Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, Too Wednesday HodgePodge

Link up with Joyce and answer her Wednesday Hodgepodge Questions!

1. ASAP typically stands for 'as soon as possible'. What else could it stand for in your life right now? 
ASAP – as soon as possible fits this week – actually it fits most of the time.  I have to remind myself often to move from the urgent to the important.  I was just reading Joyce’s blog to get today’s questions and I’m one of the bad girls who tends to post a day late on Wednesday’s HodgePodge (so sorry!!). I guess I need to get today's HodgePodge whipped out ASAP.  Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays are all really hard days and I sometimes can’t slow down until Thursday morning to write.  (once again, I’m so sorry and will try to do better!!)  Another ASAP would be Always Say a Prayer . . .I need that one all of the time!

2. Are you the last person to speak up in a group or the first to have an idea? Why do you suppose that is? Is it a good thing or no?
I used to be the first person to speak up but then I began facilitating a small group . . .and I learned that silence is often golden.  If those of us who like to speak first would just SHUT UP, someone else might speak and say something truly profound.  

3. What do you remember best about being 12? 
Would I have been in the sixth grade?  If so, that was the year of integration.  I remember hurting for the new girls in our class and thinking how frightened they must be as they were removed from their comfort zone (didn’t know that terminology back then!) and plopped right into a totally different environment. 

I also remember going to the skating rink (roller skating) with our church and hearing the song This Magic Moment!  That is a totally random memory that just popped into my head!!

4. January 18th is National Winnie the Pooh Day. Which character do you relate to the most, and why? If you're stumped go here for inspiration. 
I took the quiz here and I’m Tigger!  Their blurb about Tigger is “You are constantly bright, upbeat, and full of energy and you don’t hesitate to spread your sunny attitude around.”  Just FYI, I’m not very “full of energy” today!!  Even a picture of Tigger makes me smile!!

5. What's an app you use that helps simplify or make life easier for you in some way? 
I love my Amazon app and I love my Shelby Next (work) app!

6. San Francisco (CA), San Diego (CA), San Juan (PR) San Antonio (TX) Sanibel (FL) have an all expenses paid long weekend to one of these destinations. Which one do you choose and why?
Please send me to Sanibel in Florida . . .a few days on the beach would be lovely.  I’ve been to San Antonio and I’ve been to San Juan . . .and California is so far away that long travel time would take away too much of the weekend.  I would LOVE to go to California . . .but would need longer than a weekend!!

7. Share with us a song that makes you feel nostalgic? For what? 
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to come up with a song.  I mentioned This Magic Moment earlier and that song takes me waaaaay back.  At the funeral last week, they played How Great Thou Art by Tennessee Ernie Ford and I thought about when I was a little bitty kid and how my parents would play records (an example would be hymns by Tennessee Ernie Ford!).  That memory drew me deeper into thought and I remembered 16 Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford playing on that same stereo!  I was born in 1958 and that song came out several years before I was born so I must have been really young.  All of those memories made me remember one more . . .I can remember sitting in my daddy’s lap.  I think I might have been sick and I remember sitting by our big old heater . . .it was bigger than this but seems like it looked sort of like this.

I remember sitting by that heater and I remember him singing a song to me.  I’ve used Google a lot for this answer for a picture of the heater and for the names/artists of these songs!!  Ricky Nelson used to sing a song, Get Along Home, Cindy.  I remember my daddy singing that song to me.  Thinking about my daddy makes me wish that I had known my parents as an adult.  My mom died when I was 15 and my dad died when I was 25.  Interesting how thinking about one song led to another and another until I truly feel nostalgic!!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.
The young professional group that meets in our home on Tuesday nights is doing a four week study – Adulting 101 led by one of our ministers, Nathan Carden.  We’ve just finished two weeks talking about money – budgets, saving, investing.  Most of these young professionals are so amazing!  They know they need to be budgeting and saving and are eager to learn.  I wish that I had been in a group like this to learn and grow.  When Mark and I were first married, I thought he was trying to punish me by telling me that we needed to order water in a restaurant.  Lo and behold, that is a great way to begin saving on expenses.  Mark is great with money and I AM NOT.  He has ALWAYS insisted that we live below our means and I am so very thankful NOW.  Along the way, I’ve been angry and frustrated and I’ve pitched a million fits . . .but he was wise beyond his years back then.

I would love to hear some great budgeting stories!  Do you keep a budget?  Are you frugal or a spendthrift?  What is your favorite way to save money?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Love, Laughter, Death . . . and Taxes!

