Monday, April 30, 2012

A Good Read

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is a little book I recently read – again. I first bought it three years ago and have returned to it several times. Something about this little book is enchanted. It is a book of magic, charms, spells and bits of tranditional and historical lore. I like the magical descriptions of flowers and the spells they cast on the cast of characters in this small North Carolina town.
Bantam Discovery (2008) - Paperback - 320 pages

I think you will find the Evanelle character to be charming! You will love the descriptions of the dishes Claire prepares to alter certain behaviors. The book has a modern story line of two sisters trying to come to grips with their pasts and preserving their heritage. And the apple tree! The strangest tree every known.

I highly recommend the book. If you should read it, let me know what you think.

Here’s a description from the publisher:

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.
The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.
A successful caterer, Claire Waverley prepares dishes made with her mystical plants—from the nasturtiums that aid in keeping secrets and the pansies that make children thoughtful, to the snapdragons intended to discourage the attentions of her amorous neighbor. Meanwhile, her elderly cousin, Evanelle, is known for distributing unexpected gifts whose uses become uncannily clear. They are the last of the Waverleys—except for Claire’s rebellious sister, Sydney, who fled Bascom the moment she could, abandoning Claire, as their own mother had years before.When Sydney suddenly returns home with a young daughter of her own, Claire’s quiet life is turned upside down—along with the protective boundary she has so carefully constructed around her heart.
Together again in the house they grew up in, Sydney takes stock of all she left behind, as Claire struggles to heal the wounds of the past. And soon the sisters realize they must deal with their common legacy—if they are ever to feel at home in Bascom—or with each other. Enchanting and heartfelt, this captivating novel is sure to cast a spell with a style all its own.
The book is available from several on-line sellers for about $7.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch was fast today.

From this:

Loose-leaf lettuce growing in a wire basket on the back deck

To this:

Into the kitchen sink for a good rinse

To this:

Lettuce, yellow bell pepper, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, garlic, green onion, flaxseed, dried cranberries, croutons, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, tarragon vinegar, olive oil

And finally, this:

Salad with bacon and potato frittata

Fast because the frittata was cooked yesterday and warmed over for today. It was a very good lunch!

Memories of Anderson Elementary

Everyone has memories of their school days. My fondest are of those spent at Anderson Elementary, a beautiful white wooden two-story with character. It is no more, unfortunately; demolished sometime during the late 1970s when it was deemed a fire hazard. I am not sure what year it was constructed, but my mother attended classes there in the 1930s.

The spot where it sat is now a baseball field, right in the middle of the tiny village of Anderson. When I pass by that site, the memories of days spent there come flooding back. I mentally travel up and down those halls, enter each classroom, climb the steps and walk into the old auditorium, walk down those dangerous “fire escape” steps, see the coal pile alongside it. I remember the teachers, my classmates,  the things I learned there. These memories are as vivid in my mind as if they happened only yesterday.

Anderson School was recognized all over the county as being one of the best. It included elementary and junior high, through the 9th grade. Teachers at the two high schools that received Anderson students for senior high  – Lauderdale County, or Rogersville, and Lexington – acknowledged that their Anderson students were always way ahead in what they had learned; star students.

Teachers back then were “old,” at least they seemed that way. Many were unmarried, having attended college and gone into the teaching profession to support themselves. Today, we have so many young teachers, a good thing for students, I think. But I am not complaining about my teachers; they were the best.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Elna Camp, or “Miss Camp,” was like our substitute mother. She babied those having departure pains from mothers, nursed our skinned knees when we fell during recess, was patient, loving and kind. Second grade gave us Miss Cleo Givens, a bit more stern than Miss Camp, but just what we children needed. She was a very good teacher.

Third grade brought us to Miss Velma Weathers, who was my mother’s cousin. I had thought she might cut me a break since I was kin, but that was not the case. I think I never got over the fact that she didn’t choose me for the Aunt Polly role in our class’s yearly play, “Tom Sawyer.” She was a unique lady, exposing us not only to our lessons, but to nature and the applied arts as well. She bought all 20 or so students a miniature plastic Recorder and taught us to play. She took us on walks through the nearby woods, teaching us the names of trees, identifying moss, insects and small animals – trying to instill in us a love and appreciation of nature. It worked, for me at least. She also was a conservationist long before it was fashionable, having us return from the lunchroom with our half-pint milk cartons, which she had us tear in a certain way and flatten. They would then be stacked in the “cloakroom” (why is that perfectly good word never used anymore?) for the janitor to use to start morning fires in the potbellied stove.

Yes, as improbable as it may seem today, our classrooms were heated by coal-burning pot-bellied stoves! Mr. Camp, husband of Mrs. Camp above, and later Mr. Fred Evans, arrived very early to start and feed the fires that would keep children warm during the cold season. Throughout the day, teachers sent male students to the pile with buckets for coal to replenish the fire during the day.

Mrs. Susie Hamilton, “Miss Susie,” taught us in fourth grade. It seems classes became “harder” this year and we had to work more. But there still was time for selecting books from the shelves at the back of the room and reading them for “extra credit.” Miss Susie was noted for being a “tough” teacher and I believe we all were a bit afraid of her. However, I was “teacher’s pet,” or at least that’s what my classmates accused me of! I think I was just fearful her wrath would be directed at me so I always tried to excel to please her.

The fifth and sixth grade classrooms were on the second story of the building. For some reason, passing to the fifth was an exciting moment for students. As underclassmen, we were forbidden from every climbing those stairs! And now it would become our daily home!

The Musical Miss Ruby Daley taught fifth grade. I remember lots about this year. It was the first time our entire elementary school presented a spring operetta and Miss Ruby organized it. She loved to sing and led us in daily singing lessons. Some of the regular songs I remember are,”Froggie Went A-Courtin',” “Home on the Range,” My Name is Yon Yohnson I Come From Wisconsin,” “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal,” all the patriotic song and others too numerous to mention.

But about the operetta. It was called Wedding of the Flowers and fifth graders played the part of the roses. Miss Ruby brought all the mothers of the girl students in for a demonstration on how to make our costumes from pink and green crepe paper. Oh, how well I remember that little number; kept it for years.

During practice sessions, Miss Ruby would illustrate the dance steps we were to perform as we came onto the stage and I can to this day see her twirling around --  in her dark printed shirtwaist dress, thick stockings and old-fashioned black laced up high-heeled shoes (the same kind that are, well, now back in style again!). Certain other classes were the violets, tulips and daffodils. I still have the operetta booklet that belonged to my sister, as she was the pianist.
I could not find my copy, but a Google search produced this image on eBay. The wonders of the Internet!
Sixth grade was exciting because we got a new teacher – and a young one. All the previous ladies were “old,” or at least to us they were. They were no more than in their 40s and 50s, but the way they dressed and their demeanor was a throw-back to the old days. Now we were getting a teacher (maybe early thirties) and she dressed in a more modern way. Mrs. Vida Mae Owens, a very sweet lady, dealt with us in an extremely kind way, preparing us for junior high, when we would move over to the adjacent brick one-story building. I just remember being inspired and in awe of her and I also remember the beginning of my life-long addition to reading. She encouraged us to check out books from the Bookmobile, which traveled from the large county library to outlying areas. The Bookmobile was a tremendous asset for rural children who otherwise would not be able to travel the 25 or so miles to the county library in Florence. I did a search and found it was established in 1948 and ceased operations in 1972.

The Jr. High School Auditorium, which also was used by the Elementary School.

Well, there it is; just a few of my memories of growing up at Anderson Elementary School. Occasionally I speak with former classmates of our experiences there and we all agree it was a wonderful school and we were so privileged to have had that experience.

What are some of your memories of school days? Are they pleasant? Are you still in touch with classmates from elementary school?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Are You Sleep Deprived?

There was a report out yesterday from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. that tells us many American workers get fewer than six hours of sleep each night. This is a particular concern for not only workers’ safety, but it also poses sometimes deadly health consequences, resulting in in cardiovascular problems, obesity, diabetes and depression.

It seems to me there are two categories into which sleep-deprived people fall. One, those who overextended and can't get to bed at a reasonable hour, which was the subject of the report.
But another situation where people don't get enough sleep is not being able to fall asleep, due to worry, anxiety, stress, a health issue, something consumed during the day or simply a brain that won't shut down and relax. 
Ordinarily I don't have trouble sleeping. Engaging in a full day of mental activity at my job in a high-energy office plus the exercise I get around my house and property generally makes me fall asleep quickly. But sometimes, rarely, I can't fall asleep and if I've forgotten to make myself a cup of Tazo Relax tea 30 minutes before bedtime, I get up and take two Ibuprofen. I don't like doing it often, but it really does the trick for me.
But how about eating something that'll make you sleepy?
I found the following food list at the Website Real Age and if you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend it for a wealth of information on health, diet, food, exercise, aging – all sorts of good stuff. Sometimes I am wary that sponsors have paid to have their product on a recommended list. How can you every know? But often you find generic suggestions not related to products, so I particularly liked these suggestions on foods to eat to make you sleepy.
Information from the article:
About 90 minutes before you want to nod off, head for the kitchen and make yourself a sleepy-time snack. Keep it light (around 200 calories), so you don't overload your digestive system. And include one or two foods from the list below. All help to relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones -- serotonin and melatonin -- flowing.

1. Bananas -- They're practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.

2. Chamomile tea -- Chamomile is a staple of bedtime tea blends because of its mild sedating effect, which makes it the perfect natural antidote for restless minds and bodies.

3. Warm milk -- It's not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan, an amino acid that has a sedative-like effect, and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus, there's the psychological throwback to infancy, when a warm bottle meant "relax, everything's fine."

4. Honey -- Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that's linked to alertness.

5. Potatoes -- A small baked spud won't overwhelm your gastrointestinal tract as it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effect, mash the potato with warm milk.

6. Oatmeal -- Oats are a rich source of sleep-inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy -- and if you've got the munchies, it's filling, too.

7. Almonds -- A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can send you snoozing because they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

8. Flaxseeds -- When life goes awry, and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They're rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.

9. Whole-wheat bread -- A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it's converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs "time to sleep."

10. Turkey -- It's the best-known source of tryptophan, credited with all those Thanksgiving naps. But that's actually modern folklore. Tryptophan works when your stomach's basically empty rather than overstuffed and when there are some carbs around rather than tons of protein. But put a lean slice or two on some whole-wheat bread midevening and you've got one of the best sleep-inducers in your kitchen.

 And how about a recipe that uses several of the above sleep inducers?

 Lullaby Muffins
Between the bananas, the whole wheat, and the light touch of sweetness, these muffins are practically an edible lullaby.
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 large, very ripe bananas
1/3 cup applesauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup milk or soymilk
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, combine the flour (make sure it's whole-wheat pastry flour or you'll produce golf balls, not muffins), salt, and baking powder. In a blender, puree the bananas; add the applesauce, honey, and milk. Blend well. Pour the banana mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Line muffin tins with paper muffin cups and pour in batter. Bake 30 minutes or until tops are lightly brown and slightly springy. Makes 12 low-fat muffins.
 Nutrition Facts:
Per serving: 119 calories; 1g fat; 2.5g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 133mg sodium; 3g fiber; 35mg magnesium

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep seven to nine hours a night.
How many hours do you sleep each night?
Do you have trouble falling asleep? If so, what do you do, if anything, to help you get to sleep?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Potager Garden

Busy days like this one leave not as much time to think about I want to write here, so I'll just tell you what I did this afternoon. I came home from work and, after attending to the needs of pets, headed out to the area I've designated my potager, or kitchen, garden. So far only six tomatoes, spring onions, early peas and lettuce had been planted, but today I decided to sow seeds of arugula, more lettuce, basil, Swiss chard, chervil, kale and radishes. I had "mostly" already prepared the soil so it was only a matter of marking off the rows. Yet, it was time-consuming. Then there were six plants -- scented geraniums, lemon verbena and rosemary -- that I wanted to pot up before I came inside for the night.

Image Credit: Country Living magazine

It was 8 p.m., dark outside, as I turned off the water spicket and headed for the kitchen to make a quick meal. Showered, hair washed and dried, I finally have a few moments to devote to this little piece of the world I've created here for my enjoyment, and hopefully, on occasion, yours as well.

