Tag Archives: photography

Eating Fresh in Tuscany

Salad greens fresh from the garden with local wine from Montepulciano.

When you think of Italian food, your mind likely drifts to pizza, spaghetti, cold cuts such as Proscuitto and Parma ham or cheeses like Pecorino or Mozzarella. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But I’m finding that the abundant fresh fruit and vegetables are just as much a part of the Tuscan daily life. Eating vegetables just picked from a garden is a luxury for Americans—but the norm for Tuscans.

A neighbor’s summer garden.

Massive round zucchinis grow in many backyards.

In every yard of field, you’ll find gorgeous, plentiful gardens.

Apricots dangle temptingly down a local wall.

And many of the fruit and nut trees, bushes and plants I photographed during a recent morning walk through our Tuscan village were found along the roadside or in ditches or over walls. It’s remarkable the sheer amount of fresh fruit and nuts that I found on a one hour stroll!

Fig trees like this grow along the roadside with plentiful fruit almost ready to be picked.

It seems that walnuts, almonds, apricots, figs, plums and artichokes (carciofis, my favorite!) grow like weeds in this area of the world.

Yummy plums along a dirt road.

A walnut dropped on the road from a plentiful, old tree.

Artichokes!

Gorgeous pears.

Mysterious blue berries in a ditch near an abandoned field. They weren’t our blue berries, as we tasted them! Perhaps ripening black currants?

Pomegranates?

As we looped back around from town and through the surrounding fields, we then, of course, came across the staples of Tuscany: grapes from vineyards with champagne grapes, semolina wheat fields and olives.

Olives, almost ready for harvesting.

Semolina wheat field recently harvested.

Sinalunga champagne grapes

The local Tuscan olive oil company.

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Permission to Feel Again

“Like the tiny spark of fire that consumes a forest, the spark of love is all you need to experience love in its full power and glory, in all its aspects, earthly and divine.”
Deepak Chopra

Experts like Deepak Chopra often tell us that “living in the present moment is what best serves us.” In fact, I received an email today on that topic from his website. I think it is a wise sentiment, but one that can be truly hard for women going through divorce (or for anyone whose “present moment” is far from peaceful.) For women experiencing separation or a contentious divorce, it can be extremely hard to live in the moment—AND for it to be healthy—when one is living in fear. So many of my friends and readers who are going through a divorce know just what I mean. There is financial fear. There is emotional fear. There is fear of litigation. There may be nasty text messages or phone messages or child custody issues. There may be moments of dread and longing and regret and guilt—so much so—that you may get temporarily consumed with thoughts about mistakes from the past, or future moments for your children. All of these feelings are okay, and perhaps do need to be felt. And yet, they can keep us apart from our every-day lives. They keep us from making good decisions. They can consume us. They can keep us from enjoying the moment, our surroundings, our friends, our children, our community.

And with all that going on in our minds, how then, can we possibly allow ourselves to open up, be vulnerable, and to feel again? How does it allow for spontaneity or making new friends? How can we begin to love ourselves again?

I discovered this ancient temple outside Cortona, Italy the other week, on a day when fear was bubbling up again as I thought about my boys back in the States and pending issues with my divorce. As I snapped pictures of this basilica, I saw how weathered, yet proud it seemed—how elegant and timeless. I decided that each one of us going through hard times such as a divorce needs to remember that we are elegant and timeless. We need to be less hard on ourselves, less judgmental, less critical. We need to forgive ourselves. We need to be okay with not being perfect.

Meditation helps tremendously for those who become a bit panic-ridden or consumed with fear. As ironic as it seems, letting go of all of our fears for a few minutes—just breathing and thinking of nothing but our breath—helps to let go of the pain and just be.

I’ve been meditating almost every day while I’ve been in Italy. I breathe deeply, let go of any guilt or fear and just observe what I am feeling. It’s so nice to be allowed your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being angry or sad or unsure.

