Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Days are here again

My computer is out of the shop! I haven't been ignoring the blog, just out of commission. A holiday miracle! So how have you all been this December?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunday Dresses with Polka Dots

These polka dotted beads make me think of the Sunday dresses of our neighbor Ruby. During the week she wore any old thing working around the house and in the garden, but on Sundays, the fancy dresses and red lipstick came out. Nobody was a bigger part of our life on Trammel Creek than Ruby. She was the only neighbor within shouting distance and had lived there her whole life. She was in her seventies when she taught my boys to ride their tricycles by following them across our yard on her knees. She raised lush gardens every year and always shared the bounty of her tomatoes and okra when mine didn't measure up. It was pretty snakey close to the creek. When Ruby killed a snake with her hoe, she'd bring it down to show my delighted offspring. They'd hang it on a fence post because she told them that was how you make it rain(and it always seemed to rain soon after). She had a spacious house, but lived only in the back portion. The front had a parlour with a functioning player piano and maroon velvet furniture. It was used only at Christmas when her family came to visit.In her small living quarters, she had a recliner,a television, dozens of African violets and her party line telephone.(Party lines meant that you could pick up the receiver and hear your neighbor's conversations since everyone was on the same line. This was very entertaining and somewhat frustrating when you needed to make a call.) All her meals were eaten in front of that t.v.,preferably when Wheel of Fortune was playing. When we came to visit, we'd hear her shouting out the answers as soon as we stepped onto her property. There never was a day that Ruby didn't visit us at least three times. The visits were short and surprising as we never knew when she'd sneak up to the window and bellow, "Heeeeey boys." I've never seen anyone who enjoyed life more than Ruby. Trammel Creek was her whole world and for more than 80 years it was enough.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The importance of Oranges

At Christmastime
Mama kept oranges
In a perfect pyramid
On an old bread dough tray
That had belonged to my grandmother.
On display.

We never dared disturb them
And so they shriveled,
Mama would say (perplexed),
I can't understand why you
Won't eat that fruit.
So pretty.

Now I buy them
In plastic net bags
And pile them in a jumble of
Bowls and dishes and plates.
Every season's offering
In disarray.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Black and White Movies

There's something about black and white movies that makes you concentrate more fully. Maybe color distracts us. Anyway, this is the time of year we pull out some of our all time favorites. For holiday schmaltz we like: It's a Wonderful Life, Christmas in Connecticut,It Happened on 5th Avenue,and The Bishop's Wife.
For witty banter we choose:The Thin Man series or any of the old Tracy and Hepburn comedies.
We're particularly fond of screwball comedies like My Man Godfrey,It Happened one Night,Holiday,Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,Sullivan's Travels and Born Yesterday. A Slight Case of Murder is also fun.
For dance fever we choose the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers collection.
For pure nostalgia we like the Ma and Pa Kettle series and the Tarzan movies with Johnny Weismuller.
For drama it's Double Indemnity,Dark Victory and Mildred Pierce.
For romance it's Bogey and Bacall.
What's the best black and white movie of all time? Hands down it's Ball of Fire. It has everything a good black and white does best : music,dance,laughter,tenderness,gangsters,and romance.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

One Christmas on Trammel Creek

It would be so nice to have a heartwarming Christmas miracle to write about today,but that's rarely how things happened on the creek. Let me set the stage for you.... The mailbox was in Kentucky and the house stood at the foot of a big hill in the middle of nowhere Tennessee. The road between was hotly contested. Neither state felt responsible for scraping the snow so we were often trapped days after everyone else had forgotten it even snowed. It was Christmas Eve.The kids were dressed in red fuzzy pajamas with feet sewn in. They had just left a plate of cookies for Santa (with a carrot for Rudolph) under the tree. Nobody wanted to go to bed.
We heard someone in the yard caterwauling, "I dream of Jeanie with the light broooown hair."
"Is it Santa? Is it Santa?" the boys chorused.
Looking out the window, we saw that it was undoubtedly not Santa. A jolly fellow we'd never seen danced unsteadily across the snow with our big Saint Bernard, Bandit.
We called the Tennessee police. They said it was not their jurisdiction. We called the Kentucky police. They said it was not their jurisdiction.
We called out to the jolly fellow to ask his name. Even in his drunken state, he introduced himself as we all do in the South by telling us not only his name but all the people we might know who were his aunts,uncles and cousins. We called everyone with his last name and finally got a cousin to agree to pick him up. Santa really did come early that night in the form of Cousin Earl.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Lady in the Little Red Minivan

(With apologies to little red hens everywhere)
One Saturday morning in December the lady with the little red minivan said to her family,"Who will help me carry the laundry baskets to the basement?"
"Not I," said the small girl on her tippy toes, "I have to practice my pirouettes."
"Not I,"said the tall boy in front of the computer,"I have made it to level 5 and must defeat the dragon."
"Not I," said the bald man with the remote control, "My team just scored a touchdown!"
"All right," said the lady with the little red minivan,"I'll do it myself!" So she lugged the laundry baskets full of football jerseys and ballerina costumes and sweatshirts with pictures of dragons on the front down to the basement where she spent quite some time watching the clothes go SWISH,SWISH (not to mention fluffing and folding).
At lunchtime the lady with the little red minivan said,"Who will run to the grocery store on the corner for a loaf of bread so that I can make our lunch?"
"Not I," said the small girl twirling in circles,"I have to sew sparkles on my tutu."
"Not I,"said the tall boy,"I just made it to level 8!"
"Not I,"said the bald man,"It's halftime. Here comes the marching band."
"All right,"said the lady as she jumped into her little red minivan,"I'll do it myself!" So she drove to the grocery story and while she was there she remembered that she also needed milk and mustard and many other things.She spent quite some time finding and picking out good things to eat(not to mention choosing the best peanut butter for her family).
That afternoon the lady said,"Who will help me clean my little red minivan?"
"Not I,"said the small girl,"I have to write an essay on what I want to be when I grow up."
"Not I,"said the tall boy,"I have to write a book report and I'd better read a book."
"Not I,"said the bald man,"I have to write a progress report for my boss and I'd better get busy."
"All right,"said the lady,"I'll do it myself!"So she got out all the buckets and hoses and sponges and soap and spent quite some time washing and scrubbing (not to mention vacuuming and waxing).
That evening the lady said to her family,"Who will go to the mall with me to have some pizza and see a movie?"
"I will!"said the small girl.
"I will!"said the tall boy.
"I will!"said the bald man.
"Fat chance!"said the lady as she zoomed away in her shiny red minivan to the mall where she spent quite some time eating pizza and watching George Clooney(not to mention shopping and smiling).


When I first read this poem there were no Red Hat clubs. The first stanza has become one of those ubiquitous refrains found on coffee mugs and coasters now, and the original meaning seems to have been lost. It's not about going out once a month with your besties to have lunch. It's about aging with courage and aplomb. It's about sloughing off the shackles of society that have made you say and do what is acceptable and "letting it all hang out"(yes, I know you haven't heard that since the 60's). Here's the whole poem with apologies to Jenny Joseph, the author:
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandles, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.