Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Go With The Flow

The Daily Om struck home again. I have to remember to "Go With The Flow." Sometimes I wonder why I have a headache!!! Probably because I'm fighting the universe! The picture is from Musashi's Garden. I call it a fake orchid and have no idea what the real name is. If anyone knows, let me know.

October 27, 2008
Enjoying the Ride
The Flow of the Universe

The flow of the universe moves through everything. It’s in the rocks that form, get pounded into dust, and are blown away, the sprouting of a summer flower born from a seed planted in the spring, the growth cycle that every human being goes through, and the current that takes us down our life’s paths. When we move with the flow, rather than resisting it, we are riding on the universal current that allows us to flow with life.

Many people live their lives struggling against this current. They try to use force or resistance to will their lives into happening the way they think it should. Others move with this flow like a sailor using the wind, trusting that the universe is taking them exactly where they need to be at all times. This flow is accessible to everyone because it moves through and around us. We are always riding this flow. It’s just a matter of whether we are willing to go with it or resist it. Tapping into the flow is often a matter of letting go of the notion that we need to be in control at all times. The flow is always taking you where you need to go. It’s just a matter of deciding whether you plan on taking the ride or dragging your feet.

Learning to step into the flow can help you feel a connection to a force that is greater than you and is always there to support you. The decision to go with the flow can take courage because you are surrendering the notion that you need to do everything by yourself. Riding the flow of the universe can be effortless, exhilarating, and not like anything that you ever expected. When you are open to being in this flow, you open yourself to possibilities that exist beyond the grasp of your control. As a child, you were naturally swept by the flow. Tears of sadness falling down your face could just as quickly turn to tears of laughter. Just the tiniest wave carrying you forward off the shores of the ocean could carry you into peals of delight. Our souls feel good when we go with the flow of the universe. All we have to do is make the choice to ride its currents.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Natchez, Day 5

This was our last day in Natchez. It was our literary morning. We walked to the Historic Natchez Foundation and watched the documentary film, "Richard Wright: A Force for Right." We discussed Wright's short story "Almos' a Man." Then it was off to the courtroom of the Adams County Courthouse, where scenes from The Quiet Game by Greg Iles take place. Susanne Kirk Tomlinson, retired editor and vice president at Simon & Schuster/Scribner talked about "Greg Iles and Natchez: An Author's Use of Place."

Then it was off to The Towers. (It lost its Towers long ago -- one by fire in 1927 and the other to make the house symmetrical.) This is the fountain at the front of the house. An 80 foot Magnolia once stood here. It was hollow and a disaster waiting to happen. It was removed and replaced with this fountain surrounded by Knock Out Roses. We were greeted by beautiful music outside and in the house and by the owner on the front steps.

Out of the car and the group dashed to the fountain to check out the roses! The Italianate facade was added to The Towers just before the Civil War. The Towers was behind the fortification lines of the union army and was occupied by officers for several years while soldiers camped on the grounds around the house.

There is a story about then General Grant being unhappy with the soldiers who were occupying the home. He felt they were too nice to the family and ordered the family removed. The officers allowed the family to leave with most of their possessions. Grant is said to have ridden his horse up and down the main hall of the house and here, on the hearth, it is believed he put his pistol down, stepped hard on it and broke the hearth. This was the only picture we took inside the house ... Grant and the broken hearth.

We both thought this was the house highlight of the tour. The house has undergone a complete renovation with magnificent wall coverings and draperies, antique lace sheers, extensive plaster moldings and wainscotting, Aubusson carpets and high rococo antiques. Ginger Hyland, Owner and James Forde, Manager have done an exquisite job. It is obviously a labor of love. Ginger has wonderful and unusual collections all tastefully shown. Among them: 350 antique beaded purses (I'll never look at anything beaded the same way again!), antique tiaras and crowns, antique lace, gentlemen's mother of pearl and ivory watch fobs, chatelaines, Moser glass, vintage costume jewelry, furniture by Belter, Meeks, Roux and Mallard.

The almost five acres of gardens feature 24 bronze sculptures representing some of the finest artists of wildlife in the world.

This is the owner, Ginger, with one of her kitties - Snowflake.

Snowflake loves visitors and begs to have her belly rubbed!

Lunch at Biscuits and Blues. If you read Greg Iles, he will have introduced you to this hangout!

A puppy on the balcony near Biscuits and Blues.

We had some free time after the tour at The Towers and we used it to get some packing done. Dinner this evening was at The Castle Restaurant on the grounds of Dunleith. It was another excellent meal: Petit Dunleith salad: mixed greens, mandarin oranges, purple onion, almonds, Dunleith dressing. Entree: sauteed snapper with beurre blanc, over roasted potatoes and sauteed vegetable medley. Dessert: Key Lime Pie.

After dinner we went to the Natchez Little Theatre to see "Big River" a musical based on Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The kids in the show were really cute. But, it was a very long day and there was still packing to do. We both thought the tour would have ended on a higher note if the "end" had been dinner at The Castle after the wonderful tour of The Towers.

We enjoyed our tour of Natchez and the people we met. I still have a few more Natchez pictures to share. Another day!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Halloween Party!

On October 18 there is Halloween Party. Ms. Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist is the hostess with the mostess. I hope ya'll will come and play. I'm starting early. Tomorrow is the Bayou City Art Festival and we want to get there early -- help to open the gates!!

There are three treats here for you. Thanks for visiting. Happy Halloween!

Snoopy will be telling fortunes.

Mr. Skelly plans to dance to "Putting on the Ritz".

Even the garden fairies are getting into the mood.

(Dover Clip Art For You)

How about some jokes?

What do goblins and ghosts drink when they're hot and thirsty on Halloween?
Ghoul - aid!

What is a Mummie's favorite type of music?

Where does a ghost go on Saturday night?
Anywhere where he can boo-gie.

(Dover Clip Art For You)

Why did the game warden arrest the ghost?
He didn't have a haunting license.

Where does Count Dracula usually eat his lunch?
At the casketeria.

What happens when a ghost gets lost in the fog?
He is mist.

Why did the ghost go to the bar?
For the boos.

Why did the Vampire read the Wall Street journal?
He heard it had great circulation.

What is a vampires favorite holiday?

(Dover Clip Art For You)

by Mrs. Archibald

Last spring I found a pumpkin seed,
And thought that I would go
And plant it in a secret place,
That no one else would know,
And watch all summer long to see
It grow, and grow, and grow,
And maybe raise a pumpkin for
A Jack-a-lantern show.

I stuck a stick beside the seed,
And thought that I should shout
One morning when I stooped and saw
The greenest little sprout!
I used to carry water there,
When no one was about,
And every day I’d count to see
How many leaves were out.

Till by and by there came a flower
The color of the sun,
Which withered up, and then I saw
The pumpkin was begun;
But oh! I knew I’d have to wait
So long to have my fun,
Before that small green ball could be
A great big yellow one.

At last, one day, when it had grown
To be the proper size,
Said Aunt Matilda: “John, see here,
I’ll give you a surprise!”
She took me to a pantry shelf,
And there before my eyes,
Was set a dreadful row of half
A dozen pumpkin pies.

Said Aunt Matilda; “John, I found
A pumpkin, high and dry,
Upon a pile of rubbish, down
Behind that worn-out sty!”
O, dear, I didn’t cry, because
I’m quite too big to cry,
But, honestly, I couldn’t eat
A mouthful of the pie.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Natchez, Day 4

We started Day 4 off with a program by Natchez historian Tom Scarborough in the Melrose carriage house. All of the speakers on the tour were excellent.

Melrose Plantation

The fortunes of Pennsylvania born John McMurran began rising soon after his arrival in Natchez in the mid-1820's. Mr. McMurran established a profitable law practice, won election to the state legislature, married into a respected local family, and acquired the first of five plantations. In 1841, McMurran purchased 133 acres of land just outside of Natchez. Over the next eight years, a combination of free and slave labor constructed the estate's mansion and outbuildings.

Back of Main Building

The grounds behind the main house contained the outbuildings housing a kitchen, livestock, carriages, tools and the estate's slaves. The Melrose slaves tended vegetable gardens and fruit trees planted behind each of the large brick dependency buildings.

Outbuilding at Melrose

Melrose was acquired by the National Park Service in 1990. It represents one of the most completely preserved antebellum estates in Natchez with many original furnishings and outbuildings.

After Melrose, it was off to the Natchez City Cemetery and a guided tour by Don Estes, author of The Natchez City Cemetery and Legends of the Natchez City Cemetery. For almost two centuries people of all nations, races, and creeds have been interred in the 100 acre cemetery. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery, established in 1822 when remains were moved from the burial ground in Memorial Park to the present site, has evolved as an archive of Natchez lore. Tombstone inscriptions embellished by romantic and mysterious tales draw portraits of engaging characters.

This angel may look familiar to you. She is the "Turning Angel" and gave her name to the bestseller by Greg Iles of the same name.

Originally verdant fields and hills overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, the cemetery has been shaped by man into a garden-like park of grassy plots against backdrops of towering oaks and cypress trees draped in Spanish moss; stands of dogwoods, magnolias, hollies, and camellias; rows of azaleas; scatterings of antique roses and crap myrtle-lined lanes. An outdoor museum for many unique art forms - marble statuary, ornamental iron fences and gates, magnificent monuments.

Lunch was on our own and we walked some more in the historic downtown area. Dinner was at the High Cotton Cooking School.

