FORGOTTEN MEMENTO

In the mood to enjoy a little armchair traveling, I pulled an old favorite from the bookshelf. When the bookmark slid from between the pages, I expected it to be the water taxi ticket from our girls trip (me, Mother, Anderson) to Venice in 2008.

I am always tucking precious keepsakes into my books. Never would I have thought it would be my ticket to the 102nd Floor Observatory of the Empire State Building. I brought back very little from the trip to New York City that fate filled summer -other than a few souvenirs for the kids and two journals filled with notes that would become WE SHARE THE SAME SKY.

That was 15 years ago! Where does the time go? And, why does it pass so quickly?

The moments, the memories that comprise our lives are precious—-the good ones and the bad ones too, for they both shape us and define the paths we will choose.

If you would like, WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1985762838/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?ie=UTF8&qid=&sr=

ElizabethMozleyPartridge

WeShareTheSameSky

NewYorkCity #Memoir

AlabamaAuthor

Time has a funny way of bending in on itself. #NYC

This past November, my husband and I were deep in conversation when our driver suddenly stopped due to traffic. As we looked out into the rainy streets of New York City, I was stunned to see Paley Park just steps away. She (because she is too beautiful to be anything else) was glossed with rain, just as she had been the first time we met in 2007. Time has a funny way of bending in on itself. So much has happened since then, but I am still the same girl; I still believe in all that is good. And, I know I am blessed.

When we returned home, I pulled out a copy of the book I wrote about my weeklong retreat in New York City ~ WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR. And, I located the chapter where I mentioned my first introduction to Paley Park. I’ve included a partial entry here.

WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR
Elizabeth Mozley Partridge

💙 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

2
Simplicity – free of complexity, refinement, or pretentiousness

For only a moment, I forget where I am. I have awakened to the sweet sound of rain, its drops playing out a song on the sill and making a tattoo of patterns on the glass, droplets that splat, gather and run. I’ve awakened in the past, on my old couch. How often I slept my lonesome weekends through.

There was that one soaking April I awakened to find the French doors of my living room standing open, thrown wide the night before to let in the breeze. I both loved and hated that white room, with its spacious doors set across the back. On the second story, it sat as if nestled within the limbs of trees. This morning the rain had made heavy the syrupy smell of warming wisteria and its scent had come inside with the wind to blanket the house. I had risen, prepared a pot of coffee, put Madeleine Peyroux and Miles Davis on the Hi-Fi.

I was determined that spring to make myself happy. Often, I’d waste the day away. Surrounding myself with cookbooks pulled from the shelf, I’d browse the stacks for something to cook, something to have waiting for the children when they returned from the weekend with their father.

So, I have claimed today as one of those days. It will be a day without destination, a day wasted away without purpose. But, really, in all things there is purpose.

Darting along the sidewalk, I sidestep a woman scolding her son for being late. These kids are still in school and will not be out for another week. Continuing the school year through June would be unbearable in Alabama. I turn, and cannot help but watch the woman. Having entered the store behind me, she continues with her barrage of corrections. Something in her tone reminds me of my mother. She is not really angry, but the voice holds the tone of determination.

Mother used to grab me by the shoulders, demand that I meet her gaze and then with an intensity that sank into my bones she would declare, “I want you strong and independent. I don’t want you scared to try things like I was.” She and my father loved me and my younger brother. That was obvious. But, we were never smothered with affection, never spoiled. The objective they sought in child rearing was clearly to produce two kids who were sure of themselves and independent.

Growing up in the country as we did, my brother and I became inseparable. The isolation created between us an amazing bond. But, it also fostered a desire to go solo. When sports began to consume Oba’s weekends, I was left alone in what had always been a shared adventure. Strangely, rather than feel this as a loss, it grew into an inexplicable love, an unequivocal joy. Instead of accepting invitations from girlfriends for a day shopping or burgers and a movie, I preferred instead to spend my days hiking to the lake that sat nestled in the woods, gather a pile of pine needles to make a soft place where I could curl up for several hours in the quiet and read. Other days, I’d throw a shovel in the back of our old truck, and spend hours riding the countryside searching old home places for daffodils. I learned early that I am very comfortable setting out on my own.

The sky rips open and rain begins to spill onto the city. The echo of thunder ricochets off the skyscrapers with alarming intensity! It is unlike any sound I’ve ever heard. I sprint to the nearest cover along with every other soul who didn’t have the foresight to bring an umbrella. Just as quickly as it came, the rain slackens, then tapers off to a slow drizzle. Covering my head with a jacket, I tiptoe through the puddling water on the sidewalk and continue skipping between shops, searching for shelter within each, seeking enjoyment that requires no thought, just an aimless filling of the senses with shape, color, sound and scent. There is no hurry, no course to follow, just the pure enjoyment of an overcast gray sky, the creamy glow of traffic lights, the rain itself bouncing between the buildings as it picks up pace again. There is nothing so soothing as the low sound of distant rolling thunder and the muted light of a dreary day.

I turn a corner onto an unknown road and find the fountain. I know instantly that it will be my favorite and so silently claim it as a place of my own. It reminds me of one in downtown Gadsden next door to the old Pitman Theater on Broad Street. I mark it in my mind so I can return later. I have stumbled upon Paley Park, established in May 1967, a month before my birth! The plaque near the entrance reads, “This park is set aside in memory of Samuel Paley, 1875-1963, for the enjoyment of the public.”

Two questions come: Why is no one here? and What day is it? The realization that I’ve begun to let my days blend together brings a sudden smile. I feel that I am making some sort of progress, but toward what I am unsure. Folding my jacket and placing it in a chair, I sit back to appreciate what can only be a temporary moment of seclusion. The backdrop of the park is the waterfall, a twenty-foot sheet of falling water. Cobblestone pavers cover the ground and, all around, ivy buffers the encasement provided by the opposing buildings. The park is filled with the green foliage of trees with which I am unfamiliar, and a profusion of potted yellow and white flowers. The wind having died down with the passing of the storm, now blows gently through the trees and birds reappear to bathe in the puddles that remain. Bending, I collect a white rock that seems so out of place. Pausing before pocketing it, I notice its jagged edges, its surprising heft, and the way its surface glints against the light.

For centuries, man has erected fountains. Originally begun as wells that provided the city with water, fountains later sprang up, creating a place to congregate, a place to relax. The longest recorded conversation between Jesus and another person took place at Jacob’s well with the woman of Samaria. The Persians are often credited with creating the first garden fountains and Romans the aqueducts and public baths.

Sitting here alone, reflecting on these things, two memories come to mind. I remember the sense of fulfillment I experienced when Anderson, my daughter, and I drank from the fountain on a hillside in Rome, where the cold water poured out onto the streets from the ancient aqueducts.

Though warned not to drink from it by our guide, we couldn’t resist; ambivalence must surely be an inherited trait! The other memory is of a time when having tired of a lecture on the relationship between Southern food and literature I’d made my way through the streets of Natchez, Mississippi where I stumbled upon St. Mary Basilica and its simple but gracious fountain that sat surrounded by old oaks. Rather than being overcome by the majesty of the sanctuary, I was taken instead with the unassuming oasis.

Neither of these memories are distant enough to have been forgotten or shelved, and yet they are seldom, if ever, recalled. But, they come to me now and the recollection of these happy times, these times I felt fulfilled, seem to ease the anxiety that has kept me in constant company these past months.

I cannot explain the need to revisit certain buildings and places, or why it is that they are of such importance to me, a Southerner. But, I think that the love for this city’s landmarks is a universal thing. Most people understand the importance of place to the human spirit. Just as individuals are unique, the characteristics of a place which appeal to us, those to which we attach some meaning or connection, are just as varied, just as distinctive. A place that holds no appeal to one person may be of inherent importance, almost sacred, to another. Yet, experiencing ties to a place and being drawn to one are very different; while we are drawn to those that supplement our soul, we become tied to the one that breathes of home. When people reside in an area to which they feel no attraction or sentimental connection there is often the recognition that something inherent and fundamental is missing. And so they search.

Elizabeth Mozley Partridge, an excerpt from WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, A MEMOIR
All books available on Amazon.

💙 https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

#WeShareTheSameSky #ElizabethMozleyPartridge

Paley Park, New York City 11/12/2022

IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR!

