"...a simple act of creation and hospitality that any of us
can manage no matter what our cooking skills may be."
- Madeline Scherb from "A Taste of Heaven"
Mrs. Brady gave me a first-peek into the joy of attending culinary classes. At the time, I was all of eight years old and very pleased that Mrs. Brady took seriously my desire to learn to bake... her instruction was kind, patient and consistent. Mrs. Brady was only in our lives for a short time, but she lit a fire within me that has burned warmly throughout many years. To me, baking is as Madeline Scherb suggests, "a simple act of creation and hospitality" - and Mrs. Brady taught me that your love is the most important ingredient of all...
Rain is predicted for the whole weekend... last night's news reported that Southern California may even get snow in the valleys - not just on the mountaintops...
No snow that I can see this morning - only rainfall and an excuse to burrow more deeply into flannel sheets and indulge in a morning without alarms and schedules. I welcome this tucked-in rain reprieve and smile listening to the on-key chorus of birds happily taking their morning showers. And when I finally do look out the window, hot coffee cup in hand, the world is glazed over with tiny sparkles of freshness. I take the time to notice the "small silences between the leaves"... and welcome the peaceful offering.
Wishing you small silences and the cheerful song of spring's arrival...
"The creative mind plays with the objects it loves."
Led only by instinct and a small "for sale" sign oddly-hung on an aged and splinted Canadian barn door, my grandmother would enter into the deeply-shadowed barn without reservation. Somehow her tiny frame would drag out into the bright sunshine a long-discarded, caked-with-dirt desk that had seemingly said good-bye to a productive life years before. Even in the barn's darkness, she was somehow able to see that there was more life to be had! As the worn-out desk made the journey to her studio workshop a vision of hope would grow. Under the care of my grandmother's skilled hands and love, once tossed away items were rejuvenated... the desk dazzled with a rich cherry stain polished to new life. My grandmother believed in the simplicity of fresh starts and healing... of recognition and restoration of something tempered by age and refreshed by love.
Today... I wish you the gift of seeing the world through my grandmother's kind and caring instincts and vision...
"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live."
- Mark Twain "Taming the Bicycle"
What is it about just seeing a bike off in the distance that pedals you right back to some of the best rides? I loved learning to ride my first bike - I can still remember the parent-release and moving my legs and grabbing the handlebars and feeling oh so proud and oh so free! I have done many miles of riding since then, and I always experience the very same sense of freedom and wind-in-your-face joy. I can walk into a bike shop and get happy just seeing all the great new designs and gear. I especially like the simplicity of the Cruiser bikes.
Maybe today you will think of all the places you have been on a bike...
"Those who are interested in eating food that is locally produced,
not moved long distances to market, are called "locavores..." - wikipedia.org
Meandering local Farmer's Markets on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon is one of my favorite pastimes; therefore, I was rather astonished to find out, as I was doing research for an article, that there is a title for what I have been doing for sometime now. Without even realizing it, I have been a bit of a “locavore”… (My thanks to Dr. Dyjack who decided to blog about his month-long locavore experience… and for his introduction to the overall sustainability and eco-consciousness aspects of being a locavore.)
Today, as I wandered a local Farmer's Market, I had a chance to visit with Ron and Eva - the proud owners/farmers of Trethowan Organic Farms. I found out that it means something very important to them that they do not use pesticides or synthetic fertilizers on their 700+ fruit trees. When I asked them if they felt their work contributed to the good health of others, they looked soulfully at each other and then Eva said, “We just wish that many folks would not wait for serious illness to strike before they decided to take better care of themselves… they wait too long.” Obviously, Ron and Eva’s guavas, Tarracco Blood Oranges, and honey are cultivated with a fullness of heart and a strong dedication to supportive community and environmental practices.
I was glad for a gorgeous Sunday, meeting and being inspired by good folks like Ron and Eva, and that it is a simple pleasure to become a better locavore…
"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live."
