Ronda Rich's blog

Optimism and Miss Loretta

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Several years ago, I befriended a woman in Cincinnati, Ohio, but then you know that, don’t you? I’ve told you all about Miss Loretta.

If you’re new to this column, I’ll fill you in. She is the widow of a Cincinnati policeman. She did not marry until she was 37 because when she was 20, her mother died at 42 and left a passel of children behind. The youngest was 2 years old so Miss Loretta stepped up and took over. Only when the last child — a boy — was raised and on his own did she allow herself to find love. Read More»

Picture of a poor childhood

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A picture — even one old that has faded from black and white to soft gray — can a tell a story, long and true. That one certainly did.

It was made somewhere in the late 1920s and showed three children, ragamuffins really, who did not have the happiness that most children show in photos today. Read More»

If nothin’ don’t happen

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There is a friend of mine — one of the heroes I have known and loved — who is fascinating in the life lessons he shares and the accumulation of wisdom that seems to come so easily to him.

He came to the Deep South as a young man, having grown up in California without the benefit of his father who had died bravely in the Battle of the Bulge. He became an attorney. A brilliant one. The kind who rarely loses. The Perry Mason-type who can take what seems like a certain loss and uncover the hidden truth which turns it into a winner. Read More»

Karen the actor

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It was all my idea. As immodest as that might sound, it’s true. Now that my friend, Karen, has made it to the big time, she should be reminded that it all started with one of my hair-brained schemes.

Though she laughed it off at first, she eventually agreed. There we were — Lucy and Ethel at it, again. Thelma and Louise headed off on an adventure and there was no stopping us. But, first, as usual, I had to convince her of the brilliance of my plan. Read More»

Mama’s ring’s new sparkle

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It would never have occurred to me that it would mean as much as it has, never cross my mind that I would cherish it as I have. I suppose that’s what makes it even more meaningful.

Mama wasn’t fancy by any stretch of the imagination. A small cake of cornbread and a cold glass of buttermilk often sufficed just fine for her supper, a home-grown, juicy tomato thrilled her beyond measure and presents were often wrapped with masking tape. She was sturdy and solid, not fancy or frivolous. Read More»

Legacy of compassion

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Daddy and Mama both spent a lot of time seeing after the needs of others. They comforted, called and cooked for those who were, in some way, suffering.

And if it came down to it, and sometimes it did indeed, Daddy gave away the last dollar in his pocket to someone in need.

“He needed it more than I did,” he would say. “Never turn your back on a soul in need.”

As he was oft to say, “You can only help someone when they need help. All the other times that you think you’re helping, you’re just pretending for the sake of your own conscience.” Read More»

Crying and cussing

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This is how bad times are getting: Claudette has taken to crying and Grace Ann has taken up cussing. It’s like living in a science fiction film. It’s like visiting a foreign country.

I’ve never been a big fan of unwanted change. I resist it. So, when Claudette, tough as nails, broke down and cried and Grace Ann, who never met a Bible study she didn’t memorize, cussed and it both happened in the same week, I was stunned speechless. I walked around in a daze for two days. Read More»

My new Yankee muse

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When the column appeared where I lamented that my longstanding muse, Claudette, had lost a significant amount of humor due to medication so I needed a new muse who could inspire my writing, several stepped up to volunteer for the newly vacated position.

One plea was particularly engaging. The email came with the subject line: Pick Me. The note read: “Standing at the back of the room, waving my arm frantically, jumping up and down, shouting, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ I would be pleased to be your muse.’ He signed it, “Your Muse In Waiting, Michael.” Read More»

Southern pots and pans

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Whenever I take out my biscuit pan — and every Southern cook worth her salt and grease has one — I can’t help but shake my head.

It is not, as my friend Karen would say, “a purdy sight.”

I have more than one, of course, for when guests come and I need to make two or three pans of homemade buttermilk biscuits, but the main one is large, round and very black from all the years of baking in 500 degrees with Crisco smeared generously on the surface. Read More»

Ignore what they think

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One day at lunch, I ran into a beautiful older woman, a friend from years past, whom I hadn’t seen in quite a while. She had changed very little since I first met her when I was in college.

She’s one of those lovely Southern women whose voice softly lilts with each word and her mannerisms are subtly small and lovely. She looked so pretty. Her silver hair was cut stylishly, sweeping across her brow and framing her bright blue eyes.

Our chatter at first was courteous with each asking how the other had been and mentioning what we knew of mutual friends. Read More»