"We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike." ~Maya Angelou

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

California Musings

       Here I sit, in sunny California, my feet up, my shades on, writing to you to say Hey and share the experience.  There are so many ways in which the view and feel of this place is different from the feel and views in Oklahoma. First, and always, there is the sea, being Itself to the west of me. (The Sea is always to the West). I can look up from this screen and see it rising, a shimmering grey, creating the horizon, glistening with light as it moves.  Dotting the sea view, are palm trees of different heights and varieties.  They give it a tropical feel, although they are not native to this particular shore.  It is all the different trees that make this area so wildly different from Edmond or OKC.  But it is also the houses.
       In Oklahoma, housing developments are built of houses alike or similar in structure and they all start out with no trees. Like the roads in Oklahoma, which almost always run either exactly north to south or west to east, the houses all look alike (not really, but in a general sense). They march along in a nice organized manner, one after the other. In new developments there is no willy-nilly eccentricities there We don't do that.
    Here, the houses are all different shapes and sizes and crammed together. There are lots of different roof heights and types; some have composition shingles, some have solar panels and skylights, some have terra cotta tile roofs, some are stucco houses with flat roofs.  There are orange and lime trees in most back yards along with Eucalyptus trees and Palms of every variety, short and fat, tall thin and elegant, thick-leafed, feather-leafed.  There are also Pines, some full and dense and others pencil straight and tall) and Magnolias and Cyprus and Fig trees all sticking their hands up into the blue, to waving at the ocean.
     Electric wires criss-cross through all of it, thousand of wires  draping across alleys and back yards.  Lots of the houses have added two story towers, or sun rooms, where you can climb up and see the ocean from your backyard.  Parking is in the back, on the paved alleys, which is where our AirBnb is as well.  Camp Pendleton is just to the north of here so the Ospreys' flight pattern brings them into view regularly.  There are traffic noises, of course, but also lots of people out cycling or skateboarding or walking along the roads.  I can hear talking and laughing almost all the time.
     Marsha says their green and blooming season is just beginning out here so there are trees in bloom with fluffy orange blossoms and hanging vines  bright with purple, red and pink. The hedges are tall and full of flowers and the houses seem to sit at odd angles to each other, as if drawn in by an artist with a free spirit, or tossed down onto a table, by a child,  pushed together and left that way when her mother called her to supper.

    The breezes off the ocean are cool, even though the sun shines, and I gaze at my face in the evening and find it sun-kissed.  We go down to the beach every evening and have fish of some sort. Last night we sat and watched a beach volleyball game for quite awhile and watched lots of families out playing 'jump into the waves' until almost sundown.  I saw a shirt hanging outside the surf shop there that said "Saltwater heals everything". It made me smile.
      We aren't just playing, of course. We came out to take Marsha around to see all her doctors (she has not yet switched docs) and also to go through her storage here and 'work the stack' as it were.  We have a few things to bring back to OK and others to donate to Goodwill, and others to trash.  We're meeting some of her friends for dinner tonight and tomorrow and I know she is looking forward to seeing those familiar faces once again. It is difficult to uproot and move far from people whose lives have been a part of yours for a long time.  But, sometimes it is time to leave, turn the corner, and begin again.  It is good to have a place to live where you feel safe .
      I looked around at some of these trees and wondered if Dr. Seuss lived here when he was writing his children's books, since the trees remind me so much of the trees in his illustrations.  I looked it up and, sure enough, he lived for a time in La Jolla and would have seen these trees out his studio window.  Some of his imaginative creatures also resemble the trees, especially the ones with the muffs around their necks and the feathery hair.
      Tomorrow we go to  Coronado Island to see the beautiful herb gardens there. Then it's back into the air and home to OK.
       There are Tsunami signs on the poles at street corners, saying this area is all trash if the big wave comes and goes, like they do, so you'd better high-tail it out of here when that happens or you'll get sucked out to sea and never be seen again. (They don't say all that. They simply say :Tsunami zone.) It does make you think about things though, seeing those signs. We seem to think we are pretty permanent and here to stay, but compared to the ocean, the depths of the earth, we are merely perched upon the shoulders of the land and there is vastness beneath the seas that swirl around the globe and vastness below the ocean floor; boiling molten rocks that push and shove and move the crust above.  The story of the earth is a long one, with change happening constantly over billion years, continents on the move, mountains growing and wearing away, but always the waters have moved. You can not harness the dragon which is the sea.
       It is a long walk or a short ride back to the beach from most anywhere here, and the ocean is as it always has been: immense, alive, full of mystery, danger, movement and life. The ocean speaks to something primal in us, its waters heal our wounds and its sound, beauty, and the scent of the salt air heal our emotions and hearts. It is, as it has always been, oblivious to our screeching, flapping, tearing ways. We, like the seagulls, fly and fight and come back to the sand for rest and retreat.  
     While I was gazing around at this mish-mosh of houses, trees, people and sand today, I scribbled down this poem for you.

In seeking the serenity which the sea brings, we 
clambered and clawed our way over each other, 
camped on the beaches, hammered in our stakes, 
raised the tents, spread the cloths, opened the wine.
Thrilled that we had arrived at the land's end, at last.

That was centuries ago, and now every inch of space 
from the beach all the way up into the mountains is 
covered with buildings and roads. Vehicles rush and roar,
 speeding people to work and back again, so they can 
earn enough coin to go back and sit on the beach.

Monday, September 18, 2017

A Multicolored Tapestry


We have many different lives hidden inside of our lives, like the patterns in a rug. The fact that we can enjoy the company of  people our friends and family might not care for, or mesh easily with, is telling about our complexity. That's okay; there are many varied, complementary, and contrasting  colors which, together, define our individuality.

     We are a weaving together of who we have been, and been with, in different times of our lives, and the longer we live, the more different groups we gather to ourselves, because we change, over time. Life and circumstances batter, smooth, expand, and mold us continually. We evolve into our truer selves as we continue walking.
    Often connections with people are lost, because of changes in location or beliefs, as well as from misunderstandings. However, we will always own the history we shared with them.
        Love is the energy that is neither created nor destroyed. It can be betrayed and broken and scarred, but it leaves its hand print on our hearts nonetheless. Every life that touches ours adds to the inimitable tapestry of who we are.

For example:

         I met a woman on a retreat a few years back and we both stopped and looked wonderingly into the eyes of the other.  We recognized each other at once.  At some time, years before, she and I had been close, in some way, and we both knew it, but couldn't remember when or where.  Neither one of us could remember the other's name, but the bond remained. I knew I already trusted her, already had shared openness with her.  It was a very odd and spiritual reconnection.  It was nice to see her again.
      There is, somewhere in Iowa, a green-eyed, dark-haired man, the memory of whom my heart still loves, and will always love.
      There is a woman in Minnesota, small and fine, who has beautiful almond shaped eyes, whom I dearly love but seldom see.  She is brilliant and beautiful and creative and full of compassion.  I know that she loves me as well. We shared a room and many months together long ago, and we hold our kinship in our hearts. I will see her again one of these days, and that will be enough. She knows I am here for her.

     My dad sometimes tells me stories about the women who were my mother's friends in college, or before.  He describes them to me, and tells me of the fun times they and my mother had together.  I never knew these women, never even heard their names.  When we leave school and start a family, we move on with our lives and roads divide, carrying us far away from our loved ones. We promise we will write, will visit, but life gets in the way.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Pie Day 2017

       Today is the our fifth anniversary at the spice shop and we we had our annual PIE DAY in celebration.  Every year has been different and we have learned a lot about the retail business and spices.  Some years have been more stressful than others and we have had more employees than I care to think about. They usually stay a year or so and then move on to something else that doesn't require quite so much standing on your feet. Pictured above are the winners and judges from the contest with Abe and me.  

 The grandkids came down and some of them donned aprons to help (we have no apron for baby Alice yet). There was a short crowd this year, since it was opening weekend for the State Fair, and both OU and OSU had home games, but many of our friends from the beginning were there and there was lots of great pie to share with everyone who walked in the door. This is the last spice even before the holiday things get started. From here until Black Friday we build gift sets and get braced for the onslaught that is December.  I was tired from the past two days, so I left the shop shortly after two and came back to the farm  to rest. 
      Today was fun, but my favorite day is always the day before Pie Day. That is the day when the family gets together and bakes pies all afternoon, old and young alike. 
      Yesterday morning started when I dropped kids off at Cross Timbers and then high-tailed it over to Prairie Vale to watch Zaney participate in the Walk-a-Thon with his friends. Here they are, acting goofy with the water cups, like a bunch of first graders, which they are.

        This year, on baking day, there was the added bonus of having two babies to keep an eye on. T
here was also the bonus of me needing to step away at a couple of times to go pick up kids from school and bring them to the party (because Abbey was out of pocket this week.) That sounds fairly straight forward and everyday, but things happened, of course. While we were waiting to pick Maggie up early, Everett fell and bloody-skinned both his knees, burst into tears, and began wailing, "I want Mommy! I want Mommy!". Believe me, I kind of wanted his mommy to be there by that time too. That fall earned us a quick trip to the nurses room for a cleanup and Bandaids. His brother happened to be on Safety Patrol duty in the front hallway at that time and was able to step out and give E some much needed hugs and pats. Yay!!!  Then Mags showed up and gave him some more, as well as a packet of Skittles (even better). Then we headed to Audra's and continued with the pie baking.   
            Time ticked by.  
I was elbow deep in flour and filling, but I kept hearing my phone going off. I couldn't think who would be calling me on a Friday afternoon, until suddenly I did remember. It was the school calling to say I had forgotten to pick up Brendan at 4 o'clock. It was 4:30.  Oh my my, that same old blessed, unforgivable mistake. It has been a long while since I made that particular one, but I have done it before.  Ask Audra sometime, if you want the whole messy story. She has all the details of the time I left her at school for a couple of hours when she was about B's age, or a little younger.  Now she and B are in the same club. It's an exclusive group with secret hand-shakes and knowing looks.  It's nice to belong, after all.
       Also, on the way back from school with B, I noticed we were slap-out of gas in the car so we made a slow roll to the nearest filling station. Brendan was managing Google Maps and giving directions and I was driving slowly and hoping we would make it.  Of course we hit some construction on the way. *sigh*
       At one particular intersection, when the dashboard read '0 miles remaining', and the yellow gas pump was flashing red, I calmly talked him through what we would do if and when we actually did run out of gas; the basics of how two people can push a car out of the way of traffic.
       We stopped at the light a little way from the pumps and I knew we were home free, because it was downhill all the way to the pump. We could coast in is we had to. We filled her up: 14.35 gallons in a 14 gallon tank. Yep. That baby was dry as a bone, but the gods were with us. We treated ourselves to Sonic drinks in celebration.

        By the time we made it back to the house they were done with all the pies except the two apple pies. Kari peeled the apples, Able fast-cut them into slices and I tossed them in the flour/sugar/spices mix and only then did we discover we didn't have enough crusts for the tops.  No one wanted to make another batch of pie crust at that late date so we made up a crumb topping that was delicious.  We are keeping our recipe a secret. (Actually, we're not sure what all we tossed in there, but it was yummy.)          Then it was burgers all around, thanks to Zach, and some pirate play for the kiddos in the ship in the back yard.  

The pirate crew in close-ups below.

     Yes, there were some tears and accidents, as there always are: Everett had the bunged up knees, Rowan had his foot smushed in the door AND he grated his finger, I managed to burn my arm (as usual), T managed to throw up on Audra multiple times and Little Alice did the same to Abe and Kari, Zane got in trouble for hurting his brother, and who knows what all happened that I don't know about while I was gone with B. But generally speaking, all things considered, I think everyone came through in one piece.  It's no fun if everything goes smoothly, right?  It's the unexpected things that make the adventure an adventure.
     I came back to Abbey's house and made one more pie, because it needed making: an old fashioned pecan pie in honor of my Dad. Sadly, I didn't have any of his scrumptious Okeene pecans to use, but it's nearly October, so there might be more soon. 
     This morning we awoke and Abbey was finally home from D.C. so everyone is happier now.  It is good to have her back and looking reinvigorated from the trip.  In our family, as in most, every single member of the group has their own unique talents and gifts to bring to the mix.  With anyone missing, the balance is off and the whole bunch suffers from the lack.  It does indeed take a village to keep all the wheels turning well and I love our particular village.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Tamac Pottery Collector Items

    If you have never seen Tamac Pottery, here is a beautiful example of what makes Tamac completely, delightfully unique.  This is a Creamer/Sugar pair in Frosty Pine (the lid fits both pieces). This beautiful pottery was created in the 1950s in Perry Oklahoma and was ahead of its time in form-follows-function. See the asymmetrical shape and the pulled lip? Tamac pieces have indentions in the sides that fit perfectly into your hands as you hold them. Tumblers have indentions for each of the fingers as they are held. The shapes are almost always surprisingly organic.

Tamac pieces come in a few colors:

Frosty Pine (above: green and white),
Frosty Fudge (brown with cream spray)
Avocado (smallest pitcher in this pictures)
Raspberry (the pink candlestick holder)
Honey (a nice cream with no spray over. Honey Oklahoma shaped Ashtray in 5th picture below)
Butterscotch  (gold with brown spray
Light Blue
Avocado and Butterscotch with Frosty Pine Pitcher

Frosty Fudge medium pitcher, Frosty Fudge small pitcher, Avocado mini pitcher.
                                  hand-smoothed round bowl, butter pat

                      Raspberry single candlestick,  Frosty Pine double candlestick holder

     I have many plates, cups and saucers, salt and pepper sets, tumblers, and also some larger collector items. All items are for sale. If you are building a collection, feel free to contact me in the comments.

Here are the collector items: (for size reference: salt shaker fits inside palm of the hand)

1. Large S Bowl (beside a Frosty Fudge salt shaker)

2. Large rectangular mantel planter (6" high, 17" long) 

3.  Covered casserole in Frosty Pine with handle indentions on the sides.

4.  Frosty Pine BBQ platter and mug (your finger hooks inside the mug!)

The Early Worm Gets The Bud

                       Childhood trauma creates scars which become part of our unique design forever.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Book Review: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena


     I recently finished reading Anthony Marra's superbly written novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and I highly recommend it to you, if you are up for something more than a book to simply fill your time.  This book has a complicated timeline which involves consecutive chapters that take place in different years, but involve the same characters, so you get the back story side-by-side with the front story. (Even if you are not fond of this now-popular practice of chapters popping out of the story-time, try to push through those feelings and read this marvel.)  I listened to the book on Audible, as I drove here and there, because it was set in another country and I like to hear books read in the accent of the people they concern. But that's just me, I'm sure it reads wonderfully in the accent you carrying in your head.
     A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is not a book that will make you feel good, so put a pin in that and set it aside. Warm and fuzzy feelings are not the intent. It is a book about the lives of a few souls whose paths and misfortunes cross in the aftermath of the two wars that ravaged Chechnya. The novel unflinchingly addresses ties of family loyalty, hospitality to others, the endurance of love in the face of extreme deprivation, and what it is that succeeds or fails to hold us back from the cliffs of barbarism. This book pushes you to ponder what you would do if the people in this story were your own neighbors, your family. The story of these lives is rich and full of extenuating circumstances and unlikely events, as are your own story and mine.  We are simply people, all of us, who are trying to live by our best lights, each day.