Thursday, December 15, 2016

HUSH








"Our snow was not only shaken from white wash buckets down the sky, it came shawling out of the ground and swam and drifted out of the arms and hands and bodies of the trees; snow grew overnight on the roofs of the houses like a pure and grandfather moss, minutely-ivied the walls and settled on the postman, opening the gate, like a dumb, numb thunder-storm of white, torn Christmas cards."       Dylan Thomas

Friday, December 2, 2016

PAGEANTS PARTIES POSES


Linking today to Beverly’s PINK Saturday!!


We had such a lovely evening last night---it was so clear the car and street and holiday lights were just sparkling through the windshield.   It's about twenty miles over through the countryside to Sweetpea's school, and what a lovely drive just after dark.    Of course, I was riding with Santa, in his hat and bright red sweats-jacket (me in my red cloak and Mary Janes).  We both got a lot of wondering, smiling gazes from the little ones in attendance, and the program was just so cute.   Her grade performed last, and sang and jazz-handed their little gloved hearts out.   We all agreed that she was probably the only one there with all FOUR Grands to cheer her on.   That's SUCH a blessing to all of us. 


And on the way home, Chris and I got asked to pose with several customers as we waited for our takeout at the wing place.  

The one and only picture we took was of my two happy companions-in-fun, just brimming with the joy of the season.   And then there’s me---MAD EYE RUDY.   I’ve been cackling at that thought all morning.

A Christmas Cackle does you GOOD.


Monday, November 28, 2016

BURGER AND A MOVIE


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All this rich Thanksgiving fare gave us a crave for a plain old hamburger off the grill last night, and so that’s what we had, with a nostalgic delve into a hokey Harryhausen movie “The Magic Sword,” fondly remembered by Chris from his teens.  Nothing like childhood memories all at once to set you up for the holiday season.


There's a wonderful article on Slugburgers by Rheta Grimsley Johnson, Mississippi's famous writer of articles-on-all-things-both-arcane-and-interesting. I read it several years ago, and it featured sounds, sights, smells, tastes, reactions and aftereffects of her first and only exposure to Corinth's most famous culinary creation. 

It was a lovely bit of writing, bringing to life every greasy, salty, mustard-clad bite. You could almost hear her arteries begin to harden.

My raisin' was in the Delta, and we had never heard of the "hill" folks' delicacy, though our local Milk Bar---guess we were too rural for a complete "Dairy" title--sold something similar. The little one-room building, whitewashed all around, had so many items and prices printed backward in white shoe polish on the INSIDE of the windows that you could barely see the workers within. You walked up to the little screen-flap window, picked your poison from the long list of cholesterol, paid your money, and promptly had the screen slammed down as the cashier turned to yell your order at the frycook standing two feet away.

The refrigerator door was opened to reveal several tall stacks of half-inch pink checkers, each separated by a small square of tornoff waxed paper. Heaven knows WHAT was massaged into that “ground beef” before the final patties were formed---last week’s unused buns, all crumbled into one last effort of use-it-up economy, or the lingering heels of every employee’s loaf of Wonder at home, brought in to stretch the “bought stuff” into more than it was. It coulda been oatmeal or even grits---we didn’t care.

One of these pink coins was grabbed by the paper and slapped upside down on the grill. The hot, dusty parking-lot air began to fill with the tongue-aching scent of sizzling meat as the cook threw two bun halves into the grease deposited by decades of burgers. And the not-quite-mixed bread-and-meat goo began to cook at different rates, different reactions of sizzle, so that each bite of the burger might offer a different taste and texture.

I remember the soft center section, the part that would’ve been rare had the patty not been so thin and the grill-cook not so watchful---that part was unctuously creamy with moist meat and soggy bread. And it was tempting to eat all way round the circle first, to get the mouthfuls of the crisp edges with their crunchy taste of meaty, grease-crisped croutons, or the almost country-fried-steak effect of all that bread mixed in and sizzled on the flat-top. 

  


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It never mattered to the cook if you got two tops or two bottoms, bun was bun; you didn't care either---you just wanted that sizzling and frying and mustard-smearing to be done, with a nice slice of onion and a coupla rings of salty dills slapped on. The meat, by this time, had been spatula-smashed with all the weight of Miss Ella's muscular right arm, flowering into a bun-sized, thin circle with crisp, lacy edges. Greasy spatula saluted top of bun, the lot went into a crisp crackle of waxy paper with the fancy pinked edges, and you received your prize, seizing it to your bosom like a holy relic.


