Category Archives: good things

just juicing

 

And so the day ends with a few small kitchen chores…drying a few dishes, wiping the crumbs from the cabinet space near the toaster, and popping lids back on spice bottles and almond cans. While putting away some extra-large salad bowls in the cabinet beneath the candles, I met with some obstacles – a messy and out of order condition within the cupboard that kept me from stacking an oversized red bowl. I decided that “now” was a good time to straighten it up a bit. I reached in to take out everything (just a soon wipe the shelf down while reorganizing) and saw something from long ago in the corner. It was a juicer – not one like my mom used, the glass one that required squeezing an orange over its pointed protrusion, this one was electric – simple, but electric; it was mine.

My Darlin' Clementine

 

 

 I instantly thought of summer days long ago when boredom was lurking and kids were little and twitchy as the minutes sometimes crawled. Luckily, I kept a few things in my bag of tricks to cure monotony, one was the performance of this dutiful device. I’d take out a sack of oranges and this fancy juicer and some little fellows would take turns juicing. I had a little wooden stool to scoot up against the cabinet and their chucky little legs would hang from the seat as they had their turn turning navel oranges into a brew. The time passed, the orange juice, what was left, made it into the glass pitcher, the rinds to the compost and boredom dispersed.

When I saw that old appliance in the corner of the cupboard, I went back “there” so quickly. Back to a summer afternoon with little boys looking for something to do and the solution being so simple – just a distraction to reroute the afternoon.

Now, a professional Vita Mixer has a place of honor on my kitchen cabinet and every morning Elizabeth and I make green smoothies and when we really get ambitious about juice, another commercial appliance is taken from the cabinet over the stove. While oranges and kiwis go into the big and powerful Vita Mixer and a glass of very nutritious juice suddenly appears, the journey is not key here – there will be no moments to remember, just juice to drink. There is no lifting little boys up on wooden stools to reach the old juicer that mesmerized and entertained on a long summer afternoon in the country. It now sits still in a dark corner of my kitchen cabinet hardly remembered and never used but it has had many a vessel filled with delicious OJ and a simple life filled purpose.juicer

 

 

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Saturday morning

I woke up at 5 this morning – on purpose because it is Saturday, a day I could wake up  “unpurposefully”. I wanted to see where my thoughts were at that time of the day, a time when the media was at bay, a time when I could come to my computer to write and not yet be bombarded with each second of the day moving across the screen, images of rape and murders and dirty politics – I wanted to hear my thoughts. It is difficult to find those places anymore, it is difficult to be you anymore – to be still and think their own thoughts – we are always trending.

I have written many times about the natural world being over developed, the woodlands, the forests, the coasts, those places to “be” in are hardly available to us anymore, concrete and corporate have “bought” them and now much of that space is gone.

honeysuckleI am fortunate to have a bit of space that is in a natural state – not that big, but enough. I can walk through the field and spot a morning dove nesting in the tall grass and I can go to the edge of the woods and gather handfuls of honeysuckle to put in my kitchen. I can, in early spring, find wild blackberries to pick and I see the wildflowers bloom in complimentary colors each year, perfectly scattered in the fields and woods.

 For me, not being able to experience these simple gifts from the natural world would be the absence of joy – I would not have  inner peace, however fleeting it may be at times, if I did not have the natural world to connect to. It is spring and I must put plants in the ground and pick a bunch of wildflowers and honeysuckles and wake up early one Saturday morning in April and listen to the wind chimes in my backyard as I drink a cup of coffee and just be me.

garden

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i live in a small town

pushing throughAhhh small towns, they are wonderful pieces of Americana that, as I have written many times before, seem to be giving way to corporate. That’s where I live, in a small town, New Iberia, Louisiana, a little community that grew up along the Bayou Teche. I am not native to here and neither is my husband, he is from Miami Beach, but we have lived here a long time and  have raised our family here.We are small business owners  also and are always so happy to see the loyal support our community gives local businesses, maintaining some of our  quintessential small town individuality. Anyway, it’s been a nice place to raise our family and continues to be a nice place to be a small business owner.

There are two institutions in this town that I feel an enormous amount of gratitude and indebtedness to, Clementine’s Restaurant and the Iberia Performing Arts League, better known as IPAL to us locals. Both of these hometown establishments have provided wonderful developmental experiences for all five of my children and for that, I am so thankful. Wayne Peltier, owner of Clementine’s, kept my four teenage sons busy on many weekends during high school doing catering jobs on site for Peltier’s and then later, at Clementine’s Restaurant. He hired them at 16 years old with absolutely no experience, their first jobs. I am certain they must have made many mistakes in those early days of employment that paralleled those dubious days of high school  and even in the latter days with experience  but he never made them feel anything but good about themselves, even after major blunders, and there were plenty of those. Wayne Peltier is a former teacher and I think he has never forgotten how critical those times in youth are, how influential the adults are in your life and the experiences that shape you. I cannot speak for anyone else, but for me, he was a wonderful first employer for, and later, a wonderful friend to my four sons.

 The amazing people at IPAL embraced my 13 year old daughter during her first performance of Oklahoma and gave her such a positive perception of Community Theater and the arts. She was able to meet and work with some exceptional personalities and I hope, made some lifelong friends. As Doc Voorhies told me once, “We watched her grow up in the theater”. I will always cherish those words, those people, and those times.

As a mom and teacher, I cannot place enough value on people and places within a community that help with the development of our youth. I believe it is so essential for our small communities to support one another and to pay special attention to our youth; it is cliché’ but, they are the future. And they can be so fragile and misguided in an environment of negativity.

