley-type floral chintz if I remember right, and slapped on it midways like a Homecoming Corsage was the final touch: A huge red paper-satin bow, one of those sticky-back ones sold by the dozen at Fred's for Christmas packages.
But she was sweet and she was OURS; we tittered a bit in secret, but we would no more have hurt her feelings over her over-the-top effect than we’d fly. She was a nice lady, and no matter what she wore, the SELF of her could never have gone past extreme Gussied Up into Hussydom.