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.