17 November 2017

Today brings another long road trip and a quarter of a day held captive in the car.  Therefore, today I am thankful, very, very thankful for Audible and Audiobooks.

*   *   *

Years ago our local library began stocking books-on-tape.  Mostly they were produced by Recorded Books.  Mostly they were classics.  And mostly they were not my cup of tea.

From the first my daddy was a fan, a BIG fan.  He listened to them in his car blaringly loud practically every time he went anywhere, much to the chagrin of his daughter-passengers who preferred to listen to WABB on the radio and the latest pop music offerings.  He listened to them on his walk-man with his headphones on, oblivious to the world around him, while mowing the grass, cleaning the pool, or working in his garden.  He listened voraciously and still does, even though the books are no longer on cassette tapes and the walk-man has been retired to a desk drawer once the iPhone came into his life.

Now that I’m no longer a teeny-bopper and concerned with keeping up with the teenage Joneses, I’ve come to appreciate listening to a good book.  As a bibliophile who has lost a great deal of the time once occupied  by reading a title of my own choosing to the demands of middle-age adulthood, it is a way to fill the weekly wasted hours spent sitting in a car or standing at the ironing board and get a few more books checked off of my To Read list on Goodreads.  But the allure isn’t merely time-saving. I’ve found that some books were simply meant to be heard, like Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories narrated by Flo Gibson, although the book should be kept handy to view the illustrations referred to at the end of each story.

So as I prepare to embark on another road trip in the failing light of a Friday afternoon, I’ve charged up the iPad, queued up the Audible app and selected the title, Jan-Philipp Sendker’s The Art of Hearing Heartbeats. Perhaps I’ll arrive with my sanity.  The chances are much improved since I’ve saved myself hours of nothing-do, listening to the same one-hour pop music playlist over and over and OVER ad nauseum and the grating sound of the inevitable back and forth bicker of the children trapped together in the backseat.

Hmmm. . . perhaps I should find my daddy’s walk-man.



16 November 2017

Watching a movie on the big screen, sitting in a reclining chair, eating popcorn, drinking a fizzy drink, going deaf…what could be better on a Thursday in November?  Not one thing.

Going to see a moving picture in a theater has never gotten old for me.  The sights: posters plastered on walls, vanity lights and velvety curtains; the sounds: the shlush of a soda fountain, the plop-popping of a popcorn popper, the ding-a-ling-ring of arcade games and the hum-drumming of a projector; the smells: salt, soda and electricity; all help build anticipation for the imagination destination to follow.

In some ways movie-going has gotten much better over the years.  Seating is one of those ways.  I don’t know who first decided to use recliners or replace those small cloth-covered straight-backed auditorium chairs with spacious leatheresque lounging ones, but I’m grateful to whoever it was.  It’s hard to enjoy a journey when one is squinched into an uncomfortable seat or take a nap when you take your children to see the umpteenth cartoon movie of the year.

Today’s offering for our viewing pleasure is Thor: Ragnarok, which is apropos since Thursday literally means Thor’s Day in Old English.  (Just so you know, I didn’t make the connection until after I planned to take the children to see it, but I’ll take credit for the fortunate stroke of serendipity.)  Of course, I scored BIG TIME with my son, who is crazy about all things related to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or as he calls it, the M.C.U.


I’m not going to spoil it for those of you who have not seen the latest Marvel offering, but suffice it to say that we all thought this was the best of the Thor movies to date.  It was comical, it was exciting, and it had a great soundtrack.  Plus after a grueling last few weeks of school assignments, it was a fun diversion requiring little thought.  Just what we all needed to kick off the Thanksgiving break.

For movie theaters with recliners, for popcorn and soda, for a trip with my family to the mythical Asgard, for a Thor’s Day Thursday, I am thankful.

15 November 2017

Cookies, chocolate-chip cookies, are what I’m most grateful for on this the mid-way day of November.  For years now, they have been my “go to” treat for holiday baking, having donned every plate for Santa that I’ve ever helped my children make, gift-giving baking, and plain old just-because baking.    They are simple to make, difficult to mess up, and always delicious.

Therefore, when my children wanted to thank their teachers with a little token of appreciation before the Thanksgiving Break, I knew just what to bake.  I grabbed my handy-dandy bag of Nestlé morsels and within an hour had a few dozen cookies cooling on the counter waiting to be wrapped in festive paper and hand-delivered to the deserving adults who help educate our youth, my two in particular. Of course, there were a few left over for sampling,  which my children gladly assisted me with, reminding me that quality control is very important.

I must admit that I tinker with most recipes, changing the quantities or ingredients to suit my particular palette or to use what’s already on hand in my home.  That being said, however, I have never tampered with the chocolate chip cookie recipe I use.  Found on the back of the bag of Nestlé Toll House morsels more than a decade ago, I have never been tempted to change a single ingredient, quantity, or direction.



2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large eggs

1 2/3 cups (10 ounce package) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bow.  Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Stir in morsels and nuts.  Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.  Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies.

*  If omitting nuts, add 1 to 2  more tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the opportunity to bake up a little love for some special people and to taste a bit of love myself I am truly thankful.


14 November 2017


radish from our garden

I didn’t always like radishes.  I tolerated them, ingesting itty-bitty bitter slivers in my salads over and over and over again throughout the years.  In truth, with a good dollop of dressing, they were hardly even noticeable.

Then one spring we grew our own.  They weren’t bitter, they were peppery, crisp and flavorful.  Spicy.  Yummy.  I ate them whole, undressed.  My daughter did too; barely waiting for them to be washed before she ate them by the handfuls.  Thankfully, they were quick growers, going from seed to sup in as little as a month.

It has been a few years since we’ve had a place where we could grow our own anything, and boy how we’ve missed home-grown veggies, especially radishes.  So when our potager was finally complete, radishes, Sparkler White Tips, were one of the first plants we planted and for the past two months we’ve been enjoying the little white-tipped, red-headed orbs with the fiery kick.  On salads, on soups, on the raw, we’ve eaten them.

In a week or two, depending on the weather, we will be harvesting our last radishes of the year.  I’m thankful for them while they last and thankful that we have a place where we can grow them again in the Spring.

13 November 2017

My daughter’s birthday is in five days.  FIVE days.  She didn’t ask for much, she never does.  A unicorn sweater from the Gap, a pair of footed fleece pajamas, a microwaveable Warmie, and a rolling book bag.  Weeks ago, ahead of the curve, I ordered them and  one by one they arrived on my doorstep, compliments of the digital age and the American Postal Service.  Well, they all arrived except for one, the book bag, the main gift.

For a week now I’ve been expecting the package; delayed, or so I thought, because I had requested that it be monogrammed with her initials.  This morning, in a bit of a panic with no box in site, I checked my email for the transaction information hoping to locate where in the whole wide world my package is.  I couldn’t find the email.  Hmmm.  So I searched the company’s website hoping to pull up my order information.  No orders had been placed.  Hmmm.

Then I spied it, in the inbox, waiting to be checked out, one item, the backpack.  Mystery solved.

So today I’m thankful for next day shipping, even though it cost me an additional $17.00, because my little girl’s present will be here on her birthday.  Parent fail averted.



12 November 2017

Coming Home.  There is nothing quite like the feeling.

Coming Home for Thanksgiving Postcard.jpg

It is exciting to go, but even better to come home.  The relief you feel on pulling up in the driveway, unlocking the door, crossing the threshold into your house, your space.  The familiar smells, the familiar furniture, the familiar mementos of a life, your life greeting you, welcoming you, beckoning you to lay down your traveling pack and rest your weary bones.

I’ve had many homes in my life.  The home I grew up in, “Andries.”  My college home, Hollins.  My apartment in Jackson, Mississippi.  The first home of my married life in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.  My third-floor flat in Heidelberg, Germany.  My sprawling ranch in DeRidder, Louisiana.  And now my two-story in the suburbs of Huntsville, Alabama.

113 Two Horse Trail.jpg

It isn’t the location, because I’ve liked some better than others.  It isn’t the size or the look of the residence, because some have been larger or nicer or simply more my style.  It isn’t the ownership of a place, I’ve lived in several houses that didn’t belong to me. It is simply a feeling recalled by the senses, intimately known by the body.  No matter where I’ve been in the world, coming home to the sanctuary I’ve carved out as my own is the same: a sense of relief, a sense of comfort, a sense of  welcome.

Today I am home amongst my “things,” and for that I am thankful.




11 November 2017

Veterans Day 2017.  Since 1954 it has been a day to honor those who have served in the United States military, and I have many in my family that I honor: my husband, my brother, my father-in-law, a paternal uncle, both of my husband’s grandfathers and on and on and on.  I am grateful for each one of them and their service to our country.

However, before it was called Veterans Day, the eleventh of November was known as Armistice Day, a day to remember the formal end World War I, which began at the eleventh hour of the aforesaid date.  Regardless of the name change, which was spearheaded by Raymond Weeks, a Birmingham, Alabama World War II veteran, I still think of it as a day to remember and reflect on those who served and died in the Great War, the War to end all Wars, the war that didn’t.

Henry Alonzo ” Lon” Onderdonk was one of these soldiers.  The brother of my paternal great-grandfather, he was born in Rutan, Alabama on June 13, 1893.  The son of Benjamin Henry Onderdonk and Orra Rebecca Richardson he was educated at the Healing Springs Academy and Chatom High School.  In April of 1917, heeding the call of his nation, he volunteered for service in the Army.

While stationed at Camp Mills, New York, Lon visited his sister Eleanor Onderdonk Penn and her renowned composer husband Arthur Penn at their summer home on Block Island, Rhode Island around which time the below photograph was taken of the siblings.

Alonzo Onderdonk

This image was mailed in 1921 to Marie Owen with the Alabama Department of Archives and History by my great-great grandfather for inclusion in a proposed book about Alabama soldiers who perished in World War I.   The book was never published and the Archives retained the images. Information about Lon and other Alabama soldiers at http://www.archives.state.al.us/goldstar/info.html.

His leaving at dawn to return to Camp Mills in Long Island, New York inspired Arthur to later write the song “Sunrise and You.”  He penned:

“Dull gray shadows, then a flaming sky, such was the picture when we said goodbye.”

Thereafter, Lon shipped to France as part of the 167thRegiment, Rainbow Division.

BUT Lon never returned home.  On July 27, 1918 he was killed in action at the Battle of the Marne and laid to eternal rest in the newly-established Aisne-Marne Cemetery  near Chateau Thierry, France having given his life on foreign soil to secure what the world hoped would be a lasting peace.

henry alonzo Grave France.jpg

As a child on trips to the Richardson Cemetery in Rutan where Benjamin and Orra are buried, I was shown a marker that the Woodmen of the World had erected  in memory of Lon, but I was made to know that he was not interred there, his resting place being “across the pond.”  So whilst living in Germany a few years back, I made it a point to take my children to walk the ground where Lon and so many others, on both sides of the conflict, fought and died and to personally pay our respects at his graveside, to thank him for his service and sacrifice.

Today, on Armistice Day, ninety-nine years removed from his death, I am still grateful to my great-great-uncle for choosing to don the uniform and for fighting the valiant fight.



10 November 2017

Coca-Cola.  Ice-cold.  In  a bottle.


Coca cola

Edited from a 1961 Good Housekeeping advertisement. “Hot foods call for ice-cold Coke!”


Today I had one, which isn’t a particularly special occurrence in and of itself, except for the fact that I had it at the Coca-Cola Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia after having met the CEO Sandy Douglas.  I have to admit that at the time when I shook his hand and introductions were made, his name meant as little to me as mine did to him.  I was just another name, another face, another handshake in the day’s litany of names, faces and extended hands.

It is not that I’m not honored for having met Mr. Douglas, I am; it’s not everyday that one has the opportunity to be in the presence of the head of a corporation that has literally changed the world, but I’m not one for being star struck.  What I’m really thankful for is the product.

Coca-Cola has always been a part of my life, well at least the part I can remember.   When I was a child my father used to make my sisters and me coke floats–a glass full of vanilla ice cream floating in fizzy cola.  My mother, on the other hand, introduced us all to peanuts in our coke–the salty orbs floating to the bottom of the bottle soaking up and softening in the bubbling, briny liquid.

I’ve drunk Coca-Cola from bottles pulled from vending machines, from aluminum cans plucked from refrigerated shelves,  and poured from warm two and three liter plastic bottles or out of a fountain into glasses or lidded paper and plastic cups.  At practically every event I’ve ever attended coke has been on offer.  In every country that I’ve ever visited, coke has been for sale.  Afloat on a boat or flying the friendly skies, coke has been served.  And while I haven’t always imbibed, the old refreshing standard has always been available.

I’ve tried several of the formulas, caffeine-free, diet, caffeine-free diet, cherry, vanilla, new coke, but I’m not a fan.  I prefer the original, or what masquerades as the original these days.  I think it tastes better, but then maybe that is because I have so many good memories connected to the libation.  So it was only fitting that today at the Coca-Cola headquarters, I made a new lasting memory, enjoying a frosty bottle of the iconic drink with my husband and laughing over my ignorance of the man behind the beverage company.

For all of life’s little moments with a Coca-Cola in hand, I’m forever thankful.




9 November 2017



corn cob car

Raphael Tuck and Sons’ “Thanksgiving Day” Post Cards Series #175 


When I was “knee high to a grasshopper” my Paw Paw began to teach me how to drive.  Sitting on his lap, behind the steering wheel of his pick-up, I learned how to shift gears, steer and eventually how to use the gas and brake.  By the time I was “legal” I had been driving for years on the dirt roads in the woods around my house.