My family owns a small business in town and we too employ youth and are for the most part, their first employers. These kids are minimum wage workers that are, like my kids were, usually inexperienced. They are servers that serve you, the customer. And while, as business owners, we want your experience to always be ideal, sometimes it is not. Just as sometimes you miss the mark, they do also. We have had many moments at our store when it was so incredibly busy that all sense of order was obliterated – for those of you who have never worked in the food industry, I am here to tell you it can be very hectic and frenzied. For the most part, thankfully, our customers are very understanding. They know we are working as hard as we can and are polite to our employees and to us. Sometimes, unfortunately, we have a customer that is not and the server is sadly and consequently demoralized. We have, on occasion, had customers call us privately to tell us about their negative experience and we are always grateful for their input- it’s the sort of criticism that can cause positive results instead of crushing consequences.

It’s tough running a small town business in this era of “big box” but it is so beneficial to a community to keep things local and to create uniqueness – something that is sadly disappearing along the byways and highways of our country.

Again, a public thank you to Wayne Peltier, owner of Clementine’s, and the kindred spirits that comprise IPAL for all you have done and continue to do for our youth and our community. These are the types of places and organizations that keep small towns alive and help to shape our youth and grow our communities. I write this just to emphasis their value and perhaps raise a bit of awareness.

2012

2012

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for real

It was a picture taken in 1962 that prompted this post. There was a Christmas tree in the background with a little girl in front. The tree was so real – the icicles were thick and sparkly and had been put on by a child, the lights were big and the branches were random on this ordinary Douglas Fir. A special time had been created there with magic and tiny hands – nothing was perfect except the moment and the baby doll she was holding was one like I remember,  the eyes sort of clicked and rolled, the hair was etched  and she was wearing a long gown with tiny buttons – so real and pure. I felt that Christmas morning, that place before now when the emphasis was not on materialism and the world was still so big and “virtual” was not something I spoke of.

Anyway, it was just a snapshot of “then” that made me look at “now” and while some things are much better, I do miss the purity of life that was “then”– the wholeness and the understanding that the things that matter have nothing to do with marketing and consumerism, it was the solid structure of family that was just assumed, and the glory in the everyday things that made us happy. I choose to remain there in that place where Christmas trees had big colored lights and imperfect branches and happiness was  warm socks and hot soup in winter and dragonflies on  clotheslines in summer.

dad and I

 a snapshot of real happiness – balloons and a dad

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vantage points

Today is my birthday, I am 58. And I am happy. At 58, my happiness comes from internal factors, not external things. By now, like Anne Morrow Lindberg writes in Gifts From the Sea, I have shed many shells, especially the heaviest most cumbersome of all, ego. I am feeling free from the external pressures of society and its distorted definition of how my life should be.

 I really just wanted to post and acknowledge how wonderful this vantage point is in life and encourage you to look forward to it or for those of you already “here” , look ahead with anticipation. I look back on the journey thus far and I see my evolution. I see the certainties I have always known, my core that was there in college as an art student and in my youth. I was in a place of “truth”, a place where I stayed in touch with myself and what I believed.I read books like Lust for Life and kept in touch with “me” through journals and of course, I painted.  But, then, I see the detours I took. I consider these detours weakness in my journey – places where I was successfully influenced by external forces and I deviated from my core values.My fault.My bad.

 I feel I am back where I belong now and it is  comfortable and right, for me.  I do, at 58, feel some anxiety, however. It usually manifests itself as apprehension about the future for my children, and your children. I watch them as they go down their paths and hope that, for the most part, their decisions are authentic and come from a place inside of them, a place where it is only their voice, their spirit that they hear; I hope they can keep the noise out. But, I also know that with living, there comes inevitable “lessons” and we all need them so that at 58, we can feel we have gathered enough knowledge to feel, in some small way, that we have “arrived”.

So, today is my birthday and I’m happy. Thank you so much for the wishes; those wishes, those acknowledgments, and you are the “things” in life that, for me, matter.

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attitude

Today was one of those days that filled me up with some sort of peacefulness. Maybe it is because it is June and life will slow down for me for the next few weeks or maybe it is because I just shifted my attitude slightly and made a  choice to see ONLY the good in my life. It is a theme that I have been following lately, an effort to devalue many many things and in doing so I have found contentedness that I have not felt since childhood when my world was so small and narcisstic. That is where I try to stuff myself, in a small world , one where the outside does not really matter – I am not meaning apathy about “the world”, the planet, humankind, but matters of human weakness kind of stuff – like, it doesn’t matter if the kitchen is not clean when I go to bed or if I spilled bleach on my pants or if the backdoor is really old and needs repair and paint (it does) or if I don’t get the grass cut today or tomorrow  or if my neighbor’s kid just got elected president or if I have a new wrinkle  – doesn’t really matter does it? Who cares? I am sorting through things and deciding what I should give time, minutes and hours of my very finite life, to. The answer is easy really – people and for me, my art – people I love and people who come into my life because they need something from me – that’s it – nothing else matters –  I’m not just referring to “things” – it’s situations also that rob me of time, situations that are really superficial and should not hold value. I look back and I can embarrass myself over some of the things in my youth that upset me or caused me concern. Oh well, this is true rambling – it’s late at night and I told myself, and you, that I would make a big effort to write this summer and I am. This entry is so loose and hard to follow; random is the word to use here, but I am celebrating being “chill” – embracing summer and the essence of its spirit. There will be time enough later to rush and scurry –
“So quick bright things come to confusion” Shakespeare from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”
He reminds us how quick and fragile these happy moments can be. I will make it a point to find more of them; they are there if we don’t look to compare and if we push out the darkness by allowing the light to come in. It really is all about attitude…

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