A Southern Winter Wonderland



Magnolia in the backyard showered by snow

January 3rd brought magic to the South. It began as a freezing rain and icicles formed on branches and patio furniture, then big fluffy flakes floated and blew down not just a dusting but slightly over five inches and our world became white and sparkly. My joy in this event took me by surprise, I don’t care for weather below the 50’s in the winter and long for the warm 80’s and 90’s of summer as a rule. But the collective wonder of it all on the local news and social media swept me up in the excitement.

The local channels covered it like a hurricane with constant on-air coverage, and the businesses and roads shut down. Children and adults alike rushed to don winter garb, some make-shift as we don’t generally have such items beyond a coat in our wardrobe. I myself wore my rain boots. The dogs bounced around like puppies regardless of age and so did the humans.

Neighbors emerged to take pictures and marvel. This is about a once a decade or more event. We greeted it with glee, it meant snow days from school and work. Unlike the northern tier of our country, we can celebrate snow like children because it is so rare. I freely admit that if I had to deal with it every season on a regular basis it would make me grumble and complain, but once in a decade I can truly savor and enjoy.  I have been here for 31 years and have only experienced snow like this twice before, with a few minor dustings not even lasting a day a few times as well. Also, three ice storms that closed thing down, each winter scenario averaging once a decade for my Lowcountry life,  making each one a marvel and a magical experience, secure in the knowledge it won’t last. We will be back in flip flops in just a few days.


I’m not especially superstitious but I can’t help but feel this is a good omen for 2018. I felt that way about the beginning of the school year coinciding with the total solar eclipse. A rare event can’t help but seem magical and mysterious. It fills you with joy and hope and wanting to soak it in for all the good luck it might have to offer.

The snow is still solidly here and will not melt much today. I’m going to venture out to shovel the driveway to hopefully prevent the re-freeze sheet of ice and I just might have to make a snow angel for nostalgia’s sake. I have my wooden flexible flyer with metal runners in my garage (It hangs on the wall as decor), if we only had a hill nearby I would take it for a spin.

In a few days time, this will melt away and we will enjoy being outside sans jackets again. But today I’m going to play in this winter wonderland and soak in the magic of the moment.

Baring The Halls & Organizing Angels



One page of Angels

The time between Christmas and New Year’s is one of my favorite weeks of the year. Company has departed and I finally feel settled into winter break. It is a time to reflect back on the year about to pass and forward into the year that is to be. I feel compelled to pack away the holiday glitz and restore order to drawers, closets, and cabinets.

It is a shock to the system when the layers of Christmas decorations have been repacked and stored. The mantle, tablescapes, and the house, in general, seems bare. Not that this is a negative. On the contrary, I find it fitting as we approach a new year. It is a new beginning and should be faced clean and stripped of the past, at least as stripped back as can be. Not all baggage should be left behind, some is essential for moving forward, but I try to be selective and reflective and a bared house fits the task at hand.

The other aspect of a bared house, just a simple white bowl of pine cones on the dining table, is that it reflects the season of winter, we can no longer deny is upon us. Like the bare branches of the trees, it is sculptural and architectural. Beautiful in its own right until the adornments of spring arrive.

The other part of this week between the end and the beginning compels me to do is organize all the things I have put awry through daily living.  The cabinet in the bathroom has been crying out for it for months and now I have the time to do it. This year I also decided to organize and catalog my Metropolitan Museum of Art Angel ornament collection. Mama started me on it in 2002 and I have gotten a new one every year with the exception of 2011. Each year I have carefully packed each angel back in its original pouch and box.

In recent years I have resorted to using a magnifying glass to figure out the year on the back of each ornament, driving myself crazy. So, this year I did that, but took a picture and labeled each picture with the year, then created a document with thumbnail pictures with the year, printed and cut and then taped the picture for each angel on the inside cover of each box. Now in 2018, I will not need the magnifying glass and I will only have to photograph and catalog one angel.

A little over the top for most, I’m sure, but my heart smiles knowing how well organized the angels are for now and the future. If only the bathroom cabinet and the cooking utensil drawer could be so permanently coraled.

So baring the halls and organizing everything from angels to zesters is my way of preparing for saying goodbye to this year and greeting the new. I have already decided, no matter what goes on in the world at large, here at home 2018 is going to be a great year.

Happy New Year my friends!


Mixing up the Merry and Bright



The batter bowl my class gave me for Christmas this year.

December is definitely the baking season. I know a few folks who bake year round, but once the mercury rises, I avoid oven use if possible, which means the oven is off most of the year with the exception of entertaining.

Not so during the holidays. I bake for gifts, I bake for the cookie exchange, I oven roast main dishes, I bake homemade rolls or biscuits, this morning I whipped up a batch of blueberry muffins for the tree-picking.

Yes, it is Christmas morning and I am blogging. Our Christmas morning doesn’t include children, so it is peaceful enough with some Harry Connick Jr. Christmas music in the background to get my weekly blog post written.  Daddy is up but quietly drinking his coffee, the matriarch is in bed, keeping the lady at court hours.

So muffins mixed and in the oven and inspired by my new batter bowl, which incidentally, I will use year round despite the holiday message, I sat down to wish y’all a Merry Christmas or if you celebrate something else or don’t care to celebrate any holidays some peace on earth and goodwill toward men (and women, children and all creatures big and small).

Baking does that to me, it fills me with goodwill. Sharing baked goods is an expression of love in my opinion. It is the season of magic and wonder and what could be more magical than mixing separate ingredients in a bowl and creating something wonderful and better than the sum of its parts.

Maybe this year I will just crank up the AC and bake up some merry and bright every month. The matriarch, otherwise known as Mama or Nonnie Malia and sometimes as CM has stirred and the timer is about to go off on the oven. Time to empty the stockings and pick the tree.  Merry Christmas Y’all! May your day be filled with joy, peace and some baked love from a family member’s oven.



How A Struggle With a To-do List Reminded Me How Blessed I Really Am.



Our card for Christmas 2017

In my last post, I lamented about the length of my to-do list, how this holiday season seems more frenetic than average, but that I was going to try and tick things off while still somehow enjoying the peace, love, and joy this time of year is supposed to be about.

One of those items on my list was taking the photo and designing my annual card. So finally on December 16th, I managed to corral the dogs under the tree and using the word “squirrel” got them to look at the camera at the same time.  Feeling good about that, I went online to design and order, discovering same day pick up was possible. Wow! I might get cards out before Christmas after all. I even selected the stationery card style I like.

It was a little irksome that the big box store I was ordering from expected me to drive fourteen miles and past two of their other area stores to pick up, I was just elated that I could get this task done and feel like I was catching up.  I should have known that was too easy.

While running other errands I received a phone call from the store I was working my way to, their printer was out of ink and they would not be able to process my order at least until Wednesday. OKAY… so I stopped at the store that was close to home and discovered they could print from what I selected on the kiosk, we were back in business.

After some scrolling, I settled on a photo card, not my preferred paper, and it had a company’s logo, also not my first pick, but the price was awesome and again, I was going to strike it off my list today!

Oh, if it were that simple. Order placed, I wandered the store looking for a few things I needed, lightbulb for outside, tape for gift wrapping, stocking stuffers etc. Forty minutes later I strolled back to the photo center. Machine not working, employees working on it. I stood clutching my items, not wanting a cart I could fill with unneeded items.  After another forty minutes, I was regretting that decision. Happily, a woman who had decided on one item offered her cart to me and I gratefully accepted.

Items secure, I settled down on one of the stool by the counter, silently willing the printer to get back to its task. I practiced my patience and I watched my fellow shoppers. I saw a bald woman, obviously, a chemo patient and I was reminded how blessed I am for the health I have.  I saw some older citizens riding around in scooters, some looking lonely and I was reminded how blessed I am to be mobile and have so many friends,  I  am never lonely even when I’m alone. I overheard a frazzled mom, lamenting the cost of something to her friend, both of them with young children in tow. I was reminded how blessed I am to have my needs met and most of my wants. As I made each observation, the level of peace that settled over me grew and my heart filled with joy.

All told I spent close to another forty minutes sitting there, waiting and watching. In the end, I got my cards, they may not have the typical finish I would like, but they have what is more important, they show the two furry loves and they express my love to the friends and family that will receive them. No one who matters will judge the material they are made of, but they will care about the message they express.

Sure, I’m behind again for spending the time in photo center limbo, but maybe what I got out of that pause in my jam-packed day was worth more than being able to tick more boxes off on that to-do list. I am blessing rich and that my friend, is what the Christmas spirit is all about.



The Busy Season



My current to-do list of which I can only claim to have completed four items on…


2017 has flown by at a frenetic pace, punctuated by upheaval in the world, in our country and in my own personal sphere. Happily, the upheaval in my own little world has been all about positive changes. Even the positive changes have added to the workload and required adjustments that have contributed to the break-neck pace living this life has become this year.

I don’t know why I thought the holidays would be any different. Normally I have most of my shopping complete, my cards printed and sent and if the house isn’t completely sparkling all the decorating is complete.

I have completed about ninety-five percent of the decorating, but the house, in general, is a disaster and I haven’t even taken the picture for the Christmas Card let alone ordered it.  This year might have to be a New Year’s  card and as the days fly by and I am getting more comfortable with that idea.

Company is coming in before my teaching is done so I will be cleaning and finishing report cards simultaneously. I think New Year’s Eve will be spent sleeping if I’m still alive by then.

I hate that this year is like this, I try to embrace the intent of the season, peace, joy, love, and while I will find moments to feel all that, I accept this year is just not the year I can revel in it. First New Year’s Resolution, take back life in 2018, at least once the school year is over and next Christmas will be prepared for months ahead so that when it arrives I can soak it all in.

For now, maybe the house won’t be as clean as my usual standards and some of my shopping might not get finished until Christmas Eve, cards will not be mailed on time and for this crazy year, maybe that’s alright.



Merry Christmas Old Friends!



One of my favorites

Nothing against new friends, I love adding to my collection, but my heart leaps. with joy when I encounter old friends not seen in a while. If you haven’t guessed by now I’m not talking about people, rather the ornaments that adorn my tree.

There are few new among them, each year I get some as gifts, so it takes a few years for those to become treasures. Ornaments I have had for years and many of the ornaments that live at my mama’s house tug at my heartstrings. Sometimes it’s a memory or what the ornament symbolizes, like my culinary snowmen. Sometimes it’s just the beauty and craft of a particular ornament to appreciate.

The trick is to place them on the tree so they can be equally enjoyed throughout the season. When I built my house (and it is not a grand house by any definition) I insisted on an outlet embedded into the floor in the middle so that most of the tree could be enjoyed from as close to a 360-degree view as possible.  One of the best decisions within my small budget. If I ever get the chance to build again, I would design again for tree placement.

I have heard folks say they wish we could enjoy our holiday things year round, but I am a firm believer in the seasons and the holidays having their place. After all, what makes them special is that they are not part of the daily grind.

So, it was with great joy last night when I said hello to old friends and placed them on the tree for a month of glory. Then I will carefully pack them away, knowing we shall meet again.

Merry Christmas, savor the season and share the joy!


An Endless Love Affair



Looking from Rockville over to Seabrook


You would think after thirty-one years here in the South Carolina Lowcountry I would take foregranted my surroundings. When you tend to live somewhere it is typical to ignore the area offerings such as museums unless you have company. I see vistas of marsh, river, and ocean on a daily basis and I adore those views, they instantly calm me and make me thankful for getting to live in this beautiful place.

This past weekend I had the opportunity to ride with friends out to a house in Rockville, which is still a pristine village much like it was back in the 1800’s when this particular house was built. I could easily imagine a life here away from traffic and our crazy suburban sprawl. If only I was retired and didn’t have to think about the practical things such as commuting to work!

The house built in 1829 was loaded with character and a gem by itself, but it was the water views that took my breath away. I never tire of looking across the water and marsh. I often wonder if I had this view from my back porch, would I be too distracted to write or would I just find my creative well constantly replenished?

I’m not sure but I would be more than willing to find out. I think I might have to write a book where a lucky character will get to live in this charming house with this magical view and I can live vicariously through them.

I truly hope that when I’m one-hundred and eight (the age I am planning on living to) my love affair with the South Carolina Lowcountry will still burn with the same intensity it does today. Considering that fire has been steady for thirty-one years I can’t imagine it will ever burn out.

Bounty of Blessings



My sideboard arrangement

Looking out into the world, we might find it challenging to find much to be thankful for. Politics and social upheaval in our country are overwhelmingly chaotic at best and downright frightening at worst.

We seem to have forgotten we are supposed to be the shining example to the world of how a society can treat its members with respect, dignity, and equality and thrive in all we do.  I’m not naive enough to think that we have achieved the goals to form that more perfect union, but I am hopeful enough that we as a nation are still striving for those ideals.

Forty-nine years on this earth has shown me that upheaval is necessary to create the growth and improvement towards those goals, it’s just painful to witness and live through.

So instead of looking out into the world and the nation, perhaps this year to reflect on what we have to be thankful for we should look closer to home. I find numerous blessings in my lowcountry community, my family and my circle of friends.

I am always amazed by the giving nature of my fellow lowcountry citizens. Whether it is a crisis here at home or half a world away, people in this community respond in droves. I like to believe that is true of the majority of Americans, it is the American way to have compassion for others.

My family is rather small and I had the opportunity this summer to re-connect with a cousin and I am so thankful we had that time together. I am blessed that my parent’s and so far the majority of the family members are still well and living full lives.

At this point in life, so many of my friends I would call family. If I need a sounding board or encouragement, I have been blessed with many to turn to and I only hope that I have been the same source for them. Friends truly are family we choose.

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving this week I will focus on all that is right and good in my world, personal and beyond. I challenge you to do the same. Leave the politics and the social issues for another time. Over this year’s table let’s bow our heads and give thanks for the blessings each and every one of us have a bounty of to call our own.


On The Edge of A Decade


Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 5.49.34 PM

The best decade yet!


With the exception of 13, 18, 21 and your social security eligibility age, we tend to mark our age milestones on the decade. As I write this I am on the eve of my age turning to the last year of my current decade and I think this is actually the time to stop, take inventory, reflect back and look ahead. After all next year when I reach the half-century mark it will be a celebration of reaching that next decade and on to the new adventures the fifties will bring.

As I look back I can honestly say the forties have by far been the best decade. My friends who are already in their fifties assure me this trend of each decade getting better continues so I’m optimistic about what might be ahead. The forties have been liberating. I became comfortable in my own skin. I can say I have been happy, or perhaps content is the better word for the majority of the past 9 years.  I have suffered loss and disappointments like most people, but I feel that my resilience has expanded and my reactions are more measured and balanced. This is life after all, far from perfect. Life is messy and unpredictable, but if you are comfortable with who you are and lay your foundation on faith, integrity, and love, then you can be the eye of any storm that life swirls up around you.

Yes, the forties have truly been fabulous. I still have lots of things on my bucket list, but if it all ended tomorrow, I am content with what I have already accomplished. I have a goal to live to be one-hundred and eight, so assuming I reach that, I should have plenty of time to continue to check things off my list. The fifties will be eventful, I will retire from teaching and move my writing career up to the number one spot, my mortgage will be paid off and there are events coming I’m not even aware of. I look forward to it all. Each day of this life is a gift. I am thankful for the 17,885 days I have lived so far. I look forward to all the days yet to come.

Each day of this life is a gift. I am thankful for the 17,885 days I have lived so far. I know the next 365 will finish out my current decade, I look forward to all that is yet to come.


Say Goodbye To The Sunshine



The late afternoon sunshine that will disappear tomorrow with the time change

It’s the first Saturday in November and I’m tuned into the Clemson game and hanging with Lucky and Ella, my two golden retrievers. I should feel like I’m in my happy place, yet an aura of melancholy hangs in the air. The time change takes place tonight and I find I am dreading it more so than in the past.

See as a teacher I leave for work before six a.m. so with the exception of late spring, I tend to drive to work in the dark. With the “fall back” change, I now face several months of arriving home in the dark in addition to my dark departure. It makes me not want to walk the dogs, it is almost impossible to do any kind of yard work before dinner and frankly, I just want to curl up in a ball and hibernate. I guess it’s a good thing I live in the south where at least we get more daylight than our northern neighbors. I think I would be susceptible to the seasonal affective disorder.

I wish we would stop changing the time. I realize it requires an act of Congress to put an end to it, so I understand that will never happen. I wish we could tie their pay to performance, perhaps some laws would actually get written and passed or reviewed and dissolved. I jokingly posted on Facebook this week that if I were to run for office my platform would include getting rid of the time change and also that the trick or treating part of Halloween would always be observed on the last Friday in October, no school night craziness. I got a great response from friends throwing their vote my way. Seriously why won’t Congress tackle changing the time change? It could go a long way to improve their approval rating.

I have not spoken with a single person who says “yea, it will be dark before five p.m. now!” I would love to rebel and keep my watch and clock the same, but then I’d be an hour early for everything. I know I can’t enjoy too much wallowing about what is to come. It will come and I will have to adjust like everyone else.  Fortunately, even when we manipulate time we can’t stop it. The shortest day of the year will arrive and we will begin the lengthening process. Just when it will feel like the days are getting to a perfect placement of daylight we will mess with it again, making us all grumpy when we lose an hour.

Just when it will feel like the days are getting to a perfect placement of daylight we will mess with it again, making us all grumpy when we lose an hour. But at least the sunshine will surpass the workday, allowing for lots of early evening enjoyment.

Until then I will turn on the lamps in the evening and soak up all the sun I can at recess.  Maybe I’ll even try some moon and starlit walks. Maybe post-work yardwork is out, but it might mean more time to write.  I can’t stop the time change from coming but I can change how I use the time I have.

Attitude can make its own light.