Monday, July 10, 2017

Family, Ma Davidson

~ There are real treasures to be had, and by definition are usually quite expensive. Right? Not for me. Allow me to borrow a quote from Lee Corso on College Game Day. "Not so fast, my friend." Sometimes, treasures are virtually worthless. 

I had to stay with Mama several years ago for a few months and my bedroom was at the back of the house. A particularly cold room during winter months, which I must say suited me just fine. There's something cozy about chilly air in a bedroom, and a bed piled with warm cover. I didn't mind at all the frosty digs, but Mama being the nurturing sort literally begged me to use an electric blanket. Something I unequivocally forbade. So not to be outdone by her eldest child, she brought this old quilt for me to use. I remember the first night I put it on my bed; I drifted off and actually slept soundly. Something I had not enjoyed for many years. The odd thing to me was how thin it looked, yet how heavy it felt. It was like a hug. I just assumed a dense cotton batting was used to fill the quilt. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. The weight of it was comforting to me, and add the fact that my Ma had made it so many years ago connected us in some mysterious way. Ma had passed away years before, yet I felt as if she had tucked me in for the night with her own handwork. 

The reveal
Ma was not a seamstress and never pretended to be. She was born long before the Great Depression and learned lessons that never left her for the whole of her life after living through one of the most difficult times this country has ever known. She was a gardener with a green thumb that would make Johnny Appleseed weep. She knew stuff. Her vegetable gardens were healthy and bountiful. And she used everything in some way whether picking and cooking right away, or more likely picking a truckload and canning/freezing it for the months ahead. Ma was a gardener's gardener.

The edge

So just as she did with the fruits of her garden labor, she also used everything at her disposal whether out of necessity or because she could not, would not, throw anything away. She found a purpose for everything, and this is a perfect example of what I mean. I suppose I should call this a blanket, because it is not actually quilted but rather simply tacked at random intervals. Yet it has lasted for many decades of wear and tear notwithstanding the method she used. Made from floral patterned feed sacks and/or flour sacks, she pieced together the top and used a coarse muslin like material for the back. I suspect another flour sack was used there, too. 

The antique inside
Mama gave me the old thing with her blessing when I bought my house because she knew how much I loved it. I folded it and stored it with the other linens. When I ran across it again last winter it revealed its secret quite by accident. I'm a self professed clean freak, so when I found the old coverlet I decided to give it a gentle wash and maybe use it again because its folksy look was lovely to me. But the setting for gentle, easy-does-it on my washing machine proved to be a bit more rowdy than the old thing could handle. When I removed it from the washer, I gasped at the rips that had taken place in the wash cycle. It was so old it couldn't handle the motion of the wash; I felt so guilty at being foolish enough to launder a relic. But I really gasped when I finally found out what made it so heavy. A wool Army blanket brought back from WWII by my own Daddy (Ma's son-in-law) was sandwiched in between the old torn fabric. This brought me to tears. Not only was this blanket created by Ma, Daddy had supplied the 'batting'. And Daddy, so many years gone from my life, was suddenly there. I was holding something that he had nestled under during the cold nights he spent in war. I have no words for that feeling.



A wool WWII Army blanket
Amazing!
So you see what I mean by treasures being worthless. To everyone else in the world it is; but to me it's a treasure that reached out to me and hugged me while I slept.


Friday, May 12, 2017

Newsletter to Mama

Mama loved Hibiscus...for you, Mama!
~ Mother's Day is around the corner and the truth is it's just another day for me. Mother's day was for her, my Mama, when she could call me for no special reason but to hear my voice. Her favorite diversion from an otherwise ordinary day was the telephone. Which served her well in her declining years when she became almost reclusive. Therefore, the phone was a window to her world of friends, or customer service reps she decided to chew on over a malfunctioning product, or a government official she simply wanted to talk to. And no, I'm not kidding. 

I was thinking the other day on how much the world has changed since she died, even though it's only been 5 years. So Mama, I don't have a phone number any longer to reach you, but if love is what I believe love is, you're dialed in to all of us. Nevertheless, here's a few things I would like tell you...


~ * ~

"We had a family gathering on the Saturday before Easter at Rafferd and Linda's this year and I know all of us thought of you. I know it. Everyone was there. We had a Crawfish boil and lots of hugs and I love you(s). It was family, you know?"

