A Hog a Day Part 20

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve got to end this series, since it is the basis of my next book and I don’t want to give it away but there are so many stories I want to share.  One is about a suicide and a mean Christian.

Mrs Rivers was as old as the hills. I believe she was born that way.   Widowed more than forty years, no one ever spoke of her husband.  It was impossible for me to imagine anyone could have ever wanted to marry her, as unpleasant as she appeared.  Still living in the house where  she raised her children, her son had built a house on her lot. My mother often remarked she’d be a trial as a mother-in-law as we drove  by and saw her dressed in a dark, long-sleeved dress and sun bonnet working her garden with a push plow. I’m sure she refused her son’s offer to plow her garden, because no one would have expected someone that old to plow.

Old Lady Rivers, as she was known, was a practicing Pentecostal, though she attended the Baptist Church just across the road from her house and interfered with its runnings as much as she was able.  While she didn’t have a vote, she did have opinions and battered the faithful with them as often as possible.  She was the first at services, wakes, and funerals, eager to share “how they took it” and why.  Never losing track of when a marriage was made, she was the first to predict should a baby appear to be coming “too soon.”

She was a skilled craftsman of gossip, eager to bear bad news or scandal. In the days before telephones were common in our rural community, it could be a challenge to get messages to people in a timely manner.   One sad day, a poor old gentlemen shot himself in the head out by his mailbox. His panicked wife called her son from next door for help.  The son covered his father with a sheet, but left the body lying awaiting the sheriff. A neighbor hurried to a local store to call the school principal to intercept his daughter, Alice Fay,  a school bus driver, before she left school with a bus load of children.  Sadly, they missed her by about fifteen minutes.  The principal summoned the coach and together, they hurried to catch up, hoping to spare her happening up on the grisly scene at her parent’s home, not realizing a couple of her stops had been eliminated.  He was behind her at every stop.

Old Lady Rivers heard the news before the bus was due.  She waited on the porch and puffed her way out to flag Alice Faye’s bus down.  The principal skidded to a stop behind the bus just as Alice Fay opened the bus door to see what the excited old lady wanted, Mrs. Rivers propped herself on her cane and announced, “Alice Faye, yore daddy done shot hisself in the head! God help him, he’s going to Hell for shore!”

Alice Faye reacted, as you might expect, erupting into hysterical tears as the principal and coach rushed up to comfort her and restore order to the traumatized children, three of whom were Alice Faye’s.  It was a horrendous situation.  The principal drove Alice Faye and her children home, and the coach finished the bus route on that awful day.  It was a shocking announcement of tragedy Alice Faye and her children could have been spared.

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The More Things Change (part 2)

imageAs I hold my tiny granddaughter, I remember melting into Grandma’s pillowy softness, smelling her Cashmere Bouquet Talcum Powder, unaware she’d ever played any role but “Grandma.” Though I’d always heard Mother address her as “Mama” I stung with jealousy when I found out Grandma actually was her mother. Sure, I was her favorite grandchild, I later learned the other kids thought the same things, the mark of a good grandmother.

We only visited Grandma In summers, since she lived a few hours away.  I loved following her to tend the chickens where She made that praise Della, her Dominecker Hen for laying a double-yoked egg yesterday, remarking to the others they might consider doing the same. She told Sally not to start acting “Broody.” She didn’t have enough her eggs to “set” her yet. She counted her chickens and found Susie missing. Grandma got a long stick and poked under bushes till she flushed Susie out from her “stolen” nest. I felt so important crawling way under the bush bringing two warm eggs. Chiding Juanita, an ornery red hen, she threatened to invite her to Sunday Dinner, saying “You’ll make some mighty fine dumplings if you don’t lay a couple of eggs this week!” I wasn’t that invested in Juanita and don’t recall whether we had dumplings or not.  Once I had the thrill of seeing Grandma fearlessly make short work of a black chicken snake lounging in a nest with an egg in his mouth.  Unbelievably, she grabbed him barehanded and slung him to the ground, where she dispatched him to snake heaven with the shovel she always carried outdoors.

Daily, we walked her yard, shovel in hand,checking out the flowers, moving one or two that needed a better home, filling a hole here, rooting out a weed there.  She gathered tomatoes, okra, and squash from the garden, later serving them at lunch, tomatoes still warm from the sun.  Before one, we made the ritual walk to the mailbox with a letter or two.  Grandma often got two or three letters a day since she wrote to numerous friends and relatives.  She’d read these to us as a group, “Oh!  Winnie’s girl Opal’s little girl is a princess in the school play.  She’s your third cousin.  All of Winnie’s kids did good.  They were all smart as whips!” going on to tell us stories of her girlhood with the distant Wiinie.

I envied my unknown cousin, though I’d never wanted to be a princess before or since.  Sometimes, the letters included pictures, which we poured over.

As my granddaughter and I relaxed in a dear friend’s garden, I collected cleome seed to share with her sometime down the road, a reminder of this day.  I do hope my little one recalls sweet stories of our our times together.

It’s My Party

WC
Uncle Jerry drank a little. In fact, Uncle Jerry never drew a sober breath from the time he cashed his paycheck at the liquor store on Friday after work until he got back to the shop on Mondays with a killer hangover. One time he told Bud, “I get paid today and I gotta get drunk. I had the flu all week and feel so bad I cain’t hardly drag. I shore dread it.”
Bud, who’d never been initiated into drinking at the time asked, “Uncle Jerry, if you feel so bad, why do you HAVE to get drunk? Can’t you take a weekend off?”
“Oh no!” Uncle Jerry told him. “I always stay drunk on the weekends.”
He must have been concerned about his reputation. He was Aunt Myrtle’s second husband. At the time I knew them, they’d been married over forty years. If Aunt Myrtle stuck by Uncle Jerry, I can’t imagine what her first husband must have put her through.
Mother went over to visit Aunt Myrtle one Thursday morning, not realizing Uncle Jerry was on vacation. They went out to the garden first to admire Aunt Myrtle’s tomatoes and the green beans that were starting to put out, picking a few for Mother. When they made their way into the kitchen, they encountered Uncle Jerry down on his hands and knees in front of the icebox (not refrigerator). He’d pulled the drawer out and was eating onions and turnips raw with the garden dirt still clinging to them. Considering it was Uncle Jerry, neither one said anything.
He looked up at them and remarked. “This is my icebox and I’ll eat anything I G__ D____ please.” They got their coffee and took it out to drink in the shade.
“Don’t let Jerry worry you none. I forgot to tell you Jerry was on vacation when I told you to come over to get tomatoes,” noted Aunt Myrtle.
“Oh, that’s okay. It is his icebox after all,” Mother replied.

Don’t Spin Your Greens, Granny (Part 2 of Multi-Function Appliances)

greens 2https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/02/04/high-efficiency-multi-funtion-appliances/

When you live in the South and visit old folks in the country, the first thing you have to do is admire their garden. You’re liable to come home with a “mess of greens.” For the unenlightened, greens include turnips, collards, or mustard greens. Boiled down low, with a bit of pork, and garnished with a splash of “pepper sauce,” greens make a delicious meal. A true connoisseur polishes off by sopping up the juice, or pot-liquor with cornbread. If you’re above the Mason-Dixon Line, try a roll.

That’s the happy ending. Now, we get down to the nitty gritty, literally. Greens have to be “looked and washed.” The first step is dispossessing the wildlife who habituate greens. Nobody wants to find half a worm or a cluster of bug eggs in their pot-liquor. You have to give both sides of each rumpled leaf a good look, wash, and then wash and rinse copiously.

I’d heard the glorious news greens could be washed in the washing machine, cutting down tremendously on prep time. The next time Bud came in wagging a bag of greens, I didn’t moan like normal, having recently heard the good news that greens could be washed in the washing machine. As usual, the basic information registered, not the total technique. I loaded the washer with dirty greens and detergent and hit the start button. Quite a while later, the alarm sounded, and I went to retrieve my sparkling greens. Alas, no greens remained, just a few tough stems and a few bits of leaves. A follow-up conversation with my friend revealed that I should have only washed them on gentle and not continue to spend.

Though I hoped he’d forget, Bud came in that night expecting greens. I feigned innocence. “What greens?”

It didn’t fly. “The greens I brought in yesterday.”

It’s hard to come up with an excuse how precious greens went missing. I gave up and told the truth, though I don’t like worrying Bud stuff with gets his blood pressure up. I’m considerate that way. “They went down the drain.”

“How in the Hell did they go down the drain?” I don’t know why he gets all up in my housekeeping and cooking business.

“They just did. Now don’t keep asking nosy questions!”

“Exactly what drain and how did that happen?”

“The washing machine drain.” I hoped if I answered matter-of-factly, he’d move on. I didn’t work.

“You put greens in the washing machine? What in the Hell were you thinking?” I hate it when he apes back what I’ve just said. I’ve told him it gets on my nerves.

“It takes forever to look and wash greens. Jenny told me she puts hers in the washer and it works great. I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to put them through spin.”

“Grouch, grouch, grouch @^%&( , #@$%! Don’t ever put )(^%&# greens in the washer, again.”

“Okay, okay. Don’t go on forever about it. I get tired of your nagging”

Since then I’ve been careful not to spin them. It works great.

Little Farm Boy Warrior

imageWe had a lovely little backyard garden just before my son turned three.  Everyday we’d tend it, eagerly checking the progress of the flowers, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, and one lone watermelon that had somehow volunteered.  We weeded, watered, and discussed every day when our watermelon would be ready.  John was Continue reading