Mama’s Dinner Table

Looking back over these blogs since 2010 when my daughter, Allison, first developed my web site, I am amazed at how few blog posts there were from me for the months of November.

I suppose I was deciding how many chairs to fit around the dining room table, which kids and their families would sleep where, did I have enough sheets, towels, dishes, etc., those little details that can keep moms awake at night.

Our son and his family came usually every Thanksgiving, with daughter from Georgia coming mostly in the summer for visits with her family. As the kids grew older, my husband and I joined son & wife for Thanksgiving at their home about two hours from where we live, as their daughters began college and wanted to visit friends at home over the Thanksgiving break. But those were some of the sweetest memories I have of family times ~ laughter, late pajama mornings, & the Thanksgiving parade.

Now we live in Georgia, moving from Washington State to the Peach capital of the world. Weather is amazing, even on those hot August days, and the garden enjoys the sun and more rain than I ever knew would fall in Georgia. We’ve bought a smaller house with a tiny amount of housework to be done. I am more thankful for that than anything else.

It’s like anything else is life ~ sometimes more is bigger, better, more exciting, but it always comes to us with a cost. Housework as I get older is no longer my friend. I am happy to have hubby vacuum and care for the hard floors, and as for me – me … time to read, knit, garden, jot notes to friends, and maybe finish my novel I’m always writing.

We still enjoy family for Thanksgiving, but I may never put a second leaf in the table again. I’ve  decided dinners need to be easier, more simple. Am working on this.

I think back to the meals my grandmother cooked. Mama Ellis was a southern cook who could whip up pecan pies and coconut cakes without blinking an eye, and none of us has ever duplicated her Chicken & Dumplings, although I’ve tried.

I am thankful for my childhood, the lessons learned, & growing up with family in Pensacola, Florida.  Here’s a poem I wrote about Mama’s Sunday dinners.  If you were not at the table 20 minutes after the church sermon ended, you’d be counted as late to dinner.

 

Mama Dinner Table

Heavy rose-colored drapes

shield windows, shut us in

every Sunday at noon.

“Dinner’s ready, Ya’ll come.

Hurry now, Papa.

Say the blessing. Let’s eat.”

There’s tender roast beef, gravy.

potatoes and pole beans,

hot biscuits and peach pie.

The old man lumbers to

the table, sits down, folds

his hands and bows his head.

“Heavenly Father,” he begins,

drops his chin and fall silent.

We open our eyes around the table.

A chill races the room.

Oh, no, God. Please not here.

Not now at Sunday dinner. 

Suddenly he stirs, remembers.

He finishes his prayer and we

begin our dance of food.

Silverware rattles around the

table, glasses clink, bowls are passed

and we are once again filled.

After dinner we clear the table,

remove the lace cloth and then deal

with the crumbs beneath the tale.

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Halloween

Days are getting shorter, with Daylight Savings on the way again, and there is that special chill in the air. A year ago we hoped to still be in Spokane, WA for our last October there, with the magnificent colors of Spokane on display but we found ourselves already having completed our across-country move to Georgia, and were already entrenched in our retirement home in Colbert, GA, known as a one-mile town.

Instead of the hundred-plus children in costumes who knocked on our door for candy while we lived in Yale Court, Spokane, we had three children in costumes at our door last Halloween, here in Colbert, GA. We still live in a cull d’ Sac, but it’s different.  Same number of homes. Far fewer children. In Spokane parents loaded up kids in soccer vans and drove to our area for lots of candy and fun. Here we live near a busy highway and nobody drives kids around for candy.

My Halloween memories are beginning to fade, but three in particular always come to mind for me. The first was our son at KI Sawyer AFB, Michigan, not even two years old, trick or treating with his friends belonging to my Best Mommy Friends, Gail and Donna. We sent Becky, Phil and Eric out for their first big Halloween night – a witch, a ghost and a cowboy.  All with wide eyes and stories to tell later. The next is the year my children’s dad was in Thailand with the AF. I have a picture of our little daughter, then nearly two, in a blue bunny suit and bunny ears, holding hands and pumpkins with her five year old brother in his Zorro costume, complete with hat and mask. Does not get much cuter than that for me.

