Y'all come on in!

Y'all come on in!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Family reunions...

Family reunions! Don't you just love them?

That's when everyone brings their favorite covered dishes, pies, cakes and other marvelous fattening foods and one must choke down a little of all of it or Granny or Great-Aunt Molly will get their feelings hurt.

So right along with the heat, mosquitoes, flies and poison ivy, we overeat on cherry cheesecake, Mississippi mud cake, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, potato salad and forty nine casseroles. And our little cellulites think they've died and gone straight to heaven.

Everyone eats until they look like a cross between Miss Piggy and the Pillsbury Doughboy and Aunt Molly, God love her sweet soul, passes out anti-acids from a quart jar like they were candy. And everyone smiles like they are having a lovely time with people they barely know.

Now it is not an easy feat for me to sit quietly in any situation but after my first reunion on the in-law side, deep in the heart of Yankee territory, I found there really is a gold mine in keeping my mouth shut and listening. I found a chair in the shade and my little fat cells were ecstatic after the third piece of Aunt Molly's peach pie.

Now Mr. B was amongst his own and visiting with his cousins he hadn't seen since they were all in Birdseye fashions. My half-breed children (who are all grown now but at that time they were just kids) were keeping true to their southern manners. After all, they did have to go home with me so they knew to say, "Yes, ma'am," and "No, sir." Of course, at that time no one was talking to me--after all I was a Texas Rebel and it was not good practice to fraternize with women who wore their skirts too short and talked with a Texas accent.

I could hear cousin Harriet tellin' about some horrible rare disease that she had, the worst case a woman ever had this side of the Mason/Dixon line. Before anyone could top her story, she gathered up her three bratty kids and said she was going home. The dust wasn't settled on the road before they commenced to rake her over the coals.

"Did you ever see such monster children? If those little heathens belonged to me I'd beat them with a white coat hanger until all the paint was gone every morning before breakfast! And she's not sick. She just wants attention. Did you see that plate of food she put away?"

"The first plate or the third?" Another one giggled.

They'd barely gotten over talking about her when Uncle Theodore's cousin's niece packed up her hen-pecked husband, six daughters and a cooler full of watered down Kool-Aid and off they went. She almost got out of hearing distance when she became the newest topic.

"Did you see the way that oldest daughter of hers was dressed? That thing she had strapped around her top that she called a shirt didn't have enough material in it to sag a clothes line. And the second one from the oldest was hanging all over that son of Henry's second son's wife. Her mother better get her straightened out or they'll be bringing a diaper bag to next year's reunion."

And so it went all afternoon. As soon as one left he or she became the topic of gossip so hot that it would scorch the hair right off Lucifer's horns.

So I sat there and discovered the secret of family reunions whether they be Rebel, Yankee or mixed company--listen, smile, nod occasionally and always be the last to leave!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Walkin' Two Miles...

You ever heard that old adage that says, "That broke me from suckin' eggs?" It comes from an old expression about a hound dog that liked to get in the chicken pen and eat eggs until one day he got crossways with a mama hen.

Well, that was very real to me several years ago and I flat out learned my lesson the hard way just like that hound dog did. It all started when my daughter said that we were going to walk two miles a day--before breakfast. She didn't say that we were going to attempt to walk two miles a day but that we would start with a reasonable amount and build up to the two miles within a year. No sir, she didn't and me not paying close attention was my first mistake.

Then she said we would drink two or three quarts of water each day which would be good for our muscles, all our insides, fat cells and I believe she mentioned something about ingrown toenails and gray hair. Again, I wasn't listening too closely because I figured that if I walked two blocks that morning I'd be ready for at least a gallon of water.

The first morning she arrived in her walking shoes, some kind of stretchy knee britches and a determined expression on her face that said this was some serious business. No jokes. No puns. No excuses.

I'd donned my stretchy knee britches and a long shirt to cover up a multitude of fat cells. The britches were necessary, she informed me, to keep our fat little thighs from rubbing together. Even though the thermometer on the back porch was not reading in the three digit numbers, I was afraid that much friction would set me on fire. I tied my walking shoes in a double knot so I wouldn't trip over the laces and I did my best to look as serious as she did.

Her legs are a good bit longer than mine so after that first block of doing double time to keep up, I'd started to pray that my britches would live up to the promise of keeping my thighs from going up in flames. Sometime during the second block, every fat cell in my boy started to moan and I started to sweat. I hate to sweat. I don't care if it's natural. I have never been accused of being a lover of nature.

"If we don't slow down your going to have to call the fire department and an ambulance," I huffed. My poor little heart was threatening to jump right out of my chest and race back home to the air conditioned house.

Good grief! This walking stuff was supposed to increase my cardio-vascular something-or-other and give me more lung power. My heart was tellin' me that I'd been lied to. And my lungs were screaming that they didn't need more power. My children were grown and grandmothers aren't nearly as prone to raising their voices as mothers are.

"You're walking faster than the speed of sound," I told her when we'd rounded the bend in the road.

"I'm hoping that we can build up to three miles by the middle of next week," she said without a hitch in her breath.

"Yeah, right!" I need oxygen. I had shin splits, chest pains and my feet were crying out in pain.

I survived the first leg of the journey, which was the mile mark she'd charted out. Now all I had to do was turn around and make it home. My mouth felt as if it had been swabbed out with cotton balls soaked in alum. But I managed to turn around and right there was a root beer bottle that someone had tossed out to the side of the road. It was half full and had a cap on it. I didn't care if the folks who tossed it had chicken pox, the flu or if the root beer was warm and flat. It was so hot that any self respecting germ had long since been fried and sent to that great germ place in the sky. I reached for it and my daughter kicked it over a barbed wire fence.

Lord have mercy! She could still kick a bottle like a football after walking a mile in the heat. I felt sorry for anyone who ever thought they were mean enough to tangle with her.

We made it back home where I collapsed on the sofa in a moaning heap. She made us each a tall glass of ice water and brought it to me. I wasn't sure if I wanted to drink it, pour it on top of my head or maybe soak my feet in it. It seemed a shame to waste it all on the inside of my body when the outside was in such pain.

Every day she arrived at my house at eight o'clock and at the end of the summer we weren't up to that three mile mark. She kept talking about the goal being four miles by Christmas. I couldn't burst her little dream bubble by telling her that four miles was her dream. It was my nightmare and if she pushed it past that two miles, I would jump the barbed wire fence and drink every drop of that root beer.

That all happened years ago and we stopped walking one week when the fall rains set in. Never got back to it but I did find my stretchy britches when I was cleaning out a dresser drawer. I trashed them in a hurry!

Y'all got an event in your life that broke you from suckin' eggs?

Friday, June 9, 2017

The first divorce...

I certainly do not feel like I'm an authority on this business of folks divorcing, but I did live through one set of parents splitting the blanket. And I managed to survive a stepfather and at least nine stepmothers. Even though I'm not an expert I do have an theory about why a big majority of divorces ae on record and it's not because of that cute little bar room rosie down at the Corner Bar and Grill making eyes at someone's husband.

Let's go back to the days before us women even heard that song about burning our bras, our bridges and the candles at both ends. Back before women demanded rights when it came to jobs, children and even the right to raise her voice to her husband. 

As Sophia said on Golden "Picture This,":

Here is the dutiful wife sitting home raising kids and keeping husband happy.

Husband gets up in the morning and chooses a freshly ironed shirt and slacks from the closet. His shoes are polished and right there beside the dresser where his tie, socks and underwear area all laid out neatly. He dresses and goes to the kitchen where his breakfast is all ready: ham, eggs fried perfectly, hot biscuits, hash browns without a single burnt edge and pancakes. There's his choice of white syrup or dark, and six kinds of homemade jams on the table.

After breakfast, he picks up his briefcase at the door, kisses her on the cheek and tells her to have a great day. Right? There's laundry knee deep, floors to mop, dusting to do, grocery shopping to get done and four hours worth of ironing to finish before she starts supper that evening, plus the five kids will have to be fed lunch and dealt with all day.

At five thirty the husband walks back in the door to find a house that could be featured in "Better Homes and Gardens" or maybe at least considered for an ad for a soap commercial. The kids are clean, their little faces aglow from a scrubbing only five minutes ago. His slippers and evening paper are laid out beside his recliner. His supper, complete with candles, place mats, and home made cherry cheesecake is ready to put on the table at exactly six o'clock after he has a cocktail and relaxes for half an hour.

Dutiful wife has on a clean dress, high heeled shoes and has taken the bobby pins out of her hair so that it's fluffed out in curls around her freshly made up face. She smells like gardenias and kisses him sweetly on the cheek.

The husband pats her on the shoulder and says," Oh, honey, I had a rough day at the office. My associate had the flue and had to stay home. The "O" key on my typewriter stuck and that sandwich you packed for my lunch was dried out because you didn't get the waxed paper around it right. Try to do better tomorrow. You know how I hate dried bread. And how was your day? Did you have a nice gossip session with the ladies this morning and read a romance book all afternoon?"

And that, dear hearts, was the cause of the first divorce...and many more since that. It might have been the cause of the women's rights movement and for sure caused many folks to declare law as their major when they started to college.

Am I stepping on anyone's toes?

Friday, June 2, 2017

One Size Fits All...

The clothing business has gotten lazier and lazier in the past years. Used to be a body was a size 6 or 8 or 16 or 24 or even 52 and they could walk into any store or order from any catalog and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the outfit would fit. They didn't even have to try it on...just hang it in the closet and wear it when the time arrived.

Not so these days!

According to the experts, the more you pay for the article of clothing, the smaller the size on the label. So if I want to pay a fortune for a t-shirt, the label can say it's a small. If I don't mind looking at a tag that has a XL on it, then I can buy the same t-shirt for about one tenth of the cost. Seems to me like the whole clothing industry isn't geared to size but to ego. After all I can cut the labels out of both t-shirts since they itch anyway, and no one would be able to tell the difference. They might ask why I bought two just a like, but I can always tell them that one lets me have wings and think I'm a small and the other one is reality and tells me exactly what size I wear.

Then out of nowhere, the industry throws a new size in the mix: ONE SIZE FITS ALL.


My friend, Lula Rose, is only slightly bigger than the fleas the tom cat out in the back yard brings home. A size 3 hangs on her skinny frame like a burlap bag on a broom handle. Then there's cousin Viola Ruth who buys her clothing at the surplus tent store when it has a sale. Just tell me exactly how one size is supposed to fit both of those women.

Maybe they aren't talking about the garment fitting the whole body. It says, "one size fits all" so maybe that's the secret. It only promises to fit "all."

If the garment falls off Lula Rose's scrawny shoulders then is her all too small? Is it something she should see a psychoanalyst about? Maybe that's why her husband, Jimmy Don, has been seen checkin' out the bar room rosies down at the Y'all Come Back Saloon. He feels cheated because his wife's all is too small.

If Cousin Viola Ruth can't talk the garment down over her shoulders or up over her fanny then is her all too big? We need to figure out just exactly where this illusive all is located so we know if the one size will work, don't we?

It's flat out got me puzzled. Now I have to add this "all" business to my list of worries and the list was plenty long enough before. Last week I didn't even know I had an all and now I have to figure out where it is, whether it needs a few extra pounds to fluff it out so the new sized garments will fit, or if it needs to diet for a week or two. I need to know if my all looks best in spring colors or if it can wear winter colors without looking pale. I've got to figure out if it will blend well with my gray hair and do I need to buy silver rimmed glasses or will my white ones still work?

On the positive side, though, there are garments in every store that will definitely fit my all when I get it all figured out!

Friday, May 26, 2017


For a long time now folks have been concerned about the overpopulation in prisons. Seems there's not enough cells to accommodate the number of folks who have done something that warrants them one of the few rooms they have in those places.

Reading all about that caused me to realize why we have fat "cells". Not fat particles. Not fat jugs. Not fat packages. But fat cells.

We're told that we're born with a certain number of fat cells. It's evident that I got my share,  my neighbor's share and my friend's share when they were passing them out at the birthing process. Some pudgy little angel was sitting up there on a white, marshmallow cloud, looking down at the hospital maternity wards and said, "Hummm, let me see, yep, that one looks real good. Since I was napping through two births and having dinner on the third one and didn't toss any fat cells on those kids, then I'll just dust this one with their share. Zap!" And it was done.

So I got a whole prison of fat cells begging to be filled up. Most folks can pass a candy shop window without it hurting them too much. Not me! My fat cells cry out that I'm not utilizing the space. Since, even in youth, I was not known for willpower above and beyond the call of duty, I waltzed right into the candy store and my fat cells and I were very happy when I left.

I remember once when I was a teenager, I looked in the mirror and didn't like my overstuffed prison of fat cells. That's when I learned all about that horrid thing called a calorie, when I introduced my body to something called diet pop and commenced to not caring if there were a few empty cells in my prison of fat cells. I closed the prison down for good now that I was a slim, trim and mean machine. I knew how hard it had been to get control of the prison and now I would never, ever let even one of those dormant cells fill up again.

Oops! Six months later my prison was overfilled again. I drug out my little calorie book, started gagging on diet pop and got out the locks to shut that blasted thing down once and for all.

After that time I realized I could empty the cells but that didn't mean they were gone for good. It was always going to be there...willing, waiting, whining and ready. My body was tired of the eviction process and they really did whine every time we passed the Braum's store and there were posters of hot fudge sundaes. My fat cells were now multiple offenders but they kept getting released to beg for donuts, fried potatoes, candy bars and even pasta. There was no keeping them locked up and empty, not after they'd figured out the escape plan.

The only thing they whine about more than being deprived of their favorite fattening foods is when I tell them that if we eat that, we will have to ride the stationary bicycle or walk three miles. That's when they lay on the floor and pitch a regular old southern hissy fit. They are spoiled rotten but there doesn't seem to be any help for it so I've stopped trying to evict them.

And that's why, in the beginning, they were named fat "cells"!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Happy Mother's Day...

Some women declare that everything they knew about motherhood was learned from their grandmother, their mother or even Great Aunt Rosie. I give credit where it is due and those women certainly played a big part in what I know about motherhood. But most of what I've learned was while driving down a little state highway from Bells to Whitewright, Texas almost fifty years ago.

To begin with, the highway hadn't been resurfaced since my Grandpa was still a carpenter and he'd been retired for a long time. The road was like motherhood. There were days when I'd think I was going to get through the present phase in my kids' lives without a hitch and then I'd fall right into a hole big enough to swallow an army tank. So much for thinking that one good day meant another would follow.

The highway is a two lane road, one lane for going and one for coming back from Grandpa's house. When you become a mother, they don't let you go back to the delivery room if you don't have a current driver's license. And if they ask you to spell mother, you say T-A-X-I. There will be times when you'll be going down one lane of the highway and times when you are coming back on the other side of the road but from the time you hear that baby's first cry and you are a mother, you will never be sitting still again.

Sometimes you'll be traveling along with older cars that can't go more than 35 MPH and sometimes you're doing good to keep up with the little sports cars trying to make a seven mile straight stretch in two minutes. They're all going to the same place, right along with you. That old model with the tail fins will get to the PTA meeting just as surely as the brand new red sports car with a spoiler on the back end. The meeting doesn't even start until seven thirty and there's always plenty of doughnuts and coffee.

The scenery is always changing. At times the front yard is freshly mowed and the flowers are blooming. Other times it's full of dandelions and the flower beds need to have the weeds pulled up. Just like those children that made you a mother--they eventually get past the pull-up stage and to the school age stage but it still takes constant work to keep the bad things out of their lives.

Before you can turn around, they're to the driving stage and then the dating stage, the cutting-the-apron-strings stage and hopefully that long awaited responsible adult stage. But just because they've graduated from each stage and made you proud, does not mean you are finished because once you became a mother, you're always a mother. It doesn't matter if you are the mother of the multi-billionaire computer soft ware genius or of a ditch digger, you are still a mother.

See that crossroads over there that says you can go to Savoy one way or Ida the other? There's lots of times like that in motherhood. Sometimes we actually brake and think about where that road might lead or where the kids might be today if we'd chosen to take a different road. But rest assured, the journey will end where it's supposed to and neither of those roads would take us to grandpa's house where he always gave me the best advice.

And take a look at that 1948 John Deere tractor sitting out there in the pasture with weeds growing up around it. It's not sitting there because it is useless. No, ma'am. Do not make the mistake of underestimating it. It's just resting a spell. It has plowed more fields, cut more corners and knows more about life than any of those new fangled models that keep breaking down every time they hit a hard spot in the road. It might not be air conditioned or have that fancy radio stuff in it. The green paint might have rust spots, but honey, if you put some fuel in it and start it up, it'll prove it's got a lot of get up and go left in it.

As you travel down the roads of life remember to stop and smell the flowers this Mother's Day! And maybe even pick a bouquet of yard roses for your mother.

Happy Mothers Day to all mothers out there from this old 1948 tractor.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Little White House...

This morning I was looking out the kitchen window at a couple of young squirrels playing chase around the trunk of our old hackberry tree. I wondered how many stories that old tree could tell if it could talk. It was a big tree when we bought this place almost forty years ago so it's been around for a long time.

Had it been planted to someday provide shade for a little white house sitting out there at the back of the lot because when it was a baby tree, not everyone could afford indoor plumbing? As much as I sometimes wish I could crawl into a time machine and go back to that slow, southern life style of the eighteen hundreds, I sure wouldn't want to stay very long because I do love indoor plumbing.

However there were benefits of that era. No one had to stand outside in the cold with their legs crossed and doing a tap dance while they waited because a person did not tarry long once they got inside. There was no central heat and air and that little moon provided both ventilation and light. Jogging was invented because a person had to get back to the house to wash their hands.

There was no need to put a magazine rack in the little house because a person only had so much lung power and that was never enough to read a whole article. Folks learned early to take a big gulp of air before opening the day and to pray that they didn't have to inhale again until they were jogging back to the house to wash their hands.

It was not an absolutely waste of time. The entire inside was wallpapered in old newspapers and folks training for a walk on the bottom of the ocean (see previous paragraph about holding your breath) could read the latest news concerning the Dalton gang's latest bank robbery. Or if they turned their gaze to the other side of the place they could read all about the newest medicine in a bottle, guaranteed to cure everything from the seven year itch to ingrown toe nails. It might taste like warmed over sin but hey, it couldn't be worse than the eau de toilette in the little white house.

I've heard a story about Great Aunt Rosie's second husband. The first one died from what the coroner called an acute case of ear problems brought on by severe nagging. The second one did not read the death certificate until after they were married--bless his heart. Now this second one had a little more backbone than number one and when Aunt Rosie went to pitching a hissy for an indoor bathroom, he stood his ground and told her that it was not happening. She already had the prettiest toilet in the whole county. It had two holes and roses planted all around the outside and he'd even put a couple of nice seats that had lids on them over the holes.

It was winter time and the children decided they'd play a prank on Uncle Henry (That's number two. Uncle Herman was number one. She had some throw pillows that she'd embroidered with the letter H so she bypassed Cyrus and Vernon when she was looking for a new husband.) So back to the story: the kids in the neighborhood were building a snow man between the house and the toilet and about the time of the morning when he made his way down the path, they smeared a thin film of glue on both toilet seats. It said right on the bottle that it would dry in ten minutes and was guaranteed to stick for life.

Aunt Rosie missed him about noon when he didn't come to the table for lunch. He loved her chicken and dumplings and nothing ever kept him from being right there when she put them on the table. She went to lamenting, figuring that he'd done dropped dead in some neighbor's yard, and throwing herself a first rate bawling fit. After all there weren't many widowers with a first name beginning with the letter H left in the county. When he wasn't there at twelve fifteen, she just went on and called the undertaker and picked out a suit for him to be buried in.

In the middle of all the hullabaloo, what with the neighbors already bringing covered dishes of food to the house (they kept them ready in the freezer just in case because nobody wanted to be the last one to bring in food to a mourning family), she had to make a run to the outhouse. She found Uncle Henry sitting there, teeth chattering, blue from the cold and unable to utter a single word, bless his heart. They had to get a pair of pliers and take the toilet seat to the house with him since that glue lived up to its claim. But some smart kid who'd accompanied his granny to the house knew what to do to separate Uncle Henry from the toilet seat and by supper time he was able to partake a little of Aunt Rosie's dumplings and several of the dishes the kind folks had brought to the house in case he was dead.

The undertaker was one happy man because he didn't know how in the world he was going to get a suit on Uncle Henry with that toilet seat stuck to his backside. Uncle Henry's sister was really glad because she wasn't sure he could get into heaven in that condition. But the preacher was more than a little miffed. He'd already started preparing the funeral sermon and now it would be wasted.

Aunt Rosie figured her nagging had finally worked because the next day Uncle Henry called a local contractor and told him to come on to the house and put an indoor bathroom at the top of the stairs. He didn't mind giving up a bedroom for it but he did want a lock on the door and a magazine rack on the right side of the potty.