Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Edenton, North Carolina

Last weekend we took a little weekend trip up the North Carolina coast and managed to spend some time in a little town called Edenton.  It is a beautiful little town with some amazingly well preserved architecture sitting right on the Albemarle Sound. I (uncharacteristically) didn't take many photos but did snap these when we were downtown exploring:







Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Green Beans & Summertime

There are certain things that will whisk me back to summertime in my childhood immediately; the sight of a lightning bug, the sound of a Bob White, the smell of lake water, but nothing takes me back there quicker than fresh green beans.  Just putting my hand into a pile of fresh beans will send me back to hot summers afternoons in North Georgia faster than anything else.  There is just something about the cool texture, the sound and smell of a newly snapped green been that will transport me over the years to a spot next to a grandmother or aunt with a kitchen towel in her lap stringing and snapping away…Maybe those beans were being prepared for supper or maybe to be canned but there was something therapeutic about the experience.  Maybe the therapy was more rest from a long day or maybe it was where these women of my past made peace with theirs.

It is a ritual that I have continued and for some reason I have to do it like they did…with a kitchen towel draped over my lap and a colander to catch my newly strung beans.  Even though I have to buy my beans at the farmer’s market it is one of the simple joys in life…to sit there stringing and snapping beans.  Of course, the ritual isn’t complete until those beans are slow cooked on the stove all afternoon with a piece of side meat for flavor.
Yes, green beans and summertime...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

On becoming a Belle in the Carolinas....

I didn’t grow up thinking myself Southern.  No, I just grew up.  I was reared in the mountains of North Georgia by a family who had also grown up there. Now I did have those relatives that lived in South Carolina but they didn’t seem all that different from us…well, their accent was different, but I forgave them that.  My parents were good, decent people but found their parenting influence more by the homogenized world of television than the culture in which they were formed.  They even worked when I was young, to rid us of the twang that is native to our South as a matter of preparing for the future.  Not until I, myself, moved to the deeply Southern state of South Carolina as a young newlywed did I realize how Southern I might not be.  See, apparently, many in North Georgia fell under the influence of all those “you’re not from around heres” that had flooded into Metro Atlanta over the last few decades and we were no exception.

I was fortunate though, long before my introduction to the culture of the Carolina’s, to have the influence of a deeply Southern lady in that of my first employer or I would have been completely lost in the the ways of a Belle.  She was what you could completely and thoroughly label a Steel Magnolia.  I was a waitress in a little cafe that she owned in my hometown throughout high school and into my first year of college.  She took me under her magnolia scented wings and began teaching me what I had missed out from my homogenized, modern upbringing.  She taught me about the differences in cut crystal and what real silver is, how to pick my china pattern, how to make a proper tea sandwich (and how to keep it fresh), she even helped me develop and directed my wedding. I also learned through observation how to be strong and direct in the ways that only a Southern Belle can be.   She was a beautiful creature, inside and out.  She was strong and competent in the areas of life that men generally ruled before the feminist movement happened, but she kept everything rolling in a decidedly feminine way.  She was Julia Sugarbaker long before Julia came to life on the TV screen.  Southern velvet on a steel frame; oh, she was my idle.  She watered that little Belle seed I had inside just waiting to bloom. 
When I moved to South Carolina, the first time 20 plus years ago, I realized that I still had a lot of Southern learning to do and I had better do it fast!  Honestly, I think I probably should have brought my parents up on child neglect charges in the things that they managed to not teach me that I had to know…yes, HAD to know. I am only kidding.....just a little bit.

I have come to realize that my upbringing missed much of what was considered standard for bringing up children in the true South.  I never took Cotillion classes, I never wore smocking, my Mama didn’t pass down any china, silver or linens to me, nor did she teach me to make cheese straws.  It was shameful.  I was an almost an adult before I attended my first funeral and tasted my first (and last) tomato aspic.  But, deep down, lurking below the surface was a Belle who was determined (as all true Belles should be…determined, that is) to come raring to the surface. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gardening Genes

I love to be in the garden.  I don’t love the heat, the bugs, the dirt…the occasional snake…no sir, but, I love the garden.  The yard and gardens of a house are as much a part of it to me as the roof.  It has been this way my entire life and I have come to the conclusion it is genetic.  Although I don’t come from parents that ever cared one bit about gardening or yard work (I grew up in a household that pretty much considered mowing the grass to be the extent of gardening to be done.) I did grow up with gardening in my blood.

My Maternal Grandmother was my queen bee of gardening, both vegetable and flower.  She worked in her yard until the very last day of her life…literally.  She just couldn’t abide by a spot that didn’t have something planted in it.  Her yard was full of blooming bushes, bulbs, perennials and a very liberal dose of pass along plants.  After you got through the yard you would find her always overflowing vegetable garden.  She would plant row after row of tomatoes, beans, peppers, squash, okra, corn and the occasional watermelon…. every year.  Though she was a widow my entire life (I was in my 40s when she died) she planted a garden big enough to feed a small army and what she didn’t eat or give away she canned…every year.  The funny thing about her garden was that she always planted a copious amount of green beans but she didn’t even like green beans.  That remains one of life’s great mysteries. 
Not only did she like to tend her own yard and garden but she always liked to help out others in the gardening way… even if by force.  She wasn’t content to let ground sit idly by without something blooming out of that soil.  As my parents lived next door to her, they often became the unwilling targets of her need to spread seed.   My Grandmother was as determined to pretty up our yard as my parents were determined to ignore it.  So on any given day you might look out and there would be my Grandmother planting something my parent’s yard, much to their annoyance.  It is funny how small things that appear to be an act of generosity can get under the saddle of someone else!
Fortunately, I was often the recipient of her gardening spirit and generosity and most houses that my husband and I have owned have been left a legacy of pass along plants from my Ma Jones when the time for us to leave came.  One day, recently, my husband and I were at a dinner party and along with several other guests, were wandering through the lovely gardens of the host and the topic of plants came up.  Right off the tip of my tongue I was able to identify and share information about many of the plantings, which led someone to ask me how I knew so much about plants. The question surprised me for a minute and I realized the only explanation was my Ma Jones... So, if by gift or force, her gardening genes are still alive  and I hope and pray that somewhere deep down those genes were passed along to my children.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Sunday Social!

Summer has hit my blogging routine pretty hard!  I swear I just can't seem to get in the groove and keep it going.  As far as day to day summer is going along JUST AS IT SHOULD...with slow, calm, lazy days...maybe that is why I can't seem to find time (or inspiration to blog???)  We are working on a DIY project right now of DD's bedroom & bath which I hope to post about later in the week (she hasn't seen it yet and I don't want to spoil the surprise.)  In hopes of getting back into regular blogging I looked no further than Ashley's Carnival Ride Social Sunday and thought I would jump on the blog hop:


This week's questions are all about TV!  Which is fun for me since I have really developed TV watching as a recent in life pass time...seriously before the last couple of years I never watched! Yes, I know, I am an odd ball!

1. What is your favorite TV show of the past?  That would have to be Jericho!  It was a short lived series that I actually watched in completion on DVD after it was off TV.  I loved it (thought I found it kind of scary too!)
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2. What is your current favorite TV show? That would be Dallas!  Yes, it could have actually been my old favorite (but it wasn't because, honestly I didn't watch much TV back in the day!) Although it has only been on a few weeks, I am completely sucked in and you will find me on the sofa front and center on Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM.
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3. Which reality show would you NEVER do? I can't imagine doing ANY reality show so I think I could list all of them here....nope, nadda, never!  Not to mention I think to be on a reality show I would have to start swearing more and yelling at people and that just seems like a lot of work.

4. Which reality show would you LOVE to do?  See my answer to # 3 and that pretty much sums it up.  I am not crazy about reality TV...can you tell?

5. What is the TV personality/character that you feel is most like you?  I am not sure, but I think probably a cross between Julia and Suzanne Sugarbaker (Designing Women.) come to think of it I probably should have put Designing Women up there under question 1 too!
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6. Which TV character would you want to date? Wow, that is a hard one....I don't know if I have one!  Can it be a movie character???  If so, then any character played by Josh Lucas!  This is, of course, saying I was not married to the love of my life....of course.
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I hope you will leave me a comment or two and let me know y'all are still out there..all ones of you since I have been such a slack blogger and also link up with Sunday Social!