Monday, February 28, 2011

Rechristened Poultry

When this picture was taken, I was referring to this as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Rooster. 

Looked pretty masculine to me. 

That comb fairly reeks of testosterone.

     The thing is: awhile back, as Morgana was introduced to

the world on Facebook in this very photo, I was being told

that she's a hen. Even people who are usually pretty

dispassionate about poultry remarked on her beauty. After

all, you're looking at a cross between a Rhode Island Red

and a black banty Cochin rooster. That's a remarkable-

looking chicken, folks.

     Not long after her photo session, however, Morgana

began behaving strangely. We found her atop other hens.

     I was told she was asserting her dominance. I had never

seen a lesbi-hen in our flock, but I accepted this.

    Then Morgana started crowing. At that point, I 

rechristened her Morgan, and everyone decided that, indeed,

this is a rooster.


     These days, Morgan is excessively intimate with just

about every hen we have. Our old rooster - beloved Mr.

Fluffybutt - tolerates this fairly well, though he sometimes

shoots across the yard like he's been fired from a cannon,

feathers flying in the wind. So far, he seems willing to share

his harem.

     Morgan has started locating pieces of food and cackling 

to summon some chicks of his own. 

Mr. Fluffybutt feigns indifference.


     You can't even distract him with cracked corn anymore. 

     Morgana-turned-Morgan starts his plaintive crowing

around 3:00 a.m. some days. It is a sad, lonely wail.

Apparently it is only discernible to females, because my

husband sleeps right through it.

     He seems pretty set on being a rooster, which is fine with

me as long as he can integrate into our little flock. He really
is gorgeous.

     Sometimes, though, I am reminded of Jeffry Eugenides'
Middlesex. Interesting book; Oprah's book club (as well as

members of my own) explored it years ago.

     I hope that Morgan can continue to fit in around here.

He's a pretty bird.

Love from Delta.


Sunday, February 27, 2011


I am in love.

I had been to Classic on Noble years ago, but it was even better than I remembered. We stopped in late last night for an elegant dessert (for my Florida friends, kinda like dropping into the Haye Loft at Euphemia Haye).

Chandeleliers, crystal, ambience, history, wonderful food: it's all right here in beautiful downtown Anniston.

Classic on Noble

Check it out.

Love from Delta.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Heart of Glass

Are these not just the prettiest things you've ever seen? I discovered them on They're handcrafted lampwork glass floral disc beads, by artist Laurie Whitney of Mermaid Glass. She calls them "Fairy Flowers".

I love stuff like this.

I have a friend in Florida named Joyce Karp. I used to envy her gorgeous lampwork beads. It's one of those things I always wanted to learn to do, but never quite got around to it.


My daughter and I love Dale Chihuly (she's fortunate to have a Chihuly chandelier on Auburn's campus). I remember an exhibition we saw years ago in St. Petersburg, Florida. There was an amazing installation in an outdoor garden with exotic glass plants. After that visit, I have longed to see the lobby ceiling at the Bellagio Hotel in Vegas.


Years of jewelry-making have taught me to appreciate glass beads. I've never seen any quite as beautifully done as Laurie's.

You will find her blog here:
The Mermaid's Tale


The earrings are called "Coffee and Donuts".
Too cute.

Love from Delta.

Friday, February 25, 2011

On Daffodils and Fishing

I gathered these daffodils yesterday while walking with my husband. They usually herald Spring around here, but we’re surely in for more Winter.

After all, March is usually the snowiest month in Delta.

That’s what they tell me, anyway.

Out at our local (read: beautiful, sparkling, peaceful) lake, the trees are greening up. You can find little buds on the oak tree in the yard, on the blackberry vines, on various flora everywhere. It’s a lovely time of year.

This is exploring weather for me. It makes me long for the verdant pastures of Ireland (we’ve viewed those forty shades of green a number of times), the cool mountains of Breckenridge, the primeval forests of Yosemite. We’ve traveled to some pretty amazing places. Perched high above Lake Tahoe, we found Heavenly heavenly.

I still like the Talladega National Forest the best. The panorama you can take in from Bald Rock on Cheaha Mountain is amazing.

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings said it well, in Cross Creek:

“And along with our deep knowledge of the earth is a preference of each of us for certain different kinds of it, for the earth is various as we are various.
One man longs for the mountains, and does not even need to have been a child of the mountains to have this longing; and another man yearns for the valleys or the plains.”
I think I have always yearned for mountains, though climbing them is best left to my brother or husband or sister-in-law, Ann.  
(I have pretty darned good footing on rock formations, but I am not very mountain-goatish.)

‘Snot dodgy’* for me, as British-Irish darling Annie would say. 

*Let me translate: this is Ann’s way of asking if you can handle climbing out onto a rock, as in, “Are you okay, Beth? Snot dodgy for you, is it?”

Anyway, it was a lovely walk, and I enjoyed exploring our faux-Spring. I might even want to go fishing sometime soon (haven’t done that in awhile).

Speaking of fishing . . . this had to hit the blog eventually (somewhere, my daughter is rolling her eyes):

by John Donne

COME live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.

There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas! is wiser far than I.

Donne, John. Poems of John Donne. vol I.
E. K. Chambers, ed.
London: Lawrence & Bullen, 1896. 47-49.

Whatever you’re doing this weekend—it’s pretty muddy in Delta right now—hope you have a lot of fun.

Here’s an apropos Brad Paisley video:

Brad Paisley - Mud on the Tires

Love from Delta.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eggs for Lucile

"When they first quit molting," she says, "they lay some weird eggs."

My ninety-five-year-old grandmother slowly rubs her thumb over the 

smooth shell of an almond-shaped egg from our banty Cochin hen.

She is known by many names in our family; some of her grandchildren 

call her "Mamas" (I started that when my mother would ask me as a toddler, "Would you like to 

go to Mama's?" No one told me there was an apostrophe.) Others call her Grandmother, Grandmother 

Lucile, Grandmother Luci, "Miss Luci" (this was particularly popular during the "Miss Ellie" years on Dallas), 

Mother, Mom . . .

     The one thing we all call her is wonderful.

     I have been delivering fresh eggs on a weekly basis for awhile now, because she's allowed to eat them.

     She's been through some pretty scary health problems in the past few months, and we were all very worried.

My Cousin Debi called in her prayer warriors. Mamas has rallied, however, and is making laps around her

apartment like a champ.

     She looks great, and is planning on getting her hair and nails done this week. 

    (She has perfect oval fingernails a twenty-year-old would envy.)

     As I sit by her side, she's educating me today on poultry farming. She has a vast store of wisdom accumulated

over the years. It amazes me.

     She grew up in Jacksonville, Alabama. This photo shows her at about eight years old, next to her brothers

Hoyt and Charlie. It was taken in the mill village*, in front of a quilt top she says her mother was making for

someone. For a dollar.

     She has only recently told me much about the mill village. She remembers a house nearby with beautiful pink

roses growing along its fence. It was a little spot of beauty.

     If you look closely, you'll see a dainty wristwatch on her arm. Though it was a time of poverty, she and her

brothers were dressed to the nines. My great-grandmother made sure of it.

     Mamas has always been dressed to the nines, for as long as I can remember. There are photos of her looking

cute as a button at seventy, sitting on the hood of her little convertible. She had clothes at that age that even

I envied. 

     She traveled the world with her second husband, a cardiologist. I remember trips to Germany and Hawaii and

many points all over the United States. She was the essence of glamor, running around in St. John knits, fur

and sunglasses. People mistook her often for actress Jane Wyman, and sometimes approached her for

autographs. She would smile politely and say, "Please. We're on vacation." 

     There is a character in Delaney's People named Margaret, and she is very much inspired by my

grandmother. In a chapter called "The Heart of the Family" Margaret has to stop eating eggs for cholesterol

reasons. That was written three years ago, so it kinda brings a smile to my face to be delivering fresh eggs to

Lucile these days. She is back out in the sunshine, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she were to walk around

the nearby lake soon.

