Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Leaves fall, like sand through the hour glass….

Another month come and gone…  and this week's Hodgepodge asks questions about the good and the bad of September running out of time.    Read on.  Feel free to respond.

1.  Are the leaves turning color where you live?  Have they begun to fall?  Will you have to rake when it's all said and done?  Is that a chore you love or loathe? 

Here in my little part of the world we do not have a lot of maple trees so we don't see the majestic colors that come with sunny days and cold nights.   We get some leaves falling, yes, but not as many as other areas.  Right now the acorns are dropping from the mighty oaks.  Sometimes it's like rain, and I swear the squirrels enjoy aiming them at passer-bys!

Raking?  There will come a time later in fall when some raking is required.  Sometimes I prefer to get the blower out instead.   We have a river house with tall pines around it and they drop a ton of pine needles as they prepare for winter.  So, I rake them up and put them in bedding areas.

I love doing any outdoors work… so raking and blowing are activities I enjoy.

2.  When did you last shake like a leaf? 

When it comes to fear, it's been a long time because I don't put my self in situations that frighten me.

Oh,  I will say I have been known to 'shake like a leaf' when I'm really cold.  My body doesn't like cold weather.

3.  After 20 season with the New York Yankees, Derek Jeter played his last official game Sunday afternoon.  Jeter has been described as a 'class act', both on and off the field.  The NFL is back in action this month too, with several players in that sport making the headlines.  What are your thoughts on athletes as role models?  Should a professional athlete be expected to act as a role model or is that going beyond their job description?  What responsibility do the organizations these athletes work for have when it comes to dealing with off field behavior?  Discuss. 

Well, I could write a long post on this subject but I will try to keep it short for the Hodgepodge.  First,  I think everyone, an athlete or someone in any other profession, should do their best to live their lives as a role model to young people.  We all have a responsibility to our youth. And, if we are Christians we  have rules to follow and are told "to love each other as ourselves."  We do this in response to the graceful love of God.

There is a difference between being a role model and being a "hero"…  and many athletes fall short on that term.   I admire Derek Jeter, and Cal Ripken Jr., and Drew Brees, and…  the list can go on and on. There are many wonderful athletes who behave, who give back, who keep their heads on straight.   Unfortunately, the ones who don't are the ones who make the headlines.   If these players were in another line of work, the behavior would not be front page news.   So, it's not fair to them too I suppose.  But, working in a high recognition field puts them out there.  They sign up for it!

I am a bit confused on where I come down on how organizations should handle off field behavior.   If it comes out as fact that a player has broken a law, then management must respond and let the justice system take over.  If it's "antics" that are unbecoming, but during off hours, I think organizations can certainly talk with the player.  I suppose it depends on what was in the contract from the "git go".   If a player signs a contract about bad behavior then they must face the consequences.

4.  What season of the year is toughest for you in terms of your health?  Why? 

As I mentioned in Question #2, my body does not like cold weather!  So, I can definitely say winter is my worst season in terms of my health.  I tend to stay indoors because it's cold, so I do not get as much physical activity. (No gardening, walking, golfing, etc.)   I am more likely to catch a cold during winter.  Again… indoors with others, heat on, blowing & spreading germs.   I also suffer from light deprivation.  I need sunshine and long days!

5.  The top six healthy food trends of 2014 according to 'Eating Well' are - 

*Clean eating  (more vegetables, less meat sodium, limit alcohol and processed food)
*Trash fish  (you know those fish that get caught in fishermen nets and are thrown back?  Chefs are finding creative ways to make them more appetizing.)
*Cauliflower  (this year's 'it' vegetable)
*Kaniwa  (essentially baby quinoa)
*Fermentation  (think pickling with twists on flavor we're not accustomed to.)
*Community supported food (farms operated with community support/membership.)

Okay - so how many of the hot healthy food trends of 2014 have you experienced, encountered, enjoyed?  Any you've tried and said ew?  Any on the list you'd like to try before year's end? 

First let me say, I am NOT a "foodie" so I don't care much about trends and trying new things just for the sake of trying them.     Of the list above, I think I may follow the "clean eating" way to healthy food.  I prefer less processed food in general…    but limit my wine?   ha!   NO!!!!  

Of the other trends on the above list, I have just discovered quinoa on salads…  so I'm late to that one.   I've never been a big fan of cauliflower. I'd much rather have a green vegetable.   I'm allergic to seafood so I can't eat good fish or trash fish.  And, I like my wine fermented - not my food!

6.  In seven words or less, bid September adieu. 

Please don't leave yet.

7.  What's something on your October calendar that makes you happy just thinking about it? 

Scroll down and read my post before this one and you will see that I am working on focusing on the good things that come in fall and winter because of my answers to #4.     Specifically in October I am looking forward to attending the wedding of one of my daughters's childhood friends.   She is getting married mid-October at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, an absolutely beautiful spot!

This friend was practically part of our family when we lived in Sparta, NJ.  My daughter and she were best friends all through grade school and beyond.  She spent many hours at our house…and came along on family vacations.   It will be lovely to see her get married, all grown up, so beautiful!  

She is marrying a guy from Charleston so they decided to have the wedding down here….yeah!

And, because I am helping to plan my own daughter's April wedding it will be fun to experience a ceremony and reception to see what special things will happen.  I'm in that "wedding planner" mode.

8.  My random thought.  

My hubby is turning 60 years old on Saturday.  He does NOT want any hoopla, but we are having a family get-together and I have a couple of surprises up my sleeve.  I can't let the occasion go by without saying that it is amazing how when we met and married, and we knew it was "til death do us part" but still old age seemed so far away!   As Kenny Chesney sings "Don't blink"  because just like that time goes by and here we are.   As the song says we "turned into Mom and Dad, and watched our babies grow", and…as much as we'd like "to flip over the hourglass and start again"… we can only "take every breath God gives us for what it's worth."

Make your breaths count!  Have a GREAT day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

I'm grateful.

You know how some people on Facebook have been listing things they are grateful for?  It's another of the little games going around among friends.  I have not made a list on Facebook but I think this morning is a good time for me to start one here…


I'm moving into my time of struggle when the days get shorter, the nights longer.  The days are getting cooler now. The nights chilly.  The acorns have started to drop off the oak trees around here and soon the leaves will be falling too.  My garden will get messy, and some plants will look dead.   Soon I have to put my shorts and flip-flops away.  I'll have to "bundle up."

 It's that time of year when I really try and focus about what is right about the holidays coming up, and what's wrong with how society sensationalizes them with all the ads and "must buys."   I worry about expectations and disappointments.  I stress about buying gifts and doing the right thing to please everyone.

I know….   "To everything there is a season."   I know that.  You can't have spring without fall - but I'd rather just slide on past winter completely.   (Hubby and I joke about moving to Key West, but this time of year is when I think about it maybe a little seriously.)

So:  Making a list of things I am grateful for will help me keep my head in the right place and will help me see all (and I mean ALL) life offers for me.  It's endless.  But,  here's a partial list of things I am grateful for.  I plan on reviewing this list in the coming months… to reflect and help me stay "up" and to add to it.  I know my life is abundant with blessings and I am very fortunate.  Sometimes I just need to remind myself.

I am grateful for…

* My husband who is sincere in his love for me and his love of our daughters.  He's smart, funny, and a provider.  He's my best friend. He's everything a wife could want, and a wonderful role model for what a daddy should be.  He's an excellent example for young men.  

* My two daughters are the joy of my life!   They are caring, sweet, hard-working women now… thoughtful and fun.   I truly enjoy their company and love sharing time with them when I get the chance.

*  A physical home beyond my dreams.  It's not a mansion (and, really I would not want one.  Too many bathrooms to clean) but it's certainly a lovely place to live!

* Caring family and friends who are real.  Everyone needs a few that will "tell it like it is" and still love you.

* So, this list is not in the right order…    God.  God should be first.   I have a belief AND a faith in God and it has gotten me through some difficult times. But, it has also made my highs higher… and given me a comfort, and acceptance, and stillness when needed.  

On to the minor things, but things that give me daily happiness…

* Cafe Francais coffee and peanut butter sandwiches.  I start almost every morning with them.   (Don't judge me….ha!)

*  Facebook and it's ability to keep in touch and share with others. So many people express fear of it, but I have found FB to be a wonderful place to find family & friends, to share experiences, to send out affirmations (Lauren Brown - I love yours every morning).   Also this blog that has given me a place to express myself.

*  Music!  My life would be drab without it.  I love listening to music, and I love my "average ability" (but I'm okay with it) to play flute.  I have such special moments at concerts!

* I can't forget my pugs!  They are my babies - and each day they love me unconditionally.   Pets are God's gift to people.

* Loaded nachos.   I don't have them very often but I do love, love, love them!

* Crosswords.  I'm addicted and try my hand (and brain) at them every day.   The same goes with Words With Friends.  I enjoy the games immensely - and at the same time I hope I am keeping my brain from turning to mush…  there are some times I worry.

* Which makes me think…My health!  And, yes, this is not a minor thing to be grateful for!  I take it for granted I realize and I need to take better care of myself.  But, I am so fortunate to be this age without having any serious afflictions.     (How did I get to this age??)

* "The Good News at Noon" Bible Study.   Each and every Tuesday is interesting, thought provoking, and fun.

* Reading.  Back in NJ I started continual book reading when I was driving my girls here and there for practice, lessons, etc.  and sat in my car often.   Since then I always have a book to read.  I have belonged to several Book Clubs.  I love the interaction and discussions at Book Club meetings.

I'll stop for now.  But, my list will go on!  I will return to it.   I have so much to be grateful for….   and "but for the grace of God go I."   Really!!!

So….  my seasonal and weather issues, I'm not going to let you get me down!   I'm going to "try" and keep positive!   I have so many things to be grateful for!      To be continued….

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Welcome to Fall...

It's Tuesday, and it's the official first full day of Autumn, also called Fall… so our leader, Joyce, has given us questions about this time of year, and questions using the word "fall."   Play along… and fall in love with the Hodgepodge like I have!

1.  It's Fall. Y'all!  My favorite season of the year!  What's something you love to do this time of year that makes you feel it's officially Fall?  And unrelated to that, do you ever say y'all?

To clarify things, this is Joyce's favorite time of the year!  It's not mine…. and for those that know me, or have read some posts from way back when, you know I struggle with Fall and winter.  I'm a warm weather person.  I like summer activities vs. winter ones.  I start feeling holiday stress in the Fall… and sometimes would prefer to just slide right over November, December, and for that matter January and February.    Sad but true.

So, it's important for my sanity to think of the good things of this time of year, and to enjoy them.  So, thanks for the question Joyce.  Here are things that I do enjoy and that make it officially Fall.  Football. Less humidity.     2 things - ha!  Better than nothing.  

As for saying "y'all" - yes I do!  I live in South Carolina and it is common here!  Y'all know it's friendly, and inclusive…. and southern!

2.  When did you last have a falling out with someone?   Has it been resolved. 

I rarely have a falling out.  Thankfully.   I hate to even think of the ones I have had in the past because it's not important anymore, and I have done my best to forgive and move on.  

3.  A song you love with the word fall in it's title? 

Right off the bat I am thinking of "The Boys of Fall" by Kenny Chesney.   It's a song he wrote about his love of football.  It's a great video too so if you haven't seen it, look it up.   If you are a football fan, you will love this video!

4.  What's something you've recently let fall by the wayside? 

Oh dear…   the answer to this question is regular exercising.   I need to get back into it - especially since colder weather is upon us and I don't do as much outdoors to keep myself active.   I need to get back into aerobic exercise (treadmilling)  AND some small weight-lifting to stay toned.  

5.  When did you last attend an event, read a book, watch a movie, try a new recipe, or visit a shop - town - tourist attraction that 'fell' short of your expectations?  In what way? 

I don't know why I'm having a tough time with this question but I am.  There are lots of movies that I have seen once and "once is enough."   Most books I read have some value to them.  I don't cook.   And places I have shopped or visited have been fine.  Perhaps I just don't have high expectations! ha!  

So…  hmmm…     I'll have to get back to you on this one.  

6.  Describe a time you said or thought, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." 

Well, I usually say the nut doesn't fall far from the tree!  It's usually about something funny or some little quirk a person does…and it's usually one of my family members!  I mean if I'm going to say something like that it's usually because I have first-hand experience.  I have said it about my sister and sis-in-laws because we tend to take on some of our mothers' attributes, whether we want to or not.  I have said it about my own daughters BUT only in a positive way - of course!!!    I like to take credit for their musical interests - and their Dad can take credit for their scholarly ways!   It's all good.

7.  Was today better than yesterday?  Why or why not? 

Well, as I type this my day is just starting.   It's rainy outside.   I have a busy day planned ahead of me … heading to the chiropractor, running errands, and then I have a flute choir rehearsal, and my neighborhood Book Club get-together tonight.  It's going to be a good day ahead.    But busy.  Yesterday, was sunny and I stayed home ALL day doing laundry, a bit of cleaning, organizing after the weekend.  So, the days are different…  not one better than the other.

8. My random thought. 

As I was watching some of my "mind-less fun" shows on TV last night (DWTS and The Voice - I was flipping back & forth), a news bulletin came on saying the US has started air combat to get rid of ISIS (ISIL).   Every time I hear the US has actively started something like this I get a bit nervous.  I worry about war escalating.  Retaliation.   The world getting more chaotic.  

But… yesterday, during the regular evening news (I usually try to watch at 6:30pm… I don't watch the "all news, all the time" channels because it is too much time, and too much chatter with little facts) I saw the report on CBS about the women and children fleeing their homes in Syria… mothers carrying babies, walking with young children - across desert land.  It broke my heart.  I can't even imagine having to up and leave behind all you have, carrying babies… not knowing where you can lay them down safely at night.  

So, as much as I hate the US getting into war situations, I pray we target ONLY the bad guys - and make the land there safe for the people of that land that just want to live a safe and happy life.  We as fellow citizens of the world need to help.

