Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Since there's been so much trouble with the "Comments" section, and since it takes me about three times of sign-in-and-give-password before I give up on trying to comment on anyone else's blog, as well as an average of six sign-ins in order to post a daily post on my own blog , I'm going to take a little time off from posting.

I've been meaning to take a little Down Time, so I think now is the time.   Perhaps when the difficulties are sorted out with the blog-site, things will be easier and more pleasant---right now, it's not fun, and WAY more work than it should be.

I'll still look in now and then, and my e-mail's in my profile, if you need me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


It's holiday weather here today, with the heat of the sun and bright skies and the snap of flags in the sunshine, the smoke of a thousand backyard grills raising delicious scents into the Spring air. I awoke to a silhoutte-gleam of sunshine across the room, a hopeful sign for all the activities and memorial services and celebrations of this long Spring weekend.

But weather hasn't much to do with the feelings that surround this special day, this day of remembrance and honoring and taking stock of our nation's blessings. The placing of wreaths, the little flags stuck into the earth of countless graves, the floral tributes, the handful of limp posies clutch-wilted in a child's hand, the tears of remembrance---those will quietly and reverently go on even as the scent of charcoal drifts up and clouds draw down.

I have a deep-imprinted vignette in my memory-collection, of sitting there in a hot scratchy dress several years ago, to see my dear Mother-in-Law receive the folded flag "With the thanks of a Grateful Nation." And so we remember GrandDaddy, in all his twenty-something years of service, and I keep a secret, heartfelt gleam of pride for our other servicemen and women, and those we'll never know of as we sleep safely on their watch.

And just looking at the flowers in the picture above, the two tall, stalwart reds and the smaller, just-as-strong pink, I think of all our sisters and daughters in uniform, the strong, brave women who step up to the mark, who serve standing proud beside the men whose strength and bravery have stood true for centuries. We feel a surge of gratitude, of pride, of thankful praise for all the ones who take our well-being and our freedom so seriously that they live and die for it, and us.

And so I say "Thank you," to each and every one, and give a prayer of thanks for all of our servicepeople, past and present---those standing proud in uniform today, those who have served, no matter what the term, those who have retired from their service, but remain ever soldiers, those lying beneath the brave small flags, and those known only to the angels and remembered in the hearts of those who loved them.

Taps for remembrance.

Friday, May 27, 2011


In honor of Pink Saturday's Third Birthday, I offer a pair of pairs, which brought me a pair of friends.

These little ovals hang beside the living-room dresser, in a narrow space that had awaited them for a long time.   They are made of exquisitely-tiny stitches, their pale pinks and blues and courtly stance lending an air of their own time to the setting.

The pair of pictures, needlepoint and petit point, were for sale in a lovely booth far, far away---I look in on the inaccessible sales with a longing eye, and this one was posted on my friend Jeanne’s blog Backyard Neighbor last year, from her two sisters’ booth at a big sale.    I spotted the sweet little pictures, just minuscule in the picture, on the back wall of the booth, amongst the heavenly treasures they had gathered from all over their part of the country.   In a comment on Jeanne’s blog, Backyard Neighbor, I simply said, “Are those needlework, and are they for sale?”

She immediately replied yes, and yes, and after I approved the price, she insisted on sending them on to me, with a “You can send me a check after you get them,” sort of sweet trust and friendliness which was doubly touching for its rarity today.   And so we did.   They arrived (with a scrumptious bit of lagniappe in the box---a set of exquisite tea towels embroidered in pale pastels on fabric as dainty as a christening gown.   I cannot bear to use them, so they  warrant only the hanging from a drawer in the linen-press, for best display).   I loved the pictures, sent her check, and they stayed to live with us, brightening that spot with the beautiful elegance of another day.

Look at that chiseled chin, those nipped waists, that frivolously-perched hat---aren’t those just the perfect depiction of things we wish we remembered---the best and brightest memories of another time? 

The clothes and the pose say afternoon stroll, but they're equally at home in their own accustomed candlelight----three, I think, for they must be glowing on a beautiful Pink Birthday Cake: 

That pleasant transaction was much more than a sale; it was the establishing and foundation for a lovely friendship, built on kindness and trust and admiration---I’ve come to know Jeanne as a wonderful friend and far-away compadre, with the exchange of mere hellos and recipes and pictures of grandchildren, and the uplifting and buoying of each other’s spirits through correspondence and comments.

Through Jeanne, I met Beverly, of How Sweet the Sound, and thus the opening of Dorothy’s door into the luminous weekly world of Pink Saturday.    It’s a fairy-tale adventure, week after week, with displays of creations-by-the-hands of the bloggers, or marvelous acquisitions, or their own gardens, their family heirlooms, or their proud pink ribbons testifying their valiant battles and victories.    I cannot do justice to the community spirit and the gratifying camaraderie kindled by this bright spot on the Internet.  

Today is Pink Saturday’s THIRD BIRTHDAY, and I raise a toast in Pink Champagne:   Best Wishes and a happy Thank You for this wonderful, welcoming place!



I'm getting e-mails that you're having trouble posting comments---so am I, on here and on a lot of other blogs.   I'm so sorry this is happening right now, for I've been trying to let friends know that I hope they weathered the storms safely.

There's also a great anticipation of tomorrow's Pink Saturday's Third Birthday celebration---a great part of the fun is sending and receiving comments and making new friends via Beverly's faithful co-ordination of the site every Saturday.    I do hope things are straightened out by then.

And I DO hope you're all safe and well, along with all those you love and care about.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Post #701   A Fresh New Beginning.

This is a painting of flowers.   It is also how the local weather map looked for hours and hours yesterday, from the first wail of the local siren at 10 a.m., until after I finally gave up my firm grip on watching about midnight.  

The concentration of the whole world into that screen of red and orange and yellow, fuming and swirling its way across the country, through Missouri, through Illinois, across the Terre Haute border, and reaching its threatening hulk top to toe of the state---that occupied my whole day yesterday, through the loads of laundry, the little common chores which blinked my eyes from the screen only to match socks, set washer and dryer, fill the kettle for tea.    The dishes remained in the sink, the dog unwalked, the day furtively and anxiously eyed from the safety of the back door.

And as the day darkened, with Chris some fifty miles west on a service call, and directly in the path of whatever-was-coming, and our Sweetpea almost that far north for a sleepover, along with DS and DDIL’s trips from work and Caro’s twilight venture out to GET to work---my heart was in so many places and my concentration centered on that vivid, primary-color screen.    I don't think I uttered a word all day except for checking-up-on phone calls and fervent prayers.

The talk and the talk and the talk, the reports and the pictures and the skies with the dips and whirls of funnel clouds---with the new knowledge that the cloud-point is not ALL the storm---a whirl of debris from the ground indicates that the winds have touched down, even though the spiral is still nippled small on  the cloud, with only air (literally) visible between.    A cell-phoned-in handful of ping-pong hail, more talk of baseball-sized to come, but my two-years-ago loss of the hosta bed to the dime-sized stuff receded to nothing in the facing of such an angry sky---the day was tense.

There was destruction, there were roofs blown away, quite a few homes demolished down in Bedford, and the miracle of just a few injuries in tossed-about mobile homes.    An overturned eighteen-wheeler was sucked into the vortex stem-to-stern in bits and pieces like Dyson-grabbed confetti, with the driver only slightly injured.

And there were no storm deaths in Indiana.   Despite the immense threats and the horrifying colors and outlook and predictions---property was destroyed, but no lives were lost.  

And I feel as if I’ve witnessed a miracle, and I’m giving great thanks for that all day.
And apropos of the New Beginning topic:   I'm so very glad to know that Elizabeth Smart faced down that unspeakable rapist in court yesterday, with the grace and ease of the strong, confident young woman she is.   She did walk out of the fire, and the only thing she said to him as sat there in chains, whining into his filthy beard, was to speak of looking forward to her own beautiful future.  

  Brava.   Prayers Answered, Justice Done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


The counter on here is exactly (sorta, kinda) on the 700 posts mark, give or take a "saved as draft" or two, and even though it's just Spring, the heat that's taken hold lately calls for chilled things and
cool thoughts.

We ate popsicles in the shade yesterday, after our long walk around the neighborhood.   We'd taken three starts at it, Sweetpea and I, with a turn-around just to go another way, then a quick dip back into the house to pick up LaLa, the old beloved yellow TeleTubbie from babynap days.    We took turns carrying her, and pointing out flowers and birds and neighborhood dogs and squirrels to her fresh eyes as we strolled.      The Simmons' iris bed is a marvel, with cheery tall yellows and all the shades of purple there are, including some almost black, and the Herrins' peonies are just a whole screen of pinks and roses and whites.   

As we sat on the patio with our break-and-share treats, I told her about the trips to the little corner store for a fresh popsicle---none of us could have comprehended the actual having of a popsicle in our own freezers---that would have been like harboring a fairy or Batman actually at your house.   Usually two of us would troop along together, knowing the flavor would depend on who-had-the-nickel, for buyer got to choose.    One of us would grasp the whole thing firmly in our two hands, wrapper still on, and gently give that little wrist-snap which divided it into its two lovely intended halves.   There's a purpose to a popsicle, aside from the cold sweet refuge on a Summer day---they're MEANT to be shared.   They're incised in the exact spot which physics dictates as just right, and when they snap with that vague little crunch, and one half is handed to a friend, it's a charming Childhood Communion, with a satisfaction of anticipation and of companionship not available in a cupcake or plate of cookies.

One of us would usually "keep the paper," to catch errant drips, then we'd walk out and amble home, enjoying our treat, trying to capture every escaping drop as the hundred degrees of the day worked its will on the melting ice, running the colors down our elbows as we walked in that careful forward tilt to keep the stains from our clothes.

