The Things We Keep

You know my propensity to dodge in and out of rabbit holes. I think I was born that way. It does not take much for me to veer off course from my planned activities for the day. Today was no different.

As I sipped my coffee, I glanced up and saw the small oriental plates in my china cabinet. They are always there but I do not ‘see’ them every day.

The plates were a gift from MK, a woman I met in Alaska. I cannot recall now the occasion for which she gifted me the plates.

MK was a large gregarious woman with flaming red hair. Her voice was gravelly from years of smoking – her laugh contagious. She and her husband married late in life, a first marriage for both of them.

One day I found out she was in the hospital. We talked on the phone. She was scared as they were prepping her for emergency surgery. The doctors were positive she had terminal colon cancer.  She phoned her sister and asked her to come and be with her, but she said she could not come. She was enrolled in adult college classes and she did not want to miss her finals. It broke her heart.

I was there when she came out of surgery. I stayed with her until the anesthesia wore off. I never saw her reclusive husband or any other family. I combed her matted hair, coaxing the knots out with care. She thanked me and wept.

When the doctors came in, they told her there had been no cancer at all. This seems unfathomable now, but this was in the mid 70s – diagnostics are much improved now. She was relieved of course, but weeks of trauma from worrying had taken a toll on her.

We lost touch over the years. I have researched and know her husband died 13 years after they married. She lived another 15 years after. I wish we had not lost touch.

I keep the plates. I am not sure anyone in my family know their relevance. Some may wonder why I keep them. They have no intrinsic monetary value.

To me they tell a story of a wonderful lady who I had the pleasure of knowing for a brief time in my life. She was kind. She was funny. She was my friend. I treasure my memories.


Fleeting Human Relationships

How do you define relationships? Do they last an extended period of time or can they be short-lived, yet impactful?

Yesterday in my Song Lyric Sunday post, the word ‘mess’ was used in reference to a quantity of food. It is well known southern vernacular. We often picked a ‘mess of beans’ or caught a ‘mess of fish’. It was an amount of food suitable to feed a group of people.

This reference reminded me of a woman that managed a vegetable stand near our home in Florida. I often stopped on my way home from work to pick up tomatoes or corn for dinner. She was friendly and we always enjoyed brief conversations although I never knew her name. She reminded me of the women that surrounded me in the Valley where I grew up. She gave me the feeling of home. When I attempted to pay for my selections, she would often smile and say, “Don’t you want a nice mess of beans to go with that?”

When we were in Florida a few weeks ago, we drove by where her farm stand once stood. We both recalled her and smiled saying “If only we had a nice mess of beans”.


When we moved to North Carolina, I was finally able to fulfill my dream of taking lapidary classes. Robert was my instructor at the local arts and crafts school. He was short in stature and always dressed typically country. He was kind and helpful providing the guidance I needed to cut rocks into beautiful cabochons. I was thrilled and took his classes whenever possible. We talked of mysticism and life and a book about spirit guides he was writing.

Robert died unexpectedly from a heart attack. I was devastated, feeling like I did not deserve to share in the grief experienced by his wife and those who knew him well and loved him so much.

I did not learn he ministered at a local church until after he was gone. I never suspected, but now it makes so much sense. His warmth, his helpfulness, and his non-judgemental personality was what we hope for in a minister of faith. I bought his book, and he autographed it for me. I treasure it.

There is a small bridge I cross when I drive up the mountain. The rocks in the stream remind me of him, although there is no reason they should.



Floyd was a common sight on the street corner in Anchorage, Alaska. He joyfully waved to passersby holding a sign that read “SAY HI TO FLOYD” and people would give him money. He was a panhandler with developmental disabilities who had no other way to make a living. My children have fond memories of waving to the ever-smiling Floyd. You can read his story here – Anchorage Daily News.


I never knew Luther although he had lived in our community his entire life. He lived in the holler and walked everywhere. I remember him fondly. I was a kid but remember his black hat, walking stick, and his beaming smile as he passed and always said hello. That was it. A kind man who always said hello, yet I see his face clearly some sixty years later.


Our high school band traveled to  Virginia Beach for a competition. We were sitting high up in the grandstand when another band walked past the grandstand below. I caught the eyes of a young man about my age. Our eyes locked and we gazed at each other until he was out of sight. I can still remember his face perfectly and of course never saw him again.

Do you have fond memories of people who stepped into your life for a short period of time? What inspires these often micro-connections with other people? I would love to hear your thoughts..


Song Lyric Sunday – Polk Salad Annie

This week’s genre is Swamp Rock. As soon as I saw this I knew what song I would choose. Check out Jim’s post for more details on this week’s SLS topic.

“Polk Salad Annie” was written and sung by Louisiana born Tony Joe White, nicknamed “Swamp Fox”. The song was recorded in Nashville in 1968 and released the following year. It reached #8 on Billlboard’s Hot 100. It reached #10 in Canada.

The song is about a poor southern woman who gathers the leaves from pokeweed for cooking. Pokeweed is a toxic plant, but is often eaten in many southern cultures. The song title refers to polk salad, but in actuality the name is polk sallet, meaning a warm salad.

According to an interview given to Songfacts, when Tony Joe White toured in the 60s, many people thought the reference to Polk Salad was marijuana and would often leave bags of marijuana in his tent or dressing room.

More after the lyrics:

Polk Salad Annie
Lyrics from

If some of ya’ll never been down south too much
I’m gonna tell you a little bit about this
So that you’ll understand what I’m talkin’ about

Down there we have a plant that grows out in the woods
And in the fields looks somethin’ like a turnip green
And everybody calls it polk salad, polk salad

Used to know a girl lived down there
And she’d go out in the evenings and pick her a mess of it
Carry it home and cook it for supper
‘Cause that’s about all they had to eat, but they did all right

Down in Louisiana, where the alligators grow so mean
There lived a girl that I swear to the world
Made the alligators look tame
Polk salad Annie, polk salad Annie
Everybody said it was a shame
‘Cause her momma was a workin’ on the chain gang
(A mean vicious woman)

Everyday for supper time, she’d go down by the truck patch
And pick her a mess of polk salad, and carry it home in a tow sack
Polk salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody says it was a shame
‘Cause her momma was a workin’ on the chain gang
(A wretched, spiteful, straight-razor totin’ woman
Lord have Mercy, take a mess of it)

Her daddy was lazy and no count, claimed he had a bad back
All her brothers were fit for was stealin’ watermelons out of my truck patch
Polk salad Annie, the gators got your granny
Everybody said it was a shame
‘Cause her momma was a workin’ on the chain gang
(Sock a little polk salad to me, you know I need me a mess of it)

This is an actual dish still eaten in southern Appalachia and most likely in Louisiana as well. Pokeweed leaves are gathered in the spring when there are less toxins.  As the plant matures and berries form, it becomes extremely poisonous. The leaves are parboiled, drained, parboiled and drained again, and parboiled a third time before eating to release the toxins from the plant. They are often scrambled with eggs, served with pinto beans, or eaten as a warm sauteed green, often with vinegar.

Poke Sallett is a ‘transition’ or ‘survival’ vegetable. It is an early spring vegetable prized after long winters of little or no vegetables. It is still foraged today and has become a prized dish in many upscale restaurants.

Elvis started performing this song in concert in 1970. It was recorded as part of his live album On Stage and was released as a single in 1973.

I am also including Elvis’ version which I feel is a poor imitation of the original recording.


Prize – SoCS

Candy coated popcorn
Peanuts and a prize
That’s what you get in Cracker Jacks.

That’s where my mind went. I once had a book of all the Cracker Jack prizes issued over the years. Mine favorites were by far the tattoos.

Have a fun-filled Saturday. We are off to see family today and celebrate hubby’s birthday!



Amazon Offers AI Authored Books for Sale

Are we tired of talking about AI yet?

When I saw this article on the New York Post yesterday, I was intrigued. According to the article (which you can read here), as of February, Amazon has over 200 e-books for sale authored or co-authored by ChatGPT.

Of course, it would be quite easy to ‘write’ a book with the aid of AI and never disclose it.

So my questions today dear readers are:

  1. Would you buy a book authored or co-authored by AI?
  2. Would you ever publish a book written by AI just to generate income?
  3. Would you ever use AI for any portion of a book you would write? If so, would you disclose it?
  4. Any further thoughts or comments?