Floor Furnaces, Home, Memories, Mocha

Early Morning Musings

Mocha Time

Driven from bed by a cranky back, I huddle beneath a wooly afghan and wait for coffee to drip into the clear carafe. It’s still dark, so early I had to manually adjust the automatic thermostat upward to awaken the furnace, which bumps and whirs into action.

As I wait for my coffee, I’m transported back to winter mornings long ago in that little white house on 7th Street. Every room, except the dining room, opened into a short hall that housed our very own pet dragon, sleeping beneath a dark grate. When roused and fed a steady supply of natural gas, our faithful friend warmed the entire house with his fiery breath. I can almost feel his toasty blast and see my robe billow out in hoop-skirt fashion.


This grill’s much shinier than our old furnace grate

Before I pour my first cup of coffee, I can’t resist standing over a heat register in the floor. The air forced through its puny gills barely warms my feet, making me long for a sizzling burst from that old dragon’s throat.

I settle again beneath my cozy cover with my own form of mocha—strong Dunkin Donut Coffee laced with Atkins Dark Chocolate Royale Shake. Between sips I study a mug my friend, Billie, gave me.

Its playful script declares:
Friends laugh with you
Friends accept and forgive
Friends are forever
Friends laugh with you

And I thank God for warm memories of that old furnace and friendships, both old and new, that sweeten my predawn hours.

Good Morning To All My Faithful Friends!

A friend loves at all times… Proverbs 17:17

Arkansas, Favorite Things, Home

My Favorite Things About Arkansas

As a native Arkansan, I love it when folks from other places put down roots, thrive and even brag about all the good things they find here. Kyran Pittman, a transplant to Arkansas from Canada and a member of Arkansas Women Bloggers, shared her ten favorite things about our state and invited us to do the same.

Using Kyran’s suggestions, I’ve compiled my own list of favorites. As you can see, sometimes I’m hard pressed to limit myself to one thing or place. Maybe that’s because I’ve lived here so long.

  • Favorite stretch of road in Arkansas: I  love the drive on Kanis Road between Little Rock and Ferndale cutoff in the fall. But, of course, the Pig Trail is magnificent, too! I also enjoy exploring country lanes.
  • Favorite time of year in Arkansas: Spring with its fairyland of dogwood, azaleas, forsythia, and daffodils never ceases to charm me.  
  • Favorite place to eat fancy in Arkansas: We don’t get very fancy, but our favorite place for special occasions is Brave New Restaurant — always good fare and good service in a comfortable, quiet atmosphere.
  • Favorite place to eat casual in Arkansas: Right now, it’s Senor Tequila’s on Highway 10. That’s because I’ve just recently found my sensitive stomach can handle Tex-Mex again!

Favorite places to get away in Arkansas: Horseshoe Canyon Ranch, just outside of Jasper, is a beautiful place to get away, especially if you like horses, rock climbing (not me!), zip lines or just plain ole porch sittin’. (Full Disclosure: My nephew Barry Johnson and his family own and run it. They are delightful!)

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch

  • I also love Hemingway Pfeiffer Writing Retreats at Piggott (Thanks Mary) and Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs (Thanks, Pat, for introducing me to that great writers’ retreat.) And I can’t leave out my friends, the Blairs. They have a wonderful cabin on Greer’s Ferry that they share. (Thank you, thank you!)
  • Favorite places to walk in Arkansas: Garvan Gardens and Crystal Bridges Museum in spring and fall. My street  is also a great place to walk any time of year.

Favorite things that grow in Arkansas:
Homegrown tomatoes, strawberries and
peaches, but I like honeysuckle, gardenias
and peonies, too!

  • Favorite places to swim in Arkansas: When I was young it was Greer’s Ferry Lake and that was mostly water skiing. Now it’s our neighbor’s pool next door. You can hang out there and watch the sun set behind Pinnacle Mountain. (Thank you, Steve and Cissy!)
  • Favorite colorful expression or place name in Arkansas: “Drecly” as in, “I’ll get to that directly.” However, as used in Arkansas, it means “when I get around to it.” Have you ever driven through Possum Grape?
  • Favorite fair or festival in Arkansas: We are at the point in our lives where we don’t like crowds. Over the years, we’ve taken kids to the state fair and attended Riverfest. If I were to be lured out to a festival today, it would probably be a music venue, featuring the likes of Nora Jones, Diana Krall, Adele, Michael Franks, Eric Clapton, Delbert McClinton,The Eagles and of course, our son, Erik’s band, Bombay Black.
  • Here are some more of my favorite things about our great state:

Christmas Day 2012
summer 2013

    I love that we have four seasons with none of them so long that you get worn out.

  • I love that we have such diverse topography — forests, mountains, farmland, along with a wonderful mix of rustic and sophisticated places to enjoy.
  • Last but not least, I love it that, for the most part, Arkansas people are friendly.

As another blogger mentioned, sometimes I get my feelings hurt when people who have never experienced life in our state make fun of us. But maybe it’s better to keep it a secret from rude folks!

What are your favorite things about our fair state? I’d love to hear them.

Home, Ironing

Do You Iron?


Recently I had dinner with two friends who said they don’t iron any more. Neither even owns an iron! I was surprised. Both are always put together without a wrinkle. Plus, they grew up when well-dressed folks were starched and ironed, cleaned and pressed to the nth degree.
I’m accustomed to the young whose clothes have that pulled-from-an-overnight-stay-in-the-dryer-or-on-the-floor look. I see them everywhere, including church–some are even related to me. I’ve been known to leave clothes in the dryer overnight. But my solution is to dry them again with a fresh fabric softener sheet. (In really bad cases, I run them through a short rinse cycle, then dry again.)
The bottom line is if I’m going out and what I want to wear is wrinkled, I have to iron it. I can’t help myself. Maybe that’s because ironing was one of my jobs beginning in junior high—not all the family ironing—but enough to help my working mother and teach me responsibility. Before I could go to town with friends on Saturday, I was required to iron a reasonable number of items. We may have been the first people on the block to embrace spray starch. It certainly made life easier, and my mother was all for that.
It’s not that I love ironing. I’m always looking for an easier option. Ralph Lauren Polo shirts were in vogue when my children were in high school. With all the clothing changes teens do, there was no way was I ironing all those button-downs. I taught them to iron. They caught on fast and still do me proud in their appearances. I felt liberated when I decided to send Terry’s shirts and khakis to the laundry. He certainly looks better for it. 
Now I hang up everything when it comes out of the dryer. If something is wrinkled, I iron it when I’m ready to wear it. My dandy drop-down ironing board makes it simple. With all the great no-iron fabrics that isn’t often.


But to not possess an iron! No way! There are still things that just look better ironed! Last weekend I pressed a table cloth and ironed crinkles out of pant legs that got bunched up against the side of a hanger. I just couldn’t help myself.
For the record, ironed clothing is my “going-out” standard. If you drop by my house, you might find me less than pressed!

But back to my question: Do you iron?

If not, how do you look so good?

 “It would be mortifying to the feelings of many ladies, could they be made to understand how little the heart of a man is affected by what is costly or new in their attire… Woman is fine for her own satisfaction alone. No man will admire her the more, no woman will like her the better for it. Neatness and fashion are enough for the former, and a something of shabbiness or impropriety will be most endearing to the latter.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey