In the Garden #SoCS

When the noise of existing

becomes so loud that the

cry of my soul is muted

and the tears I shed

wash over my heart

as the anchor of despair

pulls me  beneath

a sea of dark sorrow,

I remember why I came

to this spinning orb,

Wonderland of diversity-

the challenge of survival

a prime directive.

When all that remains is

living, my need slips into

perspective once more

as Illusion slinks into

the shadows of desire.

Sunlight tingles my skin,

a cool breeze kisses my face

as all of Existence whispers

to my weary being,

”Breathe, rest your mind

and join us in celebration

of this brilliant moment.

Time vanishes when

life is measured in

glorious being.

Can you see it?

Can you hear it?

Can you feel the

drumming of

Nature’s heartbeat?”

I can. I do. And all pain

melts into a river of

the Forgotten once more.

 

Go outside today. Open your eyes. Your ears.

be silent and wait.

 

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Charlotte’s child spinning effortlessly
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Little Green outside the stone barrier
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Hello! I’ve missed you.
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Magic appears when you least expect it.

Allow yourself to be healed.

Don’t just pay lip service to relaxation and rejuvenation.

Have a truly #Free48!

Thanks to Linda Hill’s #SoCS prompt ‘lip’. Visit her place for other great posts and read about this and other fun blog prompts on her site.

And if you had bad service as a consumer this week, check out Dan’s bar post for this week. Customer Service is alive and well in Hartford!

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Nature’s Face/Photography/Poetry

At times I trudge through my life, sometimes with steps as light as air,  yet often as though pulling lead balls chained to my ankles; still,  I find constant comfort in the face of Nature.  We have had a dreary sort of Winter, although the holidays were bright and full. The unrest in the world is palpable, carried on the chilly wind and hanging in the raindrops that seem endless on every weekend that comes around here in Georgia.

Yesterday was a reprieve and I was determined to find solace in the free blessings and gifts of Mother Earth.  The message in her soul is always the same, so clear and encouraging, sometimes more so in those arenas made by humans to showcase her handiwork.

 

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We are here!!!

Each face is as unique as our own, their expression and exuberance so real you can almost hear their voices singing for the change of season.  I believe Nature’s joy in Spring is contagious. Can you hear them?

 

Spring tiptoes in on velvet slippers,

 

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Peering around dark corners and waiting in the shadows,

lest the jealous heart of Jack Frost linger to nip her nose

or sting her toes…

 

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Would that I could soar and fly

on dragon wings into the sky.

the bees might envy me-

I say…

 

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Excuse me, Sir, are you going my way?

 

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Alas, my human body is bound

upon this thawing, sacred ground

called terra firma.

but..

My dreams can fly!

 

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As I peer into the laughing face of Sunshine, teasing us from moment to moment..

 

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I know my thirst will be quenched
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As Nature finds a way
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My cup shall run over again
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A smile insists that hope exists
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And never lonely shall I be

 

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With Nature as my muse, you see?

But vigilance and care must reign

or all was labor thus in vain.

 

We must not let the forever sun set on the Creator’s gift.

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Ask not for whom the bell tolls.

It tolls for thee and me and we,

but never they…

 

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For Nature always finds a way…….

Today’s images brought to you courtesy of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, an ever evolving transformational vista of living beauty, located right in the heart of an enormous, bustling city.  It can be done when we nurture the spirit of life and give her room to blossom!

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Happy #Free48 everyone.

Paradise in Ashes/Forever Never/Book Bits..

Another bit of my work in progress….85C6D39E-ACF0-41C7-B6F6-0EC61DD17101

Words and images copyright CherylKP 2019

Paradise in Ashes
In the Mists of Dreams
M’na’s heart thudded inside her chest as she made her way through the forest. How could she have known Amhain would be deceived so cruelly and have his brother stolen from his arms? Her empty stomach jumped and rolled as though it might climb up her throat. She trembled as raw anger screamed louder than her fears, the culmination of all the horrors they had suffered in so short a time. She could not, would not, be defeated this way.

