Category Archives: holidays

origami envelope for cash


I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted online so I came up with this. You use the entire 9″ x 12″ sheet from a pad of tracing paper: no measuring or trimming except for the first fold.















read the book


I’ve been to his home, Rowan Oak, in Oxford many times. But before last night I’d never read a William Faulkner novel.

I know, I know; I’m already ashamed.

Maybe it’s because I always tried to start out with “The Sound and the Fury.” By the second page I still hadn’t figured out what the heck was going on. So I always copped to rather more soothing reading.

But James Franco’s “As I Lay Dying” was on Netflix. As it was Christmas weekend and I had a scarf to knit, I figured, what the heck: another California actor trying to play a country boy. Let’s see how bad this is. “The Beverly Hillbillies” has persistently informed Hollywood’s iconic Southerner and we’re still trying to live it down.

As a director, Franco excelled. But it was Tim Blake Nelson who knocked my socks off. I have known people like Anse Bundren and am probably related to one or two. So my impressions of the film were visceral.

In the Delta, you go about your business in the rain. It’s not unusual to see someone on the street without a raincoat. But in Faulkner’s narrative, oldest son Cash works in a downpour, as both tribute and grief.

His sister, Dewey Dell, faces her dilemma with a naivete that speaks to a different time. Her situation, unfortunately, threatens today’s young woman under the yoke of regressive legislation.

An obsessive fatalism ruled the Bundren family. Burdened by such a mission, they tromped on the tender shoots of Providence. The message was not lost on me.

I located a PDF of the novel and downloaded it last night. I did not stop until I read the last page. Today my eyeballs feel blistered and my attention wanders from my work because I have downloaded “The Sound and the Fury.” Now that I have a feel for Faulkner’s cadence and convoluted narrative, I feel empowered to try it again. Also, I’m excited to see if I learn more new words. I had never experienced the term “pussel-gutted,” but I plan to use it in a comment soon.

Franco made “Sound/Fury” into a movie this year. I think this time I’ll read the book first.



One of my best friends turned 13 today. He also happens to be my grandson.

I once said to him, “We have the best conversations.”

“We DO!” he agreed, grinning.

Yesterday we discussed the fine points of finding a clean restroom while on the road. I explained how I manage to avoid touching the seat and he told me about a retail chain where the facilities are always pristine.

“Do you realize,” he said, “that we just had a 30-minute conversation about toilets? And that we didn’t say anything disgusting or offensive?”

We marveled at that, as we frequently do when our queries and conjectures take us deep into the mysteries of the universe.

I called his phone this morning and sang “Happy Birthday” in a voicemail. He called me back to give me times and directions for the day.

The last thing he said to me was, “I can’t wait to see you.”

I feel like I’m the one having a birthday.

Happy day, beautiful boy.



There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. ~ I John 4:18.

In J school we were taught not to bury the lead. But this is my blog and I can do what I want to because I am a grownup.

I remember a sermon decades ago; the minister was saying that John was the Love Apostle and in his gospel account of Jesus’ life, John was just getting warmed up.

The intro in my Bible to I John says his gospel and three books were all written around the same time and that II John was written to a Chosen Lady, who may have been a person or who may have been the Church.

Times were tough and there was a lot of double-speak in the fellowship because, well, you could get killed just for knowing who Jesus was.

So when in I John 2:10 he says, “Whoever loves his brother lives in the light,” he was probably talking about the disciples, but for me this verse is about the other child of my parents, Bill.

He was named for my dad’s dad, William, and for my dad’s favorite ball player, Stan Musial. He showed up in our family a week before Christmas on December 17. His birthday was like the pre-party for Santa. I’m trying to remember if Bill ever had a gift that wasn’t wrapped in red or green.

I was not yet 2 when Bill was placed in the car seat (yes, we had them then) next to me in the back of our ’53 Plymouth. I wasn’t sure what he was or why he was there, and I promptly smacked him on the head.

What ensued was a lot of yelling and crying from the front seat of the car. I have been viewed with suspicion and alarm by my parents ever since, and rightly so.

Bill and I haven’t been a big part of each other’s life for the last 30+ years. We’ve made up for it over the past three weeks, I think.

What has been remarkable has been our ability to work in tandem. On July 21 and 22 when my dad and mom respectively went to the ER, we chose to trust each other, in spite of what we’d been repeatedly told was the truth about us.

