The Church in the Wildwood

Every Sunday after Father’s Day is Homecoming at the little country church where my forefathers attended.  This year I went with my mother, just the two of us, and it was good to be home again.

I remember these Sundays from my childhood and how I looked forward to Homecoming every year.  It’s always hot as the devil, but so much fun that nobody really minded.  Our family, including my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins would crowd into a pew in the tiny, but thankfully, well air conditioned church.  We would sing hymns from the old Cokesbury hymnal as Miss Linda played the piano with such heart and feeling that it made my Daddy and grandfather silly with joy.  The preacher was usually someone who’d once served the congregation and had been invited back to “preach Homecoming.”

At the end of the service, the preacher says the benediction and gives the blessing and everyone makes their way to a Sunday dinner that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

As a child, we had dinner “on the grounds” underneath huge oak trees.  Sunday, when I walked around the side of the church where the dinners of my childhood were served, I couldn’t believe how small the space was.  Back then it seemed like the biggest yard ever.

Somewhere along the way it was decided to use the church’s basement, which is much cooler than being outside in the late June heat, but it’s never really been the same.

I remember a line of tables that seemed to stretch the length of a football field that held fried chicken, all kinds of vegetables (some of which had been “cooked down slick”), homemade breads, every kind of casserole you can imagine, spaghetti, sliced tomatoes, potato salad, and the list just goes on.  The dessert tables alone could make you slap three people as you picked up your fork.  Coconut cake, chocolate cake, chess pie, caramel pie, chocolate pie, strawberry cake, lemon icebox pie, and a caramel cake with icing an inch thick…  Lordamercy, I might cry.

People brought card tables and chairs and sat with folks who might or might not be immediate family.  It didn’t matter, though, because most of us there were related, albeit distantly, to each other by blood and/or marriage.

After stuffing ourselves silly, it was time to walk the cemetery.  This was a tradition, and I loved walking it with my grandfather, Papa, more than anyone in the world.  Every year I would hear who was buried where and how we were kin.  I learned who married whom, who their children and grandchildren were and why we addressed some people with the word “cousin” before their first names.  I learned about my great-great-aunts and heard stories about them.  Like how one of them hated to drive out in the country for fear that she’d just come up on a strange town that she wouldn’t be familiar with. (I promise I’m not joking.)  I learned that my great-great-great-grandfather owned a farm just down the road from the church until the end of the Civil War.  Unable to maintain it, he moved his family to town, where they started attending the “big” Methodist church there.

I remember walking with my grandfather one year as we were leaving the cemetery.  He started humming the tune to “How Great Thou Art,” and I can hear his soft, tenor voice even today.  It never fails that when I go back for Homecoming, it is his voice I hear as I walk the cemetery, and I am stunned at how grateful I am for these memories.

This year, I left the boys at home with David while I went to Homecoming, but I am anxious for next year when I’ll take them with me.  I’m anxious for them to hear, from my mother, I hope, the stories of the dear people who walked before them.  I want them to have a feeling for this place, this church, this love that is part of them.

THE CHURCH IN THE WILDWOOD

There’s a church in the valley in the wildwood

No lovelier place in the dale

No spot is so dear to my childhood

As the little brown church in the vale.

(Oh, come, come, come, come

Come to the church in the wildwood

Oh, come to the church in the dale

No spot is so dear to my childhood

As the little brown church in the vale.)

How sweet on a clear Sabbath morning

To listen to the clear ringing bells

Its gongs so sweetly are calling

Oh come to the church in the dell.

(CHORUS)

There close by the church in the valley

Lies the one that I loved so well

She sleeps, sweet love sleeps ‘neath the willow

Disturb not her rest in the vale.

(CHORUS)

There close by the side of that loved one

‘Neath the tree where the wildflowers bloom

When farewell hymns shall be chanted

I shall rest by her side in the tomb.

Oh, come, come, come, come…

Come to the church in the wildwood

Oh, come to the church in the dale

No spot is so dear to my childhood

As the little brown church in the vale.

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Hey, Grandpa, What’s for Supper?

I don’t know if any of you are old enough or would dare admit to recognizing that line from “Hee-Haw,” but it always comes to mind when I cook a supper like the one I fixed Saturday night.  We had fried eggplant, corn on the cob, baked sweet potatoes, and sliced tomatoes, one of which was the first tomato from my mother’s garden.  Oh, how I do love a homegrown tomato!

As I do every year, I took a picture of it.  (So I’m a tomato nerd.  I know it and embrace it.)

Have you ever had fried eggplant?  It’ll change your life, so I’m going to tell you how I cook it.  First, peel the eggplant and slice it into 1/8″ slices.  Fill a bowl with salt water, heavy on the salt, and put the slices in.  It takes the bitterness out of the eggplant.  Let the eggplant soak for about and hour.  When you’re ready to cook, mix corn meal and a little salt and pepper in a shallow dish.  Heat a generous amount of oil (I use olive oil) over almost-high heat in a skillet, preferably a cast-iron one if you have it.  Dip the slices in the meal mixture and then put them in the skillet.  Fry them until they’re light brown on each side.  The slices cool very quickly, so serve immediately.

Here’s what the fruits of you labor will look like.  I used yellow corn meal, so mine turned out a little on the yellow side.

They’re not pretty, but YUM, y’all!

Happy Sunflowers

I think sunflowers are the happiest flowers on earth.  I love them.  So you can imagine my unbridled joy when I saw these Friday  growing along the highway leading to my hometown.

Giddy, I tell you.  I was just giddy.

Small Fry was asleep, so I missed getting his picture amongst ALL THE HAPPY SUNFLOWERS, but Tater Tot was awake and therefore subject to my picture-taking frenzy.  At first, he wasn’t all too thrilled at having to pose for a picture, and he had a hard time focusing on anything other than the sea of grasshoppers and bumble bees buzzing about in the grass in front of him.

But then he relaxed a little and let me take another dozen or so pictures.

I’m still smiling.

(Of course, the sunflowers were planted as bait for a dove shoot when dove season opens in September.  That part makes me sad.)

Until then I’ll keep smiling at all the happy.

Protecting Pictures

Allrighty.  It appears that a great deal of my photos are being lifted, and I have no idea where they’re going, but it makes me a little…uneasy, fidgety, irritated.  Take your pick.

My question is, to those of you who know how to “watermark” your pictures, how in the heck do I do it?  If you know, I wold SO appreciate the tutorial.

Many thanks!

Have a Seat…Or Not

You know the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Apparently some folks believe that if it IS broken, there’s no reason to fix it either.

Case in point.  I spent two hours yesterday getting my hair colored because my roots had grown out to my ears, and who wants to look like there’s a landing strip on top of her head?  Not I, said the little red hen.  I was starving by the time I was through, so I decided to try Happi Mexicana, a restaurant around the corner from the salon.

Before sitting down, I headed to the ladies’ room and noticed that the first stall had a sign that said “no use” on it.  Okay, well that happens.  The middle stall was operable.  The third stall had no sign on the door, but this is what state the facilities were in.

So of course I whipped out my phone and took pictures of the seatless throne.  And then I saw the seat, which was under the sink.  Naturally.

Oddly enough, I suppose the management thought the stall was still usable because there was no sign on the door.

I decided that I wasn’t hungry for Mexican food and drove through a McDonald’s for a diet coke and called it a day.

Not a Bad Weekend At All

I’m running a bit behind in writing about our weekend, but I suppose it’s better late than never.  Well, maybe.  Whatever.

It was a fairly boring weekend — imagine that — but sometimes it’s nice to be boring.  Know what I mean?

We ran some errands Friday afternoon and were worn out, what with the temperature being something like 184 degrees. IN THE SHADE.  I declared that it was way too hot to fire up the oven, so we ordered Chinese take-out.  I ate enough rice with soy sauce to make my hands swell up like balloons by Saturday morning.  Which they did.

Somewhere in the night, Tater Tot woke me up from a deep sleep and nearly scared the wits out of me.  The reason?  He had to go to the bathroom.  Now, he’s about 99 percent potty trained during the day.  He may have an accident every now and then, but overall he’s pretty reliable.  However, this is the first time he’s gotten up in the night to go to the bathroom.  I’m guessing this is a good sign, you know, except for the part about waking me up.  My question is this:  Will he learn on his own to get up during the night and go to the bathroom when he needs to, or should we start waking him up to take him to the bathroom during the night?  I’ve heard arguments for both sides from different parents, but I’m throwing it out there for the two or three of you who still play along here at the old blog.  I tend to lean toward the NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY/CHILD/DOG side of the fence, but I’m open for advice.

Saturday was pretty uneventful, except for Otis.  No, Mayberry’s town drunk didn’t appear on our front porch and try to lock himself in for the night.  Otis is the name Tater Tot gave an old, old, old yellow lab who wandered into our yard Saturday afternoon looking like he was about to drop.  David got him some water and Tater Tot and I petted on him and loved on him, and I was pretty sure we were about to add another dog to our household, a thought that made me want to drink.  Heavily.  Anyhoo, we decided to take him to the animal emergency clinic on the off-chance that his owner had had an identification chip implanted in his back.  Well, she had, bless her heart.  Within a few minutes Otis’ owner was called and was on her way to pick him up.

Tater Tot was kind of upset that Otis didn’t return with David, but after a popsicle and 27 episodes of Spiderman, he was over his disappointment.  I know that’s what always gets me through the tough times.  Except substitute “coffee heath bar crunch” ice cream for “popsicles.”

I washed clothes on Saturday until I was completely caught up, which has only happened about NEVER before in my life.  However, as laundry tends to do, the baskets were brimming with dirty clothes about 24 hours later.  It’s because of this phenomenon that doing laundry never gives me a feeling of satisfaction.

Sunday was Father’s Day, of course, so Tater Tot gave David his presents at the crack of no-one-should-be-up-at-this-hour.  I don’t know why I bothered to wrap them because the four-year-old told him what was inside each package before David could open them.

We piddled around here until the boys’ naps were over, and then we headed to my husband’s parents’ house for a Father’s Day supper where a good time was had by all.  Mainly by those of us who didn’t have to clean or cook for the occasion.

Here are the four fellas:  Pawpaw, Small Fry, Tater Tot, and David

This picture of David and Tater Tot is one of my favorites.

Small Fry is just beginning to learn how good it is to be in Pawpaw’s lap!

We got back home Sunday night with two very sleepy and cranky (but loved and a little spoiled) boys.

So, boring weekend?  Yes.  A blessed one, though?  Definitely.

It’s One Way to Cool Off

I don’t know how hot it is where you live, but here in Memphis it is somewhere around 392 degrees.  And rising.  And the humidity?  She’s not backing off any at all.

Small Fry found a way to beat the heat.

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t take a picture before taking him out of the dogs’ water bowl to change his clothes?

Y’all stay cool.  We’ll be here…well, cooling off the best we can.

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