Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food = Love

I can’t think of a meal at Mama’s table without picturing both Mama and Papa being a part of it in some way. Every season provided different food memories. At this time of year, it would be mustard greens, collards greens, sweet potatoes, streak o’ lean, cornbread, and candied apples. Summertime provided its own goodies: fried chicken, field peas, fresh tomatoes, cantaloupe, homemade biscuits, and stewed corn. Papa participated in the feast with his own variations on a theme. Collard greens wouldn’t be complete unless he added hot pepper sauce. For Papa (and later for me), field peas needed a little bit of fresh hot pepper from the garden. Cantaloupe required lots of salt; cornbread needed lots of butter.

On the 4th of July, Papa and Mama worked together to make DELICIOUS homemade peach ice cream. Mama would sometimes make her famous Lemon B-B-Q chicken or barbeque ribs. At Thanksgiving and Christmas, we all had our favorite “Mama food.” For years it was sweet potato casserole for me. I remember Robert’s request for mincemeat pie or coconut cake. I’m sure Laura and Mary had their favorites, too. Meanwhile, Papa worked tirelessly to make his annual Christmas ambrosia. On New Year’s Day, there was the unwavering tradition of black-eyed peas, rice, stewed tomatoes and Papa’s coleslaw.

Food just naturally makes me think of Mama. When I’m cooking, I want to call her to either ask for a recipe or tell her how good or bad things turned out. Seems like most occasions in our family revolved around food. For our birthdays, we got to choose what we wanted for the meal. Later, when we moved away, Mama would make sure she prepared something we liked when we came home.

One thing that gave me comfort was the way Mama and Papa worked together. If he didn’t help her cook, he helped with setting the table or with clean-up -- especially at times when there was a crowd.

This Thanksgiving we will celebrate without either of our parents. There will be a definite hole: food-wise and in our hearts. I’m sure, though, that table talk will include memories of wonderful meals gone by and I imagine that Mama and Papa will be joining us from where they are.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

This is an odd blog entry; please read it anyway.

Okay... This is not your typical blog entry; however I had to try it.

In a few weeks, I'm going to go to a writer's retreat on Hood Canal; it should be great.

In preparation for that retreat, one of the presenters has asked us to try various sentence patterns in our everyday writing. So today I'm going to write a blog using those patterns and variations; thus I will get practice. ;-)

Last night I went to Open House at S & H's school; I didn't make it around to every teacher.

The wind is blowing; the leaves are falling; fall is here.

I'm trying to figure out what to have for dinner; but I don't much want to cook.

The economy is awful; banks are closing; people are losing jobs; I'm looking forward to a new president.

Thank you for your indulgence; this activity has been fun.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Gift of Sitting Still

It's raining today. That's not something new around here, but there's something sort of peaceful about today's rain.

Maybe it's the glimmer of hope that a little bit of blue sky provides behind the rain.

Maybe it's the quiet of the house all to myself with the sound of rain in the background.

Maybe it’s because all of this quiet reminds me of my parents.

I'm southern to the core in many areas. One of those is the gift my parents gave to me of sitting still. I have fond memories of just BEING on the porch with my parents. Not doing anything -- just being.

I think it's tough to do that and not feel guilty when other people are rushing around from one activity to another.

However, I just made up my mind... As a tribute to my parents, I'm going to sit around sometimes and try not to feel guilty.

If I had a porch, it'd be even better.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hey! Play-dough!

Every Tuesday night for the past two years our family has met with three other families for Bible study or book discussion and fellowship. We had our first gathering of the year tonight…

For the children, I decided to have a night called “Pretend you’re in kindergarten again.”

Take a moment and try to remember the things you had in your kindergarten classroom… That’s what I tried to make my family room look like. Books, toys, art supplies – arranged like “centers” around the room. The first thing they saw when they came in the room was a sign that welcomed them to “Pretend you’re in Kindergarten Night.”

They smiled and walked downstairs.

Each of them immediately gravitated to the things they enjoyed as kindergarteners (and maybe, still do). Some played with Lego, some created things with play-dough, some colored (pretending to be as inexperienced as a 5-year-old -- just scribble, scrabble), some carried baby-dolls. Everybody got into the spirit of the night and even settled down after a while to watch "The Arthur Music Video"…

As a parent it was fun to watch, but it also gave me something to think about...

Seems like it’d be good for us all to pretend we’re in kindergarten again – every-once-in-a-while, anyway.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Pretty much every day I have some idea of how I would like my day to go... and then, I get side-tracked.

My goal this morning was to clean my house right after I got the girls to school so I could then run errands (like buy more detergent so I could wash more clothes). But, no... I stopped and checked my e-mail, messed around on the computer and generally wasted time.

In fact, I'm STILL not cleaning my house because I'm writing this blog!

I’ve been walking around the house pretending to accomplish something while trying to imagine what lesson there could be in my procrastination (other than "don't procrastinate.")...

I haven't come up with anything (other than "don't procrastinate.")

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Perhaps someday on your bookshelf....

I think writing is a lot like photography.
With photography, there are many photos taken before you get to the photo that captures the moment.
With writing, you have to write a lot of pretty awful things before you get to the piece that’s worth sharing.
Either way, you have to work through a whole bunch of garbage to get the reward.
So, while I’ve written quite a few things that probably deserve a horrible death, somewhere in there is a piece that is waiting to be refined.

All I have to do is, keep at it.
And, who knows?
Years from now my little story may find its way to your bookshelf.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I have to confess something… I haven’t really prayed in a very long time. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve said quickie prayers. I’ve cried out to God in moments of intense grief or pain. I’ve asked God for wisdom in moments of uncertainty. I’ve bowed my head at church and prayed along with the one who leads. I ask the blessing each night before we eat dinner. And, I try to remember to say "Thank you" for the daily miracles in my life. But the truth is, I haven’t sat down and really focused on having a conversation with God in quite some time.

I’ve never been really good at it anyway. I’m too easily distracted.

However, today as I was walking back from going to school with the girls, it hit me that now, more than ever, they are growing up. In this week of figuring out all the new schedules and guidelines and rules, it’s becoming clear to me that they are entering a new environment – and it’s not just middle school. It’s making me realize that I’m beginning to send them out into a world that is beyond my control.

There are busy roads to cross. There are lockers to manage. There’s bigger homework to tackle. There are bullies out there. There are hidden dangers all over the place.

And, so… it occurred to me that I’m going to need some help. Not just to protect my girls, but to calm my spirit.

If you’re a praying person, would you throw in a prayer for this new era in our lives?
It’s bigger than me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some girls, a book and the author

Yesterday my girls and I hosted our monthly book group meeting for their friends. It's always a good time... Each month we read a book -- which is fun -- and then at our gathering we get to eat, talk about the book and make a bookmark (which is our craft of choice).

So far, we've read Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree. Our next book was Chasing Vermeer and our most recent book was Hattie Big Sky.

What made yesterday so special was that Kirby Larson, author of Hattie Big Sky, joined us for our book group!! She shared stories of how Hattie came to be, methods she used for gathering information about the time period, tricks for naming characters and other fun tid-bits for writers-to-be.... It was definitely a treat!

For those of you who haven't read it already, I suggest you find a copy of Hattie Big Sky and enjoy!