Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Kit's Birthday Party on Saturday was moved indoors, because of an all-night/all day rain. Despite the change in plans, the mood was happy, the celebration noisy and fun, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. The Birthday Girl had requested a Hannah Montana/Princess party---quite a combination---and had chosen a cake pattern from a bakery in GA. Her Mom got all the parts and pretties for construction of the “castle” and also the plates, the napkins, and a big festive cloth befitting Princessly revels.

She also included a HM “You’re a Rock Star” drinking glass for the Honoree, and Aunt Caro provided party favors of bubblegum and jewelry, all in the HM vein as well. All that splendor seemed to gladden the heart of everybody, and we settled in at three tables downstairs.

And, of course, before we sat down to lunch, we had our usual rousing dance to Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ All Right”---lotsa napkin-waving, quick-stepping, booty-shaking goin’ on. All the kids and almost every one of the adults got into the swing of things, bumping into each other, furniture, pets, and each other again, as we sashayed and wiggled all around the party area.
Everybody always remembers this, and asks to do it again.

We had a nice Spring/Summery lunch, meant for a leisurely, gracious time outdoors, and it served as well for a nice indoor gathering, listening to the soft rainfall.

In the background are Butter-and-Jam Fingers---the beginning of most Tea Parties, and Honey Ham and Cheese on Rolls:

Chicken Salad in Croissants, which, by chance, were stacked in the fridge atop the plate of crudite and beneath the heavy old hobnail glass dish of devilled eggs. What started as the baker’s pride, poufy and golden, ended as smushed, wrinkly old fellows---kind of a Life Lesson, if you care for one.

Those HEAVY eggs---must be all that mustard:

Crudite, served with ranch dip:

Celery sticks with Peanut Butter/honey for dipping:

Peanut Butter and Peach Jam Hearts

Baby Red Potato Salad:

Shrimp Remoulade:

Somewhere on the table was an immense casserole dish of Mac and Three Cheeses, made with Rotini (Princess Ribbons) and Rotelle (Fairy Coach Wheels).

And for Dessert: Berries with Powdered Sugar in the big berry.

Tiny cupcake brownies:

Lemon Petits Fours:

And that fabulous Birthday Cake---made by Aunt Caro:

With Breyer's Vanilla Bean Ice Cream and a dish of Toasted Pecans.
The time was much too short, as usual, and just re-living it through pictures and memories these past few days has been a lovely little project. They'll be back before Summer's close, and we'll have more to do, more to see, and we'll hope to catch up on all the fun things we didn't have time for this visit.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


The week of their visit seemed to be Kit's week---lots of things centered around her birthday. Her older sister's birthday is in Winter, with no outdoor games, etc., so we used to have her a half-birthday every Summer, to catch up.

We had a wonderful time whilst they were all here, though we missed several of the activities we had planned. We meant to have a weenie roast one night, with real, genuine actual S’mores constructed from Graham crackers, Hershey Bars broken just along the S’mores lines they put on them just for that purpose, and gently-toasted (or ragingly flamed---however you like ‘em) marshmallows.

It just seemed that the days got away from us, flying past in a blur between breakfast times---one of which included waking to a birthday cake:

And this trip---despite my usual clinging to old habits and my love of setting out pretty parties and making pretty tables, the Solo Cup and Plate company’s coffers swelled beyond their dreams of avarice. We used them almost every meal, and that get-up-and-toss moment, as each child cleared a portion of the table and readied it for art, puzzles, a tea party later in the afternoon---that was worth trying to be greener'n Kermit for the next coupla years.

Any table with TWO high chairs---in MY book, that's just too much Sugar for a Dime.

Then it was outdoors, up trees, down the block, to the store, ride the bike, drive the little car, back up the tree---and then it was time for lunch, most of which were enjoyed on the patio, sometimes with all nine of us gathered.

We DID cook, and we DID go out; we constructed elaborate tea-stands of sandwiches and little muffins and celery sticks, and the Jif company stocks rose mightily up the board, as well. As did the combined holdings of Messrs. Kellogg and Post, for our little guys consumed vast amounts of Lucky Charms and Applejacks and other crunchy, sugary delights. What the heck---they were at GANJIN and GANNER’s house!

