Sunday, March 26, 2017

Hinds County News
  December 2016
Our first snow has fallen,
 Winter came quite abruptly to Nebraska, we were blessed with a long and delightfully mild, nearly jacketless fall.

Our first snow came, on Friday, the day after one of the most pleasant weather days in my memory, Thursday the 17th of November, the high that day was 75 degrees, no wind just a gentle breeze from the South.  The pups and I spent the entire day outside.

 I cut greenery, and made wreathes for my doors, windows and gates.   That is going to be a lot of green and red on this little house….But, the southern side of me knows, “It is not  done until it is overdone” But my southern side also knows, there is a fine line that you cross over to “tacky”.  But southerners, especially southern women, possess  a very valuable gift, they have an innate, you might even say God given ability to hone in on tacky, we KNOW what tacky looks like.

 But we, ourselves, we  NEVER EVER do tacky….Our friends and our neighbors…they are the ones who do tacky.  And we do not mind at all saying how tacky they are.  Oh!  Not to them, not to their faces…we would never do that…that would be tacky. 

Southerners, particularly the ladies, also have the unique ability, an art really, to carefully pick their words, say them in a sweet tone, wearing a charming smile, that never hurts feelings. They say things like “Interesting”, "Fascinating", they will reach far to find something nice to say, “oh what a great color!”

Wait! Wait! This reminds me!  let me tell you about a friend and what she did, that left us all rather stunned and without words…It was winter, everything had turned brown in her yard….Our friend got up in the middle of the night and took cans of green paint and went outside and sprayed all the brown plants in her yard green.   Her only statement about the incident was “I just got tired of looking out the window and all I could see was brown.”  

 Our friend had recently lost her husband, so we attributed to the late-night painting spree to her loss.  So, the worst that was ever said, but repeated over and over was “Bless her heart she in mourning.”  She never did it again.  (I know some of you Edwards folks remember this event)

So anyway where was I before I got off on that…..Oh yes I remember! The day before first snow.
Around noon, my brother stopped by and we ate a nice lunch of my homemade Tamales,  salsa, from one of the last farmer’s markets, and sour cream…we ate in my little building.

 When he left, I took the wreathes to the garage, for safe keeping until after the snow, and high winds that were forecast to come with the snow, then I sweep out the little building.   The rest of the afternoon the pups and I spent watching the sky, as the sun went down, it spread a subtle glow of gold, lite up the beautiful church across the avenue….It was a grand day!

In fact, the pups and I sat in little building, until the street lights came on, I did not want the day to end, so Emma and I went for a walk, my house is a block from downtown, we walked toward town, the store windows were brightly lit, in the windows were Christmas trees,  snow men, dolls and toy soldiers…

We walked and we walked, back home I went to close the little building for the night, instead I sat back down and watched it get darker and darker. 

Summer was gone, there would be snow on the ground tomorrow. I felt not unlike I did after Angela and Adam had left home, and they would come back for a visit.  When they left…. John and I would stand on the porch, and watch as they drove out the driveway, down the hill, over the railroad tracks, up the hill and turn the corner by the old water tower….when they finally disappeared from sight, John would sit down in his rocking chair, I would go to the swing….and we would just sit….sometimes we cried.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas from Mississippi On the Plains
Hinds County News
February 2017
Good Morning! Happy New year!
I celebrated New Year’s Day the in the southern tradition…. sort of.  This may surprise you all, but smoked hog jowl is impossible to find up here.
 last year, about this time, I mentioned my jowl disappointment to Tim, the gentleman who cuts my hair, he took finding hog jowl as a challenge.   Tim, bless his heart, thought he had found it a time of two…. but just was not to be.
  Black eyed peas, I found those in the bean section, on the bottom shelf, at the Sun Mart, a bit dusty, but hey I found them….no collards though…I grow collards but, mine were in the ground wilted from numerous frosts…so I had Cole slaw….and as you well know, cabbage is perfectly acceptable as your green for the New Year’s meal. Smoked hog shank was the replacement for the jowl. I Made ice tea, they drink tea up here, but it is unsweet as a rule, and cornbread baked in an iron skillet, so it was crusty on the bottom, rounded out my New Year’s Day meal.
Hog jowl is not the only thing difficult to find…. pig feet they can be found up here but, it is a road trip to get them.   Well, that not exactly true, every grocery stocks Hormel’s pig feet, pickled in a jar.

 Storytelling, like the food is different here, I came to that realization one day when a neighbor returned from a trip to New York City.  When I inquired her about trip…she told the WHOLE story in a couple of sentences.   A southerner can’t go to the grocery store without coming home with a longer story than that!  And she went to New York and came back without a story… I was shocked! 
A southerner telling a story about touring New York City!  I am here to tell you, it would be nearly impossible for that tale to be told in just one sitting.  Of course the story would not begin in New York, might would begin in the car headed to airport…because a trip to the airport is never uneventful….but could start anywhere anytime, even weeks before the trip began…shopping for the clothes to take….or even years ago telling about a movie they saw about New York. 

Let me tell you how stories in the south are often born…I was having a gathering on my front porch, everyone had arrived except my friend Fredna…. On after while, she arrives hurried and breathless, and explaining her tardiness as she climbed the front steps.  Fredna was late because she was trying to meet a taxidermist…as she went on with the explanation, we discovered Fredna was carrying around a deer head in the trunk of her car… and because she and the taxidermist had not been able to make connections, the deer head had been in the trunk for several days… Now keep in mind this gathering was on my front porch so it was not cold or even cool…. she did have it in a cooler…. but still and all.

We laughed and laughed and a story was born!   Fredna did not know at the time she was telling a story that will be told over and over.
Maybe the stories do change a bit from one telling to the next… not to embellish you understand, but because we remembered some very significant detail/details that will improve the story greatly.

Things just happen in the south that make great stories. I have a friend who is the mayor of one of our small towns in rural Hinds County, as was her duty, as mayor, she was participating in a celebratory parade, may have been 4th of July, can’t remember.  Any way she was being driven in a patrol car by one of towns policemen, they were rolling along, waving and smiling at the crowds gathered along the street, when suddenly among the spectators, the policeman spots a “person of interest”.   The policeman had been looking for this “person of interest” all day. So, not wanting to miss this opportunity, he pulls over to the curb, puts the “person of interest” in the back seat and  then continues the parade route…with the “person of interest” in the back seat.   He too, the “person of interest” got in the spirit of the occasion and began smiling and waving too.

Southerner have stories…one story leads to another story… the tales can go on for hours and hours and often do.  I have fond memories of storytelling at social gatherings, pig pick’ns, crawfish and shrimp boils, church dinners of the grounds etc.   And dinners parties…. sitting down at seven and not get up from the table… many times until after 10 to go to the living room for a night cap.
One thing I love about the south…we are easily entertained and not easily offended by a story told on us…heck we will tell one on ourselves.
Hinds County News (Mississippi)
for October 2016
So here I am, and another month has passed, Summer is gone and it is Fall.   Here in Nebraska there has already been a frost in the panhandle.
Let me tell you a bit about my road trip to Louisiana for grandson Garrett’s wedding.
   I do not travel the interstates at all, so I am mostly traveling on two lane roads.   Been making the same trip up and down highway 183 for many years, in fact 50ish years.  There are not many towns of any size on my route, mostly small farming communities…over the years those little towns have changed from bustling main streets, with local cafes, grocery stores, feed stores, furniture stores, a Ben Franklin 5&10, Western Auto store, several full service filling stations, and every town had a school.  Oh! And an adorable little motel with a bright neon sign flashing “vacancy” or “No Vacancy”.
It is not that way anymore, sometimes it is a challenge to even find gas, when you do it is often an unmanned place, next to what used to be a Co-Op.  If you happen up on a little convenience store that has a gas pump, it is not uncommon that you have to pay inside, because the pump is of an age that it cannot accommodate a credit card.
Many Main streets in rural mid-west are empty shells, once lovely homes abandoned, schools and play grounds vacant. 
 Even the smallest of villages may not have the amenities they once did, but most still have a nice water tower, frequently painted whimsically, but always proudly embellished with the town’s name, and very often the towns have a well-cared for city park.   In very recent years Dollar General stores have begun to pop up.                                          
  But what I find most fascinating about the small towns in the rural mid-west is this, there may not be a school, grocery or hardware store but, there is almost always a functioning bank.  For some reason I find comfort in that…. maybe the rural Mid-west is not dying, maybe it is just beginning a new cycle. We old people do not have to like it…we had our “good old days” these changing times are the “good old days” for this generation.
Before I head out on “The Junk Jaunt”, Let me relay an invitation to you all, from the sweet folks at Old Lebanon Church.
There are many abandon country churches in the rural areas of our country….But not Old Lebanon Presbyterian Church off Highway 18, Raymond Mississippi, years ago the congregation moved the few miles into Learned, Mississippi.   But Old Lebanon was not left to out there in the country unloved and forgotten, every fifth Sunday the congregation meets in that old church, even though it lacks modern comforts, no kitchen, or reliable heat and no air conditioning, I don’t think it even has electricity.  The windows do function and as I recall there is an outside privy.
October, 30, 2016 is Homecoming and dinner on the grounds, at old Lebanon. After the service, under the trees in front of the church, is where the cover dish dinner will commence. So take a covered dish, and a lawn chair, and enjoy the afternoon visiting with neighbors, friends and strangers,  and be sure and stroll through the old cemetery.  Everyone is invited. 
 I have been to 5th Sunday at old Lebanon many times, when it was raining, sweltering hot and when it was cool bordering on cold.  Grand! Grand! Memories! I wish I could be there for this homecoming.
  By the way Old Lebanon Presbyterian church is on the National list of historic places.

Love to all    Come see me if you get this way

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Hinds County News
March 2017
The older I get the more conscious I am of the fact, I will die at some point.  I am well past middle age now, unless I should live to be 144.  I am certainly not afraid of death. To quote my mother at age 92, “we cannot live forever just because our kids want us to, we are tired and want to go live with Jesus.”
Mind you, I am not wanting to go anytime soon, because I have BIG PLANS for the coming spring and summer.   But I am ready when ever my time comes.

I do not often dwell on my demise but, what got me contemplating it recently is this; I walk Emma Dog downtown Holdrege, Nebraska, I live one block from the courthouse and the down town area.  

 On the next block from my house is the Methodist Church
 across the street from the church is the court house. 

This is picture on up my street, West Avenue, from the Courthouse,

Miss Emma

The downtown area is about 5 blocks long and 3 blocks wide.  We enjoy strolling past the shops, window shopping, and seeing what is new and exciting going on downtown.

I walk her downtown because, when we walked around our residential area…we were unable to enjoy the walk, for dogs barking, from inside their homes and behind fences…early on over on Garfield street, I thought this big dog might come through the large picture window, ….he was jumping against the window…barking, growling and slobbering, he was so annoyed by our passing. I was not afraid of the dog particularly…but what if it had gotten through the window…was injured by the broken glass, I would have felt obligated to try and catch him.
  We had several incidents before, dogs climbing their fence to come out and smell Emma.  But the dog behind the picture window was what made me decide to begin exclusively taking our walks down town…where we seldom encounter another dog. 

I had come to believe my death might very well be the result of drugs….No! No! not illegal drugs! But some brand spanking new miracle drug, I would be given by a well-intentioned doctor, to treat some minor ailment….then find out from, from an attorney's  TV commercial, that the drug had horrifying side effects, sometimes even death.  (does it seem to you prescription drugs may be more deadly then street drugs?  Me too.)

coming up on corner of East Avenue and 4th Avenue
Well…. last week Emma and I were walking down town, beautiful day, we were waiting in the sunshine, for the light to turn green at the corner of East Avenue and 4th Avenue, across from The Hotel Dale….the light turned green,  we stepped into 4th avenue,  at the same time, waiting for the light to turn green was a car, as Emma and I began crossing the street, the car went to making a right hand turn, in to our path and was barely able to brake and get stopped before hitting us….I looked through the windshield at her, she was horrified, still had phone in hand, I felt a bit sorry for her….
Said all of that, to say this, it may not be a new miracle drug that kills me…. I may die in the middle of a street, from car crash wounds.
Love to all

"Mississippi on the Plains"
Come see me if you get this way