Archive for June, 2012

Cousin Jane, and Beulah’s Pickle Recipe

Friday, June 15th, 2012

It’s been one year, today, since my Cousin Jane was brutally murdered in her home in Chattanooga. What a difficult year it has been for her family and friends, grappling with ideas of good and evil, and heaven and loss. Not a day goes by for those who loved her that they don’t think of her, with both sadness and fondness. So, like others who loved her, I have been dreading this day, and my heart has felt heavy all week.

But life goes on, whether we want it to or not. Bills to be paid, kids to feed, etc. I got a new iPhone this week, and I was cleaning out my email inbox before setting it up, and let’s just say I had emails saved from YEARS ago. I still had an email that Jane had sent me in November of 2009. My mom had told me that the pickles I’d made were okay, but that I needed to get the recipe for her Aunt Beulah’s pickles from Jane; Beulah’s bread and butter pickles were just the best, said Mom. So, I had emailed Jane, and she had promised to send me the recipe, and sure enough she did.


When you layer the cucumber, onion and bell pepper, I usually sprinkle with a little of the canning salt and a layer of ice, ending with ice on top. You will quickly get your fill of slicing the cucumbers. If you run low on syrup, just whip up some more, maybe cutting the recipe in half. 2 ½ cups of sugar and vinegar, etc. I usually clean my kitchen sink and put all the vegetables in it. Leave the drain open So, at the end of next summer, I expect a jar of pickles. Enjoy, Jane.

I can’t tell you how much I regret not making those pickles, and not taking a jar up to Jane in Chattanooga, and letting her try them, and having her tell me whether they tasted like Beulah’s. Jane and Beulah are gone now (hell, Beulah was gone long before I was born!), so I hope they won’t be mad at me for sharing the family recipe. I think I might make some this summer, and maybe get Tiller to help, then take a jar to my Mama and see if they taste right. I thought other folks, especially those who loved Jane, might have cucumbers coming in, and want to make some of Beulah’s Bread and Butter Pickles. If you do, say a little thank you to Jane and Beulah for sharing with us. I’m not sure why passing down recipes is comforting, but I do know that there is still good in the world and that I found Beulah’s pickle recipe in my inbox this week for a reason.

With Love and a few tears,

The Sweet Spot: Doing the Right Thing

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

I’ve had some sleepless nights of late. I lay awake, mulling over my thoughts and actions and reactions, worrying each piece of the puzzle, wondering if I did the right thing.

I did the right thing.

I did what I believe was the right thing to do. In tennis, there is a sweet spot on the racket. When you hit outside the sweet spot, the shot might feel okay, or it might feel completely off. When you hit the sweet spot, though. . . Oh, it just feels like the hand of God came down and made the shot perfect.

And that is how I feel when i go with my gut, say sincerely what i think is the honest truth, when I do what I feel is right. There is thinking involved, too (hence the sleepless nights), but more than anything, there is a sweet spot when I know that I have done what I know is right, in my heart. I feel it, in my heart. To do anything else is fake, inauthentic, or feels off. It’s like walking a balance beam – when I am following my heart, I am walking that beam with surety, looking ahead, in the zone. When i veer from what I believe in, I bobble, I wave my arms wildly, I have to stop and find my balance.

Sometimes finding my balance is easy. Sometimes finding my balance is so obvious a choice that everyone would agree that there’s pretty much only one way to find it. And then there are the times that keep me awake at night. The times when I find the sweet spot and take my shot and it feels perfect and fluid and magical. And then half the people in the crowd tell me that it was wrong. All wrong.

Yet it felt so sweet. But I lay awake pondering every mechanical piece of my swing, what I could have done differently, how each of those little differences would impact the other players, and what the reaction of the crowd would be.

And I realize that I cannot live with being anything but what I am, what I believe in, with sincerity, and thoughtfulness, and a true desire to help others, even when some don’t see that that is what I am doing.

I will stay lay awake at night, thinking about finding a balance. Because I don’t much give a damn what most of the crowd thinks. But I do care what I think about myself, about each shot. I know that my goal is the sweet spot, and that the shots I take must be true.

So, um, yeah. . . This is not really about tennis.