Friday, January 27, 2012


For a while now I have been telling my hubby that I love to piddle.  I can spend a whole day piddling, inside and out.   WHAT??? 

What is piddling?   The latest "Southern Living" magazine has an article in the back of it, written by Rick Bragg, called "The Fine Art of Piddling."  He writes that piddling is not rest, not something that can be done with your feet on an ottoman or as you recline in a Posturepedic. But then neither is it work, something that one toils at, sweats at, something one needs a break from, for lunch, coffee." He adds "If one piddles correctly, time just goes away, without regret on the part of the piddler, or even any particular notice."

I was a little shocked when I saw the article about piddling.  It gave credence to what I do.  I can spend a whole afternoon in my yard - doing a little weeding, picking up dropped branches and debris, watering the plants, washing off the outdoor furniture, listening to the birds, feeling a breeze,   I prefer to piddle outdoors, but I can  do it indoors too.  I can run the vacuum, then read the paper, play the piano alittle, hop on and off my computer (numerous times), play with my puppy, load the dishwasher, etc.  

I like to piddle with music going in the background.  Piddling and music are two of my favorite things.  When I put them together it's a great time for me! 

It's important to know that piddling is not wasting time - or doing nothing.  Far from it! But, I think to piddle correctly a person can not be rushed for time, or have a deadline to meet....because piddling is not stressful. 

I haven't always piddled.  In fact I couldn't do it much til moving here.  I used to have a strict schedule for my day.  As a mom I would have times to drop kids off places (school, music lessons, etc.) and then pick them up, I had my own meetings and events to attend,  and I had to use the time inbetween for food shopping, running errands, etc.   So, I have discovered I can piddle much better now as an empty nester. 

I'm thankful I can piddle outdoors here in SC most of the year.  I get fresh air (which unfortunately seems to be playing havoc with my nose & sinuses right now), and I feel the sunshine's warmth.  The fine art of piddling is great for alleviating depression or sadness.  If you do it right it puts you in a very good mood!  I actually find I dance alittle to my music while I piddle.

I wake up happy when I know I have a day ahead for piddling. 

By now, you must think I'm crazy - or you know exactly what I'm talking about...     which is it? 
Do you piddle?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Open mouth, insert foot

I'm feeling bad this morning.  I'm thinking I need some forgiveness.  But, first, I must confess why: sometimes (too often) I open my mouth, and insert my foot. I know I'm not alone in this. But, when I say something that hurts another person I feel like a crumb.  Even smaller than a crumb. 

I guess my parents raised me right in the fact that I feel plenty of guilt about saying things that can hurt someone else.  I learned that yes, sticks and stones can break your bones, but words CAN hurt you!  I learned that people can usually physically heal much faster than they emotionally do. 

I never want to purposely hurt anyone. 

But... here's my dilemna: 

I am. Therefore,  I want to have a "say" in life. I want to express myself and let my voice out. I want to have the freedom to express my opinion.  It validates who I am. It gives people who I personally know a look into what makes Marla tick.   I think that's good. 

But, I walk a thin line sometimes.  I have to quickly decide what can be said - and what should not be said.   I do my best to make the right decision, but sometimes I don't.  For that, I am truly sorry and ask for foregiveness.

This blog has become a nice outlet for me.  I type out what I believe, or express what I think about on a given topic.  I let myself known.  I put myself out there.  Hopefully, I do it without being too offensive to others.  I have written about politics, and about my beliefs about war and the way our government system runs. I know these are sensative subjects.  I write about the media today. (And, I used to work in it.)   I write about faith and religion.  

I try to add a bit of humor.  Because, really, if we can't laugh along the way...  then we are all in trouble!  Life is pretty funny sometimes!   And, I work constantly in trying to respect the other points of view. I know I can respect it even if I don't agree or understand it.

I guess since this is a political year the right to an opinion can extra dividing.  We people fall into "sides" due to the politics of the day, hearing the candidates blurting out their rhetoric 24-7, and the media looking to instigate division for ratings.   

There are some people out there who have decided to become apathetic to it.  (That's an oxymoron!) To decide to be apathetic. Ha!   But being apathetic is "easier" and it's less confrontational, and it's a statement in itself.  

I don't want to be that way. I want to believe in something. I want to make decisions on issues that I feel right about.  I want to express myself.  So...  yep!   Open mouth, insert foot!      Please forgive me.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I was born to live in a warm climate.

Today is one of those days where it goes from sunny, to cloudy, and back and forth, in the matter of minutes.  The weather is changing... and the forecast for this weekend is for warm temps (into the 70s, and it's January!) but rainy.  Maybe even a thunderstorm or two.

I just came in from a long walk with my dog and as we walked at times I felt the warm sun and as we walked fast (and jogged a little)  it was really refreshing out.  It put me in a great mood!

It got me thinking...  

I've known it for a long time - I have a real "sensibility" to weather.  It can really make or break my day.  I "let" it effect my feelings I guess -  and sometimes I think I must be pretty shallow, or fickle, because I am so moody when it comes to the weather.   Am I a weather snob?

For those who don't know my background, I grew up in cold Ohio and mild Maryland. As an adult I lived in various climates in Virginia, northern California, Georgia, Maryland (again), and then New Jersey.  So, I've lived in spots where it gets cold and snows, and I've also lived in areas where it rarely gets down to freezing at night.  

For some reason I was born with a love for being warm. Is it in my genes?  A part of my DNA? I don't know. Half of my family live in the cold, and seem to tolerate it better than I ever could. In the past, when I lived in those cold states, I struggled with keeping a smile on my face in the winter months. I cocooned myself indoors.  And in time I started to dread the coming of the cold temps as soon as summer ended.  I never liked putting on a winter coat or boots...bundling up. UGH.  Oh, I occasionally liked a cuddly sweater, and a pretty scarf.  But, to be honest, I could live in shorts and flip flops all year long. 

I have "come alive" since moving to South Carolina.  It's the warmth, the beach life - and being outdoors much more often than I used to be.  I appreciate everything outdoors around here:  the amazing birds (did we have birds in the north?), the open marshes, and big blue sky.   Nature at it's best!  It's beautiful!

I guess it's a good thing not everyone feels like I do or we'd all be squished together living in the warm climates, and nobody would enjoy the snowy north.

But, as for me, I have found my weather-heaven!  Actually, hubby thinks we both might enjoy Key West more because it never even gets chilly there.  Hmmmm...  he does have a point!   Ha!  For me, here, now, I love this place and this weather.   It's January, my daffs are starting to pop out of the ground, the tree buds are already forming, and it won't be long til I can get out my shorts and flip-flops!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Who wins with the political ads?

As I wrote in an  earlier blog post, South Carolina is in the midst of a big political week.  We are holding a primary day this Saturday,  Sidenote:  I just found out that SC is an "open primary" state which means ALL registered South Carolinians can vote, regardless of party affiliation.  When we register in the state we don't have to claim a party allegience, therefore anybody can vote in the Republican Primary here.  It doesn't make sense, does it?

But, my reason for writing today's blog is really about the barrage of television commercials that have hit the airwaves in preparation for Saturday's voting.  It seems that every commercial break has one or more political ads in them.  Often back to back. 

I wonder:  what happens with all the other paid advertising?  You know, the regular commercials we see...for cereal, adult-performing drugs, toliet paper, etc.  The political ads have take over.  I'm guessing to get the air spots during this important week, the political powers (those super-secret PAC groups - "paid for by the people of the red, white & blue" etc. but not directly run by the candidate - ha) offer top dollar for running the ads.  They "kick out" the regular ads by giving the TV stations big bucks.  What a bonanza for the television stations! Big revenues for the media in South Carolina this week!

But here's the irony in it all:  The ads TURN OFF voters.  They are almost always mean-spirited, putting down the other candidates, often telling "half-truths" with sound bites out of context, and at the same making themselves sound pompous and almighty.   

I have yet to meet one person who watches the political TV commercials closely in hopes of picking their choice for the next president.  Everyone knows they are not done honestly.  

Millions of dollars in paid advertising spent for nothing.  (Except for making a good month for the TV stations sales dept.) 

Crazy, isn't it?  

Hey Republicans: you want to get rid of wasteful spending?    Stop buying the political ads!  (Let's give that same money to the needy, to those who need medical help, or who have no money for food on the table.)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Coincidence or God?

Sometimes things happen....   and it can cause you to stop for a minute and go ", isn't that a coincidence."  "Who would have thought!"  Or, "strange how life happens sometimes."  Do you ever experience those moments? 

I occasionally have it happen.  This morning was one of those times.  A bit of background first:  my dad has known this couple, Bill & Trudi Nies, all his life - since when they first met in college and became good friends.  Bill and dad went on to seminary together.  Bill was a groomsman in my mom & dad's wedding.  The two couples were life-long friends. And, even though they lived in different places once out of school, they always stayed in touch and saw each other from time to time.  Our families occasionally got together on vacations.  The Nies eventually retired to Florida; my parents retired in Ohio.

Dad got word last week that Trudi suffered a stroke - and a few days later she died.  Yesterday was her memorial service. 

So, this morning I'm at church and our pastor starts his sermon with a fictional story he read on the internet, about a woman - he said she was a pastor's wife NAMED TRUDI!  He continued the story and there weren't other similarities to Trudi Nies, but I was taken back.  What?  A story about a pastor's wife named Trudi!  Not a common name.  The story was why not a more ordinary name like Kathy or Mary?  And why this story this morning, the day after Trudi's service?

It certainly caused me to pause for a minute. Was this a strange coincidence?   Was I just tuned in more because of my knowledge of Trudi Nies passing?   Perhaps.   Or....was it a "God moment"?  I've had a few in the past.  Times that have made me stop. Things that have been said or happened that seemed "too much" to just be circumstance. 

I've always had an open mind (and open heart) to accept a "God moment".    But, what does it mean.  I told my hubby about what happened in church this morning, and he asked me what I thought it meant.  I'm not sure.  Except, I know I sat there and thought about the Nies family and their sorrow right now, and what a wonderful woman Trudi was.  I thought about my dad's sadness.  I prayed for God to give them all some peace - for God to welcome Trudi. I thought about how I believe Trudi and my mom are now together. 

Have you been open to these moments?  Have you experienced it as more than a coincidence?  

I think it's a pretty cool connection when it happens to me.  I like a "God moment."   It's not scary and it's not just a coincidence to me.  I'm wondering... What about you?    

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New mothers need help.

This is a quick post to remind any and all of my readers that the baby layette program is in need of some items right now.   I coordinate a program where we make up "gift baskets" for new needy moms for the local hospitals here.  The nurses in the OB ward identify the women who need help and give them a basket.  Believe it or not, there are moms who have just delivered and they don't even have a "going home" outfit for their new little bundle of joy.  They don't have a warm blanket to swaddle the infant in, nor do they have the basic diapering & bathing supplies they will need at home.

So, if you have one or some of these items, please send them to me.  (I'll giveyou my address via email.

We need:  onesies and sleepers for babies up to 6 months
                 baby blankets
                 little hats & booties
                 disposable diapers for babies up to 20 lbs
                 small packs of baby wipes
                 "head to toe" body shampoo
                 baby towels & washcloths

Also:        We need baskets or plastic totes (about the size of a child's beach basket).

In addition, I like to put a little stuffed animal (Beanie Babies or the same size) in each layette basket.  I also put a hand-written note in the basket letting the mom know  that we want to start her and her new baby off on the right track, and that we love them both and wish them well.

I've been getting great support through my church and friends, but right now all items are needed.  Perhaps it's because we all have the "stay out of store" January blues or Christmas bills to pay off.  The supplies for the baskets are low.

We will take items that are new OR gently used.  I wash them, and prepare the baskets.  The past few months we have given out about 4 to 6 baskets each week.

Your help is very much appreciated.  Thank you.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Name Game

Remember that song?  You would take your name and replace the first letter of it.  "Marla,, banana-fana fo farla.  Fee, fie, fo farla...  Marla. "   It was a huge hit back in the 60's.  Such a silly song. 

My niece just announced that she is going to have another baby boy - in May.  And I'm sure she and her hubby are already thinking about what to name the little guy when he arrives.  Their first baby they named Luke David.  We in the family tried to guess his name while he was still in vitro, and we gave suggestions to his mom and dad.  But, we were a bit surprised with the choice they made. Don't get me wrong: Luke David is a very solid name, very Biblical, and easy for the kid to live with all his life.  It was a good choice.  I definitely like it. 

So, I'm thinking baby #2 may have the same characteristics. A true "boy's name" (no gender guessing), and easy to say, perhaps Biblical again.  And of  course it has to go okay with his last name which is Burns.  You can imagine, there were a few first name suggestions that would have been quite funny... going with Burns.  Rug, get the idea.

Jay Z and Beyonce just had a little girl this week and named her Blue Ivy.  It seems a lot of celebrities like to name their kids with unusual names.  Will she be called Blue?  (That name makes me sad! lol), or Ivy, or B.I. (rappers like initials)?    Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman named their first daughter Sunday - but she was born on a Tuesday.   He has a popular country song called "It's Raining on Sunday."  So now everytime I hear him sing it I think that his poor daughter is getting wet.

