Tuesday, May 27, 2014

About to turn to June….

Following a holiday weekend, it's hard to get back on track, isn't it?  It's the last Tuesday in May already.  And since it's Tuesday it's time for the weekly Hodgepodge questions followed by my answers.  As always, feel free to comment here or on Facebook.

1.  What news story are you following right now? 

Well, I don't think anyone can turn on a news program without hearing about the shootings in Santa Barbara, California.   it's another tragic example of how a young man with emotional and mental problems was not helped and set out on a course of destruction.   It's hard to understand why they need to kill others before taking their own lives.   It's just too hard to figure out what goes on in a mind that isn't working right.

Many of you know I am an advocate for tighter gun laws.  That's one step to help reduce ALL shootings.  It certainly would help reduce the number of "accidental shootings" by careless parents, especially deaths of children.   Gun locks, waiting periods, required classes, etc.  All are needed.   I could go on and on on this subject because I feel very passionate about it.   I can't believe how we allow innocent people here in the US to get killed by gun violence.

In saying this, I try to balance my news watching with lighter TV fare.  I have learned that watching all these 24 hour news stations can bring on depression and a skewed view of this world.   I only watch news briefly in the morning, and then perhaps at 6:00 and 6:30pm.  I read the newspaper each morning - and see news online too.  That's enough.

2.  What's the last thing you wanted but didn't get? 

I know this is going to sound unreal, but I can't think of anything. I have been sitting here trying to think of an answer.   If I wanted something and didn't get it, I have learned to accept the outcome and move on.   In general I have a blessed life, and certainly have more than enough material things.  Best of all I have a loving family and a wonderful set of friends.  Life is good! (I need to buy the t-shirt! ha!!)

3.  May 28th is National Hamburger Day… when did you last have a hamburger?  Other than your own kitchen or BBQ grill, where is your favorite place to go for a hamburger?  And, for all you non-meat eaters out there… what is the one side dish you hope is on the menu? 

I last had a hamburger one day last week as I was out running errands for a good part of the day. I went to the drive-thru at Sonic and got one.  I like their burgers more than other places.   I never order a hamburger at a restaurant that is not "fast food" because there are usually so many other choices I prefer.  But, occasionally, I will pick one up if I 'm out - and Sonic and Wendy's are my favorite spots.  

I don't care about the side dish, but I do like tomato, lettuce, mayo, and pickle on my hamburger.   That's a meal right there!

4.  How have your priorities changed over time? 

Oh, what a question!  I think most of us who are in our "middle years" will say our priorities have shifted from "upgrading" life to "enjoying the moment" still with some concern of our future comfort. Yes, we need to be financially set for the later years, but right now it's all about being happy in this part of life.  We are old enough to know life is fleeting.  There's so much that's wonderful about it.  As I answered in  #2, it's not so much the material things as much as the relationships and events.  And, knowing that God is there in everything.  He makes the good moments better, and brings us through the bad ones.  

5.  What's a favorite memory with your grandparents? 

Unfortunately my one set of grandparents died when I was very little.  My other set, my mother's parents, were a few hours or more away from where I lived growing up.  But, we would get together with them on holidays.  I remember how my grandfather would walk into a room, put his hand in his pocket and bring out coins for us kids, toss them on the floor & we would scramble for them… and he and I sat at his kitchen table and worked on crosswords.  He first introduced me to crosswords and I am still addicted to them.

My grandmother was sweet, and a good cook.  She made "homemade" dishes that are all but never done anymore…homemade noodles, and homemade ice cream and syrup.   Yum!

6.  On a scale of 1 - 10 (with 10 being fantastic), how good are you at multi-tasking?  Share an example. 

I do not think I'm very good at multi-tasking.  I know generally in life we all have to do it…but I prefer to focus on one thing at a time.  If I am "multi-tasking" it's out of need, and I don't think I am as good at each particular job that gets done.   I focus better with only one job at a time.

So, rating myself: I give me a 3.   Here's how bad I am. I can not even read a book while listening to music or with the TV on.  I can not focus as well.  I also have been know to start a cleaning job, then move into another room…and get involved in something else. (Well, maybe that's more just to put off cleaning!)