- Irish Proverb
As I have mentioned, this blog is a rather new endeavor for me - initially started as a personal offering of simple inspiration. As with most things in life, if we bravely step the toe of our shoe to head out in a whole new direction, we become impressed by how the scenery looks far different than we had originally imagined... generally it is so much better. I think it is because we have opened up to experience and then we grow. Which is what is happening for me. My original idea for doing this blog does indeed seem to be Divinely inspired, as I had hoped it would be...but I did not know about the beautiful garden that would surround me as I write and share. Gracious family members, long-time friends, newer friends, just met friends, fellow bloggers have offered their personal parcels of love and generous support to grace my endeavor. This blog-home offers me the kindest place to share my thoughts and photos that make up a lot of what has served my life well. I embrace this new home of mine, and I am glad that you take time out from your day to come, sit and visit with me here in this place. In my heart, I bake each of you a pie... and I simply say thank you.
"Who do you think you are?" is a Friday night television series that explores the ancestry of various celebrities. I am utterly fascinated by the threads of talent that insist on expression through the generations of individuals who make up each family. Gifts for art, music, landownership, business, education, and social change are linked with terms like "my eighth grandparent." I am also impressed by how often a family lineage has carried on through the twists of hardships to create something better in their lives; in doing so, they altered next generations of their families and other families within their communities. Most of all, as I watch the stories, I come away with the hope of what it means to be an American, and how as Americans we are intertwined and shaped by the intricate weaving of individual hopes and dreams. We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us - it is up to us to have compassion and follow the call for choice that exists during our watch. We are a great nation because who we think we are does matter... and it just may be that an eighth generation grandchild will be watching... and become inspired...
"To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides."
A while ago I had this idea that I wanted to learn to make a really good pie crust - you know, that melt-in-your-mouth memorable pie crust that joins with butter and apples and speaks fluent American. So I focused on pie making, and then I decided to go a little further and focus on the two pies my sons love: French Apple and Lemon Meringue. Over many cheerful sessions, flour floated and drifted like snow all over counter tops and kissed my cheeks as I rolled out various versions of dough. Resolutely, I held on to the pleasure of my focus. I not only learned to create a better crust, I also began a family tradition. Who could have known that the simple act of making pie could teach me so much about the joy of focus and "feeling the sun from both sides"...
My profession has been particularly hard hit by the recession; however, taking a new position in response to the recession's influence has allowed me the opportunity to meet Josefina (a co-worker)...her unique friendship has become one of my life's unexpected gifts...
Josefina is originally from Oaxaca located in Southern Mexico - greater opportunities led her to the United States years ago; her culture and faith lovingly and shyly shine forth without her even being aware. Upon first meeting, my lack of knowing Spanish and her shy demeanor found us without many words to communicate, but what we did have was a simple and immediate "soul knowledge": we wanted to be friends. As the months have gone by, I have learned more Spanish and she has learned more English. Josefina has also taught me about her fascinating culture using such things as small banana-leaf packages of signature tamales and carefully chosen words to explain to me why her faith is so precious to her well being.
Along life's path, I have discovered that when we are faced with adversity, unexpected "flowerings" can occur to brighten the way. Out of the recession's unfairness an unforgettable gift of friendship and learning have appeared, and I am deeply blessed:
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."
After picking up my mail, I wandered over to Rhino Art to seek out a Valentine's gift... I found extravagant color everywhere in pens, papers, pastels, paints, displays... Of course, I am the one who fills up those too-tiny test scribble pads with bright wiggles and swirls (I wish they were bigger!). For less than $8, I left with a fistful of colorful pens and crayon-pastels tucked inside a small brown paper bag stamped with "Imagine Create"... I intend to do just that!
"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."
- Maya Angelou
On a barely warm sunlit spring morning, I sat under my large backyard tree savoring a cream-colored coffee. Although exceedingly pleasant, by most standards it probably would not have been considered very momentous. But then it changed in an instant… a clear flutter of numerous wings swooped all around in the leaves and branches overhead. Robins! Not just one, but eight Robins joined me and stayed on for a long while to playfully share my breakfast space. Commonplace became extraordinary… spring made its way into my heart on Robin’s wings…
Sometimes in nature, small events occur and go beyond anything that has been experienced before…and then they stay with us for always…
Yesterday, I received an email response from my long-time friend Jan. For many years - far beyond a ten-finger count - we have made time to commemorate each other's birthdays. The celebrations have taken on a precious jewel-like quality glimmering across time - we have met both in joy and sorrow. Life has naturally defined us; but, together as friends, we have created a delightful, sweet harmony of kind consideration. We owe our friendship a debt of gratitude... within it's composition we have found added grace to become better women...
Who are the friends who have blessed you with finer definition and gifted you with a grateful heart?
instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer,
is to keep your soul alive."
- Robert Louis Stevenson
What does your heart go out to?
Yesterday, while in a specialty shop, I heard a sweet voice across the way exclaiming glee. When I followed to the source of joy, I found a tiny 18-month-old clothed in delicate femininity; she had already hooked a soft bright yellow duckie purse, it's price tag dangling, over her ruffled sleeve. I bent down to ask her if she liked the duckie purse more than a pink bunny purse hanging close by. Her deep chocolate eyes and gesture of more tightly clutching the duckie purse spoke volumes to me. Children, unmarred by decades of marketing influence, seem far closer to knowing their heart's desires... and, more so, they are willing to stay with their desire. They understand more about leading with your heart...
Today, you might follow the little girl's lead to distinguish and then stay with your heart's desire...
Who knows, you just may find that Chanel has nothing on a duckie purse...
"The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life.
It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started."
- Norman Cousins
What road have you chosen to travel? Which direction are you headed? In my work, I am surrounded by small business owners. Recession road-weary, I become unexpectedly invigorated by the spirit of these entrepreneurs who confidently challenge grim economics with their life energy and clear direction. What I notice is that they seem to share a key quality: a simple belief in themselves and their ability to grow a thriving business. I find significant hope in their tenacity and direction of faith to expand possibility!
And, I also smile and think: How very American of them!
"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage."
In the moments not long before a newborn’s birth, “exits” curiously come into view. Cleverly disguised within the departures are bursts of freshness poised for courageous appearance. Mother and father join baby as old roles depart and new ones begin. Even grandparents go through a novel transformation as the child of their child brilliantly enters the world.
I like that my granddaughter was born on the cusp of spring, in a time when newness brings with it a soft song of expectation. If I stand still long enough, I believe I can feel a sweet breeze waving goodbye to a season’s end and bringing with it a new song for me to sing... I will be glad to learn the words.
"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on."
- Carl Sandburg
I was there in the moment... the very moment my granddaughter took her very first intake of air. We breathe in and out without even thinking... I assure you, that single breath was captured forever in thoughtfulness. I will remember the miraculous qualities of that breath for all the rest of my days.
Someday, I would like to take her to Paris, France. I want to kiss her on the cheek in Paris and say to her: "Please let me introduce you to Paris - you will now see it with someone who will love you forever..." I desire to see the world from her perspective, and to watch her unfold into her own beautiful, signature self. These are among the thoughts that begin to form at the moment of that unforgettable first intake of breath...
Yes, indeed... the world will go on... and a sweet shining star is now among us to light a new pathway.
I have always been inspired by my Grandfather's particular generosity and encouragement, along with his love for others and nature. His spirit lives on, and the influence is quietly with me as I write and share. This is my small offering that I pray will bless others and allow them to become Simply Inspired. warmly, karen -xok.
Unless otherwise indicated, the photos and writings are by Karen Holmes. You may link; however, the material on this blog is copyrighted and requires consent for duplication. For permission to use information from this site, please contact Karen Holmes via email. Thank you for your consideration.