Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Goodbye, Robin Williams.

I loved Robin Williams. You did, too. But unless you breathe in more rarefied celebrity air than I, you did not know him. He entertained us, inspired us, influenced us . . . but did not attend our weddings, birthday parties, or stop by at suppertime. I am in no position to comment on his mental health.

You aren't, either.

When a celebrity dies of suicide, particularly after years of publicized drug and/or alcohol addiction, there's a predictable clarion call for better mental health care and substance abuse treatment. It lasts about three or four days. Then we resume our lives and make occasional, wistful mention of the lost soul and his or her immense talent. We muddle through the world with a little less light to guide our paths.

I cannot imagine what better mental health services and addiction treatment could have been available to a person of Robin Williams' means. I don't think "we" could have "saved" him with our love. I'm going to say it out loud: he did a cruel and selfish thing. I pray for his family and close friends. I pray for those struggling as he did on a daily basis, who manage to persevere despite pain and darkness. And I pray his death might inspire someone to seek help before destroying the lives of those around him or her.

Because suicide did not "free" Robin Williams.

He eliminated himself and left his loved ones to struggle with guilt, grief, and anguish. That's the reality.

G. K. Chesterton said, “The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.”

Our world will never be the same.

Love from Delta.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Loudly Clanging Belles Take a Toll

Just hangin' out by the fence

southern belle noun \ˈsə-thərn bel\ : a woman from the Southern United States who personifies beauty, gracious hospitality and refined manners

I've seen dyed-in-the-cotton Southern belles at the tender age of five and the squishy age of ninety-five. The prissiness swims in our collective gene pool; the dedication to make-up, hair, fingernails, clothes, shoes and monograms is bound in polished strands of DNA.

After biting a Southern belle, a mosquito will immediately check itself in a mirror.

I know some. I'm related to some. Most days, my own Southern belle tendencies lead to excessive primping. It can be tedious, fixing up to walk to the mailbox.

I encountered a different type of belle today: The Walmart Belle. 

The Walmart belle I spotted was slathered in foundation that may or may not have had Alabama red clay in the ingredient list. Her eyeshadow could have inspired Crayola to send a scouting team. The mascara? Black, heavy, and clinging to an impressive pair of false lashes.

Southern belles chime softly and charm well. They are polite to a fault.

Walmart belles clang loudly and run over your foot without a backward glance. 

She is not to be confused with your typical Walmartian. Most of them, I'm convinced, are oblivious to their appearance or in some state of psychosis.They're on innocuous errands, maybe there to communicate with the mother ship.

The Walmart belle knows what she looks likeshe spent three hours getting readyand is apparently there to be seen and appreciated. In the absence of an employee to scream at, she chooses to communicate with her family by bellowing long-distance.

If you spot one, protect your elegant shoe. Those carts are heavy and can leave tread marks.

Love from Delta.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thoughts for 2014...

I do not make New Year's resolutions. Like everyone else, I think deep thoughts about the things I'll try to change in accordance with the calendar. It's less stressful than taking ironclad vows.

I am going to try to come to terms with the fact my eyebrows are never going to look like Anastasia of Beverly Hills does them unless Anastasia happens to pass through Delta, Alabama and stop for directions. If that happens, you can expect her to be locked in my basement and forced into working her magic on me.

This means spending much less time with a super-magnifying mirror and tweezers in direct sunlight, which is a Stupid Beth Trick to start with. I'm pretty sure I mess up and create new, traumatic flaws rather than accomplish good with this habit.

I'm going to try to disregard the echoing Litany of Southern Womanhood: Don't you leave the house without doing your makeup. This year I attended a luncheon in the home of a beautiful woman who greeted me by saying, "Oh, lordI was so busy getting things ready, I forgot to do my eyes." This is so silly . . . as silly as hearing myself tell my daughter, "Yes, I'm putting on lip gloss. It's what I do when I don't know what to do." (I was lost on the way to a state park.)

Also on the list: embrace the fact I love pizza, but it must be the carrot at the end of my exercise stick.

Meditation, Pilates, yoga, long walks. More of that stuff.

Fewer selfies, more selfless attitude. That one's very important.

Remain as grateful at all times as possibleespecially in prayer.

Write, write, write . . . even if it's coming out wrong, wrong, wrong.

My rose-colored glasses will remain firmly in place, and I'll continue to see the best in everyone and every situation. I will laugh at myself even if I'd prefer to kick myself. I will find a way to make someone smile whenever I get the chance. I will attempt to keep my foot far from my mouth, especially when firing off a heated response.

I wish you joy, health and peace in 2014.

Love from Delta.


Friday, November 15, 2013

The Very Beautiful Parker Memorial Baptist Church

The church of my childhood was spartan, with punishing Puritanical wood pews and no musical instruments. Maybe that's why I've had a lifelong fascination with elaborate churches and cathedrals. I've seen majestic stained glass and soaring flying buttresses in Europe; I've been humbled by the beauty of All Saints Chapel at Sewanee, The University of the South.

As long as I can remember, I've longed to see inside the historic Parker Memorial Baptist Church in my hometown of Anniston, Alabama. I've been gazing wistfully at its imposing architecture, wondering at the splendor to be found within.

Today, I finally had my chance. My wonderful friend Kathy Weiser, a lifelong member, offered me a personal tour. It was everything I'd imagined and moreincluding a breathtaking Louis Comfort Tiffany window!

A brief history: On July 3, 1887, forty-five believers, most of them members from First Baptist Church in West Anniston, organized the Second Baptist Church in the Opera House on Noble.

 Dr. G. A. Nunnally of Eufaula was called as pastor and property was purchased on the corner of Quintard and Twelfth Street. The name of the church was changed to Twelfth Street Baptist. Duncan C. Parker, 13 year old son of Duncan T. Parker, died March 26, 1889. Cornelia Parker, organist of Twelfth Street Baptist Church and wife of Mr. Parker, died three weeks later. As a memorial to his wife and son, Mr. Parker offered to pay for a new sanctuary. The church soon changed its name to Parker Memorial Baptist Church.

The Parker Memorial of today recently underwent a four million dollar renovation. Take a look:

Duncan T. Parker

Many thanks to Kathy, and
Love from Delta.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hers Was A Curious Makeup

In the words of a certain Springsteen song, I'm sick of sitting 'round here trying to write this book. Therefore, you're getting a blog about a subject I've been pondering lately: makeup. Cosmetics. The stuff we put on our faces (and maybe other parts).

The United States is the biggest cosmetic market in the world, with an estimated annual revenue of about 54.89 billion U.S. dollars. You can't turn on a television or open a magazine without being lured by promises of a prettier, younger, brighter, more appealing, worthy-of-public-viewing face. Hope in a jar is a very salable product. Debbie Boone keeps crooning at me about a Lifestyle Lift. I kinda wish she'd stop.

As a traditional Southern woman, I admit it. The cliché applies—I won't walk to the mailbox without makeup. This is especially true for me, as my mail waits in a public post office. I've had an older male cousin remark on how a woman should always have her hair and makeup done for the grocery store or any other non-hidden environs, because she might encounter someone helpful in her career. Can't be seen looking less than your best. (Yes, I resented that a bit.)

During this morning's regimen I pondered how other women might feel. Do you put on makeup for yourself, or others? How long does it take you? Is your objective confidence, beauty, sexiness? Are you happier with or without it? Is it a chore, or is it fun?

I have days when I wonder if I'm doing the whole thing right. I recently attempted to correct this by submitting to a Bobbi Brown saleslady/makeup pro/painter of women. I muttered excuses and left the counter in horror when she finished, as I looked like the afternoon's designated mall clown. It took me ten minutes of swiping stuff off in a ladies' room to reenter the public domain.

One lady tells me she has "at home eyebrows" and "public eyebrows." I find this both amusing and sad.

My grandfather used to tell me, "Pretty is as pretty does." Does that maxim apply without lipstick and an eyelash curler?

Possible responses to "Why are you wearing makeup?":

Because I didn't have time for plastic surgery.
Because I feel naked without it.
Because all the other women are.
It was my morning art project.
I do not want to frighten small children.
Because I made the mistake of spending an hour with the Kardashians again.

What about it, ladies? I'd love to hear your thoughts. I'm going to fix my face and ponder the subject.

Here's what Miranda thinks:

Love from Delta.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Maybe Chivalry Just Has a Fever

My latest book has me shuffling back and forth between men pitching woo in 1947 and 2012 and considering the differences. I wasn't around for the post-war woo, but I suspect it was courtlier and more chivalrous than what we see these days.

Don't get me wrong: I love being a modern woman. I would not erase one hundred years of progress for those of us blessed with two x chromosomes . . . not for all the leather jackets gallantly tossed over mud puddles in the world.

It is heartening, however, to see some traditions continue. Men walking on the traffic side of the street to protect their ladies, for one.

I am not my grandmother, who would stand stock-still for ten minutes beside a car door waiting for a gentleman to open itbut I'm happy to have a door opened for me whenever possible.

If there is a snake or spider nearby, I'm going to require a white knight bearing sword or heel.

I think most women are comforted knowing there are men out there they can call on in times of need. My husband is that kind of guy; always dependable in a crisis (if you can get him to answer his cell phone). For those times he's unavailable, I can turn to what I think of as "the men in my village." They're friends of mine, relatives, friends of my husband's, husbands of girlfriends . . . we all have them, ladies. I am grateful for the men in my village.

Chivalrous men, your mama raised you right. We thank you.

"I often think a lot of women's attraction to vampires is based on the fact that vampires come from centuries ago, from eras of chivalry and courtly virtues."
~Stephen Moyer

"I heard that chivalry was dead, but I think it's just got a bad flu."
~Meg Ryan

"If you're walking with your lady on the sidewalk, I still like to see a man walking street-side, to protect the lady from traffic. I grew up with that, and I hate to see something like that get lost. I still like to see that a man opens the door. I like those touches of chivalry that are fast disappearing."
~Betty White  

Love from Delta.