Saturday, September 29, 2012

Simply TeaVine: An invitation to explore


This 1800s cabin is one of two cabins ready for bed and breakfast guests. (Photo from Meador Homestead website)


After a Simply TeaVine luncheon tea Tuesday, Dean Meador Smith, tearoom owner, invited our little group to tour two rustic cabins that constitute the Meador Homestead Bed and Breakfast.

Dean and her husband Eddie Smith, are proprietors and innkeepers. (Photo from Meador Homestead website)


The original cabin is a dogtrot. According to Wikipedia here, a dogtrot house historically consisted of two log cabins connected by a breezeway or "dogtrot", all under a common roof. Typically one cabin was used for cooking and dining while the other was used as a private living space, such as a bedroom. The dogtrot house is typically one or 1.5-stories. The two rooms are about 18 to 20 feet (5.5 to 6.1 m) wide and each opens on to the open-ended central hall or “dogtrot.”

The cabin we explored also had front and back porches that extended the width of the entire structure, all under one roof. Similar to our luncheon experience with the tearoom, a pleasing blend of family heirlooms and finds with modern comfort furnished both the original cabin and a second cabin constructed more recently.

The newer cabin has a rustic look but includes “indoor plumbing” to accommodate guests who prefer not to go back in time to the extent of making treks to the separate “outhouse,” no matter how modern the restroom and bathing facilities.

I have to say, the huge copper bathtub of vintage design was something to see in the new cabin. I would have loved a photo of that tub, but by the time we made our way to the second cabin, I had barely enough energy left to enjoy the interesting d├ęcor that creatively featured the Meador family history.

Here are some snapshots from the historic family cabin, the first we visited.

In the cabin’s bedroom a crocheted canopy adorns the 1856 rope bed made by the current cabin owner’s great-great-grandfather. He presented the bed to his bride on their wedding day.

An 1856 wedding present

Hot-water-bottle foot warmer rests atop a vintage bedspread.

A cradle and hand-quilted coverlet also furnish the bedroom.

A sitting parlor across the breezeway is the second room of the two-room cabin. (Photo from the Meador Homestead website)


Vintage games await overnight guests.

The sound of a burbling copper tea kettle fountain and a gentle breeze flowing through the open dogtrot invite guests to enjoy rockers and a slower pace on the cabin’s front and back porches.

A whimsical fountain purchased from a craftsman exhibiting at the annual Mistletoe Market in Jackson. MS.

A child’s bonnet and rocking chair are additional reminders of earlier times.

Friday, September 28, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: A Simply TeaVine day


Lunch at Hattiesburg’s rustic Simply TeaVine tearoom. From the left are three sisters, my cousins Judy, Wanda, and Carolyn; my sister-in-law Lila, and me.

Tuesday was for me a happy reunion of the special ladies pictured above. They were among the ministering angels to my mother and me after my stroke and during the closing months of my mother’s life last year. And their presence and support offered comforting strength during my mother’s last days.

Judy, knowing that hot tea is my preferred hot beverage, alerted me to a new tearoom in Hattiesburg, the hometown of my youth. A visit to Simply TeaVine’s web site intrigued me, and a conversation with owner Dean Meador Smith started arrangements falling into place.

Lila gave me possible dates that she could join us for lunch and also transport us both to the Hattiesburg destination. Carolyn coordinated with the sisters’ schedules. I made reservations and consulted with Dean about the menu.

Finding the establishment was an adventure. It is tucked away on a pristine and peaceful 3.5 acres. Once we were on the property there were no clues that we were surrounded by commercial and industrial establishments along a busy highway.

Our table awaits.
Another unexpected delight was that our luncheon was set up outdoors, near the family’s 1885 log cabin and the cabin’s “glorified outhouse,” a recent addition that appears vintage but contains a commercial kitchen and modern restroom and shower facilities for the cabin which is now part of Meador Homestead B and B.

The table was beautifully prepared for our arrival, with a perfect environment of privacy, quiet, a comfortable temperature and a view of the surrounding woods, meadow, and pond.

We visited the kitchen and a condensed version of the Simply TeaVine gift shop. A bit of shopping ensued.


Owner Dean and friend Peggy pause in their preparations to fulfill my request for a photo with their cookbook.

In addition to operating Simply TeaVine, Dean and Peggy also assembled Ms. Sippy, a cookbook of recipes featuring the tearoom’s fare. Dean’s second cookbook is set to debut soon. It features recipes of family and friends with the stories behind the recipes. If the descriptions of some of the teas given on their web site is any indication, the combination of history, food and tea will be a good, and tasty, read.

Dean and Peggy created an atmosphere that made us feel like old acquaintances welcomed into a friendly home where hospitality is a priority.

Peggy delivers a glass of iced raspberry tea.

We were surrounded by the thoughtful planning of visual treats, eats and tea.

Engaging cherubs display fresh flowers on a serving tray.

Unique delivery of the tea menus 
Our selection of the two teas that accompany the luncheon became a ceremony with the arrival of our tea menus in an embroidered and embellished fabric pocket.

After a lively discussion we agreed on the University of Southern Mississippi-inspired Black-Eyed Susan tea since several of our group had ties to the university in Hattiesburg. From the Web site’s description of the tea:

“Black-Eyed Susan—A black, flavored tea with peach pepper taste and flower blossoms

“The flower that gave the University of Southern Mississippi its black and gold colors brings us this special USM tea! USM has played an important part not only in the community but in the Meador family’s history as well.”

Dean delivers our Black-Eyed Susan tea.

The charming tea cozy that kept the teapot and tea hot had the needle-and-thread wizards in our group wanting to examine the cozy to determine how to construct one.

The Paradise Luncheon salad plate

The Paradise Luncheon included Adams and E’s Paradise Chicken Salad, garden salad, fruit, scone, banana bread and Dean's Cheese Delight.

Clotted cream and lemon curd, mouth-watering spreads for the scone

We took Dean’s recommendation of apple and spice, an herbal tea, to accompany the Iron Skillet Apple Pie dessert. In the midst of my apple pie and ice cream induced ecstasy, I forgot to take a photo.

Even though I traveled back home carrying about two additional pounds, it was a simply “teavine” day.

And I am a sucker for puns. For me the tearoom’s word play on “simply divine” was lagniappe.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Climbing DNA


Grandson Walker scales the heights of Mt. Kenmore.

Our daughter-in-law Katie snapped the photo above on her iPhone. Grandson Walker was determined to achieve a goal, maybe to plunder something his parents had stored out of his reach atop the refrigerator.

The location, refrigerator and century are different, but the determined little body looks remarkably similar to his daddy’s at the same age. The difference is that our youngest son Jeremy’s hands were not grasping a refrigerator door. Instead he was holding to the woodwork that framed the passage between living room and kitchen in our home. He would hold on and with his bare feet, “walk” up the woodwork from floor to the top of the door.

I borrowed the image of Walker from The Daily Skup here. Katie captured Walker’s preparation for the climb. He had swept the refrigerator door clear of magnets and artwork and pushed his little step stool into position as a launching pad. She had a number of photos but never found out what he was after.

Perhaps it was just the challenge. Or could it be a matter of his gene pool?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Pride goeth before a fall


Recently I have ranted digitally, verbally to my husband and mentally to myself as as the result of reading some of the free Kindle books. I was grinding my teeth at the authors’ carelessness or ignorance of the correct words. Their crime against the English language was use of a word that is pronounced the same but is spelled differently and has a different meaning from the word called for by the context.

I have even started a post about it. But now I am thinking I may not finish that post and will approach other writers’ faults with a bit more humility and a little less (self?)righteous indignation.

