Wednesday, December 31, 2014

:/

At 2am this morning, we slept through the 35th anniversary of  Bobby's wreck.

I was reminded again this holiday season of what a horrific time that was for his family.

We deal with the daily grind stuff that is now routine and "normal" to us and unthinkable to others and the occasional bumps in the road.

His family? They went through horrors that I would not wish on anyone - That am phone call, the ER doctor's blunt "He is alive, but will never walk again.", the medical mistakes, the emotional roller coasters. I cannot imagine my senior year of high school being disrupted by a sibling's accident. I cannot fathom at the age of 12 watching the older brother who constantly picked at me and called me "his little monkey" go through heart-wrenching experiences (This Christmas she talked about the moment she was informed his traction devise actually went through his head). I simply cannot comprehend how hard it was to be the younger brother (who is very different from his older brother) and suddenly feel the weight of expectations that had previously been placed on both brothers, to be the older sister married and not living close by.

We often talk about the fact that many people in his condition wind up in nursing homes because families either cannot (financially or physically) look after them, how many feel or are simply abandoned. Our situation is different. Bobby's current physical condition is a direct result of the consistent and wonderful care-giving from his family. His parents who tag-teamed EVERY SINGLE DAY for 20+years; his siblings who stepped up to the plate and helped out (and still do in emergency situations...along with their spouses) are one of the main reasons why his health is as good as it now.

Unlike some SCI families, we neither mourn nor celebrate this day. It's just a day that was and is - one of those defining moments that forever marks a life as before/after.

But I will say this: the Bryan family was tried with fire...and they're still shining.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Do ya love me?

In an ultimate test of love, my husband sat through TWO nights of High School Musical (one and two) for his 14 year old music loving niece. I couldn't decide which was funnier: her reciting all the lines and singing all the songs, or her 13 year-old brother rolling his eyes and grimacing every few minutes. I had more fun watching the two of them than (intercepted by Bobby's bizarre expressions while watching his niece) I did watching the movies. Though I have to admit the funniest face award went to Bobby when she informed him that she "might" be able to part with her copy of HSM3 which was "the absolutely best ever" and mail it to him once she returned home,  as long as he promised to immediately watch it and return it to the post office (back to her) the next day.

And thankfully, for several years now we have at Smithfield's Chicken-N-BBQ for his nephew's birthday. I think it's safe to say the Chuckie Cheese days are officially over. :)

Christmas decor is all put away. The last December birthday has been celebrated.

And tomorrow. Well, I'll talk about tomorrow tomorrow.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

ever changing

The holidays are always that circular mixture of joy and sorrow. Joy because we have a respite from the "normalicy" of life; of seeing loved ones we don't encounter often; of reminders of why we live and believe - of who we are.  Sorrow because we're reminded of those no longer with us; of seeing time literally pass before our eyes; the reminder of how our barren lives are so very different from everyone else; and the ever present struggle of expectations.

We've laughed a lot this week. From phone calls hearing excitement on the other end to seeing family pictures on Facebook to seeing the shock that an almost 60 year old uncle knew what a "groupie" was (I didn't!) AND had actually seen the movie Mockingjay, we've made a lot of memories this year.

My in-laws were sharing last night how they were shocked the other day to realize someone they thought was incredibly old when they got married was actually the age they are now. And I totally understand that sentiment. It startles and scares and excites me to realize my child-bearing days will in a few years be something of the past. It makes me sad to realize we are "aged out" of the adoption parameters. I realize now my grandparents weren't all that strange when they looked at modern gadgets unimpressed, shrugged, and had simply no desire in it.

This world is ever changing as it spins onward. And yet, as I listened to new songs proclaiming age old truths this morning in church, I was comforted by how some things have never changed in this ever changing world.

Emmanuel - no matter how it is sung or preached, He's still with me. :)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

new Christmas decor

Growing up, one of my many favorite Christmas memories was helping my grandparents decorate their gumdrop tree.  PawPaw would go out into the woods, and come back with what he called a "thorn bush".  It didn't have real thorns on it, but the sticks on the end of each branch were pointed and thick.  He would put it in a dish, pour rocks around it to hold it up, and we'd put gumdrops all over the end of the branches. I thought it was beautiful. And throughout the day, people who liked gumdrops would pull them off and eat them.

Several years ago, while visiting Meadow Lights, they had tiny plastic versions of a gumdrop tree stand. I didn't buy one that night, and we went back later to get one, and they were sold out. The next year, we went early, and she said they were only able to get five and they sold the first day. I tried to find some online, but didn't have any luck (at least nothing in the price range I wanted to pay). 

This year I had the crazy idea that all these tree jewelry stands would work. So we bought the gumdrops while at Meadow store, and then began the search for the tree stands. Michael's tree were clearly jewelry stands or the leaves were too Halloweeny. So we went to Target. The aisle where the jewelry stands are was EMPTY. I was starting to think this was a lost cause, when I remembered that sometimes they moved jewelry boxes and stands to the end of the aisle.  They had one. It wasn't the one I had in mind, but it works:


And in the perfect craziness of southern weather, the day I was planning to be inside putting up my indoor nativity set, I planted the flower bulbs in white bag above. It was too nice of a day to not be outside, and that job really needed doing. So my large inside nativity set isn't up this year (but my bear and snowmen nativity sets are), but we do have trees. :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

changes

I've often heard/read stories about people who started out as one extreme in their college days and ended up the opposite by the time their children were in college. I've never considered myself one to change core principles, and I don't have children so watching and teaching a maturing teen certainly doesn't enter into the fray.  Perhaps groups have changed their positions, so I'm really still the same and others have simply moved to more extreme positions. Whatever the reason, I find myself on the fence or somewhat over the fence on many political issues these days.

Topics like gun control, mental illnesses, police brutality, government overreach, public education, homeschooling - more and more I find that my views don't line up with people I know. And I'm okay with that, but what shocks me is how vitriolic people are when you dare to disagree with them on the smallest of points. It's almost as if our nation with its free speech principles is actually unable to handle free speech. Have we become so insecure in who we are that anyone who dares to slightly disagree with us is a hater or delusional?  Some days it seems we can't have a decent debate or conversation with anyone who thinks even the least bit different from our viewpoint.

I don't think you will ever see a book from stating how I became a liberal. No one will be more shocked than me if that happens! But if someone were to ask me today, I would probably classify myself as a moderate. And I never thought that would happen. And for the record, my liberal friends would still rank me as a right-wing conservative, but my right-wing conservative friends wouldn't classify me in their ranks if we ever had a heart-to-heart conversation.  That sentence makes me laugh a little. And I'm okay with that. I'm still who I've always been, though I like to think a little wiser.

It'll be interesting to look back in thirty years and see where my fence post stands in the ever-changing landscape of viewpoints.

Monday, December 8, 2014

discrepancies

My brain is always thinking of projects for the future - quilt patterns to make one day, a different way to decorate, something new I'd like to learn, etc.
My body is telling me - do it now.
Very contradictory messages.

The night before we headed to Alabama for Thanksgiving, I began having muscle pain in my thumb/wrist area. Not the stiffness I have in my knees, but muscle weakness (as in it I couldn't grasp anything with my thumb and it had little tingling and sharp pains). While there, and after a few nights of waking up in pain, we bought a thumb/wrist support splint, and that helps some. But the support means you basically can't bend your thumb, which eliminates a lot of activities.

After we returned home, I started taking some different vitamins (ones that are supposed to help joints). Today is only day three, but I've already noticed some difference. (Down side is I'm having headaches again, though that could be due to the change in weather.)

