Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Let the sun shine!

Up until a couple of days ago we had beating sun here day after day, and we badly needed some rain.   Thankfully, in the last few days we have had some storms come through with heavy rainfall.  It was a relief.  But, this week's Hodgepodge questions emphasize the sun and what we love about summertime.   So, read on…

1.  What summer activity most takes you back to your childhood? 

This is an easy answer for me because each summer my family gathers for a week at a chatauqua town in Ohio, called Lakeside.  It's on Lake Erie, near Cedar Point.  It's a religious retreat, a family place, and a step back in time and away from the modern world.   I have been going there each and every summer since I was a young child (I think I missed a few years when I lived in California, but that was it).  

As a child my parents took us and we stayed with my grandmother, and aunts, and cousins - all in one rented house.  For awhile we stayed in the campground area with a trailer.   When I was in high school my parents bought a lot there and built a cottage.  In recent years we have rented an additional cottage or two to house all the relatives that come for the week together.

I will be heading up that way in the middle of July.  The tradition continues.

2.  What's your favorite summer smell? 

Interesting question….  but I'm not sure I have a favorite summer smell.  For one thing I am a person with constant allergy issues, so my sense of smell is diminished by a clogged nose most of the time.  Also, I love being outdoors.  I love looking at the beach, and the rivers around here - and the gorgeous flowers; I love feeling the summer breeze;  I love listening to the birds singing!   My other senses love summertime!  My sense of smell?  It's weak.

3.  It's beach season in the US of A….  so how do you feel about sand? 

I love a beautiful beach!  I am fortunate to live by one.  Here's my little PSA for everyone:  if you go to a beach, please please please pick up your trash!  Fill in holes you have made!  I walk the beach early every Monday morning in the summer as part of SCUTE (South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts). We look for loggerhead mama tracks from the ocean on to the beach, and for her nest of eggs she has laid.  We then cover it with netting to keep people & birds away, and mark it off so people don't walk over it.  We monitor the nest & help with the hatchlings when they arrive.   So many times vacationers leave huge holes which impede the turtles from getting near the dunes where they like to lay the eggs, and the babies from making their way back to the ocean.  (Plus morning walkers can twist an ankle stepping in the holes.)     Most of the time I am picking up trash too…   and it can be disgusting.

As for sand itself… I like walking on sand!!! I don't particularly like it in my car but it's what happens when you live at the beach.

4.  Sun tea, SunChips, sunflower seeds, Capri Sun, Sunny Delight, Sun-maid raisins, sun-dried tomatoes…   your favorite food or beverage with sun in it's name? 

I guess I have to go with the shriveled up food:  the raisins and the tomatoes!    ha!  I love them both on salads!

5.  What's your favorite way to cool off on a hot summer day? 

Besides going in somewhere with AC?  Or taking a shower?  lol     I have said before that I love boating. I also like a dip in the pool, even though I don't get there often. We have a community pool and I really need to take better advantage of it!!  Maybe today….

6.  Share a favorite song with the word sun or sunshine in it's title.  

"When the Sun Goes Down" - Kenny Chesney

And of course….     "Sunshine on my Shoulders" - John Denver

7.  Tell us about a time you had an exceedingly good, or truly awful customer service experience.  If it was awful, did you report it?  Ever go back there again? 

Let's see.  I will say that almost all my experiences person-to-person have been good.  I live in the south and I do find a bit more "pleasantry" among people here.   Just yesterday I took my Honda in for maintenance work and everyone there was kind, and the work was done in an efficient time.  Most southerners take a moment to chat or to say a pleasantry…and I think it goes a long way.

My worst customer experiences have usually been on the phone.  First, I get the automated system (which is SO impersonable), and then I get put on hold for ever…  and I know many of the call centers are in foreign countries.  Sometimes the dialects or accents are hard to understand.    

I was trying to think of one particular company that is annoying, and I immediately thought of Time Warner Cable.  But, I will say that one time when I called them after finding my TV sets without the main box connected to it got limited channels, the gentleman was empathetic and listened to me complain.  Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do for me.

