Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rock Steady

I'm going to talk about Aretha Franklin, again.

What it is-what it is-what it is
Just kidding. I love Aretha Franklin, but I'm actually going to talk about rocks. Wait, don't go yet. You just might be able to benefit from this one. 

I have a thing for rocks. Again, sit tight for a second. 

Yeah, I'm going to come out and say that on the Internet, risking sounding like an 8-year-old. 
I used to have a thing for socks, and so now you're probably glad that's not the case anymore.

If I find a pretty rock, I'll never let it go. You'll most likely find a pretty rock somewhere in my car or on a bookshelf. Because of my sentimental tendencies, they are often related to some kind of memory or moment or place or maybe they just look weird.

I can blame this habit on my mother, and whoever the blurry-faced person of my memory was who taught me to look for "Indian money" or arrowheads. My mom always seemed to take rocks from some place that meant something to her, like a loved one's grave or a trip. One time, she made me keep this rock we found by a lighthouse in Michigan. I guess that's when it all started. But at that time, I was like, "Great, now I have to lug around and hold my pants up while this huge Geode battles gravity in my pocket."

You have to wonder why certain people feel an affinity for certain things. Like why feathers? Or horses? Or pancakes? If it's pancakes, don't think too deeply, you just like pancakes. I'm there with you.

So as I have been reading and mulling over Kimberly Snyder's book, The Beauty Detox Solution which has been enlightening so far, I have's minerals! I've been a health nut the whole time. The whole rock thing? It's not because I secretly haven't matured past the age of 8, it's because I am extremely health conscious!

So yes, finally, this post is about minerals! But wait! Before you exit your browser and slap your laptop closed in disgust that it has taken me this much time to get down to the point, let me share. You've been with me this long, might as well stick it out to the end, my loyal and faithful friend, whoever you are. Sometimes I just want to know who all of you are. Somebody's been looking at this.

Anyway, minerals:
-95% of your body's activity involve minerals
-Certain enzymes, which are the catalysts for hundreds of different processes in the body, including digestion and the renewal of skin cells and collagen (huh?), depend on the right quantities of trace minerals being present in the body
-Water and soil, absorbed by plants is how you get these minerals
-Top minerals: Silicon (hair thick, great skin, strong joints), Zinc (rebuilds collagen in skin), Iron (energy, healthy blood), Magnesium (opens up detox passages in body, vitamin D conversion), Potassium (maintains fluid levels, crucial for eliminating wastes), Calcium (strong bones, good posture)

Yes, it was a nutrition preaching, and I lured you into learning (evil cackle if you wish).
Beautiful rocks, thank goodness for 'em.

So eat plants, grow plants, love plants! Nuts, seeds, herbs and roots too, which are plants so you get my point. You can't go out there and eat dirt. Got to have plants, as many as possible. Minerals, baby. Oh, and do get organic with all that. So you get as many minerals from clean dirt and water as possible.

Liza Jane

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

In The Summertime

My summer starts here. 

Every year.

We left Fairhope Sunday morning as I said, and drove, well I drove, all the way to Louisiana. Will was talking in his sleep. So yes, by now I've been in four of the Southern states in one week. I love it. I've already talked extensively about Locustland. So because it's Wednesday, and you're probably busy as hell like I am, I will skim on parts missed and touch up on parts that were briefed before.

Becky's garden.
 Garden & Gun missed the garden! Which is a form of controlled wildness. That's how I like it. Let that Queen Anne's Lace light up the night. There's always some cool purple carrot or weird tomato in their vegetable garden.

No I don't have a garden this year. And I feel fine about it. So be easy on me. I will not show you what my yard looks like this year until the Gardenias come out to play. 

A boat load of people singing Sarah Happy Birthday.
Sarah is one of the most excited, festive and American people you will ever meet. Hell, she was born on Memorial Day.

Not Jackson. This is his girlfriend. Jackson could not come this year. I don't want to talk about it. 

Queen Anne's Lace at night.
 We ate at about 9:30. My job is always to go cut the flowers for the table arrangement. I love this job. 
And every year, I think I might go into flower arranging. 

We added some votives, and a vase sweet peas for the additional table. Jane Marie over there checking it out. 

Beauty. I'm good. And humble too. 
Will walking through a jasmine arch. 
Smelled so good. The lake is that way. 

Everyone in the living room, admiring the cork-de-lier, which a spin off the beer-de-lier.
By the way, I had it wrong. And so did Garden & Gun. Becky does not collect bottle caps from the local kids. They help her make the beer-de-liers, stringing the bottle caps. No they aren't encouraged to start drinking beer as soon as they can to start making money off it. Ha!

