Girl From Goat Pasture Road

Musings of Susan Swicegood Boswell



5 Days: The Perfect Cookie


If you know me, you know I am a Cookie Snob. For today’s post, I wanted to share what I have deemed to be the perfect cookie: an impeccably simple, light, shortbread base (a mere 6 ingredients), a creamy tease of almond -flavored glaze, a toothy crunch of sliced almonds. The simple decoration of three almonds remind me of the Holy Trinity. As an added bonus, the 1″ balls make each cookie appear very uniform to the next.

Need I say more? These cookies, I guarantee- are perfect!

Land O Lakes Glazed Almond Butter Cookies



1 cup Land O Lakes® Butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt


1 1/2 cups
powdered sugar
1 teaspoon
almond extract
4 to 5 teaspoons
Sliced almonds


  1. Heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine all cookie ingredients in bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until well mixed.
  3. Form into 1″ balls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. I find they do better if I line my pans with parchment paper. Flatten balls to 1/4 inch thick with bottom of buttered glass dipped in sugar. Bake 7-9 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely.
  4. Whisk all glaze ingredients except almonds together in bowl. Decorate cooled cookies with glaze and sliced almonds, as desired.


10 Days: Battle of the Nutcrackers

nutcrackers-2016 When my son, Brennen, was a toddler, my husband and I borrowed a Christmas tradition from my sister’s family. We decided that from that point forward, every year, we would gift our son a nutcracker as part of his Christmas. Most years, we found a nutcracker that related to something going on in his life. Many years, he received more than one. There were baseball and soccer nutcrackers, relics from the Little League years. There was the Mouse King, a souvenir from the time we visited the Nutcracker at the Steven’s Center in Winston Salem and a clown from the time we attended the Barnum and Bailey Circus. There was a skateboarding nutcracker- a relic from those pesky middle school years and a more recent “hipster” nutcracker,  reminiscent of his years at Appalachian State, a stressed out student complete with laptop and cell phone.

Nutcrackers are fragile. Each Christmas before I put them out on display, I must first do the necessary repairs. Last year, the Mouse King’s sword was broken and the wooden baseball had become unglued from the wooden glove in the baseball player’s wooden hands.  At the end of every season, I wrap them back up in paper and plastic and place them in large Rubbermaid bins which I store in the upstairs closet.

After 24 years, we have amassed so many nutcrackers that we hardly have enough room to display all of them in our small house. We used to arrange them all side-by-side on top of the server in the dining room. Now, they spill over onto the adjacent table. They stand in rows of stern observance among the shelves of the bookcases and peer down at us from atop the mantle.

You may recall that our son was married earlier this year. Despite his status now as a full-fledged adult, I occasionally find myself feeling nostalgic about days gone by. Recently, I found myself reminiscing about our nutcracker tradition while shopping at my local Target. I browsed the colorful displays of nutcrackers- wondering if perhaps they had a bride and groom- or if there might be a way to bring my new daughter-in-law in on the tradition.

I made the mistake of wondering some of these thoughts aloud to my husband. Then, I lamented the passing of the years, of our son growing up so quickly and the loss of our family tradition. Perry said curtly that it was time for the nutcrackers to move in with Brennen. “Brennen has a home and a family of his own”, he says. “It’s time for them to move in with HIM.”

On the other side of this tale, I know that my husband has “practical” needs in mind for the spaces previously occupied by nutcrackers once they are released from the burden of the wooden figures. My dining room table is already set, completely full with my grandmother’s red and gold china, vintage monogrammed napkin rings and salt dishes that Perry found for pennies on the dollar in one of his antiques outings. My husband feels that we need the server for entertaining, some extra space to hold the ice bucket and the wine. I knew the view expressed by my husband were the practical, logical solution, but the thought of a Christmas without those nutcrackers seems, well… sad. The sideboard at Christmas,  without the nutcrackers standing guard, would look naked as a jaybird. Besides, I reasoned, we had absolutely no suitable Christmas decor to use to replace the areas previously occupied by the nutcrackers. Perhaps, I argued, I could buy some sale items at the end of the season to fill that void…until then, maybe they could stay at my house for one more year?

In the end, I asked my son. I said, “Son, you’re married now with a house of your own, If you want to take the nutcrackers to your house this year, they’re yours… you know you are welcome to.”

