Grandma’s Apron

I’ve thought of my sweet Grandma a lot lately. This was partially written a few years back. I’d forgotten about writing the memory, so I pulled up the file and found it.

There’s so much more I could write, but this short piece will suffice for now. I hope you enjoy Grandma’s Apron. If you’re blessed to still have your grandmother, show her some love.

Grandma’s Apron

The scent of steaming cornbread baking, prepared from freshly ground cornmeal, pulls me toward the kitchen. With a smile, I make my way down the hall and follow the aroma.

Grandma beams, then gathers me into a gentle hug. She points toward the sink for me to wash my hands. She seats me at the table, then returns with a cold glass of milk. A generous slice of cornbread sits before me. Grandma slices it open and spreads home-churned butter between the layers.

I reach for a spoon to collect a serving of honey, along with the honeycomb. My mouth waters at the first taste of sweet buttermilk crumbs that melt on mytongue. Delectable.

Undeniably Grandma Mabel’s baking, and cooking, is by far the most excellent.

Later on the back porch steps, after finishing off a sweet potato, I lick sticky fingers. Despite my mother’s persistent protests, Grandma grins, then hands me an entire bag of brown sugar.

Grandma fans herself with the tail of her apron, swipes at the sweat on her forehead. She eases her weary bones down beside me on the stoop of an rambling, old white, home-place in Murphy, North Carolina.

She wraps me in a sweet hug and sings AMAZING GRACE. I, of course, think that’s where a little piece of Heaven exists. Tightly snuggled in her loving arms and Jesus loving spirit.

She flips the underside tip of her apron again, and wipes beads of moisture from her forehead. Both her hands grasp the other end, then flaps the apron like a big fan to cool the both of us.

Grandma’s arms fold around me again in a Teddy bear hug while she smiles and kisses me soundly. Her soft, graying hair is swept back in a knot, while escaped damp tendrils curl around her sweet-scented neck. She smells so delicious, like Ivory soap, cookie dough and strong coffee all at the same time.

I never want to leave her warm embrace.

We are uprooted from our moment when the roar of hearty laughter compels us to focus on the activity near the barn. We remember Grandpa is out back with the other men cleaning out chicken houses.

Grandma flips an end of her apron and wipes brown sugar from my chin. “Come a couple of months, we’ll be busy, Child,” she says, then nods toward the men. “Once the weather gets cold enough, hog killing day won’t be far into the future.”

Yeah, like she wasn’t busy every single minute of her life?

We watch as Grandpa walks to the edge of the garden, then slings a deceased, long black snake over the fence. I ask him why he does this, but I don’t recall his answer. Now, I’ve heard some did it because they believed it would bring rain. All I remembered was a long, black snake too close for comfort and Grandma telling him to stop scaring the kids. Then, she’d gather John and me in the folds of that homemade apron we rarely saw her without.

My brother, John, and I are ushered inside the barn to shuck corn to help fill the bins. We had no idea it was actually work. Grandpa always made sure we enjoyed any chore he set us to do. I remember his throaty laughter and the forever twinkle in his eyes.

At a long dinner table, every space is filled with fresh vegetables from the garden and meat they’d raised. I stare at the feast. Fried chicken, potatoes, corn, okra, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, biscuits, corn bread and the list goes on. Never had I seen so much food at one time, but the men worked hard from sunrise until sundown and required nourishment. There was always some chore waiting to complete on a farm.

After dinner we gather on the front of a wrap-a-round porch and listen to Bible readings, and then sing hymns. It was family time. A time for love and laughter and harmony. A time for tired bones and achy joints to rest.

That is until sunrise the next morning and the work would start all over again. Grandma and Grandpa were hard workers and their family always came first. Early mornings the house was toasty with the smell of coffee, of sausage frying or bacon or ham, or a combination, hot biscuits and gravy, fried potatoes, and fried apples stirred the household to greet the day.

There was always prayer before meals and before going to bed. I can’t remember a time there wasn’t prayer at any time it was needed, or if Grandma simply wanted to pray. Grandma even prayed, talked to God, or sang while she cooked or did housework.

Our fingers are tender from shucking corn, and Grandma rubs funny smelling liniment on them before we go to bed. Her beds are made with feather blankets and we snuggle together to stay warm while Grandma tells us a story.

Grandma then prays us to sleep.

*********************

I hope you enjoyed the memory.

Of all the stories my mother used to tell me, I think this is the most memorable. Grandma and Grandpa would walk several miles from North Carolina into Tennessee, to deliver fresh vegetables, meat and fully cooked food to a family who had little or none. Whatever Grandma and Grandpa had, they shared. And if a family needed nursing, the two of them were one of the first to make sure the family was taken care of properly.

In the fifties, windows were left open and rarely did anyone even think to lock their doors at night. Because of trust in small communities, there was no need.

Grandma Mabel, was the glue that held her family together. A good woman, a priceless mother and dedicated wife. A woman who made a difference in her home as well as in her church and community.

Life revolved around family and God.

Her husband and children called her blessed.

These are a few of my memories.

I hope all of you have special memories of your grandparents. Share with us if you’d like. 

Until next time…I wish you Music, Butterflies and most of all…I wish you Love.

 

Christmas in July

Most years I’m writing my Christmas book about this time and trying to figure out how to write about snow, holidays, and chilly weather when it is so hot that I’m sticking to my leather office chair. LOL

This year I’m working on other projects because my Christmas book for this year was done in January!!

I worked on Trapped in Christmas during Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) last November. Finished up after Christmas 2020 and edited in January.

The pandemic and quarantine sucked for life and people, but did something for my writing. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, I read and I wrote more than ever before. I’m trying to keep those habits now that we can go and do things and see people. The time locked away in our homes taught me we have all the time in the world, it just matters how you use it.


Jill James, author of Trapped in Christmas, coming Christmas 2021

So Long June, Hello July

I don’t know about you, but for me this year has flown by. It’s so hard to believe tomorrow is July 1.

Tomorrow would have been Princess Diana’s 60th birthday. On that day, and together, Prince Harry and Prince William will unveil their mother’s statue in a special corner of Kensington Palace’s garden. The gardens are absolutely beautiful as was Princess Diana.

The unveiling should prove to be an emotional memory for Diana’s two sons. I hope it’s a happy one, though there will also be sadness in Prince Harry and Prince William’s hearts.

I look forward to seeing the statue and hope all goes well.

Now that July 4th is up and coming in a few days, I’m sure most everyone has plans for an exciting and happy holiday.

We don’t have plans, yet. With COVID still erupting in certain parts of the country, we’ve downplayed several locations. We may stay home and clean closets. Or maybe we’ll defrost the freezer. Lol Fun? Not really!

Whatever plans you have please be safe and enjoy your time away.

Better Things to Come

What a weird, awful year it’s been. Now that people are being vaccinated and things are starting to open up, I have to hope that we’re on our way back to normal life – even if normal might never be quite what it was before 2020. It’s hard not to get impatient when there are still so many restrictions in place. I miss seeing (and hugging) my friends and family, going to the movies, and taking the kids places other than the local park. Rather than get bogged down in frustration, I’ve been trying to focus on the little things I can enjoy every day – listening to music, cuddling my cat, and writing. I don’t quite trust Mother Nature not to throw us another curve ball, but I have to be cautiously optimistic that 2022 will be much better.

One thing I’m looking forward to is my participation in the Last Chance Beach line of romance novels. My book is due for release in the fall of 2022. I’ve barely started writing it, but I have developed the main characters and an outline. Each Last Chance Beach romance is a stand-alone book that takes place in a common setting.

The first book in this line to be released is Deceptively Yours by Joan Reeves, a very talented and highly respected NY Times and USA Today bestselling author. It’s a sizzling Romantic Suspense about lost love, second chances, redemption, and a woman and a man who are destined to be together. Available now!

The days of summer

Image by Elsemargriet from Pixabay

The days of summer are here. Not officially, but at least weather-wise. Sometimes? Maybe? At least my flowers are blooming. The roses have exploded. The lilacs had their day and now are just green, willowy bushes. The day lilies get better every year. This year the bushes are enormous and the bright, yellow flowers are on long, thin stems. Waving in the most subtle of breezes as if dancing for the season.

I’m a summer girl. I love the hot days and warm nights. I love writing in the summer too. It seems that not much is pressing and there is time to daydream and write. I finished a book during the last Camp Nanowrimo and hope to do the next in July with Camp Nanowrimo.

Do you have a favorite season? What makes it special for you?


Jill James, author of the Ghost Releasers, Inc. series.

It’s June and 2021 is Half Over

What has happened to this year, and why am I not writing? This year has slipped into the past quicker than I’ve ever before experienced. And I’m not writing for a variety of reasons. One, I needed to take some time off. Two, I’m dealing with some major projects around the house. The third thing is that I’ve paid closer attention to politics, election processes, and what is happening to our country and around the world. I’d love to go hide in story where there’s a happily-ever-after waiting for me. But for now, I’m trying to get a new roof.

The joys of living in a pre-Civil War house means something is always wrong. This time it’s my roof. We had hail and a major wind storm several weeks ago. I had some damage that I noticed and worried about my roof. It wasn’t leaking, but I was concerned so I began to get some estimates. I’ve had plenty of estimates, but only one person went up on my roof and brought me pictures. I had hail damage and shingles removed.

As soon as I can get the roof fixed, I’ve got a plumbing problem that needs to be addressed. It never ends! It’s an old house.

My darling, little dog, Sugarplum, has a bad heart murmur. I don’t know how much longer I’ll have her. She’s eleven years old and I figured I’d have her until she was twenty-something because she’s a little dog, but that’s not going to happen. It breaks my heart. She’s such an angel. She’s learned that people are nice, and she wants to be everyone’s friend. And she’s smart. She knows when she’s at a Starbucks and knows to get out of the car, get on the sidewalk and go to the patio. She knows to wait on the patio if I go inside. She goes everywhere with me. I’ll admit she’s a diva. She has a car seat and she knows it’s her place when we travel. She’s never more than an arm’s length from me. They say when you have a dog, you will never go to the bathroom alone. So true!

Passing along a really exciting piece of news. My youngest daughter just graduated from college with her second college degree. Her sister is throwing her a graduation party this coming Saturday. I promise, I’m a very proud mother. She’s worked hard for this degree.

I want to buy my daughter something special to commemorate her graduation. She’s a bird watcher, and her house has a beach theme. If she wants something, she buys it. She’s not in need of a thing. I have no clue what to give her. Anyone have any ideas? I’d love to hear them!

Memorial Day

Monday, May 31, 2021 will be the day we observe Memorial Day.

Memorial Day, on May 1, 1865, originally called Decoration Day, was observed in Charleston, South Carolina when Union Army soldiers were honored and buried.

At Arlington National Cemetery, the first observed Memorial Day was observed May 30, 1868. Fallen Union and Confederate soldiers were honored by placing flowers on the graves.

To those who have served and sacrificed for our freedom, We Thank You!

Please remember the brave men who fought for our country and freedom.

Memorial Day is our brave men’s day.

Please join with me and grant them the honor for courageous, and their ultimate sacrifice, they deserve.

Whatever you plan for this holiday, be safe and enjoy your family.

My First Love

Long before I wrote my first romance novel (Passion’s Price) I wrote poetry. I love poetry. The rhythm of the words, the cadence of the verses, the feelings it invokes.

Born too soon by Jill James © (for my daughter, Jennifer)

Parchment-frail skin, afraid to touch.

Delicate hand too tiny to hold.

Miniature body almost too small to hold in my hand.

Why are you here?

Did my body not nourish you enough?

Did I exert my body too much?

Did fate or destiny or God bring you too soon?

Why are you here?

Crib still in the box.

Baby shower invitations not even sent.

Toys too heavy, too big for the person you are.

Why are you here?

Wires, gadgets, gizmos connect you to this world.

Machines record every second of life.

A visor hides your eyes as ultraviolet bombards your weak body.

Why are you here?

Do I make arrangements?

Or do I arrange your homecoming?

Do I lose my heart to you?

Or do you take my heart when you leave?

Are you here? To stay?


Jennifer will be 40 years old this year. No signs of the 3 pound preemie she was. And Passion’s Price mentioned above? LOL That manuscript is hidden away in a paper notebook/folder somewhere, never to be seen again. 🙂


Jill James, author of the coming soon, Ghostly Deceptions, Ghost Releasers, Inc. book 2

Memories

Kind of reflective in the past today. I remembered a written memory from a wonderful man I once worked for. He had a vigor for life and not once did I hear him say a negative word about anyone. He was truly an exceptional man.

Memories

Have you ever met a True Southern
Gentleman? They cherish their
wives and hold their mothers in high
esteem. They believe all things of
God are sacred, and they honor the
Ten Commandments.

John Atkinson Flannery, was such a
man. He was kind, honest; a man of
strength, a man of character. A man
novels are written about.

I miss our talks, his wisdom and
thoughtfulness. I remember snowy,
thick hair, the twinkle in his eyes
and  hearty laughter. Moments of
quiet, humor, sadness and joy.

His life, spoke louder than words.
Equally as important, was his
appreciation of . . . the little things.
                               -Carol DeVaney

I wrote Love Is in 1995, right after my granddaughter was born. Of course, now, these words apply to my grandson, too! 

Love Is

Love is a misty rain;
The caress of a gentle breeze.
Glistening snowflakes;
A mountain in spring.
A glorious sunset;
Or in a summer’s sky.
A baby’s touch;
A soft voice.
It is yielding;
It is the moment just before dawn.
It carries no force;
It issues no pressure.
Love is mellow;
Ageless and unselfish.
It is wisdom;
With kindness.
It is forgiving;
Of imperfections.
It is the calm;
In the midst of a storm.
It is the quiet;
Of a hushed moment.
Love does not scold;
Nor rebuke.
It is majestic;
Not for the faint of heart.
It is tender;
Soft as a baby’s skin.
Trusting, honest;
Consuming and strong;
Love is
             ~Carol DeVaney

Do you have a memorable person in your life?

Until next time…I wish you Music, Butterflies and most of all…I wish you Love.

How did I get middle-aged kids?

I’ll be 58 this year. Isn’t 60 the new 40? So that makes me middle-aged. So, how did I get middle-aged kids? The daughter will be 40 at the end of this year. Jennifer was a preemie, born at 30 weeks. She weighed 3 pounds exactly. I’ve never seen anything so tiny in my life. Her fingers couldn’t wrap around one of my fingers. She stayed in the NICU for 7 weeks. We had some rough days with lamps for jaundice and a waterbed and doses of caffeine in her IV to keep her awake so she didn’t fall asleep and forget to breathe. Some rough days for mom as well. I was a very immature 18 years old. Now, she will be 40 years old with an almost 19 year old at home.

The son is 31 years old today. How did my baby get to be a 30-something? Timothy was due on March 26th. On April 1st (notice the date?) I still hadn’t gone into labor so we went miniature golfing to see if some walking and moving would do anything. As we finished, I started having contractions and we got to the hospital. Some tests later, it was just dehydration. LOL Some water and popsicles and they sent me home. I tried to convince them to let me stay and have the baby, but they said no. On April 9th, they decided to induce labor. Tried for a regular birth, but with the cord around his neck, they rushed me into the OR for a C-section. Twelve hours of labor and one operation later, we had our baby boy. 8 pounds, 3 ounces. He was our easy baby. Slept through the night after 3 weeks at home. Did all his milestones ahead of schedule. Didn’t get upset even when sick.

I have a million memories and thousands of pictures of their childhood, but I ask once again. How did I get middle-aged kids?


Jill James, author of the Time of Zombies series