If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Spring Planting

Mike has been bitten by the spring planting bug!  Last week he asked me to bring home some veggies from the farm store.  So, home I came with lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.  He had already been busy with some onion sets.
Don't they look springy and delish?

Then, last week he transplanted some of the other plants which seem to be taking off and thriving.
Lettuce and Spinach salad starts

Yesterday I painted the iron frame which holds the third basin and set of tubs.  Then, today, he planted the remaining lettuce and some broccoli.
Hope they perk up as much as the ones from last week!

We also moved a third iron frame to set in front of the barn and I painted the legs of it.  Then, Mike set the basin in the frame, put a layer of landscape cloth in the bottom and we filled it with more grey tubs.  Next, he filled the tubs with potting soil.  Then, we trekked off to Bonnie's Barnyard and picked up a few more veggies to fill that tub.
I did a poor job picking the cabbage.

Out of nine little plants, only six were alive and one of them had pitiful little roots and may not live.  We didn't even notice till we got home with the little pack that I had picked a poor specimen.  Maybe the owners will give us a discount.  We do have connections...

The bell peppers and the Brussels sprouts look good, though, don't they?
Mike had picked up some tomato plants, so those went in the round tubs at the end of the iron rack.

We had a couple of extra bell pepper plants and an extra tomato.  So, we repotted them into larger pots and will nurse them along till the garden dries out enough to transplant them there.
Our newest transplant area

While Mike did some reorganizing and picking up in the barn, I moved the three stepping stones out in front of the iron rack.  I think it looks rather friendly and I cannot wait to have produce right there at eye level!
Anticipated Yumminess!

The marigolds were salvaged from the trash.  Bonnie said they had been nipped by a recent freeze and the vendor was going to trash them.  So, she brought them home and kept them watered.  She decided that she had too much baby to plant them all.  So, we became the lucky recipients!  They will go in the garden if it ever dries out enough to till it up.

Of course, we are expecting rainy weather for the next couple of days...

I just love the promise spring brings, don't you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My Granny

We honored and celebrated the life of my Granny today.  She lived in Middle Tennessee for ninety-three years and made an impact on the lives of many and her legacy lives on.  I guess I got to pull rank as the eldest grandchild - her first grandbaby - as she might say.  I had the chance to share a wee bit of personal remembrance about the remarkable woman who was Lillie Esther Walker Pratt.  Below is what I shared today with the friends and family who gathered to honor her.

My Granny was a woman of many words.  I remember times when Mama would be cooking dinner - the noon meal - for all the men Daddy had helping out with hay or tobacco or something and Granny would call.  Mama would listen for a bit.  Then, she would lay the phone on the table and go stir something before coming back and murmuring an "Uh-Huh" or something to hold up her end of the conversation.  I think Granny could talk to anybody about anything...for a long time.  There are times when I believe my daughter, Bridgette, inherited this trait from her.  I think there are times when Corey and Bridgette think Lydia inherited this trait, too.  I'm sure that Mike would tell you that there are times when he believes I inherited it as well.  I maintain that when it comes to talking, my Granny was in a class all by herself!

My Granny was a hard working woman.  She didn't back up from most any chore.  In one of her tales, she told about being assigned to milk the rogue, kicking cow right after she married Granddaddy.  Not knowing this cow, Granny just eased up to her and got the job done.  She never had a problem with the old gal and only learned later that she'd been set up.

My Granny was a smart woman.  She had an interest in business when it wasn't fashionable or even really acceptable for women to be businesswomen.  She studied statistics of milk production on the cows at their farm and studied statistics about bulls and selected matings in hopes of improving production, and thus, the bottom line on the farm.  When Southeast Ventures came calling, she was ready with a figure to negotiate with them for their purchase of the farm at Cool Springs.  She researched and studied most things before she ever made a decision or a purchase or a sale.

My Granny was a historian and she could tell about anybody in our family's dead ancestors in a six or seven-generation pedigree.  Sometimes I worried that she might find out that Mike and I were some sort of distant cousins on the Williams or the Andrews branch of our family tree.  I remember walking freshly plowed fields and picking up arrowheads from rich southern soil as she told me about folks who long ago also walked those fields.  She loved history, particularly the history of this area and the people who populated it.

My Granny was into DIY long before Do-It-Yourself was trendy.  She sewed garments out of flour sacks for my mother and her sisters.  She grew flowers for bouquets to decorate tables for her Home Demonstration Club Luncheons.  She mixed up flaky biscuits on an old enamel-topped cabinet for her family on a regular basis.  She crocheted baby garments and coverlets once her grandchildren came along.  Her goal was to make everything she created look hand-made not home-made.  There was very little she didn't try and very seldom that her DIY efforts failed.

