Monday, June 29, 2009

Hello Monday

Good morning to everyone.

On this Monday.

New beginning. New week. New day.

God's grace and mercy gives us clean lives, clean hearts, clean beginnings. Seize the moment. Give it all to Him. Give Him everything.

Revelations 22: 17, 20-21
The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.
(These words in Revelations are what I read this morning and are on my heart. Wanting to post something new on this Monday - it's all that's on my mind right now)

Friday, June 26, 2009


Today is Friday - but it feels like Monday.

Ann, Ellie, Luke, Andrew and I drove to McDonough to visit Laura Beth, Scott and Ada. We left on Monday and returned yesterday.

It was a great visit - glad we did it - bonded the little people a bit closer - but it's universal knowledge that putting 3 preschoolers in the same dwelling for a few days is a recipe for a lot of battles.

Have I mentioned that Laura Beth is expecting "MY 5th Grandchild"? She is miserable with nausea and sleepiness and the 1st trimester lack of interest in food and anything other than sleeping.

Our intention was to visit and give her a break. It probably just made her grateful to have only her and Ada and Scott in the house - after we left - but we had a lot of laughs. The kids were really so hilarious - except for the part when we really wanted to put them in individual cages. It seemed like a lot of slapstick comedy at times.

I woke up in Scottsboro today - we had some repair work done yesterday on our gutter and adjoining boards/whatever - to the tune of a lot of money - but it looks better - and delivered to me yesterday was my birthday gift from my very generous sister.....2 picnic tables from Home Depot. She sent me the money for 1, but hooray!! They were on sale for half the original price - and I had really wanted 2 anyway - so yay! I now have two new very sturdy - very functional - picnic tables. My family is getting bigger and bigger and I do have a large back porch - so there they are.

This day I am rearranging everything to balance it all out.

Also - sad - I have had to "deadhead" most of my beautiful hydrangea bushes/blooms. They were beginning to pale and turn brown around the edges. I think the afternoon heat is speeding the process a bit - because I have 3 hydrangeas with better shade and those blooms are still brilliant.

Now in time I think I will get the second round of blooms, but they won't be here for a while and probably won't have the same gusto as the first round of blooms.

What I have now is a wheelbarrow full of hydrangea blooms which are shades of pale blues and lavendars and the brown edges of petals mixed in - it's beautiful and I really really would like to get a pencil and paper and sketch it. My camera is broken so I can't take a picture and post it. I just love that look of the wheelbarrow filled with those hydrangeas - Sarah is gone for the morning - I wish she could paint that for me - but we need a camera to get several shots of it - before the blooms dry up completely. I'll just have to see what I can do - but for I now I must go blow off the back porch and work on my arrangement of furniture out there....

and water my choking bushes - Isn't it hot? We need an afternoon thunderstorm - don't we?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Swimming Pools

I don't have a clue what it was like to be a kid in Scottsboro in the 50's. I have a bit of an idea because Alabama isn't that different from North to South - but I was in Evergreen, AL.

The pool we had was called Binion's Pool. It had a Sandy bottom and was fed from a natural spring. The sides were made of wood and were at a slant. It had a diving board and a slide(I think) and a concession area with picnic tables, screened in areas, restrooms which were more like outhouses. I don't want to ruin the beauty of this image, thinking about those restrooms. We didn't call them restrooms. I maybe used those once when I was at a school picnic and it was an all day event.

The shallow end began much like the bay water on the coast or any lake would, but in Evergreen, AL I didn't know about swimming in lakes. I knew about swimming in the saltwater bay area, and the gulf and at Binion's pool. I think it was called Binion's Pool because the land and all of it belonged to the Binion family. I can see some of their faces.

To drive to it from Evergreen we had to go down highway 31 south and it seemed like forever to me. Probably wasn't. We'd travel out, maybe the same distance as going to Hollywood from Scottsboro and there was a billboard with a lady swimming - showing all the blue wet water - I think she was doing the "crawl", is that a swimstroke? - she had on a swimcap and goggles. and her mouth was open taking a deep breath as she swam. The picture illustrated all of that wet blue cool water and got me fired up when I saw it. I knew we were about to turn left when I saw that billboard. Otherwise I wouldn't have known because it was just a lot of Alabama farm land - with fences and everything looked the same - all along there would be a long dirt road going somewhere down those fields. If I saw the billboard I knew it was about time to turn down the one road. We'd turn left and drive the length of maybe two large fields - couldn't see it from the highway. One would never have known there was something like Disney World down that long stretch of road - except for the Billboard with the lady swimming.

At the end of the road would open up this 50's style developed area with a sandy bottom pool and a screened in eating area and concession stand. It was always hot - very hot - and a bit prickly in the area where we parked - walking from that to the pool area - but there was a lot of sand - and in my mind's eye it seemed rather white. I don't know if they shipped in Sand or if in that area of Conecuh County there was light colored sand. Surely this wasn't comparable to the Silver Sand on the Gulf Coast - but to me - well, I'm trying to be honest here - my memory recalls a lot of white sand. I was much impressed. I loved it.

Here's the thing - it seems like an expanse of time when we enjoyed Binion's Pool - but I know that when I was in the first grade we did take an end of the year trip to Binions but by my second grade year a new pool had been built in Evergreen. I have a picture of Daddy and me, I'm in diapers - probably 1 year - and Daddy's holding me and we're at Binions. One of Mom holding me too. I also have memories of annoying rides "OUT TO BINIONS" - We were hot - the moms had piled the backseat with us kids - they were in the front having a chat while we all were crowded in the backseat - no car airconditioning - windows down - no seatbelts - unheard of in those days - I can remember a scene.

Mother is driving, my aunt Florence is in the passenger's seat - they are in deep conversation. Mary Ann(my sister), myself, my cousin Rachel, and my cousin Rusty are in the backseat. We're hot, we're ready to be at the pool, and Rachel is standing leaning on the front seat. The other 3 of us are seated on those gray fabric seats of our gray chevrolet. Rachel begins to sing the chorus of a contemporary song which I must look for on my playlist - and she sings it over and over and over and over in a monotone voice until Rusty tells her to quit. I'm thinking, "Thank you." But she didn't quit and he yells it louder and finally tells Florence to tell her to quit. Florence told her to quit, but she didn't and Florence didn't pay attention to that fact and I'm going nuts because she's still singing the chorus. I think Rusty gave up on her quitting, and soon we were at Binions.

Folks - the sibling - annoying thing - the human irritations - they've been going on for centuries. As well as the parent/child/discipline/obedience/rebellion/all of that - for centuries - Nothing is new under the sun.

Let me just say that as I write this - Both Rachel and Rusty now at ages 56 and 60 have told me that they read this blog.

Rachel was a precious little girl - she was probably 4 or 3 at the time - I was probably 5 - Rusty and Mary Ann 7 - we were kids. That says enough, doesn't it? Florence and Mother(Edith) were moms and glad to be in an adult conversation and didn't really care that much what was going on in the back seat. It couldn't have been too bad if the screams didn't get too loud.

We had friends down the street, on Williams Street, named the Smalls. I have memories, too, of riding out to Binions Pool with them. Again - one of us standing up leaning on the front seat. It was Sidney who was the age of Mary Ann.

I am so visual and can see these images. So weird.

What made me write about this is that Ann has taken her children to a friend's pool - and has just called me because I was to come get Andrew after he woke up and she fed him.

I can't write about remembering Binion's pool because I need to go get Andrew out of that hot sun.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pound Cake

For lack of anything else to write about,

I'm going to share this very very very best pound cake recipe.

