Friday, April 29, 2011

Friends and Festivities

The sun rises over the marina at the dawn of a perfect day,
Filled with the promise of fun with friends coming to play.
Fresh flowers in the guest room, food in the refrigerator
Hoping to make the rating of our bed and breakfast greater.
A miracle of low humidity and cool temperatures has arrived;
Now I'm very sure a full day out of doors can be survived.
Nothing is more enjoyable than being the chosen tour guide
To fun and adventures that my loved ones haven't tried.

Today it will be Jazz Fest with two visiting female friends;
Supper with a surprise guest is how our evening will end.
Tomorrow, I'll get to squire the surprise guest around;
Richard will be boat building, while we will do the town.
Streetcars, restaurants, and museums, or another Jazz Fest day?
I guess I'll let him choose how he wants to spend his stay.
So much to see, to do, and to eat, and the time is so short
There's much that we won't get to, but we'll sure do our part.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Silently Stalking Storm

The wind whips and waves the flag flying
On a single sailboat settled in its slip;
Many masts standing tall at attention
Serve as silent sentinels of the sea.

Ripples race across our home harbor,
Wielding wild white capped waves
The solemn sky heaves her heavy bosom
Onto the lap of the lonesome lake.

All await the fury of the stalking storm,
Anticipating its awesome and angry apex.
Ominous omen of solemnity and sorrow;
Pensive, pondering, we wait.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Explosions

We couldn't have had a more beautiful day,
Or a more lovely display of spring.
It was a wonderful ride with blue skies
And every imaginable shade of green.

We woke to birds singing in dogwoods,
And arrived to fireworks on the lake,
From the peace of sunrise in the forest,
To a display that made the skies shake.

This area is like another country,
In another, more southern, hemisphere.
There are differences in how we show
Homage for what we hold dear.

We have different body clocks;
This is a night time town.
The evening workers are getting up
When the farmers are laying down.

It may be a bit backward for most,
Peaceful mornings and noisy nights.
What better example of our two lives
Than this difference in joy's delight?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

People of Two Places

It's rather surreal sitting here,
Knowing that we'll soon be gone.
We've had a whirlwind trip
With so much said and done.

Many said they missed us
While we were so long away,
But we had to tell them
We were not here to stay.

There are several other couples
Who live here and in warmer climes
And their friends and families
Must feel that it's just fine.

Perhaps we can convince ourselves
That we are meant to be
People of two homes and places
One wooded and one by the sea.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Legacy of Love

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

There are hermit
souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;-
But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house
by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.
But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of an infinite plan;-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I know there are brook-gladdened
meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.
But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,
Wise, foolish- so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I'm not sure that when Walter Foss wrote that poem, he was talking about living on Highway 68. Charlie loved to tell how when he moved to Coker Creek, you could set up a card table in the middle of Highway 68 and play all day without being disturbed. His constant complaint was about all the trucks and crotch rockets barreling past his place at breakneck speed. I'm not sure what upset him most about that the fact that Bootsie, his cat, couldn't roam free, or the fact that none of those barreling past his place ever stopped to say hello.

It didn't matter what time of day or night a person drove into his driveway, Charlie greeted that person with a smile and a hug...and a story. Charlie had stories about everything from his childhood adventures, to rum running, to religion. He said what was on his heart and mind, and lived what he believed. He was the only person I ever knew who actually thanked me for arguing with him without getting (in his words)"all pissy."

One of his favorite sayings was, "A hypocrite I'm not; a Christian, I am." We know that Jesus' time on the earth was spent collecting people, feeding them, loving them, and leading them on the road to salvation. Charlie lived his life doing similar things. He seemed to know everything about whatever he loved, and couldn't wait to take you along to enjoy what he loved with him.

If ever one wanted a tour guide, Charlie was your man. It was often a wild ride taking a tour with Charlie. He'd drive these curves with one hand on the wheel and one eye on the road. How we ever stayed on the tarmac is a wonder to me, as he was usually turned toward the person to whom he was talking. Now Charlie is, I'm sure, giving tours of heaven. I figure that The Almighty needed a great tour guide who could make getting to heaven look like a fun ride.

We all leave a legacy when we physically leave this earth. Some leave great fortunes to continue the work of their favorite charities; some leave laughter and love. Love is the legacy of our friend Charlie. He truly lived on the side of the road and was a friend to every man, woman, and child that crossed his path. I'm so glad to have been one of those people.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Perfect Prize

Catching up on errands and popping in on friends,
This is how we spent our first day in
Our Tennessee mountain getaway in the forest.
These are some of the things we like best.

Today we'll be baking cookies and cakes,
And generally doing whatever it takes
To get ready for Charlie's memorial service,
Something that we really don't want to miss.

There'll be antique cars and lots of folks
Telling Charlie's stories and jokes.
Bluegrass pickin' will be a part,
All things close to Charlie's heart.

We'll sing and dance and honor him,
A man who so many called their friend.
Now that he's won the greatest prize,
We'll party him into paradise.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Singing of Spring

On the way, Nature's scenes
Of the many shades of green
With the backdrop of storm skies
They looked surreal to our eyes

Waterfalls that I had never seen
Flowing from the mountains of green,
Into rivers running red with mud,
Swollen with the snow melt's floods.

As we enter into into our lane
Spots of light called our names.
Solar path lights welcome him and me,
Along with our Great Pyrenees.

The snowball bush is at the stage
Of its most radiant white plumage.
Azaleas and dogwoods are in full bloom
The hostas will be flowering soon.

The creeks are running riotously;
The breeze is blowing wild and free.
We have many friends we want to see.
Today, there's no place I'd rather be.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Heading Home

We're packing up our sleigh and heading to Coker Creek today.
We are still working in Louisiana, so this won't be a long stay.
We are going to honor Charlie and hear Bluegrass musicians play.
And my little sister Deborah and I have so much we want to say.

I have webbed feet; as a Cajun, I don't do mountains well.
I feel so isolated at night, I feel I've fallen down a well.
It's not that my man doesn't love me and protect me from all beasts;
It's that the forest has many night sounds that I like the least.

We're looking forward to seeing friends who are much less wimpy than I.
They, unlike me, don't see wintry ice and snow and begin to cry.
A nighttime emergency on a snowy night has made me quite mountain-shy,
But the Appalachian Mountain way of life, at least I did try.

I watched a bit too much Dorothy and her Scarecrow and Tin Man;
I know the Wizard of Oz had nothing on the magic of my man.
But what of me without him, all alone in this dark place?
I wish I could handle my phobias with a bit more adult grace.

Will we ever be settled down in one place for life?
I think that's not in the cards for Richard and his wife.
All our losses have convinced me that nothing on earth is lasting
Our destiny may be roving until our own day of passing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Forever Friend

His wife has the great loss;
Will I help or increase the cross
That she ultimately bears alone
Until she reaches the Great Unknown.

His wife is like a sister to me;
It is she that I long to see,
Because words can't properly impart
Such depths of the broken heart.

Will I ever learn that dying
Is not always a time for crying;
That believing in The Hereafter
Should engender laughter?

I think not, as I long to see
The people who are dear to me.
To hear the voice that would say,
"Can you come over to play?"

Charlie welcomed with open arms
And shared his many charms
With all that sought a friend.
Now his party will have no end.

But what about those of us
Who, in The Almighty trust,
But still long for his smile
Like that of a happy child?

Will we still be able share
All Charlie's love and care,
That from him flowed so free,
And in our hearts should be?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Always Family to Richard and Me

What an honor it was to to spend yesterday's Social Sunday at Tristan's Eagle Scout installation! Richard helped this young man to build his Eagle Scout project -- an electronic bell system and belfry for a seminary. Richard assisted with the carpentry, not the electronics.

This is something I miss when we're in Coker Creek. Most of the people we know there are retirees, and the Coker Creek people we know with children seem to have little need for more parenting partners.I love being part of Richard's involvement with young people. He's never had children of his own, but he is passing on a lot of himself.

Tristan's mother, Terry Sue, is married to my longest lasting best friend's brother. When she was put on bed rest during the time Tristan was "in her oven," my friend called to tell me that Terry Sue had nobody to help prune her prize roses. I volunteered to help, as I had always wanted to know how to care for rose bushes. This blossomed into a wonderful friendship. You could say that Tristan was the catalyst for my friendship with his mom.

Several years later, Terry Sue asked if I'd like to join her and her second son in "enrichment activities," taking my grandson and her second son to the educational venues such as the Audubon Zoo, Louisiana Children's Museum, and The Global Wildlife Center. I gladly accepted, as I was babysitting twice a week for my grandson while my son worked and his wife was in school. This was the first of many outings with these two baby boys.

