Tampa

The PAD prompt for April 16th was to write a city poem.

a city on a bay
it’s a lightning city
with thunderstorms
and hurricanes
it’s a cigar city
with hand-rolled goodness
it’s a walking city
with people on the streets
day and night
it’s azalea and hibiscus
it’s  bougainvillea and palm trees
it’s Spanish music pouring from open windows 
with  ethnic markets and breweries
a river runs through it 
with alligators and a riverwalk
it’s neighbors and cracks in the sidewalk
it’s my city now

Moving Forward

I’m not one for looking for signs and wonders, but sometimes it’s just interesting how God can use seemingly insignificant things to direct our thoughts. I follow a blog called DC Widow that has been very helpful to me. Her post from March 11 was good, but it was a comment from a reader that got me started on the idea of moving forward. The reader, Steph, said, “Nora McInerny’s TED talk about not moving on but moving forward is spot on…” so, I looked it up and she was right.

At breakfast I picked up the AARP bulletin to scan it while I ate and the cover jumped out at me: “The Path Forward”.

AARP Bulletin

Then, at lunch I did the same with the latest copy of Southern News, from Florida Southern College. Inside was was an article heading “…move forward without forgetting the past.” Wow. It all goes together.

Southern News, Winter, 2021

I am moving forward, well, literally I’m moving south. In two weeks. I closed on my home in Tampa on March 5, then stayed there a week on an air mattress, painting walls and planning. At the end of each day I just drove 1.6 miles to my son’s house where I was fed and loved on. Now I’m finishing up packing and preparing for my third move since last May. It’s been exhausting, not just physically but emotionally. I have to keep stopping myself from the thoughts of “this isn’t how it was supposed to be”. I remind myself, rather, “this isn’t how we planned it.”

Carole King’s song, Anyone At All, comes to mind. I have loved that song ever since I saw “You’ve Got Mail” years ago. It felt like Our Song. It feels like it even more now.

“You’ve become a memory I can’t erase…” “It wasn’t in the plan, not that I could see…” “…that’s what catches me when I fall
I’m so glad it was you”

Where is home?

5/22/18 – Our backyard, Bham

“So my question was: What, dear Lord, is your purpose for my life? Where during the rest of my mortal years, is home? Ultimately, it is with you, Lord, but meanwhile I believe I am to make a home in the strange island of Manhattan for my granddaughters, who have been so good for me as they have been in college in New York, teaching me, pushing me, not allowing me to get into any kind of a rut. I believe, too, that our home is to be an open one, so that friends that are called to be briefly in the city have a welcoming place to stay.” – from The Rock That is Higher by Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle was thinking back to the time after her husband, Hugh, died. I love the fact that she lived with her granddaughters while they were going to college. I’m not going to be living WITH my grandchildren, but near them, Lord willing, very soon. I am under contract for a house and am waiting for inspections and all that entails. I am so excited I found a house just 1.6 miles from theirs. I want my home to be a haven for all who enter, whether family, friends or strangers.

A Perfect Summer Day

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Yesterday afternoon my daughter-in-law Claire remarked that it had been a perfect summer day. This is how it went…

About 10:00 my granddaughter Juliette and I walked a few blocks over to buy some produce from a neighbor who has a produce stand in operation on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Some is local, but much is purchased from Sanwa Farmer’s Market. Hey, love the convenience!

It was hot at 11:00, but watching the kids at their “Virtual Swim Meet” under an umbrella was just fine. The way the meet works is the kids swim with their team at their respective locations, the times are recorded, then compared to the others swimmers across the city to determine the rankings.

After the meet we had delicious fried chicken that was ordered and picked up to eat at home.

After playing Garbage and Uno, Juliette and I went with Claire on a little girls outing. First stop was Gulf Coast Sourdough   where I got three loaves to take home since I don’t know any place like this in Jacksonville. I chose Roasted Red Pepper, Turmeric & and Black Pepper and Rosemary Garlic.

Then we went to Lufka  where I filled a Mason jar full of handcrafted liquid hand soap and also purchased two bars of delightful  smelling soap. I love the idea that you can bring your own container to fill up and not waste a bunch of plastic.

By the time we got to Cleanse Apothecary, Juliette had had enough. We coaxed her in and she got a bath bomb while Claire and I treated ourselves to a few items.

Juliette’s endurance was rewarded at our last stop, Revolution Ice Cream. We got treats (mine was Coffee Oreo) for everyone and took them home to enjoy with the boys.

As I headed home to Jax, it was still 97º at 6:30. Ruby settled down in the back seat as I drove through the lush green of Ocala’s horse and cattle farms. I smiled passing through Lochloosa and thought about how right Claire was – it had been a perfect summer day.

After arriving home and unpacking most of the car, I had a grilled cheese with my Turmeric and Black Pepper Bread. Yes, it was 10:00 PM. But a fitting ending to a perfect summer day.

Throwback Thursday- Better than Abbey Road

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No, these aren’t the Beatles, but the Bells. This was taken only about two-and-a-half years ago, but it seems like it’s been a long time. It was a wonderful Thanksgiving Day celebrated in Tampa, Florida. The weather was perfect for eating outside and my daughter-in-law set a lovely table. What I remember most is not the food, though it was delicious as always, but the peacefulness I felt. It just seemed like the world slowed down that day and I enjoyed every minute, from taking pictures with my new camera and watching Ben and Everett play with bubbles to walking to the park.

I want to capture that again. Here, in my new home in Birmingham. I want to sit on my porch and listen to the train go by just over my back fence. I want to breathe in all the new scents and watch the birds and drink a large sweet tea with lemon in my wicker chair. I hope some of you can join me.