Mama Had a Birthday!

It has been raining ever since, I last wrote.  The world here, is wet, muddy and cold. . . Still, not as bad as in Texas.  In the midst of the watery weather . . .Mama had a birthday. 
With this being her first birthday, without Daddy, my sisters and I planned a surprise.  Delores came the evening before.  Mama expected to see me, the next day but I had been intentionally vague in our conversations.  I think my other sister, Connie had as well.  I arrived in or about mid morning.  Mama was so shocked to see me, that she missed my bags altogether.  I went to cooking collards straight away, as Mama prefers her heaviest meal at noon.  Connie arrived just as the house was bragging about the simmering pots.  Connie brought all sorts of food for us and Mama wondered aloud about that.  Connie presented  Mama with a bouquet and then announced that we would all be spending the night and that my niece Hayley would be joining us later on.  This may have been the first time we successfully, totally surprised Mama. . .  and Mama was thrilled! 
 After a hearty lunch of Mamas’ favorite foods, we looked at quilting patterns.  Delores has started quilting since Christmas and has made remarkable progress.  She has made several already and now has plans to make each one of us one, from Daddys’ shirts.  I chose a celtic pattern.  Connie had been working on photographs, taken on our “day after Thanksgiving” gathering.  She had framed several for us and so it was quite a celebration for everyone.  I must give niece Hayley  credit for the photography. 
Hayley has quite a knack for photography and I hope she continues this passion.  She is not only good at taking pictures, but also has this uncanny knack of being at the right place at the right time.  Thus, she has a collection of bright rainbows, mother bears and cubs and all sorts of fowl under brilliant skies.  Admidst all of this merry making, Connie was on a mission to get me a cell phone. 
I have been through several in the last few years.  One drowned and I spilt a tiny splash of coffee on the last one.  That killed it.  I never wanted a cell, but my kids demanded I had one for driving to see them.  Eventually, they convinced me, that some great calamity was bound to happen and I was liable to go missing . . .if I didn’t have a phone.  I got the cheapest flip cell I could and stuck with that type.  No matter how much they begged me to “upgrade”  I always got another flip.  The kids at school were in awe of my cell and could’t believe it worked!  Many said they had only seen such a thing in old movies!.   Against all odds,  I now have some fancy “smart phone”. 
Connie had a brand new one and after several long calls, it was cheaper to activate that one than to replace what I had, even though I had insurance on mine, for such tragedies, as coffee.  My kids are still in shock, that I got in Connies’ truck to go to a cell store.  So am I.  Connie did all of the negotiating and thank goodness, for “I do not speak the language”!  Connie also got me a “bullet proof” case, since phones at my house are in dangerous territory.   
While all of this was going on, my other niece, Dana was studying chemistry . . .and learning to read “tea leaves”!  Dana is an artist in many ways.  She  draws beautifully and has broad interests .  Dana is as tenderly thoughtful as can be.  She had made a keepsake box for Mama and filled it with miniature trinkets that were remembrances of  Daddy.  She had a little  dog, a toolbox and a small rose quartz-since that was the gem of love.  I so hope she learns to read tea leaves.   
The next morning, Hayley cooked breakfast for all of us.  We hung Mamas’ new pictures after we ate. 
Two of Connies’ childhood  friends came by.  They are both nice and so pleasant.  One of them, Mary Susan, made us laugh with her stories.  She had good content, but it was the way she tells them that was so entertaining. 
We all shared a lunch and ate  Delores’ made from scratch cake, for the grand finale. 
Mama had a birthday . . .but we all left gifted.

Happy Birthday Mama!


A Valentine from the Rabbitpatch


There is a room with a window, that I like the very best –
in months like February, when nature is at rest.
When the sun shines oh, so faintly, I take to my cozy nook
to while away  a bit of day with a blanket, a dog and a book.
I think my thoughts and dream a bit,without a sense of rush-
What lovely notions wander in, when all the world is hushed.
The sleepy headed roses, the greenness of the pine –
The steadfast, warrior oaks all dozing in a line –
A tiny flock of little birds, as busy as can be-
A flashy redbird lighting up a drowsy  dogwood tree.
Nature says”I love you”  so sweetly in this way –
And so I’ll join the chorus “Happy Valentines’  Day!” 
by Michele Warren (me!)

