Simple Pleasures

If your life is anything like mine, every day is filled with a never- ending “to do” list that can often leave us feeling cranky and overwhelmed. Laundry, bill paying, car pool, making lunches, work pressures, cleaning, grocery shopping can wring the joy out of life. Lately I’ve tried to find a better balance between the “have to” and the “want to”  by focusing on life’s simple pleasures. A cup of coffee in the quiet of early morning. A chat with a distant friend. A long walk on a tide-washed beach. ( THE best simple 005pleasure of all!)  A single rose blooming beside the door.

This morning when I walked up to the mailbox to mail off some bills, I was greeted by this gorgeous rose. The neighborhood was quiet except for the cardinals singing in the live oaks and the frenzied chatter of swallows seeking out a location for a nest. I slid my bills into the “out” slot and stood for a minute just admiring the individual petals and the velvety texture of this rose. Feasting my heart on its simple beauty. Breathing out, and letting the peace settle in.

What is your favorite simple pleasure? As my Southern grandmother used to say, “Do tell!”

Under Magnolia

One of the deepest pleasures of bookstore browsing is coming across an unexpected new offering by a favorite author. Thursday night at our neighborhood bookseller I discovered Under Magnolia, a new coming- of -age memoir by the incomparable Frances Mayes. I’ve loved her work since reading Under the Tuscan Sun, her delightful chronicle of buying and restoring Bramasole, her Tuscan villa. While living in Tuscany is only a dream for me at least for now, and harder to imagine, the material she mines in Under Magnolia is very familiar since, I, too am the product of a new-magnoliaSouthern childhood.

Like me, Frances left her Southern hometown as a young woman and stayed away for many years looking for a larger life than was possible “down home.”  She writes: “When I left the South at age twenty two, the forced that pushed me west was as powerful as the magnet that held me. For years when I went back home to visit I broke out in hives…powerful juju..” Her memoir springs from wondering whether she can re- imagine Fitzgerald, Georgia. The place she left behind.

She writes of missing the words of the South, words that were familiar to me in my Tennessee childhood: young ‘uns, I swan ( my mother still says this) pray tell, cut the light. She remembers the buzz of bees in the boxwood  bush beside the door, the scent of walnuts, the dim coolness of a springhouse where buttermilk once was stored. I read her words and I, too am home.

Frances Mayes is a published poet, and her book shimmers with breathtaking lyricism sure to make displaced Southerners weep with nostalgia and recognition. Readers who didn’t grow up Southern grew up somewhere, and the emotions and the epiphanies Frances lays out in this wonderful book will resonate with everyone looking back on their own “growing up” years, and how those years shaped the people we became.

Under Magnolia came out on April 1st. I’d love to hear from anyone who has had the pleasure of dwelling for a few hours inside this lovely book.




A Guest Post by Jake the Dog

Hi Friends. Dorothy is too sleepy to write her usual weekly blog post today. She and I were up all night last night.We weren’t outside playing a midnight game of soccer, or chasing away feral cats. Though that would have been loads of fun. We were upstairs in the TV room where I trembled and drooled and climbed into her lap ( yep, all 70 pounds of me) until five o’clock this morning. Because it was thundering in Africa .I hate when that happens.

Anyway, I hopped out of Doro’s lap when I heard the alarm clock beeping downstairs. Because that beeping sound  means it’s time for breakfast, and even though I was a little bit sleepy myself–you’d  be surprised how exhausting it is to be scared all night—I followed her down to the kitchen because hey, I still have to eat. I parked myself in front of that big black box in the kitchen. The one where you push a button and ice and water come out. Behind that black door is…well, let’s just say I look forward to watching it swing open every morning and night. So anyway, I had breakfast and then went outside to …well, you know. It’s past noon now and poor Doro is still trying to wake up.

I know! I’ll give her a few wet, slobbery  puppy kisses. That’ll get her heart to pumping. If Doro was awake I know what she would tell you: Have a great weekend. Chase some cats. Watch a few hours of Animal Planet. Sit in front of the big black box and beg until it opens. And read a good  book.  Because outside of a dog, a book is your best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.   Love, Jake

And the Winner Is…..

Linda Marie Finn, your name was chosen at random as the winner of the vintage style bracelet. I’m also giving away five Starbucks gift cards to five other randomly-chosen readers as a small way of saying THANK YOU for your friendship and support. Here are the five Starbuck’s card winners:

Ann Mettert, Sharon Wilsford Brewer, Amy Putney, Susan Gibson Snodgrass, and Linda McFarland.

How to claim your prize: Just click on the “Contact” button here on my website to send me a message that includes your name and complete mailing address ( don’t forget the zip code!)  That’s it! You have until April 5th to claim your prize, so don’t delay.

THANK YOU to everyone who participated. As we get closer to the publication date for THE BRACELET, I’ll be running some other promotions and I hope you’ll all enter. I LOVE giving away things to my readers. You are THE BEST!!!!