Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Six years ago today, the first post of LAWN TEA went out---a tentative toe in the water of this vast ocean, and here we are today---some thousand and thirty posts and a bee-jillion words later, still dabbling, still dangling that toe-tip. 

Sometimes it’s a small post, just a little sprinkle, occasionally soaking our shoes; other times it’s kinda ankle-high, with lots of pictures and descriptions, all wordy and deep.    And then again, there’s a big leap from the diving board, with too much to say and adjectives to spare.

When there are holidays or family gatherings, it’s sometimes like a good old Baptist Immersion, dipped deep and full of the spirit of the time, cascading words like the streaming clothes of the newly baptised.   And when I get into that Paxton People or Mammaw’s Tales mode, it must feel like one of those elbows-and-shouts young boys, drunk with Summer and swinging out over the Swimmin’ Hole on an old tire rope, to plunge in head and ears, with great splashes and yells and spittings as he surfaces.  

I’ve been asked several times, “Who ARE you, really?”   “Why don’t you publish your biography, with maybe twenty or fifty or a hundred things about you that would be interesting?” I, unlike Miss Bates, would be hard-pressed to find THREE, let alone a hundred.    I’ve never really thought of what I might put in---what do most people put into a bio?---yours are all interesting and snappy and witty and totally KEWL, and mine is really plain.   I could say Mom of seven, sorta, and Grandmother of eight and seven greats.

Read a lot, write a lot, married to a kind, funny, honest, smart, witty, huggy man---one of those rare people that you never have to worry what kind of mood he's going to be in.

My parents were VERY strong influences and formers of my persona, but my dearest and most influential was my Mammaw, whose sayings and memories and recipes dot my tales as much as do those of the living.

Small town everything, I suppose, except for imagination and sense of adventure---Ole Miss and then VERY small town life, until now.   We’ve been living in a large city for twenty-three years now, on a little old tree-lined street with good neighbors, good walks, a good small-town feel which belies all the wonderful amenities and music and libraries and museums and activities practically on our doorstep.

I’ve always loved to write things down---a fresh-sharpened yellow Ticonderoga #2, a lined tablet, and away I went, to notebooks and spirals and ring binders and blue books and journals.  Graduation from a desktop typewriter the size of an anvil---I always visualized Clark Gable, tie asprawl and hat askew, a grim squint avoiding the drifting smoke from the Camel clamped in his lip corner, as he pounded out the scoop on Tammany or Dietrich or Joe Louis.

On to a clickety little Olivetti in its bright blue Samsonitish case, with its elegant little typeface like neat handwriting, thence to a rollerball monstrosity which threatened to break loose and orbit the sun.

And with my first word processor---there I went, dashing off my own little tales and vignettes and memories. The keyboard and the resulting boxes of pages have been such a great part of my life, mostly in the wee hours when the household is buttoned up in sleep. Chris even gave me some beautiful boxes for Christmas--all wallpapered in lavender hydrangeas, and with cunning little brass handles, just perfect for holding the next couple of reams of midnight meanderings.   And so I have stored up my days and years.

I have absolutely no credentials of any kind, none worth mentioning save the above, I suppose. Sunday School Teacher and Cub Scouts and church pianist are but vague memories. 

Somewhere, there’s a tiny yellow map pin in one of the boxes and crates we’ve wagged from one house to another---it’s probably stuck in the dusty old velvet lining of a forgotten jewelry box, like some rusty pearl-headed pin pressed in a book with a crumbling corsage still smelling of dead carnations.  I acquired it on a whim, it vaguely defined part of me for a moment, for it was an honor to me to be admitted to such an esteemed group.  I enjoyed thinking it gave me an elevated place in things, so removed from the small-town girl that I was, but I haven't attended a meeting in years, and now I scarcely give it a thought from one year to the next. 

  Some days I can visualize my cranial space filled with that hazy thumbprint with which TV covers the faces of the innocent. The only things that keep up my pretense of any IQ past my ankles are good conversation, Jeopardy---two perfect games in all these years of Trebek's career---and Cryptic Crosswords---those fun Brit ones.   They let me know that the last brain cell is still out there, circling the bug-light, but not yet flickered out.

I think I'm all about family---nobody's rich, nobody's famous.   They're all kind, hard-working young folks who are very good to us and to each other.  And we know we could not have taken out a catalog and ordered better mates than they chose for themselves.

We cook and eat and laugh a lot; all of us read voraciously, and when we're all together, or just a few at a time, the repartee flies thick and fast.   As my Sis says, "It's just not a visit til we pee our pants from laughing." 

OK:  Bio:  Wife, Mom, Grandmother, reader, scattershot writer. I can take two Grandchildren and an empty house, and find forty-nine bits and bobs in drawers and closets to build a Princess Castle, a Viking Hall, a race-car track with swoops and swirls, or a party table for almost any theme, from scratch. A midnight-remembered science project can be put together from stuff in the garage, the kitchen, the store-room; for a geography lesson, we might  create a working shaduf from cinnamon  sticks, Elmer's, a bathroom Dixiecup and the rubber-band from a lobster claw.*

 I can be pondering dinner for two, and with unexpected company, can take thirty minutes, a cupboard and two freezers, and have six dishes for six or ten or fifteen, on the table without wrinkling my apron.  You can tell me a subject, and I can scatter down a poem, perfect scan and rhyme, "-ameter of your choice," in just minutes---they just come to me, like reading words out of the air.   And until I met Chris, whose enormous, compelling presence and wonderful wit and intelligence keep the air moving all around him, I could tell time to the minute---I'd never set an alarm for school, college or work, and thought that everybody could do that.   

  He and I have decided that the first of us to go will be cremated and the ashes saved by the other.  On that one's demise, the children have all agreed to mingle the ashes, distribute them into small baggies, and dump a surreptitious little scattering in the shrubbery of every  library, bookstore and Goodwill in town.  Then go have a fun party with barbecue and beer.   How's that?

Thank you all for this lovely six years---it’s been a wonderful ride.
*Addendum a couple of months later:  I just learned by accident that there's a WORD for that gleany making of stuff out of other stuff you just gather up:  BRICOLAGE.    Live and learn.

And now my brain is singing it over and over, in tones of that RI-CO-LA commercial.


GSL said...

What a joy it was to read this and get to know our charming hostess just a wee bit better. I'm a very recent arrival who will one day this winter when a blizzard keeps me inside will make a pot of tea and pore thru the archives savoring every morsel. Happy Anniversary dearest Rachel and I hope to spend many more with you before those ashes are mingled.

Ang Specht said...

hee, hee...the end of that just made me chuckle. :) Your brain is a lot like mine, I guess. Ever since I was a kid, I've loved to write stories, songs, poems...I just love to write. My brain loves words.

A couple years ago, we were gifted a Kindle, which I didn't really want, but accepted, because it was the thing to do. I have to admit the only thing I do on my play Scrabble. ha, ha. When I was a teenager, I would sit on my bedroom floor and play Scrabble by myself. So imagine my pure joy when I discovered that I could download a Scrabble game on my Kindle and play it BY MYSELF! :)

The world needs people like us, else will the future know about ducks in the bathroom and checkered table cloths??

Congrats on your milestone, and I look forward to reading many more of your words. :)

donna baker said...

I'd say you have it all Rachel dear.

Val said...

This is beautiful. A beautiful life well-described. ♥

Southern Lady said...

Looking forward to many more stories and anniversaries, Rachel ... I've loved and savored every word, so far.

Emily said...

So glad I found you. Your life and your writing are a gift to the world, Rachel. Here's to many more years of YOU!

Beverly said...

I went to a special place in my brain as I read this, and I could hear your voice. You delight my soul. Sending love from me to you, and thanking you for six rech years.♥♥♥♥♥♥

Debbie-Dabble Blog and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...

Thanks so much for stopping by!! I must say that this is one of the MOST interesting Bio's that I ave ever read!! Loved it!!


Martha said...

Loved it!!!

I envy you your suet and REAL Christmas Pudding!

Jeanne said...

Dearest Rachel, I'm back!!! What a wonderful read today. The weather is dark raining and dreary and you just filled me up with your 6th anniversary post. I have always wanted to know you in a more personal way. Thank you for revealing more about yourself. It is obvious that you are a 'born' writer. Did you know Clark Gable is my favorite actor of all time? I have 8 grands and four greats. I too read voraciously and can feed a gang at the drop of a hat. I was raised by amazing parents but sadly I did not know my grandparents very well. We are star-crossed for sure.

Please forgive me for being absent these past weeks. My sister's husband finally went home to our Lord and life is almost back to normal. I do not know how long it will last but I'll take it as it comes as always. I have a lot of catching up to do on your past posts. I have missed you so much. Thank you for your faithful comments and not giving up on me.

Congratulations on six years of amazingly interesting posts. Your stories are a delight to my soul.

From my heart to yours with love,

A Super Dilettante said...

My dear Rachel,

Your posts are always a joy to read. Happy Anniversary! Was it six years ago? That's a long time, dear Rachel. One thing for sure you never disappoint your readers with your gentle realism and humour and not quite ordinary ordinariness. Yes, I am very fortunate that our paths have crossed....

You can write almost anything and everything and can make it interesting and thrilling. Keep up with the good works and I shall look forward to reading your posts in many years to come.

With best wishes, ASD

PS. My sincerest thanks for all your lovely messages while I was away.

Bev said...

Holy Mackerel 6 years! Congrats and thank took me on a ride to a different time and place. Love you to bits. xx

Kim S. said...

Trying desperately to get caught up on LT now that the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over. Happy anniversary. I am, as always, eternally grateful that you are generous enough to share your life and thoughts with the world. It makes my world a little brighter and better. Those WORDS that you use, my dear – they are pure magic! The world that is conjured up is better than most novels I read.