Monday, June 30, 2014

I'm Not Just Whistling Dixie

When I saw a copy of the late Dixie Carter's 1996 book Trying to Get to Heaven (Opinions of a Tennessee Talker) on the 25 cent shelf at the Catholic thrift store, I thought that might be a fun book to read. (Actually I thought for 25 cents I could toss it if it was not any good.)

I keep a stack of mags and books by my bed, but right now this book by Dixie is bookmarked for nightly reading. I began reading her book with the knowledge that she had passed away recently (2010), had been married to twainlike Hal Holbrook, and was my favorite character on Designing Women (which still airs on some television channels).

Reading the first few pages of the book was like pulling teeth, so I just started flipping pages. I ran across a chapter on her experience with having a facelift. That proved so interesting and informative that I continued reading. 

Once in a while Dixie threw in vocabulary that I am not even sure she knew what the words meant, but isn't that what editors do with your work? Embellish it. (By the way, when I taught the word embellish to my 7th graders back in the 70's and 80's, that became a new word for my own vocabulary. Who ever embellished anything before disco?)

Back to Miss Dixie's getting to book. 
Besides preparing me for the plastic surgery I will never endure and her advice on cleanliness and old people, I have enjoyed reading her vision of the perfect home/house, how to arrange flowers from the florist, critiques of her daughters' teachers, and improper use of the personal pronoun "I."

Here are a few excerpts:

page 130: "... I will not ever be having a kitchen island, although they are great space savers and very utilitarian....Families don't gather together easily around kitchen islands."

page 136: "When you receive an arrangement as a gift, promptly pull out all ferns and baby's breath, take what flowers there are out of the florist's vase, cut the stems off a couple of inches, and put them in your own vase. The flowers will look twice as pretty without the padding. If someone sends you a truly gorgeous arrangement, forget what I just said."

page 142: "If I were named Ruler of All Things, I would put a stop to pouring money into new school buildings and equipment. I would search out great teachers and pay them very high wages and let them teach. Education has to do with pupils and teachers. It has to do with the transfer of ideas and information from one human being to another. Technological aids can be useful somewhere down the line, I'm sure, but the point is that children must learn to think. Government funds cannot confer upon a child the capacity for abstract thinking."

page 147: " 'He gave it to Hal and I' is awful and you hear it all the time, from well-educated people. Take away the first name and you'll see how wrong it is: 'He gave it to I.' Would you ever say that?....If I didn't have to work for a living, I'd go around preaching just this one thing until it stopped."

And my opinions:

No kitchen island for me!

Don't give me cut flowers from the florist! (I prefer plants for my garden.)

Pay great teachers GREAT salaries to teach!

Hope you agree with Dixie and me about using objective pronouns following prepositions. (Hope this last opinion is not Greek to you. It isn't to me.)


Paulette said...

Sounds like an interesting read and the price certainly was right! As for the island, cut flowers I have no real feelings either way. I do however agree about the pay for teachers. Before I retired if the building's network went down and no technology could be used the younger teachers would be so upset.

Janie Junebug said...

Dixie and me agree about I; that is, Dixie thought I was adorable (I realize she did not mention Janie Junebug in her book, but she thought about myself all the time). I'm afraid I must disagree about the kitchen island. It can be an excellent gathering place. I designed the island for my house in Western Maryland. The island ended with a built-in table on the end, where we ate our family meals and played games. I had cabinets under the table, where I stored my china and silver (items I don't need frequently). My Evil Sister who lives in Illinois had an island with extra space on one side, where she placed stools so people could sit at the island to eat or chit chat or gather. A lot of gathering went on at Evil Sister's island.
It could have had something to do with her being a sadist.


Anonymous said...

You can't go wrong with 25cents and it's always interesting to hear different opinions.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree. The use of the word "I" instead of me is one of my pet peeves. I hear public speakers using it all the time, and I shudder every time I hear it. Of course, my age and way of learning English might be responsible. (I am 94)