“A’rtine!” she called out hoarsely, the smoke and tears clogging her throat. The Mother of Domhan took a deep breath, the stark image of her infant son as a helpless captive of the Dark god looming in her mind. She steeled herslef to try again. Hot blood quickened her pulse, her breaths came in short gasps, and the fire in her soul fueled her resolve. She yelled again, this time sending her voice into the madness with a fury. “Artine, you damnable soul! Where are you, Ar’tine?” M’na knew he was responsible for the living nightmare they were in, that he beguiled her son and took her newborn child from the trusting child. How that poor boy must be suffering with guilt.

“You can’t worry about that now,” she mumbled to herself. M’na turned in circles, her mind racing as she scanned the smoke filled landscape for signs of life. She decided she would have to entice him out of his dark corner-but how? Though her mind was muddied with fear and her body wracked with pain, she knew her child’s life might depend on her outwitting the most shadowed soul in the Realm. M’na closed her eyes, took several slow, deep breaths and steadied her voice, focusing on sounding not just reasonable, but appealing.

“Artine, I..I know you are here. This is your handiwork, and I also know you would not want to miss a chance to..” She swallowed the bile working its way into her throat, along with any pride she had left. “You must be eager to see how successful your efforts were. I confess your creation reflects your supreme power.” M’na waited, hands pressed to her pounding temples, for any sign of his presence; but only the roaring fires that ravaged her homeland echoed back. Thunder rolled as wild jags of lightening cracked across the smoke filled skies. M’na was perched on the precipice of desperation, with her newborn child in danger and their perfect world crumbling around them.

“Why do you hide if you are not ashamed?” M’na tried a new tack with the vengeful son of Eternity. “Surely you aren’t afraid of a helpless female like me? Why do you hide in the shadows when you could torture me with your words?” M’na, always the clever one, kept the pretense up, driven by fear and necessity, taunting the dark one into the blazing light of his own making. Light was her only advantage, being the one place he was vulnerable.

“Son of Mac! I demand that you show yourself and answer to me!” She waited. A deathly silence descended like a blanket across the madness, enveloping her. She knew with every moment that passed her newborn could be taking his last breath and she grew impatient. Fear gave way to outrage as she bellowed, “Damn you, Ar’tine! What have you done with my SON?!”

Her world responded with awed silence, its Mother in peril, and waited for her next move. Her soft jaw went rigid, her arms hung limply at her sides, and her fists clenched and unclenched. She was finished being soft, easy, and loving. “Return him to me..now!.” She waited. Did she hear a muffled whimper? Oh, dear Mother, could that be Dochais? M’na’s heart caught in her throat, but now more ever she knew she had to be stronger than fear. She had to be stronger than the heart of darkness.

“He is of no use to you, and not even a boy yet. He’s..he’s so small…” M’na cupped her hand over her mouth to stifle a sob. She wouldn’t weep before him, she couldn’t sound weak, and refused to beg, knowing he would only hunger for more pain. “What danger is an infant to you?” She lied, knowing more than anyone else how much power the infant was born with, knew the power he held within his soul, and understood the hope that the Realm had with his birth on Domhan.

She held back the tears, refusing to be vulnerable before the bitter god, unwilling to quench his thirst for suffering. M’na hung her head, the weight of fear and sorrow pressing down on her heart and soul, and wept silently. In those quiet moments she heard it, at first nothing but a soft rustling, like the gentle flutter of leaves blowing across a dirt path. She cocked her head to the side, straining to hear more, and wondered if she was losing her mind. Long moments slid by and she was about to call again when the sound returned, coming from somewhere above. She peered up into the darkness, mesmerized by the glowing embers that glimmered as they drifted slowly to the ground around her, the sound floating down with them. Something about it all made her stomach turn. M’na covered her eyes, shielding them from the ash and ember as she gazed up into the unknown.

There was something vaguely familiar about this place and this particular tree, although the entire forest was turning to ash so quickly she would have become easily lost. The tree, the seat of the hissing sound, seemed to be calling to her from some distant place. Its skin glistened in the light of the fires that blazed around them and M’na’s mind groped for the memory. Its bark was scorched and faded, with bits flaking off and striking her upturned face. She didn’t try to deflect them, feeling they were somehow purging her soul.

As she squinted into the dim, gray light she could make out a dark form that moved slowly down and around and down and around.. It shimmered in the pale light as it circled the tree trunk, winding closer and closer to the ground. The Mother of Domhan gasped as the dawning of what glistened in the darkness reached her numbed brain. She gaped in horror as the flame and fury of A’rtine’s madness was reflected back at her from the slick skin of the largest, darkest serpent she had ever seen. Nothing like it existed on Domhan, and she had seen every living creature that lived on her world. M’na stumbled back a few steps, her body subconsciously telling her to run while her mind forced her to stifle the scream that longed to escape from her lips. The serpent stretched downward, its body as long as the Tree of Creation was tall, and coiled around it so that the bare branches seemed like arms reaching to the heavens for salvation. M’na knew where they were now, but nothing in the place even remotely resembled her memory of the peaceful Garden where she first tasted the fruit of life, where her body had been awakened and she had returned so often for solace. What had happened to the beautiful tree that gave them all such precious gifts?

“What?” Hissed the glistening shadow, “No kisses to smother my face? Is your Mother’s love only for those who slid from within your womb?” A thick black knot unfurled from around the lowest branch of the tree and curled back towards M’na to rest on the end of the branch. The head of the serpent was magnificently, perfectly horrible, as only the god of darkness could have created. The head had two smaller knots on it that she prayed would not open, but it seemed her prayers were going up in flames along with her world. The serpent opened those knots to reveal eyes as black as a starless sky and yet they seemed to tug at her soul like grasping fingers. If only they would have remained so. When the serpent spoke again, its eyes glowed red like the heart of the flame, piercing her soul as though forged from its own fire. It’s slit of a mouth opened and a barbed gray tongue slid forward, nearly touching her face, flicking right in front of her eyes. M’na trembled, her body wanting to fail her.

“This is your world, Mother,” a small voice whispered. M’na averted her eyes to the ground where a single white bloom remained, partly covered in ash but brilliant as the moon in the sky. ‘He has no power here,’ the pure white blossom whispered as a burning ember singed its face, silencing her forever.

The serpent’s tongue made a clicking sound when it spoke, something which annoyed the Mother of Domhan, and was possibly the best thing for her in that moment.

“I..click…have decided…click…I rather like the reptiles of Inion’s creation..click, click.” The tongue instantly withdrew as did the voice of the serpent who continued to lie on the branch, staring at M’na with eyes gleeming. When the god spoke again, his voice boomed above the blaze and crashing destruction, filling the forest with his presence.

M’na trembled uncontrollably, her legs beginning to fail her, as bright red blood flowed in rivulets down the inside of her thighs. The childbirth, the flight into the forest to hide her children, battling the beast with Fireann…all would have buried a lesser human; but she had to finish this and show A’rtine he could not win. She wiped the blood from her thigh and held her hand out to the serpent as she struggled to regain control of her body and not lose her mind.

“Here! Is this what you want? I’ll give you a taste of my blood if it will appease your appetite.” Laughter rolled through the forest around her.

“Perhaps later,” the voice thundered. “But first, would you care for a piece of fruit?” A rustling movement from the branch returned M’na’s attention to the serpent. A thunderous thud filled the air as the back end of its body swatted a withered seed from the dying branch where it lay. The seed, so familiar and yet a mere ghost of what it once hosted, tumbled to the ground. The sound echoed through the trees and thundered in M’na’s head as it rolled over the ground and onto her foot. The weight of the small seed was so immense that she screamed in pain.

“Alas,” hissed the voice. “it would appear..click..that the fruit has all been picked from the tree. You creation lusting humans have sucked the very life from your willing host.” The serpent lifted its body and thumped the tree again, shaking the forest floor as debris fell like rain around them. M’na clung to sanity by a mere thread, her rage building inside.

“What have you done with Dochais? I told you long ago that I would never hate you, and I will never be as you are, no matter what you do to us or…take from me.”

“But you already are, my dear. You sought to kill my beloved As’me, even as you pretended to wish her to live again.”

His words struck M’na in the chest. “What are you talking about?”