I told Sweetpea about REAL screen doors---the flappy kind, with the strong, faithful spring which smacked the door behind you (or you in the behind) as you went in and out, to a Mama-chorus of "Don't slam the door!" all up and down the block.   The cunning little flip-latch was a bit of a mystery as I described it, until I made a little flat circle, thumb and forefinger, and hooked the other index into it, pantomiming lock.

She certainly knows "picnic table," with the attached benches, for they're in every park, but they're so well maintained that she hasn't had the full experience---the brush-off-the-bird-poo, swing one leg over, then slide your shorts-clad skin gently along to get settled, without getting a splinter or flake of paint into your hide.   Those old tables were for EVERYTHING (I will not mention the year-round fish-cleaning which went on at the one between our house and the next, for it put me off seafood for life).   

We sat at those tables for picnics, for cookouts.    We read and embroidered and did little crafts-of-the-day, scrolling our names or initials on notebooks with the names of various boys over the years, never daring to incise them into the wood of the table like that daring and slightly-trashy Opal-in-the-eighth-grade did---she of the grubby rhinestone jewelry and black suede ankle-strap high-heels-for-school.   Our Mamas would have been mortified.   

We carried our little phonographs out there and spun the same Elvis record until somebody's parent (not necessarily our own) shouted "Play something ELSE!" through the windowscreen.     We had tea parties and did homework and drew maps to great treasure, and those old boards heard young secrets and dreams, and felt the splash of many a teenage tear.

The heat of the day was often assuaged a bit when whichever  kid belonged to the backyard would go into the house and make KoolAid.   It was the real thing, as well, requiring a cup of sugar into the pitcher with the nose-filling doooost of the powder.    A big long stir, the crickkkk and clunnnkkkk of a twisted ice-tray, and grabbing of whatever glasses or cups were allowed out into the yard.    My favorites were these:

Holding those thin, flash-freezy aluminum cylinders in your hand, rolling them across your reddened, blazing forehead, holding them to a sunburnt cheek---the relief was blessedly soothing.    And even as the ice melted, the glasses seemed to stay miraculously cold, even as the last sweet dregs were uptipped and swallowed.

Sometimes we'd all troop down to the store with its own clackety door, and an even-more-adamant command not to slam---over the years that screen billowed and stretched, prey to a thousand knees and elbows, with the Nehi or Hires or Coca Cola handplate wearing to rust.   Outside of touristy Kountry Kitcheny places or old plank-floor originals, who of today could imagine a place of business with an actual screen door? 

First, there was a trip over to the old Coke 'case" with the uplift of that heavy lid carrying the scent of galvanized metal, the deep rich tire-store smell of the black rubber gasket, and the somehow-salty scent of the ice-floating water within.   

We never grabbed a standing bottle by its neck---if it was sticking out of the water, it wasn't cold enough.   We'd fish deep into those Arctic depths, feeling the shock on our immersed hand, letting the pure-D bone-chill and then the ache of the fumbling set our hand on fire with the deadening.     

And despite the hundred-grubby-hands-a-day jooged down into that water, and the probable rarity of a good cleaning for the whole thing, we never bothered to dry the bottles or wipe off the moisture, and I don't think anyone ever caught anything from it.    A WISSSSSP past the opener, hoping that the almost-freeze of the drink didn't cause it to foam up and waste a drop in overflow, and then those first upended burning swallows.    Nothing can describe it; nothing can equal it.

And sometimes, just sometimes, if you'd been really good, or played your cards right, or the planets were aligned, you could hold your bottle up to the sun and actually watch the drink freeze---top to bottom, as "the air hit it."     And THAT was the prize---that primeval Slushie unattainable in any other fashion, coveted and enjoyed down to the last little crumb of ice coaxed and bottle-smacked into your head-flung-back mouth.

We've gotta find one of those stores, and perhaps as soon as she's a little older, Ganner will bring home some little glass-bottle cokes, we'll chill them super-cold, and I'll teach her the true ritual of Summer:   Peanuts in her Coke.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


DOES a tree falling in an empty forest make a noise?   Is a bit of wit uttered only to a three-year-old who doesn’t understand the pun STILL funny?

Caro has an old stuffed green dragon which has been hanging around a succession of several houses now, as we or she moved place to place, entourage in tow.   Dragon has since been co-opted (commandeered/adopted) by Sweetpea, who cuddles him and plays with him, stashing him neatly into her toy-tub as she leaves for home.

She’s even been known to use his services as a quick stove, as in this picture of Dragon cooking during Flat Stanley’s visit.

Her usual response to names of friends or dolls or playthings is one of a vast group of Vowel-laced syllables, like those children’s-imaginary-languages featured in small journals and university publications:  Uba and Una and Oba and Ooda and Saba and Daba---that Child could have populated the entire Clan of the Cave Bear in five minutes, saving dear Jean Auel just SCADS of time---enough to write up several more Ages and volumes, if she’s inclined.