The craziness of all this is it makes me feel like I need to do as much as I can while I can because I fear one day my hands will be arthritic like Mom's are and it will hurt too bad to do activities like quilting and drawing. While attending a lecture at the history museum last month, I saw this quilt on display:


 So instead of marking things OFF my list, I'm adding to them.

 A close-up of the block...trying to figure out how it's assembled.

 I think I've almost got it figured out (piecing directions), but not necessarily the sizes of fabric needed to be cut.  Bobby says if I show him the picture, he can draw out the pattern. The scary thing is, he probably can. And he's never quilted.




Tuesday, November 11, 2014

has it really been a month?

It's hard to believe it's been almost a month since I last blogged.  So what's been happening?


  • My Mom had surgery, so we made a quick trip to AL to be there and help out.
  • I had a unique opportunity to teach training classes for poll workers for the upcoming election.
  • Worked an election...and I think I'm getting too old for a 20 hour work day. I'm just now starting to bounce back.
  • Planned the kids quarterly activity at church.
  • Got a new cell phone.
  • Tried to organize the kids' Christmas program at church (and that one's on-going!)
  • Have cut grass for the LAST time in 2014! :)
  • Ended the garden (though still have some clean-up to do)
  • Started picking up pecans
  • Keeping up with women's Bible Study at church (first time I've succeeded and will finish the book on time!)
  • Started my woefully behind Christmas shopping (not only am I usually a year-round shopper, but my family only gets one holiday together a year and we try to celebrate it all then...so this year we'll have Christmas the night after Thanksgiving!)
  • Have babysat 4 days in the last 2 weeks
  • Am STILL working on a quilt for great-niece Natalie Joy who debuted last week
  • and normal life
Meanwhile prayers are still going up for the Lewis and Wyatt families. Cancer stinks.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

sometimes we laugh; sometimes we cry

This is my last week of teaching classes for the upcoming election, and I must say I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Yesterday, I walked among some of the students during an exercise. Mind you, the class is 2/3 over. A fellow coordinator leaned over her table, took me by the hand, and told me she loved my new blouse. I was baffled, but said "thanks". I asked her how she knew it was new, and she said "You're still wearing your tags."
Yes, in my haste that morning, I had grabbed a shirt from the closet I bought on clearance last year, ironed it, wore it, taught in it...and I was still wearing the tag.  We tore the tag off, and class went on.

Last night, I was disheartened to read news reports out of Houston, TX. It still bothers me so much that I don't even want to post it here.

But I will say this, America is not the same country I learned to love growing up. And it breaks my heart.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

and WHO is footing this bill?

While we were in AL for Mom's surgery a few weeks ago, my sister shared that at the age of 14, children have to sign a waiver for their parents to stay in the room with them during the exam or to see their charts or receive health information on their child from the doctor.

Yes, you read that correctly. At age FOURTEEN.

As in, they are not legally old enough to drive. Most boys do not even have facial hair. They cannot work part-time at a fast food place. They cannot drop out of school.

And yet, our country thinks they are old enough to make their own medical decisions, even though they cannot pay their own medical bills yet.

I'm still aghast.

On a slightly funnier note, my sister said on the way out of the office, my nephew wasn't slouching. His head was up high, his shoulders pulled back. And what was he so happy about? He didn't have to accept a shot if he didn't want one. To him, that's what making his own medical decisions was all about.  We all laughed about that, but it scares me that our laws place such a responsibility on children who are simply not ready for that.

I've heard from Moms who've encountered this with their daughters, and it seems that female doctors are stricter on enforcing this, sometimes going as far as asking Moms to leave the room so the daughter can give consent/rejection in private, or to ask about "personal" issues. Many Moms have simply walked out of the office with daughter in tow. I think I would have to remind the doctor as the one footing the bill, I had every right to know what was happening to my ward.

Parents can go to jail for a truant child. Parents can be charged for underage drinking, even if they weren't aware it was happening (usually in the case of a death). And yet, parents need their child's permission to be present when seeing a doctor?

I think our country has lost the vast majority of its common sense.

Monday, October 13, 2014

medical precautions

The last few years there have been several studies out about how American hospitals are not the safest places to be when you are sick. Quite a few people come out worse than when they went in to the hospital. While we've not had that happen, we have left a few times with a different problem than the one we went seeking treatment for.

One of those problems, we learned the hard way, is quite common in hospitals and nursing homes. It's a bacterial infection called C-diff. It is often an extended result of antibiotics destroying bacteria in the body, including the good kind of bacteria your intestines need. C-diff is highly contagious, and if your body is missing those good bacteria, well you get it. The craziest part of C-diff is that nurses or doctors transport it from room to room. If a patient has it, anyone visiting is supposed to don a gown and gloves (in extreme cases a mask), and trash those supplies between the curtain and door while scrubbing hands before exiting the room. I can't tell you the number of times I watched a nurse come from a different room into ours without changing gowns, saying "It's okay. I'm still in protective gear."  So because you have germs on you from one room, it's okay to walk out into the hallway, touch charts, and into our room because we have the same germs?

I've thought about those 3 CCIU days in a Raleigh hospital a lot today, as the media keeps talking about the nurse in Dallas who has the Ebola virus. Our media has slammed African nations because of their poor hygiene and religions that have tremendously impacted the spread of the virus there. But for all our education about germs, expensive gear, and proper protocols in hospital facilities, a nurse now has a potentially fatal disease because "she didn't follow procedures".  Simply having great facilities is not enough. Rules must be followed, not broken. And I think that will be the monstrous hurdle that will bring America's health situation to its knees. We are a nation that does not like rules or absolutes. Take off medical gowns here or there? What does it matter as long as they're properly trashed?  And hence we spread germs. Wear protective gloves. But what good are those gloves if they're not removed properly and a bare hand touches the germy glove on the other hand? (Yes, they do actually teach that to CNAs and nurses.)

I don't think we'll find Ebola spreading as rapidly or as severely as it's being seen in Africa, but I do think it will get worse. And despite what crazy people are saying about revoking visas or limiting flights in or out of countries, if it does spread here, it won't be from those situations, but rather from our own shortcomings in health and hygiene.


Friday, October 10, 2014

pumpkins

Pumpkins are EVERYWHERE. As are mums.  And I think they're beautiful. But I've not bought any. Not a one.  And I probably won't.

A few years ago I did buy pumpkins, but I didn't have the heart to throw the insides away, so I made a ton of pumpkin sauce and pumpkin pies.  Okay, maybe not truly a ton, but it seemed like we ate pumpkin pie FOR-EV-ER.  And I can't bring myself to buy a pumpkin and then throw it out. Just when I think I've reasoned with myself enough to do it, I remember two things: Buster and Little Dog. Those dogs will eat or chew on anything. If they see me touch, their mouths or tongue must go to it. Tomatoes, pecans, apples, pears - they've eaten/sampled them all. I can't imagine the dogs treating a pumpkin any different.

I've been amazed to see all the beautiful fall decorations at homes I've visited recently. Even my Mom had me pull out ceramic pumpkins for the table while I was at her house last week. I don't remember her ever decorating for fall before. If I manage to get my one set of fall flowers on the dining room table and my pilgrim people and turkey out and change the yellow flowered towel out of my utensil basket to the squirrel one with a fall background, then I will have accomplished all the decorating that will happen for this season.

But come the last weekend of November, we'll be talking decorations. :)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

overthinking

I'm one of those crazy people who sometime over-think things.

Today was my first day of conducting a training session, and I went a little long (meaning we had to eliminate the last exercise) so tomorrow I need to watch time as I talk and not answer so many questions during exercise time.

