Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I’ve been asked “Where IS Towandaland, exactly?” Since it’s not of my own creation, I’ll just set my own marker.

It’s that exact spot in the beat-up blacktopped parking lot of Piggly Wiggly where Evelyn Couch repeatedly rammed her old brown Ford land-yacht into the bright red VW whose impudent young blonde driver and her equally-sassy, smug friend had stolen her parking spot and flipped, "Face it, Lady---this is what happens when you're younger and faster!" back over their jaunty shoulders as they walked away laughing.

It's where the phrase "This is what happens when you're older and have more insurance," was born, the place on the map in which anyone, male or female, young or old, decides ENOUGH.

It’s where you take a stand and actually STAND there and stand UP for something, to right it or redress it or comfort or even AVENGE if the occasion merits.

It’s the place in all of us that we’d like to live IN and live UP TO, where we’re the best of ourselves and the person we’d like to be remembered as. It’s the place that we know we’re in when we dream of flying.

It’s that scene in The Magnificent Seven when the townsfolk all emerged with weapons and a firm resolve to take back their own---the moment in Dances With Wolves that the peaceful villagers rose up and took on those cruel marauders---the rally in Revenge of the Nerds when everyone rose from the bleachers and came down front to gather around Louis and Gilbert and Booger, to acknowledge that no matter who we are, we MATTER.

It's a place where you can just BE, and that's OK, and you can be more than yourself, as well. And words heard often are, "Nope. Not here. Not on MY watch."

Towandaland has lots of citizens---a brave woman on a Sixties bus, a pilot who wrestles an enormous plane to a safe landing in an icy river, a generation of young people who stand up and call out their friends and classmates for bullying, and their own families for their bigotry and ignorance.

I like to think that a group of brave passengers on a flight called Ninety-Three could know the surge of Rightness and Courage and Honor they brought to their own place on the map, as they stood to be counted.

Towanda was some sort of mythical avenging goddess, Hero of Idgie Threadgoode and others in Fried Green Tomatoes, and we Southern Girls all know who she is. And when the moment comes to stand UP or stand UP FOR or stand up and be counted---there will be a lot of them, and we'll know when they are.  
Seldom is one of us a Tom Joad, or an Atticus Finch, or a Rosa Parks,
we'll whisper or say or shout "TOWANDA!" as we do our part to do the right thing.  

Towandaland---you have to find it for yourself, and it’s all in the outlook. It's situated somewhere between Plumb Nigh and Mought Near, and you can always walk in the soft Summer rain.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015



You know I’ve been a reader all my life, with books such a great part of the Who I Am, and though I DO know fiction from fact most days, I’m just posting a list of the folks who, by dint of character or spirit or heroic dedication or plain old good company or sheer brain power---though I think I might not LIKE a few of them, I’d still want on MY SIDE, when I needed them.   They’re all IN IT, Banner and Blade:

Charlie Allnut
Samwise Gamgee
Briene of Tarth
Samwell Tarley
Ree Dolly
Gus and Woodrow
 Mal Reynolds and all the crew of Serenity
Lenny Briscoe
Quigley--Orrin Sackett--Jesse Stone--Frank Reagan--Thomas Magnum
Catniss Everdeen
Lisbeth Salander
 Merry and Pippin
Superman and Christopher Reeve
Leon the Professional


Neville Longbottom
Walt, Vic, Ferg, Henry and {Hector} 
Alan Shore, Red Reddington, Dembe Zuma
Reese and Finch, Shaw, Root, Elias, and Marconi
  Chuck Norris (and would HE not have made a splendid REACHER, for all 20+ movies, had the time been right)
Miss Shambala Green or anybody played by Lorraine Toussaint
Barney, Christmas, Trench, Gunnar 'n' 'em
Atticus Finch
Tom Joad
Marge the Cop 
 Jaqen H'ghar
Opie Winston
Lucas McCain 
Wile E. Coyote
Gunny Bricker
J.B. Fletcher
Raylan Givens (or perhaps just his hat)
Boyd Crowder
Penelope Garcia
Dr. Spencer Reid
Red at Shawshank
Andy Dufresne
John Coffey--Paul Edgecombe--Brutal
 Nero, Jax, Bobby-Elvis, Tig, Chibs, and Miss Venus van Dam

