Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mama Update and Banana Cream Pie

Banana Cream Pie from 3 Doors Down Cafe, SE 37th and Hawthorne, Portland, Oregon!

I'm home, doing Laundry, but I've just talked with her on the phone. She told me she felt a little better--hooray! I asked her to ask the doctor to call me if he shows up before I can get there--I'm riding the bus today because both guys have to be at work from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. at the earliest. And I thought I was tired!

Yesterday she walked twice in the hall, with a hospital walker whose wheel(s)--and I use that term loosely because you actually couldn't see them turning--made a sound so embarrassing that I told a nurse in the hallway, "That's the walker, not my Mama!" She was attached to an oxygen cylinder on wheels which, thankfully, made no sounds at all. She also sat up in the chair several times.

The only food she ate with any enthusiasm was a piece of banana cream pie from 3 Doors Down Cafe--Kathy and Dave sent it in one of those cute little white take-out boxes. Dave wrote "Get Well!" on it. The minute I mentioned it to her, she said, "I want some milk to go with it," so I pushed the button and ordered some lactose-free milk.

I'm off in a few minutes to put the stuff in the dryer.

Thanks again so much for all of your prayers and good wishes for each of us. We are truly blessed.

P.S. How 'bout them Dawgs! At this point, I really don't care about the season record, I only care about the 41-27 whupping Mississippi State put all over Ole Miss. (Sorry to my Ole Miss buds, but just think about it for a minute. Wouldn't you be just as obnoxiously excited?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Mama Update

A 11/27/2009, Friday, update at the bottom.

Mama and Duncan, together in their recliner, taken August 19, 2008.

We do have a lot to be thankful for on this Thanksgiving Day, when it gets right down to it. Mama got to go to a regular room in the cardiac area around noon, which is good news. What's not very good news is that she was having a progressively harder time breathing than anyone wanted, most of all her.

The nurse there in the other room let the doctor know what her lungs sounded like and he prescribed Lasix which would make her pee a whole lot--there seemed to be too much fluid around her lungs which naturally made it more difficult to breathe. A few hours passed, she peed like a horse, sat up in one armed chair with her feet in another unarmed chair--which helped her lungs, too--got two puffs from an inhaler (something she uses now and then at home), and worked with a little device that Respiratory brought for her to blow into which would hopefully lead to coughing up some phlegm. She began to look better and breathe easier. In fact she told the nurse, in answer to "What should I tell the doctor about how you're breathing now?" "Tell him I'm better but not real good."

Thank goodness they're watching her very often there which meant that I could come home to Duncan without feeling too guilty. There's a slight, slight chance she'll get to come home tomorrow.

Oh, I couldn't find a plain electrical outlet in the new room, so I didn't get to plug in the computer--my battery won't hold a charge. I'm going to take it with me again tomorrow and keep looking for an outlet, maybe in the nearby lobby, and/or ask if it's OK to plug it into one of the red ones. There's an oscillating fan plugged into one of them, so maybe it will be OK. I didn't press it today--I was helping her go to the bathroom pretty often since she's not supposed to get up by herself yet.

Thanks again for being there with your love, prayers and good wishes.

11/27/2009 Update

She won't be going home today, maybe over the weekend or Monday even. She's breathing better but is still weak. The doctor wants her to sit up in the chair a good bit and walk in the hall some. Her heart muscle shows no permanent damage!

It took Duncan 50 minutes to decide to eat his breakfast this morning--he's such a little ol' man these days, wondering I'm sure where she is.

It was raining most of the night but the sun's out now--hooray!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A break from the vacation--Mama's in the hospital.