This is what I said. But in my mind, I pictured those big ole dogs of his knocking them down from their perch, making a meal of the poor Mouse King. Gnawing the baseball to a pulp. Pulverizing the wooden cell phone like a chew-toy. I imagined the nutcrackers stored in those same bins, lined in rows along the perimeter of my son’s basement, the humidity loosening the nutcrackers’ fragile joints and patches of mold forming on their fur.

Such special things, these relics from the past 24 years. The journey, I suppose, of a boy becoming a man.

My son, however is a lover of tradition. His whole life, from the time he was an infant, he has found change to be difficult. What a nightmare it was, when it was time to transition from the crib to a big boy bed. He always hated the change of seasons, complaining when it was time to trade tennis shoes for sandals and t-shirts for bulky coats and itchy sweaters.

All these years spent together as mother and son, I thought we were so different on this accord. Wasn’t I the more progressive one? The one who always embraced change. Change, I said, was good. Now, I saw the nutcrackers positioned on the battlefront between progress and tradition. I had changed alliances. Change wasn’t good. Change was b-a-aa- ad.

“No, mom,” Brennen said “Never stop giving me the nutcrackers.” He was emphatic, animated, certain, all twenty-four years of him.

That’s my boy…






11 Days: O Holy Night(The Mt. Olivet Christmas Miracle)

choir-boys-2 So maybe you’ve heard me mention before how my husband, Perry, never sings in church. I don’t know why it is, but this annoys me, to no end. He stands beside me, holding up his end of the hymnal, as stoic as a mute. Nary a “Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” nor  “A-aa- men” can be heard being uttered from his frozen lips. “Honey, why don’t you sing?” I ask. I pester and prod him, but he just shakes his head no. Really, he has such a beautiful voice. I hear him singing sometimes around the house.

Sigh… It’s been this way for most of our 32 years; that’s how long we’ve been married. That’s how long I’ve been nagging him to sing and thus it is precisely how long he’s been ignoring me…

Well, as I’ve said before, it’s nice to be surprised by someone with whom you have spent so many years years together. After 32 years, you think you know everything about the other person. I could tell you about his favorite drink (an Old Fashioned), his steak (well done), his pizza (meat lovers) or his dessert (coconut cream pie.) I could tell you that he’s always going to order a side of sour cream with his enchilada. He insists on potato salad with his ham. I could tell you that when he’s driving and there is an opportunity for a short cut and a long cut, he will take the long cut and swear it’s a short cut. I could tell you he’s forgiven me most transgressions in our marriage except that he still harbors a deep- seeded resentment since I refused to let him bring some old turtle figurine of his childhood (really, that old thing was hideous) into our newly-wedded bliss.

Before he surprised me last year by taking a job as a funeral home attendant after his retirement (Boy, I never saw that one coming…), the last big surprise he gave me was the time he sang in church. Well, it wasn’t exactly church but it was pretty close to it…

Back then, we still lived in Davidson County and attended Mt. Olivet Methodist Church in Arcadia. Our Sunday School Class consisted of most of the choir members and its director… Kathy and Jim Knox, Kathy and Charles Craver, the Bumgarners, our friends Buzz, Christy Chestnut, you name them- if they were in the choir they were probably members of our Sunday School Class. We held the class Christmas Party at the home of Bryan and Katherine Gaye. After our delicious meal, we gathered in a big circle around the room to sing Christmas carols. Jim Knox sang and played his guitar. The heck with Elvis, that man has the most beautiful liquidy- velvet voice you’ve ever heard, bar none. We sang our hearts out, at least most of us did, but not Perry, of course. He just stood there in his usual rigid position like he was waiting for a bus while we decked the halls and rum-pa-pum-pummed.

All was predictable that evening, until we began to sing O Holy Night. I knew this was one of Perry’s favorite hymns and as we zeroed in on the chorus, little did I know that my husband had decided to play a little joke on Kathy Knox and the rest of the class, including his wife.

“Fall… on your knees…”

Perry stepped into the circle, bent down -nearly on one knee- and did this little sweeping motion with his hands. From his lips, there was a a low rumbling vibrato reminiscent of Pavarotti. At the sound of that voice, Kathy Knox did a double take. As the choir director, Kathy was always trying to recruit new talent into the choir. She had surely missed her chance at a new solo artist, sitting right under her nose!