Whether Richard and I are in Coker Creek or Slidell, Terry Sue's home in Sandestin and both of our homes are now many miles from each other. Our heart strings, however, are long enough to span the distance. Wherever we are, I hope that Terry Sue's family will always be family to Richard and to me.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

From Patty Melts to Perfection

Both Richard and I are into gourmet cooking, so we don't go out to eat for the food alone. We want the whole dining experience to be an event to remember.The last few days in Louisiana, we've had some of the most memorable -- in both the good and bad meanings of the word "memorable" -- meals of our recent history. Starting with the wonderful, we lunched at Dick and Jenny's in the Garden District of our beloved New Orleans.

Here I had an unexpected pleasure of pain perdu of duck confit. This translates to a patty melt made with sourdough French bread, Brie cheese, poached duck, pickles, and apple butter, with a side of peach chutney. I liked this variation on a patty melt a little better than I did the Vietnamese influenced version of a pressed pork sandwich I had at the American Sector Restaurant a couple of weeks ago. Both of these similar to the Cuban sandwiches available in areas of the city with large Hispanic populations. In very few cities outside New Orleans would you find so many ways to present a patty melt.

Richard started lunch at Dick and Jenny's with the seafood gumbo -- the closest to mine that I've ever experienced. He followed that with a crab cake lover's dream -- two perfectly prepared patties comprised of lumps of sweet white crab meat barely bound by a bread crumbs, and pan-seared until slightly crispy on the outside. These delectable darlings were then perched atop two finely fried green tomatoes, and topped with a ribbon of red pepper aioli.

I didn't eat all of my lunch, preferring to reach my fork over to taste what was on Rchard's plate. That simply meant we had the remainder of my sandwich and side of warm bacon potato salad for supper the next day. Everything was delightful that day -- the weather, the food, the superb service, and the company of my favorite person in the world.

When my long-lost childhood neighbor Leslie and I went to the warehouse district, we stopped in at Rio Mar for tapas (also called "small plates"). We were hard-pressed to say which of the eight mini dishes we liked best, the mixed seafood seviche or the succulent smoked tuna -- or was it their signature oyster presentation? While the food couldn't have been better, the service was simply sloppy. It's such a shame to have such formidable food and so little respect for the hot, hard work coming out of the kitchen. Sadly, this slovenly service seems not to be an isolated incident.

The evening before this, Richard and I had taken my daughter out to a steakhouse which has long been one of favorite Slidell eateries. We should have known to walk out when our waiter approached our table, introduced himself and waved his arm toward the three other employees in the dining room saying, "We're all taking care of you." Maybe he had never heard that divided responsibility equates to nobody actually being in charge.

Our dining experience was more like a Keystone Cops episode than a fine dining event. We had to flag the waiters down each time we wanted anything even as simple a water refill, and both I and my daughter got the wrong food. It was especially disappointing as this was our daughter's last meal with us -- and she had looked so beautiful in her new outfit from Mexico.

Not to worry, though. Last night we had dining perfection presented to us in the form of supper with four friends at Coquette. The food was as good as any food can be, possibly excluding manna of milk and honey. Hanger steak with mushrooms, caramelized onions, and a potato and bleu cheese "risotto" was sinfully delicious, as were the seared sea scallops on a bed of something made of potato and salt cod called a "brandade." This was accompanied by a roasted tomato relish, identified on the menu as a "tomato confit." The fancy names do add to the ambiance, but aren't always necessary for me to feel like we're having a special occasion.

The fill-them-yourself with both chocolate mousse and caramel sauce cream puffs that we had with our coffee were the perfect finish for the evening's meal. Happily, the service at Coquette was superb and silently attentive. Three hours and thousands of laughs and calories later, all involved pronounced the time together as "perfection."

I'm so happy to have something other than good old gluttony to blame when I pork out. "It must be my new medication." It's also comforting that one of my granddaughters has proclaimed that she will love me up to a thousand pounds.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

It Ain't Evangeline

I could handle anything when my kids were okay,
When my son went to his dad, I had nothing to say.
He and his daddy weren’t getting along
Was my decision to let my son go so wrong?

My daughter was now college-bound;
This decision seemed to be really sound.
With her cats, she moved to a college town apartment;
Though this wasn’t really my first-choice arrangement.

I constantly worried about her safety;
College kids didn’t seem very safe to me.
She told me to stop my motherly concern;
That she needed freedom, her own lessons to learn.

