Monday, August 22, 2016

To Be Happy at Home ~ Worthy Ambition

"To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition, the end to which every enterprise and labour ends." 

~Samuel Johnson 
The Rambler, November 10, 1750 

Fresh butter's natural yellow
Real butter is a miracle of homekeeping.  3 minutes in the Breville Food Processor turns cream to culinary gold. The buttermilk squeezed out- good enough to serve company- and have them toast you for the discovery.  

Whipping up the latest batch, I thought of Samuel Johnson (1709-1784). An Englishman, he was born in a time when the middle class was rising on both sides of the Atlantic. Suffering from ill-health the length of his life, he was acutely aware of the foolishness of wasting time.  His essays on the moral imperative to join profit and delight are beacons worth searching out.

Wisdom wears well. Johnson's quote at the top are still relevant and worthy  over 200 years after posted in a two-penny rag. 

Fast forward to today. It is flummoxing to ponder  why people aren't profoundly chastened by what they post on social media. All the rants and insults... thanks to technology, could outlive this generation. This generation may be remembered for contemptuous ill-manners, unrighteous indignation and no patience for either spelling or grammar. Can we share a group shudder?  

Which is why I write. In hopes to point even a few souls (including my own) to the gratitude for one more day. 

Fried Okra, Lydia-Style

 Okra was not in my Puerto Rican mother's cooking repertoire. Think she made it once, for I have vague memories of something akin to algae-colored slugs pretending to be a vegetable. 

Thank God this California girl married into a family with roots deep in states with long summers.  Oklahoma, Arkansas and Arizona.

They introduced me to one of the gifts of summer, fried Okra. The family- version was a bit gritty with cornmeal, so I changed it up a bit. In my version, pieces of the vegetable are tossed in a pancake-like batter before rolling in cornmeal. 

When the devil is in me, the battered bits to into a batch of hot bacon fat with chopped onion and chunks of ham. Otherwise, olive or other oil does suffice. At the very end,  freshly grated Parmesan cheese melts atop the hot mountain of Southern Hospitality. 

Poached eggs, Apple wood Smoked Bacon and a homemade turnover topped with whipped cream. 
I confess. I am guilty of binge watching the  The Great British Baking Show and swallowing whole Laura Bolton's delicious blog Fork Knife Swoon,

It struck this summer, this Epiphany. In this Age of Air Conditioning, it's okay to unleash worship from taste buds at the heart of the home, the kitchen range. The Sabbath brunch is nearly a service of celebration. The raspberry- lemon filled turnover, topped with freshly whipped cream was worth every calorie. Which certainly were gloriously ad infinitum.

Where we live is not just a house. It is a deeply personal retreat. We cocoon there, cuddling amongst reminders of what makes us happy. A bed so high, we sleep easily from oxygen deprivation; clinging to each other for fear if we fall off the edge, we'll break a hip. If we want to fight, we don't need to use fists- for there are lots of pillows.

As the bedroom is the first and last memory of the day, I think it the most important. I may dream of raising the ceiling, adding a balcony and improving the bathroom to more modern en-suite proportions. Still, there are elements I would keep if we were suddenly billionaires. No amount of money could ever change my heart. I was born a lover of country and romance. 

That means that we are slow to throw things out. It is better to rethink the purpose than to trash an object with cherished elements.

This nightstand was my passed- along childhood desk. My darling re-imagined it as his nightstand. On my side of the bed, is a similar desk from his childhood. Simply refinished, it serves double duty. First as my vanity- and bridge for the puppies to get in and out of bed on their own. 

Creativity solves waste. 
Inconveniences are opportunities disguised as problems. The downstairs bathroom light bar has been giving us fits. A shade broke. The fixture professionally rewired- but the bulbs kept pulling apart faster than my hair was falling out. Our best guess is that the modern light bulbs were ever so slightly different- causing the bulbs to overheat and sockets to pull apart.

Finding shades that matched both budget and taste wasn't happening when the great ah ha struck again. There were shades I bought on close-out for an outdoor project which never made it to the top of the list. Doggone if they weren't a perfect solution.  

Taking kitchen scraps out to the compost heap, my heart leaped. For in the compost heap, a salvia emerged. Just like in life. Expect, embrace surprise. Love the life you decided to live. 

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful- 



Unknown said...

lovely, just lovely. Your article made me stop, breathe and reflect and remember. Thank you. :)

Unknown said...

lovely, just lovely. Your article made me stop, breathe, reflect and remember. Thank You.

nikkipolani said...

Oh, those shades are beautiful, Lydia. And so lovely a solution to your wiring/lighting problem.

Have you tried pickled okra?

Lydia said...

Hi Nikki- I haven'tm but should.