8.  My random thought for today!

My hubby was involved in a car accident Sunday afternoon. It was not his fault. He was minding his own business, going through a green light, and a guy turned left, crossing his path, and smacked right into him.   Thankfully neither of them were injured, but our truck sustained a lot of front damage and we are waiting to hear if it's fixable or totaled.   The guy who ran into my hubby was handcuffed and taken in for a breathalyzer test, then booked.   He was extremely sorry - and apologized over and over to hubby at the scene.   We both felt so sorry for the guy…  because he screwed up, and now he has to pay the price.  

Like I said nobody got hurt - so he was fortunate about that.  And, had hubby gotten hurt maybe we would not be so forgiving.  I don't know.   We all make mistakes and I hope this one is a wake-up call for the guy.

Be safe out there everyone!  Have a GREAT week!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Our Hodgepodge leader Joyce has returned from her vacation and is back with a new list of questions for this week.  Below are her questions, and my answers.  Play along!   Answer them too!

1.  Since you weren't Hodgepodging last Wednesday, how did you pass the time? 

I'm thinking back to what I did last Wednesday.  I had just returned from my Nashville trip (see blog post below this one) so I think I was doing laundry, and just catching up on things here at home.  I brought back with me a little cold so I was trying to take care of it…although as colds go it needed to run it's course anyway.  I still have the last remnants of it.

2.  What's the first word that comes to mind when I say marriage?  Yes - one word. 


3.  Summer officially arrives later this week.  Does it feel like summer where you live?  Describe your idea of the perfect summer day. 

Oh - yes, summer has arrived here in the low country of South Carolina!  We have hot and humid afternoons, and balmy evenings.  It's been a continuation of a strange weather pattern. First, the unusually cold winter here, and now the heat has come earlier than usual.  Many say it feels like August!  We haven't had enough rain…  and I'm concerned that all of this may lead to a more active hurricane season.  I hope I'm wrong.

My perfect summer day?   During the day I would either be on the boat with my hubby exploring nature around these parts - or with him on the golf course.  The day would finish with a nice cookout on our deck and a glass (or two) of wine.    Ahhhhh….  

4.  "Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." (Sam Keen)  Is laziness respectable?  Do you have a lazy summer planned, or something semi-ambitious? 

First, I must quote a Jackson Browne song:   Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time!  So, if being "idle" or doing something easy, or doing nothing at all, is good for the soul…it's fine.  We all need to stop and chill - and reflect.  We need to give ourselves a break.      Unfortunately, in this fast-paced society the word "lazy" has only a bad connotation.   It's definitely a political "hot" word.  Used about politicians - and used BY politicians and others about the poor and needy.      

Do I have a lazy summer planned?  I am blessed in my life that I can make many choices on how to spend my days.  I enjoy a bit of "wasting time" for my soul…and I think it helps keep me sane.  I know what pace I like.     But, when summer comes around I find plenty to do - and enjoy!  So, I'm not lazy.  In fact last summer I never once made it to my community pool to sit and read, and I hope to get there this summer.  I love summer activities in general.  I love being outdoors everyday.  I love the music concerts that happen in summer.  I love the family gatherings that are annual summer events.  So, lazy? No.

5.  Past or present, what's your favorite television dad?  Why is he a favorite?  Is he anything like your own dad? 

I love Phil on "Modern Family," played by Ty Burrell.  He's a goofy, fun-loving, interactive dad.  He loves his wife and kids.  He's certainly NOT perfect, but he's very endearing.   I also loved Ray on "Everybody Loves Raymond" - probably for the same reasons.   Both funny guys, with sweet, caring  hearts.

My dad?  He has a sense of humor - and as a kid growing up I definitely enjoyed it at times!   He made others happy around him.   I never questioned his love for my mom and family.   He was not demonstrative about it, as the TV dads are.   But, yes, I see some similarities.

6.  June 18th is International Picnic Day… share a favorite picnic memory. 

First off, I must say I am not a picnic fan.  Why?   It takes planning, and preparation, and often the result is not that spectacular.  I prefer a restaurant meal.  Nothing fancy. But I like to sit at a table, and not worry about bugs, rain, and the like.   I have not gone on a picnic in years - and years.    Thinking back though I do remember the annual church picnics I attended that were "all afternoon" events.  There were games that made it fun.  Remember potato sack races?   Running with an egg on a spoon?   Playing softball?   As a kid they were fun - but then, I didn't have to do any of the preparing for it!

7.  The travel site Trip Advisor lists the top five islands in the world for 2014 as - Ambergris Caye in Belize Cayes, Providenciales in Turks & Caicos, Bora Bora in French Polynsia, Marco Island Florida, and Lewis & Harris in the Outer Hebrides (Scotland.)  Have you been to any of these?  Of those listed (and if price were not a factor) which would you most like to book for a holiday? 

One of the top five beaches is in Scotland?  I'm surprised!  I knew Scotland was known for beauty but never thought it had such a great beach.  Now I need to google it and take a look!    I have never been to any of the world's top beaches for this year.  I live at the beach and I suppose when I go traveling I look for other things to do, and explore.   I have been to Belize - and Florida - but not to the beaches listed.

Which would I like to see?   Oh, probably Bora Bora in French Polynsia.  It sounds so exotic!  Pictures I have seen of it look gorgeous!   But it sure is a long, long way away!  

8.  My random thought. 

Perhaps too serious to end on, but I am so sad and concerned about the mess over in Iraq again.   I do NOT want American intervention if at all possible.   But, I feel so bad for those innocent people who live there and are now going through another nightmare.  And I feel for the Iraqi soldiers that the US trained, but have been taken over, and killed.   War is hell on earth.        Why can't we learn to co-exist?  (I love the bumpersticker!)  And why can't there ever be peace on earth??  

I think back to my daughter and her 2nd grade class (many years ago) singing "Let there be peace on Earth - and let it begin with Me" at the school program. Each child held up a flag from a different nation of the world as they sang the song.  Sweet, innocent children…    it was beautiful.  It made me cry.

Sorry.  Heavy…       Ok.  Back to "summertime - where the living is easy!"    

Have a good week everyone!!  

Friday, June 13, 2014

How I have started my summer!

So, how's your summer going so far?

Mine is off to a great start - and perhaps this post should be divided into two, because I want to tell you about both the CMA Festival and the wedding plans to this point.  I guess I'll just split it up… and start off with my time in Nashville:

Last week I attended the 2014 CMA Festival in Nashville, and for those who are unaware of it, here's a bit of background.  It started many years ago and was called "Fan Fair" and was a time when country music performers "gave back" to their most loyal fans by having concerts and "meet and greets."   It still is for the fans but the name has changed and each year it seems the festival gets larger and makes some good & a few bad changes.  Mostly good - because really, it still is ALL for the fans.

The artists do not get paid to perform, or to sign autographs, hold fan club parties, get pictures taken, etc.  (I'm not sure how it works with all the roadies and backup bands - I"m hoping the "star" pays them.)   Each night of the 4 day festival the big names come out on the stage at LP Field (where the football Titans play) and do half hour to 40 minute sets.  They usually play and sing the current song on the radio and then some of the crowd favorites - because, once again, it's ALL for the fans.

During the day there are 4 or 5 other stages around "lower Broadway" where the up-and-comers, and the oldies-but-goodies play to the crowds.  4 blocks of lower Broadway are blocked off for only walking, and many exhibits, concessions, etc. are set up for the fans.  Many of them give away free items - because it's all for the fans!

The Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame is a few blocks away.  And, the convention center's big exhibition hall is also filled with more exhibits, and merchandise that is country music related…and games, and a children's area.  Many of the "meet and greets" take place there.

So - anyway - this gives you an idea of what ALL there is to do.  Plus, add in the honky tonks up and down Broadway and each has great live music, and all the wonderful restaurants in walking distance…   it's a morning-to-night party for the fans!  

This was my 4th year going.  Each time I have experienced some new things.  I was able to make the "random drawing" for an intimate concert setting with Dustin Lynch.  I also signed up to attend an autograph session with Crystal Gayle.

Special highlights this year:  I spent the time with both my daughters and with daughter1's fiancé.  It was wonderful to share the experience, especially with family who enjoy the same music!   I heard some new performers that I now follow… like southern rockers the Three Cadillacs.   I attended a QandA and acoustic set with Lady Antebellum.   Last year I went to Scotty McCreery's fan party. It's always good to pick a couple of "smaller venue" events to get a bit up close and personal.

This year the powers of the CMA Fest got wiser and did not include any non-country performers on the LP FIeld stage.  They made a big mistake doing that last year with Lenny Kravitz.  They also didn't "waste time" with taping intros, etc. for the TV Special that will come from the festival.   I also loved the new phone app this year because it helped us know who was playing when and where.  The night we had storms it sent out alerts as to when music would start up again.

