Dear Sunday Letter friends,
Have you been outside this morning? Here in Fayetteville, the new morning feels flapjack flat, sketched onto paper with muted colored pencils, moist as a rung-out dishrag used to wipe down kitchen counters. Yes, it’s going to be another don’t-bother-with-your-hair sort of day.
Just like yesterday.
Even though hot and humid is my least favorite type of weather, I’ll gladly accept it and try my best to do something creative with it. With yesterday’s passing of Senator John McCain, we are reminded once again how life grows shorter and shorter. We can’t be picky, but we can choose what we do with each limited, beautiful day.
During the past week, I’ve been on a cleaning and organizing kick. Why? I’m not really sure other than when all my drawers become filled with nonsensical junk and I can’t find anything, the time has come to stop, purge, reorganize.
On the farm, Momma has had the same junk drawer since we moved to the house in 1964. It’s the top drawer at the end of the kitchen counter. Once upon a time, an avocado green telephone lived on the formica countertop closest to that drawer, the drawer logically placed to house a series of slim telephone books for Osceola/Luxora, Blytheville/Armorel, Keiser/Marie/Wilson, phone books no bigger than Sunday School lesson books. The junk drawer was home to note pads for writing grocery lists, pencils and pens, Quality Stamp books, scissors and tape, matchbooks from restaurants Momma and Daddy went to, coupons for ten cents off Folgers coffee. It was business central in the Tate household. Anything needed could be found there.
Do you remember Quality Stamps? The grocery store gave a few stamps with each purchase. While Momma cooked super, my sister and I affixed the stamps in the Quality Stamp book. When we collected enough filled books, we exchanged them for some coveted item in the Quality Stamp catalog. This process happened in person, in either Jonesboro or Memphis, maybe Blytheville, I can’t remember. But I remember how special and exciting it was to pick up that new lamp for the living room…
Anyway, years and years later, the junk drawer at Momma’s house somehow became the Scotch tape drawer. We discovered this a few months ago when we were all home at the farm, and I cleaned Momma’s junk drawer. Shoved in the back, I found about twenty rolls of Scotch tape.
Well, as they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Here’s the tape I found in my kitchen junk drawer.
How crazy is this? Can the fear of running out of tape be passed from one generation to another? And can you believe I don’t have any duct tape?
There’s an on-going debate over which state has the best queso—Arkansas or Texas? It doesn’t matter to me as I love most any sort of queso, from Ro*tel made at home to Bob Armstrong Dip from Matt’s in East Dallas / Austin. But y’all, this Badass Queso we devoured last weekend at Los Chingones in Denver was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. It included rattlesnake chorizo!
I’m still thinking about it a week later.
My neighborhood is filled with the coolest, most fun people.
Check out this jewelry tree in my friend Mary’s front yard. Since the tree grows near the sidewalk, it’s within easy reach of walkers. A while back (at least a year ago), someone found a single earring, hung it on the tree, and there it stayed. Now, the tree has become home to several unmatched bangles and baubles, lone earrings, found trinkets.
How does it happen?
Say you lose an earring. Now you have a sole unmatched earbob (as my Nana would say) in the jewelry box. Well, that’s a sad thing. It will never be worn again, because let’s be real…when do you ever find a missing earring? Instead of tossing a single lonely earring in the junk drawer, why not hang it on the jewelry tree?
Or, alternatively, perhaps you find an earring while walking your dogs? Hang it on the tree at Mary’s house.
Sun glinting off an earring hanging in a tree adds a bit of whimsy to the day. And as a bonus, the tree feels sparkly and happy. 😊🌳✨
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
I’ve been working on a movie review article for the fall issue of Delta Crossroads Magazine about the bio-documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor. I saw the movie in Plano after it came out in June. What a fantastic, uplifting film about Mr. Rogers, one of America’s greatest, modern-day advocates for children.
As I worked on my article and thought more and more about his legacy, I decided I would give the movie and the man a little plug here in my Sunday Letter.
My sister and I grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. Yes, as we got older, maybe fifth grade for me, the whole show seemed cheesy. I’m sure there was plenty of eye-rolling from our couch in the den. At the time, we didn’t realize what a badass Mr. Rogers really was. After all, his plain-jane appearance and soft voice seemed the very definition of milquetoast. And those puppets? Truth be told, a few of them were downright creepy.
But we watched.
Mr. Rogers believed that what kids saw and heard became part of them. I do too. And as I wrote my article, I realized how lucky I was to grow up during the Mr. Rogers era, during an era with only four television channels and less junk on the screen.
If you haven’t seen the movie, go see it. And I hope you’ll take twelve minutes out of your day and watch the video linked below. Watch it to the end. It will do your heart good on this Sunday morning.
School Kitchen Tip:
“Picking up” is necessary to the orderly appearance of the house, but it need not be carried to such an extent that the house has no home atmosphere, no indication of being really enjoyed and lived in, instead of being in order for company. Order is desirable but there are times when disorder is unavoidable. There is a disorder of work which differs from the disorder of dirt. (The School Kitchen Textbook, Mary J. Lincoln, 1917, Picking-up and Putting in Order.)
That’s a wrap for today’s Sunday Letter. I hope your last week of August is filled with less junk, more sparkle, and a beautiful day in your neighborhood.
RIP John McCain.
Grace Grits and Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.