Monday, December 28, 2015


Not our WEDDING anniversary---we just celebrated our 29th---but our WAFFLE HOUSE Anniversary of the Christmas Day that we moved from Alabama to Indiana. I’ve told you about our ongoing love affair with Waffle House HERE, from Christmas Day, 1990, when we were on the road to our new life here.  We’ve had countless breakfasts there since, sometimes at midnight, if the whim strikes.

So, this past Saturday, the day-after-Christmas, we braved the sleety day to go and celebrate our TWENTY-FIVE years in this wonderful, adopted place.  

We walked in onto the slippery, slidey tile floors---wet with countless footsteps, and were embraced by that unmistakable aura of good coffee, sizzling bacon, and the welcoming bright waitresses and cooks.  

We were seated beneath the only PINK-painted lamp in the house, with fanciful snowflakes giving our table an unaccustomed rosy glow.

The windows had all been painted from the inside with festive scenes---wreaths and drums and ornaments, reminding me so fondly of a nice boy from my childhood, whose great talent for chalk-drawing was amazing---he’d come into our classrooms after school, painting blackboard after blackboard with scenes of elves and Santa, or Easter bunnies on bright green hills, or hay-shocks and pumpkins.  It seemed so magical to walk in one morning to such happy pictures, like strolling into one of those Easter eggs with the tiny dioramas inside.  

Waffle Houses are always filled with a cheerful energy, with scurryings and lively banter and rushing to get that good hot food out HOT.

Our own server, Brittney (hoping that’s spelled correctly, for she confided that her name tag had broken, and she’d caulked it twice, and was waiting for a new one---a thought that I found absolutely charming and sweet) was swift and cheery and quite interested when we told her it was our “anniversary of Waffle House.”

As she sped and skidded on those continuously-mopped floors, we told her of our tradition, and then, as she went back into the cooking area, we could hear the words “anniversary” several times, including once from the booth just ahead of me, where sat a nice couple having their own breakfast.

Chris ordered his usual waffle, pouring the warm syrup into all the little “hotels”---old family joke---and easy eggs with grits and bacon and that fabulous dark raisin toast, fire-blasted and buttered between and triangled onto a saucer with apple butter.

I veered from my always Western, and had just the hash-browns, choosing four of the toppings, and having to consult the menu for the proper titles:  scattered (shoved around the griddle til delightfully crisp and separate) covered (cheese), smothered (sautéed onions) and topped (lovely rich red chili).

We ate and talked and made a few pictures, just for here, and as the couple next to us left, they congratulated us on our years together, saying that they’d been together thirty years “I used to do his homework,” she confided, “and we’re getting married next year.”   So congratulations all round and many smiles and good feelings.

On one of Brittney’s return trips with that ever-filled pot, she handed us our ticket.  “I told my manager Nate about your anniversary, and he’s paid your bill,” she said.  

What a lovely thing!  We were simply overflowing with thanks, and as we prepared to leave, we asked to meet Nate and thank him.   He came out and stood behind the register as we repeated the story, with all the staff gathered round.   I don’t talk very loud, but I could hear “AWWWW,”   from several places around the room, and as we headed for the door, I waved and said Bye, and it seemed that the whole room chimed in, waving and calling out.

And that’s our Anniversary visit to the Golden Torches--familiar beacons along every highway.  Stop in sometime, and be sure to have the scattered, smothered, covered and topped.

Thursday, December 24, 2015



On this night of wonderful anticipations, of scents of sweet, of savory, of HOME, of wishings and dreams and thoughts of those we love, I wish you all the innocent, sweet hearts of little children, awaiting a Wonder.

We are few in our house tonight, with promises of quite a few more in the days to come, with little celebrations “all along,” as my Mammaw used to say.   She would have LOVED this brood we’ve managed to acquire, with seven children between us, eight GRANDS and eight GREATS.   We are truly blessed.

And so, we SOUTH Pole Clauses wish you the very best of Christmas Nights, with a bright morning dawning.


Monday, December 21, 2015


I’ve had a bit of a sweet spot for the Air Force since I was a child---my Daddy was a mechanic in the Army Air Corps.  

Add to that a heart-smiling swell of Christmas music which grows and grows, to the astonishment and delight of a gathering crowd---JOY.

Friday, December 18, 2015


Lovely days with GRANDS this week---they’ve been here whilst their Mom and Dad see to the new house.  We’ve cooked and played games and cards, we’ve played CLAY and painted and made a magnificent pink paper-chain for the kitchen pass-through, along with a set of exquisite hand-cut snowflakes to dangle therefrom.   The kitchen has stayed busy, as we practically took out stock in the Mssrs. Dannon and Co., as well as every fruit, granola, and peanut-butter enterprise going.

What a nice visit!  We’ve gone to Sweetpea’s piano recital (shortest on living record--chorus only, varying in pace from minuet to gavotte in a mere sixteen bars, and another tiny piece, just learned that morning, in which she managed to find and put on Ganner's hat between bow and resumption of playing, finishing triumphantly with the brim way down over her eyes---the Musketeer flourish at the end was well worth the half-hour drive in the cold).  We went to Steak and Shake for dinner, and all over the place to see Christmas lights displays.   

But the quiet times when we’ve just sat and talked will be an always-memory for me.   A nice game of Go Fish can be as enlightening and rewarding as any College, Conference or Symposium, and for getting to know what your Grandchildren are interested in---can hardly be beat.  Those long stretches between visits leave a whole world of experiences and growing that we’ve lived second-hand, and so this up-close few days have been a wonderful gift.

They’re all upstairs, gathering up their luggage, toys, books, stuffed animals, fresh laundry and load of Christmas goodies, and I’d told them I’d show my blog friends their yesterday’s handiwork.  If Santa missed our house completely this year, if there were not a single ribbon-swirled box in the house---I’ve HAD my Present.

Monday, December 14, 2015


I'd like you to meet Eye Fieri, the latest addition to our household menagerie, come to sit between Keurig and Kettle in amongst all the PINK.   She’s a gift from Caro, and will be supervising kitchen activities if I don’t find her in the dollhouse, a fervent game of beanbag-toss, or Fuzzy-pup’s bed. And I'd imagine she might be privy to and willing to part with a few of the delightful recipes from Mole's or Ratty's kitchen, especially if I divulge Caro's recipe for Candied Cricket. . .

It’s been a busy week, getting ready for our little annual Christmas Tea last night, and getting beds and house ready for three GRANDS, to arrive imminently to stay the week, as their parents and the movers work on getting their new home filled and settled before Christmas.

Snacks and groceries and clay and paper and pens and paint and games laid in, beds all fluffy and fresh, both guest room windows wide open to the wind chimes in this unseasonal breeze, and the dishes from last night’s wonderful party soaking in the sink.   Must get to my little doings, and when I surface from all the hugs and hilarity, moiré non.

I wish you all a wonderful week this Blessed Season, a week of preparation, meditation, dedication, and all the love and grace and light your hearts can hold.

Friday, December 4, 2015


Every now and then, Chris and I will share a cigar---not a big old Cuban or a Mr. Monopoly stogie, but a dainty little plastic-tipped White Owl or Muriel, and always outside the house.   We neither have any tolerance for cigarette smoke, and shrug ourselves through the clouds outside store doors, or passing on the street, and especially the reek on a smoker’s clothes close in a restaurant or movie---it’s just unpleasant to us.

But the crisp fragrance of a tiny cigar, out by the fire-pit on a chilly night, imagining all those after-raking evenings, with the piled leaves lit WAY over in the side of the field and perfuming the Fall air with that unmistakable closing-down-the-year scent---there’s a certain charm in that which we both enjoy, aside from the affectation of the moment.   I smoked cigarettes for several years WAY back when, and after that, a friend and I would share a little two-pack of Muriels on occasion.

And from the remembrance of a beautiful, classy school friend’s fragrance of Chantilly mixed with the hint of her Daddy’s cigar smoke---I always considered that one of the loveliest scents there was, as she rustled through life in silky blouses and taffeta petticoats and dark curls floating to her tiny waist.  The scent of Pall Malls in our house was a paltry substitute for that elegant scent.

Once, when Chris and I had smoked one in the car, we went into the Mall to stroll a few minutes before a movie, and I took a peppermint from a basket on a table display.   The lady at the table asked if we’d like to enter a drawing for a bus trip, and we won a “day-trip” which we chose to redeem with an evening at the Madrigal Feast at IU.   We always gave credit for that magical evening to the Muriel which started it all.

But WAAAAYYY back when, in my first married life, WAY before all my second singlehood, WAY before I met Chris, I occasionally smoked a little cigar, in the days when you COULD smoke one in company or at a party.   So, when my children’s Dad and I went on a big company convention to Washington, I smoked a cigar with Miss Edie Adams.


There was one big dinner event on the trip, in the enormous banquet room of The Sheraton, and the evening’s entertainer was Miss Adams, herself, known to us all from her television appearances and her cigar commercials.   She sang and performed, and later in the show, the stagehands wheeled out a tall lamp-post.   Applause from the audience, for we all recognized the familiar moment coming.   And when she asked if any ladies in the audience enjoyed smoking Muriels, a great cry went up from the several tables where our group sat, with shoutings and pointings, and the spotlight settling on ME.  