And I must reiterate that my brain cells have been slow as Molasses lately, and other people's witticisms sometimes take me a minute to parse, so the following exchange surprised even me:

Yesterday, as she and Dragon were playing, I asked, “Did you EVER give Dragon a name?   He’s been part of the family for a long time.”

She immediately replied, “His name is Hodo.”

And I responded, “When you want him to follow, do you say, ‘Come, Hodo Dragon’?”

Well, it WAS funny, audience or not.    Just gimme this one---I need it.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


This time of year come the Spinners.   These little helicopters are everywhere right now, and are simply marvels of natural engineering.     I cannot get my mind around the absolute genius of the apparatus, grown onto the maple limbs and branches like dragonfly-wings, and which leaves the tree with the seed up, succumbs to gravity and flips in mid-air, and has the built-in rudder and rotor to ease its way to the ground with the flight taking it sometimes yards from the tree, and landing bolt upright in the grass or on anything handy to prop against.

When I planted the three two-inch-high little trees in the front yard, I’d given no thought that one might be a GIRL tree, with thousands of the little whirlybirds to spin off into the lawn and take root amongst the turf every Spring.   Some of them fall straight and true in the grass, standing rigid like little golden soldiers:

Others seem to congregate like a scurry of tadpoles for safety in numbers:

And still others group in little cliques, like the Kewl Kids on the playground: 

One year when I was doing so much morning walking, I’d have to step out into the street for several blocks along, just to keep from slip-sliding on the great tides of the fallen pods, lying like great shoals of green, tender fish along the sidewalks.  And dried and gold---just a few of the whispery wings on smooth ground will slide your feet right out from under you.

These fellows are a mystical marvel of Creation, and even allowing of the evolving---how in the world LONG did it take for the seed to grow a tiny projection, then how many eons yet until that became a fin, then the swell of the shape into a wing, shaped perfectly to whirl the seed on the wind and deposit it neatly into the undergrowth, with a head-start toward the soil.   There's definitely a PLAN there.

Aren’t these things just a mysterious miracle?  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


 We have GREEEEEEN!   As well we should expect to, considering all the monsoons.   The whole yard has just gone wild in the past few days, and the ivy has raised its expectant, shiny faces to the sun for forty yards around, it seems.

The little "tunnel" carved out of that part of the yard has almost closed into an impenetrable forest, worthy of a secluded hideaway, and will require the attentions of the hedge-clippers as soon as we can get in there.   We lost some things to such late frost, but most of the yard is threatening to just over-run us like kudzu.    This will be pretty when it's all snipped into shape, and perhaps I can unearth the little matching table from the garage wilderness soon, for it makes a lovely little picture.

The honeysuckle trees have done themselves proud, and it's a good thing I got this picture the other late afternoon, because the incessant rain has left a golden carpet of little blossoms all over the yard and sidewalks and drive.

On Mothers' Day, they took us out to our favorite Mexican place for a fun dinner, and then we all came back here just as the sun got low over the lawn.     Caro put a pan of chocolate-with-pink-white-chocolate cookies into the oven upstairs, and we all sat in the newly-Springed sitting room as the light grew golden through the sheers. 

The little floral lamps were an Easter gift from Caro, as were the candlestick several years ago; the lamps are not lit because I keep forgetting to get 40-watt bulbs.   By the time I'm up there, make a mental note to put them on the list, and get back down here, the thought has just vanished.     I just this minute went and wrote 40-WATTERS!!  on the fridge pad.

The old mirror is also Caro's---she has quite a few of the lovely old things scattered about the house, and the rose is my Easter Rose from Chris---still hanging in there, and with a tiny pink offshoot and bud sprouting newly from the stem.   Don't you just marvel at the tenacity of LIFE, just keeping on with business, despite the circumstances? 

One of my gifts from Caro, Sweetpea, and DDIL---we're all Harris fans, and these newer series are lighter than her usual books---Caro, Chris and I are reading and swapping and trying to keep each series in order as we go.

The Teagardens are Small-Town-Librarian who belongs to a Murder Book Club---rather popcornish and frothy, and the Shakespeares are small-town Arkansas independent Cleaning Lady with great inner strength and Jessica Fletcher's knack of stumbling upon a body, just in passing.

This is almost my 700th post since I started this blog in November, 2008, and I do apologize for my slack attention to it for some time.   Almost everything I've posted in the past couple of months has been culled from the reams of pages in boxes, from old writing and old thoughts, or from the same that I'd set down in WORD documents, to prink up a bit for later use.   

My mind is so occupied with so many things and so much STUFF and nothing that it has the constant feel of that hazy cop-show thumbprint on the faces-of-the-innocent,  and my house looks like what my Mammaw called "Who'd a thought it?"     

So much to do, so much putting-off, so much undone.    Perhaps the tonic of Green will help.  I hope so.