The most special memory of all for me is the year I made our daughter an angel costume for Halloween when she was in first grade. She had long brown hair with golden highlights from summer, her white angel costume trimmed in gold braid, and a bright, shiny halo for her hair.  It was her day to lead her class to and from the water fountain, recess & lunch.

It was also the day her class room was assigned to lead the entire school in their Halloween Parade around the block, to cheers and applause from parents, with all the kids in their costumes.  I showed up in time to dress our daughter in her costume and stood with other parents somewhere along the route to see the parade. Imagine my surprise to see our adorable little angel leading the entire school in the Halloween parade. It makes for an awesome memory, and I didn’t even have a camera. With cell phones we all have today, being without a camera would never happen.

Now we live in GA close to my daughter and her family, and all still love Halloween. My husband and I have already eaten our way through three bags of Halloween candy & bought more yesterday. After all, we may have at least the same three kids as last year, and it could be more, we tell ourselves standing in the candy aisle.  You never know. It could be more. Of course we make certain we’ll have more than enough left over for us!

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Enough

Last night at a local fund raiser, I found myself at ‘silent auction tables’ with three women discussing depression.  “When you sit in front of a TV for five hours,” I overheard, “and don’t have anything to do, you are depressed. You are not needed, you have probably moved away from good friends,  your kids and grand kids are grown, the pets are dead and you literally have no purpose left in your life.”

I stood fixed at attention. They were describing me, except for the TV. Five hours is too much even for me, yet I love a good Hallmark movie now and then.

Even though I no longer work, and rarely volunteer for anything, life does not disappoint. There’s my African Violet on the kitchen window sill for daily inspection, usually a Good Morning Hello when I fix that first cup of coffee. There are three other plants to water, plus the mum on the back deck, two on the front porch and my mother’s rose bush along the front walk. While I have the watering can out I  fill up the flower pot with the fountain in it that my friend Gail sent for my birthday. I can’t forget the raspberries to pick, even in the Fall, and more green peppers in the garden hubby planted. And of course a daily email to friend, Gail. What would we do without our dearest friends, no matter where we live.

I count myself lucky to still have a hubby to share things with, but do have to feed him, and he does like a bit of daily attention. We even watch a few detective shows on TV in the early evenings or a PBS series of some sort, and definitely watch Seahawks, WSU & Gonzaga games, even way down here in GA.  We still fly our Seahawks flag but a UGA GA bull dog does sit on the front porch.

What more purpose do I need? There’s laundry, housework, cooking, shopping – dull routines when we were crazy busy working with kids at home, but now a blessing. I still have work to do and time to do it whenever the spirit moves me. The cherry on top is weekly visits with daughter and family for hockey, soccer and tennis with our grandson, who occasionally spends nights with us. He’s the only one who will watch The Great British Baking Show with us, and sometimes we three play Cribbage & have ice cream. Grandson calls this our ‘Ice Cream Cribbage Club.’ A year ago he told me Georgia people don’t need to use manners. Wrong thing to say to this southern Grandma. We embarked on a manners lesson. Now he thanks me when I hand him a napkin. There’s my purpose right there. There and a whole lot more.

Maybe we all need to look at our lives with gratitude for what is left, rather than with tears in our eyes for what used to be. For me, what I have now is more than enough. I feel blessed that I finally realize it.

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Mama’s Ellis’ Chicken & Dumplings

Today is a two-cups-of-coffee morning for me. I’ve decided to write about the visit to my home town of Pensacola, Florida, the year my daughter and I decided we needed Mama Ellis’ recipe for her delicious Chicken and Dumplings, which she made for the family every Sunday.

Early that Sunday morning I greeted my grandmother in the kitchen when I heard her walking down the hallway with her creaky walker. My pen and notebook were ready. Mama Ellis had reluctantly agreed to give me her recipe.

Before I knew it, Mama had flour on the kitchen counter and flour in a bowl.

“Wait a minute, Mama.  How much flour do you use?”

“Just use what you need so the dough holds together,” she told me matter-of-factly.

“Well, a cup? Half a cup? How much?”

She held up a water glass. “Just a tumbler full, Honey.” I made a note to measure the water glass later to see how much flour it held. Next she tossed water into the bowl with the tumbler of flour.

“Mama, wait. How much water did you use?”

She didn’t stop to answer, intent on patting down her obedient ball of dough, sprinkling around more flour and getting ready to roll out the dough on the counter. She’d have an easier job of this if she had a wooden cutting board, I thought, but not having one didn’t slow her down.

“I don’t know how much water I use,” she volunteered, wiping her hands on her apron. “It just needs to feel right. You don’t want the dough to dry out.”

I knew she was trying to be helpful, but shortening had also gone into her bowl and was now a part of this silky ball of dough.  How on earth had I missed that step? Didn’t matter now. It was too late. I watched as she grabbed the salt shaker.

“Did you add salt to the dough, Mama?”

She looked up at me in surprise. “Why, good Heavens, yes!”

One tumbler of flour. Add shortening, salt and water, I wrote down quickly.

Mama wiped her hands on her apron again, confident that the dough felt exactly right. She sprinkled on more flour and began to work magic with her rolling pin, not even shifting gears as she rolled the dough into long, even strips from years of practice. She cut the strips of dough into equal lengths and dropped them into a pot of water on the top of the stove, which I noticed for the first time.

“Mama, when did you start boiling that water?”

She turned to look at me, took a deep breath, and answered, a bit frustrated. “When I started the hen.”

“The hen? What hen?”

She stood with her hands on her hips. “You know good and well you can’t have dumplings ‘less you’ve got a hen stewing. Put the hen on early.” There it was ~ a large fat stewing hen that would soon have meat falling away from the bones. A hearty chicken aroma began to fill the kitchen. How on earth could I have missed that?                Concentration, I told myself, fumbling with my notebook. The family hovered in the hallway. The table was set. Ice cubes clinked in glasses. Sweet tea was poured.

Stew one hen I pencil into my notebook. Start early. Make your dumplings with ‘just enough flour, water, shortening and salt’ so the dough holds together. Roll out & cut the dumplings into strips, then drop one at a time into boiling broth from the stewing hen.

Slowly I began to understand my grandmother. Southern women were independent. Always able to ‘make a meal out of anything’ as Mama Ellis was fond of saying. For years women of her generation did not have cook books. Recipes were passed on by word of mouth.

We watched the noodles fatten up, thickening chicken broth as they cooked. I asked one last question.

“How long do the dumplings cook?”

Mama answered me calmly, with a stern look. “Until the biscuits are done!”

“Biscuits?”

Sheepishly I peered into the oven at a pan of fluffy biscuits, which Mama had slipped into the oven while I tried to figure out what size hen to cook. Only then did I see a freshly baked peach pie, also baked earlier that morning, cooling on the counter beside the stove.  The coconut cake had been baked the day before and waited now on the buffet in the dining room. I felt inadequate.

Start a pan of biscuits I penciled in at the top of my recipe. In parenthesis I wrote ~ Make a cake the day before. Use a mix. Forget the pie. I smiled at my grandmother, shorter than me now, and gave her a loving hug. She hugged me back, with brittle bones and arthritic knuckles. I saw tears in her eyes which she wiped away with the corner of her apron. We both knew we would not have many more visits like this.

My middle-school daughter slipped into the kitchen and wrapped her arms around my waist. “Mom, did you get the recipe?”

“Mama doesn’t use recipes,” I told her.

“Then how will I ever make Mama’s Chicken & Dumplings?”

I brushed her hair away from her face. “You have Southern roots. You’ll cook anything you want, just like  Mama Ellis. You don’t always need recipes. You just have to learn to trust yourself.”

She lives in Georgia now, loves to bake home-made biscuits and Sweet Potato pie, and never bothers to time her biscuits or pies when she bakes. She knows when they’re done. I’m not sure she’s ever made Chicken & Dumplings, but I don’t doubt for a minute that if she did, they’d be delicious.

After all, it’s part of her DNA.

 

 

 

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Moving to Georgia

 We always knew we’d end up in Georgia, closer to my daughter and grandson, but never thought it would happen as quickly as it did. We sold our house in Spokane, WA to the first people who looked at it, in January, but planned to delay move until we had one last fall in beautiful Spokane. So we packed up, moved into an apartment, and my husband continued working (and kayaking) in Spokane. I liked having time to tell friends goodbye, as well. We had such a good plan. But there’s something about owning a new home in a different state that makes you get itchy feet, wanting to move out, get the show on the road. By July I was in Colbert, GA, near Athens, and by September we were both home in Georgia, only twelve minutes from daughter, Allison and grandson, Asher. We had to pay an extra month’s rent on the apartment. Note to self: Don’t do that again. And then it started. Hubby went to Ace Hardware to buy a lawn mower. He came home with a new riding lawn mower. It is green, big, loud, and nearly fills the shed he coveted in the back yard the minute he saw this house for sale. Now I am used to seeing him mow the lawn wearing his floppy hat. He used to wear it kayaking with his buddies on Spokane lakes and rivers. Now he wears it mowing the lawn. He says we don’t live in the country. I tell him we do - we live on a septic tank, have a big shed in the back yard, there’s no garbage disposal and no Macy’s, and we wake mornings hearing the neighbor’s rooster crow. I call that country. Moving to Georgia Andrew/2 As for me, I’ve now gone to the grocery store with no makeup and wearing my Macy’s boiled wool bedroom shoes and Lula Roe leggings I’ve just slept in. When I sheepishly admitted this to a neighbor down the street he told me, “Honey, you live in Georgia now. Nobody here gives a shit about your shoes.” I’ve now worn those shoes to the store more than once, and am getting used to having people call me Miss Ruth, even the dentist, druggist and neighbors. In Spokane we sat on the front porch to eat ice cream and watch neighbor kids play in the cull d’sac. Now we sit on the front porch to watch the sun go down & admire our new River Birch in the front yard. We open the front door to listen to the rain, feed every bird in sight, mow the lawn twice a week, and both go to the YWCO on a regular basis. Retirement isn’t all bad, folks. Hubby has created the garden from the Gods, with more tomatoes, literally, than I know what to do with; green peppers that are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted; green beans and peas; zucchini and acorn squash; blueberries and raspberries; and two apple trees. He even drove two hours to another town to buy a scythe for clearing the land behind our shed, which is rapidly becoming his nature preserve. When new friends ask me how I like it here, I pause and turn it all over in my mind - it’s a 48 mile round trip to Target, Michael’s, Home Depot or Lowe’s; my closest library is in Danielsville; I drive seven miles at 55 miles per hour just to buy milk and eggs; and it will take me at least another year to understand that the Athens’ Inner Loop and the Outer Loop are really the same thing. And then I remember. Allison & Asher are twelve minutes away. Everything else pales in comparison. So I tell friends, “We love it here. Wish we’d moved years sooner!” As for the cherry on top, hubby has a new part-time job. It’s a blessing in disguise. After all, do you know how much those carbon fiber kayak paddles cost? I think he’s needs a new kayaking hat, too. The old one lives out in the shed now, on top of his big green riding lawn mower. Any day now I expect he’ll give that mower a name. And so it goes here in Colbert, GA, in the country if you talk to me, and not in the country if you talk to him. He wants to ‘name’ our home too, the way people do at lakes. It isn’t a lake, I tell him, unless it rains and then we do have a lake in the front yard, but only for a few days. He has come up with his pet name, which I thinks fits the bill: Kiss my Ash. Makes me laugh. But we could name it In the Country ~ or not. More names crop up from time to time, like The agony and the ecstasy.That might work, especially when we wait too long to mow the lawn, which we have apparently over fertilized. I guess one day the spirit will move us from the front porch and we’ll hang a sign on the mailbox. I can only imagine what that name may become by then. But there’s no hurry on this ~ or anything else. After all, we live in Georgia, Ya’ll. ###

Here we are this past September, at the Boutier Winery between Ila & Danielsville, Georgia. We always knew we’d end up in Georgia, closer to my daughter and grandson, but never thought it would happen as quickly as it did. We sold our house in Spokane, WA to the first people who looked at it in January 2017, but planned to delay the move until we had one last fall in beautiful Spokane. So we packed up, moved into an apartment, so hubby could continue working (and kayaking) in Spokane for the next seven months, we thought, & signed a seven-month lease. I liked having time to tell friends goodbye, as well. We had such a good plan.

But there’s something about owning a new home in a different state by June that makes you get itchy feet, wanting to move out, get the show on the road.  By July I was in Colbert, GA, near Athens, and by September we were both home in Georgia, only twelve minutes from daughter, Allison and grandson, Asher. Of course we did have to pay an unexpected extra month’s rent on the apartment. Note to self: Don’t do that again.

And then it started. Hubby went to the Ace Hardware just one minute from our house, to buy a lawn mower. He came home with a new riding lawn mower. It is green, big, loud, and nearly fills the shed he coveted in the back yard the minute he saw this house for sale. Now I am used to seeing him mow the lawn wearing his floppy hat. He used to wear it kayaking with his paddle buddies in Washington. Now he wears it to mow the lawn in Georgia.

He says we don’t live in the country. I tell him we do – we live on a septic tank, have a big shed in the back yard, there’s no garbage disposal, no Macy’s, and we wake mornings hearing the neighbor’s rooster crow. I call that country.

As for me, I’m fitting in quite well, being a southerner from NW Florida, to begin with. I’ve gone to the grocery store with no makeup, wearing my Macy’s boiled wool bedroom slippers and Lula Roe leggings I had just slept in, but it was a chilly day and I wanted to stay warm. When I sheepishly admitted this to a neighbor down the street who was here talking to my husband about building either a shop or kayak shed, he told me in no uncertain terms, “Honey, you live in Georgia now. Nobody here gives a shit about your shoes.” I’m finding out he’s right, too. I’ve now worn those shoes to the store more than once, and am getting used to having people call me Miss Ruth – the dentist, druggist, office receptionists, lady at the post office, neighbors and people on the phone. Instead of saying, “Hi,” they say, “Hey there.”  They really do. I’m starting to say it, too, and hubby has already dropped both ‘ts’ in words like Atlanta or Atlantic. But we’ve moved clear across the country. You have to expect things to be a bit different, right? We just never realized it would be us.

In Spokane we sat on the front porch after dinner to eat ice cream and watch neighbor kids play in the cull d’sac. Now we sit on the front porch to watch the sun go down & admire our beautiful new River Birch in the front yard, with hopes that one day it will shade the very steps we’re sitting on. We open the front door to listen to the rain, love the sound of thunder, and hear it often. We feed every bird in sight, mow the lawn twice a week, and  both go to the Y on a regular basis. Retirement isn’t all bad, folks.

Hubby has created the garden from the Gods, with more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I gave away 40 large ripe tomatoes last week, and some even to the pest control guy. We have green peppers that are the sweetest I’ve ever tasted; green beans and peas; zucchini and acorn squash; blueberries and raspberries; and two apple trees. He even drove two hours to another town to buy a scythe for clearing the land behind our shed, which is rapidly becoming his nature preserve.

One of the biggest surprises for us in the fall was that there are bulldogs all over Athens, GA, and nobody here seems to care about WSU vs U of W; nobody wears Seahawks jerseys to the grocery stores on game days; and nobody has Go Zags signs in their front windows, either. Here it is all Falcons, UGA and Dawgs of any kind. I have a small UGA bulldog on the front porch, wearing a red sweater. One of these days I am going to quietly paint his sweater blue for Gonzaga. They’ll never know. We’ve also been to many, many soccer games, far and wide, underneath very hot sun, but also ice hockey practices in Athens. Who would believe such a thing? Ice hockey in Georgia. And we are so there. Of course we are. It involves grandson, Asher. So, it’s a no brainer. We go.

When new friends ask me how I like it here, I pause and turn it all over in my mind – it’s a 48 mile round trip to Target, Michael’s, Home Depot or Lowe’s; my closest library is in Danielsville; I drive seven miles at 55 miles per hour just to buy milk and eggs; and it will take me at least another year to understand why the Athens’ Inner Loop and the Outer Loop are one continuous circle.

And then I remember. Allison & Asher are twelve minutes away. Everything else pales in comparison. So I tell new friends and old, “We love it here. Wish we’d moved years sooner!” As for the cherry on top, hubby has a new part-time job. It’s a blessing in disguise. After all, you have to consider how much those carbon fiber kayak paddles cost. He’s already been paddling at Lake Russell, Lake Chapman and Sandy Creek shores, plus a quick dip just today with a surfski in San Francisco Bay, thanks to his new job in a round about way. And he beams telling me that the Atlantic is only four hours away. I think he needs a new floppy kayaking hat, though. The old one lives out in the shed, on top of his big green riding lawn mower. Any day now I expect he’ll give that mower a name. And so it goes here in Colbert, GA, in the country if you talk to me, and not in the country if you talk to him.

He wants to ‘name’ our home, too, the way people do at lakes. It isn’t a lake, I tell him, unless it rains and then we do have a lake in the front yard, but only for a few days. He has come up with his pet name, which I think fits the bill: Kiss my Ash. Makes me laugh because we left a huge ash tree in our back yard in Spokane. But sadly, they tell us that Ash trees do not do well here. It’s too hot for ash trees, and even rhubarb or lilacs. Always new things to learn. But we could name this place In the Country ~ or not. More names crop up from time to time, like The Agony and the Ecstasy. That might work, especially when we wait too long to mow the lawn, which has apparently been over fertilized.

I guess one day the spirit will move us away from the front porch, we’ll decide on a name for this new adventure, and we’ll hang a sign underneath the mailbox. Just think of the names we might come up with in time. Which reminds me. We could even name it The  Time Machine.  But there’s no hurry on this ~ or much of anything else. Things get done slowly around here. We’re retired, after all, and ya’ know, we live in Georgia now, Y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trains

Early morning train whistles always leave me behind, wondering where the train is going, who is on the train and why. The whistles blow loudest at busy intersections, warning people to stay off the tracks, to not make dreadful mistakes. If only we had train whistles in our own lives as loud, to warn us of mistakes we were about to make, those split-second decisions that send us down wrong paths. For a loving, happy life, take the right fork. For unknowns, take the left fork. Or a middle fork, which might very well drop us off at a point of no return, to quick sand or an abyss. Robert Frost, I think, may not have fully understood what all of the ‘roads less traveled’ might possibly reveal in each of our lives. Some good. Some not so good. Some that can never be undone.

Regardless of why some people might be on trains I see passing me by (and I am speaking of passenger trains, or sometimes commuter trains) maybe they are going cross town in a large city to work, I tell myself, or to an appointment, or to visit someone seriously ill. We never know. They could even be traveling with no end destination in mind, and that thought can unnerve me in a hurry. People with no  destination in their minds must be lonely, I think, or running away from someone or something. I can’t imagine people being on a train going ‘just anywhere’ for an adventure, unless the adventure is the reason they are there, and then going home again would be their end destination.  But somebody on a train, flipping a coin to see where they might get off and start a new life could keep me awake a few nights, unless it was a new novel I was reading. Now that could be a happy thought. I would not have to lose sleep over that one!