"School is about to be over and your baby great-grandson will be heading to high school next year joining his big brother at the same school, where he (your eldest great-grandson) will be a senior. Time has flown by and I miss the little bitty ones I used to hold, and yet I'm over-the-moon proud of the young men both of them have become."

"The Gardenia I rooted from your front flower bed has gigantic buds on it this year. The first ever and I can hardly wait for the bloom and the fragrance so intense and reminiscent of Ma. Remember how she loved them."

"Your grandsons are closer than ever. They called each other "brother" when they were tiny and now that's what they have become. Hue calls Matt "ole Cuz" and Matt calls him "Lott". They talk and visit and confide in one another. Something you taught all of us to do. Family first, right?"

"I cut my hair very short a couple of months ago. It scared me at first not knowing if it was a good choice, but I've grown to love it. The first thing Matt said when he saw me was, "you really look like yo' Mama now". I think I must, that wasn't the last time I've heard that lately."


~ * ~

I know there are scads of things I could relate to Mama about the goings on over the last 5 years, but there are days, like today, when I feel like I would be repeating myself. She's so close; enough to bring me to tears at this writing. Enough to convince me she's with us still, some way, some how. It's all about family, you know?


Happy Mother's Day, Mama! 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Get Happy!

~ Louisiana has a way of making every day of the year happy if you are open to its offerings. This time of year is dreary. The landscape is drab, no flowers to speak of adorning your garden and the mood is akin to the depression one feels on the day before taxes are due. Unless you find what's there for you in this, my natal state. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Mardi Gras and Crawfish season and LSU Baseball. Yeah buddy, it's time to enjoy. Try this, look out on your drab landscape and imagine the bare branches draped with beads of Purple, Green, and Gold. In cities around Louisiana that's just what you see. Next think about how tasty big batches of piping hot, spicy Crawfish will be with some friends and a cold beer. And baseball, be still my heart, it's some kind of special to sit back from a good location at Alex Box and cheer on the Tigers. And all of this, courtesy of our beautiful Louisiana.

I'm getting in the spirit of the season with plans to soon attend a tournament at the fabulous Minute Maid Park in Houston with THP for some college baseball action. Geaux Tigers! 

And to satisfy my cooking compulsion, I'm going to make another King Cake this season. A couple of years ago I located a good recipe which I'm thinking of revisiting. I have more time now at least...you know, to let the dough rise and rise and rise again. So delicious, but I think I enjoy the process most of all. It's a decadent and guilty pleasure for sure. 

The crawdads, I'll leave that to my Matthew. He's the best at boiling up a big batch with lots of veggies and perfect spiciness. Add a few friends and it's a Louisiana style feast. 

Yesterday, THP retrieved my Mardi Gras beads and bling down from the attic, so I created a few vignettes of my treasures around the kitchen, dining and living room. Here's a peek at Mardi Gras in our happy home. 


Beads a plenty

Purple, Green, and Gold ribbons on a very old compote that contains dried Roses from THP

Back door greeting

Pewter platter full of bead treasures on the kitchen sideboard

Welcome to our dining table

Fat Tuesday up close...with Black & Gold booty

Favorite party beads on the kitchen sideboard

We got lots o'beads

Dining room hutch

Purple, Green & Gold in one of Mama's vases

My favorite bead pendant
~ * ~
Oh, don't forget the King Cake. 
Louisiana has so many choices; King Cake is one of the best tastes of the season.
Buy one or, like me, make your own.

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016

~ This morning I made coffee early and while my water was heating to pour into my very old drip pot, I took a waltz around the patio. It was dark and cloudy with an ever so soft, chilly rain falling. I took a deep breath of cold clean air and thought how very appropriate this weather is to end this very difficult, 2016. Plainly speaking, I couldn't see the dark clouds at the beginning of January, but they moved in rather quickly and continued with some regularity. I've had bad years in my life, worse than 2016 for sure. But this one was not good in unique ways, affecting me personally with my job, and our family with losses that came entirely out of the blue. Real storms that came to ravage and destroy. For some of those valleys we passed through I can say, I get it, but for others, I feel tremendous regret. And that regret comes as a lesson of being in the moment with important plans. Carpe diem, as it were.

The rain is going to be with us all day, so the experts say, meanwhile I am making a valiant effort to overcome a bout of the crud. It began with a scratchy throat on Monday of this week and snowballed after that. I feel a bit more human today, but it seems fitting that I should wave good bye at midnight to these past twelve months while feeling poorly. 2016 made me cry.      

I also learned to filter what I read and/or hear with a fine mesh. So much that surrounded the political scene this year was claptrap. It became ludicrous and absurd at the last. I'm not making a stand or a statement on one fella or another, I'm saying no matter what your flavor in politics, you must have found it bizarre. At least the high drama is over for a short time. There are but a few hours left on the clock to put this year in the books, however I wouldn't bet there's not another trick up its sleeve before the stroke of midnight. And this is the last I have to say on the past 364.

~ Happy New Year! ~

2017, be nice!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Thanksgiving ~ Day Five, Day Six & Day Seven 2016

Note: In the few years I've shared my thoughts on thankfulness, I've never lost my way and left any day unfinished. But this year it happened. Here it is almost Christmas, yet I'm determined to complete my original task, this is a three day report of my week.

~ Day 5 went by so quickly, I could scarcely catch my breath. Lots of goings on at the church office. And each task seemed so totally unrelated to the other. It was an odd day full of drama and the unforeseen "fire" that needed to be extinguished. Plus, I had tasks that were time sensitive; a short week makes for a lot of hurry-up work. The whole morning was staged with fits-and-starts due to more interruptions than usual. Granted some of those interruptions were pleasant, no matter, I was busy, busy. All that required my attention that day, I accomplished. Plus, I managed to cause a few smiles. That's a win. 

I have acquired a very odd thing in my mature years. I am thankful for my Unflappability. Yes, I checked, this is actually a word. So on day five I was thankful for that resolve within me to keep going, steady on, in the middle of chaos. I won't go into the reasons this is so important to me, because now I live a quiet, peaceful life that no longer contains contentious blather designed to abet an ongoing battle. My calm in a storm is a long time coming, but I learned from practical lessons, losing your cool does nothing but complicate. So on to tomorrow's surprises.  


~ Day 6 wasn't nearly as much an ordeal as the day before. It was gratifying to be precise. I was able at mid-day to work a compromise that made everything right for some folks. Our Thanksgiving Food Basket giveaway at church is a juggling act even with all the planning and organization that goes into it. There are folks, a couple to be exact, who never showed up after they called me to be placed on the list, which leaves food to be given to someone else. So I did some inquiry and was able to donate to a couple of grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren. This was huge to me. I knew a food basket going to caring women taking on the task even a young woman finds daunting, would be much appreciated. This made me feel like my hands were the moving parts in a Divine plan. I am so very thankful I can Listen; just be still and listen.


~ Day 7 was the wrap-up day of my week and that's precisely what I did. With a four day weekend coming up, I made good of the time at the office by double checking my work and leaving everything tip-top. The Horn Player had the day off so we shopped for the upcoming holiday. I had my menu planned, but there are always things to add. 

The Horn Player had to work on Thanksgiving day and Black Friday, so I wanted to use those days to prepare for our Saturday celebration with the family. My organizational skills kick in when I'm alone and planning a big meal. I love doing that so much. 

The balance of the day consisted of a quiet evening, cooking dinner together and just quietly marking the day by an exchange of mutual love for the season of "thankfulness". Looking back on this week, today is the day to be thankful for the Deep Roots that tugged at my heart to return to this little town that I love so much. 



My brother and sister-in-law gave me lemons from their tree. I think this photo goes with this latest account of my week, but you know what I do with lemons. We had our family together on Saturday for our Thanksgiving feast and all was right with the world.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving ~ Day Four 2016

~ It's Sunday. I was up early this morning in preparation for our Thanksgiving dinner at church. I made one of our favorite family recipes from Mama's repertoire. We always called it Sylvia's Sunday Rice, but when people ask for the recipe, I usually just call it Portabella Mushroom and Wild Rice Dressing. I never stay totally true to a basic recipe anyway. Check out the link to see the recipe if you're interested.

I was up early drinking coffee and happily chopping the Louisiana trinity and mushrooms, cooking my different rices and thinking about the day we had planned at church. Early mornings are generally not my favorite, but there's something about Sunday mornings that I love. The quiet space, the rush to get dinner either totally cooked or at least mostly cooked for the family invigorates me for the busy day ahead. And today was no different. Well, not exactly...

I never once thought about the political turmoil that we've had poured over our heads day after day for the last year or so. Today, I am thankful for our Right to Vote. To choose the candidate on our own and rest assured he/she will be protected by the laws of this country until the next time we must choose. And frankly, I have a somewhat self-serving reason...it's OVER. No more bickering, screaming, blaming, analyzing and debating constantly. It was everywhere. It became the chief topic with friends and strangers alike. It honestly made me want to interrupt the person in mid-sentence with a favorite family quote, "Oh wow, look at that bird", while pointing wildly at absolutely nothing. I'm ever so thankful that the rhetoric on social media has cooled and we're now back to posting every conceivable recipe we could ever need to prepare a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Now that's what I'm talkin' about. 

I care. I voted. But I'm ready for Monday of Thanksgiving week and to things that matter deeply; serving my church through my job and preparing a stellar feast for my kiddos and another very special couple in my life.  

The coolest state sticker for having voted in the history of voting.
I love Louisiana and George Rodrigue.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Week ~ Day Three 2016

Cardinal in summer ~ AKA Papa Red
~ I suppose I'm admitting I'm a very boring person by saying one of my joys is watching my little friends, the Cardinals, fly into the backyard like fighter pilots on a mission, land so delicately on one of the backyard feeders and fill their beaks with sunflower seeds. It's amazing then, to watch them crack open the seeds for the nugget inside, while shooting the husk into the air. Precision feeding skills, they have.  

I'm thankful for these beautiful birds, the Cardinals. They put color into the four seasons and bring delight to their audience on the deck. Our favorite time on the deck, as a matter of fact, is the late feeding time. The "Papa Red" finds a perch near the feeder and calls with a short whistle then cheer, cheer, cheer, purty, purty, purty. Don't laugh, he's taking care of his friends and family. I just love them. And I love this. There is a notion when a Cardinal comes to visit, there are Angels all around. How special is that. As special as this crimson little one.

A plump Papa Red on a very cold winter's day watching something
 of interest from his icy branch. All birds love a perch with a good view.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Thanksgiving Week ~ Day Two 2016


A Christmas music box.
~ I may be starting a trend for this week's posts. I decided to get down the boxes of Christmas decorations from the attic today. Well, The Horn Player had to actually do the heavy lifting. 

I know Thanksgiving is not until next week, but that won't actually occur for our little group until the Saturday after turkey day due to some work scheduling conflicts. So more than likely, Thanksgiving will be the day for decking the halls around here. Anyway, the very first container I opened had this wooden box carefully wrapped in last year's Jena Times. As I retrieved it I realized it was one of Mama's favorite Christmas treasures. She never put this away with her other Christmas things. It always had a place in her living room. To her, I suppose, it was relevant throughout the year. Take a look inside...


The Nativity
So I am thankful for this Music Box that sweetly plays Silent Night and transports me back to the little church in our community where my brother and I were always a part of the Christmas programs that Mama created for our gathering of neighbors. Those wonderful Christmas plays were sweet and simple and honest. I remember the glow from the candles we carried down the aisle, where upon arrival at the altar we sang Silent Night and Away in a Manger, while Mama played the piano and tried to direct us similtaneously. All the kids were dressed in white robes with little sparkly homemade halos that wiggled on our heads as we carefully walked along. We felt so special. Then the pastor would read the verses from the second chapter of Luke that told of Jesus' birth. It was magical to all of us. And it remains so in my mind and heart to this very day.

As an additional comment on the church where I was raised, it too was a tragic loss in the March flood. The good news, they have a stalwart group of members who wouldn't be defeated by the catastrophe. So ground has been broken on a new facility in a location where a flood cannot reach. I want to visit that new church when they dedicate the new building and remember how important it is to have a place for a child to carry a lighted candle down the aisle and sing about the birth of Jesus. It's that important.


The landscape of the little music box on that Silent Night

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Thanksgiving Week ~ Day One 2016

I took this photo the other day out of my sun-roof
of overhanging Hickory leaves beaming in the sun.
This to me is the essence of Autumn and suitable
for my first entry of thankfulness in 2016.
~ To crack open this week of Thanksgiving, I'll begin with what I am most thankful for this year. No question about it, my Ability to Adapt. I gotta tell y'all, this year has been like no other in my life. Obviously none are the same, but this one is a "whole 'nother story". 

Once I settled in for down time in January, I found I could scarcely get up. By this I mean, my Pappy Lott's "rheumatiz" had found me in a big way. I had to adapt my routine and ease up on my feelings concerning taking medication that helps. FYI: I really hate taking medicine. Furthermore, I had to admit I'm not the spring chick I once was, all part of growing older I suppose. Unfortunately, the feelings I hold of myself, define me as young. This past January I did not feel it. But hey, I'm otherwise in good health, for which I am most grateful. My gait may be a bit slower at times, but I'm still moving forward. Thank you, Lord!

But then on the heels of feeling instantly older because of aches and pains came retirement. And not in the usual way. The correct term is attrition, I believe. For many years I've been employed in the oil and gas industry by wonderful people whom I consider close friends. We even attend the same church. But the oil patch has been in a very long battle to survive; indeed many companies have not. Therefore, since I was already working part-time (half a day actually) and well over my retirement age, I was chosen to retire. Here's the thing. I had always imagined I would be the one to throw in the towel, but this felt more like being put out to pasture. I had no ill feelings; it was necessary and I truly understood. I highly respect these folks, truly love them as it goes, but it put me in a tailspin. And not just for my own reasons, this was a company to which I had given 20+ years of my life and to see it suffer from a sick economy was deeply troubling to me. Indeed it grieved me. 

However, it so happened I had another place to go for the other half of the day. I had been serving as the Administrative Assistant at my church and that was my vehicle to adapt. Consequently, I was hired in a permanent part-time job capacity. Four days a week from 8:00 to 1:00 PM, off on Friday. It's the perfect job for me; one that I love. Retirement from my "real job" came a bit earlier than I had planned, but not by much, to be fair. I am a-okay now, happy and grateful for the years of employment I had with a great group of folks. In other words, I made lemonade. 

When March arrived it brought so much flood inducing rain, that my brother and I lost our childhood home to the ravages of Little River at its absolute worst. We could never have predicted the cumulative total when the rains set in. Little River is what is considered a flash-flood river and with due cause. It invades and violates everything in its wake with break neck speed. It decimates homes and camps along its banks. It becomes the monster that lives in nightmares. And then it leaves as quickly as it came. 

The water line in that dear old home my brother and I were raised in was only one foot (1') from the ceiling. We had, after Mother died, left so much "stuff" thinking we had all the time in the world to coordinate, divide or toss its remains. But that time was stolen, hijacked by a wall of water. It deeply hurt our whole family to see such chaos in once familiar rooms. The items were water logged, the furniture was topsy-turvy, thrown about like toys and from it all came a stench that only a flood can manifest. Another time to adapt? But I must say, I didn't know how for quite some time. Not until much later when I began looking around my own home. There in my reach were little things that Mama had either given me or I had brought home after she passed away. Charming things, useful things, cherished things that reminded me of her and my life with her. I began to use some of the kitchen items she had passed down to me; I set out on the sideboard some of her ceramic pieces; I perused her recipes and used them lovingly. All these little insignificant things to other folks were tangible, special heirlooms to me and desperately important as a connection to my parents and the home we shared. Then, and only then, could I say, "thank you Lord for what I do have, no matter what I've lost". What brought me so much sadness made me realize what was there in front of me all the time, with tons of memories attached. 

This is a week of reflection of the blessings in my life. Through all of the unexpected events of this year, I do indeed feel most fortunate. And so it begins...

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Time & Seasons

In the long ago and far away, spring was the relish on my calendar year; the precursor to fun in the sun. It was newness and color and warmth as it came clamoring out of the despair of winter's chill. And it signaled a trumpet call for change. As difficult as summers can be for the Deep South, the collective vote is for its hastened approach by a clear majority. For the bulk of my life, summer was always my favorite season. I loved those nights of velvet, of palpable darkness occasionally lit by a flare from heat lightning. It was days of creek swimming, homemade ice cream making, long walks in the woods and vacation. It was the season of my youth.

There is a melancholy feeling this time of year during the autumnal turn. And it is more and more welcome as my time goes by. When I was younger, it disturbed me to feel the first cool burst of air cutting through the thickness of heavy, humid heat. I suppose it was the dying summer's gasp that saddened me.  Now, it's a celebration. The mornings of late have been quite cool. But it isn't the unwelcome seasonal pivot it once was. Now it signals early evenings growing dark so soon, a rethinking of menus to more warm, comforting pots of glorious Southern/Louisiana eats. It brings me in from the outdoors for a welcome rest from the chores that summer demands. 

The time will change tonight while we sleep and at Sunday's dawning we will wake to the sun instead of darkness. And when dusk arrives, it will quicken our path home from obligations of Sunday evening. And so begins the season of cozy. I'll take it.



Daddy's old clock stuck at 2:31. I keep it on my desk at home; it's a huge reminder of him.