Sunday, March 25, 2012

An Echo in the Elms

I recently posted a picture of my grandmother's tulip tree on Face book, entitled "this is what spring is all about".  The cousins all recognized it immediately using phrases like "I'd know that tree anywhere".  And well they should.  My grandmother loved trees.   She taught us all a love for the growing things in our world.  While the tulip tree brings back strong memories, its what I don't have a picture of that brings back more.  The only picture of the grove of elms that once stood behind the big old farmhouse are in my mind.  Their leaves formed a canopy over the simple dirt floor of our playground.  In the heat of summer it was like being in a cool glade, which is actually was.  The cousins, Becky, Patsy ,Cathy, Kay, Crystal and  and I often played a rousing game of "coming to see" beneath those  old branches.  We would take a limb and mark off  rooms and use rocks and old pieces of wood from the woodpile and make our furniture.  Broken dishes destined for the trash would be lovingly rescued and taken to the elms for our play things.  Any old pot that we came across was used as kitchen ware.  We would draw designs in the dirt to form our rugs and the stage was set.  Gathering our children (our doll babies) we would play at neighbors, visiting each other and discussing world events as seen through the eyes of children.
The 1/2 acre elm grove and the cedar tree were delights of my childhood.  The grove itself was a delight of my grandmother's.  We were admonished not to tear the leaves from the tender branches while making "vegetable soup" for our company visits when the game was on.  She told us they needed their leaves like we  need our skin.  I seem to remember the day that Daddy Dwight told her that the elms were all sick, they had something called Dutch Elm Disease.  I don't think I  had ever seen  her like that.  She had the look of someone about to take a dose of nasty tasting medicine.   Later that fall I wasn't there when they took the axes to our elms.  When the following summer came, it was to a bare place where not even  ragged stumps punctuated the ground where we had once played.  The cedar tree stood silent sentinel over our childhood, looking lonely yet strong.  But if I were to go back there and stand where once the gentle elms gathered us into cousins sisters friends...I  believe I  would hear our laughter and feel the cool of the glade echoing down through the years.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

This could be a Notecard...

We're invited by mydear blog friend Vee, at "A Haven For Vee",  to enter photos we think might make good note cards...I am not as good at photography as you all are, but am going to give it a whirl!  The first one I think would make  a nice note card is of my lovely Old English Sheepdog, Digby.  Born in Gerrards Cross (Bucks) England, she was my constant companion and beloved Furbaby.

Myrtle Beach, SC...white sands beaches inviting, yes?

                  Our back garden area with Mindy and her cat Peanut...I had entitled this on "walking to heaven"

And the last one is of the archway at the patio with the first blooms of spring from my Clematis vine which is now 14 years old...this was fun Vee...yes we will have to do it again! I can't wait to see how many join us.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Games Games Games Come Get Your Games..and Watch This Spot for a Giveaway coming soon

My mother did crossword puzzles for as long as I can remember.  She had special dictionaries to help her find the right word for the right spot...12down an eight legged web spinner 8 letters fourth letter is c.  I know you  were  thinking spiders but it doesn't call for a plural s, and there's that wicked c in there to muddy the water.  So what could it be?  Think about it, it will come to you by the end of this I'm sure.  We learned to like the solving of the word mysteries and so became addicted to them.  By the time I was in my forties, they had become a chore to be done with the morning coffee .  I was often on the phone with Mama trying to see if she had the answer to one that had escaped my brain.  I couldn't leave the paper's offering until every word had been placed.  It haunted me.

Scrabble is another of my favorite games.  When Mac and I were first married and with his Navy career we were often on the move, I carried my scrabble board in a large hand bag.  I have been known to play me, myself and I.  When we were moving into a new neighborhood, the first thing I wanted to know about the neighbors was who played Scrabble.  I  had my kids addicted to it by the time they were in third and fourth grade.  My granddaughter has played since the second grade.  We're wordaholics.  And then someone introduced me to Facebook.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  That same someone challenged me to a game of Word With Friends.  I didn't know what it was exactly, but I went to check it out and accepted the challenge.  The first game went quickly and so we played another and then my Sister(in law) challenged me and we played and I was still playing with the first of my friend's  then my nephew and then my niece and then my cousin and then another cousin and then two more friends.  Well, by the end of the first month I had 27 games going simultaneously.  I wasn't sleeping because I had to keep up with the games between housework and gardening and  some of my friends got testy if I left making a play to long.   I began to long for the days of crossword puzzles and scrabble.  I did the only thing I could do in the circumstances.  I stopped.  Cold turkey.  I resigned every game and quit.

So now I play Gardens of Time, Hidden Chronicles and Blackwood and Bell.  But it isn't a problem.  I have lots of neighbors to help me get my little kingdoms completed.  I can quit whenever I want.  But just this morning I noticed that Cat Clark has challenged me to a game of Word With Friends and I feel that one game would clear my head and make me a better person.  I'll just keep it to one or two friends...maybe three.  But definitely no more than five games at once.  I'll have to be careful though, these games have a way of luring you in and  like the arachnid will wrap you in webs of games with promises of wealth and fame...and next thing you know you're in Farmville slopping the hogs that your neighbor gifted you with.  And they never gift you with fences, you know.  Did you notice I slipped the answer to the crossword question in there?  Maybe I'll just go dig my crossword book out of the closet.  I wonder where I put my crossword dictionary.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Great Egg Fight of 1960

   I was on the phone with my sister Toni the other day and we were talking about the times we spent at our Grandparents home every summer. I looked around as though someone might overhear me as I asked her if she remembered the egg fight. She laughed and said she remembered it well. This particular summer in 1960 we had taken the train from Washington, DC to the station in Hamlet, NC all on our own. It was an uneventful trip, but we grew more excited the closer we got to our destination. We couldn't wait to see Mammy and Daddy Dwight. We were also excited to see the cousins who were waiting on our arrival at the house. The first two or three weeks went well, tobacco season was well underway and we enjoyed being involved in the work. Every Saturday Daddy Dwight went to town to get things he needed for the farm. He always stopped at Hurst's Feed and Seed to pick up three to six dozen eggs. Just that week Mammy had read in the Readers Digest that the common practice of the time of buying what was called "cracked eggs" as an economy device was no longer considered safe. They recommended that people in the habit of this practice should stop immediately to avoid salmonella poisoning. Mammy had taught school for years and this made sense to her. She had worried about using the eggs that were already in the house and tried not to let Daddy Dwight know that she was disposing of as many as she could in the compost bucket.

One Saturday about midway through our visit she told Daddy Dwight that she needed him to pick up eggs. She explained to him about what the scientists were saying about the cracked eggs and asked him to get only good whole eggs. Something about the dependability of Scientists in general and the FDA in particular was muttered under his breath as he left the house. Mammy must have had a suspicion that her orders were going to be ignored, because on his return when he and the hired man brought in the eggs and placed the crates on the kitchen table, she immediately opened the box to take a look inside; Daddy Dwight had sat down in his chair at the table to read the newspaper. He never glanced one time at her to see what she was doing. What she was doing was examining each layer of eggs as she removed the trays from the box.
"Dwight, I thought I told you not to get cracked eggs. There's cracks in every one of these."
"Waste of money. There's nothing wrong with these eggs. Use them."

Now Mammy could get this look on her face that started in her eyes and moved down her face like a glow. A smile crossed her face and she picked up an egg in each hand. She looked down at the egg in her right hand. "Oh, I'll use them all right." I was never quite sure why I laughed. Was it the look of shock on Daddy Dwight's face as egg white and yolk mixed with shell dripped down his face or the sudden widening of his eyes as he realized that the second egg was headed in his direction? And as they say, that's when the fight started.
They threw eggs at each other saying not a word. No yelling no swearing (I don't believe I ever heard either one of them use a swear word as long as they lived.) They grabbed up cartons and moved through the screen porch still flinging eggs. The fight moved into the front yard the eggs still flying. I ran as fast as my legs could carry me to my Aunt Margaret's house to get help. It had ceased being funny when Daddy Dwight broke the egg on Mammy's head and ground it in with the heel of his hand. That just was not done! You know, I believe it may have been the quietest fight I've ever heard. The only sound was the whoosh of eggs as they flew through the air and landed splaatt on the intended target. Pretty soon Aunts Margaret and Pat were on the scene and got things under control. The fight was over, but the glaring continued for days. You know how when something perfectly awful happens that you say "we'll laugh about this one day"? They never did . Not ever. It was simply not talked about, the egg fight. It was as though it never happened. And Lord help any of us that brought it up.

So we just didn't discuss it. Until now and I've waited a safe 20 to 25 years since they left us to bring it up. . I just hope I've waited long enough. But you know what? I've never laughed as hard as I've laughed this week as I've discussed it with Toni and cousin Crystal...and wondered why Daddy Dwight and Mammy couldn't see the humor in it. At least no one died of Salmonella poisoning...
Mammy and Daddy Dwight with my toddler mother at Winthrop University which my Grandmother attended