Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cleaned Out Your Freezers Lately?

I don't know what got into us! I guess it was the oppressive heat--almost 95 today and it's still May. Anyway, this morning we decided to clean out the refrigerator freezer. I won't even tell you what all we found in there. Suffice it to say, we threw away a lot; then we wiped it down good and got it all put back together. Bad job done! Then...TFR says let's clean out the big freezer outside. Same deal--we threw away a lot. Anyway, we have nice clean freezers on the inside, and TFR even cleaned the door on the big one. We even have a little shelf space now.

Well, I guess that got me in the mood, so I began cleaning out drawers, and this afternoon, while he was at the farm "tinkering", I cleaned out drawers in the bathroom---out of date stuff, hairbrushes, makeup, hairspray, toothpaste---and on and on. Three more small garbage bags full to throw away. Feels good!

Back to the freezers; I found stuff I didn't know I had. So tomorrow for lunch, I'll cook a pork loin stuffed with with cornbread, figs, onion, and celery and little white peas. We'll see how that turns out.

So for all that work, I feel like we accomplished something---and I have Sunday lunch planned!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Family, Flag, and Fun

We spent Memorial Day Weekend at the Lake. It was a lovely weekend--great weather, lots of people out having a good time, and so many flags flying. We did not forget to say a little prayer for our women and men in uniform, both now and in the past.

I took this picture of our flag flying on the deck with the blue sky and trees behind it.

For more Skywatch Friday, please visit Tom.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

TT #11 For Better or Worse

My favorite comic strip is Lynn Johnston's For Better or Worse. I have enjoyed it for twenty years or so, at least since our son grew up and moved us past the Calvin and Hobbes stage.
We have raised our family with John, Elly, Michael, Elizabeth, and April Patterson. I am saddened to know that the story-line, as I have loved it, will end this fall. In this TT, I want to list the things I like about For Better or Worse.

  1. John and Elly Patterson are about the same age as we are. He is a dentist; she, a book lover.

  2. Their two older children, Michael and Elizabeth, are about the same age as our children, but we had the girl first.

  3. The Patterson's have a later-in-life child, April, but we did not.

  4. John and Elly have maintained a very traditional home. John is the primary breadwinner, but Elly has worked much of the time. Ditto, here.

  5. The story-line included grandparents who are invloved with the family. Same here.

  6. Michael's friends when he was growing up had issues. Lawrence, born out-of-wedlock, revealed his homosexuality; Gordon, a victim of child abuse and neglect, couldn't go to college, but he has succeeded in his automobile business and with his family. We didn't deal with issues so difficult, but we learned along with the Pattersons.

  7. Elizabeth dealt with sexual harassment/attempted rape at her work. She grew into an independent young woman, which is how we wanted to raise our daughter.

  8. April is a teen now, with interests in music and preparing for college. She is a loyal friend to a diverse group, and she is not afraid to show her serious side.

  9. Gramma Marian died some years ago; Grampa Jim married Iris and is now recovering from a stroke. We have experienced declining health among our parents.

  10. Grampa Jim helped April discover her love of music. Our children didn't have grampas, but they had grammas who loved them fiercely.

  11. Elizabeth has exerted her independence by going away from home to teach. She has had several boyfriends as she has refined her qualification list, and she is now engaged to Anthony, her high school boyfriend who is divorced with a child.

  12. John has semi-retired from his dental practice, and he and Elly have bought a smaller house just down the street. We have a retirement looming in our house.

  13. Son Michael, a successful writer, has moved in the Patterson home with his own family. Like him, our children are now "happy, healthy, married, and employed with health insurance" for which we are grateful.

I amazed that a cartoonist can communicate so much information in only four frames per day. Ms. Johnston has managed to create characters with whom we can identify, and she has tapped social, personal, and communication problems with a tenderness touched with realism. My morning cup of coffee just won't be the same without the Pattersons.

Have any of you met them?

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The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Family, Flag, Friends, Fun, and Fresh Water

What a fun weekend! We kicked it off at the lake on Friday afternoon. The young Roneys arrived shortly after we did, and we headed straight for the boat. The goal this weekend was to acclimate the ever-cautious Mr. Brooks to riding the boat. After thirty minutes or so, he was comfortable enough to help Granddaddy drive. More boating on Saturday, then happy hour on the deck with lake neighbors, followed by fajitas for dinner---Tara's choice.

Sunday brought more boating, a quick lunch, then clean up. The young Roneys headed back to Columbus, and we headed across the river to Georgia for an evening with friends. What an evening it was! Appropriate beverages, good cheeses, and conversation to start; then an incredible meal of local ingredients---cold Vidalia onion soup; salad of watermelon, feta cheese, and mint; then penne with local sausage, green peas, and sun dried tomatoes and a side serving of fresh tomatoes with mozzarella cheese; then a delectable strawberry dish for dessert. WOW!

If you add to that a few bottles of wine, six intelligent, opinionated people, and political discussion, you can imagine the fun. It was one of those magical evenings!

Our weekend ended tonight, back at home, with a group of friends at the country club's Memorial Day Barbecue!

Our Tampa children weren't with us, but they had their own celebrations, and they sent a couple of pictures.

Too many good photos, so here's the slide show:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Texas Sky

I visited Austin, Texas last week for a mini-reunion with old friends. We had a lovely weekend. Of course, in the glow of renewed friendships, I thought everything was lovely, including the sky!

For more Skywatch Friday, please visit Tom.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

TT #10 Thirteen Things to Take on a Four-Year Trip to Africa?

I had the pleasure this past weekend of meeting five of my high school girlfriends in Texas for a mini-reunion. It was a lovely weekend. We shared memories of our school days and the turns our lives have taken in the decades since. One member of our group is packing up her life, putting it in storage, and moving to Namibia in Africa, with her husband, for a four-year mission assignment. For many reasons, they will not be taking much with them; the luggage limit is very low. Late one evening, we began talking about what she would take with her to make a new, sparse place seem like home. We came up with a few of these, and I added others:

  1. One or two tea towels. No room in a home is more important than a kitchen, and having a familiar towel that smells like home would b welcome. I would take two that are well-used and that I can remember using on special occasions.

  2. Photos. There won't be much room to pack frames and glass and such; but a few well-chosen, favorites of the children, grandchildren, parents, and friends would be very nice to have. I would take a nice big stack of 4" x 6" pics and hope that my family back home would send new ones regularly.

  3. Art. Again, not much room, but surely one special piece. I would take my painting of young African women playing hide and seek among the trees. It would remind me of home; yet it will fit in the new environment, too.

  4. Recipes. I am sure there would be no room for a library of cookbooks, but what about a few family recipes---at least the favorites. I would take my family recipes for egg custard, grits casserole, pound cake, and macaroni and cheese---all good comfort food---and maybe I could sneak in my favorite cookbook, Frank Stitt's Southern Table.

  5. Bath soap. I would take a few bars. We use Dial at our house, and I would love that fragrance after a shower at the end of a long,busy day.

  6. Books. Okay, we have to take a few---at least the ones that seem like old friends. I would take, in addition to the Bible, East of the Sun, my favorite about three generations of women in Africa, When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Emily Dickinson's Poems, and journals for me to write my own stories.

  7. A dress-up outfit. I have this picture of a remote outpost with only utilitarian amenities, and I can understand the reasons for that. However, I know that on occasion I would want to dress-up as a celebration. My mind's picture of African women is that they like to dress up, too---brightly colored clothing, many bangle bracelets, and other jewelry. I would want to bring along my pearls, some sparkly jewelry, a few scarves--they don't require much room---and one pair of to-die-for shoes---you know, the ones about which you might say, "Oh, I just love them, and they don't hurt too much!"

  8. Bed pillows. I would just have to have my own, the one in which I have nestled my head for years and that has absorbed the smells of myself and my room.

  9. Sewing machine. Old fashioned maybe, but necessary. I would enjoy being able to sew pillows or curtains or throws or wall hangings from wonderful African prints. Oh, and I would want my well-stocked little sewing box, too.

  10. A fan of some sort. Whew! My mind tells me it will be hot. A ceiling fan would be wonderful, or at least a table-top oscillating fan.

  11. DVDs and CDs. Again, for a little taste of home. My baser self is evident here; I'd be looking for pure escapism---The Godfather series (can missionaries watch that?), Dirty Dancing, An American President, maybe even Lonesome Dove for my husband. And for the CDs, a little Tony Bennett, Etta James, Willie Nelson, a Christmas CD with the old carols and hymns, and a little classical for balance.

  12. Hubby's tools. Just the basic set---a screwdriver set, pliers, a measuring tape, hammer, and nails.

  13. Duct tape and WD-40. You know---duct tape for the things that shouldn't move, but do; and WD-40 for the things that should move, but don't.

What would you take on a four-year trip away from home?

If you'd like to read my other Lists of Thirteen, go here.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Same Sweet Girls

I recently read Same Sweet Girls,a novel by noted southern author Cassandra King, a native of my town. My college brought her to campus a few weeks ago to discuss her book about six college friends who meet twice yearly to continue their friendship over their adult lives. Though her book is not autobiographical, the idea came from her own experience with six college friends. She had just met with them the weekend before she visited in our town, and I was delighted to tell her about my impending visit to Texas to meet five of my high school girlfriends. Her eyes sparked as she wished me the same delight in my friendships that she had enjoyed in hers.

I returned today from my Same Sweet Girls reunion; it was magical! Among us were four who had been together four times in recent years; one who joined us last year; and another who joined us just this year. Among us, some could trace their friendships back to elementary school, but all of us were friends beginning in the seventh grade. So, for seven impressionable years---six years in school together and less so the first year of college as we went different ways and weaned away from each other---our lives were closely entertwined. Together, we endured puberty, shared slumber parties, developed and sharpened academic skills, enjoyed extracurricular activities, found boyfriends and lost them, suffered through President Kennedy's assassination, supported each other through often unknown family crises, learned the value of friendship, and then were strong enough to go off to separate colleges. Shortly after that, Life happened---college demands, marriages, jobs, children, moves, and so we were separated by time and space and circumstance. But through it all, the bond was there---the memories, the experiences, the shared youth and discovery, and the strength that formed the framework for who we have become.

This weekend, despite the decades that have ensued, took us back to that place so many years ago. We were girls again at a sleep-over---giggling, sharing, supporting, loving. Yes, we are the same sweet girls---just stronger, more resilient, more balanced. We've experienced joy, happiness, loss, health issues, and family issues, and we have survived. We are better grounded now, less likely to be thrown off balance by Life events---sort of like the Weebles our children played with--Weebles wobble but they won't fall down.

Today, we are six mature women shaped both by our early years together and our own separate experiences since. But we are still the same sweet girls: the pensive, contemplative one---the intellectual one still; the earth mother, always wise beyond her years; the cheerleader---then and now cheering us on, looking for the sunshine; the nurturer who is about to take on one of the biggest challenges of her life; the steady one, grounded in her faith; and the off-the-chart extrovert who can be overexuberant.

Different as we are, we are bound by our common experiences and our need to revisit those experiences. There will be time for other reunions.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Night Music

I took this photo one night in March at our farm. Our guests had just left, and we were closing up for the night when I saw the moon peaking through those pecan limbs that had not yet put on their leaves. I thought it was beautiful. Maybe you will think so, too.

I will be out of town Thursday through Sunday, but through the new scheduling feature of Blogger, this should post Thursday evening. Please be patient with my visits to you, which I will make when I return.

For more Skywatch Friday photos, visit Tom.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

TT #9 Thirteen Oxymorons

One of my favorite little bedside books is Dr. Mardy Grothe's Oxymoronica (2004). He defines oxymoronica as "any variety of tantalizing, self-contradictory statements or observations that on the surface appear false or illogical, but at a deeper level are true, often profoundly true." So today I am listing thirteen oxymorons from his book. (I'll be away beginning tomorrow through Sunday for a weekend trip---please be patient with my delayed visits.)

  1. I hate intolerant people. (Gloria Steinem)

  2. I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. (Mark Twain)

  3. I love mankind---it's people I can't stand. (Charles M. Schultz)

  4. Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you. (Carl Jung)

  5. How is it possible to have a civil war? (George Carlin)

  6. It's not that I am afraid to die, I just don't want to be there when it happens. (Woody Allen)

  7. There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe in them. (George Orwell)

  8. Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

  9. Scratch a lover and find a foe. (Dorothy Parker)

  10. A girl must marry for love, and keep on marrying until she finds it. (Zsa Zsa Gabor)

  11. The child is father of the man. (William Wordsworth)

  12. Their very silence is a loud cry. (Cicero)

  13. No one has a finer command of language than the person who keeps his mouth shut. (Sam Rayburn)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Circle of Life

This Mother's Day weekend has been a busy one, and it has indicated to me that, indeed, Life and Time roll on. We began the weekend by taking friends to dinner at a new restaurant slightly out of town. We enjoyed our time together talking about our grandsons--they have three; we have two---our travel plans, our work, and our many good times together. On Saturday, we attended an 80th birthday party for a cousin. We saw and visited with four generations of some families. The party was held outside on the pristine site of another cousin's preserved log cabin and, though the heat and gnats were bothersome, the party spirit was evident. It is hard to believe that ELF is 80 years old, but time marches on.

Our children and the little boys were here last weekend, so their sweet cards were all we had of them this weekend. Elizabeth, our precious and beautiful daughter, who is herself the mother of one and expecting another, sent a card which read, "Mom, who would have ever imagined the day when I'd be the one all stressed out, raising a family and you'd be the one out playing and enjoying life." And my daughter-in-law, in her blog, titled a picture of Brooks and Alexander as "the next generation". Time marches on.

While our children weren't here today, my mother was. We picked her up from the Terrace, and I cooked some of her favorites for lunch--cubed steak, creamed corn, pear salad, and apple pie. She was not doing well; she just couldn't walk. Mother is 85, frail, and challenged by Parkinson's. Time marches on. We can't change that; we wouldn't want to. We just need to enjoy every minute.

We had dinner out tonight with other friends. We talked about travel and remodeling and family. They don't have children, but they have close cousins and nieces and nephews, and they are the most loving people, so we had a delightful evening.

Our weekend was diverse---dinner with friends, family birthday party, and cards and phone calls from our children. It was a lovely weekend.

My favorite gift on Mother's Day is always the same---it is simply knowing that my children are happy and healthy (and employed with health insurance)!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Lazy Hazy Day at the Lake

We drove up to the Lake earlier this week to find the sky blue, the water calm, and the haze settled in. It seems early for the haze and heat, but this is the Deep south, and the temps have already reached the high eighties. It was midweek, so no boats were out; no people were about. It was just the sky and the water--peaceful and calm.

For more Skywatch Friday participants, visit Wigger's World

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

TT #8 Things I like about Wine

I'm sorry; I just had a hard time with this week's theme. I just couldn't think of something "gross" to write about. I looked at all angles, but I just couldn't get it. I know some of you will be very creative, and then I'll have one of those "why didn't I think of that" moments.

However, I finally remembered that I have at least 144 bottles of wine in my collection. Does that count? Then how about

Thirteen Things I like about Wine

  1. Vineyards. I have visited one or two in the past, and I will be tripping to Napa in August. That's where it all begins.

  2. Labels. I love wine labels. In fact, I am drawn to purchase sometimes because of the label--or the name. Vintners know that, do they? Some labels in my cellar---Running with Scissors; Sixteen Hands; Red Truck; Jest Red.

  3. Corks. I save them and recycle. I make place card holders and trivets.

  4. Color. I love the colors of wine, and isn't it interesting that some of our favorite colors are named for wine--burgundy and claret, and champagne.

  5. Boxes. I love the box a case of wine is packed in. I use them to transport wine glasses, and they are great for packing books.

  6. Stemware. I just refuse to drink wine from anything else. I have some great acrylic wine stems that I travel with, and I love to pull them out at a picnic, or on the boat, or at a casual party.

  7. Bottle bag. I have this great Reisenthel Bottle Bag. Made of canvas, it has nine compartments. I can put four of my acrylic stems in it, a couple of bottles of wine, a corkscrew, a bottle of water, and a bottle of aspirin (which reminds me not to have too much fun)---and I'm ready for the party!

  8. Atmosphere. There's something about wine that begs for atmosphere, and sometimes wine is the atmosphere. Don't you feel special with a stem of wine in your hand?

  9. Cheese. To the old saying from The Rubiyaiyat, "a loaf of bread, a flask of wine, a book of verse, and Thou", I would have to add a wedge of cheese. For me, it would be a boule of Tuscan bread, an English Stilton, a montepulciano d'abruzzo, and Emily Dickinson's verse.

  10. The buzz in the room. I love the sounds in the room an hour into the party when the wine has put a glow on those gathered.

  11. Corkscrews. Have you ever seen so many kinds? Often, the simplest ones are the best.

  12. Wine quotes. I love wine quotes. Some of my favorites, and shortest, are: In vino veritas (Pliny); Wine is bottled poetry (RL Stevenson); I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines (O Goldsmith); and It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason (Latin saying).

  13. Thou. See #9. Wine is best enjoyed with others.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others' comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Big Children and Little Children

Family time is good time--and we had plenty of good times over the weekend. Elizabeth and Alexander flew in late on Thursday (Papai stayed in Tampa, but we missed him), and the Columbus children, Andrew, Tara, and Brooks, came in late on Friday.

We had several years, before grandchildren, to enjoy our adult children and their spouses, and we always valued our meals together. We tried to make an event out of our evenings---a new recipe, a new wine find, or what we called an interactive dinner where we mixed up the couples and each prepared a dish. Well, those days are over for a while. On Friday night we cooked on the grill, and we opened some good wine, and we ate in shifts. That's about all I remember.

But it was fun to watch the little boys, Brooks and Alexander, learn their way around each other. We saw a little cousin rivalry, but they soon learned to co-exist. Brooks, the elder at 26 months, is learning about sharing, and Alexander, the younger at 15 months, is prone to hairpulling in his enthusiasm. They are two smart little boys; they just approach the world very differently. Brooks, the cautious one, wants to size up everyone and everything, and he seems to love learning. He knows all the colors, most of the alphabet, and he can count to twelve. He is adding new words to his vocabulary every day. Alexander, the fearless one, travels at warp speed and is very verbal; we just don't know what he's saying most of the time. He can approximate mama; he points to a fish and says "peixe" (like pesh, which is fish in Portuguese), and he knows animal sounds for tiger, cow, and dog. I think he said YaYa, but I couldn't convince the others of that. They are so precious.

They both love books, dogs, and being outside, so we spent a lot of time doing those things. We took rides on the stroller and tricycle; we visited the neighborhood park, and we spent one day at the farm. Did I say how precious they are?

Alexander's mother, with another one on the way, isn't feeling too perky these days, but thank goodness, the rest of us were in fair shape. Otherwise, we could never have kept up with the little boys. Whew! But, you know what? They are precious!

A slideshow from the weekend:

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Mount Rushmore

We made a bike trip to Sturgis, South Dakota a couple of years ago. I had never seen Mount Rushmore. It was breathtaking, especially when framed as it was here. I took the photo from inside a tunnel through the mountain. The likenesses had recently been cleaned, hence the whiteness you see. Our country is beautiful!

For more Skywatch photos, visit Wiggers World.