Mark and George and Alice and I headed to Lineville today for Mr. McKay's funeral.  The four of us haven't spent that much time together - just the four of us - in a LOOOONG time.  The 1 hour and 44 minute trip (each way) flew by quickly as we talked about all sorts of things - from supper club menus and decorations to our kids and school.  We also laughed a lot - even at some inappropriate gas comments.  I won't explain!

Isn't that the way it is?  Something like death occurs and we slow down for just a little while and live life.  We laugh.  We hug others.  We tell people that we love them.  Why don't we do that more often?  Why do we get in such a hurry and forget?  Mark made a comment as we sat in traffic this afternoon to the effect of "these people are evidently not in as much of a hurry as I am."  Isn't that true?

Since Mark and George were pallbearers, we had to arrive fairly early at the funeral home.  We all visited with Mrs. McKay.  We were introduced to folks we didn't know.  Alice and I looked at every picture in that funeral home - they had about a 100 pictures of different churches.  We assume those are the churches who make use of the funeral home.  Every once in a while we would hear Mark or George laugh or speak loudly - I believe they visited with just about everyone there.  As we met new folks, they would say, "y'all are the Elliotts?? - we've heard so much about you."  I have to chuckle about that because we evidently make a splash wherever we go :-)

The service was held in a small chapel and Alice and I were wedged into a row with four seats . . .with two "strangers."  As so often happens in a small town, the lady leaned over and started a conversation and asked if we were family.  I said, "no ma'am.  Our husbands are pall bearers."  She immediately said, "the Elliotts?"  I answered with yes ma'am . . .and you won't be able to miss them because they are identical twins."  When the pall bearers processed in (which I had never seen done before), she leaned over and said, "I couldn't miss them!!" 

I really wanted to snap a photo of Mark and George and Mrs. McKay but there never seemed to be just the right moment but I did snap a few photos in the cemetery.  The day started out very cloudy but blue sky appeared . . .the cloud formations were amazing all day!  I loved the barren trees with no leaves against the crazy sky as a backdrop for the cemetery.

There were lots of old tombstones from the 1800's -- 1828!!

There were lots of simple crosses - no names on many of them but Mark found a whole row of Harris people - we even found a Mary Harris.  It was fascinating to walk around and read the names (many were very unusual) and see the dates of birth and death.

Just in the time we were at the cemetery (which was an hour or so), more blue skies appeared.

Back to the laughter . . .it was a small cemetery at Black's Creek Methodist Church so we were literally parked in two lines bumper to bumper (Mark's big old pick up truck!!).  We had to wait a while until everyone was ready to leave so that everyone could pull out of the cemetery at the same time.  We got in the car . . .had to roll the windows down to talk to a couple more folks . . .more laughter . . .and I said, "I need to tinkle.  I need a diet pepsi.  I need a snack."  Those who know me well will know that that sounds like a typical sentence out of my mouth.

Mark took us to the gas station in Ashland.  We were LIVING BIG today!!  We used the facilities (I'm so polite - I was not that polite in the car!).  We bought our lunch (this was about 3:25 in the afternoon) . . .Mark had a pay day candy bar and green tea; I had a DIET PEPSI and cheese-its; Alice had a diet coke (I think) and Chex Mix .  . .and George had a turkey and cheese sandwich -- people - it was a sandwich in a wrapper in the gas station. . .with no expiration date!  We were living big today!  More laughter!  We were parked right by the courthouse so Mark said "take a picture of that" and I did.  Simple.

We are sad for Mrs. McKay.  She is grieving and will continue to grieve.  We are celebrating for Mr. McKay - he is no longer in pain.  We are remembering - today someone mentioned how Mr. McKay paid his way through college . . .and I could hear his voice telling us the story about selling watermelons to put himself through college!!! 

Today we lived life.  We loved.  We laughed.  We remembered.  We were sad yet happy.  We were together.  We hugged.  We smiled.  Today we LIVED BIG!

What about the taxes?  The title just needed something else, right?  Mark did tell me to download Turbo Tax.

Love, Laughter, Death . . . .LIFE!  (and taxes)

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

A Life Well Lived

On Tuesday afternoons I work from home preparing for our Tuesday night Young Professionals Group.  My phone rang today and it was our friend, Vonde McKay.  She called to tell me that Charles had died and to ask if Mark (and George) could come and be two of the pall bearers on Thursday.

