Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MY WICHITA LINEMAN

And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.


Possibly the greatest words in any love song, ever.
A love ballad in fifteen words. 
Sung by a tall, good-looking, supremely talented, Southern boy.


I have spent a few tears today. My first troubadour has died. Glen Campbell's music was the first music I wanted to own. He was also the subject of my very first blog post (August 11, 2013).

I was born and raised in Texas but my family was from Southwest Arkansas. We'd never been to Delight or Billstown but I remember my father always being interested in anything Glen Campbell did. Arkansas Boy making it good.

My Daddy loved to sing and we would travel with the car radio playing the latest hits, singing "Where's the Playground Suzie", "Galveston", "By the Time I Get To Phoenix." I was too young to recognize the leavings and longings of popular music.

When I was about ten, I wanted a Glen Campbell album for Christmas. A couple of days before Christmas, I found a wrapped album with my name on it, under the tree. I remember having to live with anticipation of what I knew had to be a Glen Campbell Album.

Tearing the paper that Christmas morning revealed an illustrated vinyl record of Walt Disney's Peter Pan. I was crushed and panged with guilt, trying to hide my feelings and say thank you for a gift I didn't want. I remember thinking my parents still thought of me as a little girl. But at night, I was lying in bed, listening to my transistor play "Wichita Lineman."  

 The double platinum album of the same name won the 1968 Grammy for Best Engineered Record, Non Classical and topped charts in Country Western, Pop and Adult Contemporary.  Written by Jimmy Webb, ("Up, Up and Away," "Galveston," "MacArthur Park" to name a few), Wichita Lineman is ranked 195/500 on The Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Songs of all Time. Of course. It should be higher ranked but it is only two below "Freebird." Or Freebird should be two below the Lineman. 

Please, Power and Light, give this man a vacation. He can't work because everything reminds him of his beloved. Jimmy Webb doesn't even mention the word love. He doesn't have to. Needing and wanting. All that anyone really wants. Which came first? Need, want, love. This is a commitment for all time. This is open and honest.


And I need you more than want you, and I want you for all time.

I love this song. It never fails to pull at me. I love Glen Campbell. He was my Wichita Lineman. No one is shocked today but we are sad. Life is better celebrated than mourned.

 Peter Pan resides in a flea market somewhere.  About five years ago, my parents gave me a birthday present they said I would like.  At the first rip of the paper, I could see Glen Campbell's smiling face.   
We will always want him.







Monday, August 7, 2017

HANGING ON BY THE DOT

Bone on bone. Two words you never want to hear.  But we did, a year ago today. Instead of a fun birthday celebration for Burt, we sat eating at our favorite meat and three, mulling over the situation. It would require a lengthy recovery - six months to a year. Frankly, it was a lot to take in. But we had been taking it all in for almost twenty years.

I had just bought a used piano from a friend - $100. I learned to play the piano in 3rd grade. Since getting married, my dream was to have one in our home. Fifteen years later, I finally got my wish.

Only one day. I cleaned and polished. With the piano in the house, I felt like I had gotten back a piece of me. I knew the classics and scads of scales, Dan Fogelberg and Stairway to Heaven. The piano was my voice, a barometer of my day. I turned to the piano in joy, in sorrow.

Being Father's Day weekend, I fixed Burt a favorite meal of hamburgers and onion rings.The onion rings were delicious. We three ate onion rings until we could pop. I didn't make them very often. Onion rings are not that hard to prepare (I see a new post in my future) but there is a big mess of grease, dried flour and egg. Afterwards, I wanted to run in and play the piano for a minute, until I could clean up. And I'm also never one to jump at work when there is something more fun to do.

I was on the phone with Val, playing hymns and singing happily. I wanted her to hear my new piano. She said she would never forget what she heard. There was a big scream, commotion and then Burt got on the line and said he had to call the ambulance.

I will never forget the sound in my head. The piano bench broke on my ankle. I had never broken a bone. When the firemen arrived they said they had to wait for the paramedics. The medics arrived and said "Yes, it looks like..." They secured my leg, lifted me up on the gurney and put me in the back of the ambulance. It was 6 o'clock in the afternoon but not a single neighbor came out to see why a firetruck and an ambulance had raced down our street. Cate got to ride shotgun without the sirens. Burt followed in the car.

That one minute changed our lives, as "one minute you are fine..." . The life changing in an instant resides on slippery slopes and floors, inside of cars or four inches of looking away for just a minute. An inadequate amount of life changing is the lucky Publishers' Clearing House, "Mama, there is this boy", I got the job; sometimes, it seems that way.

Surgery with pins, a six week recovery in a hot pink cast and family and friends filling in the pieces. Many years of normalcy. But slowly, the bones gave into progressively worsening arthritis.  Twenty years of later - debilitating movement, range of motion with stiffening and swelling.  Now we were considering a major surgery we hoped would cure the situation for another 10-15 years.  Measuring my steps in my head had become second nature to me.  I was afraid of falling. My strength was nil. Knowing how far I could push myself which wasn't very far. I was becoming so crippled to the point, I watched commercials noticing how people walked and ran.

I was only going to check out the situation. Words like no weight for three months, two weeks in a cast, elevate, walker, wheelchair, cane, no driving.  P.T. The unknown. The complications. Basically, a total disruption for months which would rehabilitate me but meant never ending work for my family. Because I would need almost total help. I signed on the dotted line.

***

937,000 acres of farmland glistening gold as seen overhead in the flyby, a tourist of another kind. Do you take the picture in the moment of?  The tragedy is spread out before me but on the ground, eye level is watching water rise hoping the levee will hold, the bags are packed full and high.  Men stand looking at the disappearance of a road as a car lot inches into brown. A home surrounded by the gold, no drive or road to anywhere. After a few inches, what is the difference. The gold ebbs away from a piece of road, the slope of a yard but stretches into the culvert. High. Low. Gilded fields with an occasional green burst. My birds eye view. I can see the water poured out in days of rain across the plain, but there a house is stretching high where I can see just fields away, gold. I spy a red dot, a bulls' eye on a patch of green. An outbuilding steps away from the house still holding fast, a green rick rack pressing a border. To high ground. Red dot. Not enough to go around. Fool's Gold puddles into mud, down streams sixty-four million dollars.  

***

Standing next to her, I was a giant. She was a grown woman, the size of an eleven year old girl. She was holding a blouse. I nodded to let her step in front of me. I had several items to purchase. She never acknowledged my offer, which she took. In the South, this would be a double thank you. The woman looked across the store to a man waiting. There was no color in her clothing or face. There was no second of wasted energy in her movement. Her hands were the only life in her body. At first, I turned toward my daughter and raised my eyebrows for the "quick" purchase I had so graciously acquiesced to.

The longer we stood at the counter, I realized her pain. Past or present, a slippery slope had changed her. Her frame was so slight as if she had relinquished what made up her life.  She was in the grip. There is no pain without fear. With no comfort zone, she balanced as if on the top of a pinhead, the circumference of one wound tightly. Standing, barely a dot of existence.

***

Five fingers feverishly reaching out. Just the hem, the tip of the fringe. A fleeting chance in the dust of the road. Everything was gone; the money, the physicians, the hope, the joy, twelve years. The hemorrhaging was getting worse. Did she want twelve more years, living a life unclean, without ceasing?

He was surrounded by a large, unrelenting crowd. People shouting to get his attention. People bumping into him to tell them their stories. The disciples did their best to protect him.

If I can just touch the fringe, just the brush of it on the tip of my finger. That's all it will take.

Jesus stopped and turned around. The crowd still moved around him. He saw the woman, still leaning over. She looked up, realizing she had been noticed. Jesus said, "Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well." I know. I know the minutes of your day. I see you physically breaking down, overcome by a flood of depression. I know the anxiety of your never ending condition.

In one instant, the woman was healed.

The last hope in frailty, flood, fear. Faith to let go - of the dotted line, a red dot, the dot of a pinhead - and touch the fringe of the hem of the cloak worn by Jesus.  











Wednesday, August 2, 2017

VACATION RECESS: Double First Cousins, Southern Comfort and Just Desserts

Summer in the South usually means at least one family reunion with first, second and third cousins, and sometimes double first cousins.  Double first cousins are not cousins marrying cousins, but the offspring of sisters who married brothers.  You cannot be raised in the South and not know who your people are.  You will be asked more than once, when meeting new folks, if you are related to the Judge with your last name, but you say no, because his people didn’t come from middle Tennessee in the 1870s.  Even my Yankee (anyone whose sun sets north of the Mason-Dixon Line) friends admit we tend to keep up better with family.

The origins of these reunions are often found in birthday celebrations.  Grandpa may still be rocking on the front porch but Grandma seems to get the parties.  In family pictures, Grandma is usually a severe-looking, bun wearing, snuff-toting, Bible thumping woman who has spent her better days looking out for everyone but herself.  After tending fields, making clothes, plucking chickens, nursing babies, and stirring pots; without any modern conveniences like warmed baby wipes, satellite TV, fast food fries, e-mail, or hormones in a bottle; well, you get the picture, the old lady finally gets well deserved recognition. 

Grandma’s birthday becomes a holiday when the oldest passel of kids wants to sing her praises for raising twelve surviving children.  And a good reason to party at the old home place in the country.  My two family reunions are the result of Grandmas’ birthdays in July and August.  The reunions started over seventy years ago.  My reunion memories started with big kisses from Grannie and “The Aunts”, sitting in the shade, wearing cool cotton dresses, hosiery and sturdy black shoes and sensible summer hats.  Today, the great aunts sit comfortably in the air-conditioning in their polyester pants and tennis shoes.    
***
The July reunion is on my father’s side.  There is a four-generation picture with me as a baby, sitting on my great-grandma’s lap.  She was very old.  Fifteen years ago, the last of her twelve surviving children died.  This reunion has evolved from the old home place, a city park, the air-conditioned community center, another outdoor venue due to unforeseen circumstances and a weekend reunion at a nice-sized country hotel with a pool and a big dining room complete with a kitchen for all the cooks to gather around.  For the past few years, we are now meeting about an hour south in another state, where most of the cousins now live.  We get together Friday night and have lunch at Saturday noon.  Everyone wears a nametag, which is very helpful, as you only see these people once a year unless someone dies or has a long hospitalization. Facebook has been great to help keep cousins connected. I’ll never forget driving three hours down to the family cemetery on a cold, foggy January day and turning up on the gravel road at the church to see a huge hosts of my Daddy’s cousins already standing on the road beside his grave. Most of them had travelled over three hours. That is family. 

Our fun would begin when we got to Mamaw's and Papaw’s house on Friday night.  My sister and I would run to the kitchen to see what sweets Mamaw had fixed for her baby, our Daddy.  On a sugar high, we would jump into the rollaway bed on the sleeping porch, lying right under the window unit.  The casement windows around the tiny room were adequate for a breeze but no match for a humid, summer night in South Arkansas.  Being a city girl, I loved the artificially chilled air.  On Saturday morning, the smell of bacon would wake us up.  Bacon, eggs, toast, oatmeal, juice, milk, coffee, peach preserves and sorghum.  Papaw set the breakfast table every night before retiring.     

 Sunday came early as all the cooks crowded their hips into Mamaw’s kitchen to pack up all the food and head for the community center.  The old home place is now a grazing field and not family-owned but we did have a “singing” on the property a few years back.  Spread out on tables in the air-conditioned, fly-free room are, at the very least, garden fresh tomatoes, fried okra, buttered corn, purple hull peas, squash casserole, sliced purple onions, bacon seasoned green beans, dressing, macaroni, cucumber salad and a couple of jello salads. 
 Stuffed bell peppers are lined up next to pot roasts and briskets.  Homemade fried chicken and store bought fried catfish.   A dessert table laden with caramel pie, banana pudding with meringue, jam cake, chocolate cake, peach cobbler.  Milk jugs labeled sweet and unsweet.   More than enough to feed one hundred people.  A look around the room reveals we eat what we cook because it is truly Southern comfort.  After seconds and thirds, family matters.  Births, weddings, graduations, and a moment of silence for those not with us this year.  This side of my family is more weepy but there is a lump in your throat when they say your loved one’s name.  Then we pass the hat, or plate, nowadays.  By the time you drive off, your first button is undone and you fight the tide of sugar calling you to slumber.
*** 
The Labor Day Sunday reunion is on my mother’s side.  For almost every Labor Day weekend of my life, I headed to Grandmama and Pa’s.  We would have a little family reunion on Saturday and depart on Sunday morning for the drive to see our extended family.  Ten people would fill up two cars.  I always wanted the car without my parents.  My sister and I would be dressed in our new back-to-school dresses and shoes, whatever the temperature.  If you rode with my queasy cousin, you might get a bottle coke when we stopped to get her one.  Coca-Cola is good for what ails you.

 Family still owned the farm, complete with a red barn, whispering to city children to come see the charms of the country, and the smells.  In our brand new finery, we would climb halfway up the hayloft ladder and jump into a huge pile of hay. Miraculously, no one was ever hurt.  When we were sticky, dusty and hot, the bottomless ice drink coolers offered every kind of cold coke.  In the South, Coke, not Pop, is universal for any sweet carbonated drink like Dr. Pepper, 7-Up, NuGrape, IBC Root Beer, and certainly, Coca-Cola.  Every reunion we counted up how many drinks we guzzled.  These were the days when children drank milk and water all week long and a Coke was something special.

 This reunion was still held outdoors.  The only respite was when you were standing inside, in line to use the bathroom which had been added to the back bedroom of the original home place.  The bed would be piled with purses while ladies checked their lipstick in the bureau mirror.  The men used the hall bath.  Drinking eight cokes sent me in and out of the house.  At noon, everyone gathered around another food-laden table made of sawhorses and planks.  This dinner had the addition of exotic meats.  During the prayer, everyone closed their eyes so they wouldn’t see the flies having a field day on the disrobed food.  Several ladies could not fan every square inch of food.

My Pa was always in charge of this reunion.  He spent many, many hours in genealogy studies, long before online services.  He would’ve loved having a computer and the information highway at his fingertips. His mother was born just weeks after the family jostled all of their earthly goods over hill and dale, arriving in the new state to settle on fresh land.  My sister now lives hundreds of miles away, in the same town our people started out from. In a way, she has found a new dream in this faraway land, completing the circle.


Signed,

 A lady holding a plate of southern comfort and another plate piled with just desserts      

p.s. Grab the dessert plate first and be sure and get a taste of my Pina Colada Cheesecake, it’s a special request

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

VACATION RECESS: Summer Necessity Right Now

Perfect iced tea even in the morning or in the middle of the night when you get up and go in the kitchen for a glass of milk.  Being a good judge of all things Southern (the good parts), I say a person who drinks iced tea in the middle of the night has a Southern gene in their body.  Another indication would be the drinking of a glass first thing in the morning.  Right off the bat, let me say, this is not about how many cups of sugar are in the brew.

(Picture courtesy of AT)

 My parents always made good iced tea.  I would ask them how and they would say "this, this, and this."  But I had a hard time duplicating.  At family reunions, there are always cleaned out milk jugs marked "sweet" and "unsweet."  Beverage companies are jumping on the iced tea bandwagon after someone figured out bottled tap water would sell.  There is only one brand I like/only purchased in an iced tea emergency and I'm not telling.  Like everything else, homemade is better.    Good grief.  I'd been married for almost thirty years and I was still looking for the holy grail of ice tea perfection.

I am a good cook.  I just decided I was going to practice and come up with the perfect recipe for iced tea. Sometimes the most common and easiest of things allude us. Doesn't everybody in the South know how to make iced tea?  Somehow I missed out on that lesson.  I can tell you how to fix Chicken Fried Steak, Flatsy Patsy (cobbler), Cornbread, and Purple Hull Peas. (Just to name a few.)  And I can say "Bless Her Heart" while smiling and not move my lips.

Here is the recipe I came up with.  A fridge magnet holds up my recipe (with Clark Gable's pic and "Frankly, my dear" spelled out).  I try not to curse but I did yell a big cuss word after I fell down the steps the other day.  I apologized to my painters.  After all, I am a new Sunday School teacher, not a perfect person.


Amy's Perfect Iced Tea    Guarantea'd

   FILL a four cup teapot with cold water
   PUT on stove and boil water
   REMOVE from heat
   ADD 4 individual-sized tea bags*** (I prefer the tried and true brand name)
   COVER with the teapot lid (little tags hanging out)
   STEEP for 8 minutes (to soak, to cover or plunge in liquid, to saturate) I set a timer.
   WHILE the tea is steeping
   PREPARE a 2 quart plastic jug (I prefer plastic because glass can shatter.)
   ADD 4 cups of ice to the jug
   (Sister has lived in the Deep South and likes to drink Iced Tea Syrup.  I prefer very little sweet or just straight.)
    IF I add something sweet:  2 tablespoons of sugar  OR 1 good squeeze of honey
    BUZZER goes off
    POUR hot brewed tea over ice in the jug.  Stir with spoon if sweet has been added.
    FILL large glass with ice and pour in ICED TEA.  Add lemon or lime slice to taste.
    POUR fresh iced tea from the plastic pitcher into crystal pitcher (for show).
    SIP, GUZZLE and ENJOY!

***I now make DECAF/CAFF tea.  Instead of 4 teabags,  ADD 1 FAMILY-SIZED DECAF bag and 2 INDIVIDUAL tea bags.  Everything else stays the same.

Anyone, North, South, East, or West, can consistently enjoy delicious iced-tea, with this process and the measurements.

For Iced Tea emergency, contact Amy's Iced Tea Hotline where good tea is guarantea'd.





Monday, July 24, 2017

VACATION RECESS: #SIZZLE - PERFECT CORNBREAD - NO STICK GUARANTEE

Butter melting on a slice of Perfect Cornbread

As I was sitting down to eat my breakfast slice of cornbread, I realized that I did things backwards in regard to my last post, Pea Salad for a True Southern  Repast  (7-20-17).  I should have posted this post, Sizzle Perfect Cornbread - No Stick Guarantee , before I did the Pea Salad.  I hope my mix up did not cause culinary distress.  Afterall, wonderful cornbread is the cornerstone of any good Southern meal and the Pea Salad classic delicacy.

Any good Southern cook worth her weight in Crisco can stir up a fitting pan of cornbread, worthy of all the purple hull peas, fried okra, butter beans, sliced tomatoes, fried eggplant, cooked squash and new potatoes that might have the honor of residing on the same plate with this crispy delicacy.  But there are new cooks rattling the pots and pans every day.  This recipe is for the new cook of any region seeking an authentic quick bread to serve with soup, beans or meat and three.  Or maybe the experienced cook who can't get the cornbread to pop out of the skillet without sticking.  If it starts out in a packet or a little blue box, it is only an imitator hoping to achieve greatness.

I have mentioned Perfect Cornbread previously, Pea Salad for a True Southern Repast 9-1-13.  The original recipe came from a cookbook that looks like a checkerboard tablecloth which was a wedding present of my Mother's.  This is the only recipe I ever use.  I don't mess with perfection.  I learned the secret to good cornbread at my Mamaw's knee.  It's all about the sizzle, two sizzles to be exact.

1 cup of flour                                              
1/4 cup of sugar                                 
1 tsp salt                                            
4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup of shortening
1 cup yellow cornmeal                      
2 eggs
1 cup of milk



Yes, this recipe does have sugar in it.  Now I am a die-hard Southern cook, except in this case, but a little bit of sugar only sweetens the pie and will get you lots of compliments.  Infact, I have never made it without.

Add 1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
to a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Prepare 1/4 cup shortening.
Add shortening to a cold cast iron skillet.
Put your cast iron skillet on the stove over a good heat, a bit more than medium.

While the shortening is melting in the skillet,
Add 1 cup cornmeal to the dry ingredients and mix well.

Add two eggs and 1 cup of milk to the dry mixture, mixing everything together very well.

Watch your shortening. ( I never walk away from the stove when heating any oil.)
When the shortening is hot pour the hot grease from the skillet into the wet mixture.  You should hear a sizzle (1).  The picture to the right is just after pouring the hot grease into the mix.

Put the skillet back on the stove and add a good dollop of shortening.  This will melt while you are stirring the hot shortening into the wet cornbread mixture. When the second round of shortening is melted, pour the wet cornbread mix into the skillet while is is still on the stove.  You should hear a sizzle (2).

Using a mitt, put the skillet of cornbread into the oven at 425 for 20 minutes.  It will be done but you might want to check it while it is cooking and turn down the oven (5-10 degrees) if too brown on top.  Using a mitt, remove the skillet from the oven.  Turn the skillet of cornbread topside down onto a cutting board or heavy plate.  Put the skillet aside.  With the backside of cornbread facing up, place a plate over the backside.  The cornbread will be between two plates.  Flip the plates so that the top of the cornbread is on top.  Remove the plate.  It is harder to read about it than to do.  You can play with that.  If you have done all of this correctly or even mostly correct, it will jump out of the skillet for you!  Enjoy!

Now that you can make Perfect Cornbread you can move to Lesson 2, Perfect Cornbread Dressing (Perfect Cornbread Dressing Site is currently under reconstruction.)

Perfect Cornbread hot from the oven!

The backside of Perfect Cornbread



For even more background on Cornbread, check out my post,                                          
The Nascar Cornmeal Conspiracy 11-11-13


                                                                           







Thursday, July 20, 2017

VACATION RECESS: Pea Salad for a True Southern Repast


Welcome to Wonderful


Southern Summer Homecooking


In our home, this scrumptious looking plate of goodness is referred to as a veggie dinner.  We come from a long line of summer vegetarians.  When the fresh summer vegetables are so plentiful and delectable why bother with meat?  Obviously, not totally meatless with the addition of a little piece or two of leftover ham in the green beans.  Both of my grandfathers had successful vegetable patches.  What I wouldn't give right now for one of their good tomatoes.


In the summertime, I can hardly remember my mother cooking anything besides vegetables.  I remember going to the Farmer's Market sheds downtown and coming home toting bags of goodies.  Summer wasn't summer without purple thumbs.  Or the pop of snapped green beans falling softly into the pot.  Or the pfft of corn juice bursting from the cob and  across your face.  Sadly, I was practically an adult before I fell in love with tomatoes.  I remember the plates of tomatoes I passed around the dinner table without having the good sense to fork a couple onto my plate.  My aunt would eat a tomato like an apple! 

This is not the column about my cornbread (which is perfect).  (Perfect Cornbread Post 11-23-13) That will come later when we delve into the proper method of making Cornbread dressing, close to Thanksgiving.  But you will need a mighty fine cornbread to go with this recipe.  For a little history, I will tell you that I made my first batch of cornbread one summer day when my mother had taken to her sick bed.  (This is a rarity for my mother who is the original inspiration for the Energizer Bunny.)  She had veggies cooked for lunch.  In his new job, my father was able to come home for lunch, rain or shine, which was a nice break from the stress of retail management. 

She told me to go make the cornbread for his lunch.  At this point in my shaky culinary career, I don't know if I had even baked a cake mix.  She told me the "Red and White Checkered Book" and the title.  Those were my instructions.  I know you are thinking this is a lot of info on cornbread, how could there be more if this isn't THE column, but I am the Cornbread Diva and my vast knowledge can't be contained here.  This is supposed to be about Pea Salad.

I don't know if Pea Salad is a family invention but I do know I have yet to sit down at another table serving purple hull peas and see this accoutrement. But I forgot about the purple hull peas!

I know I have eaten Black-eyed Peas but not by choice.  Purple hull peas are the purest choice for those of us down south just like we know the right way to pronounce  pecans 
(pu = pu(ff)  + cons ).  Pettest peeve - not PEECANS.  That is just rude. Not PEECONS.  Senseless. Enough.

Fresh Purple hull peas (which will turn your fingers purple if you shell them but that is what shelling machines were invented for so spend the extra unless you want sore purple fingers or you wish to inflict a character lesson upon a child) after shelling, must be washed in a colander to pick out any bad peas (very, very few).  Place them in a big enough pot to cover well with water and leave room for a small simmer.  It is tempting to boil but it will make them tough.  Cook them on low, very slowly.  They have a little scummy foam (nothing bad) you will need to slough off with a spoon during the first part of cooking.  They are best cooked for about an hour and a half or longer.  But not to the point of being mushy.  You may need to add a little water as the juice boils off.  You want more juice than peas. Add salt and pepper to taste.  And also add, the butter of the south, a good tablespoon of bacon grease.  It doesn't take much but flavors perfectly.  They are not to be swimming in bacon grease, just gently flavored.  This is the secret to using bacon grease, less is really more.  Once they are seasoned, you can keep them on the stove until the rest of the meal is ready.

My great-grandparents had several hotels in different little towns throughout their career and sons who would follow in their footsteps.  Some of these hotels also had dining rooms and hotel kitchens.  Knowing my love of cooking and family, my uncle has been so good to share with me some of my great-grandfather's cooking leaflets and recipes.  Unfortunately, I think most of the recipes were those he knew by heart and never wrote down.  But now that I'm writing about Pea Salad, I think maybe this is where it originated, for our family.  My dear sweet Burt, who was born in a border state with the Mason-Dixon running through it, loves Pea Salad on his purple hull peas and cornbread.





Measurements are approximate.  You need:     
1 good size green bell pepper/   1 small onion/    1 medium tomato
1 tsp. sugar/   1 tsp. salt/   1/2 tsp. pepper/ 
1/2 tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar/  Equal parts water and white vinegar

Clean and seed bell pepper.  I used three rings of pepper, dicing the rings into small pieces, as pictured.  /  I peeled and sliced and diced most of the onion, small pieces. /  I peeled the tomato and sliced and diced it into small pieces./  Add water and white vinegar in equal parts, more on the vinegar side.  Add salt, pepper and sugar.  For something different, I added the Balsamic vinegar and it works great.  Chill before serving.  The longer this sets, the tastier it gets.  To serve:  Slice and butter a piece of hot, out-of-the-oven cornbread.  Open cornbread up and add hot, cooked purple hull peas on top of the cornbread, with a little bit of the pot juice also.  Top this with cold Pea Salad but don't use a slotted spoon.  You will want the tangy vinegar dressing.  Add a little or a lot, depends on you.  There will be several layers of taste sensations.  You may consume another serving.  It is also permissible to make your entire meal of just cornbread, peas, and salad.  As my Pa would say, "Mighty fine, best I ever had."  You have arrived.                                              (Like the country.)




signed,
a woman with butter dripping down her hand as it melts on hot cornbread (the dessert slice)       


 

**I wonder if anyone else has a similar salad for peas?
**This is also a necessity on New Year's Day and is delicious with Prime Rib, Ham, or Fried Chicken.    


Originally published 9-13-13

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

VACATION RECESS: A Good Air Mattress Will Get You Through

We had four because we were four, traveling the country in a packed to the gills Yellow Ford Galaxy and later, a Shimmery Green Chevy Impala.  The best ever air mattresses were dual purposed, a necessity for camping.  By night, soft pillows of air tucked under flannel lined sleeping bags.  In the light of day and within sight of water, buoys across whatever beach, river, or lake called our name to a day of water-filled adventure.

The best air mattress, wide and long, with the reminiscent smell of a sturdy Goodyear tire, tried and true.  Every seam of the mattress was sealed to perfection, above and beyond the rest of any just plain water toy.

The green mattress had the feel of suede.  Surely, this rubberized canvas was sea worthy if a mast could be installed without puncturing the sturdy fabric.  Standing on the edge of the beach, looking out over the Gulf, one could imagine launching the float towards Cuba and arriving, if only to push up on the foreign soil for just a moment before discovery.

Landfall in Cuba brought to mind the struggle of the old man and the sea, and his daily tin can of hot coffee for breakfast before sunrise, another day searching, using the handmade ropes to capture the glory fish of his last days after a lifetime of just enough.

My imagination would be only a slight match for the old man's small wooden skiff.  The race of a silver blue fish out into the Gulf, caught in an unknown trap, a heavy load to shake off.  The old fisherman's gnarled hands gripping the endowed rope, the prize finally within his seasoned grasp.  The untamed, unchallenged will of the wild fighting with every cell this unknown outcome. 

The stillness of the sea, the unshadowed sun, the scavengers of the defeated.  The strength of anger to raise an oar and strike at nature's predators circling and circling.  The real one that couldn't get away.

The call to come in, dragging the air mattress behind me, leaving stripes in the sand as I turn towards evening camp chores.  When my parents were still drinking coffee around the fire, Sister and I would head to bed.  Finally tucked into my cozy sleeping bag on top of the taut mattress, the worst sound would be the barely discernible buzz of air escaping. Or the high pitched noise might be a blood thirsty mosquito dive bombing my ear.  At this point in the trip, a mosquito was the preferred option.  With rolling over came the realization that morning would find me on the surface of the topography of this campsite with only a tarp and a canvas floor as a cushion between me and the hard, rocky ground.  Nothing is flatter than a flat air mattress that has given up the ghost, slowly all night long.

When camping, we had exactly what we needed, carefully thought out for the two week trek to the echoing Colorado mountains or the Atlantic Ocean.  Year after year, my mother mapped out a trip months ahead of time, sending letters inquiring about the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde and the free maps offered by the different states we would travel through.  Or procuring tickets to visit The White House and The Capitol.  (We didn't camp while in Washington, D.C. but going and coming.)  Those mattresses were packed and unpacked many trips.
On the trails in Colorado

Campsite unloading.  Always a happy family time.  The folded mattresses would be put on the concrete table. We didn't have anything resembling an air pump but two pairs of lungs.  Oh the joy for the lucky children who got to blow up the mattresses.  But the campsite was not up and running until the "beds" had been made in the tent.

Blowing up the mattress would make me dizzy.  My cheeks would hurt.  I would blow and blow and see little result.  I would throw out a complaint which would not usually be noticed by parents placing stakes and smoothing the tarp.  I can still hear the sound of the heavy green canvas tent unfolding and becoming a shelter against the wilds of the wilderness like bears and cougars and skunks and hurricanes.

Immense effort continued in my physically exhausting attempt to get that float finished.  Sister would be working on her air mattress.  I don't know if it was the time expended in achieving the result or the burning lungs and exhaustion after the fact.  Toting water back to the campsite from the distant water spigot.  Shining a skinny flashlight down the camp road to get to the facilities in the middle of the night.  Waiting for the rain to stop while staring at the green canvas, not daring to touch the sides and start a horrible leak.   Blowing up the air mattress was the least favorite of the unfavorites.

But suddenly the welded rubber seams would straighten up and the flat columns of air would pop and I would quickly close off the brass nozzle.  The stress and struggle would result in something that would hold me up as I floated in the nearby lake, laying across it sideways, dangling my legs into the water which got cooler as I went farther out.  Or laying down on the mattress as I bobbed across salt water, soft waves on a quiet sea running underneath. 

But without the stress and the struggle I would only have a flat piece of suede-like rubber.

When life gets hard, look for a buffer.  Don't lay down on rocks covered only by a plastic sheet and canvas.  Pour the stress, anxiety and pain into something that can lift you just inches above the uneven surface.  Without the tension of the trapped air, the mattress can't inflate.  

You can be standing on your little Ship of Life and a rogue wave knocks you into the water.  Lady Overboard!  For a minute I flounder before I remember I can swim.  The best air mattress is thrown my way and I grab it and hang on tight, kicking out of the deep water.  Finally on top, I lay back resting on the pillow, as my tears of panic dry under the glory of the sun. 



Originally posted 4-3-14

Thursday, July 6, 2017

ANGEL IN DISGUISE


When she was young, I took my niece to a wonderful little movie.  But the dog died at the end of the story.  I wasn't prepared for this.  The lights came on.  We walked out while I'm figuring in my head what to say about a dog dying to a little girl who may not even know about this fact of life. She was still afraid of "baccum" cleaners.  I started to mention the sweet dog.  She stopped me and said "Aunt Amy, dogs die, people die."  It wasn't just the words but the flair of the message.  Left arm out and right arm out, as if she had practiced her response.

This is a blog that celebrates the wonderful dog named Oreo, who was beloved and returned the
same.  He died in December, days before Christmas.  He had a great quality of life for all of his twelve years.

We buried his little box on Monday.  My St. Francis statue stands at his grave.  I didn't cry then but my grief over his loss has remained sharp for these last seven months.  I read a few words and told him I didn't want to go to heaven if he wasn't there.  The Bible says a sparrow will not fall to the ground without the Father knowing.  Maybe a good dog is an angel in disguise.

I am the queen of notebooks and pencils.  I am trying to whittle down my office supply collection.  Being a writer, I have the habit of writing down ideas, stories, quotes, conversations, traveling ensembles and poems on any piece of paper.  Today, I found something special when I wasn't looking.  This little gift was found in a wireless, college ruled, 80 page, high tech micro perf notebook produced by Top Flight, Inc. in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

   

Oreo

You must be made for my amusement because you make my heart laugh.
Look at that dog
carrying a skinny branch in his teeth twice his length-
so pleased with himself, 
occasionally a whack against the stairs 
or the post holding up the deck.
Whack.
You stop for a second
and turn to look where the branch hit the pole.
You see me and grin
as if you had put that pole in the ground
for a whack in the future-
and now
ears perked
and body alert, 
soft black and white
like tassels shimmering with movement 
your hair lifts in the breeze,
you know how long to pause for effect-
just enough to hold your moment and say-
I was made for this day!




May 2004 - December 2016



Tuesday, July 4, 2017

OH SAY, WHY CAN'T WE SEE LIFE AND LIBERTY?


Being from Maryland, she called a cab based in Maryland.  Although, I tell people you can see Washington D.C. from her kitchen window.  Looking through the side yard of her backyard neighbor is a boundary street.  She walks to work in Washington and returns home to Bethesda. Someday she will appreciate this unique experience. For now, she only thinks about it when I visit and get excited  to see car lights going down a street in another city!  But you can see Washington D.C. from her kitchen window.


The Maryland cab is prompt.  The car is clean and cool.  Another good visit is over.  Almost five years ago on a sunny August morning, she and her new husband packed up all their hopes, dreams and worldly possessions into one car and a rental van driven by her helpful brother-in-law.  Two full days and one night later they arrived in the city of their new beginning.  Jobs, education, friends and one dog - five years later, they are off to a great start.

I can't help it.  Everytime we part, I cry.  I tell the cabbie I'm just saying goodbye to my girl.  Just tears for the visit ending and the distance beginning.  I am happy for their place in life.  We are fortunate to see each other during the year.  The cab driver turns on the music, afraid to hear anymore of this sob story.

We drive down Embassy Row, blocks of United Nations, in brick and mortar.  Down Rock Creek Parkway along the Potomac River, always full of joggers and bikers so steeped in routine that the history across the river is invisible.  Maybe.  I always feel lucky to be able to visit my nation's capitol.  In four days, these parks and streets will be filled with celebrants waving Old Glory.

I comment on the preparations being made and he mentions how busy work will be until the Fourth of July.  He works all of the time.  But on that afternoon, he will finally take off and head to the national fireworks with a group of friends from his apartment building.  They go early to get a good place.  He says they will spread out a picnic and just relax.  He breaks out in a big smile, turning back to tell me what a wonderful thing it is to see such fireworks.  I tell him I will think of him when I watch the fireworks show on t.v.

He is not from here but he has been in America for fourteen years.  He is from Togo.  A cousin in Nebraska helped him get his green card.  But Nebraska was a hard place to start - too cold and too much competition.

I ask him if more family is here in the states.  No, his wife and children are still in Togo.  Once a year he is able to return.  But he wants to bring them over.  He really wants them to get their education in the States. We have been talking over the radio.  As if on cue, I realize I'm hearing John Lennon's "Imagine" playing in the background.  "You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one."  The exact lyrics when this man from Togo tells me he is dreaming of the day he can bring his family to America.  He is working on the Dream.

Hours later, I 'm on my last flight.  I feel like the plane is trying to catch the sunset, flying from the darkened east westward, towards a still coral sky, narrowing.  Below, the ground is darkening as schools, houses, grocery stores, lose their recognition.  A hieroglyphic alphabet of city lights appears to be stitched neatly with punctuations of gold and white.  From above, the message reads this is America.  In the dark, mountains and plains whisper we were here first.

The interior lights are dimmed.  My seatmate and I start a casual conversation.  I had seen him earlier, carrying a car seat down the aisle for a young mother.  As parents of an airline employee, he and his wife are able to travel to see their family.  He is grateful for the opportunity to come back to the States two or three times a year.  Originally from Chile, he is now a U.S citizen.  But his mother is in her nineties.  He and his American wife have retired in Chile.  He is glad not to miss the Fourth of July here at home.  The grill is his territory and we talk about all of the meat he will prepare for his large extended family.  Telling me about his family, he clasp his hands together.

For thirty-seven years, he looked out the windshield and across the engine of an 18 wheeler, traveling all over the U. S. and Canada.  We have lived in the same city for over three decades and have two things in common - Catholic High School for Boys and a former neighborhood.  Everytime he gets excited he clasp his hands with a clap.  But not loud enough to wake anyone.

This man has loved traveling the country.  The joy for his chosen nation is refreshing.  The pride he has in his American born children and their success in life is evident.  While he has been very successful in returning to Chile, he will come back to the U.S. someday, to stay.

He proudly volunteers his voting record and still remembers his first elections.  Even though he is in Chile, he always votes.  And being from Arkansas, we share our mutual admiration of Bill and Hillary Clinton.  I have a feeling that this "full of life" man makes a contribution wherever he is headed.  He has attained the Dream.

I couldn't believe my day's good fortune.  I began my day in Togo and finished up in Chile.  Two men from two different worlds.

Oh say, why can't we see?  Huddled masses yearning to be free of gang violence, religious persecution, mind control, despondent poverty.  When and why does our dream for freedom, two hundred years ago, one hundred, thirty years ago matter more than the least of these?  Life and liberty- a gift not a given.  A vision of hope looking through a fence or traveling in an airplane.  

Oh say, can't you see?  Life and liberty.  For the land of the free and the home of the brave.






'Good fences make good neighbours.'...
'Why do they they make good neighbours?...
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.

from Mending Wall by Robert Frost



   

Monday, June 26, 2017

SPIT AND POLISH

It started with a shoe. A used sheet of newspaper, a stiff brush, a clean rag and a tin of polish. It ended with spit and polish, buffed until it was as shiny as a penny.

Arkansas.  Rhode Island.  Morocco.  Virginia.  Texas.  Finally time to settle down. The Big D.  A new baby.  Another new baby.  New roads.  Their one car, a red Volkswagen Beetle purchased with cash in Rabat.  The bus stop for Daddy going and coming.

Sanger Harris.  Titche Goettinger.  I was the only one in my school who's father was a linen buyer. I just knew he worked at the store.  There has always been a store in my life.

Buying trips to New York City several times a year.  Bringing home beautiful linens made all over the world.  Visiting American mills producing luxury sheets and cotton towels.  An eye for the special and the necessary which would draw in the customer at a time when cloth napkins still graced the tabletop.

November 1963.  Employees standing at the store windows watching the Presidential motorcade as it passes by.  A shining city welcoming the young President and his wife. Only minutes later, horrible news rushes down the aisles as the whole world stops.

Retailing is a hard job.  A good promotion requires change.  Even in the middle of my seventh grade, The King and I and Campfire Girls.  Even if Phillip comes to my house with a stuffed animal and a box of chocolates.  Even if this is a great move for Daddy's career.  On a dark January day, the vans are packed as sleet falls - the worse day of my life.

Spelling Mississippi over and over.  A new store for loyalty.  New opportunities in a new market.  A brand new house full of shag carpeting, a big backyard with a creek and quiet neighborhood streets for biking.  First hellos to  friends who will last a lifetime.  Grand, new store openings with champagne fountains, the heady fragrance tickling noses.  Meeting Paul Bear Bryant and lunch with Erma Bombeck.  Seeing Eudora Welty in the post office.  A teenager romanced by hanging moss in Natchez and amazed by the girl in the swing in New Orleans.  

At thirteen, his interest is peaked by a mens' shoe advertisement.  He writes the company a letter.  Even then, he was interested in product, style and quality.  With two older sisters, he has a constant parade of fashion ingenuity during WWII.  A few years later, his sister buys him his first sports coat.  A picture captures the spark of a young man discovering his presence in the new jacket.

Retailing effects every family member.  Longer hours.  Unending pressure.  Unrelenting goals.  Stress comes walking in the door every night, exhausted.  Our family stays together facing forward.

Arkansas.  The land of opportunity.  Grandparents nearby.  Returning home.  A breath of fresh air in a hilly, leafy city.  Great and exciting to be arriving at this elegant store.  We have a wackadoodle summer commuting between two states.  Keeping up a house for sale.  Visiting Daddy in a tiny one bedroom apartment with nil water pressure, no shower, taking twenty minutes to get two standing inches.  Watching Breakfast at Tiffany's, for the first time, on a small black and white t.v.  Dining at the number one restaurant in the nation.  We are feted and enticed into our new city with pretty summer dresses, shoes and matching purses.

Papaw has a stroke.  Our two state commute becomes a triangle on the map. Daddy is going back and forth while navigating a new job.  My sister and are shuffling between angles.  My Papaw dies a week before we move.  A fifteen year old girl does not go to the 7-11 with her cousin to buy a Coke Icee when she is in mourning.  But I have been crying my eyes out, face down on my Mamaw's wool rug for weeks, behind a closed door.

Moving day, the truest, hardest day of my life.  I am face down on the backseat of the boat sized Chevy Impala.  I have said goodbye to the love of my life. My life is over.  Balling my eyes out all the way past the Mississippi River bridge.  There is barely enough air between the crack of the seat to sustain my life.  I don't care.  The dog and the cat have been tranquilized but are still whimpering. My heart will not be soothed for years.

You can do it.  Think positive.  Meet new people.  I am fifteen and I don't care.  About a new job.  About a nice discount.  A new house.   Friendly people.  You can do it.  But I don't want to walk into my huge new school.  I do.  Daddy is happy in his new job.  He whistles walking down the hall.

The first test kitchen appliance is a Cuisinart Food Processor, a top of the line product encouraging everyone to become a gourmet cook in their own kitchen.  Between his office and checking merchandise on the floor, he has planned everything out perfectly.  The advertising, the recipe, the grocery items.  But not the January weather.  He is not deterred.  After all, stores never close.  My sister and I walk blocks in the snow to see him sell the product he believes in.  He has made fresh Steak Tartare, delicious. No let down or disappointment.  If someone is shopping today, he will sell them a new Cuisinart Food Processor.

Retailing is arbitrary.  In and out.  Fashion whims.  Management flip flops.  Keeping their secret, they watch as I graduate from high school as one of the graduation speakers.  Seasons change.  Roll with the punches.  Always have faith for something better is coming.

Retailing is rewarding with strings.  His cloud is lined in platinum.  A homegrown incorporation seeing the business with new eyes.   Store Manager.  Years of business experience opens new professional and personal opportunities.  We stay together and support each other through a difficult time.  Now my sister will move across the state, beginning her senior year of high school in a new school, knowing no one in town except my parents.  Once again, my mother will be driving back and forth, selling the other house and looking for a new home.

Driving up the heavily traveled and winding two-lane highway, passing signs of dire warnings and casualty counts, we are undaunted.  After all, we will have lived in four cities in seven years.  We speak to the new kids.  We don't have time to hang in the corners.  Our adventure depends on us.  We hit town with the purpose of staking roots.  No one really knows their timeline.  Finding loving, open people in every spot.

I will never forget seeing my Daddy waving to us from the hotel porch.  Always there. Looking crisp and cool on this fading summer evening.  Excited to see his girls.  

Burt drops me off in the side parking lot.  My favorite entrance.  I open one heavy, pivoting glass door and another, trading a dusty, hectic world for the cool, pleasant interior of the store.  A different world.  I'd walked through these doors hundreds of times.  The store is busy with women shopping for Father's Day.

The parquet path is the same.  I follow it around the first floor.  I remember my first trip to the new store.   Slacks, a linen-cotton, v-neck sweater and a pair of brushed suede shoes with coral soles.  Always shoes.  Purses.

Walking the floors on our first days in the store as the daughters of the new Manager, immense pride in his new job.  A fast study, learning the merchandise and his employees.  He knows every item in this store. Ownership.  What fun to go from section to section as he picks up this item or flares out a dress in presentation.  Matching towels or picking up merchandise that has fallen to the floor.  He has a flare for showmanship.

I had to visit the second floor.  His office has been moved.  The long business counter.  The china section where a special order of everything Elegance in Blue was boxed, wrapped and wedded.   I am inviting a ghost to walk with me or run into me just around the corner.  The movement of a pretty dress hanging on the stand.  A spritz of Royall Lyme settling on a khaki suit.  Soft silk ties regimented across the counter.  Dust disappearing from a display rack.  Leather parquet.  Leather parquet.  Leather parquet.  Leather parquet.  Excuse me.  I glance around.  No one is there.  I go to walk out the door.  A shiny penny catches my eye.



Happy Father's Day in memory of a man devoted to God, his family and the store.







Thursday, May 25, 2017

LITHIUM IN A CUP





Let me set the record straight.
Life on a silver platter
Should be fun and frolic
On a treasure island deep in the tropics
Ensconced in the sheen
And shine of a pirate’s find-
Ropes of diamonds,
Emeralds and pearls.
But wait!

My silver platter was only “plate”
And a thin coat at best,
Not up to any stress.
Looking at the decoration
My reflection blurs
As the edges of my reality
Begin to come unfurled.

Do not forget-
Mental illness picked me!
No one in their right mind
Would step to the front of the line and say
“I’ll have your special of a lifetime
That Bipolar Disorder Disease –PLEASE.”

You know the one-
Up down
Happy sad
And just a smidge of rage.
Be sure you serve up side effects
From the pills we pop each day-
And why just a few extra pounds
When forty-two will do-
Definitely the perfect pick-me up
When I’m feeling more than blue.
Don’t mention the lack of Li-bi-Doe.
We don’t want others to know.
It’s pretty hard to strut your stuff
When “just breathing” is enough.

So go the years-
Speeding, sleeping, seeking, adding up a life-
This disease is unkind.
At night the tapes rewind
I remember everything undone forever.
The loss of friends, jobs, pride-
The energy to play with my child.
Yes, it’s a wild ride!
Not easy to be me.
Alone, but I am not.
The joy of the Lord is my strength.
The love of uplifting hands,
The respect of those who see my truth.

Here we go……
Headache for days on end.
A hard to find exit sign
In an overcrowded room.
Din and bustle of a busy place
Standing in line,
And the lady in front of me
With a big purse,
Stepping back in her self-possessing mirth,
Into my space
-three times.
A political Rally at twelve noon
And no trees
In the summer swoon.
Anesthesia.
A full moon.
Generic Medication.
Flying
Hitting the curb
And throwing off my chemical alignment.
Who Knows?

Put me in the middle of
An emergency
That stretches into weeks.
Or the unknown-
The not for sure
And even something good.
I am best- stressed.

I am a column of calm,
Beginning, during and for two or three days after.
When the credits roll
I leave the theater
-and breathe,
Give up the role
As steady rock
And Nike tennis shoe.
I make it through.

And here I am today.
Waiting in line
Biding my time-
To appear
On a mental marathon
To raise a cure.
Until then -

Do you have lithium in a cup TO GO?!!



Amy H Taylor@2006

Monday, May 1, 2017

WHATEVER YOU WANT TO EAT DAY

Ten a.m. and I am just finding out about this wonderful day, May 1.  Whatever you want to eat day!  This is not fake news.  I just saw it on my local ABC station.  Of course, May is an exceptional month for several reasons.  But this May Day is right up my alley.  Probably a combined effort of Southern Living, Bon Appetit and Food Network Magazine.  Or Land of Lakes Sweet Cream Butter, Blue Bell Ice Cream and DiGiorno's Rising Crust Pizza.  Along with Equinox, Maggianos Little Italy and McDonald's.  I'm sure Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and Martha Stewart/ Snopp Dog are in the mix.  Not to be outdone, Kitchen Aid, Vitamix and Le Creuset are involved in some way.  And I failed to mention Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Creme.

But today is the day!  If I had known earlier, I would have begun my day with six slices of bacon, a cheese omelet, biscuits and gravy with apple butter, fresh sliced tomatoes and hash browns.  Which reminds me of Waffle House's pecan waffles and the best hashbrowns in town.  That is definitely a good start to the day.  Oh, lots of coffee and skin milk.  And o.j.

I don't know about the calories involved today.  Are we suppposed to take them for granted or is it a cosmic occurence which reduces calories to nothing, nada?  Does Whatever You Want To Eat Day only mean all you can possibly take into your body before you collapse into a bacon and Coke induced coma after eating a bowl of semi-sweet chocolate chip cookie dough?

I do not have the answers.  I am just spreading the good word.  Now what shall I have for lunch?  I usually eat a packet of peanut crackers.  Maybe a salad from U.S. Pizza and a Big Mac?

About 3 p.m., I will have homemade popcorn with melted butter and a Frosty.  I wouldn't want to get peckish.  And I'm trying to keep my girlish figure.

Lots of unsweet tea during the day.

I think you are getting the idea.  It feels like I'm adrift at sea or lost and starving in the mountains on Naked and Afraid.  If I were naked I don't know if I would care to eat.  I would definitely request two larger burlap bags and cougar repellent.

Here we are with plenty of time to focus on dinner or the Southern Supper.  Wow.  So much food and so little time.  Appetizers would consist of cheese dip, salsa, pigs in a blanket, and brie with pecans and bourbon sauce.  Even though my stomach wouldn't be trained for this massive undertaking, I would like fried oysters, fried chicken, fried catfish, rib roast and lobster for dinner.  A fine complement of fried okra, fresh asparagus with sour cream, turnip greens with pepper sauce and Party Carrots.  Must have hot yeast rolls and butter.

And as much as I love chocolate, my favorite dessert is anything with Arkansas Strawberries, especially Homemade Shortcake.

It would take me all day to shop for these items.  And hours to carry them from the car into the house.  Take them out of the bags, onto the counter.  Another couple of hours to look for my recipes.  At this point I would no longer be standing up.  I would have to put my feet up for a few hours.  And close my eyes to rest them for this undertaking.  And I would zonk out before a single bite had been prepared.

Thankfully, at some point Burt would arrive on the scene.  He is very, very good at taking charge and whipping everything together.  Eventually, the two of us would get the delicious food on the table.  We would stop to thank God for the abundance in our lives.



While I was writing this, I became very aware this is such a silly exercise.  I am able to eat anywhere I want.  I could prepare every item and not worry about cost.

Arkansas FoodBank.  This is a very worthwhile non-profit.  We have donated to them for several years.  Today, I am going to send them a donation.  There number is 501-565-8121.  They are on Facebook also.  "Creating a community where no one has to go hungry."


Instead of Whatever You Want To Eat Day, I'm changing it to I Just Want To Eat Day.

Thanks.  I hope you can help.