Vincent/Hellboy/Clay Morrow
Ben Matlock/Andy Taylor
Lt. Dan 
Aibilene Clark
Andy Sipowicz
Vergil Tibbs
Louis Litt
Bobby Goren
Inigo Montoya
Idgie Threadgoode
Rooster Cogburn
Michael Westen and Fi
Summer Glau
Clarice and Hannibal
Mags Bennett
Randall McMurphy
Jack Burton
The Goonies
Luke Danes
Jo March
Mammy at Tara
Edgar Roy
Clete Purcell
Ignatius J. Reilly
The Hound
Peter and Elizabeth Burke-best marriage on TV
Jeeves, though in our last days, we'd hope for the comfort of a Hoke  
Lorelai Gilmore
Frank Drebbin
Elizabeth Bennet  

Those four teenage boys, strangers to me, who surrounded me suddenly on a silent Eighties street, emerging from the dimness, walking around me like a phalanx of Palace Guards as I passed barred stores and grim faces in the dark, then melted away when I was safely locked in my car and on my way.

And, of course, the realest “Character” there is.   Chris.

Friday, October 16, 2015


The cure for anything is salt water:  Sweat, tears, or the sea.
                  Isak Dinesen

Thank you to all of you who have asked about a “REVEAL” of our new kitchen; it’s nice to know you’re interested.   I have no idea why I’m taking so long---I DO find myself lingering over the simplest tasks, with the spray-and-wipe of those pristine white counters taking on the significance of WAY more than sanitation.  I think all this slow contemplative enjoyment has slowed my entire outlook---not in a dreary way, or a don’t-look-forward way, but perhaps in a contentment with things just now, pushing off small want-tos for a little while.

I just tell myself I want the photos to be just right, or the angles, or what about those pink utensils that are in the dishwasher at the moment---wouldn’t it be best to wait for those for the pictures?  Or, you know---this vase of roses is several days old; might better wait for a new bouquet for best effect. 

The sun through these curtains with their silky pink roses and sharp green leaves is simply glorious, but eludes capture, somehow, with so much of the glow and the outline of the matching real leaves moving in the breeze outside escaping in the translucent haze of the gauzy cloth.

Caro has been collecting pink SALT for me---mostly for the effect, of course, and the salad-dressing-prep marble is now quite colourful, with all the lovely glints of pink.  Some of them I haven’t used yet, but I’m tempted to make a batch of dark chocolate truffles or some rich fudge, just for the sake of scattering a grain or two of that bright SEE-Salt atop---wouldn't that be pretty?

The time will come---I do not flatter myself that there’s a bated breath in the house, for it’s so totally inconsequential in the Scheme of Things. The asking is a lovely compliment, and it BRIGHTS me, as does this Sweet 'n' Low Pink kitchen, planned since I was six.   

Moiré non,

Sunday, October 11, 2015


I really love this new fridge---I find myself being really persnickety with wiping down the first drop to appear on the door, or giving a good polish to whichever glass shelf or other I’ve just removed something from.  (The mishap with the laid-down flat Rubbermaid gallon of home-cooked figs-in-syrup was a fluke, in which I’d obviously not tightened the big-as-a-saucer lid with my not-as-strong-as-they-once-were hands---that was a MESS, I can tell you, and we hope that will forever be the Worst Thing That Happened To the New Fridge).

But just the other day, I removed something from the top shelf, I remember---during which I must have caught another item, a two-cup Tupperware, knocking it out and down all those feet for a WHACK on the projection which is the freezer, and to the slate floor, where it popped open and went EVERYWHERE.   I just kept looking down around my feet, where the ever-spreading cloudy-green pool just kept spreading around my big old pink Minnie Mouse clogs, with big clots of blackish-green islands moving slow as icebergs as the liquid moved ever wider. 

I stepped ever-so-carefully for an old towel in the laundry room, dropping it like Batman’s cape to cover the onslaught before it fled beneath the fridge.  I just kept looking at the muddy-pool, with my only thought being the lovely pan of shiitake that Caro had made for supper a couple of nights before, but it just wasn’t quite right.
Neither the BLOB nor that slime so beloved of ten-year-olds and Kid's Cable shows has been such a noxious green amalgam of distasteful chunks and goo, and I just could Not Place what it really was.  Now, we call a pot of any kind of greens a "Mess" in the South, but nobody could have predicted this.

Haven’t we all had those surreal moments of surprise, as we are so caught off guard that we might interpret something as one thing, and then see a total something else as our eyes try to make sense of what it might be.    And then I knew---it was COLLARDS---the last of that big bowl with the wonderful pot likker that I’d made several days ago, and kept transferring the dwindling supply into ever-smaller storage.  

