Monthly Archives: October 2017

Rutabaga or Pumpkin?


Can you imagine carving turnips, rutabagas, gourds, potatoes, or even beets, then setting embers in the hollows? That’s what they used to do in ancient Ireland on All Saints Eve. On that evening, according to the superstitious, there was only a thin partition between the living and the dead, and the dead just might rise up and haunt good folk of the land. A “jack-o-lantern” would ward the spirits off. So they set those funny little turnips and rutabagas on their doorsteps with smouldering lights inside on the eve of All Saints’ Day. This kind of attention to evil spirits was not what the Catholic leaders had in mind when they established the celebration of good saints on All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day way back about the Fourth century. But, as he is so crafty at doing, Satan took the celebration of good things and made it into an emphasis on ghouls and goblins. We don’t hear much about All Hallows’ Day, but a lot about Hallowe’en. In fact, it is second only to Christmas in the amount of money spent each year, according to some sources.

When the Irish immigrants saw great orange pumpkins in America they began carving those instead of rutabagas. They are much easier to carve, much bigger, and much brighter. And they make good pies. Ever eat any rutabaga pie?

We’re going to have fun with Halloween and not let the Devil get the upper hand. We’re going to use the day as an opportunity to celebrate life, even eternal life. In the goodie bags we pass out will be cards to show how Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We probably will never know if those little bags of candy and cards made any greater difference than to bring a smile to a little costumed child’s face. But that’s okay.

Speaking of costumes, it’s such fun to see the many outfits, the ingenuity shown by children and their parents, and the great pleasure that all receive. Children really love to dress up and dramatize. At our church’s festival (a wonderful way to make good of a “haunted” holiday) children arrived looking like firemen, policemen, Spiderman, Angels, princesses, and even a cute rendition of Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web. I look forward to seeing many more this evening.

The moon isn’t full but it’s getting fatter every night and shedding its milky light.

The basket is full of goodies. The bags are ready with tea lights inside to make a welcoming pathway of lights to our door. And was that a hoot owl I heard calling?

P.S. Feet are up. Warmth from a cozy fire soothes our nerves. Pumpkin pie and coffee. Mmmmmm! It was a very good evening. About 200 cute little trick-or-treaters–a bride with filmy veil, a cowgirl in a big hat, lots of Spiderman short-stuffs, our very own Kaison as a peek-a-choo complete with lightning on the back that he called his tail.

P.S. Our feet are up. The fire is warm on the grate. Coffee with pumpkin pie. Mmmmm! It was a wonderful evening with the children–200 of them! A bride, a cowgirl, a “peek-a-choo” and many, many more.

Hope you had a good one too!

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The Mayberry Diner


We stepped back into the 1950’s the other day when we climbed the steps to the cottage-style restaurant in Albany, Georgia called “The Mayberry Diner.” I’d heard about the diner from my Albany sister-in-law, Reggie. So when her sister, Sally, and I went up from Cairo for a visit, Reggie said lunch would be with Andy, Barney, and, of course, Aunt Bea.

I really looked forward to the occasion and was not disappointed. I could hardly pay attention to the small, humble menu for gazing at all the pictures in the two rooms. Sally ordered chicken livers, Reggie a fried pork chop, and I salmon croquettes. At least two of us asked also for the fried green tomatoes. And then I began enjoying more memorabilia while we waited.


I had my picture made between Andy with his sly grin and Barney trying to use his one silver bullet–probably on his own big toe.

There were pictures of Aunt Bea (sometimes spelled Bee) as if she’d just set biscuits on the table. There was Goober all clean from oil and grease but otherwise authentic, and Gomer with his super happy smile, as if he’d just won a million dollars. Opie had that mixed look of innocence and mischief in several pictures, particularly the one posed with Andy, Aunt Bea, and even Helen Crump. Every wall was covered with pictures. Restaurant owners had to hang the television (showing, of course an Andy Griffith episode in black and white) up in one corner.

There were oohs and aahs from the three of us when our entrees arrived. Our waitress was efficient and fun to interact with. The prices were reasonable. And the food was delicious!

