My Space to Write Among the Ghosts…

“All Southerners are the great-grandchildren of ghosts.”    William Faulkner

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About a week ago, I started a new Word Press Challenge- Everyday Inspiration. Today’s challenge is entitled ‘A Space to Write’- asking me to write about where I write. When I cleared the space a bit to take a photograph, I was struck by William Faulkner’s quote-

‘All Southerners are the great-grandchildren of ghosts.’

I should frame it, because where I write- I have ancestors looking over me- most prominently- my very handsome great grandfather. I never knew him, he died very young. But every time I made a phone call from my grandmother’s house, Granddaddy Holmes was listening, he was hanging beside the phone, in his suit and bowtie and slickened hair.

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His name was Charles Richmond Holmes, a very distinguished name. He doesn’t haunt me too much, but apparently his arm was cut off when he was run over by a train- he bled out and died on a wagon. They left his arm, not sure if it was the right arm or the left arm, but it was placed on his front porch for some reason. I know it sounds like a bad country music song, but my mother swears it happened. His wife, Granny Holmes suffered from attacks of Melancholia, ever afterward.  Mimi said that you could always tell when a spell of Melancholia was coming on…Granny Holmes would sit on the front porch rocking to and fro- reading her Bible out loud, the faster she rocked, the louder she read- the more melancholy she got. So I guess Charles haunted my great grandmother from time to time. I only knew her briefly, she was really ancient- but I do recall her funeral, folks seemed relieved to see her go. But she did leave me as the ‘southern great-grandchild of a ghost’.Any time my sister and I acted up, or anyone acted down or depressed, Mimi would say- ‘you’re acting just like Granny Holmes.’

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Underneath my great grandfather is a collage of pen and ink drawings with the St. Clair County Courthouse in the middle, surrounded by some of the old homes around or near the courthouse. One is a Bed and Breakfast now and was built by a Probate Judge for his bride when he returned from the War Between the States. He had just one foot- the other one was lost in battle. (This wall seems to have an underlying theme of lost appendages.) There are many stories to be told about the homes and how this collage of drawings came into our possession, but I shall leave that for another time. Suffice it to say, my father in law was Judge of Probate for 14 years and my husband succeeded him in office, after a hotly contest primary, runoff and general election, he served for 20 years and is now retired. The two of them are in the very Courthouse immortalized in the ink drawing.

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My father in law had notecards made from the original drawing and we continue to use them for ‘official’ thank you notes, congratulatory or sympathy cards; so that drawing haunts me, knowing how many I need to write in any given day. I also have a great longing to see that courthouse and the surrounding homes more often- but Backbone Mountain and several miles separate me from seeing it on a regular basis. We are one of the few counties in Alabama which have two courthouses, here because of that big mountain at the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains. The courthouse is said to be haunted, I’m sure it is- a hanging took place there I think; that is one of the hauntings…Anyway, our courthouse has been in continuous use longer than any other in the state of Alabama. It has a long and colorful history- St.Clair County is older than the state. Ashville is the county seat; the courthouse does face south as most old southern courthouses do.

Below the drawings, my Grandmother looks straight at me from a handmade bowl. Her expression is very intense-and it should be, since she was seriously funny.  Most southern women love talking about food. She was no exception- she was an exceptional cook. She is my Wisdom and Food Muse, I can still hear her wise, witty comments. For instance sometimes she says to me: ‘Get in that kitchen and see if you can fix something fit to eat.’ She said that, at the end of almost every conversation I ever had with her- before she hung up- ‘I need to see if I can fix us something fit to eat.’  Mimi is her younger self in the photo-she told me that she always thought she was 18 years old until she looked in the mirror. Next to the bowl with Mimi in it, there is an iron cross which always inspires but particularly on Saturday nights or Sunday mornings when I write my ‘Sunday Inspiration’ posts and was my constant companion as I wrote the four year Bible study which led to the publication of my book, ‘Four Days- the Lazarus Principle’image

My author’s copy sits beside my laptop. The book has many travel stories and other things that inspire me still; number one is: ‘If you can write a book- maybe you can write a blog.’

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Off to the side are two mirrors, one is slightly below desk level- I like a sense of mystery in home design- that’s how the wall ended up before I decided to push the desk in front of it. Above that mirror is my grandmother’s mirror; it is not a mirror to look into unless you want waves and streaks distorting your image, which I don’t. Above that mirror is a silhouette of myself as a child, my hair shape hasn’t changed too much.

The desk I write on- came from a local antique dealer but it’s been at my house so long, it has probably gotten more valuable- or not. The chair I sit in, is shared from time to time with Walter. I don’t think he particularly likes to sit in it but it is a deterrent to my writing when he wants to be brushed, watered or fed. And under the table, on the quirky wall is an empty antique printer’s drawer with tiny spaces for letters to typeset copy. Maybe it is the perfect writer’s wall, now that I think about it. That fat red notebook is stuffed with ideas and things I need to remember if my laptop expires as it is wont to do occasionally. The lamp is a thrift store find, the base turned out to be real pewter; it sheds good soft light. I sit facing East, a very pleasing direction for me, and the ghosts of this Southern girl- face West and gaze at the sunset every afternoon, I hope it keeps them calm and happy. I don’t need them rattling around too often. But I am not lonesome when I write:image

                                                        Walter, our Chief Feline Officer

Now, if you are not snoring or passed out from boredom– I need a favor. Part of my assignment is to ask you, the reader- for writing prompts. Did you hear that?? You are supposed to inspire me! (and you do! just need a little written prompt from you!) I will record your ideas and the inspirations in that fat red notebook – then perhaps I can pass this WordPress Course I am taking. I wouldn’t want to make the Happiness Engineers unhappy.

Seriously, post in the comment section on any media that you find this on -or go to my ‘About’ page and email me through my contact information, I’m on a time frame here- 10 days to go for this!  Your Ideas or what you most want to know about Camellia’s Cottage, as if I haven’t hung out enough family ghosts and craziness since I’ve been writing this! I also don’t want to fall victim to Great Granny Holmes’ Melancholia. I won’t send any family ghosts to haunt you, and your name will not be used unless you want me to publicize you to high heaven- And don’t ever forget this-

I love y’all, Camellia

*All of those less than perfect photographs were taken by me.

 

Hello Darlin’

Classic-Old-Cord-Telephone-2204-mediumHello darlin’, sorry I haven’t called lately, it’s been like the Dew Drop Inn around here! The painter was here for the front door, some teenagers came by takin’ up mission trip money to witness to some folks up in Mentone, the carpenter stopped by and said yes, the screen porch is in bad shape, he’s going to try to work us in between jobs, you know how it is with an old house~ on and on…

Yes, I know I’ve been putting you off, but believe me this bloggin’ is like learning how to practice voodoo and speak German at the same time… Well, they’ve had me doin’ something called word prompts… you know I don’t use words like –  misstep…who says that anyway? Around here they say ‘you can’t mess this up’ or ‘He can’t walk and chew gum at the same time’ certainly not misstep. Yes, I used it in the Green Onion blog post. Those onion roots are already popping up!

For heaven’s sake- I told you it was a word prompt- Boot Camp Word a Day from those Happiness Engineers…they send you a word and tell you to use it in your blog post that day~ on your mark, get set …go!  The next word was incomplete.  The only time I’ve ever said that was when your roommate was sneaking out after curfew, missed so many of her classes she was about to flunk ‘Human Behavior’ and took an Incomplete ~ though Lord knows she was out practicin’ it!  The best I could do with that word was when I wrote ‘A blog is incomplete without great photographs’, I know it didn’t sound right but you have to admit Jeremy Miniard’s pictures sure were amazin’and I knew you would get a kick out of the title- ‘You really need to get out more, darlin” …you say that all the time!

Yesterday I put my foot down! The word prompt was fleeting, Lord, I about died on that one! I just sat there blank, well not totally blank….all I could think of was a Fleet’s to clear you out before you have a baby! I have never heard… not even one southern lady, coarse or common- use the word fleeting…though I will say those Fleet’s…never mind, don’t get me started! I got out the dictionary and fleeting means ‘brief, short, short-lived, quick movement’ sort of like that Peepin’ Tom …what was his name? Lightnin’ that right! Lightnin’ scared the livin’ daylights out of me when I saw his ol’ head reared up outside my bedroom window with the moonlight shining ~ before I could get out a good scream- he was gone in a flash! He was runnin’ down the alley quick as the devil! That’s what the word fleeting meant to me!  Can you imagine usin’ that word for anything? What?

No, I didn’t let them know I wouldn’t be sending in the word prompt – they’re Happiness Engineers, they wouldn’t give me an Incomplete, they’d just send me another word the next day.

The best thing those word prompts did for me was to make me sit down and write a blog post for 3 days in a row- no, I just turned in 2. I felt guilty about it though… Remember when I got the Bible App?  I signed up for a daily Bible reading, was so excited about it and the next thing you know I got busy and missed a day.  They must have ‘unhappiness engineers’ because that bossy Bible App sent me an email letting me know that they knew I had missed a day! I’ve got enough to make me feel guilty without that going on! My face looked like death sucking on lifesaver I was so upset. I put up with it until the third notice.  I’m ashamed to admit it but I removed that App! I can take care of my daily reading on my own thank you very much! I know…don’t remind me, you got a badge for reading yours everyday.

