Okra and Dawn(ing)

I woke up extra early this morning…trying to find more of my day, it begins and ends so quickly. As soon as the sun is just a bit higher, I will go to my garden to cut okra…those are my most special plans for this morning. I bake cookies for our restaurant and a batch is already in the oven; I can smell them as I type. The okra I cut this morning will be for pickling. I have a recipe from one of my mother’s friends from long ago. Anyway, those are my immediate ideas in this very early morning, this time before day break, this time before the splinters of humanity come across the air waves and into my conscious mind.

I will see what the night has brought to my garden and to my pear and fig trees and bring in a few blushing tomatoes for the window sill and have a bit of breakfast under the Celeste Fig tree. These things, those moments, will shield me somewhat from the harshness I suspect will hover through the day.

These days that are nearly unbearable; they dangle like storm clouds, threatening and dark, offering no solution just hounding and taunting, back and forth, back and forth with narcissistic drama and loosely formed opinions… It is my wish that we all look for solutions before we all fall apart. I hope to find my small way to make a difference, a difference that chooses no “side”, except the side of humanity.

I want to listen, I want to gather the correct information, I want to hear you so that I can formulate my own thoughts…

There’s the sun. I will stop now and close with my humble offering, a  quote by Israelmore Ayivor. Who knows, it might help if applied to this landscape of disagreement. 

“Be polite in your speeches. Good information rudely communicated will make no positive difference.”

Figs and Fragments…

I stood at the oldest of my Celeste Fig trees and ate a few ripe figs, warm from the mid June sun. They were tasty, but precocious figs, by my estimation. Just last summer, my sister, Susan, settled the fig arrival conundrum…”They are usually ready around Byron’s birthday (July 10),” she declared and, for me, wrote in stone. But this year….hmmmm, not so? I cannot blame it on a warm winter; it snowed here in the deep Deep South. I don’t know the answer, but what I do know is that I will always think of Susan when I stand under my Celeste Fig tree and enjoy a fat warm fig in summer. It will be in the still of the morning when dragonflies are feasting and the sun is not too high or too hot… It will be a gift she has left me with. Although beautiful,  the memory accentuates this hole in my heart, this void in my life, these tears on my face…I am having one of those days…

It is a day in June, the month I knew would be my most difficult. We were both born in June. I was first by years, 1954, and she was second, 1958.  She, a Gemini, me, a Cancer…8 days apart on the calendar but constellations apart in personalities…the years and the differences were initial barriers we overcame and, eventually, turned into strengths; I suppose we became compliments of one another. Our relationship evolved, it took time and many trials but, as most families can confirm, there was always the bond of love and as you know, it conquers all.

It is “one of those days” for me, a day that you are familiar with  if you have lost someone you love, a day that pops up now and then…grief knocks at your door and will throughout time, uninvited and unexpected and I have decided, it is best to just let it in, to go with it. I will and I will feel better in a bit. It is very difficult to be without her, she grounded me and she loved me like only a sister can and I her…

I think something that brought on this wave of loneliness was a moment in my little chicken yard. I was in the exact spot I stood 3 months ago at 3 in the morning watching the full moon wane and mesmerized by the light it cast on the early spring growth, all the while, unbeknownst to me, my sister was passing, transitioning. I was there, in the same spot, yesterday in the late afternoon and my mother’s four o’clocks were open and had overtaken the fragrance of the outdoors. I stood there once again and I became so lonesome for her and my mother. Anyway, I am glad to have these strong and powerful moments, they force me to stop and just remember and to feel those feelings of love for her.

I don’t mean for this post to be a downer, it is just an expression of a basic human hurt that we all experience. For me, writing and remembering help to pull me along. I feel better now. For the most part, her memory is a beautiful expression in my heart but now and then, my heart hurts. I have learned to just go with it and after a few tears (and sometimes words), I feel better…

p.s. I watched the Secret Life of Bees late last night. 

 

p.s….I do not know where you are on your spiritual journey but for me, I look to Nature for many answers and signs. A week after Susan passed, a female cardinal came to my window and she has visited many times since. Right after I posted this blogpost, she came again…

Beginnings

The full moon will rise tomorrow night, it will be the Blue Moon I wrote about earlier. I find myself, still, in this fog of disbelief, this condensation that I try to wipe away but, somehow it continues to reappear. I have since read a few posts on FB, posts that express similar sentiment, as I wrote about earlier, acknowledging my belief that we are all in this together, we all feel hurt and loss the same way. Anyway, on this most solemn day on the Catholic calendar I write a public thank you to all of you who have taken the time to send beautiful cards to us expressing sympathy. I am inspired by all of you to reciprocate, for we don’t understand how much that human “touch” means until it is touching you. Thanks to all of you.

On a happier note, it seems Old Man Winter has done its part in creating a bountiful spring. Aside from losing a couple of citrus trees, my yard is lush with greenery and growth and my vegetable garden has been tilled and is ready to be planted. Each year, each spring, I feel optimistic and ready to start yet another garden. Sometimes, it doesn’t work out so well, but that never curbs my enthusiasm for the next year; I always participate in the rebirth of the earth, I always show up for spring.

I went to my bee meeting last night and listened to the rudimentary goings on of our most fragile creature, the honeybee. They have no perception of world events and the misgivings of mankind, but yet, they are, in many cases, innocent fatalities of this society we have created. Not to sound like an extreme tree hugger, but I implore you to call a beekeeper if you find a swarm of honeybees, please don’t spray them with poison. There are people here in Acadiana that are trained to remove the swarms successfully and deliver them to a hive to continue their very critical and important lives as pollinators and producers of honey. Thanks for this consideration.

Wishing all of you a meaningful Easter and Passover…and a magical moment with the Blue Moon.

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p s

Susan

 

March 3, 2018

The pain is deep, the loss is great; I just lost my sweet sister. I am not sure how I move from this spot of hurt, how I get through whatever is left of my life here without her comforting words and warm heart, a heart that loved me as no one else can, a sister’s heart, a sister’s love. I am broken and crumbling with pain. It was sudden, it was in an instant that everything changed. I am not much on public display of anything this personal but, I write when I hurt; it helps me, she helps me…

Oddly, at 3 this morning I woke and tried to put myself back to sleep but could not. I remembered I had not closed the door to my chicken coop so I wandered outside in my nightgown, a bit afraid, a bit compelled. The waning full moon had caused beautiful dappled shadows across the yard, the beauty took away the fear I had from the desolation of the hour and caused a stir within me, a moment that was beautiful and mysterious, a moment not seen by me before. Minutes later, when back inside, the phone rang. It was my brother with the news…strangely, he was calling from Thibodaux, the town where she was born.

I hold tight to this as I try to get through this passage of darkness. It is a place we all have known, this place that brings us together and makes our differences seem so trite and our hearts seem as one, this shared place of human suffering and inevitable loss.

Forgive my public display of emotion and my dark demeanor but I write these words of sorrow for her acknowledgement, for her wonder. It’s all I can do.

March 11, 2018

There are two words that have emerged from the sudden pain and circumstance of my sister’s death from one week ago, “resistance” and “regret”. The consequence of these words can cause much pain and unhappiness…I tell myself this as I continue to stumble down this dark path to recovery; I talk to myself in each hour that strikes, comforting myself with good memories and recognizing that, unlike myself, the sweat from life is gone from her brow, her face is relaxed and her heart is at peace. All of that helps a bit but the hurt seeps through into my limited human mind and I fall off of the edge again. I know the drill, I know about loss, so, I have some hope, that in time, the days will hold more joy. They will never be the same, for when someone you love leaves, there is always a missing part. As nature does, something or someone will replace the physical time slot of loss but no one will replace the carved out notch within your heart; that is how it happens, I know.

I think about these two R words, “resistance” and “regret”, and I realize that at times like these, they are the enemy, they will take you down and will leave you there – rid them from your life. I cannot continue to “resist” the fact that Susan is not a physical being anymore; she will not call me each morning and afternoon to tell me about her chickens or share a short story about our mother and a laugh about our dad, she will not be here for Christmas hugging my children and bringing her special taco dip for Skip as she lovingly attends to Thomas and Emma as though she hasn’t seen them in forever. I cannot resist that, it is true, it is real. I, we, must go with what is before us and accept it, for as long as we “resist”, we will feel pain. I find her in my heart and in my thoughts now, she accompanies me
throughout my day as we continue to discuss life and search for answers and share one another’s pain and joy as only the two of us can.