Heavy random thought…  

Sorry.      Enjoy your little piece of the world today and this week!   See you here for the Hodgepodge again next time!     Happy Fall!

Friday, September 19, 2014

What makes a good parent?

So, I have always admired teachers.  I still do.  I know they could find a job that pays better and has less hours - but  I know that they often feel "called" to teach.   I know teachers are believers in our youth and that they can sometimes are the ONLY positive role model in a child's life.   As a student myself, and then as a mother of two students, I have always respected teachers.

I am looking at teachers from a different angle now because I have a daughter who recently got her Masters in Education - English Literature.   She had a very positive "student teaching" experience in a high school,  she graduated and got her degree in May, and then got hired at the same school.  Yea!  Right??

Then…..     the school year started.   The reality of the educational system in America has hit her hard.   She went into her new classroom excited, full of energy and enthusiasm!  Ready to face the students - nervous, yes - but ready to take on each day.    I knew she would be knocked down occasionally and that some days were going to hard.  I told her so… and others too.   So, she knew it but she kept a very  positive outlook.

My daughter is teaching in an urban environment, with a mix of ethnicities, a mix of backgrounds, etc.  It's a big high school probably like many you find in any city around our country.  

Since her first day there she has personally witnessed fist fights - first in the cafeteria, then last week in the hallway outside her room, and yesterday IN her room.   It was "classic bullying"…. a tough, bad-ass guy taunting a quieter boy.  Finally the boy pushed back and the bully smacked him in the face.   My daughter, the teacher, is trained to stay out of it, and to pick up the classroom phone and call security/the principal's office.  She did.   Afterwards, when the fight stopped, my daughter sent the aggressor to the office.  She tried to regain control and get back on topic.   And, after school she filled out a report.

A rough day? Yes.  But - here's the icing on the cake.  After the stress of her day, she went home for about 2 hours and then went back to school for "Parent's Night." She had prepared for it, ready to tell parents about her, and about the curriculum, and how support from home is needed.     So…   guess what?

Out of 31 students in this "block class" not one single parent showed up for "Parent's Night!!"   Not a single one.  She sat in her classroom alone.

As her mom, and as a person who enjoyed many "Parent Nights" that I went to when my daughters were in school, it totally saddened me.   It made me mad!   I couldn't believe it.  What?  No parent was willing to take the time and learn who their child's teacher was, and to learn about the subject matter for the semester?   Just to go for their kid!!

So…   how can a student learn the importance of learning, the need to be better through education, and how it can be a fun experience IF their own parents don't give a hoot and show up for one night?    Seriously.   What is wrong with people?  How can a parent not care about their own child enough to want to learn about their school and studies??    It just baffles my mind.

I know there are educators out there totally frustrated - and there are those who spend their whole lives trying to change it.   So, I know what I am saying is no surprise to many.  But, personally, for me right now, it hurts to see my own daughter try so hard to be a good teacher, and to care about these kids…   for naught.   To hear her cry on the phone - and to know her balloon has bursted.   It's tough on a mama.

How can I as a parent care SO much, but yet there are parents out there that don't seem to care at all??  

Seriously, what makes a good parent?    We need to find out!    As the old saying goes…life is going to hell in a hand basket if we can't get parents to care enough to attend a "Parent Night" at school!!  


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Hodgepodge is aging - and so are we!

This week's Hodgepodge has us thinking of birthdays and aging.  Our Hodgepodge hostess Joyce has a birthday very soon so she posed some questions about it for us all.  

Read on and feel free to comment at the end.

1.  Joyce is celebrating a birthday this week so a question relating to aging feels appropriate. Douglas MacArthur is quoted as saying "you are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self confidence, as old as your fear; as young as your hope, as old as your despair. Would you agree?  If not, why? 

We can't change aging, but we can change HOW we age.  There is a true connection between our physical and emotional self.  So, yes, I agree with Douglas MacArthur and I think that a positive attitude can keep you active and feeling young.    I have a little sign by my bathroom mirror that says "Forget your age, live your life"  because I think often people think they are supposed to 'act' old when their age is 'up there.'  

Have faith, self-confidence, and hope - and life can be awesome at any age!  

2.  What remarkable feat, interesting piece of trivia, or historical event occurred on your birth day and month?  Not necessarily in your birth year, just the same day/same month. 

Well, first I looked up historical events and there were a bunch… but I prefer to go with these two interesting sports facts.  First, the game of basketball was invented by Canadian James Naismith on December 15th, 1891.  Then, on December 15th, 1973 NCAA teams Tennessee and Temple played each other a whole game and the final score was 11 - 6.  Basketball!!!  Crazy! I can't even imagine that low of a score.  Both teams must have had awesome defense - or both were  just terribly bad!  ha!

3.  Describe a time or circumstance where you wanted to 'have your cake and eat it too.'

When I think of this expression I think it means to get everything you want and more… right?   Well, I can't think of one time or circumstance in particular.  I suppose we all live with hopes of things going the right way…and I have been fortunate to have my life like that.  In a way to want your cake & eat it too seems a bit selfish.  So, it makes it a hard question to answer.  I have wanted my daughters to grow up happy and successful…  and I have gotten my wish answered.  I'm proud of the young adults that they have become.   How's that?

4. What's something that makes you feel young? Something that makes you feel old? 

I feel young when I go to music concerts!  I love the live experience! I dance, and bee-bop - and thoroughly enjoy the experience!     I feel old when I have trouble keeping up with new technology, but I TRY!!  I also feel old when I remember back to "how it used to be" before the technology.

5.  When did you last do something that was a "piece of cake."

It's easier to think of things that are NOT a piece of cake: like golfing!   Ha!   Playing my flute is not a piece of cake. I need to practice just to keep up…but I like playing in the community band so I keep at it.

6. Beef, wine, and cheese all improve with age.  What's something else you'd add to that list?  (not necessarily food or beverage.) 

Faith,  Self assurance.   Music - that can withstand the test of time.  Great classics…      If Joyce is asking about "things" that improve with age…then some furniture and some cars can improve with age.  They can become more valuable.

7.  If I were to have a giveaway when we hit Volume 200, what should I give away?   By my calculations we'll hit Volume 200 on November 26th, the day before Thanksgiving, which means  whoever wins have whatever it is in time for Christmas. 

Joyce, how about a Christmas tree ornament?   A personalized Hodgepodge one!!  Or how about giving the winner the opportunity to create a list of Hodgepodge questions…. if they want to do it.  (You might enjoy the break! )  

8.   My random thought. 

Speaking of birthdays… my hubby has a milestone (60th) birthday coming up very soon.  I'm looking for a "creative gift" for him.  Anybody have ideas?     Send me an email at mfabiansc@hotmail.com.

My post before this one is my thoughts on the Ray Rice abuse scandal and the good, the bad, and the ugly of all the coverage.  I know everyone has an opinion on it.  So, read on…and if you want to add your "two cents" feel free too.  Our sermon this past Sunday at church was about forgiveness and reaching out to help our fellowman.  We are so easy to "condemn" behavior…and to punish.    But, who does that help?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Rice Scandel

Occasionally I like to use my blog for my "two cents" on a subject that seems to be a hot topic right now.   This is one of those posts.  You may click out of here if you want.

It's about this whole Ray Rice abuse scandal happening now…     and first, I must say it is NEVER right for one person to use physical force on another person.  NEVER.   Man vs. man.  Woman vs. woman.  Man vs. woman.   Something has gone wrong in a relationship when punches are thrown.

Here are a few of the thoughts rattling around in my head about this specific case:

* Football players are trained to use physical force in their jobs.  They are then expected to have self control and to not use it off the field.  They work hard at being strong, and tough, and mean on the field.  Most know how to turn it off when not in uniform.   But I think it's presumptuous to think all can click it on and off.

* I have watched the Rice video numerous times due to the fact that it's on every news channel over and over AND every sports channel over and over!  The "extended" video shows both he and she acting wrong prior to his hit in the elevator - and yes, she does fall &  hits her head against the hand rail in the elevator.   We don't know if the punch knocked her out - or the bang on the rail.   But, it doesn't matter.

* The use of alcohol before the argument that turned to physical abuse is not being discussed.  Why?   I think it played into their behavior.  

* Ray Rice is being villianized by the media, although bad behavior happens every day in football, in all sports, and everywhere.   The man will hopefully get help, and the Rices will get marriage counseling, but stop making him out to be a total ass for 5 minutes of drunken stupidity.  Regret?  You better believe he has it!

* I turned on Thursday Night Football last night at 7:30pm and the first half hour of pre-GAME coverage was about Mr. and Mrs. Rice.   Ray Rice was NOT playing in the game.  Yes, he has been kicked off the team - and it deserves a mention.  There is now an internal investigation starting.   But, please, not this overwhelmingly long coverage.   I actually thought to myself that some of the other players were probably feeling left out because acting properly and playing the game does not get TV coverage anymore.

*  Did the NFL commissioner & office make wrong decisions?   Most likely.  They wanted to hide it under the rug.  And, as we know most big-business companies would prefer to keep internal investigations and problems quiet.

*  Stop making football players heroes.

* Start talking about help in domestic discord that turns to violence.   Empower women to walk away.

* Ray Rice was wrong - but so was his wife.  It takes two to tangle.  

Okay…  so, if anything comes out of this whole horrible event and all the airtime spent…I hope it is more education for both men and women on how to communicate without force, to see that alcohol can change behavior for the worse, and that nobody deserves to be in a relationship that is belittling and can lead to physical abuse.  Get out!

That's it.  End of story.    I'm ending with a prayer that the Rices can find help, love each other, and move on.   Let's all do that.  


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

September Hodgepodge….

Today's questions are truly a hodgepodge of subjects.  Read on to see my answers and please feel free to respond.  I love to hear what others think!

Here we go…

1.  On Thursday we pause to remember a dark day in history:  9/11.  Will you mark it in some special way? 

I have no plans to "mark it" except with an extra prayer for world peace and understanding.   I have written about 9/11 before in my blog, and I wrote specifically about the fact that I lived only an hour outside of NYC on that day. It was very scary, and the days & weeks after it were very depressing.  Prior to 9/11 I enjoyed some things abut living near the Big Apple (shows, museums, etc.), but after 9/11 I felt the need to get away from big city life and to find peace in a less crazy environment. "Green Acres is the place for me…. "

2.  Do you ever/still…   listen to an actual radio?   Watch a videotape (VCR)?   Look up a number in a phonebook?  Refer to a paper map while traveling?  Set an alarm on an alarm clock as opposed to your phone? 

I still listen to the radio in my car all the time.  I find a need to hear local information… about road problems, weather, and just local chitchat.  The radio provides it.  I also like to bounce back and forth between my favorite radio stations for country music.  If I don't, then it's hard to hear the "new" stuff.   Also, way back in my 20's I worked in radio so it's still in my veins a little and I hate to see radio and the radio business disappear.

I never watch a VCR anymore and I have given most of the video tapes away.   BUT I have held on to  the homemade family videos, and I even had those converted over to DV formats.   I still have a couple of VCR's in the house…. in storage.  Why?  I really need to trash them.

I have already thrown my phonebooks away.  I totally rely on the internet for looking up phone numbers.

I am a bit sad that paper maps are becoming obsolete.  They help in seeing "the whole picture" when traveling.  But, I must admit that I never use a paper map anymore.  I rely on that little robotic voice to take me from Point A to Point B.

And, although I have an alarm clock in my bedroom, I rarely set it - but that's due to my lifestyle.  On the rare days when I do have to get up early, I set the alarm on my iPhone because it is charging on the nightstand right next to me.

3.  Is it ever a good idea to discuss religion or politics with people you don't know? 

Well, God wants us to share the Good News, so yes, it the "right" thing to discuss religion….but it's not always easy.   If we love God, and if we want others to know about grace and eternal life, then YES it is our responsibility to spread the Word.   We have to be careful HOW we do it, because we don't want to turn people off to religion, or scare them with "in your face" techniques.   But, still, we must try.

As for politics…  it's probably not a good idea.  I have found that people have innate beliefs about how our government should run, and how to spend the tax money, etc.  It's a really rare thing to get anyone to see it "another way"….and unfortunately it can often put up a barrier between people.   American politics has gotten very divisive. It's a shame but that's the way it is.

4.  What's a dish you haven't eaten all summer, but come September find yourself craving?  Have you made it this month? 

I can not think of one particular summertime dish that I still crave.  I do find it a bit unusual that I went all summer with only having corn on the cob once.  But, in general, we have had our share of cookouts, and sliced tomatoes, potato salad, etc.  

5.  What's something you know nothing about. 

Just one thing??     Well, I know nothing about space travel…    even airplane engines and how planes fly!   I am amazed how tons of weight can fly through the air for hours at a time!!  

6.  September is Classical Music Month. Do you like classical music?  If so, what's your favorite piece? 

Yes, I like classical music very much!   I think I have always liked it, but I became a bigger fan when my daughter took up violin and was part of several orchestras.  I have also played classical pieces on my flute.   I consider myself a lover of ALL types of music.   My favorite classical piece? Well, I grew up with the music of Bach.  I can play some Bach on piano too.  But, for expression I have to go with Rachmoninaff.  But…oh,  majestic Handel!  And…the tender nocturnes of Chopin!

7. My random thought. 

My blog entry before this one is a list of ten books that have meant something in my life (so far.)  I was "challenged" on Facebook to list them, and to tell why.  You know, one of those games that go around!!  I'd love to hear from others about their favorite books.  So, if you have a bit of time, read on…then respond with your favorites.  Even if it's not a list of 10. I'd still like to know what books have impacted you and why.

Have a great September week!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

10 Books that Mean Something to Me

One of the Facebook things going around right now is to share 10 books that you love for one reason or another. They are books that have special meaning, so I will list mine and explain why.  Here they are.

They are in no particular order.

1.  Yes, the Bible.   I am not listing it because it is "cool" to do so, or because…I mean, who doesn't?  The Bible makes my top ten list because for the past 10 years or so I have been going to a weekly Bible  Study class and I have read it and discussed it…and I learn something about it at each and every class.  And, I'm not done learning from it.  What other book can you study for that long?   It is a book written by many people "inspired/given" by God, written a long time ago,  and it still pertains to life now and gives hope to the world now.   I won't go into my personal beliefs but I will say it truly influences me and how I live, and I know it does for millions of others.

2.  Wuthering Heights.   Ok. I saw the movie first - the version with Timothy Dalton as Heathcliff.  I was in middle school and went to the movie with my girlfriend, and I think we sat through the showing of it twice.  We fell in love with the characters and the emotions of total love and loss.  So, I bought the book and I have read it from front to back a few times, and I keep it around because every so often I just love to open it up to a section and read it.    It's the only English classic book to make my list!

3. Ernie's Big Mess and 4. Cinderella.  These childhood books hold a very special place in my heart for they were favorites of my daughters.   I can still hear my 2 year old Lauren saying "Ernie is messy" as we turned each page and saw everything he left on the floor of the bedroom he shared with Bert.   We looked at that book over and over and over - and each time Lauren said "Ernie is messy!" at every page turn.    "Cinderella" was Kristen's favorite book for awhile during her toddler years and I can hear her Nannie saying "cinder-ellla" as each page was turned and Kristen pointed to her picture on the page.  

5.  Back to me… The Book Thief.  I have been in a Book Club or two for 8 years here and a good 5 or more years before that in Sparta, NJ.   This book stands out for me because it was so well written about living during the Nazi occupation - written from a child's point of view.  It was about how her love for books helped her escape the real horrors, and how she eventually slipped in a out of a mansion filled with books - with the help of a stranger.  

6.  I Am Malala.   Another book written by a child.  But it's not fiction!  This is the true accounting of life in a town taken over by the Taliban, and one young girl's determination to speak out for herself and for all girls in Pakistan.   She was on the news a few years back, and therefore I had known a bit about her.  I found the book fascinating to read, her love of family and her fear for them,  and the community - knowing the value of education and freedom.  We so often think of the wars all the way around the world so removed from us and our way of life.  This book shows how much alike we are in so many ways!  I was surprised at some of the tactics the Taliban used to infiltrate the town.  We are seeing it happen right now with ISIS.  I think this should be read by all American students to realize what young people in other parts of the world have to go through to get to school.

7.  The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks.  I read this on my own and then suggested it for Book Club because I believed this true story all women needed to know about.  Henrietta and her family were from Baltimore and I have connections there so I loved reading it for that…BUT most importantly it shows what science can do with genetical mutating, cloning, etc. and the moral consequences that  have to be considered.  The world has Ms. Lacks to thank, even though she never knew her genes would be used.  Her family had to deal with the joy of helping but also no recognition for the sacrifice.  Again, interesting moral issues at play.

8.  Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife.   There have been a few autobiographies in recent years written by those who have had "near death experiences", or have truly died and seen beyond, and then have come back.  I have been fascinated by them all. As a Christian I believe in heaven and I love reading about personal experiences from those who have seen it.   This book in particular I recommend because it's written by a doctor who studied the physical workings of the brain, but knew nothing about the soul within.   He was a doubter until his own experience turned him around.  It's pretty cool to read - and confirming for me.

9.  History of Art.  Believe it or not, it's a college textbook!  Well, not specifically only for college use, but it is the book that I was required to get when I took my first Art History class at Capital University.  I have held on to it since then (and that was a long time ago… 1975.)  It's thick and it full of history and beautiful photographs of art throughout time, from all parts of the world.  It was the book, and the class, that turned me on to art.  My prof helped bring it all to life - so credit goes to Dr. Bauer.  But this book is a beautiful resource for all things in the art world.

10.  Last book choice….   What's life without a simple but thoughtful book?   Easy to read and a great little paperback to keep for a quick little dose of perspective:  Don't Sweat the Small Stuff…*and it's all Small stuff."  

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

School days, cool days...

Happy Tuesday everyone - Happy September - and Happy Back to School for many of you!  Labor Day has come and gone and we are unofficially over summertime, although, thankfully, here in the low country the weather is still summer-like and I'm going to keep on wearing my shorts and flip-flops for as long as I can!

Our leader Joyce has some good questions about "back to school" so read on, and remember those days - the good, the bad, and the ugly - as children wake and head out the door, parents push them to make the bus, and teachers make classrooms a place to learn once again.

1.  What's something you wanted to do this summer that you never got around to actually doing? 

We had planned to take our boat down the Intracoastal Waterway to Beaufort, SC and had put it on the calendar back in May!  But then, something came up (it was so long ago I can't remember what it was) and we had to "postpone" the trip.  Then other summertime activities kept us busy and we didn't ever make it happen!!   In fact, we were just talking about boating down there the other day when we were out on it - but the boat died in the Georgetown Harbor and we were towed back to our marina.  A 2 and a half hour tow!!  Oh my!!   So, now - we have to put the trip on hold again until we find out what is wrong with the boat and get it repaired.  

2.  Share a favorite memory of your back-to-school days as a child. 

I mentioned this last week but the memory I always think about was getting a new outfit and new shoes for the first day of school.  Back then we didn't carry backpacks - or didn't have a supply list of materials needed to start off the year.  So, my mother would take me shopping for a new dress, or skirt & top (no jeans to school then either) and a new pair of penny loafers.

3.  What's one chore or daily task you prefer doing 'old-school'? 

Toughie question.  In general I'm all for new, easier, quicker ways to clean.  Aren't those disposable toilet wands just the best?   lol      So, I guess my answer is yard work. I'm old-school when it comes to pulling weeds (down on my knees and getting at the roots) and I still love the hand-held, non-powered , clippers for the shrubs.  It's a good workout for my arms!

4.  Share something you've learned in life through the 'school of hard knocks.'

As I think of my life so far, I have really been blessed to not have that many hard-knocks…certainly not to the extent that some have had to experience.   But I suppose I have had my share of times when I wish I could have done better at something…be it in school, or at a job, or as a wife, or in motherhood.  So, I think I have learned that I'm never going to be the best at anything, or be unique when it comes to my actions.  But, that's okay.  I do the best I can and am happy that God and most people can forgive.

5.  As a child, did you mostly bring or buy your lunch for school?  What was your favorite thing to find in your lunch box? 

In elementary school I think I walked home sometimes for lunch.  We must have had an hour & a half break in the middle of the day - which is impossible to think of now!   Once I got to junior high I ate at school…and I think I ate the cafeteria food most of the time.  I was given "lunch money."   Now high school!  That was different.  I remember getting to leave campus and going with friends to the nearby burger fast food place (called Clancy's) occasionally. I went there in middle school too because it was in walking distance from that school.   My "go to" food in high school most days was pretty sad… it was a soda and a package of ho-ho's from the snack bar.  I never wanted to wait in the cafeteria line and I wanted to sit with my friends and socialize.  So, I grabbed my "usual" from the snack bar and survived until school was out for the day.

By the way, I don't think I ever had a lunch box.  On the rare occasions when I did bring something in, or we had to pack lunch for a field trip, it was in a brown lunch bag.

6.  Football season is upon us which has me wondering…how big of a sports fan are you (not just football)?  On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being 'I scream at the players through my television screen' and 1 being 'is knitting a sport?' - Where do you fall in fandom? 

I have got to say I am 7 or 8 when it comes to all sports.  Although there are some sports I can't get into much…   like auto racing, and world cup soccer.  I am a 10 for football, college and pro.  Yes, I talk to the players as I watch on TV - and I have been known to jump and cheer when something good happens!     For those who find they are not sports fans, here is my advice:  learn to understand a sport and then pick a "favorite team" for some reason - perhaps they are the local one, or you went to school there, or your child did, or you like the uniform colors, something!!  It's much easier to get into a sport when you have a particular team to root for.    And, also do it because you will be in the loop for much conversation - especially with the men in your life!  

As with anything, there is good and bad to sports…and I dislike much of the behind the scenes behavior, and the big money associated with many players.  But, the game itself can be a thing of beauty.  And, don't be a "fair weather" fan.  You got to support a team when they are down to enjoy when they win!  So….therefore, I still say "Go Gamecocks!" even after their poor performance last Saturday.  I'll be rooting them on again this coming Saturday!!

7.  Share a favorite quote you think might inspire students of all ages at the start of the new school year. 

Oh my. I opened up a journal/quote book I kept during my school days to see if I could find something fitting.  Interestingly, almost all of the quotes and poems I wrote down had to do with love and relationships, not with education or learning.  But, still they are pertinent…so here are a couple.

I will consider them my "random thoughts" too.

"I am not immortal.
Whatever I put off for later
may never be.
Whoever doesn't know now
that I love them
may never know."
                          -Leonard Nimoy

"When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
and the world makes you king for a day.
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself,
and see what that man has to say.
For it isn't your father or mother or wife
whose judgement upon you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
is the one staring back in the glass."
                          - Dave Eagle

"Lessons learned are like
bridges burned.
You only need to cross them but once.
Is the knowledge gained
worth the price of the pain?
Are the spoils worth the cost of the hunt?
                        - Dan Fogelberg

and finally…

"The greater the summer, the harder the fall…."
                              - anonymous

Have a great week everyone!