Tuesday, May 29, 2012


On this thundery, cloudy morning---a little whimsy, a lot of BRIGHT.

This is a magical little vignette of family and home and children, and I think you'll smile a lot when little Stella takes the stage.


Monday, May 28, 2012


In this day of remembrance, we salute those whose  sacrifices have helped to provide the liberty, safety and bright futures of the generations to come.

Friday, May 25, 2012


The New Preacher’s wife dropped in on Miss Dovie Caldwell and her married daughter one afternoon---one of several visits she made around the town a day or two a week.  Miss Dovie was in her accustomed place on the corner of the couch, with her crochet hook in hand and her feet up on the footstool.   A glass of tea was offered and accepted, arriving in a pretty frosted glass with one of Grammaw’s long silver tea-spoons and a little plate with a slice of Devil’s Food cake. 

Preacher’s Wife sampled, admired and completed her required manners by asking for the recipe.    On hearing that there were THREE kinds of chocolate betwixt the cake and the icing, she gasped at the luxury. 

Miss Dovie smiled as she cast on eight stitches, and looked up as she began:

In my whole life, I don't think I’ve known but two people who didn’t like chocolate. One was a bit strange in her ways, anyhow, and the other came by it honestly as anybody ever could.

That one was my Mama---Miss Birdie Mae Pritchett, she was, and  my Daddy was Vonn Pardee, from over at Expedia.  She was fifteen and Daddy was nineteen when they ran away and got hitched---Ole Granpaw just forbid them to see each other until she was sixteen, and it finally got the best of them. So, when all the younguns got all dressed up in sheets and charcoal-smudge whiskers and Granpaw’s oldest clothes on that warm Halloween night, they dressed up, too.

She’d been a-wearin’ clothes under her clothes for several days, sneaking them out into the barn and hiding a couple of outfits and her best dress and shoes in a pillowcase under some old stuff stored out there.

On Halloween, she put on a long checkedy skirt and one of her Daddy’s shirts over a dress, crammed her stockin’s and her Bible in her purse, and then “went walking” with the rest of the young people of the community. This was back in that time when the kids ‘ud soap your windows or tip over your outhouse, and one time two of those Williams boys got mad at Sonny Pollan for making eyes at one of ‘em’s girl, and they opened up the front door of the Pollan house and turned two pigs and a turkey in on his Mama’s good Sears Roebuck rug.

Mama met Daddy waiting down the road and they set out on his horse to Expedia, where they had been going to church, and knew the preacher.   So they were married the next day, staying with his kinfolks for a while, then coming home to a very cold reception from her family, though the Pardees were really well thought of hereabouts.

One of his married brothers had just finished building a new little house for himself and his own bride, and they asked the newlyweds if they’d like to stay with them for a bit until things cooled off some.    And they did, with nothing but his steady job at the sawmill and the clothes she had carried from home.  Apparently they lived on there for quite a little time, for the main part of the story occurred on over in the hot Summer out there a good little ways out in the country.

Mama and Aint Nettie Frances got along fairly well, as long as the chores around the house and yard and milking-barn were divided about 70/30, Mama said, in favor of Aint Nettie Frances, and she was gettin’ more and more pleased with the arrangement.  Aint Nettie Frances allowed it was HER house, and she since was giving them “house room,” they could just do their share.   Mama had to bite her tongue many a day, for fear she’d say something that would cause her sister-in-law to toss them right out into the road.   

Mama did most of the cooking, all of the kitchen work, a lot of the animal-tending and the milking, whilst her sister-in-law quilted and tatted and made herself clothes all the Winter through.

Then, in the Spring, the menfolks plowed up a garden plot, and Mama planted and hoed it, then canned everything that wasn’t needed for the three-meals-a-day for the four of them.    It got hotter and hotter, and the canning seemed to stretch on farther than that distant Delta tree-line.

She’d start the day way before daylight, getting the men’s breakfast on table and their lunch pails packed, then made her way out to the bean rows or pea-patch or cornfield as soon as she got that morning’s milk into jugs in the springhouse.  That Delta sun beat down on her back as she squatted in the middles, and sweated her scalp fierce under the big-brim bonnet that kept the sun off her face.    She’d pick as much as she could calculate she could shell or shuck and can in that day’s time, and take it up to the porch, getting it into dishpans and setting out the old bushel for the hulls or the shucks as the chickens came running over to wait for something to fall through a crack.

Aint Nettie Frances “slept as late as she could,” ja know, to avoid as much of the morning heat as possible in the shady bedroom.   She didn’t like hot food on a Summer morning, so she usually had some berries or peaches on clabber with the coffee left in the pot, or she’d open a big jar of Mama’s just-canned sweet pickled peaches, and eat them right off a fork with the sticky juice drippin’ on the table.  

She also had a “morning bath,” though there was but the one in a day.   And in Summer, she pumped the water straight out of the red pump on the kitchen counter, sluicing it off into the big old #3 tub from the back porch.   She did love a cool bath, and great fluffs of body-powder, with more settling onto counter and table and the pine floor than onto herself.  You could mark the time of day by the big shining ring of unpowdered floor, until somebody swept it out the back door in a cloud  across the yard.

Unca Jrome and Aint Nettie Frances would go to town almost every Saturday afternoon from the farm, getting the week’s staples such as coffee and sugar and tea, and some sody crackers and vi-eenies and all,  and Aint Nettie Frances would look through the Butterick book and feel the quality of fabric for a new dress and maybe price some of those pearly buttons.  They’d spend the time visiting up and down the streets with friends and storekeepers, always stopping at the drugstore, where they’d have a cold Cherry Phospate, sitting on those high fountain-stools and crunching that real cracked ice til the last sliver was gone.

Mama wasn’t hardly ever invited on these trips, and Daddy was usually up at Grammaw and Grampaw’s doing their little chores, so she’d stay home on the place, week after week. And every Saturday, she’d pray so hard for them to just get gone for a little while---just a breather from the work and the constant company, so she could wash her hair and dry it in the sunshine of the yard, and sit in the swing in the shade a bit without a pan of peas in her lap.

The noon dinner dishes were done, the floor swept, the shoes polished for church in the morning, and a bit of rest was in sight, she hoped.

Unca Jrome  would pull the buggy up to the yard, while Aint Nettie Frances would check her hat in the mirror, then she’d walk out onto the porch.  Mama would watch her go, relief almost overtaking the fervent prayer that she’d just GO, and then it would come:

And EVERY BLESS-ED Saturday, Aint Nettie Frances would stop on the porch and turn, or she’d get all the way up the step into the buggy, settle onto the seat, turn to Mama, tuck her head and look up from under her eyebrows like a little kid you caught at something, and say, "Chock-littt CAAAAAAKE, Birrrrdie,” in the most irritatin’ voice in this world.    She’d blink her eyelashes real fast like one a them vampy women in the pictures, with that smirky smile that knew Mama couldn’t refuse, since they were so beholden to her and her husband for a place to live til they could get on their feet.

And so, Mama would stomp into the kitchen, get out the bowls and the spoons and the sugar and the Hershey’s can, throw some more wood into that already-sweltering woodstove, and start mixing batter and icing. Some days, she'd bang things around some---stove-lids and sifters, or yell out what she’d REALLY wanted to say to Aint Nettie Frances.   And once in a while, she’d just fling the whole shootin’ match out into the back yard, and then have to go all the way out there and pick up those cake pans and spoons from where she’d flung ‘em.

But she made that cake, every blessed Saturday that they lived there. She worked in that stifling kitchen every week, baking the layers and cooling and frosting, heating the whole house past bearing in that Summer sun, doing her part to help with their upkeep.

One Sunday morning, everything came to a burnin’ bush, as they say, when Grammaw Pardee overheard Aint Nettie Frances say something real mean about Mama and Daddy as she walked out of church with her two gossip-friends, about how beholden they were to her for the roof over their heads, and if she didn’t just work her hands to the bone with four people in the house, she didn’t know what.

Grammaw didn’t let on, but just went on home and got Sunday dinner on table for her and Grampaw.   She cleaned up the kitchen, took off her apron and put her hat back on and her purse on her arm.   By then Grampaw was dozing in the porch shade, and didn’t hear her go down the porch steps and way across the yard with her big black umbrella she called her “parasol” shading her from the sun.