Image result for wax-paper wrapped hamburgers


You backed away, averting your eyes from the waiting hordes, lest they lose control and wrest your long-awaited treasure from you. A clink of coins into the machine around the corner, the sissssssss of an ice-filled Dr, Pepper, and you retreated to the grimy picnic tables in the shade of the back lot, sinking onto that splintery bench like returning from battle. Rustle of paper, scent of onion-mustard-meat approaching your lips, then Heaven.



As I said, I've never tasted anything called a Slugburger, but I remember those filler-filled burgers of my youth with great pleasure, and with regret for the young of it, the bright-eyed lusty joy with which we wolfed down whatever was put in front of us, the uncaringness of the days before cholesterol and triglycerides were invented. That Milk Bar owner built house after house, renting them to many families, and she built them one burger at a time.

Slugburgers: No. The most memorable sandwiches of our lives: Oh, yes.



Friday, November 25, 2016

MARTHY TIDWELL'S THANKSGIVING LETTER




Dear Lottie Helen and all,

I hope this letter finds you all well.  We are all well as common, and yesterday was A BIG day around here.   We had 14 in all at the table, and it was quite a good dinner, considerin.    We borried a folding table from the church, and six of their chairs, and set it up in the side room for the kids.   I let your sister Letha Grace be in charge of that one, and she spread the whole thing with a roll of brown paper, like Kroger sacks, and laid out the crayons and markers and even glue sticks and little shapes of turkeys and punkins for them to make their own table.   It turned out real cute and sure cut down on rough-housin’ before we could get dinner on the table.



I made a big old pan of dressin and about a gallon and a hafe of gravy out of a big old roastin hen, two dozen devilled eggs, a great big pot of low-cooked snap beans, four pies, and a double-up of Miss Paula’s Pineapple Casserole, and they ate up every last scrape of that---Aint Lissie Tidwell said, “Marthy, you could fry Ritz crumbs in butter and put it on floor sweepins, and it would taste good!”   We all got a laugh out of that.   She brought that big ole blue roaster full of duck and dressin that everybody loves so much.

That was a real good thing, because your Daddy got it into his head to deep-fry a turkey this year.   He got out the shrimp-boil pot and the burner and set it up out on some concrete blocks out in the side yard about ten this morning, and all the menfolks gathered out there with their coffee.   What is it about menfolks anyhow, that you can’t get em in the kitchen unless their’s pie, and if they’re cookin outside, they have to all gether around in lawn chairs and watch it like TV? 



Well, you know how good a nice big sugar-rubbed ham is, comin out of the oven, and how good a turkey is when it’s smoked in honey-butter?  Well, he decided that that would be the way to go to make the turkey real good and moist.  He just figured one is good and a combination would be even better.   So he melted up that butter and honey, and he vaccinated that turkey all over like it was travelin’ to Timbuktu.   He musta been thinking that if you hit every spot once, and still have stuff left in the jar, better use it up




I watten out there, but I heard the commotion from clear in here when that hot oil roiled up out of the  pot like Pompei.  The men were yellin and a-whoopin and a-laughin, and your cousin Bertie Luke run and grabbed the big ole syrup dipper like we skim sorgum with, and started dippin up and dashin out big old ladlefuls onto the yard to cut down on the damage, but it just kept comin, they said.   

By that time, we were all out in the yard, and I wouten take nothin for seein that.  It hatten been in more than ten minutes, and the whole yard smelt like burnt cookies.   They lifted that thing out in about ten more minutes, and it looked like you’d dropped it down in live coals all over.   It had big old black spots ALL OVER itself, and looked worse than one of those blackened chickens that everybody was cookin a few years ago.    The holes went deep in that pore ole bird, and the wingtips was completely gone.

As it started to cool just a tee-ninecy bit, the pure-black drumsticks made little tick-tick sounds and crumbled plumb off onto the platter and shattered.   We were all laughin fit to bust, and on the video that Bertie Luke's grandson made, you could hear Aint Phemy sayin,”This GRYCE won’t never be the same, willit?”

We had a plenty a dinner, and thank goodness for those four mallards your Aint Lessie put in that dressin, cause that turkey was just a plumb purentee washout.   I just wish you’d a been here to see it.   Lookin to see y’all for Christmas,

Remember we love all a y’all,

Your loving Mama Marthy Tidwell



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borrowed from the internet because it was the pitifullest one I could find.  I hope they had a ham.

