Saturday, February 7, 2015

Distressed beauty

I had some extra time last week, so I started a few home improvement projects.  After painting a small half bath—ceiling, walls, trim—I decided to tackle something else.

There is a bedroom suit upstairs that belonged to my maternal Great-Aunt Ruth Cole.  She was very special to me, more than most great-aunts.  After retiring from Northwest in 1963 she came to live with us. Aunt Ruth must have been in her late 60's when she retired.  My third daughter is named for her—Olivia Ruth.

Aunt Ruth Cole in the Northwest cafeteria
in the 1960s when it was located in
the McGhee Building. 
Back to the bedroom suit….it was probably made in 1920s.  It is not a fine antique set of furniture, but valuable to me.  But it did look a little granny-ish.  So I decided to update it with some of the new paint finishes available. The furniture had probably followed Aunt Ruth from Eupora to Texas, back to our house that was where Everblooms used to be, to our house on Lafayette, and to our house in the country where it was Hayley's bedroom suit.

I chose a Milk Paint in Sunset mixed with a little white.  Good advice came from Lumley Belle here in Senatobia.  From them I purchased the paint and got a few ideas.  Thanks Joshua and Joanna! Check out their Facebook page

Chest with painting by Northwest Art faculty
member Lawayne House. 

The mirror was really what made the piece look bad, so I found an old mirror frame that belonged to my Grandmother Dandridge and switched it out. It was probably made before or around 1900.

I'm happy with my little project.  What are you doing with paint????  Chalk or milk?

All this painting has earned me a lot of hot pad time.  That's OK.  Gotta keep clicking along.

Painted and distressed dresser and mirror frame. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Artist of Tate County Exhibition now in Northwest Art Gallery

The works of many Tate County artists is now on display in the Art Gallery at Northwest Mississippi Community College.  The show will run from Feb. 2-25.  The opening reception for the artists will be held Thursday evening, Feb. 5, from 5-7 p.m. at the gallery.

Tutor painting from the exhibition postcard. 
This exhibition features the works of artists who either live or work in Tate County or who are members of Sycamore Arts.  The artists list includes: Jean Bennett, Nancy Patterson, Lane Tutor, Mackey Harrison, George Holley, Sharon Williams, Jo Ellen Logan and Dana Finimore.

On display will be pottery, paintings—in a variety of media, fiber, quilts, and photographs.
Gallery hours are 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  There is no admission fee.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

I hate to start the new year off complaining.  But then, it is one of the things I do best.  I know I will sound like an old English teacher, but the popular use of the plural YOU has me concerned.

Since I grew up in the South, I am not ashamed to use Y'ALL when referring to a group of people.  It is, after all a contraction of you all.

Most of the country is now using YOU GUYS.  I hear it all the time.  The incident that motivated me to write about it was heard recently on an episode of one of those home improvement shows.

Anyway, the builder was showing the couple their new 400 square foot dream house (yuck) and said, "This is you guyses space.  I wanted it to be what you guys wanted."  YOU GUYSES??!!

What is wrong with YOU? YOUR??  As in, "This is your space?"

According to the dictionary, In standard Englishyou is both singular and plural; it always takes a verb form that originally marked the word as plural, (i.e. you are, in common with we are and they are).

Are people so afraid they will slip and say y'all that they go to extreme measures to use you guys?

I found this interesting map on that shows us who is saying you guys and who is saying y'all. The legend shows blue for YOU but I can't see any blue on the map.

So Y'ALL think about this and get back to me.  I'm ok with Y'all and You but I'm never saying Y'allses.

Statistics from North Carolina State University

Friday, December 19, 2014

Deception thy name is divinity-revisited

Here I am again, asking forgiveness for a blog re-run.  I haven't tried Divinity making this year since the weather has been gray and murky for most of December. Give me a good cold, sunny day and I might give it a whirl.  Hope you enjoy reading or re-reading this blog from 2011.

Never a Christmas comes and goes that I don't think about my Mama making Divinity candy.  There are two versions of this family legend.

Her version:  "I think I won your Daddy's heart by making candy.  I tried every recipe I knew, and he thought I was a really good cook."

Daddy's version:  "When we were dating, your Mama made the most wonderful candy for me.  After we got married, I soon realized that was all she could make.  Nothing for dinner."

My version:  Mama always made Divinity at Christmas.  The weather had to be right. No humidity.  I've seen her throw a whole batch away and wait a day to start again.  She had certain rules in this Divinity making.

1.  It needed to be cold
2.  No mixer was allowed
3.  I got to "lick the bowl"—meaning I got to scrape the bowl for any remaining candy when she was through.

When I looked through her little recipe book in the candy section, which just happens to be the largest section, I also found fudge, praline drops, peanut brittle, date loaf, caramel fudge,  and chocolate dip candy.  It's a wonder she didn't send Daddy into a sugar coma before they ever got married.

She sometimes made the Divinity with chopped pecans only. Other times she added chopped pecans and topped it with a perfect pecan half.  She was very adamant about the no mixer rule.  My Great Aunt Ruth, who lived with us, was the dietician at Northwest in the 1950s and '60s.  She usually had Mama make a beautiful tray of Divinity which was delivered to the McLendons.  R.D. McLendon was the president of the college.

We had a set of cooking spoons that Daddy had brought home from Germany in WWII.  They were oversized spoons. She would use one to beat the candy until it was the right consistency.  When she was through, there was usually a blister in the palm of her hand.

If she didn't think the temperature was right in the house, she would go outside and sit on the steps to continue beating.  And she also did this because all this whipping, whisking, and beating made her hot.

Peanut brittle was also a production. She would pour the hot candy, mixed with paraffin, right out on the kitchen counter.  I wanted to help so bad. If you grow up in a house with three women (Mama, my Grandmother, and Aunt Ruth) you don't learn to cook until you leave home.

Mamay, my grandmother, had a candy specialty too.  She made taffy the old-fashioned way—pulling it over and over until it turned from a soft ball into a long strip. When it cooled she would break it with the blunt end of a knife and put it on wax paper.  She would give me a little piece to try to pull.  It didn't get long and pearly white like hers did.  She would pull it until it snapped when she brought the two ends together.  Mine would go from a small, gooey ball, into a long brown gooey strip.  Needless to say, we didn't eat the one I pulled.

Marjorie Latham Dandridge in the kitchen in the 1950s when we lived in the house on Hwy. 51 where Ever Blooms was next to May's Pharmacy. She must have posed for this picture, because that was NOT her usual kitchen attire.

I've said all this to say what is really important. I brought my mother home from the hospital in 1993—21 years ago on Dec. 23—with a terminal lung cancer diagnosis.  She also suffered from Parkinson's disease, macular degeneration, heart disease, and chronic depression. Hospice came to set up equipment right before Christmas.

For those of you have lost loved ones this year or for those who have lost friends and family at Christmastime, I offer you hope. You never forget. But time does make a difference.

This Christmas I don't see Mama in those final years with oxygen, wearing a wig from taking chemotherapy, and looking pale. I see her sitting on the back porch at our house on Lafayette Street, in her "pedal pushers" and house shoes, her breath making a fog in the cold, beating Divinity candy.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Turkey Talk Revisited

There is something about this time of year that makes me more accident prone than usual.  I said "more" because my family will tell you that I'm a little accident prone all the time.  I'm going to revisit an earlier post, "Turkey Talk" that describes some of my past Thanksgiving mishaps.

It isn't even Thanksgiving and it's already started.  Last Thursday I finally persuaded my husband to get rid of the HUGE TV in the living room. The TV worked fine, but the remote was compromised since one of my grandchildren had eaten off the buttons at the top.  Every time the lights flickered, I had to move the batteries around and stick a toothpick in the remote where the missing buttons were.

You may have one.  This TV is about 15 years old and must weigh 900 pounds. ( I exaggerate)
It looks like kind of a square flat screen from the front. Oh, but looks can be deceiving.  There is a gigantic triangular part growing out of its back.

So we tried to pick it up and it was too heavy.  We brought my trusty Rubbermaid wheel barrow into the house, and the plan was to slowly ease the TV off the stand and into the wheel barrow.  One, two, three, pick up.

"Oh, my gosh Howard I can hold it!  It's cutting into my hands.  I have to put it down."

"Well, put it down then and we'll try again."

"Oh, my hands, I can't hold it, I'm going to drop it.  Oh my hands!"

Mine was bigger, but you get the idea.
I drop my side and it lands right on the instep of my right foot.

"Oh my foot!  Get it off my foot!"

He just looks at me, amazed at my inability to help move things.

"Get it off my foot!!!"

My foot immediately turns blue.  I honestly don't remember how he got it in the wheel barrow, but he did, and we wheeled it outside and had to pick it up again to get it in the back of the truck. I'm so glad the TV on the counter weighs 6.5 pounds. I've still got almost a week to go and hope nothing else happens.

Here are some other accident-prone memories.

About 1992, when we still lived in town. I had put a turkey in the oven in one of those roasting bags. When it was finally done and falling apart, the following scene took place.

Me:  Thank goodness it's done.  (I open the over door)

Howard:  Stand back. You know you are too clumsy to take that out of the oven without dropping it. (He reaches in and grabs the pan.)


Hayley:  (About 11 years old)  Olivia, Jason, come quick!  Daddy dropped the turkey on the floor!  Hahahahahahahaha.

Me:  Great.

Another one

About 1996.  I'm cleaning up the kitchen and washing the electric knife that I had carefully used to slice the turkey, without incident.  I reach across for something and slice my finger on the clean blade. Blood is going everywhere.  It looks like the Dan Akroyd  version of Julie Child on Saturday Night Live.

Me:  I think I need a cold towel.

Jason:  Oh man, you really sliced it.

Howard:  (From his recliner, not looking)  Do you need a bandaid?

Jason:  I think it's a little late for a bandaid.  I can see white stuff in there.

Me:  I think I better go get some stitches.

Howard:  Emergency Room! Your favorite place.  

Jason takes me to the ER and they don't take me immediately. 

We wait.  They finally call me.

Jason:  Can you tell them to hurry. I really didn't plan to spend all night here. I have plans.

Me:  I'll try. Sigh

Happy Thanksgiving. May there be no turkeys on the floor, blood on the counter or TVs on your feet.  Thanks for letting me post this turkey rerun.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Not Just Another Horse Book

Time for a book review. New author Malcolm Brooks gives us a splendid epic novel that takes us to the American West in the 1950s.  If you are just looking for a book about horses, this may not be for you.

Young Catherine Lemay heads West to investigate what historically significant artistic elements could be lost if a new proposed dam goes in, thus flooding the area.  Along the way she learns that she is way over her head.

She meets the mysterious John H who teaches her more than to love the stark landscape and art.  Her companion Miriam, a young Native American, gives her insight into her culture as she embraces the modern America.

Brooks' detailed descriptions of horses, characters, landscape, make reading more like watching.  He has  been compared to Cormac McCarthy and even Hemingway as he recounts John H's war memories.

The author says his inspiration was reading and rereading "Lonesome Dove" by Larry McMurtry.

If this is ever to become a movie, in my mind, it will take on the style of "The English Patient" or "Out of Africa."  You can see the characters, feel the texture of their clothing, smell the caked on dirt after weeks of riding in the desert.

I was surprised and thoroughly entertained.  Give it a shot.

Learn more about Malcolm Brooks at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sad smile sweet friend

I really don't want my blog to turn into an obit page, but some people were so special to me that I can't help but want you to know them through me.  This past week I said goodbye to my closest childhood friend, Wayne Carter Gulledge, attorney of Flowood.  Here are some of the remarks I made at his memorial service.

Thanks to a special friendship between my parents, Hayley and Marjorie Dandridge and Bill and Elizabeth Gulledge, Wayne was my constant companion from the time of my birth, exactly three months after his, until our high school paths took us in different directions.  But we have stayed in touch via email and letters ever since.
I want to tell you some of the things about Wayne that made him special to me. 
Sketch of Gulledge in his law school days. 

You see, I became an organ donor for Wayne at the age of 6…not in the ordinary sense of the word.  The night before I went to Oxford to have my tonsils removed, he called and asked my mother to save my tonsils for him if, “They were an acceptable specimen.”  I guess they were. We brought them home in a jar.  For the next few years when we started science in school, he would bring them in proudly and plop them on the teacher’s desk, much to her horror, and say, “These are Nancy’s tonsils.”

They eventually decomposed and lost their shock effect. When I had my appendix removed the next year he made the same request.  My appendix must have not looked too good, because the doctor said NO.

We had so many wonderful childhood adventures.  I was a typical giggly girl and Wayne was always beyond-his-years-smart.  When we toured the Wonder Bread factory in Memphis, I ate the center out of my bread before we got home and his was preserved in pristine shape until mold set in. 

Christmas at the Gulledges' with Bill Gulledge
I always got great Christmas presents, but Wayne’s were super-great and I couldn’t wait every Christmas to go over and see what he got….a robot, additions to his full-size train city in the basement, loads of fireworks. I was scared to go in his room because he delighted in my horror of his pet tarantula spider, various toads, and even a pet snake. But Wayne was an avid animal lover of the more normal variety of pets from childhood to the present.  From the collie of his boyhood days to the many cats over the years, animals were a vital part of his life.

He even found more delight in my horror of his hero, The Monster of Ceremonies SIVAD, host of Fantastic Features. He would call when it came on and make me watch it with him over the telephone and when it got creepy I would hang up.  When SIVAD himself made a live appearance at the then-Gloria Theatre, he had SIVAD sign his arm and refused to wash it for days.

He was an interesting boy who could spend hours looking through gravel for fossils; would go through piles of coins, hoping for a rare find; and he amazed me that he could place a magnifying glass just so and start a fire which he did when we camped once at his family’s farm property. My fires never lit.

When I did my girly giggle or got over-excited about one of our adventures, he would look at me over his glasses and tell me not to “get overjoyed” or to “compose myself.”

What I really want you to know about Wayne Gulledge is that he was ridiculously-intelligent, a sweet soul, funny, witty, serious, well-read, firm in his beliefs and a true eccentric.  When I sent him the name of a fiction author I was reading this summer, he informed me that he was reading non-fiction these days…accounts of religious relic research……outsmarted again.

I checked Wayne’s Facebook page last night and found many remarks from his friends in Jackson, many he had counseled through their own dark times.

So it is with a sad smile that I remember my friend, no more tears, you know he would tell me to “compose myself.”

My favorite pic, from the Tom Thumb wedding.
We were groomsman and bridesmaid.
Not sure he was sold on all
this pageantry.

Wayne C. Gulledge, 59 of Flowood and Senatobia, attended Senatobia City School, Harding Academy and Memphis University School where he graduated with honors.
Gulledge graduated with honors from Davidson College where he majored in pre-med.  He completed his Juris Doctorate from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1979.
While living in Flowood, he was an active supporter of Alcoholics Anonymous at the Jackson Chapter where served as mentor and counselor.
An avid animal lover, he supported MARL (Mississippi Animal Rescue League) in Jackson.
His parents, William Ralph Gulledge and Elizabeth Carter Gulledge, long-time Senatobia residents, preceded him in death. Survivors include his sister Anne Gulledge Boling (Charles) of Senatobia; a brother William Ralph Gulledge Jr. (Liz) of Springdale, Utah;
Nephew Jeff McGee of Senatobia; nieces Suzanne McGee Creekmore (Robert) of Senatobia; and Ashley Gulledge Franzen (Doug) of Seattle, Wash.; and several great-nephews and many friends.
Gulledge was a member of the church of Christ. A memorial service was held at the Senatobia church of Christ Nov. 6 and another service will be held in Jackson Nov. 15 at the Raymond Road AA. 
The family requests that memorials be made to the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Historical home in Barr shines

Thanks to the Democrat-Record for publishing this story on a historical home in our area. It just happens to belong to two of our best friends.  Check the beautiful spread in the newspaper for a look at more of the photos of the Crockett house. 

Nestled out in the country on Crockett Road in Eastern Tate County is one of the area’s most interesting historical homes.  Now occupied by Randy and Susan Crockett, the 120 year-old home is a sanctuary for birds, flowers, and friends.

Originally a dogtrot house consisting of two rooms and a porch, the house has had several renovations over the years, but the original log walls are still visible in the main part of the house. The house had been vacant for a period of six years following the death of Annie Dee Crockett who was born (1900) and died (1986) in the log cabin built by her father Samuel B. Crockett.

Miss Annie Dee never married.  She enjoyed a full life there in the little house where she tended flowers and was visited often by friends and relatives.

 According to Randy Crockett, the house had an addition that was in bad repair when he moved in, so he tore that out and remodeled the kitchen area.  “There is nothing straight about this house,” says Susan. “We knew the floors were not even and the windows were crooked. The house sits on logs for the foundation, so it is too low to the ground for anyone to get under.”  They later found out that Samuel Crockett was blind in one eye, which might explain why things are not quite straight.

Susan thinks Samuel Crockett used hand tools to construct the two-room structure.  Eventually the dogtrot was enclosed and a front porch added.  It had two original fireplaces.  The front door to the house today is the one that was placed there when that first renovation occurred.

Also original is one wooden gate post and decorative wire fencing of the period. On either side of the gate stand cedar trees, well over one hundred years old. Some believe these to be the oldest standing cedars in the county.

Cistern signed by Walter B. Crockett
Susan, who is an avid gardener and bird watcher, says she knew she loved Randy when they got married but says, “I would have married him for the dirt.”  She says she is blessed with great soil on the place thanks to Miss Annie Dee’s love of flowers and the vacant state of the yard for six years that let leaves and grass compost and enrich the soil.

Unusual objects are found in the flower beds surrounding the house include an antique plow, chamber pot,
old wash bucket and fountain turned bird bath. “People know I love old rusty things,” says Susan. “They give me things, and if they are not working, I plant them.”

One of those objects is a “planted” cistern that is signed by Randy’s great-granddaddy, Walter Barnard Crockett.  The inscription reads WBC January 31, 1922.  While Walter Crocket did not live in the house, he was a relative of the home’s owners, and put in wells and cisterns for a living.

On days when the temperatures are not near 100, the Crockett’s can sit on their back patio and watch the hummingbirds that come back every year.  “This year we have had about 200,” says Susan.  “If it rains or cools off, I have almost a solid wall of birds.  You always have a few mean birds that want to be the only one to drink from a particular feeder.  I call those birds ‘meanies’.” She estimates that she is making two gallons of nectar a day. 

The Crocketts do light construction, painting and minor renovations. After a hard day at work in the Mississippi heat, who wouldn’t like to sit on the back patio of a 120-year-old house, watching birds and looking at flowers, while horses slowly swat their tails in the nearby pasture.  The Crocketts feel very much at home.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Big Dose of Horse Medicine

I haven't felt great lately.  Today, instead of going to bed after church or reading a book, I decided to do something about it.  The perfect pre-fall weather triggered in me the need for a ritual that has been part of my whole life, except for the past 11 years or so.

Every Sunday in my childhood times, I went with my Daddy to the farm and rode his old mare Penny (whom you have read about before) while he did small tasks, always keeping an eye on me.

"I sure wish we had an arena to ride in," I'd say.  "Go ride in the orchard," was his reply.  "Be happy with what you've got."  I had it all and didn't know it.

We rode down what is now Dandridge Road, across Highway 305, down in the "bottom" land.  Later I graduated to other horses and brought my three children with me.  They rode ponies that balked and ran up banks, just to make them squeal.  The kids finally won, and we ended up with a couple of good ponies.

I was so lucky that when Daddy was unable to take us on a Sunday ride, we had a nearby farm neighbor who led us on great trails.  We rode around cotton fields and over ditches.  Sometimes I'd look back and see the smallest pony, Nugget, chest-deep in ditch water while the other horses were taking it about knee-level.  The kids just stuck their feet out and rode through.

My youngest daughter and I continued the Sunday afternoon riding ritual when we had our last show horse at a local trainer's barn.  As soon as we got home from church, we shed our Sunday clothes and put on jeans and boots and headed over to the barn for a lesson or just some riding.

Until today, I hadn't ridden since we sold that last show horse in 2003.  The Sunday ritual called, and I put on my back brace and went to ride.

Growing up with Quarter-type horses, I wasn't sure about this spotted saddle horse my daughter put me on, but we got along great.  My back was sore, the stirrups rubbed my bone spur in the wrong place—even my saddle squeaked with neglect.  This is the saddle I bought for another daughter and paid it off $25 a month for what seemed like forever.

That saddle is like me.  Still looks OK at a distance, but its parts are a little dry and rusty.  But on this beautiful, slightly cool day, I felt totally rejuvenated.  I may be in some health professional's office this week, but it was so worth it.  Sometimes things get in your blood that just can't be ignored.

Oh, and we had some pretty good conversation on the trail.  My heart is happy.