Do you like your name? I'm wondering how many of us are walking around with a name we wish we didn't have.  I like mine.  It's not really popular, or ordinary but it's not way out there either.  And, it's not spelled in a funny, awkward way.  I have been called Marlo a few times - thanks to Marlo Thomas I think.  And, I more often I get called Maria when people see my name written.  I have sat in waiting rooms while "Maria...oh Maria" is called a few times, before I realize it's ME they are ready to see.

Hubby and I named our daughters Lauren and Kristen back in the 80's. We both liked the names and I liked how well it went with our last name.  We used their middle names as a way to honor our parents, and to keep a "family name" going.   When we named them we had NO clue how popular those names were at the time.  Especially Lauren!  It's became the Mary or Kathy or Debbie from my era.  My poor daughter has had at least one other Lauren in just about any class she's been in all through school.  Sometimes more Laurens than that.   Kristen is popular too, but there are a few optional spellings for it.   But, girls: I still love the names we picked and hope you are okay with having them.  Be happy I didn't name you Tuesday (Lauren you were born on a Tuesday) or Green Lily (my favorite color and a pretty flower.)  ha! 

So, what will the new baby in our family be named?  I am guessing we will have to await his arrival to know for certain.  I'm thinking James Nathan, or Matthew (they could go for all Gospel names!), or Adam...or Peter...    


Let me know what you think of your own name!  Do you like it?  Is there a meaning behind being given the name?  And if you don't like it ,what name would you prefer to have? 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Do you know how to run a country?

The political "game" is coming to our state.  South Carolina will hold it's primary after New Hampshire.  So, now, many of the candidates are starting to spend their super pac money in our state by buying TV ads and making computer-generated phone calls. 

On Facebook I have "friended" Issac Bailey, a local columnist for the MB Sun News, and he often starts on-line discussions there. I think he uses FB for subject ideas and even once quoted responses in his newspaper column, (Yes, he used one of my comments - anonymously).   Today he brought up the topic of last night's Iowa caucus' winners and losers.   There are a few "regular" responders, one of them is named Frank.  Frank and I had a little "back and forth" online because we have different views on our current president and on political parties in general, and the direction our country is going.  After a few minutes of it I told Frank that we won't change each other's views and let's agree to disagree.  I said "that's why we each get one vote on election day." Have a nice day.

I have sat around tables with friends, and even with family, anad when talk turns to political leaders and the system of government we live in, sides are taken.  

It got me thinking. Why is it people can get so heated in political discussions?  Why do we feel we know what's best for our country and think less of those who don't feel the same way?  Why do we Americans get mad at Congress when they really seem to be a "mini-America" when it comes to knowing what is best for us?  Their minds are made up too.  There's no changing them.  It was kind of an "a-ha!" moment for me.  I have been one of those people so disgruntled with our senators and representatives.  I have also been disgruntled with the many media sources who seem to be biased and create controversary for ratings. 

But we "normal" Americans can't have a discussion about our country without taking a stance either, often putting up a wall, and being totally unable to hear the other side.  We are "proud" of our commitment to a person or party.  We get the attitude:  my person will make everything better, and your person will destroy America.  All or nothing.  Good vs. bad.

How did this happen?  I suppose we do have the media to blame a bit. We have the candidates themselves to blame - and the people they employ who "spin" what happens.  But most of all we have ourselves to blame thinking we know how to run a country, and who is best to do it. 

I'm not looking forward to the mean-ness that is starting here as the state prepares for the Primary.  But, I'm going to TRY to listen before I speak back, and I'm going to then make the effort to think about what way we can act together for the good of America.  The mindset of "my way or no way" won't get us anywhere.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

It's all over but the cleaning.

This morning the last of the family left, and the house is quiet now. It was a wonderful Christmas and New Year's season.   Here's a recap:

Much food, desserts, and wine were had.  The dishwasher ran just about every single day.

Our trash can filled to the brim - and overflowed on the pickup day after Christmas.

A total of 9 people stayed here at some point.  Many others visited.   2 dogs were in the house. 4 cats were fed.

We visited Brookgreen to see the lights, and worshiped Christmas Eve by candlelight.

Handbells were rung.

Alot of football was watched.

But so were the classic holiday movies. 

The house was decorated and looked beautiful with greenery and colored bulbs outside, and the Christmas tree inside was lit all in white.

Presents were exchanged, ornaments were decorated, people laughed alot. 

Yes, it was a good Christmas and New Year's.  Now, it's all over but the cleaning.  There is only one person here to put away all the decorations and to dust, vacuum, and clean the bathrooms.

But, that's ok. It was worth it!