Sometimes during feedback (whether after a session or during the trial one) someone will review things for 5 minutes, and one phrase will stick with me the next few days as I ponder "What did they mean by that?"  Sometimes it's something totally innocuous; but I can't help but wonder if the speaker was implying I crossed a line or talk too much or if they were politely telling me to get my act together.

Despite my self-absorption (Let's be honest - that kind of stuff is really nothing but selfishness and pride), I'm mostly enjoying this process. I was exceptionally nervous before we started today, but once we got going, it was awesome. I don't think I would want to do this all day long or lecture for a living, but I enjoy being with people who truly care about the process of voting and want to do a good job.

precinct supplies being packed for election day delivery

I will say the more I work with Wake county Board of Elections and the more I learn, the more impressed I am. Wake BOE is truly a very well-oiled machine that operates efficiently. Yes, any time humans do things there are mistakes, but overall I have been blown away with how detailed and customer-service oriented this government group is. I love how they listen to feedback from their poll workers, and how they train workers (even if it often seems like overkill) and then check up on them to make sure procedures are being followed.

Hopefully tomorrow I won't be so long-winded. I know I won't be able to hold and use both the clicker and the laser pointer at the same time, so I'm no longer stressing over that. I'm just not wired that way. But I hope my training sticks, and that this will be an election where coordinators are rubbing their necks and saying "What am I missing?" because everything seems to be so meticulously in order.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

lunar eclipse

Due to the dogs, we didn't drag out the telescope to look at the moon. Therefore my pictures are from my small camera (it has a better anti-movement/hand shake censor).



I was amazed at how red this turned out. It certainly didn't look red with the naked eye, and only had a pinkish hue with the binoculars, but the camera captured it as looking quite red.


At this point we moved over to my mother-in-law's house because the moon dropped behind the trees at our house (she's a little higher up on the hill). We could still see the moon here, even better through the binoculars, but my camera didn't capture it all. :(  And by the time the sun started coming up, it all but disappeared from view through everything.

So we can now say we've watched the moon disappear.

quickly changing!

 The scene early Monday morning:



And the scene Monday evening:

The construction of South Garner High School has begun!

Friday, September 26, 2014

who needs cardio class?

As if my intense dislike of exercise wasn't enough to make me think gym classes were non-essential, I came up with another reason this week: I get enough cardio at home.

 While it was only between 6-8" long, this little booger scared my heart rate into a high aerobic level this week when I stepped towards my car, and realized it was hanging out there in the garage...in my path.
And of course, I was almost running late, wearing flip-flops, and yet I knew that thing had to be dealt with before I left. Thankfully there was some metal thing in the hall corner (left over from when they put the stove in years ago....so glad now it was still there!), so I grabbed it and started smushing.  And no, I didn't examine its head to see if it was diamond shaped (which means poisonous) or not until I was done. I DID know that it's little head was up in the air when I walked out and its tiny tongue was flickering like crazy.

And these guys?

Little Dog and Buster TOTALLY ignored it. Buster even stood over the snake at one point while I was trying to kill it, demanding petting. I couldn't believe it.  They prodded it a time or two with their paws after I had taken care of it, but they've not touched it once. And yet, they'll eat my grape tomatoes and tear the scarecrow off the front door or dig up anything I plant inside their fence line.

Cardio?  Who needs it?  I get enough of it from everyday life!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

speech class

I hated speech class in college. I'm not jesting. I actually H A T E D it. On the days new speech assignments were given, I felt as if a huge weight descended on my shoulders. When the morning my speech date rolled around, I would quickly head to the bathroom before class, sick with nerves. Only after the person after me had been called (meaning I was through with public corrections and critiques from the teacher and the dastardly deed demanding a grade was done) would that weight somewhat lift.

This week, for the first time ever, I was grateful for that speech class and my teacher. Oh how I disliked him during my college days. It irked me that he was from my home state, and yet so callously picked apart every single word I said and how it was pronounced. I felt humiliated, as if I had temporarily crawled to the button hole of that proverbial pocket of ignorance one high school teacher told us we lived in, saw the world, showed them my crumb and dust-covered face, than slid back down to the bottom of the pocket. It really was that bad.

Yesterday I had to present a practice run of the 2.5 hour lecture I'll be teaching soon before a group of BOE employees. Thankfully, we had some things go wrong so I'm now prepared for those scenarios during the actual class times. But as for my teaching style and presentation, there were very few critiques. THANK YOU Mr. Jones, wherever you are. Because of those horrendous hours I spent in your class for an entire year, I can face my students and look them directly in the face, I can "own it" when I mispronounce a word or something goes wrong, and sometimes I can even laugh at myself. I've finally got the concept that knowing your subject backwards and forwards truly makes all the difference in the world in confidence level, and that practicing in front of the mirror is not reason to dread the day. I'm not sure you'd recognize my delivery style if you saw me. I've come so far since that 18-19 year old girl whose hands couldn't stop shaking and literally cried in relief and frustration as soon as class was over.

There have been very few times in my adult life when I've been afraid to speak in front of a crowd. And a good chunk of that I owe to what I learned in Introduction to Speech.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

slow, not quite steady

Fall is a whirlwind. It always is.

And with some unexpected events, this fall seems a little busier than normal.

Some events are positive. I was asked to teach some training classes for our county's Board of Elections. So far I'm enjoying the preparation process (though my real prep work begins this weekend), but the thought of being the official "trainer" is also a little intimidating. I don't feel old enough to be in this position. It seems unreal that I have worked as a poll official for more than 10 years, but I have.

Other events are necessarily bad, just requiring an adjustment of our schedules. I'll be posting more about that in a few weeks.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to figure out how to finish up the yardwork while having very full days the rest of the week. I'm reminding myself of the mantra "little by little" as I tackle small projects in small time frames. And on days like today, I remind myself that I know what has been accomplished, even if no one else does.

I may not be winning races, but I am still walking!

Monday, September 15, 2014

turning off my brain

This past Thursday night and Friday I joined a friend (Thursday my husband actually joined me) in Quilt Carolina. If you've never participated in a Shop Hop before, you basically have a set amount of time to visit a certain number of stores. There are prizes and coupons and discounts for the shoppers who are participating. I hadn't planned on buying fabric (famous last words) as I have way too many projects queued up and in progress to add to that growing pile. But in one store, they had a discount for that day, and there was a fabric there I've had my eye on for some time.

If you're not a fabric lover, batiks are hand dyed fabrics, usually from Asia, and they have patterns and multiple colors in them. Think tie dye, but more professional and elegant looking.

There's also a pattern designer named McKenna Ryan that I've admired for years. Her backgrounds use batiks, and there's one pattern set that has had my mind whirling on our pond and a quilt that includes its creatures for some time.

I think you see where this is headed.

Anyway, I'm standing at the cutting counter with a batik and a matching solid, and one of my classmates (who works at the store) says "Ooh! What are you making?"  and I answered, "a catfish".

That's the simple answer. That's what the fabric will be used for - a catfish in a pond full of animals.

She was more than shocked. And I understand. Beautiful hand-dyed fabric, gorgeous colors, an amazing soft material, and I'm thinking about a slimy animal that makes gutteral sounds and is a bottom feeder.

I got home from our trip late Friday evening, and my brain was whirling, wanting to immediately start sketching out this quilt idea. I've made myself wait. I must finish some other projects first, but I am at least going to sketch out some thoughts for this project. I'd like to do it sooner rather than later. Some ideas just demand attention. :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

the garden that wasn't to be

Every year at this time I tell myself "I am NOT having a garden next year."  and then spring comes with all its seed catalogs and advertisements and...I plant a garden.

