Something To Write Home About (II)

Letter writers are reporters for the newspaper of life. Columnists of the daily. Chroniclers of the ordinary. Copy editors of dreams.

That last point is perhaps best illustrated in a poem I read recently by j.i. kleinberg, author of the blog chocolate is a verb.

Please take a moment to immerse yourself in it.

jik-found-poem-927s

“found poem” by j.i. kleinberg (used with permission)

As a life-long letter writer I was captivated by Judy’s succinct description… an explanation, if you will, of why I write letters. (Not that I need to explain myself, lol!) She nailed it and my gut reaction was YES. (I love it when someone unexpectedly defines a part of me that has heretofore been indescribable!) Thank you.

To me, this is what letter writing is about — revealing yourself line by line and sorting out life by the paragraph. (Personally… and preferably with a pen.) No backspace. No delete. Put it out there!

Letter-writing is a soul-baring business and the best letters are those filled with unabashed opinions and juicy thoughts — our true, unedited selves. Somehow, I think poets feel the same way about writing poems, xo.

Dangly Thingy

Fluid lines appeal to me (as does transparency) in letter-writing, poetry, and “dangly things.” (This one happens to grace my current writing space — aka ‘Garden Room’ — courtesy of my late sister.) I gave it to her after she crashed her Harley ten years ago (not her fault!) while she was convalescing in a nursing home for five months with casts up to her hips and shoulders — with a terrific attitude, I might add. It brightened her room, and now it brightens my life. (And I miss writing to her!)

For every letter, there’s a designated “receiver”– someone as willing to read your thoughts as you are eager to write them — whether they write back or not! FYI, I preface or ‘postlude’ many of my letters with an abject apology of sorts: “Don’t feel like you have to respond or keep up with me word-wise.” (Can’t help myself… it’s who I am.)

Letters are our indelible history in the making (if we don’t “tell,” who will?)… a mutual exchange of souls, and as so eloquently stated, “intimate art.”

Long live poets and letter-writers!

Enjoying a lil’ soul-baring,

~ Kim

Reflections

Clouds 4

The other day I stopped at a thrift store along the highway to poke around for a bit. (Cheap entertainment.)

On the way in I noticed a small Casio keyboard for sale (the kind with “light up keys” when you play the notes — an oldie, but a goodie) perched on a rickety stand on the dusty dirt “floor” outside. I didn’t pay much attention to it because my mind was on kitchen stuff (a girl’s gotta restock somehow) so I went inside in search of “treasures.”

Not long afterwards, a family came in — Ma and Pa with four young’uns in tow — who proceeded to scramble up and down each aisle in search of the next great “deal.” (Me, too.) Occasionally we bumped elbows and shared smiles and giggles as we went about our singular intended quests.

After I’d procured and paid for my $6.00’s worth of thrift store happiness, I exited the building intent on going home, but the keyboard beckoned…

On a whim (and because it was plugged in), I set my purse and “recycled Walmart bag” on the dirt floor and stood in front of the keys. What would I play?

An elderly gentleman (whom I’d conversed with earlier) was still slung on a bar stool (also for sale) and I wasn’t sure if he was loitering or just keepin’ an eye on things — but his face was weathered like the surrounding Oklahoma landscape and he interested me. He didn’t ask for a “concert,” but his stalwart presence and sense of fun elicited Scott Joplin’s “Maple Leaf Rag” as the optimal piece to play.

Within a few measures of the opening notes, a lil’ girl who reminded me of “Scout” (Atticus Finch’s daughter in “To Kill A Mockingbird” — one of my favorite novels) came running out the door and was glued to my elbow, watching… wondering… listening.

Soon, her three siblings quickly joined her.

Considering the majority of my “audience” was under 13 years old, I switched gears and said: “Here’s one I bet you know.” Then I proceeded to play the ‘Happy Dance’ theme song from the Charlie Brown specials. I love that song. (They seemed to, too.)

More smiles and giggles followed… theirs and mine.

When I finished, the lil’ gal commented: “You’re realllllly good!” and my response was: “Well, I’ve been playing piano for over 50 years now, so I’ve had LOTS of practice.”

