Thank You For Reading

Hey, Y’all:

It’s the middle of the year and sweltering in SW  Mississippi. I hope it is cooler where you are. The heat index here will be 110!

I just thought I’d take a moment and thank all of you for reading my posts and recipes. It is humbling to think that my words might mean something to someone other than myself. Which brings me to my question: why do you read The Exile’s Kitchen? There is a follower(s) from Brazil and also from Taiwan. So, tell me, please, what appeals to you? Is it that you just like to cook? Or have you gone through a loss? Do the Scriptures give you comfort?

Feed back is much appreciated, especially from those of you living on the other side of the world from this little corner in the deep South.

(Funny side note: I was recently in New Milton,  England, on a mission trip helping with a softball clinic- among other things. I coached first base. During one of the games, the boy playing second question why I kept saying ‘y’all’.

” I didn’t know Americans said y’all,” the boy asked between pitches.

I began to explain, “Well, I’m from the South and instead of saying’ you guys’ or ‘all of you’, we shorten it to y’all.”

“You’re from the South?”

“Yes.”

“Where?” he wanted to know.

” I’m from Mississippi,” I replied.

He contemplated that for a few seconds, then asked  “Mississippi? Is that in Brazil?”

“No, darling,” I smiled my answer. “Not South America, but the southern part of the United States.”)

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Christ Church

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.

Just Being Neighborly

One hundred-fourteen years ago, the porches flanked the clap board house that sits in the curve of quiet country road. They still do actually and it took an hour to sweep away years of dried cowcumber, magnolia, camilia and azalea leaves yesterday. Western sun danced its way through the evergreens, across the ancient drive, to spotlight and flicker on the pine porch floor. Age showed through the layers of paint.

What color to paint the porch floor, once the house is washed down and repairs made? Pedestrian battleship grey? Nah… A bold white would be daring, but then keeping it clean would be a weekly must. Pale blue, with the beaded board ceilings also painted pale blue? I’ll let you know what I decide.

My neighbors stopped by today, while I was cleaning out a flower bed. I came home with fresh tomatoes and a Washington Parish watermelon. Woohoo! I promised to pass some pralines their way. It is said that “good fences make good neighbors”, well homemade treats help a lot too.

It was terribly hot today, so I quit on the flower bed and went to the sleeping porch to do some cleaning. I found a handful of marbles, three vintage Legos  and a key. A few 1950’s curtain panels were saved: I’ll launder them and make cushions for the new porch furniture. I’ll invite the neighbors over for coffee and to sit a spell, just being neighborly.

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West side porch a month ago
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Cleaned of old furniture, but not yet swept
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The back sleeping porch, filled with old furniture
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The sleeping porch today cleared of old furniture. The windows are original and after 114 years they still work!

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New Milton Testimony

I met Mr. Roache, a  bachelor gentleman, a few years back when he agreed to help my son’s Science Olympiad team with some of their building events. The man was brilliant at everything he touched: artist and  musician. He had been  born and raised in the New Orleans area and his family had owned and operated a hobby shop. He could tinker with anything and make it go.

Mr. Roache got the kids started on their projects and then invited us parents into his music room that chilly January afternoon. His music room was cluttered ( as was the entire house and overgrown property); a roll top desk strewn with photos he had taken, sheets of music here and there. I saw a violin, trumpet, guitar and maybe one other handheld instrument, but the grand piano took my attention. He sat down at the piano and played a few measures.  As he played, he directed our attention to a map of the world, that hung behind the paneled door.  Pins were stuck in nearly every country and continent.

“See those pins?” he asked us. “Each pin represents where I have danced with a beautiful women.” And he softly smiled.

We politely asked questions about his life and he politely answered. He told of his childhood, his mother and daddy, his sisters. Growing up in Nawlins. The hobby shop. He said nothing negative-started to about one sister, but stopped himself and changed the subject. We all went back out onto the porch and checked the kids’ progress.

An artist, Mr. Roache took beautiful serene portraits. They hung at his back door and the faces followed you throughout the house and wrap around porch. He found value in everything; some would say he was a hoarder. But he would turn everyday household trash into pieces of art. Upcycling is what he called his creations.

I walked out into his yard. Even in the dead of winter it needed to be mowed, but looking back at the house, I saw the bigger picture. I couldn’t see it while in the house or up on the porch. Things  were grouped and had their own place. I bet he knew where each piece was and had it inventoried in his head.

His seemingly disordered  life was like pieces of a mosaic. Up close we can’t make out the image.  It’s not until we step back that we can truly see what’s there.

I have been in my own mosaic, if you will, these past few years. Really up close in the picture and too in it to see it. I have wanted to move the pieces around and figure out what my future is suppose to look like. But I am learning to let The Artist do  His work in me. His imagination is far greater than my own.  His creation in me more than I would have ever dreamed possible. Humbling. Blows me away.

Do I always like the way things are going in my life? No, but I have camped out at Jeremiah 29:11 for three years now. “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and to give you a hope and a future.” Again, God’s plans and wants for me are so much better, sweeter, greater,more purposeful than anything I could come up with.

Blessings from the Exile’s Kitchen.