For myself, I sent up a short prayer right about then to God, asking Him to please help me to keep my gnarly ego quiet. If I could play nice, that most certainly would attest to the power of prayer.

I tell folks (when I can remember to do so) that in every tragedy lies a blessing. We may not see where the blessing falls, but if you’re lucky you can get some on your shoes.

So my blessing today is that I know Bill has my back. I hope he knows that I have his. I love him. And I am in the Light.

Asparagus Casserole


My daughter and I gave up everything with MSG — I mean, it’s hard enough to stay awake after Thanksgiving dinner — so no more Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. This takes a little longer but is so much better.

2 cans asparagus spears
1 recipe white sauce (2 T butter, 2 T flour, 1 cup milk, salt)
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup grated cheese — your favorite
2 hard cooked eggs, chopped
1 cup crushed cracker crumbs
2 T melted butter

Drain the asparagus and spread evenly in a greased Pyrex dish. Make your white sauce and while still hot, stir in the mushrooms and cheese. When cheese has melted, pour sauce over asparagus. Top with chopped egg. Toss crumbs with melted butter and sprinkle over asparagus. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until casserole bubbles.

You cannot mess this up unless you accidentally use sugar instead of salt or you set the thing on fire.

You can substitute the asparagus liquid for part of the milk, you can omit the cheese, the eggs and/or the cracker crumbs. It really is just about the asparagus and the sauce.

I think the original recipe had pimento, but all the stores in Memphis are out of pimento and have been for a while. There must have been a pimento workers strike somewhere….

scandalous aging


Tuesday and Wednesday I crash-watched two seasons of “Scandal” and I am lit up like a horny teenager. I was awake until 6 am — unheard of in the last three years.

There are all sorts of lights coming on and bells sounding and I’m not entirely happy about it. Life is so much easier when you have no sex drive.

Yesterday was full of hell and I went out on my own last night, drove to Collierville to the Mellow Mushroom and had pizza all by myself. Got exactly what I wanted and ate as much as I wanted and stayed until I was ready to go home.

Wondered where sober seniors go to hit on people. Figured at that time of night they were all in their recliners in front of the TV.

God, getting old really SUCKS.

Sparklers ~ Will Stanton


There’s an age that’s right for sparklers,
For igniting the dark of the lawn.
Then the afterglow grays on the wire,
And the sparkler time is gone.

I recall one evening grown smaller,
A neighbor from some distant land
Brought three dozen boxes; too many almost
For sparkler-hooked children to stand.

Like small demented blacksmiths
We forged white metal there.
In lances bright with glory
To slash the velvet air.

Glistening and breathless as lovers,
Lawless as swallows in flight,
Shrieking, careening, colliding,
Erasing our bedtime with light.

Except for a single small maiden,
inscribing in letters of fire,
Over and over and over,
The name of her small heart’s desire.

RONNIE, she wrote, and then RONNIE,
Arm weary but steadfast she stood,
RONNIE, new sparkler, and RONNIE
Till the fire was darkened for good.

Well, the age of sparklers is over,
And just as well I would say.
Dangerous, wasteful and surely
Too childish for children today.

Still–it might be nice to remember
When most nice memories are gone,
How your name–if it’s RONNIE–was written
One evening in stars on the lawn.

~ Will Stanton

A New Year

The sun is crashing through the morning windows as if it were June.

I want so much from this New Year.

I want not to tiptoe through my relationships.
I want not to relinquish my freedom to the musty dank of ancient fears.
I want to fill my path with Light as bright as this January summer sun.

Forgive me all the sins of years, and grant me the hope of a graceful life.
Help me to see myself as I see those who surround me with love.
Bring me to the knees of compassion and tenderness.
Remind me to laugh with my entire heart.

Send me out to give of myself the gifts that I have not yet seen.
Bring me afresh to the wonder of life and those who live.
Give me the determination to forge ahead when the day is stale and empty of inspiration.
Devote me to my promises, my truth, my word.

Fold me in the arms and wings of those who are ever present to fashion of me a being of joy.
Let me never wander from your kindly Sight, or trespass on the ground of squandered time.

Thank you for giving to me all I need before I think to ask.

Stormy Bailey
© 1 January 2009, The CatWirks