7.  How would you summarize your highs and lows for the month of May? 

Lots of highs!!  Little lows.    Here's just a few of the "highs" this month:  Daughter #1 graduated from NC State Grad program.  2 weeks later she and her boyfriend got engaged!  Yesterday was my hubby and my 30th wedding anniversary!   We had celebrations for all of these events… plus, we celebrated my sis-in-law's birthday, and spent time on our boat…and enjoyed the beautiful weather we have now.   I have started adding more flowers to garden spots…and have golfed a little, read, etc.

May did not personally bring me any specific lows - so I thank God for that.

May has been a wonderful month!

8. My random thought. 

So, now I head into June.  It will be exciting too.  I leave next week for Nashville and the 5 day CMA Festival.   My daughter #2 and I are going to the CMT Award Show (televised live) the first evening we get there…then daughter #1 and her fiancĂ© will join us for the rest of the days.

I have wedding plans to start thinking about with daughter #1.   The two want to get married here at the beach - which I am certainly happy about!  Next April or May.  I have offered to search out reception spots for them.  They want something "rustic" vs.  "formal".  I'm with them on that… but it's a challenge.  We have some lovely plantations in this area that allow wedding receptions so I plan to research them.   I'm open to other ideas.  So, any of my local friends:  know of a place I should check out?

Have a great week all - as May comes to a close.   I'll see you here in June!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Do you live where you want to be?

Welcome to this week's Hodgepodge party.  Here are the questions with my answers.   Please leave a comment or answer them too.  It's a party!  Join in!

1.  Under what circumstances do you do your best thinking? 

I am a morning person so I think best early in the day.  And, truly, my best thinking often happens while I'm in the shower!  I have often run for pen and paper after getting out of the shower to write something down.

2.  Are you a risk taker?  What's one big risk you've taken? 

In general I am NOT a risk taker.  I live my life thinking that "everything in moderation" is a good way to go…  I don't want to miss out, but I also don't want to live in fear.   So somewhere in the middle is the way I try to be.   My biggest risk?  At the time I didn't think it was, but I guess when I think about how half of marriages fail, my biggest risk was marrying hubby after only dating a little less than a year.   We got engaged 5 months into dating.  If one of my daughters fell in love and got engaged that quickly I would certainly be concerned.   If my family or friends were worried about me marrying quickly they did not say anything to me. Thankfully it was a risk worth taking!!!

3.  Some of the most common phobias according to the National Institute of Mental Health are - fear of spiders, snakes, heights, fear of spaces from which escape is difficult, fear of thunder and lightening, fear of dogs, injections, social situations, flying, and fear of germs and dirt.   True phobias affect only 10% of adults, but of those listed which would you rate as your greatest fear? 

Absolutely snakes!  I know it's not rational but I am very fearful of snakes, big and small.  I remember being at a school assembly where a guy brought in reptiles and he had various snakes with him.  At one point during the assembly he carried a large snake up into the bleachers where the students were sitting.   Thankfully he didn't come up right where I was sitting but I was about ready to run out of the room.   It is a bad memory to this day.

I live in an area that has snakes.  It's warm and marshy here.  My house backs up to old rice fields and I know snakes live back there.  Occasionally one finds it's way into my yard.  We have had 3 come into the house!   I FREAK out!!  I run and get my hubby, or neighbor, or anyone else who can grab it (we use long bar-b-que tongs) and kill it.  My daughter's boyfriend had to do this when he first came to our house! ha!  What an introduction to the family.  

I put moth balls around the exterior foundation a few times a year because snakes don't like the smell….and I keep/feed 3 feral kitties outdoors to ward them away too.

As for other phobias:  I have experienced a mild fear of heights, of spaces difficult to escape, and flying.  Huh.  I think those go together, don't they?  

4.  Are you settled or do you feel the need to move somewhere new? 

I am totally settled here.  I do NOT want to move again.   Throughout my life, growing up and after getting married, I moved quite often.  Mostly they were career moves for my dad and my hubby.  I accepted all the moves and I really enjoyed living in different places, and learning about new areas.

