The five sisters: Aunt Eddie, Mammaw, Aunt Lu, Aint Bessie, and Aint Lo
A little more about Mammaw’s Sister, Aint Bessie (she of the Ole Fly fame). She was a fun, lively
woman, when we would be all gathered for talk and meals, but she became mysteriously stricken with a great weakness and pain of limb upon every rising from the dining table.I think that most of my opinions and views
in those days were formed and shaped by Mammaw---the greatest caretaker and
influence in my life. Probably Aunt B's being a younger sister gave
her some leeway that Mammaw didn't get, for growing up, the younger girls were mostly
exempted from the field work and cooking and washing for all that big family of
young-uns.Since all I really knew of Aint
B. came from her maybe-twice-yearly visits, I sorta leant toward Mammaw's
view that shecouldhelp out, if she'd just get up
off the couch.
Aint B. had a plump little figure and some beautiful
clothes. She took a morning bath which required
bringing in the big old #2 tub from the back porch (not by her) and
filling from the kitchen faucet, and then everybody out of the house while
she bathed (usually Mammaw and I were out in the garden, hoeing or picking
something to cook or to can). And she had lovely skin---she carried
a bag with lotions and her perfume and hair stuff in it, and she slept in a big
hairnet to keep her permanent pretty. We could come back in when
she got into her housecoat, and I'd empty the tub, pitcher by pitcher, into the
sink, then take the tub out, while I watched her lotion arms and legs and put
cream on her face, and later a little puff of powder and tiny dab of lipstick.
Then she sat down to wrap her legs. She had roll after
roll of gauze or cotton strips or some white fabric that she rolled round and
round her legs from knee to ankle before she pulled on her stockings and rolled
her garters on. She took all that off to sleep, re-rolling the
little rounds and sticking in a pin.
She kept repeating like a mantra about her Milk Leg she'd
contracted, and how sore they were all the time (I wonder now if it was
something like phlebitis, and that kept clots from forming like surgical
stockings). And her legs were just really pretty underneath all that
wrapping, so I, too, thought she might be exaggerating her malady a bit
more to account for her not being able to clear away or wash dishes
or cook, and that she had to get right up from the table after every meal and
go lie down and elevate her feet on a pillow.
And I envied the HECK out of the fact that she had a
"standing order" for a case of Co-Colas to be delivered and set on
her back porch in Mobile
every morning. She drank twenty-four six-ounce cokes in a day's
time. And guess what lucky person got to run over to Aunt Lu's with the
wheelbarrow every day to get that case of cokes? And back for three
or four more trips, for bananas or Bromo or the Pinkham's that she forgot
to bring. I even had to go get ice a time or two, because we ran out so
often, filling up those big tea glasses with Co-Cola, and all.
(Looking back, I wonder if the reason she stayed with Mammaw all
the time, despite the impossibly-tiny house, might have been ME).
The three rooms were Kitchen at the back, with a good sized rectangular
wooden dinner table and six chairs, the Middle Room, which held Mammaw and Grandpa's double bed on one wall, with a BIG round black pedestal Dining Table
under that saggy-screen window and the beehive in the wall that you could hear
humming. There was a big pump organ on the third wall, and the
fourth, of course, was taken up with the head of the bed and kitchen door, with
a space somewhere in there for a good-sized wood stove---a really pretty, curvy
one, like an immense black vase with pipes in the middle of the floor, all
taken down for Summer, and creating a marvelously-open space.
The belly of the stove had a garland of raised-up rose buds, one of which
had tattooed a permanent "rose" on Uncle Samalee's beeehind when he
was about four, and had just gotten out of the tub and bent over to get his
front room had another double bed on the north wall, a couch where I slept on
the opposite, covering a never-used closed up fireplace with a
doilied-and-what-notted mantel, which would take you unawares; if you sat up
wrong in bed, it would conk you in the noggin. The bed was Aint B's,
and there was also an across-the-corner dresser to the "suit" along
with a chest of drawers, and a pretty maroon-brocade platform rocker with a chunky metal smoking stand.
I just cannot imagine.
Aint B. had her own little built-in maid-servant every Summer
trip, for I fetched and carried cokes and cake-on-a-saucer and a funeral parlor
fan and her purse and her hair-scarf and her magazines---she was the first
person I'd ever seen who bought those Romance and Screen and True Story
magazines, and I was fascinated.
She told fabulous stories of the city, of the
streetcars and the train station and all the big stores and the parades.
And they went right down to the water and bought their shrimp right off a
boat. Not quite the enchantment of Aunt Eddie's Indianapolis (I was fated to be here), but I
was rapt, all the same.
from all over town would drop by and sit on the porch with Aint Bessie, and she
held court every day til the sun got too hot out there, or she'd get her
"parasol" ---Mammaw and all the Aunts had a big black umbrella for
shade, and they all called them parasols--and venture around the block to Aunt Lu's store or up or down the street to people's houses. She'd go to whatever
doings any one of the three churches was putting on---luncheons and teas and
watermelon-cuttings---all functions that Mammaw wouldn't have even come in out of the hot garden to attend.
from the internet---her silhouette, size, white hair, and certainly looks like Mobile to me
I know that the bit about The Fly painted her in less-than-her-best
light. I think it's just my memory of that one particular day---I
was maybe eight, and I can STILL hear her say, "Look at that OLE FLY!" and the sound of the flappy old worn-out swatter hitting the equally
fragile screen, right before the immense cloud settled on that good dinner.
She and Uncle Les adopted their nephew when his mother died
shortly after childbirth. They lived in Mobile, and I think I remember Uncle Les had
something to do with shipyards. Ron never came with Aint Bessie,
but would ride the bus by himself later to come for a couple of weeks with
Mammaw, Aunt Lu, and Aint Lo---who all lived that small Delta town. What an adventure that must have been, and
him not yet ten years old. I envied that
freedom, and still to this day LOVE the sight, sound and scent of a GREYHOUND.
a wonderful expression in the South which conveys happiness, pleasure, delight,
gratitude, and whole host of other good things:
the word is TICKLED. There’s no
gonna getcha anticipation or those fun-scary creeps associated with a Tickle
Monster, nor is any touching or jostling involved (well, there MIGHT be some,
at the Ticklee’s express request, but that’s nunna my
can be Tickled that the Grandkids are coming this weekend, Tickled to see them,
and Tickled to make their favorite nanner pudding. Other forms are when something’s just so
gosh-darned funny you’re Tickled to death, or you can be Tickled Pink (that would be my choice, of course) to
something dear to your heart, your lifestyle, your conscience or your
sometimes something can TICKLE YOUR FUNNYBONE so you laugh long and loud, or it can be just so fun and sweet, you just smile all over. Sis has a flock of chickens, and they are
just the dearest little clucky souls.
One, especially, is my favorite (and I think is secretly hers, as well,
but neither of us will ever let on---biddies have tender feelings, plus their
beaks are just ankle-height). Bonnie
Faye is simply the most beautiful barnyard creature I’ve ever seen---an almost
houndstooth pattern to her poufy elaborate robes, and the fluffiest stockin’-tops
I’ve seen since visiting the Clydesdales.
I don’t know if it’s too many Harry Potter movies, or if she’s seen the Buckbeak centerfold in Better Coops andGardens, but
she’s got the regal bow, the incline of the head, and the calm acceptance of the
reverence she’s due. Girlfriend’s got
quite the Royal Thing going on:
A fun comment from Sis when she saw this post just now:
Awww, I DO just love
her so much! She still lays a tiny little white egg about 3 times a week. She
also has short term memory loss now and when we let everybody out in the late
afternoon to play, she looks down to peck a bug and they all run off. Then when
she looks back up, everybody's gone and it's panic time!!! BU_KACK!!! about 100
times until we go out and show her where everybody went, then she waddles over
until the next time... Life is full of BU-KACKS isn't it. We all just need
someone to show us where everybody went from time to time.
not quite holiday weather here today, with the warmth of the sun and bright
skies and the snap of flags in the sunshine, the smoke of a thousand backyard
grills raising delicious scents into the Spring air. There were no sunbeams to wake to, but the damp skies will not dim the services and celebrations of this long Spring weekend.
weather hasn't much to do with the feelings that surround this special day,
this day of remembrance and honoring and taking stock of our nation's
blessings. The placing of wreaths, the little flags stuck into the earth of
countless graves, the floral tributes, the handful of limp posies clutch-wilted
in a child's hand, the tears of remembrance---those will quietly and reverently
go on even as the scent of charcoal drifts up and the promised rain comes down.
have a deep-imprinted vignette in my memory-collection, of sitting there in a
hot scratchy dress several years ago, to see my dear Mother-in-Law receive the
folded flag "With the thanks of a Grateful Nation." And so we
remember GrandDaddy, in all his twenty-something years of service, and I keep a
secret, heartfelt gleam of pride for our other servicemen and women, and those
we'll never know of as we sleep safely on their watch.
just looking at the flowers in the picture above, the two tall, stalwart reds
and the smaller, just-as-strong pink, I think of all our sisters and daughters
in uniform, especially the one determined young woman who left for training just this past Monday with the tiny tremolo of our long-ago bedtime “Twinkle, Twinkle Little
Star” echoing in my heart. I gratefully salute the strong, brave women
who step up to the mark, who serve standing proud beside the men whose strength
and bravery have stood true for centuries.
feel a surge of gratitude, of pride, of thankful praise for all the ones who
take our well-being and our freedom so seriously that they live and die for it,
so I say "Thank you," to each and every one, and give a prayer of
thanks for all of our service-people, past and present---those standing proud
in uniform today, those who have served, no matter what the term, those who
have retired from their service, but remain ever soldiers, those lying beneath
the brave small flags, and those in unsung graves around the world, known only
to the angels and remembered in the hearts of those who loved them. 114 YEARS AND SIX DAYS
addition to shirking my attentions to my own blog, I’ve missed out lately on a
lot of the wonderful ones I’ve enjoyed over the years. One of these is CAKE WRECKS, and today’s
little story-in-cake is absolutely charming.
tiny characters from all over the world of baking are simply the sweetest ever,
and the little poem to accompany is spot on perfect.
Linking to PINK SATURDAYtoday. Since
Sweetpea’s growing to be such a young lady, I look back at all the little
moments of our time together, all the tiny costumes: the Snow White dress worn
and faded to a mere wisp of pale satin, the dainty “bride/fairy dress” of fluffy
tulle, worn in many a fairy jaunt across the garden,
that memorable small Tinkerbell outfit which once graced a small green fly perched
implausibly on the door.
costumes veered into the what-there-was-at-hand, with everything from towels to
curtains to Goodwill-bought lacy nightgowns and camisoles and jerseys, with
whatever accoutrements could be found in the house, storeroom, garage and yard.
We’ve been knights
(AND dragons), as well as farmers, fishergirls, soldiers and sea captains of
small boats captioned “Tomatoes” and “Listerine 1QT.8FL.OZ.” and swordfighters for and
against every cause to hand. Our travels and personae have taken us to lands
unimaginable, and some so imaginary that we almost didn’t find our way home. And
we “boom compenions” were two for one and one for two.
taste in toys has been varied, with no thought to gender nor age, and her
shoehorn swords and Tupperware armor have been worn with sequins, lace,
leather, and Glad Bags, cut to suit. And
her very-young acquisition of her own “maple steve,” (noble steed) has varied
over the years in size, colour, talents, and age, as well.
the one unvarying loyalty is to Prunella, the sleek chestnut who lives in the
lobby of the BIG grocery store. Many,
many a quarter has gone to feed her speed, and we’ve had quite the relationship
with the beautiful little mare. And
someday, someday, I’ll tell her the truth behind the name, for it’s a funny
one, a spur-of-the-moment little joke one day when her daddy and I were
shopping, and which sent the two of us fleeing from the store, giggling to beat
finished our shopping and headed for the car, to come upon a spilled bag in the
parking lot, apparently lately dropped by a previous customer, and left in its tattered,
broken state, with several items beyond redemption. There was a smashed jar of something with
juice, I remember---maybe pickles, and a soaked-looking box of perhaps cake
mix, with a little scatter around of dried fruit which had rolled out of the
bag. I could practically SEE the cogs
of his brain, as he gathered up a
handful of the withery round prunes in his gloved hands, walking back into the
lobby and dropping them gently behind the horse, as we ran out of there laughing
A faraway friend just told me in an e-mail that she’s “gussying-up”
her house for Spring, mentioning “when you wrote about it that time.” And since my well of words has seemed empty
to the echoes for some time, I’m resurrecting THIS---from some seven years ago:
There’s a difference in the South betweenGussied
Up---the pronunciation, for one thing. Gussied is pronounced with
it’s spelled---a crispssssthrough the teeth, and most
always meaning nice things. The declaration and question, "Why, you're
sure gussied up today---where you goin'?" can almost always be taken only
as a compliment on appearance and taste.