And I hope you GREEN and sunshine, as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Marty Kittrell photo
'Tis Sunday, the Ides of May, and I can just imagine the fervent Spirit of The Faithful is rising like incense to heaven all over the South. Not that it’s faint or puny anywhere else---the South’s just what I’m used to, and I guess I'm just thinking of all my umpty-leven years of church attendance in the part of the country with Sunday School, Sunday Church, Sunday Night Church, BTU, Prayer Meeting on Wednesday night, Choir Practice somewhere in between there, and assorted Ladies Groups, Men’s Breakfasts, Girls’ Groups, Boys’ Groups, and Kinderfolks playtime---well, they didn’t coin the phrase “Every Time the Doors are Open,” for nothing.

Ours was a small church, with a not-too-rapid succession of good, Godly men as pastor, a really good choir and musicians, and the usual assortment of members, young to old, and all in between. The music was wonderful---loud and melodic and with good foot-pattin’ rhythms of “At the Cross” and “Leanin’ on the Everlasting Arms,” to the quiet calm of “Just as I Am” and “It Is Well.”

The podium was a plain brown boxy one, with a little slanty top, just like the one in the auditorium at our school.   The table just in front was a long-ago varnished one, with the usual “This Do In Remembrance of Me,” carved into the front panel.    The top was gently battered by the thousands of set-downs of the just-passed offering plates, and was demurely covered on Lord’s Supper Day by a snowy cloth ironed into stiff-starched primness, to befit the solemn import of the rite.  Those trays of stiff little bread-shards  and the tiny cups of grapejuice, always appearing to me as somewhere between carousel and centrifuge, were tended by tender hands, set out and cleaned and put away like a King’s Treasure.  A big brass stand in the middle of the table held an immense Bible, always open to the day’s passage.

Baptist preachers don’t preach sermons. They Bring the Message. From fiery, fist-pounding lectures with the scent of brimstone in the air, to soft, pleading entreaties that elicit tears and more than one sobbing trip down the aisle to Salvation.

And the pews. There’s no piece of furniture on Earth quite like a church pew. They range from rough-hewn flat square benches, the better to keep the congregation awake and alert in their upright severity, to graceful curved sways of architecture which leave the arms and legs on each end a good several inches forward of the mid-point of the length. Looking down from behind the podium in some churches, on the curves of the pews neatly nested one behind the other down the room, is like looking past waves to a far horizon.

Internet Photo

 The finish on pews is smooth and satiny, with the backs and the seats worn even smoother than planes and sandpaper could make them. Generations of sit-down-and-get-up, along with countless wiggling children, bored and fidgety teenagers, innumerable slide- downs to make room for late-comers, along with Sinner-Squirm and Spirit-Filled-exhilaration---those have all given the old pews a polish like the glow of a well-loved Camaro.

You’ll never find that Gleam of Glory on a plastic folding chair or a velvet flip-down theater seat, no Siree-Bob.

Photo by Marty Kittrell

Friday, May 13, 2011


We all have Heroes.   Schoolchildren almost always name a Superhero (fictional) or movie star or sports star as THEIR heroes.    Grown-ups may waver toward the same, and it’s difficult to understand the values of those whose idols and standard-bearers merely mouth someone else’s words onscreen, or can master the art of controlling a ball/car/puck/skis/skates /boat/horse or deck of cards. 

Our own Heroes are a simpler sort.   For example, my Sister-in-Law who is raising her three Grandchildren, all under seven, and all of whom may have been damaged by their mother’s habits and neglect.  A neighbor whose handicap does not prevent his showing up for work on time, six days a week, to cheerfully bag our groceries, always making kind conversation as he works. 

All of the parents who get up and go make a living every day, taking any job they can find, in order to support their families,   young folks who work two jobs between and after classes in order to put themselves through college, and  the supremely dedicated Police, Firefighters/EMTs/Schoolteachers whose cities and towns couldn’t in a million years afford to pay them what they’re REALLY worth.

And Chris has had a quasi-Hero since childhood, a rather strange-but-understandable icon to look up to:

Chris loves Wile E.    He's his hero, for he never gives up.    He's the John Cameron Swayze line personified:  He Takes a Lickin' and Keeps On Tickin'.

For Chris' birthday several years ago, Caro painted him the Wile E. Coyote coat of arms---cannon, bomb, and anvil, with a portrait of the Big Guy himself emblazoned on the top.    The motto banner itself is composed of two Latinish words: PERSEVERUS PERSEVORUM.    I made them up---they sound good, in an escutcheonish sort of way, and are our translation of Keep On Keepin' On.   They are certainly words to live by, even if you aren't a member of  the Eternalii Famishus breed, don't live in the desert, and don't have a hankering for some Roadrunner Stew on your menu.

See that big ole nose on the right up there in the picture?   That's a stuffed-animal likeness of Wile E., suspended like a carnival prize (and may have BEEN one).    He and the picture hang right over where Chris stands to dress every day---like his own modern, zany version of the Desiderata.    Occasionally, I'll catch a little corner-of-my-eye glimpse of the little figure in the dark as I pass, and my sleepy mind sees it almost like some surreal fuzzy dusty version of a crucifix on the wall.

Wile E. Coyote has an aim in life, he pursues his goal with fervor and drive, he rises from his falls, his injuries, his bruised head and pride and feelings, and just gets right back up, opens another box, another ploy, and tries again.   And that impeccable credit at the Acme Company adds to his resume, as well.

I think we could all learn a lot from Wile E., in terms of determination and zeal.    I know I need to, and though I don't intend to go wheel-footing off a cliff, adopting that resigned expression as the anvil falls toward my head, I'm gonna get some gumption and step out there and ACCOMPLISH some things.  

I wonder if Acme has a website.      

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


The piece on Margo Martindale yesterday was part of a much-longer post, divided for sheer breathing room.   There are quite a few wonderful actresses in her genre, and these are a few I'm always glad to see listed in the credits:

Of course, the Queen of the lot has for some time been Kathy Bates---Dolores Claiborne/ Annie Wilkes/Evelyn Couch/Frances Lacey, and she IS a Star, with an Oscar and several other nominations,  but she's also one of the become-the-character, warts-and-all people whose work is stunning to watch, every time.

 There’s also  a crowd of very talented women making their own places in similar roles and characters. 

Remarkable, deliberately-plain Melissa Leo, noted for her perfectly-played character of a no-nonsense police officer in the unequaled Homicide: Life on the Street, has come to the fore in recent times with several stunning portrayals of gritty, driven women with a will to persevere, and an Oscar (finally!) just this year. 

I’ve always loved Beah Richards, the soft-spoken Mama in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, (who was several years younger than her "son" at the time).     In her younger years in the theater, she was an absolute dynamo, with her stunning raw beauty. fierce and fearless on the stage. and throughout all her countless dramatic roles, Baby Suggs had been waiting for her all her life, until her very last moments on film.   

And Ann Wedgeworth, noted as one of the beauties of the screen, glamourous as all get-out, and improbably perfect as Patsy Cline’s feisty, plain and plain-spoken Mama in Sweet Dreams.

There’s the quiet, simple strength of Beth Grant, cool as ice, or fiercely loving or  slyly deceitful.  She's everybody's perfect (or nightmare) Neighbor.

Wonderful, expressive Viola Davis---an immense presence filling the screen in even the smallest role, and those teacup tears will break your heart.     We're gonna hear great things from this lady.

Paula Malcomson, the easy, tough Trixie in Deadwood, whose tiny frame and piercing eyes contribute to her portrayals of formidable friend and foe alike.

And there’s  Dale Dickey, whose portrait of a browbeaten, fierce-in-her-own-way Appalachian wife, cruel when she has to be, whose implacable, downturned mouth and hard words gave no quarter, sought no mercy in Winter’s Bone---quite a memorable performance in an outstanding ensemble of pure talent.

And the Powerhouse---practically a Force of Nature:  Lorraine Toussaint.  A smart, sexy, savvy, sassy actor with a note of command in her smoky voice, melting into the tenderest  Mama Earth.   She can preach about Original Sin, then get you out of any predicament you’ve fallen into thereby, through her wit and warmth and brain-power.   When she’s on a screen, she’s all there is, and I think she could do Shakespeare as the Cheshire Cat, with nothing to see but those eyes and that smile.   Such a power to her presence, and her hugs must be glorious.

And you?   Do you have any less-famous-than-they-deserve favorites?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Our evenings of late have been mostly a quiet dinner-on-a-tray, accompanied by  gently unmemorable “Have Gun, Will Travel,” with perhaps a TIVOed hour-long drama or  movie to wind down the evening.

You know, I’ve noticed over the years that there are some particularly good actresses out there---not STARS, but the real deal.   When they take on the role, they take on the persona, and somehow, mostly seem OLDER than they are, as well as grimmer and more life-worn.  

We see their faces, and read the character they’re living for that brief flicker on the screen, and we think, “Now, WHERE do I know her from . . .?”    And I’ve noticed that they are all strong, determined women, with families to save, causes to further, sacrifices to make, small and large, and you believe every word and nuance and tear.

And my favorite of them all is the absolutely mesmerizing Margo Martindale---she of the quick laugh and pleasant personality, always with an unerring portrayal of a strength that must be at least partly her own.      Her own expressively-beautiful face dissolves into frump and frown, and she pays no attention at all to how she might look in those cruel expressions, those flappy clothes ---she just IS the role.    I cannot fathom how she hides her own personal warmth and ready smile beneath the grim, stolid take-no-prisoners character of  the absolutely REAL Mags Bennett in Justified.

Her presence dominates the screen, and she so lives the part of Mama to three errant sons she’s raised in those hardscrabble Kentucky hills---I’ve KNOWN her.   You’ve probably known her, and she’s unforgettable---solemn and grieving, avaricious and calculating,  throwing back her head in a big, hearty laugh, singing the Old Songs in the true deep mountain twang, doing whatever she has to do to survive and prosper in the circumstances she was given, with no apology.  

She’s simply the best-written, most remarkably-portrayed character on TV this season, and as she bowed out of the story arc in the Season Finale, I wanted to cry and applaud and hug her, all at once.

This has been a wonderful, rip-roaring story, and her recipe for “Apple Paaaai” is the quickest way out of Harlan County, short of a bullet.    I'm looking forward to the DVD of this season of Justified, just for her stunning scenes.

You GO, Margo,  and buy you a Red Carpet Emmy dress!

Monday, May 9, 2011


We pass a lot of grand old houses---sometimes big square prosperous old places, others smaller, daintier ladylike dwellings with their porch-lace tattered and the shingles askew.    The once-desirable neighborhoods show neglect and the whiff of decay in the scrutiny of the bright sun.    Disrepair and peeling paint cannot disguise the fact that somebody loved them---still does, in the way that an older person fallen into harder times would still love a relative whose needs can no longer be supplied.   The lawn may be cut, the steps swept, but the paint is a project beyond both purse and energy.

The crackly flakes of paint fall onto the porch, are determinedly swept away like scattered leaves, and the scars deepen and widen in the skin of that beautiful old house, from weather and time and the general air of genteel despair beneath the roof.

I was doodling down a few thoughts about these the other day, and dabbled through Janie’s archives, looking for just this leaf-swept house I'd seen to illustrate a post.    And today, there it was on her site,  with a bit if history and hope.

That one still-faithful mailbox, holding rain-damped forgotten mail, is slowly being hedged in by creeping green, and the relentlessly beautiful wisteria seems about to wall in the place from all intruders.

On these old places, I always hope they’re still being occupied by one family which loves them, so I look for one mailbox.    More than one signals the cutting-into-parts of the house---perhaps that first small frugal necessity of an apartment for rent, made of two former bedrooms and the hall bath, with a small sitting/kitchen area installed along a wall of the larger room, and a phone line put in. 

  Further days may occasion the appearance of a third mailbox on the porch, for the renter of the largest upstairs room, divided away and a sparse kitchenette consisting of the workshop cabinet ripped out of the garage and a large vanity sink, bought for fifteen dollars at Goodwill and installed beside the little two-burner stove from the Railroad Salvage.

A scent of everybody’s cooking permeates the rooms, strongest at suppertime, abating a bit during the night hours, then punctuated by toasty bacon scents and someone’s first cigarette of the day swirling up between the curtain-gaps like marble,  as the sun breaks through.  

Houses usually have more than one life, sometimes all at once, and the stories beneath the roof hold their own mysteries, hidden and secret.   I wish someone could write them all, before it's too late.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


 My first greeting this morning was the bright breakfast-table light shining on this beautiful yellow-and-bronze rose.   And on the computer screen, this picture, which it took my unaccustomed eyes a moment to assimilate, for I'd never seen this cream and sugar before:

It was all set up in the coffee-spot in the kitchen, bright and cheery, ready to wake me with a sunny glow.
The ducky's little left wing is a tiny sugar-spoon through a notch in the lid.    This ought to make for some cheerful coffee-times on Spring mornings.

We just got back from a Cracker Barrel breakfast,  courtesy of DS#1 and DDIL in MS; we completed the fun by stopping out at the little pond to Frisbee all the bits of leftover pancakes to the ducks and geese.   I'd used them all up for the dozen or so big guys, and had got one foot back into the car, when I spotted the tiniest little wake, then a wee sprig of a head, full steam ahead, paddling for all he was worth---one little duckling amidst all the quackery crowd.    He'd somehow got left behind on the far shore when they hit the water full blast, heading for the handout, and he'd worked so hard---I just COULDN'T let him get left out.

I retrieved the unopened packet of Cheez Nabs I'd seen in the handle-cup of the back seat, and scattered smooshed crumbs all around him in the water like a shower of orange confetti.  

Nice morning---we were surrounded by Mothers' Day celebrations, just us quiet two, and enjoyed all the other festivities going on around us.     Caro and Chris and I will have a simple dinner at home or out this evening, and tomorrow night, the whole group is taking me to dinner---I'd better go try to decide where.

Happy Day to Everyone!

Saturday, May 7, 2011


It sounds like such a little, insignificant thing, but this Mothers’ Day holiday has kindled a memory of when we lived way down on the coast of Alabama, a little more than twenty years ago.  Our church had a small “satellite” church out in Montana, which was under our wings, so to speak, in prayer and support.

They were an hour behind us in time zone, so in our Ladies’ Sunday School Class every Sunday, we had a special prayer for them at beginning of class, then had a quiet moment just to reflect and ask a special blessing on them, unsaid, but just a little something which might brighten their day.

