Bye, Friend

Driving home from work yesterday, I passed a granny blue Hyundai Sonata on the back of a tow truck. I looked into the cab of the truck and saw the driver bouncing happily along, knowing he was making money off of that tow, and the passenger looking miserable.  I raised my fist in solidarity as a nod to the passenger and she looked over at me and sighed.


My old friend, at home on the back of a tow truck

That raised fist would have been better accepted, I think, had I been in my own granny blue Hyundai Sonata, but I wasn’t. I was in my sporty new Toyota Rav4, boring silver in color like 90% of American SUVs.  It runs like a dream, though, and the money I would have spent over the next ten years fixing dumb stuff like the catalytic convertor, the starter (three times), the alternator (twice), the compressor, the blower motor, the bushings, the brakes (countless), etc. I spent in advance to purchase a more mechanically sound vehicle.  I love it.  I’d love it better if I could find it more easily in the Target parking lot amongst the sea of other small silver SUVs, but I do love it.

A week after Woney and I got back from Norway, where we spent all our money, the dashboard in my car lit up like Las Vegas. Every bell and whistle sounded and every light flashed and every buck a bronco could give you kicked off in the engine of my car.  It was humiliating.  I turned the ignition and rode that fair ride all the way to 5th Gear Automotive where Austin said, “Seriously, Jimmie, it is past time.”  Then he sighed and said, “Let me see what I can do.”

Turns out it was one of three things, all of them expensive, and Austin fixed one in the hopes it was the right one. It was, but only for a day, and then I drove my bucking fair ride back home and to work again.  There was no point in spending another $1000 to fix something that was just going to break again anyway and I was tired of meeting tow truck drivers.  Plus every penny I had managed to put into a savings account over the last five years was withdrawn to pay for another fix for that car.

Over the next few days I loaded up with Daisy in her nice, clean, mechanically sound vehicle and we test drove every single affordable SUV on the lot over at CarMax in Rivergate. William was my sales guy, and bless his heart, he was so patient. “Do you even know what you want,” he asked.  Nope, no I did not. I was supposed to wait another year before buying.  I had another year before I would be ready.

Here’s what I could tell William.

  • I wanted leg room
  • I wanted something that was mechanically sound
  • I wanted to be able to make out with my theoretical new boyfriend in the back seat
  • I did not want silver
  • It could not smell like dog or smoke

“That’s not a lot to go on,” he said.

Daisy said, “You don’t even have a boyfriend.”

“I know,” I said to both of them, “whatcha got?”

I drove a Mazda CX-3, a Honda CRV, a Honda HR-V, a Nissan Rogue, a Nissan Murano, and a Toyota Rav4. William kept pushing for a Ford but I wasn’t having it.  Some of them drove like bobsleds and some of them drove like marshmallows, and I realized that I cannot really afford a marshmallow drive which is a shame.  I liked those. I also drove SUVs that smelled like wet dog and smoke, SUVs that were painted silver, and SUVs that were too small to make out with anyone in any backseat.  To test that particular theory, I made William, who was no small chicken himself, get in the back seat with me and have a conversation.

He laughed the first time I asked him to do it. “I’m serious,” I said, and when he looked over at Daisy with his eyebrows raised, she simply nodded at him. He was getting no support from her. In he clambered and in I clambered and Daisy stood guard in the parking lot until I was satisfied we had ample room. Then Daisy clambered into the back seat while William and I took our regular spots and off we’d drive.

Madre came up for the last round of test driving wherein William presented me with a silver Rav4. “I don’t want silver,” I said, and William opened his mouth to let forth a torrent of expletives.  No, I’m kidding.  William had the patience of Job. Actually, I forgot to weave this in, but when driving any of the cars across the lot, William and I had to switch places so that he was the driver on their property.  He never put his seat belt on and the vehicle would ding all the way across the lot and out the gate.  It drove me nuts.  I’d say, “put on your seat belt” and he’d ask, “oh, is it dinging” and I’d roll my eyes and huff, “Yes!”

“Jimmie,” he’d say, “I’m a man. I can tune out any noise.  I can drive this thing from here to Arkansas with no seat belt and never once hear that ding.” I am not that patient.

Anyway, I said, “I don’t want silver” and William said, “We can keep looking.” He meant it.  He was in this with me.  I looked over at my granny blue Hyundai Sonata and remembered how it bucked and rattled and made a disgrace of me and a nuisance of itself, and then I signed the paperwork on my new silver Rav4 while Madre wandered around looking at all the cars I had driven over the last few days.


My new friend, dirty and mechanically sound

The Sonata now belongs to Pooh who will be 16 soon enough and can use a car. I know you feel some horror upon reading that, but look.  Giving a 16-year-old a nice car is the worst thing you can do.  They get a sense of entitlement and snooty pride which having a car that breaks all the time will destroy.  Standing on the side of the road waiting for your daddy to come get you builds character and makes you appreciate things later in life like silver Rav4s that run great and have plenty of room and don’t smell like dog.  I am slightly shamed by the fact that the door handles have all fallen off the Sonata now.  Only one left on the passenger side back seat door, and it’s likely hanging on by a thread.  Coach is looking into buying new ones but he can only find chrome or black ones, so Pooh is going to be rolling in style.  Builds character.



I asked Pooh and Tigger the other day this question – if you could pick any car in the world for your first one, what would you choose? Tigger had some elaborate something or other that I cannot recall, but Pooh said, “the Sonata, the same one you gave me.”

I was aghast. “Why?”

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I really like it.”

That kid has character.

They Will Kill Me If They Ever Read This

I really meant to add this to my last post but I got swept up in my feelings about crushes and forgot. I’d love to add the videos that I surreptitiously took of this forthcoming scenario but I feel that not only would I be killed but I’d be tortured beforehand by my very own Pooh and Tigger.

Pooh and Tigger are my nieces for anyone who is new, one a teenager, and one a pre-teen. As evidenced by Crush, they are typical teen and pre-teens who would DIE if they thought any of their friends read this.  They can easily spend 25 of their daily 24 hours on their respective phones and still fuss about having to turn them off at night.  Beauty regimens are becoming important, but mostly for Instagram photos.  Both of them will live stream a spa night if we have one.  Tigger has taught me how to have eyebrows because it seems that I’ve been walking around like a blonde Whoopi Goldberg for too many years.  I love watching them grow up, sure, and I hate to be a cliché about it, but I do take an inordinate delight in watching them still be kids when that rare occasion comes along.

For example, just three short months ago the girls came up for a Nashville visit. After we stuffed ourselves with burrito-type meals at Chipotle and then exhausted ourselves shopping at an outdoor mall, we loaded up and headed to the house.  The girls took about a five-minute rejuvenation rest and then planned the remainder of the evening.  First up was the commercial they wanted to film for a paint drip preventer and after that it was concert/fan time.  I’d like to tell you I knew what they were up to, and you know, those words make sense, but they might as well have been speaking Swahili.  I didn’t know what a paint drip preventer was, nor did I understand what concert/fan time was.  To share with you all, though, I rejuvenated on the sofa while taking copious mental notes and videos because this was probably the best night of my life.

After consuming 8 Starburst, Tigger folded her wrappers into some kind of wonky origami and then shoved a straw through it. Viola!  A paint drip protector was born and it had to be documented!  They took this very seriously.  Pooh readied her camera, Tigger wrote a script, and then they both directed her infomercial debut.  In black and white, Tigger sauntered down the stairs, expertly flipped her hair, and delivered her best spiel in a nasal voice.  It was something along the lines of messy paint drips ruining your carpet and also your life but, and now we switched to color, for $19.99 (plus shipping & handling) you could get not one but two amazing paint drip preventers, organically made by hand from Starburst wrappers! By shoving the paint brush handle through the middle of the wrapper, the awkward and ridiculous painting method people have used for centuries would disappear and the brand new method nearly identical to the first would revolutionize your life!  Tigger then demonstrated her patented technique by waving her straw cum paintbrush across my yellow walls.  Eight takes, Pooh cutting bits here and there, the addition of sweeping music and ta da!  We had an infomercial.

Oh, I wheezed. I wanted to contain it lest I stop the creative flow, but some wheeze slipped out.  Tigger looked over at my prone self on the sofa and said, “What?”

“Oh, nothing,” I swallowed. “I think Seamus sneezed.”

Unfazed, they began anew.

“I’ll go up to the loft first,” Pooh instructed, “and you go hide in the laundry room until I announce that the show will begin.” Tigger trotted off to the laundry room and I’m not sure how it happened or what was even going on, by my stomach got that fizzy excited feeling. I paid rapt attention because this sounded a whole lot like concert/fan time was in the works.

Pooh got a couple of blankets and loped upstairs. One was hung over the railing and the other was donned as a cape, and then the announcements came.  There was a drumbeat on the walls, a thrumming hum, and Pooh hollered the band intro.  Tigger came galloping from the laundry room and while Pooh flailed around upstairs, hanging over the loft railing dancing and singing into a hairbrush, Tigger held up her hands and screamed like she was at a Twenty One Pilots concert. There was much jumping and waving of the cape and while Pooh sang Tigger went wild downstairs.  I’m so glad neither of them had a lighter but I believe that centuries-old method of rock star solidarity went down the tubes with the invention of the cell phone flashlight. Once Pooh finished her set, they switched places and screamed like I would have at a Wham! show.

This went on for hours. I was delighted.

Later, after they had gone home, I picked up the assorted Starburst wrappers from the floor and folded the blankets. I packed the stray socks and moved toothbrushes back into their holders. My house always seems so quiet when they leave.  Sometimes it is a relief and I lie like an X on the bed for hours, but after a while that X turns into a C and I have a little sniffle of joy and pain into the pillow.

Man, I love these children.



Who Decided Eggs Had To Be Breakfast Food Anyway

Speaking of Squirt, the last time I was in Florida with Daisy, Squirt came to stay at our snazzy beach house with us. She had to sleep on the couch, of course, because one of the beautiful things about being single and self-indulgent is that when you go on vacation with a friend who is also single and self-indulgent, everyone gets their own room. No sharing of the bed, I don’t care how much I love you.  (God, when my husband who does not wear skinny jeans comes along, and also my husband who is similarly-to-me aged comes along [same man], please bring us a king sized bed.  I’m going to love him but I’m going to like him better when he’s all the way over there while I sleep. Amen.)

Anyway, Daisy and I went to Florida, now an annual trip in case you were wondering, and Squirt came to stay. Daisy and I took turns cooking breakfast. Since neither of us can abide an egg, and since Daisy is currently off carbs, our breakfast grocery shopping is a bit unconventional.  Daisy’s offering came in the form of hot dogs and Atkins bars, always delicious.  Mine came in the form of this:


I slaved away in kitchen and presented plates to both roomies. “Ta da,” I said, “breakfast is served!”

Squirt looked at me, fresh from her slumber on the sofa. “Wha?  Why?  That’s peas . . . “

“Yes!” I exclaimed. “With turkey bacon and cheese!”

Daisy said, “Is there butter?” Squirt said, “Is this even real meat?”

“NO! Peas are good on their own! Yes, I think so! Except it smells like plastic if you cook it for too long, so I don’t do that!”  I was muy entusiasmado, usually a problem for those who are not also similarly morning people.

Tentatively, Squirt said, “Do you have any eggs, maybe?”

Which brings me to my rant. Why do eggs have to be breakfast food?  Who determined that sausage should have an Italian version, a smoked version and also a breakfast version which is a complete non-descriptor?  Why pancakes only in the morning?  Why can’t we have pancakes for dinner and just call it pancakes for dinner?  We always have to say “breakfast foods for dinner.  I love breakfast foods for dinner!”  No. This is wrong on many levels.

Firstly, eggs are gross. They taste like eggs, particularly when scrambled.  I can abide a good deviled egg but it must be super salty and mustardy and I only eat the white parts if they are covered in yellow.  I can abide a fried egg only when it’s over something like toast or potatoes which mask the flavor.  I can abide a hard-boiled egg covered in ranch dressing or a very good Italian.  First thing in the morning, though?  Oh, my stomach.  OH, HURK.


Secondly, why aren’t turkey sandwiches considered a breakfast food? Peas, also.  Lately, I’ve even found myself enamored of a roasted beet or steamed Brussels sprout for breakfast.  Full of fiber, pretty colors, throw some olive on there to clean out the arteries.  What’s not great about starting your day that way?


I did some research to figure this out so that you don’t have to. I found this, about Edward Bernays, long considered the father of public relations:

“To get an idea of Bernays’ abilities, think for a moment about a traditional breakfast. What do you think of? If you are like most, you will come up with bacon and eggs — so what? Prior to 1915, bacon was not part of a traditional breakfast — so Edward Bernays was hired to increase bacon consumption in the United States. He incorporated a new theory of gaining assent from recognized leaders either with their knowing cooperation or without. He conducted a survey among physicians and received their overwhelming recommendation that Americans should eat a hearty breakfast. Coupled with predictive results from the physicians, he began an advertising campaign stressing that a breakfast of bacon and eggs was just that — a hearty breakfast. It may sound simple, but look where we are today because of it.” (Jack Monnett, PhD.)*

I guess I can blame Edward Bernays for eggs-for-breakfast tradition. And I guess this is only two levels of wrong but it’s my post.

For the record, Martie has lots to say about my breakfast selections. Mostly they involve phrases like, “No.”  Also, “OMG, why???”  Perhaps even a “You are gross, how are we sisters?”  Then she sends pictures of her lobster grits, consumed at Blue Heaven in Key West and I ask the same question.  Daisy felt similiarly, I think, despite her fondness for hotdogs at breakfast but I believe I changed her.  On our last day of Florida vacation, Daisy fixed us breakfast.  It was a giant bowl of peas, loaded with butter and salt, and it was delicious.

And that, my friends, is all I have to say about that.



Squirt with her new Paraguayan friend, Gilbert.

Photo Dump

Man, what a lazy cow I have been lately! I had all these intentions for writing excellent stuff, really scintillating material that would wow you, and then Madre and I took a vacation.  Since we have returned I’ve read eight nine books (finished another last night).  I’m guessing that lazing around in a hammock chair for six days really did me a lot of good as far as relaxing me but it also put some kind of lazy haze on me and I can’t seem to snap out of it.  Oof.

Anyway, I was scrolling through the photos on my phone the other day because somehow I have used up most of my storage and I can’t figure out why. I play no games.  I have maybe four songs I listen to on a rotation.  I don’t Facebook anymore, and I’ve posted seven pictures to Instagram.  I wanted to see if I could delete anything, maybe some pictures of some meals I already blogged about here or an accidental 3-minute video of my floor covered in cat fur, and it so happens that I found about 62 pictures similar to this:





Turns out if you give your phone password to your nieces and then leave them in the same room with said phone, they take liberties. I miss those children.

I’m not one to really miss people. I enjoy you when I have you and I look forward to seeing you, but I’m not going to miss you, not really.  But Madre and I flew down to Key West with Pooh and Tigger a few weeks ago to deliver them to Aunties Anne and Susanne for a three-week European trip, and I MISS them.

(Also, do you like how I casually just threw “Key West” and “Europe” in there? Very blasé, like this happens to us all the time.  These kids are in EUROPE!  And Madre and I were in KEY WEST!)

(To be fair, I suppose Key West isn’t really that big of a deal because we do have open access to the aunties’ house any time we want to go plus it’s hotter than is healthy or fun for any human down there. I do believe it is currently too hot for even the iguanas and that is saying something.)

The girls come back home tomorrow. I am beyond ready.  Their parents are frantically beyond ready which is really the only word I can think of to describe what it must feel like to be a parent of children that you miss more than I do.

In honor of their return, and in honor of them in general, I’ll share this picture and then tell you the story of how it came to be.


About a year ago I headed down to their house for my monthly babysitting gig, although babysitting sounds very juvenile for two girls who are already shaving their legs. Let’s say that I headed down for my monthly hangout with some preteens and we decided to go on an adventure.  We set off for the woods, in the fall where we were certain to not run into any ticks, and kicked rocks along the dirt road as we walked.  After a few good kicks, Pooh kicked a clod of dirt off of something round and sort of smooth and suddenly we were on the ground digging at it with rocks and twigs trying to see what it was.  I had to scurry back to the house for a shovel with which to dig it up and only after quite a lot of work did we discover that tortoise shell.

Pooh said, “I knew it! I knew something exciting would happen today!” We unearthed it, liquid dead turtle poured out in a chunky, vile-smelling stream, and suddenly it seemed less exciting.  I was not one to crush the excited hopes of a preteenager, though, so I excitedly placed the shell in the scoop of the shovel and excitedly carried it hobo-style back home. We placed it on the rail of the porch for the parents to exclaim over upon their return which they did with hands clasped over their noses and faint traces of nausea on their faces.

I think what I really want to focus on here is the hopes and dreams of these girls, the exciting opportunities available to them. I’m such a selfish person, or maybe an indulgent person, and while I want good things for everyone, truly, it is very hard to be as enthusiastic about your hopes and dreams as I am about my own.  I think that is human.  These children have forced me to be different.  They have forced me to face the fact that I am not the most important person to me anymore, the spinster, the person who gives herself everything she wants because it is clear that no one else will. Now that indulgent person wants every good thing I ever had or never had to be theirs, whether it be a stinky tortoise shell or a trip to Europe or a boy to just stand in front of the girl and say he really, really likes her.  I want them to have it all.  I’ve never felt so selflessly about anyone in my life.

Perhaps I will have stories to tell about their adventures when they return.  I hope I hear them all.

To sign off, I’ll deliver more of my photo dump to you so that I can delete this mess off my phone and save more room for teenaged selfies.


Jimmie and Pooh


Tigger and Jimmie


Groundhog who actually posed for this photo


And then turned the other way for another shot.  Not joking.


Seamus, just because

Things That Make Me Cry

“Oh, goodie,” I can hear you saying now. “This ought to be uplifting. Anyone want to skip this one and go get some donuts?”

Tell you what, if you are mad at me by the end of this post, I’ll buy you your very own personal donut and ship it to your home address, any flavor you want. Okay? Okay.

Back when Poppa was so very sick and we spent more hours than anyone wanted at Vanderbilt, we found ourselves in need of some nighttime sitters. See, Poppa was struggling with Sundowners which basically means he was out of his head and hallucinating a whole lot. Only now can we laugh about some of his stories because only now we can accept the loss of him without feeling gutted all the time. Anyway, at night Poppa would get feisty and Brother Bear, Coach and I each took turns hanging out overnight to keep him in the bed, clothed, and stuck with all the appropriate tubes. Each of us still had to work and travel and take care of children so there came a point when we all got too sleepy to be effective. Enter Caleb.

The first night that Caleb arrived, I thought to myself, “Oh, Lort. Poppa’s not going to like this one bit.” Caleb was young. He was wearing a Bob Marley nightgown as a t-shirt, and under that he had some baggy pants and over that he had a flannel shirt. His hair was neatly pulled back from his forehead and ensconced in a ponytail holder but from there his afro exploded outward into the biggest puff of hair cloud I’ve ever seen. He had his backpack over one shoulder and he dragged his feet when he walked. Poppa liked clothes that fit, hair that was neat and youngsters who walked like they were walking, not shuffling.

Right away Caleb went into the hall and got himself a bench to sit on despite the comfy chair options he had inside the room. He placed it a foot away from Poppa and sat upright, posture better than mine, and very, very still. Right away he familiarized himself with the equipment attached to Poppa. Right away Caleb put a reassuring hand on Poppa’s toe, letting Poppa know that he wasn’t alone. And when Caleb saw me petting Poppa’s head, he got up from his bench, picked up one of the comfy chairs and placed it next to Poppa’s bed so I could pet him without getting tired. He told me the story of his grandfather who died when he was six, how he and the grandfather did everything together, literally everything, and how he wanted to help people deal with sickness because he was good at it and he knew what it was to be scared. I can attest that he was good at both helping those who are sick and helping those who are scared.

Poppa was oblivious to all of this, or so I thought. He reached over to his hand and began tugging at a tube to yank it out, something he had done with great regularity since day one of the stay.

“Hey, buddy,” Caleb said for the first of a thousand times that night, “don’t to that,” and he gently pulled Poppa’s hand away.

Poppa looked over at him and said, “Kid, I need you to take me home. Go around and get my car and I’ll meet you out front. Jimmie, you meet us at home, this kid is going to take me there.”

God, I laughed. “Kid.” Oh, Poppa, I miss you.

So that makes me cry. And this makes me cry, because it reminds me of Poppa in the best and fiercest way, but also because it is a picture of life, of getting back up when you fall down over and over again. Isn’t this picture great?


Baby owl learning to fly, photo by Peter Brannon

Speaking of pictures, here’s another, from the cruise My Girls and I took in March.

This was in Jamaica, and I’ll be honest, Jamaica was not my favorite place. It was hot which I suppose is normal so I can’t fault it for that, but it was pushy and smelly and we were seen as walking wallets. I guess tourists often are seen as ATMs but I can’t say that’s how I like to make an entrance into a new place. Anyway, after a whole day of grasping our purses close to our body and being made to feel very guilty because we did not part with all our funds for all time and on into eternity, we finally escaped through customs and back onto the port where our boat was docked. That picture was taken right outside that customs shelter.

I bet you look at that picture and see a mildly interesting array of boys banging on some drums, but what I see is a crew of kids who were hustling. Hustling. Those boys stood there in those hot-ass uniforms that they picked up somewhere, mismatched buttons and hats and pants, and they played their hearts out ALL DAY. They played for every person that showed even a modicum of interest. They danced for every person there and played for every person there, sometimes on their knees at our feet when they could tell someone was particularly moved (me), and sometimes as the whole line; sometimes it was a Michael Jackson song and sometimes it was just the thrum of our collective heartbeats, banging in time with the drums. If a single person watched alone, they played just as hard as they would for a whole crowd. They hustled, and it was all I could do to hold the tears back as I watched them with their young hearts and their strong arms and their glistening foreheads, trying to make a better way for themselves. I hope you see them my way and offer your prayers for them, that the hustling pays off and they get a solid shot at whatever they try, because their work for those moments on the drums is more than enough to earn them that. I also hope you realize that it took an extraordinary amount of time for me to come back to myself, what was left of me anyway, and stop the leaking in my eyes so I could count the money I had left after I dumped all I could find into their tip basket.

With that, I’ll take you to the next picture that makes me cry. Not fierce, not sad, but just about the cutest thing I ever did see in my whole life. For those of you who do not understand my deep and yearning, burning desire for a donkey, behold:


Donkey being toted by a soldier

I have to stop. I need a donut. This whole post is killing me.

In conclusion, and I promise to you and me both that this is the end, I have one final story to tell.

Two years ago Martie and I reached a tentative agreement wherein she would take possession of the house and property called Big Creek, the family abode where we did most of our growing up, and in return for me not getting my panties in a twist over it, I’d get a donkey. By tentative I mean that I was thrilled that Martie, the most sentimental of the wad of us, would preserve our history and that Martie sort of agreed with a wavering voice that maybe, someday, perhaps there could be a donkey on their property that I’d get to name. Maybe. One day.

Pretty much I asked about that donkey every time I went home to babysit Pooh and Tigger. I drove over to the neighboring farm that housed the show donkeys to stare at them, and I pointed out the fuzzy and cute regular non-show donkeys we saw while driving the back roads in my home town. I’ve stated my earnest and deep desire to marry a donkey farmer more than once and have already mentally packed my truck in anticipation of his proposal, this farmer with his burros whom I have not yet met.

This has been a fantasy, and like all fantasies, I understand that it may never come to pass. That is okay. Still a fantasy, still nice to dream about, but likely saved for my mansion in heaven where God assuredly has a donkey with long eyelashes already waiting for me.

On Saturday, that fantasy became reality. You guys! I’m getting a donkey!

My birthday card from Martie, et al, received Saturday, June 11th at 5:13 pm, which she asked that I read aloud and which I couldn’t because the tears started in my throat and made it to my eyes and my voice which shook so badly I could not speak:


Pictures will be coming forthwith. In the manner of someone who is expecting a child, I shall expect gifts and fetes, and I’ll register for hay and donkey brushes and festive neck attire with which I will adorn his or her neck and take selfies. Rest assured I will be crying in most of them but these will be tears of joy and love and the knowledge that my family loves me more than anyone rightly deserves. I am loved more than I can fathom. I’ve got it so good. Thank you, God. Selah.

Now, who needs a donut?

You Met The Flintstones, Now Meet The Rubbles

When I was young, my Auntie Anne swept me off on a series of trips that gave me some life experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I traveled to Chicago at age 7 where I had chocolate mousse for the first time and fell asleep every night looking out over the city skyline.  At 12 I went to New York and saw my first Broadway play, Dreamgirls.  I was also offered drugs for the first time and remember saying to the man, “I’m 12!  Are you serious?” At 19 I went to Europe.  There I was transfixed by Michelangelo’s David, nearly starved to death in France because French food smelled weird, and made out with an Italian boy whom I have never forgotten.  Luigi. Good grief, he was pretty.

Luigi, Jimmie, Martie, Alessandro

Luigi, Jimmie, Martie, Alessandro

I look back on all of those trips fondly and while I think Auntie Anne does, too, I also think she spent an enormous amount of time rolling her eyes in frustration with me. For example, I did the following:

  • Turned down an opportunity to see Cats because I very much wanted to watch the movie Beat Street. No, I’m not joking.
  • Fell asleep in the car every time we shut the door and set off on a sightseeing tour of Europe. In my defense I had just finished taking college finals the week before and I was severely overtired. But I missed all of the castles and about a thousand mountain overlooks.
  • Refused all food with hair on it (anchovies). Also, Martie and I campaigned heavily for a McDonald’s trip in Paris. Paris, France. McDonald’s. Even this makes me roll my eyes.

I’m so incredibly thankful for all of those experiences, for any experience Auntie Anne offers me actually, and I’d very much like to think of myself as the Auntie Anne equivalent to Pooh and Tigger. I have not yet offered them a trip to Europe or their very own opportunity to be coerced into scoring some drugs on a New York City street, but I have offered each of them a road trip once they hit an appropriate age.  That age is somewhere in the neighborhood of 12/13, and this was the year Pooh hit the mark.

Now, remember when Woney and her relatives invited me to their family gathering wherein we were scheduled to have cookouts and s’mores and parties and instead we moved furniture? It was with large apologies and assurances of no repeat furniture movings that the relatives re-invited me to a new family gathering, this time at the Rubbles’ house, wherein we were scheduled to have cookouts and junk food and parties, and I was promised that the most strenuous moving I would have to do would be 1) the placing of my air mattress in a location that made me happy, and 2) the elbow grease necessary to move the beer from a chair arm to my mouth. I was encouraged to bring Pooh who only had to perform the strenuous exercise of changing out of play clothes into a bathing suit, and since this seemed to suit us both just fine, Pooh and I took off on our first ever road trip together.

I must confess, I hoped Pooh and I would have some heart-to-hearts during the six-hour drive.  Just really connect.  And while we did have some of that, Pooh, in the same vein as me taking every opportunity to catch up on sleep once I was safely buckled into the vehicle, took every opportunity to catch up on her social media correspondence once she was safely buckled into the vehicle. Every few seconds she’d pluck her phone from its resting spot in the door handle and scroll through Instagram and/or watch a marching band video whilst she sprawled out in her seat that was ratcheted back into the napping position.  Also, I thought she’d want to snap some pictures of the scenery we cruised through to share on her Instagram page but when I looked at her phone later, every image was one like this:

Take One

Take Two

Take Three

Take Four

I suppose there were some moments where I rolled my eyes in frustration but mostly I found it fascinating to watch a teenager just be a teenager in the most teenager-y way, much like how I acted on my many trips with Auntie Anne when I brashly chewed my grape bubble gum and plugged my ears with my Walkman around my giants wings of hair. A whole different world than where I live right now.

Enough about Pooh. Let’s talk about the Rubbles. What a gorgeous lot of people they are and what a party we had.  These are some mere samplings of what those three days entailed.

Minutes after arriving for the weekend, Pooh and I were plied with plates crammed full of food and then hustled into our swimwear for an evening in the lake. I had already met all the new-to-me Rubbles, received quite a few hugs which were polite and sweet, but in the lake I got the full family treatment which just solidified the message that I was part of the clan.  Phred, Woney’s brother, came barreling down the dock and as he jumped over our heads into the lake, beer in hand, he bellowed, “Jimmie, I want to be in your blog!”  He went under, beer still above water (and, despite the cannonball splash, undiluted by lake droplets), and came up grinning, glasses askew.  I almost said, “You need to do something blog-worthy then,” but realized that a cannonball into murky waters while keeping a fresh beer intact was quite enough to have him canonized here.

Another family member, Cousin BamBam (he’s going to be so happy with me), was lured down into the kid-filled basement by promises of I don’t know what, and as I was checking on Pooh I kept hearing him say, “My very conservative family is going to croak when they see this. You just wait.” I couldn’t actually see him but I could hear him and eventually realized he was at the center of a wild flurry of flailing teenage arms, makeup brushes and glitter.  You know that gruesome television show where a herd of wild cats takes down an antelope in one unified play, fur flying and the occasional claw and tuft of hair being thrust out?  It was like that except sweeter, and BamBam emerged from the fray with a face full of makeup and a grin that split his face.  The girls were enormously pleased with themselves at his glittery makeover and he seemed to be pleased as well as he destroyed his corn hole competitors with a very red, very sexy mouth yet in a very manly way.  Didn’t seem to me that his conservative family was all that conservative because no one really seemed to bat an eye or hug him any less, that giant straight, furry, fun man.  He and the girls were just being family, playing together and practicing their makeup skills.

Pretty, pretty

Pretty, pretty

I had a few moments of concern for Pooh, wondering if she’d get along with the other kids that were there, but around bed time she was snatched away to the basement to set up camp and tell stories. She was ridiculed mercilessly for her choice in blanket (Alabama) but since the ridicule was from the kid stuffed up under a Gators blanket, no one took it very seriously.  She was part of the makeup frenzy and part of clean up duty and got just as many hugs over the weekend as I did.  She was never asked to move furniture but honestly, the both of us would have happily participated in that because that is what families do.  The whole weekend was just gorgeous.  These people were just gorgeous.

There’s one more person I want to talk about, one more pseudo-family member, and funnily enough, he didn’t ping my radar at all. I have no special stories about him because he was simply no different than anyone else.  I hugged him and yapped with him and listened to him ask his daughter if she had enough to eat, ask his wife if she needed anything, took the beer he offered to me.   He was easy and fun and just . . . family. His name was Scott, and the Monday after we all returned to our regularly scheduled lives, Scott passed away in his home.  He was young and his heart was enormous, you could tell, but it was not enormous in the way that leads to long life. When I heard the news, I was devastated like any pseudo-family member would be. What a sucky, terrible, awful thing to happen to such a lovely man, such a lovely family.  Only now, three or four months later, can I see what a weird, twisted blessing that was for all of them.  To send Scott home to God with a heart and head full of memories of a whole weekend stuffed full of love and laughter and family – what a nice gift to give.

In summation, I would like to say, “Hey Flintstones! Hey Rubbles!  I love you guys!  I’m so sorry for your loss.  Thank you for inviting me in and giving me so many hugs!  I’ll be in your moving party any time!”


Sunset Two

A Recipe, Perfected By Daddy-O, Stolen By Jimmie

Guys, I don’t know what to tell you about Pee-tah’s tooth. I asked him for the story and he’s being all coy now about sharing it. I’m guessing we are going to have to give something up in order for him to share so give it your best shot. Offer him something and see if he comes up off of it. I’m making him a chicken salad. What are you offering?


Speaking of offering something, I’m doing something different today. Today I’m offering you a recipe! I never do that which is a crying shame because I’m an excellent cook and also a healthy one despite what my extra hips tell you. I know that many of you are giving me the side-eye at my declaration of “good cook” and “healthy cook” all in one sentence. It’s true, though. I’m good at it but also sneaky at it so it isn’t like you’ll come over for dinner and get tofu braised in sodium free vegetable broth with a side of raw kale and wheat germ puree. Instead you’ll get something like this:

Daddy-O’s Extra Fine Massively Delicious (Relatively Healthy) Stir Fry

Teaser . . .

Teaser . . .

Oh, man, I got a little thrill just from typing that.

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to give you an ingredients list here and some instructions but I can’t yet. First I want to wax poetic about this dish and tell you that if I get the opportunity to choose the last meal of my life, this is what I’d pick. Squash and I have talked about it often enough during our travels while we are cuddled up on squishy sofas so I’m certain in my choice. I’ve given it a lot of thought. A select few of my friends have experienced this stir fry firsthand but not too many because that means I’d have to share and while I’m happy to share a little of it, I’m not happy to share a lot. I have no idea where Daddy-O got this recipe or how long it took him to perfect it, but I know that our conversations about my visits to him start like this:

Daddy-O: “You’ll be down here for four days? What night are we having stir fry?”

Daddy-O and JiJi visited me for the Labor Day weekend, and it should be no surprise to you that I requested my father labor in the kitchen over my wok until this dish was done. I have no shame. I’m not even embarrassed to tell you that, it’s so good.

Okay, now that I’ve primed the pump, so to speak, below is the ingredient list:

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Snow peas, threaded
  • Carrots
  • Mushrooms
  • Green onion
  • Sliced Water chestnuts, drained
  • Baby corn, drained
  • Garlic
  • Soy sauce
  • White wine (something you’d drink, not cooking wine)
  • Chicken broth
  • Cornstarch
  • Salt, pepper, and sugar
  • Cooking oil (olive oil not recommended because of the cooking temperature)
  • Brown rice, cooked sticky
  • Love – I’m guessing on this one because 1) Daddy-O’s stir fries always turn out better than mine no matter how precisely I follow his instructions and 2) I know he loves me lots

Reading that list you can kind of tell that this is more of a method than a recipe, right? I just picked those ingredients because they are what I like and this blog is all about me, so me me me. My recipe. My favorite. My ingredient list in the quantities that I like. Me.

Now, at this point I am required by all foodie blog laws to give you proper cooking instructions but again, I’m going about this differently. Because this is about my favorite food, I want to tell you how *I* cook it. First, about five years before I make this, I ask Daddy-O for a wok for Christmas. This is an important step because not everyone has a wok lying around. Then, about four years before I make this, I ask for a rice cooker for Christmas. This step is not as important but it works for me because one of my friends has one and I am jealous. Next I asked Daddy-O to sharpen my knives over Thanksgiving. This requires some planning as I have to pack them in my suitcase to drive them down to Florida but it is successful in that I get sharpened knives AND a knife sharpener because driving my three dull knives to Florida every time I need them sharpened is ridiculous. It is at this point we can begin the proper cooking process.

  • With your super sharp knife, begin by cutting the chicken into the bite-sized pieces and place them into a bowl. (If you are grossed out by raw chicken like me, have someone else cut it for you.) Mince some garlic (those of you battling vampires can feel free to use as much as you like – I’ll stick with a clove or two) and toss on the chicken. Add some soy sauce (depending on the level of sausage fingers you like, add as much or as little as you prefer), some wine (a ¼ c or so), and then stir the whole raw concoction. Set aside.
This is not appetizing. I am aware. Just wait.

This is not appetizing. I am aware. Just wait.

  • Cut all vegetables into bite-sized pieces and place into a separate bowl. (If you are like Daddy-O, you will have a separate bowl for each vegetable. This makes JiJi happy as she has to wash all the dishes he dirties.) The items that need more cooking time (carrots, onions) should go on top and the easier cooking items on the bottom (water chestnuts, baby corn). Or, in Daddy-O fashion, like the below.


  • Heat a good amount of oil in the wok on medium high heat. Let it get really good and hot and then throw your vegetables in. You can stagger them if you like which is made easier if each vegetable has its own bowl (Daddy-O sounds pretty smart right about now, don’t he?) so that the cooking time is perfect but either way, in they go. Stir it around while it sizzles and get each vegetable coated in oil. When the heartier vegetables begin to turn bright green and orange, toss in some salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. Add some wine and some chicken broth, whatever amounts make you feel good about it, and let all this business cook for a minute or two. Remove the vegetables from the broth and place back in their bowl. Pour the broth into a separate bowl for later use.
I love those hands. My Daddy's hands.

I love those hands. My Daddy’s hands.

  • Heat more oil in the wok. When it gets good and hot, toss your chicken in and cook until it begins to turn opaque. This is when things start to smell particularly yummy because the garlic is now being cooked. Once the chicken is cooked nearly through, add the broth back into the wok. Stir a tablespoon or two of cornstarch into an additional cup of broth and mix until it sludges. Keep stirring that sludge as you pour into the broth. Smoosh all that around until the sauce begins to thicken and then add the vegetables back in. Stir, cover with your wok lid and set the table. Be quick because you don’t want to overcook your vegetables and make them mushy.


  • Once the table is set, pour yourself a glass of wine and plate up the stir fry over your brown rice. If you really feel fancy you can drive on over to the nearest Chinese take-out place and get yourself an egg roll beforehand but that is not mandatory.



Y’all, I took all those pictures to show you how this is done and I totally forgot to take a picture of the final result. This is what happens when you make stir fry for me, though. I get all giddy and flushed of face and leave my phone next to the empty wok. This half-eaten plate is all that was left by the time I retrieved my phone. Still delicious.

The love was right there, but I ate it.

The love was right there, but I ate it.

So that’s it, guys. My Daddy-O’s famous stir fry recipe that I love more than chocolate. If you make it, I’ll happily give it a taste test to see how it measures up. I’m a giver like that.

Bonus: This is how Tigger uses chopsticks.

Bonus: This is how Tigger uses chopsticks.

#TBT: My Boys

I was eight years old when I got brothers.  They were older than me, not babies, so I was leery at first.  A baby brother would have been a dream because I could tote him around in my dolly stroller and dress him up in my dolly clothes with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of bossiness.  (Martie never let me boss her around even though I was a full 20 months older than her.)  Instead I got these wild things who ran non-stop into and out of the woods, who double-dog dared me to launch myself into the creek from a rope swing, and who sometimes pushed me out of hammocks onto some very pointy rocks.  I was crazy about them.


All the girls that we went to school with were crazy about them, too.  Martie and I got phone calls all the time from these much older girls who’d ask, “Vawn nere?”

Martie would look at me, her forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and hold out the phone to me mouthing, “I don’t know what she’s saying?”

“Hello?” I’d say, and then I’d hear, “Yah, Vawn nere?”  I’d look back at Martie, my forehead wrinkled into a question mark, and shrug.  It took us a little bit to realize that Popular Girl Tammi wasn’t really calling to talk to Martie or me, despite her asking for us, but was calling to determine if Vaughan (Brother Bear) was home.  Oh.  Vawn nere? = is Vaughan there?

“He’s fahr,” another girl said admiringly of Brother Boo.  By this point I’d caught on to the lingo.

“Yes, fire would be a good descriptor for him,” I’d say, knowing that my version of fire and her version of fire were two different fires.


After the boys learned to drive, and it was early as they had been clamoring for that privilege since they were able to sit upright, they’d worry the mess out of Madre and Poppa to go somewhere.

“I’ll run over and get some milk from the dairy farm,” they’d promise and then roar off in the old Cadillac, always returning with the car but sometimes not with the milk.

“I’ll just go get the dog food, no problem, can I have the keys?” they’d ask, right before they disappeared down the country dirt road, not to return again for two hours.

“I’ll mow the grass,” Brother Boo yelped, and he’d drive lines up and down the yard all afternoon.

That grass mowing business left me raging with jealousy.  I had been begging to mow grass since I was too short to even reach the push mower handles.  My cousin, Reid, was tasked with that chore before we got brothers and then afterwards, the boys took care of it, so Martie and I were never allowed the privilege.

“Show me how to do that,” I remember asking Brother Boo.  “Please, I want to do that.”

Y’all, for three whole minutes he patiently taught me.

“Let the clutch out slowly, you want it to be smooth,” he said as I positioned myself on the seat.

I tried slow and smooth just like he said but at nine, slow and smooth were not yet in my vocabulary.  I wobbled all over my one line, mad at him because I couldn’t get it right.

“Are you sure slow, because this isn’t working,” I snarked.

That soured Brother Boo on the game and he said, “No, actually, it’s easier if you just pop the clutch.  I was messing with you before.”

So I, ever trusting, popped the clutch and nearly flew backwards off that lawn mower.  Brother Boo laughed at me, claimed his rightful place in the driver’s seat and smoothly drove off to finish his mowing.


Later, once we all knew how to drive and had cars with which to do it, our brothers would drive theirs until they had no gasoline left, and then ask if they could borrow ours.  Brother Bear was particularly charming in his requests and he’d fly off after we handed over the keys.  Hours later, he would return from his party or his game or his date and he’d leave the car in the front yard with almost enough fuel to drive three miles to the nearest store.  Oh, it was irritating!  It happened EVERY TIME he borrowed a car yet Martie and I still willingly handed over the keys when he asked for them.

As kids do, we all grew up and turned into our own people.  My brothers started a band and played on big stages for a while.  They got married and had families and pursued other dreams when the band faded away.  Sometimes we stay in touch with regularity and sometimes we have to have marathon sessions for catching up because it’s been too long.


Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

Band Member, Boo, Bear, Band Member, Band Member

When Poppa got sick, Brother Bear was able to fly in to lend his support.  I picked him up from the airport and drove him to the hospital where we sat with the rest of the family in a vigil for hours.  We soon realized that the vigil would continue for longer than hours, more like days, and Brother Bear and I took turns staying overnight with Poppa because he couldn’t be left alone.  I’d drive home at midnight to sleep and then in the morning would relieve Brother Bear so he could take a turn at my house.  He’d take off in my car, pick up food and then crash for a few hours before coming back to relieve me.  It was a terrible time.

After a particularly trying night, I left the hospital, weary to my bones and sad.  The two of us knew before anyone else, I think, that Poppa as we knew him would not be coming home.  I got in my car and started it up for my drive across town.  I glanced down at my dashboard and you know what I noticed?  My brother had filled up my car.  My tank was full.  I laughed through my tears all the way home.


This Thanksgiving, the four of us could not be any further apart.  Not one of us will see the other today.  It’s okay, though, because we don’t need to see each other to know we are loved.  Our hearts are connected by more than that.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!



Yes, That Sounds Normal

I ran into an old high school friend this weekend. He’s a police officer here in Nashville, and it seems to me that a friend like that is a handy thing to have.

I also was involved in an accident this weekend. Some guy behind me “lost his footing on the clutch” and smacked the back end of my car pretty good. I was at a red light, in heels and church clothes, and of course, got out of my car to assess the damage. The guy, a cigarette hanging out of his mouth, didn’t even put his car in gear or open his door.

I hollered, “What exactly are you doing?” and got the lame clutch excuse. He yelled it out his window and my head nearly popped off in anger. My bumper was fine, surprisingly (and I’ll say here, my car’s engine has given me lots of fits since January but it seems the body can take a hit pretty good), and when he saw that nothing was lying on the ground, he yelled again out the window, “Thank you!” and drove off, waving his cigarette at me as he drove merrily away, leaving me standing in the turn lane in my heels and skirt.

It would have been nice had I run into the police officer friend at that intersection but, no. That would never happen. Instead, I ran into him when I was at the grocery store getting “girlie supplies.” “Girlie supplies” consist of cookie dough, prewashed grapes and the neon hot pink box of *those* supplies. Why hot pink? Why such a loud color? Of course that’s when I saw my police officer friend. Of course.

Anyway, below are some pictures of my recent life. And while I’m talking about pictures, don’t forget to send me your Throwback Thursday pics. I already have some good ones and will get them up this week.

Madre's Flowers

Madre’s Flowers

Sounds Game

Sounds Game

Martie, Tigger, Jimmie

Martie, Tigger, Jimmie

Coach, Pooh, Tigger, Martie, Jimmie

Coach, Pooh, Tigger, Martie, Jimmie

Jimmie, Pooh, Martie

Jimmie, Pooh, Martie

Coach, Tigger, Jimmie

Coach, Tigger, Jimmie

My Greenway

My Greenway

Home, Part 2

In light of our nation’s recent events, I feel the need to celebrate my family once again.  Thanksgiving this year was spent at the homestead, reminiscing, loving, just enjoying each other’s company.  I feel so fortunate to have a family and to even like them!  Here are some additional pictures.


This is Precious.  Or Girlfriend.  I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know which one this is.  Madre treats these varmints as if they are her children and since this girl is my “sister”, I’m ashamed I can’t remember her name.  That’s okay, though.  Madre, when she’d get mad at us as kids, could never remember our names either.  Turnabout’s fair play.


This was our Christmas tree one year.  Poppa said we weren’t to have some tree just go to waste after being gussied up for a few weeks. No siree. We got a live tree with a giant bulbous root on the bottom of it, and because it was a live tree we could only have it decorated for three days before we had to plant it.  We decorated it in a frenzy and sat maniacally by it, just staring at it and absorbing as much of it as we could before we disrobed it and hauled it out to the yard to plant.  We did this for a couple of years but this was the only tree that has survived the planting.  The other trees either croaked off shortly after being planted or were killed in a freak thunderstorm.


This here is Poppa’s truck.  Have you ever seen a manlier truck in your whole life?


This is the baptizing hole.  It is exactly what you think it is.  Local churches would bring their members here for a full immersion.  It isn’t used for that anymore which makes me a little sad.


This is Boo, putting on his shoes and socks after “rescuing” Madre’s new dog, Lucy Loo.  Lucy Loo, being a spastic puppy and new to the world, doesn’t fully grasp the meaning of “You are too close to the bank! Move, dog!”  With a surprisingly wimpy splash, Lucy Loo went over the side of the bank and into the water where she discovered that full immersion is not for her.  Kasi Starr leaned over the bank and snatched that puppy up by her collar.  However, as all good men are wont to do, Boo stripped down to his bare feet and leaped into the water where he was poised to rescue in a matter of seconds. Too bad it was all for naught as Kasi Starr had already performed the heroics and Lucy Loo was saved.  So Boo stood there for a moment in the water that was, at maximum, thirty degrees and experienced a refreshing creek mud bath from the knee down.


This is Lucy Loo being a very unappreciative dog.


This is Jimmie, holding Tigger.  She is my little monkey.  I wish I could hug her now, and Pooh too.  I wish I had a picture of Pooh and me.  Christmas.  I’ll get it then.  I am blessed, can’t you tell?

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