Tuesday, December 30

Life Should Not Be Confused With a Good Movie

Christmas Day was probably the best Christmas I have ever experienced--in spite of the fact that the youngest daughter's luggage was somewhere between here and Texas.

The day was slow and easy. Events unfolded gradually and nothing was forced. We all went with the flow. I cooked breakfast for me and the girls, while JB went the half mile up the road to spend Christmas morning with his mother.

I've been trying to blend this family for years. I've come to the realization that I watch too many good movies and life is no movie. Everyone does not always smile and behave graciously. You get what you get and just find a way to deal with it.

My goal this holiday season was two-fold: first, I was determined to maintain sanity at all costs and second, I wanted everyone (myself included) to do what genuinely made them happy and be done with all the obligatory stuff.

After breakfast, the girls opened one gift.

We managed to locate Jen's luggage at an airport 30 miles away, so she and the city-girl daughter set out to retreive it. Jen went in her flannel pajamas as a protest to the inconvenience.

I cooked. I enjoyed the quiet. All the gifts were still wrapped under the tree as I chopped and stirred in the kitchen.

An hour or two later, the girls returned. JB returned. Momo and Pop arrived.

Momo helped with dinner.

She made stuffing just like my Granny used to make!

Lots of food. Lots of family. But the best part is that no one was squawking about opening gifts.
In fact, after dinner, it was me who suggested we open the gifts!

I can't ever remember--not in my entire life--a time when gifts were opened after 5:00 pm on Christmas Day! I went to bed that night convinced that family and relationships had won over materialism.

But today--four days later-- the result of holiday gatherings with family has taken it's toll.

The youngest has had enough of us all and has chosen to spend the last 24 hours of her east coast visit in a hotel that offers shuttle service to the airport.

She broke the news to me very matter-of-fact early this morning (after having had words with her sister last night). She packed her bags and I watched through the kitchen window as she walked up the driveway pulling her suitcase behind her.

I sighed the big heavy sigh that mother's sigh after too much. You just hate it, but there's not a damn thing you can do about it. You wrack your brain for a way to fix it and make everything right in the world again. There are no easy answers, no remedies, so ultimately you just suck it up.

I sucked it up and offered her a ride to the hotel. I couldn't very well let her pull that huge oversized suitcase 30 miles, now could I?

Sunday, December 28

A Christmas Miracle

The plane was to arrive at 5:oo pm, but it didn't. It didn't, because the one in Texas that was supposed to leave at noon, didn't leave until 4:00 pm--which meant the one in Charlotte was missed altogether. Christmas Eve was a day filled with phone calls to airports, airlines and the youngest daughter.

The city-girl daughter and I waited at the airport for the last flight to arrive. The guard said he pulled the big wire door down between flights as a security measure.

There were others that were waiting for family to arrive for the holidays, too.
Tiff made it in just fine.

I was just hoping for some peace--finally--after all the nervousness associated with delays and the waiting.

And finally--after many hours--my little girl arrived.
Of course, her luggage chose to arrive Christmas Day!

Tuesday, December 23

Only A Fool Will Turn Down Help

With the wind blowing 25 mph and the temps in the teens, decorating took a bit more this year. I was grateful when the city-girl asked if she could assist! So the entryway is decorated and everything is tied down to prevent it from ending up on the neighbor's property.

We did have one casualty: a half-moon Santa windsock. It's still MIA. I'm just thankful I don't see it hanging high atop a tree.

My first year back in Virginia I lost an Easter windsock the same way. But what I remember was how we had to watch it dangle months from the side of the house, with no way to retrieve it. We were left waiting for Mother Nature's intervention. It took her about three months, as I recall.

More cooking today and a turkey to thaw.
But I will rely on my faithful fan base to offer the encouragement needed to see me through the final preparations for this holiday season.

Isn't it great to be so loved?

Sunday, December 21

Jettison Attitudes And Habits

My horoscope suggested: jettison attitudes and habits which could encumber you. Sounds like a great plan for today with just 4 days till Christmas. There's still much to do so it's time to prioritize.

The city-girl daughter has suggested a twist on the old style wrapping paper. She's wrapping gifts with articles of interest from Cosmopolitan magazine. Unwrapping gifts may take a bit longer this year...

The girl who professes she does not know her way around the kitchen--and doesn't want to--does pretty well with few instructions. I think she's enjoying herself as she dips the peanut butter balls.

I tried a new Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe.
My daughter pointed out how the dough looked more like fake vomit.

Once cooked though, the vomit was transformed into chewy oatmeal cookies.

More Christmas miracles later!

Monday, December 15

No Holes Barge

Here's the city-girl daughter braving the elements to attend her 8:30 am class. She has two more days to go and she will have completed her first semester.

Her focus is psychology. She says she'd like to be either a substance abuse counselor or a marriage counselor. I assured her she has chosen a stable field, as the majority of the world is--and more than likely, always will be--whacked out.

We don't mince words, she and I.

When I suggested we play Scrabble free of restrictions--no holds barred, she admitted she had always thought it was no holes barge.

