Thursday, November 26, 2009


Leaves crackling under foot, smells of pie crusts and turkey mixing in the morning air, and simple visuals filling the mind and heart...Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Does It Feel Like.....

This morning I was asked the question "What does it feel like to be Carla Labat today?" The question demanded a pause....a pause because I wanted to answer it honestly. I responded, " Well, it's taken me a half a century to find my stride, but I have found it and I am embracing it and feeling so good in this time of my life!". The whole day, I carried this question with me. It made me look at things differently and made me listen to my feelings with a more careful ear. Thinking of me as "Carla Labat" instead of me, made me take myself more seriously. Not too seriously, but just the right dose. People worry about so many things as we get older; women especially. But instead of worrying about aging and the physical appearance it makes, ask yourself what if feels like to be you today. Carry your answer around with you for awhile and know that you can change any portion of it that doesn't feel just right.

As important the question was that was asked of me, even more important was the person who asked it. Camille asked me. I feel so fortunate to have a daughter who takes the time to think of me in this way. I am her mother, but also, by chance I forget, I am Carla Labat. So very thankful, today and always.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

"to kiss a woman's hand in public"

This morning I awoke early and headed to the farmer's market to find treasures for tonight's dinner. While deciding on some winter vegetables I looked over to the flower stand across the way and spotted a distinguished white-haired gentleman greeting a woman with a kiss to her hand. He had a gleam in his eye and she had color in her cheeks. I took a deep breath; actually, I think I let out a loud sigh and continued on picking the best of the carrots. Driving back home, I remembered a manuscript I had saved from who knows where on one of my favorite topics, kissing a woman's hand. And here I share with you these excerpts from J. Newhouse's manuscript... I hope it makes you sigh out loud!

"When I first came to Hollywood, it was still the custom to kiss the hand of a woman to whom you were introduced. It is, indeed, a grave loss for civilization that the genteel gesture has become extinct....
You know nothing other than her name, uttered just before the moment of truth, but if you are astute, if you've trained your senses, you can, in kissing a woman's hand, learn everything that there is to know about her. As your face lowers toward the hand, note well its position: does it veer out from the wrist, away from her body, or straight ahead? What rings or bracelets are on display? Are the fingers held close together in modesty, spread apart in wantonness, or do they find their own natural comfort. Is there a tremble or a steadiness? Listen! What does she say during the public hand-kiss, and when and how does she say it? Silence suggests that she's savoring the touch and is impassioned. The signals will most likely be unconscious on her part; she will be telling you things that she does not even know, or if she knows them, would not dare to utter.

And when the act is complete, do not simply drop her hand. Make a gesture as if giving it back to her, as if it has been something with which she has entrusted you, and you have taken care of it. Give her back her hand as if for safekeeping and that hand will want to return to your lips like a bird returning to a safe and comfortable perch. And then, as you let go of it, look deeply into her eyes and smile slightly, only slightly, but in a way that suggests that you want to beam with joy and are restraining yourself only because others are present. Absolutely nothing has happened and yet two people, unbeknownst to anyone, have, in a fleeting moment, had the love affair of a lifetime."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Marion and Mearl Hunter

Before I was born, my father was in the Navy with Mearl Hunter. They were both from Pennsylvania originally, my father from Oil City and Mearl from Erie. Their military duties eventually ended and they both went their separate ways.
My parents moved to Ventura, California in the early 1950's and unbeknownst to them, the Hunters as well. One day Marion Hunter, Mearl's wife, went down to Jaffe's Camera to pick up her photos. As the man was sifting through the "done" box, Marion saw the name Idzi next to her envelope. Today, there would be so many privacy issues with giving out personal information, but lucky for us, things were simpler then. She asked the man for the phone number on the Idzi order and went home to call and see if it was the same Adam Idzi from Oil City. Amazingly it was and they picked up their friendship where they had left it only now it was on the west coast of the United States and they were both in the working world.
I still wasn't born yet when all of this was going arrival on the planet was sure taking a long time! But it was worth the wait once I met Marion and Mearl. I was young and didn't know a lot about the character of people, but I knew at once that they were friends in the true sense of the word and that they had the most generous hearts.
Marion couldn't have children of her own, and while that must have been a great disappointment to her, she made the most of it. She always saw the glass half full so she filled her glass with me and my sister Debbie. Lucky girls were we! Every Sunday, we would all get together at our home and have pie night. Marion would bake two or three pies and my mother as well. We had a sliver of them all and would sit in the living room and talk about everything that mattered. When they said goodbye at the end of the evening, they gave hugs that left me feeling truly loved. I remember thinking that the real reason we were given arms was so that we could use them for hugs and for eating pie! Those were such special times. Marion always left me with iced graham crackers for my lunch box each week....always. In life, there are many gifts given to us. In my life, two of the best gifts were Marion and Mearl. They left the earth before the start of the blog, but they would have so enjoyed remembering these times along with me.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Portrait in Grace

Walking briskly down the arrivals ramp in the airport, my mother Dorothy, moved with dignity and agility. She had not yet seen me waiting for her, but I had definitely spotted her confident stride. I smiled to myself and thought that she looked as though she took this flight weekly.
Everything she does, she does with a big heart and a smile. She still cleans her own windows at home, varnishes the doorsteps front and back, paints the bathroom-ceiling and all, plants her vegetable garden and exercises on her stationary bike. I always know by the sound of her voice when I call, that she has been up to something. Something in her instance, is life.
Life hasn't always been kind to my mother, but kindness is what she gives back to the world no matter what the past has painted. Her mother, Mary, was a hat designer with her own shop in Pennsylvania. In the early 1900's this was no small feat for a woman. She always had papers posted on the wall of her shop with inspirational sayings. I am forever trying to read all of them with a magnifying glass held closely over a photograph that I have. A treasure. That photograph gives me clues about the woman who raised my mother until she was 13.
My mother took her mother's sense of adventure with her. She practices it always. Before I can even get the invitation to do something or go somewhere out of my mouth, she is saying YES and her eyes light with excitement. The only thing that she takes seriously about age, is that she paces herself to be able to do all that she wants to do.

She is about to turn the corner on a new decade. 90! What's in a number? In her case, the only thing that comes to mind is grace.