Italians are certainly not people to hold in their feelings. As I walk around our village I hear loud discussions over card games or dinner. I hear much laughter. I also sometimes hear yelling, but luckily, it doesn’t last long. I see couples that kiss very passionately without any qualms or embarrassment. I see women holding hands, men kiss hello and children who run and hug each other. It’s nice to be among people who feel deeply and whose culture embraces that.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with fears that are consuming you as your embark on your divorce, I encourage you to meditate. If you can, sign up for the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/

If that is too much for you, give yourself five minutes to just breathe. Don’t think about anything other than listening to your heart. It will awaken again some day. You will get over your pain and your sorrow. You will forgive yourself. You will let go of the criticisms thrust upon you. You will trust someone again, some day. Just listen to your heart and breathe deeply with each thought. Set an intention for your day. Today, mine is to listen. I will listen to myself and to others.

Have a wonderful day my friends. Tomorrow I am off to Naples in the search of the world’s best pizza. Food, is my new passion. Stay tuned! :-)

Tuning in to the Rhythms of Tuscany

I can’t seem to tire of the Tuscan landscape. I have been here for two and a half weeks now and am still in love with the rolling hills, the textures and the vibrant colors of this region of Italy. Deep greens, golden fields and silver wisps of leaves surround me. As you drive, or walk, throughout Tuscany you see amazing landscapes such as this, that have been manipulated by man for centuries.

The curved rows of plowed, mustard-yellow fields are of the semolina wheat used to make pasta (that I am eating too much of!). By the end of June, most fields are plowed with bales of wheat rolled and waiting.

I adore the ever-present groves of olive trees, like these just outside our window. The Frantoio Franci olive oil company is  in walking distance to our vila. These are younger trees that are not producing usable olives just yet. Off in the distance, are older, more rugged trees with darker leaves, that are being harvested.

We are awakened each morning by the sound of tractors and the yips from the workers’ dogs who accompany them. The red ladders and three-wheeled mini pick-up trucks are often back in the fields after siesta—when the temperatures drop again and it is easier to work. Siesta, which is approximately from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., is completely understandable to me now. With temperatures between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit daily, it’s critical to slow down—especially when working outside. Most businesses, except restaurants, are closed during this period as well. There seems to be no option but to take life slowly in Italy. When we first arrived in the province of Siena, I was concerned by the fact that there was no wifi in our villa and it was hard to come by in the village. I had an article to finish about Autism. I managed to do it on a dialup modem—but it was a looong and frustrating process. I couldn’t Skype with my boys. Email was hard to check. It felt like I was adrift. Once the story was in, I relaxed and started to breathe deeply and became more in tune with the rhythms of this world that are intrinsically linked with its landscape. My siestas became endearing to me. Here’s a typical siesta:

I sit in the local piazza. I notice a grandfather making amusing faces at his grandson as he buys him a gelato before heading home. I hear the adorable singsong voices of children who say papa! as they run home. A woman smiles and makes fun of me, calling me an “Alaskan” since I prefer ice cubes in my drink. I notice a momma bird feed her baby bird bread crumbs on the piazza floor.

I see a momma cat and her kittens hide in the shade of chairs.

I watch bees harvesting nectar from the potted lavender bushes and hear the bells chime from the convent on the hill above the village. A Vespa whines in the distance. I take a bite from my panini of prosciutto di Parma and Fontina cheese and think how marvelous it is that I haven’t once looked at a cell phone text or read an email. This won’t last, of course. But I am so thankful to have been given this temporary taste of freedom from my addiction to the Internet and with the need to keep up with all things and all people all the time. I give in and tell myself that my boys are just fine without me for a brief time. I pull out a map and start to plan a day excursion to another village. I begin to think about dinner—the obsession with food is quite contagious in Italy. And by the end of an hour, I head back home. Perhaps boring for some, but for me, being in the moment and present in my surroundings is a gift. I want to bottle it up and take it home.

When we arrived at the end of June this was just another green field with rows of leafy plants. Within two weeks, like so many of other fields in this region, it literally burst overnight with bright yellow and brown heads beaming up towards the sky. Driving past later in the afternoon, I shot this picture from the car window. I didn’t have time to stop with another car close behind me on a winding two-lane road—but I couldn’t resist the urge to capture their newly emerged faces. These proud, tall sunflowers seemed to scream “Smile, Damn it!”

And I did.