My Granny liked fine things and she wanted to share that with all of us.  She grew up poor.  Wherever a little wooden box set at the foot of a bed was where she called home as a little girl.  So, when she had the opportunity as an adult, she sought to make her home something fine.  She studied magazines and made annotations.  She visited others and kept mental notes.  Fine to her did not necessarily mean museum curated.  Fine to my Granny might be a couple of nice little prints stumbled upon at a yard sale for a nickel and a dime.  The color in them picked up a hue in a pillow that she put on the bed and coordinated everything together.  Sometimes fine meant cross-stitching a beautiful turquoise and green quilt similar to one she had seen at a historic home because there was no way she could justify the cost of buying something like that.  I remember her taking the quilt off the sawhorse quilt rack and billowing it across the bed in the front bedroom over on Mallory Lane.  You would have thought that cotton coverlet was spun gold and silk.

My Granny spoiled us all as children.  She was a busy woman but she always had time to sneak in a little something special for us.  As a little girl she took me to downtown Nashville to Cain Sloan and Harvey's to see the carousel horses and shop for a new winter coat, patent leather shoes, or an Easter dress - store bought and fine.  We ate at the lunch counter, dining on open-faced-roast-beef sandwiches and mashed potatoes or hand-made chicken salad.  In later years we had luncheons at the Belle Meade Cafeteria - one of her favorite spots.  Most recently, O'Charley's was a great outing - primarily for the free pie - she was a penny-pincher, you know.  (I hope Aunt Mary's friends will keep her in mind and take her to O'Charley's for lunch and that free pie sometimes because I know she will miss her once per week trips with Granny.)

My Granny left her mark on all of us in many ways.  From the tipped up nose that spans generations, to her love of growing things, to her hand-made not home-made style, to the twinkle in her eye that could also transform to a straighten-up stare.  We lost a strong southern woman this past week but her impact will be felt on our family, in this community, and on the middle Tennessee area for years to come.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Piece of Southern History

When I was a classroom teacher, I learned that one way to get students to recognize that they each have stories to tell and that each of them is a writer is to give them some freedom and give them a model and give them some boundaries.  Then, turn them loose.  I always tried to write with them.  This would give me a model to share and provide the opportunity to learn how to ask for feedback and suggestions from their peers.  The following poem is one way I would nudge these young adolescents toward realizing their stories needed to be shared and they have an innate ability to write.  Calling it free verse poetry kind of opened some doors and it also helped me to teach them to show, not tell with their writing.  They were challenged to describe, providing details...to paint a picture with words.  With this particular assignment, I would ask students to write descriptions of themselves.  It helped me to learn about them and it was a magnificent way to get students to feel successful and proud to publish and post their work for others to read.  After I shared an example about myself that I crafted when I was drafting the lesson plan, I would generally choose somebody else I knew well to describe as I wrote alongside them.  Then, I would model how to seek feedback and suggestions by projecting my efforts and asking my students for suggestions and feedback.  I would point out a place where I was struggling for just the right word.  I would ask for feedback to see if something needed to be revised for clarity or brevity.  I would seek editorial guidance.  Then, my students could turn to one another and ask similar questions.  It helped them to see what sort of suggestions writers needed and helped them to feel knowledgeable enough to offer ideas.  I always pointed out that when seeking creative feedback, they still owned their piece and didn't have to apply the suggestions.  It was always their choice there.  Yet, it was important to consider and apply suggestions when the conventions of our language were in question - to look at punctuation or spelling corrections offered by their peers with a critical eye.  My writing alongside them about somebody else also offered them an idea for crafting a poem like this as a gift to somebody when a purchased gift might not be possible.  In this particular poem, I described my Granny.  I called it Living Southern History at that time but in honor of her passing, I'm changing the title to:
A Piece of Southern History
Tea Parties in the living room when nobody else was around;
curling up next to the fire place with a book that was once read by my Mama; 
frolicking through the fields like Anne and her friends at Green Gables;
rolling into a ball near her when the wicked witch and that scary wizard were after Dorothy; 
tromping through the plowed fields and picking up arrow heads;
pulling weeds and transplanting flowers from a shady bed to a place with full sun

The sweet fragrance of blossoms nodding in the breeze; 
fresh turned soil crumbling through my fingers as we planted the tender little plants
that would later fill our pantry and table;
smoke tickling at my nose while it lulls the bees into calm so we can gather their honey; 
fresh vegetables bubbling on the stove; 
light, fluffy, golden biscuits rising in the oven while we scrub flour off the cabinet’s red rim

Golden shafts of wheat nodding in the bottom of the bowl
after we’ve licked the last syrupy sweetness of a maple banana sundae;
cool, creamy ‘coffee’ which makes me feel grown up;
buttery layers of golden bread started at our fingertips as dough on that red-rimmed cabinet; 
crispy bacon topping tender tomatoes freshly picked from the garden;
chocolates selected from a large Whitman’s Sampler box

