The Love Story 5.

The mystery as to “why none of those Fulmer kids are married yet”, came and went about as often as the front door swung open and shut. We finally cast it up to Daddy and Mama that perhaps if they’d make life a little less exciting and pleasant at home, then it’d be easier to get rid of us. They didn’t, and we continued on as we had been all this while.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

It’s cold in my room. I went out of it to use the bathroom and as I entered the bathroom I saw a cricket on the floor. I thought about the cricket the whole time I was in there.

“Dear Little Cricket, what are you doing in here? 

What lead you from the door to standing here on the bathroom floor?”

I washed my hands and picked up a towel from the floor. That towel has laid there as a rug for days. I kept saying I’d pick it up and do a nice little clean up job. Finally I just did pick it up and took it outside on the back porch to shake it out. 

“Dear Little Cricket, I act on the sly…I ‘ll pick you right up and take you outside.”

I’d come back in and put the rug in the dirty clothes. I don’t know why I was telling the cricket I’d put him outside though, for as I was saying those words I was getting up from just having dropped him square in the trashcan. Well, it was cold outside, and he would have been stepped on on the floor…What else was I to do? Walking back to my room, I continued my rhyme, which I was beginning to become quite fond of.

“Poor Little Cricket, now here is the thing – ” I said, opening my room door, but instead of finishing it I screamed and jumped, for I met a figure standing behind the door that hadn’t been there when I left. I threw my arms around the figure and tackled a laughing Merria onto the bed, squeezing her very hard and laughing and screaming at the same time. She pulled my hair and I squeezed her harder.

“Oh Merria! You wicked child! You should be horsewhipped! How could you do that to me?” Merry, who was laughing, said, 

“I was WONDERING when you were finally going to come in here. I’ve been waiting and waiting.”


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pooh-Hah-Zell. That’s what I call Daddy sometimes. Poor Chree is sick with the flu and sits, rocking with folded hands. Folded hands on his red checked flannel shirt. Anne, Merry and Mel sit on the couch. Anne is looking at an online catalogue of dresses; Merry is lying on Mel. They’ve been looking through Milly’s baby book. Abe lies in front of the fire on his back, holding his iPeril and listening to something. Dawn is absorbed in counting change as she stands behind the stove, and Daddy crosses one foot over his knee, laying his Bible on top. We’re getting ready for devotion. Mama flits in and out, then in again and sits down. 

“You can put your feet in my lap,” she tells Dawn, who is already propping them up there. 

“My goodness, Anna Grace’s birthday is less than a month away!” Said Chris.

“When are we going to have her birthday?” Daddy asked. 

“We may do it the 15th or 16th,” said Mama as she scratched some writing in her book.

“I’m leaving on the 14th I think.” Everyone sounded surprised.

“What? Where?”

“Nicaragua,” Said Chree. “Spanish language school with Timothy.”

“I guess we could have it on the 14th before you leave.”

“Oh, it’s the 15th. I think,” Amended Chree. 

It’s a cozy evening. I’m warm and sleepy. Sleepy because I’ve been losing sleep over That Boy. I’ve been waking up and thinking – fearing, rather – that I’ve been messaging him all night. In my sleep I see, to my chagrin, that I’ve messaged him 41 times in a row, always telling him that I would stop messaging him. But then I’d think of something else to say and not be able to stop myself from typing and sending it…In my half waking sleep, I’ve sensed his acute annoyance at my continual stream of missives…He grudgingly replies and I never stop. I WANT to quit, but every time I’d check to see what I’d written, I’d already sent another one! Thank goodness it’s just a dream, but it’s a terrible feeling of no self -control. I’ve a mind not to write him back for a week, just for good measure. 

Dawn had walked into the living room earlier this afternoon eating a shrimp. She always sucks on the shrimp (and has since she was a little girl) to get the juice out. Abrum was lying on the floor and jumped up as she came in.

“Lo DAWNKULD,” Abe said, perching two hands on his hips and tucking his chin to his neck. He says her name slowly at first, holding out the Lo, then says Dawnkuld fast. Every time. Standing close, he bent toward her and said abruptly, shaking a finger at her, “Lo DAWNKULD, Were you sucking on that shrimp?!” Dawn paused and cocked a brow at him, then said slowly,


Abe let out a long yowl of laughter, throwing his head back, saying he’d never seen anyone eat shrimp that way before. She tackled him to the couch amid his yelling things about shrimp and wrestling with her feisty resistance. For the rest of the evening he teased her about shrimp. Nearly every reference he made to her alluded to it.


January’s fires burned through snow and sunny days and many a pause found me scribbling questions and thoughts into my journal about John Barrett Watson. It seemed my cocoons of questions never would transform into the beautiful winged answers I was dying to see. Most of my concerns could be summed up by the following entry.

Tuesday, January 21,2014

I fear that, already, while I’m beginning to be deeply interested and attracted he may be coming to the conclusion that, (as he says it) Pigs will Learn to Scuba Dive”  before we’ll ever go on an ice cream or coffee date.” Oh well. Se la vie. Jerry’s was nice. That whole days was splendid. Absolutely beautiful. I keep trying to call to memory every glance and word and smirk or his. Sometimes I can see it clearly and hear his voice. I get warmly happy all over. But I wonder, as I’m stewing over Him, what is he thinking? Anything? Nothing? Come, John, where are your thoughts?


Abe telling her Something Important, while Dawn holds the reflector. We were experimenting with its effect on photos one Sunday afternoon. 

Jay came home for a visit that January. Much to our happiness. 


He has a sweet smile, but Chris was pinching me. 


Since Writing Last


  • The beautiful hydrangea he gave me for Valentine’s Day, died. RIP, Hydrangea.
  • I went to Georgia for a week where we celebrated my parents 40th anniversary while Mama recovered from pneumonia, collaborated in directing a play, fixed us yummy meals and took Bella Rose on Grandbaby Dates.
  • We sisters had some time to be together, catch up on life and sit in the front yard reading old journals to each other…that was heavenly and hilarious.
  • The faithful little computer I was using, Died. So I replaced it and am have Nooooo Trouble with the myriad of frustrating problems I had with the last one.
  • Bella Rose turned 9 months and talks in a growly little voice, saying all sorts of words we don’t understand, but the faces she makes while saying them is adorable. She’s eating avocado, avocado and avocado, bananas, strawberries – any berries, and is pulling up on everything.
  • A beautiful wedding took place in the quiet woods of Georgia at a little church I love deeply. The bride and the groom worked like trojans in wedding prep and were so sweet and chill and kind on their wedding day. It was a pleasure to be with them and document their day.
  • Since coming home nearly two weeks ago, we’ve  been traveling off and on. Packing, staying in hotels hanging by the pool while daddy works (woot woot!), going home and unpacking, washing clothes and getting to make home food….yummm….then packing up again and leaving. Still, there are peaceful moments that we take to Stop and Smell the Roses along the way, and I admit, I do it as many times as possible.


At home with Dutch and Daddy

feb16-268This is the way she likes saying goodnight.

Have a beautiful Thursday, y’all!

The Love Story.4


Life at the Grey Submarine wound its way through January’s cold days, and was full to the brim of the sweet nectar of home we take for granted, or intentionally savor while we’re still there. My thoughts were full of ‘that Barrett Boy’, as Daddy called him, and once or twice I thought back on a conversation with Daddy I’d had months earlier, wondering if I might have been wrong.

November 22, 2013

It’s grey outside and foggy. I wonder if it’s hot or cold?…Mama fried bacon and eggs this morning and Daddy brewed coffee. He told Mama with a twist of tease to his earnestness that they were going to have a rough time once all the kids flew the nest because for 37 years she hasn’t drunk coffee with him (Mama can’t stand the draught). And now she’s not eating breakfast (never has liked it too much). 

“I won’t have anyone to eat with. Not even my little Babe-rielle.” 

“Aw, Daddy,” I said kissing his cheek which smelled like spicy aftershave, “I’m not going anywhere.”

“Ohhhh one of these days someone’s going to sweep you off your feet. Right off your feet, and will steal one of my most precious treasure from me.” He had a lilt of tease and poutiness in his voice and a little twinkle in his eye, but he’s said it often enough before that I think part of him – like me – dreads that phase of life. I’m glad it’s a while away yet.”

Now I wondered dangerously if it might be closer at hand than I had ever thought it could be. Pages were filled of questions and what-if’s and the thoughts that seemed to tumble on in relentless succession about JBW. Yet, my world at home was more rich than ever I had remembered and I was determined not to let it slip away without enjoying it.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A little wind stirs the pines outside. Those pines are wetted and their trunks are black, and it’s a very grey sky. Mama and Daddy are bustling in the kitchen making biscuits and bacon and eggs. Chris slept in my room last night and Jay and Abe in the boy’s room. Chris was the first of the boys up, so he sauntered in the living room this morning when things were first lighting to breakfast preparation. 

“Please, Chree, read to me? The book’s on the school room shelf.” He retrieved the book and sat with it’s large red cover open while he turned the pages. I lay on my couch bed and Chris sat at the end of it. He read ‘Road Through the Woods’, by Rudyard Kipling, ‘Goodbye to the Farm’, by Rob Louis Stevenson and ‘Wreck of the Hesperus’ by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The septic tank has been ornery again, so tonight we washed dishes outside. The boys helped. Anne handed the water hose to me while she toted dishes in and out of the house. The water was cold and the ground wet and soppy and my toes cold. The sky was clear and the moon especially bright. It kept making me look at it as I held a kink in the hose and waited for more dishes. Jay came out with a pile of pots whistling, “Got a Whale of a Tale to Tell Ya Lads”, and held open the door for Chris who followed behind him with more. Beka got excited about JBW last week and said, “Aw, I bet he was smiling the whole way home.” I told her I didn’t know about him but I certainly was. There was a goofy little grin on my face all 7 hours of the trip home. So many times I’d burst from a dazed stare into a fit of laughter thinking about something he did or said. And all he did, he did with that ease of his Texan self. I think I could grow to really like Texans. Especially This One. 

Tuesday, January 14,2014

I was lying in bed last night, almost asleep, when I heard the rhythm of Mama’s steps as she came into my room. She patted my head, then kissed it and said, “You are invaluable to me; you’re precious. I love you, honey,” and walked out. After a few paces, though, she came back to the doorway and prayed, “And Lord, you know whether John Watson is the right one or not. Please guide them both and help her to know for sure what your will is.” Home feels safe, partly due to the amount of praying that is done – and I’m thankful Mama and Daddy have spread it on thick for us. I know they have spent hundreds of hours in prayer for our family. It’s humbling and warming and wonderful to be loved so deeply and so openly. 

‘Resting his eyes’ (as Grandmama says) by the fire



The merriest of meals is when the family is together.

IMG_9016Almost every time we eat together Daddy gets to laughing so hard his face turns purple. 

Milly is the Birthday Girl of January, and 
And each year the wrapping grows more curious, and less conventional.
The pond in the back yard, which, when I was little, I was convinced there would be fish every time it rained.

The Love Story. 3

Saturday, January 5, 2014

Well, and so he asked if we might write. That steep, lanky frame bent over the back of my pew and at the end of those lanky Texan legs were a pair of splendid boots, worn in and tough and careless. The mouth of this tall, easy frame was saying, 

“Before you drift off into oblivion, I’d like to ask you about something. Don’t know if this is something you’re interested in or not, but I would like to write you and get to know you better.” Two hazel eyes were looking down at me from that frame bent over my pew into my swirling grogginess. But thickness of mind had no effect on the stomach; it floated up into my throat, then bounced around in the pits for a while. I thought I’d burst of smiles all pent back.

“Like I said,” he was saying, “You can pray about it if you’re not sure or just need some time…I don’t know if this is of the Lord or not…I’ve enjoyed our correspondence we’ve had in the past – ” 

“Yes, I would,” I said simply. 

“…Would be interested in praying about it?” He was raising his brows. 

“I’d be interested in getting to know you,” I smiled at him, wanting to laugh. He smiled too.

Don’t be fooled by my calm entry, for once he had walked away I jumped up from my seat and dashed to the kitchen behind me where a group of my girl friends were huddled, and burst into laughter as I said as quietly as my excited voice would allow,

“He just asked me to write him!!! John Barrett Watson!” And they laughed with me, glancing over shoulders to make sure he wasn’t around.

view from the yard of The Grey Submarine

Monday, January 6,2014

Jay is home. Drove in Saturday. We had chicken wings tonight and 10 out of 11 were home. I discovered this truth counting glasses for the table. Ten out of eleven being home! That’s a good feeling. Abrum was the last to finish eating and said to himself, though he addressed the comment to Dawn who was cleaning up, “Well if you insist, I’ll have one more.” He forked four more onto his plate and commenced chewing them with perked, rounded lips, all squished to the middle. His jaw, too, seemed to follow a circular motion, which, between bites, caused the dangling mane to wobble and shudder as if it were frightened. I laughed at his odd eating form, then he smiled a little and said, “I guess you never had the unique pleasure of experiencing Mr. Aikens as he took a meal.” I had not. But apparently the boys at the table had, for this rousted an outburst of laughter from them. Daddy too, with Mama, who’d retired to the living room were heard with a shout and chuckled laugh. There was a great deal of “Watsoning” going on tonight during wahoo. Abe would vigorously shake his die and exclaim in hopes of a six, “Gimme a big one, Watson!” “She is operating on more Watts than we are tonight…Oh! Someone’s Watson-Happy!…”  So enters the phase of relentless teasing. Ah, well, it’s always been tradition for me to have the family “In On the Doings”. It’s much more rewarding, fun and safe that way. They’re not afraid to tell me when I’m faking or when I’m trying too hard. Or not hard enough – as Mama likes to remind me that ‘dressing well for your man can go a long way in showing respect…So, go put on a little lipstick.’

Funny excerpt from Saturday night conversation with JBW. I was fading quickly, and was losing the grasp on reasoning and concentration. John was telling me that his Dad and Mama ran a small newspaper at one point. But I’d faded and couldn’t remember what the connection was…

“Wait, you and your Mom?” I asked…John paused. 

“No, my Dad and his Mom. No. Wait. Now you’re rubbing off on me.” We were both so tired and groggy, but that was our last chance to talk in person. It was worth it for me, even though it was a loopy conversation. At one point I punched him. It was meant to be a nudge on the arm as in “Oh, see? Me too!” But I remember the moment of contact feeling much harder and out of control than I was expecting. The nice thing about John is that, though I’ve been attracted in a more selfish, shallow way to other fellows, there is something very Good about him, that makes me instinctively trust him. It’s easy to be around him, easy to talk with him, easy to laugh with him. There’s an honesty and frankness that seems evident and he isn’t one to always have the spotlight on him. He’s quiet, but he has an ease which becomes him terribly well.