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.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Quotes... Thoughts... Pics...


"I'll be a story in your head, but that's OK. We're all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh? 'Cause it was, you know, it was the best"

~ Steven Moffat ~


~ This is one of my favorite quotes. It has that inexplicable quality that leaves me guessing. Is it love lost? Probably. Or perhaps just a hush-hush adventure kept secret over time. Or simply a juicy "story in your head". Eh?





"I have learned that to be with those I like is enough"

~ Walt Whitman ~

~ "Enough" as it's defined, escaped me for most of my life. Youth never gets it, more is more, always. But now, in my shall we say, mature years; I get it. I have people in my life that thrill me. Just to linger in their aura is magic for me. Phone conversations, chit-chat over dinner, no matter what, it's all good. Or to quietly sit and just be...an impossibility when I was young. In truth, I have never collected friends; I'd rather think I have esteemed my favorite humans to be elemental to my happiness.


"Creativity takes courage"

~ Henri Matisse ~

~ How can three simple words be so real. To give birth to art, begs the artist to trust their patron to accept it, love it, buy it. Courage for the artist is, in my humble opinion, a veil thrown over their natural inhibitions that fear rejection. 



"Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before" 


~ Mae West ~

~ What a gal, Mae West. Of course, I define the word "evil" in a much more broad and generic context than its literal meaning. I'm relatively sure she did as well. This little quote is racy and saucy, just like its author. I do always wonder, however, just how much reckless abandon she actually applied to her off stage life. Either way, I'm guessing she was a rebel to the end.

  

"I don't care what you think about me, I don't think of you at all"


~ Coco Chanel ~

~All too often we agonize over what others think of us. I'm guilty. But if you really read this quote by a woman who carved out her life by grit, determination and a trainload of talent, you get a sense of how she came to this concept. She had detractors in her life, cynical backbiters who would fain to acknowledge her genius. But she won. She won because she lived this quote. Those folks in her life that gave her poison instead of wine, weren't worth a thought. It's a great lesson for you and me. Don't sweat the small minds in this life, but rather rise above them and live a peaceful life. That is success!

~ * ~

I can never seem to post anything that's wordy without adding a bit of me through the flowers in my life. The first one is brilliant, the second delicate, the third one is sturdy with seeds to sow, the fourth a perfect triangular shape and last, the tonal shade in Lavender of a dying beauty. 

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mother's Day Missive

My 'Red Hat' lady!
 ~ Mother loved writing. She found peace in its recesses, while conjuring a bit of the sublime, or drifting off into the ridiculous. I've heard her comment on many an occasion how she was sure she was given the talent of turning a phrase into a poetic gem by Divine means. All for her sanity and soul's edification. Some of her work, I loved; some, I didn't understand, though I tried. Her higher plane was beyond me at times. And so the discussion would begin with her methodical explanation of the intention and/or emotion while giving birth to such a writing. Those tête-à-tête moments are plums in my memory of Mama and me. 

She was fanciful and yet, practical; she was soft and warm at times, but her temper was an inferno when stoked by contentious circumstances or ignorance. She was smart, savvy even, ergo suffering ignorance was not her long suit. Her devotion to Daddy, my brother and me was as implicit as her very breath. Mama supplied our needs in every way she could with tacit bearing and deep love. 

This photograph is the essence of Mother. Her flamboyance leaps out of her smile; that sassy manner she possessed, from her eyes. She loved attention and in this pose, a new red hat would surely provide just that when worn with the confidence and flare she gave to every aspect of her life. I have that hat, by-the-way. I actually wore it in the Christmas parade last year on our church float while playing Christmas carols with our chime group. I wore it for her. 

"Well Mama, I love writing too, though I can't achieve your standards; I can say you were an inspiration to me in that department. It's as much a thrill for me to sit down with a virgin thought and see my little words fall onto my computer screen like leaves in the woods on a windy Autumn day, as it was for you with a new pen and a bright yellow legal pad.  You gave me encouragement. Thank you.

And another thing...both your grandsons cannot hear a piece of classical music without thinking of you tucking them into bed when they were tiny ones, while strains of Bach, Chopin or your much loved Beethoven lulled them into sweet dreams. You gave them that very strong memory of you and your music. Thank you.

So, it's Mother's Day, your day, and we miss you. All of us miss you. Our Mama, Nana, Sister, Aunt Pill, (how perfect was that moniker) and Sylvia. You answered to all those names and in each one you were special and forever, unforgettable."


A few thoughts in memory of you, Mama, on this Mother's Day, 2016!