Yes, darlin’ I’m going to do it right now… I’m going to drag and drop your precious face right smack dab at the bottom of the page….yes, honey, watch for it…you’ll love it- glad you called. Bye…love you too!


 

Okay y’all, in honor of Best Friends Week and without further ado…here she is…Allie Mac! My own sweet friend who knows a whole lot more about nothin’ than I do! She’ll have her own page and everything- watch for it!  Love y’all, Camellia

Allie Mac long hair second try                                                                   Allie Mac

 

You really need to get out more, darlin’

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Now that Spring has definitely sprung, I’m stir crazy thinking about taking a road trip. I’ve been home so much lately that I’m feelin’ like this old car~ loads of good memories, definitely great style, a dash big enough for your whole life’s Lost and Found, an Alabama tag on the front ~ but a bit rusty and more than a little mired down at the old homeplace; and I thought~ ‘You really need to get out more, darlin’.

Long before this blog was any kind of reality, Jeremy Miniard’s photography inspired me, he’s one of those photographers who get out on the backroads of Alabama and capture the most amazing images! I loved the photo of this car so much I asked Jeremy to make up some notecards for me. The name of this photo is ‘Alabama Special’ and I just know y’all agree ~ it sure is special, one of my all time favorites.

A blog is incomplete without great photos. As much as I like to draw and paint, garden and read, write and laugh – I’m no great photographer, Jeremy has generously given me permission to use some of his Alabama photos every now and then~ for this I surely do thank him!

In the days to come, I can’t wait for you to meet Allie Mac! As soon as the Mail Chimps and the Happiness Engineers from WordPress help us get some of the kinks worked out, she’ll be sharing some of her ideas for great road trips right here in Alabama!

Before you leave this post, here’s another great photo from my star photographer, Jeremy Miniard – makes you wanna get out there doesn’t it? Until then… keep humming ‘Stars fell on Alabama’ and get that car gassed up!

Love y’all, Camellia

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related link- http://www.jeremy.miniard.fineartamerica.com

Both of these photos are courtesy of Jeremy Miniard and are his sole property not to be used without permission – thank you Jeremy!

 

Spring Green Onions DIY fun project

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These green onions have been growing all winter in our raised kitchen garden bed! It’s so nice to have something green to garnish with or perk up a dish all year round. The idea isn’t new, but one that really does work and there is no way to make a misstep on this one! It is fun to do on your own but so easy you can get the children involved too! It might even be fun to tell them they are planting food for the little bunny rabbits! So, the next time you buy a bundle of green onions, try this- cut the root ends off about 1 1/2 -2 inches and set aside. See below:2016-03-11 11.50.22

You can take the fresh root ends and plant within a few hours or save the tops in a single layer until they are dry (soak them overnight before planting if you do this) – either way don’t worry they will grow!2016-03-12 10.16.45

Next, with the straight end of a wooden spoon (I keep one set aside in my gardening bag for poking holes for large seeds or seedlings, please don’t reuse for cooking!) Poke holes2016-03-12 10.17.50 in the soil, we have a little pot here, but your potted outside-the-kitchen- door herb pot or a raised bed like we have or a well prepared spring garden plot- even a pot of its own that is well drained will do! 2016-03-12 10.18.48

Carefully ease the root end of the cuttings into the soil, they can be planted quite close, press gently but firmly on the sides of the onion roots to make soil contact. Do not cover the entire root end! Water well and in a week or so you will see the green onions begin to sprout! 2016-02-28 10.39.00

Again these have been growing for several seasons in our raised bed. When I need some for cooking- I take a pair of scissors and cut the tops off – leaving the root ends growing for the next time I need them.

The Green Onion DIY project – add new root ends from the next bunch you buy and soon, if you need a little green for garnish or some chopped for a recipe you won’t have to rush out to buy green onions at the grocery store, just step outside.

The fresh taste is so good! I prefer green onion tops to chives, they aren’t so tiny, impart more of an onion taste, can be removed easier if the diner prefers not to have them and make a dish look good with a bit of green- on top of a baked potato, on a luscious cheese omelet, sprinkled across the top of macaroni and cheese or just on a platter of tomatoes.

I am always inspired by easy gardening projects that work, are useful and beautiful!  I can’t promise the children will eat them but they will have fun watching  them grow! Who knows? those bunny rabbits might leave some colored eggs in that patch before too long!

Isn’t this spring weather wonderful? Showers and all!

Have fun y’all, Camellia

Raised Bed Gardening Books http://amzn.to/1RfjO9T