There were parfait breakfasts, with everyone taking a turn with the berries, the granola, the

and the Redi-Wip can:

Kit had requested our usual parade, as a sendoff to her Birthday Party, and we had the hats all ready, the car and the bike all spiffed up, the balloons and flags all ready for display, and the RAIN said No. My fun was going to be teaching the kidlets the “birthday party games” from my own childhood---little lawn games like Farmer in the Dell, London Bridge, Drop the Handkerchief, and maybe Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Again---we were house-bound.

On pretty days, their Aunt-who-lives-close contributed Sidewalk Chalk (a great hit with one and all, especially seeing their ole Ganjin demonstrate her great prowess with Hopscotch) and everyone got a big bottle of bubbles (an entire afternoon of blowing and chasing and popping ensued)---a fast-running blur of children and bubbles:

The usual view of anyone shorter than four feet---doin' sump'n.

There was a teensy dog, also with the usual view of his young Master---running AWAY.

There was a BIG dog---he outweighs ALL the GrandChildren:

As well as our own FuzzyPup, who began his life as THEIRS, but he’s decided that being the ONLY fellow in the house is nicer than being gnawed on by a mouth bigger than your head, when you're trying to sleep.

(The photo above was taken, believe it or not, by our Girl in Residence, who asked, "May I push the but-ten?" When I said, "Look right through here," she sorta aimed her eye at the back of the camera, clicked, and there it was---centered and everything. Of course, the subject is just like everyone else---looking OFFFFF).

Caro brought pretty crafts kits---fairy fashions and felt jewelry and some exquisitely beautiful markers, which were continued throughout the week, as well as games and puzzles and coloring books and a new BOX OF 96. Those are the main reason that our Gracie was notably absent from most activities---she could be found at the “art” table, where she made lovely floral jewelry and had several knitting lessons from our dear neighbor. The click of needles punctuated most of our days thereafter, and she was distributing pretty little “sleep masks” to all the ladies present before the week was out.
We played, we sang, we had all sorts of fun. Everyone just gave every minute its due, and bath time was the final play, with everyone into jammies and maybe just a teensy snack before toothbrush time. Even our little Cal, whose much-protested bedtimes and refusals to nap---ever---were disavowed by his gentle collapse and slump almost the moment the last pajama snap clicked. And they all slept until at least 8 a.m., and a couple of times til nine.

Anyway---the time was wonderful, too short, and crammed WAY full of good things to do and to see and to read and to eat. We’ll get together again for a couple of weeks before Summer is out, and perhaps we’ll fill in all the gaps caused by the rain and sheer lack of time to do everything. Lots to anticipate for next visit, and too long until it comes.
Tomorrow: THE PARTY and that PRINCESS CAKE!

Friday, June 25, 2010


In these first few days of young Summer, the whole world seems to be ripening and swelling and leaping ahead of the hours of the days.

The sunshine lasts far into what seems night, for we’ve been settling into the evenings before eight, having our dinners indoors for escape from the humid heat. We usually have our dinners on trays with a TIVO of something from last night, or even from before the children arrived for their visit. After dinner, dessert, the close of whatever innocuous thing we're trying to concentrate on, our eyes stagger to the window, still framed in the bright day toward the West, and we're astounded it's not midnight. Our pace most usually resembles this:

After the scurry of the days with our little one, evenings take a long time for that breath of relaxing, of settling in, of letting down our watch after the days running after, of the total BEING THERE in these little moments---for transition into the time it takes to deprogram our minds and hearts from the great responsibility and the great honor of this trust.

This morning, despite the days of dishes in the sink---testament to the call of the cooler outdoors lately---we stayed OUT. We wandered the yard, inspected the garden, pulled a few tee-ninecy trees from the immense forest of maples encroaching amongst what MIGHT be the flowers we planted. It’s hard to see the teensy roundnesses of wee leaves amongst that hardy, hearty crewcut of GRASS which is beginning to carpet the garden. That rain must have been RogAINe for grass.

And we finished our yesterday’s task---we tied the last ribbon, we climbed the ladder and found stems and nubs suitable for the hanging, and we completed our “TREECUP TREE.”

It’s a little bit gaudy, a little bit sentimental, and a whole lot US in the layout and the making, and there’s nothing wrong with that, I think. There are strings of old ONE OF cups, and a small slender white single-pot dangles side-by with a chubby short green model, cheery with apples, whose lid and matching cup hang a-dangle like a china Calder.

It was our fun of the last couple of days, that cup-tree---poking through shelves and cabinets for likely additions, choosing the weary and the worn, the precious and the chipped, the bright happy sheen of the Tiffany cups (my very first purchase at a Thrift Shop when we moved here twenty years ago). The big, unmistakable blue box had a promising heft, and and the no-rattle shake of good packing. The sticker on the box lid read $10.00.

I’d looked at the price twice as I opened its treasures---six lovely satiny dessert plates, in a blue floral pattern with cups and saucers to match. Two pieces of paper in the bottom of the box were provenance and history: A card “to Susan and Matt, with our best wishes” and a Tiffany sales ticket, hand-written, enumerating the eighteen pieces, from the 70’s, with a price of $108-and-tax.

And now the six cups swing from Tiffany blue grosgrain at varying heights in the Treecup Tree---our morning well spent, our Little One and Caro and I, tying various ribbons and bows and choosing spots and limbs and angles for best effect.

This morning, I’ve been humming a song I’d almost forgotten---a sweet, sentimental Mancini, almost lost to memory in the wake of Moon River. It was nominated for an Academy Award in its own time, and I was astounded to remember every word, as I sang softly whilst climbing the ladder, tying the bows, helping busy small hands with their own tasks.

It’s called The Sweetheart Tree, and our day's occupation caused me to keep singing, “Come alonnnnng with MEEEEE, to the TREEEEE-CUP Tree . . .”

A one-of-a-kind Mammaw cup:

The blues with that famous blue ribbon:

We’ve been smiling all day, just thinking of our creation; Our Girl made sure to invite the neighbors over to see it, and led everyone out for a look, as they came into the yard, or just passed by out front.

Of COURSE it began as a Tea-Cup Tree---what else? But the name was changed so charmingly, so sweetly, that it’s going to be permanent. Some of the most wonderful names of things and people came from the sweet, innocent words of children.
I certainly think so,


How very lovely to hear from all you wonderful Fairy people!! We've had a Fairy Dell everywhere we've ever lived, but this is the first door we've ever had appear right INSIDE the house.

I hope the Wee Folk will be pleased with the lovely Tree-Cup Tree we made for them this morning. I would imagine little doors and windows will soon shine from every honeysuckle and Rose of Sharon in the Dell.

Pictures tomorrow of our new garden feature.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


What better time to think of Fairies than on this Cusp-Night of Summer? We've had a long and lovely relationship with the Faery World, and I've been known for quite some time as the Fairy Lady, to a lot of friends and their children.

And what accommodations, you ask, might there be for the Wee Folk in our area? Well, there are a few of the original dwellings, now mostly tourist sites for traveling Fae, who enjoy looking at the old-fashioned places with much the curiosity that we lend to Mount Vernon or Shakespeare's home. I'm sure that the bark furniture and twig accoutrements are a source of levity and wonder to today's society, so accustomed to their modern amenities.

The Tree-House is closed for the day, the candles snuffed, the shutters drawn, as it awaits another fleet of tiny carriages and charabancs, bumbletaxis and flitting tourists on the morrow:

A more comfortable abode, with very nice tapestries, a large banqueting hall, regal appointments, intricately-carved staircases and quite a lovely view of the countryside:

This is a popular stop for the Michigan tourists, as Ann Arbor is quite a destination for all the visiting Fae; the entire city embraces such distinguished clientele, and hundreds of small doors proclaim their hospitality:

Our own dear Fairy Door below, in the corner of a bookcase; it suddenly appeared there one Christmas Morning, and since we keep it well-stocked with shiny objects and bonbons, it's had quite the traffic since. Perhaps it's the choice of sweets, perhaps our own reputations as good landlords---we seemed to have The Mark, I think, much like the hobo inscriptions on railside houses offering a hot meal or shady place to rest.
This Fairy, created by our own original Fairy Girl, Gracie, has emerged to check on the welfare of the baby-in-the-nutshell; he seems to be slumbering peacefully on the stoop in the mellow lamplight.

Some of the doors are a bit mysterious, with little indication as to the type of dwelling within; still others proclaim their owner's tastes, styles, status or interests. I DO think a very comfy, happy Fairy must occupy this place, with its dainty pinks and delicate flowers and sweet dove over the window. .  Her talents would be music, I think, and perhaps conjuring cupcakes---plump, pillowy ones with billows of icing, and her spells would run to Spring Dewfall and Honeysuckle and gentle dreams.

