Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Closing the Door to Worry

   Sometimes yesterday, though I cannot tell you what time, something really special happened to me. 
At the risk of sounding too mystical or weird, I'd say it was an outright personal vision

   Without warning, my heart felt years of stagnant, accumulated worry just melt down 
into a deep, still puddle and retreat behind a door, like a weak and frightened oil spill. 
It just poured out of my spirit somehow then silently disappeared. All of it. 

Then with my mind, no... even with my actual eyeballs, I saw that door closing.

   Does this freak you out at all? I hope not. It was a wholly positive experience. 
Please listen to just a little more...

   I wasn't sure for a few minutes what was happening, but as it sank in I felt better and better. Handsome is home from the office this week. In fact, yesterday was his thirty-seventh birthday! We went about our relaxing and I never mentioned it to him until tonight.

   But the relief gradually transformed into joy. Then this morning I woke up with an even more concentrated sense of freedom, and I am so excited to share it with you guys now!

I found this image and traced it back to a site called Nooks and Crannies
but the original link no longer exists.
So I have no idea where this breathtaking door
can actually be found, but isn't it great?

   Again, what I saw most vividly was a door. A tall, heavy, beautiful, carved and gilded wooden door, a door that once and for all and right before my eyes closed shut against a cavernous room filled with all of my worries. More worries even than what could possibly have melted out of me a moment ago. That room was deep and dark and lonely, hopeless, unproductive. And the door closed of its own accord. I heard the complicated latch click; I heard the wood groan; and I saw a little puff of dust escape through the paper thin space at the floor.

   You guys, it was a brief event, but so incredible.

   The longer I sit with this feeling, this new lightness of spirit, the more beautiful that door seems to me. It has been changing shapes and colors all day as I try to recall the original image.

The source of this pretty photo is first Santa Barbara Chic then Caroline Arber.

   One minute, it is squared and unfinished, rough wood strapped with ancient iron fixtures. Another minute my mind has it appearing as stucco and draped with flowering bougainvillea vines, flanked by overflowing pots of fragrant herbs. Surely by tomorrow I will see this important door a half dozen more ways.

   This door that has sealed off worry is always thick and substantial. It is always strong and quiet, resolute in its duty to save me from myself. It sort of smiles at me (if doors can smile) and it reminds me in its still strength that reentering the Worry Room would be a deliberate choice on my part. It would require a decision and some energy spent to go keep company with those old worries again.

   So throughout today I have smiled back at the tall, mysterious, miraculous door; then I shift my focus.

   With the Worry Room full but locked behind me, I can see the rest of my world better. Unhindered and less fearful. I see the wild and lively gardens of life all around me... my marriage, my children, our parents, friends, and family, work, dreams, so many goals and hopes that have been on the back burner all this time because of worry. I can now reapply my time and energy where it will be much more profitable.

   Something besides me closed that door. Something else caused all of this to happen, and now everything is possible. I am suddenly and very happily released from that wasteful room.

   Stephanie, stop worrying. You have always loved beautiful doors, right? 
Every time I see one I think of you, and this one was no exception. 
I love you, and I hope you can close the door to your worries soon. 

   That's about all I have to tell you about what happened yesterday. The precipitating effects promise to be numerous, though. I can hardly think of a part of life that won't benefit from this new freedom and strength. 

Best wishes everyone. Worry is a waste. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Insomnia Senses Inventory

It is now almost five in the morning, a perfectly reasonable hour 
for writing and drinking coffee and organizing my crazy self, 
but I have actually been laying awake for many hours.
My mind is spinning and I feel rested enough, 
but a little something tells me I'm going to pay for this nocturnal indiscretion later.
We have an incredibly busy day ahead, 
with tasks touching almost every major area of life.
Wish me luck today?


See: The dining room table is chaotic, filled to the edges and piled high with the contents of yesterday's massive kitchen purge. It isn't too pretty, yet somehow a vase of fresh flowers from a friend, a plate of sparkling, sugar coated muffins, and my writing stuff all make it bearable. Oh! And a bowl of drying okra. I really need to tell you guys about this soon.

Hear:  The fridge is humming meditatively, and from time to time I hear the sleepy trill of a guinea outside. Now the air conditioner has kicked on. I am trying to move about as quietly as possible so Handsome can tank up on rest. Our bedroom is, of course, directly above the noisiest possible downstairs room.

Smell: Buttery, cinnamon-sugar coating of these terrible donut muffins immediately to my right. Freshly brewed, strong, excellent coffee. And faintly bleached water from the vase of fresh flowers.

Taste:  Perfect first cup of coffee. And OKAY OKAY one tiny little bite of cinnamon-sugar donut muffin. Sheesh. Sue me.

Touch:  Invisibly soft tank top and cotton PJ shorts with Swiss dots all over them. I love the soft, nubby texture of Swiss dots, the feel of those little bunches of stitches. It reminds me of milk glass. Also, the cool, still air conditioned house. The wood and iron chair holding me. A hot mug in my left hand and a skinny hotel ink pen in my right.


  • About this book I just finished, about depression and anxiety being more than just moods for some people. 
  • About the incredible force of ego in human relationships.
  • Is our nation really as divided now as we were during the Civil War? If so, to what end?
  • Do horses dream? I woke up having dreamed of our sweet behemoth Chanta, and I was just wondering if he ever dreams about me. I think he is on the verge of saddle love. I mostly think this because it's been a few months since I had to make an emergency trip to the dentist.
  • What am I going to do about church?
  • What can I possibly bake this morning for Handsome to take to the office for a food day? Having cleaned out the pantry and fridge yesterday, supplies are unusually low. I shall send a box and a half of off brand cereal.
  • Nervous, happy, tense excitement about the possibility of teaching a home school cooking class to my two daughters and their adorable stepbrother.
  • Worried about one of my sweet sisters.
  • Worried for two of my wonderful girlfriends.
  • Missing my Grandpa a lot, I really need to go see him. He should totally teach a gardening class.
  • I feel so healthy. A bit on the sugary side this week, but I know how to fix that. I feel so deep down grateful for my overall good health. I finally see that this is a blessing not to be taken for granted.

You guys, I wish you the happiest, healthiest, 
most peaceful and productive Friday ever!
Whatever your appointment sheet looks like,
However many thousands of big or little things are crowding your mind,
Whoever is pulling at your beautiful heart,
Just take things in stride.

You can control yourself, not others.
So don't sweat stuff. It might not be about you.
Still, your imagination is powerful beyond belief,
and God loves you and wants to answer your prayers.

Life is good.
It's hard, but it's good.
Count your blessings today,
and I bet you this plate of sparkly muffins 
they will multiply right before your eyes.

Be Sweet, TGIF!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened (book review)

   This book was such a treat. So funny. So smart, witty and irreverent, and just brutally honest in delightful ways that made me want to give the author a hug. This is another great example of why I love book club with all of my word-starved heart, because without the group assignment I might never have taken the time to read a book whose cover art is a taxidermy mouse wearing a Shakespearean cape and collar. I mean, really.  But I am so, so, so glad Erica chose this title. I REALLY needed a good laugh!

Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir

   Author Jenny Lawson has been running her little corner of internet paradise over at The Bloggess for I think about six years now, though I have only recently discovered her. I will be forever more be checking in, because she is flat out funny. Scary funny. Uncomfortable funny. But endearing and smart and relatable, and once more... funny.

   Her memoir is a long, bizarre string of stories from her life, ranging from childhood through young adulthood and early marriage to motherhood and present day. She writes as if she is talking to you privately, face to face, or maybe like she has you trapped on a public bus for several hours of uninterrupted story telling. You sort of feel like you should try and escape but you don't want to, because she is just so mesmerizing.

   In a refreshing change of pace, the book itself reads more like a blog than a traditional novel. Lawson does not apologize for jumping around with wild abandon, nor should she. Her story telling formula (or lack thereof, I suppose) works. She relays enough of herself to make you want to know her better, and somehow she exposes some wild and crazy truths about her family while still being deeply loving and affectionate. So this is neither a filthy private family tell-all nor a complaint session about how hard life is for a middle class woman in a first world country. It is an eyes-wide-open commentary on a remarkably colorful life made by the person living it. And she is so young! The life perspective she has managed to gain in less than four decades is just beautiful.

   Okay, following are some of my favorite juicy, salty tidbits from this delicious (if slightly strange) book. If you have recently read Let's Pretend This Never Happened, then I bet you will LOL with me all over again. If you haven't read it yet, then I predict this list will either further tempt you to buy it or finally send you away shaking your fearful head.

  • "I don't even know why I'm having to explain this!"
  • Foxen
  • Urine perimeter to repel snakes and scorpions and the ensuing (imaginary) peeing contest between husband and father
  • Halloween office party, cheerleaders from SNL, no panties
  • All things taxidermy, but especially the middle of the night squirrel
  • Secret understood translations for Dad's remarks on wild animals
  • Mom's impatience for the not-yet-invented Xanax
  • Laxatives, solitude, and a cat paw
  • Dead pet pug, vultures, a blue tarp, and a hatchet
  • Chupacabra
  • "I don't even know why I'm having to explain this!" (yes, I meant to duplicate that)
  • Victor and his well tested resolve
  • Editor's constant notes and insertions. (Were these real? One can only hope.)
  • Radio broadcast engagement, seven hours in the car, and suspicions of murder. And urgent pee.
  • Pirate gator who speaks French
   Yep, the Eff word appears prolifically throughout the book, because that must be exactly how Jenny (We're on a first name basis now) would tell her stories face to face on a public bus. So if that offends you so much you won't groove reading the book, then I can only say that you're missing out. I respect your standards, but you are missing out on some genuine, sore-ribs-the-next-day, joy-inducing laughter.

   Now, lest I convince you prematurely that Jenny's memoirs are all sunshine and roses, please know that she also deals candidly with some heavy stuff. She acknowledges the burden of psychological illness and shares the details of her ordeal shamelessly. Her candor is as enlightening as it is endearing. And still funny! She writes about her crippling pain with so much natural humor that I walked through my own life laughing at all KINDS of stuff this week! 

   More magnificent reasons to read Let's Pretend This Never Happened: For the soul-quenching dose of perspective and honesty. And for the exposure to what it's like for people who suffer with extreme depression and complex anxieties. I still want to give Jenny a hug, because now I know that nothing I say will help.

   Okay! Have you read this? Is it on your list? Are you a Bloggess fan and want to talk to me about your fave stuff? Dive in!! I still have to wait about forty eight hours before discussing this fine book with my super smart ladies, and that just might be too long.  

No Giant Metal Chickens Were Harmed 
in the Writing of This Book Review

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Fresh Farm Eggs & a Giveaway!

   One of my very favorite things about having this little farm is raising chickens. (Poultry-chicken is what I'm talking about today, not human chickens, although what a dream come true that would be!) The hens and roosters look so cool strutting and dancing around the yard. Their many, varied sounds are complex and beautiful. They control the worst of the bugs and most of the snakes. They contribute to the compost heap generously.

And, of course, they lay eggs...

   Few are the people who eat a farm fresh, free range egg and still prefer to buy the thin, watery, comparatively anemic eggs from the grocery store. These are just so big and heavy and rich and flavorful, and most people who seem to know about such things say that farm fresh eggs are significantly more nutritious, too.

   Sometimes we find eggs that are even bigger than the normal giants we collect every day...

   These tend to be double-yolkers. Which is pretty much an omelette in a package.

When we first had Momma Goose on the farm and also discovered a slew of double yolkers, 
I suspected she might be laying her much larger eggs along with the hens, 
but so far that's not the case.
I'm excited to eventually try a goose egg, 
but in the mean time these twins are delish!

   Anyway, perhaps you have noticed that on the sidebar of this blog is a little egg counter... I have been tracking our eggs collected since January first of this year, and when I notice that number sometimes I feel giddy. This doesn't even include the ones collected by house sitters when we travel, or by enthusiastic kids who collect them and forget to tell me. 

As of yesterday afternoon, 
the Lazy W hens
have produced 773 farm fresh, 
free range eggs! 

   You guys, that is a pretty respectable number for a flock of only ten hens! I am thrilled to high-protein little pieces. 

   We don't sell our eggs yet, but we do share them a lot. Sometimes my fridge is so overrun with brown, green, and gray farm eggs that I send cartons of them home with friends without even asking them first. It's like zucchini for some people. With the recent heat wave, the hens' regular production is down a little, but it will bounce back in no time. No worries.

   Anyway, I want to celebrate! Whenever we hit an even 800 eggs, I will give away an apron set! Keep your eyes peeled, and when that number finally hits 800 start commenting here or Facebooking with me! (Do you follow this blog on Facebook? There are so many fun people there!) I will take measurements and color preferences from the winner so you can start the upcoming baking season in style!!

   Okay, folks, that's it for today! Have yourself a fabulous Tuesday filled with just the right mix of work, play, romance, and rest. 

Celebrate the simple gifts and victories in your life.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Waxing Moon for August 2012: Gardening Plan

   What's up, you guys? How grow your gardens? Is there anything left, or are you all crunchy and crispy and a tad sad, like me? Well, we still have zinnias, cannas, and (miraculously) cherry tomatoes jammin' out all over the place, but my mare Daphne ate what remained of the heat-loving okra, and pretty much everything else had to be euthanized. What I'm saying is that the Lazy W gardens are bare compared to recently.

Tsk, tsk, Daphne. Tsk, tsk.

   It's okay, though. A neutral color palette may not be my fave, especially for landscaping, but we are only days away from precious relief. All signs point to deep rains and cooler temps as we transition from this brutal summer to the lushness of autumn. In fact, as I write this with a big glass of sweet, creamy iced coffee at my side, rain is slanting down on the farm, cool and heavy.

   But it's just not time to put the gardens to bed, you guys! It's time to give them (and ourselves) a short little tiny break and plan for the next phase, which is right around the corner. Remember that in Oklahoma (and I suspect in most places where my fantastic readers live) you can grow foods and flowers almost all year long, certainly past the start of school. So do NOT surrender to the Halloween decorations at Pottery Barn and believe erroneously that summer is over! It's not! Just the worst of summer is over, and that is reason for gardeners everywhere to celebrate!

   So, have you been dabbling along with me in gardening by the moon? I thought I would offer some tidbits I have collected from different sources, some basic advice on what garden tasks to complete when during our current moon cycle. Remember these are just guidelines, and your spot in paradise may dictate slightly different dates, so I encourage you to look around for info...


Late August 2012: The New Moon was yesterday, Friday, August 17th. This means we will be waxing full for the next two weeks, culminating in a Full Moon on Friday, August 31st. Remember that this phase of the moon is fertile, meant for growth, germination, above ground crops, life, sex, conception, construction, etc, etc. Get the idea? This is a forward push and upward building time of month, time to focus on progress and visible beauty!

August 20-21 (Monday and Tuesday)  Plant above ground crops, sow grains, and plant flowers. The nurseries will start to offer fresher blooms soon, so keep your green little eyes open. I plan on bringing home maybe extra little herbs or mums and pansies, whatever looks gorgeous when I get there. (But I will not be planting flowering spring bulbs yet; that's for the waning moon phase.)

August 22-24 (Wednesday through Friday)  Good dates for leafy veggies! I am so excited for an encore collection of spinach, kale, and so many lettuces. Also plant peas, beans, tomatoes, etc. Lots of old fashioned gardeners use this time of the year for a succession crop of such foods. Last year I harvested red tomatoes up until Thanksgiving! If you have a spot of clean earth, it's worth a shot! And it's a cheap experiment. Just consider aiming for somewhere you can avoid the winds that might kick up during weather changes.

August 25-26 (Next Saturday and Sunday)  Cut winter wood and do clearing and plowing. Well, I mean, do you have a plow? I don't. But Handsome and I might just might be cutting wood, we'll see. This next bit of advice threw me, but I'll include it just in case you guys have some insight: "No planting." Huh? I don't understand a no planting directive halfway through the fertile phase, but it's all over the stuff I read for these two dates. Do with that what you will. I might just consider it a good weekend to go to the movies and eat out with Handsome instead of goof around outside.

August 27-August 29 (Next Monday through Wednesday)  Plant more above ground crops. Also celebrate your husband's birthday!!! xoxoxo

August 31st (Last Friday of the month) Full Moon. Barren day, no planting, kill pests if you can, and if we get deep rain and the burn ban has lifted... Light a bonfire! Roast a marshmallow, and tell ghost stories under the glow of moonlight. It's fairly magical, after all...


   Well, happy late summer friends! I would LOVE to see photos of your gardens if you have time, maybe post them to this blog's Facebook page or something? I am eternally curious about what other people grow and how they do it...

"There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart."
~Celia Thaxter (19th century writer and poet, contemporary and friend to Ralph Waldo Emerson, among many others, and her gardens still stand for public use today, in New England.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Yummy Book Combination

   I realized something last night that sort of bears mentioning: At present I am reading two books, each a personal memoir and each thoroughly engrossing and completely worth the time to read. Together they form the most unusual and delicious reading combination in recent memory. Like a swirl margarita, if you're into that. Together they are revealing insight into all kinds of life experiences I will probably never have, and they display two completely unique writing styles, yet they seem to be aiming at incredibly similar themes.It's almost like the two books were written separately but as part of a grand design. They are:


Do you know Jenny yet? Get addicted over at

   This is kinda fun. I am accustomed to reading two wildly different books at once, to keep all of my muscles dancing and warm. I'll often be reading, say, something instructional or maybe a bit of spiritual writing against a piece of purely indulgent adventure fiction. But this? This is a unique pairing. These two books are actually more alike than you might think, even if the two authors may appear to be apples and oranges. I can't wait to finish them both and write proper reviews.

