Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Press On, Kevin Skinner!

Since wowing judges on America's Got Talent early this month, Kevin Skinner's video, If Tomorrow Never Comes, has been viewed on YouTube more than a million times. And he is now one of the forty quarterfinalists.

"I'm not gonna put you through misery," David Hasselhoff told Skinner tonight, "I'm gonna tell you straight. You're going through. And you deserve it! We'll see you in Hollywood!"

Overwhelmed, Kevin was close to tears.

"Bless his heart," I said, "Makes me want to hug him."

"Hope he makes it to the top," said Bill.

Press on, Kevin Skinner! Nothing can stop you now.

Friday, July 24, 2009


I was thrilled when I went to the mailbox today. My contributor's copy of Birmingham Arts Journal had arrived containing my personal essay, The Southern Way.
Birmingham Arts Journal is supported by the Alabama School of Fine Arts and other literary-minded organizations. And it is published without profit by passionate volunteers, which makes it even more special to me.
It is also available in its entirety online (click on "latest edition"). My essay is on page 37.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Unpardonable Sin

People are talking about President Obama. And it's not about bail-outs, health care, or other hot topics.
They are accusing him of wearing Mom jeans!
When he threw out the first pitch at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game last week, he was wearing a large, oversized pair. Unlike me, his were "borderline," so that's not as bad. But they were a tad on the short side. And he almost showed sock! Just walking across the field!
Our president must be appalled, as was I when Suzanne pointed out my fashion faux pas.
But, like me, he hates to shop. Had we gone to the mall more often, we might not have committed the unpardonable sin.
Maybe I can convince Suzanne to accompany us to Kentucky Oaks Mall next time he's in Paducah.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Second Fiddle

Pitty came for a visit and brought her new dog.
So now I'm playing second fiddle to Maddox.

He even took over my favorite napping place.

I'll just go ahead on and sleep on the floor.

But I don't mind telling you this situation makes my tail curl!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Morning Glory Rituals

I love Morning Glories.
Bill planted some for me under two big trees in our yard, and now they are climbing those trees at breakneck speed. One morning not long ago, I was thrilled to look out our dining room window and find two blooming.
I thought of Maw Maw George.
Pitty Pat and I spent a lot of time with our maternal grandparents, Maw Maw and Paw Paw George, when we were children. Especially during the summer.
We slipped between crisp ironed sheets, giggling and whispering late into the night to the Katydids' chants. We woke to the sounds of sizzling bacon and gurgling coffee, the familiar creaks of the worn linoleum floor as Maw Maw moved from stove to sink to table.
We meandered down the gravel lane to the mailbox, after breakfast, the air heavy with the scent of the Honeysuckle vines shrouding the fences on either side. Later, we spent time in our playhouse behind the Hollyhocks and rosebushes, stirring up exotic concoctions of leaves and weeds in the old pots and pans. Sometimes we paraded around the house in old dresses and high heels Maw Maw kept for us in the closet.
Other times, we played paper dolls on the big screened-in back porch. When we decided they needed a place to live, Maw Maw dug out file folders and showed us how to cut out pages of furniture from Sears Roebuck and glue them on the folders. After that, our voluptuous, long-legged beauties had homes, complete with living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.
When we tired of other activities, we climbed high in the huge Oak tree in the front yard. We sat gazing through the fluttering leaves at the scene below, like sentinels in search of secrets, reveling in our anonymity: Nobody knows we’re here…

On Decoration Day, Pitty and I helped Maw Maw prepare the flowers for transport to our ancestors' graves in various cemeteries in Carlisle County. Each year, she planted two rows of flowers of all kinds in their garden just for Decoration Day.
That morning, she carefully snipped the flowers and placed them in big cardboard boxes, damp newspapers between the layers. Then Paw Paw carefully loaded them in the trunk, fired up the little black coupe, and we were on our way.
Pitty and I loved following Maw Maw through the quiet, peaceful cemeteries, watching her place bouquets on the graves. Every now and then, she pointed out various relatives' graves: Here are my grandparents’ graves; over there are Paw Paw’s grandparents, his little sister, Katie.
She always stood quietly, a faraway look in her amber eyes, before two small graves: Catherine, who died at five, and J. T., who was eighteen months.
One evening at twilight we were strolling through the back yard. Maw Maw was pointing out various species of flowers and telling us their names when I spotted a cluster of the brightest flowers I had ever seen. They were a startling violet, and seemed to glow.
I was enchanted.
"Maw Maw," I said, "What are those?”
"They're Morning Glories," Maw Maw said, "They don't open until twilight, and they close when the sun hits them."
"Do they always do that?"
For some reason, I couldn't believe they always bloomed at twilight.
Thus began our Morning Glory Ritual. Regardless of what we were doing or how tired we were, Pitty and I raced to the back yard to check them out. I had a sneaking suspicion that we would come upon them one evening and find them hanging limply, heads bowed.
We never did, of course.
Now, I have my own Morning Glory Ritual. I gaze at them just outside my window as I have my morning coffee. And I think of Maw Maw, who will always bloom in my memories.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Still Going Strong

* * *

It was the year of big hair and shoulder pads. George Herbert Walker Bush was sworn in as president, and Oliver North had been convicted in the Iran-Contra affair. Unemployment was 5.3 percent; the cost of a first-class stamp was 25 cents, and gas was 97 cents a gallon.
Popular movies were When Harry Met Sally, Driving Miss Daisy, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; Rain Man won the academy award for best picture, and Bobby McFerrin's Don't Worry, Be Happy was song of the year.
It was 1989, the year the first meeting of the George-Wilson Literary Club was held. And after 20 years, we're still going strong. Especially Mother.
She has never missed a meeting.

Friday, July 10, 2009

You GO, Kevin Skinner!

Kevin Skinner hails from Mayfield, Kentucky, which is only a skip and a jump from Paducah. And I was thrilled when he wowed the judges and audience of America's Got Talent with his rendition of "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
I was disgusted, though, by the judges' reactions when Kevin walked onstage...the shaking of their gleaming dyed heads, the smirky smiles, cracks about his Southern accent. And his job as a chicken catcher. (They had a ball with that one!)
"I am sick and tired of this," I said, "They are always making fun of Southerners. They think we're all ignorant, toothless hillbillies!"
"Yes," Bill said, "They do it every time."
"But no one ever complains about it"
As it turned out, I was wrong.
When I opened The Paducah Sun yesterday, there was a piece about Kevin by Adam Shull, entertainment reporter. "By the time the esteemed judges introduced Skinner to let him sing," he wrote, "I wanted to roast them in a barbecue cooker."
Fire up that barbecue cooker, Adam, I'm here to help.
And you go, Kevin. We're rootin' for you here in Paducah!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Where is Stretch?

I turned on TLC Monday night at 9:00 and found they were having a Cake Boss marathon! Had I known, I would have tuned in sooner. But I got to watch a few episodes.

Buddy and the guys went to a local museum to look at a prehistoric mammal. His clients wanted him to make a replica of it! Too much? Not for Buddy. He made the cake, and it looked just like that mammal; there were trees and all kinds of things around it! Needless to say, they were extra careful as they bumped over pot holes on their way to the museum. I cringed as Buddy and several of his bakers carried the 400-pound cake up those steps. But they made it. And they were delighted with his creation.

I was rather disturbed, though. Buddy's cousin, Anthony, was driving the cake van. Stretch was nowhere to be seen. Where is Stretch?

Buddy also made a Sweet Sixteen cake, which, although very colorful, just didn't do it for me. I was losing interest until Anthony and Danny "The Mule" attempted to carry it down the stairs. The Mule tipped it a tad too much, and suddenly it began slippin' and a-slidin.' It hit those steps with such force that gooey gobs of cake blanketed the steps from top to bottom.

As you can imagine, Buddy went into a tailspin. The whole staff had to drop what they were doing and decorate another cake. It only took them two hours, though, and they got it to the Sweet Sixteen party on time. The spoiled little teenage girls were thrilled.

A couple came in requesting a dove wedding cake. And Buddy promised them a tall, ornate cake, with old-world flavor, like his father used to make. With live birds. The bride and groom and their guests loved the cake, but there were some awkward moments. The newlyweds were unable to get the doves to come out of their glass cage, so Buddy stepped up to the plate and coaxed them out.

A father-to-be came in and went on and on about how much his pregnant wife loved Buddy's pastries, especially his lobster tails. So Buddy made her an assortment of pastries, including luscious chocolate-dipped strawberries and a giant lobster tail filled with a pink custard/whipped cream concoction.

"I dyed the custard pink because the baby's a girl," Buddy said, a pleased look on his face, "And she's gonna love it!"

Buddy delivered the goodies himself, but the mother-to-be didn't even mention the pink custard. She was too busy stuffing herself.

Lil Frankie, after pleading with Buddy, finally got to make and decorate his own cake for Buddy's niece's dance recital. (It was beautiful, by the way.) The whole family was there, and Lil Frankie beamed from ear to ear.

I'll sign off for now. But first a message for Buddy: Where is Stretch?

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

We must be free not because we claim freedom,
But because we practice it.
~William Faulkner~

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The All-Star Special

Not long ago, Crystal Samuel and a couple of her friends went to a Waffle House in Manning, South Carolina and ordered the "All-Star Special Breakfast" (grits, sausage, toast, eggs and a waffle) to go. And then the three sat down in a booth to wait for their orders.

It wasn't long before their waitress, Yakeisha Ward, brought Crystal's, so she decided to sample it while she was waiting. But as she was nibbling at her All-Star Special, Yakeisha reappeared.

"You ordered your All-Star Special to go," she said, "So you can't eat it here."

"That's ridiculous!" Crystal said, "I'm not going to eat my All-Star Special here. I'm only eating some of it while I'm waiting for my friends to get theirs."

"Well, you can't eat it here," said Yakeisha, "You've got to leave."

"I can't believe you're making all this fuss," said Crystal, "Give us our All-Star Specials and we'll go."

"No, you've got to leave now."

Well, things got downright ugly after that. Crystal grabbed her waffle from her All-Star Special and threw it at Yakeisha. (She missed, by the way.) So what did Yakeisha do? She jumped right over that counter and started punching on Crystal. And as astonished diners looked on, Yakeisha kept punching her.

Crystal fought back, and finally got away from the crazed waitress, and then she and her friends high-tailed it out of that Waffle House. (Don't know if they took their All-Star Specials with them or not.)

You'd think that would have been the end of that. But, no, Yakeisha wasn't through with Crystal. She rushed out the door and beat a path to her own car, reached inside and grabbed a gun. And she stood right there in that parking lot and loaded it!

Naturally, Crystal and her friends were scared out of their wits by then, and wanted to get away as quickly as possible. But before they could even get their car started, Yakeisha opened their car door and jumped on Crystal and started pistol-whipping her! The gun went off, hitting Crystal in the arm, but Yakeisha kept pistol-whipping her. And when the sheriff's deputies arrived, she was still pistol-whipping her.

Yakeisha was hauled off to jail, where she was charged with assault and battery with intent to kill. So she could be cooling her heels in the slammer for a good long while. (She won't get any All-Star Specials there, I'm sure!)

Crystal was treated at a hospital and released.

I have dined at many Waffle Houses across the country (although I have never had the All-Star Special), and the waitresses have always been as nice as they could be.

But I never threw a waffle at one, either.
All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley