Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas from Barr

I think I posted this little guy last year, but how can you not smile at this longhorn with Christmas ornaments hanging from his horns.  So goes the theme on my tree.  No formally-decorated tree in this house. From the little bears and angels that Jason and I had on our little tree the first year we were a family of two to the Wee Care ornaments Hayley and Olivia made, our collection of English riding ornaments, and some that remind me of my first Christmas with Howard and the many that have followed, our tree is full of memories. Every year I buck and snort about having to put up the tree, but when I get out our boxes of memories, I'm always glad I did.  Merry Country Christmas from Nancy, Howard, Olivia, the Hayes and Giberts and the Patterson pack of dogs!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Taking a break

I haven't posted a quilt pic lately. I'm actually taking a break from quilting, unless I get caught up with Christmas projects and find a little time on my hands.  I recently did this couch quilt for my friends Randy and Susan Crockett. They live just behind us in a century-old farmhouse. It may not have been the hardest pattern I've ever done, but the scraps from my other colors came from some of my favorite pieces of fabric.  If I fall off the quilt wagon, I'll let you know.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Buzzards signal needed action for MIC

Mississippi Industrial College's Carnegie Hall and (left) Washington Hall. 

Ever since I lived in Holly Springs, Miss. In the 1970s I’ve been fascinated by the fading beauty of Mississippi Industrial College. When I passed by last week, near dark, two things immediately caught my eye.
Catherine Hall, one of the front campus residence halls, had been taken down. According to Rust College spokesman Adrienne Phillips, “It was unsafe, and we were afraid it would collapse.” Rust College purchased the property in 2008.

Buzzards look down from the roof of Washington Hall. 
The second attention getter was that the rooflines of the two remaining prominent buildings were lined with vultures!  Around here we call them buzzards. I kicked myself for not having a camera, so I returned about the same time of day this week, and there they were, looking down with arrogance as I walked quietly around the grounds of the vacant college.

A group of black vultures gather around Washington's chimney. 

In case you aren’t familiar with Mississippi Industrial College (MIC), it is located on the West side of Highway 7, across the road from Rust College. It was established in 1905 as a private college for African American students. It closed in 1982 after enrollment declined with the integration of local community colleges in the late 1960s.

The beauty of those original structures is magnificent. Carnegie Hall, the main auditorium and gathering place, was built in 1923 with funding from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation.  Carnegie, as well as Washington Hall which served as the administration building, were examples of Jacobean and Colonial Revival influence.

“We are trying to secure resources so we can shore up these structures until we can find the funding to restore them,” said Phillips.

We need to hurry. Maybe those buzzards are our warning. The buildings are full of decay, broken windows, boarded doors, a belfry that is open to the sky, trees growing from inside the structure and escaping through a window.  

Turkey vultures on their perch.

For more information on MIC, you can visit Preservation in Mississippi’s blog at or the Rust College website at

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cousin Talk

We have this girl cousin routine down to a fine art.  I'm so jealous.  My childhood was filled with older boy cousins. I wasn't a spec on their radar.  My older girl cousins, who I thought were so cool, lived too far away....New York and Virginia.

So now when I get the grandchildren girls who are "7 apiece" as my daddy would say, here is how it goes. When they get in the car, they talk non-stop and giggle all the way to my house. We stop for pizza or cook whatever they want and they eat and compare portion sizes and demand special drinks such as Sprite with orange or cranberry juice and "crunched up ice."

"Do you want to take a bath one at a time or together?"  A collective "TOGETHER!"  That will end soon.  More giggling ensues. They turn on the bubbles in the tub and wash each other's hair using about a cup of shampoo each and wonder why I have a hard time getting the shampoo out.

Then it's off to bed to watch a movie and giggle more. As different as daylight and dark, one goes to sleep easily, the other not so.

My favorite part of the routine is the early morning. I hear them wake up and stomp around a little and then they dive under the covers and talk softly.  Less giggling.  What do you talk about when you are 7? They count missing teeth and discuss whether they are "girly girls or tomboys" and decide they are a mixture of both. I can't hear much from downstairs.  I can only tell it is serious cousin talk.

I call them for breakfast and all gets quiet.  You see, they are still "asleep."

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two Community Reminders!

Just a little reminder to plan to come eat Soup & Spuds with us Sunday, Nov. 11 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Senatobia Community Center.  Proceeds benefit FOSA's Spay/Neuter program.  I can't say enough good things about our local Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter (  They do a great job of placing animals in forever homes.  However, we need to educate the public about the need to be responsible pet owners and spay or neuter their pets to avoid unwanted animals.  I adopted Jilly almost three years ago. Someone had turned in two litters of 21 puppies!  Can you imagine. They were all beautiful.  She is such a joy.

Second item of interest:  Sycamore Arts is holding a juried exhibition at the Art Gallery on the Northwest campus. The show is absolutely beautiful! I enjoyed the reception last night with some of my favorite people.  Do yourself a favor and find a time to go.

Bill and Genell Clayton, Nancy Patterson, Terry and Joe Pegram. Genell's New York Beauty quilted wall hanging captured third place in the exhibition.
Three of my favorite people at last night's opening reception for the Sycamore Arts Exhibition on display at Northwest's Art Gallery. (L to R) Lane Tutor, Terry Pegram and Jo Ellen Logan. Tutor and Logan had works in the exhibition.

Monday, October 29, 2012

No words needed from me

Front pasture in Barr
Fall chevron quilt

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soup & Spuds coming Nov. 11

Dogs like this beautiful boxer have a second chance at life, thanks to the efforts of the Senatobia-Tate County Animal Shelter.  Sunday, Nov. 11, interested persons can do their part by enjoying fall meal of Soup & Spuds at the Senatobia Community Center.  Proceeds will go to the Spay and Neuter program sponsored by FOSA, Friends of the Shelter. Plates are $10.

“We have been so successful with our spaghetti or Pasta for Pets lunch in the spring, we thought we’d add a fall event,” said Lynn Resneck, FOSA president. “What would be better on a fall afternoon than loaded baked potatoes and homemade soups?”

The Senatobia Community Center is located on Southern Street.  The lunch Soup & Spuds will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The lunch can be eat-in or take-out. Guests can also pick up a copy of the new FOSA 2013 calendar.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Certified quilt appraiser, historian visits Cotton Treasures

One of Connie Brown's circle quilts
I think I've been watching too many TV shows like "American Pickers" and "Antiques Roadshow."  When I found out that a certified quilt appraiser was coming to Cotton Treasures, I snatched one of my treasures off the wall and unloaded another from a trunk and headed down to see exactly what I had. 
Cotton Treasures in Senatobia hosted a Meet and Greet with American Quilter’s Society Certified Appraiser of Quilted Textiles and professional quilt artist Connie Brown of Asheville, N.C., on Oct. 11.
“Connie showed quilts in her own collection ranging from antique quilts to a few of her recently-made quilts,” said Chantay Rhone, Cotton Treasures owner.
Guests brought antique or vintage quilts to have evaluated. Brown looked at each quilt brought by the guests and answered questions and discussed fabric selection, block name and repair if needed.

Connie inspects my orange Aster quilt.

She looked at mine, one a Grandmother's fan pattern that was a family friendship quilt dated 1939.  It is losing the signatures. Connie told me that if I didn't want to sell or auction it and keep it in the family, I could restore the signatures. What's the quilt worth to me without the signatures?  It is still beautiful, but I want to hand it down bearing the names of those women (including my grandmother, great aunt and cousin who made the quilt) in this small community of Barr.
The other quilt was purchased at an estate sale. I knew nothing about it except that I liked it. The background is orange with what I thought was a Dresden Plate pattern hand appliqu├ęd to the background. She told me it was also from the 1930s and that the pattern was actually Aster.  When I told her what I paid for it, she said I "did good."  I knew I did because I love it. 

Connie shows off one of her art quilts.

Brown, originally from Memphis, lived in Whitehaven and graduated from SBEC (Southern Baptist Educational Center) in 1979.
“My family has always had a place on Sardis Lake, near the Holiday Lodge. I even waited tables there during my high school years,” said Connie.  She attended the University of Mississippi for two years, and her parents—Sam and Pat Griggs—retired to Harmontown in 1985.  Following the death of her father, Brown’s mother remarried, and she and her husband Paul Sherwood live in the same spot on Harmontown Road.
Connie and her husband Ted Brown of Germantown and son Dusty moved to Asheville in 1989.
“In 1990 I took my first quilt class and was hooked,” she said. “I’ve been making quilts ever since.”
Connie became an AQS Certified Appraiser of Quilted Textiles in 2009. Her quilt, Color Cascade can be found in the September 2012 issue of American Quilter magazine.
She is a juried member of Southern Highlands Craft Guild and her quilts have been offered for sale and for viewing at the Folk Art Center in Asheville, N.C.
“If I am known for anything, it is for my circle quilts. I have made variations of the same pattern in many different colors.” She has also done art quilts and other patterns.
Since Brown has family in this area, she returns frequently to Mississippi.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Southern Gold

Tiny Lady Peas with a few baby butter beans mixed in.
Am I the only one who loves Lady Peas?  Have you ever eaten them?  When I was a little girl, my grandmama Dandridge, Ollie May Dupuy Dandridge, would plant them for me every summer. She would say, "Sugar, I planted you some Lady Finger Peas," as she called them. I knew this was an effort for her. She was in her mid-sixties when I was born—the last of the grandchildren.

She still kept her garden, picked it, and sat and shelled those tiny peas until she had a "mess."  My grandmama—that's her there with my grandaddy Dandridge—was barely five feet tall. They were famous in these parts....Barr, Looxahoma, Thyatira.  The entertained guests on Sunday afternoons on the big front porch of their farmhouse. She never learned to drive, but Grandaddy would make the rounds each Sunday morning and gather up area children to go to church.

Cathey Spotswood Dandridge
and Ollie May Dupuy Dandridge

He was quite the country gentleman, always tall and dignified, never wearing a cap or hat.  Mr. Cathey was health conscious in a time when most people ate whatever they grew.  He took afternoon naps in a bathtub of cold water to get his blood circulating.  Probably felt good in that hot old house in a Mississippi summer.  If plumbing or electrical work was to be done it was probably done by Miss Ollie.

Grandmama and Grandaddy left Tate County with their three sons after my grandaddy came back from WWI and was told he had TB and should move to a drier climate. She drove, remember I said she didn't drive, all the way out West with their three boys where they settled in West Texas and later New Mexico.  Daddy said when one of the boys would pop up from the back of the old car, she would swat them back down.  It was a long trip.

When my grandaddy's mother got sick, they returned some 11 years later to run the Dandridge farm here in Barr.  Everyday she fed countless men for lunch—grandaddy, her sons, grandsons and little girl me in the summer.

I never recall her sitting down to eat a meal, but standing at the edge of the table waiting to refill a glass or bring another dish from the kitchen. When they were finished eating, she fed the farm workers and the dogs.

But back to the Lady Peas.  Howard and I had planted them once before.  Last year he tried to get seeds for me and there were none to be found. Olivia gave me a pea cousin for Christmas—Zipper Cream Peas.  They are good, much rounder and much larger.

So this summer, the credit has gone to Howard for putting up with these tiny peas.  You do have to shell for what seems like hours to have a little pot for supper.  To me, those peas are the ultimate Southern delicacy, and Miss Ollie was a true Southern treasure.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hello little ghost

I'm celebrating the first day of fall.  And no, this is not a snowman, it's a little ghost.  Something about beautiful fall weather, coolness inspires cleaning. I did a major cleaning this morning.  Seems like a waste of good time, but good music made it go faster. I love the way the sun comes in the kitchen window at a little different angle. After washing floors, I washed Silky Terriers and everything else I could find.

Out came the fall decorations.  I know it's a little early for Halloween, but we really don't have many trick or treaters out here in Barr, so I have to create a festive mood for the grandkids, and me. Then celebration continued with more good music, candles in a fall scent and the grand finale,
one of my favorite movies, "You've Got Mail."  I know, I know, a chic flick. But it may be the closest I'll get to New York in the fall.

"Delicious autumn!  My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth
seeking the successive autumns." 
-   George Eliot

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

There's a clock in the trunk

About 1988 or so, Howard gave me a Howard Miller mantle clock.  It was beautiful and chimed on the quarter hours. After we moved to the country, it never really worked well. Maybe the move was too much for it. I put it in a safe place in the back of the closet.

This clock has contributed to one of those family sayings. I think I have told you a snippet of this story before, but I'm telling you again. The day we got the clock, Howard and the little girls dropped me off at the hospital to visit with a dear friend and her mother who was recovering from surgery. After they let me out, they went on down to Poplar Avenue to the clock shop to get my Christmas present.

Hayley must have been about 7, making Olivia 4.  It was raining that day. After they came to get me at the hospital and I climbed in the car, dried myself off and put up my umbrella. Off we went. I didn't know where they had been while I was with my friend.

We stopped at the first red light. I heard Olivia say from the back seat, with all seriousness, "There is a clock in the trunk."  I didn't say a word. Howard smiled.

So anytime we are keeping a Christmas or birthday secret, we say, "There is a clock in the trunk."

Last week when I found it under the closed underneath the stairs, I got it out and looked it over. Still beautiful, but the hands were bent and were missing the little screw that held them in place. After I put it on the mantle it chimed!  It didn't know what time it was, but it chimed.

I called my friend Katie Powers of Katie's Antiques in Independence and asked if her husband could take a look at it.  He did. And today I brought it home and placed it in its rightful place, and it is chiming up a storm.

I was afraid my nervous little Silky Terrier might bark at its lovely sound, but so far so good.
So glad I found my clock in the closet.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Quilter's Trash

I usually put scraps in ziplock bags to use later, but these tiny scraps are just too little. They are so pretty in my white wicker trash basket, that I'm going to have a hard time dumping them.  A coincidence, since the quilt we at Loose Threads are working on is a pineapple quilt from the Trash to Treasures book. We are all looking forward to getting things going in our new location next Thursday, Sept. 6, in our new location at Cotton Treasures in Senatobia. Want to learn more?  Come to this information sharing meeting and see if we are the right quilting group for you.  We are all so excited!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Jobs required for pony and mule

Last week my son wrote me an e-mail and asked if I had pictures of Homer.  I told him I was sure I did, but did not know where they were. Homer was a miniature mule.

This morning I decided to tackle the horrible task of cleaning out the closet under the steps. In that odd-shaped space were crammed Christmas ornaments, blankets, boxes of unknown items, and a box that held Jason's 4-H record.  He did one on Dog Care when his grandaddy let him supervise the pregnancy and delivery of a litter of red Australian Shepherds.

In that file was the picture of Homer.

Bubba Rhodes (left) and Jason Gibert driving Homer in the Senatobia Christmas Parade.
On the back of the cart is the sign, "Dandridge Leather Shop."
When the kids were little and thought they needed a pony, my daddy—the ultimate trader—swapped a green-broken, non-colored Appaloosa mare for Homer the miniature mule, and Nugget, a paint-colored, chestnut and white, Shetland pony.

Daddy thought animals needed jobs, so he made sure Homer and Nugget could earn their keep.  Nugget could be ridden, but barely. When we first got him, he would let you ride awhile and then go to the nearest post and scrape his bridle off.  The girls put a stop to that.  Before long Hayley could ride him around our backyard pasture bareback.

Hayley and Nugget get in an afternoon ride in the pasture at Westwood. 
Daddy made Nugget and Homer a cart and made sure both could safely pull it before loading it with kids.  I walked beside Jason and Bubba at the Christmas parade, holding on to Homer's harness every time we stopped. He would walk forever with that cart but was not so good at stopping.

We soon found out that Homer could not be ridden. He would upset the rider and then look down on him or her with his sad-looking, big-eared face.  But he was great at halter breaking colts.  Remember I said he usually got his way. If Homer wanted to go one way, the colt had no choice but to follow.

See what I mean?
I guess Homer and Nugget were about five or six when we got them. Their hair was long, they needed clipping and worming.

In time they turned into respectable-looking guys. Nugget was our pride and joy in local shows and 4-H.  Both girls showed him in pony pleasure, they ran him in barrels and poles (he couldn't go very fast), and he even captured a Reserve Grand Champion Pony Gelding award in 4-H.

We had birthday parties and Nugget was the entertainment—pulling the cart or letting kids take turns riding while I led him. We took Nugget and another pony Ace to the Very Special Arts Festival at Northwest and let children with disabilities take turns in the saddle. You should have seen their smiles!

Jason and friend John Alexander took a turn in the cart one July 4th.
Homer was sold to a man down the road from our farm.  We were sad to learn later that he had died. We sold Nugget to a little girl who wanted a beginner barrel pony after Olivia was too old to show him.  I remember Daddy saying, "This pony may not be the sharpest one in the ring, but you'll never have to worry about your little girl on or around him."

I've been known to say that horses don't love people—not like dogs do. But when Hayley and I saw Nugget at a barrel race years later, I had to rethink that statement. He was standing tied to a trailer, beginning to show his age and taking a little nap.  She walked up to him from the side and ran her hand down from his ears over his nose. He opened his brown eyes and inhaled deeply. I watched as he nestled his head into the pit of her stomach. He took another breath and the sighed loudly.

Olivia lets her favorite cat Patches take a ride on Nugget.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Morning Barr!

There are disadvantages to living in the country.  When you run out of a particular cooking ingredient, you have to drive 10 miles to get it.  Your dogs go for a morning romp and come back full of cockleburs and smelling like cow poop. (That was yesterday's adventure.) My city grandchild was standing on the diving board of our pool looking around and said, "Nonni, you are the only one in your cove." There is grass to cut, hay to worry about, and the frogs and crickets make a racket at night. But on mornings like this, when I look out my kitchen door and see wild turkeys leisurely strolling down the levy of our pond, all those other minor inconveniences fade away.  As Eddie Albert sang in the corny 1960's TV show "Green Acres,"—

"Green acres is the place to be.
Farm livin’ is the life for me.
Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside."

Only problem is I need someone like Eb.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The last of the zinnias

It's not really the last day of summer according to the calendar, but the night before area children go
back to school surely feels like the last day of summer.  More hot days ahead.  Time for the zinnias to
go.  They were pretty this year, but shouldn't have been in the flower bed in the first place.
Next year I'm envisioning a nice cutting garden.  I tend to let things go when the heat index stays
over 100 for days on end.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Best-selling author visits Hernando

You may remember a past post where I reviewed Into the Free, a first novel for Oxford author Julie Cantrell.  It has done phenomenally well.  Julie was in Hernando today to discuss her book and take questions from the audience. If you haven't read the book yet, please put it on your list.

She answered questions about her writing process, about the characters who came to life within her, about the little-known culture of the Romany Travelers (gypsies) and even told us about Kelly Mitchell, the queen of the Gypsy Nation who died giving birth to her fourteenth child at age 47. She was buried in1915 in a ceremony that attracted some 20,000 people.

Sound interesting?  Read more on Julie's blog:, or better yet, read the book. She told us that the first draft of the sequel is on the way to editors.

Julie Cantrell and me at the Hernando Library July 6. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Book time: Discover Jo-Ann Mapson

I started reading books by Jo-Ann Mapson several years ago. I started with Hank and Chloe and was hooked. I then moved on to Blue Rodeo, Shadow Ranch, and Loving Chloe.

Jo-Ann Mapson
What made her writing irresistible to me was that she used most of the elements that make my life what it is—Horses, Appaloosas even; dogs; great friendships; a little love story; and even jewelry by my favorite Native American designer Ray Tracey.

These elements were not the main focus, but were interwoven into the lives of her characters. Makes you want to jump in and be a character in one of her novels.  In 2000 she released Wilder Sisters and then started her trilogy on the friendships of women and the men in their lives, again set in the backdrop of horses, dogs and the floral business. Check out Bad Girl Creek, Along Came Mary, and Goodbye Earl.

Next came The Owl & Moon Cafe in 2006, followed by Solomon's Oak. And here we get to the heart of the matter. This was by far my favorite work. Here's a description from the Jo-Ann Mapson Amazon page:

Glory Soloman, a young widow, holds tight to her memories while she struggles to hold on to her Central California farm. She makes ends meet by hosting weddings in the chapel her husband had built under their two-hundred-year-old white oak tree, known locally as Solomon's Oak. Fourteen-year-old Juniper McGuire is the lone survivor of a family decimated by her sister's disappearance. She arrives on Glory's doorstep, pierced, tattooed, angry, and homeless. When Glory's husband Dan was alive, they took in foster children, but Juniper may be more than she can handle alone. Joseph Vigil is a former Albuquerque police officer and crime lab photographer who was shot during a meth lab bust that took the life of his best friend. Now disabled and in constant pain, he arrives in California to fulfill his dream of photographing the state's giant trees, including Solomon's Oak.

In Jo-Ann Mapson's deeply felt, wise, and gritty novel, these three broken souls will find in each other an unexpected comfort, the bond of friendship, and a second chance to see the miracles of everyday life.

In this she also works in a few dogs, with details of dog training and of course, a horse or two. I love it.

So, here is your charge.  Read Solomon's Oak before the sequel comes out in October.  Check out the author video for Solomon's Oak on her Amazon page. It is so powerful.

Although it Finding Casey can be read as a stand-alone novel, it follows Glory, Juniper and Joseph's story with an unusual twist.

Hope you enjoy meeting Jo-Ann.  Happy Reading. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nice day for air conditioned car in the Mississippi Delta

Every day is an adventure here in retirement land. Today, I went with my sister-in-law to take pictures in the Delta.  What a day to be in cotton fields. They sky was perfect blue, irrigation systems were running full blast as was the air conditioning in her car, or I wouldn't have been along for the ride.

Since retiring from the floral business several years ago, Robbie Boyd now has time to devote to her real talent—painting.  She specializes in portraits and landscapes.  After being commissioned to do a Delta cotton scene, she looked through her cotton photographs and didn't find one that captures the Delta "lay of the land."  So today we searched for cotton houses, old pole barns, and of course, cotton fields.

You can read more about Robbie and see examples of her work at her website:

Robbie shooting a picture of a giant irrigation arm in the Delta.

Before lunch we drove around Clarksdale and strolled around the grounds of the Shack Up Inn. If you are from somewhere other than the Mississippi Delta, this might be a really unique experience. 

Old cotton houses and tenant shacks have been turned into lodging.  Old cars and trucks are strategically placed near each shack.  My favorite yard art was the use of bottle trees.
You can read more about this one-of-a-kind hotel at

Bottle trees "grow" in the grounds of Shack Up Inn in Clarksdale.

After touring the town, we selected the Yazoo Pass ( restaurant on the recommendation of a friend. The store front could have been a hardware store, but inside we found wonderfully-fresh salads with homemade dressings, deli sandwiches on your bread of choice and much more.  Very refreshing on a day when temperatures neared 100. 

More scenes at Shack Up iInn.  
Today we only had a small sampling of Delta culture. You can see more of the Delta nightlife in a beautifully-photographed book, Blues, Booze & BBQ ( by Senatobia native Michael Loyd Young. Proceeds from this book benefit the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale.

You can also see a preview of his latest book, Changes in Latitude. which benefits the Historical Museum of South Padre Islands. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Quilter's Garden

I don't know how the rest of you tie your tomato plants, but out here in Barr they are tied with my quilt scraps. I see my husband has been in the scrap basket again. The pink and brown scrap nearest the camera came from Bella's birthday quilt. Next to it is a green and orange piece of fabric that was used in one of the Comfort Quilts we took to West Clinic.  Others include pieces of batting, Christmas material and more. Happy gardening. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Snowman, the Horse that Inspired a Nation—a review

You all know that I'm a sucker for a good horse story. I said GOOD horse story. I like the ones where the horse makes an impact on the lives of his humans and you see the interaction between the characters.  Having stayed up all night to finish "The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation" I wanted to pass on this read to you.

Elizabeth Letts, a seemingly credible horsewoman herself, found this true story and Snowman and Harry de Leyer.  She did extensive research and spent a great deal of time with de Leyer, now in his 80s. She wove a thread through this story that linked the long-shot horse with the mood of the country in 1958.

This story gives all of us who have had an underdog horse, hope.  This is what we think, just maybe, could happen to us.

I was a little disappointed that we did not get to know the de Leyer children. The book is also painfully repetitive at times.  Overall, it is good—taking you into the world of show jumping in Madison Square Garden in the 1950s when the crowd dressed in top hats and tails and evening wear.

You see the everyday chores of Harry as he goes about working with his students as the riding instructor at a prestigious girl's school.

I think Letts was a little hard on Snowman in her description of him, calling him a hack, a plug, a plow horse. He may have been a little rough around the edges compared to the Thoroughbreds, but he was not painfully ugly.

So, read for yourself and see what you think. There is buzz of a movie.  Check out Letts' blog at

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mayfair in Senatobia

My Mother's Day gift from the girls was supposed to be a stroll through Gabbert Park in Senatobia and then lunch. One daughter was sick, so Olivia and I went by ourselves.

It is always so refreshing to see something in town that provides a shot in the arm for community spirit.

Local artists and craftsmen were there along with other vendors who were sharing information from their booths. Children played in the bouncy things and walked around the park. Food vendors made you think you were at the old Mid-South Fair.

After allowing time for the other sister to recover, we regrouped and all went to Coleman's BBQ.  What could be more Senatobia?

I still believe I live in the best small town in America.

Senatobia Potter Lane Tutor and wife Susan displayed his wares at the Tutor Pottery booth. (below, left)

Providing musical entertainment was the Northwest Steel Drum Band (bottom pic) under the direction of John Ungurait (center).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Barbecue—noun or verb?

When I have flipped channels and can't find something to watch, the default channel is HGTV. It is on to make background noise while I sew, work on the computer and sometimes read. But something has been bothering me lately. With spring weather in full bloom, the house-hunting couples tend to say something like, "There is room on this deck for a barbecue."

What do they mean?  In the South a barbecue usually means a sandwich (noun) or an event (also noun) What these people mean is a grill—an apparatus on which to cook barbecue.  I think this is a Southern difference of opinion. Maybe these guys are from the West Coast.

What do you say in your house if you want to cook meat, outside, over charcoal or gas?  Well it turns out, that the term barbecue is usually misused. According to, "Barbecue is a method and apparatus for cooking meat, poultry, and occasionally fish with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, compressed wood pellets, or hot coals of charcoal. Typically, to grill is to cook in this manner quickly, while barbecue is typically a much slower method utilizing less heat than grilling, attended to over an extended period of several hours. 

It seems the term can refer to the meat, the apparatus, or to the party. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner. And, these terms can have regional variations."  You bet!  Right here next door to Memphis, we should have the say-so on these terms. Memphis has long been famous for its barbecue, pork that is. Texas has the trump on barbecued beef. Memphis in May is gearing up as we speak.

Everything has trends. When I was a little girl, most of my friends' parents had a built-in barbecue pit on their patios or in their backyard. I thought that was so cool. In my 20s, I frequently used a small Hibachi grill, just big enough for two steaks or four hamburgers. In fact, one of my best dates was had sitting around the tiny Hibachi, cooking steaks in the outside of my apartment complex. 

Then the trend turned to gas grills, which were hard to light. I still fear an explosion. And now there are grills that cost about as much as a good used car, green eggs, and more. My son is in love with his new smoker which looks like a bank safe.  We haven't even talked about fire pits yet. But those are not really for cooking, are they?

Well, at my house a barbecue is still a sandwich, a grill is what you cook on, and I'm still waiting on the party. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dogs work miracles in Wilson's novels

Review Time

I have read two books by author Susan Wilson in less than two weeks. That says something. She has written two moving novels that spotlight exceptional dog heroes—One Good Dog and The Dog Who Danced. 
These two books have great dog heroes—not like Rin Tin Tin or Lassie—who run through burning buildings to save their masters. The heroics of these animals is more realistic and more lasting.

In One Good Dog, Chance, who is a pit bull mix (not my favorite breed) takes us into the world of dog fighting. This street-wise dog brings healing and closure to the deep wounds of his new "owner."

The Dog Who Danced features a blue merle Shetland Sheep Dog (Sheltie).  Buddy/Mack also has a profound effect on both of his "owners."  With him we travel through the world of on-the-road trucking, Therapy Dog work and the new phenomenon of Canine Freestyle Dancing.

The great thing about Wilson's dogs is that they have a voice. She weaves her story from the point of view of the dog, of the owner or multiple characters in the dog's stories. Through the dog's perspective we learn about their fears, likes and dislikes, and what brings them true happiness.  Both these dogs work magic in the lives of their humans—loving them, healing them, making them feel safe, and even dancing.

In case you are wondering, my dogs have worked magic in my life too.  Such a blessing—most of the time.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

52-year-old eggs out for another Easter and that's no yolk

My treasured 52-year-old Easter eggs.

Today, while getting ready for Easter lunch tomorrow, I put out a small basket of dyed and decorated eggs. My daughter said, "Are you going to blog about those?"  I hadn't thought about it, but it seemed a good idea. The eggs are 52 years old.

My mother did them for me when I was four. I don't remember that particular year, but all the years that followed. She got them out every Easter and told me about how she did them. "I went out in the country and bought some brown farm-fresh eggs. They are supposed to hold color the best. Then I came home and blew out the yolks and whites by punching a needle hole in the top and bottom. I almost blew my brains out doing this."

She dyed them beautiful shades of dark blue, pink, purple, green and yellow. Then mama decorated them with bits of rick rack and other embellishments from her sewing box—sequins, glitter, trim, tiny pearls. On the bottom of some of the eggs, she glued a small plastic ring, so the egg could sit upright. On one she fashioned a little hat and hand-painted its face.

I tried this once when my children were little. Notice I said once, not one batch of eggs—one egg. I felt like my eyeballs would pop out sooner than the yolk would come out of the egg. That made mama's eggs more special.  They were always gotten out on Easter-eve, and we talked about them. After Easter, they were wrapped in tissue and put away. Over the years, only two have been broken.

I accidentally saw a segment on the Today show this week with Martha Stewart—notice I said accidentally....not a Martha fan. She was demonstrating this art form with a new gadget that drained the egg. No blowing and no headache afterward.

Could those eggs possible be as treasured as the ones on my table? I think not. But if you are going to do this, it might be nice to wait until the child is old enough to actually remember the process. Four is a little too young. I've had to depend on the family lore.

Why do mothers do silly things like this?  Why did I go crazy nervous making my daughter a Holly Hobby cake on her first birthday? I don't know. She just stuck her fingers in it, but it looked good in the picture for a minute.

Another question comes to mind.  How did mothers of the 1950s know how to do these cool things? No Internet, no Facebook, no Pinterest.  They were just crafty, I guess.  Let's see if these survive another Easter Sunday. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Talk

I am happy to report that I've just finished Julie Cantrell's novel "Into the Free." I downloaded it on my iPad so I could keep reading in the dark.  It was wonderfully moving and inspiring.  And Julie is from Oxford!  Check it out if you need a good book.

In other book news, I just started Susan Wilson's "One Good Dog."  I just started it, and like it already. I have to hurry and finish it so I can get her newly-released book, "The Dog Who Danced."

Do you see a common thread running through my reading material?  Dogs, horses, dogs......Maybe you need to send me some suggestions.

Happy Easter

Easter Lilies are in full bloom at Homestead Farms Greenhouse and Nursery, located 
near Coldwater, Miss. Growers there say they grew an estimated 1,800 lilies. Many bloomed early this year due to the unseasonably warm weather. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Catch-up time is a must

Becky and me in Oxford

Today I met my good friend Becky in Oxford for a long-anticipated lunch. I retired in 2010 and she, six months later. Becky came to work at Northwest on Jan. 28, 1986. That day was memorable, not only because Becky joined the staff as program director of now-closed station, WNJC-FM, but also because minutes after she signed on, the Associated Press teletype machine started an alarm as did the DAX machine which connected us to NPR.  Space Shuttle Challenger had broken apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida, United States, at 11:39 a.m. The news came across the wire faster than we could rip and read it. Other departments came down to watch the TV coverage on our monitor. That was before smart-classroom technology. What a welcome. 
It was also a memorable day for me when a co-worker became one of my forever friends. Our husbands, Mike and Howard, became fishing and hunting buddies. Our children became playmates. Before the station went dark in 1988, we had some good times and learned a lot about Public Radio—just in time for the station to close. 

All of us at the zoo around 1987.  Howard was taking the pic.

Becky has a very distinctive Southern accent. When the college hosted the National Junior College Athletic Association Women's National Tournament in the 1980s, it was our job at the station to provide play-by-play for the colleges who did not want to send a radio crew by giving them a feed of our broadcast. If they did come, we had to set up phone lines for them. Those were the old days. When some of them called, they asked for Becky by name. "I just want to hear her talk," one station manager told me.
We attended the NPR National Conference in Washington in 1987. We were one of the first groups to hear the now-famouse Riders in the Sky—go Woody Paul, Too Slim and Ranger Doug.  After two days of the conference, I came down with Pleurisy and felt bad the rest of the trip. My Uncle Jim, who lived in Alexandria, Va., came to get us and took us on a tour of the U.S. National Arboretum.  I wheezed all the way around the trails. 

Hayley, Olivia and Beth. Olivia hated being the youngest of
the three. She's hanging on. Look at the clinch of her jaw.
The following year we attended the National Conference in St. Louis (view from our window) and went to the museum under the arch. Also on the agenda was a conference outing at the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, a ride on a river boat and a tour of the Missouri Botanical Gardens.We were the best-dressed gals at the conference. We didn't know that NPR attire was long skirts with socks and sandals. 
When we learned that the station was to be a budget cut, we held our chins high and ended up across the hall from each other in the basement of Tate Hall—me in Public Relations and her in Financial Aid. Boy did we have a lot to learn.
On a lighter side, there were birthday parties, fishing trips at our pond, hours of cooking in the concession stand at the horse shows, trail rides, the list goes on and on.  We even got the guys to dress up and go to a piano recital at Ole Miss and to a reception afterward. How did we do that? There were times when my nerves were shot and she took the girls for an afternoon, only to tell me they had been angels. They had NOT been angels for me.
But I won’t forget Mike’s going with me to get Mama and Daddy when she was too sick to drive home after a chemo treatment and Daddy couldn’t drive at night. We stopped to get gas and the pump was so slow. Mike kicked it. When Mike lost his battle to cancer, Becky showed just what she was made of. After retirement she returned to her hometown of Pontotoc. 
It's hard to catch up on two years' of news while eating wonderful food from City Grocery. We won't wait that long for the next visit.
Howard and Mike's string of fish around 1987.
Dog Leo is near Howard. My, how we have changed.