“Regret”… that is a destructive emotion felt by all of us to some degree. If we have human relationships, we have some degree of regret. Susan and I were sisters, four years apart and on the surface, very different, in other words, we had our “moments” of friction, especially growing up. I look back at those “moments” with a sense of humor and see them as essential, I have no “regrets”. As adults, we have smoothed out the rough edges and discovered that we have the same heartbeat, we are the same inside, we are sisters. I suppose my current “regret” would be the phone call I did not make last Friday night. I wanted to talk something over with her but decided to wait until the next morning, the morning that never happened. I will let that go…

Morning sounds…

Serendipity is real for me and this morning was a testament to that reality. I woke up very early, I had a plan to write before the day began, before the sun rose, before my mind became cluttered with “stuff”. I planned this last night while I was painting valentines in my little homemade studio.

I  try to listen to my mind and body to help me decide when my writing muse is present and when my paints flow the most. It seems, that late evening is best for painting and very early morning is best for writing. I suppose I need somewhat of a clear head in the morning to find the right words and a cluttered head by evening to clear with paint?  The day and all of its material, in other words, LIFE, is sandwiched between these two creative poles.

Anyway, the first thing I did to wake up the sometimes illusive muse, was  prepare for MY wake up…coffee in my favorite cup and sweet orange oil in my diffuser – sweet orange , I understand “offers an irresistible feeling of contentment and joy” – I’m going with that. 

The next thing I did before opening this blank document was to check my email…here is where the serendipity occurred. This was the first  (and only) email I opened and it read, “Find your quiet center of life and write from that to the world.” Sarah Orne Jewett. OK…

I have no idea how this day will unfold; it is raw and somewhat unplanned, but these words will follow me and, hopefully, at some point, collect in my words.

As I quietly moved around in the kitchen early this morning, when it was still dark outside but day was about to break, and yes, my roosters were crowing (cliché but real), I remembered hearing the quiet sounds of my mom in the kitchen when I was  still a child – echoes of her making coffee, softly scooting the kitchen chair, the clinking of dishes, sounds that told me another day was here and reassured me  that she was there, holding my small world together, making tiny morning sounds in the kitchen and memories for my tomorrows. I wish those feelings of security for all children.

It is peaceful, this very early morning, just me and the morning birds waiting for the sun and its reveal as I spend a conscious few minutes thinking of soothing sounds and my mom.

b u

p s

Robins

Just a short post on an odd sighting this morning and a smoothie and muffin idea…First, the odd sighting. There was a lone robin outside of my kitchen window early this morning. I suppose the groundhog summoned him with some propaganda about the arrival of spring. Ha. Robins, as far as I know, do not all migrate, and if they do, it is to find food, not warmth. Many just go into the woods during winter and live off of berries. In the spring, they come out of the woods when the earth warms and the earthworms ascend and the insects arrive; the robins then become carnivores. Ha again. Last winter I expected to see a robin in early February or even January because our winter in the Deep South was exactly 3 days. This winter, however, we have had snow and below freezing temperatures; I cannot imagine that the earth has thawed yet. If you read my post yesterday, I wrote about leaving the autumn leaves on the ground for the small creatures of winter, well, they might be why the robins are paying me an early visit. Nature can be cruel.

In case you need a smoothie idea, I have one for you. It is really delicious and nutritious. I took an iPhone shot of the ingredients for you. Use the liquid in accordance to how thick or thin you want your smoothie to be. All of the produce is either from my yard or organic. The green powder is a super blend (mostly Spirulina) from the Health Food Store. And the organic lemon is frozen.

The muffins are apple cinnamon with Organic Flaxseed added. There are many recipes for these muffins all over the internet, all basic and simple. I just cut down on ¼ cup of the flour and added Organic Milled Flaxseed instead. All of the ingredients are, again, organic. Bon Apetit!

 

Please excuse the following obvious uncreative injection and my awkward silly cliché, but I think a Robin Williams’ quote always fits in nicely …

“No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

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Back to the beginning

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I named my blog “Sketches of My Day”. It seemed like the best direction for me in 2006 when I jumped on the blog bandwagon. I wanted a place to write about the ordinary, the regular things that happen to all of us and things that were so simple they might go unnoticed…my ode to the ordinary. My enthusiasm towards this space has waxed and waned throughout the years, right now, it is waxing. I enjoy coming into this world of words and simple thoughts and the easy way in which I can share this heap of observations and  jumble of not so serious lyrics makes it somewhat fulfilling – it is how we communicate now…ahhhh social media. Anyway, with that original thought in mind and a current bit of steam in my engine, I am posting my very ordinary day thinking it might be a lighthearted read or, on an ambitious side, an idea for supper.