When the potager gets going, I'll provide pictures. I've been intrigued by creating such a gardening space for a couple of years, and have been working to get the beds marked off and enriching the soil. I have six beds, about five feet square, with paths intersecting. Having such an arrangement allows me to work from all sides without having to tread on the soil. I considered true raised beds but decided against it (I can't remember why now!). The soil in these six beds is slightly raised above the paths, but not so much that water runs off.
Image Credit: Better Homes & Garden magazine

A potager is unlike the classic American harvest garden -- which is planted in spring and culminates in late summer with much of the harvest preserved for winter's use. A potager is a year-round garden whose purpose is to supply the kitchen on a daily basis with fresh vegetables and herbs. So while some items are harvested in the current season, it continues to be replanted for the coming season.

But a potager also is planted for asthetic considerations. In some European countries they feature flowers, an apple or pear tree, and especially flowers for cutting and bringing inside. So I plan to sow a few seeds of cornflowers, bachelor buttons and larkspur to make it colorful.

Planned for planting in coming few days are two zucchini, one eggplant, one cucumber and two summer squash.  Later in early summer I'll think about sweet peppers and maybe a sweet potato or two. Come late summer, I want to plant winter squash, spinach, more lettuce. For fall, leeks, turnips, more onions, perhaps a broccoli plant, more radishes. During a mild winter in this climate, you can harvest kale, onions, cabbage and other cold-weather plants until around Christmas.

So you see it's an on-going thing with the potager. And remember, the quantities are small; nothing overwhelming, but hopefully you hope to have enough to share with a sister, mother, a few friends.

I have four blueberry bushes (with berries this year!) growing alongside the garden and numerous garlic bulbs --growing happily since last year -- than run the entire length of the garden on another side. Also planted last spring were four strawberry plants, which didn't do very well, but this year they have leaped out of the garden and are happily growing along a line of shrubbery. There have been a very berries, but alas, the birds have beat me to them!

Other plans for the area include a low fence around the entire perimeter, preferably white picket, but I'll take whatever my husband decides to install. The fence is needed to keep out rabbits and eight dog feet!

Stay with me on this one. I'll keep you posted on how things are progressing in my potager garden.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Teased Hair Coming Back? You Kidding Me?

I read a newspaper article today that said teased hair is coming back into style. No, say it isn't so!  Been there, done that, as the saying goes. Back in the early 1960s, before long hair and short skirts, we wore our hair short and teased as high as we could possibly get it. Then we sprayed it stiff with hairspray! The natural look it was not.

Hair teased for volume

I'll admit the hairstyle in the picture that accompanied the article was rather nice, or at least I liked it (see below). The model's hair is long and pulled back into a sloppy chignon. The teasing was to make it stay in place. It was not smoothed over as we did it back then; the suggestion was to strive for the "messy" look.

Hair teased and pulled back into a chignon. You can read the article and see step-by-step instructions here

With the current popularity of "Mad Men," and the craze for vintage clothes and the retro look, I should have guessed that teased hair wouldn't be far behind.

I remember that mother said back when her older sisters were young that teased hair was in style (that would have been in the early 1900s or 1912-1917 or so).They called it "ratting" then and special little combs were made to accomplish the backcombing. Then in the 60s and it made a slight comeback in the 80s with film stars and glamour dolls.

Just proves what goes around eventually comes back around!

Me with my teased hair style in the 1960s. It actually pains me to look at this picture from my school yearbook!

What do you think of teased hair? Would you submit to that torture to achieve a fashionable hairstyle?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Backyard Entertainment

I read a story in the New York Times today that really interested me. It’s a long and fairly detailed piece about a two scientists who have documented interesting and usual forms of life -- insects, plants, animals -- teeming in their own backyard. They took photographs, researched what they found and the woman has written a very interesting story.

“Our unimpressive lawn became a kaleidoscope of mysteries, just one square foot of it boasting multiple species of grasses, one species of dandelion, countless other unknown plants that quickly came and went, and no end of insects, algae, mosses, worms, bacteria and fungi.”

This got me to thinking how much fun it would be to go outside, camera in hand, and try it myself. I didn’t have much time this afternoon, and I gave up pretty soon of finding insects (a good thing, no? but summer isn’t in full swing yet!). I was rather afraid to get too close in on the dove sitting on her nest about five feet from our head as we walk out the back door, as I didn’t want to startle her. The rabbits, chipmunks and squirrels move too fast, so that left me with the plants.

So here is my little slide show of interesting textures and colors in some very close-up shots I captured with the camera today.
White Pansy
Hydrangea bud
Lettuce in the deck planters. I thought at first the leaves were damaged with those brown spots, but I read the seed packet and found out it's supposed to look this way; it's a mottled variety!
I cannot remember the name of this ground cover! But I like it!
The little cherub that overlooks some of my plants

Five-leaf Akebia, or "Chocolate Vine"

Yellow Pansy

I hope to continue this little project and find insects and other things beside plants as the season progresses. I need also to practice with my camera to get great close up shots.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and as always, I love to read your comments!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday to My Sister

April 24 is my sister's birthday and I want to wish her a wonderful day because she is a special person -- not only to me but to all who have the privilege of knowing her.

When we were small, we argued like all children do. I always looked up to her, though. I wanted to be like her, go where she went, do everything she did. I was the annonying younger sister. After we got through the teenage years and started to make lives of our own, we became very close and have remained so until this day. I know it shall be so for as long as we live.

We have shared so many good things and good times together. There also have been the sad times as well, but we survived them together.

I cannot imagine life without her. She is strong, smart, beautiful, kind, tender-hearted and tenacious! If she loves someone she'll walk through fire for them. She would do anything within her power for me, and I for her.

For all these reasons I want to wish her the happiest birthday ever. And  I want her to know that I love her very, very much!


Sisters -- in matching dresses made by mother. I remember that they were bright yellow print with white linen collars.

Ready for the piano recital. Wearing our taffeta frocks with net overlay on the skirts and the carnation corsages which smelled so good!

Wisdom from others about Sisters:

One's sister is part of one's essential self, an eternal presence of one's heart, soul and memory. Susan Cabil

Sisters touch your heart in ways no other could. Sisters share... their hopes, their fears, their love, everything they have. Real friendship springs from their special bonds. Carrie Bagwell

You know full well as I do the value of sisters' affections: There is nothing like it in this world. Charlotte Bronte

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day

There was a time, not so very long ago, when young people believed they could change the world. Idealism, a hope for honest government, peace in the world, a healthier planet – these were just some of the initiatives that directed the actions of teens and young people in the 1960s and 1970s.
Today we can thank them that we observe April 22 as Earth Day.

Young people wanted an entire relationship with the earth. They walked barefoot, wore flowers in their hair, lived at communes where they grew their own food. They were frustrated with the lack of government initiative towards cleaning up the environment and leniency with corporate polluters. They organized, protested and contributed to environmental groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, and by 1970, the Ecology Movement was in full swing. They were the first to promote biodegradable products and the use of natural ingredients in everything from fabrics to shampoo. They boycotted companies whose products polluted the environment; used animals for testing; were pro-war or very reactionary; or manufactured dangerous chemicals or weapons.

The National Environmental Policy Act was signed into law and on April 22, 1970, the first Earth Day was declared. This landmark event, involving 20 million people, raised awareness about how humans were treating the planet and ways to mitigate the impending dangers to the environment.
So while we're on the subject of how the activism of youth can change things, here are just a few more contributions from that generation:
--Pioneered numerous lifestyles and alternative businesses including communes, cooperatives, holistic medicine and health food, the back to the land movement, cooperative business enterprises, alternative energy, free press movement and organic farming.
-- Associated with participation in peace movements, including peace marches such as the USA marches on Washington and civil rights marches, and anti-Vietnam war demonstrations including the 1968 Democratic Convention. In four years, they managed to stop the Vietnam War.
--Questioned robot materialism.
--Contributed to the popularization of Indian food, especially curries and basmati rice. Asian foods like tofu and soybeans are now part of many healthy American diets. Whole grain bakeries all over the country now offer a variety of multigrain breads which are healthier than the traditional American white bread.
--Popularized the practice of eastern philosophy, yoga, Hare Krishna and got more in touch with their spiritual being. Today, yoga is totally mainstream!
There are many others, but we'll just leave it at these!

And here's a quote from one of the most hip guys of the 1960s:
“People today are still living off the table scraps of the sixties. They are still being passed around- the music and the ideas” - Bob Dylan (1992)
And the lyrics of a favorite song from that time:
Age of Aquarius
When the moon is in the Seventh House
 And Jupiter aligns with Mars
 Then peace will guide the planets
 And love will steer the stars 
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
 Age of Aquarius
 Aquarius! Aquarius! 
Harmony and understanding
 Sympathy and trust abounding
 No more falsehoods or derisions
 Golden living dreams of visions
 Mystic crystal revelation
 And the mind's true liberation
 Aquarius! Aquarius! 
When the moon is in the Seventh House
 And Jupiter aligns with Mars
 Then peace will guide the planets
 And love will steer the stars 
This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
 Age of Aquarius
 Aquarius! Aquarius! 
Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in
 Let the sun shine, Let the sun shine in
 The sun shine in

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Serendipity -- a happy accident, pleasant surprise or finding something good or useful without looking for it. How many times has this happened to you? Not large, life changing events, but instead something that lifts your spirits?

Yesterday I had two such moments. The first came as I walked by a commercial booth set up at a plant sale. The brightly colored sunglasses caught my eye so I stopped to have a closer look. Wayfarer-style sunglasses in lime green, bright yellow and turquoise. The man asked if I’d like a pair and I said it would be difficult to decide which color I wanted. “No problem, take one of each. They’re free!” And so I did.
Free sunglasses in lime green, bright yellow and turquoise (brighter than it shows in the picture)
I love sunglasses and have multiple pairs and these colorful little numbers will be so much fun to wear. That was my first serendipitous moment.

The second came when I walked into a hair salon for a quick bangs trim and discovered that the woman who cut and colored my hair several years ago is once more working in that shop. After we both did a double-take and hugged each other, I learned she’s back in the area and will be working there. She’s the best; haven’t liked my haircuts and color since she moved away. Now this really made my day.

 I believe good things often happen when we are not seeking them out. There used to be an old saying that went something like this: “He/she will never find a wife/husband became he/she is looking too hard.” That saying might apply to many situations in our lives.

People, especially along the Gulf Coast of the United States, sometimes refer to such a “gift” as  a lagniappe, although the true meaning of that word is a small gift given to a customer by a merchant at the time of a purchase  -- such as a 13th doughnut when buying a dozen.

So whatever those moments were, the two events made my steps lighter yesterday.

What about you? Do you have serendipitous moments? Do you think we strive too hard to make things happen and if we would just relax and forget about it, good things will come? Interesting thoughts. I’d like yours.  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Daddy and the Deutzia Bush

Each year when the Deutzia bush flowers I think of Daddy. Not because it was a favorite of his. No, mother is the plant expert in our family. The reason the Deutzia shrub makes me think of him is because he called all plants Deutzia. Because he could never remember the names of all the plants mother grew,  he just called all of them Deutzia.

You had to know my dad to find this funny. He had a quirky sense of humor, a dry and wry wit, a sense of fun that always made us laugh. A turn of a word, the misuse of a word or phrase – he always looked for the humor in situations.
He didn’t always intend to be funny, but oftentimes he was anyway. For instance, when we were having our house built in 1993 he was around the construction site almost every day. One day I received a call from him at my office – unusual because he never called me at work. It was a day the interior painting was being done and he was calling to say the painters had made a big mistake on the dining room. “I know you’d never want a room in your house painted that awful color.” I asked him if it was green. “Yes, green, but the most awful green you would ever see; a dark green that looks black.” Well, I was sure the painters had not made a mistake and I tried to explain that to him. “Well, if that’s what you want but it’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!”

The green dining room walls

He could do good imitations of people – both famous and people round about us. He could always make us laugh and I miss him so much. He died in 2006 at the age of 89, at home, which was his wish. He had been diagnosed with Parkinsons disease several years previous.  

Daddy, left, born in 1917, with his brother Roy.

Daddy, at right, with brother James, left, and sister Millinea

High school photo, about 1937

Late 1930s or early 1940s

1950s, with mother. Check that tie!

Daddy making me laugh by trying out my fashion wig! Mother is too engrossed in her needlework to take notice! Sometime in the late '60s.
On his 80th birthday in 1997.

65th wedding anniversary, 2005

He passed away May 20, 2006, on their 66th wedding anniversary.

He enjoyed life, was totally devoted to his wife and daughters and is missed very much.

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