   In addition to the fact that they are both recently written memoirs, I discovered last night that the life stories of both our forty third President and the wildly popular Bloggess intersect in the town of Midland, Texas. Two richly textured personalities, two lives that have affected untold others in the last two decades, both sprung up from the hard, dry, earth of Midland, that oil crust that apparently breeds fascinating people.

   I really am having a hard time every day deciding which one to pick up first, they are both so good in their own ways. And I am accumulating a bevvy of notes comparing and contrasting George W with Jenny Lawson, a mental exercise that probably seems pointless to you. But you try to read these side by side and not see the parallels!

   Okay, gotta go. I am off to either be inspired by the bloom of a political career or laugh my tummy flat at the way Lawson tells her sad stories. I promise to write completely useless reviews of both books soon. 

People Are People So Why Should It Be...
You and I Should Get Along So Awfully?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Crunch Time in the Garden

   So, we all know it is hot and dry outside. I don't know about you, but I have had to actively drum up some serious optimism and a deliberately glass-half-full attitude about this most recent chapter of our 2012 garden adventure. Week after week of triple digit heat coupled with extreme drought conditions have left our landscape crunchy, dusty, and reluctant to yield anything green, much less anything juicy and edible. What started off as a beautifully promising year of growth and photosynthetic magic has deteriorated painfully into a barren classroom. Why a classroom? Because I have learned so dang much this year. Really, the learning and our luscious early summer harvests are exactly what make the optimism possible in the face of this, well, this brutal desert.

   The garden is a brutal desert here right now.

   The once lush and jungle-like cucumber box, where earlier this summer a guinea hen had felt safe enough to lay her eggs in secret, now holds only dry dirt, some withered and tortured squash vines, and that same sad clutch of eggs, now hard cooked by the sun.

This ocean of green lasted a nice, long time and produced LOTS of food,
and I know it will make a comeback soon!

   But the garden is also still a classroom.

   I am learning better watering techniques, better insect control, the benefits of close planting as well as of raised beds, and the stubbornness of okra (more on that soon). I am learning about corn, watermelon, soy beans, and cinnamon basil. We are learning about eggplants and tomatoes, and what not to mulch (squash and zuchinni, believe it or not).

In addition to boasting superior flavor,
homegrown cukes are even green on the INSIDE!
Absolutely gorgeous. I squealed when I saw this for the first time!

   I am actually thankful for these extreme conditions. They force me to garden purposefully and encourage me to appreciate small victories and hidden beauties, every single heat-stroked day.

  And it's not like we haven't had any edible success... Although I never collected enough to sell at our local Saturday morning farmers' market, I did collect plenty to use in our kitchen and share with friends and family.   This makes it all worthwhile, even if Handsome hasn't managed to retire on my watermelon profits. Ha!

This photo represents an average morning harvest right up until the last week in July:
Okra, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, squash, cukes, and eggs.
I feel blessed to have enjoyed so much for so long,
and, again, I KNOW we will be seeing more soon!

   Okay. So what's next? I am still trying to garden organically and to observe a lunar calendar. It not only provides some structure to my long list of good intentions; I believe, looking back, that it has helped in spades this year. (LOL) I have had excellent luck with seed germination by planting during the fertile weeks, and I have had almost zero re-weeding chores to do after removing the beasts during barren weeks.

My veggie garden's own private Boing Boing Spider, Rachel.
She took up residence in late May and has grown steadily,
building her thick web and trapping dozens of unsuspecting bits of flying protein daily.

   Yep, the garden is crunchy and the sun is still high and hot, but the season is Not. Quite. Done. Yet. Here in Oklahoma we still have at least three, probably more like four additional months of growth and health to enjoy. That's like twelve weeks, you guys! And thanks to hurricane season, our much anticipated weather shift should make these coming months fabulous. More like the season's beginning than its middle.

While preparing for our friend Rebecca's wedding back in May,
a new friend and gardening blogger Dee
suggested I plant zinnias for quick color and cheer.
They have always been a favorite of mine,
and now that they have proven their earnestness in an Oklahoma drought and heat wave,
I shall never garden without them again! 

   Garden on, friends. Don't give up. Just rest your soul a little bit and let your soil rest a little bit too. Remove those weeds at the right time. Feed those plants if they need it. Lighten their loads by trimming leaves and vines that sap too much energy. Deal with pests. Water, water, water. Offer shade. Plant new seeds and seedlings when it's safe to do so. Keep a long term view of this dangerous adventure, like so many things in life, right?

Love your garden even when it's ugly and suffering. 

   Most importantly, in my humble opinion, take note of your experiences this year, both your successes and your failures. Count your blessings and plant them like seeds in your heart and water them so they grow into gratitude and joy.

   Later this week I will be posting a list of garden tasks for this unusual time and a schedule for August and September. If you too are watching the moon and suffering some crazy weather, it may be interesting to you. In the mean time, will you please give some thought to the idea of friendship? I am also working out some ideas on friendship in childhood versus friendship in adulthood and would love your input. When is it easier to make friends? What are the merits of friendship in each phase of life? Super interesting.

   Garden well, friends! Best wishes! I hope you are still loving the science and magic of it all, despite these temporary challenges. And treasure your friendships, both silver and gold.

"Gardening is a Matter of Your Enthusiasm Holding Up
Until Your Back Gets Used to it."


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Craig Trumps Gosling

   Yep, I have enjoyed the whole Hey Girl trend as much as the next, well, girl. For months I have giggled and blushed and guffawed as Ryan Gosling's different suave likenesses delivered joke after witty, female-congratulatory joke. But it's time to adjust. It's high time we breathe some fresh air into this trend.

   Tonight I introduce to you Mr. Daniel Craig. I simply trust the good taste of my readers. I expect this to make your day at least a little bit.

Sweet Dreams Ladies.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Short, Happy Story for Ya

Our kitchen freezer has been dying a slow death since early June.

 Late last night it finally hemorrhaged melted vanilla ice cream all over the tile floor, 
forcing our thrifty hands into action.

We had to wait until this morning for either repair or replacement, 
so I emptied the salvageable frozen meats into the deep freezer in our garage.

Then it happened.

I rediscovered in our nearly empty kitchen freezer 
nineteen miniature Butterfinger candy bars, hidden in there, 
cold and perfect and immoral,
waiting for the moment when I would need them most.
Which is now.

The End.

Wishing You Cheap Appliance Repairs 
and a Perfect Chocolate Rediscovery Right When You Need it Most 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Senses Inventory: Friday of Possibility

   By 9:07 this morning I had finished my strongest run of the past week, 
started a big load of laundry, fed the animals, 
and fought off no fewer than six moments of deep despair 
over things beyond my control. 
Walking back outside with my last cup of perfect coffee,
I noticed the sky was different. 
I remembered a recent love letter from my husband. 
And I saw the day ahead of me as a clean canvas. 
Giddy over this complicated spark of energy 
cupped in my hands like that fated Baby Bumblebee 
that is always getting carried home to someone's mommy, 
I sat down to take this inventory.

Seeing:  Metallic gold and silver clouds filtering the brilliant sun in the east and low, dark purple clouds sheathing the sky in the south and west. More pools of shade on the ground than I have seen here in weeks. A giant red wasp hanging the air above the water sprinkler, which is providing a wet playground for our five geese and occasionally a few of the chickens. Shimmering wet grass beneath all of this activity. Big trees waving their leafy arms at the new day. Four leggeds calmly finishing their breakfast.

Hearing:  The chit-chit-chit and then the giggling spray of the helicopter water sprinkler, the authoritative drone of the pool pump and too-loud suction noise of the filter there. Chickens clucking, geese whining, and guineas doing their necessary battle over property and sex. (They can't live with each other; they can't live without each other.) Locusts filling in the gaps between all of these sounds, a constant humming backdrop that feels meditative today, not desolate.

Smelling:  Sunblock. Sweet, sharp horse manure. Something full of pollen in the flower bed behind me. And dirt. I love being able to smell bare dirt. It smells clean, which is funny.

Tasting:  Salty sweat when I lick my lips and the last long swallow of sweet coffee, cold now because I have let it sit on this patio table too long while I soak up my surroundings. But it's still delicious, and I can chew on the grounds that have fallen to the bottom of my cup.

Touching:  Breeze! An almost cool breeze, refreshing and light, not like the furnace blast we are so used to feeling these past few weeks. I still feel heat on my bare skin, but it's comfortable at this early hour, still that pleasant summer heat that makes me want to invite all of our friends over to cook steaks and watch the fireflies come to life. The kind of pleasant summertime heat that makes me glad for bikinis and chlorine, watermelon and sweet iced tea. I also feel the rough plastic of my sunglasses' arms behind my ears, where I have probably held them carelessly between my teeth. And I feel the excellent plush lawn chair cushion holding me firmly in this moment.

Thinking:  About the power of positivity, of gathering together your strengths rather than all the time searching out and magnifying your weaknesses (and those of others). Thinking of the gardens, of how many weeks might be left before the beautiful transition to autumn veggies and fruit orchard work. Thinking of my Mom and what it was like for her when I left home. Thinking of how much I have in life versus how much I give or produce.

Feeling:  Relief to have spent time with my girls yesterday, to see them so healthy and vibrant. I hope they are as happy on the inside as they appear to be on the outside, and I hope they know the truth of things despite some ugliness surrounding them. I hope they don't mind resembling me so much, as sometimes teen aged girls hate to look like their Moms. Feeling worry for my sister and her children, confidence in my husband, excitement over a new writing project, and an overarching, belly trembling hope for our immediate future. I feel happier and more stable than I have in a long time.

Here at this farm we are not without problems, confusion, grief, or failure..
But we are so flooded with help and miracles!
We are steeped in natural beauty that reminds me of this grand design.
We are given morning after morning to start fresh, to enjoy the small rituals all over again, 
to try once more to not only get things right but also to build things up.
We are surrounded by good, strong, smart people who despite our failings... love us.
And together we keep circling this dream and this root of love 
that is worth everything.

Wishing You a Perfectly Love Filled, Miraculous Weekend!
Take a Minute to Notice Your Beautiful, Unique Life.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chicken Caesar Po' Boys and a Glitzy Grimy Cafe

   Okay you guys, last night our supper was another Nawlins-inspired recipe, something (sort of) healthy and high in protein so we could feel better about polishing off those Pecan Pralines. YUM. This meal was neither complicated nor terribly original, not really even Cajun, but for Handsome and me it will always evoke good memories of a special meal in our favorite city.

   The place where we grabbed this meal is called Angeli's on Decatur. Like most spots in the Quarter, it is very, very old. It boasts exposed beams and peeling paint, happily chaotic gallery walls made up of mostly Mardi Gras images, and over-sized mirrors. Late each evening, one plainly painted wall in the dining room is the screen for playing old projected movies. How cool is that? But my favorite part is what hangs from the ceiling...

   Multiple disco balls and star shaped, glittered lanterns strung up in constellations all over the room deny the age and shabbiness of the cafe. This much careless, happy contrast pleases me deep in my belly, and I plan to copy it pronto, Tonto.

   Okay, here is the food... Handsome ate his in Po' Boy form; I ate mine as a breadless salad; and soon we both pushed away our plates, stuffed. But not too stuffed for another Praline. Duh.

This is a recipe approximation... All you do is...
  • Season and grill some boneless-skinless chicken breasts then chop them into bite sized pieces...
  • Then in a large skillet, heat up some olive oil for re-warming the chicken I had grilled mine earlier in the day and cooled them, to avoid the heat of the evening...
  • Along with the chopped chicken, add to the skillet a third of a bottle of Caesar salad dressing and stir it all up, heat it through, etc. This worried me at first but it doesn't burn at all. And it smelled delish, baby. The aroma drew Handsome in from the green room during an episode of Storage Wars. This is a big deal, you guys.
  • Split, butter, and toast a simple French bread loaf. Layer it with ribbons of cold romaine lettuce and then top with the hot, dressed chopped chicken. I added to my salad a handful of cherry tomatoes from our garden! No extra salad dressing needed, because the chicken was so moist and flavorful.
  • We also ended up adding Parmesan cheese to our respective plates, the super classy kind that comes in a green plastic can. Because we are very high falootin folks.
   That's it! We loved this even more than the original and will end up adding it to the main menu rotation around here. I'm excited about having a satisfying, nourishing meal that has this kind of emotional value, you know?

   What are you cooking this week? What memories does it evoke?

"Memory is always faulty. Emotions are always true." ~Anonymous
Gently Wrap and Preserve Your Best Emotions


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