The reason is that I just posted a comment, where I cannot remember, and used “there” instead of “their” or vice versa. That embarrassing error and others are somewhere out there in cyberspace, reminding me to follow the Biblical admonition to get the log out of my own eyeball before I try to remove the speck out of someone else’s eye.

And even more humiliating is the fact that I was so enjoying my ranting!

Joy to all and grammatically correct sailing in the new week.

Friday, September 21, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: On the bridge again


Paddling on a surfboard? (Photo by Ann Losset)
Hooray! Two days in a row walking on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. There is always something new to see or experience on the bridge. Today walking buddy Ann pointed out a figure silhouetted amidst the sparkles of reflected sunlight. Was that guy standing up while paddling a surfboard toward the bridge?

A lady with good balance
We kept watching the paddler’s progress as we eased down the bridge’s incline. Ann said it was not a male but a female propelling that board through the water with an air of complete confidence. I would like to know more about that transportation choice.

At the end of our walk, Ann held on to my gait belt as I tried to capture images of Gulf fritillaries and a number of other butterfly species decorating some white flowers by the steps leading to the bridge.

Charlie, a new Ocean Springs resident
During my totally unsuccessful attempts to capture the extravagant butterfly show, we met Charlie. He had bought a sailboat and retired to Ocean Springs in January after a career in education. Early in his career he was a classroom teacher. He devoted the majority of his years in the educational system to serving as principal of schools in a number of Mississippi districts.

In our brief chat we learned enough about his philosophy of public school administration to realize that Mississippi had lost a valuable asset upon his retirement. Charlie had cheered me on as he passed Ann and me at the start of our walk. His said his father had had a stroke. Charlie was familiar with some of the frustrations stroke survivors experience.

And he was encouraging. I would never have chosen to have a stroke. But the people who have gone out of their way to help and encourage me, even in brief encounters, are contributing so much to my recovery.

0.4-mile marker

Gulf coast fishing and crabbing depicted at the 0.4-mile marker
And on the subject of recovery, Ann and I made it a bit farther than the 0.4-mile marker today, another one-tenth of a mile under my belt, under my gait belt, that is. That means more than 0.8-mile total.

Wahoo! Linda at 0.4 mile. A great day for walking! Thank you, Ann. (Photo by Ann Losset)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: 0.3 miles and the bridge blues



.03-mile marker

This morning was an exhilarating bridge walk with walking buddy Pat. She and one of her regular walking companions made the bridge’s entire length and back yesterday, more than three miles.

In contrast, I am definitely an irregular walking buddy, although my gait does continue to improve. Today Pat matched her pace to my progress, much slower than her normal speed. At the 0.3-mile marker we celebrated the pushing of my bridge-walking distance one-tenth mile farther than any of my previous bridge walks.
My 0.3-mile jaunt

I did experience a bit of the bridge blues--literally. The sun was so bright, I couldn’t maneuver enough shadow so that I could see the screen on my little camera. I didn’t successfully change from the setting for incandescent lighting that I had used indoors the day before. All my photos were similar to the one above, blue, blue, blue. I tinkered with the other photos in this post. I need these “doctored” photos to help me remember the joy of this day.

The plaque at the 0.3-mile marker features the live oak, a Gulf Coast icon.

Handy perch for enjoying our surroundings
The blues didn’t stand a chance. At the 0.3-mile marker was the first of several benches set into alcoves along the walking lane. We sat, rested a bit, and from our lofty perch relished the blue sky, water, shorebirds in flight and the perfect temperature.

There was also the satisfaction of physical activity shared with others who were also enjoying a morning outing on the bridge.
Ian and his skateboard caught our attention.

And down he flies.

Nick, left, and Ian return for another trip down the bridge.

I am thankful for this enjoyable morning and for the friends and strangers who helped put it over the top for this stroke survivor!

An earlier bridge walk

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: The younger generation


A cheerful, courteous Kaitlin helps me shop.
I am not immune to spasms of dismay at the decline in courtesy, modesty, cheerful service and the availability of styles and colors that don’t make me look like an extra in one of those zombie TV shows.

