Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The good and bad of April.

After a week away, we have the Hodgepodge back.  So, let's see the questions!  Shall we?  I will respond with my answers.  Feel free to answer too.

1. This is the last Hodgepodge in April. Share something you learned this month. 
Well, I know I learned something this past month. In fact, I probably learned lots of new things.  But, here's my problem - and perhaps you can relate:  I forget what I learn!  So... let me think about this for a few minutes. I will come back after I finish the other questions. 

Ok. I'm back.  I learned the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath!  I was on a long car ride with friends and we got to wondering about how a person can be born without having empathy for others, or how they can exist without concern for their fellowman.  They have no sense of 'feeling the pain of others.'  So, one friend brought out her iphone and googled (oh, how I love Google!) and we discovered both are similiar in many ways, but a sociopath is much more nervous and explodes, while a psychopath stays calms, plans out bad behavior, and can 'act normal' easier.  

Gee, aren't you glad you asked?!?     Let's move on...

2.  It's National Poetry Month, and we all know you can't escape an April Hodgepodge without a little poetry. Keeping the first line as is, change the rest of the wording in this familiar rhyme to make it your own - 'Hickory Dickory Dock...
Hickory Dickory Dock, the politicians love to mock,
the worst comes out, more than we ever knew...
as to even complain about how a guy chews! 
Hickory Dickory Dock... 
Oh, one guy even talked about his...  __ ock. 
3. What were one or two rules in the home you grew up in? Growing up, did you feel your parents were strict? Looking back do you still see it that way? 
We had a chore list of things to do.  I remember it well...  it was taped inside the pantry door in our Cleveland Heights home.   If we did our chores for the week, we got rewarded.  We were motivated by getting ice cream. My sis and I took turns cleaning dinner dishes and loading them into the dishwasher.    We also had to be home by the time the street lights came on. (Yes, we really did have that rule.) 

No, I didn't think my parents were too strict.  Although, I was the 'baby' of three kids so I see it from my place in the family.  By the time I came around my older sister and older brother had already broken in my parents!  lol

4. Tell us about a kitchen or cooking disaster or mishap you've experienced. Do you have many from which to choose? 
Well, once I made Christmas cookies and forgot to put in flour.   I think I measured the sugar... than reached for the sugar bag again and thought it was the flour.  Measured more...and in went more sugar!   The cookies were VERY sugary!!!  And super sweet and moist.   And I think they all went into the trash.  
I don't have many disasters because I really don't spend time in the kitchen. I don't enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes. 

5. Plant a kiss, plant doubt, plant a tree, plant yourself somewhere...which on the list have you most recently planted? 
I have planted flowers!  I did that over this past weekend. But of the list above, I think I have to go with 'plant myself somewhere.'  I'm still getting over my foot injury and I try to rest it.  So, I have planted myself on a back deck chair, read my Book Club book, and sat and enjoyed the beautiful weather right now.

6. What's your most worn item of clothing this time of year? Are you tired of it? 
Most worn? I have a khaki colored skort (skirt with shorts under it) that I have had for years - but I still love it and wear it often. It's worn a lot AND it's the fabric is getting worn.  I like it because it goes with many different colors of tops.   I am NOT tired of it! And, I'm happy it still fits!

7. I'm wrapping up the A-Z Blog Challenge this month and our Hodgepodge lands on letter W. What's one word beginning with W that describes you in some way? How about a word to describe your home, also beginning with W?
Me?   Willing (but sometimes Wimpy if something is scary!) 

My home?   Welcoming!

8. Insert your own random thought here. 
My favorite months are just starting now...   yes, it's my favorite time of year!   I love the warmer weather, the longer hours of daylight, the kick-back feeling in summer, the family get-togethers, and the concerts I see this time of year.   
Bring it on!   

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

No Hodgepodge... but my own list of "this and that."

Hi readers!  I can't seem to find the weekly Hodgepodge questions, so instead I will post a few of my thoughts on this start of a Wednesday morning in April.

*  I love mornings when I don't have to rush out of the house.

*  I also love this time of the year because I can keep my back door open for my doggies and my kitty Midnight, and they can go in and out as they please.  The weather is lovely.  It's not too hot, not too cold.  It's just right.  (Goldilocks must love April!)    The AC and the heat are not running so the utility bill will be low.  Yay!

