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Visit my About page, where I introduce ourselves, or just scroll down for the most recent wit and wisdom and… well, just whatever I decided to post about today. Glad you’re here. Leave a comment, and “Follow” the blog to keep up with the Joneses!

— SJ

More from the Box of Niggly Thoughts

My Box of Niggly Thoughts has been rattling around lately. This is where I store snatches of conversations, things I’ve read, or other ideas that annoy me, but I never take the time to resolve them. So let’s sift through it and get rid of some of the trash.

A friend’s sister married a man from Zambia. As a gift, the groom’s mother bought traditional Zambian clothes for the bride’s family to wear to the rehearsal dinner. My friend, his wife, and two children posted a photo of them in the clothes.

Someone commented under the picture, “Uh oh! Cultural appropriation! Haha!”

I didn’t want to start a political discussion on a thread about a wedding. But I would like to take this opportunity to address this comment. Ahem. Wearing clothes in honor of the culture that your sister is joining is not cultural appropriation. It was a gift, worn in exactly the right spirit of celebrating another culture, with full knowledge of its context and significance. Can you, Mr. Funny Person, say the same thing about wearing a cheap sombrero and drinking a lot and saying “it’s Cinco de Mayo!” in a very bad accent? No? Hm.

I know, I know. It was a “joke.” It was a stupid one. Wad this one up, throw it away.

When I was a younger mom, I followed a circle of mommy-bloggers. They were funny and articulate, sharing the struggles of being a stay-at-home homeschooling mom with several children. It was nice to know that someone understood how mundane my life was, how invisible I often felt.

Then one of them mentioned in passing that she spoke at a conference… what?! You were invited to stand up in front of people and be seen and heard? Nobody was asking me to speak to them, much less paying me for it. Nobody seemed to be that interested in anything I thought.

And then another one mentioned in passing that she lived in a covenanted community…. what?! You have neighbors who have taken a religious vow to live near one another and be available for emergencies or just watch the kids if you need to run to the grocery store? My family lived a thousand miles away. If it hadn’t been for our across-the-street neighbors, I wouldn’t have had anyone I could call if I needed immediate help.

Yet you wrote as if we were all in the same boat. Well, maybe we were. But you were in first class. Hope you enjoyed the view up there.

That felt good. Pitch it overboard!

A once-revered homeschool leader once informed me, “My wife was kicked out at age 18. Her parents made her leave.” He went on to build an entire “ministry” dedicated to the idea that women shouldn’t go to college or build a career, but should stay home to serve their family until getting married. He was also caught out as a sexual predator and abuser, which made it easy to reevaluate everything I ever heard from him. What about this claim?

They insisted she go to college at age 18. That’s what happened. I’m just very sorry she ended up meeting and marrying him. Whew. Let’s skip tearing this one up and go straight to burning it.

I am not a political person. It’s not just disillusionment. My interests lie more in social structure and cultural behaviors. But I’ll follow some online conversations because I appreciate other people who do put a lot of thought into political matters.

However, there’s always that guy who sniffs out a political conversation from five hundred feet, vaults into the thread, and spews forth comments that sound like a sports commentary, like this:

For the sake of a bi-partisan win, I hope that the recently-tapped conservative candidate with a more liberal social policy can pull through for the vote in the bottom of a covid-strained 9th inning of the Prez’s term. The Prez and Sen R & D’s should try to push this through with a concerted effort to beat the clock and score for the good of the whole nation.

He then goes on for another 500 words in the same vein, and finally posts three links. And… I guess he thinks that others read this with the same passion that he writes it. Maybe he thinks others admire his grasp of the political game. I just think it’s hilarious and mock it on my blog. Let’s drop a red flag on the field and free-throw this one into the outfield.

Well, that’s not everything in the Box, but it felt good to clean out a few niggly thoughts. Thanks for helping.

The Bunny’s Trick

Rabbits aren’t the most intelligent animals. But our bunny does have a trick!

Cosmic has the run of the house, but he’s not welcome in the boys’ room. Gamerboy has a collection of electronics, and Cosmic can destroy a cord with one swipe of his scissor teeth. So from the time he was a tiny bunny, we’ve been running him out of the boys’ room. So, naturally, he always wants in.

He figured out that when DJ or I put Ranger to bed, he could get inside and go under the bed. He’s fast and quiet, so we often didn’t even know he’d gotten in — until ten minutes after light’s-out when Ranger would yell, “The rabbit is chewing on something under my bed!”

The easiest way to lure him out was to offer him a treat. As soon as food became involved, the bunny’s little brain locked in the connection. I could almost hear the click.

So now, every evening, he goes on alert, waiting. When DJ or I walk into Ranger’s room, the bunny comes thundering down the hall, slips through the door, and disappears under the bed. There he waits.

After we’ve prayed with Ranger and tucked him in, we’ll walk out of the room. Cosmic dashes out of the room and periscopes desperately at our feet, and we give him his special evening treat.

Um. That’s it. That’s his trick. Run under bed, run back out, get treat.

Look, he has a brain the size of a walnut. We take what we can get

20 About 20

  1. DJ first saw me as wife material when I left a Trivial Pursuit card on his desk.
  2. The first real spark I felt for him was when I watched how he moved wearing a long black coat.
  3. He likes my sense of humor and creativity.
  4. I like his confidence and gentleness.
  5. On an outing with DJ and some other friends, I spent some time picking out good last names for myself off tombstones. DJ helped me, without once suggesting “Jones.”
  6. I paid more attention to him when found out that he likes A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett; that he’d read all 7 of the Narnia books, in order of their publication, many times; and he’d watched the 6-hour A&E Pride & Prejudice. More than once.
  7. He was somewhat shy when he was young, especially around girls he liked. Yet he never had any problem talking to me.
  8. He’s always admired my writing.
  9. In 1999, he took his final law school exam on a Friday, and the following Monday sent a letter formally stating his interest in me.
  10. We were married less than a year after he wrote that letter.
  11. We celebrated our first anniversary with a three-month-old baby.
  12. We followed that child up with three more, fitting our whole family into one decade.
  13. We both like Taylor Swift.
  14. His love of structure and schedules keeps our life running smoothly and gives me the space to be creative.
  15. We saw a marriage counselor when we reached Year 8. It turned out that both of us had grown up a lot, and we learned to “do marriage” differently to make room for ourselves.
  16. His is a rock-solid faith and a sincere love of Scripture and prayer. Mine is a constant restlessness, turning ideas upside down and shaking them to see if they hold up.
  17. He loves special occasions more than I do. If it weren’t for DJ, we’d never get out the china set that his mother gave us.
  18. I love his beard. He loves my dimple.
  19. He’s a good speaker and a good teacher. It’s not unusual that his impassioned reading of Scripture at church inspires excited applause when he finishes.
  20. It’s twenty years today that we got married. We’re still celebrating.

(January 2000)

(September 2020)

Mundania: Creatures and Cross-Stitching

One of the major reasons why I bought a smartphone all those years ago was to have a camera on hand. Recently my phone deleted several pictures I’d been saving for a Mundania, and I resent it deeply. They were important pictures! Like, more Fey messages in nature; a sequined plushie in the sunlight that looked like somebody had spilled gold dazzle all over the carpet; and a cloud that formed an entirely inappropriate image over the trees. (I wasn’t sure if I’d post the cloud, to be honest. It looked like it had been photoshopped by a thirteen-year-old boy who thinks that certain anatomical references are always funny. If it was a Fey message, it was unmistakable.)

All that to say, I’m rushing my current photos to the blog so I don’t lose them. Because just imagine if I never posted another picture of a neat shadow on our wall!

Here at the Jones Home, Bookgirl is now an online grocery shopper for Wal-Mart. It’s been a good starter job for her, and she’s has a growing appreciation for two things: paychecks and days off.

On one of our many rainy days last month, I popped the trunk and discovered a stowaway.

Likewise, when picking up Bookgirl from work, we saw this little guy hanging from a thread. I moved him to the tree, where we were impressed at his very twig-like coloring — even a green nub at the top to match the moss. (Here’s hoping I didn’t rescue some species of invasive tree-eating moth.)

During this time of quarantine and sheltering-at-home, I discovered cross-stitching. I’m not a very good cross-stitcher. I tried a couple of actual patterns, but the instructions involve a whole lot of counting. I’ve never been very good at counting. Or following instructions, to be honest.

So over the past several weeks, I’ve perfected a technique I like to call “doodling with thread”:

Now, I did cross-stitch the entire alphabet (multiple copies of most letters) and glued it onto old playing cards, which I then cut into little squares. I gave the set to a friend to help her preschooler learn to read. Because if there’s anything more fun than doodling, it’s reading.