“Oh hear, the an-gels voi- ces…”

With these words, Perry really let it rip. The paintings shook and nearly flung themselves off the wall. Our classmates – and I- stood there dumbfounded.

“Oh ni- ight dee-vine! Oh ho-ly night! When Christ was born…”

Well that was it. The Christmas Miracle came and went. My husband has refused to sing within five miles of a church before or since. Was it a coincidence or a Christmas Miracle that inspired him to sing freely that one special night? I will always remember how my heart swelled with pride to see my honey center stage. I will also always remember the many times over the years we have heard the song come on the radio at Christmastime and giggled to ourselves about the night of the Mt. Olivet Christmas Miracle.

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12 Days: Merry Christmas, Mrs. Bledsoe

jerry-bledsoeI have written this series of “12 Days of Christmas Blogs” for several years now, but I have a confession. Honestly, I’m worried. What if I’m all out of Christmas stories? The major moments of Christmas past, it seems, I’ve already penned. Before a panic attack sets in, I force myself to sit still for a while and try to calm my mind.

When I do, I find there are moments of inspiration floating by all around me. I simply need to take the time to notice and look a little deeper…

In the publishing world it is Tuesday, but in real time, it is the previous Saturday night. (I like to get a head start on these blogs before I get behind.) I am curled up on the old sofa in our little art studio- “Perry’s”Studio-  it is more aptly named, as there is precious little of “me” in this space. Perry’s studio is filled with  all the things he loves: colorful metal signs, old jars and handcrafted boxes, interesting things he’s found at tag sales and flea markets, and me, perhaps. Inside, it’s as warm and cozy as a cinnamon roll. The heck with LED lights and Hallmark, there’s a candle burning on the desk where he sits pasting together homemade Christmas cards. On a nearby table, a kerosene lamp, illuminates the other corner of the room with its neat slit of light. Beyond the confines of the studio, it is 2016, but in Perry’s world, it’s more like 1926. A CD is playing which I rather like, called Christmas on the Range. It is a collection of vintage Christmas carols, sang cowboy style, with my favorite- “Rootin’ Tootin Sandy Clause” – playing on the CD equivalent of what used to be a turntable. My running joke with Perry is that he only listens to dead people’s music and tonight, he does not disappoint.

To lure me into staying out here, my husband has procured a bottle of Peach Brandy. I briefly wonder what else he has out here. He pours me a drink in a vintage 1920’s stemmed shot glass from the bar of our old friend, Al Thomy. Al passed away several years ago, and his family was kind enough to give us a few mementos of which to remember him by.

As if we could forget…

It’s been a difficult day, a day spent at the hospital for a family member who is in a bad place personally but in the best possible place, considering the alternatives. I need to remember to be thankful for that and hand the rest, along with my worries, over to God.

No one wants to spend Christmas in a hospital, but if you must, you appreciate the little kindnesses and the extra touches that give these generic spaces personalization and a sense of peace and joy. There are many folks with loved ones who are sick this Christmas and I am so thankful for our doctors and nurses, EMS workers, the policemen, fireman, ambulance drivers, the folks running the cafeteria and answering the phone… all these folks who help keep our emergency systems operational and among the best in the world.

Done with card-making, Christmas on the Range comes to a screeching stop. He sets up an old television set- one with a built-in DVD player- on a shaky little table about 5 feet away from me, near the closest, accesible electrical outlet. The television screen is about 6” wide and I cannot quite make out the figures. Perry is unfazed regarding the less- than- steller screen quality or the tinny sound. He inserts into the tray one of his favorite Christmas DVD’s, The Angel Doll, by NC author and actor Jerry Bledsoe.

I remember meeting Jerry last year at an event for O.Henry Magazine. That’s a photo of us above with me grinnin’ like a Cheshire Cat. In addition to being a New York Times bestselling author, Jerry once worked for the Greensboro News & Record, as did our friend Al Thomy. I am certain the two of them were probably acquaintances, if not friends. As Perry and I chatted with Jerry that evening, we learned that Jerry’s wife was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at the hospital near our house. We talked about the Christmas lights on our street and about how folks like to drive through this area in the evenings on their way home from the hospital. We also talked about his book (and subsequent movie) The Angel Doll, which Perry showed to his high school students at Christmastime, before his retirement, just a few years back. Jerry told us an interesting story- that he had received a letter from a family who had written to him, saying that they had followed the tradition of The Angel Doll for many years since losing a loved one. Jerry wanted to help, to spread the joy despite the difficult situation he faced within his own family with his wife’s sickness. Jerry had connected with the family’s story and planned to join them for Christmas Dinner.