“Oh, you didn’t know? That trio of Light pushers in the Realm-your god and goddesses-convinced her to sacrifice herself just to save your friends. Yes. Even as the unworthy female, Eagna, screamed to give my daughter new life as her own child, the soul of my As’me conspired with Inion to change the plan, to deceive me!! No longer will we have the reunion we had been promised, never will we be reunited. She was innocent. She longs to please those in the Realm and they are my enemy. There is no love for me there but from As’me. Now she has conspired with them and so has betrayed me as well. And you call them, ‘Mother’. If I suffer, then we all suffer, Mother of Domhan, for still I do not have the love of my creation-my own Daughter, As’me!” He cried out in desperation. He cried..

M’na sensed a shift in his energy, his essence softened slightly as he spoke painfully of the past. “If only you had remained as you did the day you shielded me from Inion on that night so long ago. Championing the dark god that Eternity forgot. If only you had kept your promise. If only Love were truly there for one such as me…”

M’na opened her mouth to speak, her true heart’s desire to console, plead, reassure, and love…anything to reach the dark reflection of Eternity; but A’rtine was mired in his misery.

“No! I have been lied to enough! Now hear me, Daughter of Deception. I must forever live without my creation, without love. And now it is your turn to share my fate. The infant is gone. You will never see him again. And soon, I will be rid of your first born as well.”

M’na needed more time. She had to stall him and reach Amhain before A’rtine kept his vow.

Show no fear, M’na,’ her inner voice urged. ‘He mustn’t sense fear in you.’

“You are right, A’rtine. We all failed you. I failed in my promise to you, made so long ago now. But I never forgot it. All that has happened is my fault, and not anyone else. I thought I was helping, protecting Domhan, but I made a mistake. Just give Dochais to me and I will leave him with his Father. Then I will go with you. I will do all that I can to make this up to you. Together..we can bring As’me back.” Silence. Did that mean he was considering her offer? In her uncertainty she plodded onward, tangling the threads of deception like a noose around her own neck. “I want to see your world, what you created. A’rtine, I would do anything for..”

The serpent rose from its perch and struck at M’na viciously, its fangs slicing the air within a breath of her cheek, sending her stumbling back and onto the ground with a thud. She coughed through a cloud of black ash that rose around her face but never stopped glaring at her attacker who was now nose to nose with her. Anyone watching the scene would have thought them similar in ferocity. The serpent’s tongue flicked at its prey and M’na refused to flinch when it touched her skin.

“You would do anything to save your sons,” A’rtine hissed vehemently. “This is not about your love for me, M’na. No one in the Realm or on your world loves me.” The serpent’s eyes glowed like embers and flashed with every word its master spoke. If the god was as unlovable as he claimed, he did nothing in that moment to change the situation. “But I don’t need your love. I just need the power over you. I need to see you as empty as I am now.”

M’na’s right hand bled where it pressed into the jagged edge of a broken branch, a severed limb knocked brutally from the Tree of Creation by Damanta’s fury. Her fingers slowly wrapped around the rough wood, her grip so tight that her knuckles turned white. With eyes locked on those of the serpent, she rose slowly, moving only those muscles necessary, yet graceful as ever.

‘She is so lovely’, thought the Dark One, recalling how she tempted him from the first time he watched her through the glistening mists over his lake of sorrows on Domhan Eile. She once moved across her world with breathtaking grace, powerfully beautiful yet inexplicably delicate. The serpent’s body uncoiled from its perch and loosed its grip on the tree, never breaking eye contact with M’na, completely mesmerized by her gentle brown eyes.

The pitiable creature never saw the branch in her hand, never noticed the slight smirk playing at the corners of her mouth, and had no time to recoil as she effectively brought the limb forcefully down on its head. It fell to the ground hard, casting the Essence of Artine out of its body, leaving the god momentarily confused. M’na gasped, trying to catch her breath and recover. After a few seconds she heard a crackling sound, the air turn cold and wet, and she knew it was time to flee the Garden, hoping he would have no power over her once she left it behind. Her mind urged her onward as she struggled to find that familiar place of retreat when something flew over her head. M’na’s heart skipped several beats, fearing the worst.

“He has no power over you anywhere!” the agitated voice startled M’na. When she turned back for a quick look, a huge white owl dove at the serpent, her sharp talons flexed, and dug them into its eyes, putting out the flame of life within. M’na found the strength to keep running and did not look back again, knowing the goddess mother was with her. As she passed beneath the broken, fading arch that once marked the perfection of Creation’s Garden, her mother’s voice carried over the terrifying din of the forest. “Conceal yourself from him, daughter! While you still have time!”

