Tuesday, June 30, 2009

oh, the places they'll go

Finally got a collage made for all of the darling girl graduates in my life. Now I just need to copy and mod podge to clipboards I've spray painted hot pink, which I hope to do before: Rose goes to Wofford, Annie goes to Sewanee, Meaghann goes to Ole Miss, Kailey goes to Pomona, Mary Ellen goes to Chapel Hill and Madison goes to Washington, DC. They'll all be taking a little piece of my heart with them.  

Monday, June 29, 2009

exercising our writes

There's nothing a writer enjoys like writing. Except possibly reading about writing. Of all the volumes on my writer's shelf, this cheery book is probably the favorite. It's full of anecdotes, advice, inspiration and, best of all, prompts that will make you grab the nearest pencil and the back of an envelope and start scribbling. Author Julia Cameron says it best: 'We should write because writing brings clarity and passion to the act of living. Writing is sensual, experiential, grounding. We should write because writing is good for the soul . . . We should write, above all, because we are writers, whether we call ourselves that or not.' 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

cure for the summer blues

If you're lucky, there's someone like Lynda in your workplace who transforms the flourescent glare into sunshine, who makes the cubicles not so confining. I adored her back at my first job out of college, but I appreciate her great spirit even more now. She arrived at the crack of dawn with a huge smile and tons of energy, shouting 'Mornin' Glory!' in a lilting southern voice as she flew by. She lived way out in the country, loved her vegetable garden, loved to cook, loved red lipstick and, above all, loved her husband Jim. We teased her for packing his lunch every day and putting a little love note in it. Here's Lynda's cobbler recipe, with a hug.

Blueberry Cobbler

1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
2 cups berries 

Melt butter in a baking dish.  Mix together the self-rising flour, sugar and whole milk.  Pour mixture on top of melted butter but do not stir. Place berries on top. Bake 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Equally dee-lish made with raspberries, blackberries or chopped peaches. Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

postcard from Monticello

Almost as wonderful as being there: Monticello & Thomas Jefferson through the eyes and heart of Maira Kalman. http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/25/time-wastes-too-fast/

Thursday, June 25, 2009

To see the summer sky is poetry, said Emily Dickinson.  So is hearing the whir of the neighbor's lawn mower and children playing in the backyard, smelling jasmine vines and magnolia blossoms on a morning walk, the soft touch of a dog's paw. And tasting the key lime cake I hope to make tonight. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

what's up?

Great truths of life in highly stylized cartoon format. That's what's Up. Life's a journey. Grand adventures don't always have to take place in the jungles of Macchu Picchu or other exotic locales. They happen in living rooms and on front porches, and most often in relationship with other people. Especially the ones we love deeply. We need to be open to our dreams coming true in unexpected ways. Looking back at the past can help us move forward. If we let it. There'll be tough times. It's important to know how and when to float above it all. A dog is not just a dog. Sitting on a curb eating ice cream isn't just sitting on a curb eating ice cream. Some badges are worn on the inside. Sometimes letting go is the only way to hold on to what matters most.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

smells like summer

There was so much mint growing behind my Italian grandmother's house in Upstate New York that the smell rose like a soft cloud when you walked in the backyard. Thinking, also, of red geraniums lining the steps of Aunt GG's porch overlooking the sound on the coast of North Carolina. Spicy and pungent, this was an acquired appreciation. And nothing smells sweeter than a South Carolina peach orchard in June, bees buzzing amid the blossoms. This is the perfume of summer. Splash on liberally.  

Sunday, June 21, 2009


1. A banana is the perfect snack;
It comes with its own wrapper.

2. If you can't say something nice 
about someone, don't say anything.

3. Kids are wonderful until around
age 10. Then they get lippy.

4. The best thing about paying
taxes: libraries.

5. Go read a book.

6. Be good to your mother.

7. Don't fizzle out after high school.

8. Keep your overhead low and
live within your means.

9. Set goals and use your gifts.

10. This is a bit of alright.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

it's all in your head

The recent and soon-to-be college graduates in my world are pretty discouraged. The economy did a 180-degree turn while they were in school and the job market is as deserted as the library between semesters. Cheap advice and words of encouragement aren't enough, so I'm offering this bright orange book to cheer them up and on. According to Mr. Pink, success depends upon ramping up the right brain attributes and cultivating these 6 senses: design, story, symphony, empathy, play and meaning. The good news is that creativity is key. A Whole New Mind 'will give you a new way to look at your work, your talent, your future,' said one review. Come to think of it, maybe we all should read it. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

golden days

When I was a child, I saw it literally: summer as a fistful of gold coins to be plunked down on the counter.  The shopkeeper rang them up and handed you, in return, pretty much everything that made the rest of life worth living through.  Barbara Holland