For some reason, I always prayed for any woman who perhaps at that moment couldn’t find her child’s shoes.  With that kind of delay and hindrance, she might have been kept from the services that morning, and thus all her family miss the blessing that might have been in store for them.  

I have no idea if that ever happened to be the case, but thinking from the standpoint of a Mom of three who worked six days a week, I knew the struggle it took to get the young ones to Sunday School on time every week.     I understood that just the frustration of so small a thing as a missing shoe, which might put you into a state of mind that even if you find the shoe, get everyone dressed, and get there, on time or not, you might not be as open and receptive to the blessings of the service as you’d hope.

That was so small a thing to think of, but on this weekend of honoring and remembering our Mothers, I pray that no mother is hindered in her great and wonderful task, merely by something so simple as a lost pair of shoes.

Friday, May 6, 2011


Books are somehow way more personal to me than clothes.

  My friend Keetha writes of her reluctance to part with any book, no matter how old, how read or unread---even the ones she had tried repeatedly to read and lost interest or just downright disliked. I find myself echoing her quote above, for I’ve had a lifelong Love Affair with books---all kinds.

 I grab them up and covet them and browse shelves and stacks and tables at stores and sales, charity shops, people’s curbstones of set-out discards. No yard sale goes unscanned as we pass, for the piles and boxes of books yield treasures untold. And VERY few of my own can I ever part with. I’ll share, the borrowers will forget, and only I will have a small pang (or a lingering one---re: the childhood Nancy Drews) for the losing of them. I remember about three titles in all my reading history which I’ve actually walked to the trashcan and hurled them in.

And hurl I did, for only the most disgusting or Pure-D boring bear such treatment, and then, they have to go way over the top on either front, and those certainly did, thus the fling amongst the coffee-grounds and eggshells which buried the offenders and contaminated them beyond reprieve.

I do not believe that the books vs. clothes on the popularity scale is actually CAUSED by my own dislike of shopping---whether occasioned by the stern sales-ladies tsk-tsk sympathy for my Mother’s having been saddled with such a chunky little dumpling to buy garments for, or simply that I don’t care much WHAT I wear, so long as it’s clean and comfortable and modest as well as being reasonably appropriate for the occasion.

But oh, BOOKS!!! I like them---heavy, thin, wordy, spare, old and tattered, filled with margin-notes and highlighting, inscribed, autographed, well-read, or with that enticing smell of fresh pages, untouched before my hands, like a new morning brimming with promise. And so I’m with Keetha---with a small addition or two: Books are somehow way more personal (important, valuable, interesting, vital to my well-being) than clothes.

How do you feel about keeping/tossing/donating/sharing/parting with books? Are there some you’ve actually tossed in the trash?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Since I’m at an unaccustomed loss for words of late, just some random pictures from the past little while:

Aftermath of the Spring Lunch---few moments of Kitchen Felicity are as gratifying as opening the dishwasher after a holiday and seeing clean dishes loaded by someone else:

We'd left the first bundles of asparagus to languish another day in the fridge, and had them the day after, gently steamed and shocked and left to dry a little, then (per Keetha's Recipe) anointed with a little olive oil and sea salt, garnished with halved grape tomatoes and fresh Parmesan, and roasted for a bit in a hot oven:

On Easter Morning, I’d barely got up and got my teeth brushed, before Chris and Caro came downstairs bearing presents, as well as just baked muffins:

Chris sliced some ham:

to go with the just-from-the-oven broccoli/cheese quiche Caro made. 

We poured my coffee, Caro’s iced coffee, and Chris’ pot of Earl Grey, and sat down.

On Friday, the day of the Royal Wedding, I was up by 2:30, and waiting for Caro’s 4 a.m. arrival from work.   The night before, I'd made little Things in Dishes:   Paminna Cheese, Egg and Olive, Cottage Cheese herb dip, crudite and crackers.   She brought in a little wedding cake she’d made---it was so tiny, you have to click to read it:

Yes, those odd things were breakfast for me, and dinner for her, as we watched the wedding festivities.

This past Saturday, I did a lot of house-cleaning and laundry and bed-changing, and then on Sunday, we just Took The Day Off.    Chris had put one of those foil-wrapped, mushroom-soup/Lipton-onion roasts on the grill after he took our burgers off on Saturday night, so about two o’clock Sunday, I got a few rolls out of the freezer and set them to rise, thawed a package of green peas and made a sweet-pickle, boiled-egg, mayo pea salad, cooked a pot of rice for that luscious gravy, and put the roast in the oven to heat as the rolls baked.  

Isn’t it lovely to have wonderful scents permeating the house, as well as a nice cozy dinner, with so little work?

We're casual people most of the time, and on lazy days, we usually just refill whatever big ole glass of tea or soft drink that we've been sipping on all afternoon---plastic seems to have been the order of the day.

Pay no attention to the big silver Frisbee---I'd tried my hand at photographing a rose with some bounced flash at the table, and we left it there all through dinner, like one of those p'tend mirrors in a play makeup kit.