Friday, July 27, 2012

HAPPY DECADE



This Saturday is PINK-AND-YELLOW SATURDAY at Beverly’s How Sweet the Sound---for they’re her favorite colors, and this one is her “big” birthday celebration---she implied that it’s one of the “decade” ones (which is occurring for me soon, as well, but of course, I’m WAY older than she, and stick “big bad” onto mine, though I’m just REALLY glad to still be here).   Please click in to enjoy all the colorful charming Pinks, Yellows, and happy wishes to our gracious hostess.



I'm sending her fond wishes and two bits of serendipity I discovered this week:


A beautiful pink rose brought home by Chris more than a week ago had gently aged into the velvety-satin contours of one of the marvelous vintage silk flowers from a long-ago lady’s hat.







I looked at it every time I passed by the breakfast table, smelling it occasionally, burying my face in the fragrance of the cool petals, and just enjoyed its progress from opening bud to the lady-of-a-certain age maturity so beautifully attained by roses and fortunate  women.

And then one day, I looked at the droopy leaves and full-blown, about-to-drop petals, breathing that last, beautiful breath.    I took vase and all into the kitchen, where I pulled the long stem from the water and inserted it into a handy space, way down into the garbage can.

THEN, in a fresh light, I saw the marvel of some alchemy of house and breath and weather outside, of chill moments with the A/C running its heart out, of the variety of rose, the color, the certain amount of the little packet of preserving powder I’d sprinkled into the warm water when the rose came home to us.
 I couldn’t resist snapping a few pictures, but I was hesitant to pull the flower back out of the can, for fear it would shatter and the moment be lost.   So you see, there’s our early-morning garbage, from last-night’s-counter-wipe paper towels to other items of no import, save for their soft-focus background of that marvelous rose.

 
It resembles one which could have graced a stylish young woman’s thirties cloche, a snappy little felt, a sassy brim-turned straw with the rose pinned charmingly askew, or a dear maiden lady’s best church hat, re-styled afresh for another year, with a couple of stitch-holes from the former daisies beneath the new threads holding the rose.



It just looks like a vintage-collector’s Rachel Ashwell Dream of Heaven.   And now it’s gone, but fondly remembered, just like the faded silky ones in the linen-press drawers upstairs. 





Another happy surprise: Good-Luck eggs in the sizzly-butter pan, the only two double-yolks from the dozen Jumbos.   They’re bright as a crayola sun, and were extra delicious, with all that good-luck charm thrown in.





So, Dear Beverly, I wish you silky roses and pink dreams, yolk-sun bright mornings for all your days, and the hopeful shine of a yellow hat with your heroic pink cape.





HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HAPPY DECADE, HAPPY ALWAYS.


Monday, July 23, 2012

BOTTLE PATHS



It’s Summertime, folks---hard times this year for the farmers and all those who depend on them, for the fields are parched and cracked like rivers in the Kalahari, with the corn tiny shriveled blades, gold and tan in the ever-blasting sun.   



Our lawn crunches as you step, and in the near-back yard under the big tree, it’s almost the foot-pounded dirt of the small yards of my childhood.   To keep from thinking about all the things going on in this world, I just sat down and jotted some pleasant memories from far, far ago:


Up and down the blocks where my Mammaw lived, it was common to see a just-dirt yard, sometimes bordered by flowers---mostly zinnias, their bright noddy heads punctuating the trodden earth and the silvery beds of Snow on the Mountain and Dusty Miller.


There was an occasional brick walk laid in a small path long ago; they’d sunk so deep that even the squared edges were blurred in a hazy frame of dirt, with just an ovalish glimpse of bricky red.   And intentional buryings of pretty bottles made some of the strangest and prettiest walks I think I’ve ever seen.   I suppose they dug the hole deep enough for the entire bottle to be placed neck-down and the dirt filled in, with just the gleaming round or square bottom showing.   Sometimes they had little dimples that would fill up with dirt, so there was just a ring, looking as if you’d buried small bowls up to their rims. 






The walks were laid out in lovely patterns like checkerboards or curves or every-other-row-the-same-color, with the telltale slim moons of whiskey fifths as occasional parentheses.   We could go anywhere in town back then, and we walked right up in anybody’s yard and walked their paths.   Nobody ever ran us off or told us to go home, because we were usually barefooted, and couldn’t hurt either yard or bottles.