One of the chefs at High Cotton

Dinner was inspired by William Johnson's Diary entry of November 11, 1836. Johnson was a free man of color and owned several barber shops in the Natchez area. Not unlike a beauty salon, the barber shop was a place of gossip. He was one of more than 200 "free people of color" in the town of Natchez during the antebellum era. Johnson was a prolific diarist and kept journals covering sixteen years of his life.

The menu for the evening included: Mint juleps and Grillades Gritmales. Salad was Baby Blue Salad with spiced pecans, goat cheese, tsatumas and champagne vinaigrette on greens. Second course was seared flatiron steak (stake), with black coffee red-eye gravy, crawfish and andouille spoon bread, greens with braised bacon served with cast iron sourdough biscuits with stickerberry butter. Third course sweet potato donuts with vanilla sugar. Everything was delicious.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Natchez, Day 3

We were on the road by 9 a.m. and off to Frogmore Plantation in Louisiana. Frogmore is the home of the Tanner family, who have raised and ginned cotton for 200 years, first with historical gins and today with modern computers. We sat in an 1800's plantation church in the original pews and listened to wonderful music while Lynnette Tanner read from journals and archives.

Lynette Tanner greeted us and was our guide on the tour. She and her husband, Buddy share a common love of agriculture and history. They have saved and moved antebellum buildings to Frogmore in order to tell a complete story about the cotton plantation system.

The Tanner Home

The Cook House

Dog-trot House (overseer's home)

We got to pick cotton. Not an easy thing to do. Hard on the fingers and back. Did you know that CRISCO is made from the oil from the cotton seed? It's even part of the name: seed cotton oil. The visit to Frogmore was our favorite tour. We could have stayed all day. Instead, we were off to Ferriday, Louisiana and made a very quick stop at the Louisiana Delta Music Museum for stories about Jerry Lee Lewis, Mickey Gilley, Aaron Neville, Conway Twitty, Percy Sledge, Jimmy Swaggart, et al. Back to Natchez for lunch in the Carriage House Restaurant on the grounds of Stanton Hall.

Carriage House Restaurant

This is Tinkerbell -- the resident kitty on the Stanton Hall grounds. She is well fed. Chicken was being served.

Carriage House Restaurant

The Carriage House Restaurant is nationally known for its tiny buttered biscuits and Southern fried chicken. You'd be right if you guessed that the fried chicken was the meal of choice for the group.

After lunch we toured Stanton Hall, a Greek Revival mansion, built in 1857 for cotton magnate Frederick Stanton by Natchez architect-builder Thomas Rose. No expense was spared, from Corinthian columns topped with iron capitals to silver door knobs and hinges, Italian marble mantles, gold leaf mirrors and bronze chandeliers.

We had the afternoon and evening off. Good thing. We needed to walk off some of the great food we'd had and investigate historic downtown Natchez. We stopped in two bookstores (of course) and found the yarn shop: Natchez-Needlearts - A Fiber Arts Studio. They had a little of everything: yarns for knitting, crochet, needlepoint, embroidery, cross stitch, crewel and fabric for sewing and quilting. A very colorful place.

Yarns at Natchez Needlearts

Dinner was on our own and we decided we didn't need anymore food! We settled into the hotel and watched baseball.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Natchez, Day Two

Day two in Natchez meant we were up and at 'em early for a brief walk and talk about downtown historic Natchez. Then it was off to the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians for a walking tour and remarks by James Barnett, Director of the Division of Historic Properties.

View of the mounds

The Natchez Indians inhabited what is now southwest Mississippi c. A.D 700-1730, with the culture at its zenith in the mid 1500s. The Grand Village was their main ceremonial center according to historical journals and archaeological evidence.

The 128 acre site features a museum, a reconstructed Natchez Indian house, and three ceremonial mounds. Two of the mounds, the Great Sun's Mound and the Temple Mound, have been excavated and rebuilt to their original sizes and shapes. A third mound, called the Abandoned Mound, has been only partially excavated and will be preserved intact, representing a sort of time capsule from the Natchez Indians' past.

Reconstructed House

After the Grand Village it was off to Glen Mary Plantation, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a private home that has been in one family for generations. We had a picnic lunch here and short tour of the house.

Glen Mary Kitty

Glen Mary

After lunch we took a short ride on the Natchez Trace Parkway to Emerald Mound and Mount Locust.

Split Rail Fence

Mount Locust

Mount Locust is one of the oldest structures still standing in the Natchez area. An increasing number of boatmen known as "Kaintucks" were floating flatboats down the Mississippi river to sell their goods at the markets in Natchez and New Orleans. Without an efficient way to navigate up the Mississippi river, the boatmen walked north on the Natchez Trace to make their way home. A day's walk from Natchez brought the Kaintucks and their gold to Mt. Locust. The growing number of travelers forced the owners to turn their home into a "stand," which is nothing more than a crude inn. Mount Locust was home to five generations of Chamberlains with the last leaving in 1944. The park ranger who met us here is a Chamberlain and told some interesting family stories.

It was at Mount Locust that we talked about the first author on our tour, Eudora Welty. We read her short story "A Worn Path" remarking about Ms. Welty's use of place -- the Trace.

We had some free time before meeting for dinner at the King's Tavern which was built in the 1700s as an inn, a tavern, and a postal stop at the origin of the Natchez Trace. Dinner was delicious (again) -- salad, prime rib, stuffed baked potato, bread pudding. The Tavern resembles the block houses of American frontier days. Its timbers were hewn to size and fitted together with wooden pegs. All rooms have low ceilings and the windows and heavy doors have narrow frames. Several ghost stories are told about King's Tavern.

End of Day Two!

Monday, October 13, 2008


We've been gone a few days visiting Natchez, Mississippi. We signed up for a Road Scholar program called "Natchez: Black and White and Read All Over" before Hurricane Ike visited us. The trip was paid for and we needed a break from tearing out dry wall, contractors and insurance agents - so we decided to go for it and we are glad we did. Natchez certainly took us back to a time most only read about. Have to admit, it was nice to come home to reality and our own bed!

We flew into Jackson, Mississippi on Southwest (they had the cheapest fares) and drove down the Natchez Trace to Natchez. We had been on the Trace Parkway before around Nashville and it was as beautiful as we had remembered. Two lane road (no shoulder) with a 50 mph speed limit. Most of the time we felt like we were the only ones on the road -- just us, nature and the wildlife (hawks, vultures, wild turkey and road kill). No billboards. No facilities (restaurants, gas stations).

The Trace was probably a series of hunters' paths that slowly came to form a trail from the Mississippi over the low hills into the valley of the Tennessee. By 1733 the French knew the land well enough to map it and showed an Indian trail running from Natchez to the northeast. By 1785 Ohio River Valley farmers searching for markets had begun floating their crops and products down the rivers to Natchez or New Orleans. Because they sold their flatboats for lumber, returning home meant either riding or walking. The trail from Natchez was the most direct. Started in the late 1930's, the modern Natchez Trace Parkway parallels the old trace. It was named an All-American Road in 1995.

We stopped several times along the Trace. This is the view from the top of Mangum Mound one of several Indian mounds found along the Trace.

Mangum Mound

This is the view across the Mississippi River into Vidalia (no relationship to the marvelous onions), Louisiana from our hotel room (Country Inn and Suites by Carlson).

The *steamboat* is a casino and has no engine.

The Road Scholar group met briefly for introductions and then we were off to Monmouth Plantation for dinner. Monmouth is on 26 landscaped acres and is listed as a National Historic Landmark Circa 1818. We didn't take any pictures because it was dark, but it was eye popping. The food on this trip was out of this world. Here it was hors d'oeuvres before dinner along with two mint juleps (yes, two). Dinner included salad, fresh baked bread, catfish with a crawfish etoufee over greens, chocolate mousse. Unfortunately, (or fortunately), we ate like this everyday. Thus ended day one. Day two tomorrow!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Discovering the Little Things

For some reason today's Daily OM really caught my eye. Some days I just scan their latest email. Not true for today. I decided to share this little bit of joy with you.

October 2, 2008
Treasure Hunting
Discovering the Little Things that Make Us Happy

Life is full of little wonders that can make us happy. The sound of a baby’s laughter, a good book, the comforting smell of a favorite old sweatshirt, and the warmth from a cup of hot tea are simple pleasures that can easily put smiles on our faces. These “little things” are easily accessible to us and can be sources for finding happiness. A key to doing so is taking the time to put those rose colored glasses from childhood back on so you can easily find the joy in all the “little things” that life has to offer.

Finding a puppy rummaging through the laundry basket, trying on that perfect shade of lipstick, or discovering the extra change you left in your back pocket can turn into moments of delight. Like kids digging in the sandbox for buried trinkets, we may even begin to experience happiness when we engage in the seemingly mundane. Figuring out a software program can feel like deciphering a treasure map, and that first sip of tea in the morning can taste like a forbidden delicacy. Swaying to music playing on the radio can turn into an interpretive jig, riding a bike can seem like flying to the moon, and getting a phone call from that special someone can feel like winning the lottery. A pickup game of basketball becomes an exciting match among champions, and observing an elderly couple walking hand in hand can turn into a meditation on peace and contentment.

When we begin rediscovering that the little things in life can make us happy, we naturally want to share this joy with others. We may gush over a friend when we run into them unexpectedly, praise a street musician for their talents, or blow bubbles for the neighborhood kids to chase. We may even start to think of the little things we can do to make other people happy, which in turn makes us happy all over again. There is an endless supply of little things and little moments that can make us happy. All we have to do is look for them, and they’ll magically start to appear.

For more information visit DailyOm.com.