Monday, November 21, 2016

LOVE TO YOU



Preparing for the Holidays and sending LOVE.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

LEONARD COHEN


Image result for Leonard Cohen onstage
There are some men who should have mountains to bear their names to time...
(note on message board)

R. I. P. LEONARD COHEN,  1934--2016

On this eight-years-today anniversary of the day I sent out that first tentative blog post, there's a sad and glorious tenor to the day, for I've just learned of the passing of one of my very favorite people---Leonard Cohen.


Such a Voice for the Age, those sepulchral, deep tones echoing spare truth and hard ideas in such evocative words and phrases.    We lost one of the Great Ones on Monday, as he whispered away into that smoke-hazed, music-filled stage which must have been his Dream of Heaven.

But the words he left---oh, the WORDS.   The love-saturated SUZANNE, the capriciously-serious CLOSING TIME, and all the genius of the other starkly real songs he created around so many subjects---and the sheer poetry of the lyrics.  You can hear the voice of personal experience, as well as his Johnny Walker Wisdom and empathetic soul.   There was such a vitality, such an absolute MAN-ness to him, in his voice and his expression, and the vivid harsh-and-gentle of his writing is too severely beautiful to describe.   The music is echoing off my walls this moment, as I think of his life in the dark colours of his clothing and his themes and his deep-shadowed face as he sang through the years.   What a legacy, and what a gift, in all the permutations of the word.

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His writing and composing WERE the Crack in Everything, and also the Light getting in, in such an exultant, beat-driven, gritty way that the shine hurt your eyes AND heart.   I just thought he’d always be there, and can’t imagine a more sublime way to live on, than through such glorious music.  

And if he’d never opened his mouth but once, if he’d never put pen to paper and hands to piano or guitar but the single time, in all that long life lived in such solemn exuberance, then HALLELUJAH would have been enough.

Lord a'Mercy, THAT’S PLENTY, and overflowing the cup.


  Image result for Leonard Cohen onstage

Sunday, October 16, 2016

HELENA'S CLOSET

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Y’all KNOW I don’t do politics or FASHION, so little knowledge or interest I have in either, but sometimes . . .


I have an almost-everyday delve into an incisively-witty, fun blog by two smart, savvy fashion mavens, TOM AND LORENZO. They mercilessly skewer the pompous and self-involved, the old-enough-to-know-better and the rich-enough-to-hire-advisors, and are so clever with their words, I cannot resist peeking in, though as you know, I’m NOT THERE FOR THE CLOTHES.   It's the writing and the sumptuous bons mots and witticisms flying faster than light. 


Image result for helena bonham carter  LUCY HONEYCHURCH



ANNNNNDDD . . .They simply adore Helena Bonham Carter.   There’s just a sweet spot in my heart for her, in ANY role.   She simply has such a flair for being herself, such a self-confidence and blasé disconnect from What Would THEY Think? (the absolute standard on which I was brought up, sternly conscious of other folks’ opinions and standards of decorum and dress, and though I’ve breached them one and all on several occasions, at my age now, I require only that my attire be clean, preferably cotton, and good coverage. Perhaps that’s why I love her slapdash, outlandish outfits and devil-may-care attitude so much.


helena-bonham-carter-mismatched-shoes
I once wore a “pair” of shoes like this to a fairly formal party in college.  Mammaw had insisted on my getting both colours of the pumps I particularly liked, so I just wore each on a whim to an afternoon tea at the Chancellor's House. 



Image result for Helena bonham carter with TWO PAIRS OF glasses

This is just like me (well, sans purse and shopping---I have an abiding hatred for both).   But I am known to wear two-pairs-at-once on my head, and wander around searching for them.

And I wonder what her closet must be like---I imagine it’s an enormous closet---a cavernous closet, with an inconspicuous door opening inside a charming apartment, and stretching
out and back into the distance  like the Weasleys’ Quidditch tent.   The theme is inordinately dark, whimsical, lit by torchieres and glowing eyes, and all the dresses move idly in the dim breeze.  Daywear is held  suspended from the beaks of crows, with evening attire the ravens’ domain, and an entire wing of the cavern is populated by small blackbirds, whose delight in life is to organize and maintain the vast drapings of jewelry, eyeglasses, shades, glasses-chains, belts, whimsical hats and gloves and scarves.     

 Griffin-doorknockers hold long rows of purses, swaying  like small sides of beef in the cool keeping-room, and shoes make their own way back to their allotted stairs, reaching out of sight above the raiment below.  And fully a hundred mighty rocs suspend the hangers for the fabulous, the fun, the frayed and the fanciful coats awaiting.  And somewhere in the darkest high rafters hang flights of wistful small bats, each responsible for the keeping of a forlorn little sweater---cardigan---jumper, to hug close around her body as the eyes and lenses of the world assail her spirit.
Image result for Helena bonham carter flowered dress sweater


 I firmly believe that somewhere WAY back in that closet, after many twists and turns, it intersects briefly with those of Miss Havisham,  Belle Watling and Miley Cyrus, taking one sharp turn at The Last Chance Goodwill. 

   Just one nebulous idea, one inkling of a look, a feeling for the day, and the mist stirs, with some garments whirling and sparkling,  and others creating their own black holes of darkness in the dim, as nine unrelated items magically whisk to the forefront, encircling her body more effectively than Stark’s red suit.

Or some days, she just runs laughing through the entire domain like a child under clotheslines, clutching and clasping and grabbing in glee, and emerges into the daylight a Thing of Wonder, beyond description, for ordinary mortals to ponder and discuss. 


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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

LETTER FROM MARTHY TIDWELL


HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!

Dear Lottie Helen and all,

I hope this letter finds you all well.  We’re all well as common, but your Daddy liketa had a little tumble comin’ in with the stovewood last week.   He caught the cuff a his shirt on that ole long doorknob, and stumbled several steps before he righted hisself.  Didn’t drop a stick, not even them little ole fat lighterd slivers.   Soon’s we seen he ‘as allright, we all laughed fit to bust at that little dance he done. 

Tonight’s Church Supper night, and I’m a doin’ my best to get some good Fall cookin done to take.  Well, I got that big old roaster-pan buttered up right heavy, and then I got three a them quarts of gooood peaches out of the freezer and let ‘em thaw a while.   Then I  takened, and I put them sliced peaches in the bottom a there, and sprinkled on a right smart a sugar---just enough to get ‘em goin makin juice ‘n’ all—and a big dash of verneller. 
Cobbler is always better if you dot a good lot of butter around on top of the fruit, too. 

  And then, I went out and got me about four a them good yaller-yawk eggs for the cake---nothin’ like a good yard egg for a good rich cake.


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I got that old Sunbeam a-goin with them eggs and about a cup and a hafe a sugar, and just let ‘er rip til that mixture climbed up about three times its size and makin’ a ribbon when you lifted up the beaters.   So you measure out the flour and Clabber Girl and Salt, and melt you about a cup of butter in a different cup, along with a cup of milk with some good verneller stirred in.

You know, you hafta measure when you’re bakin’ cause it’s more like chemistry than cookin.  The right amounts of every tee-ninecy thing is the secret, especially the teaspoons of bakin’ sody or Clabber Girl, because they can play havick with all those good eggs and fresh butter if they’re off by even a smidge.   Nothin’ worse than a cake that squatted to rise, and baked in the squat, except maybe a real pretty one, all fluffy and golden, that wastes all those good ingredients and gets all the way to the table (especially if there’s comp’ny) so bitter with too much leavenin’ that the dogs just sniff and slink off when you throw it out in the yard.

I got the cake all mixed up good and light, and poured it real gentle over those peaches---it like to overflowed the pan, so I scooped out a cup or so of the peaches to keep it from runnin over in the oven.   Got it into a good smart hot oven, and then I put on three quarts of them good snap beans we canned when y’all was here in August.   Weren’t they fine? 




Just a big ole onion in the Dutch Oven sweated down some, and the biggest ham bone out of the freezer laid in with the drained beans, a good reach of salt and I crushed up almost a whole head of that fresh garlic we’ve got dryin out in the egg shed.  They’re cookin down right now, with some soy sauce, and does this house smell mighty fine!   Got a few dozen of the littlest potaters soakin to scrub to lay on top at the end to cook. 





I better go get my blue dress ironed.  I got so busy pickin up pecans and with the gettin-in of the last bell peppers and sweet taters so the boys could till the garden under, that I just laid everything crosswise on your bed til I could get to the ironin.

Remember we love all a y’all.

