More from 4th Grade

Fourth grade was more than crafts and Valentines. One of my favorite memories is hearing my reading teacher Mrs. Reed read about Brer Rabbit. Brer Rabbit was one of the characters in Uncle Remus’s tales written by Joel Chandler Harris near the end of the 19th century. Many stories about Brer Rabbit were brought to America by African slaves as African folklore, according to

The dialogue in these stories were written in old Southern African-American dialect, and Mrs. Reed had the uncanny ability to read it as if she were Uncle Remus himself. Here’s a sample from the Tar Baby story:

Brer Rabbit come prancin’ ‘long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz ‘stonished. De Tar Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low. “`Mawnin’!’ sez Brer Rabbit, sezee – `nice wedder dis mawnin’,’ sezee. “Tar-Baby ain’t sayin’ nuthin’, en Brer Fox he lay low.”(source).

Of course, back then, in 1968-69, there was no political correctness, wokeness, or discussion of racial bias. Racial segregation in schools had only just ended. The tales of Brer Rabbit were pure entertainment and no one protested otherwise.

I don’t advocate or disparage the stories; I just loved to hear otherwise proper and prim Mrs. Reed impersonating a fictional character in the dialect it was written in. Please forgive me if this offends you because it is certainly not my intent. It’s just a fond memory of an actual event in my young life.

Copies of the Tales of Uncle Remus and the movie “Song of the South” can still be obtained on Amazon or Ebay, so if you are curious, check them out, along with the book Little Black Sambo, where the tigers chase each other so fast around a tree they turn into butter!

Ah, childhood. . .

What’s your favorite fourth grade memory?


“Zip a dee doo dah, zip a dee ay, my oh my, what a beautiful day. . .” (from Song of the South)


New digs. . .

This won’t matter to you, probably, but this is my first post with WordPress. It looks very different from Blogger, and I hope it’s more readable and enjoyable to you. I’m still learning the site and will be learning for a long time, so please be patient with me! In the meantime, drop me a comment or message or word or something and let me know what you think!

Uncategorized writing

Meet Jolie

You probably know by now that I am an author with two published books to my credit.  If you’re curious, check out my website:  How would you like to meet the main character of my upcoming novel The Keeper? Fantastic!  Here she is now.
(A short and slim young woman with flaming red curls moves into the spotlight and slides gracefully onto the high bar chair in front of me.  The gray polo uniform shirt she wears does nothing for her porcelain skin, but her green eyes pop nonetheless.  She smiles shyly.)
FFL:  Hi, Jolie.  I’m so glad you could join us today.  I can’t wait to introduce you to my readers.  Why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself?
JS:  Okay. Well, my name is Jolie Sowell. I’m a zookeeper and a single mom, for starters.
FFL:  A zookeeper?  That’s a fascinating career.  I’m sure my readers would love to hear all about that.  What kind of animals do you take care of?
JS:  All of them, actually.  (She laughs nervously, flinging back her red curls with tapered fingers.)  I am one of the few night keepers at Timber City Zoo, and we take care of all the animals in the zoo.
FFL:  I bet that’s an interesting job.  How long have you worked there?
JS:  About three years, I think.
FFL:  Is it scary working at night, with all those strange animal noises and things going bump in the night?
JS:  It was at first, but I’ve gotten used to it.  I barely even notice that it’s nighttime any more.
FFL:  What is your favorite animal at the zoo, Jolie?
JS:  I couldn’t choose just one.  I love them all.
FFL:  Even the snakes and scorpions and lions?
JS:  (Chuckling) Yes, even those.
FFL:  Well, then, what is the best part of being a zookeeper?  Let me guess, being with all those animals.
JS:  I know it sounds cliché, but I suppose that is the best part of working there.  Besides my coworkers.  They’re pretty great.
FFL:  It’s always good to like those you work with, right?  Okay, then let me ask you this: what is the worst part of your job?
JS: (Laughs) Probably shoveling the barrels of poop we have to clean up every night.
FFL:  Barrels?
JS:  Yes, the elephants and rhinos leave huge piles of feces that have to be picked up with shovels, loaded into barrels, and disposed of.
FFL:  Where in the world does one throw away elephant poop?  I mean, there is no toilet that big!
JS:  (Laughs again) The zoo actually has a huge trash compactor that it goes into, and it is also composted.
FFL:  I would never have guessed.  Switching gears here, you mentioned you are a single mom.  Tell us about your children.
JS:  I have one child.  Her name is Ellie and she is eighteen months old.  She is bright, beautiful, and the sunshine of my life. (Jolie smiles at the mention of her child.)
FFL:  Does she look like you?
JS:  You mean the red hair?  Yes, but her hair is more strawberry blonde.
FFL:  Curly?
JS:  Oh yes, very curly.  Ringlets all over her head.  Like I said, she is beautiful.
FFL:  I bet.  So, what else would you like people to know about you? Are you looking for Mr. Right?
JS:  Hm, those are good questions.  (She pauses a moment.)  I guess that I’m just a mom trying to make a decent life for my daughter.  I hope to raise her right so that she grows up to be a happy, caring Christian woman. And I’m not in the market for Mr. Right at the moment.  But who knows what the future holds?
FFL:  I’m sure Ellie will be a wonderful young lady, and that there are men out there who would love to meet her mother. Thank you, Jolie, for allowing me to interview you.  I can’t wait to read your story, and I know my readers are anxious as well.
JS:  It was my pleasure.  See you between the pages.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into one of the characters of my new romantic suspense novel The Keeper.  Stay tuned for more information about its release!
Memoirs Uncategorized

Chinaberries and the Great Cedar Tree

The trail leading from the James house to the Hough’s residence cut through a small forest–probably just a wind break–full of chinaberry trees.  They dropped china berries which we used to pelt each other in china berry fights.  I steered clear because those marble-sized things hurt when they hit you.  I enjoyed that small trail because I would walk it, pretending I was Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White.  I loved to walk through woods, pretending the trees in their different positions created rooms of a house.

There was a large thorny growth on the other side of the property that lent itself well to playing house, as long as I avoided the thorns.  I liked to collect the small toys from boxes of Cracker Jack and I had a favorite plastic clown that I lost somewhere in the backyard.  I searched and searched but never found it.  I always wondered what happened to it.

In the front yard was a large cedar tree that I actually climbed.  Now cedar trees are not the most friendly tree to climb, with their peely bark and stickery leaves.  But they do offer loads of privacy.  It was fun to sit in that tree knowing that no one could see me.  If I tried that today, my allergies would have me in the hospital.  Back then it was a great hiding place if you didn’t mind a few scratches.


The James house property offered lots of opportunities for us kids to play outdoors with its sandy long driveway, plenty of trees, and picket fenced yard.  We made lots of memories there.  We lived there when Mama took us to swimming lessons at the city pool.  I also lost my first tooth and experienced the boring wait at the neighbor’s beauty shop. 

Stay tuned!


Life Uncategorized

I’ve Fallen, But I Can Still Get Up!

Every time I go to the doctor’s office, they pull out their list of questions.  One of them is: have you fallen recently?  My answer these days?  Probably.

It seems that I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet sometimes.  And my poor knees are taking a beating.  At this rate, I’m going to outlive their usefulness.

When my daughter was a baby thirty-plus years ago, I carried her out of the bathroom where I had been giving her a bath into the tiled hallway.  I suppose water from the bath dripped onto the hard tile hallway floor because next thing I knew I was falling—with a tiny baby in my arms!  I managed to shield her but my right knee took all our weight.  Ouch.

Another time I was playing baseball with the kids and I slipped on a homemade sheet metal base and cracked the same knee again.  Ouch.  Ouch.

Fast forward a few years.  I am now wearing trifocals.  They tend to become necessary with age, unfortunately.  I believe they may be responsible for my recent mishaps. 

I wanted my free birthday bundtlet from Nothing Bundt Cakes so my husband and I stopped for some treats.  I missed the step to the sidewalk and cracked that old knee.  I also ruined a new pair of boots.  The girls in the cake shop saw the whole thing but they still made us pay for the second cake.  It was embarrassing but messing up my new boots hurt worse, I think.

Last December I was in an airport at baggage claim with my son and his family when my grandson ran in front of me and knocked me down.  Yes, on the same knee.  In a crowded airport.  I was able to get up with my daughter-in-law’s help and act like nothing had happened.  I wanted to jump on the conveyor belt, disappear behind the flaps, and cry.  Instead, I put on a brave face. But boy, did it hurt. 

I don’t think I am completely recovered from that injury.  It still hurts when I kneel on it.  But did that keep me from falling yet again?  Nope.  I was outside a few days ago washing an outdoor chair and a Cozy Coupe when I stepped off the walk into a hole and hit both knees on the pebbled rough surface of our sidewalk.  This time my poor knees bled profusely as I hobbled back inside to wash and bandage them.  I am approaching the milestone birthday between 50 and 70 with skinned knees.

My poor knees.  Don’t judge.
My daughter fears I will fall while carrying her two-month-old or her two-year-old.  I’m too careful for that, right?  I just hope when I turn 70 I’ll still be able to get up.

#nevergivingup #nevertooold #oopsshediditagain

Do you ever fall?

Here’s to staying upright.