This sign at a flea market is kind of the same thing I do with thread and cloth, only they used wood and barbed wire and I’m not confident that it really communicates what they think it does.

So here. Have a kitten in a store window. That’s true joy.

Whew. Glad I saved these important life moments from oblivion.

Mundania: Mostly Screenshots

For a while I played the phone game Wordscapes, a word-scramble game. I was often fascinated by how some words overlapped in ways I didn’t noticed until I was working with the individual letters.

Such as the word POISON, which also contains the words SPOON and SIP.

Or the word ALLUDE, not remarkable in itself, but its letters can spell DALE and DELL, as well as DUAL and DUEL.

Discoveries like these make me happy.


This ad was for animal-safe supplements, wound care, and shampoos — definitely a good addition to any animal owner’s arsenal. But it suffered a bit from Facebook’s sizing requirements:


Also on Facebook, you’re always welcome to other people’s opinions:

It was good of Ralph to take seventeen seconds out of his day to issue this correction to Talia Lin of It’s a Southern Thing.


Here in the Jones Home, We do a lot of family discussions online. It’s convenient when I’m at the grocery store and need to know if we need something — and for proving just how hilarious we all can be.

I’m purple, Sparkler is orange, and DJ is blue.

Of course, I shouldn’t laugh until I know Ralph’s opinions on mask-wearing, online chatting, and visual puns. Can’t be too careful. I just hope he didn’t see the chicken-lovers’ ad.

Sparkler is 14!

Her birthday was actually yesterday. And the truth is, I often get her birthdate wrong anyway; I always think it’s two days later. Sparkler said graciously, “That’s okay. I don’t really know what day yours is either.” Well, sure, but she wasn’t actually present for my birthday.

This morning, however, I cleared out time to sit down with her and talk about who she is at fourteen.

On art: I like drawing, mostly with pencil and paper, but digital is fun, too. I keep thinking I want to paint, but I find it tedious. I draw characters from the Kirby series, and then my own characters that are in that universe. Writing and story-making also exist. My art and writing have improved a ton since last year. I’ve been drawing people more and they actually turn out really good, so that’s cool. I trust you to make me sound like a competent speaker here.

On books: What If and How To, both by Randall Munroe. [Editor’s note: And she’s worn out two copies of Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.] I keep meaning to start The Hunger Games on audiobook, but I just never get around to it. I like listening to music better.

On music: The only band I like is Carbon Leaf. The rest are just random songs. I like a lot of Vocaloid songs, which are glorified speech-to-text. You make an instrumental and put the words in, and it has a voice that sings it. I like the songs mostly because they sound different, and have different meanings than pop songs, which I’ve gotten completely sick of.

Also in music: I’m learning guitar. And being a perfectionist about it — don’t want to do it if I don’t do it well. I think I lot of why I slack off on stuff, like when I miss one day and then don’t want to do it, is because I think, “I missed a day so tomorrow I’ll be worse and just bomb it so I just won’t do it.”

On Travel: GO PLACE. I like going out on drives, mostly to listen to music, but also to get a change of scenery. I’ve also seen a lot more walking trails recently because I have to walk daily; my back was in constant pain. We are attempting to remedy this, and walking helps a lot.

Where would you like to go once we can actually travel again? Great Wolf Lodge! Ha! Maybe Williamsburg again? I like those museums that show living. History isn’t just war.

On Future Ambitions: Honestly, with my interests, I just seem like a show-maker. I like animation, music, voice acting, story-writing, and singing.

The Pet: Bun! He’s a beautiful boi. I don’t really have any commentary, he’s just cute and a friend. Oh, and I don’t just pet him, I berate him for not getting a job. Leans over to talk to Cosmic. “Useless member of society!”

Friends: I have no neighborhood friends. This bothers me. [The loss of E left a very big hole in Sparkler’s life.] I have like two real-life friends, and the rest are online. And the real-life friends can’t come over to visit. I’m actually literally planning a voice call with one this afternoon.

I think back to E, and realize my memories were two years ago. Time passed quickly in that regard. I don’t think about it a lot.

On Personality: I’ve gotten like 38 times more anxious this year, so that’s fun. This summer sure existed for me, and existed very loudly. [This was a summer of physical therapy and other appointments to take care of some physical pain and learn to balance emotions. And “therefore didn’t feel like a vacation!”]

Sparkler’s an indispensable part of our family, sociable and empathetic and dramatic and funny. Her birthday is definitely one to mark… whatever day it happens to be.

We love you, Sparkler!

Mundania: Cake and Elderberries and Pandemic Rituals

Here’s a pop quiz: Who has heard back from her editor that her novel has a problem that needs to be addressed; and she’s waiting to get the editor’s document back to see what the problem is; and meanwhile she doesn’t have any way to fill up her time so she ends up blogging multiple times a month? Who could it be? I’ll let you think about it for a few minutes.


The other day, the kids and I ate out at Cracker Barrel. The service was rather slow. The kids are good sports, but eventually they resorted to desperate measures and attempted to summon the food via a 2020 pandemic ritual:

(As Ranger would say, “Fun facts!”: 1. We bought these masks from Handworks Gallery. They’re slightly expensive since they’re handmade and fair trade, but they’re very comfortable (for a mask); 2. If you’d shown me this picture in August of 2019, I’d have no idea what those things are.)


Recently on Facebook, I discovered my new favorite response in any conversation concerning COVID-19:

“We have to control the spread!”

Elderberries. BOOM!

“They’re hyping it up. You know what they really want, right?”

Elderberries. BOOM!

“I’m just so confused about what to do about school this year.”

Elderberries. BOOM!

It’s short, catchy, and you can’t argue with it.


It’s Abigail’s fault that I read some Grace Livingston Hill this month. Hill was a Christian novelist from about a hundred years ago, and very popular with midcentury church women. Both Abigail and I read GLH as young teenagers, and neither of us loved her much. Abigail said I ought to get out couple of her books and read them as an adult. It was a bad idea, and I jumped on it.

Hill’s books are fluff and wisp. I think she herself would regard them that way, since she wrote them to support herself as a widow with children and later when her second marriage failed. She also supported her own mother. So the books are written to sell, and I guess it’s obvious what the market wanted. Hill wrote probably a hundred books, but only one story. It went something like this:

A thoughtless rich and irreligious character is thrown into the company of a good-looking and pious character (not poor, mind you, but solidly middle-class with good taste in furniture and art). There’s usually a “vamp,” a beautiful and brazen young woman to tempt the hero; or a profligate young man who attempts to lead the heroine astray. Yet God and love wins in the end.

I think what elevated Hill above the crowd was her undeniable gift for description. The impressions she created linger long after the story has (mercifully) faded.

Still, I’m not a fan of the romance genre in the first place, and especially not these. They come with an extra layer of moral superiority, and the Christians in these stories are actually kind of awful people. I honestly could write a whole blog post just on the two books I skimmed (regular readers of this blog do not doubt that for a single instant). But I’ll settle for a recurring issue that frustrated me the most.

Hill will describe a character in very unflattering terms (“she was at her studies like a shark…” “the eyes behind her round shell-rimmed spectacles would have been pretty if they weren’t so presumptuous… “her fingernails were like little claws…”). She’ll even have her good characters toss around words like “vamp” or “hussy.” Yet then she’ll put the same sentiments into the mouth of a bad character, and allow her good characters to be shocked and rebuke the impious character with reminders of God’s love and acceptance.

“You can’t do that!” I exclaimed.

“Oh, we can’t?” chorus the dozens of GLH novels. “I think somebody just doesn’t know how to have her cake a eat it too.”

Maybe certain editors who are currently highlighting rumored “issues” in a certain novel could take a few notes, eh?


The other day, I took an afternoon to myself. I went to the Walking Mall in the middle of town, enjoyed the sunshine, watched a mourning dove build a nest, and really paid attention to the interesting jumble of history represented in the buildings that line the street. Then I discovered a teahouse, so went in and had an excellent chocolate ginger cake with whipped cream; and some ginger peach tea. It was a much-needed time of refreshment.

And the tea menu was extensive and colorful, and… wait… wait…!



Answer to Quiz: It’s me. I’m the one waiting for my novel to get back. Did you get it right?

From My Mother-in-Law’s Kitchen

My mother-in-law has never considered herself to be a great cook. I know because she said it herself; I certainly never got that impression from my husband. DJ has a long list of “Mom’s best meals.”

At some point, I asked her for a few of her recipes. She obligingly wrote them out for me in her cheerful schoolteacher cursive, and I have them in my binder of frequently-used meals. I’m going to share some of our favorites here, for no reason other than that they’re good recipes and deserve to be immortalized on the blog.

