It is the small simple things of life that bring us peace.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Week After Christmas

I love the week after Christmas!  Christmas day is past, but the season is still lingering and now the days seem to just glide by.  The decorations are still up and being enjoyed, there are a few bites of cheeseball left in the fridge, and the stores have returned to normal.  Just like I think that Thanksgiving is the prelude to Christmas it seems that this week leading up to New Years is the postlude.  Ah, it is a peaceful, easy time.

I have pleasant childhood memories of the time spent after Christmas in Mississippi.  It was a wonderful week of visiting with grandparents and relatives, playing with new toys, and weather permitting it was a time for afternoon walks in pastures and farmlands. It was just an easy, enjoyable week.  On the years that we lived too far away to go to my grandparents we would spend this week just winding down our Christmas season but it was not the same.

As a working mother I hated leaving my children in day care or camp during this week.  There wasn't anything I could do about it, I had a job and there was no getting off at year end.  I always loved the years that Christmas fell around the weekend so they could have a few days at home to enjoy their gifts.  In spite of my dislike of having to do this I think they were not too scarred, or at least they don't let me know that this traumatized them!

Now I try to take this week off, if possible.  Three years ago I was again in Mississippi, this time starting the task of cleaning out my parents house.  My sister was with me for a few days, then James and Erin came for a few days.  It was nice to have them there, and we even made a day trip to my father's home town.  I drove back in a group of Ole Miss fans headed to the Cotton Bowl!  A  year later Carole and I were there again, but it was to be the last trip we made to work on the house.

I've enjoyed having this week off, once again this year.  While I haven't done most of the things on my to-do list, I have done enough.  And I've had time to relax and to just enjoy the end of the Christmas Season. 

I love the long shadows made by a late December afternoon sun!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

Here it is!  Christmas Eve!  I feel like it is really special because when I left my office at 4 p.m.  yesterday I knew that I did not have to go back to that place until January 3rd!  So not only is it Christmas, I'm officially on Christmas break! Yippee!  Now that I've announced that news, here is my more serious post:

Stephanie and I met up at church for the 6 p.m. Christmas Eve service tonight.  I think the Christmas Eve service is my favorite church service of the year.  For several years our church tried to experiment with the service and do different things.  I think the decision makers thought that the traditional way wasn't appealing to people, that we needed new, exciting things like guitars, drums, unusual musical instruments, reading odd things, and a message that really didn't have anything to do with Jesus' birth.  Needless to say, I don't think the new, creative services were a hit.  Tonight we had a traditional Christmas Eve service and it was wonderful!  We sang carols, read the scriptures about Jesus' birth, and lit candles to remind us that Christ is the light of the world.  We left the sanctuary singing "Joy to the World".  I can't think of a more beautiful, peaceful way to lead us into Christmas Day!

Twas the night before Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

NO, NO Time Please Slow Down!

I realized this morning that I have several Christmassy type outfits that I haven't yet worn this season.  And then came the "oh no" thought.  Today is Wednesday, Christmas Eve is Saturday and then Sunday is Christmas!  Oh no, how can this be?  This month has just flown by, and I'm just not ready for Christmas to come and go.  Can we postpone it for a week, or two?  I started early this year so I could really enjoy the Christmas season, but it has still just gone by too quickly.  Boo hoo! I want more Christmas time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Seasonal Colors

Usually our main fall color happens in late November, right around Thanksgiving.  Not only is our color late, but it is different from other parts of the country.  We do have some brilliant colors, but mostly it is a deep, dark red. with touches of gold and orange.  Normally the Thanksgiving drives to the Peddler Show are filled with color and comments of, "ooo, look at that".  But not this year.  Everything was dried up and dead looking.  However, the rains of the last few weeks have done their magic. The colors started to pop up about a week ago.  As the rain increased, so did the colors.

This week I was waiting for an elevator at work, standing on the mezzanine and looking out across part of town.  The colors in this view are always stunning during the fall season.  As I looked out at the different shades of red, yellow, and orange I found myself grumbling about the crazy weather and mixed up seasons but then realized that this year was a double treat.  We are getting the beautiful fall colors right during the Christmas season when all the decorations and lights are out. 

Coming home yesterday I saw a big red bow on a brick wall.  The bright yellow and orange trees hanging over the wall just made that red bow stand out beautifully.  How fun to have both seasons combined together!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Big "Grrrrrrr"

Here we are in the midst of the Christmas season.  Decorations are up, shoppers are out and about, and there is ho ho ho everywhere.  But there are some Grinches out there.  No, actually I think it is some devils!  Consider these examples.

It is one thing that the school districts have decided to call the Christmas break a "winter holiday" but last week in the news there was an elementary school near Fort Worth that had banned all parties and Christmas celebrations during the school day.  However, they could be done before or after school if they were done for instructional purposes.  Really?  Oh dear, someone might be offended so let's not have parties and a little fun.

Yesterday it was announced that the lovely little town of Athens, Texas was having problems with a nativity scene.  Some aethist group in Wisconsin had decided that it violated their freedoms.  They want the nativity scene to go and then to be allowed to put up a banner that states that there is no God, religion is just a myth.  They have been told that the nativity scene will come down after Christmas or when hell freezes over.  There is a large celebration being planned this weekend to support the nativity scene display.  Do Not Mess With Texas, Wisconsin!

And, today in the news there is a Knights of Columbus group in New Jersey that has a banner out that states "Keep Christ in Christmas".  Ok, that's not offensive and they are a Christian group.  So what's the problem?  Another group is demanding it's removal.  This banner seems pretty harmless, after all isn't Christ why we have this wonderful celebration?  I'm confused.

There are many other examples in the news of groups fighting the religious side of Christmas, I won't go on and on.  These grinches (devils) are really making me irritated.  They are violating my religious freedom!  Grrrrrrr!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Reluctant Little Angel

Jaydon started singing in the children's choir at church this fall.  He had tried it once before but only went for a while.  This year he has been going regularly and seems to be enjoying it.  Last Sunday was the Christmas program, presented during the 11 o'clock worship service.  He was one of the angels in the "angel choir".  The Sunday before at the dress rehearsal he refused to wear the angel halo and wings.  No sirree, no way.  Stephanie talked up the program and pretty much told him there were no choices, he had to participate.  I think he just thought he would be embarrassed and, after all, this program thing was a new experience for him.

I wasn't sure what would happen when the day came for the program.  On the way to Sunday School I was talking it up, too.  But he put on the halo and the wings and participated, just like an angel.  Only his mother and I knew that he was reluctant about the whole thing!  He looked so cute in the little costume! 

Ah, the children's church Christmas of the joys of the season!

Happy Wednesday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Little Christmas

I've always loved sparkley ornaments and twinkling lights on a Christmas tree!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas is still coming!

I haven't been posting the last week.  Not because I've been shopping, baking, and doing the seasonal fa la la la laing.  No, I've been sick.  Not sure if it was a bad cold or maybe even the flu.  I went home early on Monday, and actually called in sick on Tuesday.  I'm still dragging a bit; I think I'll be back to normal in a day or two.  So in a way, I've lost a week of December.  An important week with many things to be done.  In my frustration and trying to write a to do list I realized that I should not look at how many things I have to do but how many things I haven't done.  Here is a partial list:

I haven't made a cute picture of the dogs and printed Christmas cards.  But that's okay, I might do an after Christmas card.  After all the blessings of Christmas should continue into the new year.  And if I don't send out cards, that's okay, too.  I've had several years without sending cards and believe it or not, we still had Christmas!

I haven't finished decorating the house, or so I think.  Jaydon helped me get up the tree last weekend, and helped get some of the outside lights up tonight.  I still have decorations in closets and storage buckets.  I wanted to put up another small tree in the house, too.  Oh dear!  If I don't get the decorating done I'm sure we will still have Christmas!

I had bought some new floral picks and wanted to re-do several wreaths and a spray.  The picks are still in the bag.  The re-do may or may not happen.  We will still have Christmas!

I wanted to decorate my office.  Oh yes, a small tree, a Christmas wreath, a basket or two.  I had it all planned.  The question is that now that we are this close to Christmas do I really want to load up all the stuff and tote it up to the office and set it up only to reverse the process in a few weeks.  I think we will still have Christmas even if this doesn't happen.

I haven't baked any cookies, or anything for that matter.  I can do this after Christmas.  After all we will still have Christmas, with or without the baked goods.

That's a start to what I haven't done.  Yes, I have done a few things.  I successfully pulled off my office party and ushered at the Messiah, so check those items off the list.  I know that Christmas is coming whether I'm prepared or not.  And I know there is more to the meaning of Christmas than cards and decorations. Right now I'm curled up with Jaydon watching  "Home Alone 2", a real classic.  This is what is important, making memories.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Why I Like Thanksgiving

The title sounds like a third grade essay, doesn't it?  Well, this may read like one, too!

I've been thinking and thinking about why I like Thanksgiving.  I've run a lot of ideas through my head and struggled with putting words to my thoughts.  Whenever I think of Thanksgiving I think of times in the past, times spent with family.  Some involved traveling to Houston or Brandon, some involve just being at home.  But I always have a pleasant, peaceful feeling that seems to drop over me when I think of Thanksgiving.  So I put together this list, which may be amended in the future but for now: 

Reasons I Like Thanksgiving:
  1. The weather is usually nice, not too hot and not too cold.  I love November mornings when it is overcast and a little wet and there are colorful, damp leaves everywhere (note that we have NOT had a morning like this this year).  Makes me want to call in sick and just go walk around with the dogs and then come home and have coffee on the deck before taking a nap (what a fantasy in sick? ha ha).
  2. Time spent with family.  Yes, we have a big meal on Thursday and then eat leftovers for a while.  There is something very peaceful about gathering together for a meal anytime, but there is something special about the Thanksgiving meal.  Maybe it is the quantity of food, maybe it is using the good china or the Christmas plates, or maybe because we usually have extended family in from out of town.  But we also spend time together shopping or going to the Peddler Show and eating at Chuy's.  Time spent together, something for which to be thankful.
  3. Anticipating the Christmas season.  Thanksgiving is the prelude, and the wonderful season of Christmas follows.  Just thinking about decorations, Christmas music, and the celebration of the season makes me excited.  I think that anticipating an event is part of the experience and should be fully enjoyed.
  4. Giving thanks.  We are blessed with so much.  I think most of us are thankful to God for all that we have and offer thanks throughout the year.  I'm thankful for health, for my family that lives so close together, for my home and my dogs and cats that are my companions, a job that supplies my needs, my church family, and for all that I have.  But I'm also thankful for the experiences of life and for each day that I live.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pulling the wishbone

Thanksgiving week has been absolutely wonderful!  I could write many words about this week and how much I enjoy Thanksgiving, but maybe I'll do that later.  For now I just want to share a few pictures, starting with pulling the wishbone.  This is a family tradition and we recited who has pulled with whom over the years!  This year Stephanie and Carole handed the baton to their sons:

The boys enjoyed some quiet time playing trains.

Emma is smiling sweetly at her Aunt Stephanie!

Erin and Sweet Ellie, mother and daughter!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Stand Up & Shout "Hallelujah"

A while back I had written about a blog that I enjoy reading,  Today I was pleased to see a blurb that mentioned a building in my mother's home town.  There was a link to the county paper (sometimes I forget that the internet is everywhere!) so I clinked on it to read the article.  Just for fun I scrolled through some of the other articles of the day. 

There was a small article about one of the small towns in the county welcoming the Christmas season with their annual parade.  The theme this year is "Jesus Is the Light of the World".  Yes, that's right  Jesus is actually being mentioned and celebrated.  This little town isn't afraid they will offend someone, no sirree!  They've got the reason of the season figured out and they aren't afraid to tell it out!  Yes, the parade will feature Santa and they will have hot chocolate and refreshments afterwards.  I wish I could be there to see their parade.

So, stand up and shout "Hallelujah" for a small Mississippi town that puts Jesus in the Season!  I can't help but think that if someone did show up in the town and protest the use of religion in a public parade they would be so quickly smothered with Southern hospitality, good cooking, and the love of Jesus that they would quickly forget why they were objecting to the theme of the parade!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Basket of Fall

It's here!  Thanksgiving Week! Yippee!  I really enjoy Thanksgiving, and have many memories of different Thanksgivings, in many different places and settings.  Some years are just a blur, but other years are a treasured memory.  I always enjoyed going to Mississippi at this time of year, and always wish that I was there at this time of year. 

But the purpose of this post is to close out the fall season.  Last night I was gathering up fall decorations to be used at today's Thanksgiving potluck lunch for my Sunday School class.  I was putting them all in a picnic basket and realized that I had created a basket of fall.  It occurred to me that this was an appropriate way to say farewell to fall.

When these decorations came home today they did not go back on display.  They are now stored away, to wait for next October's display.  Goodbye Fall!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

UFOs and WIPs

Quilters have UFOs and WIPs.  It is part of our culture.  Start the project, get well into it with the project spread over half your house, then abandon it for a new project.  UFOs are un-finished objects!  WIPs are a little more gentler, they are works in progress!

I have UFOs, many UFOs.  Every now and then I do finish something so it is not like I totally abandon a project.  I started it because it was something I wanted to make, therefore, it is something I do want to finish, right?  Right, all will get finished someday.  Except for the failed projects, they get re-cycled into another project.  But, still these unfinished projects bug me.  They call out to me, and sometimes they fuss at me for not completing one project at a time. 

But I found out at the quilt festival that Martha Washington (yes, George's spouse) had unfinished quilts.  Or at least one anyway.  I attended a lecture luncheon with a well known quilt teacher, designer, publisher, etc. The lecture was titled "Why We Quilt".  It was light hearted and fun, but the best part was when she showed a picture of a quilt that Martha had pieced but never quilted.  The room roared when the speaker pointed out that even back then there were UFOs!  Now I feel better about my bad habit!

Monday, November 7, 2011

I know, it is early November

I have certain rules about decorating for Christmas.  One is that no decorations are to be put up before noon on Thanksgiving Day.  When Santa rides in at the end of the Macy's parade, around noon, that signals the official start of the Christmas season, or so I think.  Another rule I follow is that the Nativity set goes out first and another is that the stockings are hung on the mantle last.  I guess you can think of these as Christmas traditions, or so I think.

Now, the Christmas village is a little different.  I know that it has been put up earlier than my preferred start date.  I bought the first pieces in 1997, and I'm sure it was around the first weekend in November.  I remember bringing my precious purchase home and setting it up that same day.  Over the years I've put up the village at different times, sometimes before Thanksgiving and sometimes later.  One year I didn't put it out at all, and I really missed it. But it is okay to put up the village early, it is like the pre-season primer.  I love its soft, homey glow in the room and the charming Dickens scene is so peaceful.  I usually leave the village out until mid-January, it stays out as long as possible.

I let Jaydon put up the village this past weekend.  I had promised him that we would put it out after I got home from the quilt festival and he held me to the promise!  I was ready to get it out and set up, because that means that Christmas will soon be here.  Jaydon was ready, too.  He loves Christmas and frequently tells me so.  I love it, too!  It was fun to watch him with the set up.  I put out the fleece base and the buildings, after all they are heavy and breakable!  I put the lights in each one and plugged them in, but then Jaydon took over.  He put out all the small pieces, the trees and the snow.  He even got out batteries and put them in the little piece that has a battery light.  He worked for quite a while, getting it just right.  I know he enjoyed his work, and I enjoyed sharing the time with him.

I know that a memory was made for both of us while we worked on the village.  We've done this before, but each time reinforces the memory of the year before and the time we spent together.  Setting up the Christmas village is a small, simple thing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Gave A Party and No One Came!

The pumpkin was lit well before dark.  The big bowl of candy ready, sampled by Gammy, Jaydon and Stephanie.  A spare bag, large size, was nearby ready to make its entrance into the big bowl.  Candles were burning in the fireplace, coziness abounded in my house.  Ah!  Halloween, ready for trick-or-treaters. 

Or so I thought.  Jaydon and Stephanie headed out just before dark to John's house and his neighborhood.  I was ready for the doorbell to start ringing, dogs in the kitchen to prevent any escapes.   But only three treaters came to my door, all polite, all cutely dressed up.  But only three.  I went out about 7:40 to just check the neighborhood.  Other than someone playing one of those creepy sound CD's the neighborhood was fairly dark and quiet. 

It was a school night, there are not tons of small children in my subdivision, and parents are getting away from the trick-or-treat routine. And, I do live on a cul-de-sac and it was fairly dark so parents may have just skipped this street.  So, no one came to my party.  And I do love Halloween, too.  I'm already thinking that next year I'll have a real little party early in the evening and I'll actually invite people to come.   I'll have a little candy in case I get a treater or two (or three), just in case. 

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sign of the Seasons

Wherewolf on the front porch!

Scooping out pumpkin "guts"
Look Alikes!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

October Musings

The days are getting shorter, actually it is the daylight that is shorter but the days seems shorter and nights longer.  On Sunday we roll back the clock and my beloved Daylight Savings Time goes away and then it really gets dark earlier.  If the weather forecast is correct (ha ha) today was probably our last day to have temperatures in the upper 80's.  I really don't want to think about putting my sandals and shorts away but will have to do so. 

Pumpkins are on the porch and Jaydon will carve his big one on Sunday.  Trick or Treat is on Monday.  Then on Wednesday I head to the International Quilt Festival (this is my 10th year to go and I'm still so excited!) and maybe to a see Joey march at a football game next weekend.  When I get home it will be time to start preparing for Thanksgiving because it will be here quickly.  Then the holidays start and before I'm ready it will be New Years and time to take down the tree and Christmas decorations.

Why does this season go by so quickly?  August seemed like it would never end, September passed fairly quick, and it seems like yesterday was October 1st and I was getting on a plane to start my wonderful trip.  Where oh where did October go?  And why will November and December be a memory so soon?  Oh, if only fall would linger a little longer.

These were real pumpkins!  How 'bout them pumpkins!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Boston Common

One of the things on my "do in Boston" list was to walk through the Boston Common.  It was a beautiful day and Bostonians and tourists were out in full force.  Blankets were spread out, picnic baskets were open, and various games were in process.  I walked a way into the Common and sat down on the grass.  This photo was the part of the view that I enjoyed.  I didn't have a lot of time to linger since I had many things on the list, but I needed to rest and this was the perfect place to sit peacefully for a few minutes.

I couldn't help but think of the years of the park's existence and the history of the ground that I sat upon.  The tour guide on my trip had told us that the Common was established in 1634, but I can't remember who bought the land or any details she told us.  I do know that the land was hilly at that time, and used for cattle grazing, garbage dumping, and for public hangings (ugh!).  During the American Revolution the British troops camped in the Common.  In the 1800's the park was leveled, drained and cleaned up and then landscaped.  The Boston Public Garden, just across the street, was created in 1837.  Both are beautiful, and provide a welcome contrast to the surrounding city.  I couldn't help but notice one amazing thing about both parks...there wasn't a speck of trash anywhere!  I would assume that it is because Bostonians are very proud of their public parks and treasure them way to much to leave behind any trash.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gammy Night

I feel like I'm repeating myself but it seems that this theme keeps repeating itself in my life.  I picked Jaydon up at school this afternoon; the first thing he did was give me a big hug.  (He won't do that in front of his friends in a few more years, I'm sure).  That was the first thrill!  As we walked out the door he commented, "I've been thinking about you all day."  And I replied that I had been thinking about him and our time together, too.  We've missed the last two Fridays due to my traveling, and he was bummed out big time.

But I was also thinking about Cameron today, too.  James had called me last night to confirm our Friday night plans.  And he told me that Cameron had really been wanting to come to my house last night, but they had managed to convince him that he had to wait one more night!  Jaydon isn't the only one looking forward to a night at Gammy's house!  Cameron has joined the "I Love Gammy's House Club"!  I've posted about this before, but I still marvel at the love that all of us have for our grandparents house.  I haven't done anything and I'm sure that it isn't really me they want to be is my house they want to be in!

There was some serious tricycle riding tonight!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eating on the Road

Last week I ate some very good meals on my trip.  Some were on my own and some were part of the group tour.  I only had one not so great meal but that was at the food court at Quincy Market in Boston (I hate food courts, ugh!) and that was the last stop on the tour.  The food is different "up North" in some ways, and the same in others.  They do not serve picante sauce, ever and chicken fried steak or country fried steak do not appear on the menu!

On Monday night our group was on its own in Burlington, Vermont.  So several of us walked to a local restaurant, The Farmhouse. They only serve food grown or raised in their local area, there were about 12 farms listed on a chalkboard as their suppliers.  There was a card on the table that explained their philosophy.  I took the card with me because I really liked what they were trying to portray to the community.  Their idea is to support the rural nature and agriculture in Vermont and to offer good tasting, healthy food to their guests.  They want this concept to be a new model for all restaurants.

In addition to their regular menu, each week they offer specials that feature whatever is in season for that week.  Here were the specials for the week of October 3rd:

Pete's Greens Fennel Salad-featured a preserved lemon vinaigrette
Side of local cauliflower
Charcuterie Board-testa, rabbit terine, pork liver, mortadella, venison salami & bresaola
Island Creek Oysters-these were from Maine
House Cured Sardine Toast
Winding Brook Farm Lamb Burger
Pei Mussels
Champlain Valley Gingerbread Spiced Cheesecake (with cinnamon whipped cream)

So what did this Southern girl order?  I went to the regular menu and ordered....meatloaf.  Honestly, it was the only thing other than the chicken that I could really identify.  The menu stated that it was pork and beef; the sides were mashed potatoes, carrots, and butter nut squash.  And, there was gravy and mushrooms!  I can honestly say it was fabulous and I ate everything.  Then I ordered dessert!  It was a pumpkin cheesecake pie which had a ginger snap crust, a layer of pumpkin cheesecake topped with a layer of pumpkin pie, and of course, fresh whipped cream and carmel drizzle.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!

I also had an excellent pulled pork sandwich at the Shelburne Museum.  It was not in the Memphis tradition, but could quickly become a favorite!  It had chipotle coleslaw and "fried root vegetables".  No, I could not identify those little crunchy things but they were excellent!  Viva La Pulled Pork Sandwich!

To make this quick I also ate salmon, crab cakes, what I hope is the last lobster of my life, chicken fricasse, basil pesto pasta, fish and chips, and I don't remember what else. I did eat clam chowder at every opportunity.  Fortunately I did enough walking that I walked off all the good meals and the desserts. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

All good things do come to an end

A week ago Saturday I left for New England.  I flew back in this afternoon and as I walked through the airport it seemed like I truly had just left.  Why does time seem to fly when we are relaxing and having fun?  I was ready in some ways to come home and in others did not want the good time to end...but it did!

So what did I see in New England?


A few fall leaves

Lots of beautiful quilts

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I've recently discovered several dachshund blogs and through them found this thing called Wordless Wednesday.  If I've got this right it is just a picture with no caption that you put on your blog on Wednesday, after all a picture is worth a thousand words.  Since I've occassionally done a picture of the week I decided Wordless Wednesday would fit into the blog very nicely.  I couldn't decide on just one picture to start with, so here I offer three.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Changing the view orientation on a computer

Tonight I had many things to do.  I had made one stop on the way home, then picked up Blossom and made a run to PetsMart.  There is a thunderstorm going through the area (or in my case, it is just a windstorm) so I turned on the computer to check the National Weather Service while I made myself something to eat.  The laptop was sitting on a chair, happily doing it's little lengthy boot up, at least until Sawyer and Bentley thought I was about to sit down and they jumped on the chair and the laptop.  Next thing I knew the screen had rotated itself into a sideways view.  Nice, right.  And the mouse was really unmanageable.

Hmmm, now what do I do?  So the keyboard is facing one way and the screen is the other way.  I tried everything, then searched everywhere.  Forget Microsoft help.  All I learned is that they are not going to support my version soon.  So I looked in the laptop owners manual, forget that, after all this is a Dell laptop (boo, hiss!). I tried under the control panel, too.  At this point I was no longer aggravated with the dogs, I was after Microsoft.

