Monday, December 15, 2014

A Gift that Keeps on Giving

Last month I was offered a gift...a Christmas gift... 
 

...from a cousin I only knew from a once-upon-a-time family reunion and Facebook. She and my mother are first cousins...twice. Oma's mother (a Crochet) married a Miller, and this cousin's father (the Crochet brother) married that Miller's sister. This was common in Cajun country as they married into fledging communities of large families.

And so began a major first world dilemma: sorting through three generations of china hutches and fine china to go out to five children in my frantic attempt to declutter while eagerly accepting the new-to-me gift.


Yesterday my husband drove me and my parents to Lafayette to load this family heirloom. She also sent me home with a complete bed set, frame...even curtains...that belonged to her mother who was my grandfather's sister, so my great-aunt. And she shared with us a near-death experience she had and how family members were able to be reached via...what-of-course...FB.

FB is a beautiful working tool when used amongst family members, for family members.

I want to share her gifted offering here so I and my children and grandchildren will remember where this gift comes from.

A gift complete with tongue and groove carpenter-ship and wooden pegs even. Estimated to have been built in 1916, it will be 99 years old next year and 100 the following year.


Her first message: "Cay, I am offering this piece to you or anyone in your family... I am downsizing and my girls have no room as they have taken other pieces. This is from Grandma and Pa Crochet's home... Phillip and Eugenia Crochet... Ila's (my grandmother) Mother and Father... Grandpa made this for Grandma when they first married... It is hand-hued Cypress... It was painted grey when I took it when the house was dismantled when Grandpa went into the nursing home... I had it dipped to strip and then I stained it and have used it all these years as a bookcase... I still love it a lot but time to pass it down.. I will have no room for all my treasures... If anyone one like it because of the family history they are welcome to come get it... I hope someone does..."
 
My reply: "Oh wow!!! I would love to have it..."

My cousin's response: "Oh Cay, I could cry... I was so hoping... I didn't want someone out of the family to have it and my girls had not room..."

My response: "I've been wanting something like it and had been looking but hadn't found what I wanted. To know the history and meaning behind this piece makes me want to cry too!"

 My cousin's reply: "You didn't find it because it was coming you way... So excited for both of us! I just passed Grandma Millers dresser to Deanna Aunt Martha's Daughter...she is so excited also... I feel both of these pieces have the right homes... Makes me so happy...I want nothing for it... I am just so thrilled it will be Loved as I loved it."
 
Both she and my mother remembered going to grandma's house and what... I've been calling 'the hutch' and what she and my mother called the 'dish/food cabinet'...had to offer.
 
It was so neat to hear her and my mother talk of their remembrances of it...of the bowl of sweet potatoes kept on it, of pies cooling on it, of syrup pies oozing and eggs being beaten upon it. We visited another cousin before heading back west and he and my mother shared mutual stories of Grandma Miller's pie safe. He remembered syrup cakes. Oma remembered syrup pies.
 
Yesterday, my cousin shared more information about 'the hutch'. Once upon a time, it had doors on the bottom front and one had to line them up just-so in order to get them to close and how there was a wooden latch at the top of those doors to seal it. Those doors are long gone but the hinge markings remain.
 
Especially notable was my cousin telling us how Grandpa shared how the cabinet originally had a boxed in screen front at the top to keep cakes and pies safe from flies and gnats and chubby wistful little fingertips. But when times began to change and the new became old and Grandma being a woman and women being...well...who we are and how we are...she insisted on a cabinet remake.
 
The very thought of it...in this day of HGTV and This Old House and Property Brothers or Flip or Flop or Rehab Addict or (my personal favorite) House Hunters, plus fruitful binges of several bloggers who share wonderlands of remodeling...where women, because of who we are and how we are, change countertops simply because of color schemes to charm our womanly hearts and husbands do it to serve us and bask in our contented state, made me laugh at the sight of my tiny great-grandmother demanding that her husband dismantle the boxed screened-in top of this small hand-hued cabinet in order to give her kitchen a modernized look.
 
And today it sits...old, complete, and vintage...in my old kitchen.
 
 
Which is funnier yet. My cousin's home is lovely...straight out of Better Homes and Garden or Southern Living whereas my home is strictly functional. I wonder a bit if she realizes just how functioning my home is...like hyper-functioning...and, if she did, would she have still given it to me. My cousin used it as a bookcase and it sat in a guest room of her home. When I picked it up from her, she was in the process of moving so everything was being cleared out.
 
Now it sits in my house, once again, the object of functionality.
 
Part of me denies I've placed this piece in the most highly functional room of my house...the kitchen. The traffic area and gathering area are insane in the least of times, crazy madness in the best of time. I'm sure my parents are clearly worried. I'm a pretty laid-back MayMay but I've already knelt in humility at a toddler's level, looked at it with the wondering eyes of my three little grandsons, and wondered if the little gingerbread man and the cookie jar need to scoot a step backwards.
 
 
I've placed lovingly things that have meaning and functionality on its shelves.
 
St. Lucia, during the month of December, heralds a Catholic faith that has lovingly been passed down from one generation to the next amidst a set of white jars my husband gifted me with... 
 
 Small plates for quick serving of things a food cabinet/pie safe would be expected to serve...
 
 
Such as:
Cookies, of course!
 
Hot cocoa
 
Ginger/coffee treats (made by my artistic daughter)

And I've placed legacy pieces such as this needlework given to me on my wedding day by my aunt/godmother who passed away last year...
 
And a cute little egg basket I picked up at a flea show a couple years ago and two sweet little wicker baskets to hold fun secret items for the boys... 
And Memama's old stone bowl...The Old Stone Bowl...is my husband's contribution upon these family shelves, representative of the *mixing bowl* of family, if you don't mind the stretch...which will probably have to move high from little fingers after the holiday stuff gets put away.
 
But this pie safe/food cabinet/hutch is an antique. Lovingly refurbished by my cousin's hands. Treasured and kept safe by her all these years.
 
Only to end up in my kitchen, a kitchen that is in a state of constant flux, a kitchen in the dawning of a second generation of little people...
 
Who, pray tell me, puts things like that in a center obstacle course to be used!?! with the intent to serve family members in a crazy 21st century kitchen?
 
I almost worry my cousin might come to my house and reclaim this old vintage piece. As long as she remembers that a Crochet/Miller connection, twice made, is full of Cajun craziness, I might be ok. ;-)
 
It's almost like a Mary/Martha analogy.
 
Which is the better part?
 
MayMay's madness has begun!  
 
{Handmade ginger treats made by my artistic daughter Chelsea}
 Yet isn't madness at all. It's a well-thought out process...if only in my mind.
 
I want my grandchildren to feel the love, not only see it from a safe distance. I want them to see it and hear it and feel it and smell it and taste it.  The work of my great grandfather's hands, saved by my cousin's hands, continues to serve the family.
 
It's definitely a God-thing, as my cousin says.
 
And so, if you visit or my cousin visits, know that this hutch, while loving salvaged and saved at her hands (for which I'm forever grateful) is a very living, breathing work of functionality that continues to serve family with dished heaps of love.
 
It's knowing that my little boys and their future cousins will peer up at those shelves with the same childlike wonder generations did before them and they'll remember the old hutch and will one day debate whether it was syrup cakes or syrup pies that cooled upon it's shelves. And they'll know that...whether cakes, pies, cookies...MayMay made those treats for them amidst loving functionality that resides within this old kitchen.
 
There's a meaning behind my madness. It's embracing the Mary while being the Martha.
{Photo credit to Chelsea}
 
 
* * * * *
Speaking of which...I'm willing to pay someone to come clean out my pantry which is *hands-down* my boys' most favorite playroom. Any Martha's out there with a Mary's heart????

 

 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Life's Only Reality

"After the past ten days whirlwind of activities, it is good to share another My World this Week blog post. I need long stretches of time to ponder and I must admit, re-entering the world of the fast lane made my head spin. I must shake my head and wonder that I used to live that way each and every day of the year. Amazing..."

* * * * *

This would be me...

 

          if it wasn't so perfectly someone else...

 

The whirl of activity doesn't stop long enough for me...

 

          and since I have the frame of mind, the resources and the health to continue keeping up with the whirl...

 

               and knowing that one day...

 

                    due to lose of mind, lack of resources or demise of health...

 

                               it will all STOP...

 

                                        I continue...

 

                                                  part of life's whirl...