It is actually Ann's and she got it out of Southern Living - It's a Cream Cheese Pound Cake - so many people have either the same recipe or a similar one - still - have to share this one and it is scrumptious to eat - and imagine the aroma while it is baking.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake
3 sticks real butter, softened
1(8-oz) package cream cheese, softened
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups cake flour(or sifted, then measured, all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan.
In a large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Add sugar and mix well. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and almond extract.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour and salt.
Slowly add flour to butter mixture and beat until well blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 1 hour and 15 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Cool in pan 15 minutes, invert onto wire rack, and cool completely.
That is the yummiest, soul satisfying, oh, and hunger/sweet tooth satisfying pound cake.
Make it for a friend.
An aside - let me tell you about this morning's simple events.
Notice how the font has turned blue. That's because I am about to talk about my hydrangeas. :-)
I was outside with damp around the edges hair, greeting Ellie and Luke and speaking with Sarah also, after Ann had just left for Wal-Mart. And a very nice looking lady in a nice looking car pulled into my drive. A bit older than I, so has my respect, immediately. She was asking about my hydrangeas!!! That thrilled me to death. She's a neighbor way down the street. I've never met her - but she wanted to know how I got them so blue and said that she has been seeing them everytime she passes. That was one of the ultimate compliments for me and made my day - First, that she'd ask about MY hydrangeas - and Second, that someone was comfortable and pleasant enough to just randomly pull in and we had a neighborly chat. She was delightful.
So - nice summer morning event and we stood under the shade of our maple tree - because it's SO HOT already. But I'm not complaining. It's summertime - and all the leaves are green and lush and we've had plenty of rain this summer - I'll take even more, gladly - and the grass needs cutting -
Who doesn't long for a more simple time when our culture moved more slowly and we could all enjoy simple pleasures.
Pound Cake
Quick Spontaneous Visits in the Yard
Cups of Coffee with Friends, Morning or Afternoon
Back Porch Swing in the late afternoon or early morning,
shared with family or friends.
Digging in the Dirt.
Not Spending Money, But Enjoying What I Have
Seeing Flowers in Bloom
Sitting on a small stool and weeding, slowly, a little at a time.
There are so many.
Anyone want to post a comment and tell a few of your favorite simple pleasures?
Oh - and the wild hugs I get from my grandchildren when they first see me - and the smell of Andrew - clean or spitup - either one. and his cute smiling face.
Someone go make that pound cake, right now. :-)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ada Just Left: I'm Thinking about How We Love Our Grandmothers

Okay - Ada and Laura Beth just left.

I helped Laura Beth get her stuff in the car. Ada of course walked out with us while we both carried the majority of the load. She played around while we organized the small amount of luggage and a few other things LB had to take. As Laura Beth went back in to get some clothes still drying - she asked me to please go ahead and buckle Ada in.

I had been observing how LB had to organize all of her traveling gear. Arranging Ada's own stash of books which she could reach from her car seat. Then - organizing her own things to hand Ada AFTER she had tossed the books on the floor of the car. Laura Beth had books to hand her, favored stuffed animals(cow, melmo, doggie, and maybe one other) and even kept the blankie and paapaa next to her until really needed by Ada. There's the juice cup, snack food. - all of that in position for traveling and handing back.

When my children were small - like Ann - my first one and on through Sarah - the laws didn't restrict children to the backseat - so if I was traveling with a small baby by myself, the carseat was up front and I could hand anything over to her. I can't remember much about Kate being up front and I remember more about her being in the back - so I'm wondering if the laws had changed or if by then, Ann was old enough that I used her in the back to hand Kate her toys and books.

Ann and Laura Beth both say they remember travelling with that carseat between them and leaning on it. So I'm guessing I used them both with Kate. Ann was 7 and Laura Beth was
5-1/2 when Kate was born. Sarah was 2 - so someone probably was helping Sarah. I guess Laura Beth probably helped with Sarah. I don't know. I was travelling with 4 girls and it could get very interesting. I made trips to Evergreen in those days. Some with Charlie and some without Charlie.

OKAY - I've chased a rabbit now and have gone down an avenue I didn't intend.

I just meant to say I remember all that organizing required to travel with a baby or toddler.

