Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Jessie Paul Graham sells Avon, raises a big garden to sell vegetables, and has two dozen chickens, all with names.   She also paints little scenes with acrylics on country things like saw-blades, bird houses, old pumps, and boards from torn-down barns and tenant houses.   She’ll stand right out there in your driveway and paint your mailbox, and bring you some home-grown tomatoes, while she’s at it.

Every year, she gets up all the art and craft projects for Vacation Bible School and the two week Day Camp that the Boy Scouts run up at the park for all the boys in the area.

She once got into a bidding war with another crafty painter at the once-a-month Bring-It Auction in Expedia—one of those ladies who always puts in apostrophes when she paints people’s names on stuff---and they just wouldn’t stop raising on a rusty old crosscut saw til the other lady’s husband grabbed both her hands and held them til the gavel fell, to keep her from bumping the price up to $60.00.    Only the little scatter of applause kept everybody in the house from hearing the losing bidder hissing through clenched teeth, “Billy Clyde, you turn loose a me, and I MEAN IT!”

Jessie Paul sanded that old saw, and painted it in a little down-the-road scene on each side---one looking out at rows of corn like comb-tracks in a little boy’s wet hair, and on the other, a long-distance look at a little farm, all laid out like a grits Grandma Moses, with tiny bright brushtips dobs of white cotton on the knee-high rows of green.


   It came with two small painted bike-brackets, so you could hang it up easily, then switch scenes---take your pick any time.    She got double her money and then some at the next Art Fair up in Clarksdale, where people really liked all those country scenes.

She stayed the weekend with her cousin up there, and they had reservations at The Madidi on Friday night.   She took a nice dress and some pumps, and they dressed really fancy for that wonderful evening.  

She and her cousin had a martini, and about the time they started on their Shrimp and Grits, they were disappointed to find out that Morgan was not in town.   So they had another martini and got home in time for a Housewives.  

Jessie Paul made $602.00 that weekend---Delta folks sure have taken to those gussied-up sawblades.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


When the heat of the day has wilted your energy and left even your imagination at low ebb, Wander here, Wander Here.

Take the shady path, through the gate, out and around beside the water, past the magic gazing ball in the marjoram---the exotic fragrance rising with each sandal-step.

A small, hopeful sunbeam ignites the white silk of a Peace Lily bloom beside the lane. 

Perhaps fortune will allow us a glimpse of a small fairy, deep in the wood,  before she flees at the sound of our steps.

And as we stroll around the circle and near home again, take your rest, take your ease, and listen to the birdsong.

And to complete the concert, linger beneath the silver web for  more ethereal music, like a gossamer CD spinning out the haunting notes of a Glass Harp:

Sunday, June 17, 2012


We all took Chris out to Brunch today, and had TOO good a time together---I think everybody's gone off for a nap.

We've had quite a social weekend already---yesterday we had a Birthday Breakfast for our dear neighbor Honey, whose favorite thing is STRAWBERRIES.   We had a lovely bowl, shining in the eight-o'clock sun on the patio.

Caro brought us a wonderful loaf of that delicious Irish soda bread, as well other pastries.   The cheese is a Brie and the same two Irish Cheddars that we had on St. Patrick's Day.

There was fresh pineapple---the dips for the strawberries were two nice new Philadelphia cream cheese concoctions which come in tiny brown tubs like ice cream:  Dark Chocolate and White Chocolate, which tastes exactly like Eli's Cheesecake.

Honey's favorite raspberry-filled tiny donuts:

Plain old glazed holes:

And some sharp-tangy Paminna Cheese, a nice counterpoint to all the sweets:

The big coffeepot just fit beneath the nice new Tea Cozy, and there's powdered sugar in the big berry.

Just before we lit the candle and sat down.   We've been "doing" her birthday like this for probably ten years now---sometimes just the two of us, sometimes with the whole family---today there were five.  Don't the old fifties Melmacs make a nice Spring table?   Caro did all the arranging and bringing home---I just set the table.

The FORGOTTEN THING:   A spray of Queen Anne's Lace from the yard, which was supposed to go into a pretty Mason jar for a centerpiece.

I hope you're all having/had a wonderful Fathers' Day with your loved ones, and if your Dad's no longer with you, I pray you sweet memories.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I see that DALLAS is back, and though we set the DVR to get it, nobody’s really eager or interested in seeing it soon.    But just a quick memory from WAY BACK WHEN:

We DID watch it Back In The Day, and my favorite memory of it is that one November night in 1980, we catered a Rehearsal Dinner at a local country club.   There were to be perhaps forty guests, and in addition to all the food, I put the air-popper, some extra butter, and some of the BIG round steel salad pans into the wagon as we left home.

Everyone ate and drank and enjoyed the evening, and about 8:30, we started popping corn whilst we were clearing up.    We filled the big pans, buttered and seasoned the big fluffy kernels nicely, and set them to keep warm for a few minutes atop the big warming shelf of the stove, as we popped more and MORE and more.

THEN, at nine o’clock, all those people in the days before VCRs, grumbly at missing the long awaited denouement, refreshed their drinks and settled comfortably, shoes-off, all over the TV lounge on couches and chairs and cushions and the floor, passed around the popcorn, and watched “WHO SHOT J.R.?”

An impromptu gathering, but great fun with all the whooping and laughing, made more enjoyable by such a go-with-the-flow crowd and a little lagniappe. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


We're going to be spending the next few days getting ready for two successive visits, from four of the chillun, and three GRANDS.  

I've rattled on for almost four years, now, with you as gracious readers and friends, and you've heard about family, friends, happenings, memories and much more.   All my frame of reference is centered on the South, of my upbringing, of raising the children, of life as I knew it for so many years, and I've scattered myriad words to  try to describe the images I grew up with,  to tell the moments I remember, the places I love.

Now, whilst we're doing our preparations and fluffing the linens and dusting the books and teapots, filling Things In Dishes, getting out the crafts and toys in such anticipation of the coming fun, I hope you'll have a look at the SOUTH I'm from, captured by a Master Photographer---Janie at


Just the music brought me to tears by the fourth picture.  It's a stunning array, of memories and scenes which are the ME of me.

Look Away,


Monday, June 11, 2012


We had a week and weekend too busy to count, and Sweetpea had quite a nice time of it, with lots of outings, a LONG walk in the forest, trips and activities and fun in the little plastic pool in the backyard.  We went for lunch one day to one of our favorite places---they have little windowed alcoves which jut out into the landscaping, charming and Juliet-ish, with multi-mullions of glass.

The place was quite crowded when we arrived, and we just happened to get one of the special spots, the three of us.   We ordered and ate our lunch, with Sweetpea, of course, all finished before Chris and me.   And she just wants to TOUCH that pretty glass SO BADLY.  I cautioned and reprimanded and made her sit back down several times, but the temptation kept stirring her out of her chair, stopping inches short of putting those little fingers onto the glimmer.

And after a while, I turned and looked over my shoulder into a surprisingly empty room.  It was cleared of people, trays, litter, with every little napkin-box and saltshaker immaculately in place.

"Was it something I SAID?" I joked.

"Probably they heard that Sweetpea's two SISTERS will be here in a little bit," Chris responded.

Her eyes grew big and round at the thought of two more like her.   "OHHH!," she said.   "One would be TERRIBLE!   Two would be a 'A-TAS-to-py."

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Despite the various talents blessed on this family, I’ve never had any skill of artistic merit---no stitches, no paint, no musical gifts.   I cook, but that’s about it---even my Daddy would say, “Well, you cook good and you can arrange really pretty food, but then it all gets eat up.”

Cooking IS important; our families are our staunchest supporters and our gentlest critics, though most learn early that you might tease an unruly dog a coupla times, you can bicker and riposte with your siblings, but you don’t EVER insult or irritate the cook. 

 And on Church Supper Nights, the Good Church Ladies ramp cookin’ up a few notches into Olympic-Gold territory.  They set down their BEST, every time---kept to a single-minded standard of excellence judged by each other and their own stern principles, and few restaurants can claim that.    We all know Mamas and Grandmas and Mammaws whose experience in that one cultural item would equal degrees and awards and testimonials were it in a field of work accredited by other than glowing compliments and an enviable reputation.

Good Church Ladies ARE AS VAIN AS ANYBODY WHEN IT COMES TO COOKING---A COOK’S REPUTATION IS ALL. The Pillsbury Bake-Off pulls forth no such efforts from kitchens as the collective strivings of a community of good cooks on Church Supper night.

They get into those kitchens and whip up Aunt Hattie’s Potato Surprise or Death by Kool-Whip desserts or Bean Bundles tied with pimiento strips, and dedicate the same time to the prettifying as to their own careful grooming and Standing Appointment coifs.  They serve out those delights on their fanciest
dishes---the ones their children are forbidden to LOOK AT crooked through the glass of the china cabinet.   Those prized plates and platters and Depression Glass with the little fading hand-written masking-tape labels on the bottoms---only THOSE are worthy of THIS occasion.

As a longtime student (PhD in Church Suppers, WMU meetings, Garden Club receptions, et al.) of the Southern covered-dish social phenomenon, I know the kitchen-proud heart of every woman who sets down her best effort, in her best, prettiest dish, and then looks up to see that new hussy bearing in a tray of hummingbird tongues garnished with Carmen Miranda's best hat.

And after a lot of years as one of those Church Ladies myself, I’ve wondered if they’ve all learned by now to do the Mammy-and-Scarlett thing and eat a little something at home beforehand.   For there’s a kind of protocol to the serving line, adhered to in almost every denomination:  the Mamas go through the line first, filling the children's plates---picking out all the choicest pieces of chicken and the devilled eggs and Mrs. Pugh’s famous-in-five-counties Cheese and Macaroni for the kids, who will take two bites, then abandon plates and places, running off to heed the siren call of all those friends to play with.  

 Then the men go along the line, assassinating all the best casseroles, laying waste to the low-cooked snap beans and butterbeans and skillets of corn, and eagerly forking up all the rest of the fried chicken and the baked ham and scraping out all but the little high-water-marks of crust around the big blue roaster of Miss Quinette’s duck and dressing.

 So those ladies who prepared their very best dishes, mainly for the approbation of all the OTHER Good Church Ladies---THOSE ladies will have to be content with the admiration, for the food left affords but scanty scrapes of three kinds of baked beans, four kinds of potato salad, and the six ground-beef-and-noodle concoctions the hungry hordes left behind because they’re  all alike, and everybody’s tried them before.

And amongst the devasted, empty pie plates, cakestands and cobbler dishes, with their forlorn scribbles of filling and scattered crumbs, there’s almost always an untouched Jello-and-Kool-Whip sump’n-nother.   Maybe even Poke Cake.


Friday, June 1, 2012