In the past, persimmon seeds have accurately forecast winter weather.
Someone break them open, and tell me we will have a Southern snow soon!
~ A spoon = eating snow. A knife means chipping ice.

#ElizabethMozleyPartridge #WeShareTheSameSky (It’s in the book!) https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

—Did you say, “battle for the best cupcake?!”

#WeShareTheSameSky Join me for a week in #NYC, visiting historic sites, enjoying the history, famous eats & reflecting on growing up in the Deep South. ~ Ah, and the battle for best cUpCaKe between Magnolia Bakery and Sugar Sweet Sunshine; my quest for the tastiest rice pudding & frozen custard! What a satisfying trip! WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir is Available Here: https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley/e/B00J7KJWIU

#ElizabethMozley #AlabamaAuthor

ROAM!!

Travel when you can – hop a flight, ride the train, or just step out of your own back door and roam! Join me for a week roaming New York City & reflecting on growing up in the rural South! amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozl…

WE SHARE THE SAME SKY,
ELIZABETH MOZLEY

Take time to reconnect with who you truly are!

For me ~ I have begun with an early morning walk, followed by a cappuccino & blanket on the front porch, warming in the golden sunlight and fleshing out the second Memphis novel.

Join me for a novel! https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley-McGrady/e/B00J7KJWIU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

#WeShareTheSameSky

#ElizabethMozley

#TheDonatiFamily

CENTIPEDE ~Chapter 1, No Beer on Sunday

CENTIPEDE is the story of an eleven year old child, who when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds, survives and succeeds in obtaining the life every child deserves.

Willa Cather Jennings, who detests her given name and therefore goes by Willie, is the lone survivor of her family’s harrowing murder. Consumed with emotion, she finds herself traveling with Thomas, the manic depressive stranger, who stepped in to save her.

The two travel together through North Alabama, the Appalachia to the Outer Banks in North Carolina before arriving in Savannah, Georgia where they join his sister Jane. Along the way, Willie’s dependency on Thomas turns to trust; he, in turn, finds new meaning in life through his friendship with the child.

In Savannah, Willie -who grew up in a fragmented and impoverished family -finds comfort, happiness and belonging. But, just as she comes to terms with her past and embraces her future, Thomas returns to Alabama seeking vengeance and Detective Nicholas Cox, an old friend of Willie’s mother who has been searching for the missing child, pieces the past and present together.

~Several years ago, my students asked why I had not written a book for them; it was then that the idea for Centipede was born.

As a teacher, the majority of my time is spent with children. At the end of the day, many return home to ideal family settings; many more do not. There are some who rarely see their parent or guardian and so they’ve learned to fend for themselves. Willie is one of those children. You know the kind -the kid who is self-resilient, who harnesses the magical power of imagination to make it through the especially rough times.

Many children live in a low socio-economic area; the poor are quietly poor. When I read parts of Centipede to my students, I saw recognition as they acknowledged the similarities between the heroine’s life and theirs, and how her indomitable spirit mirrors their own.

I hope you enjoy the novel!

Elizabeth Mozley https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Mozley-McGrady/e/B00J7KJWIU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

There is ‘FOOD FOR THOUGHT’ but what about ‘FOOD FOR MEMORIES’?

This morning, I dropped my granddaughter, Bug, off in Gadsden.  She was with me for two evenings and a day. I am specific about the time, because the time is so precious –Every Minute Counts.

 

Our first evening, as we sat on the front porch together, I asked: “What do you want to talk about?”

 

“Well, let’s listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and talk about what we are gonna cook tomorrow!”

 

I listened.  And realized that when Bug said she wanted to cook dinner, and wanted to bake a pumpkin pie that that was exactly what she meant.  It was really how she wanted to spend our time together.

 

Though we have often baked together, we have never prepared and cooked an entire meal. So, I explained it would take up a great deal of our day.  Bug said she didn’t care and got busy creating the menu: BBQ chicken, (No surprise there. I remember when she was four and decided it was to be breakfast; and it was.), mashed potatoes, fresh green beans, and garlic/cheese biscuits.  And, let’s not forget the pumpkin pie.

