Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Miss Birdie and the Ordinary Family

Why look who’s here! Come right in and git you a cheer. I been studying on that old house you asked me about. Hit was the Kendalls lived there—nice folks all of them, and just as ordinary as can be --. . . all of them, ‘cept Elroy, the youngest boy.

Me and Luther used to visit them now and again of a Sunday evening—Rhodie was some kind of cousin to Luther. I been trying hard to think of anything about them worth tellin—they was just the usual run of folks, ‘cept Elroy.

Elroy? Why everyone knowed about Elroy. Though, come to think on it, it’s been sixty years and more since folks made such a fuss over the whole thing. And all his family is gone now—in the graveyard or moved off. I reckon the talk has died down.

In the beginning Rhodie and her man Artis was big in the Holiness Church—you know, like the one we went to back of this to see Belvy prophesying. Artis and Rhodie both handled them snakes and both was bit several times though it weren’t but copperheads and they come through all right. Rhodie and Artis, I mean.

It weren’t getting bit that made them up and walk outten the church like they did—it was the preacher calling Rhodie out in church for not dressing modest which according to him meant a skirt down to her ankles. Now it was summertime and Rhodie was a good size woman and the heat rash like to killed her when she wore those long sleeves and long skirts, so she had took to short sleeves and skirts halfway betwixt her knees and her ankles. And she had told the preacher why. But then he points at her in church and calls her a backslider and a bad wife and mother and says she was in sore need of prayers.

And at that, all the Kendalls , Artis and Rhodie and the five children stood up and marched out of the church, never to return. Now I wasn’t there, nor was Luther but someone who was said that first one and then another, even Rhodie and the girls, broke wind as they went out the door—from a little high pitched poot from little Elroy to a great old rumbling growler that was Artis’s farewell. They always was a musical family. I believe church broke up right quick that evening.

Them Kendalls  was all of them musicianers—had a family band playing the old time music. Artis on banjo, Rhodie slapping the bass, the two girls fiddling, and the boys playing guitars or mandolins. As time went on, Elroy really shone—he could sing real high and play any instrument you could name. When he went to school in Marshall, the feller that ran the band just latched on to Elroy. That was where the trouble began.

The other young uns never give no trouble whatsoever. Not to say trouble. There was a summer Bill, who was around eight years of age, decided he’d rather be a dog and then maybe he wouldn’t have to go to school. He was bad to run around nekkid but being as they lived off the road, his folks just humored him. “Hit’ll save on laundry,” Rhodie told me one Sunday afternoon as we sat on the porch and watched Billy tree a cat. He was a sight on earth and a good as a picture show.

Did he get over it? Well, in a manner of speaking. Rural Free Delivery had just come in and Billy took to chasing the mailman and offering to bite his leg. The mailman put up with it a time or two till Billy got him a good one and tore his pants leg. So the mailman he told Rhodie (with Billy listening) that the Animal Control would have to be notified and Billy would have to go to the shelter and stay in a little cage for two weeks to make sure he weren’t rabid.

Billy’s eyes got wider and wider and before the mailman finished talking, he was edging toward the porch. And he was through the door and looking for his clothes before the mailman was done. Just your ordinary young un’s antics.

Hit must have run in the family. One of the girls, I think it was Joybelle, took it into her mind that she was a chicken. She didn’t pull her clothes off but she took to setting on little nestes she would make out in the woods. I recollect me and Luther was setting on the porch with Artis and Rhodie one evening, eating on the finest, yellowest pound cake you ever saw. Luther reached and got him another piece, and then pointed to Joybelle who was clucking and scratching around the yard, and he asked Rhodie what she was going to do about Joybelle.

Rhodie she just laughed and said, “I’m just a-going to leave her be. We can use the extry eggs. Get you some more of that cake.”

Law, how I do run on. And I ain’t even got to Elroy yet. Now he was something else—like to broke their hearts at first. But I reckon that story’ll keep for another day.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Waiting for Miss Birdie

Several people suggested Miss Birdie might have a story to go with the old house in yesterday's post. I asked her about it and she allowed as how they were an ordinary, uninteresting family. 

'''cept for Elroy," she said. And I waited. I hope she'll tell me more before tomorrow.

I went down the hill to work on the barn quilt but had to go see Justin and Claui's incredible Stargazer lilies. The sweet-spicy fragrance is amazing.

And I had to check on Dave and NotDave and their chicks,

Dave has three.

NotDave has two.

Here's the barn quilt in progress. The phoenix is awaiting a third coat of yellow and then there will be some red over parts of the yellow. The masked off white hollow square will be a light golden brown. All those coats take a lot of time. Maybe it'll be ready to hang in another week.


Saturday, July 24, 2021

I Don't Do Dahlias


Many years ago I turned down the offer of some dahlia roots on learning they would need to be staked and also should be lifted at the end of the season and stored in the cellar to be replanted the next year. It seemed like an awful lot of work for a flower that, while showy, sometimes reminded me of faded plastic flowers on roadside memorials. And over the years, as I tried (and failed) to establish plantings of delphiniums, calla lilies, poppies, and many others, there was something satisfying about holding to that tenet: I don’t do dahlias. It freed me up to lust after improbabilities like Himalayan blue poppies. (a still  unfulfilled lust.)

I don’t do dahlias. Or makeup.

For a very long time I haven’t done makeup beyond, if I’m going out, a dab of powder on my shiny red nose or an inept pass with an eyebrow pencil over my fading eyebrows. In my late teens and for most of my twenties, I did the whole number: foundation, powder, eyeshadow, mascara, lipstick. It took a long time. But it was the custom of the time and place. Without makeup, I felt naked. “Putting on my face,” I’ve heard women call the makeup routine. Now, were I to try it, I’m pretty sure it would feel as unreal as clown makeup.

I don’t do makeup. Or religion.

I went from Methodist Sunday School unquestioning belief to Episcopalian confirmation classes to study of world religions. Along the way I became increasingly and uncomfortably aware of the harm done by religion/blind faith. Speaking of Christianity alone, start with the Crusades and the Inquisition and go on to the Indian Schools and Magdalene Homes, not to mention the support for slavery in some churches. Uncomfortable but at the same time I came to a realization that I no longer truly believed in any of it. It was freeing.

I’d like to add news and politics to that list of things I don’t do, but I believe that keeping up with this is important for the survival of, well, everything. But I’m sure if I try, I can find more things not to do.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Tomato Galette

This was so good! Here's the recipe:


(Really easy and foolproof)

1 1/4 c. all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 c. plain or Greek yoghurt or sour cream
3-4 tb. cold water

Put flour and salt in a food processor with the butter. Whir till mixture looks like coarse cornmeal. Add sour cream and 3 tb. cold water and process till it makes big clumps. If this isn't happening, add another tb. water. The dough should come together. Turn it out onto a piece plastic wrap or parchment paper, flatten a bit, then wrap tightly and chill a couple hours (or up to 3 days.) 

Tomato Filling

6-8 small tomatoes (I used plum tomatoes because they're less juicy)
1 tb. olive oil
2 tsp. fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
10-15 pitted and chopped Kalamata olives
1 tsp . salt
black pepper

Combine all this and set aside. 

Preheat oven to 400.

Assemble galette

1 egg, beaten
1/4--1/2 c. feta
fresh basil

Remove dough from refrigerator, unwrap, and put on lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Roll into a circle about 15 inches diameter and around 1/8 inch thick. Move dough and paper to cookie sheet. 

Sprinkle with 1/4--1/2 c. crumbled feta, avoiding the 3 inch perimeter. Now pile on the tomato mixture and fold the edges up and over, leaving the center open. Brush the exposed pastry with a beaten egg. Bake about 45 minutes. Cool 15 minutes before slicing. Top with some fresh julienned basil.

This is a Greek version. I intend to try an Italian one using black olives, not Kalamata, and ricotta and Parmesan instead of feta. A bit of pepperoni, maybe?

Or Mexican with some hot peppers and queso fresco. A little cornmeal in the dough might be a thought.

Or Indian, with curry powder and . . .


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Report on First Day of Summer Camp

I'm delighted to report that when I stopped in yesterday afternoon to see Josie and ask how she liked camp, she answered with two thumbs-up. 

She was tired and not very talkative but Claui said she had had a great time.

I know we're all relieved.


Monday, July 19, 2021

Uncle Ethan's Birthday

It was my Uncle Ethan's birthday  and he was here and I made a card for him. I put his name on the envelope but I got the letters a little mixed up. It doesn't matter because he likes puzzles.

There were presents for Ethan but he brought me a late birthday present that Aunt Aileen made for me. It is a beautiful rainbow afghan.

It is very special!

Then we watched Uncle E open his stuff. 

There was a chocolate cake with whipped cream and fruit for Ethan but I made a pretend cake for him and decorated it with animals.

Meema said I needed to tell about the zoo but it was late and I had to get up early the next day to go to camp.  But I will tell you what I liked--the tiger and the red pandas and the stuffies in the giftshop. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Io Triumphe!

Hurrah! After several more determined hours on the phone(s,) talking with two very patient folks and juggling John's phone and my new one, I cry triumph! I can make and receive calls! And use the camera! See above.

But it was a long day and my brain hurts. More tomorrow! 


Friday, July 16, 2021

I Can't Even


Arrgh! I was on the computer or my husband's phone (my phone drowned) all afternoon and my new phone is STILL not activated. Stepping away from electronics before one of us gets hurt. Perhaps things will be better in 24 hours . . .


Thursday, July 15, 2021

Summer Stuff I Do


I am good at it.

Meema's plants need me.

Then I helped Meema make blueberry buckle. I also got to lick the bowl.

We had some.

I tried a big bite . . .it was good!


Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Lost Cove

On the other side of our mountain is a magical spot called Lost Cove, the home of the friends who had a lathe for John. We drove up the narrow winding road to the beautiful fields and wildflowers and the immaculate (and well-protected)  gardens that Pat and Connie have created over the years.

They have worked hard, ridding their land of invasive species and adding native plants wherever possible. One could spend hours walking around and seeing it all.

But we had time only for a brief visit as John was eager to get the lathe loaded and back to the shop before a potential thunderstorm arrived.

That's not a coffin but the cabinet the lathe sits on.

An unlooked for bonus--turning tools inside!

We stopped for a quick look at the old cabin they've turned into a fine guesthouse--a beautiful job of restoration.

Such a magical spot-just over the mountain!