And this one---oh, this one. It has to be the doorway to a cunningly-laid-out little house, with all built-in-shelves and beds carved from the cedar walls, with feathery mattresses and coverlets of down. The whole house would be shining inside, polished wood and brass, with the gleaming kettle on the hob, always ready and welcoming for tea.

Fairy Tea has its own magic, for it never does run out;
And the flavour you imagine will come streaming from the spout.
For each person at the table conjures up her favourite kind---
Lemon, Thimbleberry, Moonbeam---what the drinker has in mind.

But you never spill it on you, even if you drop your cup;
Its Enchantment keeps it safely; you just reach and pick it up.
And the pot stays warm forever, until washed and put away;
It will last the longest Tea Time, for an hour or a day.

And do YOU believe in Magic, and that Dreams indeed come true?
You're invited any Tea Time. For we ALL BELIEVE---do YOU?

Friday, June 18, 2010


On this last lovely weekend of Spring, we wish you sunny days, blue skies, and green shady arbors with Fairies looking down.
See you on Monday for the beginning of SUMMER!!
Love and Sunshine,
rachel 'n' 'em

Thursday, June 17, 2010


for you, because you're so sweet to me.

Great big shiny bursting sweet red berries, and the plump, juicy blues---they made several lovely breakfasts of parfaits with vanilla yogurt and a free hand with the Redi-Wip can. They were requested for afternoon tea, for bedtime snacks, for a cool munch on the patio on a warm afternoon.

Powdered sugar in the big berry, brownie bites on the tea-stand.

Thank you all for your inquiries and your e-mails and your good thoughts---we're getting better and better, and will be back soon.

Sweet days to you all,

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Much more later about our visit and all the activities and fun, but not quite yet. Chris has not been well since this time last week, and he's just getting back to his usual self, and I've also had a rocky couple of days---due to a Sunday afternoon latte from a Friday-stocked vending machine, I think. I should have known better.

Anyway---I've missed everyone, and will be back and running soon---lots of pictures and stories about our adventures with the GRANDS.

as above,

Saturday, June 12, 2010

AND THE RAIN . . . .

And the Rain said, "Slow DOWN."

The clouds and thunder and rain off and on for the past few days have left us in a muggy, humid (right now downright soaking, as it's coming DOWN out there) place in which I expect Clark Gable and Ava Gardner to appear in Black and White, (she in eternal couturier gowns and he in immaculately-pressed khakis with lots of pockets), sludging through the tendrils of the back garden.

I'm usually awake and up and going at O:Dark Thirty on a party or entertaining day, but I just lay there, one foot companionably looped over Chris' ankle, breathing softly in the whussssh of the fan and the echo of the distant thunder.

Nothing we can do outside. Plans of sunshine and romping children and a pink crepe-paper pinata swinging from a lush tree---gone with the rain. No promise of fair for the day, and if the sun DID emerge, the air feels like more warm water on your skin.

So, we'll set up a small table in here for the food, put the beautiful Princess Castle cake up into the pass-through under the lights, and set two tables with fancy, crinkly cloths and imaginative cardboard plates. And we'll do fine. We all LIKE each other---we like each other's company and nearness and the tumble of children in the floor.

I look on this as a snug, comfy day at our house, everyone laughing and talking and holding squirming or comfortably hugged children, eating the lovely lunch I've made, watching our growing girl blow out her candles, her bright eyes sparkling as she opens her gifts.

Today IS what it is, and since we had birthday cake for breakfast already once this week, and since she's going to her Mammaw's tomorrow for another week, the prospect of a sunny lawn party is still quite promising. I think we mught just send that pinata home with Mammaw for sharing with the cousins down there.

I think this was meant to be---this close, piled-together party with no plan and no great space to spread out in. It's indoors---so what? It's a NICE indoors (if some of my own angels will fold this tableful of laundry and get these toys out of sight when they wake up), and after all, it ain't the worst place to hold a party.

It coulda been Chuck E. Cheese.

I love everybody---see you later.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Wonderful day yesterday---lots of fun at breakfast, then outdoors for most of the day. I did the picture-taking, as Chris had to be gone for most of the day, as did DD, who was picking up the goodies and decor for tomorrow's Birthday Party.

I saw a tall, long-legged six-year-old whose whoops and yells and barks and tree-climbing and running on all-fours wearing a foxtail clipped to the back of her belt belie her ethereal grace in a floating fairy gown. I captured the sweet, demure presence beneath her flyaway hair, her ever-running feet---hair smoothed into a clip and topped with a tiny wreath of pink rosebuds, shining in the afternoon sun as she stood amongst the hostas and whirled smoothly on the lawn in her white dress.

And she was still and beautiful, profiled against the old concrete Venus-statue in the hosta bed.

But the everyday girl, the active, laughing little being whose bright eyes gleam even brighter as they look into mine---I love that one, the one of cheery chatter and long stories of horses and fairies and birds, of the careful foot-placement as she negotiates all the limbs of the arbor, making a little house high above, with her Princess lunchbox and her tight-capped mug hooked onto handy little cut limbs for easy reaching as she surveys the world from her eyrie.

She's the girl of the hour/days, it seems, with Gracie buried in her new-found knitting talents and her wee brother all awash in the glories of having petted not one but a dozen little sharks in the tank at the zoo. Tomorrow we'll celebrate her Birthday; yesterday we planned the party, today we pre-celebrated with beautiful parfaits in pretty sherbet-cups, the strawberries and blueberries and yogurt piled prettily, then buried beneath great curls of Redi-Wip, each child allowed free hand with the creating.

They're going to spend the afternoon with old friends, so I'll finish up on the party food. I hope it doesn't storm all day tomorrow as predicted, so we won't have to move the festivities inside.

All the Angels of Glory couldn't help this house.

moire non,

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


If there's no sun out anywhere else, it's because it's centered right here in our back yard.

The gang arrived Saturday night pretty late, and we sat up til almost two, just talking and hugging children. Sunday was nice, with a LONG afternoon with the whole family outside, brandishing bubble wands, water hose and sidewalk chalk. We just walked and talked and answered questions and named every flower-gonna-be in the garden. Our Kit arrived wearing a (genuine) clip-on-your-belt foxtail, which she's not relinquished, even beneath her Hannah Montana Granny-gown. Her Daddy made a several-hours' trip back to a powwow they'd attended becaused she wished so hard that she'd bought one.

We hadn't seen them since November, but Kit leapt out of that car with a frog-legs-and-arms -around-me hug that would gladden the heart of anyone. She's also discovered all the routes amongst and around and over every limb in the arbor, for the best route to several vantage points as high as she can go (she'll be six on Saturday, tall and lanky and agile as a gymnast). You can find her there most of the time she's not romping on the lawn, riding the bike, or pushing one or the other of the littlest ones in the big plastic car-with-a-handle. Chris got lots of pictures of a totally green view, with only her tiny face, her long fairy-braid hair revealing her fairylike little ears, and that foxtail hanging over the limb to show that she's up that tree.

We had a really good time at supper on Sunday, with everyone here we could gather up---two tables of us (guess who the BIG kid at the kid's table was?) Chris did a gorgeous ham on the grill, and we ate indoors---baby carrots and green beans and buttered rice and fresh cucumber pickles and hundreds of celery sticks with peanut butter/honey for dipping in.

Lunch Monday on the patio---leftovers and sandwich makings and some ELEGANTLY wonderful chicken paillards from Caro's kitchen ---they made marvelous warm sandwiches between soft bread. And tiny upside-down lemon-frosted cupcakes from Sam's---they look as elegant as little Individual Iced Cakes, and have a wonderful tangy flavor---like a Gucci version of Hostess Orange Cupcakes.

DD is delighted to be sharing her 24/7 companionship with these little ones; she and Caro and DDIL went out for their annual Girls' Night Out last night (always very tame---dinner and lots of talking, and it probably wouldn't DO to know about what), and now DD is off in search of party decorations and favors for Saturday's Birthday Lunch on the lawn.

Gracie (almost eleven), went with Chris on his service call down to Bloomington, and they'll be back for supper---it's hard to reconcile that round little egg of a baby girl who lived here with us for a year-and-a-half with that tall, slender, beautiful young lady with the stick-on French manicure and the i-Pod in her ears. She's very into crafts, and so Caro gave her a flower-making kit and our dear neighbor is teaching her to knit---both VERY well received.

And little Cal---he's just a delight---he wielded the tiny yard broom with a will yesterday, as Kit and I snipped great chunks from the zealously-growing hedges. No need to watch out for where he went---he was right there, working away, with a constant patter of "I working. I working. I WORKING?? I working." He's a peanut-butter-and-jelly man, loves sharks and dinosaurs, and is right now communing with the Care Bears on one of their adventures.

Yesterday was also an exhausting-but-lovely day. We played outside from Can til Can't, got everyone's faces and hands washed, and after the three Ladies left for their restaurant, we all walked out and around the blocks for Chinese. I don't know WHERE Kit PUT those three bowls of egg-drop soup, and Cal LOVED his first "bik"---a deep-fried, sugar-rolled pop-a-can biscuit---so named by his biggest sister when she was his age.

We came home to a quiet time on the patio, more of Sunday's bubbles, quick washes and into pajamas, a little bedtime snack of sweet red strawberries, and they three went to bed. Cal needs more persuading than most, I was warned, but I sat down on Gracie's bed with him in a big lap-hug, and he gave a deep sigh, relaxed and collapsed heavy and warm against my chest. Out like a light, and didn't wake til eight this a.m.

Couldn't we ALL use a big welcoming soft lap now and then---one that we could collapse on and just fall blissfully to sleep, knowing that we and everything else was being taken care of, and that they would lay us gently into a soft bed, pull up a downy blanket and turn out the light?

Cereal and bananas and more strawberries for breakfast, and outside with all the dogs for a little while until it started to rain. Hope it's more like Sunday on Saturday than like today. Figure that one out.

I've got supper ready for when everyone gets home, and it's been a wonderfully relaxing day, with homemade mac-and-cheese for lunch (side of PBJ sandwich for Cal) and some games and books the rest of the afternoon. I'm just folding clothes and waiting for everyone to get home.

Moire non,

Sunday, June 6, 2010


425,000,000 bottles sold, the website says. It’s today called a “mouthwash,” with ads which tout its strength, and if memory serves, yea, these decades since I’ve smelled that blast of boozy-mint alcohol aroma, strong it is.

During the Civil War, Dr. Tichenor received a serious wound to his leg, and with the hardships and dearth of proper medicines, the only course was to amputate. He refused the treatment, left the field hospital and somehow found the ingredients to brew up his own “Antiseptic” which, in application to the injury, killed off the gangrene and totally healed the leg.

He began making the stuff in earnest, and it saved many a limb and life during the duration of the War, but his loyalty to the South caused him to flatly deny its use to treat any Union prisoners. I understand loyalty to Country and Cause, but what kind of doctor WAS he, to so go against the precepts and the oath? People were suffering and dying, and he just would not relent.

A wide market for his brew, which originated in Canton, Mississippi, has lasted in one form or usage or another, ever since, with a great heyday for the first hundred years---the Patent Medicine era in our country. I remember it well, for one of the slender flat bottles sat in every medicine cabinet, used for man and beast. It was applied to any kind of ailment or injury, and I do not doubt that it killed the germs, at least. Its 70% alcohol formula would sear the hide off a buffalo, and was widely popular as a “lin-a-mint” and rub for sore muscles, as well as a germ-fighter, before most people were even aware of the little critters.

Oil of peppermint and arnica (which sounds like something Nellie Oleson would have worn for perfume) were the only other ingredients. The label features the famous "Confederate soldiers" picture, and the uses are listed on the other pictures---one "for wounds of any nature" which would not seem to include giving a big dose to a horse, but that remedy is apparently, from all I can make of the label, for "Botts and Foot Ew." Diseases whose time has come and gone, we trust.

And does anyone else think that baby is looking WAY too happily at that BIG spoon?

I don’t think I was ever directly involved in any usage of the antiseptic, but I well remember seeing countless bottles bought and used and tossed on the ground out back of Aunt Lou’s store. I do believe a bottle cost fifteen cents or so when I was very young, and a Co-Cola was a nickel. So gentlemen in need of a little toddy would line up at the store every morning for their bottle of TISHNER’S.

They’d pay for it, with a nickel laid down for the Coke, then detour by the big red cooler wherein resided ranks of glass Coke bottles, the six-ounce size, standing up to their necks in the iciest water in the county, afloat with great shards of just-chipped ice from the big blocks in the ice-house out back. That green linoleum floor would be wet with the heedless trail of the dripping bottles, and Uncle Jake would hit it a few licks with the mop as the morning went on.

And unless the Preacher or a vigilant wife were in sight, the men made no secret of their imbibing---they whsssssssssssped the cap off the Coke at the handy opener, took one big swallow out of the bottle standing right there, and barely made it out the flappy-screen door before pouring in most of the fiery TISH to foam up the Coke and add that ticket to temporary bliss. Depending upon the urgency of their need, they were away to the back yard to the shade, or standing right out there as big as you please, gulping down the undiluted remains of the little flat bottle right there on the porch before drinking down the foaming Co-Cola mixture.

