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Category Archives: Flashback

Don’t Assume.

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Once it was just us…

Don’t assume.

Don’t assume “those people” aren’t trying. 

Don’t assume they are lazy. 

Don’t assume that life is easier for them. 

Just because you may know people who are taking advantage (or know someone that knows someone) that does not mean there aren’t ten times that many people just struggling to survive. I’m sure every time I swiped my food stamp card with the baby on my hip people looked at me as just another single mom with no baby daddy present, lazy and milking the system because how DARE I not have a job…

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Thirty Years Gone.

 

My father died thirty years ago today.  I don’t remember him.  I was only two the summer he died.

My father was born with a disfiguring birthmark that covered his entire torso. The doctors told my grandparents that it should be removed for cosmetic reasons. So he endured twenty-two skin grafts in total, until his skin resembled a patchwork quilt.  He was in and out of the hospital so often and missed so much school that he got fed up and quit in his junior year of high school.  Even after all that, the doctors missed a spot. His tumor grew from a tiny mole, a pencil thin stretch of skin about an inch long.

Last year my mother gave me a file folder of papers that belonged to him.  It is actually a horribly sad thing to go through, because it is a record of his death- the file is filled with logs of his medications and sips of drinks (apparently he liked Pepsi) his last words and a few little doodles.  Those are precious to me.  My dad was an artist.  But there isn’t one piece of work left and that makes me ache with sadness.

I would love to see something he painted. 

I found the pamphlet from his funeral and there was a poem he wrote when he was seventeen printed inside.  I thought I’d share it with you.

SOMETHING

I’m sitting on a rock on the side of a willowy path,

With a feeling of royalty in my blue.

I can feel the breath of life from the deep green forest.

I can hear the nervous cries of birds and forest animals

The cigarette I light is of the finest herbs.

I can smell and taste the blossom of Autumn.

Sitting here I can understand why things are this way.

My life has been something special.

I won’t give it up until I conquer this some-times

                                              Lonesome feeling in me.

They’re walking down the street now.

Why are they walking away?

I miss them so much already.

I feel like they are leaving me forever.

One last goodbye.  I stand up and yell.

They turn and wave.

I wave too, and return to my rock. 

They left this with me.  It’s a way of understanding.

Understanding a little more.

I can’t wait to see them again.

I can’t wait to be home laughing with them. 

Her eyes are serious sometimes- other times happy.

Happy from the high she gets out of life.

I know she is going to be there, here,

Where she belongs.

You would have to be me to understand. 

—–PJS

 

Once There Was a Girl

My first attempt with markers

Once upon a time there was a girl.  She wasn’t a particularly happy child, but she loved to be creative and spent every spare moment adding to the towering stacks of drawing books and canvases and endlessly scribbled her poems and short stories in her school notebooks.  Her dad had been an artist, and it made her feel like she was closer to him, that she was like him, when she drew her little pictures.  She dreamed of going to art school, and unsuccessfully tried to talk people into paying for painting classes.  She dreamed of writing books.  She just wanted to CREATE…

And then she did.  But not the way she thought she would.

The girl got pregnant.  It was a struggle to finish high school while caring for a little baby all by herself, but she did it.  She signed up for community college and watched all her friends head off to bright futures without her.   She felt so sad, alone, and unfulfilled.  She dropped out of classes the first week.  She stopped drawing.  She stopped writing.  She started hiding.  She floundered and flopped through the end of her teen years and the start of her twenties.

When she was twenty-one she forced herself out of her hidey-hole.  She started school again and signed up for an art class.  She hadn’t so much as scribbled in years and the first day she felt so outclassed and intimidated that she dropped out and signed up for accounting instead.

And then she met the man who would be her husband.  She fell in love, got married, started a blog and started having babies.  That little blog gave her a creative outlet and for a long time she was content enough to share her thoughts with a small following.  Her husband would occasionally gift her with art supplies but she was too scared to try again, afraid she would make a fool out herself.  And maybe still grieving for the part of her that thought she had been headed in a different direction.

Then she made a friend who taught her how to do henna and gave her a job.  It was frustrating and hard at first, but she was motivated by the idea that she could help support her family.  And she did henna like a boss.  It was satisfying to drape and lay out lines and dots until they grew into intricate, lacy patterns.  Only after she had been doing it for several years did it occur to her that this was indeed ART.

She grew a little more confident.  She started another blog and befriended a website designer who talked her into sketching for her layout.  People liked it, and one kind soul compared her sketches to Alphonse Mucha and she cried.  And then she stuck her toes into the arty world and tentatively started doodling cartoons for her blog.  People liked them and asked for more.  She cried some more.  Her husband outfitted her with everything she could possibly need to draw and paint and she sat and stared at the blank paper, overwhelmed by the possibilities and the very real fear that she would never be good enough to make all this worthwhile.

She completed her very first painting.  It wasn’t great but she was so proud to actually finish something for the first time in over a decade. And then she saw the work of some of her childhood friends and realized it amateurish and crap and put it all away again.  A few months later she scooped up enough courage to try again and when she finished her drawing she put it on her facebook page.  She got such awesome, supportive comments and emails-  but all she could see were the mistakes.  The eyes were askew, the shading was wrong, it wasn’t good enough.  People liked it anyway.  They wanted prints, and several people wanted to commission her to paint something for them. She was embarrassed. It was hard for her to look at anything she had drawn or painted and think it was worthy enough to sell; she was just learning to be brave about showing her “art” to people.

And now we move forward to today….   And the girl stares at her blank page and is struggling with the urge to put it all away again because the idea of people who actually want to put something she has done ON THEIR WALLS is freaking her out.  She’s afraid that she will disappoint someone, or herself.

Tempus Fugit (again)

It was our annual Memorial Day trip, and very important to my grandmother- and the first time I ever put my foot down and said no. I hated standing there, staring down at his grave, watching my grandmother lovingly tend his flowers and weed the patch in front of his stone. Continue Reading

A Parting Gift.

Although it was so very difficult to survive those first years alone, I wouldn’t want it any other way. I never received child support, or even emotional support from him, the other, but in his absence he gave us the only gift that matters. She doesn’t see James as anything but HER FATHER. He isn’t her mom’s husband, or her stepdad. He is just daddy.Continue Reading