She walked down the lane to the road, turned in at the New House, and went over to where Aint Nettie Frances was sitting in the swing with a magazine and her tea glass from dinner.   Grammaw could see Mama through the windows, straight through into the kitchen, where she was clearing off the table whilst the dishwater heated in the kittle. 

Grammaw just real slow eased down her umbrella and snapped the little cord around it whilst Aint Nettie Frances just sat there, swingin' real lazy with one foot.  Then her Mother-in-Law raised her voice for the first time either one of those two young women could remember. 

“Nettie Frances Pardee,  don’t you NEVER NEVER NEVER use the word “Beholden” to anybody again.   Not EVER, you hear me?

“I’ve seen that girl out at the washpot, Winter and Summer, washin’ everbody’s clothes and all them overalls and your own underwear, and you a-sittin’ in a sunny winder sewin’ lace on your drawers.   She’s out on the porch ironin’ ever Tuesdy of this world, and you out here in the swang in the shade, as big as you please, with your embrawdry hoop and a glass a tea!

“She ‘n’ Vonn put in a WHOLE lot more than they take, I’ll tell you THAT.  With him puttin’ in more’n half of his earnin’s for groceries and lights, and her doin’ all the cookin’ and washin’  up too? 

“All that for one spare room and the privilege of bein’ your housekeeper and cook?   Not one of us has seen you hit a lick at a snake since they moved in here. 

“I’ll tell you WHAT, young lady---they not goan be here forever.   They goan have therr own place, and she’ll keep it nice, and keep her family happy and be the good woman she is, and not look down on NOBODY, you hear?

“You just see how long YOU last in this new house you’re so proud of.   You’ll be cryin’ to me about your hands are rough and you just cain’t stand all that stoopin’ to pick the greens and you’ll both be eatin’ burnt pone like when you were first married.

“If I ever hear the word ‘beholden’ come outa your mouth again, or hear that you even said it, I’ll snatch you bald-headed, grown and married or not.”

And then Grammaw Pardee undid the big ole black umbrella, and walked off down the road toward home.  

But you know, I still don’t think I EVER saw my Mama take a bite of chocolate.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I enjoyed seeing everybody's Derby Day, which  brought a great air of festivity to the entire week, and though we’ve never participated save having catered some few parties in the past (I trust it did not tarnish my G.R.I.T.S. Girl card that I had to look up the recipe for punchbowls full of juleps) I love reading and hearing about all the celebrations---especially the menus.

The air was scented with whole gardens of mint, and the great bright flocks of unbelievable chapeaux parading out into the Spring air were the opposite of fascinators, though they held a fascination of their own.   Tiny wisps of Seussian whimsy balanced on foreheads gave way to the bushel-hats of ladies walking like book-on-the-head modeling lessons, for MORE is certainly MORE on Derby day.

Even those architectural marvels are unable to eclipse the silver trays of little sandwiches, biscuits and ham, cheese straws,  beautiful desserts garnished with even more of the mint, and of course, Derby Pie.

The one thing I did not see in this year’s displays of lovely dainties is that familiar red ring of tomato aspic (known only as ASPIC, for recipes for any other kind are few in the South).  Mayhap its run has come and gone, all those recipes in Grandma’s cursive-on-cards faded and the measurements too vague, or perhaps the great advent of yard sales has swept away all the vintage Good  Housekeepings and McCalls into neat stacks for coffee-table legs, the pages tight and the pictures wan.   Aspic does always seem magaziney to me, for I think that’s where it was born.    I especially love the sidesaddle arrangement of plain old saltines hobnobbing with the elegant stuffed tomatoes and devilled eggs above.

 And except for the beauty of the thing, shining a ruby shine on its nest of lettuce leaves, I haven’t missed it.

The flavor and texture of aspic do not make it one of my favorite delicacies, though in past years, it graced every luncheon which preceded bridge afternoons, Home Demonstration Club and myriad showers.    And for decades, many, many kitchens featured a shining copper ring mold as part of the wall décor.  The stuff was cut into neat slices, quivering onto the lettuce with a little shudder before the anointment with a rich eggy homemade mayo. I HAVE an Aspic Server, for Heaven's Sake, as well as the little mayo bowl with its teeninecy glass ladle.  Can you imagine?

 But THEN there was the time that Mrs. Chandler wanted individual little molds for five tables---twenty chatty, smoking, lunch-devouring women, mostly with their own cooks (and old family recipes).  I could just feel their sharp watch and anticipation of one slip or drippage.

And I never had, until that day, had any misfortune with serving aspic (and wouldn’t have had THAT day, except Miz Porter had two too many rickeys and caught one of those headlight diamonds in her ring in the Battenburg luncheon cloth, yanking two plates out of place and nine pieces of silverware off onto the floor). 

Sousa himself and all his cymbals had not the resounding CLANGALANGS as when that sterling hit the hardwood, stopping all the ladies in mid-gossip.

But ON those plates were the ready-to-sit-down-to little pillows of aspic, with their topknots of homemade mayonnaise and the sidesaddle tender yellow celery brush lying languidly against the Limoge.   And we all witnessed a miracle of physics/gravity/ angels that day.  Both plates flipped, one almost falling into the ample lap of Mrs. C. herself, while the other turned a lovely half-gainer in the air, to land neatly on the cushion of aspic in an unoccupied chair, with nary a bruise nor breakage to the heirloom china.

Laughter and applause rang out before the spoons stopped clattering, and I had my plenty-minded mother to thank that there were extras in the kitchen.   I’d been afraid that some of them might not “turn out,” and had made an extra four.

Then the ladies tasted, and marveled again; they did that little tp-tp-tp with their lips, tried another bite, and could not quite put their fingers on the flavor.   I’d made the aspic a new way---with Worcestershire, Tabasco, celery salt, and tomato juice that had been simmered with lemon zest, onion and bell pepper.   That was strained, the Knox added, then cooled a bit before a sizeable glug of Smirnoff was stirred in. 

The ladies were avidly spooning up solid Bloody Marys.   

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I’ve collected a few more snippets from my journals---little sayings and quotes I found interesting or poignant or funny, and these small jottings hold reams and pages:

Rule #1: Wear red shoes. Or red lipstick. Or red underwear. Red is Ordinary's Kryptonite.
Kelle Hampton

Absence is to love as wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it enkindles the great.       deBussy-Rabutin

On family discord: 

Does this china shop really need a bull?   Carolyn Hax

You don't look back along time but down through it, like water. Sometimes this comes to the surface, sometimes that, sometimes nothing. Margaret Atwood

The daisy amongst the magnificent chrysanthemums told the tale, like a parvenu which had strayed by mistake into noble company.   Edgar Wallace

What is home?   The speaking fire inside each thing, woven of dust and yearning.

Li-young Lee

"A "no" uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a "yes" merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble."
Mahatma Ghandi

Chris, on why we don’t have bumperstickers:

Either you’re preachin’ to the choir, or you’re drawin’ fire---either way, why bother?

Sometimes the issue isn’t whether you’re right, it’s whether there’s any value in being right.   Dear Abby   Feb 2012

From an Amazon book review of THE MARRIAGE PLOT:

  . . . for me, reading it was like sitting between two members of the literary intelligentsia at a dinner party, as they try to one-up each other with the depth and breadth of their vast knowledge. I was simultaneously bored, lost and annoyed.    

…..”Don’t flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person, the more necessary do tact and courtesy become.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

Mammaw’s neighbor, Miz Blackwood:   If I wanna do it, it’s my PEROGADY.   (I hoped for several years for a perogady of my own, along with a dresser skirt and curly hair).

Sometimes you have to jump off a bridge and grow wings on the way down.

Danielle Steele   Full Circle

Every rock and bump and detour in the road puts one more muscle in my moral constitution.    Barney Fife

Thursday, May 17, 2012


I've come to the startling and sad realization that a lot of my Angels have become cobwebby and dusty from disuse, and so I'm setting out into this lovely
sunny cool day, to do some dusting off and sprucing up and polishing---in every sense.

Maybe even a good douse-and-scrub with the hose is in order---couldn't hurt.

I think we all let our angels sit on the shelf too much, getting musty when they could be out seeing to things we can't see to ourselves.   We just muddle through things and let things slide, forgetting about our angels or walking past them without recognition.    

When we miss the moments, the chances, the great glorious explosion of sunrise or the little spots of BRIGHT, they retreat into might-have-been, and what if, hoping for Next Time.

Angels don't pout or resent or stomp off in a huff, and they welcome us with joy each time we return,  jumping right in with the same enthusiasm and grace every time.

And if you're like me, most days we need every one we've got.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


You come across the most magnificent things, just browsing with a quiet cup in the morning.

I cannot tell you the BEAUTIFUL of this, and I hope you'll go take a look.   My mouth is still in a little 0 of surprise. 

The wing-spread photo is like a magnificent silken tapestry made thousands of years ago,  or a great royal lion robe of state.    And this has been hidden from all of us all our lives.

I fed one grapes from my palm once, and never knew.   Do go see---Miss Patsy finds the most wonderful things.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Mothers’ Day was a wonderful day---I awoke to an early phone call from the MO group, with lots of speaker-phone chattering back and forth between the two of us and the five of them, with all sorts of adventures and picnics and school doings and family times related.

They’re our GA bunch, moved SIX HOURS CLOSER now, and we’re excited to know that there will be lots more visits and meet-halfways and this Summer, the girls are coming for a week EACH---so we’ll have some one-on-one time for the first time with Kit.

Then the lovely flowers and meeting all the ones who live here in town after church, for lunch at “The Jello Store,”---one of our favorite places.   We got a table back in a corner, out of traffic and the crowd, and had a splendiferous time, with a good Sunday Dinner and lots of conversation and sharing around tastes of desserts.

Sweetpea finished first, and started to sing to us as we continued our leisurely meal---she’d hung on to her church bulletin, and held it up like a choir book, softly singing away to Cinderella songs and Chipmunk songs and Sunday School songs, as she “read” every word.   After our first caution, she sang very softly, and did her dancing way in the back, so as not to disturb other families.

Caro slipped the “Flip” recorder out of her purse, and captured some of the music and the dancing.   She sang to her Mama an endless song for Mothers’ Day---with “I love you” in almost every line (still reading from bulletin), with many pirouettes and turns, and gentle golf-claps of applause from us.

“Sing the Weather song,” I requested, for I’ve hoped to capture her voice singing that one for a long time, before it changes from the soft syllables of  little-hood.

She consulted her broadsheet.   “It’s not ON here,” she replied.  

“Look, way down at the bottom.  There it is,” I said, and she sang away,  eyes on the bottom line all the way through the song.

There was just one more that I’d wanted to record before she changes the mis-wording to the correct one---so I requested that one as well.

Ditto, it’s not on this book.    Her Mama handed her a Splenda packet, and she perked right up, launching right into “Sing, Sweet LIGHT-in-Gale,” from her new cue card.  I'd heard of singers who were so good they could "sing the phone book" and everyone would listen.   But CONDIMENTS?

After lunch, we went book-store-ing and came home to our new reading and naps, until time for order-in Chinese dinner and the finale of Survivor.   We finished up the day with calls from the CA contingent, several time zones behind us.  

Splenda Day.    And you?

Monday, May 14, 2012


If a picture is worth a thousand words, and Y'all know how I am about a flowery phrase, then these must be Flowery CHAPTERS:

 I woke to this lovely arrangement yesterday morning---a pitcher of white roses, a sweet, chosen-just-for-me card, and some of my favorite Lindor Darks.

From us to Sweetpea's Mama---she knows how grateful we are for her every day. 

The old Hedge Rose out beside the wall. 

A cluster of the flowers, small as verbena blooms.

A pink "Pinie" from out along the fence.

One of her sassier cousins on the bush on down the way.

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday!!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


Sweetpea and I made her Mama a vase of flowers for Mothers' Day---a whimsical, Seussian little bouquet, just right for small hands to create, Mamas to 'preciate.

We began with glad hearts, good intentions, and a tangle of stuff from the craft box.   This girl has almost as many Tupperwares fulla stuff on the toy shelves as I do in the fridge.

We twisted, stood back and admired, gave a tweak here and there (not to mention some vain attempts to staple the noses on the flowers---one of those endeavours much better in the idea than the doing, like what Caro calls "like trying to stand up a jellyfish").  Good thing Sweetpea has a good eye for the Elmer's.

She also made a card---turning down the proffered pink for RED---Mommy LIKES red, and sticking on  haphazard stickers from several books, the card out of the leftover PAAS box, (but Mommy LIKES Easter Eggs) and one of the ones they stick on her shirt every time she goes to Kroger.

And if you enlarge the picture, you see she's also fond of sunshine, hence the TWO bright orbs over the bouquet on the card.

She also arranged every single flower in that vase.   I think this Summer, in addition to swimming lessons, I just might sign us up for an ikebana class. 

And a HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY to everyone!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


We've had a busy morning outside---a few limbs trimmed and dragged to the back fence, some of the Winter-long litter of plastics and glass and ice melter and a handful of rain-slumped sidewalk chalk making pastel Rorschachs in the tub---all bagged and into the bin, and big clumps of soggy-leaf debris and who-knows-what-mixed-in scraped from beneath tables and carts and the patio rug.     We closed all the gates and chased and kicked her soccer ball til we were breathless, and ready for a cold drink and some lunch.

After our cleanup and a quick Sloppy Joe each, I walked to the shelf of young-folks' DVDs and gently removed a movie we'd never watched, for I had been concerned that the mere countenances and hulking sizes of the characters might be disturbing to Sweetpea.    I slit the smooth, unmarred cellophane sleeve, sat next to her on the ottoman, showed her the cover pictures.   I explained briefly and gently,
"This is a movie you've never seen, and although there are big creatures which look a little bit scary, with funny teeth and big eyes, they are kind and helpful and really, really care about children."  

This movie was a sweet little rendering of six of the books, with In the Night Kitchen and Chicken Soup,  almost as if the pages were being turned and the story read.

The action was stop and go a bit, making it more like a bedtime reading with your favorite Grandpa assuming all the voices of the characters and either turning pages too fast or not quite fast enough for your anticipation.    And there were lots of songs---I've been humming CHICK-en SOUP and Rice for the past twenty-something hours.    I  think that big sweeping Pixar rendition can wait a bit. 

   I'd really forgotten that we had the movie, for it had been put up "for later" and it languished there for perhaps two years. 
Until today. 

  Today we lost dear, kind, smart Maurice Sendak, whose various characters and illustrations have peopled the bedtime stories and gift books and learning-to-read and movie experiences of little ones for six decades.    His little stories encourage a child's own story-making---the stepping out, the trying, the transporting to another realm of exotic  plants and unusual animals and adventures.    Think of something and draw a line around it, and it's real.    Imaginations are gently and enthusiastically nurtured---no flight of fancy is too fanciful, and if you put your mind to it, you can fly yourself.

R. I. P. sweet Maurice---your legacy will live on forever in the imaginations of children.

Monday, May 7, 2012

. . . SIX BITS

Fuzzy Pup’s getting a haircut.   It’s gone on in three installments, beginning Saturday afternoon, and involving a pair of horse clippers (with no depth/length guide like the good WAHLs we’ve had for several years, and which provided a neat high-and-tight like from a military barbershop):

I’d had no idea we’d been harboring a walking equivalent of about a moo-hillion dandelions in the house, for the flying wisps of gold and white fluff were were lifting off into the wind from back door to garden gate, and settling on plants, cars, furniture, gazing balls and people in between. The whole back yard took on the floaty forest atmosphere of LEGEND---didn't you wonder how Tom Cruise could BREATHE for all that floof in the air?    From here to the arbor looked like early frost, until the rain set in again.

And in between clippings, there was a tub-bath, with good shampoo and rinsings and towelings and fla-fla-fla-flaaaap shakings and those dashing runs free in the breeze with a delight in his step occasioned only by a good bath and haircut. He gets so overjoyed he tries to meet himself coming back.

There was also a really raggedy, unfortunate look to the little fellow, like he’d just partially molted, and embarrassment had halted the process halfway through, with great clumps and valleys, and his whole belly the naked, shiny pink of baby pigs.

And even Caro took one look and asked, “Did you BLINDFOLD Chris before he went OUT THERE?”

So now he and Sweetpea and a resigned little dog are at it again, with flying floofs and big shorn spots, and his back like tan corduroy from the clipper-tracks.   Poor little guy.

Perhaps that’s what prompted Sweetpea to come running in just now, asking, “Where’s his COSTUME?” 

Me washing dishes:  “Whose costume?”---thinking innocently of Sock-Monkey, who wore a pair of Sweetpea’s tee-ninecy pants from babyhood and a little Pooh shirt to the soccer game and brunch on Saturday.

“FUZZY’S costume,” (in a tone of gentle regret for my backwardness)---“the PENGUIN ONE!”

Now, we haven’t had ANYTHING penguin in this house since that stuffed Opus that was gnawed to bits by another visiting GrandDog many years ago, so I had no idea where she got that---but I referred her back outside to Ganner.  Maybe she thought he'd get chilly, shorn to the skin and all.

And I’ll bet there’s enough fuzz on the patio table to knit another dog.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Guipure lace   internet photo
A recent letter to Miss Manners asked what in the world was a bride-elect, as the writer had never heard such usage before.   Indeed, those of us raised on small-town weekly papers knew exactly what was meant---we girls, especially, read that paper cover-to-cover every week, skipping only the farm stuff and dry announcements and ads from the inside-back page.  The little happenings of the entire county, rich and poor, were printed right there every week---from the Pund’s anniversary dinner at the Catfish Shack to The Caviness Girl’s wedding, which featured twelve attendants, flowers flown in from Holland, seafood trucked up from Gollott’s, and the biggest tent set up in the county since Jimmy Swaggart preached that time.

  Our Friday Leader was rife with brides-elect and grooms-elect, right up to the morning of the wedding, when the young lady was offically The Bride.  Showers and teas and little gatherings featured the fancy-hyphenated term, with glossy descriptions of the honoree’s attire and corsage and the menu of each event.

Even the little weekly columns of uneventful events were scattered with Mesdames and Mssrs. who motored here and there to their engagements and appointments.  In fact, the word “appointments” was almost as popular in the social pages as the recipes at the end of each column---the word mostly used to mean somewhere you were supposed to be---a meeting or doctor’s visit or a talk with your Insurance Man. 

   And table appointments---those were delineated in great detail, down to the lace of the cloth, the silver epergne, and the kinds of dainty sandwiches and individual iced cakes served on doilied-up borrowed platters.

Guipure Lace was featured occasionally in a wedding story, and was murmured for days after, just for the beauty of the words---often by ladies married decades, and whose own claim to bridal lace might have consisted of a small inset across the bosom of a new slip from Sears.  Even they---especially they---mumbled the word as though tasting a sumptuous, sweet bite of rare fruit.

Alencon lace   internet photo

 Most brides chose Alencon, and Allenconn was the ne plus unh-hunh of garnish on a veil, with brides and their mothers flaunting the word about in every conversation, including under the dryer, for months before the actual event.   One Aunt-Of-The-Bride who “wrote up” a lot of the local important gatherings (as opposed to the usual town reporter, who called everybody in her area during the week to glean the comings and goings and had-over-for-suppers of the folks in her own specific area) became so enamored of the word that she went a bit overboard.

When she looked it up in her set of 1964 World Book (with an update  volume added to the end of the row every year, smelling of fresh ink and slick pages), she immediately homed in on the little squiggle at the bottom of the “C.”  Finding that it was pronounced like the “c” in fah-sahd, she had a momentary pang of embarrassment at her error, then settled the pronunciation into her vocabulary, using it with firm conviction thereafter, though a lot of ladies still remained blithely ignorant of her élan.

But before she took those double-spaced, elaborately worded pages to the paper for Friday’s edition, she went through the whole thing again and carefully added the little diacritical hook, even making a special trip up to Breedlove’s Office Supply and Printing for a new typewriter ribbon the exact shade of the ink in her roller-ball pen.  Of course, the wedding write-up in the County Leader came out with the same plain old lettering it always used, but Aunt knew what she knew, and the ladies at the paper KNEW she knew, so that was worth the trip.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Do go and peek in at Lady Katherine's Birthday Tea---she and her husband have been working for a couple of years restoring a wonderful old store-space down in her town in Mississippi, and its daily life is as a lively and popular cafe' now.

But when she invites her dearest friends in for Afternoon Tea---well, let's say that those Southern girls sure know how to give a gracious, welcoming, beautiful party.