May 20, 2012: A Day of Mystery and Beauty

Yesterday was the first solar eclipse in Gemini, the first solar eclipse visible in the United States, in 18 years.

According to http://SpiritualTherapy.wordpress.com, “astrologically speaking, eclipses are powerful events that shake up our usual sense of balance, intensify the energy field, and often bring breakdowns and breakthroughs that allow for change to move through our lives.”

I’m not sure if it was the influence of the solar eclipse in Gemini (with my birthday this week), or if I was just lucky, but yesterday was a good day. In fact, it was one of the best yet with my boys. Here’s how it started:


After much wrangling, I managed to push the boys out of the house for a morning stroll, looking for shells, on the beach. It was beyond wonderful as I walked, free of my boot/cast, feeling the warm sand on my toes. Even though we were having a chilly, over-cast morning, the warm sand, and sweet conversation about shells, felt delicious.
From there, after a lunch playdate, we took a drive south to Palos Verdes while my youngest napped. As we drove, the haze and fog lifted and inspiration hit. After driving south all the way past Trumps Golf Course, we turned around and parked at Abalone Cove. The little one woke up, looking at the yellow flowers and the ocean beyond and exclaimed, “Awesome!” I quite agree.
To get down to the cove, we had to hike down a narrow, winding path, that provides the most amazing views of the famous stretch of waters—now world-known from scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean. Do you recognize it?

Its beauty is so overwhelming that I kept pinching myself and thinking this could be in the South of France, the Caribbean, South Africa, Portugal, Italy…You get the idea. Every time I stopped to snap a picture, I transported myself elsewhere and got the instant JOLT—the feeling of being on vacation. Where else can one get that feeling, then taking a drive or a hike along the coast of California?
JUST another stroll on an average Sunday.
The best part of being in Abalone Cove is that it is literally teeming with life. It’s tidal pools are filled with sea anemones, crabs and snails. Watching my little guys explore, discover and scurry up rocks made me happier than I’ve been in ages. This is what kids are meant to do.
What is it about boys and rocks?
Want to feel like a kid again? There’s nothing better than exploring and discovering life in a tidal pool. My heart soared as I watched and listened to my boys exclaim: “I found one! Look at this!” when pointing to sea anemones, crabs or snails. What a day. So full of life, color, vibrancy.
On the way back up the cove, we discovered a nursery school. Seriously. In this remote cove in Palos Verdes, you can send your children to an open-air classroom where they scurry down to the cove and explore, every day. Can I go back in time and attend?? My inner little girl stomped and screamed, “I want to GO!”
Wouldn’t you like to go to class here too?
Yes, this is in America. Wow, I want to play too.
One last look goodbye before heading back to the car.
May 20, 2012 will not be easily forgotten. Later that evening, while in the car, I shot this amazing picture of the solar eclipse with my phone. What a lucky girl I am!

Laguna Magic

Blissful Laura.

There is nothing like a quick get-a-way with a girlfriend to refresh your soul. And what better place on Earth than Laguna Niguel? Seriously, how lucky am I to be barely an hours drive away from such insane beauty. I’m realizing that it’s critical to take time away from the kids with an old friend—even if just for an afternoon, like we did. My girlfriend from London is in town and I wanted to immerse her in the Laguna magic that is reminiscent of Nice or another Mediterranean seaport towns. Its dramatic cliffs and coves and ever-changing winds, weather and moods, can lift anyone’s spirits. Since she is an artist, I knew she’d love the views and colors by Dana Point.

View of Dana Point

So we drove through town and went to The Ritz where the best views can be had. It’s quite nice to be able to enjoy the view from the patio, and chat over a cup of coffee. I’m not sure if many people realize that even if you can’t afford to stay at The Ritz, you can pay for parking and have lunch, or a drink at one of the hotel’s outside lounges or cafes and soak in the outstanding views.

Life has been incredibly stressful lately, and not being able to exercise has been taking its toll. (I tore a ligament three weeks ago.) But as the clouds finally began to shift, I took off my boot/cast, sat back and watched the sun peak out from under the moody fog and literally felt lightness seep into my being.

Sometimes all you really need in life is a different perspective and a change in venue.

