Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My "at least one" Entry for 2016

Well hello!

It's June already. Actually almost July.  I've notice that I have made at least one entry per year to my blog since I started blogging back in 2010.  So, as not to break that record, here is my "at least one entry" for 2016!!

Mmmmmm, where to start?  I've really got some catch-up here...

Well, I'm retired a little over 2 years now.  Still loving it. No regrets.  I have to confess though, that many of the things I started once I retired more or less fizzled out.

Volunteering at the Horse Protection Society proved more than I could handle.  Too old, too city, I can't really say the reason.  Bob says I might have made it had I waited until spring to start. Trying to help care for 100 horses out in 30 degree weather might have just done this city girl in. It was a good tired, though, at the end of a long and hard day. Bob would have to meet me at the door just to help me out of my muddy clothes and boots.  I would be frozen to the bone and too tired to get my own boots off!  He most usually had to help me out of bed the following morning as well. It was much harder physical work than I ever dreamed, caring for those neglected and abused beautiful creatures - and to think it is all done by volunteers. They truly must be angels in disguise!


Guitar went on quite a bit longer, but, it too, didn't last.  I do still keep the two guitars and a ukulele sitting out just in case the bug bites again.! I actually love the idea.  Got frustrated though trying to play clear chords with two numb fingers (cubital tunnel, another story).  I may try it again though. Hopefully, I've got plenty of time!

Piano...well, I don't want to say it didn't last. I'm like a child when it comes to a piano. I can't resist sitting down and banging on the keys. I took some lessons for awhile, but apparently I am not a quick study.  I can play Happy Birthday and that does come in pretty handy.  (Oh, I forgot to mention, I can also play the cupcake song on my ukulele!! Believe it or not, that song comes in pretty handy too!!)

Cooking  - I'm getting better. I'm growing quite a list of things that turn out pretty good pretty consecutively. Bob still tends to go overboard with the praise and I can't help but question his motives.  Is it really that good or is he just trying to make me want to cook more often?  I do know that I make a pretty terrific lemoncello cake, if I do say so myself.  I've only made about a hundred or so of them, so they should be getting pretty good by now. Aaaaaaand, I make my own lemoncello!  How impressive is that!

Gardening - Mark that off the list!  No green thumb for me.  There is good news though, Bob's thumb is green!!  He may not know the name of anything, but if he sticks it in the ground, it tends to grow. He took us to the Rowan County Cooperative Extension last year and we learned to propagate. And so, together, he and I must have propagated 50 different plants.  You do all of this there with their help and then they put your plants in their greenhouse for several weeks to help them get a good start. Then in the fall you go back and pick all these little plants up and bring them home - at least 50 of them! Well, Bob babied all these little plants all through the winter.  He had purchased these cute little plastic green houses and they apparently did the trick.  Come spring, there must have been 49 little plants that had survived winter.  The only problem was, the names of the plants which had been penciled in on these little white tags stuck into each little pot had been washed off, so we didn't know what was what.  Oh, we did identify several of them using the internet, but the majority of them, nobody knows.  And Bob had to plant each and every one.  So we may end up with a tree where a shrub was intended, and vise versa, but since he is just getting started, everything is still pretty much the same height and width!  I guess we've got some time to figure it out!

Ahhhh!  Fly fishing!! Now there's a keeper!! I am here to tell you that I am a fly fisher woman!! I catch fish!! I have my own rod and reel and I can tell the difference between a rainbow, a brown and a brook!!! I know I'm making light here, but I really do think I've found my niche. It just feels right when I'm out there standing in a mountain stream. What's more exciting is that Bob seems to enjoy it about as much as I do! 

Oh, what else?

Life is not perfect, although I know it sounds like it is.  I do enjoy it, though, more than not. I think I told you back in my 2014 post that I had two beautiful new daughters-in-law and six new grandchildren, giving me a total of seven grandchildren. Well I am still feeling very blessed.  My two Davids moved their families into new homes in the past year and both have now attended a dance recital or two (since four of those new grandchildren are girls). Our newest granddaughter (Ann-Margret) is now two years old and just keeps getting prettier and prettier, and the other bookend, my first grandson Nick, makes me more proud with each passing year.  He is handsome, smart and has a heart for God that pretty much directs his entire life. Add to that, three more beautiful granddaughters (Faith, Emma and MariClare) and two more handsome grandsons (Maysen and Parker) - it only goes to prove, Jesus loves me!

(Family pictures to come in a later post!)

Bob is still playing the saxophone and not likely to give that up anytime soon - and I don't want him to.  He plays in two bands and so that calls for a lot of practice - nearly every evening. I get to wash supper dishes most evenings to the sound of music - big band, swing, jazz, beach!!! I have, on occasion, even heard him playing Amazing Grace! <smile>

We lost our cat Gracie about a year ago.  I think I told you about her in my 2014 post.  That was a sad day.  She was not a healthy cat when we got her, plus she had some major trust issues.  It was so heartwarming to watch her become more comfortable with us. She was actually curled at my feet when I wrote that last post. We still have Samantha (Sam). She's healthy and strong and tough as nails!  Her days may be numbered though if she keeps bringing me those awful gifts <smile>.  I know she is a great hunter, but I would just as soon not be gifted with her catch!!

Church has become a big part of my life since retirement.  I've always wanted to be involved in church but nursing with its multiple shifts and weekend work was not conducive. I love my new church - Christ United Methodist, and all the people in it!  It has helped grow my faith in more ways than I can say.  I am going on my first mission trip in just a few weeks!!

Oh, and I still have a great bunch of friends!  There is no way I could do a catch-up entry and not mention them.   Most of us have been friends so long we can't remember not being friends.  Bob and I have been best friends for 36 years - married for 33 of them, and yet, my best girl friend Zandy and I go back 40+ years. Of course my closest and dearest girl friend is my sister Dolly, and of course, we go back even further!

My Friday Night group (Sue, Larry, Jo Ann, Scotty, Trudy, Molly, Bob C, and Victor) has been together at least 10-15 years.  Sue and Larry, though, are in the 30+ year group - Trudy, before that. We still get together every Friday night, and then a few of us get together a couple times during the week. I see a couple of them almost more than I see my own family!

My "Dinner Diva" group (Zandy, Marcia, Jean, Bonnie, Nancy, Ruth, Sandy, Karen, Sherry, and Jane) continues to meet for dinner the second Tuesday of every month.  I've been in this group at least 14 years. Others even longer. Sherry and Jane have come since me, so we do add a few here and there.  Sadly, we've started to lose a few here and there as well.  We lost Sandy a few years ago to dementia. While she is still living, she no longer remembers how important she was to our group. Ruth left us just a few months ago - cancer.  She loved hosting our big Christmas gathering every year and always went over and beyond in the menu and the decorations.  While she was sick this past December, she wouldn't hear of us not coming there as usual for Christmas.  I can't imagine what this coming Christmas will look or feel like without Ruth! I am afraid we are getting to that age...
Christmas 2015 at Ruth's
I've added a couple of new groups in the past two years. One I call my VA group (Carol, Gwen, Mary and Susan). We all worked together at the VA hospital years ago.  We have been getting together for a monthly lunch for about a year now and reminiscing about the good ol' days. Old friends are so special and it is truly a blessing to be able to reconnect after years of separation. It's especially nice too, when you all come to the realization together that these are actually the better days!!

And my newest group - the Reel River Girls!!!  I'll give you one guess as to what this group does! Yep, you guessed it.  We fish!!

And that's that for now.  I know I've not covered everything, but maybe I can make at least two entries in 2016!

Until then, Stay Reel!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Character Behind that Goofy Grin

Well I know this post may come as a surprise, since I've been extremely busy doing some very fun things and yet have not blogged about any of them; but this particular incident - the recent death of VP Joe Biden's 46 year old son to brain cancer prompted me to read a few articles about the VP.

I might mention that I am a Republican. Probably more liberal than conservative, but still a Republican, so I have never really given much attention to VP Joe Biden. All I've really known of him is that he always seems to have this happy-go-lucky, goofy grin on his face and is always in trouble for doing or saying something inappropriate.  He's always struck me as a prankster - sort of a comedy act.  He seems to always get caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Anyway, until the last few days, I was not aware of the grief this man has known. His life and entire career have been woven with tragedy. Many men would have been broken, yet, he never gave up - and he always has this goofy grin on his face as if he hasn't a care in the world!

It is a wonder this man can smile at all.  At the age of 30, just a week after he was elected to the senate, his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident.  It was questionable, as well, if his two sons would survive.  He came close to ending his political career before it even started. However, the fact that his sons did survive was his saving grace.  He admitted, in a 2012 speech to grieving families, that had both boys died in the accident, he may not have found the strength to go on.  He told them he understood how someone could consciously consider suicide, "not because they were deranged, not because they were nuts, because they had been to the top of the mountain and they just knew in their heart they would never get there again."

He went on to say this: 

"There will come a day – I promise you, and your parents as well – when the thought of your son or daughter, or your husband or wife, brings a smile to your lips before it brings a tear to your eye. It will happen."

Well, tragedy struck the life of Joe Biden again this past Saturday.  His 46 year old son Beau, one of the sons who survived the 1972 auto accident, lost his battle with brain cancer.  So VP Joe Biden is having to bury another loved one.

I learned all of this just in the past two days as I was reading about Beau Biden's death.  One article lead to another, and I found myself watching an address VP Biden gave earlier this month to the graduating class at Yale University.  His speech was personal, funny, very touching and revealed to me a man I never imagined behind that goofy grin.

I am including here links to both the youtube speech itself and the transcript.  I read the transcript first and enjoyed it so much that I couldn't resist watching Biden actually give the speech.  Watching and listening to the actual speech was far better than just reading the transcript. I never realized what a great speaker Biden is.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=4214&v=excEkQX1_kQ


https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/05/17/remarks-vice-president-yale-university-class-day

Yes, it is long and takes some time, but it is so very worth it.  But because I know that most of you will not take the time, I want to list here a few lines in the speech that I highlighted primarily because I don't want to forget them.

(Biden's words in italics)

***************
I was raised by a tough, compassionate Irish lady named Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden.  And she taught all of her children that, but for the grace of God, there go you — but for the grace of God, there go you...

...And a father who lived his motto that, family was the beginning, the middle, and the end.

It was one of his (father's) expressions.  It’s a lucky man or woman gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor, knows what they’re about to do, and thinks it still matters.

First, the most successful and happiest people I’ve known understand that a good life at its core is about being personal.  It’s about being engaged.  It’s about being there for a friend or a colleague when they’re injured or in an accident, remembering the birthdays, congratulating them on their marriage, celebrating the birth of their child.  It’s about being available to them when they’re going through personal loss.  It’s about loving someone more than yourself.  It all seems to get down to being personal.

It’s always appropriate to question another man’s judgment, but never appropriate to question his motives because you simply don’t know his motives. (Joe Biden quoting the advice given him early in his career by Majority Leader Mike Mansfield .)

Build real relationships — even with people with whom you vehemently disagree.  You’ll not only be happier.  You will be more successful.

The second thing I’ve noticed is that although you know no one is better than you, every other person is equal to you and deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

But even if you get these things right, I’ve observed that most people who are successful and happy remembered a third thing:  Reality has a way of intruding. (This statement preceded Biden telling the graduates about the auto accident that took the lives of his wife and daughter and injured his two sons.)

I can remember my mother — a sweet lady — looking at me, after we left the hospital, and saying, Joey, out of everything terrible that happens to you, something good will come if you look hard enough for it.  She was right.

My dad’s definition of success is when you look at your son and daughter and realize they turned out better than you, and they did.
 
But resist that temptation to rationalize what others view is the right choice for you — instead of what you feel in your gut is the right choice — that’s your North Star.  Trust it.  Follow it. 

***************

The speech was incredible. It was actually brilliant.  So much good advice that could apply to us all.  I never knew that so much character resided behind that goofy grin.

I will never look at Vice President Joe Biden the same way again!



 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Laughter

Awh, laughter!  How nice it is to laugh!  It not only feels good, it's healthy too!  The best medicine, they say!  The louder and harder you laugh, the better the benefits!

Anyway! I'm not writing an essay or anything.  Just got an email from a friend that made me laugh - several times actually, and not just a chuckle.

So I thought I'd save it in a blog post. That way, I can read back every once in a while and laugh again.

___________________________________

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.

3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on # 5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

10. Bad decisions make good stories.

11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page technical report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

14. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

15. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

16. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

17. I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger..

18. How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear or understand a word they said?

19. I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

20. Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.

21. Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.

22. Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time.

23. The first testicular guard, the "Cup," was used in Hockey in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974. That means it only took 100 years for men to realize that their brain is also important.

Finding God

I found myself being beckoned outdoors this early morning as I sat at the kitchen table drinking coffee.  The call was so real that I actually got up and looked out the door.  The loveliness of the day almost took my breath.  The dew was still on the grass and the early morning sun was filtering through the trees.  I knew immediately who was calling out to me.

It was God...inviting me to come find Him in the beauty of this day. So, of course, I changed quickly into shorts and walking shoes, grabbed my camera, and headed out the door. My plan was to take pictures of all the places I found Him. 

Did I say I went out to find Him?  I didn't have to find Him.  He was waiting right outside the door...
 

 





  



 
 
"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in."                                ~ George Washington Carver

 
 


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Heart Things - Treasures


Well, you would be surprised the number of times I log on here, feeling like I have something to say, then maybe writing a paragraph or two before giving up and closing out.

I'm a terrible blogger...

I want to blog.  In fact, I can't tell you the joy I find in reading some of my past posts - not because it's great writing, but because the posts are all about the people and things I love, or fun experiences, or just things that made me laugh or cry.

Heart things - that's how I'd describe them...treasures, and they're all written down in one place allowing me to revisit them as often as I desire. To me, this is the benefit of blogging.

So why can't I blog?  My life continues to be filled with treasures...

Gracie, my cat of five months is laying across my feet as I write this - a long-awaited act of trust on her part...

My family increased in size over the past 15 months - two new daughters-in-law and six new grandchildren, one of which is a brand new little girl, currently just over 3 months old...

I retired in March, something I consider quite a feat for me, as I feared it for a long time, wondering what in the world I would do with all the extra time and reduced income...

I started taking guitar lessons when I retired and have loved every minute although I still struggle playing clear chords.  I'm considering giving piano lessons another shot...

I joined a fly fishing group of ladies back in July and will start fly fishing classes next week - watching someone fly fish in a mountain stream always made me think of God...

I've reconnected with several old friends since retirement - a retirement resolution. We laugh together over how much we've changed and yet stayed the same...

My Friday Night Group and the Dinner Divas remain as vital to my life as family...

My husband...well, life with him grows sweeter every day...

And my walk with God is finally finding it's rightful place in my life...

...plenty of treasures...plenty of memories-in-the-making...plenty of reasons to blog.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Annual Post-Christmas Delemma

Well, Christmas is over and like every year before, I face my usual January dilemma -- when MUST I take down my Christmas decorations?

Most of my neighbors had every sign of Christmas removed by the evening of the 26th!  If it weren't  for the trees lying out by the curb, one might never know that just the day before planes were having trouble finding Charlotte airport because of all the lights shining up from my neighborhood here in Salisbury!

WHAT IS THE RUSH???? 

I've been told that the holidays are so hectic, people are just ready to get things back to normal.

What??  The shopping is over, the gift-giving, the parties, the dinners...the hectic part of Christmas is over!  Now is the time we can truly enjoy the peace and the quiet and the serenity of sitting in the soft glow of Christmas lights and candles and shiny Christmas balls!

My house never feels so warm and peaceful and inviting as it does when it is aglow with the lights of Christmas. Gives me a feeling of good will toward all men. 

I'm just never excited to pack that away.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hope in the New Year!

I actually wrote this last January, but never posted it.  I don't know why. I had forgotten it was here, until I found it today, still waiting.  It makes me a little sad to read it, but then I was sad last January.  We had lost an important member of our family and so it was difficult to imagine how we could march full of hope into a new year.

Nevertheless, the words are just as true for me this January, as last. I always face a new year with a little apprehension.  The up-side to that is it's never without hope.

So, here's last years words for this year...

Well here we are, the first day of a new year!  As usual, I enter the new year with mixed feelings - excitement, hope, apprehension, and yes, fear. I guess this is probably true for many of us, but especially for those of us having a little age on us.  Unlike the young, we older folks no longer feel invincible and we've learned from experience that things don't always work out.

So I enter the new year, excited for the opportunity of a new beginning, hopeful that this year will be better than the last, apprehensive because I know the possibilities include both good and bad, and fearful of the bad.

I guess of all these feelings though, I'm the most hopeful!  I am hopeful that this new year will bring jobs to those in need of work, food for those who go to bed hungry every night, love for those who yearn for it but don't have it, healing to those who face devastating illness, peace to those whose minds harbor demons they have to fight every day of their lives, and hope to those who feel they are without hope.

Yes, mostly I'm hopeful.