(Imagine that… 50 years!)

The old guy just grinned, probably more about my age than my piano-playing prowess.

After that, we parted company — four youngsters and an “oldster” (or two) bolstered by strains of music from my past — music which I no longer have (everything burned up in the fire), but God graciously granted me “recall” for that impromptu concert. Playing from ‘memory’ was never my strong suit; it’s a discipline my piano teacher did her best to instill in me, and which others highly recommend for ‘freedom of expression.’ Unfortunately, the best I ever did was to comply by memorizing a piece or two for the requisite “piano recital” every Spring. (I need to work on that again.)

But, on occasion — on this occasion — I “remembered” — if only for the look of sheer joy on those young (and old) faces. Music was meant to be shared.

Back in my “hey day”(a half-century ago!), my piano teacher had aspirations for me to become a concert pianist — but life turned out otherwise. Now, it’s merely a ‘reflection’ of my past — and probably why I love the reflections on the lake (and music) so much… and Debussy to this day. Or the Charlie Brown theme. :)

Although I don’t have my old music books any more, I still enjoy sharing “music.” (Especially when youngsters — and “oldsters” are involved.)

Here’s one I used to play, illustrated by lovely Monet paintings (another love) and gorgeous real-life photos. Enjoy!

Debussy’s Reflections In The Water

Sunset before the storm 1

Whether or not life works out the way you (or others) once dreamed, you can still make a difference.

Enjoying “Reflections In The Water,”

~Kim

Girly Stuff

GirlyStuff

I’m not a “high maintenance” kind o’ gal by any stretch of the imagination. A pony tail and a pair of earrings do me just fine, thank you.

But, for the past six months I’ve taken care of sooooo many other things (necessarily so), I almost forgot to take care of myself!

Enter Girly Stuff…

In one corner of our “powder room” there’s a section of counter top that can only be described as a vanity.

I’ve never had one before. In fact, the very word brings up connotations of superficial self-absorption that gives me the heebie jeebies!

However, a few special women in my life bade me to look at things a lil’ differently… including myself.

Girly stuff 2

My Sis once told me she got a kick out of my “scrunchies.” I always color-coordinated them with my outfits — which has been a challenge this past half year since I’ve been wearing donated clothing in every color of the rainbow — hence, my new collection of rainbow-colored scrunchies. :)

The vintage wood-burned box was a gift from my very special sister-in-law, Candy, xo. The box belonged to my Grandma — truly a thoughtful gift! Come to think of it, Grandma had a vanity — one of those gorgeous antique dressers with an ornately framed mirror and a burgundy velvet-covered bench. I spent many happy hours playing “dress up” with her tortoise shell combs and softly scented White Shoulders talcum powder with the pale pink powder puff.

Yup, Girly Stuff.

Girly stuff

This whimsical lil’ make up bag (one of three sent by my dear friend, Ally, with the matching gift bow next to it, xo) incredibly matched my current “color scheme” in the powder room — and my more vibrant outlook on life. I love when that happens!

The fish bowl (literally) was a “find” on a recent outing — a gift to myself. (Slowly, but surely, I’m “getting it.”) I promptly turned it into a ‘jewelry box’ because hey… that’s the extent of my jewelry! (And bear in mind, it may make a guest appearance now and then in future foodie-related posts.)

Just sayin… :)

Vanity

Then there’s this beautiful one-of-a-kind bench given to me by my sweet friend, Jurine — my Sister’s best friend. (The bench belonged to my Sis — so did the gray tray on the counter.) That kind of giving knows no end! xo

How can I adequately express my appreciation to these lovely women who took care of me until I felt like taking care of myself once again? I love you! And you know what?

Girly Stuff feels good,

Enjoying the non-selfish aspects of “self care,”

~ Kim

P.S. I’m going to be offline for a couple of days (begging your pardon in advance) — my internet service is finally going to be transferred to our HOME. I’ve been running up and down the driveway between there and our “temporary house” for 3 months (!) and I can’t wait to set up shop and take even better care of moi… and YOU!

Kitchen Therapy

Baked Flounder 2

Baked Flounder with Portobello Duxelle, Sauteed Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Y’all were probably wondering if I cook anymore…

Truth is I do and fact is: cooking has taken on an even greater role at present.