Of course, a bit of drama and a good friend makes it all that much better.

And why is it so magical to breathe in a mix of salty sea air and fragrant tropical flowers?

Putting physical distance between you and your regular routine, helps you see through the entanglements.

As I drove back in the heavy traffic at 4 p.m. I was content, stress-free and couldn’t wait to see my boys and get back to my role as mommy. (But wasn’t it delightful to just be a girlfriend having girl-talk for one lovely afternoon!)

A Mother’s Legacy: Beauty and Brains

Photo By: THE Herb Ritts (Exhibit currently @ The Getty)

The photo is stunning. Its elegance, drama, lines, curves, shadows are absolutely breathtaking. A good friend is visiting from London this week and I took her, with my boys, to The Getty museum yesterday. Kate has always adored old Hollywood glamour, and since this is her first trip to America, what better way to get an infusion of that glamour than at the Herb Ritts’ exhibition at The Getty—which has the best views of Los Angeles as well. We took turns in the delicious exhibition that featured many celebrities and sculptured bodies against dramatic backdrops. Kate played with the boys in the kiddie room and allowed me the time to wander, meander and soak all the beauty in. What I noticed, (besides the intensely chiseled men) is that the women Ritts tended to photograph had a raw and natural beauty. Not much makeup. Large eyes. Voluptuous lips. Intense presence that smacked of intelligence or wisdom beyond their years. As I walked around the exhibit, I began to think about what my next blog post within A Mother’s Legacy should be. I’ve been a bit distracted with my friend in town and have gotten a bit behind, my apologies.

As I was looking at a photograph of an anonymous woman with gob-stocker -sized eyes, plump lips and strength in her features, it hit me. My post will be of my mother’s raw beauty. Mom never thought of herself as beautiful. She didn’t shop much. She didn’t exercise beyond walking and gardening, but was skinny as a rail for most of her life. In her photographs from college, which I found and saved after helping to settle her estate, you can see her timeless beauty.

MaryAnn Roe

Growing up, I rarely saw my mother, who was a child-protective services social worker, put on make up. She had her signature lipstick, but beyond that, she was a bit helpless in the makeup department. As you can see in her graduation picture, she had a natural beauty. What I love even more, is that she also had incredible smarts. She was accepted into both Brown University and Duke University and decided upon Duke, where she met my father and lived her entire adult life. I don’t think my mother ever made less than an A in her entire educational career. She could have done just about anything (or nothing, as she didn’t have to work) but  was driven to help the down-trodden and less fortunate. In the early 50s, when most women were concentrating on finding Mr. Right, mom seemed to concentrate on finding Mr. Right AND helping women to achieve their dreams and equality. I love the photo taken in college as it shows a bit of her chutzpah. She is gorgeous, even with a man’s haircut, and has a rebellious cigarette in her hand. I can see her drive that likely inspired her to later help found Women In Action, and volunteer relentlessly, even with most Democratic elections. She dedicated herself passionately to her job as a social worker, requiring her to often visit others in slums and sometimes put herself in dangerous situations.

She had a way about her, through the life that she led, that taught her three daughters that they could do anything they set their minds to. She didn’t preach to us and rarely said a negative word about anyone. She showed that beauty, grace and intelligence are not mutually exclusive. I will never understand how someone who woke every morning at 4 a.m. to read the newspaper back to back and do the Times crossword puzzle, could have her brain so horrifically attacked by Alzheimer’s at such a young age. Life isn’t fair. My sincere hope, by writing these blog posts, is that the women and men who take care of my sweet mother will read my words, see the pictures, and treat her with dignity. Because the person who is ravaged by Alzheimer’s does not represent the beautiful soul still somewhere within. The hardest thing about leaving your mother in the care of other people who are not family and who have never known her in her prime, is that you have to take a leap of faith that they will care for her in a gentle manner with patience and respect. It’s hard to know. She can’t talk to me. But hopefully they’ll get a sense of her kindness. I know from the director of the facility that mom is still trying to help others, even in her condition. It’s just a part of who she is. I think we are born with innate gifts and hers (besides playing piano by ear, which I will write about later) is definitely a sincere kindness and need to help others. And that is a rare beauty that isn’t found often in my world of LaLa land—or anywhere else  for that matter.

A Mother’s Legacy: Staying On The Brink

Mom and William, one week old, November 2001

“I want PIE!” Jamesy yells at me this morning. He has already climbed onto the second shelf of the pantry, which he knows he isn’t allowed to do.

“Well, I didn’t make the pie, and besides, that’s not a breakfast food, is it? Lets get down from there,” I reply calmly, trying to mask the tension that is rising like bile in my throat. I look at my angelic, chubby three-year-old with star-lit, midnight blue eyes and tousled blond hair. I know what is coming next—what has been happening in our house for months now.

‘NOOOO!!!!” he wails like a super sonic boom and then hurls a kitchen timer against the wall.

I take a deep breath and  pick up his squirming body. “Ok, time out buddy.”

His legs kick my calf. Hard. A zinger of pain flashes up to my kneecap and down to my swollen achilles’ heel. Why did I forget to put that damn boot back on? I think as I grimace with pain. Almost three weeks ago I tore a tendon in my left calf, so chasing after my three-year-old has now become an Olympic endeavor. I manage to strap him into his time-out chair—which is my second car seat. As I walk to pick up the now broken kitchen timer, he kicks his seat over, landing with a thud. His head is now on the floor, his feet raised above him in a sitting position. The crazy guy laughs, looks at me victoriously, and then starts screaming again.

“I HATE TIME OUT!!!” he screams.

William and I just shrug and sit down to eat our breakfast. We have gone through this scenario many times since we took the advice of Jamesy’s teacher who recommended that I place a car seat in my kitchen and strap him into it for a time out each time he throws things, yells, hits, climbs the pantry walls, bites, etc. Ignoring him, threatening with a consequence, taking away toys, and dare I admit, even a spanking, all don’t work on my little guy. Putting him in time out didn’t work before because he just refused to stay seated. Strapping him into time out is helping, believe it or not. It’s just taking an extraordinarily long time. I have a very stubborn three-year-old who hates to hear the word No or not be able to do what he wants to do. Like most I guess, but his older brother was never this ballsy or stubborn. Eventually, he stopped these shenanigans.  Plus, I didn’t have William and Jamesy close together in age. William is 10, James 3. I can’t imagine surviving life as a single mom with an insanely stubborn James and a brother only one or two years older. Seriously, with an ex in Europe and no family help, I might have ended up in Betty Ford or some mental facility.

Today, when I was taking James to school, I thought about my mom. You may be wondering what my son’s behavior, and how the scene I just described to you, has anything to do with a Mother’s Legacy. Well, a lot actually. My mother had four children and a husband who would work three-day shifts at the hospital. Back then, three-day-shifts were not frowned upon like they are today. She was virtually a single mom in Boston with my brother 3 and two sisters ages 2 and 1. They were all still in diapers!!

“Well, I just didn’t know any better,” my mom said to me 10 years ago when she visited me after I gave birth to William. “I mean, back then, you didn’t expect your husband to help you. You didn’t complain either. And I just thought it was fun,” she laughed. I clearly didn’t believe her last statement.

When she said this to me, I was in the throws of repeated sitz baths for a class 4 tear, (men reading this, DON’T ASK), sore nipples, engorged breasts verging on infection since I couldn’t get the milk to come in properly, and hormones raging to the point where at certain moments I literally wanted to die. Exhaustion, hormones, whatever it was, I realized that what I was feeling was akin to what clinical depression must feel like. Having three kids one right after another, and than four years later her oops child, (which I am), my mom must have always been on the brink of despair. But I don’t remember seeing her succumb to it, not over raising children anyway. Maybe she was just too busy.

Mom and William, three months.

Over the next two years after William’s birth, she graced me with her stories. But her stories about raising three babies were what inspired me most. She didn’t know why I was in shock, but clearly, she loves babies and has a higher threshold for stress, than I do. Her stories gave me strength, however. Luckily for me, once my breast milk came in with earnest and I could breast feed around the clock, my cloud of depression lifted. I listened to her stories and began to think I can do this.

“Every Sunday I called my mom and we’d talk about politics. I loved our Sunday calls,” my mom told me 10 years ago.  “Well, this one Sunday, I’ll never forget it. Your father was at the hospital and I looked around as I spoke with NiNi (her mother) and I saw your sister (and with her next description, I knew exactly which sister it was) climbing up the curtain rod! I started to go for her, but then I heard something and looked out back and your other sister was pushing down your brother from his bicycle. Well, I’m still on the phone, but as I go to your brother, I turn around and look back and I see your sister now putting a screw in her mouth!” Amazingly, the whole time she’s telling me this story, she is smiling. What lesson did she learn? Not to decorate, or put up curtains partially, and then take a phone call when you have three children. I, on the other hand, was completely horrified. I had my one and only baby suckling at my breast and began to think I will never, ever, have another child.

“Well, I laughed and laughed about that. Of course, I had to get the screw out of her mouth first!” my mom said. Over the years as her Alzheimer’s began to take hold, she repeated that story to me over and over again.

Mom and William, 2 years.

It was as if she knew that I’d need to remember it too. That I would need to pull it out of a file in the back of my mind to remind myself that this craziness is what it’s all about. We’re all pushed to the brink when raising children. But it’s how we handle it and carry through that matters.

Three years ago I was visiting my mother. She was still at home then, although we had assistants to help her. It was evening, and she had fallen asleep with her TV on. I went in to shut it off. She raised up and pointed to the hall light.

“I finally put a cover on it. Like it?” she asked me. I turned to look at the hall light and noticed a new sconce. “Oh. Wow. Yes, we finally have one.”

“I know, I never replaced the old one because I was so ashamed,” she said to me, clear as day.

When I asked her what she was talking about, she replied, “Well, one day, when you four were up to something. I can’t recall really, but one of your sisters was yelling and your brother was doing something, I don’t remember what, but I got so mad, I actually threw my shoe up the stairs and it hit the hall light. I never did replace it (the sconce) because I wanted to look at that ugly bulb to remember how stupid I was. I didn’t want to lose my temper like that ever again.”

I swallowed hard and held her hand. “It’s ok mom.”

“Oh, it’s silly. I should have known better. Don’t do that kind of thing, ok?”

The next morning, when I told her I enjoyed our talk she replied, “Oh? What talk? Didn’t you just get here?”

Well, call it Divine intervention, but I know we did have a talk and I’m so grateful—that even though she didn’t remember it—I always will. And I thought about her advice today after Jamesy threw his smoothie across the car and it landed with a SPLAT across the entire backseat. Sigh. I’m clearly on the brink too. But I’m going to be brave and stand on the edge and take a deep breath. I may have to dig in my heels and brace myself or a long stay. But my little guy will grow up eventually, right? And if I make it through with my sanity in check, just think about the stories I’ll be able to embarrass him with!

A Mother’s Legacy: Wildflowers

Queen Anne’s Lace

As some of you may know, my mother has Alzheimer’s disease. It’s such a crushing disease as it creeps into the mind of the person you love and robs them of the essence of who they are. Little by little it picks up speed, like a ball rolling down the hill, and all you can do is sit by, breathless, as you watch the person you love slip away. My mother is now in a facility more than 2,500 miles away and since I can’t see or talk with her, I’ve decided to write each day until Mother’s Day about her and the legacy she leaves behind for her four children. Anyone who knew MaryAnn Roe, knows how she lost herself and her worries when she gardened. I learned about wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, and gardening, from my mother.

Orange Nasturtium

She inspired me to always make wonderful bouquets from the wildflowers, or any blossoms in our own garden. Orange nasturtiums were one of her favorites, and she marveled at how enormous they grew in California, as they couldn’t manage to expand in the heat and humidity in her North Carolina garden.

Butterfly Bush

Even just two years ago, when her mind had slipped dramatically into the worsening phases of her disease, she would wander around and around her front and back yards weeding, picking up sticks, watering her plants and marveling at the butterflies and hummingbirds that would visit her butterfly bush. While she couldn’t utter how much peace her garden brought her, it was evident in her face and through her continued ability to somehow manage to take care of her cherished plants.

Marigold

I loved her creativity when it came to her bouquets. In fact, mom gathered gardenia and magnolia blooms from our yard in North Carolina, put them in coolers, and transported them to Atlanta where I got married 12 years ago. On each table she created graceful, fragrant bouquets that no one knew were handmade touches from home.

Magnolia bloom

Mother’s infectious love of gardening inspired me to visit every botanical garden in almost every city where I have lived or traveled to. I loved being able to take her to the Kew Gardens in London, the botanical gardens in Atlanta, Duke Gardens in Durham, the gardens at the Getty or sending her pictures from gardens in Lisbon, Madrid, Nice, Budapest or Kauai. (I will dig up pictures from those trips at some point!) I may never become a green thumb like mom, but I’m sure I’ll always think of her when I see a bouquet of wildflowers.

A Mom’s Legacy: Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Photo by: Barb Hale

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

From the Kitchen of MaryAnn Roe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2  tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 3 cups cut rhubarb
  • 1 pie crust mix
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine

Courtesy of: PublicPhoto.org

Directions:

Combine sugar, tapioca, salt, nutmeg, orange juice and rhubarb. Place in 9 inch pie pan, lined with pastry. Top with strawberries/rhubarb mix and dot with butter. Cover with remaining pastry (pie crust).

Photo courtesy of Coconut Recipes

“I prefer rolling pastry, cutting stripes and making a lattice top.  If you cover fruit completely with pastry, make air vents,” wrote my mother on her recipe card. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.

This is my absolute favorite summer dessert that my mom used to make. There’s something wonderful about the sour mixed with the sweetness. ENJOY!!!

Single Mom’s Wanderlust: A State of Mind

As many of you may know, I used to live in London and traveled quite a bit. I moved back to California in the summer of 2008, when 7 months pregnant. Southern California is a great place to be when you’re sleep deprived and in need of sunshine and fresh air. But lately, I find myself starting to get that twitchy foot. The itch that, in the past, would make want to purchase a last minute rail ticket for a weekend excursion to somewhere in Europe. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss my old life at all. I really do believe that I was supposed to go through this mess: this divorce, this single motherhood thing and that it’s all part of a plan. It’s forcing me to grow and realize my inner strength and  I have embraced that better things are yet to come. BUT, that doesn’t mean that I don’t sometimes need to GET AWAY.

Now that I’m regularly sleeping through the night, (isn’t it marvelous when your child finally lets you??) I’m feeling the urge to hit the open road. I crave getting into my car and driving for long periods at a time with no real destination. I recall reading Ann Tyler’s book Ladder of Years where the main character, a 40-year-old mom, took a walk and just kept walking until she moved to another town altogether. I loved it. (Although I adore all of Ann Tyler’s books.)

Don’t worry, ya’ll. I’m not about to do that. But I realize that I need vistas. I need to explore. It’s always been a part of my DNA. My Ex hated that I rarely planned or structured our trips beyond arranging a house swap or renting a flat or house somewhere. I liked to meander and discover things—to sit at cafes and people watch or talk with a chatty local and get the low-down on where to go that evening. I miss spontaneity. In college, I’d take off and drive from Georgia to Maine with no set stopping places in between. I’d stop where it felt good to do so. I naturally gravitated to journalism as I liked the constant change of scenery or new voices. As a child, I wandered in the woods and horse trails. I love discovering by happenstance. With that said, I’m literally and financially too grounded to take off as a single mom of two kiddos.

But I’m realizing that I can still get a little bit of that flight feeling by opening my eyes wider and exploring closer to home. By being present and taking in my surroundings or taking short excursions with the boys, we can explore. So, I’m rarely without my camera these days. I’m far from a photographer, (and none of my pictures were taken with special lenses or have been touched up in some way) but I find that shooting pictures of the beauty that surrounds me in Southern California reminds me there are things to discover in my own backyard. It helps ease that yearning for an excursion I can’t have right now.

There will be days ahead for faraway travel. But for now, I’m going to keep drinking in my sun-kissed part of the world. When I take pictures and look at them later, I’ll remember to thank God for second chances at a new life. I am grateful to stay put at the moment. I am grateful to have the time to create and discover what beauty surrounds and lies within.