Daily Archives: May 27, 2014

Little People All Around

Here is my latest creation. I have no word for them. They were/are fun to make. I’ve posted the pics in the order of making these little guys. And they are going with me down to the New Orleans Freret Market soon.



Going Home

What does it mean to go home? And where is home?

I pondered these questions as I watched the pallbearers load the dark wooden casket of my friend and parishioner, Betty Sue, a sweet Mississippi Delta lady, into the black hearse. She was born in Clarksdale, MS and had lived in Memphis for most of her life.  But she was always a Mississippi girl, and wanted to be buried back down south in a family plot in a very old cemetery in Jackson, MS.

Her husband, children and grandchildren followed behind their matriarch, stoic upper lips readying for the long ride down to Mississippi. The Polo Club had brought lunch and toddies. The family was large. Each having thoughts of their loved one, that she would be with them no more. Homilies of eternal life with Jesus and belief in the resurrection are of only a little comfort amidst such deep grief of a sudden death.

Family love sustains. I watched the son hold his daughter’s hand, then grasp his weary-eyed father’s elbow to guide him to the car for the ride to the cemetery. A grandson stood aside, wiping tears on his suitcoat, something his grandmother would have admonished him for doing. He spoke a few words prior to the homily, memories of his grandmother he will always hold dear.

Betty Sue was a member of a Bible class that met in members’ homes for almost 20 years. The members of the class were long time friends. Several of the women began their careers fresh from college as airline stewardesses for Southern Airways. That was back when women were the only stewards on those flights, and men were the only passengers. Women lit the men’s cigarettes, poured their drinks, and fetched their briefcases from the overhead bins. The women in the Bible class love each other deeply. I led the class for a couple of years, until my schedule became too full. I miss them.

I thought about these women, all getting older and fearful that each year there will be fewer of them.  And I thought about Betty Sue and how she is dancing with the angels knowing she is heading back to her beloved Mississippi, going home to rest eternal in the shifting soils of Jackson to a cemetery that holds Confederate generals, governors, judges and mayors. And of course Eudora Welty.

Which got me to thinking about my own burial some day.  My husband and I have talked about how much we love the Mississippi River, and the Natchez Trace and how much these landmarks have been a part of our lives. We’ve decided that when we die we want half our ashes sprinkled somewhere in a woodsy area along the Trace, and the other half dumped into the Mississippi River.  So at least our ashes will dissolve into the soils that we’ve frequented. Home. In a sense.

Then I think about the river and where those waters and our ashes might end up …. perhaps resting in the soils of Africa or China, or at the bottom of the Gulf. But we’ll never know. We’ll be like Betty Sue, with folks who loved us trailing behind us as we go home, where ever it might be.

What does “going home” mean to you?

Planning For the Future While Living For Today

My husband and I plan to retire to New Orleans in a few years. His plan is to walk the streets, teach a little, visit the used and antiquarian book stores in the Quarter, and drink lots of coffee. My plan is to write, and teach cooking classes and writing classes in our home. And walk the streets and read and drink coffee every day. In between, we’ll play with the grandchildren.

While thinking and planning for the future, and thinking about my blog, I have decided to include my cooking skills into my narrative posts and write about food from time to time. Got to ready myself to present those cooking classes. My mother was a wonderful cook, and always focused on making a dish look pretty. I hope I live up to her standards.

A good start is when I learned that there were more cheeses than hoop cheddar in the red rind. That was the kind my father always brought home. His habit was to eat this cheese on Sunday nights with sardines, onions and saltines. I joined him. I’ve loved “real” cheese ever since.

He was never one to take any kind of government assistance. My mother said he had too much pride. But one time (perhaps the mid-1950s) there was a huge truck in Hattiesburg and if you lived in a certain neighborhood (presumed to be low income) you could go there and receive a big block of cheese from the government. My father, being the cheese-lover that he was, could not resist this event. I had a vision of a big round, red-rind wheel of cheese. A hoop of cheese like I had seen many times in the small stores in that time. What he brought home was much different.

He brought home a paper wrapped stick of cheese about a foot long. On the wrapper were the words, “Slices and melts well.” We saved it until Sunday night. He readied the sardines, onions and saltines, then meticulously unwrapped the prize and cut into the cheese. As I watched, I almost gagged. This was not “real” cheese he said. It was too soft. He called my mother. “Sugar, come look at this. Ever see any cheese like this?” We stared into the package, then he scooped out a taste. “Tastes a little bland.  Like there’s not much cheese in it.”  I was eighteen years old when I learned about Velveeta.  I’ve never liked it. It does melt well, but you can forget about slicing it.  Give me “real” cheese, but these days I’ve lost the taste for sardines.

What foods do you remember from your childhood?

Thoughts on the great memoir, Lit, by Mary Karr

I found the pages of Mary Karr’s memoir wildly funny, some passages causing me to laugh out loud. But her truths are at the same time uncomfortably sad and somehow familiar. Will I ever be able to tell my own truths in such metaphoric accuracy?

Karr’s memory of her father is bittersweet, even to me and I didn’t even know him. Her descriptions of his strange sayings recall my own mother’s voice repeating the same phrases over and over again: You look like a refugee. I’m just telling it like it is. She don’t have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of. I guess if she said stick your head in the oven you’d do that too.

Each person has his or her own story. All the joys and heartaches – but most of the time we only want to world to know the joys, like a Christmas letter telling about junior’s athletic prowess and sister’s love of baton twirling and so on. But what are the real truths beneath what we shout to the world? Are we giving our truths to the world? And what are they?
Our Golden Shadow is composed of our good things that we deny or hide from the world. We are usually quick to admit our shortcomings, but slow to accept praise. We need to listen when someone tells us we have done something well. Enhance your own truths and talents. Develop your natural gifts, and find your joy. What is your passion? What do you love to do when the time seems to zip by, and 2, 4, or 6 hours later you look up and say to yourself where did the time go?
Mary Kitt re-discovered her golden shadow, and has presented it to the world. She is fearless.