The Barefoot Heart

life in the seventh half of life

Page 2 of 74

Biscuits 2: Sour Cream


Ever on the trail of things The Engineer and I can enjoy doing together, 2015 is the year we make biscuits using a new recipe every week with this cookbook as our roadmap.

We started on New Year’s Day with sturdy dorm biscuits, and yesterday it was sour cream biscuits, cooked to enjoy with our friends who spent the weekend with us atop this mountain. You know, kneading biscuit dough is a good arms workout . . . especially when the recipe calls for 2.25 cups of self-rising flour but I use 3 cups because
I am distracted by talking to our friends. That’s my reason, and I’m sticking to it . . . even though I feel like I’m bumbling my way through this biscuit making adventure.


I just kept adding sour cream by the unmeasured blob until the dough was clumpy, then I kneaded till it was smooth and made a nice enough coherent ball.



I remember my grandmother cutting her biscuits out with a glass top dipped in flour. Best I can recall, it was a jelly glass. Though I don’t have the glass Grandmother used, it was still quite satisfying to dip the glass in flour, then press it into the dough, twisting it first one way and then the other to completely separate and define the circle.

Did you know that if the bottoms brown too quickly, you can simply slide another baking pan underneath it to retard the browning? Neither did I . . . until this morning.


These biscuits were hard – not crisp, but hard – tiptoeing up on delicious anyway, something helped along by the addition of condiments like Moonshine Jelly and Carolina Peach Preserves and – wait for it – Toe Jam. I think the hardness comes from leaving the biscuits in the oven longer than the recipe called for to get them to brown. I still think it’s an altitude thing.

But hey, they look like biscuits, and I’m tickled pink about that.



This morning, what to my wandering eyes should appear, but buttered sugared biscuits made by The Engineer using the leftover biscuits. Made just like Grandmother used to make. And that, my friends, is true love.


Using the heirloom bread bowl, I’m kneading my matriarchal lineage in 2015 (and learning something new with The Engineer), one biscuit at a time.

It all started here.

From Scratch


My grandmother made biscuits from scratch three times a day every single day. For an afternoon snack, we’d use our finger to drill a hole in the side of a leftover biscuit, fill the hole with syrup or molasses (whichever was readily available), and make a big ole’ mess like you’ve never seen devour. Sometimes we’d have Buttered Sugared Biscuits, cutting the leftover biscuit in half, smearing butter over each half, then covering the butter with sugar and broiling till the butter melted, the edges browned, and the sugar crisped-up. You’ve never tasted anything so yummy . . . or napped so soundly afterwards.

Maybe that’s why I have such a deep, lasting, loving relationship with biscuits. I love everything about biscuits – I even love the word “biscuit”. So when the Southern Biscuits Cookbook fell off the shelf and into my hands last Saturday night, a new tradition for 2015 was hatched: The Engineer and I will sift, knead, and eat our way through the year, baking biscuits from a new recipe (or 2) every week starting with page one and making our way to The End.


Using the wooden bread bowl that has been in my family for I don’t know how long, of course. The preferred biscuit bowls are wider than they are deep, you know, and wooden bowls need only be wiped out between uses.


This morning, we cracked open the book and before we could get started on Julia Regner’s Sturdy Dorms Biscuits, we had two new culinary adventures: we made our own self-rising flour and a big batch of Homemade Refrigerator Biscuit Mix (aka Bisquick). I mistakenly used the 1/2 teaspoon instead of the 1 teaspoon, but I caught my oops in time for The Engineer to do the math, add the necessary additional quantities, and get us back on track.


Being on top of a mountain messes with every baking adventure, and these biscuits – thin as they were – took almost 3 times as long as the recipe called for. Good news, though: they were mighty delicious. So delicious, in fact, that we ate them before I even though to snap a picture. And there were no leftovers. Nary a one.

Oh, and just so you know: I have already hired a personal fitness trainer.

Remembering Walter in 3-Part Harmony

~ 1 ~


Though I’ve been physically hit and emotionally scarred by some real scoundrels, it’s far more important to note and remember that I’ve been lucky enough to be loved by some genuinely good and decent men. Men who have more quirks than flaws. Men who are trustworthy, generous, kind, loyal, and caring. Men who want me (and every other woman, for that matter) to shine our own lives out into the world, dimming our lights for nobody, not a single person. Men who do much more good than harm. Men I wish I could clone because we all need more like them.


One of those men took his last breath Friday night (12/19/14), and while I know it means there’s one more guardian angel who has my back, it’s an awfully painful transition from . . .
feeling his arms wrap around me and his dry lips brush mine,
hearing him clear his voice and say “Oh, honey”,
seeing his beautiful mustached smile that stretched from his forehead to his chin
watching him shake his head as he begs me to get more sleep,
having his curved, bony hands wrap around mine
. . . to recalling these things from memory.


Walter Mashburn (my stepdad) was . . .
a good, fair, knowledgeable, and wise “big dog” at the Ford Motor Company
an interesting and affable friend to many
a loving, supportive father and grandfather
a tender, loving, deeply caring mate to my mother
an enthusiastic, never-wavering encourager, teacher, and friend to my daughter, Alison
a good example of how to suck the marrow out of life.


Walter will live on in stories, but right now, that feels a mighty poor substitute.

~ 2 ~


5 Dec 2014
5:47 a.m.

Dear Walter,

I miss you.

I woke up this morning thinking about all the things I miss about you – all the bright, shiny things that are absent in my life now that I don’t see you nearly as often – and I quickly realized it’s a list of all the things I love about you, so consider this a love letter . . .

  • I love your quick laugh and constant smile.
  • I love that you love to dance.
  • I love that you love music and know the words to more songs than I can count.
  • I love that you sing along – right out loud, even in the grocery store.
  • I love the stories you tell of working at Ford. Stories about Mr. Cannon’s support. Stories about outsmarting and working around the union. Stories about giving people a second chance to prove their worth or prove you right.
  • I love your knowledge of cars.
  • I love how when we visited the car museum in Asheville, you paid no heed to the “Please Do Not Touch the Cars” and placed both hands right smack dab on each car so you could get a better look.
  • I love that when Andy asked what was the best built car ever, you answered without a moment’s hesitation: a Packard. And you recounted that their slogan was “Just ask the man who owns one.”
  • I love how you unabashedly love to shop. Do you have any idea how rare that is and how much fun Mother had shopping with you?
  • I love that you love your birthday as much as any 6 year old I ever knew.
  • I love that story about the hard-top convertible pace car at the Atlanta Raceway – how when the early morning call came, you knew just who to call to get it fixed and how you always end that story by saying that top was “one of the worst mistakes Ford ever made.”
  • I love that you love dark chocolate. And Maker’s Mark.
  • I love your foot-stomping drinks.
  • I love talking politics with you.
  • I love that you love Georgia Tech.
  • I love that you owned a Jaguar.
  • I love that J3 now loves owning and driving your Jaguar.
  • I love how you take such good care of Mother. You let her be herself. You accept her as she is. You love her without conditions or strings attached.
  • I love that you take such care, take such an interest in your appearance.
  • Though I find it baffling, quite honestly, I love your willingness to push your plate away and turn down desserts.
  • I love that you and Mother are on a first-name basis with so many waiters in so many different restaurants.
  • I love that you were my elf last Christmas when I bought Alison your floor radio. I love that she went to the estate sale and bought one of your leather jackets.
  • I love that I can’t think of your face without seeing your smile.
  • I love that you won’t wear a hat from any place you haven’t visited yourself.
  • I love how you listen so deeply, so attentively, and without interrupting.
  • I love hearing you say “Oh, honey” to Mother and Alison.
  • I love being hugged and kissed by you.
  • I love remembering you coming out in Alison’s Christmas pajamas, something a lesser man would never have done.
  • I love the way you speak up and speak out.
  • I love how you love life and suck the marrow out of it.
  • I love remembering you dancing at the World War II Days event.
  • I love remembering how you loudly (because, really, your volume control button got busted a long time ago) said “There’s no way he can be that old” about the one veteran who beat you out of the oldest veteran in attendance recognition at the World War II Days event year before last.
  • I love how you know all the female singers, actresses, songs, and movies from the 40s, and how you share your stories and knowledge with Alison.
  • I love how you once told somebody that Alison is your best friend. Obviously I wasn’t there.
  • I love how you took my shoulders in your hands, looked into my retinas, and thanked me for giving you a second chance after you and Mother divorced. I mean, really, Walter, how could I not have given you a second chance?
  • I love how easily, frequently, and sincerely you say “I love you.”
  • I love how your ringtone on Mother’s phone is a car horn. Ford, obviously.
  • I love talking with you about leadership and management skills, something we both agree is sorely lacking in today’s world.
  • I love how you share your opinions on matters large and small and always give others a chance to voice their opinions, too, knowing that differing opinions diminish neither person.
  • I love how tirelessly and enthusiastically you supported Alison when she ran for political office.
  • I remember this one lovely spring day when Andy and I met you and Mother and Alison for lunch at Planterra Ridge. I remember the feel of the warm spring day on my skin as we sat outside and enjoyed a leisurely lunch with libations. It was one of many such lunches, of course, but this particular day stands out in my memory.
  • I love how thoughtfully and carefully you shop for cards, taking the time to read every card on the rack until you find Just The Right One.
  • I love how you sold your car to pay for The Twins’ birth.
  • I love how you and Jim have lunch every Thursday.
  • I love that you called Mother every morning at 9.
  • I love that you religiously went to the gym.
  • I love that though you spent most of every day together, there is still space in your togetherness with Mother.
  • I love that you attended the Daytona 500 when it was run on the beach, and I love that when a car would flip over while making the turn, y’all would run down, set it right, and it would get on back into the race.
  • I love your hands and how carefully and deliberately you use your fingers.
  • I love the rituals you and Mother created. I love that they were every day ordinary rituals.
  • I love being out with you and witnessing the respect you command just by your demeanor, by the way you carry and conduct yourself.
  • I love that you tried to learn to use the computer and send emails.
  • I love how you feed Jason and Clyde and Phoebe, too, when she’s there, a treat just before you go home every night.
  • Even being the feminist (of the woman’s libber variety) I am, I love how you never fail to appreciate a pretty woman.

