Monday, May 26, 2014

Barefoot Days are Almost Here Again

Photo Courtesy of Anita Peppers
May 26, 1965
Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. A very excited Jocie Brooke because in three days - three short days!! - school's out for the summer. Yay!! It's not that I don't like school. At least most of the time, but in May, I hate school! 

Nobody should have to spend all of May in a classroom looking out at the sun instead of being in said sun. I mean, it's time to take off your shoes and feel dandelions between your toes. Maybe find a 4-leaf clover so luck will come your way.

Dad says that's silly. He says a Christian doesn't depend on lucky charms. A Christian should depend on the Lord and on his fellow Christians for his or her good fortune. But it's still sort of neat finding a 4-leaf clover. Or it would be if I could ever find one. Tabitha, my sister, she can step out in the grass, look down and see a lucky clover without moving another step. Right where I was just searching. I think she's half leprechaun. Don't tell Dad I said that. He'll be giving me a lecture about how it's okay to pretend, but a person shouldn't get carried away with silly stuff. 

But I like making up silly stuff, don't you? Wait, I'll tell you a secret if you promise not to tell anybody. I'm going to write a book! Not just a little five page story, but a book with chapters and everything. Do you think you'd like to read it? I might write it on here - if it turns out to be any good. You know, it's easier to think about doing something rather than actually doing it. Right now, I'm just thinking about it. But I can't wait to actually get started. I'm going to let a dog be the main character. I think a dog makes a great character. A dog did in The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford. That story was so much fun. My book will be something like that, but I'm not sure how much. I've got to think up a lot of things before I can get it written. 

One good thing, I'll be able to write barefoot. I love to lose my shoes when it's summertime, but in our yard, that's not always a good idea. Or sometimes even in the house where you're liable to step on one of Stephen's metal cars or a stray block. Outside, it's not all clover and dandelions either. We have a few locust trees. Remember, they're dad's favorite because of the sweet smelling flowers. The flowers are okay, but the little thorns on their branches are no fun at all when they step on one. Bits of those branches are always falling off to lay little traps in the grass for unsuspecting feet. But the blooms do smell fantastic. Worth getting a few stuck feet from time to time. I'm just glad we don't have chickens. You go barefoot out at Miss Sally's and sometimes you get squishy chicken poop up between your toes. Now that's no fun at all.

Did you go barefoot when you were a kid? Did you have to always wash your feet before you went to bed? Every night?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Peonies are Blooming

May 19, 1965
Jocie Brooke here reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky. The peonies are blooming here in Holly County. Most every yard has at least one bush. Nobody knows who planted the first bush in Holly County. Some early settler must have carried a bulb in from Virginia, because, to hear people tell it, every bush since has been started from it. Nobody went to the greenhouse. A few bulbs were dug up from that first bush and given to a neighbor and then that neighbor gave a bulb or two to their neighbors and soon the whole county is blooming with peonies. 

That's okay with me. I love peonies. I like their spicy smell and their big fluffy blooms. My Mama Mae had some bushes that I used to jump over just because I wanted to see if I could. She never fussed at me even if I knocked down a bloom now and again. She did always hope it wouldn't rain while the peony bushes were in full bloom so the flowers wouldn't get so heavy that they fell down on the ground. If it did rain, she'd get her scissors and cut the fallen ones to fill a vase with the luscious flowers. Then the whole house would smell peony spicy.

I miss Mama Mae. She died one spring when I was nine. She was planting tulips and the Lord decided he needed her up in heaven. I'm thinking the flower gardens are prettier up there now. She liked all kinds of flowers, but she loved the peonies. She used to tell me this old saying, “A rose is a rose, but a peony is a friend forever.” She said that was because once you planted them, you just let them grow and bless you year after year with blooms.

I liked it when Mama Mae told me old sayings about flowers. I wish I could remember more of them. I should have written them down but when you're a little kid the way I was then, you don't think about stuff like that. But here's one that Aunt Love says sometimes. "A beautiful flower begins its life in dirt." 

But then the Bible says the Lord formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed life into him. So guess we can all be glad of a little dirt.

Do you like peonies? Do you have any in your yard? If you do, they might come from that first bush in some Hollyhill yard.  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Miss Sally and Mother's Day

May 12, 1965

Jocie Brooke reporting from Holly County, Kentucky. Last week I was not too happy about Mother's Day. I don't really mind that my mother has never been a mother to me. If it had been up to her, she probably would have taken me in a basket and left me on some stranger's doorstep and never looked back with regret one time. 

But Dad wouldn't let her do that. He took on being my daddy and mama both. So all that just makes Mother's Day a little awkward. For other people more than me. They say Happy Mother's Day and then realize I don't have a mother to be happy about and they want to grab the words out of the air and stuff them back in their mouths. 

Anyway, that's why I didn't want to go to church, but Dad said I couldn't stay home. He needed me to pass out the flowers to all the mothers at church. And to Miss Sally and Aunt Love too.    

Miss Sally might feel about Mother's Day sort of the way I do because she never married or had any kids of her own. But Dad tells her she sort of mothers the whole church so that makes her the best kind of mother. One who loves people whether they're blood kin or not. 

And just look how happy Miss Sally was on Sunday when we gave the flower to Mrs. Williamson for being the oldest mother at church on Sunday. She's nearly ninety-two and always smiling without worrying about some of her teeth being gone. So everybody was happy she got the biggest geranium, but Miss Sally was happiest of all. She was the one who fixed up the flowers in pretty wrapping paper for all the mothers. I don't know what we'd do at church without Miss Sally.

I was glad it was our turn to go to Miss Sally's house for lunch on Sunday. She makes the best yeast rolls in the county and she never minds a bit if I pass up the green beans to save room for an extra roll or two. She just winks and passes me the butter while telling Aunt Love that I'll eat an extra portion of green beans next week. 

Aunt Love is about ten years older than Miss Sally, but they get along real good. Maybe because Aunt Love never married either. They like to sit in Miss Sally's living room and talk about things at church and how much everything has changed since they were girls. Aunt Love can still remember all that back when stuff. She just can't remember if she turned the stove on to cook something or not. 

Miss Sally doesn't have any memory problems. She's just the best person and so I made her a special card to celebrate her being so nice. Funny thing is, several of the other kids at church made her cards too. And Cassidy, you remember Cassidy, Noah's little sister, she sat by her in church. Miss Sally says she's blessed to have us loving her, but we're the ones blessed to have her loving us. 

Have you ever known somebody like Miss Sally in your church?    

Oh, and remember, you can still get that first Hollyhill book, Scent of Lilacs free on your e-readers - whatever that is.

Monday, May 5, 2014

When Mother's Day is Hard

May 5, 1965

Jocie Brooke reporting from Hollyhill, Kentucky.

I found this poem in a church magazine at Miss Sally's house. She says it's a really sweet poem. She never had any babies of her own to rock, but she says she was blessed with many babies to hold at church. She said most mothers are glad to have somebody take over the rocking now and again and that this poem is true because it made her love every one of those babies when she held them and rocked them to sleep.

I don't think my mother ever rocked me to sleep. I asked Dad once if she did and he didn't want to answer me. You see, my mother never really wanted to be my mother. Daddy was always the one who took care of me even before Mama ran away from us. Daddy always said it was because she didn't like living in Hollyhill but I figure it was to get away from me and Dad too. 

I'm not mad about it or even very sad about it anymore. I'm used to it. But that doesn't make Mother's Day much fun for me. Everybody else at church and school are making cards for their mothers about how much they love them and how much their mothers have done for them. I never know what to do. You can't really make your dad a Mother's Day card and Aunt Love would faint dead away if I got all sugary sweet with her. Aunt Love and I have an interesting relationship, but I wouldn't call it any kind of relationship that calls for a Mother's Day card. And I can't make Leigh a card even if she wants to be my stepmother. She's more like another sister. You know, like Tabitha. 

Maybe I could make Tabitha a card for Stephen to give her. She's a good mama. And then, there's Miss Sally. I could make her a card too. Not a Mother's Day one, but a "you're a great friend" card. Or an "almost like a grandmother" card. I did have a sweet grandmother, Mama Mae, but she died when I was nine. I could make a card for her and just keep it in my memory book. That way I wouldn't feel so weird when everybody else is making cards for Mother's Day. But it would still be weird. 

I feel weird on Mother's Day but I just sort of smile and act like it doesn't bother me that everybody else has a mother who cooks dinner and makes them brush their teeth or whatever mothers do. 

If you know somebody who doesn't have a good mother, it might be nice to give them an extra hug this week. Don't heap a bunch of pity on them. Just a hug will show you understand that even though most people have great mothers, not everybody does. I didn't. But I do have the best father in the world and that make everything all right.