Awesome picture.
Check out the cypress tree in the moonlight beam. What a gorgeous moon. It was so huge and full when it came up over the lake. 

Sarah and I as youngins. On the porch.
Becky and Touchdown on the pontoon in front of the General Store.
Touchdown is a major part of this place. Becky's dad, Sarah's grandfather. Makes fabulous waffles for us. So great. As the article said, he is kind of the reason Becky and Michael settled here. Will and Touchdown have a sweet relationship. Notice the sweatshirt in 80-degree weather. That's something else, I tell ya. He's getting dropped off at the General Store for nothing specific. With a nickname like Touchdown, you've probably guessed that the man loves sports. 

Sound of boats motoring by. Makes me feel right at home. And I could use a terrace like this.
So American. So festive. This is what you get if you're born on Memorial Day. 
 She's proud to be an American Saints fan, on her birthday, singing Faith Hill on her porch.

This is Lucille. I'm a big fan of this dog. 
So that's where my summer started. Locustland. 
Happy to be home, feeling lifted by all the places I've been recently. 
Just loving life, you know?

Liza Jane

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sweet Home Alabama

I'm sorry, Alabama people, but I hate this song. Because of the overplay aspect of its nature. I realize that once upon a time, this was a good song. Catchy, good tempo, notes, whatever. And Alabamians, you have every right to get pumped up when you hear this at a bar or wedding or what have you.

But I hate it almost as much as I hate Brown-eyed Girl. Because I have neither totally brown eyes (hazel so I really can't claim the song) nor am from Alabama, I have a near-seizure if I am forced to listen to either songs, due to bands and radio stations screw-driving both tunes into this culture's psyche.

That's called being overly intolerant to other people's fun. 

So you can guess that driving from Nashville to Fairhope, Alabama on Friday of Memorial Day weekend, I almost had a heart attack when I realized I was listening to that song on I-65 in bumper-to-bumper Memorial Day weekend traffic. Everybody and their mama was headed to the beach. 

Check out the opposite interstate. I was in that 5 times. Road-rage kicking in. 
Then when I got to the special little town of Fairhope, and my GPS took me on some glorious, hilly back-road, I began to relax. And lo and behold, I got a peaceful, easy feeling. I was headed to my friend Caroline's house for her engagement party weekend. Will was meeting me at her family's house on Friday night, which was just a little close-friends-and-family crawfish boil, but was nice and fun for us. SO happy when I got there for several reasons. 

The happy couple. Caroline and Will.
The main reason was that I love Caroline, and was happy I got to be there for her. She was all lit up like a star, having a ball. So pretty. All aglow. I loved seeing it. The second reason is that I was happy to see Will, who I hadn't seen a week because I had been in Nashville taking care of business for a little while. The third is that I love the Reehls, Caroline and her family. They are so kind, generous and thoughtful, and it's beautiful whenever I see a loving family unit like that. 

Me, MOH Allie, and Caroline at her house Friday night.
Reunited and it feels so good.
Okay there they are. So cute. Lookin' good, Billy Ray.
And I was feeling good, Lewis. (See movie Trading Places if you don't get that joke. For shame, if you haven't seen it). 

And then later that night someone put a huge veil from the 80s on her head. Huge. The biggest headpiece I've seen since Celine Dion's diva wedding. 
The next day, we went to her family's river house, and had a great time. It's on Magnolia River, which leads out to the Mobile Bay, and the Gulf. We rode up the river and jumped in the cold spring water, where the river starts. 

Magnolia River. These people just happened to ride up when I was taking this picture. I don't know them, but they have a nice boat, so be it. The sky looks cool.
So anyways, Will skiied or slalom skiied and will probably feel sore for the next 3 weeks. Didn't get pictures of that, which would have been nice but I was on vacation, so cool it.

I thought this was neat of the water.
Not sure if it was accidental or on purpose.
These things happen, and sometimes they make sense. 
All the friends of the bride and groom that came from out-of-town stayed on Sonny Hill Farms, which is a horse farm/polo field and probably so much more. It was really big and gorgeous. We all stayed in a duplex right down the lane from the engagement party on Saturday night. 

View from the front porch of the place where we stayed.
 That's a little pond, and the structure to the left was where the band played.
A very awesome band, very fun dancing. Very very.

So the party? Wow. Beautiful, good food, lovely flower arrangements, lots of people, dancing, bull-riding (kid you not). Basically, I had a grand time. Caroline is having a destination wedding so they put on a positively gorgeous, lively, weddingish engagement party in her hometown. 

Mississippians having a good time in Alabama.
No I didn't take a bunch of pictures. Because for one, who wants to go around taking a bunch of pictures "for my blog" and not enjoy everything happening all around. 

I'm not a photographer, I'm a writer. 

 Come Sunday, it was hard to leave the wonderful town, family, farm, good friends, and people we met. But it was, after all, Memorial Day weekend. Got to keep pushing on.

Yes, I rode the mechanical bull. No, we didn't get a picture. Thank goodness. (Turns out I have talent for riding bulls? Crazy--it's the yoga). 

It's good to know, however much you love your home, you can feel at home wherever you go. 
You've got to choose to feel the love of that place, love it back, and that's all it takes. 
It's also part of the graciousness of the people.

Even so, you will never find me singing along to Sweet Home Alabama, however much I may love places and people there. 

Liza Jane

PS: Tomorrow is Memorial Day continued, and part 2 of Lake Bruin love.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

We Built This City

On rock 'n roll.

It's a treat to live in the country, to live in the birthplace of rock 'n roll now. I'll be talking about the Delta for the rest of my life.

So I'll have a few words now on the place that countrified rock 'n roll, 
because it was a treat to be raised here.

Been seeing a lot of turtles sunning on logs lately. Taken at Radnor Lake, a nature preserve/park in the middle of the city. 
Big, small town. That's what Nashville is. Just like in Yazoo City, or Greenwood, you can't go somewhere without seeing somebody you know. That girl knew you in elementary school, that guy knew you in high school, the woman you used to work with.

Waterfalls at Radnor.
It's really green. Really beautiful with parks like this. Another favorite is Percy Warner, one of the best parks in the United States I'm pretty certain. But on the other side of the coin, you've got the culture and urban life to tap into.  

The courthouse downtown. This isn't that good of a pic I realize, but I simply felt the urge to stick my cell phone out of a passenger seat window. At dusk. And that's how this bad picture happened. Now you know. 
Music, music, music everywhere. Of course. Lightning 100, the best radio station in Music City.
It may seem like I'm trying to promote it, like I'm trying to get people to move here to boost the economy. But I'm not. Because there are so many people here. And the economy, from what I can tell, is on the up and up. So please don't move here. If ten more people move here, I won't be able to drive down Hillsboro Road again without pulling onto the shoulder and screaming into a brown-paper bag.

Smiling cheek to cheek.
MB and Catherine

There seems to be some kind of major influx, a deluge of citizens pouring in to this city. They're all a bunch of hipsters too. This place is being seriously hippefied. You know I'm not going to say anything about hipsters though. Because I have shades of hip: I like the music and festivals, I wear colorful sneakers, own a turntable, buy records, and I'm not a fan of wearing skinny jeans, but I do it. Because society is demanding. I like society though, so whatever.

New people, new big-ass convention center (above), new movie stars and musicians. Check. We're all set. My friend, Mary Brette is a hotshot at this new giant of conventions. It opened on Monday night with rock 'n roll, and fireworks.
Being a child of this city, and seeing all this growth, all these new things and people, I'm really excited. Downtown's exploding, 8th Avenue is turning into the new 12th South, 12th South is turning into the new Green Hills, Green Hills is turning into the new Belle Meade, Belle Meade is staying Belle Meade.   Never will change. 

Sylvan Park is spreading its wings as the new cozy little neighborhood, Germantown is the neatest place in the city, and East Nashville is about to be packed with young families. You've got the greenway, a walking trail that basically spans the whole city. Bad neighborhoods get taken over with good people here. That's magic. That's what we all hope for everywhere. 

It's no Pleasantville. Bad stuff does still happen. It's just that everyone focuses on the good. I can't see the bad through all the new restaurants, businesses, beautiful weather and nature, young and hopeful people, old and sweet people, middle-aged and merry. Even the jerks aren't that mean. They try to be, but there is so much development and happy springtime. 

I might be a bit sentimental. Surprise, surprise. But I love this town because I can run into people who can go way back with me. And also be in a totally new city.

"The butterfly counts not months, but moments, and has time enough." -Tagore,
a plaque on my favorite bench at Radnor.
So here's to the present in the place of my past.

Liza Jane

Monday, May 20, 2013

I'll Take You There

I know a place,
Ain't nobody crying,
Ain't nobody worried...

There is a place that could be up to 71% responsible for my life the way it is now.
This place is called Locustland. 

And I've been dancing, swimming, laughing, playing and falling in love here since I was a toddler. 

Never, in my life, since I was four, have I had a bad time doin' bruin. Which is a slang term for what it means to come to this cozy corner of the Louisiana Delta. It's not just Lake Bruin, a lake right off the Mississippi River, a remnant of the river. 