A Second Look

The last few days have been silvery -and timeless.  The territory looks the same at eight in the morning as it does as two in the afternoon.  – and only the clock knows when it is noon. It has been cold and damp , true to the nature of January.   
I spend a good deal of time by a window, I  am surrounded by my books and plants and the boxer dozes under our shared blanket .   Here, I wish and daydream . . .and remember.  I read   and I  do try to take a walk daily around the territory. 
Tres left on Thursday.  I spent Friday in the “doldrums”.   I had been home all week with an awful head cold and a tooth ache.  On Friday I felt worse than before, but I assured a worried Jenny, it was because Tres left.  Knowing me well, Jenny agreed. 
I have at last, chosen a “study”.  I want to learn to play chess!  Christian has played since he was a mere child.  I was glad of it, -and often wanted to learn, but housekeeping, cooking, mothering and a job, just did not afford such luxury. 
Christian has agreed to teach me, which I find a wonderful idea. “The tables have turned” it seems, for  now, I am the student and my youngest son, is the teacher!   I may never win a single game or maybe I will not even like chess,  for I am not a fan of board games in general.  I want to learn, anyway. 
The “Farmers’ Almanac” said it first, though the weatherman took all the credit . . .there was a chance of snow on Thursday.  This is no small proclamation in the south.  On Wednesday, the children nor the teachers, could scarce of anything else.  It was fairly warm outside, but none of us gave up.  When a child went to the window, I did not  reprimand them, for I too looked every chance that I got.  We have not had snow in a few years, so this was no small prospect for us. 
By three o’clock, an announcement that school would be closed the next day was made.  You barely needed a jacket at the “car line” yet that announcement seemed to confirm, that it would snow.  Children were building snowmen and planning on hot chocolate -and hoping their parents knew how to make the  snow cream, the older ones were talking about.  I had my own dreams . . of coffee and my favorite house clothes, of writing and reading . . and a cake.  The event of snow in the south, is a short lived affair, so we must all do a lot of everything and as quickly as possible! 
The world was bright and white, when I woke on Thursday morning.  Snow was still falling and had hushed the countryside.There was a few inches covering the territory . . .and the trees were just stunning.  I gazed on their loveliness as if I were in some sort of trance, completely engulfed in their quiet but dazzling beauty.  Authentic beauty, lacks the flash, of what we  seem to be so accustomed to.  There is nothing counterfeit or enhanced in nature, I thought, yet I do not find it lacking, but instead, deeply and profoundly beautiful. 
I did make a cake.  Another quest, I have been attempting, is to eliminate refined sugars in my cooking.  I am using honey instead.  I also will try maple syrup and molasses .  Since baking is a science, I have been treading carefully.   This is my third cake, today and so far so good.  I am nervous about cookies, for longtime readers may remember that I had a terrible track record with cookies.  For  only, two short years now, I have been feeling confident .  Maybe, I will just eliminate  the restrictions on refined sugars, when it comes to cookies.  Besides, I feel guilty about altering my great grandmothers’  recipe for tea cakes.    
I finished the borrowed book, as the dark settled in. Outside the window, by the morning table, I saw the magic of moonlight on snow.  I had forgotten all about the full moon.  To have snow and moonlight all at once, was like holding a rare pearl.  “The luster of midday”  , I remembered . . . now with understanding.  In a day or so, only remnants of the snow remained in shady places . . .and many a snow man, now frozen, could be seen in  the yards where children lived. 
  I left for a weekend with the grand daughters, on Friday.  Lyla and Brynn danced and squealed, celebrating my arrival .  They clap their little hands and call out “Honeybee!”  It never gets old.  The cares of this world  grow mighty dim, in those moments. 
It was quite cold on Saturday, but Jenny bundled the little girls up and we went on a winter walk to deliver cake to “Aunt J”.  Wills’ aunt lives in the same  neighborhood and it seems such a short distance,  The wind was fierce and blew like an angry, arctic  gale-and so the walk seemed longer than a country mile, that day.  I am a firm believer in children getting outside a lot and in all kinds of  weather (and all folks really), but how nice it was to come home to a fire burning brightly and hot chocolate!  Tres came over to help Will with an outside repair .  It took all afternoon.  Jenny and I started an evening meal that was both hearty and vegetarian, another new project for me.  
 I came home on Monday.  The snow, followed by days of rain, had turned the yard in to a large mud puddle.   There wasn’t a single ray of sun either.  The countryside looked drab and untidy   . . .so I remembered the irises and the pale blossoms of the peach tree to “tide me over”  for a while.  The earth is  filled with promises, I reminded myself.  This sparked a joy in my heart.  Suddenly, I took a second look around me and noticed the many shades of silver in the sky.  There were all sorts of chestnut and coppery browns and soft greys.  Even the puddles were full of life.  Soon,  lamps would shine through the  old windows  of the farmhouse and the house would smell like supper.  I chided myself for waiting for beauty, while in the midst of it.  Sometimes. . . a second look, makes all the difference.


P.S. I can’t seem to add images, these days to my posts!  Take my word for it, when I say the grandchildren are every bit as lovely as ever!