I hadn’t had salmon croquettes in a very long time and never deep fried to a golden brown crisp like those. The fried green tomatoes were crisp too and not greasy, made you feel as if fried was healthy! Reggie’s pork chop invited her to pick it up and eat with fingers and the whole restaurant felt like home so why not pick up with your fingers? I think Sally ate every one of her chicken livers, enjoying remembering how much her brother likes them too.

We sat around our table and visited for about an hour and, though there was a brisk business, we never felt as if we were in the way.


There is an authentic Mayberry, a whole town maybe, in North Carolina where it’s supposed to be just a few miles from Mt. Pilot, I guess. But that’s “a fur piece from here” so it’s very nice to find this charming restaurant nearby.

And, by the way, if you don’t want fried foods they have some luscious sounding salads and some desserts to make you “swallow your tongue.”

During our early years of marriage Charles and I looked forward each week to the Andy Griffith show. Later, we enjoyed it with our children. All ages could get a laugh over the “loaded goat” or Barney trying to catch a convict and getting locked up by the convict instead. The show was aired first in 1960 and was carried by CBS until 1971. But the re-runs are still going! In recent years we have laughed our sides sore with our grandson Charles D who particularly enjoys the old fashioned “Andy” humor. Recently he, his granddaddy and I sat around the supper table listening to Andy telling his old stories about football, Shakespeare, and such. Charles D had found them on his smart phone and we laughed uproariously.

You can tell I’m thankful for Andy Taylor (Griffith) and Barney Fife (Don Knotts) who gave us so much good humor, humor that lives on after they are gone.

Laughter is so good. Loosens up right muscles, makes your face relax, gives you a wholesome feeling throughout. And then when I hear Andy singing “How Great Thou Art” it’s like listening to a dear old friend.

Which leads me back to the diner. I snapped pictures of Reggie and Sally relaxing on the charming porch of The Mayberry Diner. I hope to take my two Charleses there soon. A treasure of a place!


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Ready’s Wild Cow–a riding shotgun story


Same veterinarian, different truck


Mr. Robert Ready worked hard at a public job so it was often late afternoon when  he called Charles for veterinary help. Thus, I remember several times late in the evening going to his place off the Camilla highway, out Ready Road, then bumping down a winding trail of a road to the back side of a rolling pasture. Mrs. Ready worked “in town” also and was usually still not home or thoroughly busy cooking or canning or tending her roses. She didn’t come out to help round up cows. Mr. Ready, a tall thickly built man, always wore a dark gray uniform and a canvas hat both of which were not only wet with sweat, but showed signs they’d been that way many times before.

Charles never grumbled when he discovered a cow needing to deliver but still loose in a ten acre pasture. He’d speak cheerfully to Mr. Ready and begin hauling out rope and whatever was needed to catch the cow without tranquilizing her. If he shot her with the tranquilizer we’d have to wait fifteen minutes for the medicine to take effect, then deal with a cow unsteady on her feet whose contractions might have all but stopped.

On one occasion I particularly remember Mr. Ready pointed out the patient amongst sister cows, calf feet showing under her hiked tail. “She’s a gentle one, Doc. We should be able to get her easy.”

When Charles walked toward her she quickly suspected it was she he was after and, smelling trouble, she ran awkwardly down to a clump of tag alder near a swampy area.

“We’ve got to keep her out of that swamp,” said Charles. To me, innocently watching from the passenger seat, he said, “You’re going to have to drive down to the edge of those woods.”

I slid over obediently thinking, “That’s fine as long as I don’t get too near the swamp.”

Before I even reached the woods, the men had flushed the cow out of there and here she came up the sloping pasture again. Charles yelled, “Let me hop on the back of the truck. I’ll have to lasso her.”

He, of course, did not hear my groans.

Thus began a hair-raising journey around and around Mr. Ready’s pasture. Charles yelled, “To the right, the right, the RIGHT! No! the LEFT! Closer, speed up, STOP! To the left, the left I said, the LEFT! No, the right!”

We rocked wildly over terraces, spun through wet places, flew to the right, suddenly sped to the left. My heart was pounding and the fear of running over the cow or Mr. Ready made my palms slick on the wheel.

When it was all over, cow roped to the back end of the truck, calf delivered, a live one that time, I think, I hovered near hoping for some nice words about my skillful driving. But they never came. I think Charles was pretty well convinced I didn’t know right from left, slow from fast. When we left, Mr. Ready lifted his hat to me revealing dark hair drenched in sweat. He grinned and said, “Nice to see you, Mrs. Graham.” Was that all? I got that much just sitting idle in the truck.

Mr. Ready was the one who used to send me grapes which Charles brought home in a clean examation glove. Those gloves are about two feet long, hold a lot of grapes! I was much more successful making grape jelly than driving a cowboy truck!


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Peanuts, Cotton, and Goldenrods


I went out yesterday to take pictures of peanut fields, a cotton field and goldenrods blooming by the old silo off Highway 112. I enjoyed the escapade much more than the pictures will show. They can’t convey the surprise I encountered when two different people stopped to see if I were having trouble. One was the owner, I guess, of the cotton field I was trying to capture in my camera. He offered to take me in his truck for a closer view but I declined. The other was a sheriff’s deputy who looked unconvinced when I told him I was fine. Maybe I shouldn’t have left the hazard blinker on when I parked beside the road. My pictures will certainly not give off the nutty, earthy scents I breathed in nor will they capture my fear when I realized I was wading calf deep in thick grass where a rattlesnake could be coiled.

My tour of Grady County’s peanut harvest included a view of large trailers piled high with peanuts, fields generously populated with huge bales of peanut hay looking deliciously like great loaves of bread, meeting a combine in the road and being glad he moved over to give me space. Overall, I felt energized myself from feeling the intensity of the farmers working to get their crops in ahead of the rain.

We had a real nice taste of the new crop earlier this week. I stepped out to get the mail one afternoon and waved to Ronnie Whitfield as he zoomed past. Then he backed up in his jeep and called out, “Do you like peanuts?” In the back of his jeep were three crates full of  peanuts already picked off the vines. He gave me about three gallons which we soaked overnight, then boiled, covered in water, with a cup of salt for five or six hours. Oh, my! did the house smell good that day! And the peanuts are wonderful, addictive, so good! How nice to have a neighbor like that!

To extol the peanut for only a line or two–how could I have raised my children without PBJ sandwiches? How could we have a party without salted peanuts? How would the South have recovered from the boll weevil without alternative crops like peanuts and soy beans? Thanks for your part, Mr. George Washington Carver!

And then there’s the cotton crop. Because we did recover from the boll weevil and learn how to make sure he leaves the beautiful bolls alone. For years there were fields of tobacco, corn, soy beans but no cotton. Now the beautiful white fields stretch towards the tree line. The cotton is not delicious like peanuts, but so soft in flannel, sturdy in jeans, so adaptable a fabric. And so beautiful growing. After defoliation the fields are really “white unto harvest.” I saw a field yet untouched, one in progress of harvesting, and one where the fantastic huge bales of cotton as big as a house stood ready for transport. How do they make those bales so neat and tight?


Charles remembers picking cotton, neighbors helping each other out during harvest. My mother talked about what it was like when she was a girl growing up in North Georgia, how hard they worked during cotton picking time. She said the rows stretched forever and she thought she’d never get the required pounds in her bag. Yet, she said, there was the fun of singing, telling tall tales, teasing and laughing with her brothers. That man I saw in the combine was all alone. I guess he had a radio for entertainment. I did wave to him after I took his picture, in case he needed a little encouragement!


All along the fence rows and in forgotten patches goldenrods bloom profusely with some morning glories and asters mixed in. The sky was, in itself, reflecting glory to God the day I was cruising the harvest. Now as I write a gentle rain is pattering down and the sky is a mixture of puffy grays. I wonder if the crops are safe.

Peanuts, cotton and goldenrods–food, fabric, and beauty. And neighbors who come by to share peanuts! And folks who are concerned when they see a silver-haired woman out tramping around in the weeds!

This is a wonderful place to live.

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalms 98:4 (KJV)




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