To begin, I slept through the Groundhog event. I woke at 5 but, somehow fell back asleep and missed the whole thing. I suppose I needed the extra sleep. Our “groundhog” here in New Iberia’s Bouligny Plaza seems to differ from the main one in Pennsylvania…hmmm?

Either way, I love Groundhog’s Day and the rich folklore that has survived amongst all of this technology.

lady bugI looked outside the kitchen window while coffee was brewing and was happy about the choice I had made this past fall not to cut the grass. I had walked through the decaying autumn leaves yesterday and realized they are home to so many living things, the leaves being all some small creatures have to protect them from what was an exceptionally cold winter in Louisiana. Another added benefit of not mowing in autumn are the little tree saplings that are sprouting from the acorns and seeds the birds and squirrels are planting everywhere…more trees to watch grow.

smoothieLater in the morning, I put together a smoothie, something I do each day. FYI this morning I blended a baked sweet potato (I keep a few baked and chilled in the refrigerator), an organic apple, a ripe banana, a frozen organic lemon, frozen organic peach slices, pineapple juice and organic green tea for the liquid.

 

oatGood stuff coupled with a hot serving of Organic Steel Cut Oats cooked with Organic Apple Slices and Organic Cinnamon and then served hot with butter and Honey from my bees. I don’t mean to be obnoxious with the frequent “organic” reference, but I do try to avoid chemicals in my vegetables and fruit  as much as possible.

 

sausagesweet potatoesLaundry and a bit of painting (I’m making valentine blocks) filled the rest of this winter morning. I decided to cook supper early today so, I looked for an idea. I had a cabbage, some Italian Sausage (without nitrates), red onions, sweet potatoes, and a bit of leftover organic brown rice. It all came together beautifully and was so quick and easy…no cans, no packaging, no processing and very little expense. Done.

 

It is late afternoon by now and I have time to write this very ordinary piece on this very ordinary day – a day I declare to be the very best kind.

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The moon, a gift and a purple crayon…

 

taken long ago...

taken long ago…

I am a moonchild, no doubt. I set my alarm for 5 AM and at 5:05 I was standing outside facing West looking at the moon. It was still freezing – I knew this because of the frost on my neighbor’s roof and because I was “freezing”. It was worth it, the moon was beautiful, the earth was still and the day was about to begin.

At that moment, that time where night becomes day and sleep becomes wake, I, possibly, for the first time ever realized the tangible gift I was just given, the gift of a new day. “Here you go, Pam, here is your brand new, never used day. Take care of it, do right by it, for this gift is finite, this gift will one day expire.” Oh my, that sounds so sad and negative; it is not! It is important that we all know that things will change, this knowledge puts meaning on the present, it makes us aware that the here and now are available but fleeting, cherish it.

haroldI pulled William’s favorite childhood book, Harold and the Purple Crayon, off of the shelf as I waited (inside) for the eclipse. For some reason, I made this association with Harold’s moon and the  moon I was watching. Anyway, I read it. It was written in 1955, but the book I have has “1982” stamped on the back cover, the year William was born…I love little “connections” like this. Harold and his purple crayon create a world, his unique world, which begins with a moon, one to provide moonlight for a walk, and ends with a moon, one to help him find his way back home. This little book is fun to read with its simple drawings and chronological wanderings of this 4 year old boy but, as in all good stories, Crockett Johnson is ultimately highlighting the power and importance of imagination with his chosen words and purple lines, all centered around a moon – the theme of this very early morning, hence, the link, I suppose.

The moon has set and the mighty sun has taken its stoic spot in the sky; it’s time to begin the day. I will take with me that moment, when day broke, to remember the gift I was given and I will bring along my “purple crayon” to help with its design.

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I don’t know

bird feeder

I started tossing and turning at 5 this morning and finally gave in to the sleeplessness a little after 6:00. I got up and made coffee. I suppose I am practicing for tomorrow morning’s moon event. Anyway, here I am in a very quiet and early morning place just pecking on my keyboard trying to find words worth writing.

I read something yesterday about a woman who has made an ambitious exit; she turned off all of her social media, she unplugged from this virtual world we may be trapped in.

