Boots

When I was a young girl, I found myself burdened with a desire like no other. It outweighed most everything and laid heavy on my mind. I was determinedly convinced that obtaining my desire would make my world complete and provide me with some sort of unspoken power. I innately knew this to be true, long before ever having an inkling of what that power actually was.

About once a year, my folks, with my sisters and I piled into the Gran Torino station wagon, would set off in the middle of the night and head to Tennessee to visit my grandparents. I was usually nestled in the way-back, having made a cozy bed in the center of all the suitcases, creating my own private hideaway. The sun would begin to rise about the time we crossed the state line, rousing us from our sleepy slumber. As we made our way to Clarksville, I would spend most of the time gazing at the landscape as it flew by the car window, thinking about why the ground moved so quickly while the treetops took so much longer to leave my point of vision. Or watch and wonder as rain drops traveled up the window instead of down. Or ponder a fly trapped in the car, questioning his speed in the air, in the car, versus outside, and how confusing it must be for him when he did finally escape in a completely different state.

Most of the time in the car, my mind was occupied. Yet, somewhere along our route we would pass a Boot Outlet. And on every trip, my thoughts would then turn to cowboy boots and I would eagerly ask if we could stop. I was told “Next time” or “Not now.” Man, I wanted a pair of cowboy boots more than anything. Not any ol’ pair of boots, but COWBOY boots they had to be. I was only 10, maybe 11 at the time, but I knew. I knew there was some magic that came with wearing those boots. I wanted to be privy to it.

I kept asking and finally got a pair of cowboy boots when I was 13 years old. With those boots came the magical feeling that I could do just about anything. Whenever I wore them, there would be no hiding, there would be no fear, there would be no kissing ass, only the kicking of it. I had tapped into the unspoken power. I was proud to be who I was. And who I was was a girl who wore cowboy boots.

I’ve owned at least one pair, if not more, at any given time since then. Dingo, Justin, Nocona, Lucchese, Old Gringo, and others I’ve surely forgotten, have all stood or still stand on my floor today. Every pair I’ve ever owned has provided me with that same sense of indomitability, that same sense of “I got this.” For me, a girl of 13 or a woman of 50, I can think of no other singular item that provides such a sense of strength and confidence, such transformational magic, as a good pair of cowboy boots.

boots

Well. Maybe lipstick. But definitely cowboy boots.

 

Tennessee

My grandparents used to live in Dover, TN, on the Cumberland River*. It seemed to be the place my grandfather, Delmar Frazier, felt the most grounded by his roots.

Delmar spent many years traveling to post offices and county clerk offices in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, and who knows where else, to trace his ancestry by tracking down birth certificates and death records. I’m betting he had a good sense of it before he even started, as stories had been handed down through generations. But my grandfather, being a man desirous of facts and evidence, made the physical journeys to confirm and clarify the roots of his lineage. (This was long before the days of the internet and online information). He traced our family back to Samuel Frazier, who was of Scotch descent and one of the original signers of Tennessee’s constitution. Samuel’s family had settled in North Carolina where he met Rebecca Julian, “a Huguenot of great beauty and culture,” from Guilford County, N.C. Samuel and Rebecca settled in the foothills of the NC Appalachians, in the “Old Stone House” . The area became known as the state of Franklin, which was short lived, and eventually became Eastern Tennessee.

FraziersblogDelmar Ray Frazier, Ava Strachota Frazier, and my Dad, Franklin T. Frazier

(The name Franklin Tennessee Frazier runs through a few generations of my family. My own father was given the name until he was taken to be baptized. Apparently, “Tennessee” was not considered a “Christian” name, so they changed it to Timothy for the ceremony and he has been known simply as Franklin T. Frazier ever since.)

Another interesting turn in our family tree involves Nathan Boone, the youngest son of a man you may have heard of, a pioneer by the name of Daniel Boone. Nathan had a daughter named Melcina. At the age of 20, Melcina married James Howard, who died four years later. They had two children.  At the age of 28, Melcina married again, this time to Franklin T. Frazier and they subsequently had six children, one of them given the name of Nathan Boone Frazier. Nathan Boone Frazier married Linnie May Furby and had ten children. Their eldest, Franklin T. Frazier was Delmar’s father, my great grandfather and after whom my own father was named.

Suffice it to say, my grandfather had strong feelings regarding his bloodline, was proud of the determination our ancestors had to forge ahead, not only geographically or in battle, but also in life. He felt a strong sense of place, particularly in Tennessee. My grandfather and I share the same birthday and always shared a strong, unspoken bond because of it. Whether it was due to our shared birthdate or not, we also share the same reverence for individuals who contributed to the blood running through our veins. My grandfather died many years ago, but I carry him and our entire bloodline with me wherever I go.

ancestry

I began to tell you of the location of my grandparents’ house with a completely different goal in mind, different than the telling of my roots. But that’s how things go sometimes – we head out in one direction, take what we think will be a small detour, and end up in an overgrown thicket, full of twists and turns. We do our best to get back on track, but occasionally, we find ourselves enamored with the new path, the new surroundings, so we linger. Today, I shall do just that. I shall fix myself a Whiskey Sour (one of my grandfather’s favorite drinks) and linger with my family, my roots, my blood. It IS Memorial Day weekend, after all. Seems appropriate.

*Post was edited on 6.1.18 to correct a poor memory. My grandparents lived in Dover (outside of Clarksville/Nashville) on the Cumberland River.


whiskey sour

I actually make my Whiskey Sour a bit different than tradition. I use a Lemon-Lime Shrub as my sweet AND sour, mix it with whiskey, throw in a cherry, and top it off with just a splash of club soda. The shrub is pretty intense, so it needs the soda to balance it off. It’s QUITE satisfactory on a hot Spring-but-feels-like-Summer day.

(Soon. Soon we will talk shrubs!)

Moving On

 

marthaMom, @ 1972

My mother’s personal motto was “Get over it.” I seemingly never could.

When I was a young girl, I was occasionally overwhelmed with dramatic “it’s-the-end-of-the-world-my-life-is-over” sorrow from a broken heart, completely befuddled by the never apparent reason for my existence, or frustratingly disgruntled over more practical concerns, like the shape of my body or the crookedness of my smile.

I needed time to wallow in my despair and dream of the guy who would take me away from the mundanity of the suburbs….I needed time to think, to analyze, to try and figure out what the point of being good in algebra was if all that lie ahead were jobs and death. (Death! I mean, I was going to die one day!)…And, to complete the tragic teenage trilogy of heart, mind, and body, I even needed time to focus and figure out why I couldn’t make my butt fill out those jeans like so many other girls did or make my teeth miraculously retreat from their ever growing overbite. These things were clearly all of great importance; I wasn’t interested in “getting over” anything.

Try as I might to escape to my room and listen to college radio while blowing smoke rings out the window, my mother would eventually open the door, tell me to use an ashtray, and to get over whatever it was I was distracted by at the moment.

It took me until some time in my 30’s to realize she might have been onto something.

It makes good sense, really. One should use an ashtray when smoking, versus a Dixie cup filled with water. You tip that sucker over and you’ve got a big stinky mess on your carpet.

But the other thing, too. The getting over it. Worrying about something, fuming over a perceived slight, being angry at someone, focusing on a problem that would actually not BE a problem if you just quit focusing on it – things like that. More often than not, getting over it is exactly what’s needed. We need to move on or we get stuck. I’ve seen stuck. I don’t want any part of it.

Of course, I still like to sit with a concern or worry a bit, just a bit, now and again. And even though my ass never did grow into the perfect butt and my overbite gets worse every year, I really have learned to move on. I mean, we’re all gonna die one day! Seems as good a time as any to get over it.


A few years back, I turned my mother on to Bourbon Slush and it has definitely become one of her summertime favorites. It’s also one of my son’s favorites, although I omit the bourbon. He’s only at the beginning of his teenage angst…he’ll get over it too, I’m sure, but in the meantime, the booze is best kept for Mama.

bourbon slush_blog

There are many recipes for Bourbon Slush out there, with the consistent core ingredients of sweet tea, lemonade, orange juice, and bourbon. The ratios and quantities you use – well, that’s up to you. I always encourage experimentation. My general rule is “less sugar, more bourbon.” What I finally settled on is:

  • 2 cups of super strong tea. Something like Lipton. I use the family sized tea bags and put 2 of them in 2 cups of water and let it steep as long as possible.
  • Mix with 1 cup sugar when water is still warm and stir until sugar dissolves.
  • Add around 7 cups of water. Now you have your sweet tea…
  • Add 12 oz of lemonade concentrate and 6 oz of orange juice concentrate. Stir everything until melted and combined.
  • Add about 4 cups of bourbon and mix well. You could add less or maybe even a little more. But I think this amount let’s you know you’re drinking bourbon and still allows the mixture to freeze a bit. Too much, and it may never reach the slush stage. You’d probably end up with more of a slosh…

Put the mixture into large tupperware (or multiple smaller tupperware) and freeze overnight. It won’t ever freeze completely solid due to the bourbon, so just scrape it with a knife or fork to break it up, scoop it into a glass, and done. Slush. SO GOOD.

Tradition

Del and AvaDelmar and Ava, young and in love, around 1938/39

I come by my love of drink quite honestly. My Dad’s folks, Delmar and Ava, had cocktails most every day. At the strike of 5 bells, the dry roasted peanuts would come out of the cupboard, the bourbon would resume it’s place on the counter, and the Whiskey Sours, Old Fashioneds, and occasional Manhattans would be prepared as accompaniment to a game of bridge (if the neighbors dropped by) or cribbage (if it was just the two of them) or the occasional game of solitaire (if no one really felt like talking anymore). I honestly never paid too much attention to the drinks themselves, other than knowing that the whiskey they drank – Ancient Age, as I recall – was purchased by the case and given to them at the holidays by my Dad. As a young girl, I learned loads of different ways to play solitaire, and am still an adept cribbage player, but it wasn’t until some point in my thirties when I developed a great appreciation for the twilight cocktail hour.

The daily cocktail hour drinkers. We don’t drink to get drunk. For me, it’s more that initial sensation that arrives with the first sip or two, the warmth that overcomes the body, followed by a flush rising to the surface of the skin. The forgetting of all the trials of the day, the annoyances, the 30 mile commute, Excel spreadsheets, conference calls, emails; all the “adulting”. The realization that the work of the day is done. The time has come to sit. Drink. Reflect. If only for a moment.

old fashioned_edited-3

If only for a moment. Because sometimes, that’s all you get.


I realize Luxardo cherries are pricey, and can be difficult to find. But they are certainly one of the better cherries I’ve had and make a wonderful addition to a classic Old Fashioned. My favorite recipe is the simplest of them all:

  • One sugar cube – alternatively, you could use about a tsp of simple syrup. The simple syrup is most certainly easier to mix;
  • A good squeeze of fresh orange;
  • Dash of bitters – Fee Brothers, Peychaud’s, or Regans Orange;
  • Bourbon of choice – although, Rye works just as well;
  • About 3 cubes of ice, and top it off with club soda or seltzer, add your cherry of choice and slice of orange.

I inadvertently poured tonic into an Old Fashioned once and, although it did in fact change the overall flavor, making it a bit more acrid, it balanced that with a bit more sweet (as tonic water has sugar). It wasn’t bad. A quick fix, if all you have is tonic water, would be to skip the sugar cube/simple syrup altogether, so you basically end up with a whiskey and tonic, which is rather enjoyable on its own. But I would recommend a better quality tonic water, making sure it is not one made with high fructose corn syrup. Fever-tree or Q-tonic brands are my preferred.