No. It's the Vizards. It's a special place because it's a special people.

Still dancing out here, 20 years later.
It's the people who live here, grew up here, and come here year after year. It's the long talks over wine and Sarah's birthday cake, and the privilege of roaming around this beautiful scene, so artfully touched and lovingly cared for by Becky and Michael Vizard. The hosts are the responsible parties for the happy and lovely energy I feel when I come here.

Doesn't matter who you are or what time it is, you'll have a good time.

So my mom and Becky met when Sarah and I were little ones. They discovered they were both awesome and instantly became friends. So did Sarah and I. My love for the Vizards and for their home has bound me ever since.

One of the most beautiful porches in the world, overlooking Lake Bruin and the cypress tress. 
So it became for me a place of fun, friendship, love, and dreams. Some of the funniest memories of my life took place in this place. Sentimental waves washing over, as you can see.

For instance, when this photo was shot, a dog fight was just starting to kick up. If you look closely, you can see that I am beginning to fall back and am screaming in horror, as Roscoe the Boxer prepares to attack Jackson in the middle. You can see Lucille the Spaniel on the left starting to come in and Celia on the right. The second row of people are oblivious while there is a priceless look on everyone in the front row. This is one of those shots that went off with a timer on someone's camera so everyone could get in. It was perfect timing. 
We have little traditions that get done differently every year. 

Missing and loving these wonderful friends.
The pontoon sunset cruise is another tradition not to miss. Along with the jumping off some random pier's high-altitude dock, thinking they're not home until you see fish in the bucket. "They're home!" Sarah yells. "Everyone back on the boat!"

The tradition is to lavishly set up a huge dinner table on the porch every year, complete with flowers from the garden and BBQ ribs from the pit (which I may or may not eat, as a tradition). Last year we had a flower arranging contest, which I am not humble enough to not tell you that I won last year.
Becky and I discussing something after supper, fall of 2009. You should see the garden.  
The dinner table usually gets cleared for the dance floor afterward. 

There's something in the air here. I know at least 4 couples who have fallen in love at Locustland, including my own, including Becky and Michael themselves, I believe. When I was 6, I had this idea somehow, this dream--that I wanted to live in the Delta, on farmland. That I wanted to live in a beautiful home with a flat cotton field in the front and a lake with cypress trees in the back, with a lovely porch and beautiful oak trees all around.

Wonder where I got this idea? This dream?

Funny how things work out. 
I got it from the abundant and richly joyful lives that I witnessed at the Vizards' home. From the high energy and pure happiness of this family. And their festive hospitality, and the beauty all around.

It's crazy how two seemingly different prayers, two separate dreams can collide into one big, huge gift straight from Above--that is just one of the ways I know I live exactly where I am meant to live. Thankfully, only an hour and a half away from where it all started. Where the dream was born.

Will and Sarah on the best porch, in 2011.
Can't wait for Sarah's Birthday/Memorial Day!

Me, Michael and Becky at a wedding. Life gives great real parents and all kinds of Heaven-sent second and third-string parents, if you're as lucky as I.
To my surprise, I was just flipping through my Garden & Gun last week, and noticed Locustland being noticed on a national platform.

Becky Vizard is a designer. That's how she met my mother. Her pillows, that she and other women sew and hand-make at Locustland are the stuff of the Sun King. Versailles, baby. I joke not. The most gorgeous fabrics and pillows you've ever laid your pretty eyes on. Walking into her home office is like walking into a textile temple. 

Becky inspires little dreaming farm-girls like me everywhere. Yes, you can live on a farm and have it all--love, family, culture, travel and joy. Yes, you can be a brilliant artist, successful doing what you love to do. Yes, you can live your dream anywhere you live, especially in magical, beautiful places like the corners of Delta that we live in. You can be as successful as you want, in the most peaceful place ever. Becky was one of the biggest supporters of my living in the Delta, marrying a farmer. Because she knows. She knows this kind of free life is the way to do it. to see what I'm talking 'bout. 

She is unbelievably creative. The beer-de-lier is also a Becky brainchild, a chandelier made from recycled bottle caps. One hangs on our back porch and is, along with BVIZ pillows in the living room, one of my most prized possessions.

Becky also shows how you can use your talents and dreams to help your community, however impoverished it may be. She employs local women to help her make the pillows, and local children get paid for the bottle caps they find for the beer-de-lier. 

You can read the article to get the story, but to me, there is so much more to these people and this place.

It's love.

Ready to get back.
Liza Jane

PS: This will most likely be the first of a little series on this topic, so much to say and an inherent part of my upcoming travels.