Friday, February 27, 2015


          R. I. P.  LEONARD NIMOY


Final tweet:  
  Leonard Nimoy         @TheRealNimoy  

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP
  You lived long, and memories prosper.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015



Carla Avril photo
Wasn’t that an innocent, sweet time of our lives---before we reached even the lacy-card stage, unless we got into our Mamas’ treasured stashes of paper doilies, saved for Bridge Club sandwich trays and for displaying neat rows of Individual Iced Cakes for visits from the Exalted Grand Matron?   Those small flappy bits of three-colour primary frippery we passed around amongst ourselves were an annual treat; the buying and the making and the careful lettering and the giving were all small parts of a rite as old and as little understood as Love.   And our own childish bits of the ritual were taken as seriously as the two-handed meek offerings of any time-worn creed.

We saved, we shopped, we clipped and glued---those knobby glass bottles with the crusty rubber tops slid across edges and doilies and tabs, and the still-drying gobs and telltale smears of mucilage were a lovable part of the whole. Errant bits of paper, ribbon, lace caught up in the sticky mess have come down the years as dear additions to those eagerly-proffered, gladly-accepted creations from-and-of-the-heart.

We didn’t understand it yet---just our own little corner of the “Like” and “Looking at” world of the primary grades reflected in those three primary colours of the shoddy small Valentines we could afford.  But we were IN IT---Oh, Yes. 

We coveted those small slips of esteem as we did an Add-a-Pearl or an A on a report card---they MATTERED in some uncountable way.  They were the votes in a gaudy ballot-box of approval, though it was unheard of to leave off anyone from your list.

We kept those Valentines from year to year in little boxes or scrapbooks like medals or show-ribbons, as tokens of friendship and regard.  The fact that everybody got one from everybody else was not important---the GETTING was the thing.

I’d carefully laid each little paper inside the pages of my Arithmetic book---the wider of my two textbooks, for safekeeping in my book satchel.   All the way home, we’d pause and take out a few for more admiration.   When I arrived home, Mother was out at her Missionary Society Meeting, and so I excitedly took them over to show to Mrs. P, who was sitting out on her porch.  

We walked out into the sunshine for better effect, and I laid them out, one by one, on the fenders and hood of Mr. Shug’s Jeep as we admired them again.   Then I stacked them carefully, and laid them just inside the open back of the Jeep to pick up as I passed going home.  

I can’t remember why we went into the house, but when I came out,  the Jeep was gone, and with it my beloved stash of Valentines.  I went running out the drive, looking everywhere, and turned onto the blacktop road which led to the big river-bend where he went fishing.   Way up ahead, I spotted a few colourful flutters on the road, and found three or four, much the worse for having been run over.  They had great punches from the rocks, and the imprints of tires, and I can remember the searching on and on with the tears running down my face, looking and picking up the few which I could find.
I went on and on, following the bayou, and could see several floating on the green water like lily pads.   I didn't dare step out into the swamp to retrieve them, and so they were lost to me as if they'd sunk. 

The next day when I came home from school, there was a brand-fresh unopened pack, just like the one I’d so carefully lettered and “sent” awaiting me, from Mr. Shug, who felt really bad about scattering my Valentines “from here to Sunday,” my Mother said.  A little balm for the loss, and every year at this time, I think of that sweet man, sputtering heedless down that bumpy road, trailing a little contrail of colourful cards like Love Propaganda---scattering my childish dreams into the wind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

. . . BUT OH, YOU KID!

Young and sweet and innocent as these small images are, this must have been an ADULT Valentine, or at least meant for teenagers, when I was of the send-one-to-every-person-in-your-class age.   If we first, second, third graders had come to school with such a racy message in hand, ready to stash it in the big red box covered just that week by our busy hands in construction paper and streamers of crinkly red crepe, we, as well as the object of our momentary affection, would have been teased beyond bearing.   It was absolutely NOT DONE to verge into romantic territory at our tender ages, despite the heart-strings of the holiday.  You'd have been hearing about tree-sitting and K-I-S-S-I-N-G til the cows came home.

Our little twenty-for-a-quarter packs of the small bright die-cut sentiments were painstakingly chosen for just the right person, though the lack of variety at Leon’s Drugstore limited us all to buying identical crinkly red cellophane packages, with perhaps five designs total. They came in small swinging rectangles, hung from the neat hooks on the SUNDRIES aisle which at other seasons might have held corn pads or cards of needles, and the Valentines were cushioned in a thin grey cardboard frame, like the cut-off bottom of a small cheap box.  The whole thing was sealed in a thick, almost indestructible sheet of cellophane impervious to most fingers and even our blunt-nosed scissors, though we were not above employing a quick nip with two eye-teeth to start a little slit for tearing.

I assume there was an unwritten law that you HAD to write out your Valentines the night before, for I cannot remember any earlier contact save for the buying, though I was known to lay them out like a gaudy game of Solitaire on my bed in the days before, choosing the receivers by pattern or poem or whim.   I was also not above putting an unobtrusive small penciled number on the back, with a corresponding name on a line in my notebook, until I could make that final important decision.  I hope that I remembered to erase all those furtive numbers, for I fear that more than one of us knew that trick.


We’d carry our carefully-lettered little flaps of colour up to that big fancy box, inserting them one or two at a time into the slot in the top with everyone avidly looking on, hoping for a flash of their own names to appear as a card was slid into the box, or for the glimpse of a secret crush, revealed to all as the card disappeared between the ruffly overlay of the mail-slot.

Occasionally one or two of us would have had a splurge at the Ben Franklin two towns over, and might just have lucked onto a little cardboard platter from another company, with quite different pictures and quotes inside the red cello cover.  But most usually, when the giver-outer of the Valentines stood reading off the names, and we’d go forward and receive our mail, it was more like dealing out a big stack from a four-card deck, as the little sailor dog and the bird in the tree appeared over and over, interspersed with small Shirley Temple clones and windmills and mice.   But oh, the heart-pounding moments as you waited, heard your name, stepped forward with a trembly hand outstretched, and received another of the showy little slips.  I never looked at mine til the calling had finished and the teacher took off the lid to
see if any errant Valentines might still be caught inside.   I’d made sure that every single one of mine was safely clutched to my front like a nervous gambler, with the white side hidden so no one could see who did and didn’t send me one. 
Being limited to twenty when there were sometimes twenty-five people in our class was no problem either, for quite a few of us girls would make special ones for a few good friends, all festooned in hand-cut little hearts still bearing the center-crease from the folding-to-cut, and with perhaps a little slip of a ribbon bow or some of that squiggle-ribbon which curled when you pulled the scissors blade down the length of it.   So we never truly left out anyone, despite the limit on “bought” cards, and I can remember only perhaps two girls who went around the room asking cattily, “And how many did YOU get” or crowing “Eye got Twenty-NINE!” when we all know perfectly well there were not even that many people in the class, and the handwriting looked mighty similar on at least five of them (and similar to HERS, at that).

Oh, for something so anticipated and pleasurable and fraught with delighted dread as those little cheap, primary-colored bits of childhood.  Weren’t we innocent?  Weren’t we small?   I know I’m smiling.

Moire non, re:  Mr. Shug and My Lost Treasure.

Saturday, February 7, 2015


Pomegranates, for linking to Beverly’s PINK SATURDAY.

They're what I consider the original “Love Apples,” with their regal little crowns and shining skins, and the deep secrecy of plump seeds hidden within. 

My children used to take them to school in their lunchboxes, just like a banana or apple, much to the delight of their classmates, who would crowd around for a taste.   Thank goodness they weren’t fruit you had to cut into segments, but practically the loaves-and-fishes of the fruit-world, with a seed or two here, and a spoon-taste there, and probably a run on Piggly Wiggly not seen since the price-clicker stamped out 20/$1 on the Star-Kist.

Do not, as I did to my chagrin, think you can gussy up a pitcher of screwdrivers by pouring in a good tot of pomegranate juice the night BEFORE the brunch.   It was simply gorgeous in the pouring, with the golden juice mingling with the rosy nectar in swoops and swirls, and joining colours in an ecstatic deep poppy shade.

Then, in the stark light of morning and whatever chemical change is caused by sitting next to a pitcher of Lusty Marys (we all know that shady characters never influence UP), the totally breathtaking hue had morphed overnight into the brutal tinge of a two-day bruise, all cloudy purple and not a pretty one, at that.   Enough of my silly experiments.

The TRUE Love-Feast for my own Sweetheart:

though he does purchase, marinate, cook and carve it himself.   Hunka Hunka Burnin’ indeed.   If he didn’t bring it in the house right quick, we’d have enough guests and dogs at the door to populate a small country.   And we needed them, for that great chunk of beef, which we had the week after Christmas, when DS and DDIL were here for a visit from Mississippi.

And a Happy, Happy Sweethearts’ Day to all of Y’all!

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Postage Stamp with bells to commemorate HOW WE MET.   See ANNIVERSARY on yesterday's post.

Thank you all for the e-mails, the comments, the good wishes on our Anniversary-of-the-Day-We-Met.  We did, indeed, as they say “Meet Cute,” I suppose, and it’s been quite a lively wonderful ride for these twenty-nine years.

And as for the “quiet moments” of reflection mentioned by one Dear Commenter---the day began with a laughing, almost-rowdy breakfast of said Quik/Malt and cinnamon toast, with Ganner’s reminiscences of his own childhood breakfasts with slightly different containers on the table.

On through the day expecting a blast of snow, which began at three, just as we were driving to pick up Sweetpea.  We headed on, as the downpour increased to The-View-From-Ten-Forward.    When we got out of the car, his black vest and my red cape were immediately encrusted in jillions of little not-snowflakes, but tee-ninecy white bits which looked like fairy mothballs, and melted away before we could get through the lobby.

(My phone had rung just as we got to the school, with DD in GA recounting a lovely time of making SALTED CARAMEL SAUCE with our three GRANDS, as a lesson in saturation and crystallization and melting in one of their classes.   She and I had a lively long conversation over who’s doing what, and reading so WELL! and learning about weather and math and other subjects.   They’ve been home-schooling for several years now, and it’s just a marvel to me how one person can cover subjects for so many grades at once, but she does it, and remarkably well, too, with wonderful visits to zoos and museums and art galleries and other interesting places.   These young folks just do beat all).  

We'd skipped lunch, intending to go to Early Bird Dinner at four (yep, we fit right in), and so we drove way back past home in what felt like a blizzard to one of those rompin’ stompin’ places with peanut hulls on the floor, the scent of sizzling steaks in the air, and a general atmosphere of fun, including loud encouragement of YEEEEEHAWWWWWs from all present at intervals.   In the wide doors, stomping a bit ourselves, as we cleared our shoes on the damp concrete of the vestibule, and cheerily shook bushels of the melty little bits from our coats and hats into the shining puddles on the floor.

Sweetpea slid into our booth and  started “peeling” us all peanuts---“Now you see this little crack here---you squeeze it right on the sides.”  On finding a thin papery skin on one set, “Now you just squeak it like this, and that comes right off.”  We were immediately engulfed in bits of hull, peanut, skin, paper napkins, and plates and drinks all up and down the table---you’d have thought we had ALL the Grands in there at once---Don’t I wish?

And that kid knows her way around the roll-basket, she does.   Didn’t eat a bite of her dinner when it came, though she and Ganner DID do quite the lively spoon-fencing over the bowl of Molten Chocolate Cake and scoop of ice cream. 

We laughed and talked and clapped for birthdays with all the rest, and brought home WAY more food than we ate-—much to the benefit of her Mommy, who was famished when she got off the plane, and of Caro, who had a nice half-rack of ribs and most of a Bloomin’ onion for breakfast after work today.  

And so went the romantic Anniversary Dinner---boisterous and fun, dusty with crumbs, way too much food and noise and merriment for any three people.

I often think of one of my favourite stories about Motherhood, quite possibly because I grew up in the final breaths  of the Seen-But-Not-Heard generations: 

  A young woman was visiting a friend, whose little boy several times interrupted the conversation to call his Mommy away to see what he was doing, or reading, or just because.

The visitor asked her friend, “Does it not bother you to be constantly ‘on call’ like that?”

And the Mom replied, “I brought him into the world, and the least I can do is to let him SHOW it to me.”


Wednesday, February 4, 2015


Another about-to-be-snow day here at Downtrodden Abbey, and we’re perking along.  Sweetpea’s been here for several days, and it’s such a sweet thing to have a little one in the house. 

I’m a bit rusty on Homework, but I can give out spelling words (which tow do you mean, Ganjin---pull or foot?), and I’m a supreme listener when I’m being read to.   Shower and bedtime and prayers, and then the too-early morning (scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast today, with Ganner pouring the milk and rifling the cabinet for Quik and the Malt powder, adding a little story of Soda Fountains and two straws-in-the-milkshake).   I could just see the formica counter and the bright burst of letter-sweaters and poodle-skirts.

And today's the anniversary of the day we met, these twenty-nine years ago, so we'll do a lot of reminiscing throughout the day and over dinner, I imagine. It's a day of mixed feelings, with all this young energy on the one hand, and also the saying goodbye to a dear older one whose time is drawing to a close.   Many things to ponder and remember and be thankful for.

Hope you’re all staying well and warm!


Mrs. Smackless