Your Loving Mama Marthy Tidwell



Friday, September 30, 2016

GECKO'S PRAYER



HAPPY FALL, Y’ALL!!

Much going on here, with birthdays and an unexpected, magical trip to Michigan last weekend, and takings-out and puttings-away of Summer and Fall things and outlooks on stuff.

Something about that air.  Something about the turning and the changing and the closing down of things that sends a message of slow down and settle in and even listen.

So, moiré non about the trip, but first, a tiny moment that made me smile my face off, and be glad the room was dark.

Sweetpea spent the night not long ago, and greeted her old friend Gecko the Chameleon, who had been left on her bed after her last visit, with a hug and effusive delight to see him again.

We turned out the lights and said our prayers, in which she usually concludes, “And Ganjin has something to say.”   This time it was Gecko who was to speak, and in the dimness I could see her hold his little sucky paws together.

 Then “he” spoke:


“Dear God, please don’t let there be any spiders in here, cause they eat all my bugs.   And just send all of THEM over here to me.  Amen.”

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

THE MYSTIC


My friend Val loves the serendipity of finding hearts, and she does---in clouds, in a salad, in a crumpled paper from a straw. She claims them as luck or fortune or just as her special talisman in life.

I just had a hankering this morning for some Van Morrison, and let the music just fill the house, as I went about my little doings on this superlative Cusp of Autumn day.  

Go fill your eyes with HEARTS, and your heart with the MYSTIC.



Sunday, September 18, 2016

SHAG DANCING


Image result for shagging on the pier charleston sc

I’ve just been rocking all morning, after reading Debbi’s post on Shagging on the Pier.   Still got the music going in the background while I’m writing---consider all typos a product of energy and rockin’ in my chair.

I just LOVE the idea of this---the night air, the energy, the music ringing out over the ocean, and all that fun and foot action.   I first heard of Shaggin’ on the Beach about twenty years ago, when Chris’ Sis and her new husband took Shag Dancing lessons and then went to gatherings all over NC.   It just seemed like the funnest thing, ever---going out with your partner, having such a wonderful talent in common, with the free-hearted steps and movements as effortless and easy together as breathing. 

I think of those long-ago, fun evenings often now, with a bit of gentle dolor, for that dear, young-hearted couple have since taken in and adopted FIVE of her daughter’s children, each as they were born, and and are now raising this second set of kiddos, ages eighteen to five, with all the attendant school and soccer and all the other joys and problems of parenthood---at OUR AGE, with grandchildren older than the younger ones.

They’re our Heroes, and they’re in my prayers and thoughts every day, with all this later-in-life burden and blessing they’ve taken on, embracing it with all of their dear kind hearts.  I like to think that they take a moment, now and then when a familiar song comes on, to lose themselves in a spin around the kitchen in that effortless, easy grace.


And I still think of them as dressed and shining, all that energy and rhythm and music filling the evening breeze in that happy gathering.   As they DANCE.


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS

We have been waiting for this lovely weather for a long, long Summer---it’s been HOT and it’s been rainy, but there were so few weekends with pleasant skies for celebrating outdoors..   So we celebrated Sweetpea’s birthday a week late, but it was a wonderful day.   She’d had a sleepover with friends and a dinner out with her other Mammaw and Pappaw the weekend before, plus several soccer games into the mix, so last Sunday was the perfect day.   It was just us five, plus our dear neighbor Honey, who has been a sweet part of her life since she was born.





Rainbows in a glass---I ordered these expandable beads online, because of a recommendation from my friend Tanya.   A couple of hours in water, and they grow to many times their little bb size, with their colours glowing in the sunshine.   When everyone arrived, we set up the little row of glasses and she so-carefully counted three beads into each one, in rainbow order (except for Indigo, so we went straight from blue to purple).   We watched them from time to time, and by the end of the day, they had swelled to jewelly slick marbles in the glass.

Lunch table---I ordered a little pack of rainbow/prancing steed  cloth,  napkins and plates on Amazon, along with a few charming little rubber-ducky unicorns and rainbow candles.   We used the colorful old fifties Melmac for eating and serving most of lunch, and the tee-ninecy “favor cups” hold the most beautiful pearly beads of pastel-coated chocolate, like Gucci M&M’s.   



You know when you cleancleanclean a room, and have nine unrelated items left with nowhere to go, so you just stick them in a drawer?  Well, that’s how all our parties are---days and weeks of planning and ordering and making and preparation and arranging, then when it’s TIME---there’s always extra stuff in the pictures.  