So - I buckled Ada in and began to read to her and talk to her while we waited for Laura Beth - I guess she didn't realize she was leaving without me - Ada, I mean. She pretty much lost it when I hugged her goodbye - and we thought she'd calm down but it was a major meltdown - of course this grandmother who is called "NEAR", loves being loved by her grandchildren. I LOVE IT - but I don't want her crying like that - I don't want her unhappy - I mean. I suggested this - not out of ego - but to help - "Ada, would you like to find a picture of Near to take with you?" Through big tears she nodded in the affirmative and said "Uh-Huh". So, in we go, LB and myself chuckling at the idea of us trying to find a good picture of me. I was carrying Ada. I knew of a recent stash of pictures - but there just aren't any of me - #1 - I hate pictures of myself these days - awful! #2 - I'm always the one taking the pictures.(not of myself - but of other people) What we did find were pictures, extras, of her cousins, of Charlie, of Ada, too - so she was happy to have her little stack to look at on the trip and she agreed in a rather melancholy way - to get back in the carseat. We really played up the thing about seeing her Daddy and we'd say, "DADDEEEE,WHERE ARE YOU?" LB and I kept saying that - and we'd go ,"YAY - WE'RE GOING TO SEE DADDY!!". She needed one more hug from me and a kiss smack kadab on the mouth and her PaaPaa and Blankie. She was good to go with her stash of pictures as well.

Who doesn't love being LOVED like that?? It's the best thing there is in the whole world - It's different than the parent child love - which is right there parallel with the grandparent love - but it's different - because there is forever this tension in the parent/child relationship - On the one hand - the child desperately needing the parent within reach - on the other hand - the child fighting for independence from the parent. It's all that authority that ultimately comes from Mom and Dad. It's a softer, not so desperate love between grandparents(and in my case I'll just refer to grandmother) - not the fight paired with the clinging - not the tension - I don't know - I've tried to figure it out -

What is it about Grandmothers and Granddaddies and all the names they are called. I never would have imagined that I'd be called NEAR? I have now had countless numbers of conversations with people about how they came to be called what they are called by their grandchildren. And it is usually the eldest grandchild that names the name. Ellie did that and Luke picked it up. I think if Luke hadn't been so close in age - Ellie would have switched to Grandmother. She tried to when she could pronounce it - but Luke was saying Near so often she couldn't make the switch. Now Ada says it and it's a done deal and we all say Near.

How did Ellie come up with Near? Well - at the earliest stage it was more of the N sound. and it evolved into Near. When she could enunciate with help we had her say Grand and it was the N - and we had her say Mother and it was the 'ear. So that's it. N from Grand and ear from Mother.

Right now Ada calls Kate - Cake. She calls Sarah - Sayah. And she calls Charlie - Charchie. It's all so cute.

Ellie started everyone saying Charlie - I was in Albuquerque when she was old enough to learn names and everytime I'd talk with Charlie on the phone she'd hear me say his name. She's been calling him Charlie ever since. Luke began saying Chareee or Charwee. He might can say the L now but not so good. His L's often sound like W's.

So - Grandmothers and Granddaddies.


My maternal grandmother was "Ella".
My paternal grandmother was "Grandmother".

I have very fond memories of visiting my Grandmother and Granddaddy in Troy - but they were very old - at least 78 or even maybe 80 when I was born. That's old for having an infant granddaughter. I was the youngest grandchild in Daddy's family. Daddy was the youngest son and he was 38 when I was born - anyway - I treasure my memories of them - but unfortunately it wasn't the same relationship I had with Ella and Elbert.

