“One Of These Mornings You’re Gonna Rise Up Singing”*

I haven’t been writing much for the past two months for reasons I hope to blog about soon. Basically, life has gotten in the way. This is a post from a couple of years ago that still makes sense. I’m surprised by how consistent I am. I edited a little and the photos are new.

WE ARE RACING TOWARD SUMMER, AREN’T WE?

It’s feels to me, after such a long and difficult winter, that spring lasted no time at all. April seemed to go by in the blink of an eye and incredibly, we celebrated the unofficial start to summer last weekend with Memorial Day.

When I realized we were quickly coming to summer’s front door, I initially had an anxiety attack thinking of all the springtime activities and chores I haven’t yet gotten done. (As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a list maker.) But then I relaxed and allowed myself to think about the things I have enjoyed this spring, which is a much healthier exercise.

I was fortunate enough to watch the progression of buds to blooms to leaves on the trees and the pushing up of flowering plants from inside the ground to up  toward the sun.

I put the first of this year’s tomato plants and herbs into the garden. While planting the herbs, I held some aside to make some air fresheners, teas and lotions. I naturally have more energy come spring so I’ve been walking in the nature preserve to bird watch and I got to see goslings make their initial appearance at the pond’s edge.  Also, after talking about it ALL winter, I finally got to take the little people to the playground for a game of Hide ‘n Peek Seek. I engaged in each of those activities and enjoyed them completely in the moment as they happened. So if it seems that the springtime flew by, it is only in retrospect.

I hope you enjoyed your spring and that summer will be an equally wonderful set of precious moments for you. I hope you’ll find the recipes below useful. And lastly, I hope you had a great Memorial Day and thanks so much for reading.

*Lyric from “Summertime” by DuBose Heyward from Porgy and Bess

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Baking Soda Air Fresheners

Mason jars
Baking soda
Essential oils, I use lavender, rosemary or lemon
Dried herbs (optional)
Fill the jars to 3/4 with baking soda, leaving a little room on top. Add about 5 or more drops essential oils and stir. Sprinkle on top about a tablespoon of matching herbs to whichever oil you’ve used. (Some people punch holes in the jar lids and screw them on. I never bother, preferring to leave the jars topless.) Shake gently occasionally to reactivate the oils. The lingering aroma will be subtle but fabulously fragrant.

 

DIY Lotion

2 oz Shea Butter
2 oz Vitamin E oil
1 oz Jojoba oil
1 oz Lanolin
1/2 tsp essential oil
All of these measurements are approximate. I find its good to play with the proportions so you get just the right mixture for your skin type. Also, I cut the amount of Lanolin from the original recipe because I don’t care for the smell.

Blue Blazes

Is it me? Man, it feels hot! As I’ve written about before, one of the reasons I moved to Virginia from Massachusetts was for the weather. I don’t like cold and I love the heat but man, it’s been hot here lately. When I came here in the summer of 2012 I relished the 90 degree days. I’d compare temperatures on my Yahoo Weather app and then call my sisters back in New England and ask them with stifled laughter if they were chilly. There were fifty 90 plus degree days that year and I rejoiced. So far this year there have been 52 and I’m uncomfortable.

Is it me? What’s different this year? Is it because 2013 and 2014 weren’t as hot? Did my Boston bred body reboot? These last couple of days, I thought my car thermometer was broken because it read 90 every damn time of the day and night. That was until yesterday when it read 93. And today it read 95!  I was actually annoyed to see a group of high-school students, during only the second day of the new school year, practicing band OUTSIDE, laughing and dancing. How dare they look fresh as little daisies while I look like a wilted brown-eyed susan, bent over in the heat.  And I’m tired of seeing skinny, good-looking young women in cute sundresses and Michael Kors sandals. I need for them to need to cover up.

Every morning for what seems like a month, as I sip my morning coffee (ice coffee), I hear the words “hazy, hot and humid” coming from the local TV meteorologist. I’ll give it to her, she has tried to change it up a bit lately by using expressions like, “trending above normal” and “summer continues” but we all know it just means it’s hot as hell. As a matter of fact, there was a fire in a field nearby a couple of days ago and the combination of the heat and red glow made me wonder if I’d slipped, bumped my head and now… Anyway, I’m not tolerating it well. I feel as if someone soaked a lead x-ray apron in water and threw it on my chest. The only consolation is that I’m not the only one. I’ve seen other folks huffing and puffing as they push grocery carts to their cars in supermarket parking lots under the blazing sun. And I was behind a man in FedEx today whose shirt back was completely wet with sweat even though the AC was on full blast. Earlier this afternoon,  I was stopped by the neighborhood dog walker who told me he’d never understood the term “hot as blue blazes” until today. Speaking of the neighborhood, I’m just moving in this week, this incredibly hot week, and three of my boxes collapsed  from the sweat on my hands. I’ve already written off the 3 new neighbors who asked, “Is it hot enough for ya?”

The forecast is for cooling in the next few days, a quick change which is good, I guess.  I thought I’d remembered there being a transitional period in August, a cooling off period, a winding down time between pool days and apple picking days. But that’s probably a memory created by classroom posters. When I was in elementary school I more than likely I went to the first day in shorts gratefully washed by my mother just like every other kid in my grade. So, right now I’ll wait with heavy, congested breath for the cold front I hear tell is about to pass through. Now watch, I’ll post this and tomorrow I’ll be looking for my sweater.

How about where you are? Has it been devilish hot where you live? Do you see a change in recent weather patterns?

Why You Won’t Be Seeing Us Real Soon

 It’s been a little while since I posted.  I have a few pieces in the pipeline so I  hope to post more during the summer. But there’s been a lot going on around here, the best of which was finishing the first draft of my first novella, “Ties That Bind”. I ‘ll talk about that experience on my other blog,  BusyWritingLife.

The other stuff is mainly around family, some good, some bad which are the subjects I’ll be sharing this summer. And speaking of which;

 

Yeah, Disney, about that…..

Wikimedia

We’ve been thinking about doing a family vacation this summer. There are young’ens in our clan so, naturally, when I threw out the vacation idea, Disneyland was mentioned by their parents as a possibility. I grew up in the counter-culture days and tend to think of myself as a social reform type so at the Disney suggestion the only response that came to my mind was, as one of the other family members says, “hashtag, I can’t”. But I was pointedly reminded by one daughter that as I was bringing her up, I pushed Disney like a Oxycontin dealer.

I admit it’s true. I enjoyed a lot of Disney movies, both as a child and as an adult. When I became a mother, the memories of feelings I had as a child for Snow White and Cinderella overcame my supposed highly developed social sense. My emotional need was to share those memories with my kids. I wanted them to give them what I thought I’d gotten out of the films. It was a knee-jerk response to parenthood. And, truth be told, I continued to get with the Disney program. As a matter of fact, The Little Mermaid was a special bonding experience for me and that same daughter. Her favorite song was Part of That World and mine was Under the Sea. Some things never change…

…And some things do. So, I changed my mind. Sue me. (Oh that’s right, daughter can because she’s an attorney now. Take that Arial!)  It was right around the Aladdin years that I noticed a change in my attitude toward Disney films. I was starting to become bothered by the things like historical contexts and language. Why is a princess using an expression like, “at your service?” And why a princess? Why always a princess?! By the time Pocahontas was released I was suspicious of all the basic Disney themes. (Actually during one point in that movie, in a theater, my sister and I both stood and shouted, ‘Oh c’mon!”)  I started questioning what it was I actually did get from those old “classics” in terms of gender roles, class distinctions and cultural perspective. I realized that as an evolved, modern, African-American woman, I needed a new cartoon vision that matched my mood. (Haha.) That’s when I started boring my kids with “responsible” TV shows like Captain Planet. We stopped going to Disney movies and instead I brought home videos like Ferngully, The Last Rainforest”. The only Disney distributed movie I let into the house was The Brave Little Toaster. It scared the shit out of them and began the “reading era” of their childhood. As a result, when they criticize me about that time, as they still do, it’s in very literate terms.