Presents and games.



She made the Unicorn/Pegasus banner herself several weeks before, inking in each figure with shades of teal and blue, and she smiled in delight when she saw it hanging between the trees.



 She mostly chose the menu:  Ganner’s grilled ham, rolls,  bowties and cheese, low-cooked snap beans, and Watergate salad; we also had stuffed eggs, confetti bean salad and lots of green munchy vegetables.  All the photos were quick-snapped with phones, and the shade sorta dimmed the colours.




Rainbow cupcakes.   Strawberries, several-colour grapes, and hot fudge dip on the side.



Nine and Ninety.   This pair are the youngest of us all.


Monday, September 12, 2016

DADDY'S FIREHOUSE SALAD



Image result for Iceberg lettuce tomatoes radishes

Sis and I were texting about the “firehouse salad” Daddy used to make, and just talking about that old familiar rich tang sparked so many memories for me.  The local firemen used to have a big fish fry, or a barbecue, or just a big “feed” to raise funds or salute a retirement or for some charity event.   And Daddy made the salad for every one of them, for years.

The salad was always composed in little steps.   Oil first, to coat all the cut-up iceberg and radishes and onions and bell peppers and tomato and sometimes celery.  Daddy flatly refused to let me wash the lettuce for this, saying the oil wouldn’t adhere---I’d peel off four or five leaves, just to kinda get inside where maybe dirt and germs hadn’t got to.


 And you know---I’m not making this up, nor am I taking credit for something not mine, but I’m the one who made the first of these salads.  Just barely a teen, I was just prinking around in the kitchen, and we had sorta a bland supper going. 
I remember putting cut-up tomatoes in the bottom of that old salad bowl and giving them WAY more garlic salt than I should have.   Juices all started forming in the bowl, and I glugged in some of the vinegar and a bit of oil and tossed it, then tossed in all the other cut vegetables.  

It was mainly because Daddy’s friend Joe was there for supper, and he’d told stories many times, of being a POW in Germany, and they barely had anything to eat but dark bread and some kind of broth or beans.   They had a guard who would smuggle them in some salt in his handkerchief, and sometimes a whole head of garlic from home.  They would each take off a little toe-clove and hide it.



Image result for painting of garlic

(VERY STRONG VIVID MEMORY HERE):
Mr. Joe would pantomime how he’d eat that precious small bit of flavor, keeping that little toe going for DAYS.   He’d pull his lips way back from his front teeth and nibble the air like a tiny mouse, showing how he’d just have a teensy nip of the stuff to satisfy the craving for something bright.  (I think I told Sis that I think this would be too strong a visual for putting into the story).  I’ll leave that to you.

Anyway, he absolutely LOVED that salad with all the vegetables and sharp vinegary garlicky taste, and after we finished, he took slice after slice of “light bread” and ran it around in the juice and ate it folded over like Daddy liked a Mannaze sandwich with his meals.  


They all liked it, and Daddy made it that way as Firehouse Salad all the rest of his life.   


Friday, September 9, 2016

GREAT-GRANDPA'S LETTER

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I’m reading (and listening to on Audible, depending on what needs doing at the moment) a wonderful book called Trials of the Earth, set in the 1890s up to the 1930s, not too far from where I grew up. This woman---this real person who told her own, real story to a reporter in 1932,  does beat all for sheer grit and a spirit of the joy of survival that I’ve not seen in many fictional characters, let alone in the real world.   It’s certainly giving me a deeper appreciation for my own family’s struggles and labor and dedication to the land and hard work.   My family on both sides were mostly from that area, just one county apart, and I look back in amazement at the pure-D determination and keepin’ on Keepin’ on that just keeping a roof over your head must have taken. 
Quite a few men in the family fought in the Civil War, and one of my Great-Grandfathers has been a sort of family legend, for he survived ten devastating battles:
Gettysburg, Falling Water, Bristoe Station,  Battle of the Wilderness,  Spottsylvania, Hanover Junction, Cold Harbor, Ft. McCray, Fort Bratton, and he was taken POW at battle of Hatcher’s Run in April, 1865 and released after taking the Oath of Allegiance in Maryland in June, 1865. 

The following is from a letter written by him in 1915; one of the researchers of our “tree” says that his memory of the order of things is a little off, but I got the above list from his military records.   Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity may recognize the rambly sentences and unrelated tangents which so pepper my own prose---must be a family trait.   I have also seen a copy of the letter, but have not held it in my hands.  I cannot imagine the honor of holding and reading those hand-written pages.

 "I was born in Franklin County, Tenn., the 3rd of April 1838. My father moved to this county the next winter before I was one year old on a place now belonging to Mr. A P Hudson, joining land with Mr. Ruben Cox. He was there when we moved there and was the only man that lived near us. My father then bought a place 9 miles east of Coffeeville on the Pontotoc road where he died when I was about 15 or 16 years old.

"The Indians were in this country when we moved here, also some bears, wolves, turkeys and squirrels were plentiful. Times were altogether different then to what they are now. No railroads were here, then people took their cotton to Memphis on wagons and sold it and brought back their supplies they needed for the coming year. If you needed a little money in the fall, your neighbor had it for you.

"Coffeeville at that time was all on the hill, there was only two business houses there at that time. Messrs. Newburger and Raybourn owned those stores.
"John Murry was sheriff, John Ramsey was his deputy sheriff. Mr. Ramsey was raised in less that one-half mile from where our present sheriff was born and raised. He went to see his best girl one day late in the fall. Her father had killed a hog the day before. The people in those days did not bob the hog's tails like they do now. While the old man was returning thanks Ramsey took his fork and lifted the tail on his plate and said he would have that piece sure. 


Monument to Davis' Brigade of Heth's Division of Hill's 3rd Corps in the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia


"The Civil War came on. I volunteered May the 2nd, 1862, and got back home June 15th, 1865. I joined Captain John Powell's company at Coffeeville, went to Grenada and stayed a few days, then to Oxford and stayed a few days, back to Grenada and joined the regiment.   J. R. Miller was our colonel.  


"We went from Grenada to Richmond, Virginia. There we joined Joe Davis' brigade the second, eleventh and forty-second Mississippi regiments and two North Carolina regiments constituted the brigade. We joined Heth's division, A.P. Hill's corps. We guarded prisoners and did picket duty the most of 1863. The battle of the Wilderness was the first big fight we were in.
"The next fight we had was near Spotsvalina (sic) court house. The next was Gettysburg.   I had seven holes shot in my clothing, but I never had the skin broke all during the war.
State of Mississippi Monument at Gettysburg

"I had lived in Yalobusha County ever since I was one year old, except during the civil war. I am now living on a place I moved on in 1867 in two miles of the place my father settled on when he first moved to this county, joining land with the place he died on. I will soon be 78 years old. I never paid any fine of any kind and never have been arrested. I know no man who has been in Yalobusha County as long as I have been. 

"Hoping I will be the oldest resident,
I am, 
Yours truly,"


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

GUEST POST: BEACH GYPSY




Ya’ll, sometimes the comments are better than the blog.   I think that should be embroidered on a pillow or plaque, for the sweet and thoughtful and vivid comments that Y’all leave here are a wonderful part of my life.   Just to know that a few words I throw out there sometimes evoke memories of your own, of other times and people and places which have meant so much in your lives---that’s a lovely thing to contemplate.

Today, I was absolutely mesmerized reading a comment from my friend BEACH GYPSY, whose forebears worked HARD to make their way  and tend their families.   Such memories deserve WAY more than a little snip on the back page, and should be UP FRONT, not even a click away.

Her Words:


I come from a long line of "working men". Hard labor, building bridges and dams, farming, factory workers, working in the hard weather and hard terrain mountains. Tending to cows and chickens and pigs and huge gardens and building fences and barns and working on telephone lines and providing for their families and making sure the kids were fed and clothed and the houses were kept warm in the winter with backbreaking loads of sparkly black coal and making sure my grandmothers and great grandmothers and great-greats had a washing machine down in the "wash-house" to keep the clothes clean and a back porch to sit the work worn and daily dirty boots on at the end of the day.

They dug wells so there was clean fresh water to drink and they kept bees for the sweet delicious honey. They hunted and brought home food and they knew how to build and to use a smokehouse for ham and bacon etc. My Grandmothers knew what to do with a wild turkey on thanksgiving and how to sew a quilt for a newly married couple. My Grandpas knew how to shoot a rattlesnake and my Grandmas knew how to MAKE sweet butter in a churn and delicious blueberry, blackberry, and apple jellies.

 Yep, I come from a long line of "working men" and women. Hands dirty with grease, oil, paint, or garden soil as well as feminine hands busy with sewing and kneading doughs for bread and pie crusts. Your post brought to mind so many memories....



Thank you, Gypsy---beautifully remembered and beautifully expressed.


Monday, September 5, 2016

HAPPY LABOR DAY!!




Thank you to EVERYBODY who does something for anybody else, in any helping capacity---Work, Pray, Teach, Make, Heal, Tend, Feed, Clothe, Extend a Hand, Hold a Hand, Fill a Hand, Intervene, Interpret, Listen, Neighbor, Carry, Lift, Protect, Serve, or anywise Look Out For.

THANK YOU ALL.


A salute from Randy ‘n’ ‘em.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

SSSIGHTS AND SSSOUNDS


Image result for zinnia bed in old yard

I have such a love for the sssss of September’s beginning, as with all words which go so gently into the air like dandelion fluff.  September.   Susurrus.  Sigh.  Season.   South.  Silver.  Sibilant.   Soothe.

And the beginning of the month itself, long such a beacon to me through the heat and humidity of those Southern Summers, is something of a calendar day to a lot of folks, I’m learning.   I’ve seen blogs of special  dinners and garden parties and teas, in these just-past two days, all celebrating the closing of the Summer season, and the belling-in of the coming parade of holidays in swift array.  But the joys of Summer---somehow snapped and zipped shut in so many places by this Labor Day weekend---closed down and boarded up by the calendar, as if mere Time controls weather and mood---that’s always seemed strange to me, like trying to tell a toddler he’s sleepy just because it’s eight o’clock.

 We’ll celebrate this weekend with a birthday or two, a lunch on the freshly-furbished and scrubbed patio, with rainbows and unicorns and the scent of Ganner’s incomparable ham rising from the grill.  The weather IS, indeed, magically changed by wand of wind which blew in these perfect blue skies and seventies breezes, after such a hot and wet season as we’ve not seen in a long time.  

But somewhere, here and there and around, the sights and sounds and scents of Summer linger like that last ray of sunset, reluctant to dip away and fade out.   And the ones I remember most are the ones of long ago, still vibrant and beautiful, in my dreams:  


 A barefoot-stomped yard with the patch of zinnias against the shed---Big Ole Bubba-Flowers, zinnias, in their stiff, Raleigh-ruffed gaudy colours and a hardiness to the petals and wiry stems that will outlive many a graceful foxglove and tissue-curled snapdragon.

Chickachickachick of an old rotary mower as the rusty silver blades cut a path through the ankle-high grass; the Summer skrish of yard-broom sweeping the grass to the ends of the rows. 

Image result for vintage rotary lawnmower

The sound of the big old pecan trees in our yard, way up high in the hot, dusty boughs, as I hid from Mother to read through a lot of those long Summer days.   The scrunch of separation as two small grubby hands divided a Popsicle, the sharing and the inevitable drip offset by the deep draw of eager lips.  The whitening of the ice as the dyed juice was sucked away, like the fading shine of sand when the tide withdraws.  



Image result for red popsicles


The coppernickel tang on your hands, the smells and sounds of slingshots and marbles and BBs and all the other tools of a child’s happy trade.  Snap of slingshot, hiss of ball bearings or rocks through the air.  Satisfying smick or thunck, depending on target.  Click of marble on marble.  Deeper toned THUNK of throwin-knife into a target or post.  Smack of ball into glove and crack of bat-meets-ball.


Which-a-which of the old tall-necked copper lawn sprinkler, peeping up through the grass like a preying mantis as the water-drops fly.  


Image result for lawn sprinkler in the grass

The steady, solemn hum of fan-blades suspended in a white-raftered church; the unobtrusive wielding of wide-hipped funeral-parlor fans as the sermon rises in tempo and tone, and the competent, officious rush of white-clad, no-nonsense Lady-Ushers to the side of the faithful, too-overfilled with the Spirit and fainting from a combination of heat and zeal.  How I loved those purpose-in-life, take-charge women, with their calm caring and their confident air.  
Image result for church usher board  in white

The sweetest thunkch as a shade-cooled watermelon falls under the knife, giving up its heart on a battered picnic table.   Splashes and happy shrieks as children frolic through sprinklers and run heedless through another Summer afternoon.  

And the open-windows sleep-sounds of a million peep-frogs, as a faraway train wends its way through the night.

Any vivid Summer memories you'd like to share?