Thursday, July 9, 2015

I'd Like To Carry A River In My Pocket

When I stood by this water last November on Blog4Peace day, conjuring peace words and thinking on all the positive energy spinning throughout the world on our peace globes, I should have remembered to bring a few stones home with me for days like today..
 I wonder what magic I left on the riverbank. 
Where in my head does that come from? 

Why is it that when I set aside a day and deliberately seek out words believing with all my being that they will come, that they will matter, watch them appear, feel them inside me, and share them with you, why do they come so easily?  Is it simply because I expect them?  I wake up on November 4th each year and they are always there for my taking.
Today is any ole' ordinary day, full of the daunting pressures of life and I need the comfort and power of those words - even when I'm not standing on a shoreline.   
Did they fall in the stream?
I need to go back to the river today.

There's something I must find.
Wanna come?

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Mimisms ~ Whose Words Will Win?

There's a small piece of parchment paper that I keep on my writing desk. I'm holding it here.  Everyday I look at it as I sit down to read, gather my thoughts, and write. If I hold it up to the light just right, I can believe every word.

I found it at a rummage sale down the road from where I grew up in the country - barely a mile from home - in a box of old diaries, records and journals from the seventies. I took the whole box home with me. In it were treasures of a young girl's thoughts - her favorite quotes, her original poems, scrapbooks painstakingly written and typed on old typewriter font, love poems, secrets, and words such as these from the courageous Anne Frank. I felt privileged, and a bit guilty,to peer into the heart and mind of another seventies girl I never knew, but who could have easily been my soul-sister, had I known she lived just down the road.

Fast-forward forty-five years.
 And I am holding the same thin paper, so beautifully detailed. It is almost like new, and I begin to read... I still believe that people are really good at heart.... and I feel a giant, stubborn lump swell up in the throat of me, because I cannot continue, I cannot read on, I cannot absorb it - I cannot believe it.

But Anne, I say, there are lovely people being shot in places of worship. In Charleston, South Carolina. While they were praying. Didn't you hear? Atrocities done by the hand of 'people'... people called humans, like me and like you, the same species of which you speak, slaughtering and killing, hating and maiming without remorse. Where are these other people, Anne, of which you speak? Are we to be divided into those who have souls and those who don't? Or do you mean to say, really, surely, that all people aren't really good at heart?
What I see in my world is not good, Anne, it is evil.
And I want to stop with the Pollyanna platitudes if you don't mind.

Anne is not pleased with me. Neither is the seventies flower-power girl.
Neither am I.

There's a war going on inside of me you see.... You feel it too, don't you?
People are not just randomly killing each other, there is attention for my soul. The axe keeps falling on the root of my beliefs. With each new horrible news story, each new morality debate, I retreat a little further into cynicism, swimming in daily reality checks, and trying to fit words like bigotry, white supremacy, evil, terror, hate, murder into a jigsaw puzzle with hope, forgiveness, God, mercy, grace and love.
What has become my reality, Anne? Who has the loudest voice? What has become the standard on planet Earth? Which part of the puzzle will I become?  Whose words will win? Things didn't turn out so well for you.

"Look, Mimi", she whispered. "I said you had to look for it." 
And in my stubborn heart a question railed: Do you believe in the power of words or not?
Do you believe in God or not? Do you believe what you say you believe...or not?
Mother Emanuel

I remembered the woman who stood face-to-face with that fresh-faced killer in Charleston last week. You remember her, don't you? I will never, ever, forget her. In a courtroom of justice, swallowed and sick with grief, she looked into the face of the most heinous of people among us and said to the evil, "I forgive you." And once again another uttered, 
"We have no room for hate. We have to forgive."

The weight of those words broke the divide. 
The lump in my throat came pouring down my cheeks, because thank God, thank God, Anne was right. There are people like that. They do walk among us.
 More powerful than all the demons from hell, all the bullets, all the bombs, all the terrorists, all the tyrants, all the benders of civilization, all the bigots - are words of love.

Hold me to that standard.
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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Fishing For Sharks

Baby Beans and I walked on the river rocks yesterday. It was slightly blustery and beautifully quiet. Three people fishing, a few walkers on the nature trail, and one "Mimi" trying to shhhhhhhoosh a talkative three-year-old squirming river rock jumper.
 "You can't talk while people are fishing, Baby Beans. You'll scare the fish away. Shhhh!"
"I wanna fish too, Mimi!!"