This year I even branched out a little and tried a few organic things I read about on pinterest...planting in small beds instead of rows and putting marigolds around the bed.  It looked beautiful, but it did NOTHING to keep the bugs away. Zilch. Worms, wasps, beetles, bugs I can't identify, and even a RABBIT  all enjoyed the efforts of my garden this summer.  But I must say, it was the prettiest garden I've ever had. :)

Strangely, it seems I've spent the least amount of time in the garden this year, but I've also had the most productive garden of any I've ever planted. Unfortunately, I didn't plant a whole lot of anything, so there wasn't a whole to put up for the winter. But we have enjoyed this summer!

As for the beds made out of pallets...mixed results. I followed the instructions and filled them full of dirt BEFORE I stood them up. And guess what?  When filled with dirt, it takes more than one person to lift them up, which doesn't quite fit the bill in my household. So I left them flat on the ground. They were a total nuisance to cut grass around, but I actually think they worked quite well. Peppers and tomatoes didn't do very well in them, but my squash and cucumbers thrived for some time...at least until Mr. Bunny Rabbit, Mrs. Hens, and Little Dog began trampling through them and sampling whatever was there. But still, I put up a lot of pickles, gave away two bags of cucumbers, and put up enough squash for stir fry that I care to use. (Although I did have someone give me several bags of squash, too.)  So I will definitely use the pallet beds again next year, though they'll be separated and used for squash and cucumbers and maybe trellis beans or peas.

I'd think in September things would be starting to die off, but one set of peas, the okra, and green beans are still slowly putting out. And since all of those got a late start, I'm actually okay with that.  

And next year?  I'm definitely planting in sections again, though the rows might be a little larger. After all, 9 ears of corn, 3 of them nibbler size, doesn't exactly amount to much.






Monday, September 8, 2014

political ads

This is only September, and I am ready to beat my head against a wall.

I hate political ads. Most of them, both sides, slant the truth so bad it's not funny. They clearly play on emotions and hype and not fact. It's insane. Here's the standard line of what we've been seeing:

Hi, my name is X (or Y) and I'm running for US Senate. My opponent hates education/poor people and only loves rich people. So support me for US Senate.

Really?  Both candidates worked in the NC Senate. Both candidates voted for the same tax package (yeah, the same deal that limits the taxes on yachts to $150,000), although they served in the Senate at different times. That tax break really and truly has been around that long.

And the accusation that one opponent doesn't care about poor people?  The one making the accusation grew up wealthy; the one being accused grew up poor.  Go figure.

If I were queen of the world, and I'm thankful I'm not, I would require that political ads could do one thing: tell what THAT candidate believes, supports, and hopes to accomplish...nothing else. Then let the voters decide.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

a thankful Thursday

I am thankful...

  • to live in America, where car parts and mechanics are available
  • for friends who will drop everything and come assist when you're hot and sweaty and soaked through and ready to throw things
  • for families, in all their uniqueness
  • for a husband who is also my best friend
  • for quilt shops (not every town has one within driving distance, you know)
  • for my sewing machine.  That may sound trite to those who don't sew, but my husband could have balked at its price, and he didn't.
  • for thunderstorms. I don't know why, but being inside while the thunder rolls and lightning lights up the darkened sky has always been a bit reassuring (unless the lightning gets too close to the house)
  • for children...their honesty, their curiosity, their excitement
  • for books, and a nation that doesn't censor what we read
  • for Facebook. It's not the same as everyone being together for the holidays, but it's the next best thing
  • to not hear football stuff 24/7
  • that my parents are most likely coming to visit next month :)
  • that God has provided for several friends' financial needs relating to school bills
  • for the gift of music
  • that God's mercy is new to me EVERY SINGLE MORNING!
  • for the person who created waterbeds, enabling my husband to sleep through the night without having to be turned
  • for a nation that requires curb cuts and handicap parking
  • for the ability to walk through a parking lot, even if it's full of water puddles
  • for stores that sell wide and extra wide shoes
  • for cameras
  • for riding lawn mowers
  • for a husband who doesn't complain nor comment when I don't weedeat/mow the ditch for three weeks straight (and maybe a tad longer!)
  • that God does not expect of me what I sometimes expect of others
  • that God is patient
  • for the privilege to talk to God in prayer
  • that God doesn't have a "don't touch until the clay is dry" sign on his personage
  • for my fellow bloggers
  • for the internet!
  • that family fun fest (our church's annual outreach) is only once a year
  • that the end is in sight for the most time consuming areas of my garden
  • that the garden I wasn't going to have has been my smallest and most productive yet
  • that Buster hasn't killed any more chickens or geese
  • that Bobby doesn't have to work tomorrow
  • for grace...

super cool dishes

Villeroy & Boch make some very interesting dish sets. From Germany, a lot of their settings are contemporary country designs.  Many of them have a rural feel, all of them are very cheerful and airy, and some of them have that European flair to them. I've looked at many sets from gift registeries, but not until this week have I seen a set from them that made me think "Oooh! I really like that! I could see us actually using that!"



I don't think these pictures do the set justice. They yellow is not super bright, but it's not a pale yellow, either. And the flower patterns, diamond patterns, and ink sketched farm scenes are absolutely amazing. (Disclaimer: I'm not crazy about the plate with the horse rider, but the cows, sheep, and harvest scenes are absolutely incredible.)  And unlike my current fine China, they are dishwasher safe, something the sales clerk didn't mention to us when we picked our pattern out. And seeing as I grew up without a dishwasher, it never even crossed my mind to ask about it. (Yeah, I am now a spoiled housewife.)

I don't know why I am so fascinated with dishes or place settings.  I got to visit a tea house twice in Fuquay-Varina, and one of the things I loved the most about it was that they each person at the table had a different place setting. They all somewhat matched (either in color or in style), but each setting was totally different from the next. Somehow I think if I pulled out all my dishes and tried that, it wouldn't work. (Can't you just see a square red & green "Merry Christmas Y'all" with cowboy snowmen next to a fancy blue China plate?)

But if you're in the market for a nice set of dishes, Villery & Boch is a company whose designs are worth considering.




Wednesday, September 3, 2014

not for me

While shopping Monday (yeah, you can tell I've not been "out" in a while), I saw something that totally baffled me, but it also made my head turn - metal dishes in the high dollar section of Belks.

The brand name is Wilton Armetale, and according to the website, it's an "alternative metal" that you can take from the fridge to the stove to the table. What caught my eye, not shown online or in this picture, was their egg platter.  I cannot even begin to fathom going to all the trouble of making deviled eggs, only to put them on a metal platter. I'd use a flat dish where the eggs slide around all over the place before I resorted to metal.

I suppose for people who like the look of silver but hate polishing silver this would be a nice alternative. I imagine that people who are wanting the antique look would find this very fitting in their kitchen, as it does look quite cheap in real life. I don't know if it's dishwasher safe. I can think of several ladies who could buy this and use it in their homes and I would walk in and think "Wow. This looks nice."  Of course, those same ladies can also make burlap look nice.  Go figure.

But I'm not one of them. And even if I did like this and it wasn't out of my price range, if I tried to use it, people would come in and think "Mm.  She's mixing Dollar Tree and Belks again.  Poor gal has no fashion sense whatsoever."  They would never realize these cheap looking dishes ARE Belk dishes.  I just don't have that knack for decorating.

I did see some dishes that I really liked. I told Bobby if we were getting married now and having to register for stuff all over again, those would be the dishes we'd go with (as opposed to what we have, which I still like very much). I'll post those tomorrow. But even those dishes would make my poor mother shake her head and sigh "ohhh Ruthie, no."

Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

boots

I love boots.  Sadly, it's not an easy feat to find boots to fit my feet.

Yesterday while out shopping, I saw some boots several aisles over that looked like they were sporting a very familiar logo. Then I mind corrected me - you now, the  "can't be; wrong state; you don't find that here" train of thought. So I quickly moved that direction, and sure enough, there were several SEC boots on a display table in ACC country.

I immediately started laughing, called my husband over, and shocked him.  I then turned the boot over to find the price sticker, and the shock became mine.

$399.00

Yep. You read that right. Four hundred mackeroos (plus some when you finish adding taxes) for cowgirl boots that have a school logo embroidered on them. That's just absolutely insane. And the even crazier part? I can think of two girls back home who would save up their money for them.

I went to double check the prices this morning before I typed this, just in case my vision was blurred or I saw it wrong last night when I was linking a friend to it.  But it's still there in black & white.  Now, there are a few teams that have their boots on sale for $150 this morning, which is still more than I have ever paid for a pair of shoes, including my specialized orthotics or running shoes. And I didn't look too closely at what schools had their boots on sale, but I have a feeling that could spawn a lot of sports-related jokes. The SEC fan base is funny in that way.

I'd heard the 2nd Bush President had his cowboy boots embroidered with the Presidential seal and often wore them with his suits. Perhaps that's where the idea came from. I don't know.

But if they ever start selling these in a wide or extra-wide width and bring their prices down to $75, then I'll start trying on some shoes. (and even then, I'll be holding a coupon!)  But this is Belks we're talking about, who like JCPenney do not think those of us with wide feet care about how we adorn our little piggies.

Reckon anyone will ever create a cowgirl boot for quilters? :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

family history

I've been looking through family history off and on for the last six months. It started with a gift subscription to ancestry.com for someone whom I thought would love it but hasn't used it at all. I've learned a lot. Had a lot of questions raised that I'm still hoping to get some answers for (but am reconciling myself to the fact that they may never be answered), and am learning some very interesting facts. So far I've found documented proof that 2 people fought in the Civil War for the CSA, and their father refused to support them in any way, housed Union troops and won a small settlement (though only 1/5 of what he asked for) from the Federal Government for all the crops the troops supposedly confiscated. I'm still sorting through the papers and trying to read the blurry print. I've not had time to verify other stories of ancestors who fought, and am finding it is necessary to verify things others have researched.  For example, there were 20 Nathaniel Guytons alive during the Civil War, and 5 of those were Nathaniel F. Guyton (3 in the South and 2 up North). It would be very easy to say "Oh! Nathaniel F. Guyton is here, fighting, and there's a record of us his property in Alabama" and go on about my reading, forgetting that the AL boy is only 25 and my ancestor NFG was in his 40's at the time, PLUS was born and living in GA the first 30+ years of his life (according to census records). That changes things. I'm finding that sometimes people click on things as matches and save them to their family files as "proof" of family lineage, when in further reading, they made a hasty and inaccurate decision.

But when all is said and done, it doesn't change who I am one iota. I enjoy learning about people of the past, but it really and truly has no bearing on how I live my life, whether or not the chicken pen has to be cleaned, that the grass needs to be cut, or that I have a long list of projects clamoring for my attention. And at the end of my life, I will give an account to God for how I lived my life and how I responded to others, not for anyone else's actions or reactions. And that's nice to know.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

gearing up

Monday was an epic off-and-on battle with the "ME-Monster" as our pastor calls it, today has been good, but I've also been trying to focus as and prioritize as the craziness of our week approaches.

I think I shocked some people tonight by not attending the visitation for the high school senior at WCA, but I'm thankful I have a very understanding and supportive husband. I do plan to attend the funeral tomorrow, but I knew tonight would be absolutely packed, and as I knew neither the girl or the parents (Bobby taught both her parents) I felt like my time would be better spend playing catch up on the endless stream of things I'm behind on around the house.  And when our new neighbor from Michigan stopped Bobby at the mail box this afternoon to let him know his wife died yesterday (diagnosed with cancer last fall), I was glad I had already made that decision. We knew there had been a lot more cars than normal the last few days, and he said they had called hospice in, as well as had some friends and family come from Michigan.

And I still do not feel ready/prepared for the interview on Friday. I have enough of my presentation completed that I can wing it, but it's not the calibar that I'd like for it to be.  I was very close to picking up the phone today and telling them to drop my name from the interview list.

I did finally get the tomatoes finished (the ones on the counter anyway...I'm told there's more in the garden screaming desperately for my attention), as well as half of my errand list completed.

And as we hit the bed knowing tomorrow is another early morning, I am resting in the truths that God is sovereign, that His love is eternal, that He is merciful, He is excessively patient and, His mercies are new...every single morning.  That is calming, even more than chocolate (though chocolate certainly helps!).

Monday, August 25, 2014

one more set

Finally recharged the battery in my small camera, and there was a set of pictures from our last trip that I had forgotten about. I don't remember what town this is, but I do know it's in Pennsylvania. We were taking a slight detour for a quilt shop, and as we passed the local Department of Transportation, this is what we saw:
 Not that I've traveled the US a lot, but I think this ranks as one of the most creative fences I've ever seen!

 Excuse the reflection of my directions on the dashboard. Don't you just love those balloons?

 And this flower garden...no watering required!


Friday, August 22, 2014

hoop jumping

I am very blessed and fortunate to live in America where we have adequate healthcare, medical supplies, insurance, working telephones and efficient electricity service.  Sometimes I take that for granted.

Today was one of those days that happen for those who live with medical needs. A medical supply company we've worked with for many years informs us as we go to order supplies that they no longer have a contract with our insurance company. So we spend almost two hours on the phone and on the internet talking to administrators and sales associates and researching options and information, trying to find a place we can order supplies necessary for living with a disability that insurance will also cover a vast portion of the cost.

And I'm grateful. We've talked with four very nice and helpful ladies and within two hours had a semi-new to us company to work with, an order placed and we never even left home to do it. I remember students overseas spending half-a-day waiting to see a doctor for a sinus infection, then having to walk 20 minutes one way just to see if the pharmacist had what they needed (and if he didn't, it would be a 20 minute walk the other direction from school to the next pharmacist), plus a trip to the market for natural medicines (crushed ants and grapes anyone?), all the while accompanied with a minimum of 2 classmates, one of whom would hold the arm sporting an IV needle, the 2nd who actually held the IV bag up in the air (which would be in place for at least one day, sometimes two) and then you'd return a day or two later to have the IV removed. A two-three day process for a simple sinus infection.  That scenario I just mentioned doesn't talk about the triplicate forms of paperwork to be filled out to the doctor, the party leader for your student unit, and the issue of whether or not you pay, and if so, how much, or whether or not your doctor is one who needs a bribe (my students called it "special attention payments").

Did I plan to spend two hours of my morning on the phone and researching companies? No.  But it could have been so much worse. I'll take two hours of ease on the phone and the computer with success to spending 2-3 days pounding the streets only to hear "come back tomorrow" any day. We are so blessed, not just in the supplies our nation offers, but in its services as well.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

my inner liberal child

I'm very conservative in many things.  I have a lot of ultra-conservative friends. But the older I get, I find my eyebrows wrinkling and my inner child saying "Huh?" when I hear/read comments on current events.

