Monday, November 25, 2013

Southern Thanksgivings (In Times Past) Often Also Meant "Hog Killing Time" !

In most southern rural communities, in days gone by, the first cold snap signaled the annual hog killing season. Thanksgiving Day was one of the most popular days chosen for this event.  By then, the weather had fully changed and the meat would "keep " and not spoil in the heat.  It, also was a perfect time for friends and family to gather.

Hog Killings were a neighborhood affair with several families participating and reaping the benefits.  Because many families were very poor, the meat and other products that came from the hog killings were what got them through the long winters, without going hungry.  Every piece of the hog was prepared for consumption, including the head (hog head cheese or souse ) the snout, the tail, the feet, the brain, the intestines (chitterlings/chittlins) and the skin (cracklins). 
Lard ( used for cooking grease) was made from the fat of the hog. 
Often, lye soap was made using lard, water, and lye.

A great deal of arduous work was involved in the hog killing process.  From start to finish, it usually lasted all day.  Activities would start at the "crack of dawn" and sometimes, even before daylight.  People would come from all around and everyone played a part in the grand production. 

I grew up in the country and attended MANY hog killings, as a child.  Because one of the main people in the area who held the hog killings lived directly behind my house, every year, from very early on in my childhood, I had a front row seat to one of the most exciting events of the year.
The "festivities" would begin around the crack of dawn and continue well into the night.  Most of the night time activities were more socializing than anything. That's when the cracklins were made in the big black pot and sweet potatoes were roasted in the open fire.  Some people even popped popcorn.   I remember lots of stories ..lots of jokes ..lots of laughter ...and lots of FUN.  As Thanksgiving draws near, many fond memories of those days dance in my head.  They are memories that I will always carry with me and cherish dearly.

Crackling Cornbread (Cracklin' Bread)

Crackling Cornbread (Cracklin' Bread) 
1 c. cracklings 
1 1/2 c. cornmeal 
4 tbsp. flour 
1 tsp. salt... 
1 tsp. soda 
1 beaten egg 
 1 1/2 c. thick buttermilk 
1 tbsp. bacon fat 

Sift the dry ingredients together and then stir in the cracklings. 
Beat the egg in the buttermilk and add. 
Have melted fat in hot skillet and pour in batter. 
Bake at 450 degrees until brown.

 LISTEN to poem "Hog Killing Time"  ...........

Friday, November 15, 2013

BLOG HOP: Thanks for Love

November 15-18:
Title: Thanks for Love.
Topic: What is the most thoughtful thing a loved one has done for you?

BLOG HOP: Thanks For Love

I grew up with the most loving, caring and thoughtful parents, for whom I am very thankful and grateful.  One of the most thoughtful, loving things that my father did for me, among so many other things, was taking the time out of his very busy schedule of being a doctor to share with me, as a young child , in a very extensive, personal and individual way the things that he loved. He was especially enthusiastic about sharing with me about great literature, nature and poetry. 

In the Foreword of my book, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems, I write, When I think about how this book came to be and how it finally arrived to you the reader, I think of the words of the song "The Long and Winding Road". 
Though most of the poems in this book were written within a span of six months (Feb 2007-Aug 2007), they've all been in the making from very early in my life.  My mother gave me a passionate love for reading and writing, and my father gave me an appreciation for poetry and great literature, especially that of African-American origin. As a pre-teen and teenager, he would often assign me certain books that he thought I needed to read, then quiz me on them.  One of our favorites to discuss was Great Expectations by Charles Dickens I was so proud to be able to answer all of his questions.  And, he seemed very pleased that I could do so.  I was very familiar with most of the classics long before I had them as required reading in school.

When I was very young, my father would recite poetry to me as he was shaving and getting ready for work.  I would sit on the side of the sink,  completely fascinated with the rhythm and flow of the words.  As I got older, I was also very much in awe of the fact that he had memorized such long pieces of poetry, because my own memorization skills were/are sorely lacking !!! 

My father also loved/loves nature.  He would regularly take out the time to give me "lessons" on all of the wildlife, trees, flowers and plants that surrounded our home. 
I , especially, loved looking out of the large pane glass window in our den as he would point and describe all of the array of birds that would gather on our front lawn. One of my fondest memories with my Dad, out of SO many, is collecting leaves together for a leaf project in high school. He lovingly
and patiently took the time to explain to me all kinds of different facts about the trees and leaves.  We spent hours just walking around and taking in the wonders of nature. Of course, I got a 100 on the project and was so pleased to bring it back to let my Dad see.!   We were ,both, very pleased.  It is a memory that I hold dear and will never forget.  To this day, I have a very special appreciation for the beautiful world around us, that so many take for granted.  I am so thankful to my father for this ! 

November has been designated as "I'm So Thankful" Month ! I am SO thankful for having two wonderful, loving parents.. and an especially extraordinary Dad !



These poems and many more can be found in my book Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia - A Life In Poems

Both books available on Amazon :


****   ATTENTION - GIVE-A-WAY  ****

PLEASE COMMENT for a chance to WIN !!!!
ONE lucky recipient will receive.....

A Mississippi Magnolia calendar (12 months of poems)

and a set of hand painted magnolia print note-cards

A random number will be chosen and that comment/individual 
will receive the 2 items.

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

Please visit all of the other stops on the BLOG HOP: Thanks for Love !

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I Love Celebrating Reading ... and the South !

National Young Readers Day is celebrated on the second Tuesday of November. According to the creators of this day, it is "a special day to recognize the joys and benefits of reading." 

Grade schools around the country take advantage of this day, to promote the importance of reading.

Young Readers Day was co-founded in 1989 by Pizza Hut and the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. 

While this is referred to as a "National" day, there has not been a presidential proclamation or act of congress for it.

Use the time to encourage youth to read, and open the door to knowledge, information, success, and happiness. I try to take every opportunity that I can ! 

I appreciate so much my parents for fostering the love of reading in me ! 

In the foreword of my book, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia, I write:
My mother gave me a passionate love for reading and writing, and my father gave me an appreciation for poetry and great literature, especially that of African-American origin.

With it's simple language and relatable themes, the poems in my books can be read, enjoyed and understood by readers of all ages from 8 to 80 ... and beyond. 
There is definitely something in them for everyone.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Share Your Family Stories! I Share Mine In My Little Books Of Southern Poems !

November is Family Stories Month. It is a time to reflect on the silly, funny and serious stories that help define our families.

These stories help/helped make us who/what we are.

Some are small anecdotes that bring us happy memories of someone, or some moment in time. But they are all important. And they are all worth sharing.

Every family has thousands of stories. Most of us could write an epic novel based on a few family members' personal stories, alone ! 

So many of us grew up hearing stories of the things that our parents and grandparents did and how they lived when they were younger. Telling these stories will remind us of the things that have shaped our lives, and give younger listeners insight into their own family tree.  
Family History Month is a great time to explore and share our ancestry.

Collecting and sharing family stories is a wonderful activity for the whole family. It is a good time to encourage the kids to write down the many stories that you and other people in the family have to tell. They can collect pictures, interview family member, write stories, and even create a book compiled from the collected stories.

It is a great time to take the opportunity to sit down with older family members of the family and ask them about their stories. You will undoubtedly learn something about them that you didn’t know before.  When loved ones pass on, their stories will help to keep their memory alive. Sharing family stories is a great way to stay connected to your relatives, and creates a tradition of sharing and storytelling that can last for generations. 

I am so blessed that my family has always been a family of "storytellers" From the time that I was very young, I can remember that at every family gathering, after the traditional family meal, the storytelling would begin. It remains the same to this day. I have made many of my family stories and my own personal stories into poems, contained in my books Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories. 

I was recently up early, talking with my mother about something in the news...which led to something else ...which led to something else ( as it ALWAYS does) Then, she started telling me the story about when she and Daddy worked in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the summers of their college years..

Before she went fully into the story that we started with, she asked ...Have I told you about this yet?  My parents have been telling me family stories since I can remember ...So, Of course she had told this one many times ..... but every time I hear a story, there are always new details.  I cannot believe that after almost 50 years, every time they tell me a familiar story, there is more and more and more to it !  Anyway, this time, she was telling me the details about her working at a Girl's Home and Daddy working at an ice cream Company (Sealtest ) , She even remembered the name of one of the girls, Esther, and was telling me about how she was the only one who could really talk to her and get her to not act out. Of course, as I usually do I asked a million questions... what street did you live on ..what was the name of the ice cream company ect....She didn't remember some of those details so, as usual she said : ..."Ask your Daddy he remembers all those things."And he always does !!! He remembers everything!

They are very good a "tag-team " storytelling

I jumped up to ask him a few things ...wrote it down...then got back to my Mama's story . When we were on a whole new set of stories ...which stemmed from the first one, I kept hearing a lot of noise in the other room. After I finished my session with my mother, I went back to see Daddy again. He had pulled out a big briefcase with lots of old papers , including the check stubs and W2 forms their original envelopes from their jobs in Philadelphia (1958)..which led to me going through all of the other papers.. which led to more stories...

Explore Your Family Stories ! 
          Cherish Your Family Stories ! 
                     Share Your Family Stories ! 

Monday, November 4, 2013


November has been designated as I Am So Thankful Month.

It is dedicated to giving thanks and counting your blessings daily. 

It is a time that many people share with others the things they are thankful for in "30 Days of Thankfulness"

I am SO thankful for SO many things in my life ...Past and Present.

I share many of those things in my poetry and in my books, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia and My Magnolia Memories and Musings.

One of the major things that I am so very thankful for is the beautiful southern life that I have been blessed to live. Although many people outside of the region will never understand why this life is and has been so endearing, most southerners know exactly what I am talking about and what I mean.

There is something very special about growing up southern.

Mississippi, especially is and always has been a very magical place to me. I cannot imagine that it could be possible for me to have been as happy, growing up anywhere else or any way else.
The south is so much a part of who I am.

I Am So Thankful for my southern life !

That is why I am so passionate about "Always, Always Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi" 

What are you thankful for?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

BLOG HOP....About This Mississippi Author...Me !

I have been asked by children's book author Pat Brannon to participate in a blog hop to introduce readers to new audiences.
Below are my answers to the Blog Hop questions. Enjoy ! 

BLOG HOP- What's going on with me.

1.)  What are you working on right now?

Much of my time is spent working on promoting both of my books, Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia-A Life In Poems and My Magnolia Memories and Musings-In Poems with the overall message behind them, of "Celebrating the South and Promoting a Positive Mississippi ."  I do many speaking engagements all around the state, using my books as a platform to further that message.  It is something that I am very passionate about.   Also, I have been continuously compiling and writing poems for my third book, Mississippi In Me-Poems and More, which I hope to have published possibly by early 2015. It will be the final book in a trilogy, of sorts. 

2.)  How does your writing process work?

I don't really have any formal process for my writing/poems.  I usually am inspired by something happening around me or a memory of something from the past that is triggered ...and the muse hits!
There are very few poems, in either one of my books, that were written because I sat down with the intention to write them.  My very first poem was written in 2007 when I was awakened out of my sleep with a poem swirling around in my head. I got up and quickly scribbled it down.  From then on, most of my poems have come to me in a very spontaneous manner.

3.)  Who are authors that you most admire?

There are so many authors that I admire and am inspired by.
One of my very favorites is Maya Angelou ! I absolutely love her knowledge, her wisdom and her style.

4.)  Where do you turn for instruction and inspiration? 

Most of what I write is simply inspired by this beautiful state and region that I am blessed to call home.  Most of my inspiration naturally springs from the great love that I have for this place and the people.
The bible says "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" ... 
With me, it just also happens to "speak" through the pen.


    Please do visit Pat's blog to check out her answers, too !

Friday, November 1, 2013


There are so many wonderful southern authors! The South is known for great writers. Eudora Welty, a renowned Mississippi writer, once said that there are so many great writers in the south because they never have to make anything up ! I agree ! (smile) One of Mississippi's own, William Faulkner, received the Noble Prize for Literature. One of the all time favorite, classic southern reads is To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.   And, who doesn't love John Grisham novels?
People come from all over the world to visit Faulkner's home, outside of Oxford, Mississippi and Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

DID YOU KNOW... November 1st has been designated as National Author's Day.?

The idea of setting aside a day to celebrate American authors came from Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Bement (Illinois) Women's Club in 1928. McPherson was a teacher and an avid reader throughout her life. During World War I, when she was recuperating in a hospital, she wrote a fan letter to fiction writer Irving Bacheller, telling him how much she had enjoyed his story, "Eben Holden's Last Day A'Fishin." Bacheller sent her an autographed copy of another story, and McPherson realized that she could never adequately thank him for his gift.  Instead, she showed her appreciation by submitting an idea for a National Author's Day to the General Federation of Women's Clubs, which passed a resolution setting aside November 1 as a day to honor American writers.  In 1949 the day was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce.  Sue Cole, McPherson's granddaughter, was largely responsible for promoting the observation of National Author's Day after her grandmother's death in 1968.  She has urged people to write a note to their favorite author on this day to "brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer." 

Some other ideas of ways to celebrate National Author's Day might include:

Supporting a favorite author by purchasing his /her book(s)
Sharing a favorite book with a friend
Advertising/Introducing a favorite author 's books to friends and family
Giving a copy of a favorite author's book as a gift to a friend
It does not matter if your favorite author is famous or not .
It is simply a time set aside to appreciate their works and contributions...and his/her effect on your life.

So...Who are some of your favorite authors?
Although, it is hard to pick just one out of so many great authors, most of us can easily come up with at least two or three authors that we really love.
I hope that I make the list for at least a few of you ! (smile) Share the love !