 

                                                            in motion.

 

In grateful abandonment.

And I'm grateful for bloggers such as Brenda over at Coffee Tea Books and Me  who stops long enough to celebrate the colors and share the framework of her world each week with those of us who can't stop long enough to blog it.

It's nice to just sit and see the beauty of PAUSE through someone else's snow globe....

             And know that someone else enjoys beauty and quiet in the same way we do. 

 

Because I truly miss those days...of writing and blogging.

 

But when the dew settles on my windows, my hands are busy and my arms are full...



 

      And this is what life is all about.

 

          It isn't about me or my desires or my wants or my time.

 

                     It's about God and his desires and his wants and his time.

 

                          All about His time. A precious commodity.

 

And so in the times I pause and the world whirls on...

 

      I place within my view this image...

 

                                                         only this...




 Knowing that it...

 

           and the people I meet...

 

                      and the people I greet...

 

are my reality...

                          in fact...

 

                                       they are my only reality.

 Each day I'm sharing a holiday stress busters over at the
Just a little relief and beauty to share this merry season. :-)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Beehive is Open this Season

Since it's time for crazy preparation, I'd like to offer an open invitation to join us at A Beehive of Spiritual Activity.

It's going to be freely open this Advent Season (beginning November 30) for you to partake of the encouragement, booklets, downloadable lists, etc. to *hopefully* free your home-beehive a little with intentional spiritual activity.

Everything will be sub-divided on the Spiritual Beehive blog and notices will be provided on our Beehive Facebook page. Now is a great time to join us because we have found the Facebook page to be too drippy with sharing the multiple seasonal files so it will be more structured on the blog until we can cull it together on the website: A Beehive of Spiritual Activity

For starters, every day of Advent a simple *stress relief* will be dropped into your holiday tank. This is something that will assist you this month or just something that helps you to embrace the Christmas spirit over the Christmas insanity.

For example, today you pick a cherished scent, one you always associate with holiday bliss, to embrace into your home this season.
Each time you inhale the scent, you will pause.
Each time you exhale the scent, you will prepare.
Each time you breathe the scent deeply, you will prosper.

Simple little cues. Nothing big. Nothing overwhelming. We know you have enough going on without adding any more. We also know there are so many good things hoping for your time, praying for your attention.

Our hope is that you merely think of peace when you see an update from the Spiritual Beehive. It is also our hope that if you are feeling over stimulated by your to-do list, the Spiritual Beehive will remind you to that even if all those snowflurries in your head don't build a snowman, the season is still a joyful thing to contemplate. That's our hope because this is the week of Hope. And if you only capture them in your head and they never become any more than hopeful ideals, that's ok. Because through them those images and ideals will find their way into our hearts and that's a beautiful place for snowflurries to land.

A very beautiful place.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Advent Goodies and Preparations and a Giveaway

  
Word has it that the ever popular Shower of Roses blog is having a sleighful of giveaways this week. You don't want to miss them! And she shows more than tells this lovely sampler from the Feasts and Seasons that have created our Advent/Christmas/Epiphany Collection.
 
It will include a copy of my popular Christmas resource Christmas Mosaic. You can enjoy an old Christmas tradition or create a new Christmas tradition with your children (and/or grandchildren) using Christmas Mosaic to guide you through the four very special weeks of Advent right up through Epiphany.
 
Jessica's blog post alone for this giveaway is scrumptious eye candy. I'm sitting here oogling at the photographs she shares and enjoying the comments as they are posted.

This...This...the sharing...the excitement...the glee...the joy...is what makes Christmas magical.

Speaking of sharing...here are a few things from past Christmases I want to share.

{Remember to fly over to Jessica's blog and enter to win an autographed copy of Christmas Mosaic in time to begin a much loved family tradition.}
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Advent Retreats

Orthodox Mom offers a 66-page Advent Study "...with the hope of assisting us to overcome the spirit of secularism by offering some simple things to ponder every day during the next six weeks.  ...
Included in this Advent Study are weekly devotionals, daily readings, and activities to help us remember who and what we are really celebrating at Christmastime."


Extremely affordable at $5.50 which you download and print and place into a binder.

I've got mine ready to study.

* * * * *

And Women Living Well is offering a FREE Advent Study and December Reading Plan.


The cover alone is luscious and fragrant enough to inhale.

I've got mine printed and packaged and ready to enjoy!


 
"The weeks leading up to Christmas and Epiphany are some of the busiest and most stressful of the year. How can we live them as God wants us to live them? How can we re-learn the childlike art of anticipation and apply it to our grown-up lives?"
 
Available Nov. 23, 2014 from RCSpirituality.com

* * * * *


Advent 2014 Resources by Jennifer G. Miller
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Friday, November 14, 2014

All Across Louisiana...

From the Mississippi River to Sabine...
{Seen at Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island}
Throughout Louisiana people are sighting my new children's book Cajun 'Ti Beau and the Cocodries published by Pelican Publishing.

I have updated the upcoming Book Signings and Presentations and added a long list of gifts shops and bookstores throughout Louisiana where you will find my new book skipping and skimming, "cutting through the tall swamp grasses and around the cypress trees beside the bayou" waiting to glide to your house to be enjoyed by your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews and cousins, and by your spouse who wants to try their hand at making an Alligator Sauce Piquante (recipe found in back of book).

Anyone far away from the bayous of Louisiana who would like to order an autographed copy, can contact me @ cay gibson at g mail . com (no spaces) for more information.

If you have a moment to share a review on Amazon or your blog, I would enjoy reading it. :-)

And remember...never trust an alligator's smile! ;-)

Places to hunt for cocodries...
Bayou Country-Slidell, LA

Beauvoir Gift Shop-Biloxi, MS

Louisiana Cajun Stuff-Houma, LA

Louisiana Purchase-Natchitoches, LA 

Rip Van Winkle Gardens-New Iberia, LA

LeBleu's Landing-Sulphur , LA

Gordon's Fine Gifts-Lake Charles, LA (book signing Nov. 15th)

The Fad-Franklin, LA

Georgia’s Gift Shop-Natchitoches, LA

Cabbage Patch Gift Shop-Vinton, LA

Thrifty Way-Abbeville, LA

Mardi Gras World-New Orleans, LA

 Prejean’s Cajun Restaurant-Lafayette, LA


Cajun Village Antiques-Sorrento, LA

Judy’s Hallmark Shop-Gretna, LA

Houmas House-Darrow, LA

Pick a Book-Breaux Bridge, LA

Cajun Treats-Welsh, LA

Vermilionville-Lafayette, LA

University Of La Lafayette Museum-Lafayette, LA

Tubby and Coo’s-New Orleans, LA

 Maple Street Book Shop-New Orleans, LA





Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I Know a Nurse Like This...

At a recent meeting for directors of religious education, our spiritual leader asked for us to focus on the Eucharist and how to teach the children the gift of it, the gift of Sacrifice which they need to understand in order to realize the ultimate gift and example that Jesus gave and showed us on the Cross.

One of the DREs made the observation that, as a whole, American children do not know or understand what sacrifice is. They (we) haven't had much practice with that concept.

On a day when we are remembering our military veterans (and their families) and the sacrifices they made for our country and I am forever grateful for my dad and brother (Army), my father-in-law (Navy), my brother-in-law (Coast Guard), my nephew (Marines) and my uncle (Green Berets) and so many other family relatives who have served and sacrificed...

...today I am thinking of another relative who is learning the gift of Sacrifice in a 21st century way.

She shared this post the other day...

I Wish I Could Cry with You, But I Can't

She's one of the strongest people I know.

And she's my daughter.


In a phone conversation with her father last night, our registered nurse shared that she has begun training for a potential Ebola outbreak...incase...just in case...someone enters their hospital with this intruder.

Because she does not have children yet, she would be one of the first called upon to minister to an Ebola patient.

 
I'm often left in awe that I co-created this child...this person...this woman. Her father and I. With God.

She's such an individual.

She was the child I was told I had created nine months before I planned to even think of creating.

She was the child I almost lost and spent a agonizing week in bed with severe bleeding...with a two year old running around the house.

That she is here is a mystery...and a blessing.

I see her father in her. Her daddy says she's just like me.

But she's not.

My family will tell you in a heartbeat that I am not the family nurse. My husband has reckoned my medicinal knowledge and administration there of to tending a garden of failed plants: "It's a good thing you don't take care for our children the way you take care of our plants."

True...I see the similarities at times...the bluntness, the twitch of the mouth, the curtain being drawn. In many ways she is like me. She moves fast and she serves hard. We steel ourselves against the inevitable and we get the job done. But we wear a mask.

Those are the things I like least about myself so I see them most pronounced. They are the things that are probably necessary yet the very things I wish I could change.

She's so much more than I am. She may have some of my edges, but she's learned how to smooth them out.

In normal, everyday conversation she might mention a patient vomiting blood all over her, apologizing the whole time she tries calming him while placing towels under or about him while dealing with anxious family members or about a drug addict cursing her out or loosing another patient to cancer; but rarely. Mostly, she doesn't bother anyone with her sorrows. Instead she sits and allows the person talking about their failed deadlines or undelivered mail or spilt milk with as much respect and understanding as though that were the most important sacrifice on earth. Because she knows in their world, it is.

In reading this article, for a moment, I get to walk down the hospital hallway with her, seeing and feeling as she sees and feels. Probably because we're more alike than I ever knew.

She uses her hands to medicate the body.
I use my words to medicate the soul.

I know the sensitive side that others may never see. The side that calls for curtains being drawn. I've seen a wall go up at times when we're all sitting around the kitchen table because I know she can't allow herself to go there. She feels things like I do but we have two different ways of handling them.


She speaks hospice to the anxious.
I speak hospice to the searching.

She serves. And we don't know the magnitude of it until someone mentions it in passing us at the store or leaving church or on social media.



If she isn't working, she's simply there...to drive a younger sister somewhere, to keep watch at a hospital not her own, to cook a meal for her brother's family, to babysit a nephew, spend the night with a feeble grandmother, to cheer on a little sister's dance, to freely care for an unwed mother's little girl so she can work, to rescue a stranded friend, to hold a hand...

...or a baby.


And somedays I know she simply holes up in her little cottage and struggles to retrieve herself. That part I know she gets from me.

Cold? Unempathetic? Jaded?

Not at all. You have to read this article to understand: Wish I Could Cry With You. You have to read it to understand why some of us appear stand-offish and yet care more than we would ever care to admit.

Like me, sometimes she is just trying not to cry, because she can't. She can't go there. Can't go as deeply as I can. Because I am weaker. I don't even attempt to walk through those heavy doors.

The part of her that opens those doors and enters a world of sick and hurt is her father made over. I'm grateful God makes people like that. I'm grateful He made her. I'm grateful for people like my daughter who don't overthink sacrifice the way soul-healers (like myself) do; they are merely there to serve you when duty calls. To overthink that would leave them unable to suit up and walk through those heavy doors.

And when they pull open those doors? Most often you'll see them smile because they can't let themselves cry with you.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Alligator Hunt: Enter to Win a Book

Some brave readers have ventured out to capture some snapshots of cocodries in a chance to win a free copy of my newest children's book Cajun 'Ti Beau and the Cocodries.

It's been especially fun for me seeing the entries as they come through on Twitter and FB and into my email box. Simply post a picture of an alligator (or a copy of my book cover if you see it on a shelf somewhere or when it appears in your mailbox) on a social media and tag me in it to share and add the hashtag #cajuntibeauandthecocodries .

One of my little gators will draw the lucky gator on November 2nd.

* * * * *

Shared by Gwen and family in Carlyss, LA
Yes, sightings of my picture book count too.  My good friend Alice over near Kaplan, LA shared hers on Instagram. 
 Shared by Sarah and Daniel's family (Louisiana transplants in Ohio)
{Actually a bath toy but it sure looks convincing}
Mr. Cohen made his first alligator hunt and seems to have caught a very big gator.
His Grandma Sue shared this alligator sighting, literally in my very own backyard, though I'm speculating they were in Cameron, LA. ;-)
Here we have Miss Lauren and Miss Annalise sighted an alligator at Southland Fields Airport recently.
And Miss Rita, age 11, took 20 minutes to capture this alligator perfectly on paper.
Who knew cocodries existed in Northwest Illinois? I sure didn't.
Don't you just love it!?!
Margaret saw copies of Cajun 'ti Beau and the Cocodries over at the Beautiful Rip Van Winkle Gardens in New Iberia.  I can't wait to go back there! Simply beautiful!
 

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