For instance: "the President is on vacation when..."
My uber conservative friends who show nothing but disdain and disrespect for our current President were complaining on social media yesterday how the President, even though he gave a press conference and met with his aides, was on vacation after the beheading of an American journalist. I'm really not sure what they expected him to do. He's already made a decision on what our country's position will be (airstrikes and weapons deals only), has talked with the family, is getting briefed daily (at least), and received multiple phone calls from allies all over the world about the situation. We're already bombing and will continue to do so. I'm not sure what more canceling the family's vacation right before school starts would accomplish.
On the other hand, liberals are actually complaining about him playing golf instead of heading to Ferguson, MO.  They want him to handle the unrest there. Personally, if I were the secret service, I'd be dead set against taking him there. What could be worse than trying to protect the President (or your own skin) in the midst of an angry, belligerent mob who throws urine and bombs on people after spray painting "the only good cop is a dead cop" on walls?  Um, no. That's not exactly the crowd you want to usher the President into, especially not one who has received more death threats than any other sitting President.


Or fundraising.  The whole ice bucket challenge thing has bombarded my Facebook feeds all summer long. The first time I saw it was raising money for a fire station, then for a drug rehab facility, then a group of people stating their charity, then ALS, then it seemed people started doing it just because everyone else was without realizing there was a REASON behind the insanity, and then the media started showing it and talking about the fundraising aspects of it, then people who did it without knowing how it worked realized "Oops! We're supposed to be giving money to this group if we do this" and then the backlash of "ooohh you can't give to that group because they support this or that" started, with the follow-up knee-jerk reaction "I didn't know. I don't support this group or this viewpoint or sand turtles or ..."  (Okay, no one has mentioned sand turtles, but you get the picture.)  Besides the hilarity of all the knee jerk reactions to an hilariously insane way to raise money, is the bizarre reality that people will attempt to alienate groups (almost always medical research groups) that are actually doing some very good things?  Do I support stem cell research? Not in most forms.  But the reality is, I do use information and either I, a family member, or close friends, have been benefited from groups that do (the Miami project, Christopher Reeves Foundation, Susan G. Koman, etc). Almost any medical foundation that is working to eradicate life-altering situations support stem cell research. While I don't agree with their positions on everything, they do offer real life advice and support on things that impact my day-to-day life, and that is something all these Christian groups who are pointing their fingers and shrilly screaming "They kill babies" are NOT doing. They say they are pro-life, but they are doing very little, if anything, to make the life people ARE living more bearable. I've yet to hear of any pro-life groups offering grants for adapted vans or providing wheelchairs or ramps or on-going medical services for people whose lives are impacted for the better by many of these organizations.  And if it were their child, parent, or spouse, who had the potential to have a better or healed life because a frozen stem cell was not thrown away but was instead used in a science experiment that could change their life forever, would they accept it?  The sacrifice is/was already made. It was made when a couple decided to try scientific methods and froze embryos at a chance to have a child. Those extra embryos (they always created them in batches as it often takes multiple attempts) only last so many years, and then are thrown away. It's a sad, sordid mess where there aren't a lot of black or white positions, but mainly grey.  And people who point figures and "take the high road" aren't having to travel the roads full of potholes and heartache that impact the very ones trying to get off those roads in the first place.

and my last rant (for today) is the arming of local police. I have many good friends from high school, from churches, and from my extended family who are police officers. I've witnessed the bruises, cuts and black eyes they get from interrupting a fight, a domestic dispute, or a gang fight. I do read the newspaper and watch the local news. While we only see/hear of a minor meth lab exploding during a raid and think of drugs and its dealers, the reality is, there was a father, a son, a brother, a church member, a youth worker, who was in that uniform knocking on the door that night.  Had that lab exploded a little more to the left or the right, they would be in a burn unit or dead instead of helping their child with homework, taking care of their widowed, arthritic-bound Mom, or teaching a teen Sunday school class this weekend. And that "routine" traffic stop where he pulled someone over to tell them their brake lights had a short in them? (never knowing the woman had a mental illness and was reaching for her gun to shoot the cop as the voices were telling her but stopped short because she thought he looked familiar and upon seeing his badge realized he was related to a pastor...true story) Maybe I'm selfish, but if having riot gear gives my family and friends an extra layer of protection when facing a mob of anarchists, I want them to have it. If having a military rifle, a helicopter, and an army tank will provide them a little more insight, protection, and safety during that drug raid, I want them to have it. After all, the drug dealers have them and are not afraid of using them. And while I don't have family or friends who are school resource officers, I do have a lot of friends and family members who teach in the public schools. And on the high school level, student violence is BAD, and sometimes is drug related. I have no problem with teachers or school resource officers being armed. Are there officers who overstep their bounds and need training in conflict resolution?  Of course. But denying safety to every policeman or officer because of a few crazies is like saying because a few mentally ill people are a threat to society then all of them should be locked up.  It simply doesn't make sense.

And if that makes me a "blazing liberal", so be it. It's what I think and how I feel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

kicking and screaming

As the back to school sales wind down around here and folks back home start school this week and the homeschoolers from church are either now in a routine are prepping to start back (even if the kids didn't tell me when their schools started, I think I could figure it out by the disappearance of Moms on Facebook), I find myself wanting to dig my heels in and kick and scream for this year to slow down. I wasn't ready for July to end, and now we're almost to September. I'm not ready for fall activities yet! I'm also not ready for the reality that all these projects I was going to complete this year must now be done in three months if they're going to be finished.

I had a temporary job offer come my way recently. I filled out the application, and after I hit send, pondered whether or not I made the correct decision. I received an e-mail this weekend that I've made it through the first round with instructions on what I need to do for the next step.  So sometime this weekend I need to do some preparations for that.  Since I was not looking for this opportunity, I'm a little flattered and excited, but I will also be okay if I'm not one of the few selected to put in the extra hours for a month.

And speaking of extra hours, all that sewing time I thought I'd get in this fall? It's disappeared.  As in yard work, garden stuff, trips, and housework. I'm hoping to get the basics done now instead of the extra stuff.

August, must you end next week?



Monday, August 18, 2014

Niagara Falls, NY

Several years ago Bobby made out a "bucket list" of places he wanted to visit. I dutifully wrote them down, and within a year I had lost the list.  Yeah, I'm such a good wife. He does remember most of the places on his list, and since most of them are local (as in the state of NC or within a day's drive of NC), we've been trying to visit at least one year.

North Carolina is participating in "Row by Row" this year, which is a HUGE but different type of quilt shop hop. Basically, you go along to see what stores are participating in the state, and if you're visiting that area during the summer, you can go to the store and get a free pattern. The first person from each state to complete 8 rows and use them in a finished quilt wins a grand prize, and the first person to return to a shop with a completed quilt that uses that store's pattern wins a small store prize. While browsing through the states and their Facebook pages, I realized there were TWO shops participating in Niagara Falls...one of the places on MY bucket list. :)  I think you know where this is headed.  We actually had 6 free days in a row on our calendar (well, we did both have to cancel one activity each, but those happen every month and can easily be missed), so we went.
Driving up we went through West Virginia and PA, coming back it was PA and VA, and even though we had planned to visit a historical site in VA on the way home, my absolutely amazing husband surprised me by changing that stop and telling me to find quilt shops on that route. So while I've only completed 2.9 rows, I now have 13 patterns. :)

I've never been that far north before, and had no idea what to expect. I've had several friends tell me that it's hard to find places to eat while traveling north, and to some degree that is correct. Fast food places, other than Subway and the occasional McDonalds, are hard to find. It became a joke in the van as we saw many signs "McDonalds in 3 miles" that we must have a different definition of a mile (we never saw the restaurants...and I was looking for a bathroom!) but we did get to try some different chains and non-chain restaurants that were good.