Here's what a scrabble board looks like between two forward-thinking females.

Saturday, December 13

Finding That Perfect Gift

Here we are with just a little over a week before Christmas and the shopping is still a hot topic. The search for something practical--something different--that will elate and surprise the recipient continues.

I'm sharing the exceptional finds with you:
I'm not through yet--so I really hope you will share your good ideas with me, as well.

Sunday, December 7

Need A Little Extra Cash?

Since this is the season of giving, I thought I'd do the right thing and pass this along to someone else.
Please think carefully about accepting this gift. The money must be cursed, tainted or something because it seems she has been trying to give it away for sometime with very little success.

From Mrs Naomi Solomon
No[104 Rue Des Martyrs Cocody
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire

I am the above named person from Kuwait . I am married to Mr Anthony Solomon who worked with Kuwait embassy in Ivory Coast for nine years before he died in the year 2004. We were married for eleven years without a child. He died after a brief illness that lasted for only four days.

Before his death we were both born again Christian. Since his death I decided not to remarry or get a child outside my matrimonial home which the Bible is against. When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of $2. 5 Million (Two Million Five Hundred U.S. Dollars) in the bank here in Abidjan in suspense account.

Presently, the fund is still with the bank. Recently, my Doctor told me that i have serious sickness which is cancer problem. The one that disturbs me most is my stroke sickness. Having known my condition I decided to donate this fund to a church or individual that will utilize this money the way I am going to instruct herein. I want a church that will use this fund for orphanages, widows, propagating the word of God and to endeavour that the house of God is maintained.

The Bible made us to understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I dont have any child that will inherit this money and my husband relatives are not Christians and I dont want my husband efforts to be used by unbelievers. I dont want a situation where this money will be used in an ungodly way. This is why I am taking this decision. I am not afraid of death hence i know where I am going. I know that I am going to be in the bosom of the Lord. Exodus 14 VS 14 says that the Lord will fight my case and I shall hold my peace.

I don't need any telephone communication in this regard because of my health hence the presence of my husband relatives is around me always I don't want them to know about this development. With God all things are possible. As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank here in Abidjan . I want you and the church to always pray for me because the Lord is my shepherd. My happiness is that I lived a life of a worthy Christian. Whoever that wants to serve the Lord must serve him in spirit and Truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.

Contact me on the above e-mail address for more information, any delay in your reply will give me room in sourcing another church or individual for this same purpose. Please assure me that you will act accordingly as I Stated herein. Hoping to receive your

Remain blessed in the Lord.
Yours in Christ,
Mrs naomi solomon.

Saturday, December 6

A Bird's Brain

We went down to visit last evening and check on Austin Nichols. Reluctant to share tales of his great adventure, he chose instead to peer out the back door silently.

These bottle caps were placed in the doorway to prevent Austin from leaving the room. Evidently, he won't cross a line of bottle caps. I have no idea what that's all about. What I do know is that you do what works.

When I snapped the picture above, the flash startled him and he flew 2 rounds around the tiny kitchen, sending dishes flying, upsetting flower pots and leaving a trail of feathers and dust.

He was immediately consoled by my little friend and her husband. It wasn't long before he settled back to the door and his thoughts.

He's quite large, isn't he?
Sorry, no flash. A small kitchen and a flying turkey just don't mix.

Thursday, December 4

A Hollow Spot

We're down to the leftovers. Highly seasoned turkey, meticulously picked from the bone and thrown into a food processor along with a generous portion of onions and celery.
It'll fill a hollow spot.

That's what my friend Pattie used to say. No matter what she cooked or what your reaction to it, she'd always say, "It'll fill a hollow spot."

I remember how we used to meet at the privacy fence and exchange samples of whatever we were barbecuing that evening. Being just slightly 5', Pattie stood on a whatever she could to make herself tall enough to see over the fence.

She carried a switchblade in her pocket. And I have no doubt whatsoever that she knew what it was all about. During our friendship, I learned of how her life had afforded her opportunities to fine tune the art of self defense.

She was my neighbor for not quite a year. She moved on to Dallas with her family just a few months before I relocated to Virginia. We've lost touch.

I thought of her this morning and her hollow spot as I read the blog Writing to Survive.

And I'll snag a quote I found there as well:
"It will only offend readers to whom life itself is offensive."

Tuesday, December 2

Austin Flies The Coop

Saturday, I learned that Austin Nichols had left home.

My little friend down the road phoned and was quite distraught over his leaving. She expressed concern over the group of wild turkeys he may have taken up with and hoped they would have the patience to teach him.

She didn't feel he was ready quite yet. She said she felt spring would have been a better time to go.

Her husband checked the outlying areas for a few hours and ultimately,they resolved themselves to the fact that he had left the nest, so to speak.

I knew it was painful for the both of them. Even though wild turkeys are generally not housepets, they had hatched this bird and he became part of their family. He terrorized their two cats, ran the deer out of the backyard and kept the lady of house busy with his antics.

JB was unaffected. He said Austin would be back.

Sure enough, I got a call just yesterday morning with the news that Austin had returned. It appears a neighbor called when they noticed a turkey lurking around their door. My friend's husband went over and wasted no time in retrieving him.

So this is ultimately what happens, isn't it? You raise them, feed them, love them and then they start all this carousing. I warned my little friend of these pitfalls of parenting and likened Austin's weekend to that of a rebellious teenager.

It's what my own mother diplomatically referred to as "forgetting to come home."

Friday, November 28

The Morning After

The day after--when all those delectable Thanksgiving dishes get lost in a sea of Tupperware and tin foil.

What is really in the refrigerator?

Be brave and let us all see what the morning after looks like at your house.

I'm proud.
Hell--I'm downright tickled--that I got everything to fit!

The unidentifiable good stuff is safe in vintage Tupperware and Reynolds Wrap.

I think I'll go have some lunch...

Thursday, November 27

I Am Truly Thankful

Looks like the city-girl daughter had her doubts about the fried turkey.

But--true to form--JB cooked it to perfection.

The turkey, along with the multitude of other flavorful goodness we had going on, has left us all quite stuffed. It was a great day, filled with the laughter and conversation of lots of family...

and the first time I have had Thanksgiving with the city-girl since 1999. It was also the first time we have had all the whole family together since I came back to Virginia.

Truly marvelous.

Wednesday, November 26

Sunbathing In November

Scary, isn't he?

Well, you needn't worry--it's just a yawn, not a roar.

You see, he was sleeping comfortably
until I decided to photograph his laziness.

Tuesday, November 25

Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

Wonderfully light! A great idea for the holidays, too.

1 cup self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, divided
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, melted butter and vanilla until blended. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Stir in 2/3 cup blueberries.
Pout into 8-inch greased square baking dish. Top with remianing blueberries.
Combine the almonds, brown sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Friday, November 21

We're All Doing Just Fine

I've been waiting a long time for this shot. Since Lina came to live with us back in May, Thomas has been out of sorts. Its more of a love-hate relationship. He loves the attention--but true to his gender--wants it on his terms. Look at how he glares at her!

I have this one doe that circles the persimmon tree about three times a day. I think it safe to say that by dinnertime, she has invited 12-14 friends. I hear that after the first frost , persimmons are really sweet.

I really am happy about having so many deer this time of year, because they are safe from hunters. I'd just as soon they stay away in the spring when I'm trying to grow plants and a garden though. I guess you just can't have it both ways, can you?

The bluejays are out in force. I'm going to have to fill the feeders this weekend.

I hate to, though. Lina is getting so much pleasure from watching them through the patio doors as they eat all of Thomas' catfood.

And I just noticed how Blue's hair makes the most perfect little heart right in the middle of his forehead. Can you see it, too?

Tuesday, November 18

And Winter Sets In

I awoke to a light dusting of snow and bitter cold (26 degrees). The same doe that comes several times a day, was under the persimmon tree, just waiting to see what the wind had knocked down for her pleasure. The movement in her jaw indicates she has found something.

Since we have been lax in our purchase of bird seed--I can't seem to get over the prices--they are helping themselves to the catfood. This unremorseful bandit has been caught on film!

No matter--It seems to have kept Lina amused and away from old man Thomas for a bit.

And my gargolyle-- high atop the bird feeders--seems to have captured the essence of today's snow. It was more of a nuisance than anything.

Saturday, November 15

Just When You've Given Up Hope

I went to a chiropractor yesterday and it changed my life.

No kidding. I had no idea I could feel like this. I left euphoric. I giggled as I drove home. I was downright giddy.

I've been plagued by the usual shoulder, neck and wrist pain that accompanies many years in front of a keyboard. I've even been subjected to two surgeries as a result. I have gel ice packs in the freezer and Aleeve in the medicine cabinet. I can predict the weather with my left shoulder and neck.

But all that changed yesterday... I have range of motion that I haven't had in 15 years!
And it didn't involve shots or chemicals--now how cool is that?

I'm definitely hooked and believe a visit to the chiropractor is something everyone should experience.

And guess who suggested I should go for a visit? Why-- that would be the 24-year-old city girl daughter. She's full of surprises.

Wednesday, November 12

My contract position ended today so I had extra time (more on that later) and did my best to capture what was going on outside:

Lina is on the inside, I realize, but she just demands attention.

I caught these deer in a display of affection...

I'm judging by their encounter ( and please forgive me, I didn't dare open the door for fear that if I did, they would wander under a hunter's scope) that they are mother and child.

Look how protective she is! I can see a bit of myself here.

Tuesday, November 11

Learning To Ride The Waves

Day--what is it?-- on NaBloPo Mo? I don't even know and what does it matter really?

I have slacked off posting because I run out of time--every single day! But I will share with my followers, that life is working right now. So I am reveling in that fact alone. Nothing else matters, now does it?

I m finishing school in just four short weeks ( I have 7 hours to go before graduation)--but the absolute best part is that the city-girl daughter is finishing her first semester and she has already registered for the spring semester.

I am so happy and so very, very proud of what she has accomplished.

Life is, indeed, grand.

More later.