But I have to say that representatives of the younger generation have given me a happy attitude adjustment since my stroke. Several months ago Lauren at Shoe Station took my phone call and spent many minutes searching for narrow athletic shoes in my size. The shoes also had to meet my therapist’s specifications for adequately supporting my stroke-impaired left ankle and eliminating the ankle pain that I was experiencing.

Thanks to Lauren, we enjoyed success in a single stop. Recently we started preparing for an October trip, and I realized that I had to end my procrastination about shopping for an additional pair of athletic shoes.

I called Shoe Station once again. This time it was Samantha who took my call with a courteous, upbeat, can-do attitude. They had shoes that might work.

When Hubby and I arrived at the store the next day, Samantha was busy at the register; but Kaitlin, another young lady we approached, was actually the one who had located the shoes during my call earlier.

Kaitlin had me outfitted with an acceptable pair of athletic shoes in no time. She also filled my request for a shoe that would give my patient husband and me a step up from athletic shoes for those occasions that would have had me wearing heels in pre-stroke days.

Hubby checks Bioness transmitter’s fit.

Kaitlin did all the shopping work. Hubby did all the work to check if the shoes were appropriate for use with my Bioness L300 Foot Drop System. I just sat, tried on shoes and walked around to test them with my Bioness turned on.

If the new shoes pass muster with my physical therapist the next time I see her, I will be set with shoes for awhile, including my first non-athletic-shoe footwear since my stroke. And Shoe Station will be my starting point for shoe shopping in the future.

Males among the younger generations have also treated me with courtesy during my stroke recovery. Hubby and I were negotiating a long stretch of well-traveled sidewalk along a busy street near our neighborhood recently. A group of young guys approached.

Hubby prepared to help me move off the sidewalk and let them pass en mass. We had experienced youthful hordes in other locales and situations. Often they were oblivious to the idea of sharing a sidewalk. They would stay in a tight pack rather than moving out of group formation into single file. This group, however, with no break in their animated conversations, quickly and graciously opened a generous pathway through their ranks to lfor us.

One young man was a few feet behind them. He was sporting tattoos, a wife-beater undershirt and baggy pants. As he carried his skateboard and lighted cigarette past us, he sang out, “It’s a wonderful day, isn’t it.” I concurred with a smile and marveled silently that he had acknowledged our existence with a greeting at all, especially in such a jovial and courteous manner.

Not long after that a young male with a more preppy appearance came from behind us and walked rapidly around us.

“You are doing great,” he called out to me, obviously recognizing that my unnatural gait and curled up hand indicated some type of disability. “It’s a great time for walking, isn’t it.”

None of these young people exhibited any impatience with my slowness and awkwardness. They are among a group of special youngsters and young adults (meaning younger than me) who have gifted me with courtesy and kindness during my stroke recovery.

They are from a variety of ethnicities, cultures and lifestyles. Their thoughtful words and actions have acknowledged my existence. I was not invisible to them. Their simple acts affirmed the value of an elder’s life, even a life with obvious physical limitations right now.

They give me hope for myself, for their generation and for our world.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Grandpa’s art gallery



A colorful reminder of grandgirls
I can tell my husband, grandpa to three boys and three girls, is beginning to kick into Baboo overdrive and a need for a dose of grandkids. “Baboo” is the name our oldest called his paternal grandfather. As the rest of the grands arrived, they followed the eldest’s example.

It is a perfect fit for the unconditional love that Baboo pours out in the form of lots of hugs and snuggling, playing goofy made-up games and serving up pizza and other kid-favored meals galore.

The other day I walked into our kitchen and adjacent family room to see an unusual arrangement of the artwork that granddaughters Charlie and Stella had brought to our house on a summer visit. Baboo had hung one masterpiece on a light switch and the other over a piece by a Gulf Coast artist, both in positions where we would see them throughout the day.

There werte no signatures and our memories are shot, but the amount of detail in the one above is characteristic of Charlie. All three of the granddaughters like to draw and paint. Charlie and Molly Kate are more into detail. Stella is into speed and moving on to the next thing.
Art by Stella?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remembering 9/11


The memorials and replays of all that heart-rending video footage continue on this day. It is appropriate that we not forget those whose lives ended that day, whether they were individuals contributing to the strength of our nation through going about their daily responsibilties, or whether they were first responders knowingly putting themselves in harm’s way for their fellow human beings and in so doing lost their lives or their health.

But my heart aches today, too, for all those families, friends, co-workers and residents left behind, for their heartache and for the ongoing impact of emotional and physical injuries, some of which are only now becoming recognized.

Commenting deficiencies and other aggravations


Composing my blog post yesterday started out as a major venting session about a few of life’s irritations that had me grinding my teeth in frustration. But I eventually abandoned my complaints post. Everything I tried to complain about led to a good experience or at least an interesting learning experience.

Even though I am no longer going Biblical and gnashing my teeth, I do want to air a couple of aggravations. 

Publicity photo for Singing in the Rain
Posting yesterday about the musical Singing in the Rain led to grumpy old lady thoughts about my change in movie-going habits. Singing in the Rain was the first movie excursion for my husband and me since well before my stroke last year. The audience was courteous and everyone there was enthusiastic and either a fan of the movie or they accompanied a fan they cared about.

My husband and I rarely go to movies these days. We lost our enthusiasm many years ago when going from dark to bright sunlight following the matinees that we usually enjoyed would cause hubby to experience severe headaches. Sunglasses and other measures didn’t help. About the same time, two other circumstances came into play, and we gradually moved on to other avenues of entertainment, like raising two boys, attending their sporting events and replenishing the larder daily to keep hungry male teens from chewing on the furniture.

Looking back, our abandoning movie-going began well before the arrival of offspring. Two key contributors to the change:

One--Old-fashioned courtesy began to erode in theater audiences.

Two--Entertaining, family-oriented movies with clean language and interesting characters who had or who developed any common sense and sense of decency were no longer as readily available.

Singing in the Rain definitely drew an old-fashioned, and mostly old, audience. I suppose I am now officially a grumpy old woman.

But I am a really, really happy grumpy old woman.

* * * * *
I have been having trouble lately commenting on some new-to-me blogs as well as long-time favorite blogs. The blogs I have difficulty with are all blogspot.com. But I don’t have the commenting problem with all blogspot.com blogs. I have no trouble typing the comment into the appropriate box. But nothing happens when I click “Publish.” Sometimes a message in red appears under the comment box that says choose a profile, but there is no way to do so.

The only click that makes something happen is the “Sign out” button. But that doesn’t further the process of publishing the comment. I have been leaving a comment via email when there is an email address, but not every blog owner provides an email address.

I was able to locate an email address for Lyn at Never-Ending Journey, a blog I have followed for a while. She replied to my emailed comment on a recent post of hers with insightful observations that are an inspiration in my stroke recovery. She writes from a perspective of personal experience, and I don’t want to forget Lyn’s closing sentence that summed up her strategy for dealing with health issues and other difficult circumstances:

“It’s all about choices. We can allow life events to define us or we can take what life has put on the path and define how it fits in our lives.” 

Joared is a newcomer to my blog. I have appreciated her comments and recently visited her blog Along the Way. Hers is just one of the newcomers’ blogs I will be reading with no way to comment.

If anyone has a solution to my commenting dilemma, please share. This is likely something I need to fix on my end, but I have no idea what or how. In the meantime I will just be reading and lurking if I can’t find a way to comment via the blog or email. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Choosing happy


With Isaac having taken his time to depart our region, then returning as a remnant of heavy rains followed by another Isaac leftover threatening to become Isaac Jr., I have been so aggravated with recent wind, rain, heat and humidity that I have fallen into grumbling about other things, too. 