  The housewives swept their bottle-paths like they swept their porches---every morning---getting all those colors brightly out into the sun, and our favorite was Mildred Tolliver’s house.  The house itself was one of those small never-painted, tin-roof kinds, with the boards all weathered silver-gray, and the steps made of cinderblocks.  She and her young’uns had gone collectin’ down at the town dump for years, and they had a path like the others in town, with browns and clears and pink and ruby and all the riches of purple.    









But the Tollivers had THE PATH, and I’m sure it had been years in the making.  It was wider than most, made of of blues and greens---all  shades from the deep blue of an Evenin’ in Paris bottle and the telltale squares of Milk of Magnesia, to ranks of Coke-bottle greens and teal and a bunch of little clear green triangles put together to make diamonds, scattered here and there---I can’t imagine what came in THOSE.  If you walked along that path with the sun just right, or put your face right down to the bottle, looking in with your hands aside your face like looking into a store window,  it was like looking underwater.  

That beautiful thing ran all the way around her house in a big square, like a picture frame.  She said it was a charm, and put store in it like she did her ankle-dime.   We walked it often for luck, always starting in the corner by the right of the front porch. Sometimes we’d climb the Denton’s big trees and look down in her yard, and I always wondered how it would look from an airplane. 

I don’t remember actually SEEING anyone put those bottles in the ground---I always thought maybe they consulted the Almanac or the Cardui calendar and did it in the Dark of the Moon, like Mammaw planted turnip seeds and potato eyes.  

That was supposed to be kinda magic, too, and those long rows of buried bottles, more colorful than Dorothy’s Brick Road, are one of the most magical memories of my childhood. 



Sunday, July 22, 2012

AURORA

The world's been WAY too much with us lately, and all our hearts are aching for the recent tragedy in Aurora.   My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected at this sad time, for easing of the pain, for the comfort of loving memories, for calm of mind and heart, and for peaceful sleep.

I've been playing this song over and over---just for the tones and the gentle words like flowing water, bringing refreshment, soothing and cool.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

PROPINQUITY


I walked past Chris’ big ole popcorn bowl this morning, wondering why it was over in the toy corner (but not at all surprised that it was).  It was a bowlful of bright needfuls---yellows and reds and purples, and crayons to create your OWN hues if you found these lacking.



The tumbled poufs lay scattered on all the solid bits, like fuzzy clown noses strayed into a games closet, but quite at home.   And all the Play-Doh utensils had left the little yellow tub to join the crowd, mingling happily into the mix.





I just took a good look at the no-rhyme-or-reason little jumble, and realized that the reason was quite obvious, and the rhyme scanned perfectly:



In addition to the BRIGHT of the thing, there are tools for crafting and creating, crayons for hours of picture-making, bits of flotsam for creating flowers and animals and bugs.    There are game parts for sharing time with a friend, (and even the prospect of dinner if you like that sort of thing, for I’ve often been presented with a tiny covered pot at tea, and I opened it to find a delicious Cootie-feet soup, made just for me).



They all abide there quite happily (Chris bought two bowls alike), and are just the neatest little morality/life lesson---unlikes abiding side-by, with creativity and nourishment and friendship and the primary-color palette of childhood joy. 

 And just ‘cause it makes you happy.

That’s an ode to something good, if ever there was.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

BANNER AND BLADE



Chris and I often read little snippets to each other---lines which have caught our fancy, thoughts worth pondering, imagery in words too good not to share.

At the moment we’re both reading Game of Thrones on our NOOKS.



I find the series to be absolutely captivating, with all the wonderful delineations of character and time and place and the flow of words just golden.   I loved Lord of the Rings, but found great spaces of it to be plodding and ponderous.   This one has Tolkien’s imagination, with a masterful hand with words, a stunning eye for people and places and events, and a genius pen that simply FLOWS.



The other day in the dentist’s office, I jotted down a little thought which makes SUCH perfect sense---three words conjuring a pledge and a concept with nothing wanting, nothing to spare.



I wrote it into my little notebook for later remembering, and then last night, while Chris was reading, he said, "Listen to this:  He’s committed, Banner and Blade.”

One of the Lords had asked a friend to join forces with him in a battle soon to ensue, and those were the friend’s   words---commitment of House, Family sigil, all the generations of honourable history and the knights in his command, in that one little utterance.

I’d like to be that unerringly committed to a lot of things---people who need me, people I love, things that need doing, ideals going unfulfilled.   I think a lot about such things, and do what I can as the days march so swiftly from the making of the bed to the taking-down of the pillows, from laundry to meals to dishes to instilling a few ideals of their own into this precious little one we’re responsible for so much of the time, and the others far away, whose visits seem so fleeting and contain so much.   I am no less dedicated to the safety and well-being of MY People than any knight, mailed and helmed.

Taking a deep breath, imagining a wind-whipped banner, snorting destriers, clash of metal, sunglint on armor---I want to get ALL IN in this life I’m living---BANNER AND BLADE.




Sunday, July 15, 2012

GETTING THE DRIFT


There was a movie in which the narrator (and I presume the writer) had a thing for floating plastic bags---grocery ones and 7-11 ones and any other kind, just so they would loft on the wind, swell like frog-bellies, and float across his vision.  He considered  it a  new art form, and liked it above all others.



I kinda think that anything floatily airborne is beautiful---the baloony, wafty part, floating over the housetops,





but then, like fading flowers that droop and curl or stand naked of petals amongst the beautiful new blooms, there’s that drifty mess that scurries down streets like a haunty glimpse of SOYLENT GREEN.   Or the blow across a shorn field, catching on the fodder-nubs or ending up against fences and hedges and trees---the hazards to wildlife are phenomenal.


Sometimes trees close to mini-marts and quik-pik places and red-lights take on the look of a rolled frat house on Homecoming weekend, or a buncha leftover cul-de-sac tree-ghosts along about Thanksgiving.   



And for some arcanely unreasonable reason, plastic bags were for an evening some of the most coveted toys in the house. The Grands last week were all past the children-under-three caveat, and somehow our three youngest caught on to holding plain old Ziploc quart-size ones mouth-open to the fan, and were just struck by the hilarity of all the noisy rustles and flaps.   And an escapee, flooting to the ceiling like a cumbersome balloon---that would send the whole tribe into such giggles that they ALL lost their grip on the things, and multiplied the fun.

THEN, they rooted through the recycle bin for those big ones with handles from the bookstore, and all was lost.   Conversations were well nigh impossible, like trying to talk beneath a ready-for-takeoff 747.   And when the letting-go of those fugitive balloons started and the chasing began---oh, my---fairs and carnivals have no such charms.

 When several of the adults got into the mix, the ceilings were afloat with puffy momentaries, scooting around into corners and collapsing behind chairs.   It was like an episode of Keystone Cops---all of us madly dashing about, running into furniture and each other, but all laughing fit to bust.



I’d sorta let that evening settle away to the back of my memory, and the bags are all ready for pick-up, but just this morning, Sweetpea came into possession of a big ole yellow bag from Dollar General (oddly enough for cut-rate, it was probably the most satisfyingly noisy AND air-worthy of them all).   She spent a solid hour dashing here and there, release-and-catch, jump-and-grab, ad infinitum.

I have no idea where I was going with this---it's just a zany memory of that haphazard, swift, runabout time with the GRANDS, as they always are.
Stopping to remember them brings memories I didn’t know I had. 

 And after looking on the internet for pictures of plastic bags, carrying this big stash of cloth bags in the car has become an even greater priority now.
 



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

HERE THERE BE . . .

Doesn’t it just beat all that for every Once Upon a Time, there has to be a witch, dragon, troll, or wicked Sump’n'Nother to mookey up the works?   Of course, for every one of those Bad-Deed-Doers, there’s always a Bad End, and for the Hero and Heroine, the obligatory Happily Ever After.

Even in a castle, home to a whole flock of Princesses and their familiars/ pets/companions, everyday life can be complicated, especially in a WOODEN castle.  And especially if the villain of the piece is a Dragon the size of the Keep.

Scene I:

Dragon strolls by, is welcomed by the Wall-Moat Greeter:




Scene II:




Apparently either glamoured cross-eyed by all that effusive cheer or just not in the mood for seafood,  Dragon moves on to the livestock:






For the sake of keeping our G-Rating, we move quickly to
 
Scene III:
Cal and Sweetpea had left the supper table early, to go off into kidly pursuits, including digging Dragon out of his cave in the Toy-tub (and him napping after that heavy lunch).

Presently came shouts and cries of dismay, as Cal and Sweetpea came running to show me his finger, buried up to the hilt in the dragon’s mouth.   Though the little teeth are rubber, I first thought that one had snagged his skin and it hurt to pull it free.

But NO---more pointing and shouting revealed that the wily pyrosaur had partaken of a Princessly repast after all, with the tiny underskirts of Cinderella visible WAY down his rubber maw.   She was hung wide-skirts-up so that we could get neither fingers nor tweezers past her ankles, so there was much weeping (the teeth-gnashing had probably been all on the part of the dragon) and crying out for the poor lost Princess...