Just who are Charles and Vonde?  They are our friends who live in the same town where our farm is located.  When the kids were little, Mr. and Mrs. McKay were like a second set of grandparents to Glenn and Laura.  The four of us would go down for the weekend and Laura and I refused to stay in the trailer so Mrs. McKay would fix up the guest room for us.  Glenn and Mark would stay up at the trailer (this was after the original farmhouse burned back when Mark and I were dating and before Mark and George and Roger bought the "new" farmhouse).

On Saturday morning, Mrs. McKay would fix breakfast and after breakfast the guys would go off and do guy stuff and Laura and Mrs. McKay and I would hang around the house and do girl stuff.  She kept dress up clothes and Barbie dolls for Laura.

She would always cook a farm lunch for us -- you know? Cornbread and peas and other veggies were staples at her table.

Over the last few years, Mr. McKay's health has been precarious at best.  He needed some major surgery a few years ago, and our friend, Mitch, was able to get him in with a specialist at UAB.  He was better for a short time but then his health began a slow decline.

He was 85 years old when he died this week but in my mind, they are still about 60 years old!!

When Glenn was about 3 years old, he LOVED to fish (still does).  Mr. McKay told one of his daughters that he would give her $1000 if she would give him a grandson like Glenn :-)

Glenn and Mr. and Mrs. McKay

Both of the McKays were school teachers - one taught at the local high school level and one taught at the jr. college level.

Mrs. McKay had a new computer and the kids were playing! Sweet memories!

Mr. McKay was a fine man - he will be missed.  He lived a good life.  He worked hard. 
He will be reunited with both of his daughters who died much too young. 
He will be missed by those who remain.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

cabin fever - it is a real thing!

Since we got off work on Thursday afternoon, I've been pretty much holed up in our house . . .and I LOVE our house . . .and I have organized tons of stuff and cleaned out stuff . . .and ironed all my clothes . . .and I've done a million loads of laundry.  I've ridden my stationary bike every day and I've read several books and I've prepared a Sunday School lesson that I didn't teach . . . I've ventured out twice but it is soooo cold.  I'm ready to go back to work tomorrow.  I keep seeing notices of school closings and school delays and I've actually said a prayer for lots of mamas and daddies . . .
I just looked at the weather - the wind chill yesterday was 4 degrees . . . on Thursday, the temp is going to be 69!

Mark drove over to his mom's today and ate lunch with her and I chose not to go.  I probably should have gone with him.  I have decided that I don't think I could live in Alaska.  It would be dark and cold and I would either have to bundle up and hunt for my food and stay inside and get grumpy!  Mark said that alcoholism is high in Alaska . . .I need to check out his facts.  I can see why.

I've read my Bible.  I've written in my journal.  I've read lots of commentaries preparing for Sunday school - I love commentaries!  (this is amazing -- our preachers did a brief devotion online today on the fruit of the spirit . . .that is what I prepared for Sunday School today . . .and I'll teach next week!! -- I love when God weaves things together like that!)

I've come up with unusual recipes because I didn't go to the store before the snow . . .I've even eaten venison. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am VERY happy to have a warm home and warm clothes and books to read and a bike to ride.  My heart hurts for those people and animals who have been outside for the last few days.  Hear me - I am grateful . . .I just have cabin fever!

I've discussed with Mark my route to work tomorrow to avoid icy roads.  Like I said, I've ironed my clothes.  I'm ready!  I have cabin fever!

I found this image online -- it looks happy :-)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The BIG snow of 2017

We don't get a lot of snow in the greater Birmingham area. We get a giant snow every few or ten years. The last big snow was in 2014 and it was indeed a biggie and caught everyone off guard - the snow arrived earlier than expected and everyone couldn't get home from work and people stayed with other people or in their offices for 2 or 3 days. Many people left their cars all over the roadways and interstates.   We don't like when that happens. Some of us have four wheel drive vehicles (hubby) but he couldn't get to me last time. About a week ago, our favorite weather forecaster . . .James Spann . . .started hinting at snow. We all assumed the threat of snow would go away before the day arrived. The day crept slowly closer and the risk of winter weather stayed. No one wants to take chances anymore (after the last time!) so all of the schools in the winter watch area closed for the day and many businesses either closed altogether or closed early. We had some sleet around mid morning on Friday. It was actually quite loud! It was cold on Friday. We were evidently right on the line between freezing rain/sleet/ice pellets and actual snow. They predicted the second round would hit around 6:00 p.m. and it did . . .but Mark and I knew something was up when we could HEAR our snow. Snowflakes fall gently and quietly. Ice pellets do not. Like a little kid, I went to bed hoping that when I awoke this morning, there would be lots of snow. I awakened to COOOOOLLLLLDDDD temperatures and this:

The ice looked like snow and it was pretty sparkling in the morning sun.

It looked quite lovely in the fire pit.

and it looked even lovelier and deeper on the patio table.

It was stacked up in the bushes beside the house and the plants look TOTALLY frozen!

The playground in front of the house was covered.  I saw the cutest thing today in the playground.  A little girl in a pink coat with a sled would run and climb the ladder to the top of the slide and she would put her sled down and jump on it and go down the frozen slide - pretty clever!!  As soon as she finished, she would run quickly around to do it again!

The roads are still frozen in lots of areas so they have cancelled church.  Mark and I did venture out  to Walmart.  I did not stop at the store and buy bread and milk before the snow.  Everyone in Alabama buys bread and milk before it snows.  Who knows why?  Such a weird combo!  We were expecting our Blue Apron box this weekend but FedEx has had to deal with ice and snow, too, so no food box . . .We ate venison cube steak last night because it was the ONLY meat in the freezer -- Mark cooked it and even made gravy for me.  I didn't even have a fresh vegetable in the house!!  I was telling Mark that we could survive on peanut butter sandwiches and peanut butter crackers.  Mark had horrible cabin fever.  He said that he could understand double homicides and alcoholism much better after being trapped inside.  He tried to go for a walk this morning but the wind chill was a whopping 4 degrees -- toooooo cold!  Our coats are not thick enough; our boots are not warm enough.  We just don't have the right tools for snow and ice.

So while we were at the grocery store, Mark received a text from a close friend who was out of town.  The close friend's ex wife had been taken by ambulance to the local ER and the friend needed Mark to go pick her up and take her home.  I believe Mark did some slipping and sliding along the way.  He tried to go out of our neighborhood via the parkway - it was frozen solid!  We had driven the other direction to Walmart.  He had to back up the street and turn around and go the really long way around to get to the ER.  He picked her up and used his 4 wheel drive to take her safely home and he made it back home safe and sound.

Random post NUMBER THREE - Christmas 2016

Christmas day continued . . . I'm not posting these links on facebook so you are probably only reading if you get an email notification.  I am trying to document as much as possible this year - not sure why - but feel strongly.

After presents at our house, we all headed to worship together.  After worship, we headed over to my mother-in-love's house for Sunday lunch.  I know I mentioned earlier that we didn't have turkey and dressing . . .still thinking about that!! 

When we were younger, we ALL exchanged gifts with everyone and that pile of presents was enormous.  These days we draw names amongst the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews.  I was the "name drawer" this year and they made me remove Emma's name so she received several presents.  We all buy for Grandmother (MIL).  She has a new wardrobe after Christmas every year!

We've been taking a picture of grandmother with the grandkids for quite a few years.  I need to look back and find the earliest one - problem is pictures were on old computer that is no longer alive (they are also on memory cards and some other picture device SOMEWHERE IN THIS HOUSE).  This was the first year with a great grandchild in the picture.

Emma was the center of attention for much of the day . . .she is sitting smack dab in the middle of the men.

She received the cutest cloth barn with animals inside -- the animals make noise.

After our jaunt to Grandmother's house (over the river and through the woods . . .), we went home for a brief nap and to regroup before our next adventure.

I've been an Elliott for almost 33 years and Christmas day night has always been a tradition.  I was even included when we were dating.  Way back then, the party was at Mark's grandmother's house.  She was about the same age as Mark's momma is now back then.  She actually lived with Mark's family but they had kept her house down on Lancaster Road.  The maid would go down with Mark's momma and her sister, Aunt Margaret, and they would clean the house and put up a tree and get everything ready.  The family would have a big Christmas dinner and they ALL exchanged presents back then. 

After she died, Mark's mom and Aunt Mary rotated the party back and forth between their homes.  For the last couple of times, Nathan has done the party at his house and it was bittersweet again this year without Aunt Mary, Uncle John, and Nancy.

These are my girls.  I sure do love them!

This is a wonderful thing -- now there are all these young adults in the family.

I love all four of these people!!  Emma looked so cute in her green dress, white tights, and red shoes.

Here is another shot of even more of our young adult family members.