Sunday, June 14, 2009

up, up & away!

Mortar boards were tossed in the air right on cue with no tears except for a smattering of the happy kind. There was a sea of green caps and gowns (600+), a gathering of grandparents, aunts and uncles, godparents, cousins, dear friends. Applause broke out, buttons burst, cameras clicked. After 13 years, a diploma in hand and high hopes in heart. Then: presents, parties, endless possibilities. Hats off to all of the classes of 2oo9. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

zest for life

Picture a villa somewhere in Capri. Tile roof and turquoise shutters bleached from the sun. Red geraniums spilling out of window boxes. There are lemon trees in big terra cotta pots. And, in the kitchen, a woman is making this simple pasta for supper. To go with the catch of the day, with tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and oregano, with cold white wine. Must be eaten on a terrace.  

Lemon Pasta

3/4 c. good olive oil
zest + juice of 2 lemons
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. chopped basil
1 lb. spaghetti

Combine first six ingredients in a large serving bowl. Add cooked/drained pasta. Toss and enjoy.  

Monday, June 8, 2009

gotta' have it

In a word, this little sculpture sums up Pearl Fryar's garden in Bishopville, SC. I think my faith increased ten-fold while visiting there last week. While poorly photographed (on a phone!) in glaring noon sunlight, I treasure it. Will share Gerin's beautiful visuals later.  

Saturday, June 6, 2009

one moment, please

She was learning 
to love moments. 
To love moments 
for themselves.  
Poet Gwendolyn Brooks 

The way the air feels early on a June morning, the first sip of coffee, bare feet on thick grass, the newspaper at the curb, a breeze wafting through the window, overheard laughter, unexpected tears, passing conversations, a friend at the door. Sitting, breathing, praying, listening, waiting, wondering. A crayon drawing taped on the refrigerator, the aroma of mint in the garden and dinner in the oven, hum of the dishwasher, a ringing phone, a few pages read, a rainy afternoon, a sky full of stars. 

I wish I could call back every moment I've squandered on worry, regret, ignorance and inattention over time. But that's not possible. There's only this moment. And the next. Another chance to wrap a heart around the minutes and the minutiae of life. And that, in itself, is momentous.    

Thursday, June 4, 2009

summer reading

Public libraries across the country are gearing up for their summer reading programs for children, where little prizes are awarded per so many books read. There's usually a theme, like a treasure hunt, the circus or 'reading olympics.' Lots of hoopla surrounds the roll-out, sometimes even refreshments and a visit by life-size plush characters from favorite books. Well, what if there were such a program for all of us who used to be kids? Who used to show up the first Monday of summer vacation, library card clutched tightly in hand, ready to read every single Nancy Drew in the series, all of the Oz books and maybe even The Count of Monte Cristo? In the grown-up version, everyone wins the grand prize. Which is and always was, of course, the unfettered joy of reading. Sign me up. 

Monday, June 1, 2009

ode to june

June is pomp and circumstance, graduation and gardenias, bridal bouquets and birdseed tossed in the air like confetti. It's saying goodbye, saying good luck, saying 'I do' and, always, I love you. It's the last day of school, first day of summer, lazy mornings, firefly nights. It's hiking a cool mountain trail, tubing down river, riding ocean waves.  It's sun-kissed strawberries, a lemonade stand, marshmallows toasted over a campfire. It's a tall stack of library books and time to read them: in a hammock, a chaise lounge, a raft in the pool. There's no homework, no routine, no reason not to take in a cool matinee on a hot afternoon. Welcome glorious June.