I call it: Kitchen Therapy.

The dish pictured above was the product of both hands working together in conjunction with my brain (no small feat, as you’ll soon find out) — the smaller the dice, the more difficult it is — but I was craving a Duxelle to go with with some flounder fillets, so I persevered. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Two weeks ago I had a stroke. Yup. A stroke. (A ‘slight one’ per the Doc.) All I knew was that my left leg wasn’t cooperating (a funky feeling), my left arm hung limply at my side, and my left hand was completely unresponsive. Not good! Basically, it put the “kibosh” on everything, especially in the kitchen. (And at my piano… sigh.)

First, you ought to know I’m not an ‘anxious person’ — I take life (and limb) as it comes. No sweat! (Or at least I hope that’s the general impression you’ve gotten from this lil’ ol’ blog o’mine.)

Second, y’all know me… living & loving at the lake, and all that. Could life be anymore relaxed?!

Boots & Blue

This event came out of the blue — in the middle of the night, I might add — as do many of life’s unexpected events. I simply woke up and thought, “Well, this is a new one!”

In the subsequent weeks I’ve relied heavily on the millions+ prayers from friends and family, and I’m delighted to report they’re working. After a prayer session at church last Sunday, my fingers began to move (hallelujah, praise God!) and within two days, I was back at choir rehearsal playing the piano… something I couldn’t have even imagined doing the week before. (And I have a BIG imagination.)

Whatever your beliefs are, I’m telling you, “faith and hope yield fantastic, miraculous results… not to mention fantastic food, if ya just stick with it.

Flounder with Duxelle, Greens, & Jasmine Rice

Flounder with Portobello Duxelle

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/2 large onion, finely diced

Sprinkle of salt (I used Himalayan Pink)

8 oz. portobello mushrooms (gills removed), finely diced

4 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish

Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Freshly grated nutmeg

2 flounder fillets, rinsed and patted dry

Heat butter & olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions; sprinkle with salt. “Sweat” until translucent (stir occasionally to avoid browning.) Increase heat to medium-high. Add the diced mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms release their liquid.

Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Cook until liquid(s) evaporate. Season to taste with salt, pepper, & nutmeg.

Spoon half of the duxelle into a buttered baking dish (I used a small glass loaf pan) and top with the flounder fillets. Spoon remaining duxelle over the top.

Cover and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

(I served mine with rice and greens, but a salad & bread sticks would be lovely, too.)

Last year I said October is a cataclysmic month for me. This year’s no exception.

Autumn at the Lake

Enjoying life and limb(s) at the lake ,

~ Kim

A Fresh Start

Fresh Start

The amazing thing about life is that every day is an opportunity to start fresh.

Even though the past tags along as part and parcel of who I am, I’m not bound to live like I did yesterday, nor am I one to dwell on it.

Certainly a little evaluation or introspection is involved before leaping into today — what worked vs. what didn’t — but that thought process lasts about as long as my first cup of coffee. Life goes on and I want to be part of it asap.

Gratitude also aids and abets forward motion. It’s impossible to be grumpy and grateful simultaneously. Choose grateful.

On August 17th my Sweet Sis, Laurie, died unexpectedly after an aneurysm on her heart burst. It was an undetectable anomaly, a quirk, a fluke — and evidence that ‘you never know when.’ (She was riding her Harley at the time.) Such was my Sis.

During the past two weeks I witnessed what a huge impact one life can have on others. Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, church members, classmates, fellow-bikers, and more came forward to express their grief and joy, and I marveled at how ‘famous’ my sister’s smiles and hugs had become.

In a way, it didn’t surprise me. When you make up your mind to be a blessing, the ripple effect spreads far and wide. Each and every one of us has the potential to create a ripple and none of our actions are insignificant. What we “do” today influences life… and lives.

For me, that means a renewed sense of purpose. Vigorous and vibrant living. Making the most of moments. Helping somebody else. A fresh start every morning.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have experienced the wonder of my one & only Sis — and you. She would have loved you all.

