Where I’m From

I am from a two stoplight town, from Flywheel Pies, Sonic and chocolate turtles.

I am from the “big yellow house,” with intricate woodwork, Santa hanging from the front porch, and fireplaces alive with crackling embers.

I am from the fragrant gardenias and tasty honeysuckle, the peaceful fireflies and pesky mosquitoes.

I am from Wards and Owens, Ottie and Grand Merle – storyteller and gardener, Spaghetti maker and Oatmeal Crème Pie giver. Teacher.

I am from stature, grocers, Hog fans, volunteers, and friends.

From the parents who walked 3 miles uphill in the snow – barefoot and the relatives who offered wooden ice cream bars to innocent children [read: me].

I am from hearty Thanksgiving meals after raking leaves in toboggan caps and indelible family karaoke nights.

I am from faithful Methodists, from a sanctuary illuminated by stained glass, the kneeling pads sewn by my grandmother.

I’m from the South, great grand-daughter of Curtis. From Old Mike, El Spotro, Curley Wolves, and county fairs.  From fried chicken and banana pudding.

From women who sew, smock, tat, needlepoint, and crochet, from a Vietnam veteran.

I am from white-bordered photographs, stored in boxes, yellowed with age. The crunch of tires on a dirt driveway and the snap of tree limbs breaking under ice. A daughter shaped by her small southern town and the food she ate.


Life’s a Stitch…


Sunday, I spent my evening mourning the loss of Rue McClanahan while having a “Golden Girls” marathon. I also began a new hobby: needlepoint. Monday, I turned 26.

I’m not sure what spurred this current “obsession” with needlepoint, but I’m pretty sure it had to do with these darling key fobs I found online several weeks ago, specifically the “cosmo” and “pig” fobs. As soon as I saw them I thought, “What a cute gift! I could do that!” and thus began my quest into the great unknown of needlepoint. A Facebook/Twitter friend suggested a store in Little Rock where I could start my journey and Saturday, I dragged my boyfriend to Yarn Mart [Quick, somebody get that man a cookie!] to find my first needlepoint canvas. I’ve been hooked ever since!!

I was confused as to why all of a sudden this hobby had consumed my thoughts. Then I began thinking about the lovely childhood weekends I spent alternating between my grandmothers’ homes, which I’ve mentioned in previous posts (HERE and HERE). Thinking back, I faintly remember sewing at Ottie’s house and of those memories I most vividly remember her tracing illustrations onto muslin for me to cross-stitch. Currently, cross-stitch isn’t appealing to me, but maybe one day…

Ottie was a very talented needleworker (is that a word?), making needlepoint stockings for my sister and me [that we still use every Christmas] and small pillows with pictures of our childhood pups Sugar and Isabelle [that still grace our beds in our parents’ house]. My mom also reminded me  that Ottie helped stitch the beautiful needlepoint altar rail kneeling cushions in my hometown church.

So perhaps this sudden “obsession” isn’t so random in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it’s just in my blood…

I Love to Laugh

Mary Poppins Movie Poster

Growing up my sister and I split our weekends at our Grandmothers’ homes. This is the last in a series of two reminiscing about those weekends.

On the weekends we stayed with GranMerle, we’d make spaghetti, eat Oatmeal Creme Pies like they were going out of style, play smut, dominoes, and a host of other card games, listen to GranMerle recall moments from her childhood, listen to 8-track tapes, play with the Playmobil dollhouse, and eat the best homemade banana pudding (made by GranMerle, of course). Not to mention accompanying her to her weekly hair appointment, playing Barbies, and generally being her shadow for about 36 hours.

But one of the things I remember most is watching Mary Poppins practically every weekend we stayed with her. [Which led me to buy it when the limited DVD edition came out]. What is it about Mary Poppins that is so intriguing? Is it the fantasy sidewalk chalk world they jump into? The practically perfect measuring tape Mary uses? The spoonfuls of sugar she encourages the children to take medicine with? Or maybe dancing chimney sweeps, which I’m pretty sure led to me inquiring to my parents about a chimney sweep of our own once or twice. There’s also that hilarious guy named Dick van Dyke…Through it all, I fondly remember Grandmerle often opening up her hide-a-bed sofa for us to pile up and watch Mary Poppins on, she would always be totally concentrated on the movie just as we were, until we bribed her for another Oatmeal Creme Pie, that is…

I don’t know if it was coincidence or not that Julie Andrews had the starring role in both movies that we obsessively watched at our Grandmothers’ homes, but either way it helped me name her one of my favorite actresses of all time. To this day, I cannot get over how much love our grandmothers gave us when we visited them. I’m sure they could quote the movies in their sleep, but they never once complained about having to watch them over and over and over again with us. There truly is nothing like a grandmother’s love.

The Hills are Alive…

Sound of Music Movie Poster

Growing up my sister and I split our weekends at our Grandmothers’ homes. This is the first in a series of two reminiscing about those weekends.

On the weekends we stayed with Ottie, we’d make homemade potato chips, walk across the street to Maxine’s Diner (now Mama Max’s) for burgers, “ice skate” on [aka polish] her hardwood floors to a Dolly Parton record, play with our aunts’ old Barbies and make their furniture out of shoeboxes, have a nightcap of Coca-Cola in a small glass, and pick cherries off her cherry tree. Not to mention playing with her dog, Foo-Foo, planting flowers in her flower beds, and generally being her shadow for about 36 hours.

But the thing I remember most is watching The Sound of Music practically every weekend we stayed with her. So it shouldn’t surprise you that it is one of my favorite movies of all time. In fact, I consider the opening scene to be one of the best in the industry. It’s perfect: the blue ski, the lush mountains, the perfection in Julie Andrews’ voice. Every time I watch it, I want to be her. There are so many things about the movie that I love, like the confidence she finds in herself, because really? What is so fearsome about 7 children? Then there’s the strapping Christopher Plummer as Captain von Trapp. I mean, hello. Then towards the end of the movie there’s one of the best scenes, the talent contest. I remember Maddie and me laughing and laughing at the lady who bows her way across the stage to accept her award, then bows her way off the stage with flowers in her arms when we watched it with Ottie, sometimes even rewinding just to laugh some more.

I don’t know how Ottie never got tired of watching this movie over and over again with us. I mean even classics can get old after a while, but she was always there, in her chair doing needlepoint or a word puzzle or absolutely nothing but watching along with us. It’s just one of the many ways I remember Ottie today.

Up next? Weekends with GrandMerle…