Did I do the right thing by casting a jaundice eye on Disney and sharing my misgivings with my kids or was I the throw back hippie hypocrite they feel I was? I’m not sure but I’m still going to take a pass on dunking the grandkids in the Disney kool-aid as our summertime fun. Maybe I’ll suggest a hiking trip in the mountains instead. Now, please excuse me. We have a birthday party this afternoon and I have to go wrap an Elsa’s Frozen Palace play set.

Busy. Writing. Life.

I can’t believe it’s autumn again already. I was very busy over the summer and it passed by very quickly. I traveled quite a bit, I rooted around the area of the DMV for yet more insight into its history and I spent a lot of time outside. I’m in love with Rock Creek Park, Great Falls Park and Glen Carlyn Nature Preserve, having had the pleasure of hiking all three during the warm months.

Great Falls
Great Falls
Glen Carlyn
Glen Carlyn

 

 

 

 

 

 

I joined a second faith community to strengthen my practice and for service work. I’m also always trying to find work that PAYS. Oh, and I grew tomatoes!

Bumper Crop!
Bumper Crop!
I admit I had a lot going on last summer...
I admit I had a lot going on last summer…

 

But not as much as my neighbor did
But not as much as my neighbor did

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was especially busy writing. I spent more time writing during the summer than I ever have. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this blog as a result. Most of my writing energy was spent on other forms rather than blogging. So now, I find myself knee-deep in work on my first novel as well as poetry and short stories. I have a couple of pieces out for submission to literary magazines and contests. Nothing has been published yet but I’m happy with the work, which feels great. I also increased my involvement with three writers groups (both physical and online). All of this has left me with little time for the amount and type of writing I was used to doing for Stop Along the Way.

So what do you think I should do? Here are my choices as I see them right now;

  • Close Stop Along the Way after a wonderful four year ride.
  • Change it to a creative writing space and post my workshopped pieces here.
  • Narrow the scope of this blog to pieces that focus on spirituality, create a new blog for humor pieces and keep everything else for the groups.
  • Leave it as is, post when I can and hope for the best.

I’d love some advice from my fellow bloggers about the situation. I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I don’t know which direction to go in. I try to write everyday but there’s also “life”. So, how do I blog, write the other stuff and still have time for things like family, health and paying the bills? Please weigh in!  

To Market, to Market……

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Is there any thing better than the fresh produce available at this time of year? I certainly don’t feel there is.

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Going to the farmers market: the colors, smells and interacting with other people. It’s a complete experience for me.

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Preparing the produce is a lesson in mindfulness: slowing down time, listening to the birds while I cut and chop.  I try to really taste the food and appreciate it.

Where I live in the mid Atlantic area of the United States, it seems as though the winter offers only limited agricultural products; apples, oranges and the roots of plants. They are wonderful in their own right, they’re just not my favorites. I gravitate toward the kinds of produce available during the warm seasons. I love the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, tender lettuces and lots of fresh herbs. It’s one of the many, many advantages of summer. One of my favorite recipes that uses vegetables available now at  farmers markets is Pasta with Greens and Tomatoes. I’ve added to the Heaven’s menu page.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Summer’s Loose Ends

So Long Summer

Tomorrow is an uber-symbolic end of summer. It’s September 1st and the start of the Labor Day weekend. I’m sure I’m not the only one thinking ahead with excitement and/or anxiety to the fall. Before I start writing about what the southern autumn is like for me, there are a few things I feel the need to mention.

Hey, movingmuse.wordpress.com, I do love it here in Virginia and yes it is warmer than Boston! Urbanwallart.wordpress.com, see you in Williamsburg!

I’ve added my Twitter address to the sidebar. I’ve held out until now because I felt safe to unleash my meaner side there. Now I see that I wasn’t all that mean and more importantly, I’m a whole person whatever and wherever I write. (Thank you Anne et al for the insight.) I feel all right with myself as I am so I don’t need to hide an aspect of my personality. I’m mindful that feeling all right is a blessing as well. So, on Twitter I was Snarkyhere but now I’m SnarkyNoMo.

Lastly, I had the wonderful fortune to see the rising of tonight’s “Blue Moon”. (If you’ve read this blog before you know that I consider myself a moon maniac.) My friend the moon was stunning tonight.Of course the moon itself wasn’t blue. It was a deep cream-colored orb against a dusky blue sky. As it was explained in today’s LA Times,

A blue moon doesn’t mean the moon will actually change color–it’s the rare occurrence of two full moons occurring in the same calendar month. (The first full moon in August happened on Aug. 1.)

Next month’s full moon on September 30th will be the “Harvest Moon” and it doesn’t get more autumnal than that.

Enjoy your Labor Day weekend. Throw a little something on the grill for me.

Summering in Gratitude

The Love of Livie

I’M a very happy person right now. Circumstances have coalesced so as to give me the opportunity to be away from my “regular” life this summer. I’m spending the time basking in love and light. The love comes in the person of my beautiful one year old granddaughter who I’m looking after. (Don’t go making  judgements about my age. You don’t know what the deal might be. LOL.)  The light comes from the place. I’m living south of my permanent home. I love the weather here. I’ve written in the past about how much I dislike the cold and dark and being here seriously makes me question why I live where I do.

Because there will be a lull in my usual responsibilities, the plan is for me to do a lot of writing. I’ve already started and the topics are popping into my head at breakneck speed. Some of them I’ll be sharing in this blog. My location leads me to want to write about the Civil War and race history in this country. And I think I’m going to try to tackle feelings about growing older (yeah, it’s the grandmother thing. I said, don’t judge!) I always write about spirituality and religion so I’ll continue to do that. Last but not least, I’m definitely going to write about gratitude. I’m so grateful to be in this position this summer. I’m aware that it’s enviable and a blessing. At this point I feel as though the bridge that the waters of my life have flowed under may be gone but I sit in a boat of gratitude floating onward.

Are there any summertime topics you think I should write about? Please let me know by posting a comment. Help me make this time well spent!

Summer Meditation

I read “The Bow” this morning (please see 1st post 12/25/10) and then went for a walk. I just got back. It was wonderful and I want to share my thoughts without my usual two-day  editing process. So here goes…

Starting out with newly downloaded music dictating my stride.”Tinariwen” singing from “Water is Life”.

It’s the kind of July morning I wait for all year. The cloudless blue sky, the sun hot on my shoulders until I wipe them with dew from heavy, ivy leaves that cling to stone walls. What’s Nicki saying? “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.”

Smiling at the bunny gazing at a front yard garden contemplating “what to have, what to have….? Sharing the bunny smile with passing drivers who smile back. And sharing those smiles with dog walkers who really do look like their dogs. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.”

Reaching the cemetery I feel the pain it takes to put loved ones to rest and the love that remains.  Grief is the place in our hearts where those loved ones live and it’s good to know where that is. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” 

Geese fly low overhead and I suddenly realize, this is Yoga! I’m so grateful for this breathe. I’m grateful for all of it. I’m grateful that I continue the 20 year walk away from my demons. “I’m not lucky, I’m blessed.” 

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And now a note about the music mentioned in this post. I enjoy exploring “world music”. Among many other great finds, this year I was introduced to the music of the Tuareg people of the Sahara. Tinariwen is a Tuareg band. (There is a song on my “I Saw God” playlist titled “Ansari”. It’s by the group Tartit. They are also a Tuareg band.) I strongly recommend checking the music out. It’s a great genre with a very interesting history. Although I was familiar with the music, I found out about Tinariwen through the organization “Playing for Change”. Their stated mission is “Connecting The World Through Music”. Please check the website, http://playingforchange.com. You’ll be amazed at the music you’ll discover. National Geographic also has a place on their website entirely dedicated to world music. The web address is worldmusic.nationalgeographic.com. Lastly, for those of you who haven’t already figured it out, the Nicki I refer to is Nicki Minaj, rapper extraordinaire, the song , “Moment 4 Life”.  The details on both references is on my Music page.

Peace and Love.