Sunday, April 16, 2017

HAPPY EASTER!


I wish you all the joys of this Blessed, beautiful day.

Monday, April 10, 2017

CHUCK BERRY


Image result for chuck berry gallery

R.I.P.  CHUCK BERRY.


Legend, artist and voice of generations.









Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Y'ALL COME!!



Hutch built and styled by Trishiesminicorner on ETSY

Y’all 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.  

Just sit right down, for what could be more welcoming than a bright pink kitchen, a smiling hostess, and a pug-in-a-tutu.



The 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.




Small necessaries:




The every-morning kitchen, with sunshine through the leaves, bright red coffee machine, and a fading pair of the eternal dish-britches.











 Lots 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.


The 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.



Image result for pink sugar easter eggs

And some silly musings, after living in this fairy kitchen---this would be our Summer cottage in Maine.


Image result for pink sugar easter eggs


And 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.


Monday, April 3, 2017

JUST A LINE . . .



The latest post from Susie at SheJunks had the neatest ending---she spoke of her sister who “does not do e-mail,” and of the quiet simplicity of sitting on the porch on this past Spring weekend, writing a letter as April arrived and the skies were a perfect sapphire overhead.   She says she “still writes,” quite matter-of-factly, as if it’s a confession to practicing an archaic custom long-forgotten, and I do fear that it soon might be.
It made me think of a long-ago post of my own, and of the delight in receiving the gift of a new fountain pen.
“I have ink on my fingers today---I just filled my new fountain pen for the first time.   It was a Christmas gift from Sweetpea and her Mama, who choose the most wonderful presents, with a good eye (and ear, for they LISTEN) for what any of us might enjoy.
The ink---that's a FEELING. I'd been admiring and picking up my graceful new bottle of ink since Christmas, for it came with the pen. It's shaped like a squat, very smooth hourglass, with, like a lot of us, a lot more sand run through than remains. The lid is like a wide-top shako, sans plume, and the whole thing is made of the smoothest glass, with the inky depths converted into gleaming onyx by the shining curve of the hip. 





The pen itself is a lovely purple, and Caro and I tried yesterday to name it---her "aubergine" came closest, I think, for it's just the shade of one of those smooth slender Japanese eggplants, hefty in the hand.   It was chosen by our Sweetpea, because it's her favorite color. The clip is exactly that, like a Gucci paper-clip, strong and sturdy and sleek. And I'll be writing today, a bit, REALLY writing, for almost all my words are set down in clicks of the keyboard. I CALL that writing, for it engenders a spark of satisfaction, but the real thing is done with hand and pen.”





And my comment to Susie: 



Did you ever think you'd use the words "still write"? That's like "still cook" or "still read," to me---and the feel of that real fountain pen, flowing out your words and thoughts to someone you care about---that's just the loveliest part. And that they "write back," is a great blessing and boon. I think we all need a "Doesn't do e-mail" person in our lives, if for nothing else, to keep us aware of the lovely moments of stillness between words and thoughts, as we send and receive in that age-old way which they keep alive and we so easily forget. 

We dash down so many letters and spaces on the fly, with great gulps of information and doings and sharings, like we're out to get it all out there before we forget. But there's the quiet moment on the porch, with the little table holding pen and ink and paper---oh, all those lovely papers, with their different textures and colours and feel---those moments are akin to worship, on a small plane, I think, contemplating and putting down the slow, even lines to be read and savored and kept long beyond the dried-to-dust empty ink-bottle and the billions of bytes cast into the air by our flying keyboards.

What a lovely thought you've conveyed this morning, beyond the Spring weekend and those incredibly blue skies we enjoyed. I think I'm going to go take down my (real, hold-it-in-your-hand) address book and get out one of those packs of the Spring floral paper. Even in here, in a warm chair with a cup of tea, it will evoke Summer Sunshine to send out a note or two to those I love.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

DEAR BJ,




My friend Rachel overt Lawn Tea said she’d missed all a y’all so MUCH lately, and hopes so much that you’re doing better and better.  She’s told me so much about your wonderful family, with all those beautiful sweet Grand-children and all, and your lovely home that you keep so well.   She talks about your good cookin’ and how you sure do know your way around makin’ a good biscuit, and that you just do beat all when it comes to keepin’ house and arrangin’ things in such a nice way for all your family to enjoy.
BJ's Spring decor

And those gatherin’s!!  I do love to look at all those happy faces around all those tables in your dinin’ room!   Why, such good company would be sweetenin’ enough, even without that good ole iced tea to go around, and I marvel at your ease in the gettin’ ready.   Why, I been cookin’ nigh onto seventy years---bein’s I started out when I was about maybe six, and had to stand up on the lard can to mix that pan of biscuits, and I never saw such a hand at turnin’ out such good meals and dinners as y’all seem to just conjure up out of the air. 

bj breakfast


And those breakfasts!!!  My, Goodness ME, what a time you have makin those flapjacks all sorts a ways, just to try ‘em out.   I useta get so tired of pourin’ and flippin’ when I’d still be turnin’ em out when the schoolbus was near down the lane, and the boys would each grab a couple and fold ‘em like fried pies around a hunk a ham or a big ole sprinkle of sugar as they ran out the door.   Weren’t them some days, though?  I wouten take nothin’ for those early mornin’s when whoever had stovewood duty would be in there a-clangin’ and a-blowin’ as I caught up the water for the coffeepot, and we had the kitchen all to ourselves for a quiet little talk before the sun come up and the coffee boiled.   I think now they might call that “one-on-one time,” but back then, you just grabbed whatever minute you could get between school and work and the young-un’s studyin’ and chores---why, I bet I had more good talks with my brood as we shouted around a cow’s rump while we was each a-milkin, than anybody does sittin’ together having a stranger paint their toenails.  I’m just sayin’.


And, can’t you just SMELL that good boilin’ coffee?  I don’t think any a them new coffeeshops could ever equal that good eggshell coffee we useta make in that big ole blue enamel pot.   And bacon a-fryin’?  You and I have cooked our share of good breakfasts, I bet, and Rachel says you’re the only person she’s ever known who could write forty-nine articles on BISCUITS, and make them beautiful and mouth-waterin’, ever single one. 
Her pepper biscuits

She also showed me the hand you have for decoratin’, with all the flowers and pretty pitchers and jars, and all that smart checkedy cloth and plates to set ‘em off.  She and I love RED almost as much as you do, and we talk about your dab hand with red all the time.



ready for the Bunco Group

I just wanted to drop you a note and say how much I enjoy your writin’ and pictures and cookin’ and the way you LOVE and share your family times and all the love that’s bound y’all together for so long.   What a family, and what a pair you two are---strong and kind and just bustin’ with love for one another.  




I send you my good thoughts and prayers for strength and healing and good reports from your doctors, as well as good rest and peaceful sleep as you fight and win this battle so bravely together.  

We haven’t met yet, but I just love all a Y’all.

Your new friend and reader,


Marthy Tidwell 

ps  You said Borry anytime, and I couldn't reach you to ask, so I borried a few of your lovely pictures for my friends to see.  xoxo




Wednesday, March 22, 2017

WHILING AWAY



I can think of a few Southern sayings for what I must have been doing all this while that I’ve been absent from writing or communicating.

There’s
Piddlin’
Whittlin’
Whiling away . . .

Well, things rocked on. . .
Killing Time . . .

Making Hay . . .

Sleeping in . . .

Rolling around Heaven . . .

Sogging

I been kinda lapseful


I found them jotted in my little trove of stuff I dash down in WORD, copying and pasting and borrowing the GOOD STUFF from hither and yon.   I love the comfortable sayings, the ideas of being which give our lives happy moments, memorable days, and since I’ve been here but FAR for so long, here are a few little bits from others’ words and gleanings.  They're in all their own italics and personal print, just as I’ve returned to them time after time---I leave you with some Good Stuff to ponder:



It was a gentle jolt, a reminder that these inconspicuous, ordinary moments of nice— the cups of sugar, the genuine smiles, the held doors, the jumped batteries, the can I get that for yous— are what keep us fastened and snapped, what keep us gentle and sweet. Like milk and eggs, these unexpected twinklings of everyday grace are the staples of life. They are what measure us.
Mrs. G. Derfwad Manor 


I love the sunsets...