(Note: my own mom told me, “You’ll do things different from how your mother does them, and you’ll feel guilty about it.” So while I’ll use ** to indicate the changes I’ve made, rest assured that I feel a twinge every time I replace the vinegar with lemon juice, or the cream of mushroom with cream of chicken.)


Japanese Chicken (Teriyaki Chicken)
My mother-in-law cooked this for me the first time I visited their family. I usually serve it with rice and brown-sugar carrots.

3 pounds chicken thighs
Roll thighs in **cornstarch, fry in oil till golden

3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup **lemon juice
Cook sauce til sugar dissolves. Pour over chicken in baking dish. Baste while baking. Cook at 325 for 45 minutes.

** Original recipe calls for flour; vinegar


Midwest Chowder
I added buttermilk/soured milk and more cheese because I like the tangy contrast to the creaminess. This dish is hearty. Like, not only will it fill you up, it’ll probably go milk the cows and fix the fence too.

2 cups diced potatoes
1/2 cup sliced carrots
(1/2 c sliced celery, which I omit)
1/4 cup onions
Salt and pepper
2 cups boiling water

Cook vegetables 10 minutes at least. Do not drain.

Cream sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups **buttermilk or soured milk

Cook together till smooth.

1 lb hamburger meat, browned
**2 cups cheese
2 cups corn

Add cheese and hamburger to cream sauce, stir till cheese is melted. Add corn and vegetables. Heat, but do not boil.

** Original recipe called for plain milk, 1 cup cheese


Green Bean Stuffing Casserole
A friend once described this dish as “Thanksgiving dinner in one bowl.” It’s one the first suppers Bookgirl learned to cook because she loves it so much.

1 lb chicken breasts
1 box stuffing
1 can **cream of chicken soup
(1/2 can of water, which I omit)
1 can green beans

Cook chicken in butter until no longer pink inside. Cut into small chunks.
Make stuffing according to the box instructions.
Mix chicken, soup, and beans in an ovenproof dish and stir till combined. Top with prepared stuffing. Bake at 350 until heated through, about 20 minutes.

**Original recipe called for cream of mushroom soup


My mother-in-law’s cooking style is good solid Midwestern, while I grew up learning good solid Southern. There’s a lot of overlap between those two cuisines, which certainly hasn’t hurt my marriage any.

Mundania: Summertime and Taylor Swift

One of my great pleasures of summer is cherries. My mother-in-law says they’re “elite fruit” and I agree. They’re expensive and available for a limited time. So when they are in season, I splurge and buy a bag every week. Sometimes two bags. We just leave it out on the counter and eat cherries throughout the day. I love cherries.


Taylor Swift released a surprise album this week. Despite my dislike for bandwagons, I’ve been a fan of Taylor for a long time. She even helps me clean the bathroom every now and then. Back when she transitioned from country-pop to dance-pop, I wasn’t thrilled; to me, the new songs all sounded alike. Yet she didn’t lose her knack for storytelling. A good many of her songs are lost-love or revenge stories, of course, but not all of them. Almost all manage to establish a character and take you through a scenario.

This new album, folklore, is a very different style from her last two — no dancey numbers like “Look What You Made Me Do” or “Lover.” All the songs are rather dreamy and wandering. Yet after a few listen-throughs, I realized that her storytelling was still on point, and the songs catchy in their own ways. She tells stories from the three different viewpoints of a love triangle, or bittersweet memories of childhood, or the extravagant lifestyle of the woman who had once owned her Rhode Island house.

Both DJ and I are fans. It was also nice to get something in a year that’s mostly characterized by disappointments. However, in the interests of equal time, I will say that another longtime Taylor fan, who loved her previous two albums, said that “all the songs sound alike.”


The public pool is open on a very limited basis. You have to go online and reserve a two-hour time slot, and go ahead and pay. When you arrive, they check your name and wave you on through. I approve.

While the kids swam, I watched a squirrel who was also having a good summer:

And just to put your mind at ease, Cosmic the Bunny is still fat and still happy enough that he occasionally dead-flops. I take the picture and message it to Bookgirl with the comment, “Ded buni.”

Ded buni, so hapi:

DJ and I recently took an afternoon date to a tiny town on Rt. 11.

