Thursday, March 22, 2012


The Castle Kit that’s been hanging around down in the toy-file-drawer came out into the sun yesterday.   Its debut several months ago went the way of the Go Fish cards, the Cootie Game, the numerous puzzles of twenty-four or fifty pieces.

Books are different---books get opened, admired, sounded out, and read to over and over, but games with pieces---those have been a different story.    Candyland’s little cards and figures were co-opted for the dollhouse, serving as guests and carpets and blankets.  
Any pouring out upon the table, or attempts to deal or explain rules were met with immediate encircling-with-arms and refusals to listen.  And I, from my own imagination-laden childhood (albeit of far lesser bits and pieces to conjure with) can remember the immediate jumps forward of this-will-make-a-splendid x and won't-that-go-nicely-in-the-dollhouse/game /kitchen/ treehouse in which acorn cups and flower buds and bottle caps translated nicely into all sorts of other needfuls, understand perfectly.  This child takes things into her own hands---making roads and hills and schools and songs.   You’re welcome to participate and embraced into the imaginary game or story with enthusiasm---just take what she hands you, and follow her lead.
And I treasure these times---even the proprietary ones, for they are fleeting and the conversations beyond price.
And now---yesterday---as she spied the castle bag in her toy-tub, she gently lifted it out, laid it upon the table, and carefully spilled its shapes upon the cloth.   We got out the INSTRUCTIONS---just imagine---and read those for the cornerstone, at least, as she patted and picked up and perused all the shapes and forms.     We counted out twelve blocks---check;  two arches---check, two ice cream cones---ditto.
I carefully stacked the first six pieces---the two foundation blocks, two round-ended planks, and the big gateway balanced atop---then sat back and let her go to it.

And she did---quite well for a four-year-old, I think.   Little tries and rejections, tiny squints and removals, the soft whisper of “Steady, very steady,” as she set the tiny crenellations into Mary Poppins chimneypots.    A few overturnings, a couple of just-avoided avalanches, and quite a few prinkings---like a new bride moving a mirror or chair from place to place all over the room til she’s satisfied with the effect.  She'd pick up a piece and reach, then reconsider like an uncertain chess player, never turning loose of the wood.

Back view:

It’s still sitting there---we left it for Ganner to see when he got in late from work; we ate at the dining table, the three of us, setting down the little Tupperwares and the cottage cheese container right out of the fridge onto the shiny glass with the fish sticks and the bowl of snap beans, so as to leave the breakfast-table masterpiece intact for her Mommy to see after her Bible study meeting.

What small royal or fairy or elf wouldn’t want to live there?  Ganner and I certainly would, but we’re waiting til the moat-diggers work us into their schedule.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012


I'm Linking today to Beverly's PINK SATURDAY, so there's a little garnish of PINK amongst the GREEN.

The above picture is the lovely gift which greeted us first thing this St. Patrick’s Day morning.   The bread’s from Caro’s bakery and it’s called Irish Breakfast Bread.

The note’s in GREEN, probably written when she arrived at home about three, and all left on the counter for us:

Top O’ the Morning to you!   A Little Something Irish to start your day!  And a smiley-face.

I couldn’t resist setting the table to befit such a serendipitous, apt feast, and so the green Melmac squares, the pink napkins and creamer, the apple-green teapot filled with Earl Grey.

I thought at first it might be a loaf of Soda Bread (that IS one of the ingredients, however) encrusted with salt, but when I opened the package and tasted the crystals on my fingers, it was that crumbly large-grained sugar which makes such a lovely soft crunch between your teeth.

The crust is nice and chewy, and the texture is rich and smoothly heavy, slightly sweet, and reminiscent of a wonderful Pannettone, without all the dried fruit---just soft raisins.

Chris ran out to take a few snaps in the sunshine while I put on the kettle, and came back with one of our FOUR JONQUILS which have been nodding merrily in this wonderful sunny weather.
We enjoyed bread and butter and cheese and tea---an echo of the thousands of mornings of my Irish ancestors, but probably on a much more sumptuous note.   I remarked that the beautiful little loaf was just perfect, and that I would imagine the women of those long-ago households might have had to supply a loaf EACH for the morning meal for her hard-working, off-to-field-and-flock-and-mine menfolk.    And bread and cheese was probably the entire content of many a lunch-pail as well, and “glad to get it,” as my Mammaw used to say.

I’m off now to cut a twist of cheesecloth for the spices and herbs to go into the Corned Beef Pot---we somehow have THREE sturdy cabbages in the fridge and a basket of little potatoes, and I think a bit more of this Irish bread and cheese might round the day off nicely.

I wish you all a sweet, sunny St. Patrick’s Day!!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


Somehow, the first day-of-Spring-the-clocks was oddly easy, with early awakening not so bad, and with energy remaining at the end of the day.   As the hours went on, with the sunshine coming in as much more than its usual peeks, it seemed much more like a Summer day out there, in this stepping toward the cusp of Spring.

Chris quoted (in his own words, of course---HIS kind of quote) an old saying---this tinkering with time is like cutting a foot off a good blanket, then sewing it onto the other end, hoping to make it fit.  Pretty soon, it’s all splits and seams, with no comfortable place to rest head nor feet.  And all that seamed-down fabric makes it less and less use to anybody. 

It felt SO Summer-Day-Down-South, but not one of those day-long chores like picking or shelling or canning, when you barely get Supper on the table before energy and light are gone, and so to bed.

This was more like one of the rare ones, when you finish the garden work and get those rows of full, shining jars set to cool in time for a shower, freshening up to enjoy dinner and hearing about everyone’s day. It was an everybody-home-to-supper early, so that the last wipe of the counter and whisssssh of the dishwasher were WAY before dark, and gave a definite end to the work of the day, with much of the light left to enjoy.

  Such a day calls for a good old Southern Supper.    Collards in their “pot liquor” of good juices flavored with onion and a little garlic, and gilded with the golden beads of a little sesame oil, like our favorite Chinese restaurant Down South:

A few slices of “Pork Steak”---a flat oval with all the flavor and tenderness of center-cut chops, cut into threes, dredged in flour and pan-fried:

A bowl of Baby Red Potato Salad, still a little bit warm like Chris likes it, and a dressing of sweet onion, bell pepper, boiled eggs, Blue Plate, and some of the sweet pickles I made last week---sorta messy, for it's still in the mixing bowl:  


What would Collards be without a black skillet of crusty CORNBREAD---half plain and the other half with minced jalapenos:

Chris’ tray---he likes his collards with Pot Likker, and some extra jalapeno on the side. 

And with that extra helping of sunshine long after supper, the light lingering as if reluctant to leave us---a quite satisfying day.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Okay, Y’all---just a little departure from the norm today.   We’ve been talking about old TV shows and their impact and influence on our “formative years,” or just for the enjoyment we remember.  We fondly remembered quite a few, with Lassie and Bonanza and Donna Reed and Dr. Welby some of the ones which were totally Rated G, with solid values and all coming right in the end.

And then, there were a few which we watched faithfully every week (lively discussion between Caro and me of our three-channels-only years out in the country, in which somebody had to run out between shows to physically TURN the rusty old antenna, with somebody ELSE shouting from inside the wall “RIGHT THERE!” or “GO BACK!” before we missed intro and beginning of the next program).

And Now---I’m constrained to make a Public Service Announcement of my own:   Those of you who know me as a quiet, kind person---a good Grandma, a kind and loyal friend, and as a mostly-well-mannered Lady, calm of demeanor and modest of speech:


Darrin was a Dick, and Samantha should have turned him into a frog.

He had all the classic signs of an abusive husband:  he wanted to isolate her from her family and friends, he insisted that she do everything HIS way, though it was much more trouble for her, he was ashamed of her, and he tried to make her change who she WAS.   She should have just nose-twitched him right into the nearest lily-pond.

And How Are Ya’ll doing this sunny day?

Thursday, March 8, 2012


‘Long about January every year, I’m longing for a Spring Lunch---pastelly and asparagussy and the windows open to the sounds and scents of the season.   May Wine sounds enticing when someone else talks about it, and it’s a lovely thought shining in the glass, but probably only Caro would take a sip, and maybe Chris (but he’d probably want Sprite in his).

But this year----THIS year---I’ve been dreaming of a Summer supper on the lawn, with a marquee over the table, and the gauzy panels catching the late-evening breeze.  The menu would be straight off the grill, in that decades-old repetition of Southern cookouts---ribs or chicken, baked beans, potato salad, maybe some crisp-cut slaw or summery pasta salad, sliced tomatoes----but not burgers.
  For burgers are of themselves, with their little side-rounds of onion and pickle and tomato on a plate, and maybe chips on the side.

Burgers are what you have at the end of a day of yard work, when you all just wash up and sit in the shade around the patio while the grill heats up, or when somebody’s bringing their children, and you rustle open a bag of Lay’s  and fill up the  KoolAid pitcher. 

But chicken, now---that’s a good sit-down-with-friends supper, with corn cooked in the shuck, or some caramelized onions.

And Ribs---Ribs are the ne plus Unh-Hunh of grillwork.  Chris makes the ULTIMATE backyard ribs---tender and succulent and with a sweet bronze glaze; they’re simple, and simply perfect with a cold Wonder-Bread-Blue-Plate-Sweet Onion sandwich when it’s just us, or with all the trimmin’s when there’s company.

It’s not BARBECUE, but, like a short message from a friend, ‘twill serve til better days.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


It was 66 here when we went out at two yesterday!!!

We went for a late lunch, at a little local place which has a lovely picnic area---a small pavilion with tables, and long teak benches scattered about the lawn, with brick walks and strolling paths.

We took our lunches out into the breeze, each of us trying to use our paper bag as a placemat, and having great difficulty pinning them down as they were emptied of their sandwiches.   We set our drinks on corners, we held them down with the spare hand, and after Chris used his knife to cut Sweetpea’s sandwich into the required, “Four pieces, please"  (that child makes a tea party out of every possible occasion, even those involving cheeseburgers), he slid the blade gently through the sack and into the slit between the planks of the table to pin her lunch down.

It was a wonderful couple of hours, as we ate, explored, went on several ADVENTURES, found sticks and rocks, identified a little set of raccoon tracks in the  concrete under the picnic tables, and enjoyed the BRISK breeze that blew our hair back as we rode the bench TRAIN and BOAT to wonderful places.

Sweetpea's class had been studying about March yesterday, for she commented that she was having either a Lamb Day or a Lion Day, and which was it?    It was quite Leo-ly in character and effect, but the warmth and bright skies and sunshine would have been LAMB in anybody’s book.

So, with a nod to and from  Mary Poppins: