Thursday, July 31, 2008

Perks of Vacationing

Traveling with my sister takes us to the far reaches of a town in any state that has something of interest.Time doesn't stop us. We want to see a place, we see it. Sometimes these destinations take a lot of inquiry and getting our mind’s compass in gear. We do this the hard way, without a GPS. We stop folks on the road, beginning with “Good morning, ya’ll” and ending up where we had planned. Sometimes, we are surprised at the unpleasant areas we have to ride through, as in the case of the cemetery for Buddy Holley’s grave.

Who knew when he was buried that Lubbock, TX would extend the opposite way, a new overpass would be constructed nearby, and the subdivision of tiny houses would almost be forgotten? It was 9 o’clock on a Sunday morning when we drove into the cemetery, not knowing which of the sites would be Buddy’s. However, a slow drive, and suddenly, there it was, alongside the paved road! We snapped our photos and left, high-fiving our success.

From the website "" is a synopsis of Who BH was,for those of you who’ve forgotten his music, or never heard of him:

7thSeptember 1936 - 3rd February 1959
Born Charles Hardin Holley, Lubbock, Texas.
Rock musician who in his short career of 18 months changed the face of Rock N Roll music. Buddy was the first singer to sing with his fellow group members (The Crickets), which had until then been singers in front of a group. Way ahead of his time in using many recording features unheard of at that time. These included sound effects, acoustic & voice dubbing. His music inspired the groups of the 60's including "The Beatles" and "The Rolling Stones". Buddy and his music still live on to this present day through films, radio, TV and stage shows. The Buddy Holly Appreciation Society still meet once a year to remember Buddy and make sure the music never dies. Died in a plane crash with Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper near Clear Lake, Iowa after appearing at the Surf Ballroom. There is a fans memorial at the crash site to the singers . Buddy has been immortalized in both film (The Buddy Holly Story) and song (Don McClean's "American Pie"). Unlike many recordings from that time Buddy's records & sound have not dated and are still played by DJ's all over the world. Buddy's legacy is that he paved the way for all future groups and began many recording techniques which are still used today. A legend whose music still lives on and probably always will.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ohh, We're Soo Fat!

Surely, you’ve read recently that Mississippians have won the Fat Award for the fourth time. Hey, if you had our biscuits, cane ribbon syrup, grits and real butter, summer vegetables cooked in ham hock, cornbread with chitlin’s, and the variety of fruits at our disposal, you’d find it difficult to think thin.

Mississippians love their desserts. Home made ice cream, baked goodies, fudge brownies, not to mention candies made in our kitchens, and the sweetest of all—iced tea!! We drink gallons of sweetened tea during the summer. A day isn’t considered a good one without a tall, frosted glass of sweet tea. Go to any McDonald’s, McAlister’s, Krystal, and restaurants scattered throughout the state and you will find sweet tea so sweet your brain waves will jitterbug if you aren’t attuned to sugar.

In this week’s local Clarion-Ledger one of my favorite columnists, a popular chef and cookbook author, Robert St. John, defends us Mississippians and our love for good food by making this suggestion to the CDC on polling:

“Instead of a telephone poll to decide which state is fatter, the CDC needs to rent the Georgia Dome and host an Olympic-style competition of all 50 states. We might not win the 400 meter relay every time, but we could kick butt in the shot pu ,dead lift and pie-eating contest.

We’ll dust off all of the old high school cheers. When competing with Colorado—the nation’s skinniest state—we can chant from the sidelines:

“Two bits, four bits, gumbo roux, you better look out or we’ll sit on you!”

(Thanks, Robert, for your cheering words!)

We never get tired of fried chicken, barbecued meats, and catfish found on every day’s menu. And when you hear of a friend saying he’s going to neighboring New Orleans, he’ll mention in the same breath, FOOD: Louisiana is fourth in obesity with their mouth-watering Cajun foods, among them gumbo and jambalaya, which we Mississippians have adopted into our menus.

There's a local country restaurant just on the edge of Madison called Hamil’s. Ohh, do they know how to barbecue ribs. Their menu of “down-home” cooking packs the dining halls every day between 11 a. m. and 2 p. m. The folks there are known not to turn down a hungry straggler a bit past closing time.

My family has agreed that any of our northern friends who will brave the hot summer and visit us will be treated to lunch at Hamil’s.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Long Days of Summer

What do you do on a rainy night in Rio?
What do you say when the lady says, “Si, Si”
Where do you go when can’t go for a walk—
Do you stay home and talk, or do you sit and sigh
“Ay, Ay.”

This old song from either a Hope/Crosby movie or one of those extravagant musicals of the 1940’s runs through my mind. It’s Latin rhythm keeps me swaying. Here’s my poetic entry:

What do I do in Madison, when the temperature is high?
What can I say when I’m asked why not New York?
Looking outdoors I see the sun and dappled shade
and turn back to my book, and, yes, I sigh
“ Oh my,Oh my!”

That’s the record of my days at home, battling the urge to move around outdoors. No interest in improving my jewelry work, no custom orders, no deadlines. Reading six books a week (Don’t ask me names or authors) has become a nighttime labor of love. So for daytime business—no television for me—I’ve returned to my roots. On I’ve begun to enter into my family tree three years of methodical gathering of letters, public records, and correspondence, as well as notes from hundreds of phone calls scratched on bits and pieces of paper. A lot of updating from the last time I worked. This move came after emphasizing—in the harshest tone of voice-- to my kids not discard a single box of genealogy. Being unable to predict their interest in holding on to thousands of pictures gathered from over 100 sources and those notes no one can interpret, gave me impetus to go online.

Sitting before the computer during the morning, I turn my head occasionally, looking through the window to check the droopiness of the plants on the patio, making the decision to water or not, then gulping a mouth full of cold water before resuming work.

By 2:00 p.m. I take a siesta and dream of what I could be doing at our bit of heaven in the lower Catskills. I like to imagine that the temperature there is similar to Madison this summer. (We still haven’t discovered a battery-operated fan that moves the air satisfactorily for the cabin.) In this state of mind with the air conditioning keeping me cool, I don’t miss lying on a steaming mattress in a stifling cabin on a sun-drenched hillside waiting impatiently for the cool of the evening.

Be satisfied with what you’ve got, I remind myself. And that’s why I’m not pining for the hills and water and woods of New York.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Landscaping Makes for Beautiful

Summer in my hometown is glorified by its landscaping. Main street and neighborhoods are showy places worth driving through. Anywhere in Madison and nearby Ridgeland, two neighboring cities outside Jackson, the capital, some of the most beautiful plantings can be found on street corners, fronting wooded areas, gasoline stations, private businesses with drive-up access, entrances to schools, parks and subdivisions. The largest plantings use crape myrtles, those gorgeous trees whose flowers resemble bunches of grapes. They bloom from spring through fall. The colors are magnificent: lavender, light and dark rose, and white.

The name crape has been often seen spelled as crepe. We give it the hard sound that rhymes with "grape." I've never heard "krehp" despite one spelling it as "crepe". The family name is Lagerstroemi. They are so popular that some nurseries specialize in producing and selling just this one tree. (see They grow up to 40 feet and as short as three. One breeder sells miniatures as small as eight inches. Because this shrub/tree can grow anywhere in the world, in temperatures as low as –15 degrees F, it’s any wonder gardeners haven’t discovered and planted this beautiful flowering wonder. They are a “genus of some 50 species of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs native to the Indian subcontinent, southeast Asia, northern Australia and parts of Oceania…the French botanist Andrew Michaux introduced this species to Charleston, SC circa 1790.”(

We decided to join the rest of our neighbors by planting two in our yard in April. Already they are blooming. The one below can be seen from our bedroom window.

Crape Myrtles are hardy, woody, perennials that deserve a spot in everyone's yard.