Thursday, June 22, 2017

PAXTON PEOPLE: MISS CLEMMIE STONE


Miss Clemmie Stone is a nice widow-lady with a small neat house, the same car they had when Mr. 'Clellan was alive, and a lifelong yen to travel.  Her travel plans have been curtailed for quite some years by seeing to grandchildren.  Her two daughters and one son have five children amongst them, but the daughters live some distance away now, so she mostly only “sees” them on weekends and holidays. 

Her son’s kids she sees almost every day, because even before the first one was born, they just kinda expected Mee-maw to pick up the reins and “keep the kids” when Suezette went back to work.   And so it has been for little Stevie, age six, Clella, who is closing in on five, and baby Arden, who has almost reached his second birthday.     

Miss Clemmie loves and adores those children, but sometimes, you know, she just gets TIRED.  Until they came along, she’d never much heard of allergies or gluten-free or so many grains she has to keep a notebook. Nobody IS Allergic, but   Suezette and Mack are very particular about every bite that goes into the kids’ mouths, getting lots of tips and information from various parenting blogs.    That’s a hard row to hoe for Miss Clemmie, whose cooking has won Fair prizes and whose abundant table has been the pride of the family for all her housekeeping years.   But she keeps up, with special steel-cut oats and organic fruit, and making sure the fresh-picked vegetables in her own garden have never seen hide nor hair of an insecticide or improper fertilizer. 



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And you know, that’s a bit of a tiring LIFE, when you come right down to it---even if you DID choose it for yourself and your family and adhere religiously to your own standards.   For somebody who loves to cook, and mostly must refrain from a great long list of really good ingredients---well, you can make a task out of any enjoyable endeavour.   And Miss Clemmie tried, she really did.   She abolished things from her pantry, like Vanilla Wafers and Eagle Brand, and she shopped way over in Expedia at the Whole Foods, coming home with quinoas and berries and bitter dark macaroni.  She read the backs of stuff til she just about went blind.   


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And she just flat QUIT cooking anything for herself when the children were there, because it was just not right to tempt those little fellows with all those good scents from the kitchen, when they had to sit down to yogurt and hummus and fruit.   Sometimes she’d put a good stew or casserole in the crock-pot and plug it in out in the potting shed, just so she could have a good supper once in a while, and not have to eat at midnight cause she got started cooking so late.  

Food was not the only persnickety thing Meemaw had to worry about---there was a TV ban, a certain time for arts and crafts, a time for reading, and other activities planned for Meemaw to teach and conduct during the day, with special lesson plans and equipment and books recommended by “the experts.” Suezette spent more money on stuff from the “smart kids’ store” than she did on their shoes, and it all stayed at Meemaw’s “to give them something  educational to do.”  


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 Things rocked on for some several years at that pace, with this restriction and that new article that Suezette had found online, until finally Nature itself changed the course of the whole thing. 

Mack and Stevie went to their first Guys and Dads overnight camping with their church group, and came home with some sort of oopsies that flew through the other kids like wildfire. And that Monday, Suezette brought them to Mee-Maw’s as usual, still pale and and pitiful, throwing up and needing lots of care and juice and bankies-on-the-couch.     They had quite a day of it, with lots of whoopsing and cleanups and fresh clothes, and every kiddo into the tub at least once, so Miss Clemmie was absolutely give ka-dab OUT.   


She had just turned on a video of Big Trucks to keep the not-puking-at-the-moment two entertained while she bathed the third one, who just had---Again, when Suezette breezed in late for the umpteenth time.   Suezette ignored the damp towels, the pile of her children’s fresh laundry on the table, ready for folding.  She swept right by those, stepping over scattered books and crafts and empty Pedialyte bottles.

 And as soon as Suezette caught sight of the TV on in the daytime, she rounded on her Mother-in-Law as if she’d caught her with the kids duct-taped to chairs.

“Naaow, MEEE-Maw,” she said, in that fake I-like-you voice of hers. Cocking her head and looking at Meemaw over her glasses, she made a fatal error. 

 “I THAWt we SAY-ed no TEEE-Vay.”

Condescending is one thing. Talking Down To is another, but Condescending in a Southern Accent is too great a cross to bear---worse than shouting or lies.      And that was it.   The moment when Miss Clemmie had Had Enough.  And though she loved and adored those children with every bit of her being, she just couldn’t do it any more---not all that careful watchful diet stuff, that every-minute-an-activity stuff, that raising their children for them  for free in such strict confines that she just couldn’t.

And so now Miss Clemmie travels.  She arranges little day-trips and weekends on those wonderful buses that run from up at Clarksdale to Memphis and the casinos, or to the coast for a little relaxation, and one time to Gatlinburg.   The children come visit her for a lot of weekends.  And sometimes for Sunday Dinner.




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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

# 9 AND SO FINE!!

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Start spreadin’ the NEWS..!

Our new little GRAND arrived yesterday, in NEW YORK CITTTY!

She and her parents are doing fine, and we’re all so Blessed.




Friday, June 16, 2017

FAMILY FOREST---AINT BESSIE




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 she could help 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.  


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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.


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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).  



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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 drawers on.  

The 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.  

People 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. 


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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.




Monday, June 5, 2017

BONNIE FAYE




There’s 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 binness).


You 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 receive/hear/learn/bestow something dear to your heart, your lifestyle, your conscience or your pocketbook. 

And 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 and Gardens,  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:






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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.