I got it all swept into the little short-handled dust-pan, down the disposal, with the floor cleaned, mopped and shined, then showered to get off all the splashes.  Just as I started to put my shoes back on, a strange look to the left one caught my eye, and I looked down to see a neat collard bow, sitting right up there like a $500 clip on a Laboutin.   

Appropriate décor for a country cook like me.   Just call me Minnie Pearl Mouse.

Image result for minnie Mouse shoes

Friday, October 9, 2015


We’re missing our Friday Library Visit today, because Ganner’s over toward school, and is picking up Sweetpea.   They go to hardware stores and Sam’s and stuff, and that’s sorta a fair division of labor AND company, all around.

We’ve been going together to our dear Library, she and I, since she was in one of those little seats you snap in and out of the car to carry, and we’ve made our way through a great number of the books, from the little cloth numbers loved and squeezed, through the thick-paged small ones with a tiny story told in tiny words, (WHERE'S the BEE?   There he is!), on to read-mes that carry on WAY into time for bedtime prayers.

She explores the tree-house, the little phone booth where you can sit and have a story read over the phone, the bins of puppets and games and puzzles in their sturdy numbered bags.   And she still loves the “little” stuff---a sweet mama-llama puppet with a tee-ninecy baby stitched to her side, and the little-fingers puzzles with big bright-coloured wooden pieces.

Last time, she spent a lot of time at the colouring table, making percentages of pies and kites and arches.   Then then, in a nod to times gone by, she came over with a thick round plate pie-wedged and shaded, with small divots lined in dingy Velcro. 

“What would you like on your PIZZA?” she asked.   I consulted the puzzle-pieces for the menu.

“Vegetables,” I said, as she began to apply peppers and mushrooms.  Then, knowing Ganner’s propensity for meat on his pizza, she rounded up all the pepperoni and started to stick them on like map-pins.

She thought for a moment, then went back to the puzzle-bin.   In a bit she came back with a little blue whale, perhaps from some sea-faring scene.

“He likes anchovies, but they don’t have any,” she said.   “Will this do, you think?”

Indeed I did.

Saturday, October 3, 2015


Just gazing back a little on long-ago musings, and since I’ve had a few requests for Translate-to-English for some of my Southern Idioms, a little redux from exactly six-years-ago.    The Welcome Mat’s still out:

Do come and sit at our table---you're welcome any time. The coffeepot stands ready, the tea kettle can reach a cheery boil in the time it takes to reach down a teapot, and there's usually something sweet in one cake dome or another.

You may or may not understand the language, for it's foreign to many of our visitors, at least the first time---we speak Southern, and it translates easily.

Some of the things you hear may be:

I Wishta gosh-----I do sincerely hope.

I hopeta shout----- I couldn’t agree more; it's as fervent as my hope of Heaven.

Hind Wheels of Destruction-----My first MIL’s description of either a messy house or the looks of a lady whose grooming left something to be desired.

Omtombow-----I am speaking of . . .

Hissy fit-----Angry outburst ranging from actual hissing at the object of wrath, when others may overhear, to a screeching, plate-throwing tantrum. Usually indulged in by females, but a Good Ole Boy, who has witnessed these all his life, may surprise you with quite a creditable one of his own, on occasion. Such as being on a charter boat and having the marlin get clean away. With his $700 Star Chair Rod.

Screamin’ heenie-----Ditto, but starts out full-blown, without any of the hissy buildup.

Slick over cloudy-----Raining and gonna get worse.

Come up a wind-----Started to storm.

Commenceta rainin’-----Began to rain, especially spoken by someone WAY out in the field when the storm started.

Takin’ on-----Crying or wailing or gnashing of teeth.

Don’t let on-----Do not dare speak of what I just told you.

Havin' a Dog in the fight-----An interest beyond curiosity in whatever’s happening. If the proceedings will affect you personally, you can complain, speak up, or sue. Otherwise, hush up about it.

Lit a shuck-----Ran fast, usually AWAY from something. Paralleled by Bat-outa-Hell.

Puttin’ on the dawg-----Putting on airs; or dressing, entertaining, or purchasing beyond your means.
Puttin’ the big pot in the little one-----Entertaining a big crowd.

Might could-----Perhaps I’ll be able to.