I was so flustered and it was such an unexpected thing---I was the youngest person in our whole group, wife of the junior draftsman, and not at all accustomed to taking much part in conversation, let alone a SPOTLIGHT.   And as she smiled and beckoned, and the cheering and applause got louder, two of the men got up and pulled out my chair, with me stumbling my way FAR FAR amongst the tables to the side-steps up to the stage.  And every step, all I could think of was the dress I was wearing---my Mother had made it for me special for that dinner event---a snug white long-sleeved MINI-DRESS, meant for an elegant evening, and not for LOOKING UP AT.  

I made my way across the stage---I remember being sort of blinded by the light following my every step, and holding one side of my skirt caught in my hand tight against the side, so as to maintain as much modesty and dignity as possible.  She welcomed me with a hug, offered me the Muriel, and lit us up as the music started.  She handed me a mike and started to sing, and some weird something happened---just as if she and I had been right there all afternoon in our rehearsal tights and hair rollers, we backed up to the lamp, each lifted a high-heeled foot behind us to the pole, and finished in spoken, breathy unison:   
 Why don’t you pick one up and SMOKE it some time? 

I’ve never before nor since been a part of such a strange, silly  congruence of events as that crazy falling-into-the-moment in such perfect time.   Smoke and bright light and such thunder of applause in that huge, echoing room---I guess that’s how it happens in Show Business, and I reckon I can say I’ve had MY Fifteen Seconds.

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Last night was Sweetpea’s Christmas program at school---the auditorium filled with anticipation and talking and greetings to friends, as all the parents and Grands and small siblings took their seats in that pre-program hum-and-chatter like no other.   The lights flickered, and the children filed in and up onto those risers all across the stage in outfits to befit such a splendid occasion.

I can just see the send-home page now:   WEAR RED, WHITE OR GREEN, and those were represented in every scheme from solids to stripes to shirt-and-pants to dresses as sparkly as tinsel, and costumes straight off the Elsa/Anna wall at Party City.   Small girls on the front row felt the grandeur of their whirly-skirts as a couple of them spun and spun their little sequined selves before the music began---somehow the whirlers ALWAYS seem to get those front-row spots, whether the lineup is by height or need to slip out to the mike stand, and never fail to fulfill roles of such importance.  One little brunette in Sloane-fringed vest, skirt and boots continued an evening-long shimmy-shake which would have won her a Ten-from-Len in a Charleston contest. 

The jollity began with jinglings and clappings and bells and sleigh-rides, moved on into Snowmen on the Lawn, ran the gamut of Fa-la-las and Merry Measures, with none of the usual Wenceslas gravitas, and rounded out with a rousing twist version of Jingle Bell rock, with one lively little guy, front and center in a James Brown suit and spiked hair, just one beat off the rest, doing his own fabulous dance-and-spin worthy of an off-the-strip Vegas Revue.   Wow, what a program!

We applauded and whistled, and did that gather-up and rise so familiar at the end of small-town programs, blinking into the new light, scuffling for purses and dropped gloves, and making our way out into the lobby, where Sweetpea ran up to us, full of the joy of the night, and was encircled in a great poufy-coat group hug by us all.   We came out of our happy huddle beaming and pepped, and by gosh, we coulda slapped hands and gone for First Down and ten---flappy capes, Mammaw’s walker and all.

Our Girl always likes for us to “dress” for the program, so we got lots of smiles and stares from the little ones, with Chris in his Santa hat and beard, and me in my red cape and little gold glasses.   We smile a lot, too. 

It was sparkly-clear through the windshield on the drive over, with all the reds and greens and whites and yellows of traffic lights and tail-lights shining like a great path of colour laid down just for us, and when we came back out, after less than an hour, Oh, My!!   We were greeted by a swirling snowstorm like great wet cornflakes blowing past all the bright lights of the parking lot like a trip in Ten-Forward.  It was absolutely magical, like being in our own private snow globe which never needs a shake.   I put up my hood and we walked hand in hand WAY back to the car, like a stroll on a Summer’s day, just looking our eyes full of the wonder and the beautiful of it all.

It lasted almost all the way home, not sticking to the road, and was completely clear again when we got out of the car.  It was like a big special effect, just for us two, arranged as the Grand Finale to such a splendid evening.  If not for the program, we’d have not seen those few magical moments, nor experienced that stupendous marvel going on out there.  Don’t you just love how things just conflue sometimes, to make magic?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


. . . and what artists and savants.

I don’t customarily go linking up to things that I stumble upon just browsing, but sometimes . . .

It’s simply paper, a vision, and a pair of magically-gifted hands.

Consider my mind blown---out the window and drifting far away, over about Ohio, with the last of the Autumn leaves.