*  I have no reason to complain about traffic where i live, but I do get annoyed with people that drive 5 miles UNDER the speed limit.  It happens around here often. We have lots of senior citizens.  I'm well on my way to becoming one, but I pledge never to go too slow and to not pay attention to the cars behind me.

*  Yesterday was the NY state primary.   Again, the results show that we as a people are SO very  polarized (as in South pole - North pole)  when it comes to who we want as our next president.  I still keep thinking that those who support and vote for Donald Trump still don't get it - they don't think ahead and realize that he might be the next President of the United States of America.  Just that thought, oh, it makes my stomach do flip-flops.

*  Thanks to my family and friends who came out to our community band concert last night.  We had a couple of challenging pieces of music and we made it through...and the crowd seemed to love it all.  Phew.   Thank goodness not everyone has a musical background and can hear and pick out the rough spots.   But, when you end with Sousa's "Stars and Stripes Forever" the people are always happy!

*  I really DO NOT like when I see the sad pictures and stories about animal abuse on Facebook.  Seriously, what is wrong with people?   I know there are crazy people in the world, but how can anyone find jollies out of torturing an innocent animal?    But, then again, how can anyone see an animal in the woods enjoying it's life and then just shoot it?

*  Here's my Fitbit story:  I was VERY excited about wearing one and pushing myself to exercise more! I started wearing a Fitbit in January.   I upped my walking significantly for a few weeks...and then, I pushed too hard and got 2 small stress fractures in my foot!!  (It doesn't help that I have osteoporosis.)  It's been downhill since then.  Pain... and walking differently has turned into 4 months of walking with a limp,  shifting to compensate, and moving pain around... from the ball of my foot, to the heel, to hip pain, lower back pain...  here, there, and everywhere!     To top it off, I lost my Fitbit!!   I think THAT was meant to be! 

*  Got a favorite song out there right now?   You all know mine:  "Stay Humble and Kind"  - sung by Tim.   I also really like anything by Keith,  Dierks, and Jason.  All guys. Hmmmm    Isn't it interesting that country music fans name the artists by first name?  I guess when they make it big, they make it to 'first name only needed' status.  Also, country music fans feel like family.  There is a connection with the artists not felt in other music genres.

*   Speaking of... only 50 days until the CMA Festival starts in Nashville. But who's counting?  lol

*  I have discovered that some people read my blog posts, but never comment - or even let on that they have read it.  That's okay.  Hello to you!!! 

*   Deep thoughts happen as we age.  Religion and faith become more important.  That ticking clock reminds us that we are only here for a while, and it's really not very long.  Do you wonder what happens when your body dies?  Scared?    Find a church - and seek some answers.   Personally, I can't understand how people can not think about it - about life after this, about God, about soul connections.  Heaven.  

*  I want to wear shorts and flip-flops ALL THE TIME.  

*   Babies...  I LOVE LOVE LOVE babies!    My mother-in-law used to say "I could eat them up" which sounds disgusting, but it's a southern thing I guess.  And, really, I get it - they are so, so, so adorable!      Toddlers too.    The innocence, the little voices, the exploring of everything!   Yep - I could just eat them up!

Time to get my day going - beyond this computer.  My coffee is gone. My warm English muffin with peanut butter on it. Gone.   I'm ready to go...    

Have a GREAT day! See you back here soon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Taxes, libraries, gardens, and more.

1. What's the last thing you did that could be described as 'taxing'?

Ah, tax season is here!  Thankfully, hubby and I have used a tax company and very qualified CPA's to do our taxes for quite a few years now.

But, what about other times I have done something taxing?   Well,  I take this to mean that it is having to do hard work, to use a lot of brain power, and it is quite tiring.  I am fortunate to say I have not had anything like that in my life for a long time.  I have had a few times in the past where I have had deadlines but usually they are for projects I enjoy doing.  I have a situation in life now, and am of an age too, where I can say no to something I consider taxing.    Yippee!

