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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Getting ready for a new year

We are days away from 2012.  Goodbye to this year....   it was a truly great one.  There were many fun and rewarding times!  Many changes - all for the better.  I have been so blessed.  But, here comes 2 - 0 -1 -2 !!!   Ready or not.

It's time to think about "resolutions".  Do you make them?  And, a better question: do you stick to them?    I try to start out a new year with a few in mind, if for nothing more than to direct my head and heart the right way.  

Some are abit frivilous. Some more serious.   Here's a list I'm considering:

In 2012, I resolve to:

* Exercise more often.   This is on my list every year.  But with each passing year it becomes more important! Dang, aging.  My body is looser, and it's a bit heavier now.  So, really...Marla! Exercise! Move! Stretch!   As Nike says...do it!

* Eat healthier.  This goes right along with the exercise.  I really just want to add more fruit (chardonnay grapes don't count although they should), and veggies each day.  Stop eating too many carbs.  

* Show my love more.  I don't always express it like I should. I need to stop and take the time to say it, write a note, do something above and beyond.

* "Enjoy the moment".  I'm getting better with this each year.  But, I want to continue to live my life with the mindset that God is good, and every day and every moment of every day is valuable.  It's a beautiful gift.

* Play the piano more.  As my hubby reminds me, I know music, and I have the basics and have tinkered (or "tickled the keys") all my life. I just haven't taken it to the next level.  

* Send more cards through snail mail.  I still think a person loves to receive a real card in the real mailbox.  I know I do.  How nice to have something in the mail besides bills and junk.  It takes longer than sending an email, or an electronic greeting, or a FB message - and that's why it's appreciated.  So, I will resolve to send out more cards this year. Plus, I think the USPS needs my help...


I'm looking forward to the new year. I already have some exciting events coming up on the calendar.  June is shaping up to be another "country music month" -  we are going back to the CMA Music Fest in Nashville, and we have tickets to see Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw together in Charlotte.  I will probably buy into the Verizon Amplitheatre country package again.  That was alot of fun last year!

I have another little great-nephew, or a great niece on the way in May!  I have our annual Lakeside trip this summer too.  And summer here at the beach!  It really is my favorite time of the year.  Question: will the Fabians' Cinco (or Seis) de Mayo happen again?   It was a great celebration to kick off the summer. 

Oh - I digress. I have completely gotten off-topic from resolutions.  But, I guess it shows I am excited about the new year, and the possibilities ahead... the few events planned already, and many more (still unknown) to happen too.

So, come on 2012.  I'm ready for you!  Bring it on!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The ying and the yang of Christmas

I've been thinking about this time and the emotions and the happenings that lead us up to Christmas.
It makes me think there's a lot of ying and yang at this time.  For instance:

Busy loud malls and bell ringers vs. the quiet of a "silent night".

Giving gifts to others vs. the true gift given to us.

People traveling vs. enjoying time at home Christmas morning.

Feeling rushed and upset with humanity vs. a bond of joy with each other for grace-given love.

Anticipation vs. wanting to be still and "savor" the special moment.

Expectations vs. pleasant surprises.

Simple words vs. unexplainable events.


I am sure you can add some too.  I think it's what can make Christmas such a hard time for people.  There is this ying and a yang thing happening.  It's hard to understand.  Sometimes we try to feel everything, and in doing so sometimes we just try to hard!   So, we relax. Try not to stress - to let it happen - to "get" the whole picture.  Rush -but be still.  Sing - but be quiet.

Christmas is about a baby being born in a back yard, in an out of the way barn.  Centuries ago.   Not in a modern hospital by special medical means.  A baby born of a very young, niave mother with no power or money.  Not the royal offspring of a well-to-do leader.  A baby "given" to us, but not because we wanted him BUT because we needed him.  A baby.  Tiny.  Normal to the eye.  But a one-time-only special son of God.  A part of God.  Actually God.  

A normal baby vs. God on earth.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Feeling the Christmas spirit!

Monday morning.  I just finished up a very busy and fun December weekend.  I really felt the Christmas spirit flying around in the air!  I spent some time with family and friends, and heard the scripture of the angel telling Mary she will have a son and name him Jesus.  And, I heard and played some good Christmas music too!   Tis the season!

I'm about to make my final list...like Santa.  Well, not really.  Mmy list isn't of good & bad children, but instead it's of what still needs to still get done by December the 24th.  Thankfully it shouldn't be too long.  No stress...    no, not allowing it.

I'm looking forward to this week ahead. The hubby is home ALL WEEK!  The daughters are coming in in time for Christmas. There will be more good times with family and friends.  Then, the Christmas message.  It's good - all good!

I'm feeling the Christmas spirit!   ( : 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Aging

So, tomorrow I have a birthday and for some reason this one has been bothering me more than others.  I handled turning 40 easily, and even 50. I felt like I was a "young 50" and I was still holding it together really well.  I had absolutely NO medical issues and was active through all those years.  What a blessed person I have been.  I know it.   Don't get me wrong. 

I'm still very healthy.  Ok.  The diagnosis of oestoporsis surprised me.  And, I have a a curve in my lower back that causes me some pain sometimes and now my chiropractor and I have an ongoing relationship.  But, all in all, I'm fit and lucky. I have good genes.  I know to live with moderate exercise and moderate eating.  It works for me.

But, for some reason this birthday number is annoying me.  Is it because it's a "downhill slide" to 60?  Is it because in my head I have thought to myself this age is really "middle age"?  I'm no longer young in any spark of the imagination. 

 Do you remember when you were a kid and you went to family gatherings and the older relatives were in their 50's?  SO OLD!  ha!  You thought you'd never be like them, talk like them, get set in your ways like them.   Well...    as my dad always has said "chronology is inexerable".   Time marches on.  You can't hold it back.   So, now here I am.

I tell myself - oh, it's ok. I'm the cool older aunt, and I'm really not a stick-in-the mud mother.  I LOVE being with young people. Sometimes I love my daughters' friends more than my own.  They are fun and make me laugh.  They have so much to get excited about still.

I do admit that aging has changed over the years.  Especially for women.  We color our hair and still wear fashionable clothing. It's hard to know a woman's true age anymore.  Men can't hide it quite as easily.  I find it interesting when I meet some of my lady friends' husbands because they usually look so much older than their wives.  It's still not acceptable for men to color their hair, and to dress like a teenager. Ha! I just got a mental picture of a 60 year old man wearing low-riding pants, that are falling off his butt.  No, that just won't work!

So, by this time, you are thinking  "gee, Marla, get over yourself!"  I know.   Believe me.  When
I do think for a few minutes about getting older I quickly tell myself that I have no right to complain. I am having such a lovely life!  "When you got your health, you got everything!"  "People love me for who I am on the inside, not what I look like on the outside."    And, I think if I had a disease strike me, or I'm in an accident, then this post will be pretty embarrassing and trivial in the whole scheme of things. 

I know. I know.  I'm just saying... some birthdays are easier than others.  Some numbers are fun to celebrate...18, 21, 30, even 40.    Tomorrow is another day, and it's another year.  I'm not going to sit and mope - or pretend it doesn't exist.  Actually, I really prefer to stop and thank my parents.  They are the ones that created me (with a little help from God), and started me out in life.  I thank my "older" sister (ha! I always remind her she is the oldest!! Sorry sis!), and my brother. I was a bratty little sister growing up. You didn't have a choice putting up with me, but thanks that you did.

So - happy birthday to me!  Happy day to celebrate where I come from...   and to celebrate this day! 
(Just don't ask me how old I am!?!) 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Before Facebook?

I am so addicted to Facebook.  I admit it.  I think there should be a support group for people who spend too much time on it, and I would certainly have to join. 

It's funny how Facebook started out as a college thing and students had the use of it before it was discovered by the rest of the world.  If nothing else is learned when young people goe off to college,  they are in on the new big thing.  They are at a time in their lives when they experiment and are open-minded.    But, Facebook is not new anymore.  It's been around some 7 or 8 years now - I mean, a movie has even been made about it.  I'm wondering:  will something come along and replace Facebook?  Remember "My Space"?    Does it even still exist?  Does anyone use it?

I thank the young people for accepting all us older people on Facebook.  I'm sure they groaned when parents started joining.  I know my girls had to rethink what they posted...  and yes, there were a few pictures that surprised me.  But, all for the best.  I got a truer picture of their life away from Mom.  Wake up Marla!  ha!

Now when I talk to friends or acquaintences I rush home and type in their name in "search" and see if they have a page.  Maybe I'll friend them online!  Like I said, I'm abit nutsy about Facebook.

But... here's the wonderful thing about Facebook.  I have reconnected with friends I haven't seen in years and ones that live far, far away from me.   Some have become daily connections, some are just occasional "dropins".  But, it's a wonderful thing to stay in touch and learn about their lives.   As a woman who lives alone part-time my computer has become my way to reach out and say hello.  

It's a way to send out one message to many people.  Like this post! ha!  (Are you still reading this?  You must not be too busy right now. )   For me, it's a silent megaphone.  What?  Facebook (and now blogging) has given me the ability to share my thoughts.  I really don't care who reads them, if anyone, because typing them and "getting them out" is satisfying to me.   Oh, I do think that one day beyond my time on earth my words will continue to live on the internet.  Floating somewhere. Kind of spooky but also a good feeling.  My daughters will have "something" left of me.   Sorry girls...this is what I'm leaving you!  

Words.  Thoughts. Pictures.  

Facebook is a way to share. To laugh. To be touched at times.

Thank you Facebook.   What did I do before you? 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pets rule!

So, it's just a little after 5:00am and I have already been out in the freezing, dark morning. I have already made 6 dishes of pet food - one dog, and 5 cat dishes.    In this house, pets rule!

Ok.  So, it started out as my mistake early, early this morning.  I awoke and had to get out of bed and go to the bathroom.  Natured called.  It was just enough stirring to wake up both Miss Honeybee (sleeping next to me in bed) and Midnight (sleeping somewhere close by.)    Once I got back in bed I tried quite hard to get them both to settle down.  I looked at the clock and moaned to them "It's too early!" 

Another mistake.  I talked to Honeybee!  The licking began.  Lick, lick, lick!  All around my face.  Then she threw her body on top of my face!  Somewhere during my morning Honeybee attack, Midnight jumped up on the bed - and made a beeline for my nightstand.   This is Midnight's favorite place to go for attention.   He has learned that items on my nightstand are easy to slide off and knock onto the floor. He has learned that I quickly react!!

In the past Midnight has knocked off coasters, papers and pens (he loves them), and once he knocked over my lamp.  Once he knocked off my phone's answering machine.  Side note: I no longer have a working answering machine so if you call me I may not get your message. 

My pets have won.  I'm up VERY early this morning!    In fact, I am up so early this morning I beat the newspaper man.  Really!  When I took Honeybee out for her morning business the paper had not yet been tossed out onto the driveway.  

The morning routine, even before my coffee, is to prepare the dog and cat food dishes.   I put on my back deck light as a sign to the outdoor kitties that it is time to eat.  Come and get it!   It's kind of like when Krispy Kreme turns on their "hot donuts" sign.   The cats never arrive all at once, so I put dishes out one by one.  I can't have one cat eat too much and not leave enough for the others.  Right?   Some get fed in the Carolina room, a couple prefer the back deck.  One, my stand-offish Galaxy, prefers his dish up on the railing so Miss Honeybee will leave him alone.  I try to count all five kitties each morning to make sure they get accounted for and fed.  They don't tend to show up at the same time.   Patches is usually last. I think he likes to keep his distance from Galaxy. 

So, as you can tell - here at the Fabian home PETS RULE!!   I adjust MY schedule to them.  And this is one very good reason, if I sit down to read a book for a little while in the afternoon it becomes naptime.  The sweet part, is I have a cute doggie cuddled up with me, and a kitty or two - or three - near by.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tis the Season!

From now until Christmas day some of the best events, movies, and music are out there for the enjoying!  It's part of the reason why this can be such a wonderful time of year.  There are so many special one-time-a-year traditions to see and hear!   Some that I enjoy:

Brookgreen Gardens' Night of a Thousand Candles. If you don't live here, let me tell you that Brookgreen Gardens year-round is an amazing place to spend a day.  It's preserved land from an old plantation that has been beautifully changed into low-country style gardens, mixed with the largest array of outdoor sculptures.  For 3 weekends in December the staff and volunteers light it up at night with a gorgeous, tasteful display of Christmas lights.  It's like walking through a "winter wonderland"!!  (Without the snow - another bonus.)   To add to it, they have  musicians performing in various parts of the gardens, and offer cider, and wine, and other goodies.  It's a perfect evening - and a glorious time for the senses!

Our local town is a bit of an art & music colony so it's hard to pick and chose the wonderful music specials offered.  This Friday night the Charleston symphony is coming to perform.  And on Sunday I know of 3 events:  a choir & orchestra performance at the Presbyterian church, a handbell concert at the Surfside Beach Lutheran church, and the Hallelujah Chorus performed by local vocalists at one of the Episcopal churches.  

Then there is the tv specials, and the "must see" movies!  What are your favorites?   I can't go through this preparation time without watching "Christmas Vacation" for fun, and "White Christmas" for sentiment.   "The Peanut's Christmas" is short and sweet but absolutely perfect in it's message. 

My modern Ipod plays mostly old standard Christmas carols and songs during this time.   I admit I have downloaded some songs by my country music favorites but I still love hearing the traditional songs of the season.  I can listen to "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer" once, but I never ever get tired of "Oh Holy Night" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas".  

Our children at church are putting on their Christmas pageant this Sunday morning.  Again, it's another "priceless moment" watching the young ones tell US about the baby Jesus and hearing those precious little voices singing! 

I hope you get the chance to experience similiar music and movies of the season.   I know, where-ever you live, there are special events scheduled.  What are you most looking forward to seeing or hearing?
What is your traditional event? 

Tis the season!  What a glorious time!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Prepare the way

Today I went to a couple of places where discussion centered on preparing for Christmas.  We are in the church season of Advent right now.  Christmas starts on December 25th with the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the "season of Christmas" goes until January 6th, when on that day we celebrate the kings that arrived with gifts to give the baby Jesus. They followed the bright star that showed the way to the simple manger.

"Prepare the way of the Lord." Advent is the time of preparing, of waiting, of counting down the days til Christmas.  When you were young did you have an Advent Calendar and open a door on it each day as you got close to December 25th?  I did.  It was fun to open a new door each day and see a picture, or read a Bible passage. I don't have an Advent calendar this year but I have my regular calendar and am keeping track of the days left til Christmas.  (19 days an counting...) So, it makes sense that  now we are preparing our homes. We are decorating, putting up the tree, buying gifts, and will soon start baking.  We are preparing to  celebrate. We are setting the scene.  It's a hectic time now getting everything ready.  Preparing the way.

When Christmas Eve comes, and then Christmas Day, the pace changes.  Have you noticed?  The busyness (and business) of preparing for Christmas is done.  There is a quiet...a peace.  A pause.  It's the time to open our hearts and to hear the Christmas message. 

Christmas is coming.  It's time to prepare.  Prepare the way!

Monday, December 5, 2011

News reporting

This morning HLN News with Robin Meade had two stories about issues with the TSA, our federal agency that tries to keep us safe when flying.

The first story was a couple of days old but it ran again and was about a young lady, perhaps a teenager, who got delayed at the Norfolk, VA airport. TSA authorities stopped her because she was carrying a handbag with a fake metal-looking gun on the side of it as decoration on the bag.  First, I do not understand why a purse company wants to put a fake (but real looking) gun on a bag as a design, but they did.  Second, I don't understand who would want to buy a ladies handbag with a gun on the side of it.  But this young woman did.   The news story interviewed her because she was upset that she got pulled aside, and that the TSA needed to check her out.  She missed her flight because she was "singled out."