I especially love sharing them with family.

It is like the sun kisses us all goodnight..

and we have made it safely through

another day.
Nana Diana


Sometimes compassion has nothing to do with treating adults like children. Sometimes you carry the burden silently so those who are unable to do so don't have to try 

“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost."
-J.R.R Tolkien

Home is not simply a mark upon a map any more than a river’s just water.
It is the place at the centre of the compass from which every arrow radiates,
and where the heart is fixed.
It is a force that forever draws us back or lures us on.
For where the home is, there lies hope.
And a future waits.
And everything is possible.


DEEP PEACE OF THE RUNNING WAVE TO YOU.
DEEP PEACE OF THE QUIET EARTH TO YOU.
DEEP PEACE OF THE FLOWING AIR TO YOU
DEEP PEACE OF THE SHINING STAR TO YOU.

Second–hand books are wild books, homeless books; they have come together in vast flocks of variegated feather, and have a charm which the domesticated volumes of the library lack. Besides, in this random miscellaneous company we may rub against some complete stranger who will, with luck, turn into the best friend we have in the world. Virginia Woolf, "Street Haunting: A London Adventure" (1930).


In our little corner of Paradise all is the same, which is the equivalent of "All is Well," I think. Yet, looking outside, it is NOT the same as I see the red bud blooming wildly and the Spring wheat now sprung nearly 15 inches tall in places, flat in silken obedience to the wind in others.  Oatmeal and Whimsy

And the whole section ended with my own explanation of why I like a SOFT house:


My admiration for a “modern” house is sound, based on the clean clear lines and absolutely neutral everything. But I could NOT wake up to such spare flat open air every day, for I used to look at the immovable concrete sofas and tables in the Wright houses and feel the chill in my bones. The marble and the iron, and the flat decks of cabinets in the kitchens---I'd NEVER find the fridge in all those anonymous doors, let alone the flour or spoons.

I quite understand the sparse, minimalist home, with gray and khaki and pale-washed blues; stark whites and bare walls bring an open beauty to the squared-off sitting areas and the one apple in a dish, like a deserted still-life, as if the artist grew weary of the subject, or perhaps just hungry too soon. No. Love the idea and honor anyone’s love for such strict decor, but so much bone and no softness, no colour, no curves---not for me.    It feels as if the people who live there must live spare lives---arid, almost, as if they might spend their days pinned on a clothesline, like laundry in the wind.

Those spare, echoing floors and stem-legged furniture with sunshine on the shining wood beneath give me a chill.   We are not spare people; we are all round and comfy and hospitable, with deep-cushioned chairs and big ottomans and pillows and throws.   Our windows are hazed with filmy sheers and lacy valances,  filtering in patterns of sun on the florals and leaves.  Pink and rose and ferny greens are the colours of my life, like the softest pastels in the paintbox.

My dear Mary will be here in a little while, and we’ll spread on the pale-green slip-covers, dust the dressers, plump the Spring pillows of birds and flowers, then settle for a moment upstairs with lemony tea to admire our handiwork, as once more the seasons turn.

  I wish you all a HAPPY SPRING!





Wednesday, March 8, 2017

DEBBI'S FRONT PORCH

I awoke today to the bright promise of a March Monday, and to the most charming note from a fellow blogger and friend---Debbi of the oh-so-inviting 
DEBBI’S FRONT PORCH in Charleston.   I’ve been a follower and avid fan of her sojourns around that beautiful city for quite some time now, with its graceful, colourful houses and the charm of centuries.   I’ve even marked “RESTORING CHARLESTON” on my TV schedule, and enjoy seeing the former beauty reclaimed through careful, nurturing restoration of  those proud, timeless homes and buildings.