Last night and today I have been reminding myself of some recent things I have enjoyed. I’ve got to do something before I turn into a scary harpy.

Fledgling paleontologists
Happy #1. Daughter-in-law Katie’s blog The Daily Skup. Katie’s chronicle of the lives of our Louisiana grandchildren has been delighting me with photos and stories of what they are doing and how they are maturing. Her posts are slices of daily life that have brightened some gloomy days.

The photo above was a “dinosaur” birthday party.  Grandchildren Molly Kate and Walker, center, celebrated with cousins from Katie’s family, Beau, left, and birthday boy Braedon, right. Katie had posted the image as a header photo some while back with no explanation of the event that had the four donning pith helmets.

Katie is organized, consistent and thorough about documenting childhood events on her blog. I was confident that text and even more photos would eventually appear. I was not disappointed. While I waited I enjoyed her accounts of haircuts, traffic jams, dentist visits, a “real” tea party, first day of preschool and more. Katie is a prolific blogger.

Thank you, Katie.

Happy #2. Long-distance conversations. Son Walt and daughter-in-law Sarah have supplied welcomed reports along with some funny stories about our four Georgia grands. A plus is that the reports also come with a glimpse of what son and daughter-in-law are up to lately.

Thank you, Walt and Sarah.

Push that left elbow straight!
Happy #3. Movement. Getting back to walking with friends and resuming therapy. Since my stroke, when I am able to increase my mastery of some basic daily living chore at home it makes me feel great. But walking with friends and engaging in challenging and exhausting therapy sessions provide a special sense of satisfaction and exhilaration that keeps me positive and working to push past my current limitations.

Thank you, friends Ann and Pat and Ocean Springs Nero Rehab therapists and techs.

A movie that leaves me smiling and singing. (TCM Photo)
Happy #4. Hubby Walter surprised me with tickets to a one-night special showing of the musical Singing in the Rain, released in 1952 and starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. I was only five in 1952 and my parents rarely went to movies, although I do remember seeing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Snow White, Cinderella and Bambi in theaters. But I had only seen Singing in the Rain on TV, never before on a big screen.

The Turner Classic Movies (TCM) showing in theaters across the U.S. was a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the movie’s release. We saw it at a theater in a nearby city in August. TCM produced an intro that preceded the movie. It featured interviews that TCM host Robert Osborne had conducted with Reynolds and others that gave an inside view of how memorable scenes came to life and how working relationships evolved among Kelly, O’Connor and the newcomer Debbie Reynolds. Hubby’s surprise keeps giving me pleasure as I think about that simple evening out.

Thank you Hubby and Turner Classic Movies.

Salad by my personal chef
Happy #5. Hubby’s diet. Husband Walter is determined to lose down to his “cruising”* weight and has accordingly started counting calories. That is good news for me.

I want him to be as healthy as possible. But when he gets serious about diet, it also means more salads on our menu, slimmed-down portions, low-fat menu choices and fewer meals out, all practices that help me keep salt consumption under control. I especially love salads and dress mine with vinegar and a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil. Green onions, black pepper and red pepper substitute for salt. My no-salt salads are a happy choice and help keep my daily sodium consumption within the 1,500 mg limit.

Thank you Hubby.

*Since cruises are synonymous with overeating for both of us, our cruising weight is what we need to weigh so that when we return home, we will weigh in without breaking our scales. We learned from past cruises that we gain at least five to eight pounds. We are going on a trip to the West Coast rather than a cruise next month, but we realistically expect “vacation eating” to occur. I know. We are pitiful.

Happy #6. Cooler temperatures. Mornings were in the 60-degree range yesterday and today. Here’s hoping lower humidity and cool will stick around for awhile.

Have a great week.