 

And you see, it was with the pumpkin pie that I almost messed up.  I almost acted like an adult and suggest a more seasonally appropriate dessert. You know –lemon icebox, key lime or a cobbler.  Thank goodness I paused and realized this was not about food, this was all about her –and she had suggested pumpkin because it was what she had set her heart on!

 

The kid knocked dinner out of the park! It was amazing. But, it was the time we spent together snapping the beans, peeling the potatoes, and baking the pie that I will never forget.  I hope she doesn’t either.  It was simple, and it was sweet -a summer memory wrapped up in preparing and enjoying a meal together.

 

***

 

The second part of the Romania lecture on WE SHARE THE SAME SKY was to expound how WE tie our memories to emotions; emotions that are most often linked to people, places and food.  Because I’ve opened by sharing the recent cooking experience with Bug, I will skip the introduction and jump to the excerpt.

 

 

From WE SHARE THE SAME SKY, a memoir NYC 2007

 

Last year, when I began planning this trip, I purchased three guide books of the city. While mapping out Chinatown, I was surprised to find that there are almost 300 restaurants within the neighborhood’s boundaries. Some sounded better than others, and although I had my list of wants written out well before I left home, I have found that once I get into an area several things tend to dictate choice. The first two are my mood, and the prolific bragging of locals. Often as not, however, I choose a place to dine based on nothing more than the way a place feels.

 

 

Today, I am looking for an eatery called Sweet-n-Tart Cafe. My new friend Karen suggested I try the congee, a type of rice porridge. In the South, there is a particular fondness for a dessert that is also considered a staple. In our home that staple was rice pudding. It ranked right up there with the various biscuit topped cobblers: blackberry, peach or sweet potato. Rice pudding even held its own at the table when presented along with butter pound cake. All these family recipes were handed down over the years. Along the way, others crept in. Some were come across accidently and yet others long searched for -like the recipe for Lillian Carter’s Peanut Butter Pound Cake.

 

 

Rice pudding back home is a buttery, dense pudding loaded with vanilla, sugar and a pinch of cinnamon. The overall consistency can be described as velvety. Usually it arrives at the table crusted with a browned sugar and butter topping. It is wonderful hot from the oven, at room temperature and even straight from the fridge, ice cold. Like banana nut bread, rice pudding is a staple breakfast food as often as it is dessert.

 

 

During my childhood, rice pudding appeared most often when times were lean. Those were the days when a summer evening meal consisted of fresh scrubbed vegetables from the garden and fish from the trotline. Lean dinners in the winter were often bowls of pintos and cornbread or skillet fried potatoes with onions. As the seasons changed, fish gave way to game: fried dove or quail with gravy, braised rabbit, smoked turkey or venison. All of these could be taken within a five-mile radius of our home. The variety may not have been great, but there was usually plenty. Biscuits with butter, cornbread with sorghum, molasses or honey -these were present at almost every meal. Other times, they were the meal. More staples. How often I sat at the kitchen table during the late evening with Grandpa, feasting on only this and black coffee. I wish I could remember the things we talked about and the stories he told as clearly as I remember the food. Just as there was always Grace before dinner in one grandparent’s house, there were always stories in the other. Rice pudding, however, was common at both dinner tables.

 

 

Cash Only is posted on the door to the tiny restaurant. As of yet, this has been the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make in the city. Thank goodness the guidebooks warn tourist up-front. If not, it would probably be as close as you could get to having a Southern woman in true distress. At the counter, I order the Congee with Hong Dou. “Good for you,” says the man nodding his approval and making a circular motion with his hand around the stomach.

 

 

“Thank you,” I tell him. It is all I know to say.

 

 

Congee is made by cooking rice with water until it breaks down into a porridge- like consistency. It is usually flavored one of two ways: salty and robust with flavorful meat, or glutinous and sweet with red beans, dates and palm sugar. I am in want of the latter.

 

 

The congee arrives and the serving is more than I anticipated. It is a meal and has the wet consistency of porridge rather than the thickness I associate with rice or bread pudding which, when scooped, holds together. I have to admit to being somewhat put-off by the addition of beans. Trying it though, I am pleased and notice a chewiness that regular rice pudding does not have. It is warm, sweet and heavy, very much a comfort food. Admittedly, it is probably healthier than the rice pudding I grew up on because it is cooked without butter and cream.