Monthly Archives: September 2012

Silver and Gold Friendships

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Friendship – what a great creation that was!  To have at least one, really close, long lasting friendship is an absolute treasure.  In Girl Scouts, we used to sing a song with this refrain:  “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.”  I think about those lines every time I talk with Marty or Virginia.  Marty is my “silver” friend.  At 30, she is a generation younger than I.  Virginia, at 93, is my “gold” friend, because she is about a generation and a half older.

I met them both at church.  Marty was in high school and active in the youth group.  I happened to be one of the youth leaders for that group.  She and I just hit it off.  I’ve always admired her artistic talents and sense of humor; we stayed in touch while she was in college.  She came back to the area after graduation, started working and we were in the same knitting group for a while.  Now, she’s married and living about an hour or so away.  We stay in touch via email and Facebook and try to get together a couple of times a year.  I told Marty (and her mom) that I would claim her as my daughter in a second.

Virginia and I always seemed to end up sitting on the same pew (we both preferred to be towards the back).  She sat next to the aisle and I probably sat about mid-way down the pew.  It was an evolution of sorts as we got used to seeing each other, then speaking, then finally, sitting next to each other.  She called me her “other daughter” and I felt like I was with my maternal grandmother who had passed away years before.  Virginia’s daughter lives in Miami and several years ago moved her mother there so they could be closer as Virginia aged.  We stay in touch through telephone calls and handwritten notes.

We’ve shared joys and heartaches over the years.  I’ve learned more about graceful acceptance from both of them as Marty’s first baby and daughter died at birth and Virginia left her home, friends and community, without complaint, to live in Florida at her daughter’s request.


This picture was taken at a baby shower for Marty held in August.  She and I are holding a photo of Virginia.  On her lap is an old family teddy bear she has been keeping for her first great-grandchild. Since this photo was taken, we have celebrated the safe arrival of Marty’s first son and Virginia’s first great-grandson.

May the blessings of silver and gold friendships be a part of their lives and yours!

A Little Respect, Please

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As we transition from summer to fall, vegetable lovers everywhere are mourning the season’s end of some of their favorites.  Perhaps the loss felt most deeply is that of the tomato, the vegetable that comes in more colors than Joseph’s coat.  No true tomato lover will bother with anything other than fresh off the vine.

However, one summer vegetable continues to grow to new heights:  the humble okra.  My plants are just over six feet tall now and will grow at least another two before I take them out for the year.

This stately garden giant is either loved or hated.  Often maligned for being slimy, okra has so much more to offer than the average vegetable.  It is the only one that provides a beautiful flower, evidence of its family relationship with the hibiscus–creamy, pale yellow petals with a deep burgundy center.

The pods can be pickled, canned or frozen.  They can be dried and make a great crunchy snack.  Stir fried with a little olive oil, garlic and salt is a quick fix for supper.  They can be stewed and play well with the above mentioned tomato.  Finally, if you eat nothing else fried, sacrifice your restriction for a little fried okra.  It should be hot, crunchy and not greasy.

You can make gumbo without the roux; you cannot make gumbo without okra.

Our newest neighbors from African countries often leave the pods in favor of cooking with the leaves.  And if you leave the pod long enough, it grows to what I call weapon size.  Oversized pods can be dried and used in a variety of craft projects.

We once had a guy come to the house to give us an estimate on putting in a new deck.  The okra plants were almost as tall as the deck floor.  I knew he was not familiar with okra when he looked at the plants, looked at us, looked at the plants again and then asked me, rather hesitatingly, “Is that hooch?”

Clearly, many among us have no respect for this versatile vegetable.  I hope this exposition on its many fine qualities will help bring some of you over to the sunny side of loving the humble okra.

Portable Peace

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View from Beech Mountain

Beach or mountains – do you have a favorite?  That’s a frequently asked question around here.  Living in central North Carolina means I don’t have too far a drive to either the beach (+/- 4 hours) or the mountains (+/- 2 hours).  That makes “getting away from it all” pretty easy and I’m happy to go in either direction.

I was in the Blue Ridge for a couple of days this past week with my two sisters.  As we were out and about, we discussed the merits of both locations.  We grew up going to the beach more frequently with extended family and friends around.  There was always so much to do – a necessity for kids and sometimes, adults.  Sand between your toes, the wind in your face and the hypnotic sound of waves breaking – it’s a package deal.

Not so with the mountains.  Even in the noisiness of a busy sidewalk café in Blowing Rock, there’s something inherently quiet in the shadow of those dark blue and gray hills.  When I look at a picture of the ocean, I need the rest of the package to feel like I’m there.  When I look at a picture of the mountains, I have a greater feeling of being there, even though I’m far away.  It’s that quiet, that peace and it’s portable.

The best of both worlds?  To be able to sit on the side of the mountain while looking at the ocean; Maine and Maui come to mind.

Whichever is your favorite, I hope you’ve figured out how to pack it up and take it with you.  That’s what holds us over ‘til the next time.

Complementary Compliments

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I don’t get too charged up about compliments.  It is a nice practice to speak words of encouragement and a simple remark like “You look great today!” can really lift someone’s spirits.  But too often, compliments can be like “the handshake that hides the snake.” *

“Wow, that’s some shirt!” says nothing and everything.  The other day as I crossed paths with a guy on the sidewalk, he said, “Hey pretty lady.  You look good for over 40.”  I laughed; it was funny.  But it was certainly a bass-ackward compliment.

Not long ago, I received what I consider a very real compliment.  I don’t believe my co-worker was aware she was giving a compliment, but I heard it and was deeply touched by it.  We were talking about pet names for loved ones, her great grandchildren in particular.  As she began to share something with me, she started by saying, “I can say this to you.”  She then finished her comments.

She and I are probably pretty close in age, but our ethnic backgrounds and our lives are very different.  “I can…” means she trusts me with her thoughts.  “…say this…” means she trusts me enough to say the words aloud without fearing the possible reaction to those words.  “…to you.” means that we really have a relationship.  That six word sentence made my day.  I have safely tucked it away in my heart with other treasures.

Look for an opportunity to give such a gift.  And pay attention – someone may be trying to do the same for you.  You don’t want to miss it!

*(Smiling Faces Sometimes, written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, my favorite version recorded by Undisputed Truth in 1971.)