To my hometown I went, not meaning to stay,
But the man I had married pushed me away.
He closed my business; gave it to the bank;
This wasn’t something for which I gave thanks.

While waiting on results of medical tests
I stayed with a friend that loved me best.
My baby sister called me about then,
Saying she needed me to be her friend.

Another little sister called to say
That she and her baby were in harm’s way.
This sister also wanted me to make peace
With our mother, the person who loved me least.

After doing what I could to get all my “kids” safe;
I attempted to hide at my mother’s place.
My best friend forever from high school
Called to tell me that was against her rules.

She insisted that I was just the one
To get a friend of hers to join her in fun.
So, she introduced me to a single man
For whom she had marriage planned.

I went with him to a hospital dance,
Neither of us expecting a hint of romance.
A man of good humor, he seemed to me;
We made plans for the next night he was free.

We went to dinner where I grilled him
On why he never married, even on a whim.
Thus began quite a series of events,
Including a few peaceful moments.

But peace wasn’t what my life held
He knew this when, for me, he fell.
Often flying high, swinging on stars
To balance the sorrows that had left scars.

We've had more drama than a soap opera brings;
We attract broken people, pets, and things.
We are now bound forever, for good and for bad,
In the most exciting ride we've ever had.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Moral Man

The hardest job on earth is parenthood
Because we have to be so very good
But the second toughest is being
The wife of a moral man.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sister of My Soul

I couldn't have asked for a better present for my birthday;
My longest lasting friend came over to my house to play.
She's so busy with healing and making others happy
That we barely ever have time to be just "she and me."

She wanted to take me out, but I wasn't in the mood.
I made lunch; she always likes my way of preparing food.
We had a whole afternoon, just to ourselves;
There was much of our last few years in which to delve.

We had been separated too long, by too many miles,
Longing for the sight of each other's tears and smiles.
Like a sister, I'm a part of her and she's a part of me;
This is a bond from which we will never be truly free.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Play Days

Talk about two ends of the spectrum, from art to animals in less than a week.
One niece called me to do lunch, then we went to the museum to take a peek.
She had never been to NOMA, though she's quite an artist herself,
I thought that this introduction could give her creativity some help.

Then, another niece came over with her husband and their boys;
This time it wasn't for them to play with Richard and their toys.
We took them on a field trip to the Global Wildlife Center,
Where into the world of children's wildest dreams we can all enter.

There are four thousand deer of several species, camels, and zebras, too;
But this isn't simply viewing, like we have at any zoo.
We ride along in jungle trams, but to the boys, they're trains.
The tractor driver gets up-close; the tour guide calls the animals by name.

How much fun is it to feed a bison, and a giraffe, and her baby?
We were a little disappointed because these animals were being lazy,
So we actually only got to feed the aforementioned herds,
But the joy of the children of all ages was still too much for words.

The weather couldn't have been finer; we had a nice cool breeze.
The youngest child was lulled to sleep upon his daddy's knees.
It was a perfect kind of Sunday, even though we got home late.
For the Sunday roast that I had cooked, they really couldn't wait.

The daddy had to go to work, the mom had homework to do;
I was glad that of their busy hours, we were able to share a few
We'll be together again this week, to celebrate my birthday
Nothing is ever better than when the families come to play.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Today, the smell of dark roast coffee awakens us to our new reality.
Today, we are again on the harbor, just one door down from yesterday.
Today, there is roast to brown for our family's superb Sunday supper.
Today, we watched the babies feed the flocks at our conservation center.
Today, their daddy would be late to work, so we packed supper to go for them.
Today, I read and watch the sailboats, as he watches a little TV.
Today, there's a ring of sunset clouds, as we say good-bye to another day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Passion Play

What to do when words are simply superfluous?
How can we proceed when passion comes into play,
If all the many little bits of our reality
Continuing failing to line up the right way?

Where are we to store the energy
That seems always ready to explode,
When there are polite society things to do
And there's no time or place to unload?

We must make time to sing, and dance,
And paint our passions into action.
We must celebrate our bodies with others
Who give our souls deep satisfaction.

Run a fast race, hit a ball far,
Play a great tune on the piano,
Hug each other, oh so tight,
Swing as high as you can go.

Roll on the floor with laughter,
Give each other big high fives.
Don't hold it in, express it;
Passion is what keeps us alive.