I came home tired, and even caught a cold from wearing myself out.  But, it's still worth it!!   As I type this post, just a week after being home, I am already thinking about buying my tickets for next year's festival!  If you are thinking of going, let me tell you that country music fans come in all ages, sizes, colors, etc. and are pretty laid back and want to enjoy the music.  In 4 years I have never seen a fight. I have met nice people from all over. The people sitting next to us in LP Field were a family that traveled from Australia!!  I suggest to stay in a downtown hotel - although shuttles are included for fans that stay out by the new Grand Ole Opry.  

Okay.  On to subject 2:  Daughter Lauren's wedding to Ryan!!  A date is picked - April 25th, 2015.  A venue has been chosen:  the Greenfield Plantation, outside of Georgetown (SC).  So…now starts the many other selections… caterer, music, dresses, etc.      It's a long list!

Pinterest has become fun to check out for ideas - and to share them with the bride-to-be.   She and I are in agreement with everything so far.  I know weddings can be stressful.   So, I'm hoping we get through the coming months without too much stress, or disagreements, or just getting totally frazzled.  I have started a "master file folder" system and plan on co-ordinating it - with the bride & groom's approval on everything of course!    Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Going on a field trip - and a music trip!

I'm trying to squeeze my Hodgepodge answers in this week before heading to Nashville.  "It's a crazy town, full of neon dreams - where everyone plays and everyone sings.  It's Hollywood with a bit of twang!" And I'm a coming!          So, here they are this week's questions and my answers.

1.  I've read several posts and status updates recently describing end of the year school field trips.  Do you remember taking school field trips as a kid?  Where did you go and do you recall a favorite?  For any parents responding today, have you chaperoned a school field trip, and if so where? 

I only remember two field trips for education, and one band trip, as a student.  When I was young (must have been 5th or 6th grade) and I went to Caledonia Elementary School in Cleveland Heights we went to the Cleveland Museum of Art.  I remember really enjoying it. I've always loved art.   Then in high school in Bucyrus, Ohio we went on a bus trip down to Columbus to an afternoon showing of "Fiddler on the Roof" when it was first released.   The Bucyrus High SChool Marching Band went to the Indy 500 one May (1973?) and marched in the parade downtown, and then around the huge track as part of the pre-race activities.

As a parent I went on a few field trips. I was a chaperone when my 8th grader went to Williamsburg, VA - from Sparta, NJ.  I think it was a 3 day adventure.  I had a good time!  When both my girls were in high school I went on several band and orchestra trips - a couple of times to competition in Allentown, PA followed by an afternoon at Dorney Park.  And once we went to Cleveland (from NJ) to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  The two biggest/best trips were when my girls were in the Sussex County Youth Orchestra and we went to Europe for a musical performing and learning experience.  I got to go along, and play my flute as well, and we performed in Paris, Venice, Munich,  Brattenburg,  Lucerne, and more.  Both trips were awesome!  It was put together by a tour company that specialized in musical groups and sightseeing.

2.  What's something you're tired of seeing online? 

I may offend this person, and if so I'm sorry… but I have a friend who puts nothing up on Facebook but dog cruelty pictures and stories.  She's a show dog person and a lover of all animals.  So, I get that she is deeply disturbed by animals being hurt, shot, etc.  I am too.  But, it's so sad… and she never balances her page with upbeat posts.  I have thought about "de-friending" her but haven't.

 3.  June is the month for roses.  Which of the following expressions would you say has been most recently applied to your life:  'everything's coming up roses,' 'there's no rose without a thorn,' 'came out smelling like a rose,' or 'wearing rose-colored glasses.' 

Interesting…   most times I would answer 'wearing rose-colored glasses' because I have been told on more than one occasion that I see life that way.  That I look at life "unrealistically" and have a vision and hope for people to act in ways they won't, or have things turn out in ways they can't.    But, with all the good news recently I will say 'everything's coming up roses.'   What good news?   Well my daughter1 just got engaged two weeks ago and we are excited for her - and her fiancé (we love him) and wish them the best!  We are in "wedding planning mode" now.  See my post before this one.  I'm sure you will hear more on this in coming months.  She is the same daughter that recently got her Masters in Education.    I also am heading out to Nashville tomorrow and meeting up with both daughters and the new fiancé for 4 days of great live country music at the CMA Festival.       Ahhh….    it's all rosy!!!