I don't have to tell you who the heart of the family is. 

*This is the mill village made famous by Rick Bragg in The Prince of Frogtown. It's one of my favorite books,

and I've been known to make people read it.
The Prince of Frogtown 

Love from Delta.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pepper and Elizabeth

She is a lioness, stalking prey in her personal savanna in the backyard.
She used to live under beds, cowering in fear when strangers approached.
Her name is Pepper, and she is mighty fierce since moving to Alabama. She's about eleven years old - give or take a little - but she's happier and healthier than she's ever been.
She crouches and pursues voles and field mice. She stares down Velociraptor-Rhode-Island-Reds and wins pieces of cheese.
About sunset, though, she is ready for a lap in a rocking chair on the back porch.
You wouldn't believe what I've rocked to sleep out there, including this chicken:


Her name is Elizabeth, and she's sort of the clan matriarch.
She is our brave, intrepid Speckled Sussex; the only one that will actually cross the road for food. (She's been spotted approaching the Delta General Store.)
Her eggs are superb. She will work for okra. She's just about my favorite chicken in the whole world.

While Pepper stalks her personal Serengeti, I'm off to get my own wild mane tamed today.

Here's a terrific, amazing choir performance of Toto's "Africa" to get your Wednesday going. I promise you, it's worth viewing.

Perpetuum Jazzile's Performance of "Africa"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On A Clear Day, You Can See Turkey Heaven Mountain

My husband has a topographical map in his head. All the time. He's a pilot.

     I generally know where I am, and I can navigate my way through the world's most elaborate shopping mall for hours and then zero back in on the car's location without batting an eye (even when distracted by many, many pretty shiny things).
     I grew up spending lots of time in Delta, and always found the scenery pretty. It wasn't until Jay started exploring the topography that I realized just how beautifully situated it is.
     He's been doing some amazing things to our land here. Trees have fallen. A new grapevine is exploring its way up a post in the arbor. The view has expanded, and we can now see Turkey Heaven Mountain Summit.
(No, I did not make that up.)
     Last night we were able to sit on the deck out back and relax in the cool feels-like-spring air in the quietest place on Earth (well, except for the occasional bucolic cow in the valley)...and the crickets...

Other than that, even the jet out of Atlanta muted itself.
A huge heron flew over our heads. A few bats appeared.

     The property now includes a deer-and-bunny-frolicking section. You can only see a tiny piece of it here, but it's a large, newly-grass-seeded area sloping down behind the house.

It was nice to sit and admire God's handiwork. Here are a few pictures:

As a friend visiting from Florida once said...

 "That jet was haulin' taters."

Happy Tuesday with love from Delta.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hanging in Hank's Hometown

There are three things you should know about Montgomery, Alabama:
1. It is the home of Hank Williams. (The original Hank Williams - not the Bocephus variety. Hank was born 70 miles south of Montgomery, but he spent lots of time here, and rests here in peace.)
2. It is the place where Jefferson Davis took his inaugural oath as President of The Confederate States of America.
Sons of the South
3. The petunias are glorious right now.

Yesterday my husband Jay, our son Jason and I spent a beautiful day there. The sun was shining (it really felt like spring) and the skies really were SO blue. (I'm pretty sure our new governor is true, too.)*
*Sweet Home Alabama

We saw some amazingly beautiful sights, a lot of very pretty architecture, and we learned some cool Montgomery history.

We were there...along with people from New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, Tennessee, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, The Carolinas, and other far-away honor ancestors who fought in a war. We were there to remember 15-year-old boys and 20-year-old men from The South who were willing to fight and die for what they believed in. I talked to moms who dedicated their time to moving and preserving headstones. I talked to grandfathers who came to watch their grandsons march in a parade.
It's Confederate History and Heritage Month in parts of the South (we are marking the 150-year-anniversary of The War Between the States. (The Late, Great Unpleasantness. The War Against Northern Aggression. The Civil War.)
Other, more-politically-correct states no longer have such things.
(Alabama has its own, in April. Governor Bob Riley proclaimed it so in 2007.)
Since Jefferson Davis was inaugurated on February 18, 1861 on the capitol steps in Montgomery, yesterday's Confederate Heritage Rally parade concluded in a re-enactment of his swearing-in. While Jay listened to that, Jason and I settled into a wonderful little restaurant called Chris' Hot Dogs. It's on Dexter Avenue, not far from the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church.
We were served delicious food by some very nice people. George Wallace's picture hangs on the wall. Ladies in hoop skirts jostled for position, trying to get a table. The place was packed.
There was no ugliness. There was no reason for it. People sometimes fail to understand that organizations like the Sons of Confederate Veterans exist to celebrate and preserve history, not for racial division or to spread hatred or anything else a nutcase can conjure up.
They honor war heroes, just like people up North should be doing for those who fought in the Grand Army of the Republic. Like this country does every time it marks Independence Day on July 4th. Like we do on Veteran's Day.
It's about tradition, respect, and honor.
Here are a few pictures from the parade:

My nephew Duke shared a link to a clip of a Hank Williams hymn awhile back. While looking for it, I stumbled across this: 
It's definitely worth a listen.

Happy Beautiful Alabama Sunday.

Love from Delta.

P.S. - A pun for my Cousin Debi.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Meanwhile Back at the (Chicken) Ranch...

This "Poultry in Motion" rooster is called Deviled Eggs. A combined love for puns and bright shiny things inspired me to start collecting these years ago in Florida. This guy is currently decorating the kitchen, standing next to a fancy cake stand full of bon bons. The goodies are there to welcome Precious Son and Precious Daughter and her roommate home from college this weekend.
(As I write this, Precious Son and his dad are watching wrestling on TV. Need I say more?) Savannah and Jenny will be here soon. I hope.
Look closely at yon rooster. See the top of his bright yellow comb?

That is a ladybug.
A lucky, lovely ladybug dropped into my kitchen earlier today. Sometimes, they take refuge during the cold winter months (we've had ladybug invasions that would've inspired Hitchcock) - but this little lady seemed to portend Spring. It's warm and beautiful outside. The jonquils are blooming. The birds are singing. It's really gorgeous here right now. The chickens happily explored the yard all day, dreaming of worms and whatever disgusting things they find out there (I took them crackers and carrots and strawberry bits and cheese. This is some very pampered poultry).
I worked on editing my book* and cleaning house all day.

The ladybug is an interesting hybrid we encountered when we moved to Alabama. Seems that some university I shall not name released a ladybug with PINCHERS into the environment. I did not believe this, but it is apparently true. I have suffered a ladybug attack or two. Seriously.
I still think they're lucky, though.
Tomorrow we're off to Montgomery for the Confederate Heritage Rally. It's a lovely, historic city and has an amazing riverfront district, as I recall. I'm really looking forward to it.
City of Montgomery, Alabama

Before deserting this blog, I want to mention something that really touches me. A group of alumni from The University of Alabama has joined forces to raise money for Auburn University to rehabilitate or replace the poisoned trees I mentioned yesterday. They've already had a huge outpouring of support, and I am proud of their efforts.

Tide for Toomer's

May your weekend be filled with sunshine and (innocuous) ladybugs.

Love from Delta.

*Shameless plug. Delaney's People. Soon to grace a fortunate bookshelf somewhere. The good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Disgusting Dendricide


*Accused, purported, innocent until proven guilty, might be pure as the driven snow.
Whatever the case, Harvey Updyke makes me ashamed to live in Alabama today. Said to be motivated by overwhelming Crimson Tide Fever, Harvey apparently decided the best way to support his football team was to poison rival Auburn's beautiful 130-year-old oak trees on historic Toomer's Corner.
I am lucky enough to have a daughter who attends Auburn University (and lucky enough to have a son who's a graduate student at The University of Alabama, as well). Both schools mean a lot to me, and to the State of Alabama.

But Harvey, here. Harvey has offended every Alabamian I know, as well as some friends who bleed orange and blue.
I grew up seeing postcards of Bear Bryant walking on water in the local drugstore. Alabama football is a huge part of anyone's life in The Heart of Dixie, especially if you're among those God blessed with this birthplace. Tide fans and Tiger fans generally respect each other, even when things get heated near the end of the season.

National championships turn into an Alabama thing, not a school thing. And I am proud of the civility and manners at both universities.

 This photo, supplied by my daughter, shows what a victory celebration at Toomer's Corner looks like.

I had hoped to attend a traditional Toomer's Corner rolling-of-the-trees someday, or at least watch one from nearby. Now, the question of whether Auburn University can save their majestic Live Oaks will determine that.
I care. The students, faculty, administration, alumni and fans care. Harvey (or somebody like him) apparently doesn't.

If Mr. Harvey Updyke is indeed guilty of this malicious attack, shame on him. If it turns out it's someone else, my apologies to Mr. Updyke. On behalf of Alabamians everywhere: this is embarrassing, y'all.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Bama Girl

Kissin' Cousins
Copyright Donna Duke Morrison

She has always been a country girl at heart.
Our daughter Savannah just emailed me an essay she'd written about our move to Alabama. She's a freshman at Auburn University, majoring in horticulture (pomology, if you want to be precise - it's the branch dedicated to the cultivation of fruits). She's been growing things in backyards for as long as I can remember, including a nice little cotton crop in Florida (not the easiest thing to do). She's whip-smart, and she's a very talented writer.
Her essay brought up all kinds of memories of time spent in Delta, and the inevitable tears when my country girl had to return to the city. I think (like me) she's always carried a little red clay everywhere she's traveled.
Both of us left behind wonderful friends and family in the Tampa Bay area, and we miss them. But the weather here suits us just fine (I always felt a little like a plant that had been moved a bit too far south, wilted and occasionally trampled by Yankees. No offense. I know and love some perfectly wonderful Northerners, but we were living in a tourist town.) Moving to the country wrought some amazing and wonderful changes in my daughter, just as it did in me.

Savannah and I would both quote Jimmy Buffett: I have found me a home.

She still fishes sometimes, but she's pretty darned busy these days. This photo was made at a family reunion in Delta. That brim never stood a chance.
She is going to feed the world, I am sure of it.

I have watched her grow into a beautiful, self possessed young woman in these mountains.


Savannah and her dad tended furiously to a wisteria plant in our Florida back yard. It simply would not blossom.
It is planted here now. This year, like Savannah, I am sure it will bloom in Alabama.

Love from Delta.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Wee Bit of Confederate History

My mother (an accomplished watercolorist in her own right) told me this morning she'd painted a lighthouse in North Carolina in a class she's taking. She said it had a black and white harlequin pattern.
I figured it must be pretty iconic.

Naturally, I Googled it while we were on the phone. I know beautiful North Carolina pretty well, but have never spent time on the coast. I read a little bit, and my inner Confederate History Monitor was alerted.

"In 1861, the Confederate Lighthouse Bureau assumed all control of the lighthouse during the Civil War and ordered all lights to be disassembled so they could not be used by the Northern forces. Union soldiers quickly assumed control of the coast and took control of the lighthouse in 1862. In 1864, the original tower was blown up by Confederate soldiers and it also caused damage to the new lighthouse. A new lens was ordered after the lens was destroyed by the explosion. After that point, the lighthouse stayed permanently lit."

Cape Lookout Lighthouse
February 15, 2011
Cape Lookout Lighthouse 
National Park Service - Cape Lookout Lighthouse 

Confederate history is very important to me, and my husband as well. This weekend, we're attending the SCV's "Confederate Heritage Rally 2011" in Montgomery. Should be fun. We both have ancestors who fought in the war (I actually have my great-great grandfather's souvenir medal from a Confederate Veteran's reunion in Birmingham).

I hope my mother keeps that painting. (She is quite the perfectionist, and sometimes misjudges how beautiful her paintings really are.)

I want it. I even have a place in mind to hang it.

(My brother and I sometimes compete for her artwork, but she's painting a Rastafarian next week. He can have that one.)

Love from Delta.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Cupcakes: Chocolate Drizzled Fresh Strawberry


(I am being stealthily stalked by sinuses. I am working with one nostril here, folks. Took some aspirin with a naked strawberry cupcake** at 5 a.m.).

Here is a recipe to knock your sweetie's socks off today:
(Note to novice bakers: this is REALLY not as hard as it looks.) 

You will need:
One pint of good, fresh strawberries
The strawberry cake mix of your choice (Do not feel guilty. There are some wonderful mixes out there.)

I am very, very fond of these people:
Duncan Hines
One 8 ounce package of cream cheese (softened to room temperature)
Two sticks of unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
(the only butter in my kitchen...ever: Land O' Lakes)
about two cups of confectioner's sugar
good vanilla extract
good strawberry extract
a drop of red food coloring (optional)
1-1/2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate morsels
2 tablespoons of shortening
(If you're not from The South, this is what it looks like: Crisco)

Prepare mix according to directions (I usually add a tiny bit of vanilla and strawberry extracts). Measure carefully into two lined cupcake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about eighteen minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. As soon as possible, remove cupcakes to cool (on a rack if you have one). You're going to be busy.


Chop about five medium-sized strawberries into tiny pieces, then mash them up with a fork. Set aside.
Beat cream cheese and butter together until fluffy. Add sugar at about 1/3 cup at a time.
(Stop mixer. Taste. Stop mixer. Taste.) When you're happy with the flavor and it looks like frosting, add crushed strawberries, a splash of vanilla and a splash of strawberry extract. Whip all that together with your mixer. Add a little food coloring if you're really into pink - but you don't need it.)

(NOTE: I use a little hand mixer I've had for as long as I can remember. If you can get your hands on a hand mixer, I highly recommend them. I can't stand stand mixers. They just stand around and look ornamental. But I digress...)

The Chocolate: 

This is not nearly as difficult as people make it out to be. Really. Take a skillet and put about one inch of hot water in the bottom. Place over LOW heat (you do not want this to boil). Put a medium-sized saucepan into the skillet, and pour the chocolate morsels into it. The chocolate will start to melt of its own accord. Plunk the shortening in there. Stir. Stir some more. DO NOT allow any water to come into contact with the chocolate. Do not even tell the chocolate there is water nearby.

Now, chop up lots of strawberries into pretty little pieces (you can sprinkle a bit of granulated sugar on them if you think they need sweetening). Your cupcakes are cool, your frosting still looks like frosting, your chocolate is stirred and nice and liquid-y. Here is the fun part:


Put waxed paper or paper towels on your kitchen counters. This is going to get messy.
Work quickly. Pour the melted chocolate into an icing bag and use a #5 Wilton tip* if you possess one.

*(If you don't: chocolate drizzling can be accomplished by pouring the chocolate into a freezer baggie with a tiny hole cut out of the corner. I have done this. I do not recommend it, though.) 

Slap icing onto each cupcake with a spatula, or if you're doing it fancy, put it into an icing bag and pipe on using a #1 tip (my personal favorite).
Top each cupcake with chopped strawberries. Drizzle chocolate like crazy.

Refrigerate each of your little darlings as soon as possible. Present to your Valentine.

**You may not have enough icing for all twenty-four cupcakes. This will result in "naked strawberry cupcakes". Excellent with aspirin.

Love from Delta.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day, Y'all.

"In Milton, someone plugs in their electric shaver and the street lights dim!!"
That early attempt at literary humor was written at the tender age of twelve or so. It was part of a dispatch from the frozen tundra of Pennsylvania to my grandparents in Delta, Alabama. Milton is a perfectly nice town (though very small), and I made some wonderful friends there. At the time it was home to Chef Boyardee, and it still is.
Chef Boyardee
Before Milton, there was the unfortunately named "Turbotville".
(I have an uncle who jokingly refused to address letters to my mother there, because Turbotville sounds...well...less than poetic.)
I found this tiny letter in some papers while searching for information for my husband last night. It was written on Holly Hobbie stationery in my very precise script. (The only bad grades I ever received in elementary school were for penmanship that was a wee bit too scrolly.)
Holly Hobbie

(Note the purely coincidental Valentine's Day reference.)

The letter is a great illustration of how much I've loved to write throughout my entire life. Song parodies, guest editorials, ad copy, political rhetoric, letters to friends and family, birthday tributes, name it. If it's crafting images with words, I love to do it.
(I once considered starting a business called "GHOST WRITERS IN THE SKY". It never quite took off. Pun fully intended.)

As I've written recently, my husband and I went to see author Chris Bohjalian in Atlanta. One of the things Chris talked about was "finding [his] voice" in Vermont. Now, I am no Chris Bohjalian. He is brilliant and witty and has written some of my very favorite books ever.
After years in Pennsylvania and many many more in Florida, I have been fortunate to return to my beloved Alabama for good. And I think I have found my voice.
It has a strong Southern drawl, and it wishes y'all a Happy Valentine's Day.

Love from Delta.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I Put My Innocent Gravy in the Freezer

I wasn't even going to write today. It's Saturday.
But last night, I cooked Jay a five-star feast of my homemade fried chicken tenders, dirty mashed potatoes, green beans and "thickenin' gravy"*. It was pretty fabulous. I even sent a plate to a friend who works nearby.
While I was cooking (Ladies, ever try to get all this stuff ready at the same precise nanosecond?), a friend of Jay's knocked at the door to drop off some "homeless deer meat" (Jay's phrase). Apparently, they are venison tenderloins. We were given what looked like three hundred pounds of raw deer to me.
(Okay, a bit of hyperbole here.)
Back to my pristine kitchen. I thought my gravy was delicious, but it was far from my best effort ever.

Because everything around here gets eaten by...
a) people
b) dogs
c) chickens
d) The Cat
...I decided to save the gravy for dog food. When Jay finished helping clean up the kitchen (I only left the poor man an iron skillet and a few bowls), he stuck a styrofoam bowl full of my (perfectly fine) gravy into the freezer for Bama and Beau to devour over the next...I don't know...month or so.
A bit later, I opened the freezer and it smelled funky to me, so I removed said gravy and put it on the kitchen counter.
At 3:30 a.m., I awoke with an upset stomach (not from my most excellent cooking). When I opened the bedroom door, I was hit by a smell that was - I'm not sure how to describe it - apocalyptic? Horrible? Evil? Dante's Inferno?
I marched out to the kitchen area and shot accusing looks at both peacefully sleeping dogs.
This was bad, folks. The end of my kitchen.
Jay had placed the not-so-dear-deer in my precious large white crock pot. He came running in right behind me as soon as the smell hit his snoring nostrils. 
I put my innocent gravy back in the freezer.
Jay put the smelliest venison in the history of the universe on the porch.
Fans were started.
Candles were lit.

Beware of gamey gifts.

Here's an easy way to make really wonderful dirty mashed potatoes:
Chop up about four cups of good little potatoes (I like Dole Yukon Gold) - just cut them into tiny pieces, and leave the skins on.
Place in a mid-sized glass mixing bowl and add about 1/3 cup of water, then cover TIGHTLY with clear wrap (it should look like a drum, and sound like one, too.)
Microwave on high for about eight minutes, until the potatoes are fork-mushy. DO NOT DRAIN.
Add butter, salt, pepper to taste (a little sour cream is wonderful, too.) Attack with an electric hand mixer.

*Every Southern Woman knows how to make this. Some people call it milk gravy.

Today I am going to play with the chickens, get my car washed, and visit my grandmother. Hope y'all have a wonderful weekend.
Love from Delta.