Mercy & Grace

By Anita Garner

Mercy and Grace are what I hope for each time I begin a new project. Major edits for my book, The Glory Road: A Gospel Gypsy Life, are underway.  It began as a book, then was adapted for a stage musical, then back to the book . Rewrites are tough. New outline.  Cuts.  Additions. Multiple pages of notes.  Mercy!


Bacon has magic in it.


Bacon has magic in it.  The aroma.  The sizzle.  The taste.  The grease.  Bacon grease is a staple for Southern-born cooks.  We put it in cornbread and biscuits and a good gravy roux isn’t possible without it. Sometimes it’s butter and bacon grease creamed together, but only one of those is crucial.

Gramma kept a grease can like this near her stove.  It had a strainer inside because some people filter out the chunky bits.



Here’s my jar.  Layers of delicious bits are in here. I scoop them up and they go right into my cooking.  When the jar runs low, I render bacon just to refill it. Put bacon on to cook and every creature in the house gravitates to the source. Two times lately I’ve been cooking up a couple of pounds of bacon while repair people were here working. The refrigerator service person and the pilot light fixer both left with slices of bacon and paper towels.

I come from a family of gospel gypsies, led through life on the road in the Deep South by a preacher and a singer. Our big sedan was filled with musical instruments and Daddy’s cooking implements. A cast iron skillet went everywhere with us, providing suppers from hot plates in motor court kitchenettes. A jar of bacon grease made every trip.  Sometimes supper was only cream gravy, featuring fresh milk from a nearby dairy, poured over anything – rice, potatoes, or leftover biscuits, and in a pinch, over white bread we picked up at our last stop.

If we stayed at a tent revival site for a couple of weeks, we’d get fresh churned butter nearby, which of course, didn’t go on the road with us when we left, but the bacon grease jar, refreshed, emptied and cleaned, was the constant companion.

A sale on thick-cut bacon is still cause for celebration around here.  There’s always room in the freezer.

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Music this week is “Tea For Two” from our friend, Colin Tribe, in England.




Easter Card Shopping

By Anita Garner

This week, the Grand and I will prepare an Easter surprise for her Mother.  A card and something chocolate, that’s the routine. It was easy in elementary school days.  Cotton balls and macaroni were supplies of choice.

She took me to her room and showed me the secret card made at school, hidden away for the big day.  After graduating from gluing macaroni onto things her cards matured into interesting combinations of construction paper, felt and cotton and were signed with many xxxx’s and oooo’s.

A trip to See’s Candies and we were handled.

Soon the cards came from a store. She was drawn to corny jokes and puns and Mom was a good sport about it.  The sentiment was circumstantial, based on which displays the Grand could reach.  She picked up whatever attracted her and asked me to read the words inside. Her card to her Mother one year featured a monkey.  Another year it was two cartoon rabbits insulting each other.

Me (reaching up for hearts and flowers): “Look at this one.”

She: “But this one’s hilarious.”

When she was tall enough to reach any rack, her tastes grew more sophisticated. Now’s she’s good at making anything her imagination conjures. We’ll find out soon whether this year’s offering is a giggle or an awwww.


Birds of Paradise Season in Northern California

Birds of Paradise, Mill Valley, California

In the Deep South, Daddy could get anything to grow, but he never had Birds of Paradise until we came to California. The first time a big display of them popped up in his new yard in Glendale, he made us all come look. He stood there grinning, and said, “Well! I never!” Each time I see a magnificent group like these, I say the same thing.



Rhythm Of The Rain

Rain’s starting. I love the sound of it, but not the metal downspouts outside the bedroom window, which sound nothing like the rain on the tin roof at my Arkansas Grandma’s house.

This sound is not whoosh or splash or drip drip drip. It’s more jackhammer than gentle. A helper says put sponges at the metal elbow. I keep replacing sponges. Drains keep spitting them out.

As I’m climbing into bed on a nice rainy night, here’s what the garden gnomes are saying.

Music for a rainy day

The Cascades


You can call me Hon.

As I walked away, a clerk called out, “Sweetie, you forgot something.” Though I’m older than his mother, I never let a term of endearment go by unacknowledged, so I decided he was talking to me, turned around and gave him my best smile.

No matter what the speaker’s intent, it’s the recipient’s attitude that matters.  Even if the person doing the talking might be trying for a bit of sarcasm with the “Well, sweetheart” or “Oh sure, darlin,” I choose to ignore the barb and accept it all quite literally. If you call out any one of these terms, I’ll answer to it.

You know how sometimes a restaurant server addresses you with “Just a minute, Hon” or “Be right with you, darlin’,” and sure it could mean “Wait your turn.  I’ll get to you as soon as I can,” but it might also mean “I call everybody Hon,” leading to the best possible interpretation, which is “Have I seen you here before? Well I’m gonna treat you like a regular anyhow.”

Here’s the conversation from last week, in a coffee shop. (I spend a lot of time in coffee shops.)

My server to me: “You want coffee, Hon?”  She poured, then carried on three conversations at once.

To a nearby table:  “No, that was Doris’ brother in law who moved away.”

One booth over: “Joe was already here and gone this morning. He catches the early bus to the casino now.”

And to another table:  “Yeah, she’s learning English, studying hard, but  somebody gave her an app so she can talk into her phone and I get her order right away.”

Some might object to this level of familiarity, saying these forms of address are sexist or inappropriate among people who haven’t been introduced. I find this language from strangers oddly comforting. It’s way better than being ignored, so you can call me Hon anytime.




Great-Grandma rocks.

What’s cool like the fifties? Watching TV with my granddaughter and up pops my mother – aka Sister Fern Jones – singing in the middle of the show. it was nice to say, “That’s your great-grandmother.”

She was a rockabilly pioneer and she still rocks today, 60 years after this song was recorded. (The picture’s a screenshot. Click the link below to listen.)

This is what happens when you work from home.

I’ve never been a birdwatcher, but there’s drama outside the window this week. The pictures are fuzzy because I took them from inside the house. These birds have already been through enough.

Our backyard has recently been Crow City.  My daughter hung this bird feeder a few days ago and the crows took it over. It’s meant for smaller birds, like the ones above,  but the crows tilt it so the birdseed falls to the ground, then they call each other in loud voices to come gobble it up. A little consideration would be nice. Do these crows not remember when a couple of their babies fell into the yard and were rescued right here at Crow Hospital?

Small birds avoided us until this week.  It’s the first time we’ve seen anything besides crows fly into the yard.  Wonder if this bluebird is a good sign.