4.  When grilling outdoors do you prefer gas or charcoal?  Who does the grilling at your house?  What's the last thing that was cooked on a grill? 

We have a propane gas grill AND a large fire pit where we can cook over wood logs.  I prefer meat cooked over the wood… but, both are yummy.  The last thing prepared was just the other night when hubby grilled some chicken kabobs for us for dinner.  He's the griller. I'm the "side dish" chef.

5.  Are you afraid of the dark?

I am not afraid of the dark in the sense that I think bad things stir in the night, or that the bogey man will get me while I sleep.  I am a bit fearful driving in the dark because I don't see as well then - and I worry about deer jumping out in front of me.    I love some night sounds…  we have an owl that visits sometimes and I love to hear him "whoooo".  I love a thundershower at night too.

6.  Share a favorite song with a number in it's title. 

First song that popped into my mind "867-5309…"   by Tommy Tutone.    A favorite country song: a song by Dierks Bentley called  "5 -1 -5 -0".

7.  "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."  (C.G. Jung) Do you agree?  Why or why not? 

Absolutely agree.  Because by taking time to think about what actions others do that cause a reaction to me gives me a choice.  I ask myself:  Do I continue to be annoyed by it?  What is it that makes it annoying?  Why do I let it bother me?  And…  I often ask "What would Jesus do?"  More often than not Jesus would pray for the people, love them anyway, and try to help if possible.    Dang - Jesus is a good role model!!  ( :

8. My random thought.

Time to finish running errands and packing.  I'm SO excited about spending the next week with my daughters & future SIL in "Music City - Nashville, Tennessee!"    By the way, I don't worry about telling people I'll be gone - because hubby is staying home, working, taking care of the pugs and the kitties - and watering, and doing a few "handyman chores."    What a guy!

Have a great two weeks everyone!  Joyce is "taking a break" next week. Well deserved.   The Hodgepodge will resume later in June.    Take care everyone!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mother of the Bride

Today at my chiropractor's office the ladies who work there called me "the mother of the bride" as I left after my adjustment.  "See ya next time 'Mother of the bride!' they said.   I had spent the half hour before telling them that my daughter1 had just gotten engaged and how excited we all were for her and her new fiancé.  We talked about how important it is to find the reception spot first, and then from there to pick the date…and that gets the ball rolling for everything else.

 Well, we got the place and we got the date.  So charge ahead!

I have been so very happy for daughter1 and her boyfriend since hearing they plan on marrying!  I have already gotten into the "wedding mode"…  I'm now always on the look out for an idea, or a great favor gift, or something cute to do at the reception.  I want to find something really special - and perhaps, unique for their big day.

But, I must tell you as I was walking to my car after leaving the chiropractor's office I thought about how I heard myself being called "Mother of the bride."   It stopped me in my tracks for a minute - it was a bit eerie to hear.  Who?  Me?     All of a sudden images of old women in conservative dresses popped into my head.  I thought of dowdy outfits, and little cotton handkerchiefs, and glued on smiles…    and somehow a women from the 1950's was my image of "the mother of the bride."

So, please help me out:  who is today's "mother of the bride"?  I know I am not as young as some mothers of the brides out there, but yet I still feel that I am, and I feel like I can be fashionable and wear my hair down.  I'm not frumpy.  

 I do not want to ACT overbearing and I do not want to be become all crazy over the upcoming event.  We have months to go before the wedding.  It's plenty of time to get everything selected, to make lists, to get items ordered, pick dresses, order the cake, the food menu, the flowers etc.  It's also plenty of time to go a bit nuts with it all.   I think about movies about weddings… and how things get out of control in them.  Sometimes it is funny - but sometimes it can be disastrous.

So, today I am still working on being the "Mother of the bride" and what I want it to be.  I know that I WANT my role to be:   one that's coming from total love, giving absolute support, giving encouragement, offering suggestions, and making sure the wedding is what daughter1 and fiancé want.

I want to keep a proper perspective.  I want to pace myself through the coming months.  And then, most of all I want to enjoy the special day!   So, if you see me going "astray" please grab me and shake me a little!  I may need it.

I have had 28 years of getting the role of "mother" down.      Now I have to accept and appreciate my new title as….. "mother of the bride."