Ditten GO to-----Did not mean to.

Don't know Pea Turkey-----Has absolutely no knowledge of the person, place, happening or idea. (but is usually willing to talk lengthily about it, anyway)

Ain't seen Hide nor Hair of him-----Have not been in his presence, nor have I even waved at him in the road

A Coon's Age-----A LONG time, as referenced by the supposed years of a long-lived raccoon. Spoken mainly to someone you haven't seen in a while----Why, I haven't seen YOU in a coon's age.

Drunk as Cooter Brown-----WAY past inebriated, up into the territory of the mythical (or factual) Cooter, who seems to be the epitome of tosspots

Great Day in the Morning!-----Exclamation of surprise, shock, or admiration, depending in inflection

Shine-----Moonshine---the clear, distilled corn squeezin's sold in quart jars from the back of pickups, or WAY down country roads; take a left at the dead Maytag and flash your lights.

I DO declare!-----Exclamation of mild astonishment. I'd totally forgotten the froufraw when my Sis' college roomate was all up in arms that her Not-from-the-South Sister-in-Law was about to name the new baby niece Heidi Claire. Poor thing just didn't know. I don't remember how that came out.

I Swannee!-----I DO declare, but exasperated or amazed.

You DO beat all-----Also depends on the inflection and voice---can be a form of approval, in expressing admiration or thanks. In an exasperated tone---getting close to ON MY LAST NERVE.

Which brings us to various levels of anger:

There's spittin' mad, and there's "it flew all over me," and there's "I could just pinch his head off," as well as "so mad I could fly." REALLY bad occasions are reserved for "I could just go to bed and eat Velveeta right out of the box."

And Chris' personal favorite: The famous last words of Good Ole Boys:



Thursday, October 1, 2015


The Tellin’ Tree two doors down is flaunting her sun-kissed rosy cheeks for the past few days, letting us know that FALL is approaching with these even-cooler days and nights.  She's always the first to blush, the first to swirl down her leaves, the first one we head for to scuff our feet through the piles on the sidewalk.  

September was absolutely glorious, with all the sun-filled days, the cloudless blue stretching overhead with nary a thought of gray, and the temperatures just begging us to be out and about.

The sounds outside during this dry, cool time have been of slow-breeze drifts of leaves, just beginning to do their earthward dance, settling onto the arid crispness of already-sere lawns and skittering down the drive and sidewalks toward the unabashed ivy, green as always, wending its way across the lawn at a yard’s pace a year.   It’s still all green in the yard, but of a subtler, more subdued hue, with a lot of yellow to the mix, especially in the rampant grapevine stretching from house to garage to outbuildings to trees.   I swear, that stuff is really a strain of kudzu, transported up here on our shoes or tire-treads, covering our landscape like an abandoned homestead in the South---those old silver-gray buildings, bushes, long-chuttered-their-last John Deeres gone to rust---all engulfed in the green tide until the whole landscape is like one of those baby-toys made of soft fabric, with the little farm buildings and trees and fields just gentle lumps on the landscape.

I swear, if the whole Earth fell apart, our little piece of it would be just sitting here, all of a piece, in a monkey-barrel hug by all the grabby-toed ivy on the ground, and tenacious tendrils of grapevine---one big wad like those Come-See balls of  rubber bands advertised on saggy signs along highways the Interstate passed by.

There’s a comfort to the changes of Fall---a settling-in, a tamping-down, as if the energy of all that Spring and Summer growth and activity has smoothed into completion with the changing of the moon.  There’s no more grabbing of towels and sunblock in a rush to head for the pool, or great need to keep the flowerbed weeds at bay, or the nudge to pick whatever’s overgrowing the garden.   That season’s winding down so fast now that I can kindle only a faint wish to go some weekend in search of a pink pumpkin, a gallon of cider, a great bouquet of colourful dried corn and shucks for the porch.

But today’s the long-awaited DAY.  October’s officially here, and the calendar has ticked into FALL.  I just settle in every year, with a little putting out of Orange, or a swag of bright leaves over the door, and the days just fly past.  I find myself three days before Christmas, with so much undone, unmade, unsaid, and wishwishwish it were October again.

And I swear, this year, I’m gonna make the most of it.   Out and about to enjoy the weather and the colours, wonderful scents of something in the oven, lovely pots of soup and stew, pans of fragrant bread and pie.   I vow to use it up, drink it in---rather than wishing it back.