Remembering, I wonder about Jerry’s wife and her breast cancer. I hope she’s doing alright…

In the quiet of Perry’s studio, I am, for the moment at least, at home. Life moves us in that circle, health and sickness, life and death, joy and sadness, from yesterday to today and on to tomorrow. The magical moments, which are the very heart of Christmastime, are there after all, scattered in the air like pixie dust- so tiny that you’d miss them if you blink. I take a deep breath, inhaling air, heady with kerosene and cinnamon, and focus my sights, past the lantern and the old collectibles before me and on to a place, just a little deeper…

Fortune Teller

angels1  When our old friends Kimberly and Chris decided to throw a big Halloween Party for their two boys a few years ago, I was their go- to person to portray the role of the fortune teller. Always up for a new adventure, I eagerly donned a long flowing skirt, ruffled blouse and layered all the bling I could find around my neck. I tied a colorful silk scarf, peasant style, around my forehead. Dramatic kohl black eyeliner and a long dark wig masked my blue- eyed blond. As I gazed into the mirror, I hardly recognized myself.

Miraculously, I found my old Ouija Board and its plastic controller. A relic from my teenaged years, the Ouija Board had been a big hit at slumber parties where giddy fourteen year olds boldly called forth the spirit of Elvis and other long lost celebrities during impromptu séances. I packed a deck of cards and the iridescent gazing ball from my garden. Voila! My outfit and props were complete.

After the hotdog dinner, I placed my wares inside the tent which had been set up in a dark and remote corner of their big backyard. The wind whispered through the tall pines and broad oaks as shadows danced like ghosts across the precision- cut lawn. We placed a candle in the middle of the table to illuminate my face and that of my young patrons. Miss Susannah was ready for her first customer.

One by one, Kimberly escorted the kids inside. They approached me tentatively, their eyes filled with excitement and apprehension. I played the role to the hilt. When I read the children’s’ palms, everyone had long life lines that showed happy marriages and beautiful children. With dramatic flair, I fanned the cards across the top of the table; a three of spades could foretell the same future as the Queen of Hearts. I sprinkled tea leaves into a cup of water where their black amorphous shapes revealed only to me, the shape of their future. I gazed into the crystal ball, pretending to see what they could not. I worked in tidbits of information that I had been told about the kids, details about sports or summer camps or their latest crush. It all went off without a hitch until Kimberly brought in my last customer.

At first, I did not recognize the boy. Even when Kimberly said his name, I could not recall anything significant about the boy. “This is Kyle’s friend Ryan,” she said. “He and his mom got here late. He’d like to talk to you.”

“Ah, come in Ryan” I said with a heavy accent and motioned for him to have a seat.

I read his palm. I sought his fortune in the tea leaves. Unlike the other boys, I could tell my words had failed to impress him. Ryan chewed on his lip; something else was obviously on his mind. “I wanted to ask you about my dad…” the boy whispered softly.

Suddenly, I remembered what Kimberly had told me about this boy.
Ryan’s father passed away a few weeks prior, suddenly and unexpectedly. Kimberly and Chris had not expected him or his mother to come to the party. My heart skipped a beat; for a moment, I did not know what to do. Across from me was a vulnerable real-life boy and I was a fake fortune teller. The boy’s eyes looked at me for some kind of reassurance; I have never felt so small or so embarrassed at perpetuating such a sham. I started to confess, to explain the truth. I wanted to tell him I was not really a fortune teller and that I didn’t know anything about his dad.

Then, I remembered my own experience. It wasn’t long ago that I, too had lost a father. In a chance and singular encounter with a fortune teller in Key West, I too had asked a stranger about my own father. I hadn’t cared so much about the number of children I would have or the length of my lifeline. All I wanted and needed to know in that instant was that my dad was ok. For a minute, I connected to this boy’s pain and told him what I thought he needed to hear. I told him what a kind person had told me almost ten years before.

“Oh Ryan,” I began, disregarding my props and my accent and speaking straight from my heart. I told him what I hoped someone would tell my own son, should the tables ever be turned. “You know, your father loves you so very much. He is so happy that you have asked about him! I know your heart is heavy and that you miss him so much. Always remember, that even though you don’t see him, his spirit is always with you, looking over you and your mom.”

I’m not sure if my answer was the right one or if it gave this boy any comfort. I’m not sure if I should have continued to act the part or if I should have come clean to the poor innocent and injured boy sitting across from me. I hadn’t meant to play a cruel joke. I guess I felt that it was important that Ryan believe in something at that moment of feeling so very lost and alone.

Ryan is a grown man now. I’ve lost track, forgotten to ask about him over the years. Still, I hope he has remembered my words and that he has known the loving and continued presence of his father in his life along the road to adulthood. I hope for his sake, that my prediction came true.

Age of Innocence: New Years 2016

wonder years

I was a child of the Wonder Years, coming of age in the South after integration and near the end of the Vietnam War. The insular rural community I called home fostered both innocence and ignorance. My parents’ and their parent’s lives had been mostly hardscrabble; they fought to  support their families and hold onto their small farms through the Depression years. Perhaps it was my growing awareness but the world’s events seemed far away back then and did not begin to infiltrate my world until the late 1960’s.

My mother’s family had grown up working shoulder to shoulder with a black family who sharecropped their land during the depression years; both families needed each other and the black and white children grew up playing in the fields together, retaining a certain degree of color blindness throughout their early lives. As our community had moved from agriculture and as textile and furniture industries began to boom in local small towns, it brought a kind of WASP homogeneity. Old prejudices were revived and reborn, morphed into a communal consciousness which was spread through osmosis. Whites ranked higher than blacks; men ranked higher than women and adults ranked higher than children.

It seems to be human nature that even people who have nothing want to believe they are better than someone.

An undercurrent of fear began to permeate our world in the late’60’s, and it reminds me of the fear that is so prevalent today. Back then, a black and white television with aluminum foil rabbit ears brought tumultuous images into our living room each evening. Our country was losing its young men in the jungles of Vietnam. Assassinations of great leaders became prevalent: Robert Kennedy, President Kennedy, Martin Luther King. We lost countless innocent lives in the turbulent Civil Rights movement and for a purpose that seems so fundamental to the beliefs expressed in our country’s Constitution, it hardly seems worthy of being questioned, much less fought over.

The world seemed to shift on its axis.

I remember one night when I was 5 or 6  riding home in the back seat of the car with my parents. Seat belts were not required back then and I was small enough to nestle into the angled space between the back seat and back window, watching the stars and moon through the glass. We were driving along Jubilee Road, one of the more prominent roads in our community that was paved instead of gravel. We came across a road block, where shapeless forms walked around in white robes with hoods covering their faces. A fire burned in a clearing. It seemed huge, maybe 12-15 feet high on a slight hill with what looked like boards nailed together in the shape of a cross. I crouched behind mama and daddy in the dark as a man came to Daddy’s window, talking to him in a voice I immediately recognized as a prominent man of the  community and a supervisor at The NC Finishing Plant where daddy worked. I had heard this man speak at the Union Hall Meetings, had taken paper sacks of candy and oranges that he distributed from Santa during their annual Christmas Program, heard his clear tenor lead us in jubilant renditions of “Joy to the World.” I’m not sure what my parent’s told me about the event then, but I was practically an adult before I understood this was a cross-burning and this man I knew was part of the Ku Klux Klan. I do remember the curiosity it spiked in me that this grown man would be hiding in a creepy costume in the middle of the night scaring people and I wondered what on earth had happened to cause such a scene. In hindsight, I am glad I knew the whereabouts of my father that night and that he had not chose to participate.

Around this same time or maybe earlier because my memory of this event is fuzzy, there were some curious incidents closer to home. Occasionally items would go missing for no reason: equipment, tools or gasoline would vanish from our gas tanks. People didn’t lock their doors at night then and robbery was uncommon as no one had much of anything worth stealing anyway. One night when all the menfolk were away at the Union Hall meeting, my teenaged sister saw a Peeping Tom through the blinds and recognized it as the face of a black man. Mama loaded us into the car to go down to my grandma’s and on the way, saw the black shadow of what she assumed was the same man now smoking a cigarette across the road in the yard at my Aunt Polly’s house.

