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'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 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!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Très Natchez Weekend

~ My spirits have been in sad shape lately. I've experienced a life altering change in my daily schedule that has put me in a tailspin. It's been funkville for me and that is no place to live. It's a negative address and I like to live in a positive world; you know, do a days work and scurry off to another fun appointment or head straight to the hacienda for an evening with THP. That's what happy is for me. I've worked all my life and now I've been labeled "retirement age" so it's curtains for me. Even though I totally understand why (so many reasons, sad reasons really) and I love the folks in charge, it still is a very difficult pill to swallow. However, as I told THP, I'm going to make lemonade out of this lemony situation. 

Therefore, I find the best thing to do when things take a down turn is get-the-heck-outa-town. So The Horn Player and I did just that; to a spot, on a bluff, on the mighty Missisip. The charmer city we love, Natchez. We visit this quaint, cultured, restful place quite often. It's an easy accessible getaway.  

The big plus on this particular weekend was Mardi Gras doings. A parade is one way to boost a low mood. I mean, who doesn't love to catch cheap beads and plastic cups, oh, and Moon Pies. The South loves Moon Pies. After the parade we checked out on the day at Twin Oaks, one of our favorite B&B's, slept really well overnight and on the morrow rose to enjoy breakfast at Dunleith's excellent restaurant, The Castle (home of the best grits on earth). 

We lingered over dark rich coffee, reluctantly leaving the refined ambiance of The Castle and headed to the mall for some major retail therapy. Downtown we meandered through the antique stores but after lots of walking the bricks we deferred our shopping and scouting about town for a break at Bowies for some refreshment. Neat place that also has B&B accommodations. We're definitely going to check that out at some point. We sat and enjoyed, then THP suggested we tour, really tour, the Natchez Cemetery. The very historic Natchez Cemetery, that is. We had driven there once before on another visit to the city, but only a toe dip in the ocean type of swing through.

After that adventure, we dropped off our loot from the shopping spree, freshened up for dinner and took a chance on finding a table at Cotton Alley Cafe. Lucklily we were placed at the perfect table in a little out of the way corner in the restaurant. We love Cotton Alley and the special Beef Filet with Cabernet Mushroom sauce was divine. Add a tiny cup of Tiramisu Gelato for dessert...excellent. Most excellent finish to a delightful day with The Horn Player!

~ * ~

How about a gorgeous chandelier hanging from an ancient Oak. Nothing more iconic of the South than that. Or Camellia, Resurrection Fern, a Wrought Iron fence with an Antebellum home in the background. And Cast Iron plants lining a picturesque driveway. Ahhh...the South. I love it so.

A proper Southern welcome

~ * ~

A pictorial of our visit to the historic Natchez Cemetery

A Crape Myrtle alley in Winter

An historic gem in Natchez

At the entrance Gate #1

I can't find anything more impressive and grande than an old Oak

A unique marker

There's brick steps everywhere

Very old Cedar tree with Spanish Moss

These iron fences are so interesting

Innovation = Door knob handle on the gate

A sun-lit Camellia in Natchez Cemetery

Is this impressive or what

London in 1793
Resting Cherub on what is presumably a child's grave

~ * ~
Mardi Gras Parade 2016

What a glorious evening for a parade

~ * ~

Seasonal decor from restaurants we visited

May I introduce The Horn Player, perusing the wine list

I left our weekend getaway with a happy heart, glad to be home and ready to seek new challenges. There is a great big world of things I've wanted to do at home, in the community and at church. Now is the time to seize this lemonade opportunity and sip to my delight at the good fortune of living to "retirement age".