  • I love how I make you laugh when I channel Vickie Lawrence’s character on the tv show Mama’s Family. (It’s not all that hard to channel her, really, since I think there’s a big ole’ streak of Mama running through me, don’t you?)

And that story about the Daytona 500? Of all the stories you’ve told me over the years, that one is my favorite because it typifies how you walk around this earth : You do things that interest, entertain and delight you, and when something goes off track (as it invariably will), you don’t hesitate to offer assistance, then you get on back to your seat to enjoy the rest of the race.

Nothing much gets past you, does it Walter Mashburn, and I love that because it means Mother didn’t get past you which means that you are a part of my life. An important part of my life. You’ve a man who teaches me, by example, how to spend time on earth filled to the brim with living, loving, and laughing. I must’ve done something good in another life to have had you be a part of this one.

I love you so much, Walter. More than I could ever quantify for you.

[kissed and signed by JHC]

~ 3 ~


I’ll be seeing you
In all the old familiar places
That this heart of mine embraces
All day and through.


In that small cafe
The park across the way
The children’s carousel
The chestnut trees, the wishing well.


I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way.


I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you.


I’ll be seeing you
In every lovely summer’s day
In everything that’s light and gay
I’ll always think of you that way.


I’ll find you in the morning sun
And when the night is new
I’ll be looking at the moon
But I’ll be seeing you.


(“I’ll Be Seeing You”: music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Irving Kahal)

Nancy and Jeanne: Alike . . . But Different


Jeanne hates P.E. and avoids it at all costs.
Nancy boards the bus with a smile.


Jeanne walks into the gym
and finds the nearest corner to hide in.
Nancy walks in, surveys the scene,
then finds herself a comfortable spot along the edge.


Jeanne hates touching the dirty, rough, grimy balls.
Nancy doesn’t mind playing . . . once she’s good and ready.

Jeanne makes sure she stays in at recess when Red Rover or Dodge Ball is played.
Nancy is willing to play Dodge Ball,
but she sees no need to run the bases like they told her to.

Jeanne is your classic over achiever.
But our Nancy? Not so much.
You’ll notice how she throws the ball
away from her teacher – at least initially,
indicating a complete lack of concern for such dreaded things
as grades or (coveted) distinctions as teacher’s pet.


People clamor all over each other for a chance
to hurl the hard, gritty balls at Jeanne
who just curls herself up into a small knot
and vows “never again”
while the teacher rides around the gym on her golf cart,
yelling belittling motivational phrases through the bullhorn.
Nancy’s student teacher doubles as an angel,
patiently staying with her, then
using his body to shield her from incoming balls.



On the rare occasion she actually went to P.E. (which was never),
Jeanne was graded on her performance (or lack thereof)
as compared to others in the herd.
Nancy worked one-on-one with Michael Jones
(a student teacher in the Bethune-Cookman College class
called Adaptive Physical Education
conjured and taught by Timothy Mirtz).
Michael took the assignment from his professor
along with the information he’s learned in the classroom
and adapted it to fit Nancy’s special and unique needs.

I love the word “adaptive”, don’t you?
When I’m queen, it’ll be the first word in every course title
because let’s face it,
one thing Jeanne and Nancy do have in common:
we both . . . we all . . . have unique, special needs,
some are just more obvious than others.


P.S.: Tim asked me to say a few words to the students at the end of the class. I led by telling them how I found their trash talking impressive. It was impressive . . . and not just because of the intensity or steady stream of the trash talk. See, the thing is, with the trash talking, the student teachers treated these special students like “normal” folk, and trust me: this very important act didn’t go unnoticed by anybody in that gym. They may not have noticed it consciously or given words to it, but they noticed. Oh yes, they noticed.

An Improvisational Anniversary


I spy the leaf
as I walk to the truck
to begin our 12-hour ride.
Not the way I’d wanted to spend
the fourteenth anniversary of Daddy’s death,
but business meetings being what they are and all,
off we merrily go.

“Talk to me,” I pray silently to Daddy
as the sun stretches awake and water colors the sky.
“At least wave to me at 8 a.m. just to say ‘Hey’.”

At 8:00 a.m. on the dot,
(not knowing a thing about my secret ritual,
perhaps not even remembering the significance of today)
The Engineer pulls the truck into a Hardee’s,
the place where Daddy breakfasted with friends every morning.
“I’ll see y’all later,” the man in the John Deere hat says
as he exits the table.
“I’m gonna’ go do something bad enough to lift my spirits.”
I excel at eavesdropping.

As we ride down the country roads,
I remember . . .



the chicken houses and barns
my Daddy helped his daddy build . . .


how Granddaddy hired out his tractor
and his 12 year old son
to bale hay for neighbors . . .




the adorable little house
Daddy and his brother
built for their grandmother.
“We were just teenagers,” Daddy told me once.
“We didn’t know a single thing about building houses,
so we built Mimmie’s house right on top of the ground.
You never saw so many termites.”


I look at the water


the clouds


the early moon,
I watch the black bird in the morning
and the black bear in the evening
cross the road in front of us,
and I think this day is
the best conversation I’ve had with Daddy
in a long, long time.

How the Morning Unpacked Itself

Thursday, 13Nov14

One : 7:43 a.m.


My head is in the clouds.
This is no metaphor.


Two : 8:07 a.m.


A 10-minute wait at the Seed ‘n Feed this morning.
Take a number, please.


Three : 8:09 a.m.


Poof – just like that
the line is gone.
No more wait time.
Wonder why . . .


Four : 9:35 a.m.


It is a plain white pillar candle
With a wick.
A birthday gift from my son and his fiancee.
Quite non descript.
Quite ordinary.
Quite easily overlooked.
Ah, but inside this plain white pillar candle
Is a woman.
A Fierce woman
A Knowing woman
A woman who is Enough unto her self.
Her flame dances with abandon
As the winds blow all around,
Falling nearly horizontal at times
But never ceasing to burn.
She will not be extinguished.
All the while leaving a trail of black smoke
That will stain the ceiling.
I am mesmerized.
Essence must surely be her name
As she only appears when all
The layers encasing her
Have been burned away.
I can’t wait to meet her.


Five : 9:52 a.m.


I am reminded of this cloth
and how much fun I had
stitching it.
I was on fire, free.


Sometimes onward means going back
or stepping into The Great Unknown . . .


Recent photos of Nancy taken by Mona Diethrick
indicate that she’s moved from drawing to something else.


Bringing order?


Maybe a type of mosaics?


One thing’s for sure: her work as an artist is evolving.
And I’m just tickled
and intrigued
and thrilled.


Meanwhile back on the ranch,


I pick up where I left off on
In Our Own Language 3,


restitching the 50 drawings
I removed to give me a nice, generous border.
Is it just me, or are the days getting shorter?
And I don’t mean on account of the season or time change.
I distinctly remember getting more done
in the days of years gone by.

~~~~~~~ Backstory ~~~~~~~

Since June 2012:
She, Nancy, my developmentally disabled sister-in-law draws.
I, Jeanne, the woman who flat-out loves her, stitch her drawings.

Click here to see more In Our Own Language 1
and here for In Our Own Language 2
and you guessed it – here for In Our Own Language 3.


This post is part of Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday.

On A Bear Hunt


It happened on this very piece of Earth Jewelry.
yesterday – Sunday, 26 October 2014.
at 5:30 p.m.
Timing is everything, you know.

As the sun bid its adieu and made its way for bed,
the shadows came,
and in the space of 12 minutes


there was a turtle


then a one-hump camel


then a one-hump camel wearing deely boppers.
Or maybe a cat.


There was a one-humped camel turned Ernie from Sesame Street
and finally, at 5:42 p.m.
what everybody came to see . . .



a BEAR!!!!

at 5:45, we see the bear become


a rat.


All this from the sun playing hide-and-seek with this mountain
and a splash of our imagination, of course.

And though it’s fun and quite playful,
it seems quite significant, too,
like Mother Nature is telling us an important bedtime story
allegorical style.

A Cloth Called Only Love Survives


My son Kipp married Marnie on May 24 of this year.
Their border collie / my granddog Otto, was the ring bearer.

Flowers1 copy

It was a beautiful time . . .


a fun time . . .


a hectic time. Chaos ruled. Feelings rose to the surface, and some were bruised. The weather threatened. The best laid plans crumbled. As is often the case, the big life moment party passed quickly while the bills and tiredness lingered long. Despite all that, I wanted to create a cloth to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event.

So . . .

FullSizeRender 2



I transferred over 400 photos to fabric


then I stitched them to fabric used as tablecloths at the anti-rehearsal dinner The Engineer and I hosted the night before the wedding. The theme for that evening? Things That Hold Stuff Together Comma Vintage.


As a special surprise for that night-before dinner (I don’t think calling it dessert is too much of a stretch), I rewrote the lyrics to One Day More from Les Mis, and had members of the two immediate families gather and rehearse for one hour before performing it – complete with blocking and choreographed movements, I’ll have you know – as a flash mob at the end of the evening.


I’m guessing it’s because they were stunned, but getting only applause at the conclusion of our number, I took the microphone and, borrowing the words of my brother-in-law Donn, informed the audience that we were going to perform that song over and over and over again till we got the Rousing Standing Ovation we so richly deserved. We got it, baby. We got it right then.


Back to the cloth ::: using the flag (because what’s One Day More without a flag) as the core, I cobbled together other blocks of left-over tablecloth fabrics (and yes, those are the lyrice – my lyrics – also transferred to cloth and stitched to the flag),


then stitched the more than 400 photos I’d transferred to cloth (photos taken by me, by The Engineer, by my brother Jerry, my sister Jan, and by the bride and groom’s photographer),


and added embellishments like buttons and ribbons from corsages and centerpieces, along with handles from goodie bags and anything else stitchable.


I used only what I had on hand, you see,

and I made it work, even when things didn’t come together neatly and easily and wind up looking like they did in the image I had in mind when I started stitching.

As with most of my hymns of cloth, I did not attach a binding, instead leaving the edges unfinished and softly frayed, perhaps unraveling just a little bit here and there.

and I decided to not add a backing fabric, preferring to make visible the back side, the often unseen side, the side that bears the knots and seams that hold things together.


As I stitched along, the cloth got bigger and bigger and bigger – more than 131″ wide and I can’t even measure the height – eventually too big to see in its entirety. Too big to see all at once.




Having still more fabric left over – even after all the photos and flag and the small 9-patch pieces surrounding the flag – I created banners, each bearing what I consider to be a necessary component of a good, healthy, lasting marriage. (Love, Laughs, Mercy, Refuge, Fun, Awe, Space, Gumption, and Pluck) Banners that became pillars of support when I realized one morning in the dark thirty hours of stitching that I wasn’t just stitching a cloth to commemorate the wedding, I was stitching a marriage.


And what of all the pings and chaos and disappointments?
They slowly, quietly fall away in the days since last May, so that Only Love Survives.


Only. Love. Survives.

It’s Friday, so It Must Be Merry Olde


London sky as a portrait of life.

Despite a delayed takeoff
and a delayed landing
and yet another lengthy delay caused by the tour guide not being at the airport to meet us,
we find ourselves in London today.
In the few hours of daylight we had left after all the delays,
we packed in plenty of steps and sightseeing.


We walked to Kensington Gardens
where we walked a lap around
the heavily populated Round Pond,
home to big ducks


baby ducks


pretty ducks all in a row


and even a swan or two.


Got my Corgi fix in Kensington Gardens when Biscuit’s person let me pet him.




Got my flower fix when we strolled past the flower shop.






And I got my cloth fix
walking past the black-and-white tiled
steps and stoops.
Actually, this one is more like an itch than a fix.
Good thing I brought and bought some cloth.


To read from the beginning of this great adventure, click right this way.

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