Wednesday, May 28, 2014


R. I. P. Maya Angelou, Beautiful Shining Soul.  
The inspiration and hope which came from that overflowing heart, brilliant mind and cavernous, Delphic voice will resonate and echo.


A Rock.   A River.  A Tree.

. . .

Here, on the pulse of this new day

You may have the grace to look up and out

And into your sister's eyes, and into

Your brother's face, your country

And say simply,

Very simply,

With hope –

Good M

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


A sunny moment as we move onto the cusp of June---two of my favorite “entertainers,” though they could each and both be called Maestro.   Just the recent learning that such a consummate, immensely gifted actor could have such a sweet depth of talent for composing music---it’s like learning that a quiet relative who makes his living carving exquisite furniture also  plays weekends at Carnegie Hall.

I’ve lately become addicted to the sweeping melodies and flowing pastels of Andre Rieu’s orchestral presentations, getting lost in the grace of another time when the music just swept us up into a magical place.   Sometimes I sit here, caught in the notes, as the glow of this screen is the only light in the midnight room, and I’m transported through the lens of my childhood viewmaster, into those fairy tale vistas so bright and vivid and enchanting.  It’s as if Belle and Cinderella and all the Princes Charming took up their shining instruments long learned at the feet of fairy masters, and gathered in the palace for an evening musicale.  

And now to find that my favorite Terrifying Teddy Bear has all these exquisite melodies spilling from his heart and hands---I’m just smiling to think of it.   I smiled all the way through the piece just now, and wanted to share it with you.

Do have a moment with Andre Rieu presenting Sir Anthony Hopkins’ composition AND THE WALTZ GOES ON.   And I dare anyone, even the most regal, staid Mama and Papa Charming, not to sway a bit in that spindly gilt chair.


Wednesday, May 21, 2014


We’re debating taking down the table, putting on the spring covers, adding a floral swag over the door from the kitchen, and since this has been the scene of MANY of our loveliest times for the past year, we’re not really ready to part with this wonderful setting.

These are most of our brunches and dinners up in Caro’s half of the house---some planned, some splash-decided on Saturday night for Sunday brunch, some quick-fired when one or another mumbled sleepily up/down the stairs, “Shall we have brunch?” or "Have you eaten yet?" and both started calling out what we have handy to cook.   Mine was usually “Got the Grits and the Gravy!  I’ll do the asparagus/bacon/slice some ham!”

 And Caro’s---as always, a masterpiece of convivivial conjunctions of food and conversation and what-goes-with-what.   She makes up all her meals for the week on her days off, and keeps her fruit and salad and yogurt handy in the fridge, along with all the Tups of nice dinners.

She put up the table for Thanksgiving, as there were just the three of us, we took it down briefly for our Christmas tea gathering, then we've met often, both planned and impromptu. 

Christmas Morning brunch:

The square dish holds the leftovers from a fabulous Cheese Ball, made by DDIL for our Christmas Eve gathering the night before, and that similar dish in the background is tiny fingerling potatoes from same, rinsed of all their rich  sour-cream-and-butter sauce.   That delectable fruitcake loaf and the dried figs on the plate were a surprise parcel from our dear Lil and Ben.

New Year’s brunch:

Our UnSuperbowl Party (downstairs, this time, as we watched a movie while we munched and just checked back on the game occasionally).   I'd gone through closets and shelves looking for "Team Colors"---Peyton's gone, but never forgotten---and isn't it surprising what you can unearth in the most odd combinations:

Ham, Grits and Gravy Brunch for Chris’ Birthday.

There was a Valentine one in there somewhere, but can’t find the pictures. 

Dr Seuss’ Birthday---she made a Chicken Pot Pie---we DID have green peas and devilled eggs.

 Isn’t that the most perfectly Seussian PYE you’ve ever seen?   And see---over there on the bench---that's The Sneeches and Other Stories, one of our very favorites, often read, more often quoted.    After dinner, I read them The Bippolo Seeds.   We like to read to each other, and we all love Dr. Seuss.  (Sometimes after one of these reading sessions, I unthinkingly speak in it for an hour or two, to much levity and teasing).

Another COLD night she made some scrumptious Asian chicken with peppers and pineapple, some fried rice with bean sprouts, and a bowl of deep, dark soy/sesame mushrooms.   I made the rice---wow.

A March snow called for Chicken and Dumplings, green pea salad and creamed corn, with fresh pineapple for dessert.

A little plate with cheese ball and tomatoes to nibble as the dumplings simmered.

Another cold and stormy night:  Pork roast with glazed pineapple, baked beans, mac and cheese, cranberry sauce and pickled onions.


St. Patrick’s Day Brunch on Sunday:  A lovely pot of Steel-cut Porridge, with Turbinado sugar and honey and a little moat of cream, along with Irish Bread, butter and cheese and some thick bacon.   We "made our moats," consulted our fortunes, and checked out the chocolate coins in the Pot of Gold.

Crispy leftover baked potato nuggets topped with soft-yolked eggs and scrambled eggs.

St. Pat’s dinner:  Corned beef, cabbage, little potatoes, beets, bread, cheese and several mustards.  

Our Easter Lunch was on Monday, with Chris’ wonderful ham, mac and cheese, Asian green beans, devilled eggs, beets, baby carrots, and a snappy salad with mandarins and an orange vinaigrette.

Served in the old Grandma's Kitchen way---from the kitchen counter.

Only two to go, if anyone’s still here.   Pasta night, with Farfalle Bolognese, Linguini Alfredo, and crudite.

Cinco de Mayo:  Chicken Fajitas, Quesadillas, Rice, Pico de Gallo, and Guacamole. 

A fun dessert of stuff to dip in Mexican Chocolate sauce.

And right back around to Mothers’ Day---overtold below, as well. 

I wish you all good gatherings, good talk, good food, good folks to share them with, and I SO wish you could have been here for every one of these.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


ROASIN’ NEARS---fresh-picked corn, from “Roasting Ears,” and what could be better alongside a pot of Black-Eyed Peas, a black skillet of Cornbread, some Home-Grown Tomatoes, and a little slice of Sweet Onion?

This one’s not a saying, but sort of a question:   If emerald green is the NEW COLOR FOR SPRING, why is it the lady in the green satin dress always looks as if she got the bad seat in the limo?


A couple which need no defining:


Not a lick a sense 

I could just hug your neck.

Come gimme some sugar.


TACKY and UGLY---can both be unsightly, disheveled or slipshod or badly-matched or fitted, or just plain ole Pure-D awful, like three plaids in one outfit or a hairbow with a permanent.


And they can both refer to behavior:  Don’t you ever go to a party you’re not invited to---that’s just TACKY.


You give him back his Legos---we’re going home if you’re going to act ugly.


CARRYIN’ ON---a lot like takin’ on, but usually not in as mournful a  way, as in, “Mrs. Pund is too much of a lady to go carryin’ on when they broke her good punchbowl at the shower, but she didn’t ever forget it.”


CARRYIN’ ON could also refer to Harliss MacIntire’s exploits up Highway 61


FULL AS A TICK---have eaten too much


TIGHT AS A TICK---same as above, or could refer to having had too much to drink, OR to being stingy.  Just plain TIGHT is also used for both these conditions.







PUT ON---host or stage.  You can variously put on a party, a wedding, a show, a pageant, a cantata, a concert. 


But when you get somewhat above yourself, Putting on airs and spending entirely beyond your means on any of the above just to make a big show, you’re PUTTIN’ ON THE DAWG, and not fooling anybody.   




One of the very best lines in all Southern usage:


I’d love to buy her for what she’s worth, and sell her for what she thinks she is.


And one which just came out of my mouth the other night, without even thinking---if it ain’t a SOUTHERNISM, it oughta be:

Wouldn’t that just make you mad enough to go out in the yard and shoot Peeps off a stump?


Tuesday, May 13, 2014



Our Dear Caro outdid herself on Sunday, setting out the most splendid brunch I think we’ve ever had---everybody’s “favorite thing” was on the buffet, and it was all perfect.


The tulips were the tiniest of buds when she put them into that old McCormick Aladdin teapot on Saturday night, and by morning in this windows-open house, they were blooming their little hearts out. 



The dishes are our Spring Plates---they had a little sticker that said “Chop Plates” when I picked them up at a roadside flea market years ago, and they’ve served on many a colorful table since.   I’d like to know what they are, if anyone knows---I can’t find anything like them online.



The buffet was served on an old dresser, amongst the usual lamps and candlestands and leftover-flowers-from-last-week, a tiny watering-can of petunias from Sweetpea to Caro, and even a little unnoticed container of birdseed.