Mama, January 18, 2009

I always call her at lunch, so I called her about 12:15 p.m. on Tuesday. She answered the phone, and I asked if she'd taken a shower--I knew it was what she was planning to do. She said she had but then said she'd started to feel bad right at the end of it, so much so that she laid down on the bathroom floor for a while, then finally made her way to the bed and crawled under her blanket. I asked where she felt bad, and when she told me in her chest, along her left arm, underneath the left side of her chin and on her neck felt very uncomfortable. I immediately said that we need to get that checked, it could be her heart. She said wouldn't something have already happened if it was her heart--she'd felt bad for an hour probably. I said I don't know but I'm going to call Leland and get him to get me, then we would get her and head for the ER. The man in the cube next to mine at work hear me and offered to give me a ride to the apartment, so I called Leland and told him to meet me there. When I walked into her bedroom, she'd somehow managed to go back to the bathroom to get her sweater and underwear which she had put on before covering up again with the blanket. I helped her put on her slacks; when I helped her sit up to do that, she burped and said that she felt a little better, so I'm thinking, is this going to turn out to be indigestion? I got Duncan into his kennel just before Leland arrived. We got her to the hospital in no time, it seemed.

The triage nurse checked her pretty quickly and when she couldn't get an oxygen reading with one of those clip on finger things, we quickly went to a room in the ER for an EKG. It alarmed everyone--I could see it and thought it did not look like any I'd ever seen. All this time she was alert, answering questions, and had even walked down our three steps and acorss the sidewalk to the car!

Once they saw the EKG, the room filled with people all doing different things to get her ready for the cardiovascular lab for an angiogram. They had her chew up four baby aspirin--the nurse told her that she looked like a little bird and I said her shiny brown eyes added to that impression for me, the nurse grinned and said she agreed--and gave her a bigger dose of Plavix that she usually takes every day. By 2:05 p.m. she was rolled through those double doors. A little later on one of the nurses who had taken her there came back by and told us that they were getting her ready for the procedure, that she was in really good hands. Another one came by and said that we'd done the right thing, getting her to the hospital within two hours of when she started to hurt.

About 3:20 p.m., they rolled her by on the way to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, wide awake and having done well, the nurses said, going on to say that the doctor would be out soon. He came not long after and said that no complete blockages had been found on her heart, that the right coronary artery was 80% blocked and they'd opened it up with a stent, that it was located on her heart at the point that the EKG had pointed to as being where something had happened out of the ordinary, the other blood vessels on her heart looked pretty good, that they'd do some blood tests and an echo cardiogram to see if they could find out if she had any permanent damage to her heart muscle which would help to determine if she had indeed had a heart attack, that she ought to do well.

A little over 30 minutes later, we got to go into CICU to see her. Since she'd had the angiogram she had to stay flat on her back for at least four hours, until the places in her groin stopped bleeding. You know that were they put that instrument into you that they then snake up to your heart and look around, etc. She had to be poked more than once, so she had, I think the nurse said, four holes, less than the size of a straw but nevertheless still bleeding some. Mama asked me to stand by her head and feed her ice chips which I did. By 4:50 p.m. she decided that she was hungry. Providence Hospital has a sort of room service thing going on with their food, so I called and got her half a sliced turkey sandwich on a multi-grain bread with a bit of mayo, cranberry sauce on the side, and some black coffee. I cut the sandwich into bite-sized pieces--she ate all of everything and then told Leland and me to go on home.

Duncan was glad to see me because the little guy was hungry! He's asleep now in the recliner. I'm watching "So You Think You Can Dance" prior to watching "Dancing with the Stars." I'll be back at the hospital by 9 a.m. tomorrow to find out what else is known about her condition. I'll get back with you at some point tomorrow. I can't call out from the CICU--you must turn off your phones because they could interfere with monitors, etc.

We all thank you for your prayers!

Love y'all,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vacation, Day 3, 10/23/2009, Part 2

After lunch, which many Southerners call dinner, we made a stop at the Fred's Store in McComb. Why, we wondered. Milton's answer was something along the lines of, "If I get what I want, I'll show you. I'm going to see if I can get something for free." Huh? All I can say, is come back later on, and I'll show you just what he ended up getting for free.

I couldn't resist these clouds disappearing into the distance like a row of giant gray Twinkies on a clear plastic cookie sheet. We rode north up I-55 towards Jackson, Mississippi, our ultimate destination Miss Eudora Welty's house in the Belhaven neighborhood.

An interesting highway sign, Calling Panther Lake.

I have never seen this before. I thought highway signs got printed/worked on/whatever in a shop somewhere and were merely installed alongside the highway.

Almost there.

I can't count the times the I've driven to Miss Welty's house before she died in 2001, just to park out front and sit there for a few minutes, quietly thinking about her being inside the home she so dearly loved. "Hi, Miss Welty," I'd say out loud before starting the car to drive home. Now I would walk through her front door in a little over an hour. Awesome.
I had knocked on the front door once in 2004, not too long after I'd interviewed master gardener Susan Haltom for the Jackson Free Press, the alternative newsweekly in my hometown. (See the article below.) I wanted to make sure it would be OK for me to take Mama for a quick look at the garden. Miss Welty's niece Mary Alice came to the door and graciously said that it would be OK. What a privilege.

A close-up of the sign out front of Miss Welty's house. I took these photos from Kay's truck as we waited first for the arrival of my brother. He was to pick up Mama and take her to the hotel to get her settled while I toured the house.

Go to Eudora Welty House to take the virtual tour of the house and the one of the garden. Here's the article I wrote for the Jackson Free Press in 2004, about the revival of the Weltys' beloved garden and the woman tasked with making it ready for the public.

Susan Haltom

by Lynette Hanson
April 7, 2004

Can you even imagine your first job right out of the University of Mississippi being curator of exhibits at the Old Capitol? And then, almost 20 years later, when you’re back with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History—part time—being asked to go check on Miss Welty’s yard? And having that turn into a 10-year-long odyssey of cohesive research and tireless effort that culminated this past weekend with the opening of the garden at Eudora Welty’s Belhaven home?

That’s just what’s happened with Susan Haltom, 50, since she graduated from Ole Miss in 1975. The mother of three sons now lives on 13 acres in Ridgeland where her family settled 15 years ago after travelling around the country during her husband Jim’s medical training.

Haltom vividly remembers talking with Miss Welty back in 1994. “We were in her living room, and it was so poignantly sad when she said, ‘I can’t bear to look out the window and see what’s happened to my mother’s garden.’”

With the help of volunteer labor—people still volunteer to weed today—the honeysuckle and poison ivy were pulled off the beds. “Then we just watched,” she said.

Essentially, the same thing is still happening—the uncovered garden is there for us to watch, just the way Miss Welty and her mother used to do. Visit now and enjoy the pale lavender azalea, beside the arbor entrance to the garden, and the aptly named Lady Banks rose. She’s at the east end of the 50-foot trellis separating the upper and lower gardens and resembles nothing more than the muted yellow hoop skirt of a Southern belle, gently rippling in a spring breeze. Splashes of color are everywhere—lavender verbena, red poppies, blue ragged robins, white spirea and sweet alyssum, jewel-bright phlox and larkspur.

“When we restored the garden, we kept it true to the spirit of the place—a term people use in the study of her literature but we can appreciate in the garden, too,” Haltom, now a full-time garden designer, says. The time period selected for the restoration is 1925 to 1945, the first 20 years the Weltys lived in the house.

As we sat in the arbor at the center of the trellis, Haltom looked around for a moment and said, “I wish she could look out and see it now.”

Come back tomorrow for how we met up with my brother, H, a quick driving tour of parts of downtown Jackson, and all about our hotel and then our supper with H and his sweet wife, V.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Vacation, Day 3, 10/23/2009, Part 1

Bright and not too early Friday morning everyone got into the truck at Milton and Kay's. Our first destination--the Dinner Bell in McComb, Mississippi.

Tinkerbell wouldn't be dining with us, but that didn't matter to her--she just wanted to ride.

Kay's favorite field, seen on the road between their house and I-55 and shot through the rolled-up window, hence the ghost-like spots in the trees.

We arrived at the Dinner Bell a few minutes before it opened for the day. Here's a bit about the restaurant that I found at their Web site: Welcome to The Dinner Bell, located in McComb, Mississippi. We are located in a colonial structure, where our diners sit around large round lazy susan style tables loaded with a large selection of good down home cooking. You simply spin the lazy susan and within your reach are huge quantities of comfort food including the house specialty, fried eggplant. When any serving dish starts getting empty, out comes a full one from the kitchen. To drink with all this good food, there is only one proper thirst quencher, ice cold sweet tea. I found more about the restaurant at other sites and have put two of them at the bottom of today's post.

I had already looked up Friday's menu at their Web site, so I knew my dreams would come true, if the food lived up to Milton and Kay's reports to us. "We don't eat breakfast when we're going to lunch at the Dinner Bell," both of them told us. Thank goodness for that piece of advice because it only took moments for Mama and me to realize that we were in home-cooked-comfort-food heaven on earth!

Here's that menu at the Dinner Bell: Catfish, Fried Chicken, Fried Okra, the House Specialty Fried Eggplant, Yams, Dumplings, Turnips, Green Beans, Lima Beans, Field Peas, Mashed Potatoes, Rice & Gravy, Cole Slaw. Now for the photos.

Well, they're calling them lima beans on the menu, but they'll always be butterbeans to me!
Butterbeans, my favorite Southern vegetable, are perfect when each bean's skin tightly covers the meaty, plump insides. See how firm and tight each bean looks? See the bacon? I have to admit that eating vegetables with bacon in them, after years of not having done so, gave me pause. Would the bacon flavor overpower the beans or peas or greens? Would I find each spoonful greasy in my mouth? Not at the Dinner Bell! Each bite of butterbeans satisfied me. Each bite brought back memories of butterbeans on the family table at home as well as on the holiday table at my grandmothers' or my aunt's homes. One more good point--these butterbeans were not overloaded with liquid which we in our family call butterbean juice. I just checked with Mama to make sure I remembered that right!

Fried chicken. All of the plump, perfect chicken breasts were already on somebody's plate, one of them mine.
Once I saw that crispy, crusty chicken and smelled it as it spun by, I figured I was in for a treat. Oh, my, was I ever. All it took was one bite for me to realize I had found El Dorado. Not the actual gold mine--it's golden fried chicken at the Dinner Bell! Succulent, flavorful, crispy. Each bite took me straight back to the fried chicken of my youth, cooked by Mama, her mother Mama Sudie, my Daddy's mother Ma, or his sister my Aunt Baker, in seasoned, heavy iron skillets. I even used to cook it pretty good myself--not as good as theirs--but it's been years and years. After I read what I'd written about the fried chicken to Mama, she said, "Both of us, it's been years and years."

The Dinner Bell's house speciality, fried eggplant. As I ate a bite of it, I heard the manager say that the entire recipe and process of cooking this memorable dish is known by only three people, all in the kitchen. I couldn't begin to guess how they did it. How does the breading stay on so well through the frying? What makes the breading taste unique? I ate two slices of it, and I still don't know.

Fried okra! Crispy, crunchy on the outside, fresh-cut okra on the inside. My gosh! I wish I could have gone in that kitchen and hugged somebody!

Us at the Dinner Bell, standing, Kay. Left to right, Ian, Milton, Mama, Me.

Dessert, peach cobbler on the right front, banana pudding on the back left. I ate some banana pudding--tasty pudding, not too sweet, firm bananas.

Left to right, margarine or butter (I don't know which), cornbread, a bottle of pepper sauce hiding behind it--lots of people sprinkle it on their greens--other condiments and sweeteners, lemon wedges, and those jewels of the garden, beets.
Notice in the background, beyond our table. That's the front dining room, right off the front door. When we entered we were directed to the back one, or at least I'd call it the back one because it was behind the other one which had two smaller tables in it. Our room held only our really big table. Let me see, there were five of us, three people together on my right, next a family of four or five, then two couples.

Fried catfish, fried chicken, and sweet tea.
While the catfish tempted me, I knew it would be best for me to save myself for Milton's fried fish at Talladega the next week, so I didn't try it.

Turnip greens and mashed potatoes--I didn't eat any of either one, there was just so much else! And I figured my Aunt Baker would cook some turnip greens when we visited her and my Uncle J the next week. She didn't get to do that, but I'm OK with it.
Look at that beautiful curving line of serving dishes! All lined up like dutiful soldiers, waiting to serve. I'll never, ever get over how good that food tasted. If I had a private jet and the money to fly it, I believe I'd be hardpressed not to fly down to McComb once a month!

