Thank goodness for Mississippi

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By Lou Elliott Jones

Ever since I wrote the column about the Mississippi Roast and The Carnivore things have been changing at Herding Cats Ranch. 

Shortly after the roast debuted, The Carnivore told me to put together a French toast casserole, store it in the fridge, get a good night’s sleep and pull out my work boots, ‘ cause I was gonna need them.

He meant that literally and figuratively. 

I made the casserole. He got up much earlier than I on that Sunday and baked the casserole until the scent of cinnamon filled the entire house. 

After breakfast we headed outside and – YES! – there was the hedge trimmer sitting on the lawn.  No word on where it had been hiding. But it was waiting beside azaleas that had not been trimmed in years. 

After a short lesson on how to turn it on and use it, The Carnivore darted down to the other side of the house with some big tree loppers and kept an eye on my progress.

I determined how far back I wanted to cut the azaleas, made a mental note of how it related to the siding on the house and brought that power tool to life. I was slow. And the line was not perfect, but it was pretty darned straight when I stepped away to admire the one side I cut. 

It was furiously hot, so I asked for a liquid break. I got that look of “Softie.” 

Then it was time to take on the azaleas at the front of the house. They were huge – over my head in some cases. But I simply started revving up that clipper. I was really enjoying lopping the tops off of overgrown shrubs. 

Since we were doing it before the beginning of July, the deadline for trimming according to my father-in-law, The Head Carnivore, I started to have visions of prolific blooms next year. 

Those were delusions. The Carnivore noted I looked a little hot after finishing most of the front and suggested a break. Besides I had stretched the extension cord as far as possible. We needed to use another outlet to finish the front. 

Next up were some lovely camellias by the front steps. Was it the right time? Sure, said The Carnivore. 


Then as he cleared the brush around the power pole out front, he stopped long enough to grab the leaf blower and show me how to use it. “Get crackin’ on that porch.”

I was in seventh heaven. He cannot get me to use a broom, but, hey, this was the bomb. I loved it. 

Few hours later the house looked good enough to list on Zillow. A political candidate stopped by last week seeking votes and remarked on what a pretty place we have. I’m sure he was referring to those azalea bushes that have started sprouting buds. 

In retrospect, had I known Mississippi Roast could overcome The Carnivore’s “man fear” of my using power tools I would have made it earlier.