All of us kids were stuffed into in the small bathroom at the center of the house and ordered not to come out; this was myself, my older cousins Patty and Bobby and my sister and perhaps my brother, all stuffed into a bathroom the size of a closet. All the women including my grandma were toting shotguns and once in a while we’d hear the boom as the shot blast somewhere into the dark. Later, we’d learn our cousin Jimmy had been at home at his mama’s house that night and with one phone call, he came out with his shotgun blasting in the direction of the cigarette. The man hollered and took for the woods with my cousin in pursuit.

Soon the other men returned from their meeting and followed the commotion with hunting dogs, something I’d only know later through watching movies and reading books as a “posse”. Years later, I asked some of the family about this event because in my mind, it was all being done to simply scare the man, like a bunch of grown men playing cowboys in the woods. I was assured, however,  both the pursuit and the shot were real. It’s hard telling what my kinfolks would have done to that man had they gotten their hands on him. Due to past troubles, they felt fairly certain they knew his identity, and while he was not killed, it’s likely that he was injured or perhaps scared into a few weeks of “bedrest”.

What does this have to do with today?

My Christmas Eve was not untouched by this sort of prejudice when a family member cited Donald Trump’s business success as an endorsement for his presidency and another family member chimed in how “Trump says what everyone is thinking.”  I know you’re not supposed to talk religion or politics in social situations and especially at Christmastime but I wasn’t going to sit there and let anyone believe Trump is talking for me. Trump reminds me of that man behind the white mask I witnessed as a child. He clothes his prejudice behind a mask of success and bravado, spewing ignorance and fear from his lips and through his actions. This person does not speak for me and I shudder to think the negative impact someone like that could cause in our relationships with the world. I’m not a political spokesperson and I am not savvy enough to present my viewpoints in any sort of debate, but as I told my relatives that night, just because someone thinks something doesn’t mean they should say it. Even as a red-neck hillbilly, I know enough about the world to know that is not what I want in a leader.

I apologize if any of you reading this disagree with my political leanings; I don’t want to get into the pros and cons here about any particular candidate or party system. This is my blog and I’m free to express my viewpoints and insist on a respectful dialogue. But I’d be lying if I did not confess that I long so for that age of innocence, even if it was imagined and not as innocent as I remember.

It’s nearly impossible to approach the New Year without some form of hope or another and I believe joint hopes work like prayers and assume their own kind of power. It is my hope that in 2016, we all look within ourselves and others and realize that when fear is leading our thoughts and actions, God is likely absent. God lives with faith and light and compassion to our neighbors; God would not have us live in fear but rather in love. I hope you remember here in the shadow cast by the Christmas season that Jesus came to us, himself a helpless refugee and how he suffered at the hands of those who feared and ridiculed him. I hope we can all find the courage to speak out for what it is that we believe in and have respectful dialogue with those with whom we disagree. I hope we do not blindly follow propaganda that is untrue or does not align with our hearts. I hope we always remember the value of a human life, the value of all human lives. No one should wear the smug crown of righteousness; those who choose to live rigidly in their convictions leave no room for the light to seep in.

I wish you health, love, peace of mind and happiness in the New Year. I’ll see you in 2016!



The Girl From Goat Pasture road




Imperfect…The Christmas Leak/ The Christmas Heap: 2 Days of Christmas Blogs

cookies  I am literally writing this blog between baking batches of Chocolate Chip Cookies. If I were not to bake these cookies at Christmastime, according to my nieces and nephews, the world might end. This cookie-baking is serious business and the most important ingredienr ingredient in them is love.

I have 8 minutes between batches, less time if you allow for putting them in and out of the pan, and even less time if I am baking 2 batches at a time in my crappy old oven that bakes hot on top and cool near the bottom. Then it’s about 7.5 minutes for the top and 9 for the bottom. It’s Christmas Eve and baking is what I do. It’s what I love and what I give.

I’ll tell you in advance, this blog is not going to be perfect. There will be type-os and I’m just goimg to leave whatever comes out as it is. This is my day today and I’m just going to do the best I can and let you see that, without glossing this ll over like a Christmas Card.