Field peas--I ate these little beauties, such a fresh, hearty taste in a small shape. Notice there is more liquid here, pea juice. For some reason which must have something to do with my raising and the eating that went on during those years, I've never been bothered by generous amounts pea juice, but I sure don't want it with my butterbeans.

I also ate delicious yams but not the sweet potato casserole--Mama ate some of it and reports that it was good; she also ate chicken and dumplings, also good. Both of us seem to remember cooked cabbage, too, but neither one of us ate any. (I cooked us a tiny organic cabbage last Sunday, pretty doggone good if I do say so myself. I paired it with steamed broccoli, rice and a meatloaf.) Somehow I missed taking photos of everything. Mama says it happened because I was so busy eating. She's telling you the truth 'cause that's just what I was doing!

Dinner Bell server Tuesday answered yes when I asked if I could take her photo for my blog.
I came up with this title for her, professional-lazy-susan-spinner-extraordinaire! She'd walk up, serving dish in one hand, reach carefully between two patrons with her other hand, and give the table just the right amount of spin to make an almost empty bowl stop right in front of her. Or she'd get an already empty spot on the table to come right where she needed it. One of the other diners commented on how tentatively all of us spun the table compared to her comfort level with it.

Speedy table spinning, courtesy of Tuesday.

Parts of the bell collection display that Ian pointed out to me.



Here's more about the Dinner Bell that I found at Roadfood dot com:
The Dinner Bell’s glorious reputation for extravagant southern meals has unfurled since it opened in 1945. The restaurant changed locations in 1959 due to a fire, and in 1978, to the horror of its fans, it closed. Two years later the Lopinto family came along and opened it again, for which they were selected "Family of the Month" by the local Chamber of Commerce Howdycrat Board.

The Lopintos' goal was to preserve a great and unusual dining tradition. The tables at the Dinner Bell have always been known for the fried chicken and vegetable casseroles they hold, as well as for the fact that they spin in circles.

Yes, the tables revolve. They are round, and in the center of each is a lavish lazy susan. Service is boarding house style: spin the lazy susan and take what you want. When any serving tray starts getting empty, out comes a full one from the kitchen. Grab as much as you want and eat at your own speed.

It isn't only quantity and convenience that make Dinner Bell meals memorable. This is marvelous food: chicken and dumplings, catfish, ham, corn sticks, sweet potato casseroles, black eyed peas, fried eggplant and fried okra. The dishes we cannot resist are the flamboyant vegetable casseroles supercharged with cheese and cracker crumbs: our kind of health food. Spinach casserole enriched with cream cheese and margarine and cans of artichoke hearts is good for the soul ... not to mention the fact that it is scrumptious. To drink with all this good food, there is only one proper libation: sweet, sweet tea.

More that I found at Chowhound dot com:
Ding Ding Dinner's Served

I'd been wanting to hit the Dinner Bell in downtown McComb for some time. On the way back from my hot dog quest, I drove another couple hundred miles out of my way to take advantage of time and opportunity.

The Dinner Bell is only open Tuesday thru Sunday for lunch, 11A - 2P, so you have to time a visit from out of town just right.

The Bell serves its meals family style, at round tables that sit 18. Atop the table is a huge "lazy susan," laden with entrees, salads, side dishes, desserts, and icy pitchers of sweet ice tea. On a typical day, you might find any of the following: fried chicken, carved ham, turkey, chicken and dumplings, meatloaf, catfish, ribs, liver and onions, white rice, dirty rice, gravy, sweet potato casserole, cole slaw, greens, green beans, black-eyed peas, okra, red beans, corn, biscuits, rolls, corn bread and a multitude of desserts. Sundays at the Bell are even more lavish.

I dare say it's the best fried chicken I've "ever et anywheres," and I don't usually give a hoot about fried chicken.

The 50 year old restaurant specializes in "comfort food" and has been in its present location, a restored home from the early 20's, since 1959. The restaurant has passed through several generations of owners, and the current proprietors, although new to the Bell, are old-timers in the area, and have continued the traditions, menu, and service of the Bell without missing a beat.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Vacation, Day 2, 10/22/2009, Part 4

A perfect day continued with muscle cars and ended with an antebellum home, all in Mississippi, a tasty supper in Louisiana, and some penny-machine fun (for Mama anyway), back in Mississippi.

There were two muscle cars inside the buildings at Milton's friend's place. A purple Charger--1970 if I remember right--in the process of being restored sat in the newer building, and a yellow 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A sat in the other one, completely covered with a dustcover.

Here are the photos of the Challenger, a car that has won awards at cruise-ins. I think he said that he and his wife ride in the car to those events. Wouldn't that be a neat thing to see? He started the car and let it run for just a little while, knowing we shouldn't be exposed to the exhaust for long. Listening to the powerful sound, I looked up and said, "I love it when you can hear that you've got cylinders!"




Clean lines, clean car.


You could eat in here, right?




A model of the 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A.

Some of the car's trophies.

I was so excited to see the gorgeous purple car, the Charger, that evidently I was shaking, plus it was a lowlight situation. I'm sharing this blurry photo with you so that you can see the rich purple color.

Work's going on, as you can see.



Milton drove us home in the fine Corvette. Thinking I would have room to get out, he backed in, then realized I really couldn't fit between the car and the low brick wall on their carport, so he pulled back out to give me room. Kay and Mama both asked what had taken us so long, so I explained enthusiastically about the speedy ride and about the muscle cars! Kay had been busy while we were gone, making ten pounds of potato salad to take to an event at their church that night. She offered all of us bowls of it, along with saltines and sweet tea. Yummy! We sat around, enjoying being dry when it started to rain and planning our evening outing.

Both of them knew how much Mama enjoys playing the penny machines, so they had decided we ought to go west to Natchez, on the Mississippi River, so we could eat supper and go to the Isle of Capri, a casino on a docked riverboat. Sounded good to me, too.

As we drove around Natchez near the Mississippi River Bridge, figuring out where to eat, I thought I had seen a building we came upon as we neared a left-hand curve in the road. "That's Rosalie!" I said, raising my camera to take a photo through the window.
Found on the Internet: Rosalie Mansion is a historic pre-Civil War mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, significant for its influence on architecture in a wide area. During the American Civil War, it served as Union headquarters for the Natchez area from July 1863 on.

It was built for a wealthy cotton broker in 1823 on the bluff overlooking the Mississippi River, on a portion of the site of the Natchez Indians massacre of the French in 1729 at Fort Rosalie. It has been owned, operated and maintained by the Mississippi State Society Daughters of the American Revolution for over 70 years. On July 13, 1863 General Grant took possession of Rosalie to use as Union Army Headquarters. On August 26, 1863 General Walter Gresham took command of Union Army troops at Natchez. His headquarters remained at Rosalie.

Gresham had much of the owner's furnishings stored in the attic and put under guard to prevent theft or destruction. Union army tents covered much of the property surrounding the mansion. Union Army soldiers were placed in position in the observatory on top of the mansion.

It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989. It's architectural style is Greek Revival.

We parked in the lot of Fat Mama's Tamales while Milton went in to get a menu for us to check out. I was able to get another photo of the mansion that I toured in the mid-1980's.

Deciding we were in a tamale mood, Milton suggested we go across the river to Vidalia, Louisiana, and see if the Sandbar was open. You can tell that it continued to rain in this photo I took of the bridges.

I held the camera over my right shoulder to get this quick shot of the Isle of Capri.

I wanted to show you something I saw at the Sandbar that I remember from growing up in the humid South.
Yep, that's raw rice inside the salt shaker. It keeps the salt from clumping. You can tell there's moisture in the air by checking out the crystals around the holes in the shaker's metal lid. Curious, I Googled "rice in a salt shaker" and got 148,000 hits in .43 seconds! Among the first hits, the one that caught my eye is at, "How to Refill Your Salt Shaker," instructions in seven steps. Entertaining, to say the least!

I ate my tasty fried chicken salad without giving the camera another thought. As we left I tried to get a photo of the sign, another moving, lowlight effort. I sort of like it, though.