Screams coming from me when I thought I saw an 'alligator' scrambling across the floor; 
Listening to stories of her past for hours on end;
hearing about where she lived as a child growing up;
learning about her life with "Maahh-vin" and raising her children; 
that deep southern drawl that is unmistakable to my ears

Smiles at me just because I came to visit;
short, nubby fingernails at the end of work-worn hands
a turned up nose that has been transmitted through three generations;
salt and peppered curls encircling her smooth skin like an angel’s halo;
a soft, sage-green, fully, gathered, shirt-waist ‘airplane’ dress;
twinkling blue eyes above deep dimpled cheeks

A strong, intelligent, friendly, admirable role model for me

My Granny

Lily Esther Walker Pratt

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Memories are to Pass Along

My Granny passed on today.  In her honor, I am sharing this piece that I wrote a while back about a memory she created for me and one I hope to share with my grandchildren:

The Living Room was a place for Company only… well, sometimes family - if it was a holiday when we dressed in our Sunday Best.  Our shoes, faces, and behavior were shiny and we donned our ruffled socks and dresses.  Somehow this room demanded that we sit up straight and wear our manners proudly.  There would be no romping and running here like in other rooms of the house!  The entire herd of us would gather there before we hunted eggs, sliced the turkey, or ripped open special gifts.  Dads laced up with neckties and Moms with bouffant hair and pinched toes.  The rest of the time it was closed and quiet, waiting for the Women’s Society group to gather.
Yet, I remember personal tea parties there with silver spoons and a real teapot. Granny and I baked tea cakes.  These buttery golden rounds sparkled with diamonds of sugar when we stacked them on the gold-rimmed plate.  Lemons sliced, tea brewed, and perched atop the hand-made doily alongside two dessert plates on the shiny tray.  A cut-glass vase with some simple blooms was carefully placed on the tray and we majestically entered The Living Room. Granny was like a regal, ornate carriage carrying precious cargo and I pranced like a little foal along behind her. 
We were royal queens for what seemed like an hour or two.  Ham and cheese sandwiches, shaped like flowers and stars by a cookie cutter, never had been tastier.  The tinkle of our stirring and clink of the cup against the saucer were music to my ears.  We chatted and balanced on the edge of our seats, nibbling our cookies and sipping our tea.  Only the finest was fitting for my Granny and me. 
Then, after a while, Granny slipped out the door back to the realities of laundry, lunch for the farmhands, or sweeping the floors.  I was left to linger in The Living Room alone to sip more tea and pretend of grand thrones.  I toyed with the spines of the books tucked there on the shelves and curled up with a good one whose corners were frayed with wear from the fingers of my mother and aunts long ago.  Anne of Green Gables and I became bosom friends for hours on those afternoons and I followed her through Anne of the Island, and Anne of Sunnybrook Farm as well. 
Left to enjoy all her finery, I’m sure Granny knew I fingered each fragile piece and carefully returned it to its designated spot before getting acquainted with some new bauble or trinket.  Finally I would hear my name being called.  It would be time to wash dishes or fold clothes or chop garden weeds.  I would stand at the door with one final glance to burn the memory of my privileged party deep into my brain.  Then, I would close the door slowly and skip off to find Granny. 

I remember these tea parties as if only a week had passed.  My gangly, sun-browned limbs bouncing along beside Granny’s sturdy work-bronzed ones probably extended extra hours to her days.  Yet, she patiently guided me and shared her softest moments.  I think I inherited her green thumb, her baking skills, and eye for things beautiful.  I wonder if personal tea parties with my own granddaughters will be recalled years from now as majestic and regal privileges shared with their Grand B?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Thinking About Babies

Almost everybody in our immediate family has their minds on babies.

These two found out last week they are having a baby sister in August...
Lillie and Lydia with the photos of baby Luci

These two are planning toward the summer and the arrival of their little boy...

This crew has been thinking about the baby they have who just turned six-months-old...

And this little lady came home from church yesterday and rocked her baby to sleep...

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Grand B Time

Last weekend I trekked off for a little Grand B time.  I got to spend a couple of nights with my favorite grandson.

We had loads of fun while his mom and dad cut some limbs off the back yard trees and stacked branches onto a burn pile.

We had more fun while his mom and dad scrubbed all the vehicles to get the grime that had been building for ages off.

We mixed up a little more fun while mom and dad measured the height from the lowest branch of one of those back yard trees.

Then, I headed off south for home...
...but SOMEBODY got a new swing!

Hey Mikey!  I think he likes it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Clean-Up Crews

The grass is greening up and the wind is blowing in some rains.

It is also blowing some limbs down.

This clean-up crew got creative with their collecting...

They had quite a collection piled into the back of their vehicle and some were so long that the driver and passenger were required to hold on to the ones draping overhead.

Another clean-up crew in our family made a big pile of their collection and set them afire.  All that was left was a little pile of ashes.

Last night a storm blew through again...