Rt. 11 runs through our valley, one of the oldest roads in the area. There’s a town every fifteen to twenty miles — basically, a day’s journey by horse or carriage. So you can drive 11 (or I-81 which parallels it) and visit one historic little town after another. By “historic” I mean that the highway is narrow, and the buildings reflect every era from the 1790s to last year. I spend much of my time trying to see what any given stretch of highway looked like 10, 50, or 100 years ago. It’s like ghost-hunting.

We began coming to this particular town a few weeks ago when we discovered that their summer baseball league hadn’t canceled their season as our city had. So this time, we drove down early to look at the town, eat supper, and then watch the last baseball game of the season. And exciting things happened!

Which is a lie. It wasn’t exciting at all. We ate at a diner that’s been open since 1955, and served excellent diner food. Which means it wasn’t really, you know, excellent food. But you couldn’t argue with the atmosphere, except that I bet it took them the entire decade of the 90s to get rid of the mid-century cigarette smell.

We also discovered a Little Free Library that was a phone booth! a rocket ship! both! And we could both stand in it and browse the shelves, which was nice because a complete deluge of a rainstorm kept us in there for a good fifteen minutes. It was a perfect setup for a small-town romcom.

Including a sassy hero who held up a book deliberately chosen to make me roll my eyes.

As it turned out, that summer storm rained out the ball game. Ah well. So we got Dairy Queen and drove home along Rt. 11. It was a good day. Taylor Swift, are you taking notes?

My Grandfather’s Songs

I’ll hang my heart on a weeping willow tree, and there it will weep for you.

I learned that line from my grandfather when I was young. (The same grandfather who gave me the silver owl bank.) Grandpa had a head full of poetry and rhymes, which he evidently altered and rearranged at his pleasure. He was always quoting bits and pieces, or teaching us silly poems. For instance, he taught me:

Barefoot boy, barefoot boy
Walking down the street
With his pants full of pockets,
And his shoes full of feet.

It appears to be a mixed-up version of an already zany 1930s song called “Barefoot Boy with Boots On,” which includes other lyrics like, “He was born when he was a baby/His grandma’s pride and joy/His only sister was a girl/And his brother was a boy.”


The boy stood on the burning deck
Parching peanuts by the peck;
His mother called, but he would not go,

For he loved them peanuts so.

Turns out this was a parody version of Felicia Heman’s 1826 poem “Casabianca,” which was about a boy on a French ship during a battle:

The flames rolled on – he would not go
Without his Father’s word;
That father, faint in death below,
His voice no longer heard.

(While searching for this original poem, I found several other parodies, most of which are off-color. That would have suited Grandpa just fine. He knew lots of dirty poetry, just like he could swear like the Coast Guard sailor he was; but he was a man of his era, and we girls rarely heard anything unsavory like that from him.)

Anyway, back to the willow tree. He quoted the above line to me once. I liked it well enough to remember it. I’ve had it in my head for years… for decades. I never knew if the right word was “heart” or “harp” (a reference to Psalm 137), and as I’ve discovered, Grandpa’s recitations were not exactly meticulous.

Yesterday while driving with Bookgirl and Sparkler, I saw a willow tree, and quoted the line. And it occurred to me that now I could look up that line and find out where Grandpa got it.

Bookgirl googled the phrase and came up with a song from 1891. That sounded just right. It was called There Is a Tavern in the Town or “The Drunkard’s Song,” and we listened to a pretty bad recording of it. It’s a song about lost love, and friends, and bidding adieu. It’s an overly sentimental drunken farewell to friends.

And there it was, in the chorus:

I’ll hang my harp on the weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

The tune was incredibly familiar, but we just couldn’t place it. It wasn’t until later in the day when I played it for DJ that I figured it out, and felt a bit foolish. The tune is “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.” The willow tree lines match up with “Eyes and ears and mouth and nose/Head, shoulders, knees, and toes!”

Once again, Grandpa’s version is not quite the original. But I like it better. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any of my grandparents, my uncle, or their homeplace with a spreading beech tree, a chicken yard, a scuppernong arbor and small garden, and a short walk to the creek. They are dead and that’s all gone — a highway now runs through where it once was.

So I’ll hang my heart on the weeping willow tree, and there it will always quietly weep for what is past.

(But I prefer boiled peanuts to parched ones, and if Grandpa could change lines to suit himself, then so can I.)

P.S. My family all shares these memories of Grandpa. My brothers actually recalled the poems better than I did. He’s been gone for over 25 years but is still very much present in our lives.