We had Eggs Benedict---good hearty Bubba version of the dish, with peppery fried eggs, awaiting the anointment of the Hollandaise and the piercing of those golden yolks to form one of cuisine’s perfect unions.   The sauce was the one thing I did make, the 3-2-1 method that uses three ingredients and takes just a minute in the blender.



My favorite---thick spears of poached asparagus, still firm and bright, and eminently dippable.  Small nuggets of filets mignons, one of Chris’ favorites, as a savory counterpoint to all the rich fare.



A cushion of crispy potato-shreds, done in the wok and flipped left-handed in the air to float perfectly back into place as we all watched amazed.   Golden peppers and onions add their savor as a topping.

An unexpected plate of French Toast, christened "absolutely scrumptious," by Sweetpea---crisp and tender all at once, like a lovely sweet vanilla butter-crust all around a creamy pudding center. 


A cake stand of pastries from her store, by my request---the Pineapple Danish are my favorite.  And that IS a little fridge-dish down there---just because Paminna Cheese.


Sugared Strawberries for the French Toast and that sumptuous lemony sauce---that’s been the Hollandaise Boat since I can remember.   And the St. Andre’ and Roquefort, along with their Marconas and a lovely honey-currant granola, were left for another time.


We had a laughing, talking good time, staying long at table in the Sunday sun, remembering and talking and just savoring the time together.   I so wish you could have all been at that tiny table, up there in the sun, with all the good food and laughing and love.   You’d have been SO welcome.

Sunday, May 11, 2014


My roses are white today, and ever will be, but the cheery pale teapot full of pastel tulips upstairs on the brunch table awaits all of us at noon.    Lovely aromas of onion and peppers frying for the potato dish, the good homey scent of thick bacon, and the toasty notes of English muffins for the Benedict all mingle from Caro’s kitchen upstairs, to say Welcome and Happy Mothers’ Day and I Love You.

 We'll gather in a bit and hold hands and give thanks, for our blessings are great.

Sending love and roses and PRAYERS for each and every one of you, my faraway family and friends.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Been a little busy lately---this Spring weather has had us on the hustle.   Sweetpea’s been here for a few days, and I’ve been ferrying her back and forth to school, which is all the way over in another county.


Quite a few balls up in the air, and though I’m past the “airborne” stage myself, she seems to float along through life, smiling and happy.


Hope your Spring is GREEN and wonderful!

Thursday, May 1, 2014



Sixty years ago tonight, I spent the night with Mr. and Mrs. TUBBS, while Daddy stayed at the hospital with Mother, and we all excitedly awaited YOU.   I still didn’t know how to realize that it was REAL, somehow---that you’d be coming, though we’d talked to you and expected you and called you by name (just the one) for ever so long.


And, since ladies were VERY reserved about such things, even at my age, I hadn’t been let in on much of the progress and process, though I’d heard a lot from other girls and their own Moms’ experiences with babies and labor and stuff.   


 I DO remember two of Mother’s maternity dresses---they were absolutely beautiful, with the little stretchy panels in the top of the skirts hiding beneath the sweep of the discreet tops.   They were made by the same pattern, same material---one in a sort of golden umber, and the other a lovely gunmetal-silvery-gray.   The top of the fabric was a soft, dull version of the color, and the other side had a bit of a gleam to it, like fine satin.   The dull side was used for the garments, and the shiny side on the covered buttons, the cuffs of the short sleeves, and the little strip on the slash-pocket at the hip.

Those clothes were popular!   I can remember that they got passed on to quite a few ladies.  They were absolutely the nicest maternity clothes I’ve ever seen, and every few years, you’d see a nice young woman wearing one of them to church or out around town.     I can also only look at it from my own perspective---the absolutely clear memories of the night, how I spent it, even the dishes Mrs. T. set on that shiny green formica table-with-six-matching-chairs.


It was a Saturday, and school was still going on, and I don’t think I went over there too early in the day, but I WAS home.   I took my stuff in a little vinyl-kind of suitcase, printed with little boomerangs like the counters at Miss Florrie’s Caffay.   It was teal and black and white, and held my shorts and blouse and underthings and my tooth-brush, gown and robe.   And though I had worn the robe only once in my life (the night that Grandpa was laid out in his casket in the living room, and people were coming and going all night, “sitting up”),  I took it with me, because there was a MAN in the house and he wasn’t kin to me.  


I think I was outside when Daddy came out and said they were headed over to the hospital, and I remember going on in after while and getting my bath and putting on fresh clothes to leave in.   Just me at home in the daytime, and we didn’t think anything of it.


Mr. and Mrs. Tubbs and I sat on the porch---me with my book, and each of them reading a section of the afternoon Press Scimitar, while she waited for the timer to ding on the chicken-and-rice casserole.   She had the table set so pretty, with yellow-flowered dishes and the tea glasses had a green-and-yellow painted-on pattern like all the juice sets of the Fifties---remember, with the matching pitcher or juice carafe?   And those crinkly/waffley paper napkins everybody had in the little plastic bookend thingie on the table.  



BUT---MY iced tea spoon was yellow GLASS, and the handle was a STRAW---just the neatest thing I could imagine.   And though I didn’t use sugar in my tea (none of us did), I stirred and sipped and smelled the slice of lemon sitting sidesaddle on that pretty glass.   We had the chicken casserole and also for the only time in my life, I had sat at the kitchen table and shelled English peas while the cook tended to other things.   I saw that scene in movies over and over through the years, but nobody we knew ever sat and shelled stuff five minutes before they were about to sit down.   At least it seemed like five minutes those peas stayed in that little Revere-Ware pot---they were still a pretty green when she served them (though she DID use Mother’s “creamed carrots” recipe and poured a hearty glug of Pet Milk into the peas and shook them around a minute before pouring them into the bowl).
She’d made pretty pear salads with cottage cheese and a cherry on top, on a little separate plate, and the whole thing was so elegant, I just wanted to fix up every meal like that---maybe that’s partly where my Martha-gene kicked in (and which is almost flickered out, though if Sweetpea or Caro get going, we really get into the spirit of it).
It was still way daylight when we finished, and I helped her wash the dishes before we went into the living room to watch TV.   And at ten o’clock, she and I got into  our gowns and robes  and went back to the TV---she with her jar of cold cream, a bath rag,  and a little bowl of ice water.   She sat there with her legs tucked up beside her on her end of the couch and rubbed the cream for a while all over her face, then kept dipping the cloth in the ice water and wringing it out, as she scrubbed off all the cream and makeup.   Along with all her eyebrows and lashes---when I looked over at her, I was startled to see that her face looked so NAKED.   Her brows must have been one hair thick, all across, for they had the appearance of one of those Lothario mustaches in the cartoons---you know the tiny little rim on John Waters’ lip?   When she’d scrubbed off all the daintily-arched pencil, she looked like a slick Goldsmith’s mannequin, and I tried not to stare.   Without her glasses and earrings and lipstick and most of the topography of her face, I hardly knew her.  
The LATE MOVIE was the original Black and White version of   D.O.A. with Edmund  O’Brien, and despite the film noir of it, and the deep, gripping who-dun-it-and-why, I was simply mesmerized.
It must have lasted past midnight, but Mrs. T. was different, somehow, from most family people---it didn’t seem to bother her or hinder her bedtime;  she was still sitting there with whatever came on next, when I’d gone into the spare room to bed.
And all during that visit and the night, I’d suddenly get this little bubble of happy anticipation in my stomach---like the times when I’d been invited to go to the fair next day with someone, and could hardly wait for morning.   Something extremely GOOD was about to happen, and I could hardly sleep for the little thrill-pangs.   I slept, we had breakfast (coffee with cinnamon in it, and that squeezy-bag butter that I always wanted to smush around and mix just once, on the toast).
Daddy came and told me “You’ve got a little SISTER over yonder,” and I went to meet you for the first time.   Mother was still drowsy (ladies stayed 10 days or so in the hospital, or at least went home with a hired “nurse” to look after them) and you were right there by the bed in a little tall metal crib. I walked over and looked in, and I swear you looked right at me---your little golden dandelion floof of hair shining and such a sweet little face.   Oh, if we could imagine at beginnings, how momentous and wonderful the living of a thing is going to be, we’d either flub it up by grabbing at it with both hands and holding it too tight, or we’d be struck dumb by the import and the responsibility and the sheer wonder of it all. 
But I didn’t hesitate a second.   I picked you up and saw those huge brown eyes looking up at me, and you were MINE from then on.