Friday, September 7, 2012

One Stroky’s Journey: Bridge walk #2


Art, mile markers and handrail enhance my enjoyment
Today I took my second walk on the Biloxi Bay Bridge. Ann, one of my walking buddies, ferried me from home to the beach and held on to my gait belt as I trudged 0.2 miles up the bridge’s incline.

Bringing neighbors together
She also steadied me while I attempted to snap photos of some of the bridge’s features. I couldn’t figure out why I was having more difficulty than usual keeping my balance. It was a challenge to successfully keep the camera still and pointed toward what I wanted to shoot.

With Ann’s reminder that I was on an incline, I stopped fretting that I was somehow regressing in my progress to relearn how to stay balanced. I just enjoyed the opportunity to use my camera.

Pitcher plants common to our region
After Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Department of Transportation rolled out a plan for replacing the bridge that had been totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The bridge is the U.S. 90 connection across Biloxi Bay.

As presented, the plan for a utilitarian, largely graceless bridge failed to measure up to the Ocean Springs mayor’s vision of the bridge as a reflection of the heritage, environment and culture of the two cities and counties that the bridge would connect.

Local sea critters
She swung into action with her ideas and persevered through an unceasing barrage of criticism and public ridicule from citizens on both sides of the proposed bridge, from officials of the neighboring city and from MDOT. Now the structure is a treasured attraction.

The well-protected lane for walkers, joggers and cyclists is marked with plaques created by local artists.  The bronze renditions feature local plants, animals and traditions. Underneath each is a decorative mileage marker with two distances noted, one in each direction.

Metal benches at the highest part of the bridge and a couple other spots offer a chance to take a breather, enjoy the spectacular view and contemplate the natural beauty and the wildlife of coastal waters and the colorful vessels that ply those waters as part of the Coast’s business enterprises and recreational opportunities.

One-tenth of a mile farther than my first post-stroke bridge walk 
To me the bridge represents the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s perseverance to achieve a recovery that strengthens both the physical infrastructure and the spirit of the region. The bridge is also contributing to my personal recovery, of both body and spirit.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What I’ve been reading lately


The title on this post is a little misleading. Isaac hung around far too long on the Mississippi coast. My husband and I and our extended family suffered little damage. I did, however, allow the days spent indoors to suck every bit of get up and go out of me. One result is that the desire to post remained alive, but even turning my computer on was almost beyond me.

Ballet nomenclature in my daughter-in-law’s post on the Daily Skup about granddaughter Molly Kate’s summer ballet and tap lessons jogged my memory about Tour de Force, a novel by Elizabeth White. I had read that novel about the high-powered—and to me, unfamiliar—world of professional ballet and jotted some notes for a post before my stroke in April 2011. I'm using those pre-stroke thoughts to prime the pump for my getting out of the Isaac blahs and back to posting.

The author is the niece of a family friend, and I enjoyed that personal connection as I read the autographed copy that White’s aunt had loaned my mother. The book wasn’t the first of White’s efforts that I had read.

But Tour de Force exhibits White’s growth in her dialogue, pacing and ability to capture the essence of the lives of southern, family-oriented, evangelical Christians. I enjoyed this romance that intertwined ballet with the southern church-going family life that was my world growing up. I found Gilly, the principal female character and a rising star in the world of New York ballet, endearing. The characters’ interactions, struggles, and consequences of decisions good and bad made interesting reading.

“Fluff” in the form of romance with brave, pure-as-the-driven-snow heroines is a weakness of mine, even though I get aggravated when the heroine’s dire straits are resolved by a convenient and improbable happening. There was a similar situation in this book.

I believe in miracles and God’s care and have seen that in my own life, including my stroke survival and aftermath. But my experience with miracles through the years has usually been with impossible situations that have resolved in totally unexpected but seemingly natural ways. If I had not believed my prayer was answered and had not been expecting and watching for the seen to catch up to the unseen reality, I would have missed God’s hand at work.

The dramatic miracle in the book did not ruin the story for me, though. If you like the Christian romance genre, this is a fairly well crafted read.