It was a dry county, and “for medicinal purposes only” could cure a lot of ills. I think of those drinkers sometimes, those twenty-cent drunks---their drug of need, if not of choice, was a strange, unappetizing one, like upending the Vitalis bottle or the Turpenhydrate, an equally-noxious concoction, prescribed for my Grandpa’s emphysema.

I think of their hot, nervous mornings, up before the sun, a-jangle with the urgency of their need, waiting in the heat of that gravel road for the jingle of the front-door’s opening bell and the cheap, corrosive gulps of the day’s first drink. And I think of their hot nights of fitful, restless dreams, muttering a presage of that Clarice's memorable last line, "Dr. Tishner---Dr. Tishner--- Dr. Tishner. . ." I wonder what Dr. T. would have thought of that employment of his concoction.

About what I think of his fitness to be a doctor, I expect. Scientist, yes. Doctor----no.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


One more day until the Georgia clan arrives, and the house is awash in anticipation---the beds waiting with fresh linens, fragrant with the hours on the line. Floors are vacuumed, shelves dusted, slipcovers smoothed; small trays and drinking glasses and lidded-mugs-with-a-straw, each in a separate color for keeping-up-with await small hands and breakfasts beneath the big backyard tree.

Toys and games and books sit ranged on shelves, in baskets, just for this moment, for when four sets of eyes seek and find, the merriment and the play are everything, and order flies out the window. It’s a comforting chaos, with littered floors and scattery stuff, puzzle-bits a-mingle with dinosaurs and the neon ping of Barbie pumps, and stuffed creatures of every hue in their postures of droppage and strew.

And new faces, new knowledge, new postures and accents and haircuts and clothes---the changes are noticeable every time, except for the same easy slide right back into where-we-left-off, the familiar companionship and bright together of being with these remarkable young people.

And so, I anticipate, I prepare. Their needs are provided for, their boxes of Alpha-Bits and Cheerios stand by, with juice boxes and fruit cups and pretzels, goldfish and grapes; yogurts and endless gallons of milk populate the chill shelves of the fridge.

And, of course, a BIG box of little flat-bottomed ice cream cones---we stop for cones at the drop of a hat, scattering sprinkles like seeds on patio, lawn, furniture, ourselves. Two tiny round blue “swimming pools” are propped out by the back faucet, for the littlest ones, and a big new froggy sprinkler on the little side lawn should entice them all on a hot day. There’s no symphony in the world like the giggles and squeals of kids running through a sprinkler.

We’ll have picnics on the lawn, another in the park; a day at the Children’s Museum is scheduled, perhaps another at the zoo. A weenie roast, the real old fashioned kind, about firefly time one evening---Chris is cutting long sticks for the cooking out at the firepit, and Aunt Caro has all the needfuls for a surfeit of S’Mores. He and she do differ on ideas---he maintains that Peanut Butter is a necessity, and she is a purist---Graham crackers, Hershey Bar squares, and toasted marshmallows at the perfect gooey stage for smushing between and melting the chocolate. Would that all the world’s differences be so sweet and warm, with such easy accord.

There’s a birthday party next weekend for our Kit, with two sets of grandparents in attendance; we’ll have lunch on the lawn, and I’d like to introduce our young ones to the old-fashioned party games of my own childhood: Drop the Handkerchief and Farmer in the Dell and chalk-drawn Hopscotch on the driveway. I think they’d even try Pin the Tail on the Donkey, and I’ve found a pretty, girly piƱata---no hitting or blindfolding---you each pull a ribbon for the candy shower.

I’m ready. I prepare. And I’m prepared for the roller-coaster of the days, as well, with four voices calling at once, and footsteps scattering to the corners of the yard, all needing seeing after and answering at once.

And tea parties---always tea parties. Last visit, every lunch was a tea party, with another late in the afternoon. You just can’t overdo on those.

When the world is all at odds
And the mind is all at sea
Then cease the useless tedium
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in its fragrance,
There is solace in its taste;
And then laden moments vanish
Somehow into space.
And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There's beauty as you'll see;
All because you briefly stopped
To brew a cup of tea.