"We don't have a fishing rod with us. Or worms (thank GOODNESS!) and anyway, it has been my experience that you might have a problem being q.u.i.e.t today." Before I could even turn around  I hear.....  
"Here's my fishing rod, Mimi."  
You see it too right?

"I'm gonna catch a shark. I see a shark in there."
 "I think I see it too, Baby Beans. We'd better catch it."
I'm not about to argue with a shark fisher. Would you?

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Recipe Box

Everything we do in life is about relationship. Our actions say little about what we're actually doing, and everything about why we are doing it. 
Take muffins, for example.

Muffins remind me of my mother. She used to make "mayonnaise muffins" when we were little. I loved them.
Over the years I learned to make them too, but they never turned out as well as hers.
Because my mother and I are as different as night and day, two mismatched peas in a non-pod, two sisters of the same mother it seems, it's important for me to occasionally cross the divide with a muffin day.  Why this gulf? As an infant and for a long while afterwards, I initially mother-bonded with my grandmother because mama was too sick with a heart condition to care for me.   I didn't realize until many years later how that necessary and unfortunate trajectory in my early, formative years shaped the way we eventually learned to communicate, or should I say, the way we don't communicate. 

I love my mother. I love her very much.
But sometimes I miss her in ways I can't explain.

Enter the muffins.

It is her recipe. But I made it my own. 
Typical of our journey.
Instead of white flour, I used whole wheat. Instead of lard, olive oil. Instead of whole milk, low fat. Instead of sugar, blueberries. And a touch of honey for dipping. It was easy to alter the ingredients to match my grown-up needs in my own grown-up kitchen. But it was, admittedly, a hollow effort to soothe a gaping hole of connection I wish I could fill as easily as the batter filled the muffin pan. 

 If I could make that magic happen, I would fill each mold to overflowing with all that is good about her, from her beautifully handwritten recipes to the cast iron pans I remember. They would ooze from honey laced crevices in smokey, sweet drops on a simple plate peppered with a pound of butter...and freckled remind me of my mother's freckled hands and the way they wiped the apron. Somewhere along the edge of a pristine butter plate would lay a silver butter knife with scalloped edges, cutting into the sweet smell of substance that only a mother's love can fill - the way it cuts into my heart on muffin days.

 I would only use her recipe. I would not try to change. I would not grow up. I would stay in her kitchen. I would learn to like lard and pretend it's good for my soul. I would watch her stir the bowl and try to memorize the steps. I would make a holy mess just to wipe my hands on her apron. Then I would eat every one of them gone 'til the very last drizzle hit the porcelain and the last morsel of flour hit the floor. She would smile in silence at my goodness and I would pretend I didn't miss the woman I might become. 
Her script

I never could pretend for long. 
My script

For just as surely as hot bread melts whatever the knife is carrying, I would wake up to the smell of sweetness and long to feel the touch of that honey on my skin - the one ingredient I could see in my mind's eye - and it would land somewhere soft and knowing that only a mother would know.  It was the one ingredient I would have added and the one she never used.
I longed for her to understand that while I share her handwriting and wrestle to this day with her boisterous spirit, I cannot be anyone but who I am.

Because the worst of her is brevity and the worst of me is length, I filled my spoons with words on paper while she wrote beautiful lyrics in pans of love.

There amidst the vanilla and chocolate lined bowls at her sink, I found a voice of my own, but it was not made of muffin pans and whisks. And while we are strikingly similar in feminine ways and she is in her own right glaringly independent, the tangled tale of my mother and me lies in the messy truth that I don't know where her handwriting ends and mine begins.  And that is a beautiful thing.


 Today there is the smell of bread baking from an old recipe box. 
 The spillage makes it sacred, the stain makes it new.

So it is with mothers and daughters.


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Will The Real Spring Please Show Up?

 I was worried. 
Temperatures dropped into the twenties last night and my baby camellias were just about ready to bloom. Would they survive the night? The bush is so big it towers over the edge of the building roof and shelters me when I visit. I scampered underneath in the early morning light to assess the damage.
Hmmmm.....They look a little droopy (don't they?) and there are a few brown spots around the edges, I'll admit, but I think they're going to be fine. They have to be!

 Because you see.....
 has taken up residence under the eaves of the leaves

monumental construction is going on.....

 Birds know. 
Mamas always know where to shelter their young.
This bush will make a fine castle for fledgling baby birds. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for real Spring to show up.  Judging by the sounds coming through the tangled blooms, it must be just around the corner. Nature is a beautiful dance.
My camellias never lie.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hello Snow

Bloggingham is covered in beautiful snow. 
The trees are bowing.  See?
What does that have to do with peace pie?

I am not happy with my pictures just yet. I shall go back outside in a bit.
After I eat this peach pie..... I made it last night.
Have some.
I shall return.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

French Drains and Ice

Bloggingham is under a sheet of ice. For the past three days! I am sick of it and itching to get out into the sunshine. More wintry weather is on the way tomorrow. The temps this morning were sub zero (-7 wind chill)!!! This is NOT pencil skirt weather. It's time for thermals and fleece PJs, my Bloggy People. I couldn't sleep last night. I needed to look forward to the wonderful prospect of Spring. Snuggled under the electric blanket, I stayed awake reading and googling the exciting subject of DIY French Drains and Landscaping. Eureka!
 It's not hard at all. Not expensive. Quite effective. Just need a lot of elbow grease and determination.

Go ahead. Ask me anything. I can tell you anything you need to know about water in the yard, water in the soil, slopes, angles, and rainwater. Go ahead. Ask me.  You need 4" perforated PVC pipe, river or pea stones, gravel, landscaping porous material and a big shovel.

Don't worry, Pookie Dog. 
We have to wait until the ice melts before we can start another project. 
I will not be wearing my pencil skirt unless the contractors are present and might even get my own Queen hands a little dirty. 
I researched all kinds of DIY projects last night whilst the sub-zero wind howled outside, envisioning what beautiful spring lawn remedies and adventures I could contemplate. All this crazy ice has made me crave Spring.  The natural area needs naturalizing again, the weeds behind the potting shed need weeding again, the backdoor needs painting, and Bloggingham needs another backyard drain to redirect water flow somewhere other than my flower garden.  What IS the perfect solution?
The beauty of the French Drain.....
named for a Frenchman somewhere trying to please a woman..'s not what I  trying to mark off another project on the Honey-Do list. Yep. That's what I meant.

or maybe just a Curtain Drain will do.....

No. We definitely need a French drain. If only for the cultural reference.
Did you know that a french drain is also called a weeping tile? How poetic!

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

It's The Medical Snafu Of The Century

I'm glad you asked. During the time I blogger-slacked, as it were, I learned to cook.
Let me clarify. I learned to cook better than I did before. This did not come from a sudden interest in pots and pans. The metamorphosis occurred when diabetes hit the castle. Homer and I were diagnosed the same day!
I took him in for a routine checkup last summer.
It was time for his mammogram.

Somehow they got his gender parts mixed up and before he knew it they were pricking his paws with needles and trying to shovel insulin pumps down his throat. And he thought we were going shoe shopping.
You never heard such screaming in all your life. It was shameful. All the way home I tried to explain how he went in for his annual squish-session and came out with diabetes. He still hasn't forgiven me.
Now we live in a world of blood sugar meters, expensive test strips (hard to find for animals), sugar substitutes and pills that make people crazy. I've we've he's lost more sleep over this than the day he broke up with one of those floozy dogs in the Dog Blogosphere. He's completely inconsolable. And to make matters worse, I've we've he's had to give up Cheetos.

I, in my good-natured Queen way, set upon a path of desperate cooking research to help myself   him manage this most aggravating condition. I'm exhausted trying to cook for him. NOTHING satisfies that dog. I even dyed the Stevia orange, sprinkled it on lettuce and fried some up in a pan to make artificial Cheetos. But do you think he appreciated that?

Maybe this is my way of saying to the blogworld, "I have diabetes."
There. I've said it.
Not to worry. I'm we're he's not nearly as upset as we's was a year ago.
I've got this.

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