Sally babysat for us a lot when Glenn and Laura were little and it was such a sweet moment to see her holding Emma.  She was trying to sneak a kiss from Emma and this picture is funny because it looks like Emma is pushing away - no way, Aunt Sally!!

This was not only the year of young adults at the family party, but this was the year of babies - babies everywhere!  They were all so very cute!!

Another picture I love - Glenn and his grandmother and Emma.

This year was bittersweet in other ways, too.  One of Mark and George's first cousins, Bur, and his wife, Beth are moving to the west coast to be near their grandbaby (and daughter, of course!).  John Wesley and Margaret are Bur and Beth's children -- John Wesley lives in New York and has a cool custom wood/furniture business -- Grain Control.  His wife also has an incredibly interesting career with Kirshenbaum Bond Senecal.  Their daughter, Margaret, and her husband live on the West Coast - hence, Bur and Beth's move.  This was probably the last year that they will all be here with us for Christmas.  There were about 40 of us for Christmas this year.  This group is comprised of Mark's momma (the only one left of that generation) and her children (4) and families and her nieces and nephews (8) and families (on the Harris side).  Mark and I may have moaned and groaned a few times over the years about having to attend or about having to help do all the work (when Mark's momma is hostess) but I truly can't imagine Christmas without this gathering.

Friday, January 6, 2017

way back when

This week, I wanted to make spaghetti for dinner one night (Mark doesn't even like spaghetti but I do!).  I was going to make it simple - Healthy Harvest 100% whole wheat noodles and Laura's Lean ground beef and Prego.  While I was getting ready for work, I put the hamburger in the sink WITH FULL INTENTIONS of putting it back in the fridge BEORE I left for work . . . BUT I forgot.  I texted Mark during the day and he said, "the house is cool.  it will be fine."  I got home and the plastic on top of the meat was kind of puffed up but I thought to myself, "maybe it is ok."  I peeled that plastic film back and immediately threw the meat away - it smelled horrible!  I can't believe I forgot to put it up!!

This hamburger event started me thinking about things we USED to do that we can't do anymore.   When I was young - even when I was a teenager and a young adult - we thawed our meat in the kitchen sink all the time . . .and cooked it when we got home . . .and ate it . . . and I don't think we got sick (I would remember that because remember I have that issue with throw up!)  I can't imagine we would have cooked it if it smelled bad . . .so what has changed?  Is meat different now?  Maybe there is more E Coli (we probably had never heard of E Coli back then!!)

So what else could I do then, that I can't do now?  I had a bike much like the one below and I rode all around a 3 block radius without a helmet.  We rode our bikes all day long!  (I also had a cat named Missy who loved to ride around town in the basket!!)

I've always loved being outside in the sun and I'm sure my skin shows that misuse.  My parents were actually ahead of the times because they covered us in coppertone and we went to the beach in the morning and later in the afternoon -- never in the middle of the day.  There was no sunscreen back then - only sunTAN lotion.  The bottle looked like this one (without a 4!)  I still love the smell of coppertone and it is my sunSCREEN of choice.

Most families didn't use any lotion. Our family was blessed with skin that would tan but I remember all three girls who lived across the street from us getting actual blisters.  When I was a teenager we mixed baby oil and iodine together and used it to get an even better tan.  That actually freaks me out now!!

This freaks me out even more . . .we had a "candy man."  NO KIDDING!  There was a man who had a disability and he had a tricked out golf cart.  The back was fitted out with wooden bin type things and he had boxes of candy - candy bars of all kinds; peanut butter candy; sweet tarts; and I can't remember what else.

He drove through the neighborhoods ringing a little bell and all the kids ran out to his vehicle and bought nickel and dime and quarter candy . . .and he put it in a little paper sack.  Isn't that wild?  I can't believe our parents weren't freaked out by this guy.  I wonder if he was someone's relative.  I don't remember my parents acting like they knew him.  I don't remember ever being afraid but there were always a bunch of us -- there were 17 kids on our one block at one time.  We played kickball and baseball (with a tennis ball) and roamed from house to house during the summer.  (that was a huge swing thought - from peanut butter candy to kickball!)

I grew up in a small town - a mostly blue collar neighborhood - my dad was an engineer (the driver) of a train for a railroad.  We walked to school most of the time (a mile to the middle school!), we walked to the library, we walked to the drugstore for a coca cola (sprite, coke, whatever).  I rarely feel old but thinking about all those things seems like a million years ago.

What do you remember from your childhood that is totally different today?