| Columns |
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Seems like whenever I do readings at book signings, folks laugh the hardest at “Kid’s Say.” So even though this is my second column on the subject, though a fresh one (of course), I decided to share a few more.
My friend said her daughter was playing outside with friends, perfecting the art of spinning a hoola-hoop, when she ran up, crying. At the age of three, her big brown eyes were full of tears and she said, “Mama! That hooligan hurt me!”
When Madison, our oldest granddaughter, walked outside from the beach cottage at our family reunion, she ran down to the ocean. Excitedly, she turned to me at the waters edge and said, “Grammy! Can I hold it?” (You know, I often feel the same way when I see a full moon, like, the super moon we just experienced.) And when she once asked Giggy (my mother) for an Altoids candy, Mama warned her, “You might not like that candy. It’s hot!” But Madison knew just how to remedy that. She blew on it!
This next one deals with Carly, our youngest granddaughter and hub-Russ (her granddaddy. )Those of you that know Russell, know he is quite conservative, laid back, mild-mannered (except when I “bug” him which is very, very often) and a creature of habit. Like many men, he has these large folds at the bottom on each of his earlobes that form a crease. Without warning, Carly, about three at the time, touched one of his ears and said, “Granddaddy! When did you get your ears pierced?”
My nephew Huck was about four years old when he went out for a ride in his Papa’s truck. (Obviously, that would be my dad.) To this day, that is the favorite activity of all the grands—riding in Papa’s truck—that, and going out for ice cream. They were rolling along, and as men sometimes do, Dad spit out the window. A moment later, Huck, trying to emulate his granddaddy, did the same thing. Oops! One small problem: The window was up, not down. So, Huck, embarrassed and stunned, I’m quite sure, took his shirt sleeve and went around-and-around with his elbow, trying to remove the icky-mess. Dad asked him what he was doing, but Huck just said, “Ahm, nothing.” I’m sure Dad figured it out, but aren’t grandparents the best about not embarrassing kids even further?
A friend of mine said she knew a little girl who had a new baby-sitter. They were playing a game, bonding, having fun. The baby-sitter said, “You know what, you are my new, sweet, little friend.” And the child said, “I know! And you are my new, sweet, big, fat friend.” It’s true that kids are so, so honest; almost sometimes to a fault. I’m sure that little girl didn’t mean to hurt her friend’s feelings. In fact, she just echoed what she had heard and truth be told, those big old bosoms make for wonderful hugs. (I’m thinking back here to both of my grandmothers.)
I saved my favorite for last, though. When Carly was about three years old, she was complimenting me on my jewelry. I should stop here and say that Carly loves color, glitz and glamour and of course, the funkier and crazier my shoes, the better, according to her. In fact, the favorite “play room” in my home for Carly and Madison is my closet—always has been. Here, they play fashionistas for the day!
I was holding Carly and she said, “Grammy, I love your necklace!” “Thank you!” I said. Then she said, “And I love your earrings.” Again, I thanked her. But her final sentence, left me speechless, “And Grammy, I LOVE your face!” I ask you, how can you respond to that?
Kids really are the best! I’m asking readers to send me their “Kids Say” and I’ll share some in a future column. We’re going to Raleigh to see our grands this weekend and you can believe I’ll have my pen and paper ready.
Wednesday, 09 March 2011
When people ask me, “Whatcha been up to?” I often say, “Oh, about 5’4”.” Okay, I know that’s not hysterically funny, but it’s a fun answer, especially when you see the puzzled look on their faces. In a manner of speaking, I borrowed that one from hub-Russ, except his answer is “6’2”.” And now you know—if you didn’t before—why my latest book is titled Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller.
In addition to traveling frequently these days for book signings, I’ve taken a temporary job in a field that paid me well for over fifteen years—more later on that one. I’ve been to the Myrtle Beach/Pawleys Island area four times since my newest book came out. Each time I’m there I ride by our old house, visit our old haunts and try to see as many old friends as possible—though it’s usually when they come to my signings. After four years, I still long for the Pawleys Island sand between my toes, lunch at Thomas Café in Georgetown and trips to the Waccamaw Library. Have I told y’all I still have my Pawleys Island license plate on my car? Russell offered to remove it for me one day and I nearly bit his head off. “No! That’s a reminder of the good old days.” Of course, he loves to point out that I’ve run into the garage wall so often that the plate is almost bent in half. But that’s when I do what I’m so good at. I simply tune him out.
My recent talk at the Moveable Feast at Kimbel’s was sold out and I applaud Linda Ketron for getting the event started in the first place many, many years ago. This was my third speaking and signing since my new book debuted in October. I applaud the Lowcountry, as well, for supporting the arts and encouraging us writers to keep on writing. I’ve started a new “game” if you will, that is proving to be quite popular. I fill a jar full of Red Bird Soft Peppermint Puffs (an article is in the new book with this theme, and McClellanville author and friend William P. “Billy” Baldwin wrote me a fun blurb highlighting this delicious candy.) Then I invite folks to guess how many are inside. The person closest to the correct number wins an autographed copy of my book. At the Moveable Feast, I met a lady named Barbara who happened to be sitting next to me. Her best friend was sitting next to her, also named Barbara. It turned out that Barbara #1 bought her friend a ticket to the event as well as my book for her birthday present. I thought that was over-the-top ingenious and also quite generous. I did my talk, mingled with many of the ladies there, and then signed books. At the end, Linda Ketron walked over to my seat and we viewed the vast candy guesses. When I announced Barbara #1’s name as the winner, I don’t know who was more excited: she or I. We both squealed, followed by Barbara #2 and Linda’s squeals. What a small world. Out of a crowd of one-hundred plus, the lady right next to me won! I loved it! Then we took pictures and I posted them on Facebook.
Last week I spoke at the N. Myrtle Beach Library, sponsored by The Friends, to a fine group of readers and volunteers. Talk about generous—they were kind enough to provide me with a hotel room right on the ocean. As I stood on my balcony watching the waves, admiring the setting sun, all the good memories of S.C. came crashing back to me, no pun intended. It was peaceful and exciting at the same time. And I know in my heart I wouldn’t be where I am now without those building blocks and lasting friendships.
But now I’ll tell you about my old/new short-term job assignment. I’m doing medical transcribing for one of the finest doctors I’ve ever known. I’m not saying that because he sought me out, I’m saying that because he is compassionate, articulate, kind and interesting. I had worked for his office many moons ago and as they say, “It all came back to me!” Have you ever heard this? “I see,” she said, as she spit into the wind, “it all comes back to me now.” And though some would say words are words (and I love being a wordsmith), I would say that writing humor and transcribing medical notes are just about polar opposites. All the words HAVE come back to me though (procedures, diseases, medicines) and I’m comfortable doing this ten week assignment. Not only comfortable, but appreciative. And working from home yet again, does have its advantages. At nearly $4 a gallon for gas, I’m happy to report to work every morning about 30’ from my bed.
Tuesday, 01 March 2011
Aunt Margaret’s Pearls of Love
By Ann Ipock
I love pearls! Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but pearls run a close second. They are so feminine, so charming, so Southern! What’s not to like about them? They are just plain classy (an oxymoron, perhaps – but, nevertheless, true). When I think of pearls, I think of Audrey Hepburn – and who doesn’t? – also Marie Antoinette and the famous Vermeer painting, Girl with a Pearl Earring.
Pearls are great! And they’re so versatile. When a twenty-something-year-old friend of Katie’s came to our house recently, she was wearing blue jeans and heels, a starched white shirt and – you guessed it, pearls! When I commented on them, she told me they were a high-school graduation gift from her mother. She wears them every day. And since she looked ravishing, I could see her point.
Pearls also go great with the LBD (little black dress) and of course, wedding gowns. I remember when Barbara Bush made the three-strand pearls famous. I went right out and bought a set. I also have a long set, a short set, a fat, chunky set (newest of all, with a pinkish tinge, and a large clasp for pendants) and my choker pearls.
So special are my pearl necklaces, that I keep them – five in all – inside a dressy, zippered pouch. But of all these, the choker is the one I cherish the most because it was given to me by my sweet, precious and genteel Aunt Margaret. What a lady! They just don’t make them like that anymore. Seriously. She was the sister of my Granny Pinky (paternal side) and though I had Granny pretty high up on a pedestal, Aunt Margaret was at least par with that. To say I adored her was an understatement. In fact, I was named for my maternal grandmother, Julia Margaret. (My given name was Margaret Ann.) But truthfully, the way I admired Aunt Margaret and just gushed over her, I used to pretend I was named for her. I reasoned: if she was the queen, I wanted to be the princess. Years later, when I learned the name Margaret meant “pearl,” I found that quite poignant.
(PULL QUOTE:) How can I describe Aunt Margaret? Her skin was like porcelain – honestly; her face had the shape, color and sheen of a porcelain doll.
She and Uncle Nathan lived in Henderson, N.C., (but visited our coastal home from time to time) and were what I referred to as our “rich relatives.” He owned a television station back in the day when there were only three channels to watch: ABC, NBC and CBS. How can I describe Aunt Margaret? Her skin was like porcelain – honestly; her face had the shape, color and sheen of a porcelain doll. She always smelled heavenly – just a subtle wafting of a flower-like perfume. Her perfect rosebud lips and manicured nails were always painted red to offset her beautifully coifed silver hair. She dressed impeccably with a great sense of style. Aunt Margaret had a Southern drawl, quite refined, and she was soft spoken. When she laughed, her eyes twinkled, and she laughed a lot. She thought I was funny and it’s true that I’d show off for her. She always treated me like I was special, even though she had beaucoup nieces and nephews. I don’t mean to brag when I say I think I was her favorite. She once gave me a $5 bill and told me not to tell anyone. I couldn’t imagine why because I was thrilled, and I wanted to share the good news, but I didn’t.
Another time she gave me a lovely doll, about 9” tall, named Margo. Margo had wavy, blonde hair and wore a shiny pink-flowered dress with a solid pink satin trim and tiny heels. Even the doll was CLASSY – French, I’m guessing. Her arms and legs moved. I still have that doll, though one arm has fallen off and been repaired a couple of times. Aunt Margaret always had time to listen to my childish stories, and she never rushed me. She got down on my level, literally and figuratively, and I loved that about her. Few adults really listened to children in those days, but she did.
(PULL QUOTE:) I can’t remember exactly how I acquired the pearls. It’s been many, many years ago. For a long time I didn’t wear them.
I can’t remember exactly how I acquired the pearls. It’s been many, many years ago. For a long time I didn’t wear them. One day I noticed they were “loose.” That’s the only word I know to describe them. I found the phone number of someone who restrung pearls, and I had them done. They came back to me, good as new, and I kept them tucked away in a small jewelry box for a long time.
The day Caroline, Katie’s friend, visited, it got me to thinking about those pearls. I felt a bit sad that I’d neglected them. I felt a bit hopeful when I remembered I had a formal affair coming up and they’d set off the outfit, for sure. I tried them on, but they felt too tight to be comfortable. So, I took the choker to a jewelry store, to have it extended, if that was possible. The lady at the counter began working on them, adding a small silver rope extension, all the while admiring them, even calling them “exquisite.”
I considered asking if they were “real.” I felt like I wanted to know (the adult Ann), but part of me thought I might be just as well off not knowing (the child Ann). What if they weren’t real? Would that change the special relationship I had with Aunt Margaret? After all, I’d defended her for years against certain family members who doubted her affection for me was anything beyond family-friendly. Somehow, I knew those pearls were just as genuine as her love for me. It turned out I was right when the jeweler confirmed my hopes. Indeed, they’re cultured pearls (as opposed to natural). “You are a very lucky woman. Your aunt must have loved you immensely.” I smiled, wanting to comment, but the lump in my throat stopped me. I wish every young girl could have an Aunt Margaret in her life who offered gifts of love. May she rest in peace.