Before dawn, I thought about this. I thought about the good and the not so good and I continue to think but have not found my answer. How did all of this happen? Here I was doing my life, taking breaks throughout the day and evening but these breaks were not spent here at this computer and I did not carry a smart phone with me everywhere I went. I fed the birds, I read a magazine or a few pages in a book, I sat on the swing and watched our black cat romp, I hung my clothes on the line or called a friend or just sat with coffee in a curled up corner of stillness. So now, I take more breaks, usually at this computer – I look up recipes, read someone’s blog, read things of interest on FB and get my blood boiling over other things on FB, check the weather, etc. Necessary? No, but… I do love hearing from people who I might not hear from if not for social media and like a lot of moms, I enjoy being able to tell my kids something immediately without feeling like I am bothering them – calling can be precarious, messaging is almost always timely. But, on the other hand, there are no more letters in the mail, not as much face to face visiting, and the worst thing – so much comparing, especially damaging for the young and the insecure.

I conclude with, “I don’t know”…I suppose, like most things in life, moderation is the key and with everything in life, there are pros and cons. I am reading a book about Picasso – written by Francoise Guilot, a partner for 10 years of his life, a woman 40 years his junior and mother of 2 of his children; they met when she was 21 and he was 61 – within the book are many of Picasso’s notable quotes.

So far, what follows is my favorite bit of wisdom he shared with Francois. Coincidently, his words are on topic, even though it was spoken decades ago…great art is timeless.

He said, “You must realize that there is a price on everything in life. Anything of great value – creation, a new idea – carries its shadow zone with it. You have to accept it that way. Otherwise there is only the stagnation of inaction. But every action has an implicit share of negativity. There is no escaping it. Every positive value has its price in terms and you never are anything very great which is not, at the same time, horrible in some respect. THE GENIUS OF EINSTEIN LEADS TO HIROSHIMA.”

After all of this, I write something meaningful and useful, with no known negative consequence…

it is the dead of winter now, 

please feed the birds…

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Vanishing

NYC

I just read James Edmunds FB post about, yet, another cultural closure in Manhattan. I don’t know if I am going to be successful with expressing my feelings about news like this, but I am determined to try…I do not classify myself as a “traveler” but I do travel somewhat. I make extensive drives, both north and west, to see some of my adult children. I mostly drive because I love the freedom of the road and hate the hassle at the airport and consequent car rental places. Anyway, on my journeys, I have come to notice how vanilla this country is becoming; we are being defined by corporate and are losing “our soul”, to quote someone unknown to me; we are vanishing.

When I leave the Deep South, I take the interstate, I10 takes me to my connection and/or destination. I do understand that the interstate is mottled with corporate and by passes the towns and cities along the way, but I have seen what all of that corporate coverage on the outskirts of town does to the inside, the place that is (was) different, the place where the character once lived. I can easily see how the local shops are diminishing and being absorbed by the national chains that are on a monetary mission to rob each of our towns and cities of their identity and, sadly, we are letting it happen.

I see it first hand in our little southern towns. It is ironic that the culture in south Louisiana is what interest people and encourages travel and tourism; it is who we are, but it is slowly being dissolved by corporate moving in to feed off of these tourists and newcomers that our individuality brings in, and so began the “vicious circle”.

I remember the small towns and villages of Acadiana from my youth, each had its own uniqueness and were distinguished. They did not run together on the interstates and highways, they did not bleed of corporate spillage that connects each small town; they all had a unique character. Now, when I try to find them, they are spattered with the same familiar signs that “introduce” every other town. I worry, that soon, there will be nothing to identify them but the signs. Their interior, their soul, continues to shrink as they are being surrounded by suburban chains that cheaply replicate art and iconic establishments that were meant to be exclusive and original. Instead, there is now hundreds of cookie cutter sameness littering our countryside.

I wonder what happens next. When corporate is finished with these towns and cities it greedily absorbs, and we all look the same, what happens then?

This is nothing but an emotional post with not much academic input or substance and certainly no solution, but I  wanted to say it; that is why I have this little piece of real estate on the internet, my humble blog, so I can say “it”. Sadly, I doubt that anything or anyone will stop this huge machine that is taking our identity, our uniqueness, and in some cases, our livelihood, away from us.

Unfortunately, I will shop at the big box stores (I doubt that I eat at the chain restaurants, however) and I will feed into this corporate mountain of greed, all the while mourning the loss of our originality.

Thanks James for, at the very least, bringing this modern movement to light…that is what good art does, it makes people “see”.

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