As I comforted the small ones---especially the tearful owner of said Princess, Big Sissy grabbed the dragon, gave one big bellows-squeeze to his wide mid-section, and Heimliched the doll out two feet onto the recliner.

Great relief and smiles and joy, then the inevitable words, “DO IT AGAIN!” 

I think that perhaps if I hadn’t taken them all outside next day and shown them the joys of slingshot-and-steel-ball to make the bell ring, they’d have been shooting all the little dolls out like carnival cannons all over the yard.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

SOCIALLY SECURE

Our Social Calendar for part of last week---Kit made sure we had every appointment, every place, every item all down, so we wouldn't miss a thing.    The first four pages have all been taken down and saved ---castle-building and paper-dolling and doll-house arranging and Pasta Night and parade and fireworks have been all checked off, but there, amongst the movie and parties and lunch you can see she thought of everything.  

 I'd picked up my journal to look up her Mammaw's number, and the light bill fluttered out---in the flurry of getting ready for company, I'd missed it when I paid the others.    I just offhand waved it toward her and said, "Don't let me forget to call this in," as I would to Chris or Caro.

Later I passed the fridge, and saw that she just made sure and all, giving it the import of all our duties and fun, with a page of its own.

And so we went, and did, and enjoyed---invited by Sweetpea and her Mama to lunch at Culver's and to the movie---and then afterwards, Chris and I took the younger three out for ice cream whilst Gracie and her lovely aunt went mall-shopping and to dinner.  

We came home to great sprinklings of everyone and everything within hose-range and shouts and squeals to all within earshot.  There's something in the air which multiplies the decibel-range of wet, running children to the level of aircraft engines---Radio Free Europe could have heard THAT lot.

Hot dogs and chips and Jiggly Jello for supper, baths and stories and prayers and bed.

Friday was quiet, except for scurryings up and down stairs, for "nine T-shirts for Cal," and "Kit's bathing suit" and a huge white plastic bag of stuffed animals, blankets and Pillow Pets, along with all the other items on the lists tucked into their suitcases.    Gracie did a SUPER job of including everything---I haven't found one missed thing.   

But we didn't miss anything on OUR LIST, let me tell you, and there was lots of lagniappe besides.   We managed to fill every waking minute, and it was wonderful---I hope they remember it in such a bright light as I do.

And, like Barney at the Raleigh "Y" (Two Strips of Bacon, an Egg, Toast and Juice for 35 cents, and Tapioca Night on Thursdays), it was  just Go, Go, Go, All The Time.





Monday, July 9, 2012

SWEET ON SWEET



Our days have been skeins of colorful yarns, beaded and knotted and purled, with small and large moments of shine and display, and the great rolls of them wind round this house like grapevine on the hills.   We played and danced and ate and sang, we drew and colored and wrote and danced some more, running through the cold sprinkler on these oven days with shrieks and giggles, with music a heartbeat of the fun, and the background notes echoing always---the important stories of teenage Disney channel, with the bright-dressed, ever-lipsticked girls in floofed hair and impossible shoes and the vibrant young fellows with the energy and innocent preposterone of battling fawns.



Never-muted, the Mobius strip television and its tricked-out sets and its fashion-plate characters repeated the same angst and lame humor, with no obvious segue into the commercials, save for a perceptible upswing in the decibels and even-brighter voices hawking other shows, other STUFF.

Breakfasts were of the five-minutes-after arising sort, with a burst of cereal boxes and fruit and milk jugs and toast magically flitting onto the table as places were taken, the blessing said.  I don’t think I’ve buttered this much bread in a week in all my life, for toast was a principal character in the array, and Lucky Charms spilled out of boxes and into the red bowls with astonishing speed, rattling down, being splooshed with milk, then almost immediate seconds spattered into the leftover milk in the bowl.

Our Cal likes a simple life---apples, toast, and sometimes a blob of peanut butter.   And he, like Sweetpea, is fond of gathering up all the silverware for himself.




Strawberries were an ever-present punctuation, with their bright red shine and green topknot---sugar in the big berry bowl and the can of Redi-Wip hissing out poufy clouds onto plates, onto toast, into mouths.



Kit was quite an architect of breakfast, building elaborate displays of fruit, dip, sugar, and cream, and lingered over her building as she positioned a berry, munched another, dipped a third.  



 She ringed the berries with a fleet of dark cherries, spooned on sugar, topped that with the vanilla-cheese dip, then laid on a nice roof-tile of apple.







THEN there was a second story, capitaled with a great white dome and a cherry--all worthy of a fifties soda-jerk in a white paper hat:











I apologize for the blurry, mis-angled pictures---it’s a wonder there ARE any, considering my sticky fingers and the probability of cream and sugar on the lens.









The centerpiece was courtesy of Kit, from a little leftover milk jug, some of Ganner’s tomato-tying tape, and a trip out to the Rose of Sharon and the daisy bed.   See those tee-ninecy white spots?  That’s whipped cream, shot out of the can by a vigorous hand.   Did you know that if you hold it right, you can shoot a spatter clear onto that wall over yonder? 



Moiré non after some more clean-up.




Sunday, July 8, 2012

OUR EMPTY CASTLE


It was a mad, mad, mad week here, full of FULL, full of hugs and giggles and screeches and running and endless, endless snacks.   The days were packed cram-bag with every game and toy and book and story and in and out the house had to offer, and I’m still brimful myself, with all the fun and the TIRED.

I cannot tell you how wonderful and exhausting it was.


I’ve slept fourteen-hour-nights the past two days, and feel as if I’m recovering from an ecstatic illness---sore to my bones and still without a thought to my name.  The house is in fair repair, for I made sure to have the dishes done, the laundry finished, and our bed made up fresh, for I knew I’d collapse the minute we got back from taking the children to their other grandparents.



Neither bedroom door upstairs has been opened, for I don’t intend to do any bed-changing or cleaning until this oppressive heat subsides.   Besides, if I don’t go LOOK, perhaps all those pillow-pets and snuggles and needfuls and dropped shoes will still BE there, and there will be more time, more time.

Looking around at the slight disarray---the few mis-matched bits of art and toys and cameras and sweets still on the dining table, the couple of dishes in the sink, the kitchen counter with its peanut butter and cereal boxes, I’m comforted in facing the let-down of the small, enormous absences.

I’ve thought a couple of times in the past few days of a house I saw once, and I don’t know why those images still crop up---I'd driven with a friend WAY down into MS to pick up her niece, for friend’s Mother had broken her hip, and needed assistance.    I’d only met the niece and her mother in my own territory, and so was astonished that two grown women could live in such a state as their house was in.

I don’t remember a scent, which would have certainly been expected, for such a chaos of take-out containers and fast-food wrappers attested to their days and months of casual neglect.   Trash bags ringed around the room to the windowsills, like sandbags for a flood.   I thought that since they knew we were coming, and it was about a four-hour drive, perhaps they'd had time to pick up/scrape up everything on the floor, either in our honor or for pride’s sake.

That still wouldn’t account for the dozens of Col. Sanders buckets, or five ashtrays overflowed into the dust under one long-legged bed,  or the extra-large-size pizza boxes stacked head-high in one corner, like a cardboard chiffarobe. 

  I’ll never know if the scene was better or worse than usual, and that tiny, haunting jangle of a memory still surfaces at odd times, when I look around at the messy state of my own home---by comparison, I guess my unkempt is Martha Stewart.


   So today I’m grasshoppering the day away, as I have since that last car-door slammed and we waved our goodbyes after such a full week.

I’ve wandered WAY off track, as usual---that's just the state of my jumbled mind.  Of our week and our doings, from towering castles and fruit stacks to sprinkle-yells and swallowed princesses, moirĂ© non.
 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A NEW VOICE


If you were asked which of all the THOUSANDS of communities, towns, cities, or locations in all of TV history you'd most like to live in, I think quite a GREAT number of us would say Mayberry.

It is a quiet place, of kind neighbors and tree-lined streets and ice cream socials and Big Date night at the Diner, with the 7:30 Picture Show, and maybe a double-straw milkshake before a chaste kiss on the front porch.

Children play in the street until after dark, until they're called in to eat with their families around the supper table, and problems are of the gentle sort, solved within a half hour.   Calls to the Law  get you a real person, with reassurance and calm reasoning and maybe a quick visit from the Sheriff---a calm, reasonable man himself, ready to smooth the waters and soothe feelings and make things right.
 
R.I.P. Sheriff Andy Taylor
 
 
 
 
 
 
Ben Matlock


You showed us Truth and Honor and Humor and how Doing the Right Thing was good for us and helped us, too.   You embody a gentler time, an innocent haven where folks know things will turn out all right in the end.


You will live on forever, spinning your tales and captivating audiences and filling a sweet spot in our hearts.   There's a new, melodious baritone beside that familiar tenor in Heaven's Choir tonight.