2. If you could plant a garden of anything, what would be in it?

I'm a flower garden person.  I love working outdoors and I love weeding, and watching flowers grow.  So, I think my garden of "anything" would be full of flowers of all kinds and colors, that bloom through the seasons.  

3. April 10-16 is National Library Week...will you celebrate with a visit to your nearest library? When did you last make a trip to the library? What are you reading right now? What's one title on your want-to-read list?

I take care of our church's library.  So, I visit it once a week or so...just to put away books that have been borrowed, or to add new donations in.   I do not really go to our county/neighborhood library, although I probably should.  It's new - and close by.

I prefer to buy books.  I buy some from our independent little book shop, and some I buy from Amazon.  I often buy gently used ones.  I like to have them for as long as I need them. I belong to two Book Clubs so sometimes I buy in advance - or see something I want to read in the summer and get it early to save. 

Right now I am reading "A God in Ruins" for my neighborhood Book Club.  It's by Kate Atkinson.  I am 3/4s through and I am not loving it.  Interesting characters I suppose. A lot of 'time jumping.'  I will be interested to hear how my fellow club members feel about the book.   That's the beauty of belonging to a club.  You hear many interpretations and reviews on a book. It can be enlightening.

4. Share a saying or an old wives tale you heard while growing up, you believed to be true or that you paid attention to 'just in case'?

I Skipped over this, and just came back.  I'm at a loss for an old wives tale that I still believe.  Stepping on cracks will break your mothers back...  walking under a ladder will give you bad luck...  maybe those two.  But, I really don't live my life thinking about it.  I guess I will have to wait and read other answers. 

5. Are you a fan of onions? Garlic? Ginger? What's a dish you love that contains one, two or all three items listed?

Onions - cooked. Yes!   Raw - they are okay in small doses.   Garlic - cooked. Yes! In small doses.  Ginger - I can take it or leave it.  

A favorite dish?  Well, I love a good thick spaghetti sauce with sauted onions and garlic in it.   Really, I love lots of dishes with sauted onions and garlic - And I love the smell of it on the stove top!

6.  Where does nurturing end and indulging begin? What are some skills or qualities a person needs to posess in order to be viewed as mature?

Hmm.  Good question.  My personal story:   I used to worry that we indulged our daughters too much when they were young and growing up...but I also made sure to let them know how fortunate we were, and that with good gifts from God there also comes responsibility.  

There is a big difference in what we NEED versus what we LIKE TO HAVE.   I think a child needs to learn as they grow that everyone has the same NEEDS, but they don't get the same things they might like to have.   But,  people are still the same.   A mature person knows this. A mature person is one that - going back to my new mantra these days - stays humble and kind to everyone.

7. What leading figure in any field would you like to hear speak, and why?

I love those videoed talks you can pull up online now. I can't think of the name of them, but my daughter has shown me a few - from industry leaders, or writers, or artists.

I think I would love to listen to someone in the music industry today.  I find it interesting...not the artist so much, as someone who works for them - to promote them, to get the talent out there for all to hear.  I think true singers/musicians have to rely on people to produce, agents to schedule, companies to market.  There is so much that goes on 'behind the scene' that I find fascinating. 

8. Insert your own random thought here. 

I was "chatty" this morning and wrote a few thoughts on my blog in a post before this one.  If you hae time, read on.   If not, have a wonderful April day - and week!  See you next time here at the Hodgepodge!

My two cents

It's Hodgepodge day and I will get to it next, but first I wanted to write a few things...  why?  It's my right, my blog, my way of expressing myself.  Read it at your own risk.

*  North Carolina is in hot water over a bill that is twofold.  The first part (the part that the law is named for) is the concern/confusion over which bathroom transgender folks should use when in a public place.  I get that... because, yes, there is worry that some people (those not truly transgender) will dress as if they are trans, just to go into a specific bathroom... because they are lewd people, or peeping toms, or you know, crazy.   In reality, they probably already do it,  but this law will make it easier.   Also, transgender people identify one way but have body parts that don't match.   It's confusing for us, so I can only imagine it is for them too! 

BUT...the second part of the law is what has most people up in arms.  It is the part that gives groups, churches, etc. the right to exclude them.  That part is blatant discrimination.   Even though we may not understand a transgender person's "need" to be the way they are, we can NOT exclude them from their constitutional rights... their rights for freedom, equality, and all the other beliefs that the very conservative speak out about upholding.   If the conservatives spout these rights for gun freedoms, then they have to acknowledge it's same rights for transgenders.  (Oh, and don't get me started on women's freedoms to decide about their own bodies too.)

*   I have had several incidents lately where others have left me 'in the dark' on purpose.  And, I admit, it has hurt.   As many know, I live my life as an open book.  I live my life with nothing to hide.  As Popeye said "I yam what I yam!"    What you see is what you get.    I find living this way is less stressful.  I don't have to remember.... 'did I tell this person?  But not this person?  Can I speak up - or out -or not?' 

For those, who don't live so openly, let me tell you:  it eventually comes out.  When it does - it can cause hurt and it can leave a person, like me, with a feeling of 'unworthiness.'  Or I feel that I am not to be trusted - or will think poorly about them.    I don't get it.   Really.   And, I feel for those who keep so much emotion in, and hide truths.  Play games.  Hide things away.   Just be who you are!   But...  as my favorite song says (by a certain favorite singer) - yes, speak openly, but always stay humble and kind.   It can be done!

*  Speaking of humble and kind...   Isn't it rather nice to have a break from political debates and town halls, and all the media interviews?  Is it me, or does it now seem like it's a bit calmer out there?  Less people are left in the race.  phew.   And, my state has already had it's primaries.  I purposely do NOT turn on CNN or Fox News, or MSNBC... or any other station that uses 23 1/2 - 7 for political discussions.  (A 1/2 hour a day may actually be about real news. But that is all. )

*   I am happy it's April.  Spring is here and summer is around the corner! Bring it on!!  My favorite time of year!!  (I disagree with the Christmas song...  )

*  I filled out a Neilsen TV rating book a few months back and so, I now just received one for radio.  Back in my days of working in radio the big rating service was Arbitron.  Does it still exist?   I am happy to take time for a week to fill out the Neilsen diary book about my radio listening habits.  I know from being on the other side how important the rating by the listeners is.  It's mostly about WHEN you listen and for HOW LONG.  Advertising dollars are decided by the results AND announcers jobs can be on the line by it.  

I learned by filling out the diary this week that I now only listen to radio when I am in my car.   My music in the house comes from my iphone - it's either from Pandora, or my pre-downloaded songs.   Occasionally I turn on CMT-TV to listen... mostly morning time when the music videos are aired.   I still enjoy music while I clean. It keeps me energized.

Neilsen and Arbitron used to only send cash to people to fill out the dairies in areas where encouragement was really needed. I suppose that's everywhere now.  I have already received from them some nice crisp new dollar bills.  At the end of the TV diary time, I received $10 for filling it out and mailing it back in to them.  I think I will get the same for the radio responses.

If you get the opportunity to do it, you should!  It's kind of like voting... and you get to make your own selections and add your opinions.

*  So, I'm wondering...  of all the social media that is out there now, which one is your favorite?  I know most people are on Facebook.  Are you a Twitter person?  What about Snapchat?  And Instagram?   I just got something online that encouraged me to download Dubsmash.  Have you heard of it?  I'm not really sure what it does.   I think I'm starting to get a bit app overload!!   I'm all about Facebook, and I use Instagram.  I have a Twitter account but I gave up trying to follow people.   What about you?

Which makes me wonder... do you still get a newspaper?  We gave our home delivery up just a couple of months ago.   It makes me sad...but with all the other news sources on line, and with all the social media outlets, the newspaper was behind on everything. I don't care about local ads or coupons.  So, bye bye newspaper.

Well, it's time to hop on over to Hodgepodge and see what our leader, Joyce, has in store for me.  See you there, if you have the time.   Have a great day!! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Things to do... or not do. What do you put off?

Good morning Hodgepodge friends!  Without further adieu, here are this week's questions with my answers.  Feel free to chime in here in the 'comments' section, or on Facebook.

1. What does retirement mean to you? Are you planning for it, not thinking about it, looking forward to it, or dreading it?

Retirement sure can be a big ole question mark!  Who knows how long you will live?  And, how will you keep busy?  Do you have the funds required?  How will your health be?    Hubby and I have done our best to plan financially and have thought it through on where to live (here) to enjoy our 'later years.'  I admit that I am going through a bit of a head challenge right now about reaching the years of 'down-sizing' - and just wondering how I got to it already!?!  I have been thinking about giving things to my daughters as they get their own homes. And giving other things to charity.   It's harder than I thought. I try not to be about things, but it's also hard to let go of items that have sentimental value. 

My hubby tried retirement once already and it lasted about six months.  He needs business stimulation and challenges.  But, he is also pretty tired of business game-playing and all the traveling.  So, I don't know how much longer he will stick with it this second time around.

Then we will have many more hours together, after all of our married life being on our own in many ways.  That will be an adjustment.   He is high energy and I am more laid back.   So, it concerns me a little.  He likes projects. Activity.  I like 'doing' at times, but I also like just 'being' with a book or with music.

So, yes, I am thinking about retirement a lot (hubby's) and I am thinking how it's a major life change... for both of us.   We will go with what each day brings - together.

2. It's International Guitar Month...do you play? Does anyone in your family play? What's a song you especially like to hear played on the guitar or a favorite song featuring the guitar?

I wish I played.  I have tried several times to learn on my own but never stuck with it - and I never allowed my fingers to get calloused enough for the strings.   My hubby has also thought of learning (perhaps a retirement hobby??)  and one year I bought him a guitar as a gift.   So, we have one in the house.

I have said this before, but I love love love a singer/songwriter who can sing and accompany themselves on an acoustic guitar.  I find it mesmorizing!  I play flute and a little piano - so I have enough musical knowledge to understand the ability it takes to play guitar and sing - and to hold an audience with it.   I love it too because it's raw, open...there is no hiding behind other instruments.  Such a talent!!

A favorite?  I love a lot of the "folk sound" of the 60's and 70's.  Today:  Keith Urban is a triple threat - songwriting, singing, playing his guitar.  One of his early songs "You'll Think of Me" is wonderful.  Also "Tonight I Want a Cry".

3. What's your comfort food?

When all else fails, I go to peanut butter.  It's always in my pantry.  I slather some on Ritz crackers.  Or, I make a sandwich - and I am happy!

4. What's one activity or area of your life where you absolutely never procrastinate?

Gee, it's easier to tell you areas where I do procrastinate!   Like today (actually, last week) I need to call the sprinkler irrigation system guy to come repair some sprinkler heads. I am terrible about calling repair people in general - or anyone that I have to be at their 'beck and call' for... because they keep me waiting.  Grrrr  

Where I do NOT procrastinate?  In general I am not a 'last minute' person so I will say if I have a project, then I prefer to finish it up a few days before a deadline. I don't like the stress of waiting until the last minute.

5. Who does the grocery shopping in your house? Does your local store bag the groceries for you or is it a do-it-yourself kind of place? Do you like someone packing your groceries?

I do the food shopping for our home.  Hubby does it for our riva cabin because he goes there more - he keeps an office there.  The stores I go to - Publix, Lowe's, Fresh Market - have baggers.  Most places here in the south do.  I appreciate it.  It moves the checkout line along faster and is better customer service.  Plus, the stores' employ more people.  So, it's a win-win.  

6. What's the coolest thing you've seen in nature?

Oh wow!  So many things!  In general I find nature awesome!   (Except for snakes.)   I can't think of one thing that was unusually cool or different, or odd, but I love the sights and sounds of nature. 

7. Share a favorite quote about home.

Well, Dorothy said "There's no place like home!"

And, I always like a Tim McGraw lyric.  This song is called "Home."

Back home
Where the memories all have gathered up
And slowly turned to gold
And I carry them along with me wherever I may go
And I feel fine
So fine
In knowing that this road I'm wandering on
From time to time
It always leads me home
Back home

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Tonight starts the 3 final nights of "American Idol."   You gonna watch?   I am looking forward to seeing many of the past winners appearing on it.  So, many many singers have gotten their starts from Idol!   There's going to be lots of hoopla.         I have said it before: I will certainly miss this show!


Monday, April 4, 2016

After the ACM Awards...

Here is my 'two cents' about last evening's ACM Awards...

* Bringing Blake out in the beginning was funny. It was one surprise that was kept a surprise.   But, then when he sang his current record "Came Here to Forget" (which he sang really well by the way) I could not help but wonder where Miranda was at that moment. Kudos to the camera people who did not find her and 'focus in.'  Gwen wasn't there either - at least not on camera.

* Luke and Dierks hosting together went fine.  I heard most of monologue lines earlier in the week because as a die-hard country fan, I heard radio interviews and saw video clips of rehearsals. I heard the jokes early.

* Performances....    Dolly & Katy. I heard about it ahead of time. I think "keeping a secret" would be more fun for the TV audience.  To give a real surprise - and a wow factor!!  (But yes, I know, advertising it brings in more viewers I suppose.)  Dolly still sings AND looks great. I know she is going out on a tour and I would certainly love to see her live!!  She is an icon.  

There were many great performances.  Thomas Rhett.  Chris Stapleton. Keith Urban.  Little Big Town.  Miranda's performance didn't really showcase her, but an old ZZ Top song is always a hit.

Ok. I love Carrie.  Who doesn't?   The lady is beautiful and has incredible chops.  She always wears amazing clothes.  My negative thought about her perfomance was that it was just too showy. Too much going on on the stage.  (Country music is not about that.) And, what was with the silly drum thing for a minute?  I mean - I could do that!!  I tried to hear the words of the song, which in country is ALWAYS very important... and I could not because of the over-production going on.    Personally, I love Carrie when she sings softer.

You know I love "Stay Humble and Kind" and of course Tim sang it well.   Again, perhaps a bit over-production by the ACM on this one.  All the people filing down the aisle and up on to the stage was distracting to the beauty of the song - and the wonderful words.   The cameras focused on people walking... yes, different ethnicities and colors, etc.  I get that.    But, the people were then just standing there on stage  looking a bit 'deer in the headlights' to me....like it was a last minute thought for the show.   And... I have to mention that I participated in a McGraw team contest of sorts...to submit pictures showing a word describing how to be humble and kind.   It was promoted heavily on Facebook, Instagram, etc.   Well, the television audience did not get to see the pictures at all. It wasn't til the end of Tim's performance that there was a quick look behind people of the big screens showing a few...far-away, and fuzzy.    I suppose the live audience in the auditorium got to see them.  We didn't.     Again - over production??    Too much going on during one song.  The words ARE this song!  Focus on them.  My opinion.

* The awards.   Yes, Chris Stapleton is deserving!  The guy has written hits for years, he has sung back-up, and has put out his own stuff - for years.  The ACM finally caught up with his talent.

I love Thomas Rhett.  Could he and his wife Lauren get any cuter?  Such sweet, young love!  He deserved to win. He has had a good year.

Miranda?  Not sure about her winning again.  How many times in a row?  She didn't really tour or have lots of radio hits this year.

Some of the awards were announced per-show - actually pre-day of show.  Eric Church won for best video. Huh?  Mr. Misunderstood.  I think I mis-understand that choice.   I did appreciate his musical homage to favorites who died this past year tho.

Jason Aldean - I'm glad he won. I have seen him a few times.  The first time I took my hubby and daughter to see him at the House of Blues when he wasn't filling big venues.  He has SO MANY great songs now!  He is ALL about the song!  No flash.   Thank you Jason.

* I watched the live stream "Red Carpet" before the awards.  It was interesting. It had no sound. It was one camera that panned around, zoomed in occasionally.  But, it was fun to watch each darkened limo or SUV pull up and watch each artist get out.  It was REALLY interesting to see which ones took time to greet the fans behind the barriers!

What did you think?      In general, country artists are not as ego-driven, or flashy, or dressed scantily... etc.  as you see at other award shows.  They don't use foul language.  They DO have manners and they respect their fans.   It's about the SONG not the show - when you see them in concert on tour.  It's not a lot of flash.  There is not a lotof choreography.    It's a family feeling for the most part.  It's why I love the music so much.  I love the words... I love the talent...  I love that most artists are friends and not competitive with each other.

I am excited to see them at the CMA Fest in Nashville in June!!