But at the age I am now, I have found a place a really enjoy living in. I have written about this before, but I love the weather here and I love the natural beauty.  There's plenty to do. It's not overly crowded.  I have a church family and neighborhood friends.  It's all good!

5.  What is something you find annoying when dining in a restaurant? 

I think my biggest annoyance when eating out is when the noise level is so loud I can't hear people talking at my own table.   I prefer to go to restaurants that have a "low key" feel to them.   The place doesn't have to be fancy, but it's got to be quiet enough to sit and enjoy the company I am dining with.

6.  Daffodil yellow, sunset orange, spring green, or sky blue…   your favorite color this time of year? 

Here in the lowcountry we have beautiful "Carolina blue" skies!   Wide open skies with rarely a cloud.  It's just gorgeous!!

7.  If you were ever going to take a holiday all by yourself, where would you go? 

Interesting question.  Normally I like to vacation in a warm environment.  I love the beach (but live by it) and sitting alone for a few days would not be fun.  I think I would choose a holiday in a place with interesting sightseeing.  Some history.    Cruising is a great way to travel alone because you get the great weather, the places to explore, and people around you who are friendly and vacationing too.

8.  My random thought. 

I wrote a post yesterday about music.  Take a minute to read it if you have time.  It's right below this one.  I'm just wondering your thoughts.  What makes a memorable music experience for you? What is best "live" or recorded?    What music do you find a connection with these days?  

Whatever you like, make music a part of your daily life!   It will put a lift in your step!   Have a great week!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Is it live - or is it Memorex?

Remember the old commercial for audio tape called Memorex?   The announcer asked "is it live - or is it Memorex?"  He asked because the tape quality was considered so good the listener of music taped on Memorex tape could not tell. It sounded so perfect.  It sounded like a live performance.

Earlier this past weekend I had some interesting discussions with friends about music, including which is better : recorded vs. live performance.  And, last night I watched the Billboard Music Awards on TV, and so now I'm thinking about WHAT is it that makes music reach people…?  And I'm thinking about the difference between a "musician" and a "performer."   What makes you love a singer?

I realize everyone is unique, and different, and goes through life with ups and downs, and therefore the various genres in music are out there to experience at different times.  There is no one right kind of music.  It's emotional, it's personal, it's….    real.   Or, is it?

I have been wondering about techno and computer-generized music.  It found a home in music back in the 80's.  It has changed, evolved, and gotten twisted into music since then.  Last night during the awards show a hologram of Michael Jackson "played" on stage and it was touching,yes,  but also crazy, and perhaps a bit wrong.

In fact, most of the "musical performances" last night were more about the visual then the audio - and as I watched I questioned how singers can move, dance, fly around AND still sing.  Really?   I swear Shakira was lip-syncing…and she had a hard time singing both parts on the recording.  It was almost comical.  Did you notice?   Perhaps not - because she DOES have the hips and the sexy moves.  A beautiful face and gorgeous hair.   Lots of visuals were distracting from what she was singing.

Katy Perry flew.  J-Lo danced - a lot.   Even two of my favorite "country" singers, Miranda & Carrie, came on stage looking rock & roll-ish and sang a "non-country" song at a show put on by a music ranking company (Billboard) that labels them "country."  Seems nothing is predictable anymore.

I consider myself a "purist" when it comes to music.  I love the talent that a true singer and his instrument, often a guitar or piano, can bring - without studio fixing it, and without computer sounds and overdubs and other technical terms.

For me, a single performer who can hold a crowd alone is an awesome thing.   It's the best!   It's a beautiful moment in time.

There are certainly places where I love to dance, to "groove," to feel the strong beat.  (But don't laugh at me!! ha)   And, there are times I can even listen to a rapper (for a little while) and have fun.

But when I want to HEAR music, especially those who are supposed to be rated best in the genre,  I want to hear it "live" and to understand the words.    In fact I like to close my eyes and listen.   Try doing that at a concert now a days.

The funny thing is I LOVE LOVE LOVE a live concert…because that is when a true musician can shine!  That's when I can get completely moved by a performance - a song and it's lyrics.   An amazing voice.   There is a connection made.   It's REAL and it's the best!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More May moments and memories….

Welcome to this week's Hodgepodge questions and answers - in the merry, merry month of May!

1.  It's still May, right?  When were you last in the middle of something that might be described as mayhem?

Fortunately I do not get myself into situations where mayhem takes place.  I don't go shopping on Black Friday (no way, no ma'am) and in general I don't hang out in large crowds often.   Even the music concerts I go to are "low key" and friendly.  I love country music concerts because the crowds there are happy and it's a family environment.   All ages.  Courteous people for the most part.

2. When did you last feel dismayed? 

Last feel it?   Well I think I feel dismayed ALL the time when I think of our political system and the undermining that goes on in Congress, with lobbyists, etc.  It's so disheartening…

3.  What's a food combination you like, but other people may find strange?  

My mother used to make peanut butter, mayonnaise, and lettuce sandwiches for me as a kid - and it's still one of my favorite ways to eat peanut butter.  I think some people find that the combination is rather odd, but let me tell you, it's wonderful!  The mayo helps keep the pb from being too sticky and the lettuce adds some crunch.   Try it!!

4.  "It's never too late to be what you might have been."   Do you think that's true?  Why or why not? 

Absolutely!  Age is just a number!  It's never too late to pursue something you want to try, or to learn a new craft or technique.  A person should not live with regrets about not doing something earlier in their life. Do it now!

As I get into my "second half of life" I hope I can still stay active, and engaged - and I think to be that way I need to keep "current" with everything going on.  So, I need stay interested in what is going on in the world and right here at home.

5.  US News and World Report  listed the best historic destinations in the US as follows -  Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Williamsburg, VA, Charleston, SC, Boston, MA, Richmond, VA, Savannah, GA, Santa Fe, NM, Yellowstone, San Antonio, TX, San Francisco, CA, New Orleans, LA, and Charlottesville, VA.

Of the list how many have you seen in person?  Which TWO sites on the list would you most like to see in person? 

Places I have seen:    Washington, DC, Philadelphia, PA, Williamsburg, VA, Charleston, SC, Boston, MA, Richmond, VA, Savannah, GA, Santa Fe, NM, San Francisco, CA, and Charlottesville, VA.  

BUT - of this list I would certainly enjoy revisiting them ALL to see more, and to take in more of the history.  

Two I have not been to YET are San Antonio, TX and New Orleans, LA.   Maybe one day….

6.  May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you had to participate in a a single fitness activity for the next half hour, which activity would you choose? 

Does golf count as a physical activity?  ha!!  I think the way I play it does!  I get in a lot of swinging of the club (with my high score) which is good for the waist ( :   and I walk a lot on the golf course chasing that little white ball around!  

7.  What did you like best about the city, town, or neighborhood where you grew up? 

Well, I grew up in a couple of locations… but for this answer I will pick the town (Bucyrus, Ohio) I lived in from 7th grade through my junior year of high school. Those were years when I was given some freedom by my parents to walk around town with my friends.  We were fortunate to live in a small enough place that they didn't worry (or at least I didn't think they worried) about me being out - and they knew lots of people in town who were "keeping an eye on me."

I was the pastor's kid - so I was "known" for that.   I'm not complaining… and I never thought about it as a negative thing.     I had two best friends, and we three were known as "The Three Muskateers" among our classmates.  When you saw one of us, you saw all three!    Side note:  Even though I moved away before my senior year, I still get invited to the reunions and I just got my invitation for my 40th year reunion!  40 years!!!   Crazy!    I doubt I will go because I don't live in Ohio anymore -  although it would be fun.

8.  My random thought. 

Summertime is coming - and some days this week have felt like it is here in the low country!  The humidity is back, and the May flies are a bitin'!   I'm not complaining… I love the longer days of sunlight and I love walking outdoors without grabbing a jacket.  An evening warm breeze is the best!

I hope your weather is good for you too!  Happy mid-May!!!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Taking time to "stop and smell the roses."

I just read a blog written by an online friend called "Five Minutes of Grateful."  I like the title. And this morning, I am also thinking about how my niece is posting a picture every day on Facebook showing something she is grateful for in her life.  She has already remarked that this is "exercise" is making her look for the good in each day.  (I love that she is sharing her pictures and her happiness.  It makes me happy to see her happy!)

We all have people and things we are grateful for, and in general we are blessed with our day to day interactions. We have our physical needs met - and really have so much more.  But, if we don't "stop and smell the roses" and think about our blessings, I think they can go right on by unnoticed.

Taking the time to reflect, and to be happy about the small things, is a way to keep a positive mindset.  Even better is taking a few minutes each day to actually dig a bit deeper and express how the special moments make you feel. If you are a Christian like I am, then it's important to thank God for what He has given in his creation, and in His promise.

Yesterday was Mother's Day so many women in the world heard and felt the love from their children - or they themselves expressed love and admiration about their own mothers.   It's a wonderful day!  A day to reflect on the happy times growing up - about family life, a mother's tenderness, a listening ear, and a feeling of comfort.   It was heart-warming to read so many expressions yesterday on Facebook.

I had an especially wonderful weekend!  It was not just Mother's Day, but Friday was the graduation ceremony for my daughter and she received her Masters in Education.   She worked hard, taking classes, and student teaching,  all in a year.  We celebrated with her and honored her for achieving this moment after a pretty high-stressed year.

Some of the family and a few friends were with us and that made it extra special!  Others sent cards and posted lovely comments. 

Everyone traveled safely.  We ate well, we gave toasts, we laughed.   It was simply wonderful!

During our time together our daughter showed us around  campus and took us to a beautiful public rose garden tucked away near campus, off on a side street.  We walked through it and marveled at the beauty of that spot.  We "stopped and smelled the roses" together!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mother May I?

It's just a few days until Mother's Day, so in honor therefore our leader Joyce has come up with Hodgepodge questions that relate to mothers.   Check them out, and my answers.

1, Share something you appreciate (or something you appreciated as you were growing up) about your mother. 

My mother was a stay at home mother most of the years I was growing up.  I appreciated the fact that she was waiting at home to see me after each school day.  It wasn't that she had warm brownies waiting, or that she wanted to hear every detail of my day…it was more for me just the comfort in knowing she was home.  It was just a safe feeling and a good one knowing she was there.  I wasn't alone.

I also appreciated her devotion to her husband and to us kids.  She was involved with church activities and worked part-time a few times in her life, but she never placed more importance on anything she had to do outside of the family unit.

2.  A quote most commonly ascribed to Plato reads "Necessity is the mother of invention."  When did this last play out in your own experiences? 

I certainly understand plato's quote when it comes to needing to change to make things better for us all…such as:  how/why electricity was invented, how/why laws get enacted, and how/why safety guidelines are created for all people.  I'm having a tougher time seeing in my own life how I have needed to "invent" something to make my life easier, or safer.  I have always lived by the motto of "everything in moderation" and I am happy to go with what life offers without having to create something new.

3.  Share one of your earliest memories you have from childhood. 

Well, I can't recall memories as far back as my sister can!  She's the one that remembers more of our growing up years - she's older and I suppose that helps.  ( ;   But…one of my first memories was when I was 5 years old and went to kindergarten at Caledonia Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.  I remember my mother buying me a "mat" or more like a little rug for unrolling and for taking a nap on while in school. I think we had a ten minute "break" in the morning…and laid on our mats, couldn't talk,  and the teacher would turn off the overhead lights so we could just lay still and rest.

4. When did you last hit 'the mother lode' What was it? 

Tough question without getting all mushy and saying I hit the 'mother lode' when I married my hubby.   I got a wonderful man, friend, father, provider, who's smart and funny, good looking and loves me back.  That's definitely hitting the mother lode!

 5. What is/was your favorite dish mom made?  Do you make that dish for your family/friends now that you're all grown up? 

My mother had a few favorite dinner meals I enjoyed… pepper steak and rice, tuna casserole with potato chip crumbles, and apple dumplings. I have made the casserole dish, once or twice many years ago - it wasn't a big hit with my daughters.  I have not made the other two dinner dishes. I'm not much of a cook.

But, my family has passed down a sugar cookie recipe that I use each Christmas. I think it's from my Dad's side of the family, but my mother used the recipe as I was growing up.

6.  Mother may I? was at one time a popular children's game.  It required no equipment or parts to play.  What was your favorite childhood game when you could just turn up and play - no gear required? 

I think I played my share of "tag" as a kid….on our street where I lived in Cleveland Heights, and also when we visited my grandparents in Anna, Ohio. It was a rural area and we would play "tag" with our cousins.

7.  Which TV mom (past or present) is your favorite?  And why? 

I tend to enjoy watching the funny TV moms… perhaps because I am able to relate to some of the crazy things that happen in their families and I enjoy the humor in dealing with life.  So, I like the mom Patricia Heaton plays on "The Middle" and Julie Bowen's mom character on "Modern Family."  I even love Julia Louis-Dreyfas as a neurotic mom in "The New Life of the Old Christine."

8.  My random thought. 

I still feel strange when I go into a drug store or into a Hallmark store this time of year, when the Mother's Day cards are in the racks… knowing that I don't have a living mom to send a care to.  It's been 10 years,  but yet, when this time of year comes around it hits and it makes me think about that circle of life.  Now, I am the mom…and one day may (hopefully) be a grand mom.

It's an odd feeling to see how time marches on, and to know that both my mother and my mother-in-law are gone, and that I AM NOW the generation responsible…the one to make the holiday plans and to organize family get-togethers, etc.   It truly is a circle of life!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Good Ole Boys Club

I try to use my blog for fun, and I also sometimes use it for serious topics.  So, this blog post is about the serious subject of racism that has reared its ugly head up again with the taped audio coming out of a conversation with the Clippers basketball owner Donald Sterling and his….   what is she?   girlfriend?   gold-digger?  I mean, come on now… I'm a 50 something woman and there is nothing interesting about Mr. Sterling but his money.   So, you decide what she is.

But, that's not my reason for typing today.  I have been thinking about how people associated with Mr. Sterling are now saying that they knew he was a racist for years and that he was a terrible "slumlord" and made loads of money being one.  He then took a chunk of his money and bought a professional basketball team where a majority of players are African-American.  Perhaps a power move on his part?   I don't know, and I am certainly not here to tell you to feel sorry for the guy.  He seems to have gotten away with unethical dealings for years…and has had a racial bias all his life.  "Allegedly"…  no lawsuit please.

My post today is more about the old way of thinking and the "good ole boys club" that is still strong and alive in America.  Donald Sterling is a card-carrying member of that club.  It worked for him for all his life - until now.   Funny - He has been caught by the use of today's modern electronic world - and speaking when he should have said nothing.   Men of his era, with that pompous style, don't realize just how they can go down.  They think they are better, richer, and infallible.

But, you do know, had he stayed silent, had he not blabbed to the woman who released the tape, he still would have been the same man, and felt whatever he feels about people who are "different" from him.  I think it's unreal for us to think he can change.   And, today, after his NBA judgement came down - strong and right that it is - he is still the same man.  Mr. Sterling will not be changed by being banned from basketball.  

BUT…he was used as an EXAMPLE that being in the "good ole boys club" will not work anymore.   Not in today's world.  He was admonished for thinking he could be in charge of other people and not think of them with respect, as equal human beings.    No, he will not change.   He is one of those… born & raised with a bias, with an attitude, and a sense of being better, and having an ego a mile high.  He is one of his generation - and he will be the same until he dies.

Other men with the same mindset, the same psyche, can be found in all areas of this country… in all types of work, and need I even say politics??    Hello! ?

But, thankfully, with each new generation I hope/pray/think I see a change for acceptance of everyone of every type and color and belief.  Our kids are smarter than us about it!   We can actually learn from them.   They give me hope!  They are open to all and accepting without prejudice (unless their parents teach them differently….)

Truly….    in a generation or two, I think the "good ole boys club" will be gone.