As our oldest cousin wrote in a small letter, read at a family reunion - he was addressing the members of the family who had already passed away - and he said, "Ella, you were the grandmother stories are written about".
That is so true - and I'm guessing that more people than less could say that about his or her own grandmother.
It's a unique mystery - families and the bond in those different relationships - it's a gift and a treasure not to be squandered. Grandmothers get tired, too, and selfish and self-centered. But if we play our cards right, those precious grandchildren never suspect it. Ella always made me feel as if I was her only grandchild. I have heard everyone else's account and they tell their tales as if they, too, were the only grandchild. That is a legacy that is rich indeed. I have written this before, but I'll say it again - it's amazing - My mother's grandmother, "Granny", died 2-1/2 years before I was born - but it's as if I knew her and loved her. There have been so many stories - her name used so often through the years since she died - that I almost forget that I never really met her.
Grandmothers - what a privilege to be one.
Mothers - what a privilege to be one.
Whatever we are - Aunt, Sister, Daddy, Granddaddy, Brother, Cousin, Friend - all a gift and a unique role.
But today I'm thinking about Grandmothers and that powerful connection God created.
I'm grateful, very very grateful, to be in that place.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Sprinklers, Screen Doors and Rolling Down a Grassy Hill

As I was leaving the house this morning -

to go to Wal-Mart
then to a local Antique Store/Flea Market
and then to the Southern Family Market where they had a special on Chicken Breasts

I had to turn the sprinklers on my Hydrangeas. I can't stand to see them wilt in the sun. They look like they are choking.

So I took the time to do that...and as I backed out of the driveway and looked at the sprinkler, on my grass and Hydrangeas, I felt a good feeling inside and I thought about that. I love that look - so I want to say that if someone offered me a Sprinkler System for my yard I would say YES, immediately. But I love the aesthetically pleasing look of a sprinkler, attached to a garden hose. It would save us bundles on water bills to have the system - and it would be better for our yard - but my heart is drawn to the look of the other - and to the effort of walking through the yard, doing the work, moving the hose and the sprinkler. It's nostalgic, it's retro, it's vintage. All of those things are soothing and touch my spirit.

For today I have the individual sprinkler - out there - doing the work.

It reminds me of screen doors and window screens. Of course we wouldn't opt for no air conditioning - and the allergy season is awful if the windows are up, letting in pollen. But I miss the raised windows and the screens letting the outside in. I love screen doors and the sound of the hinges and the slam of it.

I used to lay in my twin bed, as a child and teenager, with the windows up - no airconditioning - and listen to the night sounds. That is indeed a symphony. The best. It's great. I miss it.

On the side of our house was a screen porch. That was the main door we used in my younger years, to go in and out of the house. There were 4 concrete steps going up to the door. I flew in and out of that door so many times, I can't count them - and the sound of the slam. And the hinges. I think I would fly over those steps, not even touching them, I would go so fast at times.

And here is something I did on this most recent Friday evening. Steve and Ann had to be gone for about 1-1/2 hours, so Charlie, Sarah, and I were out at the Barber house with Ellie, Luke, and Andrew. We took them all outside because it was still light out - and after the dinner hour. They(Ellie and Luke) had had a good nap but Andrew was needing to be strolled to lull him to sleep.
Ann and Steve have GREAT grass. It's only been there a year - and they maintain it - and it's a carpet. It's beautiful and soft. They also have a great hill in their front yard which slopes down to the house - but it's not too steep - I looked at it and realized, "That is a great hill for rolling oneself down I did at certain homes as a child...our yard was flat". As I strolled Andrew I tried to instruct Ellie and Luke on how to do it. Luke was apprehensive. He felt too vulnerable. Ellie was giving it her best shot - but she wasn't really throwing her full weight into it. I had to do it. I passed the stroller to Charlie and gave a demo. My entire 5'9" frame, arthritis and all and not really skinny body anymore. It was so much fun and the grass felt so good. Only Charlie laughed at me, hysterically and said I looked like a corpse rolling down the hill. That wasn't a very nice thing to say! Sarah had been inside finishing her book and came out. I showed her how to do it and she did it, too. She loved it! She was great at it and went really fast. We had so much fun and Ellie got the hang of it - we did that until Ann and Steve returned. Luke was content to run down the hill and have Charlie catch him and swing him in the air. Andrew slept in the constantly moving stroller.

Those are my nostalgic comments about what I like and what I remember. There are so many summer memories and moments. It's the best...summer.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Wednesday - Midweek

I am in the middle of summer and I love it.

I prefer to stay at my house and in my yard. And be outside. It is as close as I can get to my childhood in the summertime on Williams Avenue in Evergreen. Under all those pecan branches and all those green green green leaves. We don't have pecan trees on our lot, but we have green trees. I enjoy tasks and projects and doing - getting things done - I also enjoy reading and I have been doing that, nonstop. What a great escape - what a great way to travel and go places. Just sit on my porch and get into that story and be in that place.

I've started all over with the Eugenia Price novels. I've read Lighthouse, then New Moon Rising and now Beloved Invader is what I'm reading. Beloved Invader was the first novel of hers I read. It's about St. Simons Island and the people, the real, historical people who lived there. Lighthouse and New Moon Rising are pre Civil War and into it and Beloved Invader is Post Civil War. So - this is the St. Simons Island series and then I'll do the Florida series or the Savannah Series. Her novels connect so many real, old families. She did so much research to put these together - and then talks about which characters are real and the ones she invented. I love it. I have a book which one of her close friends put together. It's titled Eugenia Price's South and is a great reference for all of her novels. It has maps and pictures and facts regarding all the people in her novels. Also talks about the plantations on St. Simons Island, and beautiful homes in Savannah.

Kate and I went to Savannah following her senior year in high school - but I've never been to St. Simons Island. I want to go there.

I have very little to write about today - but just going through the motions of posting so I won't get out of the habit.

I'm rather introspective today and have thoughts on my mind - but don't feel like exposing them here on the blog. Maybe later. I feel a bit antsy to get back outside.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Weekend Review

This is what our Saturday afternoon looked like, following the shower we had attended. We brought Ellie and Luke home with us (the party had been out at the clubhouse, near Ann's house - within walking distance from her house) Luke and Ellie still are unfamiliar enough with the the world's big thrills, that they enjoy playing in the sprinkler at their Grandmother's house.
Those simple pleasures remain enough for them.
Anna Lucy sat on the back porch steps and sketched them as they played. She was an art major and graduated this May of 2009, besides majoring in whatever one studies to get into Dental School - Pre-dental school? Ellie couldn't play for wanting to watch what she was doing.

Luke continues to play and isn't moved by whatever artwork is happening.

Charlie is doing a much needed project. Eliminating this bed which began several years ago and has grown untamed and wild. No order to it and no longer visually pleasing - not at all. We arent' sure how we'll replace it,
but so glad he's getting it done.

Ellie in the sprinkler
Charlie continues to work.
Luke did go over and check on his progress, all along, even though he wasn't drawn to the artist.

And today is Monday - Below is how the cleaned out area looks. We are going to cover it with pine straw until we decide what to do. Perhaps leave it alone for a while.
This is my art studio which I have cleaned thoroughly so that Sarah can use it to prepare for her senior year - as an art major,
Graduating in Fine Arts.

From another angle.

And below are just 2 of my beautiful hydrangeas.
The bushes are not big enough for me yet. I want them very large, so I will again restrain myself and not cut large stems - I'll wait a couple of years before I allow myself that luxury.

All our company went home yesterday morning.
Those of us who live here went to church at Riverside.
Steve is teaching out of Amos.
Very powerful and penetrating to my heart.
Forever wanting to be 500% HIS - looking like Christ - living as if on my face and knees before HIM always. Every speck of this flesh of mine broken so that His Spirit is flowing out of me.
What does anything matter but
His Glory and Holiness and Honor?
Ellie and Luke spent the night last night.
So cute.
They left this morning when Steve picked them up to take them to breakfast. Again - as excited as if he was showing up to take them to Disney World or as if they hadn't seen him in weeks. They only spent one night away.
Luke napped with Steve yesterday
while Ellie played at my house.
They ran down the sidewalk, "DAAADDDDDEEEEEEE!!!"
So it's a Monday - a new day and a new week.
My house needs much tidying up and some spots need cleaning a whole lot.
I want to work outside.
That's this weekend and a new beginning -
which I love new beginnings.