From some of her many meanderings:

*

Her comment was in response to last week’s post on Nesting, and I always find it so rewarding and flattering to have someone find their own experiences and bits of their life history echoed in my own.   Hers was a sweet reminiscence of her family’s history, enjoyed every day through the collections of photos and albums and “bits and bobs” of the past saved and stored through the years by her own ancestors in their own hard-earned and carefully-kept nests.


*


From her comment on the Nesting Post:


"Oh I just love this post!

and I am definitely of this group---"THE PILES OF MAGPIE GLEANINGS" ha ha ha LOL

Trinkets, sparklies, junque, collections of many types and colors and sizes---pictures---so many pictures that tell of our family and our history and our own personal story. The old albums, the thick and heavy "scrapbooks" that became so popular back about twenty years ago and made "scrapbooking" a verb, LOL Even in a small space I just keep on, keeping on...collecting the things that speak to me and feathering our nest that way. I like the memories, and the stories that go with the memories, close by--the books, the photographs, the little dolls and bits of china and dabs of jewelry and maybe an old threadbare and thinning chenille bedspread--the kind our Ma-Maws had on their beds--or a soft patchwork quilt to wrap myself up in--something like that makes me feel safe and connected to the people who lived and loved before us. Isn't it so amazing how we can move about to and fro, hither and yon....be in a tiny cottage or a house that is grand in size, and still we "feather" our homes in a way that suits us best, no matter where we go--we bring our memories and ways of life with us, and like you said, we each have our own way, our own style. I am a magpie......"


Debbi’s taken me and all her readers on wonderful strolls and adventures and sight-seeing tours of so much of the beauty and fun and gracious welcome that Charleston has to offer.   I hope you’ll look in as well---you’ll be captivated by the warmth and the Lowcountry charm, and by her love of her roots and her city.  And the inviting array of sherbety rocking chairs on that porch, so sweet you can almost taste them, along with the promise of Sweet Tea---well, that's an invitation which can't be missed.   



"Following where my camera leads me!"



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

THE WINDS OF MARCH




My first note this morning was an e-mail from Susan Branch, with all sorts of Spring happies and notes and sayings, and it’s just in TIME.  Because she sent me pictures of her little happy creatures and sayings and her perfectly wonderful art and attitude,  I’ve set this day, today on the cusp of March, the day-before-the-winds-come to cleanse the air and sweep away the leftover woolies of Winter---this day is to be the beginning of a whole new putting-together of our NEST.   I’ve got filmy curtains to drape on the windows, a lovely ferny-green cover for the sofa, wisps of pink tulle to festoon the wide treetop windows of Sweetpea’s room upstairs, and many, many lovely PINKS for the kitchen that I’ve been setting aside for When Things Are Just Right.   (And they haven’t been for so long and so severely that if you could see my house, you wouldn’t eat my cookin’, as my Mammaw used to say).

My Miss Mary will be here at 1:30, and she’s a whirlwind all on her own, up ladders and on her knees beneath furniture, swiffing and swirling away a season’s accumulation of grubbies in her few hours in the house.   And tomorrow's the day when the great beast of a "heavy garbage" truck growls and chews its way down the streets, gulping down all the throwaways and don't wants.   
            
The little hum of anticipation, that small quiver beneath the breastbone which says things are in the air, and change is coming---that’s been so elusive for so long, I’ve simply ignored and walked around and let lay things that should have been tended as a matter of course.   The bills stay paid, the bathroom shining and ready, the beds with fresh linens scented of lavender, and everybody’s laundry is daily fresh to hand, but I’ve let clutter and disorder and TOOMUCHSTUFF get the upper hand.   And today, I say NO MORE.

This day is the Turning, and for more inspiration I’m going back a whole seven years, to a day less than two years of blogging, when such order was a habit ingrained for a lifetime, when pressed linens and shining tables were the norm, when we didn’t soon-as-not grab paper plates and sit down before Netflix at the end of a where-did-the-time-go? fruitless day.   Back to when things were orderly and I GOT THINGS DONE, despite a little one in the house ten hours a day.  

From LAWN TEA, Spring, 2010,

I am the Keeper of a Nest. I just read that concept, in those four little words, on Dear Daisy Cottage, and it was just as if I saw our home and my role in it in a slightly different way. I’ve been pondering that new idea---an idea as old as old can be, from the first fur-huddled families coping with the dark and cold in whatever sheltering cave they could lay bloody claim to.

In the great ages since then, this nesting thing has grown and grown; wars have been fought, and territories seized; lives have been staked and lost; castles and hovels and sheds have all been refuges from the same dark and cold.

And we, the Keepers, have padded these nests with the comforts we could afford or find or make or, in earlier, bleaker times, wrest from weaker nesters. As long as the WE of us were taken care of, the driving, surviving force in us left others outside our own fold to fend for themselves. Cloth and feathers for easing our rest, and chink-mud to keep out the elements; a floor and walls and the thatching for the rain; pots to cook in, water to drink, water to bathe----everything encountered, I think, was looked at as a measure to improve the comfort and well-being of the family, to keep the WE of us warm and safe.

I try to think of the heart and mind of the first nester to pick a flower, take it into the abode, and place it in a vessel formerly used only for practical purposes. And when that first blossom went into that first humble cup, something in the world clicked into a different place. We saw that our hands could create and provide not only comfort and necessities, but something beautiful, no matter how small or hard-won. I think it's part of our nature to crave something pretty to enhance our worlds.

I think of my own forebears---especially those women of the Scottish Highlands. The centuries of deprivation and hunger and cold, the waiting for the men’s return from battle, the dread of loss, of starvation, of eking out that last scatter of oats or mutton-fat into a meager bowl for their families. That sharp, chilling wind and the sparse landscape, with nothing between it and their clan but their own courage and work. How they must have waited and wept, with hope fragile as life, and despair as their daily bread. And what WAS beautiful in their lives? Did they just stand looking at the sunrises and sunsets, or the hills with their fleeting purple haze?

We went to see; we rode and walked those hills of the Highlands, and the great spaces and crags and rust-hued rocky expanses are still there, looming and forbidding, their great beauty the blush of purplish heather in the Spring and perhaps the necklaces of stone fences and crofts, laced upon the hillsides to mark their territory, like pearls strung on a map.

And I thought deeply of those Grand-Dams of mine, those centuries-back female ancestors, whose lives were grim and sere---I could see them woad-smeared and wielding weapons, as easily as I could imagine their tending their smoky fires and nursing babies too soon gone. I hope they had the solace and uplift of something pretty---a polished stone, a braid of grass, a bird egg hand-cradled miles home, just for its curve of glorious color---and I hope they felt the great accomplishment of adding to the life of their family, not just their survival. 

The other side of me came from other parts of the British isles, told in the “Nutmegs” post last year. And Heaven knows, when my ancestor came over/was transported BECAUSE of those nutmegs, the things back in Ireland and England weren’t much to write home about, either, for folks of our working class.

So I suppose that yearning for a home, for a comfortable place to live and raise children, is so ingrained in my genes that I love being home, putting little touches, finding little additions, prinking with a curtain, a bit of lace, an old brooch which would look nice on a totted-up lampshade---those are certainly not talents, but needs, I think.

I NEED to make a nest, to feather it well for me and mine, to add and subtract (the subtracting part becomes more difficult with the addition of each year) and to make it comfortable and warm and welcoming. And whether our nests are the neat rounds of redbirds, with smooth straw and feathers for warmth, or the mud-daubed hammock-roosts of swallows, 
or the thatchy, gewgaw-frantic piles of magpie gleanings, the lost pull-tabs and gum wrappers arranged into their own wee versions of tatty yards with an old Maytag and a rusting Ford sprawled about---they are OURS, with our mark upon them.


