Thursday, May 28, 2015

What does your stamp say?

I needed a stamp. The only thing on hand was this one.  I see it and conjure images of hot dogs. I can even hear them sizzle on the grill. I lick my lips over an imaginary plate of potato salad and corn on the cob. Meanwhile I feel the percussion of the fireworks, they pop, whine, and hiss.  A great stamp for next month. 

But the card was in sympathy for a ninety year old woman's passing. Welcome as death may have been to her, it wasn't a picnic. 

Similarly mismatched, this first-in-a-series bill I don't want to pay. I won't celebrate until the darned thing is paid! 

Why don't they offer a stamp for every day bill paying with some serious
Soviet statue named "Duty."

The Motherland Calls courtesy of

Here's a good candidate.

Once I sent out a get well card with the Celebrate stamp. It's as if I was mocking my friend. 

Another time I was under pressure to get 100 stamps. Fast. Post offices near my home only had Malcolm X. I considered. What would you think if you got an envelope from me with his photo, and remembered this quote from him?

"There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak,
 every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on 
how to improve your performance the next time."

It's a wise aphorism, but more fitting to a card of consolation than a wedding. So my daughter's invitations went out late, but with a LOVE stamp.

I need stamps that enhance my message, not contradict it. Or at least are benign. The flowers and landscapes are nice, but my post office never has them. 

How about this one for a Cinco de Mayo party?

Superheroes would be cool for letters to the grandchildren. 

Janis for your forty fifth college reunion. 

I guess I'll have to order a variety pack on-line.

And if you get an envelope with this one, it's from me.  

 All photos courtesy of the USPS website.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day ushers in summer

Pendleton wool skirt
It was 81ยบ in Columbia, Mo., home of my alma mater  on the day before Memorial Day this week.  Forty five years ago my former roommate would still be following her private winter dress code.  Jane, raised in a more southern part of Missouri than I, was schooled to wear woolens until Memorial Day. Then she could switch out her wardrobe to lighter fabrics. 

Some May days, walking the three-quarters of a mile to class from our apartment, a young lady could work up a very unfeminine sweat if she was wearing a wool plaid A-line skirt, pantyhose, and a matching wool sweater. In fact, she'd smell decidedly doggy by the end of the day.

Speaking of pantyhose, they first came out about 1970.  A tall co-ed in my dorm unwrapped her first package of them in front of a group of us, assembled to see what they were.  When she pulled out the crinkled, very short twin tubes attached to elastic panties, we fell on each other laughing. We were used to old-fashioned hosiery which came in various lengths with pre-shaped calves and sculpted feet. 

Back to Jane and her wool. We tried to reason with her. It's too hot for wool! You'll get a rash! Who cares if you're wearing cotton "too soon?" Aren't you a liberated woman? She smoked against her mother's wishes, but the family fiber rule held fast. 

It's not as if we were advocating for her to wear white before Memorial Day! We weren't ill-bred. But by golly, she was going to be proper even if it made her miserable. 

Yesterday, on Memorial Day I performed my own version of the seasonal switch. I changed out winter's fuzzy, cozy flannel sheets for summer's smooth percale. 

As I remade the bed and replaced the heavy comforter for my antique crocheted bed spread I wondered if Jane had shed her winter skin too. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sprigs: Luxurious Peonies

Two weeks ago fat sweet nascent globes teased me with glimpses of color.

Now, the petals brown and slide to the ground. Too short,  the exuberant performance.

But last week--last week the plush round blossoms weighed down the stems, big pom-pons of silky ruffles. 


Lavish. Opulent.

They stir my insatiable appetite for floral luxury.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Sprigs: Confederate Jasmine

Walk down a Charleston street in April and you can smell the confederate jasmine before you see it. And you can't miss seeing it because it spreads like crazy as a ground cover and climbs like Jack's beans up poles and signs and porch columns. One downside is that rabbits like to graze on it. Shucks, it's so prolific it would take a legion of bunnies to even make a dent in it.  

I love being ambushed by (natural) floral scents: lilac, plumaria, honeysuckle. 

Right now the smells in my yard are milder: wisteria, iris, peonies, and musty  tomato plants after you've touched them.

Go outside and breathe deep. These are fleeting pleasures. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Can't Get Enough Pimento Cheese

Sometimes my mom would bring home a small jar of pimento cheese for us. The pimento cheese of my childhood was cream cheese, with pimentos added.
I loved it, having no idea what the real deal was. 

When I moved to NC fifteen years ago, I saw three brands in the grocery store, and tried 'em all. Shmeared over crackers, they became my favorite snack. And then summer came, and I could make sandwiches with fresh tomato and lettuce, my, oh my. 

I was completely satisfied--until I ate somebody's homemade version at a church potluck. (One of the best things to ever come out of a covered dish supper!)

Too lazy to make my own from scratch I made do with mass produced tubs of a sorry imitation.

Last winter I discovered Red Clay's incomparable Hickory Smoked Cheddar.
It's real shredded cheese with a subtle smoky flavor. I actually gave it as hostess gifts at Christmas, because who wouldn't want to eat it? It's available at a few locations in Winston Salem, but not here in Surry County.

Out exploring in a neighboring county we came across an Amish grocery store and I zeroed in on this. Conrad & Hinkle, bless their hearts, make it with real cheese, and homemade mayo. It's soft and mild, but distinctive. So smooth going down that I ate eight ounces in just a few days. To mute my conscience I saved calories by spreading it on my fresh lettuce.

Google pimento cheese and you'll find an NPR piece, reviews for foodies, recipes, and even a Master's Degree thesis, "It Was There for Work: History of Pimento Cheese in the Carolina Piedmont" by Emily Elizabeth Wallace.

Anybody else out there a p.c. devotee? I think I'll start a pimento cheese of the month club. Does anyone have a favorite recipe or ready-made brand they want to nominate? 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sprigs: Thriller, Filler, Spiller

Traipsing around the south on two road trips last month left me too little time to plant my window boxes. They are brown and bare. 

But I'm motivated now! 

 I was awed and jealous when I saw this house in Charleston, SC. The symmetry mimics the architecture and moves one's eye along the length of the porch. 

The lush green foliage complements the versicolored flowers.

The "landscape" of the box exemplifies the thriller, spiller, filler rule of thumb. 

I can identify salvia and coleus as filler. The pink flower is the thriller (any idea what it is?), especially as it contrasts with the  purple salvia and sweet potato plant. Alyssum fills in. And the neon vines spill and punch up the palette.

As soon as I get home from my next trip [background  music: "my bags are packed, I'm ready to go..."] I'll plant my boxes.