......................A Wise Soul

Thursday, June 3, 2010


One of my favorite TV shows in my “single days” and ever since has been Golden Girls. Those sassy ladies knew who they were, they lived their lives to suit themselves, and they made a wonderful combination of personalities and temperaments.

The smart, even-tempered, quick wit of Dorothy, the ditzy, small-town innocence of Rose, the smart-mouthed, blame-it-on-age zingers and behavior of Sophia, and the flamboyant, openly amorous Blanche were a household of contradictions, of hilarious happenings, of passionately-loyal friends.

I think all of us “girls” of a certain age picked one to match ourselves, or perhaps the one we’d like to be. I envied the easy honesty and self-confidence of Blanche, who changed boyfriends as often as her gorgeous wardrobe, the easy intelligence and common sense of Dorothy, the devil-may-care antics of Sophia, and even the childlike naivete' of Rose, thinking that if I could emulate all four, it would make a formidable, likeable package.

We followed them from heartbreak to outlandish stunts, from separations and losses and reunions and romance and revelry to good, solid friendships which filled that big Miami house with an atmosphere so congenial, we ALL wanted to live there. Or at least, next door.

Rose (Betty White, a perennial sweetheart, with a loving nature and what husband Allen Ludden called “the best legs in show business” even while Betty Grable was still alive---is still kicking up those attractive gams on TV and in movies---most recently a fan-driven push to have her host Saturday Night Live, for which she drew raves AND fans young enough to be her great-grandchildren).

There’s just something about those times, perhaps just in my own mind---I lived there with them once a week, sitting in that pretty kitchen, listening and laughing and crying along with their plots and their plans and their lives. There WERE women friends like that, loyal and caring and supportive, and they could get along under one roof. Lovely.

But in just the last two years, we’ve lost Sophia (the surprisingly attractive and young Estelle Getty (July 25, 1923 – July 22, 2008), and Dorothy (the delightful Bea Arthur---May 13, 1922 – April 25, 2009).

And now Blanche, of the sweeping statements and self-absorption and sense of self which overwhelmed decades of hapless, happy men, has gone from us---it feels as if an era has passed and a time is gone. (Rue McClanahan, February 21, 1934 – passed away just this morning).

R.I.P. Dear wonderful, beautiful Blanche. THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Page of letters from the Internet

My very favorite Dr. Seuss book is ON BEYOND ZEBRA, a collection of letters which come AFTER Z (or should). They're formed to be kind of monograms of their own sounds. One of the letters is SNEE, like an S with a little knee attached.

And the story goes:
Then we go on to SNEE. And the SNEE is for Sneedle,
A terrible kind of ferocious mos-keedle

Whose hum-dinger stinger is sharp as a needle.

The Sneedle's too tough to be killed with a smack

So he has to be hunted on elephant back

And your eyes and the elephant's have to be keen

And you have to aim fast and you have to hit clean

And the bullet you shoot is a stale navy bean.

That you've soaked for an hour in old stale kerosene.
Would that it were so easy.

From my backyard:
June where we useta live always meant hibernation inside, outdoor clouds of OFF and DEET, and sinus-blasting floats of Avon Skin-so-Soft, reputed to have an absolutely get-away-from-me effect on the dreaded little critters, as folks braved the mosquito-infested lawns, gardens and any other space inhabited by blood-bearing prey. The Spring rains and all the low places and rice fields and the bayous contributed to the ceaseless "mosquito season," which lasted from the last freeze to the first frost, which killed off all but the most determined of the little menaces.

They've been known to come in with Christmas trees, baskets of greens, holly and ivy and honeysuckle, and even the swankiest of outdoor weddings Down South includes a basket of cans of repellent, (ours did) right there between the Julep Punch and the bucket of fancy fans.
My first courting "gift" from Chris, a few days after our first date, was a Bug-Zapper, which he installed on the patio of my house. He spread a big sheet of painter's plastic beneath it, just to gauge how many, and the first night's collection filled TWO QUART JARS.

So, amongst the butterflies-on-sticks and the ladybug boot-scrubber and the festoons of Summer-strung firefly and dragonfly lights in the trees of our yard here on balmy evenings---there, by rights, sits the TRUE State Bird of Mississippi---old Miz Mos-Keedle herself, in all her glory.

Copper shine and polished-stone prettifying can just do SO MUCH, and she's just as ugly on the surface as her intentions and her bite. She and the heat are the only two reasons I'm glad I'm FROM there---not there RIGHT NOW.