Conceal myself? M’na’s mind raced with her feet, but her head was pounding each time a foot hit the ground. The sky above exploded with real thunder, heralding the storm of all storms. Streaks of wild lightening spat across the black canopy. With only her family in mind she raced towards an unknown end. All that existed in those moments were the sounds..the panting, the thumping of foot to ground, her heart beat, the heavy breaths..conceal myself.

“You cannot hide from me.” The voice seemed inside her head though she could feel hot breath on her neck as suddenly racing at her side was the wolf. It was the same wolf who had taken her child- it had to be! Where was Dochais now? The wolf had nothing in its mouth but a thick, red tongue.

M’na held out hope her infant was safe, while her thoughts turned to her firstborn son and beloved Fireann. She feared for her companion, for how could he hold off the fiery beast for so long by himself? Though she pulled a few paces ahead, the breath of the wolf was hot against her legs, its hunger enveloping her. It snarled and drooled, tempted by the smell of blood on her skin. Ahead of her on the path was a fallen tree, blazing from the kiss of the beast.

‘I can’t stop,’ she thought frantically. ‘Not now.’ A cold gust of air hit M’na in the face, her body vibrating with unexpected energy, the burst that she needed to push on. She leapt!

Her mind was clear and strong, her body suddenly without pain as she bounded over the blazing obstacle, as though borne on the wind. She heard a painful yelp as the wolf brazenly leapt into the wall of burning wood behind her, only to be slammed to the ground. Feeling victorious, M’na kept running, her body more agile, fresh hope rising from her heart. She blinked, unbelieving, as the clearing to their home came into plain view. The Mother of Domhan breathed more easily as she ran on, the wind whipping through her hair, her senses heightened. Suddenly she could see it all clearly-home, or what remained of home. Yes! There was someone there; but the beast was, thankfully, gone. She slowed as she drew closer, almost able to make out details in the failing light.

As she slowed to a halt, her head seemed to split in two. Then he was inside it, his mind mingled with hers. How could he molest her now, when she was so close to her joy? Cruelly, like a sharpened axe, his words sliced into her heart and echoed throughout the hallows of her soul.

“Finally returned to your beloved Fireann. Alas, my dear, he was not equally matched for a fight with my pet. Such a pity you will never lie with him again.” M’na’s heart crumbled in her chest as A’rtine taunted. “You know you cannot hide from me, any more than the moon can hide from the night.”

M’na forced herself to look at the clearing where there were not one, but two figures. Her soul wailed to see her beloved Fireann lying in the wet ashes-broken, blood stained and still as stone. His firstborn son knelt over him, gently stroking his Father’s hair and lovingly rubbing his lifeless chest. Young Amhain’s head was bent, his body shaking in the darkest of sorrows. The weight crushed M’na’s heart, stealing her breath, and the light was snuffed as she fell into the arms of darkness…

to be continued….

 

In Search Of Brilliance

It has been a practice of mine for quite some time now to seek out small miracles which can turn things around-a moment, a day or an event which otherwise seems bleak. The last few weeks have been very trying and painful for my family in many ways; and although I am not right there with them physically, my heart still aches and longs to turn things around and make life beautiful again for everyone, so thoughts and prayer must suffice in this moment.

I also had a birthday over the past #Free48. My ‘Birthday Buddy’, my son who shares the same birthday, was not here this year and that added to the prospect of a bleak celebration. But, as is always the case, Nature stepped up to the plate and presented me with some magnificent bits of brilliance to say, “Happy Birthday!”.

With well wishes from friends and phone calls from loved ones, including a birthday song from the grandkids, it was-as always-a special day.

This early gift from my sweet sister kicked things off!

 

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Thank you Omaha!

All I really cared about was getting outside to take some photos and having a nice meal somewhere that someone else cooked. 😉My dear hubby, as always, was a willing partner and smiled through it all-even the humidity. It really wasn’t too bad in the early part of Sunday. Here are some of my favorite things from our excursion.

