Sunday, November 30, 2014

Today starts Advent.

Is your head spinning?   Mine is.  This weekend is always such a change of gears, and such a busy couple of days changing out decorations.  Thanksgiving day is come and gone.  Fall decorations down.  Up with all the Christmas trees and lights!

I wish there was a bigger break between the two.    And, yes, I know sometimes there is. Sometimes Thanksgiving falls a bit earlier.  

But, it seems like it's the only time of year where we stop "thanking" on a dime, and start "preparing" for Christmas immediately.  

We used to take more attention to Advent.  Advent is the 4 Sundays and time in-between, when we turned our attention to preparing for the birth of Christ.  It had it's own decorations…  an Advent wreath with candles, and an Advent calendar to help count down the days.  

One of the reasons (of many) I am glad I attend church regularly is that I still pay attention to Advent.  We have an Advent wreath with candles there, an Advent reading, and our church holds special mid-week services.

It helps me "pace myself" as I get closer to Christmas Day.   It reminds me of what was going on back before Jesus was born - and why he and his parents headed off to Bethlehem.  You know… the horrible order to kill firstborns,  and then "no room at the inn"…     a baby is born in a stable.   Kind of the perfect start to what Jesus taught us all along.   Be simple,  give love.  

So, yes, yesterday I started putting away my fall decorations and our trees are up.  I'm turning my attention to Advent - and then Christmas.  I am trying to remind myself of the word Advent and the necessary time of waiting.  

Therefore, I say….happy First Sunday in Advent to you!  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Hodgepodge and more.

It's a rainy Tuesday here as I answer this Hodgepodge just two days before Thanksgiving.  So many people are traveling today and tomorrow, and across the US there is some lousy weather…from rain and wind to snow.  I hope everyone reaches their destinations safely - and somewhat "on time"!   I have to admit that I am thankful for not traveling very far for Thanksgiving! I don't do well in cold climates and don't enjoy driving or flying in bad weather conditions.   

1.   Besides Thanksgiving, it's also National Game and Puzzle Week… what game have you played most recently, and who were you with?   Have you worked a puzzle in the past week? 

I have on-going games of "Words with Friends" on my Iphone and I play them everyday.  I enjoy it very much!  I hope it helps to keep my brain strong, plus I get to play with family and friends near and far.  That's the beauty of app games.  You can play regardless of distance.   My hubby and I have 4 or 5 games going with each other, and we can sit in the living room together watching TV, and play on our phones back and forth!    I know -  that's a bit crazy.  

I have written about crosswords before, because I am a bit of junkie for them!   I love playing crosswords out of the newspaper each day!   My favorite is the Sunday New York Times crossword!  Why?  Well, it's not always the most challenging (Friday & Saturday crosswords are tougher), and it's large and in the NYT Magazine - no newsprint ink!    Occasionally I play crosswords on-line and it's okay, but for me it's not the same as holding the actual crossword in my hand.   I feel the same way about reading books.  I prefer the real book, not an electronic one.  

2.  What is one place you are thankful for this year? 

As Dorothy said in "The Wizard of Oz" …..    "there's no place like home!"  I am very thankful for my home!!   

3.  Take a nap, watch football, go for an after-dinner walk, or hit the stores…  which ONE is on your must-do list for Thanksgiving Day? 

Watching football is ALWAYS a part of Thanksgiving Day!   Followed by watching some of the Westminster dog show too!  I love both.      I will say I also enjoy an after-dinner walk.  No nap, and definitely NO shopping for me on Thanksgiving Day.  

4.  Besides Thanksgiving, what's your favorite home cooked meal? 

Whose home?   lol     I don't make many meals these days since it's just hubby and me here, and he's away on business some of the time.  But, back in the day when I cooked more, I think we both loved my "Chicken roll-ups" (also made with tuna)…and I used to make a great chicken dish with an apricot sauce.  I wore out the cookbook "365 Ways to Cook Chicken."  

5.  What product from an infomercial would you most like to own? 

I don't pay attention to them too much.  But if there is one out there that just makes the weight fall off…  I'll take it!     Wait. There is that exercise machine that Christie Brinkley promotes and she looks pretty good at 60+…   maybe it will work for me!  

6.  Christmas shopping?  Have you begun?  Finished?  Will you shop on Black Friday?  How do you feel about stores opening on Thanksgiving Day?  What percentage of your shopping is done on-line? 

Many questions!   First I have definitely started my shopping.  I am not one to wait to the last minute. I have said it before, I try to keep my stress to the minimum if possible!  I never like to do "panic shopping."    Have I finished?   No.  And, I know there will be a few gifts I want to give as December goes along… for some friends, etc. and those I will get later.  

Will I shop on Black Friday?  NO!  I am actually trying to shop this year away from malls.  I am getting gifts from local businesses.  My hubby shops on-line for our daughters.  He loves to get them work dresses, and a couple of "fun" outfits.  Sometimes the girls love them - sometimes they "appease" him and say they love them!  But, he gets joy from buying for them. 

Should retails store be open on Thanksgiving?   No! 

7.  What are you most grateful for that adds beauty to everyday life? 

Easy answer….      nature!     Priceless!   God's gift to us…. 

8.  My random thought. 

I have many random thoughts swirling around my brain this morning.   Some days are like that.

The grand jury decision came down last night in Ferguson, MO and as expected, some people rioted.  I really have more questions about it then my own statements.  Had the media not shown up and did a minute to minute countdown and turned it into a huge waiting game, would it have been as damaging?   I go back to the question from my college mass communications class: does the media reflect the news or make it?     And,  opinions, opinions, opinions!  I really wish all the chatter would stop.  Again, it increases the chances of more negative spotlight action. 

Yesterday I was out running errands and stopped in at a quaint little shopping area near me just to look for a few Christmas gifts.   It really is a lovely area, but I felt SO sad because it brought back to me all the glitz of the season, with none of the meaning of the season; Christ's birth.  I got that "ugh" feeling again and I saw people in action… shopping,  rushing a bit, etc.     Seriously, I really wish sometimes that we dropped all the peripheral "stuff" and could just focus on the Christian event.      I vow to myself every November and December to focus myself on it.    I think we all know that for many people Christmas can be a VERY sad time of the year.  So many expectations.  Some people have little. But, then I think - maybe they are better off.  They don't have to get caught up in the "game" of buying the right gifts, at the right amount, decorating, etc.   

Another thought in my head….  aging.  The good, the bad, the ugly.     I need to exercise! I need to get back into a routine - especially as the season of eating is upon me.   But, I realize I have this little voice in my brain saying "you are old now and you can only do so much.  The body is what it is."    When did this happen?      I never used to think that.    BUT - I do want to look nice for my daughter's wedding in April so I am making a pledge now (and it's once again my New Year's resolution) EXERCISE!!  I must!  It's not just for looks…. it's for health.  Weight control, yes.  But for stronger bones and more flexibility.   I must "get moving" more!! 

Well, the rain is still falling and it's a good day to clean indoors.   Time to end this post.  Thank you to anyone who read through to this point!  MY blog has been my place for putting down my thoughts and today is no exception!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.  Be thankful - be safe!   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Got a few dollars in a coffee can!

I am thankful for the Hodgepodge - and on this week before Thanksgiving I am thankful for much more.  Read on.

1. What's something you take for granted, that when you stop and think about it you feel truly grateful for? 

Seriously?  How about EVERYTHING?!?   Don't we all take our lives for granted - and all the blessings in it?   Yes.  But, here's a short list of things I have and don't always appreciate as I should.   A loving family and wonderful group of friends.  A church family who cares for me unconditionally.  A warm house in the winter, cool in the summer.  The ability and means to walk into a store and purchase food, clothing…wine.  ( :    

2.  The color brown - love it or no?  What's your favorite shade of brown?  Most loved something in your house or your closet in a shade of brown? 

In general I am a brown fan.  It goes with just about every thing.  It's a "base" color.  Of all the shades I like a rich warm brown.  I also am liking a very light brown color right now (beige, cream) because my daughter is using the color in her wedding.  She is featuring sunflowers as the "pop" of color.  The wedding will have a rustic, vintage feel - and shades of brown go well with it.

