Friday, August 18, 2017

The Heat and The Man ~ Scenes from a Blessed Life

Dear friends, it is the middle of August and the air is unyielding, hot, humid, and heavy. I’ve never been one to complain about the weather as it will always be with us, but summer is my least favorite season, because it lasts for such a long time here in my neck of the woods.

If you’ve never been to these parts during the summer, we experience five or so months of this scenario: You walk from your parking space 30-feet to the grocery store entrance and by the time you enter the store you are covered in sweat, from head to toe, undergarments and all. You walk to the curb and pick up the mail at home and return covered in sweat. Outdoors, it’s like walking into a sauna. You can hardly breathe it’s so hot. Nothing brings relief.

Can you tell I am craving cool days and chilly nights? I realize there is no perfect geographical location, but if I had only myself to consider, I would up and move somewhere—probably to the Great Smoky Mountains area, where they have four season and the average yearly temperatures are not extreme during any of them. I’m not playing. I would really move.

In other news, The Man celebrated a big birthday this week. 

Isn't he a dumplin'?

On his sweet mama's lap, surrounded by sis and big brother.

I'm not sure of the occasion but he's plumb filling up that wash-pan.

The Man is a low-key kind of guy so we kept the celebration low-key. 

Dinner out, us four and no more. 

Back home, there were gifts and cards and cake galore. I hope The Man knows how much I love him and how important he is around here. In relationships, it’s easy to focus on what’s wrong instead of what’s right, but, if you’re reading this, dear husband, I love you supremely and wouldn’t want to face a day without your strength and support.

I doubt you know that The Man is a great singer. He doesn’t sing these days but he’s still my favorite. He and two of his siblings formed a trio in their youth and recorded an album, but The Man is awesome on his own and has been singing his entire life. Some years ago, he teamed up with a singing group, headed up by my twin sister, to record an album that features Gayle’s amazing talents as a songwriter. 

If interested, this particular song features The Man as soloist and I have to admit, sometimes I listen to it in my bed, just before turning out the light. There’s something calming about the words, and the voice.

Until next time, dear friends, stay cool.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to Stay Married for 37 Years ~ Happy Anniversary to Us

How to Stay Married for 37 Years

1. Cherish each other in the best of times.
2. Forgive each other in the worst of times.
3. Never give up.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Simple Pleasures ~ July's Gifts

Dear friends, one day led to two, then a week, then four. I have not fallen off the planet, nor have I run away from home. Should the latter occur, you'll be the first to know. So far, my people are stuck with me. As for this blog, well, I keep thinking something will get me back in gear but I find it continues to be less and less a priority. Time will tell.

In the meantime, how have you been? I do miss you all and am happy that a few of you have connected with me on Facebook, which is where I can be found, albeit sporadically. 

Life just seems to be zooming by so fast that I seldom have enough stretches of quiet in my world to put my thoughts to paper. Throughout the day, I often write in my head though, thinking I will put it all together in some cohesive way, but then I'm distracted and there goes the plan right out the window. Frankly, I could use a vacation.

Despite living at a faster pace these days, I continue looking for snapshots of beauty, for those simple pleasures that are easily missed in the rush of our lives. 

Here are a few of July's special offerings. I hope you like them as much as I do.

Some days, you just need peace.

I can't explain why I feel peace whenever I look at these settings. 
Maybe that's why the artists call it "still life."

Some days you just need the beautiful.

Is there anything more beautiful than flowers? I look at the intricate creation of roses and hydrangeas and I'm reminded of summers visiting my grandparents in West Point, Mississippi. Granddaddy always had roses and hydrangeas in the yard.

 You can't see them well in this photo, but they are there.

My maternal grandmother was a blend of harsh and hilarious. 
I miss her still. 

One evening, I got caught in a rainstorm on the way to church. I pulled into a parking lot, next to the landscaped curb, and a purple flower flew up and landed on my window. There's beauty everywhere. That's what it said to me.

Big or little, short or tall, if it's a tomato I love them all, especially when they're fresh from the farmer's market.

To watch the growth of a plant is to know that nurturing plants, or relationships, is the only way to keep them alive.

Some nights lately, sleep just won't come. Such was the morning when I caught a glimpse of the mantel, just after sunrise. Seeing how the sun picks out this and that, casting each, even for a moment, in its best possible light, reminded me that we can look at people and always find their ugly side, but how much sweeter life is whenever we look for the good in others, just as we hope they do in us. 

As ironic as it may sound, on the same morning, while coffee brewed, I reached for a chocolate and found this little note inside. Mission accomplished.

I am blessed to live an hour and a few minutes from the Gulf. This butterfly kite was the highlight of a recent afternoon by the water.


Until next time, dear friends, whether it's a day or a week or a month from now when we meet again in this quiet space, here's wishing you the joy of finding simple pleasures.


Linking up with Home Sweet Home.

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.


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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).