The second story on HLN this morning was about an 85 year old woman who could not go through the airport x-ray machine at an airport because she wears a heart defibulator.  Therefore, she too, was pulled aside by the TSA and patted down.  She said she was "strip searched" but the TSA denied that.

When I heard both these stories I had several reactions.  1) I was annoyed. Flying is an option for the public.  Nobody HAS to fly and just because a person buys a ticket to fly they still have to abide by federal, airport, and airline rules.  2) I laughed.  Can people still be that dumb to not know what happens when you go through airport security?  I guess so. 

3) But, I was also mad...  not at the two females who were upset about their treatment by the TSA.  I was mad at HLN.  Come on!  This is news? Really?  Two people out of the hundreds of thousands who fly made a little stink about getting pulled out of line and HLN ran their stories over and over.  These two now have their 15 minutes (actually more) of fame because the news organizations gave them time for something that the TSA is required to do.  Am I missing something?   I am happy that our airport agents are serious and do not let anything  or anyone through.  The elderly woman said "I'm 85 years old and weigh alittle over 100 pounds.  Do I look like a terrorist?"    I say...maybe.  Who knows!   Thank you TSA for doing your job.   As for HLN, like so many of the other news outlets, once again you picked stories that were for sensationalism, and not for informing us.  

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas card debate

Hi Facebook and blogging friends,

I have a question for you.  Are mailing Christmas cards in the mail passe?   Here it is December 2nd and usually by this time each year in the past I have cards bought and a picture of the family picked out.  I usually compose a letter to put inside the card that highlights our year.

I touched on this in an earlier blog post, but I'm sitting here this morning thinking that for the first time ever I really don't want to send cards - especially to those who have become my FB and blog readers.  You already know what is going on in my life (I probably give more info than you want to know! ha) and you have seen pictures of the family throughout the year.

I have received 3 cards in the mail so far.  One of them is from our newspaper man, who conveniently put his address on it.  Yes, he will get a Christmas tip.  One came from a nephew & family with a great pic.  Each year I usually frame the new picture they send - so thank you to them.  The other card came with no note, no picture, nothing.  Just a signature.  Like it's a yearly obligation.

I don't know.  Perhaps this will be my plan this year.  I will send a card to family and friends who have yet to get online (why haven't they??!)  I can really cut down the list, and the expense.  And, here's another promise from me: the money I save from not sending cards I will give to a charity for Christmas.  I'm going to a lunch next week where money is thrown in to pots in the middle of the table for the local food bank, for "Helping Hand" of Georgetown County, and other needy groups.  Your Christmas card money will go in that pot. 

So, if you do not get a Christmas card from me through snail mail, please do not think I have not thought about you this Advent and Christmas season.  Do not think I do not wish you a joyous season and long for peace.  Do not figure I don't want to share the "Good News" of the baby Jesus brought into this world - for us.  I do!  

Ok?  I think I just solved my Christmas card debate.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Changing it out

Today is the day...out with the Fall decorations, clean, and then start to think about Christmas decorating.  It's a big day.  The holidays abruptly take a big turn.  Bye bye orange and brown. Hello red and green. 

Is your head spinning?

There's little time to adjust.  In fact, some people tend to overlap.  That's something I have never wanted to do.  As I have said before, one holiday at a time please! 

So, today is the official day in the Fabian home where the seasons change. 

Today is also the day where my "to do list" becomes huge.   "Christmas is a coming, Christmas is a coming!"   The countdown has started.  The calendar is filling up.  

Here we go!!!!

 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Being thankful

Hi All,

I know it's going to be a busy week ahead as we all prepare, and then feast at Thanksgiving.  It's kind of ironic that my post before this one is about obesity.  Ha!   But, Thanksgiving day is the one day where it's acceptable to overeat and enjoy all the wonderful foods prepared for the event.  The meal is "THE" event.  Family and friends getting together around the table.  So, don't count calories. Take a second helping of turkey dressing, or mashed potatoes (is the plural with or without "e" ? I never know.)   Have pumpkin pie - maybe two slices!  Go for it! 

But, while you are feasting don't forget to be thanking too.  I mean, it's in the holiday's name!  You know like Christ is in Christmas??  (And, don't forget that.)   I try to think of ways to make the day a special day for thanking.  In the past I used a book I found that gave the Thanksgiving history and had an interactive reading to share around the table.  It caused some eyes to roll, but that's okay.

Here's a warning to my family:  I have a new idea for this year!   I won't put the details here, because that will spoil the fun!?!?   But, just start thinking about what you have been thankful for this past year.  Be prepared!!!   I'll tell my blog friends about our special time around the table after Thanksgiving. And I'd love to hear what your special new or old Thanksgiving traditions are.  What do you do that's unique and special? 

I look forward to this time each year EXCEPT for the traveling.  I wish I could be a genie and cross my arms and blink my eyes and be at my sister's for the get-together.  It is the worst travel weekend of the whole year.  The road to my sister's is long and crowded and at one point the major highway goes down to one lane. Yes, ONE LANE!!!!  It's crazy!  It's not for roadwork, or a temporary detour.   The road just goes down to one lane for about a mile (to then merge into another road.)  On a good day there is a backup there.  We'll be sitting in a backup for an hour - or more -and there's no getting around it.  Believe me, I have looked for another route.  There isn't one.

So, I plan on bringing my Kindle and my Ipod (thank you technology) and will take deep breaths, and remind myself we will eventually get there.  And when we arrive, I will be THANKFUL on THANKSGIVING! 

Lastly & a totally change of topic:  GO GAMECOCKS!!  This Saturday is the annual rivalry football game of Clemson vs. U of South Carolina.  It is for bragging rights for a year as the two biggest schools in South Carolina go at each other.   I'd love to see another Carolina win!  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Obesity in America

I just read an article in this morning's newspaper about some food company lobbyists swaying Congress into relaxing healthy food requirements for school cafeterias.  The lobbyists want to see a dab of tomato sauce on pizza count as a vegetable again.  They want potato and salt limits to be upped.   I get it: these lobbyists represent companies that produce and sell large quantities of pizza and french fries to school systems and their profits have dropped recently due to cutbacks.

The food companies are putting their bottom line against the children's bottom lines.  Literally!  American children in the past couple of decades have gotten bigger.  It's not from healthy eating!  It's from living on too many carbs and fats in their diets and a lack of daily exercise. 

I recently traveled outside of the country and immediately noticed when looking around international airports and touristy areas which people were Americans.  The big ones!   I think it's interesting because our forefathers came and settled in America to gain freedom, to live life to the fullest, and to work hard and then get rewards from putting in the effort.   Perhaps bigger bodies and bigger children is the end result of this.  

But, I'm no doctor and I know with extra weight on a person's frame and the wrong kind of food put into the body, comes all kinds of health issues.  Diabetes is rampant now.  Knee and hip problems.  Clogging of the arteries.  There's even the need for bigger, stronger seats, and clothing.  The list goes on and on. 

A change has to start with our children!  We can't let food companies tell Congress to ignore food standards and allow them to rule what our children eat at school.  One industry's profits can not be worth the price of unhealthy people and years of medical issues and bills.  There has to be a change in thinking.   You ask why I care so much? Some of  the children who eat in school cafeterias are getting breakfast & lunch there, and their families are on gov't assistance.   That's fine.  We should definitely feed them.  But, we can't feed them empty calories and fill them with food that has no positive substance. We can't make them fat!   Selfishly, I think as a taxpayer I could very well be paying for their medical needs the rest of their lives.  And morally, it's wrong to intentionally give unhealthy food because it's cheaper and a few companies make more money from it.  It isn't fair to our children. 

I feel like I'm really on my soapbox right now.  Sorry.  Sometimes an issue jumps out at me and it bothers me to the core.  I feel responsible for all our young people and want to give them the best start in life - here in America - as possible.  

