Friday, April 21, 2006

I Am From...................

I borrowed this idea from Mary at Owlhaven, and she has a wonderful post up now using this idea. The point is to build on the words, "I am from.........." It is a writing prompt to tell about your childhood memories, and family traditions, etc. I have posted several pictures and stories about my childhood, but I will try to expand on the idea a little. Those of you who are plumb sick of hearing about me-----Sorry, I guess you can visit some of my other blogger friends and pass on this one. ;-)

I AM FROM............

I am from rural Northeast Arkansas. I am from what some people might consider a very poor family, but we were rich in the things that mattered most. I posted a little about some of my growing up years here, if you'd like to read this first. The house we lived in from the time I was 4 years old up until I was almost 9 had no plumbing, and the only running water we had was when Mama told one of us to run and pump a bucket of water. We had hand pump just like the one to the left, there, but ours was red, or had no paint at all from daily use and weathering.

I am from cotton fields. All the places I grew up that I remember were surrounded by cotton fields, like the one to the right, there. I chopped cotton every summer for spending money, and I bought some of my school clothes and other things with my money, too. I chopped every summer from my 10th year until the summer I graduated from high school. The first year I chopped cotton, I just blew some of the money on kid stuff, junk food and things like that, but I'll wager most of you would never be able to guess one thing I bought with some of that money. I still have part of them, too. Now, remember, I was 10 years old at the time, but I was pretty mature for my age, and I worked hard for that money, too. If you've never chopped cotton, you don't know what you're missing, folks. Anyway...........I bought 2 sets of cotton percale sheets at P.N. Hirsch. The store is long gone, but one set of the sheets is not. I gave Mama a set of the sheets when I got married, and they burned when their house burned, which you can read about here. I still have the other set, and they are worn, but the pillow cases and top sheet are still usable. As Mama would say, you could throw a broom straw through the fitted sheet. I guess I am hanging onto it just for the sake of old memories. I am 42 now, so if I am doing the math right, that would make that set of sheets 32 years old, folks. I think it was a wise investment, myself.

I am from a time of playing with june bugs and lightning bugs. I remember catching june bugs and tying strings around them and letting them fly on the string. We caught big horseflies and what we called dry flies, too, and tied strings on them. Other people call them locusts or July flies, but they are really called cicadas. There's a green june bug to the right, there, and a lightning bug to the left. We used to catch lightning bugs, or fireflies to some people not fortunate enough to grow up in the South, and put them in jars with holes punched in the lid. They would begin their magical flashing a little before dusk, and we ended many a hot, humid summer evening sweaty, but victorious, our jars full of the flickering little critters. One thing, though, that was very important: no harming any of the bugs. They had to be released at the end of the day, if not before. And WOE to the child (or adult) who harmed a toad frog if Mama found out about it.Yes, in our family, they are properly termed, toad frogs.

I am from people who love to raise chickens, like those over there to the left. Sue's husband, Charles is the only one in the family who still has chickens, but Ducky and Donna have had chickens at various times. We had several different kinds of chickens. For instance, we had red ones.....and white ones...............black ones.............You get the idea. We had whatever people gave us or Mama traded for, and then they interbred, so we had what I guess you'd call mongrel chickens, LOL. All I know is the eggs and meat from those chickens were so much better than what you can buy at Kroger these days that it's unreal. If I lived in a house outside the city limits, I'd probably have chickens today.