In my house or closet?   Well, we have a Lazy-Boy chair that I really didn't want in the living room, but now that it is it is a "go to" piece of furniture.  It's very comfortable!  Even our pugs love it!

3. What's something you look forward to today? 

Thankfully I have a few things I look forward to doing today.  I am going to "Good News at Noon" Bible Study at church. I love the people there, and I always love the discussions.  Then later I have a flute choir rehearsal and we are preparing for a mini-concert of Christmas songs. We will be performing them next Sunday at another local church and also during intermission of our community band concert which happens in 2 weeks.  After flute rehearsal I have band practice too.

4.  The word 'feminism' is not new, but it has been generating all kinds of headlines in recent days and months.  What do you think/feel when you hear the word?  Do you want to be described as a feminist?  Why or why not? 

Yes, I am a feminist.  I believe in the "power of women" and I encourage all women to support each other.  

I think the term 'feminist' used to have a different meaning back in the 60's and 70's when some out-spoken women pushed for women's rights.  There was a stereotype of who they were and how they looked.   But, without them leading the way, women today would not be where we are.   We still have to stick together for equal pay, equal rights in certain situations, etc.     BUT…  I truly believe women have it over the men!    Yep, I'm a feminist.

5.  What's something you personally can't eat without making a mess? 

Tacos?   Sloppy Joe's?       Anything with white powdered sugar on it….and of course I have on a dark top!

6.  When did you last surprise someone with a little gift or when were you last surprised by someone with a little gift?  What was it? 

My hubby surprises me with little acts of kindness, little gifts of giving.  It can be as simple as picking up something for me at the store.  The other morning we were in a Richmond hotel room, there for his aunt's funeral later in the day,  and he made me coffee and brought it to me while I was still in bed. Sweet!  

I don't know if this counts, but last week when my neighbor's kitty died and she wanted to bury her in the backyard, I  called one of our other neighbors - a man who I knew would be home - to come help dig the hole.  (I'm a feminist but there ARE some things a man can do with his strength that we women can not.) I arranged for him to come over and he did.  We all had a "moment" together sharing our love for the kitty - and being there for each other as friends and neighbors.

7.  Share a favorite quote, saying, song lyric, or scripture relating to gratitude. 

Immediately I thought of a song both my hubby and I like…    called "Lucky Man" by Montgomery Gentry.   I will try and paste the lyrics here:

I have days where I hate my job
This little town and the whole world too
And last Sunday when my Bengals lost
Lord, it put me in a bad mood
I have moments when I curse the rain
Then complain when the sun's too hot
I look around at what everyone has
And I forget about all I've got
But I know I'm a lucky man
God's given me a pretty fair hand
Got a house and a piece of land
A few dollars in a coffee can
My old truck's still running good
My ticker's ticking like they say it should
I got supper in the oven, a good woman's loving
And one more day to be my little kid's dad
Lord, knows I'm a lucky man
Got some friends who would be here fast
I could call 'em any time of day
Got a brother who's got my back
Got a mama who I swear's a saint
Got a brand new rod and reel
Got a full week off this year
Dad had a close call last spring
It's a miracle he's still here
But lord knows I'm a lucky man
God's given me a pretty fair hand
Got a house and a piece of land
A few dollars in a coffee can
My old truck's still running good
My ticker's ticking like they say it should
I got supper in the oven, a good woman's loving
One more day to be my little kid's dad
Lord knows I'm a lucky man
Oh, my old truck's still running good
My ticker's ticking like they say it should
I got supper in the oven, a good woman's loving
And even my bad days ain't that bad
Yeah, I'm a lucky man
I'm a lucky, lucky man

Read more:  Montgomery Gentry - Lucky Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics 

8.  My random thought. 

I just saw on Facebook that it's 36 days til Christmas!   Oh my.   I'm not even in a Christmas mood yet.  (Yes, I know - I'm practicing Christmas music - but I need to!  lol)    But, that's okay.  Remember…   this post is about Thanksgiving!  Let's do one holiday celebration at a time.   I'm wondering.  How many of you put up your Christmas tree BEFORE Thanksgiving?

H A P P Y       T H A N K S G I V I N G    ! ! ! !  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday's Hodgepodge

It's good to have the Hodgepodge leader Joyce back after a week off.  She's been preparing for her daughter's upcoming wedding and took last week off to aget some things done for it.   I can certainly relate to her needing time, and I can relate to her Hodgepodge questions on the wedding subject - see question #3 today.

Here we go…

1.  We celebrate Veteran's Day in the US of A on November 11th.  When did you last interact with a member of the armed forces (either currently serving or retired)?   Have you ever written a letter to a soldier, bought a meal or coffee for a soldier, said an unprompted thank you to a soldier you encountered out and about somewhere? 

Thank you veterans!  I can not remember a moment when I encountered a soldier and unprompted gave them a thank you.  Shame on me. We did recognize all the soldiers and vets at our church this past Sunday and gave them a rousing round of applause.  A special prayer was said for their safety.   A bit later today I am participating in a VFW ceremony to honor veterans because I am part of our community band.  I am looking forward to it. We will be playing patriotic songs and one piece in particular is a medley of all the armed forces individual hymns.

Last year I designated a month to try and do an act of random kindness each day (I should really keep at it) and my cousin and I paid a good portion of a bill for some NYC police officers sitting at a lunch table near us.

I need to do more in this way.  All men and women in uniform sacrifice and they have such a strong belief in being an active part of our system.   It's very honorable and all veterans need to be thanked!!

2.  You have fifty pounds of anything at all (except money)..  what would you choose? 

oh wow.   50 pounds of food to give to a food bank.  50 pounds of clothing or blankets to give to a shelter.  50 pounds of baby clothes to use in the layette baskets we make for our local hospital.   50 pounds of dog food for the animal shelter.

3.   When did you last receive an invitation in the 'real mail'?  What was it for and did you attend?  When it comes to RSVPing, are you an early responder or a 'last minute, barely under the wire' kind of guest? 

The last invitation that came through "snail mail" was an invitation to my cousin and her significant other's joint birthday party at their home.  It was nice to receive it that way because it did make it more special and seem like more of an "event."  I was able to hang it on the refrigerator as a reminder.  I did attend and had a really nice time!

I know Joyce is asking because she is in the middle of wedding guest lists, sending invitations,  and keeping track of those that come back.   We will be doing the same thing this Spring as we prepare for my daughter's wedding in April.   More on that in question #7.

I am an early responder to RSVP's.  For two reasons:  I like to respond before I forget or lose the invitation!  And I also like to respond early because I know it helps the host get an accurate count of the  number of attendees.

I am not a "wait to the last minute" person with anything in life if I can help it.   It causes me more stress.

4.  What's something you really don't like to waste? 

i don't know why this is a tough question but I am sitting here pondering the answer.   Time?   Well, sometimes wasting time is okay.  We all need to sit back and be still occasionally. We need to pace ourselves.  So, it's really NOT wasting time then, right?

Money?  I tend to think I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to being frugal vs. being decadent with money.

I am not a hoarder. I don't save every grocery bag, or reuse my Reynolds wrap.  I am an active recycler…paper, plastics, glass.     So - hmmmm.  I'm kinda stuck on this question.

5.  Cheers, Friends, MASH, Seinfeld…  of the ones listed, your favorite long-running sitcom? 

This question is like asking which of your children is your favorite!   All 4 of these TV shows bring back wonderful memories for me.  I loved watching them all! I loved the characters, and humor.  I loved the touching moments (well, I don't think Seinfeld had any of those.)   Each show became iconic in it's own way.   They all end up on my list with earlier shows like the Dick Van Dyke Show, I Love Lucy, the Andy Griffith Show, and the Mary Tyler Moore Show.  Love love love!

6.  What decision are you glad you made. 

Easy answer.  The decision to marry my hubby!   I have never doubted the decision and have no regrets.   We have had awesome years together and have produced two wonderful daughters.  Our life together is comfortable, but each year brings interesting events.    Which leads to the next question…

7.  In this month of thanksgiving, what is one thing that's different today than it was a year ago that you're grateful for? 

Easy answer.  Daughter #1 became engaged to a wonderful guy this past year! I am grateful for them finding each other, and for being so happy together, and for making a commitment to become one, to start a new life together!  I am grateful for being a part of the wedding plans.  I am grateful that we as a family are able to share in the joy! I am grateful for finally getting a son!

8.  My random thought. 

I have a few random thoughts this morning…

* Some days seem uneventful in our lives. But some occasionally come along that are very impactful.  I had one of the latter on Sunday. (You can read my blog post before this one to learn more.)

* The winter weather is really barreling down on some places in the US today.  Stay warm and safe northern friends!

* Regardless of politics or belief in when to be at war and when not to, people who serve our country deserve our respect.  I can never know the fear of being on a frontline or in handling a weapon that can kill.  It's a brave thing, and most do it for love of God, country and family.   Thank you!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Life and death

This morning I am blogging but I'm not sure where this post is going to go yet.   All I know is yesterday was a sad, rough day and sometimes it helps to turn to my blog to put it down on paper (so to speak!) as I gather my thoughts.

Yesterday was a day about death.   My husband's Aunt Judy died in the morning.  She had been living with Alzheimers and some physical ailments in a nursing facility for a few years so I felt it was "time" for her to leave her body.  It was time for sweet Judy to move on to heaven and be reunited with her sister and other family members already there.   So although I was sad to hear the news it was not a surprise and a bit of a relief.

I am a Christian and a believer of God's hope of life after death.  I saw Judy get baptismed and become a member of her church about ten years or so ago.  I believe she is in God's home now.

While I was at church yesterday morning I was thinking about her.   I knew she was failing.  We had heard from family that her days or hours were numbered.  So, as I have done before, I looked up at the cross behind the altar, and at the stained glass window, and I asked God to let Judy go.  I prayed to Him that she not linger.   About ten minutes after that special moment, my phone buzzed and I looked at who the call was….it was from my hubby's sister.  I knew at that moment it was the news of Judy passing on.

So, okay…  here's the interesting part.  About 6 years ago, on another November Sunday morning, I was again in church sitting in the same spot.   My hubby's mother was in a nursing home and we had gotten word she was failing.  She was getting hospice care.  In fact hubby and his sister were by her bedside.  So, I sat alone in the pew - and I looked at the cross and stained glass window and I prayed that God would go ahead and take Nannie home.   Ten minutes later my cellphone buzzed and it was a message from my hubby.  

Now, I don't think I'm psychic, or weird, or anything else…   but I do believe in the power of prayer and I believe in knowing that for everything there is a season.

My day went on yesterday, and in the early afternoon I decided to put up a picture of Judy and a tribute to her on Facebook.  I know I am addicted to FB and I use it all the time.  Some don't understand that.   I did not think anything of it, and for me it was a way of expressing my love for her.  And, I felt it was a way to spread the news of this dear woman's passing.  Let's just say it backfired and I apologize to those who I may have hurt.  I did not mean to do anything but express my love for the woman she used to be.

Just a bit later on Facebook I also saw a post that my hubby's nephew's wife also lost her Grandmother!  Another death on this same morning.   Again, I was saddened.  I do not know if she was sick or if this was a shock to the family.  I pray that it was not totally unexpected and that the family can celebrate her life.

The same Facebook that got me in trouble earlier - was used as a tribute and way to spread the word an this death.   I took no offense at it.  People responded, and I did.

Deaths come in threes.  Have you heard the expression?

Well,  last night as I was cozy, sitting on my couch and watching football I get a startled loud knock on my door.  There was my next door neighbor, crying, holding her beloved kitty in a towel.   She had just found her, already gone, laying near her porch in her backyard.   A loss of a pet is always sad.  This little kitty girl was an important bit of love for my neighbor as she goes through many changes in her life.  Divorce.  Possible moving.  Sickness.    The kitty gave unconditional love.

At that point I realized that my heart had enough…   it was a rough day.   i saw sadness and hurt. I felt it. I felt helpless.  *sigh*      It was an emotional day.  

I'm up now on a Monday morning. I am praying for peace, and I'm praying for a better day for everyone so affected by yesterday's deaths.    Life is precious.  Memories are forever.    God is there to hear our cries, to give comfort, and to help bring back the joy.  

Take care and give love.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Post Election

There is no Hodgepodge this morning because our leader is taking the week off.  So, I thought I'd take a few minutes since I usually blog on Wednesdays anyways - and write down my thoughts about elections.  Yesterday was the "mid-term" election day all around the country.  We voted for governors, representatives, and lots of local people and issues.

I don't feel all that good about most of the election results this morning.    And, sometimes I feel like I must be really out of touch with what many, many people are experiencing in the United States.  It makes me realize our country is so huge, so diverse, so different from end to end.    I should not be surprised.  I have traveled around the country enough to know the expansive terrain, and to realize that people live very differently from the northeast, to the south, the midwest, and all the way out west.   We are the size of many European countries that have different leadership and different forms of government.

But, even as I narrow my view down to my own state, the state of South Carolina, I see the variety of people:   there are those who live in rural areas, and have lived in the state all their lives. There are people from urban areas, move-ins, looking for warmer climate, and there are those who are proudly ancestors from both sides of the pre-Civil War era.   History is big in South Carolina.

So, all this leads me to say….   I scratch my head at how people think and vote sometimes.  (And, I know they feel the same way about me.)  

I strive to find issues that I feel will make this country of ours more accepting of the differences. I look for and vote for leadership to bring us together, in peace, and to favor our children.

Last week my brother said his number one issue was jobs.  Without all Americans having jobs our society just can not work.  Democracy will not happen.  People will not be able to support themselves, to live freely, and be happy.   I definitely get that.  

So, then, I ask, because jobs are vital then shouldn't education be a high priority?  We need to educate ALL Americans so they can be qualified for jobs.  We need to stress from an early age that learning is a foundation in life.

Second, we need to live in unity and peace.  We need to stop spending money on warring so that we will have funds for caring issues.  Again, it's about the children.   It's also about providing a "hand up" to make ways available for Americans to better themselves.   It's important to show that we care for the suffering and want EVERYONE to have the same opportunities.

As a Christian woman, I believe that Jesus set the example on how to treat others.   He reached out to the dregs of society.  He was not afraid.  He told us to love our neighbors as ourselves.  

Our country was started on those Christian beliefs but it has changed through time.  Yes, we are now a mix of many beliefs now - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, others, and none.  (Bring us your tired and poor.) But as a Christian, when I vote I try to keep in mind what Jesus taught me.   I try to pick people and issues that support unity, not division.  Like I said, I pick a few important issues to me and then check out who running for office who I think will improve everyday life on these issues.

Now the cynic in me, and in so many of us, says it doesn't really matter who we elect.  Nothing gets done anyway.  Or, we say the candidates don't follow through on all the promises they spew when running for office.   Yes, that does happen.    But, I feel we can't live hopeless, and feeling unimportant.  We can't give up on who we elect and what we believe.

So, as another election day has come and gone I wonder if this one yesterday will make a positive difference.   I ask…..  Was it one step closer to making America a better place for the many that need better pay, better medical treatment, better security in old age, etc.  Will we put money into raising good children and in teaching unity and peace?    Will it make any difference?

I voted.  (If you didn't, you can't complain. Right? )    The people I voted for did not get elected.  But, I still have a shred of belief, and a hope for making life a bit better.  I hope and pray that those who did win last night will diligently work for all of us.  I pray they are earnest and that they do not get swayed by lobbyists and forget why they were put in office.  I hope greed and power do not blind them from the real needs.  

Sigh.    It's the morning after an election day.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

Monday Morning Quarterback

The weekend is over and I have a few thoughts…

*  When an airplane is on time and the weather is calm, it's the BEST way to travel!

*  You gotta support a team when they are down.  Sometimes it's tough.  

*  Cold weather is invigorating for about 2 minutes.

*  Sleeping away from home for one night is okay.   More than that I start to miss my bed.

* As I say every year THIS year I am going to focus on the real meaning of Christmas.  Catalogs are going right into the trash.

*  A house without a dog or two is very quiet.

*  Stuffing myself makes me feel horrible.  

* I will vote tomorrow.  I will also be HAPPY to see those candidates' signs come down and for the commercials to go away.

* Visiting family is a mix of emotions.

*  And one-on-one time with hubby is still fun.

* I'm keeping it positive!   Happy thoughts….   happy life!

Have a great Monday and week everyone!