Thursday, June 22, 2017

Simple Pleasures ~ In the Kitchen and the Yard

Dear friends, as I write it is overcast and warm. Our darling Arabella is down for an afternoon nap, I am still in my pajamas, and coffee is brewing for the second time today. Gray days seem to make pajamas and coffee that much better, and I find it hard to resist such a cozy call.

After a sweet Father’s Day weekend, and breaking every food rule that I normally attempt to follow, I’m back to enjoying just good and simple food and I’ve become fairly obsessed with a concoction I call a fried-egg-soft-taco. It works for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, whenever.

I've prepared various versions, and the possibilities of this concoction are endless. The one pictured here is a fried egg, with fresh tomatoes, avocados, and cilantro. Have mercy.

This one includes a handful of fried potatoes and onions, with fresh tomatoes, and cilantro. My food motto is: Enjoy everything and anything in moderation, and it's the moderation bit that often gives me problems, but I find I maintain my desired weight better, when following this rule, than when trying to stick with a plan that restricts certain foods, so a few fried potatoes and I’m good.

The best part of my new craving is that delightful egg yolk. When you fold the tortilla over, and it runs over all this goodness, oh my. Hand me some napkins.


Last week, the girls took a much-needed vacation, leaving me free to roam about, both inside and out, and even though it was hot as blazes, I’m a gardener at heart, although not a skilled one, per se, so I pulled on my gloves, grabbed my tools, and set out to completely start over in the little flower bed out front.

As much as I like playing in the dirt, my aging body resists something fierce these days. And unless you’ve ever dug up monkey grass (not the official term, but it’s what I’m calling it), you don’t know how difficult such a thing is on old bones. I wasn’t sure I would ever finish but I was ready for the stuff to be gone and gone it now is. Hallelujah and amen!

This flower bed gets very little full sun, so I went plain and simple with plants that prefer filtered sun and shade, and I found the perfect garden accent at an antique mall in the form of an old ladder.

I love its vintage charm and it will allow me to enjoy a variety of plants throughout the seasons.

One of the great joys of having flowers outdoors is bringing some of them indoors.

Even though each day in the yard was long and exhausting, I find there’s something exhilarating about working the earth, a certain oneness with the Creator occurs, leaving me confident that God is in control, that each of our paths is uniquely designed for us, that we can let go and just breathe. If we have surrendered our lives to Him, He promises to go before us and make the crooked places straight. All things will work together for our good.

After a particularly tiring day, I stopped a moment and observed the evening skies, a masterpiece in pastel shades.

It is always in simple pleasures that I find sweet rest.

Until next time, dear friends, I hope you are well and enjoying these long days of June.


This post is part of the following communities:

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Good Fathers Do

My father can't explain the rationale of calculus, nor the activities on Wall Street. He doesn't understand a thing about computers, and wouldn't know a motherboard from a washboard. A father of the 50’s and 60's, he doesn’t cook, do laundry, make beds or iron clothes. I doubt he ever changed a diaper in his life.

But whatever Daddy lacks in technology proficiency and domestic skills, he has made up for in other ways.

As a child, I thought of my father as a very brave man. A man who always made things better.

In my first recollection of him, I am a toddler. He is holding me in his arms, walking around a darkened room while I cry, frightened by a nightmare. My breath comes out in jerky gasps, and even now, I can still hear Daddy's smooth baritone voice as he prays for his scared little girl.

When I was six, I attempted to show off my bike-riding skills to an important guest. Instead of the flawless demonstration I hoped for, I was mortified when I crashed headlong into the side of the house. My father tenderly led me inside for some first-aid.

Daddy often drove me and my sisters to the Vicksburg library after school, where he would wait patiently while we checked out mountains of books. One afternoon, while racing to the car, I tripped over a large crack in the sidewalk. Suddenly, I flew through the air, landing with a brutal bang on hands and knees, books scattering in every direction. I remember looking up and seeing Daddy leap out of the car to inspect my scrapes. And I remember him carrying me to the car, and how safe I felt in his arms.

There is an old picture somewhere of my dad holding up a dead snake as long as he is tall. As a little girl, I used to stare at that picture and think, How could anybody be so brave?

But that is what good fathers do. They kill the snakes. They do what nobody else wants to do.

If we had a flat tire, Daddy got out in the heat (or sleet) and changed it. 

If a noise was heard in the night, Daddy was expected to go check it out. 

If we got caught in a rainstorm while driving to church or elsewhere, it was understood that Daddy would let us out under the awning, while he parked the car and got drenched on his way inside. 

If the roof leaked, we never doubted that Daddy would find the hole and plug it. 

If a mouse left evidence laying around, Daddy was expected to bait a trap, inspect it for success, and dispose of whatever landed there.

And at the end of the day, Daddy was the one who sat at a little scuffed desk and paid the bills. Not once do I recall him mentioning money being tight, even though I feel certain there were times when it was.

As the years passed, I came to the shocking realization that fathers aren’t perfect—not even those who kill snakes. They make mistakes. They act like jerks. And sometimes they break their children’s hearts.

But I also learned that whenever fathers acknowledge their mistakes, and ask their children to forgive them, then they are brave indeed.

Eventually, I got too big and too proud for my dad to carry around after a bad fall, but he still carried me in his heart.

I was 22 when I became engaged to a handsome young man I’ll call Joe. With eyes the color of a robin’s egg. Joe was going to make my every dream come true. We planned a late-summer wedding; I couldn’t wait for my father to escort me down the aisle.

But one night, just three weeks before the wedding, Joe called to say it was off. Just like that. It felt like a giant stone sat on my chest. Not only was my heart broken over a lost love, but I thought of all the planning and all the purchases, including my wedding gown, and 400 invitations that were to be mailed the very next day. I remembered all of the gifts that friends had generously given already. They would have to be returned with a sad note attached: Thank you for your generous gift of such and so, but I regret to inform you that the wedding has been cancelled. Deep down, I wanted to die.

The next morning, Joe called saying he needed to see me in person before leaving town. When he knocked on the door, I moved to open it, but my father beat me to it. In one swift motion, he opened the door and said, “Now Joe, I want you to know that I’m not pleased with how you’ve broken my daughter’s heart. You need to say what you came to say, then leave. Is that understood?” My father is a tall man and I remember thinking he’d never looked taller—nor Joe more terrified. I honestly thought Daddy might punch him.

It was Sigmund Freud who said, “I cannot think of any need in childhood as strong as the need for a father’s protection.” And I don’t think you fully outgrow that need. Even though I have a wonderful husband and a grown daughter now, there is comfort in knowing that should I ever have a real crisis in my life, my father, on a moment’s notice, would drive the distance to make it better. He would kill the snake, plug the leak and dispose of whatever lay in the trap. He is, after all, my father, and that is what good fathers do.


This essay appears in the new title, A Cup of Comfort for Fathers, (Adams Media), edited by Colleen Sell.


NOTE: This blog first appeared on June 19, 2010 and is republished today in honor of good fathers everywhere.


Monday, June 5, 2017

Pictures of Peace ~ Monday Musings

After an early rain Sunday morning, the sun pushed through the grays and lay wide across the land as I drove to church. My thoughts and prayers turned to London, and to the family members of the dead and injured in Saturday's brutal attack. Their worse nightmare is a reality. Life will never be the same for them again. 

Even though these people are strangers to me, such unspeakable tragedies have a way of keeping me up at night, my mind and heart restless over the loss of innocent human beings, and those who are left with the aftermath of such violence.

I returned home from church in the afternoon, grateful for a church family and for the presence of the Lord that is felt whenever we gather together in faith to worship and pray. Even with trouble and tragedy all around, we can have lasting peace in the midst of it all.

Today's post is my attempt to counteract the violent images that we're always bombarded with after such senseless and heartbreaking events. The photos I've chosen are either from my travels or from my garden, in no particular order. My prayer is that, as you look at them, you will feel peace in your heart and in your mind and that you will remember, most of all, the beauty in the world. 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).


Friday, June 2, 2017

There is no Future in the Past

I have a friend who is struggling. Some years back, her husband betrayed her, then divorced her, then married the other woman. She hated him for what he’d done to her. She wanted him to be punished, wanted him to feel her pain. But he moved on with his life, lickety-split, leaving her in the dust of despair.

Since then, she has found it difficult to walk fully into the future, as she’s still holding so tight to the past. She's looked for love again and even married again, but the marriage didn’t last. Truth is, a heart that holds a grudge is not free to completely love anyone; the bitterness takes up too much room, consumes too much time. 

I worry for my friend, for how can she have a happy future if she doesn't let go of the unhappy past?

“Don't go wasting all them bright tomorrows you ain't even seen by hanging on to what happened yesterday. Let go, child. Just breathe out and let go.”  ~ Beth Hoffman, Looking for Me


Joining the Five-minute-Friday community here, where today's prompt is "future."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Sleepless Ramblings and Daddy Turns 90

Dear friends, it is three o’clock in the morning. I am sitting at my desk where, except for the light of the computer screen, I am surrounded by darkness and feeling wide-awake. For several weeks now, I’ve been having to pay close attention to taking care of my back. It’s a long story—my back problems—a congenital issue that first manifested itself in my early 30’s and has reared its ugly head off and on since that time. 

I’ve learned to recognize the warning signs and have managed to avoid a full blow-out, so to speak, for many years, simply by taking to my bed when the signs appear. Today was one of those days, which means I have napped off and on all day, leaving me mostly awake when I should be sleeping, so here I sit, tapping away in the deep night hours. Testing 1 2 3. Is anyone out there?