Oh shit, I just baked a single pan on the top rack and it got too brown.

I mixed all my batter last night before falling into bed around midnight. There are 3 batches of chocolate chip cookies with nuts and 3 batches wiyhout without, all in my fridge awaking waiting to be baked.  . I made a double recipe of my Glazed Almond Cookies which are beautiful and delicious but a pain in the ass to make because they have to be iced and decorated. The chocolate chips cookies are production cookies for me at this time and my countertops already look like a bakery.

Ok so that’s all the ones with nuts, now I’m on to the nutless ones, ppreferred by I think Melissa and most of the little kids…

So I’ll confess, there are a few things bothering me today. One is that my old dog Robbie is 15 and has arthritis and the beginning of dementia .He also had something akin to a stroke about a month ago and has an upset stomach off and on… I thought due to medication  He barks and wants in. He barks and wants out. I took him to my friend Corinne yesterday to groom him. He had the butt cooties… so much poop around his but hole he has something like diaper rash. Maybe that’s why he’s barking. I need to get some Vaseline for his butt. That’s what I put on my own butt when it itches.

Shit, I baked another batch on the top rack and it’s too brown. Let me turn the oven down a bit…


oopds there goes the timer.

False alarm, it was for the cookies I just took out of the oven that were about to burn before the times timer went off. Ribbie Robbie is barking again but let me get this out… It has rained here like cats and dogs and we have a leak in our kitchen. We called the guy about fixing the roof, he’s going to have to put something called an ice guard where two sections of roof of meet. We’ve had enough rain to float an arl ark right out of here and water is dripping through my chandelier into a bowl a large bowl on the kitchen table. I can hear the drip-drip over the holiday music and even Robbie’s whining. It’s a bit annoying.

I’m back… I accidently turned the oven off when I was adjusting the temperature I guess…Now I am starting to bake the nutless cookies. These are not my favorite; they are a bit like vanilla and I’m a rocky road kind of girl. But that’s ok. I love you Melissa, I really do. And your kids. But you should really encourahe encourage them to eat nuts…

Let me let Robbie out again…

The rug in the den is filthy where the dogs have tramped wet mud abd and dirt in during this monsoon. So the other thing that is bothering me is the heaps. There are heaps of food in my refrigerator; it’s so tight I cannot fit anything in it. Perry has a cold and the trash is not being emptied often enough. There are boxes and wrapping…


No, that was beep for the temperature change… dog is whining again…

Had to et him in Had to let him in

As I was saying, there are boxes and wrapping paper piled up on the trash can. The floor around the leak is heaped with towels because it is also dripping off the little Christmas bows I had tied on the arms of the chandelier before the leak started. The kitchen table is heaped with the giant bowl, towels and placemats acting as towels, the Sunday paper and assi assorted items that just need to be away. We’re drowning in here and I am not sure if it’s from the leaks or the heaps.

And then yesterday, we received some very disturbing news. A family member

Dan Damn… the timer afgain again.

Not done yet. I’m going to have to cook them longer I guess since the oven cooled off. So anyway, disturbing news that a family member just received some bad news on Tuesday. Carcinoma of the prostate. Less than 1% of the prostate cancers in the world are this type. It’s small cell and it spreads, I guess the word is metastasizes (I hope I don’t have to get used to that word) . So we find out next week where we go from here. I’m in shock. I’m sad. But all I really know to do is to keep baking these cookiws. cookies.

Timer again…dog is barking. Let me give him a bone, even though it will probably give him diarreah again. He has a sensitive tummy.

I gave him two for good measure.


PS I just saw a misspelled diarreah diareah diarrhea








Merry Mags: 3 Days of Christmas Blogs


Mags Circa 1975 and 2015
Mags Circa 1975 and 2015

Four friends, forty years…

The gift of friendship has got to be one of the most life-affirming, sustaining and positive forces in anyone’s life. Forty years ago, these three girls and I were inseparable, the terror of Tyro Junior High School. After college, careers, children, illness, marriage and divorce, broken hearts, second chances, getting skinny and then getting fat again, we reconnected with each other about five years ago deeming ourselves “Steel Magnolias” as an ode to our Southerness and our ability to persevere through the ups and downs life.

Some days, I feel so, well old… but when we are together, it’s like the years simply melt away. I surprised them last night with this picture I found among some old family photos. After much analysis of our clothing and hairstyles, we believe this was taken around Christmas, 1975. If you look closely you can see Marilyn (who went by the nickname Ralph) seated, posing as Santa dressed in an impromptu Santa outfit: toilet paper beard, toboggan and Christmas bow hat. Vick’s the child on Santa’s lap while Tracy and I look on. Then just as now,  you can see I was the  daydreamer off in my own little world and Tracy, the beautiful blond continues to tower over everyone else’s head.

After several bottles of wine, crackers and cheese, pizza and two variety packs of pizza, we attempted to re-create the original photo. Trying to coerce the cooperation of the cell phone, the props and all parties involved was a bit like herding cats. Tracy sent me the photos and I’m like, “Are you serious, this is the best one? You’ve got to be kidding me…”

On sure, on the outside, we’ve gained the weight- equivalent of another middle-aged woman; everyone’s fatter and our boobs have migrated impossibly south. We’re using night serums on our face and waxing our chins. The irony is that if you asked any of us the most surprising thing about a friendship spanning more than forty years, is how little we have changed.

The four of us are as different as night and day. We’re teachers and CPA’s, hospital administrators and creative types, preppies and earth puppies, direct and evasive, sex kittens and hermits. There’s several tattoos in very strategic places among the group. Who and where, my lips are sealed. Today, we’re still there for each other in all the old ways, but more so. We laugh harder and cry more easily. We listen more carefully and we’re not afraid to ask the hard questions or disagree. We hug harder and hang on longer. They are my “go to girls” and I’ve no doubt they would love me through anything. They’d help me hide a body, break me out of jail or at least hide a key in my cheesecake.

Because if we’re together, you bet there will be dessert!

If you have friends like these, thank God for that gift. They will go with you through hell and back. If you don’t have, make a phone call or look up your old friends on Facebook. Time leaves it mark on all of us but good friends and laughter are truly the best antidote for aging.

Merry Christmas Mags!!!




My page for the family memory book... 2015
My page for the family memory book… 2015

Ya’ll know I herald from an eccentric and big ole Southern family… My husband Perry tells folks my maiden name was Faulkner but that is not true. My father was a Swicegood and mama was a Young. My family tree has so many branches, I recently met a distant cousin online and discovered we’re kin three or four different ways before we reach 6th cousins.

When I was a kid, like most kids, I took my family for granted. Mom and dad really sacrificed so we could have things. We were able to go to college, have our own car to drive, take vacations. Despite my parents’ problems with each other, they really loved and supported their three kids.  Still, as I grew up I couldn’t wait to move away from Goat Pasture Road and leave the crazy ways of my family behind. It took me becoming an adult to fully appreciate my family. It took me becoming a grown up to realize family is something “in you” even more than it is people or a place. I couldn’t leave it behind any more than I could leave behind an arm or a leg. No matter where I went, my crazy family with all its stories, and dramas and conflicts seemed to go with me. It took me til middle age to really begin to accept who I am. That’s when all these stories began to pour out of me. I discovered part of me was a writer and decided to call that part of me “The Girl From Goat Pasture Road.”

It’s the truest thing I’ve ever done and I felt like when I began to embrace that, the whole world began to open up and something in my spirit as well.

As an adult, “family” means so much more than it did when I was young. We’ve lost so many family members the last ten years but we’ve also been blessed with new ones. I’ve lost my parents, aunts, uncles and cousins but I’ve gained nieces, great nieces and nephews, cousins, a grand-dog and a daughter in law in September. Growing older is such a privilege because the depth of our living is so much greater. We know life is tenuous and if we are wise, we will live each day with that in mind.

Perry decided last year that my side of the family needed to start a book of our family history, including recipes and photos. He bought each family a large notebook, put their initial on it and we asked that everyone or every family contribute a page each Christmas. This year, I decided to give my page a theme. It centers around my relationship with my three awesome nephews, and how we forged bonds through Christmas memories and traditions that have kept us close to this day. I’m so proud of each of them, their lovely wives and their children. I want them to know and remember me and continue to keep the bonds of love strong and connected in their own families.


I thank you all for your support of my 12 Days of Christmas Blogs. It is a tradition I look forward to every years and I am honored to receive the gift of your time.

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