Monday, December 29

Butch and Sundance, Beauty Supplies and a Bee

I wasn't sure if I should make this a contest or just launch into some holiday stories with a Texas twang, so if you'd like to try and connect the dots between the words in the title of this here blog, have fun. If not, read on my friends.

Butch and Sundance (part, the one)

It is said that holidays are all about tradition. If you do it more than once, is "it" considered a tradition? Well anyway, mom and I now have a new Christmas tradition, we attend a candlelight service on Christmas Eve at a little country church with a tall white steeple. I mention the steeple because it serves as a beacon when driving down a steep hill to the final turnoff onto the dirt road that leads to my momma's house. Since it's a 12+ hour drive from my front door to hers, that tall white steeple all lit up with a 1,000 watts of light and God's great glory is a sight for weary eyes in the dark of night.

The service is short, running about an hour start to finish. It starts with hugging as you come in the door, some singing, some preaching, a little more singing, the serving of communion (this year they used strips of pie crust for the unleavened bread) and then boom boom, out go the lights and we do the passing of the flame in a circle around the sanctuary and stand there looking angelic in the candle light for about 30 seconds and then with a collective huff and puff, out go the candles and we go home. All-in-all, a pretty low key service and one I can tolerate for the sake of tradition.

This is a people-only Christmas Eve service, so the two dogs stayed at home, the two dogs being Mocha and Jenny, my mom's 12 year old golden retriever. These dogs have known each other a decade, hung out, had fun and in general, never had a cross word or reason to squabble. They eat each others food, play with each others toys and love their mommas something fierce. As we pulled in, I noticed Mocha on the bed in the guest room barking her head off out the window. Bless her heart I thought to myself. Sound the alarm was more like it.

We must have forgotten to turn on the porch light before leaving for church because the front of the house was dark. No problem, mom directed the car lights on the front door while I hopped out and unlocked it. As I turned to give her a thumbs up and switch on the porch light, something in the middle of living room floor caught my eye. This little fella, who is usually perched on the back of the sofa was face down on the floor with it guts turned inside out:

Cute isn't he? Sitting there all happy and unsuspecting like. Yes, those are milk bones in his tummy and he has a shiny little zipper up the back, so it takes a creature with opposable thumbs to open him up and dole out the goodies, or so we thought.

Mom was coming up fast behind me so I turned around and said the first thing that came to mind, "Uh oh!" "What?", she asked. "I think we may have had a fatality in the living room, but not in a messy, bad way.", I quipped. "What are you talking about, get inside it's cold out here!", she urged. So I slowly opened the door to reveal the carnage. There lay Mr. Snowman, face down on the shrimp pink carpet, his zipper undone from cranium to crack and not a milk bone to be seen, only tell-tale crumbs on the sofa cushions and floor. And there, sitting next to each other looking nonchalant was a chocolate dog and a blonde dog looking us square in the eye and smirking...yes, smirking.

I picked up the victim and let out an "Ick!" Mr. Snowman was saturated in dog slobber. I held it in mid air by the fuzzy ball on the top of its hat and waved it in front of the dogs asking, "What happened here?" Mocha licked her chops! Jenny cast her doe brown eyes downward in shame, locking her gaze on her front paws. It was obvious these two were now partners in crime, thick as thieves and guilty as two sisters sneaking in the bedroom window after curfew.

As mom and I inspected the damage, we surmised that while we had spent the better part of an hour listening to stories about the baby Jesus, these two dogs had spent their time figuring out how to unzip a zipper.

I don't know about you, but I suspect if left alone with the blueprints to the local bank and the keys to the car, we'd have ourselves a little Christmas Eve bank robbery and two dogs making a run for the border.

Beauty Supplies (part, the two)

It's been my observation that Southern women have a talent for wielding words like a scalpel in the hand of a brain surgeon, cutting you to the quick before you even know you've been prepped for surgery. If you are ever in the company of Southern women, you might want to lean forward a bit and listen carefully. Done well, it truly is an art and I do believe my momma has a blue ribbon tucked away in a scrapbook somewhere for her talents in this arena.

Case and point...We're sitting at the breakfast table the morning after I've driven 12+ hours to spend Christmas with her. This is the day we will "go into town" to do some last minute Christmas shopping and errand running. She's made a nice breakfast and I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee when she asks, "Do you need any beauty supplies?"

I look at her through the steam rising from my coffee cup and don't say a word. She giggles and says, "That didn't sound very good did it?"

"No mother, I don't need any beauty supplies, but thanks for asking.", I say in a low, even tone.

Mothers and daughters. When expectation meets reality over breakfast, it's best to keep the sharp knives in the drawer.

A Bee (part, the three)

Mocha has a talent for catching flies. Like R. M. Renfield, she relishes them as a snack.

We awoke very early Christmas Eve morning, so early we were the first ones up. Miss Mocha and I needed some exercise so I threw on the hiking boots and off we went for a walk around the fishing camp. Energized when we returned and offended by the layers of dog hair, discarded diet coke bottles and potato chip bags in my car, I decided to launch an all out attack. Miss Mocha hung out with me while I dove in with a shop vac, roll of paper towels, windex and a large garbage bag. She supervised from a safe distance and three hours later, the inside of the car was clean.

All that supervising must have worn Miss Mocha out. As I made a bee line for the shower, she headed for the sofa and a well-deserved nap. Emerging clean and ravenous, it was time for a hearty lunch of chicken and dumplings followed by a nap of my own. As the brown one and I settled into the "Princess and the Pea" bed in the guest room I went to kiss her on her pointed little head and realized the entire right side of her face was swollen like Rocky Balboa.

I gently and carefully inspected her mouth, head, ears and came to the conclusion she'd mistaken a bee for a fly and would up with a smack instead of a snack. Bless her heart she looked so pitiful. A dose of Benadryl and a long nap with the momma seemed to do the trick and no, I did not take a picture of her state of vulnerability for the entire Blogosphere to ogle.

Mothers and daughters. Her dignity is safe with me.

Saturday, December 27

Natchitoches, Louisiana

Pronounced "nack-uh-tish", this wholly Southern Louisiana town is a walking, people-watching, dining, shopping experience Mom and I indulged in a few days after Christmas. Die hard movie fans may recognize it as the film location for "Steel Magnolias", the theme of which permeates every do-dah shop in the historic district.

These photos were taken inside the Kaffie-Frederick General Mercantile Store. My pulse quickens and pupils dilate in hardware stores, always have since I was a little girl.

Need a meat grinder, rubber boots or a lasso? No problem.

Paint on the staircase worn thin by 150 years of foot traffic. Note the floor-to-ceiling cubbies at the bottom of the staircase brimming with every kind of pipe fitting you'd ever want or need.
Nice angles

Friday, December 26

Thursday, December 25

Christmas Kitsch

I've had that stuffed Santa doll since I was 5, well technically it was a gift for me and my siblings, but in every family Christmas picture I have it safely clutched in my arms. And at 49, I'm still holding on to it!

Wednesday, December 24


A Dog and Her Duck

Tuesday, December 23

Monday, December 22

They Call me the Breeze

In a few hours, Mocha and I will be headed west, then south for Christmas. I'm looking forward to some mother-daughter time in the Piney Woods of East Texas. I imagine we'll cook and talk, mend some of my thread-worn clothes, laugh, cry, walk and sit in silence.

This is a time to be generous, not with presents, but with love and patience and humor. I feel we need to continue a conversation started a year ago. It's time for her to know her daughter for who she is, who she has become, who she dreams of being. I wonder if she'll hear me.

So my friends, while I'm in Texas, enjoy a few photos I've loaded to magically pop up each day, even though I won't be near a computer or an internet connection.

Thanks for reading, leaving comments, letting me know how you are and who you are. I can feel the pulse of your presence, even though many of us have never met. That you take the time to stop by for a visit makes my heart sing. For this, I am grateful.

Saturday, December 20

Backtracking Just a Wee Bit

Frequent readers get points for being polite and not inquiring as to why no Thanksgiving post on Texas2Tennessee. Not a single mention of turkey, travel, antics or family hoo-hah.

Yes, it was intentional and until now, I couldn't make the Thanksgiving 2008 experience real by writing about it. In a word...Thanksgiving BLEW. Yes, it blew and there are two empty boxes of kleenex, several trash bags full of snot-filled tissue, an empty Robitussin bottle on the counter and cough drop wrappers strewn on the floor to document that indeed I had the FLU.

It's been about 20 years since I've had the flu, so figured I was coming down with a bad cold. What I thought was a hot flash, while driving from Tennessee to South Carolina, was the onset of the flu. Yes I was burning up, but not due to fluctuating hormones. Forty-nine is a very confusing age.
For the next five days, I stayed in my pajamas curled up in the fetal position beneath a down comforter. The Lovely Linda took such good care of me. If love and empathy could cure the flu, I'd have been up and bouncing around in 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we discovered the flu scoffed at love and empathy not with a raised eyebrow, but with chills and fever. Charming.

Since lounging in the recliner was the only way I could rest, there I found myself on Thanksgiving morning, watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade! This has been a ritual since childhood for my mom and me. Linda rolled her eyes from the safety of the kitchen as she prepared fruit salad for the family festivities. The squealing and clapping at the television put the cat and dogs in festive moods as they bounced around the recliner. Sorry guys, it's just a marching band, but here's a treat for playing along.

Speaking of dogs, Miss Mocha felt she needed to be near her momma as she hacked and wheezed. Next to the recliner is a donut shaped cat bed large enough for Persia, the Calico beauty who rules the house of Edwards. Persia weighs about 16 pounds, Mocha weighs 50 pounds. Are you getting the picture? No need to strain your brain...Linda got a few shots of the brown one curled up into the smallest dog ball you've ever seen.