And I loved the scenery. Somewhere through PA it was like a switch flipped, and suddenly the trees and foliage were different. I kept wishing my Granny was alive so I could photograph the plants to send her and see what she'd say (she knew the names of almost all trees and flowers), but then I started wondering if she'd know them as well.  I've always thought blue spruces were beautiful, and we saw a great number of them.  The houses were also quite different, and I'd like to know the architectural origins behind the tall, skinny two-story structures. And I know it wasn't a city thing, as we passed a large number of farms that had the same style of house. I couldn't help but be reminded of the President's comment the first time he ran for office and actually got to tour the US...I never knew how beautiful America truly was. (That's not a direct quote, but that was his meaning.)  And I get what he was saying. Our country is very diverse and different, but it truly is a beautiful place.


Rainbow Bridge, that passes into Canada. My only disappointment was that since we weren't staying for the night, our passports didn't get stamped, but were only scanned.

Part of the Horseshoe Bend falls. We rode the boat, like the one pictured, up close to the falls, and that was incredibly awesome.

And a view of the Falls from the bridge.


Due to circumstances and our time frame, we didn't go out at night and view the falls (they light the falls up with colored lights at night), nor did we have time in Canada to take the tour behind the Horseshoe falls. But I thoroughly enjoyed what we did get to see and do. Next time I'd like to stay on the Canadian side and walk the streets and check out shops.

The weather took a dip right before we got there, so the temps were in the 60s (the highs) while we were there, which I thoroughly enjoyed, even if my cold-blooded counterpart didn't and had the heat on at the hotel.  We both managed to survive (me the heat and him the coldness outside). Had the weather been nicer, I think I could have sat at one of the observation decks for hours and just watched and listened. It was truly incredible.

I was also reminded of just how blessed Americans are. It was nice and amazing to walk down the streets and hear a multitude of languages flowing around me, from Cantonese and Mandarin to Persian languages to Russian and French. We see a lot of Muslim scarves here in Raleigh, but it was the first time I've ever seen burqas in real life, and we saw quite a few of those, as well as Mennonites, Orthodox Jews, and Hindus. I felt like I was in the middle of the melting pot, and it was nice.

It was a trip worth taking, and one a part of me wouldn't mind doing again. :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

home

Tuesday morning we began a journey to Niagara Falls, NY...one of the places I've always wanted to visit.
We've not quite been home two hours, and I still have a lot to do, so I will just say this: it was worth it, both the drive and views. :)

Pics and thoughts to come later.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

electronic files

Today at Bobby's dr's appt we got to go through the process again of verifying/updating his electronic chart. We were starting to get a little concerned they had confused him with one of the other 4 Robert Bryan's charts, even though they had his birthdate and part of his medicine list, as they had him listed as allergic to a medicine he's never taken, and they also listed him as being admitted to the hospital with "back pain".  We laughed and told the dr that was the year of his major surgery for bladder cancer. The doctor insisted it was back pain and I just laughed and asked "How can we go to the hospital for back pain when he has no feeling in that part of his body?" At that point I think the doctor realized why were so flabbergasted and omitted the entry.

And I was reminded again of how telling a doctor/nurse that Bobby is a quadriplegic doesn't always register in their brain. I sometimes wonder if they see him semi-motioning with his arms, and therefore incorrectly assume we don't know what we're talking about. I can't count the number of times during a hospital stay a nurse or therapist has asked him to roll over and seemed exasperated when he said "I can't." or asked him more than once to stand up for something. (We just have his wheelchair in the corner for decoration.) Today as he got to briefly update the doctor on his condition because of the accident (I don't think they keep records that far back), I think the light finally started going on. At least he didn't tell Bobby the importance of exercise today. :)

So we had our laugh for today.  Now if we get asked the same stuff again in six months or they still want to now about his hospital visit for back pain, I will be very concerned. But for now, it's kind of funny. Kind of.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

whirlwind

Today as friends from all over are posting Facebook messages about back to school shopping, starting teacher-in-service, and homeschooling preparations/startings, for the first time ever I'm in a bit of my own whirlwind. Usually this time of year is a little hard, as my life is still slowly puttering at it's normal pace, only my friends' lives suddenly take on this somewhat temporary insanity, meaning my people contacts decrease considerably. Not complaining; just stating a fact.

But this year is different. We left for our trip last week with several chores/jobs I needed to do still undone. So I'm playing catch-up in addition to the many things I have coming up in the next few weeks. Add to that the normal unexpected things of life (a funeral, a dead chicken and a dog in time out, a chicken that hung itself by its toe in the pen's overhead hawk prevention netting - which is recovering quite well, I think) and life gets even crazier.

And I'm reminded a little of our visit to Monticello, the homeplace of Thomas Jefferson. His house was a continuous work in progress, and was even partially torn down and rebuilt at one point. So I'm thinking back to that today as things start to seem impossible and a bit overwhelming.  It doesn't all have to be done today. The world will not stop revolving if it doesn't get done or even if I miss a deadline.

Until then, I have tomatoes to can, a quilt square to finish, a kitchen and bathroom to clean, plus a floor full of mud/dirt/grass clippings that needs sweeping up...again. Countin' it all joy. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

conjoined at the eye

I was quite surprised while shelling to find two peas didn't separate.  Turns out their eyes were connected! I don't think I've ever seen this before!



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Woodrow Wilson Library and Frontier Farm Museum

Prior to last week's vacation, I had never visited a presidential library. I was expecting a museum, but also, well, a library. I knew you wouldn't be able to check books out or anything like that, but I did expect to be able to read or view copies of the President's writings. Turns out, it's just a museum. Perhaps his writings are stored there, but we only saw one example of them.

One very cool story we did learn, though, was that Wilson was homeschooled by his father, who was an Episcopalian pastor. Many people advised him to give up on Woodrow, then called Tommy (his first name is Thomas), as he didn't master his alphabet until the age of 9.  He wasn't really reading until the age of 11 or 12. And yet, he later learned to read in other languages as well. Scholars today tend to think he might have been dyslexic. Whatever his learning disability was, writing was difficult for him. He taught himself how to write in shorthand, and found it much easier. All of his presidential writings (as well as most adult writings) are in shorthand.

And for the record, Wilson was born in Straunton, VA, but they moved away to Georgia when he was less than two years old. His opposition to World War I was a result of his growing up in a South decimated from the Civil War (his father was a chaplain to troops and their house/manse and church was used as a field hospital for both sides).

Also in Staunton is the Frontier Farm Museum. We could have easily spent half a day or more there, though we barely had two hours. Basically, there are miniscule farms detailing how early settlers in Virginia lived both in their native country and in their early years in Virginia. Old world settings from Germany, Ireland, England, and West Africa were amazing. I was give out before we made it to the early America circle, and stopped at the gift shop while Bobby raced on to the American side. He said there were actually more workers and animals there and we could have spent a good two hours there alone. There was a young girl, about ten, there with her parent (who was a worker), and he enjoyed asking her questions. This place was definitely worth the entry fee.

I had seen German buildings in Old Salem, which are somewhat similar to old English farmhouses, but the Irish house was a delight.
Who doesn't love a stone wall? (Besides Robert Frost)

Check out those gate posts (and matching barn)

And that lovely stone wall...is actually a pig enclosure...ugh...the smell on a hot day!


The one lone sheep and cows were across the field and the chickens were in the barn, but the CAT was in the house.  We also saw geese (like ours) at the English farm house, as well as cows, and the goats weren't enclosed into the African settlement yet, the Germans had a cow and lots of chickens, and Bobby said the American farm also had cows and pigs and chickens. I don't think we saw a dog, though.

I didn't take pictures of the super quaint restaurant where we ate breakfast that morning, but the ladies sitting next to us (think old men who meet regularly at coffee shops) were absolutely hysterical to listen to. Their conversation constantly hopped from one current event to the next (and every other one was a celebrity situation), and the table had at least one conservative and one liberal who were not afraid of disagreeing with the other. When one tartly said to the other, "WELL! That's YOUR opinion" we were trying very hard not to burst out laughing. They were quite entertaining. And of course, as we get ready to leave, the owner is beginning to set up for lunch, and she brings out these chocolate pies that rival Meadow's Restaurant - the meringue was HUGE. For a minute I thought Bobby was going to stay.

Antique shops, quilt shops, used book stores, home cooking restaurants (we ate supper at a place that had the most awesome homemade rolls!), a presidential library and cool museums...Staunton, VA was definitely a place worth visiting.

Monday, August 4, 2014

last week

For our anniversary last week, we headed towards the Shanandoah Valley in Virginia. It was awesome. In many ways it reminded me of Tennessee (the steep hills and pastures), and the huge houses in the valley areas reminded me of the houses in Washington DC and Richmond, VA. There were quite a few mansions and plantation style houses, but in the smaller outlying areas, there were also small farmhouses on vast pastures and farmland.

As far as small towns go, Staunton and Culpeper are two places I would gladly spend two days in checking out. As Bobby said, our half a day at each place barely scratched the surfaces. Well, we actually spent almost a whole day in Staunton, but still, we could have spent much more time there.

But my favorite pictures from the trip come from our one hour on Skyline Drive (the same road as the Blueridge Parkway, only you have to pay to get on it).



and this is the second deer


from the ride out...his antlers look so fuzzy!
Sadly, there's no picture of the bunny rabbit from that drive...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, July 25, 2014

Row by Row

Many North Carolina quilt stores are participating in this "thing" (for lack of a better word) over the summer and early fall.  Quilt shops in Canada and across the US who are participating are offering a free quilt pattern (36"x 9") if you visit their store between July 1 and Sept 1.  Once you acquire 8 rows (or more) and put them into a quilt (totally finished, quilting, binding...the works), if you are the first person to show off the quilt at one of the stores where a pattern originated from, you get a prize from that store. NC is a little behind the buzz (we've only had 2 winners out of who knows how many stores), but evidently a lot of people are doing it, as the Cary store has already had 1,000 people come by the store and request patterns. That's a lot of customers in just three weeks!

While it would be incredibly awesome to be a winner, I'm being very picky about what patterns I'll do. If I'm going to invest my time and money into a quilt, I want it to be one I like, not just something I've thrown together helter skelter. The down side is that some of the patterns I really like are not close by...as in Murphy, NC.  If you drive much further west, you'll be in TN.

For a look at NC's patterns (or at least the ones showing pictures of them), you can visit Facebook's NC Row by Row Experience page.  To see whether or not your state is particpating (and what shops), visit www.rowbyrowexperience.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

hummingbird

Last week I finally got around to filling up the hummingbird feeder (yes, I know that should have been done in March or April). IMMEDIATELY, as in, within an hour, we had hummingbirds.

One little fellow seems to camp out at the feeder. I was able to get a few pictures of it this morning, though they're not the best quality since I had to zoom so far.

Hanging out on the dog pen (which is near the back porch & feeder)

Drinking from the fake flowers (he'll usually stay almost a minute each trip)

Taking a break between gulps
I keep calling it a "he" though realistically it's probably a female since it's so dark. The male birds are usually bright colors, which just seems wrong. I know that it's a protection thing for the Mom while she's on the nest and that makes perfect sense, but it still seems a little backward.

Monday, July 21, 2014

not a lot of patience here

Sunday morning we stopped on our way to the drugstore for some Benadryl, as every home remedy and pharmacists suggestions were not curbing the swelling or pain from the wasp sting. (For those of you on Facebook, I did NOT use the chewing tobacco suggestion). And I figured day three of swelling and redness and itching and hurting was enough. Time to pull out the big guns. By the time church had ended Sunday morning, I was getting very drowsy, but the swelling was 90% gone and the redness was reduced to a spot about the size of a dollar bill. I've been pumping it every 4-6 hours, and am noticing a steady improvement. But there's not a lot of patience on my part. I want this red itchy spot gone like YESTERDAY.

We were laughing about the irony of the fact I cleaned out the medicine cabinet two weeks ago. Everything out of date was tossed. And I tossed almost a whole package of Benadryl that I bought about 4 years ago when one of the boys cutting grass got stung (and like me, he has "mild" reactions to them) and it's not been used since. It's probably been 8 years since the last time I was stung (and that one was by a wasp, not a yellow jacket), and I will be perfectly okay if I never, ever get stung again.

As for home remedies, I will say this. Everyone has a different body chemistry, and what works for one person might not work for another person. I will say the cream with ammonia in it did the best for stopping the itch, though the smell about makes me sick. It's even worse than boiling the vinegar mixture for canning pickles. UGH!

Today I'm rejoicing that there's no swelling, at all, and I only have a red oval about the size of four quarters, and even that is breaking up into small bumps. :) Progress. (Even though I must admit I was disappointed to wake up and see it still there.)

Happy Monday.

Friday, July 18, 2014

several posts in one

Anyone else having issues with google blogger? Due to some computer issues, we switched from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome for internet connection, and ever since, I've not been able to post. I can read my blog and see the blog feed for other blogs I read, but once I click on Post, all I get is a blank page. So tonight I have a little extra time, and decided to try Internet Explorer again...and it works. Go figure.  So here's a brief week in review:

Tuesday - up at 3:30 am and so we can both be ready and have breakfast before Election Day begins. What should have been a simple and easy day (low turnout, as is the case with most local elections), turned out to be eternally long as people got careless, didn't follow their checklists, and resulted in a drive to downtown Raleigh when I should have been at home. We eat supper at home at 10:35pm. And thanks to the disability lifestyle we live, we weren't in the bed until midnight. I jokingly said we should stay up three more hours just so we could say we'd been up a full 24 hours.

Wednesday - laundry and housework day...and I'm still not caught up!

Thursday - yardwork. While weed-eating, I got stung by a yellow jacket. I have mild allergic reactions to wasp and yellow jacket stings. And this is what a "mild" allergic reaction looks like:
According to webmd.com, my whole leg could swell and it would still be classified as a "mild" reaction.  And yes, I do know all the warning signs for a serious reaction, and know to advance to the nearest urgent care/dr's office/call 911 (whatever can happen within 10 minutes) without passing go or collecting $200 should any of those signs appear.

And en route home from Target Pharmacy (to get Benadryl cream and talk to the pharmacist for verification purposes), we had to check out the progress of South Garner High:

one of the views from Hebron Church Rd.

New Bethel Church Rd.

and you can now see the houses on Hebron Church Rd from New Bethel Church Rd.

 
And yes, I'm aware the pictures are blurry...I didn't ask my driver to slow down. I'm sure he would have obliged had I asked (whether grudgingly or gratefully I don't know), but seeing as he's assumed the responsibility of letting the chickens out in the mornings and locking them up in the evenings without me asking him to and it was getting towards that time to get them in, I decided it would be inconsiderate of me to ask. :)

Friday -  Quilts of Valor Day at Bernina World of Sewing. I wasn't quite feeling up to par today, so I was late getting there and stayed late (for some reason I was thinking it ended at 3 and I stayed until 2, only to get home and discover I had 1pm on the calendar...oops!), and after resting a bit I tackled some housework and errands (with supper at our spot...El Dorado) and am trying to get a few things lined up for tomorrow....the Raleigh Coin show, and maybe the Antique Show as well...maybe.

And that wraps up this crazy but productive week.