So finally, in desperation, with my head facing sideways to my hand and my head pounding I went to Google.  Found my answer in Yahoo!Answers, quick as a wink.  Someone back in 2008 had the same problem and some smart genius (probably a Microsoft developer in disguise) gave the answer:  Hold the Alt and Ctrl keys down while moving the arrow keys until the screen is oriented to your liking.  How simple, of course!  Now you know what to do when the dogs change the orientation of the computer screen! And, now I continue on with my chores only delayed by an hour.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sweet, sweet, sweet

I've kept these two little sweet girls for the last three days.  It's been fun, but it is double the work, too!  I had had the vision that I would dress them up in one of their cute little outfits and do a photo shoot...hahaha.  I didn't have time for that.  But I did snap a few pictures so I had to share this one.  Emma was almost smiling, but Ellie decided it was time for a little snooze. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


The condo that Jaydon and I stayed in at the beach last weekend was very comfortable and decorated in a very relaxing style. Jaydon explored every nook and cranny and opened every drawer and looked on every shelf in the unit.  I looked around, too.   I was glad to see books by Max Lucado and Rick Warren (and others) on the bookshelf.  But the most amazing discovery was when Jaydon opened the doors on the cabinet that the television was sitting on.  Inside was a beautiful set of Encyclopedia Britannica! 

I had to explain what they were, and we spent some time looking up several things.  Although the Britannicas are a little technical and more suited for an older student, we still found a few things that interested Jaydon.  He likes light and we found a section that had some cool pictures about the nature of light.  I'm knitting with alpaca yarn and we tried to look up alpaca.  We also read a little about volcanoes.  I wished that they had been World Book Encyclopedias as those are a little more inviting.  I remembered spending more time than I probably should have as a young student browsing through encyclopedias.  Today's kids have the internet to browse, but somehow it just isn't the same.  Something about turning the pages of a never know what will be next and what new world will be opened to you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Phone Books

Phone book?  What is that many of the younger generation ask.  We all know, they are those big books printed on cheap paper that we chunk into the recycling bin and think about what a waste they are.  Or so I thought.

We have one of the guys that still uses the phone book (yellow pages) regularly.  He is my age, but got left behind when DOS went out of use.  He is not real technology savy.  So he uses the yellow pages to look up everything.  Recently his wife called and asked someone to please look up a phone number in the phone book for her.  She was on the road and needed to call her doctor's office.  But hubby, thrifty guy that he is, had told her not to use directory assistance on the cell phone because it was too expensive.  So she called the office.  The assistant, of course, went to the internet for the number.  As she was looking up the number she was talking with the wife.  The wife then asked, "are you looking on the internet for this number?"  Yep, wife is not in the technology loop either.  We had a good laugh about this!

But a week or two went by and the same assistant asked me if I knew of a good florist.  They needed to send flowers to a client.  Yes, I knew of a florist but couldn't remember the name.  I searched the internet, thinking that I would recognize the name if I saw it.  But no luck.  So, guess what I had to pull out....the yellow pages!  I was slightly horrified but it was the only alternative.  I found the florist, recognizing the name just like I thought I would.  I called the assistant and told her how I found the number and we really had a good laugh.

Ah, modern times.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Picture of the Week

Jaydon and I went to the beach this weekend.  I hadn't been this summer and I asked myself several times why I don't go more often.  It isn't that far, and it is so relaxing. 

I love to watch the waves and enjoyed this view with my morning coffee both mornings.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

How Did I Ever Do It?

Jaydon has been staying with me this week. We've had a busy week, Monday night was pizza and homework, Tuesday night Jaydon went to school with me, tonight was Open House at his school. I'm having flashbacks to when my kids were in school and I often felt that I was living in my car. We've had the pizza one night when it was fresh and then left over tonight. Last night was definitely a fast food night. And, I'm not used to having to be somewhere in the morning at a definite time so I've had to really discipline myself to watch the time in the morning (we have a 25-30 minute drive so there is no delay in getting out the door).

What I'm wondering is, how did I do it when my children were small? I worked until 5 p.m., drove home, picked them up from after school care when they were small, put a meal on the table, and then headed out the door to dance, Scouts, soccer practice, baseball practice, choir parents, and I don't remember what else. Oh, yes I remember...I made costumes and assembled homecoming mums during the evenings. And, then I came home and got them bathed and in the bed by their bedtimes (when they were small). There was very little fast food or eating out but by the time Stephanie was in first grade I did have a housekeeper of sorts. But I still have to wonder how I did it.

I remember a lot of times that I thought about the old expression about meeting yourself coming down the road and wondered if it would happen to me. Those were busy years, but good ones. I've told myself that it really wasn't any different back then than it is now. I just did what I had to do and it got done. No different than this week. Except I haven't made any homecoming mums.

And, here's a picture of two fine boys!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Right Place To Be

The day of September 11, 2001 was a long day.  It started like any other day, until a little after 8 a.m. when one of the guys, who never raised his voice, yelled frantically for me to come in his office.  There on his TV was the image of a burning World Trade Center (later I learned that his sister worked in that building and she had not yet arrived in the city when the attacks started).  It was a gripping morning.  At one point I went back to my desk to attempt to work, but no one was calling and work was pointless.  As the day wore on I finally had to put on my distance glasses since I was watching so much TV, glued to the set was more like it. 

One of my co-workers and I had signed up to take a quilting class in a neighboring town and we wondered if it had been cancelled.  So we called the shop, they called the teacher and she said she would teach if anyone wanted to come.  I debated about going since it just didn't seem respectful, plus my church was having a prayer vigil.  I really should be going to church, I thought.  But I went on to the quilt shop, and afterwards I knew it was the right place to be that night. 

When we all arrived the first thing we did was hug each other, total strangers except for my co-worker and myself.  Not the normal way to start a class.  Then we discussed the events of the day and how exhausted and stressed we all felt.  But we quickly fell to the task of choosing our fabrics and starting the class.  The building we were in was built around the start of the 1900's and as we worked I felt those tired old walls speaking to me.  They had seen bad times and uncertainty.  Two world wars and other conflicts, the Great Depression, the assasination of a president, and other bad news had passed through the doors of that building.  I felt the walls saying, "it's ok, we've seen trying times before and our country will survive this horror, too."  I felt comfort in the squeaking old wood floors as I remembered the squeaks in my grandparent's floor.  The boards age had given them a warm patina and I knew that those boards had had other shoes pass over them in times of trial and tragedy.  I also felt comfort in touching the cotton fabrics.  They were soft to my fingers and I knew that probably much of that cotton had been grown and ginned right here in our South.

While we worked we discussed the day and our emotions.  We all agreed that God was watching over our nation and no matter what horror the next days might bring we would get through this.  We all hugged again and left for our homes.  I drove home, listening to the radio and hanging onto every detail, and I knew that that shop was the right place to have been that night.  There was comfort there in that old building, with other women who shared a common bond of quilting, and I will never forget those feelings of reassurance.  Everytime I look at the quilt that I started that night, I am reminded that it is my 9/11 quilt. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ten Years Later

As everyone knows, tomorrow is the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on America. Until that time September 11th was just another day.  Several weeks ago interviews and TV specials began airing about that dreadful day.  At first I was appalled and couldn't help but think that the media was just capitalizing on the event and that they would dishonor a very solemn occasion.  But I read an article this week that put everything into perspective for me.

The article was an interview with the pilot of Air Force One who was responsible for President Bush on that day.  His mission was not only to fly the Commander in Chief but to keep him safe.  He recounted the events of the day, dealing with uncertainty, rumors, and not knowing what was really happening at times, trying to keep a level perspective and think through each situation.  He told of the eeriness that afternoon after U.S. airspace was closed - they were the only plane in the air and the air traffic controllers basically told them they could do what they needed to do.  There was no conversation with the ground as they didn't know who might be listening.  And, as he approached Washington he didn't know what was waiting for them there.  Had he done everything he could do to keep the president safe?  Then the fighter jets rolled up on his wing, saluted and took them all the way to ground and to safety. 

As I read this article I remembered every one's uncertainty.  What would happen next?  Were we under attack?  Is this really happening?  As I remembered the emotions of that day I decided that maybe it is a good thing to recall that day with interviews and recollections.  Every time I see an image of the World Trade Towers in those final moments, I cringe.  That is a vision that will forever be in my memory, along with the emotions of that day.  But I also remember how Americans came together very quickly and the unity of people after the attacks.  In the uncertainty we gathered together, in the days after we had a new perspective on our patriotism, and tomorrow, ten years later, we will remember.

May God Bless America and Keep Us Safe

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I Feel A Change

I had promised myself that I would not do another post about the weather, no more whining I said.  But this isn't so much a whine as it is a comment.  So here goes. 

We've had the worst summer hot hot hot hot dry dry dry.  But Saturday night as I took the dogs out before bedtime I thought I felt a hint of a change in the air.  Just a hint, I was sure it felt different somehow.  Sunday morning when we went out I knew for sure, I felt a hint of fall.  A few minutes later the wind picked up and I knew the change had come.  Yeeeeaaaah, the heat is gone.  I feel fall!

So Tuesday morning I had to put gas in the car.  And of course, I'm running late for work and just wanting to hurry and get it done.  As I was filling up I looked out across the hillside (the service station is up on a hill and looks out over the airport and part of the city) and I realized that the cool breeze was just fall all over.  It felt so good on my face.  The morning also just had a look of fall.  While the gas tank filled I thought about fall.  Pumpkins on the porch, grey mornings when the leaves fall, football, and Thanksgiving.  I decided right then as the gas was pumping that I was going to do everything possible to enjoy this fall. 

I'm loving these cool mornings, slipping a shawl around my shoulders while I sit on the deck sipping coffee before dawn.  I'm loving these evening walks with the dogs and feeling the cool night air descend.  I'm loving the late afternoon shadows, the sun seems to have shifted early this year (I know it hasn't but still the shadows already have that long look).  Even though it is hot during the afternoons the humidity is low, and I can imagine that it really isn't hot, it's just a warm fall afternoon.  I can't wait to get the fall decorations out and get this season started. 

After all, it's fall!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


I just realized that watermelon is one of life's small simple things.  Why?  Well, it is one of those things that you either like or you absolutely do not.  I love it!

Jaydon and I had bought one at the farmers market on Saturday.  I had chilled it down and cut it on Sunday afternoon.  Jaydon watched me do it...I spread out newspaper on the breakfast table and took a "big ole knife" (as Jaydon commented) and cut it open.  Jaydon was impressed!  To me it was a simple thing, done many times before.  We cut it up and put in zip bags.  After everyone ate supper the boys each had a piece.  Cameron loves watermelon and I knew it would be a treat for him, and it was!  I sent a bag home with him for later snacking!

Tonight I ate a piece and was it good!  So cold, juicy and sweet.  As I ate it I couldn't help but think of so many watermelons I ate while growing up.  My grandfather had great big fingers (or so I thought as a child) and he knew just how to thump a melon to tell if it was ripe.  He was never wrong, either!  I especially remember how good those watermelons that had just been picked and chilled down tasted.  Was it the red dirt of Mississippi?  Not sure, but as I ate my piece tonight I decided that the sweet taste of watermelon is just one of life's small, simple pleasures.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This is what dogs do for fun

This is what doggies do for fun when Mama is gone!  The paper is what is left of the instruction manual for my food processor.  What I can't figure out is how it got off the counter and into the dogs' area in the kitchen. And then how it got into the living room.  Bentley and Blossom had escaped from the kitchen, so did they go over the gate with the book in their mouth?  Or did they go under the gate?  This was NOT what I wanted to come home to after school tonight! 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just a Post

Finally, this dreadful August is over!  I thought September would never come, but now that it is here I know that it is still very hot and very dry outside.  This August beat the August of 2009 for the hottest August on record, whoopee I say.  I just don't think the drought will ever end, I'm sick of it and would happily leave this desert if my life wasn't here.  But instead of whining I decided to do a "5 things" post since I haven't done one in a while.  So here goes:

5 Things I'm Thankful for Tonight

1-Finishing my assigned reading for the week, now I can start on the paper and speech that is due!
2-"Homemade" ranch dressing on the wrap that I made for my supper.  Yum!
3-A hot bath (and comfy pj's!) after being outside in the heat tonight.  Clean feels so good!
4-Four warm little dogs (and one kittie that wandered over) snuggled around me on the sofa. 
5-That it is the Thursday night before the Friday before a long weekend!  Thank you Lord!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Silver Ghost

My path to and from school takes me alongside a train track and requires a cross over the track.  Sometimes on the way to school there is a train passing by, sometimes there is one sitting on the track, blocking the crossing which causes me to have to detour.  Coming home recently I had already crossed over and was driving parallel to the track.  I was tired and ready to get home.  There are a few street lights along this road, but there were no other cars so it was somewhat dimly lit.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw a glimmer of light and a reflection type of light.  When I glanced over I was excited to see an Amtrak train slipping by in the night.  All too quickly it had passed and for once, I was disappointed that I hadn't been caught by a train!  The sleek, silver body of the train slipped by quietly, car by car, like a ghost gliding through the night.

During those few seconds as the train and I passed each other I thought about travel on a train.  I had a vision of quiet elegance and gentle swaying of the cars.  I thought of the antique passenger cars that I've walked through in different locations.  They were always "old" smelling and faded but I always imagined them as they were in their grander days.  Some were beautiful private cars and others just plain and useful coach cars.  And the reality is that although they were beautiful and comfortable they did not have air conditioning or heating.  Steam locomotives were noisy and the soot from the coal covered everyone and everything.  Still the elegance of a by gone era charms me.

The train was gone quickly but I drove the rest of the way home wondering what it was like to travel on a train and thinking of how much our world has changed.  Train travel was the mode of transportation for so many years, now it is a novelty mode of transportation.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last night was Gammy night.  Cameron dropped by for a while and the boys had a good time playing.

What happens at Gammy house stays at Gammy house! 
Yes, Cameron is sitting on a table, but that's ok only at Gammy house can he do that!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Snaggle Tooth and The Artist

Jaydon lost both of his upper front teeth last weekend! 
He is officially a snaggle tooth kid!

Last Friday night he undertook an artistic effort on the driveway...a large stop sign!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family Meals

Last post, spaghetti sauce.  This post, family meals.  Here's what I'm thinking:

Jaydon got a little put out with me on Sunday because I wasn't cooking on Sunday night.  Until recently on most Sunday evenings I cooked a meal and we all gathered to share it (the twins have caused a brief recess!).  He was annoyed that there was no meal on Sunday.  I asked him what he was hungry for, but he couldn't tell me.  So I don't think it was so much the food as it was that he missed our family gathering.

Now it has been said many times that it is good for a family to sit down and eat together.  My family did when I was growing up but those meals are more memorable to me for the food that my mother cooked than our family time.  I'm sure we talked at the table, but I don't remember that part.  When my children were growing up I came home from work and put a meal on the table almost every night.  There was usually some grumbling because it is impossible to please everyone, but the point was that a meal was served and we sat down together to eat.

Several months back our pastor made the comment that she has gone into many restaurants and seen families gathered around a table for a meal.  But sadly instead of talking with each other she had noted that they were all focused on the device in their hands! Were they communicating with each other, no I'm sure they weren't.  How sad.

So, back to Jaydon and his desire for a meal with his family.  At least I know that I've created a pleasant experience for him and he has good memories already of those family times together.  He values that time to sit down with those he loves and visit with one another while eating a meal.  There's something about sharing a meal that draws people together.  Just one of life's small, simple things!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Spaghetti's Cooking!

I have a pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove.  It smells heavenly!  I love the way spaghetti smells while it cooks just as much as I love the way it tastes.  I do not eat spaghetti in a restaurant, oh no.  I prefer homemade sauce, using my mother's recipe. 

My mother made the best sauce ever,  I loved to come home from school and smell the sauce (and many other things she cooked, too) simmering.  Mmmmm, so good.  She had gotten the recipe from the wife of one of my father's pilot training buddies.  We had met up with them again while we lived in California and I remember being invited to their home one evening for dinner and she served this wonderful spaghetti.  She shared the recipe with my mother and it became a family standard.

My mother made the sauce for special occasions as well as everyday.  I always asked for spaghetti on the days I had my braces tightened, as well as for birthdays.  When my mother would be out of town taking care of ailing parents she always left a pot of sauce in the refrigerator.  We would get several meals out of the pot, and it was during this time that I learned to use the sauce to make lasagna.

So tonight the sauce is simmering and I can hardly wait for it to be done.  I can't think of anything more peaceful that spending time in my sewing room, listening to classical music while enjoying the smell of spaghetti sauce simmering.  So as I leave here I'm headed to the sewing room to experience peace on earth.

Oh, and yesterday would have been my mother's 78th birthday.  So Happy Birthday, Mama and thank you for the legacy of your spaghetti sauce!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ahhhhh, it's all okay now!

Ah, yes!  There is a football game on tv tonight! Yes, I know, it is only pre-season.  But dog-gone it, it sure sounds good.  I really haven't watched the game, been working on a knitting project, but just the sound of a football game is so soothing!  And it is good to glance up and see a game on the tv.  Now, I'm getting ready for fall!  The only bad thing is that the pre-season always seems to just take forever to be over.  Come on September I say!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Picture of the Week

I'm almost embarrassed to post this since the market was down so much today and there seems to be doom and gloom hanging out there but, in a way this was good for the economy.  Carole and Joe came over for the weekend and Stephanie and Jaydon joined us for a marathon shopping trip.  It's been a while since we did this, and the best part was coming home and piling the packages in the floor!  And there were a few more that didn't make it into the picture.  We shopped carefully and got good deals!  A little fun is good for the soul!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is it pumpkin time yet?

August, ugh!  A few days ago, I was musing on the thought that August is just a blah month.  There is just nothing in the month of August except extreme heat. Now, yes, we have a few family birthdays but none are immediate family.  And there are no holidays or other events to celebrate.  School usually starts in August so that is it.  So what good is August?  All I think of in August is hot, hot, hot.  Everything is dry and dusty.

So, as I was musing I couldn't help but think about fall.  Usually I can't wait to get out those pumpkins and fall decorations and about this time I start getting the bug to get that stuff out.  In my mind Labor Day is the time to decorate for fall but I usually make myself wait until the first of October.  I don't know if it is the heat or what but right now I'm not getting excited about fall.  I think August just needs to be done and over with and then I'll be ready for those pumpkins.  Is it September yet?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


July is over, now it is August and so I tell myself that my blogging sabbatical is over.  I just wish that August and this heat was over, but we still have a month to go.  Maybe we will get some relief, maybe not!

I've been thinking a lot about writing lately.  My current class is Old Testament (since this is a Christian u. I have to take 12 hours of religion) and I'm really enjoying it, more on the class later.  Homework is heavy duty, but very interesting.  Week before last in addition to all the homework I was supposed to write a 2 page paper on Proverbs 31.  I had finished everything else, but just ran out of time and wasn't really sure what to write about anyway.  The assignment assumed that I knew more than I did, so I was tempted just to skip the paper.  But being the over achiever that I am, I knew I had to write the paper.  So, on the day of class, just before the lunch hour I decided to start writing.  I thought I would try to just blah, blah, blah and get a page typed.  Before I knew it I was at the bottom of the second page and realized that I needed to end the paper.  I don't know what it was but the words just came to me.

I had a flash back to the first time I went to college and I remembered doing the same thing.  I would sit down to write a paper and the words would just come.  Only then, I was handwriting papers and then going to the typing lab and typing up the paper (complete with manual footnotes and formatting).  It seems that once I start writing the words just fly from my brain to my fingers and onto the page. 

And now I have this post to put my words onto.  So, I'm motivated to do some writing now that my sabbatical is over.  But first, I did a presentation for class last night and had the inspiration to use some of my pictures with the scriptures I was covering.  So, I offer the following picture with scripture:

"Do you not know?  Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth."  Isaiah 40:28

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

In the News...part 2

Several posts back I wrote about the so called experts that want to take away obese children from their parents and among other things do away with advertising "unhealthy" foods to children.  Today's news has prompted me to continue this topic.

McDonald's (every child's favorite place and home of the Happy Meal) announced that they are going to begin serving apple slices with every Happy Meal.  Isn't that exciting!  They will replace half of the fries in the Happy Meal with apple slices.  Every child is thrilled.  Thank goodness they will offer the option of all apple slices or all fries.  But let's see them get that order right...Jaydon and I have learned to check his sack before leaving the drive thru window to make sure that he has a toy for a boy (Barbie didn't do much for him one night) and the ordered barbecue sauce to dip the McNuggets in (the sauce I have in the fridge doesn't do the trick on the McNuggets).

Recently I had picked up a child's meal at Subway for Jaydon.  Typically those come with a small sandwich, a choice of apple slices or yogurt, and either milk or a juice box.  And they pack it in a cute little re-usable tote bag (no toy but the bag is usually ok, too).  Jaydon ate the sandwich but not the chosen yogurt or milk, so I put  both in the fridge to save.  I took them to work a day or two later as part of my lunch.  First surprise was the milk.  It was 1% milk...just to note here that I buy 2% but really, 1% for children?  Yuk, watered down and tasteless liquid.  Then I started on the yogurt.  It tasted funny so I read the label...non fat yogurt.  Yuk, again.  So, I wonder now what is the deal here?  Do they want today's children to look anorexic?  They will surely starve if all they have is apple slices and non fat food.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Mind (AKA The Salad Spinner)

I've decided that my mind is like a salad spinner (you know, one of those little bowls you put wet lettuce in and it spins the water out).  What, you say, a salad spinner?  That's right, a salad spinner.  I have all these thoughts in my head that are always spinning around; I think a lot and my mind travels down many roads.  I realized that lately I've been having a thought overload.  I just have too many things to think about and I feel that I'm going to short circuit.  I've even found that I can't think more than a day or two in advance to make up to-do lists and shopping lists.  Five minutes into the future is about all I can deal with. 

Then I realized that my brain is like the basket of my salad spinner.  It is full of thoughts and is just spinning around.  So now when I find myself thinking about something fairly useless I've started telling myself to stop the spinner (my salad spinner has a little black button that you push to stop it) so I push the button so to speak on my mind and tell myself to take that thought out of the basket and get rid of it.  Sometimes the thought is something stupid that I have no reason to even be thinking, sometimes it is about something that happened in the past (good grief, no use thinking about that, it is over) or sometimes it is worrying about something in the future. 

When the spinner is going too fast or is too full that is the time to push the button and stop the spinning.  It is like cleaning house in my brain.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Leonardo Da Vinci

I had to write a paper for my last class and the instructor was pretty picky about what he wanted. In flipping through the text book for the class I saw a picture of Leonardo Da Vinci's painting The Last Supper.  So I wrote a paper on the making of the painting.  I enjoyed the research, so much so that I've added Leonardo to my reading list of things I want to read about someday.

I knew that he was a very talented artist but had no idea what a genius he was.  He not only painted but he designed "war machines" and dissected dead bodies among other things.  What I thought was interesting was that very often he never finished a project.  He had different reasons for not finishing, usually because the project wasn't turning out like he wanted but often he just seemed to get distracted with another project.  Another interesting fact was that he carried notebooks around with him all the time.  He would either sketch ideas or write down thoughts.  In one case his grocery list was scribbled in the book!

I don't profess to be anywhere near his intellect but I did relate to not finishing projects.  I love to start something but have a hard time finishing unless I'm under a deadline and have to get something done.  I also have quite a few notebooks laying around and even have a small one in my purse.  And I find myself interested in many things.  So I decided that I could relate to the genius who painted The Last Supper.

Speaking of the painting, I should note that within a few years after he finished it that it had been reduced to just blobs of paint.  The surface had been prepared correctly but instead of painting on wet plaster Da Vinci choose to paint on dry plaster using a mix of oils and tempera.  The result was that the paint began to flake off in a very short time. Ever the experimenter, his idea did not work.  What we see today represents careful restoration and only about 20% of the painting is actually original work. 

And, the final note I should add is that he was probably a homosexual. All in all I enjoyed writing the paper and found his life very interesting.