On the other hand,Hussiedtakes on a HUZZZZZ sound, with a
little bit of disdain in the hum of the zzzzzz’s. As in “Why that ole
HUZZZZY!!! Who does she think she IZZZZZ?”
The key is that you can Gussy up a house, a room, a dress, a tabletop, a
package or a window treatment or a hat, but almost the only thing you can call
“hussied up” is a person---female persons, at that.
Well, maybe that time Bugs Bunny wore the lipstick, but that’s not a good
example, I guess.
Gussying is all in the outlook, I think---you add a little extra touch here, a
coat of paint there, a new shade of nail polish or a different centerpiece, and
there you have it---gussied. A lush blossom tucked behind an ear,
purse-shoes-belt to match, a fresh white pique collar on a plain navy dress,
the tilt of an absolutely useless wisp of whimsy passing for a cocktail
hat---those fall into the gussy category.
As do lace on tiny socks above shiny black Mary Janes, ribbons on ponytails,
white gloves in Summer, pearls with a sweater set, a flirty glimpse of red silk
slip in the hem-slit of a demure dress, (which can all-too-easily fall into the
Hussy category, depending on dress, slip, and degree of flash). There’s also
the extra-fancy trimmings to a wardrobe---the colorful inserts on a pocket, a
special set of buttons for placket and sleeves, an elaborate stitching
technique which sets the garment apart, a special furl of ribbon or paper to
make a gift almost too beautiful to unwrap.
Gussying in a room could include a punch of pillows, a paint color, a mural or
bit of trompe l’oeil, some specially-draped and tasseled curtains, a little
tableau atop a table, a mantel, a shelf. We all love a special touch, whether
our own, in a magazine, in a house in which we feel the warmth of things
ButHussied Up, now---that’s a different subject
entirely, mostly calling for a state ofBEING, for the carriage and
attitude count for a great percentage of the aura. The extra touches are there,
the attention to detail may be present, the care in preparation and
presentation undeniable, but the effect is just TOO-TOO. Too-tight or too
bright or too-too is just too much---they run over into “Did you SEE what she
was wearing?” on past, “Too much sugar for a dime,” into “Ten pounds of sugar
in a five-pound sack,” and the capstone: “Her Mama would just DIE!”
My girlfriends and I used to tease each other about being Hussied Up when we
would go out together---a little extra care with the lipstick, an appointment
for a hairdo that afternoon, an outfit just bought and pressedJust
SO,but those were
just nice ladies getting spruced up.
REAL Hussying is either a gift or a curse---a flair for a dramatic look, with a
special style that gets you noticed AND talked about, but in an envious or
admiring way, though your admirers may be as much detractors as any.
Or the curse of not havingTheSense
God Gave a Goosein
the way you present your person---a painted-on outfit cut down TO THERE, with
tottery heels, big hair and too much jewelry AND perfume just ain’t the way you
want to go through life. It gets you noticed, all right, but it also gets youLooked
We had an Aunt who wore odd little outfits, with a bit too much powder and
lipstick, and the Toujours Moi preceded her into the house. She wore TOO MUCH
STUFF, too many GeeGaws, too much jingly tarnished or plastic bits and pieces with
gappy places where the crumbs of sparkly glass had fallen from the settings.
She was like the society woman of whom it was rumored that she just stood in
the middle of the room and her maid flung every knick-knack in her jewelry box
at her. More was MORE.
On up into the Seventies, her stockings had seams, and there were always
flocked butterflies or embroidered flowers scattered up her calves. In addition
toallthe above, her ensemble for my
Grandpa's funeral included a large shoulder-strap purse, of a big ole Laura
Ashley-type floral chintz if I remember right, and slapped on it midways like a
Homecoming Corsage was the final touch: A huge red paper-satin bow, one of
those sticky-back ones sold by the dozen at Fred's for Christmas packages.
But she was sweet and she was OURS; we tittered a bit in secret, but we would
no more have hurt her feelings over her over-the-top effect than we’d fly. She
was a nice lady, and no matter what she wore, the dear SELF of her could never
have gone past extreme Gussied Up into Hussydom.
been absent so long, I’m surprised anyone is still here, and I appreciate you
SO much. These are a few of the
thousand-or-so photos on my phone SINCE LAST OCTOBER.
painted little Halloween houses with two of our Ohio GRANDS on a sunny day. Kit is quite an artist in a lot of things. That's hers on the left, Caro's in the middle (to be completed), and Cal's are the tower and the gore-splashed one on the right. Sweetpea's is the little cottage with all the critters on the roof.
hands created Mummy Dogs for lunch:
plain day in November, having a party with things gathered up around the house.
magical moment when trees start
to take on the burnished tinge of Autumn, with the scent of fresh-cut Summer grass still in the air.
time with Ganner in a new-found park.
After a long walk and gathering-up of amazing finds, we just talked and
did a little whittlin’. Good talk and history and together---amazing, and free.
The Tree’s silver-smooth skin in the last golden light of afternoon.
own little pink kitchen.
of good friends for a sleepover.
Valentine Heart texted from our nine-year-old Grandson---a budding geologist,
zoologist and doctor, and a scary-uncanny encyclopedia of Minecraft. So Much To Do, So Much Time . . .
for a breath of Childhood---the Bubblegum aisle. It’s my own Time-Machine, and I
just stand there and close my eyes and breathe it in. I fully expect to emerge someday with braids,
a pocket-knife, and skinned knees.
happy wheat-toast surprise.
young cook learning to make cinnamon rolls on a frosty morning.
fleeting moment between a brief flurry of wee hail and the sunny melt. It's like a scatter of those infinitesimal styrofoam packing-beads that you can never turn loose of.
fabulous box of wonderful goodies from Sis—our version of a luxurious “hamper.”
aroma and anticipation of a pan of basil/tomato pasta tossed with peppers and
shards of fresh mozzarella.
that twinkle at me from beneath the chandelier.
The little scene changes often, depending on what Chris, Sweetpea and I lay
hands on at any moment. It could range from a Swarovski butterfly to a baby-chewed stuffed cat, but it’s always welcoming and happy.
Chris’ keys. He didn’t hear them drop,
and the hunt went on for AGES, til I stopped at Caro’s kitchen counter for some
twinkly little tableau:
newest book, fresh from the printer:
surprise find in a stranger’s family history.
The young fellow on the left is my Grandpa, who would be 125 this
year. He’s probably dressed the best in
his life, for it’s the wedding of his Mama to his new Step-father. His sister and brother are the younger two
in white, and the back three are his new siblings.
wonder how his life was in that new family.
He never mentioned it, and I never knew to ask.
few miles from home, after a 1400-mile trip last year.
We were stopped on the Interstate for an hour or so, listening to
Leonard Cohen sing “Hallelujah” as the sun went down.
And another sky-pageant---this one mirroring my favorite moment in all of STAR TREK, when Troi translates the emotions of the just-freed captive alien couple: GREAT JOY AND GRATITUDE.
that’s how I feel about YOU, for hanging in there when I’m gone for so
long. Thank you all.
Hutch built and styled by Trishiesminicorner on ETSY
come see us---the mat’s always out and the Keurig’s humming to herself. Sweetpea’s introduced us to the most
charming new housekeeper, though having to provide lodging for all that entourage
of birds and mice was a bit tricky.
sit right down, for what could be more welcoming than a bright pink kitchen, a
smiling hostess, and a pug-in-a-tutu.
wee-est candy dishes, reminiscent of the one huge heavy one on my Mammaw J’s
coffee-table in their own tiny house. It was
always filled with King Leo peppermint balls---tiny pillows which whispered
away on your tongue, leaving the faintest breath of sweet toothpaste.
every-morning kitchen, with sunshine through the leaves, bright red coffee
machine, and a fading pair of the eternal dish-britches.
of pretty pink salt.The little
flamingo couple are crocheted finger-puppets from a great menagerie we’ve
collected over the years.They come out
mostly for after-dinner happenings and little pageants around holiday tables,
as each of us chooses our role and character.
new pink lights around the pass-through, and the small tinsel-tree like a magpie nest of
gee-gaws from the old jewelry chest, with little doves in their nests of gaudy pink
crowns. The note-box at the top was a gift from my friend Donna at GATHER.
The flag-plank at the top was made by our two youngest GRANDS---with their
handprints as the stars.
some silly musings, after living in this fairy kitchen---this would be our Summer cottage in Maine.
the handy Air-Stream parked out in the drive---A Girl can Dream. Motoring on over to All things PINK at Beverly's House!! With a fun stop at JOY'S Friendship Party.