Okay, so I can't get this one leg to fit. You can still applaud the effort!

They're both pretending this is not happening,
but for different reasons.

"So Kenzie, did you see Mocha curled up in Persia's bed?", Zoe asks. "Shhhhhh, just sit here and be cute. Maybe momma will give us a treat!" quips Kenzie.

After 5 days, I was well enough to drive home and within 2 days Linda came down with it too. Not a nice thing for a house guest to do. Did I mention that it was not only Thanksgiving weekend, but her birthday as well?

Here, in the presence of the entire Blogosphere, I apologize for giving you the flu. So sorry honey.

So...that was Thanksgiving 2008. Aren't you glad you didn't ask?

Thursday, December 18


Time to bring on the big drugs.

Sunday, December 14

Yummy Art

I recently met Mary Magenta, an artist whose use of color and texture is rich and delicious. Her expression of the natural world is resonant and so I share this sample from her 2009 Calendar and a link to her website. Enjoy.

Thursday, December 11

Having a Little Nutty

Life is heating up despite the colder temperatures. Here's why:

1. Over the next 6 days, I will perform 5 times with Nashville in Harmony

2. Christmas gifts this year will be baked goods, so it's time to fire up the stove and get cooking.

3. Mocha and I are headed to Texas in 11 days to spend Christmas with my momma aka the milk bone lady. This means lots of advance coordination to make sure everything is covered while I'm gone.

4. Whatever it is I'm forgetting at the moment.

Hopefully I'll have pictures and stories to share and the Chapter 2 of my story when things calm down.

In the meantime...happy, happy ya'll.

Friday, December 5


Fellow travelers, welcome to my 500th post. I've been delaying writing this for several days, hoping something profound would tumble out of my brain and onto the keyboard, but in the words of the song, "I got plenty of nuttin'."

For those who read this blog regularly, you've seen the Feedjit box on the right hand side of the page. It tells me from what city, state, country folks are dropping by. Behind the scenes, it also tells me the posts that are read most frequently (I refuse to label them as "most popular", sounds like Jr. High School). might be surprised to know these three posts have been viewed most often:

1. What Does Your Bumper Sticker Say About You - an encounter where I come bumper-to-bumper with homophobia

2. My Personal Declaration of Independence - an alternative to New Years resolutions

3. Thinkin' Like A Squirrel Can Make You Nuts - a series of stories about battling cracked out squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons (seems lots of folks have this problem)

Funny thing is, folks come to these posts not because they are regular Texas2Tennessee readers, but through Google searches they've done on the subject matter. And this doesn't just happen occasionally, but every single day.

I wonder why these three posts get the most traffic and not a poem or a rant or a story about losing love or finding love? Surely those are more likely subjects for common ground in our collective life experiences. Feedjit doesn't tell me how long they've stayed on the site or even if they've read the post. This, I'd like to know. I'd also like to talk with every person who comes to my site through one of these posts. I bet we'd have a lot in common and maybe learn something from each other.

What do you think?

Wednesday, December 3

Learning at the Hem of Her Skirt

Chapter 1: The Break of Day

She woke each morning before the sun, before the men. I could hear her dressing in the dark, the mesh of the zipper’s teeth binding a crisp cotton dress to her slight frame. She walked silently down the hall into the room where my big sister and I slept in a ¾ bed high off the ground. “Time to get up girls,” she’d say and turn in retreat to her domain, the kitchen. Warmed with an always-simmering stove and knotty pine paneling, it was the beating heart of our farmhouse.

I have no recollection of the time from waking to walking toward the chicken coop with an empty metal bowl clutched in my hands. It was my job to collect the eggs needed for the day, not just enough to feed breakfast to the men, but also for baking once the heat of the day had passed. It was a long dark walk, not because of distance or the pre-dawn hour, but because I was afraid.

My five-year-old mind grasped what a futile effort it was for our hens to lay eggs only to have them taken away, day after day. I couldn’t blame them for pecking at my fumbling, thieving hands as I stretched on tiptoe to reach under their warm bodies, trying my best to ease their eggs out and into the metal bowl without causing an uproar in the hen house. There were times when a thief of another sort had beaten me to it. Instead of cradling a warm round egg in my hand, I’d grasp the pulsing coil of a chicken snake. On those mornings, I was lucky to make it back to the safety of Grandma’s kitchen with a single egg. Most lie broken in my wake, spilling their bright yellow centers as an offering to the sun slowly climbing above the horizon of that vast prairie.

“Girl child, you are too young to be filled up with all that fear,” my Grandma said one morning when I returned empty-handed. You’d think my ineptitude would convince her to send my sister or one of many cousins to the hen house, but I guess sending me back day after day was her way of teaching me to march a straight line toward my fear. It took 40 years and marching a not-so-straight line from Texas to Tennessee before I’d come face-to-face with every fear living in the pit of my stomach. be continued