 

 

 

 

 

Then I heard it. That familiar cry that sends me running like a crazed shopper on Black Friday. There is no mistaking a hawk’s screech. When we turned around there was a huge one flying low across the front of the property with its lunch in its claws. Seeing where it lit, I stealthily crept over to stand beneath the tree for some photos. I will spare you the gore (in this post) but it always amazes me to watch these birds methodically eat. He left nothing behind either, not a hair. We looked it up later to find this was a juvenile 😱 Broad Winged Hawk.

 

 

 

 

Please don’t tell Zippy! 🙊🙈He showed up to say Happy Birthday too!

 

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I got my dinner out at Yardhouse. Plus a free birthday dessert! So yummy.

 

 

 

 

And yesterday there were a few more surprises from friends at work. And hubby stepped with a few surprises he said he didn’t have time to get over the weekend with me hanging around. 😉 He’s so good to me.

 

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Publix Fudge Cake! Oh my….
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These are a few of my favorite things….
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This lady and I usually share a burrito like this on Fridays. This one was all mine! The flowers came from her beautiful yard!

 

This?

 

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A gift from my oldest. A hands free gadget for my crafts, like jewelry making. I think it looks like Doc Oc from Spiderman! 😀 I thought you’d like it, Dan!

Well, there it is. Brilliant Birthday. I hope everyone has a better than anticipated week. Ours begins with a no tolerance hands free cell phone law in place. Should be high revenues for the state of Georgia! 😏

Hugs! 💕

This was in my head when I woke up. Now it can be in yours too!

I’m Late!

I’m late, I’m late….

 

I promised I would post the result of my hush puppy trial yesterday but never got around to it. I must apologize but it was with good reason. I was having fun!

We were fortunate to be able to get out during a reprieve from our recent rains to make a return trip to the Botanical Garden and found a new spot that we totally missed on our first trip. We found a couple of new friends there!

 

 

More on that later….on to the hush puppies.

I actually like this recipe more than most others I have tried because it gives more of a light, cornbread texture-and they are good cold as well! The inside is light and fluffy while the outside maintains a nice crispy texture.  They were perfect with the breaded shrimp we had alongside.  Time was short so we opted for a prepared shrimp that only needed cooking.  Next time, the real deal.  Honestly, I avoid frying anything very often so this was a special occasion.  When I do fry it is normally only pan frying in a small amount of oil.  This requires the full monty, however, and so we did.

 

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Hush puppies cooling their jets..
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These breaded shrimp came from the grocery freezer..not like homemade but sufficient
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Nice platter yes?
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Crispy outside, light inside. Perfect with butter!

 

We made a significant dent in this platter.  My plate was clean!

 

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Who would think there was room for dessert? Well, how could we resist fresh, juicy mango with whipped cream?

 

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Yeah….we had to wait a few minutes before tackling the mess in the kitchen. 😂

 

Would I change the recipe in any way?  For me, the white cornmeal is a bit too fine so I would try to find a self rising yellow or make my own.  I might even substitute some yellow corn flour in place of the whole purpose flour in the recipe.  I added cayenne or perhaps you might like fresh jalapeño.  The green onions were great and I added some well drained diced red pimiento, or you could use finely chopped fresh sweet pepper.  It’s your cornbread, after all! The buttermilk definitely made the texture perfect for me.  I hope you guys let me know how yours turn out.  In case you missed my last post, with the recipe, you can find it here.

Meanwhile….back in the garden….

 

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Doesn’t he look just tickled? Exactly how I feel when I am there! Sans frogs in hand….

 

Maybe he’s thinking frog legs with hush puppies….🙊

 

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Savoring the moments….

 

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“We have to stop meeting like this,” I whispered.  He said he would be there waiting until next time.

I promise to share more of our #Free48 later on.  I hope yours is unfolding splendidly!

Come Away With Me…

I’m not sure about you, but I could use a nice walk outside today in the sunshine.  Since that isn’t likely for many of us during the rains and storms, I thought I would share a bit more from the Garden of Delights.  The Atlanta Botanical Garden is an amazing place. Enjoy a walk with me and a view from the top of the hump day hill.  It’s quite nice up here! 🙂

 

 

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Until next time…..

This post brought to you by #1LinerWednesday. Stop on over to Linda Hill’s place for more great posts and the rules for this little midweek bit of fun.