As a young girl, knowing how to drive was thrilling.    As a young woman, having a license to drive and a vehicle at my disposal was liberating.  Driving to school, trips into town, late nights with my friends, a few exciting road trips.  A few accidents.

The first few involved deer.  Night-driving on rural roads at certain times of the year can be dangerous.  One heartbeat and the road is clear, the next and a hundred pound deer meteoriting from the roadside slams into your vehicle, somersaults onto the hood, windshield or roof, a tangle of hooves or horns, or hooves and horns, the third and you try to stop without slamming on brakes, heart racing, time slowing, life passing.  Slamming on brakes, though instinctual, can get you killed, if the deer through the car or your heart stopping from fright doesn’t get you first.

Another involved an eighteen-wheeler on a snowy road in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The driver, merging onto the interstate pulled into my lane of traffic, clipping my driver’s side door and “slingshotting” me first into another lane of traffic, then across the grassy median, and finally into oncoming traffic.  Luckily, both my car and I , received little damage, and after an evening’s rest because I was too shaken to travel, I was able to drive away the next day.

I was lucky.

As a woman of middle age, I drive practically every day.  Shuttling my children, our pets, the groceries, the cleaning, myself to the Starbucks, it has become a duty, a chore.  Too many hours in the car and my back and legs ache.  My eyes dry and strain, especially after dark.  My mind dulls.

Now I’m not saying that I don’t appreciate having my car.  I do.  An automobile is an integral part of my life, but these days I am grateful for a day that doesn’t include time behind the wheel.  And today, with a three and a half hour drive in the dark looming in my near future, I’m exceedingly grateful to be a mere passenger.

Day Nine:  Someone else to do the driving.

8 November 2017

Today’s Wednesday’s word and the eighth item I’m thankful for is: “slip.”

I’m not talking about losing one’s balance, although I do that a lot, falling to the floor in an unflattering heap.  That kind of slip is nothing I’m grateful for.

I’m not talking about making a gaffe either, although on occasion I’ve made a few spectacular ones.  And even though once removed from the immediate embarrassing moment these slips have mostly brought immense mirth, they are hardly worthy of admiration.

I’m also not talking about escaping someone’s company, even though I’ve been grateful many a time to do so.

I’m talking about an undergarment.

Full-slip.  Half-slip.  Hoop slip.  Slip.


slips rouge

When I was a child and even a teen,  the selections in the Intimates section of the department stores I frequented with my Mother, D.H. Holmes, McRae’s, Parisian, Gayfers, were quite extensive.  In an array of flesh-tone colors ranging from white to black with the occasional splash of pink or red; in an array of lengths, from mini to floor; in an array of fabrics or fabric blends, but mostly nylon; with an array of lace panels, insets and slits, they hung on endless rounder after rounder.

The slip was important.  If you purchased a dress, a suit, or a skirt of any length, you likewise purchased a slip, unless of course you already had an appropriate one at home.  They were essential to dressing properly.

Nowadays true slips (not the “squeeze’ em, cinch ’em, bind ’em” sort that are all the rage), like hosiery, have been pared down to a few paltry selections, because women simply aren’t buying them or wearing them anymore.  But they really, most definitely should.

This is why, and why I am ever so thankful for slips:

A slip helps a garment to hang properly.  Their slippery surfaces enable one’s clothes to fall into place rather than cling to the leg or the thigh, or, God forbid, get stuck in one’s unmentionables.

A slip hides your unmentionables from ogling eyes and prevents bright light from spotlighting every dip, dent and curve of one’s leg all the way up to the hoo haa, a la  Lady Diana Spencer when she was revealed to be dating Prince Charles, but accidentally revealed so much more.

A slip prevents the ruination of fabrics from sweat in the summertime, which even with air conditioning we Southerners know a whole lot about.  And it helps to keep one warmer in the wintertime, by adding an extra layer of insulation.

I know I’m a bit old-fashioned, but any trip away from one’s house reveals the need for the return of the slip.  Bras, panties, or the lack thereof, all on display for the world to see.  Material clinging to lumpy bumpy legs and bunching in obscene places are everyday occurrences.  Panty-lines, muffin tops, cellulite in view wherever you look.

Simply put, a slip helps cover up a multitude of sins.  It helps you look better, and at 42 with a multitude of ills beginning to show on my own body I am grateful for all the help I can get.  I would be even more grateful if more people put them on.