Rebecca Wells on the Porch
A cup of steaming hot tea sits on the desk beside me most days as I write. My grandmother, Nana, got me hooked on drinking tea when I was just a little girl. How I loved the ritual of waiting for the kettle to boil, putting her special blend of loose tea inside the little silver ball that seemed like a magical vehicle from some faraway planet in outer-space, spooning in the golden honey stored in the ancient blue pottery crock with daisies on the lid. Waiting for the aromatic liquid to steep to perfection gave Nana and me time to talk about everything under the sun, sipping the tea while nibbling on the delicious little cookies that I was certain she baked just for me. It made me feel warm and cozy and incredibly loved.
Nana has been gone for fifteen years now and I miss her dearly. I miss those talks and those cookies! So I take a little trip back in time nearly every day. As I heat the water and choose the flavor-of-the-day (I adore jasmine), I always find myself smiling. And that’s just the way to start the day, isn’t it?
Isn’t this a wonderful way to honor the memory of a lost loved one and show support for survivors while raising money to fund cancer research?
The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is a life-changing event that gives everyone in communities across the globe a chance to celebrate the lives of people who have battled cancer, remember loved ones lost, and fight back against the disease. At Relay, teams of people camp out at a local high school, park, or fairground and take turns walking or running around a track or path. Each team is asked to have a representative on the track at all times during the event. Because cancer never sleeps, Relays are overnight events up to 24 hours in length.
Relay began in 1985 when Dr. Gordy Klatt, a colorectal surgeon in Tacoma, Washington, ran and walked around a track for 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Since then, Relay has grown from a single man’s passion to fight cancer into the world’s largest movement to end the disease. Each year, more than 3.5 million people in 5,000 communities in the United States, along with additional communities in 20 other countries, gather to take part in this global phenomenon and raise much-needed funds and awareness to save lives from cancer. Thanks to Relay participants, the American Cancer Society continues to save lives.
I encourage everyone to participate and donate.
Rebecca Wells (c) 2010
I am thrilled to welcome you to Rebecca’s Front Porch , a place where we can exchange thoughts, ideas, hopes and dreams and joy in a supportive environment. Imagine you’re on a big front porch with comfy chairs, good food, good drink, and soon-to-be good friends. Together we’ll sit and watch the moon rise and feel warm breezes like the Ya-Yas did in the lazy rhythm that defies the current, furious, fast pace of contemporary life. We’ll open our hearts to the joys and suffering of one another, even as we give witness to the suffering of others and mother earth. We’ll talk about our babies, our grown children, husbands, lovers, girlfriends, and also oil spills. We won’t be afraid to speak up loudly against the tyranny of corporate greed that threatens to strangle that which is precious.
At the same time, we will remember that politeness and etiquette are of utmost importance. Be bad girls, be sexy girls, be loving girls, be loud girls, be shy girls. But above all, be chatty girls! The tweets come from real chickadees and redbirds that hang out in the chinaberry tree. This is a chance to once again grow a community of women in which we can feel safe and cherished as we remember the world of the Ya-Yas:
“In the photograph, a Rose of Montana vine wound up and across a porch raining so thick with blossoms that the light must have glowed pink. On an oversized rattan sofa with wide, curved arms and chintz-covered cushions lay Vivi, Necie, Caro and Teensy, two by two, head to foot, with their legs in such a tangle that Sidda could not tell whose painted toenails were whose. Vivi wore a striped halter top and shorts, and her hair was pulled up off her heck, with little blond tendrils falling loose in the moist heat. A wrought-iron table was to the side of the sofa and held a black rotary fan. Four tall tea glasses sat on the floor with long spoons in them” *
Doesn’t that sound like just the place to spend some good girlfriend time? So, I invite you to sashay up onto this place which is between our homes and the wider world, and relax into what the Ya-Yas might call a girl gumbo! I look forward to meeting you here and to becoming girlfriends.
* Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, page 79 © Rebecca Wells
I enjoy the July 4th celebration from our home base in the Pacific Northwest. The folks on our small island really like to go all out, and it’s just so much fun! My husband and I like to go around the island with friends and try to catch the fireworks from different spots. My favorite is to take the ferry from the island to Seattle and watch the fireworks go right above our heads.
Remember celebrating the Fourth of July when you were a child? I don’t know what I liked best back then—the fireworks, the rides, or the food! Don’t ask me how I was able to gobble caramel apples, popcorn, elephant ears, cotton candy, corn on the cob, and hot dogs all in the same day – followed by swirly-twirly rides on the carousel and Ferris wheel.
I like going back in time in my head and reminiscing. What was your July 4th holiday like as a child? How does it differ from the way you celebrate today? What do you miss? What new traditions have you incorporated?
84,000 sweet days,
If you ride either the Tacoma or Wenatchee ferries off the Pacific coast, you just might see a poster for “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder”. If you do, snap a photo of yourself in front of the poster and email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to win a gift set of my books!
I don’t know why Herriott, one of our ewes, won’t stop baaaa-ing. It’s a sunny afternoon, the wind blows through the leaves of the Big Maple trees. The grass in the pasture waves like a little chartreuse inland ocean. So I don’t know what she is trying to tell me. Is her slightly arthritic front leg hurting her? Is she whining for more sweet molasses and oats? I don’t know what she is signaling, even as I often don’t know what those who are close to me are signaling. Perhaps even more important, I don’t know what the Universe is trying to teach me. The oil continues to disgorge its poison into our Gulf waters, even as I write. So what am I to learn?
My Louisiana homeland wasn’t prepared for this assault. We waited and believed for too long that the giant BP and/or the government would do what it promised – to clean up, quickly. Each creature, I believe, has a soul. The Louisiana brown pelicans and other wildlife have a soul that is no less radiant than our own. But corporations have no soul, and this is something that we need to remember.
I choose to believe that everything happens for a reason, and that everything occurs to teach us the lessons we need to learn at that very moment. We hear about the “top kill” technique. We hear about attempts to cap the well with containment domes. We hear about hoses used to gather escaping oil. We hear about fishermen in the Gulf and the disruption of their way of life.
I am a believer in the moon and the moon’s power – you can certainly see that in “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder”. I grew up in a state where the moon, when almost full, glowing behind clouds, was called a “shrimping” moon. I grew up believing that God is good. I still do believe that the Gods and Goddesses are good, but as I walk through the garden here at my home 2,500 miles away from the world in which I was formed, I ask the Universe again, “what am I to learn from this?”
For a while my husband and I lived on the eastern shore of Alabama on Mobile Bay. There, we would sit on the pier and watch brown pelicans fly by in flocks so thick that for a moment it seemed a cloud passed in front of the afternoon sun. Not far from where we lived was a little town called Magnolia Springs. There, we would go to the old general store where you can still stock up on groceries and also sit down to a good meal.
As reported in the New York Times, right now Mr. James Hinton, a volunteer fire chief in Magnolia Springs, has come up with a plan to address the oil spill with lessons learned from Louisiana. Weeks Bay, an estuary off Mobile Bay, has bald eagles, wood storks, and almost 20 other federally protected species. The people in Weeks Bay didn’t like the unified command structure set up to deal with cleaning up the spill. They didn’t like BP’s lack of support in protecting their shorelines from oil contamination. Look at how Mr. Hinton pulled together the people of his community together! I am heartened by the simple, bravery of this volunteer fire chief. I think that he was listening to the call for action. I think that perhaps this is one of the lessons that the Gods and Goddesses, as I understand them, may be trying to teach us. Namely, that we are responsible to question any “unified command” (a scary phrase to begin with…) and to look at ourselves to see what call for action needs to be taken.
The spreading oil has already reached the panhandle of Florida. If it keeps on going, it will reach the reefs and fishing holes and tourist meccas of the Western and Eastern Florida coasts. It’s hideous, and the spill results from the negligence of business and government. We have got to tighten drilling regulations and each one of us must do at least two things; demand a cap on carbon emissions, and do everything we can to reduce greenhouse gas pollution by mindfully keeping the pain of the pelicans in mind as we do our best to break our addiction to oil.
In the same way, I don’t have the answers for how I am to respond to this oil spill, except to listen closely, question all authority and, as the New Yorker did so eloquently on a recent cover in which oil officials sat in front of a court made up of fish, storks, pelicans and porpoises, speak out. It is for these vulnerable creatures that we need to speak and ask, because the people in charge have stuffed cotton in their ears.
In “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder,” a character that Calla Lily loves dearly is killed in an offshore oil incident much like the 11 men who were murdered in the BP oil explosion. I am often told that it was as though I were telling the future when I wrote that. Sadly, I wasn’t. The future was inevitable, because the greed for oil is so thick.
I still don’t know why Herriott the ewe won’t stop calling out. She’s been fed, she’s been watered. We’ve taken care of her the best we know how. The pelicans, the turtles, the people on the Louisiana Gulf Coast call out. It’s important that I learn to listen to the voices of those who do not speak our human languages. The waters, the pelicans, the sheep and our plant all need us to do what we can to protect and care for them. I need to speak out. I need to take action. This disaster teaches us that each of us can do what we can.
I’m headed out to the pasture now. I’m going to check the barn. Maybe clean it out a little, even thought it was recently done. Gonna throw some fresh hay down, scrub out the water trough, put some oats in the feeder, and then just stand there for a while and say a silent prayer of pleading; thanking; asking for forgiveness; and immediate, appropriate, compassionate action and punishment for those responsible for this murder.
How does all of this make you feel? What can you learn? What can each of us do? One simple, yet powerful act is to write to our legislators to let them know of our outrage.
http://www.congress.org/communicate provides information on contacting those in government to express an opinion, share an idea or give credit where credit is due. Another option is to write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, or even a national publication. http://www.ehow.com/how_2166775_devise-strong-letter-editor.html will guide you through the process to help you produce a letter that gets your point across.
If you could speak directly to those who can make an impact, who would it be? What would you say?
© Copyright 2010
Wells can tell a story and, as anyone who has read her Ya-Ya books knows, she’ll take you from laughter to tears to anger and back to laughter in a heartbeat. She also knows about the gift of true friends and shows us the nurturing effect these friendships have on us through her protagonists who have such enduring alliances.
In Wells’ latest, Calla Lily Ponder, daughter of a musician/teacher father and beautician/dancer mother and product of a happy home grows up in tiny La Luna, Louisiana. Calla comes of age with her best friends Renee and Sukie and believes she and her boyfriend Tucker will be together forever. Upon high school graduation, however, she finds herself going in a different direction from her friends and boyfriend and must find the strength to pursue her own dreams in the big city of New Orleans.
At times sweet, funny, poignant, and tragic, and with a setting so authentic that it seems to be another character in the novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is not to be missed by fans of southern women’s fiction.
“Ya’ll, I could NOT put that book down! I knew it would be a good book since I’m a huge fan of Wells’ work, but this exceeded my expectations. Seriously. I felt like I was under some kind of spell as Ms. Wells weaved her magic and dropped me smack in the middle of La Luna and New Orleans Louisiana, righ…t along side Calla Lily Ponder. I’ve not cried that hard over a character’s hardships in quite a spell. I’ve not cheered over her triumphs in such a long time either. Calla Lila and all the characters that surrounded her were so well fleshed out, I felt I knew and loved (or hated!) every single one of them. And while I was sad to reach the end, the story ended quick satisfactorily….perfect for this book and perfect for these people. If you loved “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” or you are just looking for a great summer read, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder today! ” — blogger Did You See That?
Go Girl Book Clubs!!!! Here is a photo of one of the book clubs who won an original New Orleans King Cake as a prize for choosing “The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder” as their reading choice for discussion in April/May. Don’t they look like a fun bunch??
Did your book club read “Calla” recently? How about sharing a photo of you and the girls? Just email it to me at email@example.com and we will post them all!
These women are some of my Ya-Yas. When we get together, I don’t even notice that my bra strap shows, even though my mother would think I look trashy!
Go, girl book clubs! GGBC! Go, girl book clubs!