Macaroni and Cheese

I like macaroni and cheese. In high school, that and baking a cake were the extent of my cooking. My mom even entered a recipe on my behalf for a church cookbook one year. Not a cake. Oh no, it was the instructions from the back of the Kraft macaroni and cheese box.

My kids also like mac-n-cheese. It was a staple in our house. Of course, I always tried to pair it with broccoli or green beans. Balanced meals, you know.

Some stories need to be remembered. Told over and over. Handed down from one generation to the next. And not just the ones considered to be pleasant. Also, the challenging ones. Those are the ones that show resilience, teaching valuable lessons.

This is one of those stories. And, of course, it involves macaroni and cheese.

My parents have always been hard workers. But like many others, hard work did not always keep hard times at bay. Some years were more difficult than others. And when I was little, money was tight.

My dad was a carpenter and was working on a house about an hour away from our home. One day, mom and I went along for the ride. Well, sort of. You see, he had not yet gotten paid for his work.

Macaroni and cheese…they had one box left. So, we went with him, taking the box along with us. While dad was working, mom cooked the mac-n-cheese on the job site in an electric popcorn popper. That way, all three of us would have something to eat for lunch.

That same day, the woman that owned the property retrieved a frozen chicken from her kitchen. And though my dad was a little uncertain about that chicken, it went home with us that afternoon, along with his paycheck. It was available that day after work.

Perhaps some would think of this as a sad story. Not me. I see the resilience of two people, able to keep going, making the best out of a difficult situation.

Anytime we talk about this time in our lives, Mom always reassures me. “No matter how hard things got, we always made sure you did not go without. You always had what you needed.” Without a doubt. ❤️

Truth is, not only did we survive as a family, but we also thrived! And though my cooking skills have improved a little, I still like macaroni and cheese.

Two Poems

Elbows and Knees

I cried at the sight
Of you frail
Unaware of
My presence-
Chose to remember
Different images
On that day-
Tall and lanky
Uncanny ability
To sit comfortably
On your haunches
Elbows perched
On knees
Backside inches
From the ground-
My college senior
Piano recital
Me in my black dress
You in your blue
Cotton shirt and pants
Both beaming-
Five years later
Christmastime
My newborn son
Sleeping in your arms-
After you were gone
I saw your reflection
As my son sat
On his haunches
Elbows perched
On knees
Backside inches
From the ground-
Pictures of you
Held dear,
Grandpa

Workshirt

The morning
Is dark blue
The kind of blue
That almost
Looks black
But once
The sun rises
Turns to cerulean-
As the day
Progresses
The sky shifts
Until night washes
Over the work
Of the day
Bringing rest
To the Earth-
And rest to you
Handsome you
Strong you
Wearing your
Favorite blue shirt
Faded with time
As the dirt
And sweat
From a lifetime
Of hard work
Was washed away

I wrote the first poem specifically about my Grandpa Crow. He was a sweet man. Hardworking and loved to fish. The second could describe many different people from my growing up years. Maybe you can relate. 😊❤️

Visit to a Cemetery

I stood
At the foot
Of a grave
Shaded by
Lovely birch
On a rolling
Green slope
Overseen by
A church
Painted white
Filled with
History on
Both sides
Of glass panes-
I stood
At the foot
Of a grave
Cradling remains
Of those gone
From this earth
Centuries ago
Memories
Carved
In marble
Beloved
Daughter, wife, mother
Honored
Son, husband, father
I stood
At the grave
Of a poet
My heart touched
By remembrances
Of persons
I have never met

Simply Sunday

Days

Enjoying
Art and
Nature
Exploring
Lessons
Offered
By history-
Our own
Others-
Reminiscing
Our combined
Years of living
In only seven
Of these
Precious
Allotments
Of time
Each holding
The same
Number
Of hours
Each passing
Too quickly

Ever-Changing

Standing
On the edge
Green grass
Underfoot
Cushioning
My step

Observing
Diamonds sparkle
On the water
Clouds float
In the sky
On the pond

Listening
Plop! Chirp!
Zip-Zap!
Frogs, birds
Dragonflies
And me

Waiting
As light shifts
Breezes blow
Enveloped in
This ever-changing
Landscape

What a beautiful day exploring Olana. Art, history, amazing views…and family. ❤

Adventures Old and New

Greetings from Massachusetts! My first visit to this beautiful state. Even though the weather was cloudy and rainy upon arrival, I quickly noticed the many shades of green. No matter where I looked, a different type of tree. Some familiar, others not.

This morning the sun is shining, and the sky is a perfect blue! I am excited to explore with my Aunt Martha and Uncle James. Such a treat! 💚

View from their lovely backyard in Lee, Massachusetts.

Chanel No. 5-Reblog from September, 2019

I don’t wear a lot of perfume. I’ve had a couple of favorites as an adult, but allergy sensitivities often keep me from enjoying them. Currently, I own one bottle of Chanel No. 5.

I’m not sure how long I’ve had this particular bottle. During our recent unpacking, it caught my eye. I could not remember the last time it was open. The design is so classic and pretty, I decided to leave it out.

One morning last week while getting ready for school, that bottle of Chanel caught my eye again. This time, I opened it and placed a small drop on my finger, then dabbed it on my neck and wrists. “It might be nice to wear a little perfume again,” I thought.

As the familiar scent filled the air, a flood of memories filled my mind.

When I was a little girl, visits to my Aunt Martha and Uncle James’s house were a treat. They, along with their children-Jim, Angela, and Brad-moved several times. I remember trips to Fayetteville, Memphis, and Louisiana. Typically, it was a week-long visit during summer vacation.

Some memories are as clear as a photograph. Dressing my cousin, Angela, up in her Raggedy Ann doll clothes. Riding the bus with my cousin, Jimmy, from Little Rock to Memphis and spilling an entire big bag of M&Ms. Kick boxing with Uncle James. Rolling a piano from room to room so I could play while Martha and James painted their house.

So, why did this sweet smell cause such reminiscing? Because Aunt Martha always had a bottle of Chanel No. 5. And when I visited, she would let me wear some of her perfume. Just a tiny drop on my finger, then dabbed on my neck and wrists. Such a treat for a little girl.

I continue to be amazed by the beautiful complexity of the heart and mind. The simple scent of perfume has the power to transport me back in time. It leads me to precious childhood memories. And it reminds me that the love I experienced then has only grown over the years.

I still live far away from Aunt Martha and Uncle James. I look forward to our visits, no matter how far apart. And I am thankful for time spent with them as a child.

Who would have thought a bottle of Chanel No. 5 could make such an impression on one little girl? 😉

Simply Sunday

Father’s Day

Five days
Waiting
As doctors
Prepared
To repair
To replace
Pieces of
Your heart
Restoring
Strength to
The rhythm
Of your days
Five days
Worth
Waiting

I snapped the first photo on Dad’s first day in the hospital. Due to COVID regulations, visitations were limited and only one of us at a time, so I was thankful for these moments. The second was on the day he was released to go home after open-heart surgery. Happy Father’s Day, Dad! I love you! ❤️

Growing Up

My husband likes to tell people I was raised in a commune. I was not. I suppose, however, that a simple description could be misinterpreted. Let’s see.

Picture a two-lane country highway winding through small towns. Between two of those towns, turn onto a narrow paved road with thick trees lining both sides. Drive about a quarter of a mile until you see a clearing. My house was the first on the left.

Here is the unusual part. My grandparents’ house was in the center. And at any time over the last fifty-plus years, between four and six of their nine children lived nearby. Not a typical neighborhood with straight streets and cull de sacs. More like a valley. When standing in the middle, you could see almost everyone’s home.

Of course, we were free to come and go as we pleased. 😉 And though I left at the wise-old age of seventeen, there is no other place I would have wished to grow up.

Growing up there meant family. It meant security. And no, it was not a peaceful utopia. There were disagreements. But none that could not be solved over a cup of coffee or a few days of staying home.

My mom also grew up there, though, during her childhood, there were more forests for exploring. And with nine children, they needed the space to roam. The original house was small, with only two bedrooms and an outhouse.

I have heard stories of sleeping sideways on the bed, lots of giggling and being scared to go outside at night. Mom remembers as a small child when men came to dig a hole for their first electricity pole.

As you can imagine, they were hard workers. Whether planting in the field or washing clothes on a scrub board, there were always chores to be done. But there was also always fun to be had.

Some days, her dad would come home with a pocket full of penny candy. Enough for everyone. On Fridays, they would have chili dogs and ice cream. Can you imagine dividing a carton of ice cream for nine children? They would open the entire carton and cut it into equal squares.

My mom is now in her seventies. Four of the siblings (including my mom and dad), some grandkids, and great-grandkids live in the clearing today. Only one of her siblings, her oldest sister, Pearl, is no longer living.

Mom recently shared some thoughts that touched me. She described being overcome with emotion thinking of how hard her mom worked to make sure the kids had fun times. She was so young herself; it could not have been easy. Mom said the older she gets, the greater her appreciation for her mom grows. I think I am beginning to understand…

Simply Sunday

Simply Sunday is back! The last weeks of school were busy! Full of fun, full of goodbyes, full of relief. Being home this weekend surrounded by family is exactly what I needed. ❤

Safe Landing

Family-
Where I land
After a busy day
Good news or bad
Laughing or crying
Family-
Where I land
After teaching
Thru a pandemic
Wearing a mask
Family-
Where I land
In cushioned
Rest-erasing
Any turbulence
Family-
Where I prepare
A safe landing
For those on
A later flight

Morning Thoughts

Leaving for work
This morning
Car packed for
A weekend
Road trip
Thoughts already
At the end of today
Think I’ll send
A text to Mom
See you tonight!

Little cardinal
Crosses my path
His brightness
Could not
Be ignored
His fluffy
Red feathers
Taking off
From the ground
Made me smile
Slow down as
I drove out of
The neighborhood
Rachel says every time
She sees a cardinal
It reminds her
Of her Papa