I want our children to grow up healthy and as active as possible, so they can lead a productive, happy life.  Giving them proper nutrition in school seems like a no brainer to me.   It starts a lifestyle of eating habits for life!  It can really make a difference to us all! 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday, Monday

As the Mamas & the Papas sang it's Monday, Monday - can't stop that day!  It's a new week and I'm sitting here in front of my computer thinking about what is on my schedule this week. I'm thinking about what needs to get done, what activities are coming up, and how best to manage my time.

First, it's Monday, November 14th.  so, happy birthday to my first-born niece Erin!  I remember when you were born and the joy of watching you grow up. Fun times..."do the chicken dance with me"!  And, now you are a Mom of the cutest little boy with another one on the way!   Time flies sometimes!

Which brings me to today's post:  It's a new week and one week closer to the holiday season(s). Thanksgiving is NEXT Thursday!!  Can that be right?  Here in the beautiful lowcountry we are still having nice warm temperatures and flowers are blooming.  It's still gorgeous out!  But, yet, it's mid-November and Thanksgiving is around the corner.  We will head to my sister's for the annual get-together again.  Thanksgiving & a bit of Christmas - combined.  We call it "Thanksmas".  

I'm thankful we get this opportunity each year to gather.  We lost two family members (my mom & brother-in-law) some years back but our group is growing again, and it's joyful!   Everyone brings some food, we share the meal together, sit together as a family.  It doesn't get to hapen often enough.

A Facebook friend of mine has been using November to list something he is thankful for every single day on his wall.  What a great idea!  I am going to try and remember to do that next year.  Let's make the whole month a "thanksgiving" month!

So, it's Monday and a new week.   I am looking forward to tomorrow evening's spaghetti dinner & auction fundraiser at church for our "Backpack Buddies" program, and I'm looking forward to the usual events of the week.  I'm also REALLY looking forward to a "country night" for me on Saturday!  A girlfriend and I are going to see Josh Turner in concert at the Myrtle Beach House of Blues!  Josh is a local boy (raised in Hannah, SC - between here and Columbia) and he's now a huge country star.  He's the one with the rich deep voice - he first sang the song  Scotty McCreery did to get the "American Idol" attention.  He's pretty easy on the eyes too!  I have seen Josh Turner a couple of times, but seeing him at HOB's is a treat because it's a small venue and you can get up pretty close.  

Oh - Let me take a minute to update you all on Miss Honeybee.  She turned 6 months and she has definitely turned the corner with her behavior.  She's 90% trained to go outside.  She's into routines and has settled down alot.   She's a sweetie!  I want to take a Christmas picture of her soon (I bought her a holiday bandana - of course) but she put her nose into a red ant hill over a week ago, and got about 8 or 9 bites right above her mouth.  Poor thing.  It was scary at first because she immediately starting foaming at the mouth. I think it was a physical reaction to the bites, and a way to get her healing saliva on to the bite spots.   Poor thing.

Well, got to get my Monday going now...   you just can't stop that day!!   I hope you all have a great week ahead!   

Friday, November 11, 2011

11-11-11

Today is November 11th, 2011.  Or 11-11-11.  

It's pretty cool when dates come up like that.  When something big happens on them it's easy to remember when it happened and for some who might be superstitious it's a bit freaky or scary.  Luckily I am not one of those people.  I know someone about to give birth and today would be a good day for it.  The child would always have 11-11-11 to write down in the "birthdate" slot on forms and papers.

But I'm thinking about 11-11-11 more today because it's Veterans Day.  It's a date picked on the calendar to officially stop and thank all the Americans who, whether drafted or enlisted, gave their time and put their life on the line for our country.   This day is for those soldiers who LIVED to tell about it.  (If they didn't then we will honor the dead who gave the "ultimate sacrifice" on Memorial Day.)

I have always had very mixed feelings about the military.  In reality I know it's necessary to have the military to keep our country safe and free.  Without the men and women who are in the Armed Forces we would very well have been taken over by another country,  one with dictators and ideas we do not believe in.  Our forefathers came here for a life of freedoms and fairness, that even with some problems, is still an amazing way to live!!   We Americans are very fortunate.

So, this musing is not to talk about the problems we still have here in our country. Instead, it's to remind ME that today is a celebration day for all those who served and have helped keep this wonderful place we all call home the way it is.  I admire those who have fought for it. I know they are proud, and I also know they are forever changed.

So, here's my confession:  I put God first, then my family, then my country.  (3 things I will NOT forget Gov. Perry! ha)  Seriously, in that order!  So, I sometimes think and struggle with what God thinks of how we fight each other and kill in wars.  Murder is wrong.  But when it's organized and for a "better good" is it acceptable?     Then, I think of my family.  I have 2 daughters that I love beyond words and I admit, I am glad they didn't serve in the military.  I feel guilty for saying it.  Had there been a draft 5 - 7 years ago I don't know what I would have said to them.  Encouraged them to be a draft-dodger?  Maybe. 

I have some cousins who I love, and who have served and have children who have served - and rightly, they are very proud.  Please know I am not writing this to be offensive.  Really, I admire what military service takes, mentally and physically.  I admire the strong belief of being in an organization that keeps our country free.  So, thank you.  Really, thank you!!  

I know learning to use a weapon, learning to fight, and being a member of the armed forces is tough. It's life-changing.   War always brings with it pain and death.  It is not something ever totally out of the minds of those who saw action.  Even if they come back to the US and don't talk about it, the memories and the "mindset" is still there.  Yes, forever changed.  So, today, 11-11-11, I stop and say  I'm glad you stayed alive and are living as a veteran of war.  I admire your bravery and your willingness to put your very life on the line for America.  I truly thank you for that. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Giving a Good Start

Hello friends and family!  I want to let you know about a new program I started back in September.  I was thinking back then about how I wanted to spend my time, and how I could make a difference in the world.  I ain't getting any younger you know!

I had been involved with various charitable organizations over the years.  I was deeply involved with school activities when the girls were growing up.  I liked helping, and I knew I wanted to continue giving back with my time. In an effort to follow the Golden Rule - Do unto others as you would want them to do unto you - I thought about what little ole me could do.  I also had (and still have) a desire to make a difference, and to let people know I am a Christian who is blessed and I want to share all God has given me.

So, I made a list.  Yes, I actually wrote down on paper the things that bring me joy (it's a good thing for everybody to try).  I wanted to pick a venture that I knew was something that I would feel good about, not tire of, or come to think it as not important.  

I let the list sit on the table for a few days.  I thought about how some of the charities I had been connected with in the past were too "meeting heavy" and too "fundraising heavy."  I wanted to do something that was turn-key and saw quick results.  I wanted to find something that was local and hands on.

Top of my list:    I LOVE LOVE LOVE babies!  I love pretty much everything about them. My mother-in-law used to say "I could just eat him up" (a southern expression?) and that is how I feel.  A baby is in the room? My focus is on that baby!  

I decided I wanted to do something with babies! So, once the decision was made I conferred with my pastor because I wanted to put something together through my church and get the support of other members.  

My new charitable effort is a baby layette program for the two local hospitals here.  As it would just so happen (hello God?) a head nurse of the OB department of one of the hospitals goes to my church. I spoke with her and she told me how some mothers who give birth don't even have an outfit for the little one to go home in.  They are not prepared at all! No baby clothes, no diapers, no receiving blankets, nothing.   I think it's hard for most of us to believe it when we come from families who joyfully expect and prepare for a new baby's arrival! 

So, I have turned my guest bedroom into baby layette central!  I have started collecting baskets, and all kinds of newborn baby clothes, and infant diapers, blankets, etc.  Anything and everything for a newborn!  I have put together baskets full of these goodies and passed them on to my church friend from the hospital.  She now keeps 2 or 3 baskets in her car and hands them out to the needy moms right before they go home.   I have also included in each a hand-written note to let the new mom know that she is not alone, that we love her & her new baby, and hope the items in the basket help.

It's a GOOD START and a gesture of caring.   

So far my church family has been donating generously and I am very appreciative.  But, if you would like to give to the program too, please do!!! Most of you know me and can reach me.  I will gladly come pick up items. (There is also a bin in the church narthex.)   I can take new and "almost new" baby clothes up to 6 months, blankets, towels & washcloths, hats, socks/booties, disposable diapers for newborns, and baby shampoo and soap.  No baby powder please.  I am also collecting baby beanie stuffed animals because I try to put one in each basket.

Thank you.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Oh golf, how I love ya (and hate ya)

I have been trying to play the game of golf for a long time now.  How long?  Certainly long enough to know that it is one of the most humbling things a person can do.    Let me explain why.

Most games or activities when you do it for awhile you generally get better at it.  If you play the piano or if you work on crosswords or "fill in the blank - pick anything" you learn the ins and outs and improve.  With repetition you can develop skills.

Okay. I suppose to some extent I have learned more about golf over the years.  Over time I have watched others play, taken a few lessons, read "how-to" books, and learned the lingo of golf. " Keep your head down" and "turn from the waist towards the flag" and "bend the knees slightly, butt out."   I know the etiquette of golf.  "Farthest on the green putts first" and "don't step in someone's line".  "Always mark the ball before lifting it."

I enjoy the social aspects of golf immensely and love being in the great outdoors.  Golf courses are beautiful places!  I live in an area that has many courses and I love being on them and seeing the gorgeous terrain and the birds and animals that live around them.   I also love the exercise I get from golf.  I know some people will differ with me, but golf can be good for the ole body.  Especially for me, a high handicapper.  I swing and hit the ball many, many times each round.  The swing action is good for the waist, the squatting to look at putts is good for the legs and butt, and when I walk a course I get some cardio work done too.

So, yes, these are reasons I play golf and continue to go at it. 

But, now, let me talk about the "humbling" part.   For me, when I start a round of golf I have hopes and expectations.  I must admit I think to myself "maybe I will score well today!"   For some reason I usually do have a pretty good first hole.  I get off the first tee well.  So, that builds my hopes a little higher.  I tell myself this might just be a good game of golf today!   

Mistake!!!

Golf is a game where the brain is very active.  Pretty soon I start thinking too much...I am trying to remember how to hit the fairway wood, and chip up...and then putt accurately. I'm counting each and every stroke.  A bad shot?  My brain says "Oh no, I shot  poorly and got a 7 so next hole I have to hit the ball well and make up for the bad shot. "  In golf whenever I try "too hard" I get worse.  I start to tighten my grip or swing too hard.   Then it's downhill  from there.

So I'm in this beautiful environment and I get mad at myself, and a bit embarrassed.  Golf is a game of honesty.  You don't lie about your score.  You deal with it. 

Now, here's another humbling aspect of the game:  On a rare occasion I play a pretty good round for me.  As we say "the golf god" is kind that day...or perhaps my body is just in sync better, or my brain is staying out of the way.  Who knows!   But it does happen!    A good thing, right?   Yes - and no!   So, now my expectations have gotten bigger and my brain plays more tricks on me.  

You know, the PGA commercials that say "these guys are good!" when talking about the pros on tour?  How right that ad is!  They amaze me how they seem to stay calm and focused at the same time.  Can you even imagine playing the game with those huge galleries watching, not to mention the millions in the TV viewing audience?  And playing for thousands of dollars?  I play enough golf to know they are really, really incredible!

So, I admit I do not practice golf like I should.  I don't like to go out by myself and practice on the driving range, or spend time hitting ball after ball out of a sand trap.  The pros do. 

So, then my brain tells me "no wonder you are no good...you don't practice. What do you expect?" But, then it happens....  I hit an amazing shot that gets plenty of loft and goes in the direction I want it to go!  My partners on the course say "great shot"!   Why, thank you.   Oh...but now I have to hit the ball again.   Oh no. I get nervous." I want to do TWO good shots in a row.  Maybe I can make a par!"
Stop it brain!!!

I know if you are reading this and play golf you are totally understanding me.  I think we all have the same thoughts, perhaps some more often than others.   Golf is a game where you never really achieve a goal.  Or if you do finally hit a score you do like, you than try to better it.   You learn to stay humble and thankful at the same time.

Oh golf, how I love ya - and how I hate ya!  

 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The countdown

Well, I guess you have noticed it's November now.  It's time to turn the calendar to a new page on the wall...and it's time to start the...drumroll please...."the countdown".  How many shopping days are there til Christmas?  

If you are like me you have already started to pick up small gifts - or started to browse through the stack of catalogs coming in the mail. Have you started a list yet?  Have you thought about what is new and hot this year?  I try to prepare the list early, and  to schedule out the gift buying so I can stay away from malls and reduce the stressful last minute shopping.   My mantra each Christmas is "Remember the reason for the season" - and don't stress!

My plan is to have most presents purchased by the second week of December.  That gives me plenty of time to wrap, and to doublecheck the list (yes, we try and keep the two daughters' gifts even in number and dollar value.)   Hubby always shops some too (he actually likes it! crazy guy) and so we end up with a huge pile of wrapped boxes and decorative bags under the tree.  

Speaking of tree:  we have an artificial one since I have allergies and it is also less messy to cleanup and put away.  This will be the first year when daughter #2 won't be home early enough to help decorate it. ) :   It's been tradition that she hang the special ornaments:  the ones we got when the girls were little (some homemade - I love those)  and the ones we bought on vacations, or from other places we lived.   Then I come through and add all the "filler" on the tree and balance the ornaments out.  When do you put your tree up?  Please NOT before Thanksgiving!!! One holiday at a time is all I can take!  I try and wait til mid-December to put ours up.  If  the tree goes up too early it loses some magic by Christmas Eve.  My blog, my opinion.

I have a question. Are Christmas cards becoming obsolete?  I mean the ones you mail out with a greeting, and a family update letter, and a picture.   So many of my friends and family are now on Facebook with me and they see what our family is doing all year through.  There's really no longer a need to "fill them in" or to send pictures to show how we have changed.    So, what do you think?  Just send cards to the people who have yet to get online?  

Well, there's time to think about it all still.  Weeks actually.  Advent (the church's time of preparation before Christmas and the start of the church year) is 4 Sundays/weeks leading up to December 25th. So, I think that should be plenty of time for me too.  Right?   Ha!!

I hate to admit it, my countdown has already started.    Take a deep breath, Marla, and think about Thanksgiving...    don't rush, don't stress, don't prepare for Christmas yet.  

Oh - yes. There will definitely be more blogs on this subject.  

 

Monday, October 31, 2011

Being Lutheran

Yesterday was Reformation Day at my church.  It's always a big celebration day in the Lutheran church because it's when we remember that Martin Luther hung the grievences on the Catholic church doors back then - and he got in big trouble for doing it!  But, the grievences let the commoner know what was going on within the church hierarchy and how misguided the leaders had gotten.  It also turned the world upside down by stating people didn't have to earn their way to heaven  - or give to the church for entry in - to church, or heaven. 

Martin Luther didn't plan on starting a new Christian church.  He was a Catholic monk and proud of it. 
But, his followers ended up honoring him by naming themselves after him. 

So, that's a bit of the history of it.   Reformation Day is a Lutheran Sunday each year, the last Sunday in October.  It's become a day to be proud of who we are, to sing "A Mighty Fortress is our God" and to celebrate how far Martin Luther's beliefs have come.

Personally, it's a day I love - because  it's a day that reminds me of many things.  It's a day that says who I am.  I grew up in the Lutheran Church.  I'm the daughter and granddaughter of Lutheran pastors.  My one grandmother was the church organist; my other grandmother was her church's choir director. I was baptised, confirmed, and married by my Lutheran pastor, my dad!   So, it's pretty safe to say I will be Lutheran til the day I die - and then I'll join all those others who have gone before me.

I was telling some friends yesterday that I remember when I was a kid and living in Cleveland that on Reformation Day afternoon we would go to the huge downtown convention center for a big celebratory  service with all Lutherans from northern Ohio.  We filled the place!  All the church choirs joined in to become one big choir - and the music was awesome - all the tradition Lutheran hymns were sung. Even as a youngster I knew it was a special event.

Oh!   I just used that word:  TRADITION!  As I have gotten older I find I love certain traditions that keep me connected with my memories.  I love hearing familiar uplifting music and liturgy I know.  It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.   I try and keep an open mind and except the new ideas with it.  Really, I do.  And some of the "new" is really nice.   Some of the "new"  (I won't say which ones exactly, but let's just say I'm not going to a movie theatre to worship) just doesn't do it for me.  But, that's fair.  I know some of my traditions don't do it for others.  

But, there's no doubt that Reformation Day is a day of tradition.  My ancestors came from Germany, the land of Martin Luther.  It's my heritage - it's in my blood.  Again, it's who I am!  

PS:  I have always said "I'm a German Lutheran and there's no changing it."   I use that line sometimes as an excuse, or to make light of why I sometimes do what I do.  Yes, Germans are stubborn people by nature.  Serious, and hard working.  And they are very proud people. 

Yesterday was a wonderful day for remembering.



 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daughters

This post is for all my friends who have daughters - and for MY daughters.

There has been much written throughout time about the bond between a mother and her daughters; poems have been written and mushy cards are out there. There are some great songs about daughters too.  I burned some country ones on a CD for each of my girls recently.

 So, what I'm going to say here is nothing new - but it's personal.  My story. 

I recently became a true "empty nester."  College days are over and both of my daughters have their own apartments and separate lives away from here.

I am blessed with these two amazing daughters.  I don't know "how" it happened that I got the ones I got. (I'm not talking about conception! ha)  I'm sure hubby will take credit for their personalities and intelligence. Oh, I guess his genes played into it some...but I like to think they are a good mix of the two of us. Somehow they got our good attributes. 

You know, when you are raising kids you just never really know how they are going to turn out.  I certainly had those moments.  I had times where I tried to steer them towards something, and away from other things.  But, sometimes parents with the best of intentions and parenting skills have a child go "astray" anyway.  Thank you God: I didn't.  Maybe I should count my blessings that hubby and I only had two, because perhaps the third child would have been the black sheep.  Ha!

I was fortunate to have two girls. I felt from the beginning that I could relate to them.  I knew I could understand their ups and downs of being female.  Hubby was working many hours while the girls were growing up so I was pleased to have children I could relate with.  I remembered the angst of school cliches when I grew up, and bad hair days, and body changes, and the list goes on and on. 

Hubby used to say during some of those times "you have a 24/7 job now but one day it will be done."  And now it is. Okay, okay - I know a parent is ALWAYS a parent and always there to offer advice (but only when it's asked for).  That's why I'm so glad I have my daughters.  Nothing against sons. But I think sons go off on their own even more then daughters.  They make their way in the world and become independant.  

I remember my mother so fondly.  Not the last third of her life when she was sick and disabled.  But I remember her when she was youthful, and beautiful, with her big smile, and I remember her being there for me whenever I needed her.  I was her spoiled baby.  The youngest of three.  It's a mother - daughter bond I will carry with me all my life.  And now, I have that same connection with my girls. 

You know, there are days when I stop and think "I'm how old now???"  How can that be!!!!  I went from being a daughter, to a young mother, and now a mother who's daughters are raised.    I really can't believe it!   

But it's all good.  Daughters are the best!  MY daughters are such a joy in my life!  

(I can hear them now, reading this, perhaps rolling their eyes, saying "oh mom"....   but it's music to my ears!) 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Favorite month? October perhaps

I am sitting here thinking about how gorgeous the weather has been the past few days and weeks.  Each morning has had a bit of a chill in the air, and by noon I'm opening up my windows to enjoy the fresh air in the house.  October is a month with really perfect weather.  The humidity is down and the days are still warm.  And because if it, the flowers are still blooming and the birds are still singing (although they may have already started their migration farther south.) 

October in South Carolina may just be one of my favorite months! 

Just saying (or typing) this is a big deal for me.  Really.  I used to have a very hard time appreciating this time of year.

I still don't like that I have to give up my shorts and flip-flops, and have to pull on tight jeans and squish my toes into closed shoes. It seems my body "relaxes" over the warm months and spreads a bit... and it fights going into tighter fitting clothes.  Did I gain weight or just get used to the loose fit of summer clothes?!

I still don't like the end of the floral growing season.  The beauty of my garden goes into hibernation for awhile.  There's not much to look at outside during the colder months, except a few winter pansies, or some decorative kale. 

And the holidays...what can I say?  I have a love-hate relationship with Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Yes, I'm admitting it.  I love the family time, and I love taking time at Thanksgiving to thank God for all we have.  But, I head to the cold for a few days and it hits me like a mean slap in the face.  And, as for Christmas (a topic for at least another blog or two or three or more) has SO many awesome things about it...there's a long list.  Again, family, and celebrating Christ's birth.  Hello?  Remember THAT part of Christmas???     But, it also brings too much stress to me and people in general.  Deadlines, lots of shopping, cards, etc.

So, yes, October is a wonderful month!  The weather is lovely - and of course, there's football.  That's it.

Simple.  Lovely.

Mmmmmm.....    October.   : )

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Volunteering

I just read in this morning's newpaper about Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorthea opening a "pay only if you can" restaurant in New Jersey for low income families.  Patrons are served quality meals and envelopes are left on the table for money to be put in to pay for the meals only if the patrons can afford to pay.  There are no prices on the menu so people pay what they can afford.  Sometimes they can't pay anything, and that's okay.

Jon & Dorothea recognize the need for people, especially families, to enjoy a dinner out together.  Sometimes it may be there only real meal and sometimes it may be the only way a family can afford to go out together with little funds available.

BUT...  the restaurant has a second part to it. Patrons are strongly encouraged to "pay back" with volunteerism!  Jon, Dorothea and their charity (the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation) realize that many of those who can not find employment, and therefore need a good free meal sometimes, have able bodies and time to give back.  The restaurant serves as a clearinghouse for community projects in need of volunteers.   I think this is just AWESOME!!

I must admit that I sometimes look at the unemployed and wish they would "get off their lazy butts."  God forgive me.  I know it's a terrible stereotype and I am ashamed for feeling that way.  I think to myself "they suck off the system" - they make the employed pay for them through unemployment checks and food stamps.  In reality I know every single person unemployed has a reason, a story behind why they can't work or can't find work.  They might have physical limitations, or housing and transportation troubles, children to take care of, or countless other legitament reasons for not working.  Often pride plays a part in it too.

But, that's why I think the Bon Jovis have a wonderful model to follow.  They help those in need BUT they also encourage a way to contribute to the community. To give back! And, by giving back the volunteering person can gain confidence, perhaps some new skills, meet people, and also help others.  It's a win-win!

I have long thought that too many people look at volunteerism as something to do "oh, if I have the time"...or "if it serves me too."    That mindset needs to change.  Our Gospel lesson this coming Sunday includes the commandment "DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU."    Just think how wonderful our country could be if we all could live by this golden rule?   Even President Kennedy said "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country!"    

So, kudos to Jon and Dorthea Bon Jovi for their "pay if you can" restaurant and volunteer program.   I hope other people follow the same concept in communities around the country.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Halloween

I know I will upset some people with this post.  It's about Halloween, specifically Halloween costumes.  It's about what I think is acceptable and what I don't like. It's my blog, so it's my opinion.  Read on if you dare.

I LOVE to see children dressed in costumes! I remember as a kid having a special suitcase of my mother's old clothes (from when she was a teenager & young adult) and using the outfits to play "dress up" all the time, and using a few of the dresses in it for Halloween.  There was a *perfect* black dress that I think she wore to a college dance with my Dad once.  Somewhere there is a picture of her wearing it.  That dress made the basis of some great costumes.  I think both my sister and I used it to be a gypsy.  We added a bandana, lots of bangles and big earrings.   I don't ever remember spending money to buy a costume, but perhaps when we were really little we were allowed to pick out one from the store.  Remember?  They came in boxes with a piece of cheap cellaphane on top to look in and see the outfit.  It was usually a one-piece costume with a mask.

Growing up I do not ever remember dressing as a witch, or a scary goblin, or a creepy mummy.  Nothing with blood and gore on it. 

Halloween was a time to dress up as cowboys, or princesses, or doctors...  to pretend you were a grown-up! 

So, yes, it bothers me when I see young children wearing goulish costumes.  And, yes, I do know that Halloween started as a time for people to dress up to scare away evil spirits, or to keep bad ghosts from coming around before All Saints Day.   That's the history of it.

But now we live in a world where everything is so real looking - blood dripping, hatchets in heads, eyes popping out.  Children see it early and they think it's funny.   I don't.   I want children to dress up in something that looks cute, and that makes them and me smile.   Daughters 1 and 2 had some great costumes! I was looking at pictures of them just the other day (a very nostalgic moment for me.)  Some of them: a scarecrow, a cheerleader, Minnie Mouse, an angel, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz, oh - one was a conehead one year!  No blood - no creepiness.   

Unfortunately, I don't get many trick-or-treaters where I live now, but if the doorbell rings this Halloween I hope I see some children dressed as a fairy or a fireman or a pilot. (No terrorists please.)    They will get lots of candy from me!!

Happy Halloween!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Seasons

There's a chill in the morning air now.  It always happens this time of year.  I went out to get the newspaper at the end of the driveway a few minutes ago and had to grab a sweatshirt on my way out the door.

But by this afternoon it will be close to 80 degrees and beautiful.   It really is a lovely, lovely time of year!  Up north the leaves are turning amazing colors and it's an artist and photographer's perfect background.  I remember the gorgeous colors of the trees behind our house where we lived in Sparta, NJ.   Absolutely beautiful! No denying it!  Really, really beautiful!

Somewhere along the way, through the years, I discovered that after this awesome shock of reds, yellows, and oranges come the (long) months of grey.  Grey trees, grey skies, and grey snow (especially after it's been on the ground a few days. Actually, it turns black from car exhaust.  ugh!)  Is God teasing us?  Or, is He teaching us to take the vibrant with the blah?  To enjoy the beauty while you can and to cherish the special moments?   To know that everything changes?  

I have to remind myself about the CHANGE of seasons and the "Master's plan."  I tend to become abit of a Debbie Downer when the chill sets in, and the winter months quickly approach.   I am one of those people who thinks summer is never long enough.  

I have gotten better at handling the seasons since moving south.  The winters are not as long and not as extreme.  Spring and it's rebirth comes much earlier here than back in Jersey.   I can just throw on my sweaters and blazers during winter and never need a heavy coat.  No boots (unless it's a fashion statement.) And, the same with scarves. Pretty to wear but rarely needed for warmth.

Now, I know, there are people who love the cold and love the look of snow falling.  They like to "bundle up" and play outdoors in the winter months.  More power to 'em!   Go for it!  Ski and sled all you want!  I hear them talk and know they mean it, but I just don't feel the same - down deep in my core. 

So, for me, I am making a point to relish these October days and to still feel the afternoon warmth.  Aaaa! It really is lovely!   I know the seasons will change. 

And, I know it won't be long til spring will arrive again. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The word "occupy" vs. "camping"

Lately in the news we are seeing groups of people gathering & camping out to make a statement on their disgust with our government and with Wall Street.  It started in NYC and has spread to other major (and now some minor) cities.  The protestors seem to have a varied agenda and therefore it seems to be confusing to us watching it on TV.  Best I can tell it's mostly a bunch of disgruntled citizens thinking this is a way to get some media exposure.  I'm hearing that they are OCCUPY-ers.  They are in the parks and streets to occupy that space to make a statement. 

It's a flashback to the 60's for those who remember that far back.  But, then it was a "sit in".   College students took over outdoor space, or doorways into administration buildings and the such, and sat down to protest the Vietnam war.  They sat - for a specific cause.  It was also called a "peace rally."

I'm wondering why the media decided to use the word "occupy" this time.  Why not "campers" or "park protesters" or "street citizens"?    Am I the only one who immediately thought about WW II and the German occupation?    I know they are occupying space - in the park, on the street. I get that. But, it seems to me a reactionary word and something better should be used.

I applaud those who feel strongly about their issue, whatever it may be, to go camp out for days. I could NEVER do it.  (I didn't like camping as a child. I prefer hotels as a grown-up! Sleeping out in the elements in a tent?  Noooo, thank you!)    

But, I wonder how long the people will "occupy" the space?  How long til they get tired?  How long will it be in the news?   The media will get bored with the story soon and move on - unless something bad or different happens in the park or street...    and I hope people don't resort to that kind of action to stay in the news. 

Free speech and the right to peacefully assemble is a freedom here.   So, more power to them!  Whoever they are ! Whatever makes them upset! 

I'm wondering....   can we call them "disgruntled campers" or something else tho? 

What do you think? 

Friday, October 7, 2011

"This is Country Music"

Brad Paisley has a song called "This is Country Music" that describes how country music words don't hold anything back.  Paisley's song acknowledges that country music lyrics deal with everything from cancer, to "telling your boss to shove it", to the loss of a brother, to patriotism, and of course love (when it's good AND when it's gone bad.) 

It's true.  Some people make fun of this fact -  that in country nothing is NOT okay to sing about. Some people think it's goofy and hokey.  I understand.  For years I didn't give country music a chance. For many years I lived in parts of the country where it was hard to hear it performed live, or to find a country music station on the radio.

We all go through life stages.  Since I moved south I "discovered" country music.  I heard a Tim McGraw song one day that I liked and decided to buy his album to give it a listen ( it was really a CD, and that's a topic for another blog - I miss album covers!!).  Then I picked up a few more - and then I found a couple of country music radio stations, and set my car radio to them.  

For those who don't know my background, I worked in radio, including rock radio, for some years, took piano as a kid and I have played flute all my life. I appreciate ALL types of music. Really I do!  In fact, I think music truly makes the world go round! I know just enough about reading music and performing it to know just how talented some musicians are. I'm in awe of them!

Thinking back, I went with a girlfriend my senior year in high school to a "fiddle convention" in Baltimore and absolutely loved it.  And, even during my rock & roll days I preferred the California sound at the time of the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, etc.   I asked my best friend Sue to sing  "Longer" by Dan Fogelberg at my wedding.

There's nothing truer than a singer and his guitar.  Basic and sincere.

So, looking back, I've always been on the border of what I consider country music. I have always liked songs where I could  love the music AND understand the lyrics.  The words meant something.  I also like music where I hear the musician's TALENT on his or her instrument.  I like music that is not fabricated in a recording studio.  Country music has that too.  

So, yes - I proudly say I'm a HUGE country music fan! 

Country music can make you feel great and get you up and dance, but it can also bring you to tears.  

As Brad Paisley also sings about in the song, there is connection country music listeners have.  It's not for just one artist - it's for the genre.  Fans understand the same feeling, and respect each other.

Have I made you want to listen a little?  

Paisley's song:   "So....   turn it on! Turn it up!   This is COUNTRY MUSIC!"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Getting older

Today is hubby's birthday.  He still keeps it together pretty darn well...considering, he's getting older!

Remember how we would say "I'm not going to talk about my aches and pains when I get old like my parents do?"   HA!!!  Hubby and I are at that age now where the temptation is to start a conversation with news of our digestive system or how the bum knee is aching, or just wishing we could lose that extra 10 pounds (we say that every day!) 

We both had blood taken recently and just yesterday we compared our results.  Hmmm.  My cholestral is a bit higher than his. Glucose is ok. But we are borderline on some other levels.  Oh my!   I never concerned myself with any of this before.  Oh, and did I tell you I have osteoporosis?  What!!!  

This getting older thing is not fun. But, like the saying: "it's better than the alternative."   A weird saying really.  As a Christian "the alternative" is everlasting life... with NO pain. In fact:  NO body!
Think about that.  What will we talk about in heaven?? 