Life has been keeping me hopping. Three days a week I am in charge of my adorable granddaughter, and it seems on the other days, when I should have spare time, they never pan out as such. So much to do. So little time. I seldom make a dent in my to-do list. I’ve neglected my little garden and am so far behind in my scrapbooking that I’m not sure I’ll ever catch up again. 

Not to sound dramatic, but I’ve learned that whenever I find myself running on empty, it’s hard to give out anything of value to anyone else. For that reason, I’m hardly blogging at all these days. Still, I find myself missing keeping up with you, my dear blogging friends, and I miss sharing pieces of my life with you.

In big news, my father turned 90 on Mother’s Day. I can hardly believe it. Even though he is still in good health overall, still maintains his own yard and property, it seems that every trip home now his voice sounds weaker and his steps are slower. Time is catching up with him and so I cling to every moment we spend together and hold each one close to my heart whenever we drive away.

Although our darling Arabella is not smiling in these photos, she was delighted to be with Nanny and Poppy, as she calls them, and, as you can see from their faces, they were delighted to be with her, as well. 

As we walked outdoors, my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to share this home place with my granddaughter, that her great-grandparents are part of her memories now, that she speaks of them often.

In other happenings, my dear twin sister headed up a sister’s trip to The Island and, in her usual fashion and generosity, paid for everything but our meals. She's the bomb. To hear the sounds of the ocean never fails to relax and refresh my spirit. And yes, that crème brûlée  was just what the doctor ordered.

Sister time is priceless and I wouldn’t trade my two sisters for any other two in the world. Here we are at another sister's outing in May, the annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour.

Speaking of family, my precious niece will celebrate her birthday in a few days. Those who could gathered for an early celebration dinner recently, a wonderful time of good food and conversation.

And now I must sign off, as time is ticking away and daylight will be here before I’m ready. Please know I have missed you all and that I will keep returning to this quiet space to share my thoughts with you until my spirit says otherwise.

Until next time, I hope you are well and that your summertime will be sweet and spent with those who love you.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Scenes from a Blessed Life ~ April's Amazing Gifts

Dear friends, I hope you are well and finding sweet places of beauty in every day. As I write, a crisp night has fallen on the last evening of April, a month filled with both gifts and griefs, a month not unlike all of those before, and those that will follow, for life is a journey of hills and valleys and we would do well to remember that neither hill nor valley lasts forever.

I often wonder what else I have to say that might hold the least bit of interest for my handful of readers, and then just as quickly I decide it has all most likely been said, in one form or another. It was Solomon in Ecclesiastes who said: “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” The best a writer can do is hope to convey fresh word pictures, or open a line of thought that the reader hasn’t delved into before.

But this post will not be deep or contemplative or sad, only a simple display of a few of April’s amazing gifts, for my gifts always outweigh my griefs.

Morning's irresistible light.

When children make music, the world is a happier place.

It's often heard or said, whenever a matriarch or patriarch of a family passes away, that they live on in the loved ones left behind. I find that to be true, but they can also live on in not only people but the things they leave behind. I was reminded of this truth recently as I polished the silverware that my dear mother-in-law gave to me before her death in 1996. It always brings a smile.

When life gets heavy, the sea brings relief, 
and there is no gift quite like a gift from the sea.

My baby and her baby. 
How rich I am.

 Any day with twin sister is a gift, but a day together at the arboretum results in too many gifts to count, all free for the viewing.

One cannot study flowers and remain unmoved.

These two men are not praying, as ye might suppose, but they are attempting to unearth a pocket-knife, lost in the bowels of my father's favorite sitting chair. In the end, four pocket-knives were discovered, although my father said none of them were his. Me thinketh he doth forget. Meanwhile, the search continues. (I love my mother on the couch, staring at her iPhone.)

 Cupcake and Baba. They seldom are parted.

Finally, for those still with me, a very funny story, but first, Arabella looked quite adorable in one of the little dresses I made for her not long ago. A seamstress I am not, and this dress was made without a real pattern, so it still needs a bit of tweaking, but I saw nothing except her sweet face the minute she put it on. 

Now, here's the funny story that I shared on Facebook. On a recent afternoon, while she and I were out and about, I weakened my back with too much lifting her in and out of the car-seat, so that night I took to my bed earlier than usual. As cupcake was making her way down the hall, she peeked in my door and said, “Memaw seek?” meaning, “Is Memaw sick?” I said, “Yes, baby, Memaw’s back isn’t feeling well tonight but I’m OK. Come give me a kiss,” which she proceeded to do, then ran quickly out of the room. Within seconds, she reappeared and rushed to my side holding the Pepto-Bismol in one hand and a dosage cup in the other. I about fell out of the bed laughing so hard. Cupcake to the rescue! Whatever was wrong, she seemed certain she had the solution.

Until next time, dear friends, don't let today's gifts go unnoticed.