I am from Tornado Alley. My Daddy was terrified of storms. Only my Mama's composure and good sense kept Daddy from taking her and us kids out into danger sometimes when it stormed. Daddy would wait until the height of the storm, then decide it was bad enough to go the neighbors' storm cellar, or later, to our own. Thank the Good Lord, I took after Mama rather than Daddy when it comes to storms. I remember a time when we kids
were younger, we saw a tornado very similar to the one there to the right. I was about 11 at the time, which made Cecil 10, and my nieces and nephews ranged from 7 on down to toddlers. We were playing on the front porch of the house we lived in at the time. Our nearest neighbor lived about a mile away, and we were surrounded by cotton fields, so we had a long view in every direction. It was a cloudy, muggy day in the Spring , and we were playing with a big old box. We were playing like a tornado was coming, and I was the oldest, so I would herd all the kids (Yes, all the kids! It was a big box, I said!) into the box, which was our play storm cellar. Only one time when I looked across the field, there really WAS a tornado, maybe 3 miles across the field. I ran in the house and told Mama, Sue and Ducky, but they knew we were playing like a tornado was coming, and they thought we were just trying to lure them out to play with us, or just trying to get their attention. I finally convinced Mama to come look. I was practically in tears, and when she saw the tornado, she apologized for doubting me. She called the sheriff's office, but they wouldn't come check on it, so she called the Bay police department, but by the time they got out there, it had already dissipated. It would have been all the same if people had died, though, from the lack of interest from the sheriff's department.

I am
from a family that loves food, and loves to cook good food. I was raised on pinto beans and fried potatoes, with cornbread and a little meat sometimes, too. Other times it was white beans and biscuits, and maybe stewed potatoes. Mama always joked that when we got tired of beans and potatoes, we'd have potatoes and beans for a change. Those are dried pinto beans there to the left. That's how they look before they're cooked. There's some cornbread there to the right. Notice it's in a cast iron skillet. In my opinion, it's the absolute best way to cook cornbread, bar none. We still eat a lot of beans and potatoes today, and cornbread, too. Mama made either biscuits or corn bread almost every meal, including breakfast sometimes. Daddy only liked light bread for a sandwich, and he griped if Mama didn't make biscuits, especially if she made cream gravy and he had to eat it
with light bread. Of course our beverage of choice with most of those meals was sweet tea. Iced tea, that is, a lot like that glass over there to the left. Plastic wasn't used nearly as much when I was a kid, and Mama used wide -mouth gallon jugs for tea jugs. I had made tea for dinner one day, and was stirring it with a metal spoon and broke that gallon jug of sweet tea. Do you have any idea exactly how much area a gallon of tea can cover? A BIG area, folks. What a mess, plus I had to make another gallon of tea, plus the wasted tea and sugar.

I am from a family of music lovers. A lot of times after a big Sunday dinner, we'd get out the old hymnals and song books and gather round the table and sing the old songs. A lot of times we had tall glasses of iced tea to drink, too, because we never had air conditioning growing up. Ah, the memories. I learned a lot of the songs I know from those afternoons, singing along with Mama and the sisters. It helped me learn to sing harmony, too, and to this day I would rather sing harmony than melody, most of the time. One of our favorite songbooks to sing from was (and IS) the Heavenly Highway Hymnal. There is the front of one to the right. The ones we used to sing from were a lot more well-used and well-loved, though. Most of the covers were gone, but oh, we loved them. Now some of the family that used to gather around the table and sing is gone, but, oh, how we love them, and miss them.

I am from a family rich with love, traditions, memories..................And did I mention........LOVE?

13 comments:

Connie and Rob said...

Oh I just love your memories. You really have a talent for puting it down in a story. I will never get tired of reading about you.

Thanks for sharing.
Take care,
Connie

Diane said...

Connie,
Thank you so much, I appreciate your encouragement. :)

I have to ask, I've noticed you visit a lot very early in the morning. Are you just a morning person, do you get up early for work, or have insomnia? Or are you just like me, keep weird hours? LOL :)

Mike Goodwin said...

I am from tornado alley too. :-) I know the feeling. That was a wonderful post. I'd write one myself, but I couldn't make it near as interesting.

Off to work a little earlier this morning. Have a good day!!

Diane said...

Mike,
I'm sure you have plenty of good stories, and you would do a wonderful job of writing about them if you set your mind to it. ;-)

It's a sunny, breezy 80 degrees here. Hope it's not too hot there. Have a good Saturday, if that's possible, seeing as how you have to work today. :)

HolyMama! said...

oh this is GOOD!

I live in the middle of cotton fields now, although i didn't as a kid. i've heard how difficult work it is!

Tell me one thing, though. I'm a Texas girl, through and through. And I DO NOT get the point of sweet corn bread. You seem to have opinions on corn bread so I thought I'd ask. Sweet, or not sweet?

Diane said...

I eat both, but I didn't always. My mama always said if she wanted cake, she'd just make a cake without cornmeal in it. LOL :) My daughter likes Jiffy mix, so I make it for her to eat with brown beans, and it's just too much trouble to make sweet and regular cornbread. I've gotten used to sweet, but I'd rather have regular cornbread. I don't know why people started putting sugar in it. It's a mystery to me. I eat greens, especially turnip greens, with and without sugar, too.

I guess, then, to answer your question, for me, Without if I have to choose. Hope this answers your question. :)

BooMama said...

At some point I wish you would write a post of nothing but your mama's expressions. They CRACK ME UP.

I make cornbread in a cast iron skillet, too - I have one skillet that was my grandmother's, and I have a cast iron cornstick pan that was my great aunt's. And I promise corn bread tastes better made in that cast iron that's over 50 years old. Regular cornbread - not sweet. :-)

What do you do to pinto beans when you cook them? That's one thing I've never made.

Diane said...

Wash and pick over the beans, discard the discolored ones, and place in a Dutch oven. If you have a hunk of salt pork or bacon, score it or cut it into about 2 inch pieces, or throw in a hambone or smoked ham hock. Cover with about 2-3 inches of water over the beans. Cover and bring to a boil, turn down to low heat and simmer for 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on how old the beans are. Usually, it takes about 2 1/2 hours. Fresher beans cook quicker. You may need to add water along the way, so watch for that. When they are soft enough (try one, if necessary) add salt to taste and cook about 10 minutes longer to let the salt incorporate. If you didn't have any meat to put in them, add some bacon grease or meat grease when you add the salt, just a couple of tablespoons full. Or, just skip the grease, but they won't be as good, in my opinion. :)
I have soaked beans overnight, but they take just as long to cook even after soaking, so I fail to see the need for it. Hope this helps. If you need more specifics, ask here, or email me. :) White beans, same recipe, but they usually cook a little quicker. Great Northerns, to some people, ;)

HolyMama! said...

i totally agree, and your mother had a way of saying it too! my husband is a transplant to the south, having grown up all over the world as a military kid. he likes it sweet, but i just think that's WRONG. and if he were truly southern, well, he'd know it.
(of COURSE i don't say that to him!)

Sister said...

Diane,
I think it's been documented on the internet that I'm not a cook, but I had to smile when I read my sister's (BooMama) question about pinto beans. When my husband and I moved to Tennessee almost 25 years ago, that was one of the 1st things I learned to cook (in Mississippi, we ate mostly black-eyed peas, green beans and butterbeans). Anyway, it pleases me to no end that probably for the 1st time ever, I know the answer to one of her cooking questions! :)

Diane said...

HolyMama!,
I'm with you, I like regular cornbread. But, my Grandma used to eat pinto beans and cake, and she liked sweet cornbread, too. Of course, weirdness of all types abound in my family, so that's not unexpected, LOL. ;-)

Sister,
We eat blackeyed peas, fresh and dried, butterbeans, fresh and dried, and lots of green beans, too. Green beans are donsidered a green vegetable, not a "bean", so it's not uncommon to have both green beans and another bean in the same meal.

Boomama can call you and ask about cooking pinto beans, then. That will be a change, huh? LOL :-)

Connie and Rob said...

Well I think you caught me. Yes I have very strange sleeping habits. My two pooches do have a habit of getting me up during the middle of the night to go out and then get a little snack. However most of my problem is that I am worrying about my mother being ill.

I love visiting your blog.
Connie

Diane said...

I'm glad you like my blog, Connie, and I hope that maybe for a moment or two it helps take your mind off your Mom. My sympathies, honey, and my prayers go out to you, too. :)