So, we choose our own nests, and we build them to fit the fabric and the taste and the tenor of our own lives.   A bright-lit, topsy-turvy bursting-at-the-seams one, a little bit different from most, with its own windswept flair and all awhirl with people and activity and the bustle of daily life, or a serene sunlit spot, safely high, with a lovely view of the world, and the cool blue beckoning you home.





Or my own choice: A soft, comfy happy nest, with a lot of comfort, a little bit of something beautiful, and a lot of chicks to fill it.  That's my kind of nest.  And today's the day.







Thursday, February 16, 2017

STARRY NIGHT




All the moons and comets and stars have been great items of interest in the past little while, and we’ve stood out in the cold back yard, breaths wafting up into the darkness, as we took in these once-in-a-lifetime moments of astronomical significance.  All that cosmic display, going on for untellable time, just up there for the looking at---we seldom think of what grandeur just goes on without us, heedless of our little plans and designs.  

Caro just sent me a lovely video of an unimaginably-painted scene---Van Gogh’s STARRY NIGHT coming to life atop a bowl of dark water.    In a moment, the artist’s hands scatter-spatter, then splash-drip the paint in childish blobs.   Then he magically swirls and contours the masses of  quivering colour into the familiar beauty of Vincent’s nightscape with just a few dips and strokes of brush and fingers.  I cannot think how he ever thought to DO it, let alone honed such a technique into such a frangible art form, ephemeral and fleeting as smoke.  

A moment to take in the beauty of it, then a magnificent swirl of the heavens, like a cosmic interruption that shook galaxies in the creation of the Universe.   A few more drops of colour bring a magical transformation into another familiar painting---simply stunning in the making.


This is too beautiful not to share. Do make it into full screen and use your sound---Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata lends the perfect accompaniment.




Thursday, February 9, 2017

LONG AGO VALENTINES





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.





Related image



Monday, January 16, 2017

MIRACLE PIE



Image result for pillsbury pie crust images
Tomorrow is our Gracie’s birthday, all grown up from the tiny toddler girl she was when she and her Mommy came to live with us for a year and a half.  We had so many wonderful moments and playtimes and adventures during those close-at-home years, from waking to her request for “coffee” to bedtime prayers naming each and every relative, pet, doll and stuffed animal who loved her.   

I’ve been reminiscing over the sweet days when we had such a close bond, and how it’s had to stretch mightily as they moved so far away.   They’re now within an hour and a half, and perhaps we’ll get to celebrate together soon.   One of my sweetest memories is a Thanksgiving when she was about five, and very fond of helping out in the kitchen.   She always had her own little aprons and tiny set of kitchen tools.

She and Caro and I had spent the afternoon of Tuesday-before-Thanksgiving making pies---sweet potato and pecan and lemon, and she had punched out little leaves and flowers and all sorts of beautiful decorations from the crust scraps. We arrayed them grandly around the margins, crimped them into the edges, and scattered them atop, crusted with sugar.

When we finished the three, there was one of the roll-up crusts left in the box. She said "Let's make a CHERRY pie!!!" I said I don't think we have any cherries; she smiled me the patient smile we’d reserve for a gently-addled aunt and said, "See, there they are---Cherries!" And they were, right where she pointed---on the crust box. So, as not to undo any child's fancy of the magical power of being in Ganjin's kitchen, I went unhopefully to the pantry, knowing I hadn’t bought a can of pie filling in a coon’s age.

And there, atop everything else, front and center, over the tuna and the Del Monte beans, the crushed pineapple and the Campbell's, with the beam of that 100-watt hitting it like the Gleam of Glory, sat a can of Lucky Leaf, shining in the shelf-light. Not a mote of dust, not a sign of its having lived a moment in that pantry---I'm convinced it sprang to life as I hit the light switch---soft strains of angel-song in the background, and a swell of harps.

And it was a LOVELY pie; we ate every bite for Supper dessert, and I so wish she could be here tomorrow to celebrate her birthday.  I know I haven't bought any pie filling in a long time, but miracles do happen.






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Saturday, January 14, 2017

SUMMER IN A SPOON



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Apropos of nothing except that I saw a young woman make and construct the most elaborately beautiful Napoleon on one of the Baking Shows last night, with perfect planks of just-made puff sandwiched with poufs of cream and the most enormous shining blackberries---I’m thinking of blackberry cobbler.

Blackberries are a Summer thought, of course, strange on these iron-hard cold days, except for a spoonful from that preciously-hoarded pint of blackberry preserves from last year’s crop grown by friends Lil and Ben, and brought to us on their travels.   The very thought conjures steamy mornings, both outside braving the brambles for those elusive globules of colour and sweet, and inside over the canning kettles as the blub and simmer turn the fruit into such a lively, lovely mass of remembered moments: fresh-opened biscuits with butter melting within, or a piece of slumpy-toast with a smear of purple sweetness cuddled within the warmth.


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A church supper with Aunt Bessie setting down her perfectly-latticed 9x13 of Blackberry Cobbler was a moment in time that I’d love to recapture.



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  And Auntie Bond made the most wonderfully-memorable cobblers with “Sankers” in them---a crust laid into the bottom of the big blue-and-white roaster-pan, a great sluice of sugared berries and juice poured in, then a smaller top crust laid on atop the filling.  As the cobbler baked, the top crust cooked for a while, then was pushed down into the berries, with more of the filling poured in, then another
larger crust sealed on top and baked til golden.  


When you cut down through those differing layers with that big old spoon, you got layers of crisp top and firm bottom crust, with a great cascade of the filling and melty middle crust, which had simmered into the most delightful soft bits like the fruitiest dumplings swirled in.


 And I never fail to think of a memorable dish that we stumbled upon on the way to Cincinnati several years ago.  On a back-road meander through a little town, we found a little country diner---a rustic, comfy one of the Kafe'-with-a-K sort, and the walls covered with the proprietor's paintings of birdhouses and barns, each with a little Post-It pennant announcing the price.

We partook of unimportant hamburgers, and asked what kind of pie. That's what you DO in a diner. Even though CAKE is our favorite, and there WAS a pretty white one sitting under the flat-topped dome on the counter, there's just something about a DINER that says "Pie." And sometimes you order some of every kind, just to be friendly.   Haven’t you always wanted to order “two slices of every kind of pie you’ve got” for the table, like in the MICHAEL movie?  

This time the choices were apple and pecan, neither of which appealed at the moment. We were about to pass on dessert, when the hostess (and owner) tilted her head slightly toward the kitchen-cutout and said, "Let me see if that Blackberry Cobbler has come out of the oven yet." (I
remember her face and demeanor as much like the lady who recommended the Dutch Apple Pie to Starman in the diner---his first taste of Earthfood, and I loved the waitress' pleasure at the total enjoyment on his cream-smeared face). 

Our server hostess returned with a shallow bowl the size of a dinnerplate, two long iced-tea spoons---the better to share it with, My Dear---and a quite visible trail of fragrant steam. She set it down with a little flourish, and stepped back a step as we admired.   In the bowl was a BIG river of beautiful purple, little rivulets of lavender and mauve spreading as it melted the two huge scoops of vanilla atop the sugar-crusted lattice. 


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It was too hot to eat at first, but we were determined to dig in before it melted the ice cream into liquid, so we did. Spoon after spoon, it was the essence and life and vitality and round dark sweetness of every blackberry that ever swelled on the bramble. It was the most delicious cobbler I've ever tasted, big ole whole blackberries with their shapes altered just enough to let free all those pent-up Summer juices. I hope we can find that little out-of-the-way place again.




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Blackberry Cobbler, in all its forms and fashions---whether crusted, latticed, Sankered, with biscuits or crescent rolls baked on, or with that CuppaCuppaCuppa thing stirred up in the bottom, to magically rise into a cloud of crisp doughy sweetness like floating teacakes---it conjures other times, other climes, in the way no other fruit pie can.


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