I digress...

I can't promise I'll never blog again about getting older and the physical issues that come with it. I'll try not to.  

So, let me just get it out now:  I need to get my hair colored, I need to watch my fat intake, I need to exercise (cardio and weight-bearing) every day.  I need to slather on the lotion. I need to stay out of the sun (never happen), and I need to RELAX.  Stress is the number one reason we show our age. 

oh my!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

birthdays

Tomorrow is my hubby's birthday.  If I do the calculations right I have known him over half his life now. And, we've have been married almost all of those years - we dated & married rather quickly.  No need to say we have celebrated a bunch of our birthdays together.

I don't know about you all, but after a while it gets hard to come up with something fun and different to make the celebration "unique" and enjoyable.  I remember one year we surprised him with a meatloaf birthday cake when he was on the Atkins diet, and we have gotten him various games to play. Big boys are still boys and they always like their games and toys! No matter the age!

 Tomorrow he will be in another state due to his business.  So, we will push back "his day" til Friday.  We plan to drive up to Charlotte and go see Toby Keith in concert.  Toby is one of hubby's favorite country singers.  I'm looking forward to it. Hubby and I have both gotten into country music the last couple of years - it's something we share together.

We are lucky that over the years we have had a couple of "similiar interests" or hobbies. I really think that's what keeps couples together.  For us, it's golf, and watching football, our pets, enjoying dining out, warm weather, and country music.   (Oh -and our daughters too.  That goes without saying! We plan on having a birthday lunch with them on Saturday.)

So, another birthday is almost here.  Another celebration!   Gift giving can sometimes be challenging.  But, I guess what's best is to remember that the REAL GIFT is having the person in your life! 

H A P P Y     B I R T H D A Y   ! ! !

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life can change in a second

It's October 1st and it's the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  So, I met a few of my church friends this morning and we joined with about 1200 others from the community and walked in an "Awareness Walk".

It was a gorgeous sunny Carolina morning - with a blue blue sky and slight breeze.  It was a wonderful "feel good" morning.  We were all together in a sea of pink t-shirts as we walked through Murrells Inlet and across the Marsh Walk.   Some of the women walking wore pink beads to symbolize the number of years as a breast cancer survivor.  In New Orleans during Mardi Gras, women collect bead necklaces by lifting their shirts to show off their breasts.  Today's beads represented HAVING had breast cancer - and survived. 

Today was a celebration for sure.  Some doctors were there, the survivors, and the families - and others, like me, in the community.   We all took a little time this morning to remember that this beautiful life we have can change in a second.  A medical test can turn a person's world upside down.

I'm thinking of a friend from church who had this happen just a few weeks ago.  Not breast cancer. But cancer... discovered in her uterus, her gall bladder, her liver, and colon.  She's already had surgery and she needs more.  She has already contracted an infection too.  Life can change in a second!  

I don't mean for this post to be a downer.  I pray my friend will make it through - and will feel everyone's love.  I have several others friends who have recently finished cancer treatments and it's amazing how joyful it is!  We just had a "finished chemo" party for one of them.  I haven't seen the new movie out now called "50 - 50" but it shows how laughter can help a person get through the news of cancer, and the treatments and side effects.  

Why this post?   To stop for a second, and remind myself and you: LIFE CAN CHANGE IN A SECOND!  

We must enjoy each day and each moment.  We must stop and smell those roses, and not sweat the small stuff, and "live like you were dying"!   

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My puppy

Many of you know that our family got a new puppy this summer, a pug we named Miss Honeybee.  For the most part she is MY dog since Stan is away during the work week, and the daughters now have their own places.

At this writing she is 5 months old.  In doggie years I think that makes her a two year old, which means she's in her "terrible twos".  I keep reminding myself that she  is.  (Hang in there Marla!)  She's physically almost full size with crazy energy!  14 pounds of solid, strong, wiggling, biting energy!  She chews on anything she can find, and seems to love my flip-flop collection the best. Most of them now have teeth marks in the soles.  No Honeybee no!

I took her to the Petsmart puppy training program and learned to use a clicker to get her to sit and to properly use a pee pad. Honeybee was too small  to be able to go up and down the outside steps to get to grass when we first brought her home.  It worked well for her first 2 months living here.  But, now she's gotten bigger (and you know what that means) and she has NO CLUE about doing her business outside. 

So, my goal for the month of October:  get Honeybee trained to go outside!   How?  Should I continue with the positive clicking and rewards?   Or, do I need to get mean and punish her doing her business in the house - when just last month she got a click, a "good girl" and treat for it? 

Miss Honeybee has also taken to wanting to chase moving cars and people on bicycles.  This is something new to me. I've never had a dog before that wants to take off fast and chase things.  So, for now, she has to be on a leash at all times when outdoors. 

I know Honeybee will get older, and calmer, and easier to handle.  In time.  I know the puppy stage is a challenge.  I know, I know.    We'll make it through. 

She's so so so cute when asleep!  

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Gameday

It's a Saturday in September, which means it's GAMEDAY!  The "Boys of Fall" take to the field tonight at 7:00pm.  I root for the South Carolina Gamecocks!!  Why? 

1.) 4 years of tuition to that great institution so daughter #1 could get her BS (Bachelor of Science degree.  What did you think I meant?)
2.) Supporting a team in the SEC is "classic football" and it just doesn't get any better!
3.) The Gamecocks are never a sure thing.  They keep you guessing, and crying at times, but laughing at other times.  So, a win is very BIG and always exciting!  

I have loved football since my childhood growing up in Ohio.  High school football was a "town event" and everyone went to the games on Friday night.  I was a marching band geek so I went to all home and away games. We even marched through the heart of town to the stadium, playing the fight song all the way.  I learned about football back then.  I learned the rules and why there are penalties.

So, one day when I was in college in Baltimore, a guy friend who happened to have a part-time job with the Colts (pre-Ravens!) and I were talking football.  He was impressed with my knowledge of the sport and offered me a job working in the Colts press box.   So, for one season I worked for the Baltimore Colts and got to see every home game in the warmth of the box.   My job was a "runner" which meant I brought in updates, stats, etc. to the reporters.  Did I mention this was a LONG time ago?  Before computers. Yes, before computers!   horrors.

But, often I was a glorified waitress and got the press members some soup and munchies.  I don't know why but one of my biggest memories was the huge vat of hot New England Clam Chowder that was available at every game.  I loved that soup!

Oh - I also got a special parking pass for the old Memorial Stadium and got to ride up the "private" elevator with the press.  I thought I was hot stuff for a college junior.

So, my love of football continues now...  

with the Gamecocks.  Only in this part of the country can you loudly cheer.....Goooooo   Cocks!!!   and not get arrested.

GO COCKS!   Beat the Vandy Commodores tonight!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Welcome to my blog...

Welcome to my blog, or perhaps as the song goes "welcome to my nightmare"!  Hopefully not.

I have wanted to have a space to write my thoughts down, and to somehow give my voice a megaphone (I have been told I'm a quiet talker), so here it is.  Some days will be ramblings, some days maybe something profound may find it's way here.  It is what it is.

Today's thought:  Watch out for the satellite trash that's expected to fall to earth.  Question:  Why can't the NASA scientists find a way to "save" and recycle their trash like all of us do?   I mean, that's a huge chunk of money getting ready to crash down, hopefully into the ocean.  I guess I never thought it was smart to spend the millions of $ on exploring space when we have so many many needs for the millions of $ here on earth anyway.  NASA gave Kennedy and the people of the 60's a way to feel good and strong, but that time has passed - and so has NASA's usefulness.   It just seems strange to rocket all that money into the sky while people on the ground need to for paying medical bills or putting a roof over their head...     which makes me go back to the beginning, put SOMETHING over your head today so you don't get bonked by some satellite debris!

PS:  I am feeling a little like Carrie from "Sex and the City" right now!  Or maybe Doogie Howser!