We continued on to the casino where Mama had fun and left with $17 more than she brought. I had an OK time but I left with nothing left of what I brought.

Friday night I'm going to the Rose Garden Arena for the "So You Think You Can Dance" live show! Whoopee!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Vacation, Day 2, 10/22/2009, Part 3

We made it to Mississippi! Hooray! To tell you the truth, neither one of us ever expected to get back home again, so this is just so special, so sweet. We knew we were in for some fun, for days and days and days! It all started with Kay and Milton, out in the country at their house. They had plans for us, let me tell you.

First thing after we got the suitcases inside the house, Milton got the keys to Kay's 1980 Corvette and said, "Come on, Lynette. I'm taking you for a ride."

Here's the Corvette in the carport, speed sitting still.
When Milton started it up, the rest of us, including their grandson Ian and their rescued, cutie-pie, little dog Tinkerbell, were on the carport, sitting there visiting. Did Mama ever squeal and jump in her seat! I stood there in awe, reveling in the power, the deep rumble, the potential.

Milton goosed it a time or two before pulling out onto the driveway. Mama jumped again, giggling. I grinned.

Milton got out, took both T-tops (or whatever you call them) out of roof of the car, helped me get way down into the seat, made sure I was belted in. Milton got in, started the engine. Whoa! What a sound! I'm thinking, "Anticipation!" He hooked up an iPod to the dash and the car's sound system. Holding the iPod in his left hand, steering with his right, Milton said, "Now, I don't know for sure what's on here, Lynette. My grandson and my son-in-law loaded it, so it's all kinds of stuff." He drove us down their driveway and turned left, out onto the country road, where he stepped on the gas, and I felt myself pushed back into the seat--whoopee! I wondered at how NASCAR drivers must feel so much more force when going nearly 200 mph. For an inkling, I realized how addictive speed can be.

I took this photo of Tinkerbell before I got into the Corvette. She's wishing she could go along for the ride, but settled for telling us good-bye at the edge of the carport.

To tell you the truth, I don't remember what we listened to on that fine sound system, but I do know that we could hear every bit of it even with the air rushing by--Milton just pumped up the volume! We could've been the music source for one fine lawn party, if Milton had decided to stop somewhere.

The Corvette responded quickly to Milton's foot on the gas pedal, barreling down this road and that road. I don't know for sure where we went because I didn't know for sure where we were in the first place. I mean, in general I knew we were west of I-55 near McComb. I do know that I had an ever-lovin' blast! At one point I asked him, "How fast are we going?" He replied, "Only 65." "We sure did get there fast," I said. Milton laughed and laughed while I grinned at him. (Later on we sped up to 85, Milton told me after we were back home.) We zoomed past fenced fields, houses with porches, a country store and gas station, at least one church, a post office, groves of pines and leafless hardwoods beneath a battleship gray sky.

I took this photo looking straight up out of the swiftly moving Corvette. I wondered at their speed and skill, how it matched with the car's and Milton's.

After a few more miles flew by, I asked over the roar of the wind and the radio, "Is this a muscle car, Milton?" He said no and went on to explain the difference which I can't quite remember except that I think he mentioned 442's and GTO's and MOPAR. Little did I know that I'd hatched an idea in his head with that short little question.

Pretty soon Milton slowed down, made a sharp right turn and headed up a slight incline, then turned left into a curving lane lined with mostly tall pines, some young hardwoods, with two dirt tracks separated by a grassy strip, pine needles strewn here and there. "I'm taking you somewhere where you can take all the pictures you want to take, Lynette," he explained.

Soon the track turned to all grass that ended at an obviously new garage-sized out-building, situated beside a smaller, older one. Milton blew and blew the horn as we both looked toward the open, regular-sized door on the left front of the building. A man walked out and good ol'boy hellos ensued. We were at Milton's train engineer's home. "I brought her out here," Milton explained, "after she asked me if the Corvette was a muscle car." Turns out he's a muscle car man! Come back tomorrow to see what I mean--you won't be disappointed.

Milton parked the Corvette, and naturally I couldn't resist one more photo of the first Corvette I've had the pleasure of sitting in, much less speeding around the countryside.