But the reality is that people are on trains, planes, buses all the time, for reasons that are not so good, and sometimes through no fault of their own. They are traveling and to where they do not fully understand, not to mention being separated from family and loved ones, especially their children, no matter the age ~ whether infants, teens or kids in between, as parents seek asylum in the United States. My heart feels heavy as stone on contemplating such a fate for any parent, and being a woman myself, my mind goes first to the mothers.  Knowing I can do little about this except pray for such insanity to stop and to vote in November, does little to ease my mind.

But I do vote. It just does not seem to matter much anymore, at least not to me. I am grateful my children are grown, grand kids well taken care of, and I know where they all are. That never used to be the thing people were the most thankful for, as there was always talk of our health, or good jobs, better vacations, definitely more salary, but for me ~ knowing where my children were was hands down the ultimate gift.

Now I pray nightly that other mothers will be able to say this, as well, and if not now, then soon. I’ve always thought of our country as being one of out reach and abundance. Dan Rather says we must stay strong and act with courage. He’s right, I know, but in the face of such disappointment, it’s easier said than done. No matter what else happens, I am sure we all need to think of these parents and children in our prayers, and pray for ease for the children in dealing with their unsure trauma in the years to come. The next  time I hear a train whistle I know I will be praying for all of the souls on board, and their families, some lost to them for the time being, and I hope with all of my heart, not forever.

 

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African Violet

Over the years I have tried to coax blossoms out of African Violets in every place I lived, which includes a lot of states, cities and houses. Since officially moving to Georgia this past September (and even earlier to buy the house,  get things started), I once again picked up an African Violet for $3.49 at my favorite grocery store. It had three blooms on it.

Today it is bursting full of 17 flowers, with more peeking out from underneath the leaves. It reminds me of the Old Woman in the Shoe who had so many children she didn’t know what to do. Personally, I am glad this is an abundance of flowers and not children. My two children are plenty, thank you.

Yet each morning I add ¼ cup of water directly to the top of the plant, or sometimes just beneath the leaves, touching them all as I have been cautioned over and over again to never do ~ yet I do for some instinctive reason. I almost talk to the plant, but am not quite at that point yet, although I do say, “Good morning, Violet.” I planted it into a pot my granddaughter, Tate, decorated for my mother. It sits on our kitchen window sill in a small dish of my mother’s china. I think this plant knows it has a big job to do in helping us all remember Mama Parks, herself born in Georgia 100 years ago this August, but she didn’t live quite that long.

This period in our new home has been a time of waiting, and for what I am not sure. To belong? To feel needed? What about having a purpose? Or returning to my roots? I already feel all of these things. My husband and I are welcomed each morning with so many birds chirping I’m sure it must sound like Africa ~ some place away from noise and a lot of people. Except for the birds and the neighbor’s rooster early mornings, it’s quiet here, and these are noises we like. Doors and windows are open for cool air until the days get hot. It’s different from other places we’ve lived. Yet my African Violet is happy here and so is my heart.

When we left the Pacific Northwest after being there more than 30 years, I felt as if I were leaving the nest, yet suddenly here I am in Georgia, feeling I have finally come home. My husband joked recently that he was adjusting to Georgia better than me. I laughed. It’s just that he has a large yard to play in with a riding lawn mower, a garden already filled with budding fruits and vegetables, thanks to a long growing season, and the natural preserve he’s creating in the back. He’s also learning to kayak Georgia rivers, and working at a new P/T time he enjoys, driving a semi for an Athens, GA events management crew that sets up everything needed for major bicycle races around the country. (Google that at USA Crits). He’s one happy & busy guy.

Sometimes we have a green light in our lives before we realize it. A bell rings suddenly in our hearts and tells us it’s time to go, leave, move on, get packing, start the process and don’t stop until you get where you are supposed to be. That bell rang for both of us at the same time and we have finally come to the place where we know we were meant to be. It’s an awfully good feeling ~ that of coming home!

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