Monday, September 29, 2008
My relationship with Martha continued well into my pregnancy with Rea. When we told Syd that she was getting a new baby sister and asked her for name suggestions, there were two names she liked: Lassie…and Martha Stewart! And, as a pick-me-up during those hard months Danny even surprised me with a ticket to a luncheon at the Vanderbilt University Club to hear Martha speak! I have her autograph on something…somewhere.
Eventually the luster wore off ole Martha. I got tired of her, and frankly couldn’t understand how SHE wasn’t tired. Don’t you ever wonder if she just wants to roll over in the bed some morning and just say SCREW IT? That maybe a paper plate would suffice every now and again? Or how what about using paper towels as napkins. JUST ONCE. They don’t need starching and ironing, or rewashing for that matter. Wouldn’t they work - FOR HEAVENS SAKE?
Anyhoo, I did feel bad when ole Martha went to the pokey, but as usual she came out smellin’ like a rose, and now I have a new favorite show on the Fine Living Network and it’s called Whatever, Martha!
This show features Martha’s daughter Alexis and her best friend Jennifer. I can’t imagine what it would be like to grow up as Martha’s daughter, but the show gives you little glimpses. Each episode takes excerpts from Martha’s show and they MAKE FUN of her. These girls are completely irreverent and do not cut her any slack. I find it totally funny. It comes on at 11:00 p.m., so if you have a DVR you should set it to record, it’s a must see!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Eventually our Mom’s would became BFF’s so Joey and I logged a lot of time together. And as an only child, spending time with Joey and his three younger siblings afforded me the opportunity to experience things that otherwise I would have missed out on. The hubbub and chaos of a household with four kids was absolutely thrilling to me!
Joey’s dad had a dairy farm for years – watching milking was a blast to me! And who did you know that had a pet pig? Joey did. That pig thought he was a dog!
Friday, September 26, 2008
Uncle Gary lives in Kentucky, and his humans are my parents. Gary is a Shih Zhu, like Nelson, but he leans a little to the large side, but we don’t say that very loud around him (or my Mom), because they are sensitive about it, if you know what I mean.
My Mom had wanted a small dog of her own for a good while, so after a year or so without a dog she went and got Gary. Needless to say, Ronald didn’t think they needed a “damn dog” and proceeded to ignore Gary (as he is wont to do) for about three months. And par for the course, once he decided that: Gary was alright, pretty cute and worthy of his attention, Gary promptly transferred his heart and soul to Ronald. Just like every other cat and dog we ever had.
Uncle Gary and Nelson are pretty close in age, I think Gary is only a year or so older – so they are great pals. When we pull into their driveway after our long drive, Gary is waiting there to greet us and it is so cute to see. He and Nelson are like two little kids that cannot wait to play. They run and romp and never have a cross word: they fall right back in step with each other. I love to watch them. Like Nelson, Uncle Gary doesn’t like to miss a car ride; he goes to drop Leana off at school each morning. He’s rides to town with Ronald, loves to ride on the Gator, basically likes most anything on wheels.
Uncle Gary is a bit of a long distance traveler too, he comes here to Tennessee; he’s been to Texas and Michigan and even to Niagara Falls. But poor Gary suffers from separation anxiety, and as a result, he’s left a path of destruction in his wake. There is a hotel somewhere near the Falls that needed extensive redecoration thanks to Gary!
Every Shih Zhu should be so lucky to have an uncle like Gary.
At least Nelson thinks so....
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
The blog is written by a native New Yorker who just finished her anesthesiology residency at Columbia. I'm completely fascinated by her...she's married, has a little boy, a dog, is Asian, has a book deal AND does comic strips. She's like Superwoman. If that isn't enough, this person who has NEVER lived outside of Manhattan just moved to Atlanta - in July, and is pregnant.
Reading about her impressions of the South has been very interesting, and not always funny, to say the least.
But, she has not posted anything since September 1st. She has been blogging for years and had been updating regularly about her new baby, their recent move, her new job, she was twittering (blogging from her PDA) little quips during the day...and she just QUIT.
How weird is it that I am worried about someone that I don't even know? And I'm not alone. Her followers are posting questions hoping she is okay, that all is well.
I'm going to keep my fingers crossed that she's just taken a blogging hiatus and is focusing on her family and job. Maybe she'll be back soon to entertain me.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Or what the skeleton has to do with the grouping. Kind of like those trick questions from kindergarten. Circle the item that doesn't match...
Better yet, what would prompt you to begin to scrub all of these items (with your toothbrush) and simply LEAVE the house and go play with a friend?
AND NOT TURN OFF THE WATER.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Here's the team: Aimee, Chelsy, Bertha and Jo. The weather was beautiful - not too hot, not too cold. Just right, as baby bear would say.
We saw a crazed chipmunk run across the fairway and try to hide under one of the golf carts. I wanted to put him in my pocket and take him home. I'd have probably pulled back a nub and would have a new nickname like Stubby or something if I had touched him.
Miss Bertha was the ringer for the team. I don't know golf, but I'm thinking maybe she'd played a time or two before.
Although Jo hasn't played golf long she's coming right along, but Chelsy and Aimee gave me hope for my potential golf game. They were there to have a good time and I think there might in fact be a place on the team for me next year.
Now if I could just figure out who that Mulligan dude is they kept talking about...
Friday, September 19, 2008
Yesterday I went shopping in Murfreesboro and got home just in time to drop off my loot and grab Nelson for his afternoon joy ride. About five minutes into our trip a stench overtook my vehicle that nearly gagged me - and I had a sneaking suspicion as to how Nelson had spent his day.
He had slipped out the cat door and discovered something dead and had rolled in it. Now I was trapped in the car with him. And guess where he LOVES to ride? MY. LAP. We made the school pick with all of the windows down and the air-conditioner wide open, and me trying to keep Nelson in the passenger seat.
A search of the yard hasn't turned up Nelson's treasure - he has now been tortured with a bath, but I'm sure the first chance he gets he'll be back in the yard for more doggie cologne.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Merlin has persevered though and somehow managed to live a long time. We’re not exactly sure how old Merlin is, but I do know that he and Shelley are very close in age – and that makes him a very elderly old man in dog years.
For a long time, my Dad would shoo Merlin away and not allow him to hang around. But as Merlin has gotten on in years, Daddy doesn't have the heart for that anymore.
So these days Merlin spends all of his time at their house; he lives there more or less.
It’s not a perfect life, he doesn't get groomed. Nor does he make regular trips to the vet. But for the first time in his life food is readily available, they treat him for fleas and ticks and worm him when necessary. Merlin also gets kind words, ear scratches and his favorite – doggie bags from restaurants!
One of biggest improvements in Merlin’s life is having a warm, dry place to sleep in inclement weather. He has taken over Shelby's carport dog house: a huge box structure that is somewhat heated and cooled through a Ronald-type invention that allows air to escape into it from underneath the house. And if the carport is too cold, Merlin could slip through the doggie door into Dad’s shop – it is heated throughout the winter with a wood stove.
Merlin spends his days hanging out with my Dad and the other dogs – not too close, but near. I think if Merlin could talk he’d tell you that things are finally looking up. He’s got three squares a day and a roof over his head and some of the decent treatment he’s deserved all along.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
We were a threesome for twelve years ‘til Jay came along, but we decided to let him stay. Chris came into our lives as an eleven year old boy and stole our hearts – we decided we needed him too.
Danny and I added the first granddaughter, Syd, at our ten year anniversary and then Rea at our fifteen. Leana, Jay’s little girl, was the third sweet granddaughter to join Janny and Ronald’s clan and just this last October, Chris and his wife Tonya, added little Brilee to the chaos.
Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad - I’m not sure this is what you had in mind at the end of forty-seven years, but I surely do hope some of it is fun!
Monday, September 15, 2008
Along the highway near our home someone has planted a field of sunflowers - the field looks like it is probably twenty acres or so.
Early Saturday morning when we drove by for Rea's soccer game the sunflower head's were all drooping toward the ground, by the time I went back at 3:00 to make this picture they were all faithfully searching for the sun.
There is a No Trespassing sign up, but I forgot my big zoom lens. Sorry, but I slipped on the dark-side of the law again and crawled under the fence to take this close-up. I couldn't help myself.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
This made me think back to a favorite memory from my childhood, we had friends who would have a couple of bottle calves in the summer. I dearly loved when I would get the opportunity to help feed them. I remember them waiting impatiently in the shed bawling and then how they would butt and push at the bottle. They have the most expressive eyes with beautiful lashes.
My Mom wisely didn’t tell me what fate had in store for those calves; otherwise they would have been smuggled home in the back of the car. And today the thought of them being separated from their mom at such a tender age brings a lump to my throat.
But at eight and nine, it was great fun!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
At 9:46 A.M. I received a call from the STATE OF TENNESSEE letting me know that I had not informed them that MY child was not at school. Well, I didn't do anything, cause I thought it seemed like they had figured out that she wasn't there...
Then at 10:15 AM a call from the CITY SCHOOL SYSTEM comes to tell me that Rea is absent. Oh, really. Why don't you call the state? They already know she's missing.
So,finally I relent and called the school and say: Ummm, We keep getting these recordings about Rea being absent, she's SICK.
Oh, yes. YOU, didn’t call a let us know she wasn’t here.
(Thinking): Well, it seemed pretty self-explanatory to me. MY. CHILD. I. KEPT. HER. HOME.
I truly want to be understanding, but you see, Rea has never had an attendance problem. Plus, I'm her Mom. I hurled my guts out for eight months with that kid, birthed her, then nursed her for another nine months. I've wiped her snotty nose, loved her, wailed and gnashed teeth over her.
And if she’s sick and I keep her home, it's a management decision that I made. I’ll get you in the loop when I get damn good and ready.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Enough of that digression, this morning Syd was searching through the dryer for an elusive favorite sock...white, low-rise. Didn't I know the EXACT one she what wanted? Ummm...no. Sounds like the other HUNDRED orphans that I don't know what to do with, that I can't seem to throw away. But, whatever. She finally found something she was satisfied with and left the dryer door standing wide open.
Later after everything has calmed down I go into the laundry room and close the door and turn the dryer on wrinkle release...
AND, my dryer makes a REALLY, LOUD, THUMP.
And a BANG...
And that's when I remember watching Vivian hop into the dryer.
Into the nice soft towels!
It took a bit to extract her from the towels and she tried to act all dignified, but I'm thinking maybe she might not do that again!
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
We got to see Comet grow to be a HUGE cat – and I don’t just mean fat. He is long of leg, body and has an enormous head. He also happens to be one of the prettiest cats I’ve ever seen. He’s mellow and sweet and as he got older he developed a fascination with vehicles. He likes to ride and he likes to lounge in vehicles and would get in anything that was left with its windows down!
After about three years or so Comet’s family decided to move about three miles away to a home on a wooded lot of about four acres. It’s a lovely place – quiet and isolated. Something that you think a cat like Comet would love.
Comet’s buddy Tubby thrived at the new house, but not Comet. The country life was not for him – apparently he felt that a subdivision was where he belonged, and his old house was where he wanted to be. He came back EVERY DAY for MONTHS ON END. His owners would come get him. And he would simply come back the next day. I cat sat one week and I took him home FIVE times in a seven day period.
It always amazed me that he could cover that much territory that fast!
They tried everything. Old wives tales involving butter on his feet. They tried it. Complicated routes home in the dark. They tried it. Comet still came back. Nothing seemed to work.
For a while, the new owners of Comet’s old house were amenable to him moving in with them. They were cat people and liked him well enough. However, I think he wore out his welcome when they came home one day and found him devouring a headless bunny on the leather seats of their Mercedes Kompressor convertible.
Comet even tested the waters here for a bit. Coming in through the pet doors, making himself at home and helping himself to the cat food. I really liked him and was open to him moving in permanently. But apparently my cats must have had a meeting and decided that he was one too many. He came in through the pet door just before daylight one morning and my felines ganged up on him and beat the crap out of him. Literally. They all tied up at the base of the steps and when we got there and got the lights on – it was spewed all over the floor, the walls and the stairs! We caught a glimpse of Comet as he ran out the cat door and none of our cats had a trace of crap on them!
So, Comet’s family lived in the house in the woods for about eighteen months and then decided to move back to a subdivision. And you know what – he seemed happy again. He liked it. There was activity around, people to see, things to do, I guess. I’m not really sure what the draw is for him, but apparently there is some need there. He’s been in his subdivision for about four years now and seemed pretty settled.
But...about six weeks ago, Danny and I were walking in the back of our neighborhood and we stopped to chat with some new acquaintances. I noticed a cat at a house across the street from them, and that cat looked JUST LIKE COMET. There were several kids playing outside, so I asked about the cat and they said it was theirs. But it walked right up to me, let me pick it up and it had the most distinctive purr. I could have sworn it was Comet!
Sadly, Comet’s family has gone through a tough time, the Mom and Dad have split up and we don’t keep in touch with them like we used to. However, I came home and called the Dad and asked about Comet and he said that he was at his former wife’s house the last time he remembered, so I let it drop.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago – Comet’s former Dad called to say that in fact Comet has been AWOL for quite a while! I slipped down to the house and took pictures of the kitty and emailed them and 'lo and behold, it was Comet.
I wonder what prompted Comet to pack his bags and leave his home of four years and travel cross-country over four miles to return to the neighorhood of his youth? Don't you wish he could tell us?
The end of this story is this…Comet will finally get his wish. The little kids where he has taken up residence are crazy about him; he is hell-bent on living in THIS subdivision. His original people have finally given in to his will…
Monday, September 8, 2008
This tobacco is ready to be put into the barn - which is no small feat. The interiors of the barns are completely open and can be up to four stories tall with nothing but rows and rows of tier poles that the sticks of tobacco rest upon. The workers climb to the top of the barns and hand the tobacco manually up...No ladders. Usually no light. It's hot. Dirty. Dusty. Sneaky spiders. Occasional snakes. Racoons. Possums.
Once the tobacco is in the barn it can't sit long before they must begin to fire it or it will begin to mold. Firing is done using slabs purchased from sawmills. Farmers also use sawdust to cover the slabs to create a smoldering, slow-burning fire. They also purchase this from sawmills as well...sawdust piles were a great source of fun for us kids, but we were always getting in trouble for scattering the pile!
And now, I've saved my best picture for last...in the fall when Danny and I are driving home to Kentucky and we are almost there; when we've reached our home county and it's a cool Friday night and then, out of nowhere, we catch a scent of a barnfire.
And I will tell you, it makes me cry. Nothing, absolutely nothing makes me more homesick than that smell. It brings back so many memories of my childhood home, friends, comfort. I absolutely cannot explain it.
The other really unique thing about this tobacco barn is...it belonged to Danny's maternal grandfather Stone for many, many years. The barn stands on the farm where Danny's Mom grew up and is in good repair and is still being used to fire tobacco today.
When Danny was a boy of about eleven he began to have his own acre of tobacco; as did his younger brother Darren. This is the barn where their tobacco was fired. They both saved their money and bought brand new vehicles when they turned sixteen.
There was a time when every small farmer had a small "patch" of perhaps an acre of tobacco; larger famers would have more in addition to their row crops. Those days are gone and nowadays I hear of farmers who might have fifty, even one hundred acres - I can't fathom how they can begin to care and baby that much of the stuff.
Sadly, there is no way I can adequately communicate the hard work, craft, pride and skill that is involved in farming tobacco. I hope at least I've given you just a little glimpse of what's involved.
Friday, September 5, 2008
We cut it back to the ground thinking it was dead, but it suckered out this spring and now it's blooming again.
Hopefully it will be once again be the beautiful graceful tree it was.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Shell spends her days sleeping either in the office upstairs or in our bathroom on the cool tile floor. She suffers from arthritis and has an unusual rolling gait these days; we have to lift her in and out of the car, but she still likes to go when she gets the chance.
Last week she did make an attempt at chasing her old archenemy, the UPS truck. But her heart really wasn't in it. She was in the front yard doing her "business", the truck went by and it was what she was supposed to do, but I don't think she cares anymore.
I can’t decide if she’s losing her hearing or just becoming incredibly stubborn in her old age – I think it’s the latter. I guess when you get to be ninety-one you do what you damn well please.
Maybe even drive a golf cart.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
By the end of May or at least early June tobacco plants have been set and they are on their way to being coddled, prayed over, sometimes watered and generally having some farmer wring his hangs over them and hope for the best. I wish I could convey to you the weight, feel and smell of these beautiful plants, because it's really hard to describe. Once you've seen tobacco, it's unmistakable. And as late August arrives and the plants look like this, it's time to cut.
This wagon is filled with tobacco sticks, workers will walk through the rows and drop them every six plants or so. Workers then cut the stalk near the ground and gently lay the tobacco down and leave it on the ground to wilt so as not to break off the valuable leaves. They have to be careful not to let the tobacco sunburn though. After the tobacco has wilted sufficiently, they “spike” the tobacco onto the tobacco sticks, putting 5-6 plants to a stick.
After the tobacco is spiked onto the sticks it is then hung onto these funny looking wagons. These are scaffold wagons, many a little child has been injured on these things, because they are cool to swing from, the planks are fun to run on, it’s a challenge to try and jump on them while they are being pulled through the field…the list goes on. This wagon will be hooked behind a tractor, someone will drive it slowly (sometimes even a small kid) through the rows. Two workers will walk the planks as others hand the tobacco up out of the field onto the wagon. It’s a symphony in motion.
Now we have scaffold wagons fully loaded with cut tobacco waiting to be “run in” the barn. The farmers will let this tobacco set in the shade for a couple of days to let it wilt. You’ll see wagons like this tucked under shade trees or in sheds all over the county. The roads will be scattered with tobacco leaves and sometimes full stalks, over even sticks of tobacco that have fallen off of these wagons from when they transport them from the field to the barn.
I have a couple of more pictures for later and I'll finish up telling you what little I know about tobacco!
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Danny and I both come from several generations of tobacco farmers. It was simply how you made a living in that area. The county has rich farm land and most farmers had several acres of row crop, plus a small patch of tobacco as a cash crop.
This patch of tobacco is dark-fired and is the predominate variety grown; it is used to make snuff and chewing tobacco.
Part of this patch has already has been cut and I know it looks deceptively small. But let me tell you, if you ever started at one end of this with a hoe, those rows are LONG. Tobacco is still very labor intensive and hands on, very little is mechanized. These plants have been babied since early spring, planted as tiny, tiny seeds in a hydroponic green house, then transplanted by people on a setter, sprayed, hoed, topped, suckered and whathaveyou that I don’t even know and remember, till they look like hot house beauties.
Monday, September 1, 2008
My Mom taught me to eat them with salt; she also introduced me to bacon and tomato sandwiches when I was a little bitty girl. We skip the lettuce, Mom likes mustard on hers and I like Miracle Whip - keep that mayo away!
Could it be that my love of tomatoes is due to the fact that I've always had superior tomatoes to eat? Maybe I'm just spoiled.
We've been to Kentucky over the weekend and I've come home with a treasure-trove of tomatoes from my parents garden. They always plan a small garden, but then Ronald goes overboard on the tomatoes. I didn't count the plants, but I think that fifty is probably a fair number to guess.
Ronald grows Supersteak variety tomatoes, they are his favorite. He searches high and low for them each spring.
As you can see from the one that I am holding, they get HUGE. And they taste even better!