Enjoying fresh starts,
~Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Random Playfulness

Time To Play

I won’t bore you with further details of my recently all-too-busy-life (insert maniacal laughter here), but things are finally starting to slow down and it’s time to play!

Everybody deserves a break now and then, especially a playful one.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a random question & answer type post, but my friend, Nolita from M*O*R*G*A*N*I*C — another Oklahoma blogger, woohoo! — tagged me… teased me… tempted me to break out of my ‘profound’ writing rut. (Thanks, Nolita!) Sometimes ya just gotta bust loose.

Before I get to that, I have to add a lil’ girly infusion (thanks for bearing with me, guys) and an explanation for my “you deserved it” dinner — which I thoroughly enjoyed! I figure every woman/wife/mom/girlfriend (and yes, guy!) can appreciate the “busy” background in my photos. Such is our lot in life at times. (And I was hungry.)

It’s not every day I cook up a seafood fest for myself, but I felt the need… especially since The Man of Few Words (TMOFW) stance on Mother’s Day is/was/and always will be: “You’re not my mother!”

Yup… no card, no flowers, no dinner out. (Gotta love that man, xo.) That holiday and a few others continue to be an entirely on-my-own affair — and what better way to celebrate “my day” than with goodies that don’t often cross “our” table? By the way, I was nice and shared. (Except for the lobster and drawn butter…) Bwahahaha! ;)

Time to Play 3

First up was shrimp cocktail. It may surprise you to learn that I didn’t like shrimp until last year. (Gasp!) For some reason these succulent crustaceans didn’t appeal to me taste-wise, texture-wise, or otherwise until I made an umpteenth batch of Shrimp Scampi for my beloved (his favorite) and finally tried one. What do ya know? I liked ’em!

Better late than never.

Next up were the fabulous crab cakes shared by my friend, Jeanne. (Forever in your and your son’s debt, my dear.) Your three-ingredient dipping sauce was to die for, too!

Not to be outdone by an abundance of butter and mayonnaise (did I mention I have naturally low cholesterol?) I had to make Easy Curry Hollandaise Sauce with Asparagus by my Chef pal, Larry Fournillier… soooooo tasty. (Thanks, Larry!)

Belated Mother's Day Dinner

Now… back to those random questions. Here’s the deal. If you want to participate, do. If you don’t, don’t! I totally understand time crunches! (I think I was supposed to make up some new questions for you, too, but I kinda liked these… and if I started tagging folks, this post would be ten times longer than it already is.)

You know who you are!

Leave your answers in my comment section or start a whole new trend on your blog. ;) Mostly, have fun!

1. What has been your favorite vacation to date? My initial answer was “every day TMOFW and I spent on the road together while we were trucking,” but let’s not mix business with pleasure. Final answer? Our trip to Niagra Falls. When we got married (almost 15 years ago), we were both ‘starting over’ if ya know what I mean, and we couldn’t afford a proper honeymoon.

On our 5th anniversary we made up for lost time and did a “Great Lakes Tour” — I’m talkin’ drive around, over, and past every one of the Great Lakes in a car — which was a welcome change of pace from our semi(s) — and it included the long-awaited stop at Niagra Falls on the Canadian and U.S. sides. Corny, hokey… and entirely memorable!

2. Do you prefer big city life, suburban life, or life in the country? See header photo.

3. What is your favorite type/genre of food? Edible — preferably home-cooked.

4. How would you typically dress for a weekend night out? We don’t go out very often (see header photo…) but when we do, I tend to “fancy up.” (TMOFW not so much.) The pearls in my photos serve more than one purpose. :)

5. Do you like to wear accessories? If yes, what are your go-to accessories? I’m not much of an “accessories” person, but I do like scrunchies (in every color of the rainbow) to doll up my ever-present pony tail.

6. How do you typically fix your hair? (Blow dry and straighten/curl? Air dry? Wash and go?) See #5 above. The less time I spend on my hair, the more it leaves for other stuff.

7. What makeup do you wear on a daily basis? Do you have a preferred brand of cosmetics? I’m a “wash your face and get on with it” kinda gal, but I have a weakness for mascara and lipstick. (My eyelashes and lips tend to disappear without them.)

8. What is your preferred workout? (Gym? Outdoor running? Yoga? Group classes? None?) Stirring vigorously, chopping food like I mean it, and running back and forth between my kitchen, computer, and piano. (Walking also ranks right up there.)

9. Where is your favorite place to shop? Thrift stores and flea markets.

10. Do you enjoy entertaining guests in your home or would you prefer to be a guest and leave the hostessing to someone else? I love to entertain, but if anybody wants to invite me over, I’m game…

11. What quality do you really value in your significant other? His ineffable ability to be himself (even if it means cooking for myself on holidays now & then…) and his quiet encouragement for me to be “me.” Life doesn’t get much finer!

And this?

Random Playfulness

This is the flower he picked for me yesterday… for no reason at all.

Enjoying random playfulness,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

My Third Annual State of the Blog Address

Moon Set

Like the colors that subtly usher in each season, this post always sneaks up on me. One minute it’s March of last year and the next it’s March right now. (Almost April!) Has it really been twelve months?

Recap-wise, my year could be summed up in five words:

In transit or in transition.

I spent a lot of time away from the lake. On the road or in the air… leaving and returning… packing and unpacking… settling in again. (Necessarily so.)

With each successive journey, I felt like the shoreline moved farther away and close friends became tentative ones — not on purpose, but because that’s the way it is. Aren’t we always making adjustments? Part of being a grown-up is realizing that nothing ever stays the same, no matter how much we want it to.

Life. Relationships. Food…

One of the challenges I faced last year was getting it through my thick skull that no, you can’t eat gluten unless you want to suffer for an untold number of days. Old habits die hard, but you can teach an old dog new tricks — and I kinda favor positive thinking. While it’s not my intent to become a gluten-free blogger (and I’m greatly indebted to those who are) there’s been a radical shift in my cooking, grocery shopping, and eating. I probably won’t bring it up again… ’nuff said.

This year’s advice? Listen to your body.

Speaking of canines… one of the reasons I haven’t shared more photos (or posts) in recent months was because I was attacked by a stray dog. While I was out snapping pictures one day, Cujo decided to assert his Alpha male-ness. Thankfully I was wearing cowboy boots and my favorite Levi’s, and my Jeep was ten steps away, so the chunk he attempted to take out of my leg was foiled. I ended up with fang mark bruises on my calf for a week though… ouch.

Normally I’m a carefree and trusting soul (and I love dogs), but it never occurred to me that I could be in danger while I was out appreciating Nature through my lens. I’ve become accustomed to lizards and scorpions and snakes (oh my!), but stray dogs not so much — especially when they’re almost as tall as me. That incident shook me to the core and forced me to take refuge until Animal Control apprehended the random offender. To date, I’ve only told a few close friends (including the lake), but I’m feeling much braver now… and I carry a big stick.

Home, Sweet Home… or prison?

Another thing that influenced my writing (or lack of it) was an overwhelming feeling of being ‘housebound’ for most of the winter. Following yet another snafu with TMOFW’s ancient pickup — and despite his best efforts to fix it — he finally took it to a shop. “Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Best bet is to haul it to a junkyard and scrap it out for parts.” That meant my Jeep went into full-time service as the hubby’s work vehicle, and yours truly has been wheel-less. (Been there, done that.) However, public transportation wasn’t an option this time with Cujo roaming about.

So, I’ve stayed home. And home. And home…

After awhile I didn’t feel like going anywhere or writing anything — nor did I have anything to write about. Mild case of agoraphobia or depression? Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever it was, I was a mess. (I love Southern euphemisms.)

Thankfully my friend (the lake) started kicking up its heels about the time I was ready to hit bottom. (I may write about it someday — or not.) Although I’m no stranger to pain, I’m also mindful of yours.

We can only take so much at one time.

Wild & Windy

Here’s to colors, cohorts, and confidence…

In case you missed my first and second annual musings, they’re here and here. And though this stretch has been a bit tumultuous, life is still good at the lake.

Heartfelt gratitude to you for reading and commenting on a little lunch. I appreciate it more than you know… xo.

Enjoying Spring on the horizon at last,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch.